Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tired of All the Conservative Lies and Awful Reporting About Health Care Reform? - Here’s the Detailed Experience Mr. Money Mustache, an Actual Independent User

The Truth Hurts – Conservative Opinions

There is a gentleman out in Colorado who authors a blog called Mr. Money Mustache.  His thing is that if a person or family saves a lot, is very careful with their money and doesn’t spend their income on useless unneeded things the person or family can retire very early with a nice investment portfolio that produces a very comfortable income.

Of course Mr. Mustache is not typical. He has the skills and experience to build a house, repair a car and do all sorts of things that the average person just cannot do. He also leads a healthy lifestyle.   But his philosophy is sound.  His health insurance is a high deductible ($10,000) plan, but he has to change with health care reform.  Here are his conclusions.

Obamacare: Friend of the Entrepreneur and Early Retiree . . .


So we would be doubling our premiums, but cutting the deductible in half, as well as gaining prescription drug coverage (a $20 copay after deductible) and some other goodies. And the new plan is HSA-eligible, which means all costs will be covered with pre-tax money. More insurance for more money – not my favorite bet to make, but also not completely devoid of value.


But wait, there is more.  His premiums do not double.  There are generous subsidies under health care reform!

When you select a 2014 plan, a little box pops up: “check if you are eligible for a subsidy on this plan”. Working through the options, here is what I see for my own family:


Whoa. So although I could pay a maximum of $5520 per year for this new and improved coverage, in reality I will only pay this much in years where my annual income is over $80,000. For incomes below that generous level, the federal subsidy kicks in and my net cost drops, until I get to the point of free health insurance somewhere around $26,000. With annual living expenses of about $25,000, we could in theory structure our investments such that we live the current lavish lifestyle and get fully subsidized health insurance simultaneously**.

** Unfortunately, I have to admit that this year we will have a household income above $80,000 and thus would not be eligible for a subsidy. Higher-than-forecast investment and Lending Club returns, rental house, carpentry, and real estate income plus this blog have all contributed to this.  Please don’t tell the Early Retirement Police. If this terrible condition persists into 2015 and we are kicked into a new plan, I guess we will have to settle for a slightly lower savings rate. What an oppressive country! 

As for difficulties in signing up, well his experience is this.

*Wow, I notice that the site is snappy and fast now. Despite widespread controversy in the news about the supposedly catastrophic launch of this new website. 

Again the Low Information Diet prevails: stay calm, tune out of 24-hour-news cycle talking heads controversy, check site again a few weeks after launch, get health insurance quotes quickly.

Well don’t expect that to be reported by the press, it doesn’t fit the script that health care reform is a disaster.  

Of Course a College Football Game at the University of North Carolina is More Important Than Treatment for Cancer

Why Would Anyone Think Otherwise?

In an effort to add to the billions of dollars that college football generates each year the schools now schedule games on Thursday evening.  Why?  Because they get extra television revenue for that game.  Do this interfere with the operations of the University?  Who cares.

In Chapel Hill a few weeks ago the Thursday night game caused a cancer patient to have her therapy postponed.

 — At least one cancer patient was told her radiation treatment was postponed Thursday because of UNC-Chapel Hill’s night football game, friends say.
Kathleen Keating, an elder-care specialist from Chapel Hill, said her friend received a phone call Wednesday informing her that her radiation treatment scheduled for Thursday would have to be done another day because of the game.

Now before anybody gets all upset, everyone should know that the University was only thinking of the patients. 

Officials with UNC Health Care said they had planned for the night game for months and had not scheduled patients after 3:30 p.m. Thursday. The game’s kickoff was 7:45 p.m.

“We’ve been planning quite in advance for the fact that we wouldn’t want our patients in a major traffic jam,” said UNC Health Care spokeswoman Karen McCall.

And lest anyone think UNC Health Care is completely heartless, why they set up Saturday scheduling.

The radiation oncology clinics set up Saturday treatments to accommodate patients who could not be seen on Thursday, he said. Physicians determined who could wait “without harming their care,” he added.

“So it was a decision that was made by the providers,” Earp said. “Some of those people are going to have their therapy on Saturday. Some may not. It may not make a difference whether they have it every day. ... It was a considered decision.”

Gosh, for some, not for all, but for some it may no make a difference when their therapy takes place.  As for the patient who had to have her therapy changed because of a football game,

“I think it’s criminal,” Keating said. “I like football, but it’s not even an equation you need to do in your head. Football versus cancer treatment? It’s just not a question.”

The unnamed patient was too ill to be interviewed Thursday, Keating said. She has Stage 4 breast cancer and is in considerable pain, Keating said.

of course football trumps patient treatment.

As for UNC, they lost their football game Thursday.  Actually they lost more than a football game.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

MSNBC’s Latest Commentator Has Great Credentials – He’s On Vanity Fair’s Best Dressed List

And His Celebrity Parents Completes the Picture 

Another Post on This Because We Couldn't Believe the News the First Time

How does MSNBC top hiring actor Alec Baldwin to serve as a host and commentator on its network?  Well that’s a tall order, but MSNBC is up to the challenge of finding someone with even less credentials than Mr. Baldwin.

Ronan Farrow: The Youngest Old Guy in the Room

TV News - From Walter Cronkite to This
Hope the MSNBC Gig Doesn't Interfere With His After School Milk and Cookies

Though he already has the résumé of someone twice his age, in the last year Mr. Farrow has come into his own as a public figure, appearing on Vanity Fair’s international best-dressed list and applying his spiky Twitter commentary to everything from politics (“Leadership in America just turned into a pumpkin”) to pop culture (“Miley Cyrus is basically our generation’s Simone de Beauvoir”).

That’s right, progressive talk now has someone big time to face off against Fox Faux News, a person on the Vanity Fair INTERNATIONAL best dressed list.

Wow, conservatives must be quaking in their boots over this one.

Conservatives Argue They Would Win Elections if The Republicans Just Nominated True Blue Conservatives – Turns Out Not to Be True

In Virginia Ken Cuccinelli Runs From Conservatives Positions and in Utah Hard Line Conservative Mike Lee is Losing Support

The lifestyle that is the hallmark of modern extreme conservatism has to exist in a world of unreality.  Only by denying what is happening in the real world can hard line conservatives survive.  When forced to confront reality, their positions and beliefs are shattered.

One of their most cherished beliefs is that America will embrace Tea Party doctrinaire conservatism when candidates openly embrace those values.  Reality is that when rabid conservatives actually exhibit their values, Americans run like hell.  Cases in point are Virginia’s hard line conservative Ken Cuccinelli, running for Governor and Utah’s Senator Mike Lee.  Both are plummeting in support as voters realize what they are.

In Virginia Mr. Cuccinelli has spent the entire campaign trying to hide his hard line past.  But his opponent, Democrat Terry McAuliffe has had the money to expose Mr. Cuccinelli.  As a result Cuccinelli is losing in the polls, and even in his stronghold area of southwest Virginia he is losing support.

WISE, Va. — Amid the struggling businesses and flattened mountaintops strip-mined decades ago, antipathy toward Democrats and what’s known in this region as their “war on coal” is stronger than just about anywhere else in the country.

That has translated naturally into broad opposition to Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate for governor this year. But across the coal fields of far-southwest Virginia, something unusual is also happening: Voters don’t like the Republican candidate, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, much better.

In Utah ultra radical Senator Mike Lee has stood side by side with Texas Senator Ted Cruz in shutting down the government.  This has led to a big drop in his popularity in Utah and to talk of getting him out of the Senate via a primary next time he runs.

. . . Lee’s approval ratings in Utah have cratered, and prominent Republicans and local business executives are openly discussing the possibility of mounting a primary challenge against him. Top Republicans are also maneuvering to redesign the party’s nomination system in a way that would likely make it more difficult for Lee to win reelection in 2016.

So yes, hard line conservatism is like any other political disease, it cannot flourish in the harsh glow of reality sunlight.  And if the print and broadcast media ever go back to doing their job and reporting what these people really think and believe, that sunlight will cleanse the nation of this awful scourge.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

No, Dick Cheney Could Not Have Been Attacked by Someone Hacking His Pacemaker

Running Scared Are You Dick?

With the release of a book by former Vice President Dick Cheney, the news has centered on the fact that he disabled the wireless function of his pacemaker to avoid an attack by some unknown forces.

Mr. Cheney’s cardiologist, Dr. Jonathan Reiner of George Washington University, said in the “60 Minutes” interview that he agreed with his patient.

An assassin “on a rope line or in a hotel room next door” could have instructed the defibrillator to kill Mr. Cheney, he said, adding that a wireless programmable device “seemed to me a bad idea for the vice president of the United States.”

Well of course his doctor would agree with the VP.  His doctor is probably a hunting buddy of Mr. Cheney’s and we all know what can happen with that.  But the real answer is that Dick was just being a dick.

“It is almost an infinitely small risk,” Dr. Moss said. “But with the type of terrorism going on now, anything is possible.”

Yeah, the former V.P. was in much greater danger of injuring himself running to the next war to start, or trying to get his former employee Scooter Libby a pardon after lying to the FBI in its investigations of the Valerie leak.  

So why did Mr. Cheney do this?  Well look at his military service record.  Oh, he doesn’t have one.  The war hawk got out of the service on various deferments.  Besides, any terrorist smart enough to construct a device that would hack the pacemaker would be smart enough to be in Silicon Valley, making tens of millions from stock options in his tech company.  Yeah, terrorists are greedy bastards too. 

Republicans Will Opposed Any Position by Mr. Obama Even If It is Their Position

Need Evidence – Here it Is

The answer to those Republicans who claim the President won’t listen to them or negotiate with them is that it is impossible do so.  The reason is that Republicans will vote against anything the President proposes, even if it is something Republicans champion.   Case in point.

In a twist, Republican senators fight to keep tax increase as part of new health care law

·                                 Article by: STEPHEN OHLEMACHER , Associated Press 
·                                 Updated: October 27, 2013 - 8:56 AM
·                                 1
WASHINGTON — Republicans in Congress don't usually fight for tax increases, especially ones that are part of President Barack Obama's health care law.
But GOP senators balked when Democrats proposed delaying a new temporary fee on everyone covered by health insurance.
So employers, insurance companies and other health plan sponsors are in line to pay $63 a person next year for everyone who has coverage. The temporary fee covers all workers, spouses and dependents covered by health insurance.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., proposed delaying the fee in recent budget talks with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. McConnell and other Republican senators objected; the fee was left intact.

Yes that’s right boys and girls, the anti-tax we hate taxes we want tax cuts no matter what Republicans fought successfully to prevent repealing part of the taxes associated with health care reform.

Why?  Because they have replaced honest differences of opinion with Democrats and the President with pure irrational hatred. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

How Exactly Does Wearing Pink Fight Breast Cancer, And Other Cantankerous Questions and Observations

America Slouches Towards Ultimate Stupidity

With no debt default or government shutdown to occupy one’s thoughts, one is now allowed to muse on the lesser events of the day.

  1. For some reason people seem to think that wearing pink will reduce the incidence and impact of breast cancer.  Of course wearing pink will really do is increase the monies taken in by the people who produce the pink products and who take in contributions.  What would really help reduce the impact of breast cancer would be the use of all those expenses and profits in publicizing pink to actually fight breast cancer.  Does anyone know how much the salaries and benefits of the executive management of groups like the Susan G. Komen Foundation care? 

  1. Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal and others are all celebrating over their conclusion that health care reform is a political disaster for the Democrats.  Exactly why that translates into the lowest ratings for Republican since polling began is unexplained, and may inexplicable in their minds. And even though the Virginia Republican Gubernatorial candidate is making opposition to the plan a center piece of his campaign (never mind that this is not a state issue) he is long in the polls.  Political disaster is in the mind of the hopefuls.

  1. The national press is doing a nice job of neglecting the success of the Obama administration policy in getting Syria to destroy their chemical weapons.  Admittedly the policy was the result of fumbling, stumbling and bumbling, but it appears that Syria will have cooperated in the destruction of its chemical warfare.  Of course were the press to accurately report the situation would just leave them open to charges of bias by conservatives.  In fact almost all accurate reporting is viewed as biased by conservatives.

  1. Mr. Romney and Ms. Palin were some of the leading critics of the Obama energy policy.  How’s the price of gasoline in your area?

  1. Is it fair to characterize Texas Senator Ted Cruz as Sarah Palin with a law degree? And if it is unfair, is it unfair to Senator Cruz or to Ms. Palin?

  1. Health care reform is working in some areas.  Anybody see any stories about that in the national news?  Anybody?

  1. The Republican candidate for Governor of Virginia is so toxic that the conservative Richmond Times Dispatch refused to endorse anyone in the race and the conservative newspaper in Charlottesville endorsed the current Lieutenant Governor, a person who is not even in the race or on the ballot.

  1. The most important race in Virginia, assuming the Democrat Terry McAuliffe is going to win is the race for Attorney General. If Democrats were to win that race along with the Lt. Gov’s race and the Governor’s race it would be stark evidence that no, hard line conservatives don’t win in competitive elections.  That lesson will be lost on hard line conservatives who will argue the loss was because their candidates were not hard line conservative enough.  For example, none of the state wide candidates endorsed stoning to death for adultery (women only of course).

  1. Chris Christie’s strategy of wining big in New Jersey looks like it will succeed.  This then leaves only his final step, a series of non-stop vitriolic attack on Mr. Obama as the implementation of his strategy to win the Republican nomination.  The date those attacks start is the starting date of Mr. Christie’s campaign.

  1. Contrary to what everyone reads, the major problem with the U. S. economy is not the deficit.  The major problem is that the deficit is coming down too fast.

  1. Republicans,  who hate government workers, just gave them two weeks off with pay.

  1. Finally, people like Ted Cruz are talking about shutting down the government again, this time after the first of the year.  The secret response from Democrats, “Please, pretty please, do so Mr. Cruz”.

Associated Press Fires Reporters Involved in Erroneous Report on Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Terry McAuliffe

Media Establishment is Outraged, Shocked at Being Held Accountable

When the history of this period is written objectively one of the major contributors to the lack of reasoned public discourse will be the reporting, or lack thereof by the nation’s print and broadcast media.  They are so cowed by Conservative charges of bias that they deliberately obscure stories on conservative wrong doing.  And every now and then they get it flat out wrong.

Such was the case of AP reporter Bob Lewis, who erroneously reported a scandal concerning Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe, currently running for Governor of that state.  Lewis has been summarily fired.

The decision, which was made Monday, came on the heels of an Oct. 9 report in which Lewis alleged that McAuliffe had lied to a federal official investigating a death benefits scam. The Associated Press retracted the story less than two hours after it went up, and Lewis immediately took responsibility for the mistake.

The other media types, the holier than thou of the national press are outraged.  No, not at the mistake, they are outraged that a person is held accountable.

“I’m hard-pressed to see how this is the right response,” Michael Shear, The New York Times White House correspondent who spent more than five years in Richmond, told POLITICO. “I don’t know all the facts. But on the surface, this is not plagiarism, this is not fabrication, this is not some malicious thing. This is a mistake. He owned up to it. It’s hard to see, when you look on the spectrum of journalistic sins that one can commit — weighed against a career of two decades or more for a guy who has had stellar career — it’s hard to see how this is an appropriate punishment.”

“I’m just sick about it. Bob Lewis is one of the most respected, decent, hard-working, dogged reporters I’ve ever worked with,” said Amy Gardner, The Washington Post’s local politics editor, who has known Lewis for almost 20 years. “He made a mistake, but he admitted it. There are certain things where we shouldn’t have tolerance — cheating, lying, plagiarism infractions — but a mistake is a different beast from a lie or a stolen bit of work. At what point does a mistake become a non negotiable or fireable offense?”

Well in this case the mistake could have changed the outcome of the most pivotal election of the year, it could have re-arranged history and politics, it could have had profound impact on the basic governing of the country.  That’s a fireable mistake.

So no members of the press, you are not immune from the consequences of your actions.  You want to be taken seriously, get it right.  The stakes are that important.  And yes the real problem for Mr. Lewis is that he was not working for Fox News.  If he had been, making a mistake which damaged a Democrat and thus boosted a conservative would have been applauded. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Wall Street Journal Documents How Average Family Can Take a Balloon Trip to Near Outer Space

And Documents Their Cluelessness on the Average Family

Looking at the spending profile of the average American family one would not expect to see things like a yacht, a Florida winter home, a new car every year and other things which come quite normally to the winners in the U. S. economy.  No the average family is more likely wasting its money on food, shelter and clothing.

But the lack of conspicuous consumption by the average American family would come as a shock to the Wall Street Journal.  Their story on a new company that wants to provide balloon rides to outer space (really, this is true) focuses on how those rides can be made affordable for the average folks.

A rendering of the pressurized gondola for up to 8 passengers.
 World View Enterprises
Space tourism may not be rocket science after all.
No but understanding the basic economics of the average American family apparently is to the WSJ

Closely held Paragon Space Development Corp. of Tucson, Ariz., intends to build a helium-filled balloon, with a diameter as long as a football field, able to transport up to eight passengers to an altitude of about 100,000 feet. The aerospace contractor joins a handful of other companies that are trying to develop ways for people without extensive astronaut training to reach or at least get close to outer space.

With a projected ticket price of $75,000, the goal is “bringing space to the masses as much as we can,” said Taber MacCallum, Paragon’s chief executive and co-founder. Revenue flights won’t commence until 2016 at the earliest, while testing or regulatory complications could push that deadline out further.

Gosh, just $75 k for a six hour ride.  One can easily imagine the good middle class families in America, whose median income is around $50k a year just lined up for this spectacular bargain.  

Justice Works Slowly, and Sometimes Not At All, But in Kansas It Has Worked With Respect to Disbarred and Disgraced Former Attorney General Phil Kline

No Your False Moral Superiority is Not Grounds for Unethical Behavior

Kansas for some reason has become a hotbed of the anti-abortion rights movement.  It is a state where politicians want to use government to decide how a woman may control her own body.  The advocates of denying a woman a right to choose believe they have the moral high ground.  And for a long time former Kansas Attorney General Phil Kline led the charge.

In 2007, Mr. Kline filed 107 criminal charges against a Planned Parenthood clinic in the Kansas City suburbs, accusing it of performing illegal abortions and falsifying records. The last of those charges were dropped in August 2012. He also pursued misdemeanor criminal charges against Dr. George Tiller because of late-term abortions performed at his Wichita clinic. 

But it turns out Mr. Kline was a charlatan, an unethical attorney and a prosecutor who thought he didn’t have to follow the rule of law.  And now that has caught up with him.

The state Supreme Court indefinitely suspended the law license of former Attorney General Phill Kline on Friday after allegations of ethical misconduct during his investigation of abortion providers. The court unanimously agreed with a state disciplinary panel that Mr. Kline, a Republican, repeatedly misled or allowed subordinates to mislead others, including a Kansas City-area grand jury, to further his investigations. 

Justice, sometimes it does work, and sometimes the bad guys do lose.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Think Football Hasn’t Moved From a Sport to a Dangerous Practice – Then You Don’t Mind 300 lb High School Kids

What Kind of Parent or Society Does This to Their Children

High school sports used to be a fun and interesting and healthy activity for high school students. The purpose was to get good exercise in a non threatening way, to find some camaraderie and to enjoy competition.  No longer, sorry folks.  Now America is sacrificing its children on the altar of bigger, but not better.

Leesville Road High School's Alex Butler (75) runs through pre-game drills prior to a game against Athens Drive on Friday, September 13, 2013 at Williams Stadium in Raleigh, N.C.

Read more here:

How 300 pounds became high school football’s magic number

North Carolina high school football linemen who want to play in college face a choice: Go big or go home.
As college athletes grow in size, high school football players, particularly offensive linemen, believe that they have to pack on pounds if they want to play at the next level. Some lift weights to build muscle. Others bulk up any way they can, even if they have to eat their way to 300 pounds.
Gosh, what could be wrong with this.

Players bulk up at the risk of developing eating habits and extra weight that can cause long-term health concerns. Adding excessive weight can create lifelong problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, elevated cholesterol levels, breathing difficulties and increased susceptibility to stress fractures and muscle and joint pain.

Oh, that.  Okay America, get back to us when you get your priorities straightened out.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Memo to Jeff Bezoz: Now That You Bought the Washington Post Please, Please Can George Will

His Column on Third Parties Reaches a New Low – A Difficult Task for George Will

Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos has just closed on the purchase of the Washington Post.  He bought it for petty cash (for him) about $200 million.  Yeah, $200 million for a newspaper losing tens of millions.  An ego trip for Mr. Bezos, not an investment.

But supposedly Mr. Bezos wants his venture to be a success.  So here’s some free advice.  Even if you keep all of the other would be conservatives who are trying to turn the Washington Post into the Wall Street Journal light get rid of George Will.  Mr. Will more than any other writer is driving readers of all political persuasion from the Post.

And now George Will has reached a new low.  Writing about third parties, and finding conservative Ken Cuccinelli, the rabid conservative Republican running for Governor of Virginia too objectionable (which says volumes about Mr. Cuccinelli, even George Will cannot stand him) Mr. Will says this.

At the national level, the most potent third-party candidates have had vivid personalities and burning issues: Theodore Roosevelt in 1912, taming corporations;Strom Thurmond in 1948, asserting regional grievances relating to race; George Wallace in 1968, venting class and cultural resentments; Ross Perot in 1992, shrinking the federal deficit. Sarvis is more bemused than burning.

Read that again.  Strom Thurmond running on the issue of “regional grievances relating to race”  Good grief!!  Strom Thurmond ran the racist ticket, on the segregationist ticket, on the premise the African Americans were inferior human beings that did not deserve to have voting rights, the right to discrimination free housing and employment, or even the right to not be lynched.  And Mr. Will thinks that is what constitutes “grievances relating to race”.

Frequently there are comments about people like George Will that say he is “beyond contempt”.  In this case he is certainly beyond the ability of this Forum to reach the level of contempt that Mr. Will deserves.  Your turn Jeff Bezos, your turn.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

How Popular is Hilary Clinton Now? She Can Campaign for a Gubernatorial Candidate in a Southern State

And Let’s Just Hope That’s Because She is Running in 2016

It used to be in that in certain parts of the country Hilary Clinton was political poison.  Just being associated with her, in fact just being a Democrat in the South and being mentioned in the same sentence with Ms. Clinton was a death knell for many candidates.  This has changed.

Hillary Clinton Campaigns in VA for McAuliffe

Published: October 19, 2013 at 3:42 PM ET

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Hillary Rodham Clinton has joined Democrat Terry McAuliffe on the campaign trail, telling Virginia voters the nation is looking for a return to "common sense and common ground."
Clinton formally endorsed her family friend's bid for Virginia governor, marking her first public campaign event since departing the State Department in February.
The former secretary of state says voters are watching the race for a sign that the country would turn away from "divisive politics" after the government shutdown.

Now the candidate in Virginia Terry McAuliffe is a close friend of the Clinton’s, but Ms. Clinton and the campaign would certainly have kept their distance had anyone thought that her presence would be a negative.  Instead it is clear that both Ms. Clinton and her advisors regard her appearance as a positive.  And that is just good news.

Here’s What Republicans Are Fighting for in Their Battle Against Health Care Reform – Denying Health Care to Millions

A Cause Worth Dying for If You are a Conservative – Well a Cause Worth Letting Poor People Die From Lack of Health Care

As the battle in health care reform shifts to making the Federal web sites work – nobody ever said the Obama Administration was good at that sort of thing – the war against the poor continues in Ohio.  In that state a conservative Republican governor, John Kasich is doing the right thing in accepting the expansion of Medicaid.  And he is using a work around to get around the opposition of his own party.

An obscure Ohio board has approved Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, but a likely legal fight by furious conservatives is looming.

The decision 5-2 by the state “Controlling Board” to back expansion at the urging of Republican Gov. John Kasich would accept billions of federal dollars to extend coverage to an estimated 300,000 poor Ohioans. Kasich pursued a vote of the board after efforts to win over his Republican-led Legislature failed to gain traction.

And here is what conservative Republican are furious about.

If the expansion is upheld, an estimated 300,000 previously uninsured Ohioans could become eligible for Medicaid on Jan. 1. The state would also be in line for billions of dollars in stepped-up Medicaid funding for states that approve expansion.

So yes, the conservative will go to court to try and stop getting health care for 300,000 Ohioans and getting billions of dollars in federal monies.  And if anyone thinks this is the most reprehensible of actions by conservatives, watch Fox News for a while.  That network will highlight a lot of reprehensible actions by conservatives.

And where do the state legislators who are opposing this get their health insurance?  Why from the government of course,  after all they are entitled.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Federal Court Decision on Religious Discrimination in the Workplace by Abercombie & Fitch’s Holister Stores Is the Unusual Case in Which Both Sides Were Wrong

And Waiting for Conservatives to Rush to Defend Freedom of Religion

In California a Muslim employee of a unit of the retailer Abercombie & Fitch was fired for wearing a headscarf.  The case was recently decided in Federal Court.  Here are the relevant facts.

  1. Umme-Hani Kahn, a devout Muslim was hired to work at Holister Stores, a division of Abercrombie and Fitch.

  1. Ms. Kahn wears a head scarf for religious reasons, was interviewed wearing the headscarf and allowed to work for 4 months wearing the headscarf.  Her headscarf reflected company color schemes.

  1. Four months into the job a supervisor noticed Ms. Kahn at work, asked her to remove the head scarf and when she refused on religious grounds she was fired.

  1. Abercombie’s rationale is that company policy requires employees dress in a certain manner in order to support the company’s image of stylish clothing and the policy forbids head scarves. 

Okay, so why was Abercrombie wrong here?  Well this nation has a policy of requiring accommodation for religion, and in the court’s decision it is clear that Ms. Kahn in no way harmed the commercial interests of Abercrombie.  Accommodating Ms. Kahn would not have caused harm to the employer.

Okay, so why was Ms. Kahn wrong here?  Well after suspending Ms. Kahn with pay, Abercrombie agreed to accommodate her, to allow her to wear her head scarf and remain employed.

So the logical and rational and correct solution would have been for the issue to end at that point.  But it didn’t, it went to court where the judge ruled in favor of Ms. Kahn and the litigation will continue for years.   

It will be interesting to see if the religious right expresses support for the cause of Ms. Kahn as the case winds its excruciatingly slow way through the system.  Why would they?  Well if the issue had been something like wearing a crucifix and Ms. Kahn had been suspended and ultimately fired for doing so, the uproar would have been tremendous.  Fox News would have 24/7 coverage; Bill O’Reilly would foment against the war on Christians, and every right wing pundit would be outraged.

But don’t expect that type of reaction here.  See religious freedom for conservatives does not extend to religions they don’t like or agree with.  The hypocrisy that dominates their beliefs with respect to freedom of religion overrides any concern for other religions and their freedom of worship.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Financial Times Reports That China is Upset Over the Price of Starbucks Coffee

But Here’s a Simple Solution

U. S. coffee giant Starbucks has entered the market in China, and according to a report in the Financial Times this has the Chinese population rather upset.

Servers help customers at a Starbucks store in Beijing, China
Skip it China, just skip it
We do

But Starbucks has now been thrust into an uncomfortable spotlight. China Central Television (CCTV), the official state broadcaster, has accused it of gouging consumers by charging about a third more than in the US. Its report, aired on Sunday, followed critiques of Starbucks in Chinese newspapers over the past week.

Now the Chinese are very smart people, but apparently they need a little help here.  So here is the solution to their problem.

Don’t buy coffee from Starbucks if you are unhappy with the price.

Ok China, no need to thank us, just trying to do our part for international relations.  We understand that you having been a Communist country and are new to capitalism you may not understand how it works yet.

John Boehner Will Not Run For Re-Election in 2014 – Stick a Fork in Him and Carve Him Up, He’s Done

Fearless Predictions Right Here, Right Now

With the government shutdown/debt ceiling crisis stumbling and bumbling to its ultimate resolution, one observation that can be made is that Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner is done.  Some time next year he will announce that he is not running for re-election.  This will allow him to finish out his term as Speaker without the humiliation of being overthrown by his colleagues.

It is hard to wish Mr. Boehner well.  His failure to provide leadership has cost the country dearly.  And the country needs a functioning conservative Republican party, and he has failed to deliver that.  History will not look kindly on Mr. Boehner’s term as Speaker of the House.

Penn State Opens New $90 Million Ice Hockey Arena

University Not Quite Ready to Get Back to Academics After Horrific Scandal in Football Program

Penn State University has been in the news in recent years, and not in a good way.  The University allowed an assistant football coach to sexually attack young boys on its campus, and protected that coach and covered up the problem in order to secure the reputation of its football program.  The coach is now in jail, hopefully forever and many of the people involved are facing a reckoning in court.

But for those worried that the Sandusky tragedy would affect Penn State’s commitment to sports need not fear.  The University just opened a fabulous new hockey arena.

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
An overflow crowd of 6,370 watched Friday as Penn State defeated Army, 4-1, in the first college hockey game at the $90 million Pegula Ice Arena.  What an upgrade to the quality of education at Penn State - The Physics Department must be thrilled!

The 5,782-seat Pegula Ice Arena, which has 14 luxury suites and 525 club seats, was designed to maximize Penn State’s home-ice advantage. During the planning stage, Pegula told Battista that one of his goals was to build “the most rocking arena in college hockey.” The low, flat ceiling lined with sheet metal magnifies the crowd noise.

“I want it to be so loud in there, it sounds like a little child inside a tin can with a hammer,” said Pegula, who also owns the N.H.L.’s Buffalo Sabres.

The Pegula gentleman named is the person who provided the money for the arena, so at least no public funding was involved here, although it is likely that if one were to delve deeply into the project one would find at least indirect financial support from the state of Pennsylvania and from money from the school that could have been used on frivolous stuff, like education.

But there is good news, so far there has been no revelations about hockey coaches abusing young children in the hockey arena.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Rand Paul Looks Good By Keeping His Mouth Shut; Jon Stewart is a Really Decent Person, Chris Christie’s Strategy is Working

And Other Commentary After the End of the Shutdown Debacle

There are three freshman Senators who are running for President, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.  By keeping his mouth shut Rand Paul has looked the best of the three.  But not to worry, Mr. Paul will soon start making his usual ridiculous statement and remind everyone why he should not talk out loud.

The rise of Stephen Colbert was capped by his fantastic performance at the Al Smith dinner (watch the video!).  The really interesting thing is that his mentor, the man responsible for his success, Jon Stewart, is really, really pleased and supportive instead of being bitter and jealous.  Anyone who has followed the career of Mr. Stewart know what a great person he is, this just confirms it.

The presidential strategy of Chris Christie, the Republican Governor of New Jersey has been to win a big re-election vote.  This would enable Mr. Christie to run for President on the platform that he can win.  Right now this is not good enough, Mr. Christie would be crushed in primary voting if the elections were held today.  Once he is safely re-elected look for Mr. Christie to turn sharply partisan, and let loose the mean and vicious aspect of his personality.  It’s the only way he has a chance.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, the formerly part time rational now completely off the rails columnist Peggy Noonan has invoked the late Senator Robert Taft in her arguments of how the Republican Party should act.  Senator Taft was a persona of the1940’s.  Really, read the piece.  It is incomprehensible to anyone except people who actually know who Senator Taft was, and even for those 20 people it is not all that clear.

The Republicans were so furious about losing the shutdown battle that they successfully prevented some tax decreases.  That’s right, rather than give Democrats something they wanted that Republicans also wanted they went back on the basic principle of their party, tax cuts.

MSNBC is hiring a 25 year old son of actress Mia Farrow.  Even so they will still not have anybody as bad as Rev. Al Sharpton.  And is Ronan Farrow the best they can do?

As near as anyone can tell, the problems with the rollout of health care reform have largely occurred because Republicans in states they control refused to set up exchanges and have done everything they could to disrupt and interfere with the program.  That they can say without contradiction by the Press that the the rollout is a failure of the Obama administration says all that is needed about the sorry state of the press in the United States.

It is important that Virginia Republican Ken Cuccinelli not just lose the governor’s race but that he lose big time.  That is the only way hard line conservatives will start to listen to the people telling them things they don’t want to hear.  

Are People Flat Out Lying About Rising Health Insurance Costs Under Health Care Reform? Well They Are on Fox News

But Then That’s Expected, so It’s Excused

In the old days, when there was  integrity in the media the print and broadcast journalism would actually check stories before they reported them.  Now Fox News has come along and done away with that time consuming, archaic practice.  Reality is what Fox News says is reality, actual reality is irrelevant if it contradicts the conservative view of the world.

Case in point are some folks who went on Fox News as part of the illustration of how health insurance costs are rising under health care reform.  Or Not.

Average Americans are feeling the pain of Obamacare and the healthcare overhaul train wreck,” Hannity announced, “and six of them are here tonight to tell us their stories.”  Three married couples were neatly arranged in his studio, the wives seated and the men standing behind them, like game show contestants.
As Hannity called on each of them, the guests recounted their “Obamacare” horror stories: canceled policies, premium hikes, restrictions on the freedom to see a doctor of their choice, financial burdens upon their small businesses and so on.
“These are the stories that the media refuses to cover,” Hannity interjected.

Wow, that sounds terrible, so terrible in fact that Eric Stern, a former policy aide to a former Montana Governor checked up the stories.  What he found, of course, was that what the folks on the show believed was simply not true.

First I spoke with Paul Cox of Leicester, N.C.  He and his wife Michelle had lamented to Hannity that because of Obamacare, they can’t grow their construction business and they have kept their employees below a certain number of hours, so that they are part-timers.

Obamacare has no effect on businesses with 49 employees or less. But in our brief conversation on the phone, Paul revealed that he has only four employees. Why the cutback on his workforce? 

“Well,” he said, “I haven’t been forced to do so, it’s just that I’ve chosen to do so. I have to deal with increased costs.” What costs? And how, I asked him, is any of it due to Obamacare? There was a long pause, after which he said he’d call me back. He never did.

Well sure, one of the participants on the show might be confused.  What about another.

Allison’s husband left his job a few years ago, one with benefits at a big company, to start his own business. Since then they’ve been buying insurance on the open market, and are now paying around $1,100 a month for a policy with a $2,500 deductible per family member, with hefty annual premium hikes.  One of their two children is not covered under the policy. She has a preexisting condition that would require purchasing additional coverage for $600 a month, which would bring the family’s grand total to around $20,000 a year.

I asked Allison if she’d shopped on the exchange, to see what a plan might cost under the new law. She said she hadn’t done so because she’d heard the website was not working. Would she try it out when it’s up and running? Perhaps, she said. She told me she has long opposed Obamacare, and that the president should have focused on tort reform as a solution to bringing down the price of healthcare.

I tried an experiment and shopped on the exchange for Allison and Kurt. Assuming they don’t smoke and have a household income too high to be eligible for subsidies, I found that they would be able to get a plan for around $7,600, which would include coverage for their uninsured daughter. This would be about a 60 percent reduction from what they would have to pay on the pre-Obamacare market.

Wow, what a great story and expect Fox News to correct the wrong impression they gave right after the flock of pigs land.  What about the third story?

When I spoke to Robbie, he said he and Tina have been paying a little over $800 a month for their plan, about $10,000 a year. And the ACA-compliant policy that will cost 50-75 percent more? They said this information was related to them by their insurance agent.
Had they shopped on the exchange yet, I asked? No, Tina said, nor would they. They oppose Obamacare and want nothing to do with it. Fair enough, but they should know that I found a plan for them for, at most, $3,700 a year, 63 percent less than their current bill.  It might cover things that they don’t need, but so does every insurance policy.

Now it is true that Mr. Stern might be making all of this up.  But if the choice is between Fox News and anybody else as to which party is making things up, well .  . .

Facts, fighting conservative dogma since . . . . well since forever.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

NFL Takes Most of the Money on Sales of Items to Benefit Breast Cancer Research

Well What Did You Expect From the Greedy Football Owners?

Watching the NFL these days is an adventure in pink.  See the NFL wants to be known that no, they are not in favor of concussion, no they are not in favor of ripping off taxpayers, no they are not in favor of making as much money as they possibly can, they are in favor of breast cancer research. 

Of course, being the NFL they want to make sure they make a nice buck off of breast cancer. So they take a lot of the money from sales of pink themed merchandise.

The NFL is once again covered head-to-toe in pink as part of the league's Breast Cancer Awareness initiative.
Fans can also purchase pink items to support the cause. But a shockingly small amount of the fans' money is going toward cancer research.

According to data obtained from the NFL by Darren Rovell of ESPN, the NFL "takes a 25% royalty from the wholesale price (1/2 retail), donates 90% of royalty to American Cancer Society."

In other words, for every $100 in pink merchandise sold, $12.50 goes to the NFL. Of that, $11.25 goes to the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the NFL keeps the rest. The remaining money is then divided up by the company that makes the merchandise (37.5%) and the company that sells the merchandise (50.0%), which is often the NFL and the individual teams. (emphasis added)

Then consider that only 71.2% of money the ACS receives goes towards research and cancer programs.

In the end, after everybody has taken a cut, only 8.01% of money spent on pink NFL merchandise is actually going toward cancer research.

So next time the NFL extorts tax payer support for stadiums everybody should just remember who they are dealing with, some of the greediest, most selfish people in America.  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

University of South Nebraska Plans to Make Millions From a Losing Football Team – Go Fighting Doormats

The College President Explains It All

College football teams are building their won loss records by scheduling weak and ineffective teams.  The unlucky losers participate in this farce because they get a big check by visiting a strong Division I football school and losing by a huge score.  So it turns out that one school, the University of South Nebraska has determined that it can make millions by fielding a football team and losing big time to big time football school.

How this would take place was explained by the President Smithers of USN.

  1. President Smithers, can you summarize what the plan is?

Pres. Smithers:  Sure.  USN will play 12 away games, all of them will be against teams like Ohio State, Alabama, Auburn, Penn State and their peers.  We expect to be paid somewhere between $800,000 and $1 million for each game, giving the University a total take of $10 to $12 million. 

  1. Why would these schools schedule you and pay so much?

Pres. Smithers:  Look, our team will be terrible.  Playing the Fighting Doormats will not only be a guranteed win, it will be a blowout.  This will impress the sports press and make every school we play almost certainly bowl eligible. 

  1. How will you get students to play for your team?

Pres. Smithers:  We think that in addition to a full scholarship our student athletes will be attracted by the no cost $100,000 life insurance policy we will provide for every member of the team.

  1. Do you have any other revenue sources?

Pres. Smithers:  Team memorabilia is expected to be a big seller.  Doormats with the Doormats team logo will be sold on e-bay for $99.99.

  1. Isn’t fielding a football team expensive?

Pres. Smithers:  Well we won’t have to have a stadium since all of our games will be away games, and our practice facilities will be pretty Spartan, we wouldn’t want to get too good and score against one of these opponents once they put in their 4th stringers. We will have sponsor tie ins.  For example,  Proctor and Gamble will be providing special detergents that get blood stains out of uniforms.  And the Soouth Nebraska Medical Center Emergency Room will pay to be the Emergency Room of record for our players.

  1. What academic programs will be supported by the profits from the program?

Pres. Smithers:  Uh, most of the money will go to pay for a new group of administrators that the University of South Nebraska desperately needs.  The rest will be used for an annual bonus for the President, heh, heh, that’s me.  After all I should get something for bringing in all of this revenue.

  1. Do you have a theme?

Pres. Smither:  Sure, The Fighting Doormats, No Fatalities on the Field Since 2009.