From The Moderate Voice:
Some disabilities and illnesses are visible—and while these can sometimes lead to people treating you differently, rarely do others question whether or not something is amiss.
But that’s not the case for those suffering from “invisible” disabilities. But don’t take this to mean that one form is better, or worse, or more worthy of attention; all human ailments are equally worthy of our attention and understanding.
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In recent times, Creflo Dollar had the audacity to ask for $65 million dollars for a private plane. You read that right: a preacher started a GoFundMe site for the sake of raising $65 million dollars. It wasn’t for the sake of saving lives. It wasn’t for the sake of presenting an economic plan to help those in need. In short, Creflo Dollar did this all for selfish reasons.
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The news that a hate-letter to President Obama was being tested for cyanide was unremarkable. But it did bring back to me memories of another President. Even students of history can easily overlook that the horrible November Friday in 1963 marked only the final attempt on the life of John F. Kennedy. The first happened soon after his election was announced, before he even became President. All but the final series of gunshots were successfully stopped by the Secret Service.
All Presidents become targets in the modern world, which is to say the world of national politics within my own memory, the America beginning in my very early youth, the America at every stage of my life since. I have never known an America completely at peace with the democratic process. Violence has always lurked in the American Valley of Shadows. To this day, many of my generation remain alarmed and relieved that 1963 did not repeat itself in attempts on the lives of Presidents Ford and Reagan.
But this Presidency is different. The Secret Service has acknowledged that the level and seriousness of threats has multiplied since Barack Obama assumed office.
The ferocity of rhetoric has also soared to heights previously unimagined. It is not only the quantity and volume of often obscene shouts that have accelerated. The nature itself of the attacks has gone where nobody had walked during my lifetime.
John Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and others were verbally attacked, sometimes in borderline absurdity. The attacks were almost always about some act or event, sometimes actual, mostly imagined. In the case of Bill Clinton, misdeeds surrounding a real estate deal faded into self-contradiction, resting finally on the tenuous accusation that a future President had conspired with his wife and a few friends to lose millions of their own financial holdings. The suicide of a close friend and the death of another in a plane accident were viewed by those living in the fringes as having been engineered by the Presidential family.
Finally, they got him in a extramarital tryst that he failed to acknowledge under oath. American voters reacted toward Republicans as most of us would to a voyeur who announces to the world what he has witnessed, while peeping into local bedroom windows at night.
But all of the accusations, the one true, the others drifting away like some bad odor in the wind, were based on some real or imagined act.
President Obama is also attacked for imagined acts. Benghazi, IRS, death panels, and so on, are accusations of something. But he and his family are targets of something more, something more ugly, something that involves a state of being. He is accused of being someone apart, unnatural, not normal, un-American, something not at all like us.
"Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii."
- Alex Jones, May 17, 2012
"Communist nurtured, subhuman mongrel..."
- Ted Nugent, January 17, 2014
"A terrorist fist jab?"
- E.D. Hill, Fox News, June 6, 2008
"...propaganda, starting with the President, that everybody should hate the police."
- Rudy Giuliani, December 21, 2014
A couple of months ago, a good friend insisted, as we lunched together, that any observation of racism toward President Obama was likely an illusion, a bit of reverse race-baiting. It is a common observation in conservative circles. "I'm sure," he conceded, "in a national population this large, we could find someone, somewhere, who hates Obama for being black."
I suspect he was underestimating the virulence of his conservative comrades-in-arms.
The idea that the President is an illegitimate holder of office, despite winning two majority votes, has lapped like tall waves over a low bridge into official actions.
- screamed by US Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC)
during a Presidential Speech to Congress
September 9, 2009
A hostile head of state from a friendly ally has been invited to a major address without the customary courtesy of prior notification, a courtesy that would have been extended as a matter of course to any previous President. That has been followed by a public letter advising a hostile country in negotiation to avoid war that they should not trust any agreement signed by this President.
The convergence of action with rhetoric has a single thread. The message is unmistakable. Barack Obama is an impostor, not a real President. Formal propriety and official respect are to be held in abeyance until a legitimate President again is restored to office.
I was happy at the news that the cyanide soaked letter did not, after all, contain cyanide. Laboratory tests revealed only the presence of an abundance of human saliva. A sick gesture, but not lethal.
Like the Republican base, and the new majorities in Congress, the letter writer chose only to spit at our Commander-in-Chief.
From Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg:
Very good news for voting: Oregon makes voter registration automatic. As my View colleague Francis Barry puts it: After Selma and the Voting Rights Act, “The question that people should be asking all these years later is: Why should anyone have to register at all?”
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From Green Eagle:
Tom Cotton...he has been in the Senate for a little more than two months, but, in the fashion of Ted Cruz, he is more than qualified to take it over and run it as his domain. And he's been a busy little beaver the last week or so, leading to all sorts of right wing luminaries declaring him to be the reigning star of the Republican party:
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From James Wigderson:
The least surprising news about the passage of right-to-work is that the unions are suing. The Wisconsin AFL-CIO and other unions are taking the law to a Dane County court.
Once the appeals process takes the case outside of Dane County, the law will be upheld, just as it has been upheld nearly everywhere else. Twenty-four other states can’t be wrong.
At least give the unions and the Democrats credit for being consistent. No matter the odds, they’re willing to take laws they don’t like into the courtroom. They love trial lawyers, and they love paying them.
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The Atlantic magazine just published a lengthy piece by author Gabrielle Glaser that challenges the efficacy of Alcoholics Anonymous. Entitled, “The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous,” the article takes aim at the organization and never lets up, and on Wednesday night’s All In with Chris Hayes, the author continued an assault that’s based on a fundamentally flawed premise, and some really bad journalism. The normally excellent, intellectually trustworthy Hayes went along for the ride, and made the same mistakes.
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Stay with me on this, you need the background first.
The Cartoon Network will often show infomercials at 3 AM or so. Sometimes these are not really infomercials, but are rather weird surreal things that their "Adult Swim" programming team makes. One example was Too Many Cooks - an amazing spoof of 80s sitcom themes.
(It is kind of an endurance test to get through)
Anyway, someone at CNN decided to make a 2016 political parody of Too Many Cooks.
Enjoy! It's not as long as the original Too Many Cooks.
Infidel 753 has a series of one or two sentence observations on anti-Semitism, economic exclusion, and anti-government activists.
Vincent at A wayfarer's notes provides an emotional account of the hard side of writing, the joy of having written, and the gratitude writers feel toward those who have successfully gone through both.
PZ Myers, writing for Pharyngula, takes apart the New York Times for how they dealt with a prospective article on health problems with the new Apple watch. The Times explains that the article seriously flawed, then publishes it anyway.
- My friend, conservative T. Paine at Saving Common Sense, leaves politics and policy for a moment and describes beautifully the wonderful relationship and the devastating loss that comes with being a dog person.
In February, Republicans publicly warned against letting Iran doubt our word. In March they instructed Iran to doubt our word.
How Will the Sinking Teeth of Republicans Save Retirement? (6:48) - Click for Podcast
For Original Text
Republicans won't talk specifics on Social Security or Medicare. But they do tell each other where they'll take us.
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From WBIN-TV, New Hampshire:
CONCORD - Fourth graders from Lincoln Akerman School in Hampton Falls received a warm welcome at the State House last Thursday. They and their teacher, James Cutting, were guests in the Gallery.
That reception quickly turned chilly as students got a glimpse of the cold, harsh realities of politics in the Granite State.
In the spirit of learning by doing, students drafted a bill to learn the process of how a bill becomes law.
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From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — President Obama signed an executive order on Thursday to set new goals for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of federal agencies, his latest use of his executive authority to address the root causes of climate change and press private companies and foreign governments to follow suit.
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From The Wall Street Journal:
Federal prosecutors issued a new subpoena to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey this week seeking possible evidence of claims New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration retaliated against the Democratic mayor of Jersey City.
The subpoena seeks records from a broad range of former authority officials regarding their interactions with Jersey City, according to a person familiar with the matter, including two Christie allies who resigned from the authority amid the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal, David Wildstein and Bill Baroni.
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As Republicans have acted to save and strengthen and secure Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, their efforts have not always been appreciated by voters.
Representative Paul Ryan was the main author of the last Republican plan. He explained to skeptical voters that Republicans did not want to attack these programs. In 2011, the Ryan plan was widely interpreted as an attack on the elderly, shifting funds away from retirees and toward tax cuts for extremely wealthy.
Paul Ryan spoke about saving and protecting Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid. He was unsuccessful at convincing the public.
But the phrase is still used today.
We believe that it's important to save and strengthen and secure Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security.
- Tom Price, (R-GA) Chairman, House Budget Committee, January 12, 2015
Conservatives point to increased life expectancy as the reason. More old people means more money being spent to keep them alive.
Where the problem is, where the big spending is, is obviously the mandatory, the automatic spending: Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
There is a problem with this part of the Republican argument for reducing costs.
Increased life expectancy is not the problem. It is part of the solution. Most of the increase in life expectancy happens because of decreases in infant mortality. More kids are growing up to adulthood. That means more working adults can share the cost of keeping us older folks from dying or going hungry.
But there is a problem with Social Security in the form of baby boomers.
After World War II, a whole lot of guys came home to a whole lot of women and a whole lot of new kids resulted in a whole lot of viewers of the Lone Ranger and Howdy Doody. Then we grew up, and worked, and supported Social Security. Now many of us are retired and more of us are retiring each year. Proportionately, not as many kids came before us. Not as many came after us.
On any age chart, we are one huge bulge in the middle of the American torso. When we're gone, everything will be just fine. At least for Social Security. Until then, we have a temporary problem - the Battle of that Bulge.
The Republican plan has always been to save Social Security through a dramatic revamping of the program. To be fair, there are competing solutions.
One way to win the battle of that bulge is with one extension.
Americans pay Social Security on their first $118,500. Most folks never reach that limit, so we pretty much pay Social Security on everything. If America raises that limit on those who earn lots and lots more, those wealthy folks will get more at retirement.
But that move will also win the Battle of the Baby Boom Bulge.
Still, the Republican plan of privatization is a workable alternative.
Medical costs are a different issue. They are an actual problem. Both parties see the problem. But Republicans and Democrats have different approaches. Democrats want to increase competition in regulated insurance pools. They want to shift the structure of medical payments to reward caregivers for better health for patients, rather than for the number of costly medical procedures that are performed.
That approach seems to be working. Increases in medical costs have been reduced, then reduced again since Obamacare was enacted. The rate of growth is now at the lowest point it has ever been in my lifetime.
The Republican approach to Medical cost has been to rely on a different incentive. In 2011, they proposed shifting Medicare and Medicaid to a payment support system. Some sort of voucher would be issued to each elderly person. Those of us approaching retirement would then have an incentive to find the cheapest care possible. Actually, we would pretty much have to. That is because each elderly recipient, or that recipient's family, would have to pay for any part of care that went way beyond the level that Republicans would support.
In 2011, Republicans took a lot of heat because all of the savings from privatization and vouchers seemed to be going to more tax cuts for the extremely wealthy. However, this was just part of a larger program. The idea was to provide more income to job creators by decreasing their taxes. That income would then be used by wealthy folks to create jobs for the rest of us.
Here's how Tom Price, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee still puts it.
You can grow the economy. And that's where we hope to put our major efforts.
Growing the economy by reducing taxes on job creators.
This time, Republicans have been a little wiser in presenting their plan. The actual plan will be held back, not given to media people and public analysts for their unbalanced, snide comments about cuts in benefits. Specific details of the conservative plan to save and strengthen and secure Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security will not be revealed until much later. Republicans want to keep the focus on something more constructive.
Save! Strengthen! And Secure
But we are assured that the details will include the creative approaches that were shot down in 2011.
We are intent on building on the success that we've had already at the Budget Committee over the last 4 years.
The plan will shift incentives to the elderly. We who will be on Medicare will provide the savings, since we will now have the motivation to shop around for the best deal. That is how the market system works. We should have faith in ourselves and in the free market system.
...have faith in the American people, and have faith in the free market system that has made us the greatest nation in the history of the world.
Providing more tax benefits to the job creators of our society will still be an important part of the plan. If we expand for them the success they have earned, their success will become our success.
expand success for the American people
Republicans will provide more freedom to everyone by making Social Security the voluntary program it ought to be. They will provide compelling incentives to the elderly as they exercise their new freedom to shop for the low cost plan of their choice. And new legislators will revitalize the economy by expanding the success for the job creators who certainly have earned it.
I can't wait to have our new members on the Budget Committee sink their teeth into these wonderful issues.
Me too. I can hardly wait for those sinking teeth.
Washington (CNN)Americans broadly back direct negotiations with Iran about that country's nuclear program, according to a new CNN/ORC poll.
And although about half (49%) say some Republican senators went too far by sending a letter to Iran's leaders warning that any agreement with the Obama administration would require Senate approval, only about one-third (39%) think the letter hurt U.S. efforts to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
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