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.
I've written a weekly newspaper column now for about a decade. I could probably figure out with precision, but it would be a stupid waste of time. The point is that I've been doing it a very long time. Part of it is the fun; I'm kind of a local celebrity, although I'll take that seriously when people start buying me things. Part of it is that I just enjoy doing it. I've written straight reporting and feature stories and unsigned editorials, and have always found the freedom in using a voice of my choosing to be best suited with my talents, such that they are.
The last few years, there's been noise that media outlets mostly employ as columnists people like me. White men past the age of 40. I was 32 or 33 when I started writing my column, so I was a young white man when I started and am now a middle aged white man. Yesterday, there was apparently a Twitter kerfluffle about how Detroit media outlets mostly just employ white men over 40 as columnists. It's summed up here.
Occasionally I'll get someone who will ask for tips on how to write either opinion or about politics. The linked-to post feels an awful lot like someone was having a sad that they haven't gotten a big, fat paycheck to share his opinions in a newspaper, so with a series of innumerated points I'll explain why it's not bad that very few young people are given jobs writing columns while hopefully providing some useful advice for people who want to get into writing opinion pieces and/or about politics.
1. Having an opinion and writing opinion are two very different things. Nobody cares what your opinions are. People are interested in why you hold your opinion. If you say, "I like Mark Schauer because he is a Democat," people will promptly tune you out because you have nothing of value to offer them. If you say, "I believe that health care reform must necessarily include an individual mandate because the oldest cohort of Americans is also its largest, which leaves a smaller portion of the American people paying into health care," people will probably call you a communist. But, at least you've given them something worthwhile to think about. And, no, being young doesn't give you special insights into anything except what it's like to be young, which all of us already experienced. You'll understand this a bit better when you've put a few years behind you.
2. Knowing what you're talking about helps quite a lot. When I started writing my column, one of the first topics I hit was Nestle's bottling facility in Mecosta County. Before I wrote a single word, I read three books of history (Cadillac Desert, Rivers of Empire, and Dave Dempsey's On the Brink), reports by the USGS and the DNR/DEQ and looked at hydrology maps. I also took a tour of the plant. This was all before I wrote a single word about it. As a result, when I wrote and people wrote to me with questions or complaints, I could handle them in educated fashion. I could say something like, "The idea that a Public Trust is the same thing as eminent domain is so idiotic that I won't dignify it with a response."
3. Experience as a reporter helps. I am a local expert on the following: Fluoridated drinking water, storm drains, the history of Mount Pleasant's Millpond Park and local parking policy. I know these things because I spent time reporting these topics as a news reporter. I also read the city charter and the state constitution along the way. This helps add not just a necessary temperament, but also perspective on opinion topics. Any asshole can drone on about the evils of zoning. It takes an asshole who has covered a planning commission meeting to do it in a way that explains things to people.
4. Insitutional knowledge probably strengthens your point. Why are so many of our columnists old, white men? Because when those old, white men were young and/or middle aged, white men ran everything. That's increasingly no longer the case, and that's great (I, for one, welcome our new minority and female overlords), but really good opinion can reach back into the past and use it to explain the present or the future. At the very least, it's a good idea to have someone around who can say, "Well, shit, Dennis Lennox is the same guy who stalked Gary Peters around CMU's campus, got sued for altering Mark Grebner's Wikipedia page and lost(!) and was forced to resign the post of Cheboygen County Drain Commissioner in disgrace, and later donned a ski mask so he could taunt striking CMU faculty ... why are we publishing his Op-Ed again?"
5. A column is not a blog post. A column is an informal essay built possibly around a single idea that a writer hopes to convey. A blog post can be that. A blog post can also be the opinion equivalent of a fart joke. For almost as long as I've written a newspaper column, I've also blogged. So, odds are pretty good I know what I'm talking about on this. This is really only topical because a millenial insisted the other day that columns and blog posts are the same thing.
You'll notice a common thread running through them all, which is that it's most advantageous to know what you're talking about. It usually takes a few years to do that, and a good columnist knows something about a lot of things so he or she can bring unique insights into issues or stories. Building up that reservoir of knowledge takes time.
Doug Sedenquist, the state party committee member and vice executive something or other for the Delta County Republican Party, was supposed to be in Green Bay today for a hearing (a plea hearing, by the looks of the paperwork) related to a gun-related standoff that happened earlier this year. He never made it. Indications are that it's just the start of his problems.
LANSING — A member of the Michigan Republican Party's central committee who is facing criminal charges in Wisconsin spent the Thanksgiving weekend in jail in the Upper Peninsula, charged with felonies in Michigan.
Doug Sedenquist, 51, of Escanaba, was arrested last week and charged with extortion, using a computer to commit a crime, aggravated stalking, and possession of a drug chemically similar to a controlled substance, Delta County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Philip Strom said today.
This is how dumb this guy is. He's already facing charges that he sent threatening messages via a computer allegedly to his ex-wife, and what does he do? He allegedly does it again. Who knows, maybe it's a clever frame up job by the guy's ex-wife.
He no longer holds a post with the Delta County GOP, but he does with the state committee. They'll discuss that here in a couple of weeks. My guess is that they'll make an easy decision to bounce him. I'm sure that some of his Tea Party allies will then make the easy decision to blame Sedenquist's dismissal on political retribution by the party Establishment, because it's always a conspiracy to silence the Tea Party.
Lo these many years ago, when Goat Killer was first elected to the position of RNC committee member, Bill Ballenger said that the only people who thought it was a terrible idea were people prediposed to hating the Republican Party. Then, Goat Killer copied and pasted an error-filled anti-gay screed to Facebook and spent two weeks defending it as not an error-filled anti-gay screed before getting anti-gay language unanimously enshrined in the official RNC policy platform. He continues his rich tradition of making his party look forward thinking, sober and wise in writing a letter taking to task a column Teh Demas wrote.
Nice try Susan. Your rhetoric won't stop the movement that simply desires to be free of excessive government — one that Obama represents. Stop trying to kill the messenger that points out the fact that our present leader is a threat to America; fiscally, morally and constitutionally.
President Obama is the one losing Michigan friends. His own party members are distancing themselves from their dictator who has a long list of scandals.
Anyone remember when Goat Killer was waiting on a phone call from God about running for Congress?
A controversial bill that would prohibit insurers from including abortion as a standard feature in health plans sold here is on its way to the state legislature.
Under the proposal, women who want abortion coverage could purchase it through an additional rider. Employers who choose to offer abortion coverage would have to inform all employees of the policy.
So much for a free marketplace operating without the interference of government. Let's not kid ourselves, though. This isn't just about ensuring that public money isn't used to fund abortions. A significant portion of this is a hamhanded attempt to get the ladies to stop having sex for anything but procreation.
This is a great little look into how the buzzwords, popular in the mid-90s to the middle of last decade, "sound science" helped dilute policy on both smoking and climate change.
Keep all this in mind the next time you see Tom Casperson or a DNR wildlife person talking about how the state's wolf hunt is managed according to "sound science." It's a horseshit phrase intended to create the illusion of fact-grounded gravitas when in fact none exists.
If people want to hunt wolves, they ought to just come right out and say, "I would like to hunt wolves because of 'A' and 'B'." Any of the dressing used so far to promote it -- that it's necessary to safeguard human and pet lives -- is mindless garbage.
By the way, this also helps explain why we, as a nation, continue to lag on climate policy, too. That's actually a more important issue, but it's a global and national (and state and local and personal) one covered here very frequently, and right now what's before us is a wolf hunt peddled with snake oil.
Of 1,000 terrible ideas, we get this real corker.
“What didn’t work in Detroit was decades of big Democratic government fueled by public-employee unions,” Murphy wrote. “What is working now is a comeback in the central city fueled by young and free enterprise. Detroit is going to be a comeback story, and it will be done on GOP principles. What better place to show the country that we offer a way forward with room for everyone?”
This has been their line for years, that Detroit failed not because of a complex arrangements of factors including declining tax base and population loss (i.e. white flight), but because of "Democratic government," which for a very long time has been synonymous with, "Those black-skinned chappies just don't know how to run their own city."
It looks like we're going to need a constitutional amendment. Two of them, really. From MIRS.
The petition would create the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, and its provision protecting the NRC's power to designate game species appears to directly conflict with the mission of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected (KMWP), a group working on collecting signatures for a ballot proposal to put the law that gave the NRC those powers to a statewide vote.
They are working like savage little demons to make sure that the people of Michigan don't get to hold a ballot box referendum on the wolf hunt. After they passed the wolf hunt, Tom Casperson wrote a legislative end-around for it by transferring authority to name game animals to the NRC. Now, with a petition likely to undo that, the wolf hunt people are looking to undo that.
"This is about making sure that decisions about fish and wildlife management are made by relying on sound science and the recommendations of biologists, not activists or television commercials," said Merle SHEPARD, chairman of CPWM, in the press release.
We trod this ground before. Sound science is a term conservatives like to toss around when they want to make it sound as if they are making well-thought out policy. Second-hand smoke was not sound science. Climate change is not sound science. A wolf hunt is. Determining what is a game species is, is not a matter of science, however. Science is silent on whether a wolf is a game species. That's a decision based on human judgement. And, let's talk about activists making policy.
The law also calls for $1 million in appropriations so the DNR "can conduct rapid response activities necessary to prevent and eliminate aquatic invasive species like Asian carp."
Time to do away with the referendum-killing appropriation once and for all. While we're at it, I guess we need an amendment enshrining in the constitution that animal and plant species are the property of the people of Michigan and that decisions about which ones we can kill for fun and food are left to the people's designees (our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect, and that if those people come under the sway of the "We like killing for fun" crowd, that the people can undo their decisions).