Sunday, September 27, 2015

Even Ben Carson Wouldn't Vote For Himself

From Politico:
"But, right now, when you have something that is against the rights of women, against the rights of gays, subjugates other religions and a host of things that are not compatible with our Constitution, why in fact would you take that chance?"

Saturday, September 26, 2015


Best Twitter stream of the day.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Defund in Haste, Pay Up Later

The current fuss over Planned Parenthood funding through the Medicaid program has a number of the usual suspects feigning outrage over deceitfully doctored videos. While it seems this cabal of Congress is simply manipulating headlines for electoral gain in a campaign season, there are real life consequences to Congressional actions that need to be part of the public debate.

If a House Freedom Caucus-mediated plan to defund Planned Parenthood for a year passed and became law (unlikely under an Obama veto promise) there would in fact be some immediate savings to the government, but at the cost of perhaps 25% of current Planned Parenthood clients losing access to reproductive services.

But one gift this Congress shares with all others is the ability to wildly extrapolate from insufficient data. If a one year suspension of Planned Parenthood funding is shown to reduce costs without increasing unplanned childbirth (likely enough, since a pregnancy lasts 9 months) it's easy to imagine a "more of the same" push to make defunding permanent. Therein lies the problem. As the Congressional Budget Office reported:
 ...the bill would increase direct spending for Medicaid by $20 million in 2016, by $130 million in 2017, and by $650 million over the 2016-2025 period. Most of the increased spending for the pregnancies that occur in 2016 will take place in 2017. Netting those costs against the savings estimated above, CBO estimates that implementing the bill would increase direct spending by $130 million over the 2016-2025 period.
I think funding for PP is safe - this year, anyway - but if there's a change in White House occupants come January of 2017 we may see this faux controversy erupt all over again - just in time for the 2018 midterms.

And that's really what this fuss is all about.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Jeb! Doesn't Like Net Neutrality

It's all fun and games until Comcast decides MSNBC needs faster data than, say, Fox News.
Arguing that Washington is in the midst of a "regulatory crisis" spurred by President Obama and the Federal Communications Commission, Bush said Tuesday that, if elected to the White House, he'd "repeal or reform" a number of regulations, beginning with net neutrality.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Income Inequality Impacts More Than Just Where You Live

It turns out what you earn might determine how long you'll live there.
Rising inequality of incomes in the US is being accompanied by a rising gap in life expectancy by income category...
The fact that the gaps in life expectancy by income are rising over time is surely a major fact to be taken into account in any broader discussion of inequality.

What, I Wondered, Could Be Better Than Scott Walker Dropping Out?

Well, this, for starters:
"Based on our data, it seems very unlikely that sexual activity is a relevant trigger of heart attack," said Ulm University medical researcher Dr. Dietrich Rothenbache about a new study."

Dear Dr. Ben - I'm So Confused

So here's the thing: under fire for his No Muslim President comments Dr Ben doubled his objection in an ABC News interview today, saying,  
Carson concluded his remarks by reiterating his stance on who should be allowed to hold the nation’s highest office.
“Anyone who is running for president should embrace the Constitution and should place it above their personal beliefs," he remarked. "Anyone who can't do that should not be running for the presidency."
So if you'd assume his Subordinate-Your-Religion-to-The-Constitution position applies to all elected office, you'd be disappointed. When asked about Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis' refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, Dr Ben was plain enough:
"But this is a very basic right. This is a Judeo-Christian nation in the sense that a lot of our values and principles are based on our Judeo-Christian faith. “
...“And Congress now has a responsibility to step up to the plate and enact legislation that will protect the First Amendment rights of all Americans. That’s the reason that we have divided government. When one branch does something that tilts the balance, the other branches need to pitch in and correct the situation. This is a serious problem.” 

It's plain: Muslims should leave their religion at home but Christians are entitled to special treatment.

A Simple Fix

In states that require background checks prior to a gun purchase (a shamefully tiny number), the law frequently specifies married and cohabiting people but omits dating partners. That's a problem.
A gun is no less deadly in abusive dating relationships than it is in abusive married relationships, but in a majority of states the law pretends otherwise. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2008 48.6% of intimate partner homicides were committed by a dating partner. Of those victims, 70% were women. 
It's well past time to set up universal background checks, but that is unlikely to happen in the heat of a Presidential election cycle. However, the simple addition of the words "dating partner" into current laws (and insisting they be included in all future background check legislation) seems simple enough. Sure, it will stimulate the usual "slippery slope" argument from 2nd amendmenteers, but if #AllLivesMatter then this simple step is not only good policy but good politics.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

How The Media Invented A War On Cops

An interesting review of the reality versus the media coverage - and how an over-simplified "fair and balanced" approach to journalism fails to serve the audience. And Your Chart of the Day,
Ironically, in their effort to tell a balanced story, the news media has interjected itself in a contentious debate by presenting a false symmetry of violence when, in reality, the newsworthy trend is the dramatic increase in deaths at the hands of police.

(FOOTNOTE: I'm impressed that the only news outlet not falling for this false narrative is NPR.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Poynter Post On Hillary's New Press Strategy

Hillary's been spending time in church.
She swears (not literally)
Before church Sunday in Washington, "Clinton said from the pulpit, she received some advice from Dr. J. Philip Wogaman, the former Foundry senior pastor who’d served the first family. 'He basically said, if you’re going to read and listen to Romans: 12, you gotta to be nicer to the press,' said Clinton, to laughs from the congregation. 'I will certainly take that to heart.' She also said she’d put the counsel 'into effect.'" (The Washington Post)
Ah, right. Don’t expect a born-again Donald Trump in a skirt. As Bill Clinton biographer David Maraniss says about an alleged new strategy to be warm and cuddly, it confronts her own “purposefully encrusted calculation built up over years and decades of defensiveness." (New York Daily News)
Trouble is she's also announced a plan to be more spontaneous. I sort of have a degree of sympathy for the Clintons. I can't think of a couple that's gone through more trials by public fire in my lifetime. I understand the reticence to be voluble with the press. But now Hillary's media strategies are just getting more awkward all the time.

List: Every Movie President Jimmy Carter Watched In The White House

Have to appreciate the effort that went into this.
After painstakingly going through the President’s daily journal, which outlined his tasks for each day, I’ve made a list of every movie Carter watched while in office from January 20, 1977 until January 20, 1981. And man, he really did watch a lot of films.
Part of my fascination with the movies that presidents watch is just cheap voyeurism. But the other part is an earnest belief that popular culture influences things in the real world. President Nixon was obsessed with the film Patton during the Vietnam War. President Reagan urged Congress to take computer security seriously after seeing War Games in 1983.
And George W. Bush was a big fan of 24. Hmm... Mr. Trump? what movies do you like?

Joan Armatrading's Last World Tour

Thanks to my old mag, Glide, for a great interview.
Beginning next week, on September 23 to be precise, the legendary singer/songwriter Joan Armatrading will kick off the second half of the United States leg of her Me Myself I world tour, playing approximately thirty dates over a two month period. What makes this tour unique is that it is the first time in her forty year career that Armatrading has done a whole tour completely solo. Just her voice, her words, her guitar. This is something that the woman born on the island of Saint Kitts has wanted to do for some time. Why she has decided to finally do these shows this way is to say goodbye to endless touring.

Some Pics From Lockn' Fest

Hat tip to Jorma Kaukonen for sharing

Wouldn't This Be A Great Read!

“Contrary to what conventional wisdom would have you believe…record collecting isn’t about music. Not entirely, anyway,” says music writer Jeff “Chairman” Mao in Dust & Grooves. Rather, it’s about the passion of collecting, and that’s what this captivating book is about.
Photographer Eilon Paz spent six years traveling to forty cities in twelve countries to meet the world’s most enthusiastic vinyl collectors. The result is the seductive book,Dust & Grooves, originally published as a Kickstarter project but released today in this newer edition by Ten Speed Press.

And Then What?

An Indiana man is released from prison after spending 34 years behind bars for a murder he did not commit. His toughest challenges may lie ahead.
Adapting to today's social norms after three decades behind bars is a challenge, Fogle said.
“It's like stepping out onto Mars,” he said. “Everything is changed. I don't even know how to work on a car anymore.”
Fogle said he's acquired a cellphone, but, “using it is another thing.”

The Ferguson Commission Report

Props to the people who invested time and effort in creating this report. They seem to have grasped the essential barrier to the Commission's efforts.
Though some may be feeling “Ferguson fatigue,” we
believe that Ferguson can, and should, represent a
collective awakening to the issues that many in our region
knew and understood, but for many others were invisible.
Now they are not.
This new, shared sense of understanding calls us to a
shared sense of responsibility, and also brings a shared
sense of opportunity. What would a more just, a more
unified, a more equitable St. Louis be capable of ? We
must use the energy and the urgency inspired by Ferguson
to find out.
But at the same time - and on the same page - they forecast the likely fate of the report.
In her 2010 book “Flak-Catchers: One Hundred Years
of Riot Commission Politics in America,” author Lindsey
Lupo examines five commissions that were appointed in
response to race riots between 1919 and 1992. She argues
that historically, these commissions are appointed to calm
the public, and give the impression that the government
is doing something—that they “give the appearance of
action but are little more than a tool to maintain the
status quo,” and that, “social and racial issues in the cities
are not actually addressed by the commission”
I hope I'm wrong.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Pete Souza Has The Best Job In America

He's been the official White House photographer for years, a job that gave him access to the President at crucial moments, like the famous photo of Obama and his team watching the bin Laden raid unfold.

But it's pics like this one that really show Pete's artistry with lens and light.

Kim Davis Is The Latest In A Long Line Of Wrong

Instead of Rosa Parks, the more apt comparison for Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis may be with her predecessors on the wrong side of history, like Ben Franklin's son, the anti-suffragettes, and George Wallace. This piece is not a long read, but there are a couple of fascinating moments in history that reflect of the Davis situation today.


Forget That "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" Theory

A British historian thinks he's found the earliest use. And also, "Fuckebythenavele" would be an excellent name for a porn film.
 An historian believes he may have found the earliest recorded use of the word “f***” in the English language where its meaning carries a clear sexual connotation, hidden within court records from 1310, concerning a man named Roger Fuckebythenavele.
Dr Paul Booth, a former lecturer in medieval history and an honorary senior research fellow in history at Keele University, made the accidental discovery in a set of Chester County court documents from September 1310 while researching the period of Edward II.

What War On Cops (Again)?

Radley Balko continues to point out the obvious: being a police officer has rarely been safer.
All of this fact-free fearmongering is having an effect. A Rasmussen poll taken last week found that 58 percent of respondents now believe there is now a “war on police.” Just 27 percent disagreed.
So let’s go through the numbers. Again. So far, 2015 is on pace to see 35 felonious killings of police officers. If that pace holds, this year would end with the second lowest number of murdered cops in decades.

At this point the questions isn't, "why is there a war on cops," it's, "Why does Fox News want you to think there is?"

Sunday, September 13, 2015


OMFG! I NEED to see this.

Too Bad About Your Kid's Cancer, But I've Got An Election To Win

As we enter another year of life under Obamacare the number of red states that still refuse to expand Medicaid eligibility is unlikely to change.
...the political environment heading into the 2016 presidential elections means it’s less likely for state lawmakers to approve expanding Medicaid.
In the latest tally from the Kaiser Family Foundation, the organization shows the  “status of state action” has only one state discussing adoption of the Medicaid expansion.
There's something inherently evil in denying healthcare to poor working people and their children in order to curry favor with more affluent voters.

In Which Ken Ham Explains Climate Change

I love creationists. Who else can unblinkingly believe two penguins walked from  Antarctica to the Middle East to get on Noah's' Ark?

Originally, the climate was created perfect, but sin changed everything (Genesis 3), and we no longer have a perfect climate. During the global Flood of Noah’s day about 4,350 years ago the climate was radically changed when the surface of the Earth was reshaped by the Flood. The Flood was followed by an Ice Age, which further changed our climate, and climates have gone up and down since. 

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

From YouGov:
Republicans (43%) are more than twice as likely as Democrats (20%) to say that they could conceive of a situation in which they would support a military coup in the United States. Independents tend to say that they could not (38%) rather than could (29%) imagine supporting a coup.

Uh, Gov Walker? You're Not Running Against Barack Obama

High school graduate Scott Walker seems to think he's running against the incumbent President, not those other Republicans.
“I think his absence of leadership of speaking out on this issue as a leader – it doesn’t matter whether you’re a governor, a county executive, a mayor, or president of the United States, when people are going after the men and women in uniform… it is the duty of the president to stand up and say something about that, to speak up,” Walker said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
And it helps if you're accurate on the facts, like acknowledging the President did "stand up and say something about that..."
Obama called the widow of a slain Texas sheriff’s deputy earlier this month to offer his condolences.
“They put their lives on the line for our safety,” the president said. “Targeting police officers is completely unacceptable – an affront to civilized society.”

Gun Safety Initiative Faces Uphill Struggle

Smart gun technology always seems like such an obviously good thing. Tech that can prevent use of deadly weapons by non-owners doesn't seem to have a down side. At the least, tech that can prevent a gun owner from being killed with his own pistol should be attractive, and preventing accidental child death by gunshot would reasonably be expected to receive universal approval.

Armatix was a company that manufactured a smart gun that could only be fired by its owner. The concept was seen as a step toward reducing gun violence but zealots raised such a fuss the company eventually was forced into bankruptcy. 
Well, here's some failed gun news I actually like to hear. A gun company seeking to produce a smart gun has filed chapter 11 restructuring.
 Armatix, makers of the ip1 smart gun, a gun that was pushed by communist gun-grabbing Democrats and the only gun that could be legally sold in New Jersey in 2014, under Governor Chris Christie, entered into "chapter 11-style restructuring proceedings in Germany" on May 20, 2015.

A Sunday Morning Meditation

Stunning skills!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

We Might See Hillary's Personal Emails After All

So if the Clinton email server wasn't wiped per government specs we ought to be able to see another 30,000 emails. But I have to say, if her "personal" messaging is anything as bland and pedestrian as her "professional" communications I'd vote for extra pay for the poor State Department staffers that will have read them all.

Important Study Finds Healthcare Inequality

Medicaid enrollees has much poorer outcomes than patients with private insurance, according to a massive, 1.5 million patient study of stroke patients. But it's probably not due to Medicaid so much as the risk factors the Medicaid population carries.
That doesn't mean hospitals treat people differently based on their insurance status, said Maryam Rahman, M.D., an assistant professor in the UF College of Medicine's department of neurosurgery and the study's principal investigator. Rather, the difference in mortality rates and medical outcomes between Medicaid patients and those with private insurance may be influenced by what happens before they arrive at a hospital.
"This is most likely related to the fact that Medicaid and uninsured patients don't have access to primary preventive care the way insured patients do," Rahman said. "In general, they're going to be a sicker population with higher obesity rates and a greater rate of uncontrolled diabetes. That's going to influence how they do with any diagnosis."

How Republicans Helped the Iran Deal

Jamelle Bouie has an interesting theory.
But for as much as the White House can justly gloat over its strategy for securing Senate support, we shouldn’t ignore the extent to which it had a huge ally in persuading Democrats to stand with the deal. Namely, the Republican Party.
In short, he claims the GOP refusal to compromise is a prime factor in Democratic cohesion. Since no compromise is possible, an all-or-nothing game inevitably follows, and in the case of Democrats prevailing (as they did with this deal and the passage of the ACA in 2010) the GOP walks away with little more than recriminations.

I'm not convinced he's right on all counts, but there are enough examples over the past 6 years to make this a credible theory.

Friday, September 11, 2015

New Steve Earle Tune: "Mississippi, It's Time"

I heard this a couple of week ago at a Colorado show. Pretty amazing tune from a Southerner.

Conservative Republicans Want to Shut Down Government

Because it worked so well in 2013, the ironically named "Freedom Caucus" of far right House members is committed to opposing any budget deal that funds Planned Parenthood, and they're willing to close everything down if that's what it takes.
“Given the appalling revelations surrounding Planned Parenthood, we cannot in good moral conscience vote to send taxpayer money to this organization while still fulfilling our duty to represent our constituents. We must therefore oppose any spending measure that contains funding for Planned Parenthood.”
The irony of staking a "moral conscience" stand on demonstrably deceitful videos seems lost on these guys. And, to be sure, they also seem unaware that it is only "guys" on the bandwagon - the letter they circulated contains not a single female Representative's name.

But more to the point, the "Freedom Caucus" seems bent on depriving a significant segment of their constituency, poor people, of access to valuable preventative health services, like long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), that have been shown to dramatically reduce demand for abortion, which is the goal of this muddle-headed effort in the first place.

Maybe a better name for this tribe of tyrants is "Freedom From Thought Caucus."

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Three Predictions

Jim Jordan (R - Ohio) made three predictions today:

  • Republicans will shut down the government over Planned Parenthood and America will cheer
  • Bryan Pagliano, the IT guy who set up Hillary'd email server, will get immunity and will testify
  • The IRS Commissoner, John Koskinen, will be impeached by Congress
We'll check back in around December. 

Best Name for a Jeep in a Selfie Stick Apocalypse


First World Problems

Yes, this is a Real Thing.
Some folks who choose the solitary lifestyle get a cat. I got a new pussy.
Labiaplasty, the medical term for "new pussy," is a surgical procedure to alter folds of skin around the vulva. Conveniently, I was mere driving distance from Beverly Hills, where this casual snip is pretty much status quo. Despite being the one procedure the late great Joan Rivers never underwent (I peeked . . . just kidding, she mentioned it in an interview), "vaginal rejuvenation" is the equivalent of getting one's hair trimmed in some parts of Southern California.

Got Such a Supple Wrist

A new world record for longest pinball game, on a Twilight Zone machine, has been set, 28 consecutive hours. The attempt was almost foiled when the pinball machine broke down, but fortunately a spare was at hand so game wasn't interrupted (wait - there are two functioning Twilight Zone pinball machines in the world?).
As for the toll a pinball game lasting more than a day can take on the human body, Stamm said that, surprisingly, his hands were more sore than his back. It took a lot of Advil and a singular dedication to the lure of a bygone game, but today the world has a new champion.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Committee on Energy & Commerce Clears Planned Parenthood

Committee Democrats released a report this morning summarizing Planned Parenthood's participation in fetal tissue donations and the role of the Center for Medical Progress in perpetuating manufactured outrage. It's unlikely the report will calm the political tempest over PPFA, particularly as a significant number of Republicans seem bent on stripping PPFA funding, even willing force a government shutdown to achieve their goal.
To date, the Committee has received no evidence to substantiate the allegations that Planned Parenthood has engaged in the sale of fetal tissue for profit. Furthermore, the Committee has received no evidence to support the allegations that fetal tissue was procured without consent, that Planned Parenthood physicians altered the timing, method, or procedure of an abortion solely for the purposes of obtaining fetal tissue, or that Planned Parenthood physicians performed intact dilation and evacuation in order to preserve fetal tissue for research....
 The Committee received evidence that the individuals making these unsubstantiated claims misrepresented themselves in order to gain access to Planned Parenthood personnel and facilities, and that the videos released by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) are incomplete, selectively edited, and intentionally misleading.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Mia Love Had a Meeting, Dammit!

First term Congresswoman Mia Love (R - Utah) paid back air fare costs when she flew from Salt Lake City to D.C. for "strategy" meetings that happened to allow her to attend White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, aka the Nerd Prom. But when asked about why she repaid fares she has legitimate rights to bill to the taxpayer, things got a little confusing.
“We did have a staff meeting [that weekend]. It’s a strategy meeting. I can’t really share about what we’re doing,” Love, a rising star in the Republican Party, told The Hill in a brief interview at the Capitol. “It’s a strategy meeting I had with my chief of staff, ok?”
House rules prohibit members from using their congressional allowance “to pay for any expenses related to activities or events that are primarily social in nature.” But Love’s spokesman Richard Piatt insisted the weekend trip, from Saturday to Sunday, had included time for official business...
But Love’s office, so far, has not provided The Hill with any documentation, including emails or calendar entries, showing that she had official business that weekend.

ACA Hits Enrollment Goal

Tweet of the Morning

Check out @GKJill's Tweet:

Monday, September 7, 2015

Now It's the Governor's Fault

The Kim Davis comedy just keeps getting stranger. In today's press release, Liberty Counsel blames Kentucky Governor Beshear for their client's incarceration.
 “From the outset of this case, Kim Davis has proposed numerous simple options to protect her sincerely-held religious beliefs. These less-restrictive solutions are readily available, and easily accomplished by the Governor and the state agency responsible for designing the revised marriage form at issue in this litigation. The Governor’s refusal to take elementary steps to protect religious liberties has now landed Kim Davis in jail. As a prisoner of her conscience, Davis continues to request a simple accommodation and exemption from the Governor.”

The Best Thing You'll Read About Kim Davis All Day

From Jonathan Turley:
Davis has said that “[t]o issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience.” While clerks do “sign off” on certificates, that is not a discretionary function. Their signature confirms compliance with the dictates of the law, not personal moral dictates. They cannot deny certificates to those who are legally qualified to receive them.
Davis may have had a principled position in previously declining to issue these licenses while the courts considered the merits of the question. Similarly, clerks who believed that there was a legal basis to issue such licenses based on lower court decisions would claim a principled stand. However, that debate ended the minute the box holding the Obergefell opinions was opened in the Supreme Court clerk’s office on June 26. 

The History of Facial Hair

I would purely love to see the application for the grant to fund this.
Despite reaching 'peak beard' last year, their ubiquity shows no sign of abating; facial hair remains the defining look for a generation of modern men. Now, coinciding with World Beard Day (September 5 2015), a University of Exeter expert will take a look back at beards throughout history, in a major three-year project funded by the Wellcome Trust.
I'd encourage the researcher to include George Carlin in his study.
(Beard Poem)
Here's my beard.
Ain't it weird?
Don't be sceered,
Just a beard. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Breathtakingly Compact Collection of Talking Points

Writer thinks the Pope meeting President Obama is A Very Bad Thing.
Both Obama and the pope are using global warming alarmism as a cover to hide their failure to date confronting the wholesale slaughter of Christians by radical caliphate-seeking Islamists and the orchestrated exodus flooding illegal immigrants across the porous borders of Europe and the United States.

Maybe Liberty Counsel Will Take Up This Cause

A Muslim flight attendant wants the airline to accommodate her religious prohibitions against alcohol. 

And the Irony Continues

Liberty Counsel wants you to know incarcerated Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis doesn't have a Twitter account and that a "letter" associated with that account is a fake.  OK, sure, I guess the use of fake social media accounts to comment on public issues could be news to the 5 or 6 people in America unfamiliar with social media. Asking for that account to be shut down seems a bit rich coming from a legal firm that touts its dedication to free speech and exercise of religion, but again, there's enough constitutional latitude to accommodate that degree of duplicity.

But when the Liberty Counsel guys put this out there in their press release, it's over the top. After all, Ms Davis is currently in jail because she judged the what she imagines to be sinful behavior taking place in the privacy of a couple's bedroom.
We ask that the media and the public respect the privacy of Kim’s family and church. 
Asking for special consideration for Ms Davis does seem to be the common thread running through this soap opera.  

Ruling Class Member Mike Huckabee Complains About Ruling Class

In possibly the most un-selfconscious statement in his long career of un-selfconconscious statements, Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee wants to know why failure to enforce an unconstitutional law is okay for the "ruling class" he wants to be part of, but a county clerk in Kentucky who defies a court order is in jail. 
“Why people are so angry across the country not just on this issue but on others is that the ruling class has thumbed their very nose at the Constitution.”
Maybe the former Arkansas governor (there's that "ruling class" again) should consider his own statement from a few weeks ago. 
 "Being offended is a full-time job for many. It's a tedious task, for it requires enormous amounts of imagination and creativity, [and] relentless pursuit of an audience willing to swallow the notion of the offense." - Mike Huckabee 2015

Sarah Palin Endorses Scott Farkus for President

The former Alaska governor thinks knowledge is less important that toughness.
“I think I'd rather have a president who is tough and puts America first than can win a game of Trivial Pursuit,” Palin said during a Sunday appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
So I guess she'd be cool with this guy:

Farkus & Palin in 2020!

There Seems to Be a Adult in the GOP Race

Republican Presidential candidate John Kasich comments on the Kim Davis incarceration.
The court has spoken, the court has ruled,” said the Ohio governor, who opposes same-sex marriage but has attended a same-sex wedding, on ABC’s “This Week.”
“I respect the fact that the lady doesn’t agree, but she’s also a government employee—she’s not running a church,” Mr. Kasich said. “I think she has to comply.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Court of Appeals Decision May Have Wider Implications

The New York State Psychiatric Association, an organization of psychiatrists, has won a favorable decision in its challenge to an insurance company's coverage decision process.
The New York State Psychiatric Association (NYSPA) brought a  alleging violation of state and federal laws by United. United's practices were claimed to have been designed to create the illusion of impartiality and fairness, while undermining access to treatment for patients with mental health claims. United challenged the legal standing of the NYSPA to represent the interests of its members and members' patients.
The second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that NYSPA does have standing to represent its members.  
I think this is a significant decision in that it gives providers legal standing to speak and advocate for their patients in class action lawsuits. It's an important precedent because it opens the door for other medical associations, like the American Academy of Pediatrics, to advocate in other class actions, such as, say, suits against firearms manufacturers or NRA-backed rules that discourage research into gun safety.

Stay tuned.

In Which Liberty Counsel Compares Kim Davis to Martin Luther King

Liberty Counsel has a new press release that compares Kim Davis to actual civil rights leaders, like Martin Luther King, Jr.

 Because, I guess, being jailed while peacefully demonstrating for the extension of civil rights to a minority is identical to being jailed for refusing to do your sworn duty mostly because you're a terrible theologian.

 Kim joins a long list of people who were imprisoned for their conscience. People who today we admire like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Jan Huss, John Bunyan, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and more. 

Tony Perkins Weighs In On Kim Davis

"I think he was trying to make an example of Kim Davis, and he may well do so," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which lobbies against gay marriage. "Courage breeds courage, especially when it comes from unlikely places. She may be the example that sparks a firestorm of resistance across this country."
"A firestorm of resistance" summons images of hundreds of clerks going to jail for their sincerely held refusal to keep their oath of office and support the Constitution of the United States. Better build more prisons, I guess.

But in the meantime, this solitary example of a woman guided by attorneys from the activist Liberty Counsel group (none of whom are sharing a jail cell with their victim client) takes people's attention away from Tony's last Executive Director, wannabe adulterer and serial sister-molester, Josh Duggar.

So there's an upside.

Todd Starnes Needs To Slip Into Some Dry Panties

I truly believe Judge Bunning wanted to intimidate Christians and send a very clear message – that resistance to same-sex marriage will not be tolerated -- doing with the gavel what Bull Connor tried to do with dogs and fire hoses.

Of course it is, except the issue here is extending civil rights, there's no violence being committed against a minority, the action taken is to correct illegal behavior by a public official, and the Bull Connor figure here is Kim Davis, not the gay couples whose rights she denied.

Otherwise, spot on, Todd.

Friday, September 4, 2015

A year ago, to much self-generated fanfare, the CVS pharmacy chain took tobacco products off its shelves, reasoning that a healthcare company had no legitimate interest in selling addictive carcinogens.  While there's always a self-serving element to business decisions of this kind, it did represent an intriguing move by a major tobacco merchant.

Now comes a report from CVS research arm (wait, they have a research arm?) that claims a 1% reduction in tobacco sales in the sates where CVS has a 15% or greater share of the market.
The study, conducted by CVS' Health Research Institute, evaluated cigarette pack purchases at drug, food, mass merchandise, dollar, convenience and gas station stores in the eight months after CVS stopped selling tobacco products. Over the same period, the average smoker in these states purchased five fewer cigarette packs. The 95 million fewer packs sold, CVS said, was a 1% decrease in the number of packs sold.
Now it may not seem like 95 million fewer packs sold is a big deal, but keep in mind that this decision did not adversely effect the corporation's earnings. In fact, CVS is doing pretty well for itself with 2nd quarter revenues increasing 11.9% to $24.4 billion.  But more importantly the CVS example might  just prod other companies that are considering their re-aligning products and services into a healthier configuration to take those steps.

And that would be a Good Thing.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

In Texas, He's Just Not That Into You (Anymore)

Good news for citizens, bad news for latex glove companies: Texas has clarified its laws concerning when a police officer can conduct a roadside body cavity search.  Wait, did I just write "roadside body cavity search"? That's really a thing in Texas?

Notwithstanding any other law, a peace officer may not conduct a body cavity search of a person during a traffic stop unless the officer first obtains a search warrant pursuant to this chapter authorizing the body cavity search.

Why #PoliceLivesMatter Is Redundant

Pointing out the obvious, from (of all places) Red State.’s utterly false to claim that police families are forgotten when police officers are killed. Almost no one receives more public honor, sympathy, and support, than families of slain police officers, and we haven’t needed sanctimonious newspaper columns or hashtag campaigns as a society to help us remember that.
The reason “Black Lives Matter” exists as a thing is that, for too long, when black citizens were killed by police (sometimes without justification), their deaths went largely unremarked upon and unmourned. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Can a Christian be a county clerk in the United States?

Short post here: The argument presented here is that being a Christian is incompatible with government policy and the implication is that Christian government officials must be afforded special powers non Christians are denied, for example, the power to substitute personal religious beliefs for official public policy. This injects religion into not only the function of government employees but the electoral process as well. Voters would rightly want to know which variety of candidate was seeking their vote.

The problem, of course, is that it's unconstitutional on its face.
Article VI. The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. (emphasis added) 

A Refreshing Concession to the Rule of Law

And in Iowa, of all places.

So the Iowa Board of Medicine made a rule that any woman seeking an abortion in the Hawkeye State must have a personal visit with a physician before the physician may prescribe an abortifacient such as mifepristone. The Iowa Supreme Court disagreed, and ruled the Board of Medicine rule unconstitutional.

After reluctantly concluding an appeal to higher courts would be useless, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed a bill that instructs Medicaid to consider "interactions with doctors via telemedicine as "equivalent" to an in-person doctor's visit."

Every so often, conservative zealots meet their Waterloo. Good for the Governor, in this instance, to concede defeat gracefully.

Awkward: When an "Evil" Agency is More Ethical than the Government Investigating It

Florida's Governor Rick Scott, whose previous job earned him the Biggest Medicare Fraud Fine Ever Levied Against a Hospital Corporation, became so upset over the deceptive Planned Parenthood videos he ordered an immediate investigation into Florida's 16 Planned Parenthood clinics. Well, fine, every state has an agency to do this sort of thing and they do inspect regularly, so at best the Governor's order would serve to reassure Floridians that their PP clinics were legitimate healthcare providers, or at worst find evidence of wrongdoing and thus get those bad actors shut down.

But when the state investigators returned a clean bill of health for all 16 clinics, the Governor did something far worse than the convicted felon who created the dishonest videos in the first place: he chose to edit his own investigators' report to lie to the citizens of Florida about those findings.

The state released its findings of the Planned Parenthood investigations on Aug. 5. Emails between the governor’s office and AHCA, obtained by POLITICO Florida through a public records request, show the agency prepared a press release that same day noting that “there is no evidence of the mishandling of fetal remains at any of the 16 clinics we investigated across the state.”

Scott's office revised the release to exclude that sentence, an email sent by Scott’s communications director, Jackie Schutz, shows.

Background Checks And Suicide: One Seems to Inhibit the Other

New research suggests that background checks can act to reduce suicide by firearms. Many of the elements evaluated in background checks - like history of domestic abuse and significant mental illness - are also risk factors for suicide.

The current study looked at suicide by firearm rates in Connecticut, where a stricter background check is required, and Missouri, where background checks have been eliminated.  The rate of suicide in Connecticut dropped by double digits while in Missouri they increased.

“Contrary to popular belief, suicidal thoughts are often transient, which is why delaying access to a firearm during a period of crisis could prevent suicide,” said study author Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, in a press release announcing the study’s findings on Tuesday. “Just as research indicates that handgun purchaser licensing laws are effective in reducing firearm homicides, they could reduce suicides by firearms as well.”

Bloomberg/Des Moines Register Poll Describes Romance Between Iowa and Trump

New polling data assesses likely Iowa caucus-goers' feelings about Donald Trump's strengths. In particular they believe his "immigration plan" (or maybe better, "deportation plan") is a great idea, despite some nagging questions. It's a great summer romance - breathless excitement over the flashy new guy with the convertible, the one who eclipses the old stodgy boyfriend who can't go out Friday night because he has a shift at Walmart.

The numbers offer yet another explanation for why Trump has surged ahead in Iowa and nationally, even if he has yet to provide many details on how his proposed mass deportation would work. It would cost between $400 billion to $600 billion and it would take 20 years to remove those immigrants living in the country illegally, according to the conservative-leaning American Action Forum.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It's Working

Even in a purple state like Colorado, the Affordable Care Act has had the intended results. It's a shame so many Republican governors and legislators refuse to let this law help their most vulnerable citizens, too. But is it just me, or has the "Repeal Obamacare" drumbeat sort of died down now that the Republican presidential candidate herd has other interests to "Trump" the ACA?

According to the Colorado Health Access Survey, the state's uninsured rate fell from 14.3 percent in 2013 to 6.7 percent in 2015.

"Gun Grab" After Katrina? Only In An NRA Fantasy

It's an article of faith with some gun zealots: in the aftermath of Katrina police went on a confiscation spree, unlawfully taking weapons from law-abiding citizens who needed those firearms for their personal safety. This proves, the zealots conclude, that the 2nd Amendment is under attack by government and thus possession of firearms is even more important today.

Well, it turns out that scenario is hard to imagine. In the days of chaos following the storm there was little coordination of any sort, let alone a concerted effort to achieve one goal irrelevant to getting people off roof tops. From :
...most of the scenarios dreamed up by confiscation-fearing gun advocates in the years since rely on a vision of supreme government power that’s completely contrary to what happened during Katrina. At critical points during the storm, there was no functioning state, no coordination of efforts — much less a grand plan. But the looming threat of bigger gun-grabs relies on the existence of supremely competent, and supremely malign, government forces working in perfect lockstep. They simply do not exist, and Katrina is the surest proof. 

Another 7,000 Clnton Emails. We Learn She Couldn't Spell "iPad"

I pity the reporters who have to read these. I know how sleep-inducing my company's email can be. From the LA Times:
The process the former secretary of State used to send and receive the messages while the nation's top diplomat have created an enduring political headache for Clinton. But the messages themselves -- a new tranche disclosed monthly under orders from a judge -- have yet to leave additional political scars.
> Clinton seemed particularly excited about the arrival of her iPad, arranging for her top communications aide, Philippe Reines, to provide a tutorial on an upcoming flight to Kiev. Subject line: hPad. 

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