Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Kennedy: Proud to be a Liberal


Be Liberal and Be Proud:  


When someone calls you a "lib", smile and be proud!   

So many issues, so many the same, so many different.  As we approach the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination in Dallas, let's remember this great quote by John F. Kennedy when he accepted the nomination of the Liberal Party in New York in 1960:
If by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal." Acceptance of the New York Liberal Party nomination (14 September 1960)
Find out more about this speech using this Google search.

Added November 19, 2013, just a few days before the 50th anniversary of JFK's death, with this great collage from Tracy Knauss at Facebook

























Every time that someone tries to denigrate the term "liberal", it's time to pull out this quote, and say strongly and surely:  "Yes!  I'm a liberal and I'm proud of it."  Don't allow yourself to be demeaned because you believe in civil liberties and the welfare of people. 

(--- and follow Tracy Knauss's page at Facebook.  He does great stuff!)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Millions of people are losing their health insurance - NOT!


Of course this isn't true.      


The spin is that many people are receiving cancellation notices because of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  Some of those people are being offered much more expensive policies, and people are again blaming the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) for the fact that they think they will have to pay more for health insurance-- whether or not they actually will have to pay more for health insurance.  The misinformation is amazing and preposterous.

Are there some people who will have to pay more for health insurance?  Unfortunately, yes, some people may get stuck paying more for health insurance, but most of those people will be getting better plans.  These are generally people who had bad policies to begin with.  Also, some people who are older and have an income that is too high for them to qualify for tax credits may have to pay more.  Some younger people might also have to pay a bit more for health insurance.  


Here's a story from NBC Nightly News that has hit the Internet today.  Paul Waldman at The American Prospect at Prospect.org presented the tale of a woman's woe along with a solid rebut. I've been digging through this all day, and I have a bit more to add to the whole picture.



The story is of a middle-aged woman, a real estate agent, living in the Los Angeles area. There are plenty of things we don't know about this woman.  We don't know her age, which makes a big difference, and we don't know her income, so we don't know if she will qualify for tax credits.


(Postscript:  See the update at the end of this story.  More information about this woman and her situation has been published by the LA Times. 11/1/2013)


Here's how Mr. Waldman at The American Prospect frames the situation:

First he calls the kind of story about ObamaCares as "exemplar" story.  His article is as much about the way the Affordable Care Act is being reported as it is about the actual plans available under ACA.  Check out the link to get a better understanding of this.  He continues:


To see how misleading some of these exemplar stories can be, let's take this piece from last night's NBC Nightly News, which uses an exemplar named Deborah Cavallaro, a self-employed realtor from Los Angeles who buys insurance on the individual market: 
We learn in this story that her insurer is cancelling her current plan, which costs $293 a month, because it doesn't comply with the new law. They've offered her a new plan at $484 a month. That sounds like it sucks! But here are some things the story never tells us. 
First, what exactly was her old plan? Deborah looks to be around 45. If she bought a plan on the individual market for $293 a month, I can guarantee you it barely deserved to be called insurance at all (I've bought insurance like this on the individual market). It probably had a deductible in the thousands of dollars and had substantial cost-sharing for any significant medical event. But the story doesn't tell us what sort of insurance she has.

Mr. Waldman goes on to describe the kinds of insurance that she might have and the kind of insurance that she might be able to get on the California exchange.

Well, he's right and he's wrong.  

One of the people replying to Mr. Waldman's article, someone using the user ID jvanleuvan, believes that he has found more information about the plan that Ms. Cavallaro had.  He spent quite a bit of time trying to prove that the policies offered under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) are worse than her old plan.

Well, he's wrong... the numbers that he publishes actually SUPPORT the premise of the article.. but he does make a few correct points.  The truth of the situation and the validity of Mr. Waldman's response or the replies of jvanleuvan depend on Ms. Caravallo's age.. and we don't know what that is.

Aha!  At least we know what kind of policy she had!

I watched the segment on Chris Hayes' show at MSNBC.. If you stop the TV, you can see exactly what kind of policy she had that was cancelled.  Both Mr. Waldman and jvanleuvan were off in their assumptions.

Here's my reply to jvan found in the comments at prospect.org:

I looked up these numbers also, both at Kaiser and at the Covered California site. I also looked very carefully at the clip from NBC. You (and I before I looked carefully at the clip) assumed that the woman might be on something like Kaiser permanante's plan. But no, she was on a Anthem Blue Cross Clearprotection 5000 plan. Here are some of the details of that plan: Deductible: $5,000. 40% coinsurance. Out of pocket limit $8,500. It does include a reasonable prescription drug plan as long as the person is on "regular" medications. It is considered an "A" rated plan. There are more details available online, along with the statement that this plan is no longer available as of January 2014. 



It's very much like a bronze ObamaCare plan except that the out-of-pocket limit is lower in the ObamaCare plan.  Of course, health insurance policies have always gone up every year, so we have no idea how much her premium would have increased if her old plan were still available. 



First of all, all of the numbers that you are posting about ObamaCare plans assume NO tax credit.. Therefore, we would assume that this single woman, getting insurance for herself and herself only, makes at least $46,000 a year. The reality is that many, perhaps most, single women who need health insurance (who don't have employer-provided health insurance) make less, probably a lot less, than 46K a year.  They would then be eligible for a tax credit. 



We don't know her health situation.. We can assume that her health is good enough for her to be insured at a reasonable rate NOW. If she experienced a health problem under the old pre-Affordable Care Act system, she could be dropped. Then all of this nit-picking about which plan is better would be meaningless as the poor woman wouldn't have any health insurance at all... or she would be trying to decide if she could really afford a thousand dollars or more a month.. or if she should risk going without any health insurance. You don't mention that, and, believe me, when you start to get into your 40's, every year brings with it more of a chance of something that will turn into a "pre-existing condition". 



Now... This woman, middle aged, higher income, good health, had a plan with a $5,000 deductible and an out-of-pocket limit of $8,500 that cost her $293 a month. She doesn't want to pay $494 a month. And the Republicans and other naysayers are making it seem as if that is her only choice. But you, jvan, as well as Mr. Waldman, the author of this article, have shown us that, if she is indeed only 45 or 50 years old, she has plenty of choices, almost all of them much less than the "new" policy she was offered at $494 a month. 



Let's look at plans under ObamaCares (Covered California in this case) that cost about $300/month, which is about what she was paying. First of all, there is a big jump in premiums between people who are 45 and people who are 55. We really don't know how old she is, and I personally think she is a bit older than the 45 years of age that the author of this article estimated. If she is 45, all of the bronze plans are better than what she now has in terms of deductible and annual payouts, and none of them exceed $277 a month. Additionally, five silver plans have a premium less than $328/month and are better in terms of copayments and deductibles. Also, two gold plans are less than $325 a month. 

Unfortunately, if she is older, her premiums will be higher... If she is in her 60's, she will only find plans, including bronze plans, that have premiums in the $400's. That bronze plan, however, also has a deductible of 5000K, but a lower annual out-of-pocket limit of $6350 than her current plan. Of course, she can't be dumped from her insurance if she, like so many people in their 60's, develops some kind of health condition. People in their mid 50's are going to be paying at least $300/month for bronze plans, and at least $400/month for silver plans. 

So here is the bottom line: If she is in her upper 50's or 60's and making more than $46,000, she will be one of these people who will be paying more, perhaps $100 more a month,  for a similar plan (bronze) to the one she had, but she can't be dropped, which is a big thing when you get into your upper 50's or 60's. If she is only 45 or 50, she has plenty of options, some of them even cheaper than what she was paying. 

Age is the key here, as is her income (in terms of whether or not she is eligible for subsidies)......... and we don't know either of those things.


So what does all of this mean?
  • Unless we know the person's income, age, general health, and details of his or her previous health plan, it's hard to make any real comparisons.  Most of these stories about people losing their health insurance omit these important details.
  • Most of these stories don't even mention the possibility that the aggrieved individual may be eligible for tax credits.  The availability of tax credits can make a huge difference in the price of the various plans.  
  • Yes, some people will wind up paying more.  Some will pay more to get more, and some will pay more and get about the same.   
  • Ultimately this will be a better country if we don't have tens of thousands of people dying of treatable disorders in this country every year.  To me, that really is the bottom line.             


Update:  LA Times reporter Michael Hiltzik dug a little deeper, interviewed Ms. Cavallaro in more depth and found out more Ms. Caravallo and her situation HERE.  Here are the highlights:

  • As I suspected, the woman is 60, not 45. 
  • As mentioned above, her Anthem plan is considered non-conforming under the Obamacare guidelines.  Hiltzik writes: "Her plan also limits her to two doctor visits a year, for which she shoulders a copay of $40 each. After that, she pays the whole cost of subsequent visits.
    This fits the very definition of a nonconforming plan under Obamacare. The deductible and out-of-pocket maximums are too high, the provisions for doctor visits too skimpy. "
  • The woman is entitled to tax credits based on this year's income, and those tax credits will provide about $200/month towards her improved health insurance if she would bother to actually get on the Covered California website and check.  She had not bothered to check her possible options on the Covered California website before she complained to the media.
  • The woman believes that she can go to any doctor under her current plan (though she can only go twice a year) and that will be restricted in her options under an exchange plan.  Hiltzik says that this is not necessarily true.
  • The woman is concerned that she may make more money in 2014 and may no longer qualify for the subsidies.  (All I can say about that one is "Gimme a break".  She should be so lucky.)
  • From the article:  "When she told Channel 4 that "for the first time in my whole life, I will be without insurance," it's hard to understand what she was talking about. (Channel 4 didn't ask.) Better plans than she has now are available for her to purchase today, some of them for less money. "
  • Mike Hiltzik's bottom line:   "The bottom line is that Cavallaro's assertion that "there's nothing affordable about the Affordable Care Act," as she put it Tuesday on NBC Channel 4, is the product of her own misunderstandings, abetted by a passel of uninformed and incurious news reporters."
  • Finally:  "The sad truth is that Cavallaro has been very poorly served by the health insurance industry and the news media. It seems that Anthem didn't adequately explain her options for 2014 when it disclosed that her current plan is being canceled. If her insurance brokers told her what she says they did, they failed her. And the reporters who interviewed her without getting all the facts produced inexcusably shoddy work -- from Maria Bartiromo on down. They not only did her a disservice, but failed the rest of us too." (Emphasis mine).
Thanks, Michael! We need more reporters like you.

Let me repeat a couple of things I mentioned above:


  • A 60 year old woman who earns more than $46K a year may well wind up paying more for her health insurance on the exchanges if she previously had a "catastrophic" limited plan as did Ms. Cavallaro, but the new plan will give her more benefits.  
  • A 60 year old woman, entering a time of her life when she may be hit with more health problems, was taking a big chance with those limiting "catastrophic" plans.  She was betting on continuing to be healthy (I would guess) until she is eligible for Medicare.  
  • If she did get ill, her insurer, Anthem Blue Cross, could have either raised her rates substantially or cancelled her policy altogether.  Then her current Anthem plan would not have helped her in any way.   
My catty addition

This woman is a REAL ESTATE agent?  Does she treat her customers with as little care, as little attention to detail, as she has treated herself in terms of her health insurance?  Does she jump to conclusions and not do necessary research in dealing with her clients?  Or perhaps she is just a right-wing political hack?  All I know is that, if I were living in her area and in the market to sell or buy a home, I'm not sure I'd give my business to Ms. Cavallaro.         

  




Thursday, September 5, 2013

Do You Hate Unions? Then Move to an Anti-union state!

From our friends at Being Liberal on Facebook:

Do you hate unions?  Would you rather live in an anti-union state?



Found HERE at Being Liberal on Facebook


And there is a difference in the STATES led by the two parties!

There is a comment at that link that lists many improvements and rights that unions have brought to the workers of this country.. even the workers who are NOT union members.  Unfortunately, many of these improvements and rights are under attack.. or have been seriously curtailed in this country.  For instance, how many people have employer-sponsored pensions anymore?

"Did you know that labor unions made the following 36 things possible?
  • Weekends without work
  • All breaks at work, including your lunch breaks
  • Paid vacation
  • Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Sick leave
  • Social Security
  • Minimum wage
  • Civil Rights Act/Title VII - prohibits employer discrimination
  • 8-hour work day
  • Overtime pay
  • Child labor laws
  • Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)
  • 40-hour work week
  • Workers’ compensation (workers’ comp)
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Pensions
  • Workplace safety standards and regulations
  • Employer health care insurance
  • Collective bargaining rights for employees
  • Wrongful termination laws
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)
  • Whistleblower protection laws
  • Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) - prohibits employers from using a lie detector test on an employee
  • Veteran's Employment and Training Services (VETS)
  • Compensation increases and evaluations (i.e. raises)
  • Sexual harassment laws
  • Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Holiday pay
  • Employer dental, life, and vision insurance
  • Privacy rights
  • Pregnancy and parental leave
  • Military leave
  • The right to strike
  • Public education for children
  • Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011 - requires employers pay men and women equally for the same amount of work
  • Laws ending sweatshops in the United States
Thank a union member by buying union-made in America products!"

Monday, August 19, 2013

Voter Fraud in Florida? Gimme a break.


"True the Vote" Has Found Absentee Voter Fraud!

Apparently the right wing Republican-supported "non-partisan" group True the Vote which has been ceaselessly looking for voting fraud in the protection of our democracy (Yes, I'm being sarcastic) found 173 cases of people registered and apparently voting in both Florida and Maryland.

Wow... 173 between these two states alone.

That could extrapolate to up to 200,000 people registered and apparently voting in two states all over the United States.  Over 127,000,000 people voted in the most recent 2012 elections, so has True the Vote found proof that 0.16%, that is, a fraction of a percent of votes cast in 2012,  are fraudulent because they were cast by the same person in two different states?

I can just imagine the right wing talkers going bonkers over this statistic. After all, some group in Florida called the FloridaWatchdog.org is posting headlines screaming that Absentee Ballot Fraud is Rampant in Florida!  

From the article:


MIAMI — Just when the whole messy, unsavory business of electoral fraud seems to have died down in Florida, someone has to go and turn up another case.
True the Vote, a citizen-led organization that looks to restore truth, faith, and integrity to elections, has found 173 new cases of electoral fraud in Florida and Maryland. As reported in our story last Wednesday, it appears that some voters believe they are entitled to be registered in more than one state and cast more than one vote.
How dare those cheating Democrats!  

A pox on those lying, cheating Democrats and all of their houses!  One sixth of a percent!  (Sarcasm again.) A sixth of a percent is not much, but it might, in some very rare cases, if concentrated in one or two districts or counties, cause the results of a very close race to be WRONG!  

Except...

Well...  Don't get too excited yet, Republicans...  You haven't found the wholesale fraud that you are dying to uncover.  Here's the whole story:

Of those 173 dual-registered-and-voting cases, only TEN, yes, that's right:  TEN as in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, TEN! dual registered voters voted in the 2012 federal election in Florida.  137 dated back to 2006!

If we extrapolate the ten dual voters found in Florida and Maryland in 2012, we could have up to 12,000 dual registered-and-voted people in 2012 throughout the United States.  Twelve thousand out of the 127 million that voted... That's one in ten thousand fraudulent votes.  One in ten thousand. And let's remember that we have no idea from the data that True the Vote has presented whether or not these double-registered and voted people voted Republican or Democrat.  

Remember Those Long Lines?     
Found at tampabay.com:  Long Lines In Florida in 2012


Now...  We all saw those long lines in Florida last November, didn't we?  How many people were disenfranchised.. turned away.. because of the procedures put in place by Florida's Republican governor Rick Scott to cut back early voting days and hours?  Yes, many people waited in line, but we can imagine that many people simply COULD NOT wait in line.. and I bet the number of people who were disenfranchised by Republican policies in Florida was a lot higher than ten.


Will the Republicans Throw Her a Bone?

My comment to Marianela Toledo, who wrote the above-quoted article for FloridaWatchdog.org:


 You fail to mention that, of these 173 absentee ballot problems, only ten (10) were from the 2012 election. Most of them, 137, were from the 2006 election. When I see those numbers I wonder what happened between 2006 and 2012 to reduce the numbers of double voters so exponentially. 
Now.. this whole silly business. How many people do you think were not able to vote in Florida in 2012 due to those extremely long lines? I would bet that it is a lot more than 10. 
Keep working, Marianela. Your Republican overlords may just throw you a bone or two.

Woof! 
   


Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Two Parties Only Divide Us?

Many people think that there is something artificial about the divisions between the two parties. 


Many also feel that there is some kind of "conspiracy" to divide us on "petty" issues. 


"Charles", commenting on the above picture at the Teanderthal Party Facebook page, is one who doesn't believe in this "two parties" stuff:  


I'm sorry, but if anyone in here is falling for this "Left vs Right" bullshit, you've all got it wrong. The two party system divides us. A nation divided, will fall. Instead of all the "Left vs Right", why don't we, as a people, drop the party line bullshit, and start doing what is RIGHT for everyone, as a whole?

My reply to Charles:   

Yes, I do believe that we should figure out what is RIGHT for everyone. This is what I think is "right" for everyone:
  • A strong social safety net, for instance. Do you think everybody would agree that is "right" for the country? 
  • Strong gun controls. Do you think that everybody would agree that is "right" for the country? 
  • Free birth control so that only people who want children will bring them into the world. Do you think that everybody would agree that is "right" for the country? 
  • Marriage equality so that people can marry whoever they wish to marry regardless of gender. Do you think that everybody would agree that is "right" for the country? 
  • A path to citizenship for people who have been here for years without documentation. Do you think that everybody would agree that is "right" for the country?

Charles, dear, is it starting to sink in? What I think is "right" for the country is probably exactly the opposite as what significant numbers of the people feel is "right" for the country. 

The two party system divides us, Charles, because we ARE divided. I do not agree with what is good for the country with many of my neighbors, former classmates, even some family members. If they could understand my point of view and agree, then we could get rid of these silly two parties.

No, Charles, the two parties are NOT "both the same".

Monday, July 29, 2013

"Liberty": What It Means To Me

Liberty:  Misused and Overused
  

The term "liberty" has been bandied about, used and abused by libertarians and conservatives for many years, but now many young people and a few far-left liberals are jumping on board.

I've heard right wingers on talk radio ranting and raving that somehow our "liberties" are being extinguished due to the Affordable Care Act mandate that all of us have health insurance.  I've also heard that "liberty" is somehow the opposite of paying taxes, as in "They are stealing from you and you are not free if you pay taxes".

Most recently, the term "liberty" is being used when people discuss the Edward Snowden revelations about the NSA (National Security Administration), the agency which is supposedly "reading" your emails and listening to your phone calls.  

The NSA?  Really?


First of all, I can't really understand what all the hullabaloo about the NSA is about.  I remember all of this coming to light back in 2006 and I didn't like it, but I didn't think much about it back then.      

Here's why all of this blathering about "liberty" in the context of health insurance, taxes, and the NSA doesn't send me pounding to the keyboards with either right-wing tirades or "Both parties are the same" nonsense:

To me, the biggest threat to our freedom, to our liberty, is anything that brings about the decimation of the middle and working classes in this country, anything that infringes on the financial security of the middle and working classes.

Let's face it:  "Freedom" and "liberty" is meaningless-
  • If someone can't get a stable roof over his head.
  • If a family can't pay for heat or electricity.
  • If a family needs to fight to find food.
  • If someone who is willing to work (and has skills) can't find work that provides reasonable pay.
  • If someone who is experiencing health problems can't get those problems properly diagnosed and treated due to not having access to adequate health care.
What does "lack of freedom" mean to me?  Well, sorry, but it doesn't mean the NSA looking at phone call  metadata or someone being "forced" to buy health insurance.  (Only a fool would go without health insurance anyway if he/she could afford it).  To me...  
  • Lack of freedom is a disabled person who can't work who has no income and no assets.  
  • Lack of freedom is an elderly person who, after working all of his/her life, has NO income and no assets for any of a dozen reasons.
  • Lack of freedom is a young woman who can't get birth control.
  • Lack of freedom is a young woman who finds herself pregnant and knows that she can't provide the emotional or financial support for a child.
  • Lack of freedom is a woman pregnant with a wanted child who discovers that the baby she is carrying will have a fatal disease and no longer has the freedom to make a decision about what to do.
  • Lack of freedom is a person who has voted for six decades who is told he/she can no longer vote because he/she doesn't have a picture ID.           

These kinds of situations mean REAL lack of freedom to me.  These kinds of situations provide the real assault on liberty in our country.  Not some uber-rich guy who wants the "freedom" to pollute or the "freedom" to funnel oodles of cash to the political candidates of his/her choice without any oversight.

"Liberty" is not about the NSA or the individual mandate.


To me, "Liberty" is not as much about the NSA digging through data to find terrorists as it is about hard-working Americans not being able to find a decent-paying job and then not being able to keep a roof over their heads or the heat on.  When you are worried you are going to be tossed out into the street, then you understand what lack of liberty is about, not when you read about Edward Snowden taking a high-paying job and shoveling documents to an English journalist just to show us how evil the NSA (and President Obama) are.          


In other words, to me, lack of freedom means poor treatment of workers and citizens and an inadequate, unattainable, or simply absent social safety net. It means lack of freedom to make decisions, to attain health care, or to vote.

I don't care if the NSA reads every last Facebook post I write; every last email I send; and listens to every last phone call I make.  Believe me, they'll be bored and I would hope that we aren't paying anyone to "listen" to the likes of me.  But the big bad gub'mint better not mess with Social Security, SSDI, Medicare, or ObamaCares.  Those are the programs that are going to provide "freedom" for me and my family starting now and into my old age.  Yes, I started working when I was 14 and my husband also started working when he was very young. We both at various times in our lives made good money, and I was a master saver and investor.  For a host of reasons, that isn't doing us any good right now.    

Also, I do worry that this whole NSA "Obama is bad" thing is just a diversion by the righties and Paulbots to divide progressives and liberals so those righties and Paulbot characters can strip away more of our real freedom as human beings and as citizens of the United States of America:

The freedom to live and die with dignity.  

If you are living on the street and eating out of dumpsters, if you FEAR living on the street and eating out of dumpsters, you are not free and "liberty" is an alien concept to you, no matter what the Republicans and the Paulbots tell you.   

Note:  It appears that my friends at Politicusa.com are sharing my concerns.  In an article published over the weekend entitled As Republicans Make Millions Suffer, the Left’s Ideologues Obsess Over Edward Snowden, the author makes this point:     "At some level one can appreciate the devotion and concern so many on the left have for one man’s self-imposed confinement to a Russian airport, but while they are wringing their hands and fretting over one man’s predicament, their neighbors, family members, and workmates are suffering the effects of Republican assaults."
Note: The definition of "liberty" and "freedom" is not absolute. Wikipedia has a good, decent introduction to the discussion of what liberty means and what it has meant historically.  The introduction to the Wikipedia article on "liberty" states: "Liberty is the value of individuals to have agency (control over their own actions). Different conceptions of liberty articulate the relationship of individuals to society in different ways— these conceptions relate to life under a social contract, existence in an imagined state of nature, and related to the active exercise of freedom and rights as essential to liberty. Understanding liberty involves how we imagine the individual's roles and responsibilities in society in relation to concepts of free will and determinism, which involves the larger domain of metaphysics.

Individualist and classical liberal conceptions of liberty typically consist of the freedom of individuals from outside compulsion or coercion, also known as negative liberty. This conception of liberty, which coincides with the libertarian point-of-view, suggests that people should, must, and ought to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions, while in contrast, Social liberal conceptions of (positive liberty) liberty place an emphasis upon social structure and agency and is therefore directed toward ensuring egalitarianism. In feudal societies, a "liberty" was an area of allodial land where the rights of the ruler or monarch were waived."

A retort of John Locke to Sir Robert Filner's definition of "liberty", also found at Wikipedia:  "In political society, liberty consists of being under no other lawmaking power except that established by consent in the commonwealth. People are free from the dominion of any will or legal restraint apart from that enacted by their own constituted lawmaking power according to the trust put in it. Thus, freedom is not as Sir Robert Filmer defines it: ‘A liberty for everyone to do what he likes, to live as he pleases, and not to be tied by any laws.’ Freedom is constrained by laws in both the state of nature and political society."

Merriam-Webster defines liberty as:
1 : the quality or state of being free:
  • a : the power to do as one pleases
  • b : freedom from physical restraint
  • c : freedom from arbitrary or despotic control
  • d : the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges
  • e : the power of choice
2  
  • a : a right or immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant :privilege
  • b : permission especially to go freely within specified limits
3  : an action going beyond normal limits: as
  • b : risk, chance <took foolish liberties with his health>
  • c : a violation of rules or a deviation from standard practice
  • d : a distortion of fact
Is there a difference between freedom and liberty? 
Interesting article here, but one quote, taken from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, that caught my eye: 
"Many authors prefer to talk of positive and negative freedom. This is only a difference of style, and the terms ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom’ can be used interchangeably. Although some attempts have been made to distinguish between liberty and freedom, these have not caught on. Neither can they be translated into other European languages, which contain only the one term, of either Latin or Germanic origin (e.g. liberté, Freiheit), where English contains both."


Friday, July 26, 2013

What Values Does Your Party Represent? (from MEME GOP)


From Meme GOP on Facebook: 






From the discussion:

actually neither the Democrats nor Republicans represent those values anymore. they are both corporate-owned and paid for.

Well, no, to whoever posted that one.  There is one party that has refused to fund food stamps, for instance, in current legislation and wants to significantly decrease funding for food stamps in proposed legislation.  And there is one party who is fighting this tooth and nail..

 No, both parties are not the same!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

After the Zimmerman/ Trayvon Martin Verdict:

George Zimmerman Walks...

The following was inspired by the disturbing verdict in the George Zimmerman trial:



Written by Margie and found on Facebook: 
"I want everyone to take the anger, their raw emotion, and take action. Not violence, no that would be wrong. We need to take this country back. We need to take back every county and small town. We need to take back every school, every city, every county, every judgeship. We need to take back every state, every state senator, every governorship. We need to take back every congressman's seat and senator's seat. We need to take back our courts from traffic court to Supreme Court. We need to take it all back, NOW!"
(Cross posted at Molly's Middle America)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Texas 200 Years Ago... And Last Night.

In Texas 200 years ago:


Old Woman in a Shoe picture found here
A good friend, a woman who was born and raised in Texas, passed away a few days ago.  She came north after WWII and had been here so many years by the time I met her that she no longer had a Texas drawl.  

In her memory, I started to research her family tree, which has its roots firmly in Texas soil back 150 years.  Some of her ancestors were 
Texas freedom fighters.  One was a Justice in the Texas Republic appointed by Sam Houston himself.       



Two Teenagers named Polly and Margaret



However, another of my friend's forebears, a great great grandmother named Margaret, was born in 1815 and married in 1830, at age 15.  Her first child was born later that same year, in 1830.  She went on to have 14 children over the next 27 years.  Six months after her last child was born, she died at age 43, no notations as to cause of death.

Eight months after her death, her husband remarried.  He had three children with the second wife, and the second wife died within a few weeks of the birth of that last child.  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

To Republicans, Ignorance is Bliss.. Apparently.


Rep. Jeff Duncan (R), South Carolina  

Good grief.  Does the Republican insanity ever end?    

A group of Republicans, led by Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, wants to eliminate key economic statistics by eliminating all of the surveys that the government now conducts, except the ten year Census.  From the Huffington Post:.

"A group of Republicans (is) cooking up legislation that could give President Barack Obama an unintentional assist with disagreeable unemployment numbers -- by eliminating the key economic statistic altogether. 
The bill, introduced last week by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), would bar the U.S. Census Bureau from conducting nearly all surveys except for a decennial population count. Such a step that would end the government's ability to provide reliable estimates of the employment rate. Indeed, the government would not be able to produce any of the major economic indices that move markets every month, said multiple statistics experts, who were aghast at the proposal."

Who Needs Numbers Anyway?  Let's Just Stay in the Fog! 

We don't need to know how many people are employed or unemployed, how many live in poverty, how many people are dying or being born at what rates, how many people are in school or have degrees, right?


Apparently none of that stuff is important or necessary to the numbnuts who call themselves Republicans.  No wonder we are increasingly becoming the laughingstock of the developed world.

Remember:

"Information is the bane of all oligarchs and tyrants."


Comments from the article:
 

Independent observers had a hard time wrapping their minds around the legislation. 
"This learning is valuable in so many ways -- in terms of helping the government allocate resources, allowing researchers to deepen our understanding of our social and cultural life, allowing business to make decisions about how to target customers and thereby become more profitable, and so on," said John Sides, a professor of political science at George Washington University. 
"It's hard to take this seriously because they're really saying also they don't want GDP. They want no facts about what's going on in the U.S. economy," said (Maurine) Haver, (past president of the National Association for Business Economics). "It's so fundamental to a free society that we have this kind of information, I can't fathom where they're coming from. I really can't." 
"It's so unimaginable. It would be like saying we don't need policemen anymore, we don't need firemen anymore," said (Ken) Prewitt, (former director of the Census). "To say suddenly we don't need statistical information about the American economy, or American society, or American demography, or American trade, or whatever -- it's an Alice in Wonderland moment."...
Haver also suggested there is a fundamental divide between people who are interested in solid, reality-based data and those who are not.
"If you know what you think, you don't need information to help you assess what's going on," she said. "The people that need information are the people who use it because they really want the truth, not people who think that because they believe it, it becomes the truth."

Other great comments from readers:


  • No way, listen to the shock in my voice, something absolutely insanely stupid is uttered from a South Carolinian. You know, the state that until just a matter of years ago was flying the confederate flag at their statehouse.
  • In an IQ challenge between this guy and a box of rocks, box of rocks in a route...
  • As a Six Sigma guy, it hurts my brain to think that someone would want to willfully dismantle the metrics by which socioeconomic success is measured. I worship at the altar of data, and let fact-based analysis guide my decisions, both professionally, and in my personal life. For a member of Congress, and sponsors, to propose this nonsense, well, there are a host of colorful adjectives to choose from, none likely acceptable to the HP moderators. Bottom line, this is willful ignorance at its most despicable.
  • Wow. One of the stupidest and most dangerous things I've ever heard Republicans propose. Unbelievable. And people still wonder why the rest of the world thinks America has completely lost it's collective mind...
  • I love this bill. It perfectly embodies the willful ignorance at the core of modern conservatism.
  • So, in essence, the Republicans want to return the American people to a state of complete ignorance about the state of their economy, their population's demographics and comparative standing in the world...When did the US become North Korea? 
  • Do away with GDP data, I guess so if you are a repub.....
  • Given that starting with Truman every DEM as reduced deficits as a percent of GDP(that includes Obama who has almost reduced the mess he was handed by 50%) and every repub after IKE has increased deficits as a percent of GDP!
  • Is there even ONE republican't with a functional brain anymore, anywhere?
  • They (republicans) really DO live in an alternate universe. I was going to say, alternate reality but that would be a stretch of the imagination too far.
  • Why is everyone so amazed at this GOP-proposed legislation? If you want to rule by ideology and don't want to be hounded by facts, you just get rid of the facts.  There, that wasn't so hard, was it?
  • There are many pressing issues so lets waste a bunch of time trying to enacting a law that has 0 chance of becoming law (even in a Republican controlled government) and also completely unnecessary. Because that is what the good people of South Carolina elected me to do!
  • South Carolina rocks! It's the greatest States in the greatest nation. We know what is important and Census data - not so important! Partly because it's a bunch of numbers. We hate numbers. Number always lie about the state of affairs. By eliminating numbers, we eliminate the unemployment and math - did I mention I hate math!
  • Having reneged on their 2010 mantra of "jobs, jobs, jobs", the GOTP is considering a different method to get rid of unemployment.
  • Just insane. Can't prove your theories work with data? Discontinue the data and keep pushing a theory with no way to know if it works. Now, that just doesn't seem smart or wise. Census data is used in healthcare, agriculture, infrastructure planning, and more on national and state levels. One big round of let's be ignorant and see what happens. Can't be good no matter how you look at it..
Republicans want to get rid of most of the work of the Census Bureau, not the Democrats! 

And yet, even in the comments to this article, there were a couple of people trying to tell us that "Both Parties Are the Same".   No, I don't see Democrats trying to get rid of Census Bureau statistical surveys or the unemployment rate.    

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Republicans Care About Women?


Republicans lie, twist, and finagle, but we all know that, don't we?

From Prevention magazine

The following article was published last August at Townhall, but it just came to my attention today.   


Townhall was trying to pretend that Republicans really care about women by highlighting inflation in food prices since Obama took office.  Now how the Republicans would stop any food price inflation, of course, is not discussed.  Much of food price inflation comes from increases in the price of fuel and some of that comes from oil speculation.  I'm sure the Republicans will tell their deluded constituency that they will stop increases in oil prices by projects such as Keystone and open drilling on federal lands.. not to mention more deep water offshore drilling.   

By the way, food and beverage prices went up 28% during the Bush years, and food alone went up 29%.  I guess the writers at Townhall think that women are too stupid to look this stuff up on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index databases where it is readily available.

From the article:          

As I've noted before, the Obama campaign is trying hard to "reach out" to women -- especially the single affluent women (with false claims about the GOP's plans to take away contraception!) and single poor women (with class warfare rhetoric and the implicit promise of more government assistance). 
But for women who are really paying attention, this should raise some eyebrows: As the graphic below illustrates, grocery prices have risen 15% just since the start of President Obama's term.  And as the RNC points out (www.gop.com), if prices have risen this much in four years, what would they be after a second Obama term?
Kitchen table issues matter.  When lefties start spouting nonsense about Republicans wanting to take women back to the 1950's, point out better to return to the prosperous '50's than to the Depression-era 1930's, courtesy of Obamanomics.

My reply:  

There is really nothing false about the desire of many in the GOP to restrict access to contraception for many women, in particular, those who are less well-off who need free or low cost contraception the most.  "Defunding Planned Parenthood" is a battlecry throughout the Republican Party.

Now back to the article from Townhall, again, published back in August 2012:

At least "Julia" in the diagram may now have a job, which is more than she had after the Bush recession.

Our Republican friends appear to be playing with numbers, which isn't surprising. According to the chart, the bill for that grocery list went up 14% from some time "before" Obama. (The article doesn't appear to tell us what month they were looking at.) Now, inflation was actually DOWN from January 2009 until December 2010 and has been rising during the recovery over the last two years. 

How much has the index for "food at home" risen from January 2009 when Obama took office until August 2012, the date on which this article was published? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 6%. So... It seems that the authors took a representative "grocery list" of items for which prices were going up faster than average to trash the Democrats. Not surprising.  (Under Bush, the "food at home" index rose 10% from January 2001 when Bush took office until August 2004.)

And, for women and families who are struggling financially, having an additional mouth to feed because of limitations in access to contraception is still a greater threat to their financial future than a 6% increase in the price of food.  


Again:  There is NOTHING in the article to suggest that the Republicans could actually do anything about inflation as a result of recovery... and inflated oil prices... (and they certainly did NOTHING about food inflation during the Bush years), but they really do count on stupidity to win them a few votes here and there. 

*************************************

For reference, here are the highlights for the Consumer Price Index report for February, which was just released Friday:
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.7 percent in February on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 2.0 percent before seasonal adjustment.
 
The gasoline index rose 9.1 percent in February to account for almost three-fourths of the seasonally adjusted all items increase. The indexes for electricity, natural gas, and fuel oil also increased, leading to a 5.4 percent rise in the energy index. 
The food index increased slightly in February, rising 0.1 percent.  
A sharp increase in the fruits and vegetables index was the major cause of the 0.1 percent increase in the food at home index, with other major grocery store food group indexes mixed.  
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2 percent in February. The indexes for shelter, used cars and trucks, recreation, and medical care all rose in February. These increases more than offset declines in the indexes for new vehicles, apparel, airline fares, and tobacco.  
The all items index increased 2.0 percent over the last 12 months compared to a 1.6 percent increase for the 12 months ending January. The index for all items less food and energy also increased 2.0 percent over the last 12 months. The energy index increased 2.3 percent and the food index rose 1.6 percent. 




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