Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fox News Turns More Health Care Options Into Fewer Health Care Options

JUSTIN BERRIER/Media Matters For America:

Fox News dishonestly claimed that consumers in the health care law's exchanges would have limited options, ignoring reports that the exchanges will offer significantly more choice than is currently available in the individual market.
On Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade said, "You cannot force a private company to get into these exchanges. And if they all bail out like Aetna's done in a lot of states, like United's done in a lot of states, next thing you know, they're only going to have one option and it's going to be a federal option, a nationalized health care system because none of the private sector wants to get involved." Co-host Steve Doocy agreed, claiming "That's kind of subterfuge is - a lot of people are saying that's the ultimate end game for President Obama and the Democrats, is the single-payer where the government pays for everything":
But Fox's characterization of choices in the health care exchanges is misleading. Despite some insurers not initially providing plans in the exchanges, consumers in the majority of markets will have several health care options to choose from. The New York Times reported that, as of May, 2013, "More than 120 insurance companies have filed applications with the federal government":
More than 120 insurance companies have filed applications with the federal government, and it appears that most consumers will be able to choose from health plans offered by five or more insurers, the administration said.
One-fourth of insurance companies proposing to offer coverage in these federal exchanges have recently entered the individual market, the administration said.
Experts on health policy said the filing of applications was only the beginning of a race to the market for insurers. After scrutinizing applications, federal and state officials could demand changes in benefits and rates, and insist that insurers expand their proposed networks of doctors and hospitals.
A recent report by the Department of Health and Human Services of exchanges in 36 states found that consumers "will be able to choose from an average of 53 different plans when the new health insurance marketplaces, also called exchanges, open on Oct. 1."  
For many consumers purchasing insurance through the individual market, options for purchasing insurance are already extremely limited. The Center for American Progress pointed out that individual insurance markets often only offer a few options and many markets are dominated by one insurer:
[I]n many states insurance markets are dominated by only one or two insurance carriers. In at least 21 states, one carrier controls more than half the market. More than half of the market is controlled by two carriers in at least 39 states. In 2007, a survey conducted by the American Medical Association found that in more than 95 percent of insurance markets, a single commercial carrier controlled at least 30 percent of the insurance market.
In addition, exchange plan choices for initial enrollment will only affect a small portion of the market. In theWashington Post's Wonkblog, Ezra Klein pointed out that "we're talking about a small fraction of the American health-care system":
Here's the first thing to know: We're talking about a small fraction of the American health-care system. This isn't about people on Medicare or Medicaid or employer-based insurance. It's about people joining Obamacare's insurance exchanges. That's people who buy insurance on their own now, as well as some of the uninsured. In 2014, 7 million people, or 2.5 percent of the population, is expected to buy insurance through the exchanges. By 2023, that will rise to 24 million people, or 8 percent. 
So we're talking about a small portion of the market.

Right-Wing Media Go Wild For Sen. Cruz's Fake Filibuster


Following a 21 hour fake filibuster by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), right-wing media figures were quick to praise the effort as "genius." Fox host Sean Hannity opened his September 25 show, Hannity, with an over-the-top montage of Sen. Cruz's filibuster alongside images of Gadsden flags, American flags, trains, and Americans getting their hair cut, while conservative radio host Bill Cunningham compared Cruz to Davy Crockett, James Bowie, and John Wayne:

Obama takes stand against GOP targeting ACA

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Nevada Republican accidentally speaks his mind

By Steve Benen/Maddow Blog
Ordinarily, if one asks a prominent elected official about their party's prospects in the coming elections, you can expect generic optimism. "Our party has great ideas, a great record, and great candidates," he or she will say, "and I think voters will respond well to our great message."
But once in a great while, politicians will slip and accidentally speak their minds. Jon Ralston, for example,caught Nevada Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey's (R) appearance on a conservative radio talk show, and noticed Hickey getting "careless."
"Probably where we had a million voters turn out in 2012; we'll have like 700,000 [in 2014]. A lot of minorities, a lot of younger people will not turn out in a non-presidential year. It's a great year for Republicans!"
Dear Nevada Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, your party doesn't want you to say this out loud.
If Hickey wants to make the case that 2014 will be "a great year for Republicans" because the party is offering the electorate a better vision for the future, more power to him. But that's not what he said. Rather, the Nevada GOP leader think it'll be "a great year for Republicans" because he assumes black, Latino, and younger voters won't vote on Election Day.
In other words, the key to Republican optimism is confidence that more Americans won't show up to vote. Why have GOP officials waged such an aggressive "war on voting"? Why did Republican celebrate the demise of the Voting Rights Act? This is why.
Ralston summarized the Democratic response this way: "Yes, you heard that right -- the Republican Party is so out-of-touch with Nevada families they are finally admitting the only way they can win an election is for as few people to vote as possible."

POLL: Tea Party support plunges to near-record low

Jane C. Timm/Morning Joe
The grassroots movement where Texas talker Sen. Ted Cruz has hung his hat has reached a near-record low of supporters, according to a Gallup poll out Thursday.
Just as the party has reached a record-level of influence and notoriety thanks to a cohort of outspoken Republican senatorsarmed with filibusters, only 22% of Americans of voting age say they support the Tea Party—the lowest number since before the group’s coming out in the 2010 elections.
More people hate the Tea Party than support it, too. Twenty-seven percent of Americans say they oppose the party. The number of Americans who said they strongly oppose the party, 17%, also outnumbers those who said they strongly supported it, 11%.
Fully half of all Americans, however, say they don’t oppose, support, or have an opinion of the Tea Party.
Despite the last week of infighting between Tea Party and more mainstream Republican congressmen, GOP voters are increasingly ambivalent about the movement.
In 2010, after Tea Party members were successfully elected in a number of districts, 65% of Republicans said they supported the movement. Now, just 38% support the party. A full half of all Republicans responded that they were neutral or had no opinion on the movement.
The poll surveyed a random sample of 1,510 adults by telephone between Sept 5-8, 2013. It has a margin of error of +/- 3%.

White House to announce $300 million in aid Friday to make Detroit safer, erase blight

By Todd Spangler/Detroit Free Press 

WASHINGTON — Nearly $300 million in aid for Detroit — from federal and state coffers, private businesses and charitable foundations — will be announced Friday as Obama administration officials visit the city to discuss what can be done to help eradicate blight, improve transportation, encourage new business and make residents safer.

The funding will include some $150 million in blight eradication and community redevelopment, including $65 million in Community Development Block Grant funding — which had already been awarded over two years but couldn’t be accessed by the city. Another $25 million could help hire as many as 150 new firefighters in the city.

Some $24 million in federal resources which had been tied up will go to repairing buses and installing security cameras, part of an overall $140 million investment in transit systems. And several charitable groups — the Ford Foundation, Kresge Foundation and Knight Foundation — will plow millions into spurring entrepreneurship and creating new jobs.
Gene Sperling, the head of President Barack Obama’s National Economic Council and an Ann Arbor native, briefed reporters on some the plans Thursday evening, saying Friday’s meeting at Wayne State is “the first of many efforts that the administration will engage in with the city of Detroit.” Many details were still to come out Friday.

“We’ve found significant resources that we believe can be unlocked and expedited and leveraged to have significant impact on the economy of Detroit,” Sperling said.

Gov. Rick Snyder, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr — who on Detroit’s behalf filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in history in July — will be part of the talks with Sperling, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Attorney General Eric Holder.

Representatives of local foundations and business leaders were expected to be present as well. Members of Michigan’s congressional delegation were expected to attend if they could break away from votes with a federal shutdown looming at midnight Monday without a funding resolution.

“If we’re not there we’ll teleconference,” said U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. “I think what is really important is there is an ongoing commitment from the administration.”

Sperling wasn’t immediately able to break down just how much of the $300 million represents new funding and how much had already been awarded to Detroit but, for whatever reason, hadn’t reached the city before. But he said much of it represented an effort by adminsitration officials to scour their departments for funding which Detroit could access.

For instance, in the case of $25 million to be used for firefighters, the funding, Sperling said, had “been accumulating for years” but couldn’t be accesed. The $65 million in CDBG funding includes $33 million which had been withheld from the last fiscal year because the city didn’t meet required obligations to access it.

In recent weeks and months, local leaders — from former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer to UAW President Bob King — had visited the White House to talk about what could be done for Detroit, with a federal bailout out of the question.

Sperling said all of the parties have been working to find ways not only to make funds more flexible so they can be used where most needed, such as for demolition, but to figure out ways to ensure that the city has the proper planning and accounting systems to get the funding out to needed projects.

In the months to come, for instance, the White House’s chief technology officer is expected to lead a team of experts to Detroit to make recommendations on how to improve city systems, Sperling said.

“Detroit historically had some major problems deploying grants and other resources, and so there could be a fair amount sort of stuck in the pipeline,” Snyder, who was in Washington on Thursday, told the Free Press. “Financial systems, accounting systems for the city of Detroit? They are a disaster.”

Rick Snyder Campaign Ad Touts State Recovery Over Images Of Broke Detroit

By Kate Abbey-Lambertz/Huffington Post Detroit

With the Michigan gubernatorial race more than 13 months away, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's first campaign ad was released Tuesday, a one-minute spot that draws attention to his role in resuscitating the state's economy. Snyder is receiving more attention than ever from the Republican party, causing at least one GOP presidential advisor to say this weekend that he "could be a top tier candidate for president" if he's reelected in 2014.
The "Michigan Is Back" ad (see above) starts in 2010 with grim, sepia-toned photos of Detroit in 2010 when Michigan was "50th out of 50. Dead last," according to the narrator. Enter Snyder, who last campaigned as "One Tough Nerd" and returns now as "One Successful Nerd": with his steering, Michigan is bouncing back, and Detroit returns to close out the minute-long spot with triumphant, aerial images.
"In record time, Michigan is back on a solid foundation," the narrator says.
Snyder has long touted his commitment to improving the economy, creating jobs and balancing the budget, so his ad's claims are nothing surprising. But there are a few elements that miss the mark:
  • "Michigan's economy: best in 10 years. Best employment numbers in four years": The state has seen job growth over the last several years, with the latest month adding 8,000 new payroll jobs. But best employment numbers? The ad references a March article in the Detroit News as the source, which doesn't seem to take into account that in the last three months, theunemployment rate has risen, reaching 9 percent in August, the fourth-worst in the country. (To be fair, it is better than last August's rate of 9.3 percent or the August 2009 record of 14.2 percent in Michigan.)
  • "This new governor has kept his word. Ignored politics": One of the complaints most often leveled against Snyder by opponents is that he hasn'tkept his word. Despite repeating numerous times that right-to-work was not on his agenda, he signed the divisive legislation last year. And though he won votes from Democrats in 2010 with his promise to focus on economic recovery over social issues, many saw his decision to sign a ban on domestic partner benefitsfor state employees and stricter abortion laws as bowing to pressure from legislators on his side of the aisle.
  • Photos of Detroit blight make way for magnificent cityscapes: It's an easy argument to make that the ad ties Snyder's leadership to an improving Detroit. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened yet: Detroit is broke, and locked in bankruptcy proceedings. Though Snyder has cited Detroit's bankruptcy filing as a way to stop its downward spiral and "move forward and upward," the current situation is grim for residents, and the short-term effects are more likely to first hit downsized city employees and pensioners who may see cuts to benefits.
According to the Associated Press, the ad will run for two weeks on cable and network stations.
Snyder is leading Democrat challenger Mark Schauer by eight points, according to a recent poll.
Schauer's campaign manager issued a statement Tuesday after Snyder's ad appeared. "It’s unprecedented for an incumbent to be spending money on a political ad more than a year before an election," BJ Neidhardt said. "It’s clear candidate Snyder is desperate to repair the damage he’s done to his own brand."

George Zimmerman's Wife Now Says She Doubts Her Husband's Innocence

By PAMELA ENGEL/Business Insider:

In a new interview with the "Today" show that comes after a domestic altercation with her soon-to-be ex-husband, George Zimmerman's wife reveals new doubts about his innocence in the Trayvon Martin killing.
Shellie Zimmerman said her highly public fight with George earlier this month — during which he allegedly threatened her and assaulted her father — helped her "take the blinders off and start to see things differently."
When "Today" show host Matt Lauer asked her if she was having any doubts about George's innocence, she replied: "I think anyone would doubt that innocence because I don't know the person that I've been married to. I have doubts, but I also believe the evidence."
She might doubt whether George was really acting in self-defense the night he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida, but she still insists that George did not profile the black teenager.
It's worth noting that Shellie is divorcing George after standing by his side throughout the trial and insisting that she believed he was innocent. She acknowledges in the "Today" show interview that she has credibility issues, but says she wants to tell the truth from here on out.
Watch the full interview below:

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Allen West denies getting fired for calling woman a ‘Jewish American princess’

By Arturo Garcia/Raw Story
Former Rep. Allen West (R-FL) will not be working for a conservative online broadcaster but insists he was not fired from his position, Buzzfeed reported on Thursday.
Both West and PJ Media investor Aubrey Chernick released statements to staffers on Sept. 16 saying West would leave the company effective Oct. 1, each of them saying West’s departure was voluntary. West had been working for PJ Media as the director of programming for NextGeneration.TV while hosting his own show since January 2013.
“No I didn’t get fired,” West told Buzzfeed. “I’m leaving to pursue political aspirations. That’s it. There’ll be a statement that comes out and it’s effective in October.”
But when asked to comment on whether he told a female employee to “shut up” and called her a “Jewish American princess,” West told Buzzfeed, “There was an exchange, that’s all.”
In his memo to PJ Media staff, West said, “I will be giving up my position as director of programming at Next Generation.TV to get back on the front lines to expand the message of constitutional conservatism across our country.”
The same month he was hired at PJ Media,West told CNN that the idea of women serving in the military was “an equality trip.” In 2011, he called Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) “nasty” and “not a lady” in an email.
In his own memo to PJ Media staff, Chernick also framed West’s departure as voluntary, writing, “I thank Allen for all his dedication, hard work and contributions in launching Next Generation.TV and in establishing our Washington, D.C. presence and studio. I speak for all of us when I wish Allen the very best experiences and outcomes in his future endeavors.”

Obama: The Law’s Harshest Critics Will Eventually Embrace Obamacare, Call It Something Else

BY IGOR VOLSKY/Think Progress
President Obama urged uninsured Americans to sign-up for health care coverage when the Affordable Care Act’s new marketplaces open for business next Tuesday, but predicted that they will experience glitches during the early days of implementation.
During remarks in Largo, Maryland, Obama debunked and even mocked some of the the over-the-top rhetoric surrounding the law and specifically singled out Fox News for spreading misinformation about reform. “If you talked to somebody who said I don’t know, I was watching Fox News and they said it’s horrible, and you can say you know what, don’t take my word for it, go on the website, see for yourself what the prices are, see for yourself what the choices are, then make up your own mind,” he said. “I promise you, if you go on the website and it turns out you’re going to save $100, $200, $300 a month on your insurance, or you’ll be able to buy insurance for the first time, even if you didn’t vote for me, I’ll bet you’ll sign up for that health care plan.”
Beginning on Tuesday, uninsured individuals will be able to log on to fill out a 3-page application to determine if they are eligible for Medicaid or plans in the exchanges, the cost of insurance, and if they qualify for government subsidies. The enrollment period will stretch six months and coverage will start to flow on Jan. 1 for enrollees who sign up by Dec. 15. Administration officials have long believed that as individuals visit the online portals — either because they are uninsured and want to purchase coverage or are merely curious about “Obamacare” — they will tune out the political noise and become engaged in a deeply personal consumer experience.
Minutes after Obama concluded his speech, however, the Associated Pressreported that “small businesses will not be able to enroll online starting Oct. 1″ and will “initially have to mail or fax their information so that they can enroll.” The Congressional Budget Office expects 2 million people to receive employer-based coverage through the special business-only exchange in 2014. In another glitch, administration sources told the AP that the Spanish-language version of website “will be not be ready to handle enrollments for a few weeks.”
Obama eluded to the problems only generally in his remarks and argued that past health care efforts were also plagued with early glitches, referring to the initial problems in rolling out President George W. Bush’s prescription drug benefit law. Obamacare will work best, however, in states “where governors are working to implement it rather than fight it,” he argued. “Like any law, like any big product launch, there are going to be some glitches as this thing unfolds.”
“A few years from now, when people are using this to get coverage and everybody’s feeling pretty good about all the choices and competition that they’ve got, there are going to be a whole bunch of folks who say, ‘yeah, no, I always thought this provision was excellent.’ I voted for that thing. You watch. It will not be called Obamacare.”

Republicans Will Raise The Debt Ceiling For One Year Only If Obama Becomes A Republican

BY IGOR VOLSKY/Think Progress
As the nation moves dangerously close to a government shutdown on Oct. 1, House leaders are shifting their focus to the next big fiscal fight: raising the nation’s $16.7 trillion borrowing limit by one year before Oct. 17. On Wednesday night, Republicanscirculated an outline of demands, threatening to push the nation into default unless President Obama and the Democrats in the Senate agree to enact a wish list of Republican priorities.
Though Obama has repeatedly insisted that he would not negotiate over the must-pass legislation, leadership is hoping to satisfy conservative members by including every “major piece of the Republican agenda” save a “ban on late-term abortions — and some lawmakers who oppose abortion were arguing to add that,” the Washington Post reports. Below is a look at some of their demands:
1. Approve of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The pipeline would link Alberta’s tar sands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast and is currently under review at the State Department. The project would create 3,900 temporary construction jobsper year and would would only support 35 permanent and 15 temporary jobs, with “negligible socioeconomic impacts,” after construction is complete. The Environmental Protection Agency estimated that constructing the pipeline would increase annual carbon emissions by “up to 27.6 million metric tons, or the equivalent of nearly 6 million cars on the road.” Without completing Keystone, tar sands production is estimated to fall flat by 2020. At least three Democratic senators who support the pipeline — Mark Begich of Alaska, Max Baucus of Montana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — said in interviews that language for the project should not be included in the debt-ceiling measure. “I’ve supported Keystone, but we should have a clean debt-limit bill,” Begich said. “That’s been the traditional way, and it’s been very successful.”
2. Weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Republicans have repeatedly tried to weaken the CFPB, which was created in the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis to protect consumers from the predatory lending practices of large banks and financial institutions. The agency has increasedsupervision over mortgage lenders, brokers, consumer reporting agencies, and large banks, cracked down on debt collectors, set up programs to help consumers better understand loan agreements and recoup refunds from deceptive and illegal practices, and wrote new rules to prevent wrongful foreclosures.
3. Delay implementation of Obamacare for one year. The demand comes just days before millions of uninsured Americans begin signing up for health care coverage in the new law’s state-based marketplaces, and could actually increase the deficit. A Congressional Budget Office report from July 2012 found that repealing the ACA in its entirety would increase the federal deficit by $109 billion over 10 years and $24 billion in FY 2014. Undoing certain coverage provisions but maintaining the revenues and cuts in the law — a tactic Republicans have used in the past, most prominently in Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget — would decrease the deficit anywhere between $35 billion and almost $50 billion. Doing so, however, would maintain billions of dollars in cuts to the Medicare program and taxes on various sectors of the health care system, which Republicans say they oppose.
4. Cut $120 billion from federal health programs over the next decade. The savings would come from expanding means testing in the Medicare program, instituting more tort reform, and repealing the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, which is designed to support states and communities in fighting chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke and diabetes (conditions which disproportionately afflict Americans living in states represented by Republican members.) The GOP would also force so-called “high-income” Medicare beneficiaries, defined as those making $85,000 and above for individuals, or $170,000 for families, to pay more for health care coverage. Under their proposal, the definition of “high income” would actually expand over time until it includes one-fourth of all beneficieries.
5. Increase offshore oil drilling and energy production on federal lands. Fueled by Big Oil interests, Republicans have long supported opening virtually all of the U.S. Atlantic coast, the Pacific coast off Southern California, and much of Alaska’s offshore space to new drilling — even though oil production on federal lands has been higher every year from 2009 through 2011 than it was from 2006 through 2008. U.S. oil production is now at its highest level since 1997, according to government figures. However, Congress has yet to pass a single piece of legislation that would make drilling safer in the aftermath of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
6. Block federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Since a 2007 Supreme Court decision found that EPA has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide under the 1973 Clean Air Act, the agency has announced updated draft rules setting a limit on the amount of carbon dioxide that new power plants can emit and will launch a “listening tour” to hear from industry, environmental groups, and the public on how to regulate power plants already spewing carbon pollution. The GOP would reverse that progress in the face of studies showing that exposure to air pollution leads to about 200,000 premature deaths each year, with California experiencing the most early deaths from air pollution. Up to 3 million premature deaths could be avoided each year globally by 2100 if aggressive emissions cuts are made.
7. Restrict most forms of federal industry regulation. The GOP is pushing for legislation which would require all major regulations to get a vote in Congressand nullify regulations that are not approved within 70 days. The so-called REINS Act would force federal agencies to depend on Congress to find the time to approve changes to vehicle safety standards, reductions in greenhouse emissions or streamlining the FDA’s process for approving new drugs.
Republicans increased the debt ceiling 19 times during the presidency of George W. Bush, raising the nation’s limit by nearly $4 trillion. The vote would pay for the spending Congress has already enacted and is not a determination of how much much the nation should spend.

Florida Court Grants New Trial To Woman Serving 20 Years For Firing Warning Shot

A Florida court has granted a new trial to a woman sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot during an altercation with her abusive husband.
Marissa Alexander’s sentence sparked national outrage over the perverse outcomes from mandatory minimum sentences and Stand Your Ground laws. A judge rejected Alexander’s Stand Your Ground argument that she was justified in firing the warning shot to protect herself. She was then convicted by a jury of aggravated assault, and sentenced to Florida’s mandatory minimum 20-year prison term for that offense. She is serving that sentence now.
In a decision issued Thursday, an appeals panel upheld the judge’s Stand Your Ground decision, but held that the instructions to the jury on self-defense were improper. The instructions wrongly stated that Alexander had to prove her fear of aggravated battery beyond a reasonable doubt, and improperly included an instruction about injury when there definitively was no injury caused by Alexander’s action, the court held.
Many have pointed to Alexander’s case as an example of inconsistent application of Stand Your Ground laws. While the laws that authorize use of deadly force in self-defense have led to acquittals or no charges for many male aggressors whose gunshots were fatal, Alexander was not successful in invoking the law for much less force, and in one of the few prominent cases that involves allegations of domestic violence. The judge’s failure to allow the claim comports with studies that have shown the ALEC and NRA-backed laws are discriminatory and applied arbitrarily.
But the facts of the scenario that led to Alexander’s conviction remain in dispute, including in the appeals court decision. While the three-judge panel agreed that Alexander’s gunshot did not hit or injure anyone, and that her husband had been abusive in the past, they write separate opinions to give differing versions of the threat Alexander faced that night. Two judges assert in the majority opinion that Alexander was unsuccessful in escaping the house, grabbed a gun, and fired the gun after her husband said, “Bitch, I’ll kill you” at the end of aggressive questioning over whether her newborn baby was fathered by another man. Judge T. Kent Wetherell II’s concurring opinion questions that version of the facts and points out that other conflicting testimony suggests Alexander could have left the house, and aimed the at her husband, standing with her two step-children, before firing the warning shot.
The disputed facts are difficult to parse. Alexander did not call 911 after the incident, while her husband and children fled the home. But experts testified that Alexander was suffering from battered person’s syndrome, and her husband had been arrested twice for battery charges against other women.
But unlike other Stand Your Ground defendants, who needed the NRA-backed law to authorize them to use deadly force with no duty to retreat, Alexander was not facing murder charges or even battery charges. She was facing the much lesser charge of aggravated assault, an offense that is easier to prove than homicide. This is why many have pointed to the mandatory minimum 20-year sentence that eliminates the judge’s discretion as the problem in this case. Thursday’s decision reveals that another problem was improper jury instructions on the ordinary self-defense claim — a claim that should be more than adequate for a woman who perceived domestic violence without the option of Stand Your Ground.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Random Late Friday night: Robocop 2014 reboot trailer

O'Reilly And Rivera Continue Fox Tradition Of Demonizing The Poor

OLIVIA MARSHALL/Media Matters For America:

Fox hosts Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera cited a U.S. census study which found that many poor Americans own appliances to paint entitlement recipients as lazy or unwilling to work. This analysis ignores the fact that 9 out of 10 Americans receiving entitlements are elderly, disabled, or were members of working households.
On the September 12 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly and Rivera claimed that government benefits are creating a disincentive for work. Rivera concluded that "it's one thing to be poor in India or even Mexico, it's another thing to be poor, according to these statistics, in the United States":
O'Reilly's attempt to demonize poor Americans as lazy, comfortable, or unwilling to work mischaracterizes the vast majority of Americans who receive benefits. According to a 2012 report from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), 9 out of 10 Americans receiving entitlement benefits were either elderly, seriously disabled, or members of a working household in 2010:
91 percent of the benefit dollars from entitlement and other mandatory programs went to the elderly (people 65 and over), the seriously disabled, and members of working households.  People who are neither elderly nor disabled -- and do not live in a working household -- received only 9 percent of the benefits. 
Moreover, the vast bulk of that 9 percent goes for medical care, unemployment insurance benefits (which individuals must have a significant work history to receive), Social Security survivor benefits for the children and spouses of deceased workers, and Social Security benefits for retirees between ages 62 and 64.  Seven out of the 9 percentage points go for one of these four purposes. 
O'Reilly's segment on poverty in American also dismissed a September 3 report which found that income inequality is wider than it has been in almost a century. Rivera acknowledged the report but downplayed its findings, reasoning that government entitlements create a disincentive for the poor to work and "bootstrap themselves." 
Contrary to O'Reilly and Rivera's claims, the CBPP also notes that the safety net has become more work-based, as the United States has significantly reduced assistance to the jobless poor and increased assistance to low-income working families. Programs like SNAP, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and Medicaid have done much more to promote work over the last 30 years.  For example, the EITC has boosted employment among single mothers and has produced large declines in the number of single mothers receiving welfare.
This dishonest depiction of entitlement recipients is the latest example of Fox's longstanding tradition of maligning the poor. 

The GOP's failing Obamacare battles

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Maher mocks Republicans: Are they really against attacking Syria, or are they just ‘black-tracking’?

By Arturo Garcia/Raw Story 
Bill Maher not only got a laugh out of Republican flip-flopping during President Barack Obama’s administration on Friday, but he shared a new word for it with his Real Time panelists.
“It should be in the dictionary: ‘Black-track,’” Maher explained, defining it as, “The act of changing one’s mind because President Obama has agreed with you. See also: ‘Pulling a one-hatey,’ or the ‘Kenyan boomerang.’”
That led Maher to ask the panel whether Republicans really are opposed to a U.S. attack against Syria, or is it just a case of “black-tracking,” which would be corrected the next time a white president is elected.
“The ‘black-tracking’ part I don’t know about,” former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele answered. “But I do know that there is — appropriately and rightly — that libertarian voice that has always been in the background like this that [is] now beginning to assert itself.”
Steele pointed out that there were also Republicans who grew disillusioned with Obama’s predecessor, George W. bush, in 2006 and 2007.
“I remember Ron Paul at debates, saying the kinds of things that I’m hearing out of mainstream Republicans now, and getting booed off the stage,” Maher noted.
The problem for the “mainstream Republicans,” Rolling Stone correspondent Matt Taibbi interjected, was that the party fell on its face after the 2008 election, forcing it to search for a new identity.
“The Ron Paul ideology was kind of there to be appropriated,” Taibbi argued, to which Steele reponded by saying that voice was always there, only to be “supplanted by a neo-con ideology.”
“That was the aberration, right?” Taibbi asked sarcastically.
But now, Steele continued, Republicans were more likely to examine the consequences of military actions.
“So you don’t think it has anything to do with Obama — ,” Maher said, not directly mentioning the president’s race.
“I don’t. To be honest, I don’t,” Steele answered. “There are some idiots who do apply to that.”
“I am one of those idiots,” Maher offered.

Black recruit with ‘perfect score’ denied entry into segregated University of Alabama sororitie

By Scott Kaufman/Raw Story
Fifty years after Gov. George Wallace “stood in the schoolhouse door” in an effort to prevent Vivian Malone Jones, Dave McGlathery and James Hood from enrolling in classes at the University of Alabama, The Crimson White reports that the school’s Greek system remains rigidly segregated.
“Are we really not going to talk about the black girl?” asked Melanie Gotz, an Alpha Gamma Delta member. She was speaking in reference to an anonymous black recruit with who didn’t receive a bid from any of the Panhellenic sororities, despite having graduated as salutatorian of her class with a 4.3 GPA, and having deep roots in the University of Alabama community.
The recruit was denied, Gotz told The Crimson White, by the chapter’s alumnae on account of a technicality: she failed to provide the exact number of letters of recommendations required. Active members in the sorority protested the denial, but were shot down by alumnae.
“It was just so cool to see everyone willing to take this next step and be the sorority that took a black girl and not care,” Gotz said. “The entire house wanted this girl to be in Alpha Gam. We were just powerless over the alums.”
Alpha Gamma Delta alumnae defended their decision to eliminate this near-perfect candidate in the first round by defending the sanctity of rush procedures: “It wasn’t anything to do with someone. It was policy procedure, and if anything, we have to follow policy and procedure with our nationals,” said Karen Keene. “That’s all I can say.”
However, there has still only been one black woman to formally pledge a Panhellic sorority at Alabama, and she did so in 2003. Raw Storycontacted Gamma Phi Beta, the sorority that allowed that black student to pledge, but was told that it would not comment “for fear it might embarrass some of the other Greek organizations.”

In Email, Zimmerman’s Local Police Chief Agrees He’s Another ‘Sandy Hook’ Waiting To Happen

BY JUDD LEGUM/Think Progress
Police Chief Steve Bracknell, who is responsible for the Florida town where George Zimmerman resides, agreed in a series of emails that Zimmerman is a “ticking time bomb” and another “Sandy Hook” waiting to happen.
Bracknell expressed his views in response to two emails from Santiago Rodriguez, who reached Bracknell through a contact form on the police department’s website. Bracknell confirmed the emails’ authenticity to ThinkProgress and subsequently tried to distance himself from the remarks.
Rodriguez’s first email was an extended, and sometimes angry, critique of how the Lake Mary Police Department handled their response to the recent altercation between George Zimmerman, his wife and his father in law. Rodriguez told Bracknell that he had a responsibility to charge Zimmerman because he was another “Sandy Hook… waiting to happen.” Bracknell responded with a detailed defense of the police department’s conduct, but explicitly endorsed Rodriguez’s comments on Sandy Hook.
[Ellipses are from the original email.]
Asked to elaborate on his email, Bracknell attempted to distance himself from Rodriguez’s comments, saying he did not agree and was “referring to the fact that [Zimmerman] seems to be involved in incidents” involving firearms.
In his second email, Rodriguez called Zimmerman a “ticking time bomb” who will snap “sooner or later.” Again, Bracknell agreed.
The full email exchange between Rodriguez and Bracknell is available here.
The police are still deciding whether or not to charge Zimmerman in connection to the incident. They are attempting to recover video of alleged assault that Zimmerman’s wife, Shellie, recorded with her iPad. Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, acknowledged that Zimmerman broke the iPad into pieces before the police arrived. According to witnesses, Zimmerman also punched his father-in-law in the nose.
In her call to 911, Shellie Zimmerman told the police that Zimmerman was threatening her with his gun. “I don’t know what he’s capable of. I’m really, really scared,” Shellie said.
Zimmerman told police at the scene that he did not have a gun, according to Bracknell and a police department spokesman. O’Mara, however, insisted on CNN that he did have a gun on him during the entire incident. Bracknell told ThinkProgress that one of them isn’t “telling the truth.”
What is not in dispute is that Zimmerman, despite his legal troubles and the police chief’s concerns, is still permitted to carry a concealed weapon in the State of Florida. In Florida, unlike other states like New York and New Jersey, authorities have no discretion over whether to grant or revoke concealed carry permits. Dr. Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, recently told Salon, “You’ve got all kinds of George Zimmermans and everything in between there who fall through the cracks of our exclusions. But if you ask any reasonable person how comfortable they are with an individual like that running around with a concealed, loaded gun, the vast majority would say they are not.”