Lots of people are sharing social media links about various media outlets editorialiizing against the rape insurance petition the House will probably endorse this week, committing yet one more end around of the democratic process. Jack Lessenberry is the latest.
He is absolutely correct in every word he writes. Even the way he dots his Is and crosses his Ts is fatually, logically and ethically correct. There's a slight problem.
The people who run our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect don't care. They aren't interested in clever editorials or sound reasoning. Time and again, all they've demonstrated an interest in is what they can get away with. We saw this with their end around of the democratic process regarding the emergency manager law, we saw this with the way the ramrodded Right to Work through the process, we've seen this every time they've moved something without immediate effect without two-thirds votes in favor, we've seen this with the way they've adopted wolf hunting legislation.
They aren't interested. They don't care, and all the wise and well reasoned editorial writing on the planet isn't going to make a damn bit of difference.
I put this story about Goat Killer concern trolling the Republican establishment on the Twitters yesterday after briefly scanning it. This morning, someone wrote back, alerting me to this.
He has taken flak nationally for his stance against gay marriage, but he said he doesn't mind because while working at American Airlines, he saw firsthand what happens when benefits are extended to gay people.
He said American Airlines workers would say a person with AIDS was their lover so that person could get medical benefits.
"Folks, they (gay people) want free medical because they're dying (when they're) between 30 and 44 years old," he said. "To me, it's a moral issue. It's a Biblical issue. Traditional marriage is where it should be and it's in our platform. Those in our party who oppose traditional marriage are wrong."
Despite his allegation that gay people regularly rip off American Airlines on behalf of AIDS-stricken partners, American Airlines continues to be rated as one of the nation's most gay-friendly employers. Apparently, it's a scam that only homosexuals and Dave Agema have clued into (you would think that human resources people would notice the massive increases in health insurance payouts, and the resulting impact it has on what rates the company has to pay to provide coveage).
As for his subsequent allegation that gays want free health insurance because they're all dying of AIDS, we consult an expert in the area, the CDC.
Since the epidemic began, an estimated 302,148 MSM with an AIDS diagnosis have died, including an estimated 5,909 in 20103.
The total population of the United States is about 317 milion people, which means that less than one-tenth of one percent of them are homosexual males who have died of AIDS over its entire 20 year history. If you buy the 10 percent estimate of homosexual men, that translates roughly into less than one percent of them.
By contrast, the number of people who died in the United States of lung cancer in 2010 alone was more than 100,000, and 90 percent of cancer deaths are attributed to either heavy tobacco usage or exposure to it. If Goat Killer were really more concerned with preventing people with expensive medical costs based on "risky" behavior* rather than tormenting people whose sexual orientation he finds icky, he'd be leading the charge against smoking.
*--Homosexuality is not, by itself, a risky behavior. I'm going off the argument used to endorse this, not reality.
Over the years, it's been pointed out hereabouts that way back in the 70s, the state paid about three-quarters of a typical public university student's cost of education. This was more, by the way, than the 100 percent paid in parts of the country until Ronald Reagan got fed up with leftists on college campuses and ended that, because we won't be having anyone develop the ability to critical think and come to independent conclusions on the state's dime, thank you very much. Anyway, in the 70s, the Legislature started shaving away at that, to the point where a couple of years ago, the relationship between state and student and education had completely reversed ... students now pay 75 percent of the cost of their education.
Conservatives have reacted to that, and the predictable rise in student debt, by blaming students and society at large for encouraging them to get an education. The world needs ditch diggers, too, sunshines. Along the way, Fried Chicken Frank told everyone that he's the kind of success someone can attain without a college degree (nevermind that the state's resident local oaf started his career at a time when most people didn't go to college). What they refused to say was a bad thing was the Legislature accelerating the state's disinvestment from its public universities, and said that if it was at all bad it was because greedy professors demanded better wages and benefits (wages and benefits, say, commensurate with what they might get in the private sector).
There's a new study out that says that rising tuition is really the fault of cuts to higher education, a ratification of something we already knew but handy to pull out.
If state government funding to universities had increased at the level of consumer inflation every year since 2001, state aid in the 2014 fiscal year — the current 2013-14 academic year — would be $9,192 per student. Instead, it’s $4,496. If tuition increases had been kept at consumer inflation levels over the same period, annual tuition costs would be, on average, $8,556 per student. But instead, they’re $15,891.
Here I direct your attention to an aspirant to our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect, Donijo Robbins DeJonge, who says maybe the state should spend even less because it forces universities to innovate. This is the same person who abruptly quit her comptroller's post after voters in Grand Rapids rejected her attempt to make hers an appointment for life rather than an elected job.
The report doesn't spare the universities, mind you. Depending on which numbers you use, 60 or 80 percent of that is the fault of cuts from the state. That leaves either 40 or 20 percent as the fault of the universities.
Where does most of that money go? Unless you're the absolute biggest and most successful athletics programs, that's part of where it goes. For instance, CMU just gave a raise to its athletics director. Dude takes home $250,000 a year now, not counting his benefits. The university also just entered into an arrangement with Marriott to build and operate a hotel connected to the football stadium. Now, the university swears it won't have to spend any money as a result of this, and will instead see the hotel go on the city's tax rolls (since the land is being leased, I'm not sure how that happens, since the state would technically still own the land, but those are beside the point to all this). The bigger point is that at CMU's last home football game, crowd estimates were about $8,000 and were probably significantly lower than that and probably a good many of those people didn't actually purchase a ticket. Instead, the game was paid for through tuition and state aid.
The state's universities have done a pretty good job of addessing a major fixed cost, which is energy. They've aggressively pursued energy efficiency, which has mitigated costs, but athletics and administrative costs continue to rise. The fault for that rests not with the faculty, who are increasingly asked to make due with less (this is across-the-board at the state's universities ... Western's history department just sent a letter -- ignored for no good reason -- asking for an investigation into the conduct of the provost. The fault rests with the administration who work up budgets, and of the boards of trustees, who are supposed to provide oversight.
As we all know, it's taken as an article of faith by right wingers that Detroit's bankruptcy wasn't the result of a complex set of circumstances involving racism, underinvestment, parochialism, mismanagement and the evolution of the American lifestyle from an urban to a suburban setting. It was all the fault of Democratic policies, because Detroit is a Democratic city.
As we all also know, if you get sick and go to a doctor, if he misdiagnoses your ailment, the odds are very good that whatever you have will not be successfully treated. If your car has a weird knock and you take it to a mechanic, if he gets wrong what is broken, the odds are very good that you'll have to find a new mechanic.
This brings us to today's Detroit News blog post by Gary Wolfram.
Cities should learn from this that while the short run effects of a high tax burden and heavy government regulation may be small, the long run effects will be quite large.
This is why New York City, which has a job-killing graduated income tax and which for someone with an income of $150,000 or more (thus sadling the wealthy with the third highest tax burden in the United States), is so undesirable for wealthy business people to live and do business.
Regardless, what does Doc Wolfram prescribe for Detroiters to choke down?
The way to success is to limit government to its fundamental role of protecting life, liberty, and property, and providing decent infrastructure, and to create an environment where individuals are encouraged to thrive.
Limited government, baby, means never having to ask permission to thrive! Having read enough of these blog posts, I'm half convinced that there is no actual person called Gary Wolfram, and that these are all pushed out by some 'bot as part of some great trolling joke being played by the people who run the News' editorial page.
The Detroit News ran an Op-Ed that is really a phony attack on Obamacare by way of the Veterans Administration. The headline: "Ask a Michigan vet about health care". I'd never heard of the guy before, but assumed that he's a Michigan native who served in the military and now gets his health care from a Veterans Administration hospital*. His tagline lists him as CEO of Concerned Veterans of America. Did a Google search.
He is indeed a veteran, a decorated combat veteran, in fact. Doesn't appear that he was ever wounded, however, so it's not very clear that he gets any health services from the VA. What is certain is that he's not from Michigan, and that he ran for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat from Minnesota last year. And, that before taking over "Concerned Veterans for America," he ran a veterans group that was a front for Republican activism.
This is above and beyond the mendatious attempt to paint Obamacare as some kind of government-run health care system.
*--Back in the day, I was treated through the VA for tuberculosis, which I contracted while on active duty. I was never sick and never contagious, but still had to take six months of rifampin and isoniazid as a treatment. I went to one appointment at the VA hospital in Topeka. I can confirm that it took me half a day to see anyone, and the doctor I wound up getting looked at by was so new to medicine and so unaware of how to treat tuberculosis that our consultation consisted of him getting a book about drugs off a shelf and reading off the side effects and asking if I had any of them. On my way out, I walked past a hallway lined with people in wheelchairs and one standing there shrieking at the top of his lungs.
The Guardian published a story a few days ago about how ALEC's influence dwindled badly after the Trayvon Martin shooting. It got good play on social media and people pointed to the bit where members of ALEC have to swear fealty to the organization, placing the welfare of the organization before the welfare of their constituents. There wasn't anything specific to Michigan in the story, but as we know the membership of ALEC is mostly state legislators and a lot of what has gotten bandied out our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect has come straight from the ALEC playbook.
It's always been a bit difficult for me to get overly freaked over ALEC. Lawmakers get elected to balance budgets and pass bills. If a lawmaker feels that the things he or she wants to see done is reflected in a piece of legislation written for him, there's no reason not to use boilerplate language. Personally, I think that's a terrible way to represent people, and it opens all of us up to a lot of unintended consequences because every state's laws are different. But, really, if you think ALEC should have less influence in Lansing, then you elect people who won't join.
The oath of loyalty is a little different, but not by much. Remember, the same people who swear loyalty to ALEC are mostly all the same people who signed Grover Norquist's no tax hike pledge. And, as we saw with the business tax cut/old people tax hike, the same people who pledge to not raise taxes will do it if they can a) do it on someone other than their core business constitueny and b) get away with it.
But, it is entirely fair to point out that many of our representatives and senators do not, in fact, represent their districts and instead feel that they represent their ideology. Most of us already knew that, however, well before people started freaking out about ALEC.
The Republican Party decided that it would go after minority votes. Not by actually endorsing policies that minority voters tend to like, mind you, but by that age old strategem: Can't dazzle you with brilliance, baffle you with bullshit. A few weeks ago, Reince Preibus wrote an Op-Ed in one of the Detroit dailies, memory tells me it was probably the one that no minority voter would bother reading because this summer it publshed a column extolling the innovative virtues of slavery, in which he said that Republican ideas could save Detroit. On its face, it was incredibly stupid because Detroit's decline was caused by a complex array of reasons, but it was also steeped in the racist belief that Detroit failed because of Democratic policies, which everyone understands to mean, "Those people can't govern themselves."
Anyway, today, the Republican Party brought in Rand Paul to celebrate the opening of African American engagement centers, which is exactly the name you'd come up with for a minority outreach program if you're some rich white asshole who drives through Detroit only because you derive a thrill from doing so without getting mugged.
I didn't watch the speech, because Rand Paul is a fraud and a pseudo-intellectual and I have no time to waste on those people. Fortunately, Jeff Wattrick works for Deadline Detroit, which presumably wanted someone to cover the speech. So, he fact checked it.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) spoke to the Detroit Economic Club at the Motor City Casino about his Economic Freedom Zones plan to jumpstart economic growth in depressed areas. The plan would cause for an income tax reduction to a single, flat rate of 5 percent for individuals and businesses, reducing the payroll tax to 2%, child education tax credits to parents, suspending Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules and prevailing wage requirements for contractors working at public facilities and public works project.
In other words, Rand Paul's mad scheme to rescue a city that has suffered due to a declining tax base is to further cut into that tax base and make even less money available to turn the streetlights back on and put more cops on the streets.
When you pair that with Paul's past "issues" with the Civil Rights Act, I think we can chalk this up as yet another successful Republican Party minority outreach kickoff.
I was "discussing" Obamacare the other day with a conservative friend of mine on the Facebooks when he dropped an astonishing revelation: That 10s of millions of people were going to have their employer-based insurance policies canceled. I had no idea where the figure came from, and assumed it was one of those numbers that pops up in rightwing media, where it twirls, twirls, twirls around until it manages to build up enough inertia to go over the top of the echo chamber and spatter all over the rest of us. So, rather than sorting out where the number came from, which usually reveals it to be utterly bogus, but an exercise I didn't have time for, I instead focused on the very real need to shift away from employer-based health insurance to something better (let GM build cars and not force the company to maintain expertise in the private health insurance market). Anyway, as things tend to, today, I figured out the source of the 10s of millions figure. It was Mike Rogers on a Sunday morning shoutfest. Needless to say, the number is false. Good going, Mike Rogers.
"The next go-round on the business side is 80 to 100 million people will get cancellation notices," (Mike Rogers) said. Challenged by Democrat Chris Van Hollen, Rogers doubled down. "Eighty million people are going to get pink slips," he continued. "Their own estimate. Eighty million."
That's more cancellation notices than the estimates I've seen by a factor of at least 10. I asked Rogers's press secretary where the number came from. Turns out it's not exactly the administration's own estimates. It's a Daily Caller interview with Christopher Conover, a research scholar at Duke University and an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
What Conover's talking about here isn't cancellation notices or pink slips, as Rogers says. It's any change to a plan at all. One of the examples he gives is the requirement to cover children up to age 26. Though plans offered by large employers are exempt from most of Obamacare's regulations, they have to abide by that one. And that regulation, popular as it is, costs money. So millions of employer plans expanded to cover older children and, in most cases, raised premiums slightly. According to Conover, all the people in those plans lost their plans because they "no longer have the health plans they used to have."
And, how accurate is this assessment, the basis for a more specific warning from Mike Rogers?
Some of Conover's data comes from the Kaiser Family Foundation's annual, and invaluable, Health Benefits Survey. So I ran his post by Kaiser's Larry Levitt, who used to manage the survey. "Under this definition, " Levitt replied, "the idea of keeping your plan ceases to be meaningful." He went on to say that "virtually every health plan changed in some way every year -- tweaking benefits, cost-sharing, drug formularies, provider networks, etc."
I asked Levitt whether anything he'd seen in the last few months had led him to believe that Obamacare was making more serious changes to employer-based plans than had previously been thought. "The Affordable Care Act did largely leave the employer market alone," he replied. "The essential benefit regulations don’t apply to large employer plans. There are very, very few requirements that apply to large employer plans."
In other words, it's a garbage assessment taken out of context by Mike Rogers to spread Obamacare terror.
We return to the burning question of which part of the state has the batshit craziest Republicans with a new claim on behalf of Macomb County.
A Macomb County Republican Party official who was bounced from his post as the West Bloomfield Township deputy treasurer after a tumultuous first week on the job has filed suit, claiming he was improperly fired after having his pay arbitrarily cut by 43 percent.
In a Macomb Circuit Court lawsuit, Jared Maynard alleges that his firing was a breach of contract, a violation of his right to discuss personal matters in a closed session, a result of him acting as a whistleblower, and in retaliation for his Republican politics.
This comes on this week's revelation that Doug Sedenquist, the Up North Tea Party Republican charged in Wisconsin in relationship to an armed standoff with police, is facing new charges for sending threatening messages over the Internet that include extortion. But, word on the street is that he will be bounced from his seat on the state central committee at its next meeting. No doubt, this act will be correctly interpreted by other Tea Party people as an attempt by the reviled Republican Establishment to silence the True Patriots within the party.
The Freep wants our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect to punt on Right to Life's rape insurance petition. Considering that just last month, our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect insisted that it had to move the Court of Claims to an Appeals Court unstructured for trials on the ground that it was a better representation of democracy (all of Michigan, versus just Ingham County). Consistency would certainly dictate that they follow through by letting voters decide if private market decisions should be made by the Legislature instead of by consumers and vendors, but as the man says consistency is a hobgoblin of a shallow mind and the Court of Claims thing was always horseshit, anyway.
But if this requirement becomes law via the petition process, it will be a failure of democracy. The petition was signed by 299,941 registered voters, just 4% of the state’s 7.4 million registered voters. It’s a good reminder that Michigan’s petition process should be revisited. To allow hundreds of thousands to subvert the law of the land by larding a legal medical process with special requirements is contrary to the spirit of democracy.
Yes, the petition process needs a fresh look, considering how badly it's been misused in this case. So, does the process by which the Legislature can simply pass new laws once laws they passed are successfully challenged through normal democratic means (the emergency manager law, Tom Casperson's Little Red Riding Hood fable). And, so does the referendum proofing power of a token appropriation. Of course, you might as well toss into the mix how legislative districts are drawn up and term limits, too. And, while we're at it, how about reducing the amount of dark money in politics.
Yeah, I know.