Sunday Reading

Emerging Strategy for the DEMS; Karoli at Crooks and Liars, Dems Strategy on Extending Unemployment Insurance  Dems will leverage their votes to pass the Farm Bill for an extension of Unemployment . “Now that Congress is set to leave town even as unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans are set to expire just after Christmas, is there any chance that Democrats can still prevail on Republicans to agree to extend them? Dems who are pushing for an extension have hatched a new plan to do just that: Once Congress returns, they will refuse to support the reauthorization of the farm bill — which will almost certainly need Dem support to pass the House — unless Republicans agree to restart unemployment benefits with the farm bill’s savings.”  I guess two can play that game.

She Did It for the Kids. “Fox News host Megyn Kelly on Friday lashed out at critics who she said had accused her and Fox News of being racist because she insisted that Santa Claus and Jesus Christ had to be white men. For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white,” Kelly said at the time. “But this person is just arguing that maybe we should also have a black Santa. But Santa is what he is.

Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change, you know?” she added. “I mean, Jesus was a white man too. He was a historical figure, that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa — I just want the kids watching to know that.” So is the verifiable fact both Jesus and Santa Claus are white men or historical figures? Megyn Kelly won’t back down   David’s Feed

PPACA Website Adventures: Next stop, the call center. I got the power cord to my phone, plugged it in along with my headphones so I could be hands-free, and started dialing. First try, I got the “call back later, we’re too busy” recording. So I waited awhile and tried again. Big mistake. I should have just kept dialing.

It took a total of nine tries to get into the queue, but I did finally hit the magic “Press 1 for English” message. I did so, and settled into the wait, hoping against all hope that I wouldn’t get dumped from the queue like I had on two other occasions.


I didn’t get dumped this time, and after a hefty wait, was connected to a really nice, helpful and competent service representative. She took one look at my online account, had a nearby techie look at it, and told me I was better off with a fresh application that she could take over the phone.

45 minutes later, I was confirmed for a silver plan that covers me, my husband and my daughter. Our son will need to set up his own insurance now that he has a full-time job and isn’t a student anymore.

Our premium for insurance that’s several orders of magnitude better than what we have right now? $134.03 per month. That’s what I call affordable, especially when I’m looking at the prescription drug copayments that are substantially better than they were before, even for the name-brand drugs.

Bottom line? We’re getting better insurance for less than one-tenth of what we’re paying today. Our enrollment was confirmed and all we have to do is pay the bill when it comes. Honestly, I would have paid it right that second if there was a way to do it, but because we enrolled over the phone we do need to wait until we actually get the bill from the insurance company. I’m ok with that. The money is in the bank and they’ll get a check the second the bill arrives. MY ACA Adventure Happy Ending

Warring on Women In Michigan: I live in the state of Michigan where the House, the Senate, and the governorship are controlled by Republicans. Michigan was second to Texas in signing the infamous letter (one of many) to John Boehner demanding the PPACA be defunded.

Now mind you, it took 1 year and so many months for Michigan to pass the Medicaid Expansion after SCOTUS pretty much declared it constitutional for all intents and purposes. Even with the Republican Senate Fiscal Agency Report clearly stating:

Assuming the current Health Insurance Claims Assessment (HICA) rate of 1.0% is maintained, the SFA projects that total net GF/GP costs tied to the expansion would exceed total net GF/GP savings in FY 2027-28. Under different HICA assumptions, the total net GF/GP costs could exceed total net GF/GP savings two years earlier or one year later.”

In plain English, if Michigan expanded Medicaid; it is paid for till 2028 (well beyond the 2019/2020 it decreases to 90% funded) provided Michigan maintains the same Health Insurance Claims Adjustment of 1%.  Even with that type of guarantee, the Republican Legislature delayed implementation for 3 months which will cost the state $millions; but, they can’t bail out Detroit pensioners. After a public uprising, the Medicaid Expansion passed with Senators including Joe Hune calling it garbage even though it is financed for 14 years at 100%. The only threat to this financing is a Republican House (their Federal brothers) cutting Medicaid in the future. Much of this expansion was meant to cover uninsured women and men.

December 2012, the Michigan Republican controlled legislature passed an anti-abortion law which restricted insurance companies from offering offering abortion coverage. Snyder vetoed the bill stating it went too far in that; “First, it treats situations that involve rape, incest and health of the mother as elective abortions. I don’t believe it is appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant due to a rape that she needed to select elective insurance coverage. Second, the abortion changes in this bill interfere in the current private market for insurance. Insurance companies and private buyers of insurance should be able to conduct their own affairs.”

Gaining 300,000 signatures; Right To Life presented a similar version of the bill in a petition to the Republican Legislature in Lansing a couple of weeks ago. Wasting no time in bringing it before both the House and the Senate, the bill was passed by the Republican majority. Because of a loophole in the Michigan Constitution, a minority of voters can present a proposed law to the Michigan legislature through petition and have it passed with no ballot input from the constituents  or veto by the Governor. In days this bill was passed and is now law in Michigan in 2014 as the legislature wasted no time in implementing it as they failed to do with the Medicaid Expansion.  Digsby – Hullabaloo

Then too, the costs of back alley abortion exceed the costs of legalized abortion.

Of course, this is the fault of the PPACA and President Obama: Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism picks up on a Washington Post article Aids Advocates Say Drug Coverage in Some Markets are Inadequate . It is understood that healthcare insurance companies can no longer turn down a person with pre-existing conditions. No they can’t; but, they can limit the amount they pay for drugs or at least until the total out of pocket ~$6,000 kicks in.  How noble of them. I guess they will struggle until single payer occurs and they go out of business. That too will be President Obama’s and the PPACA’s fault. Hat Tip to Yves Smith Naked Capitalism

Dissent Isn’t Possible In A Surveillance State: So it is not lightly or glibly that I use the occasion of Obama’s heartfelt speech to upbraid him. But the contradictions in his sentiments and his actions here are too extreme, too glaring to pass without rebuke.

Obama praised dissent in the service of human rights, but has done everything in his power to suppress dissent. Dissent can come from within the ranks of government employees (indeed, since 3% of the work force in the US is employed by the Federal government if you count the military, it would have to). If Mr. Obama truly valued dissent in the service of human rights, he would persuade his Attorney General to drop charges against Edward Snowden and he would use his presidential pardon to release Chelsea Manning from penitentiary. These two are dissenters, the one in prison and the other facing prosecution if the US could get its hands on him. They saw their government do things that they found ethically repugnant and blatantly unconstitutional, which the government had hidden from the citizens whom it was supposed to be serving. Their revelations of what they knew was the highest form of morality.  Juan Cole

 Ex-spy Alleges Bush White House Sought to Discredit Critic: WASHINGTON — A former senior C.I.A official says that officials in the Bush White House sought damaging personal information on a prominent American critic of the Iraq war in order to discredit him.

Glenn L. Carle, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was a top counterterrorism official during the administration of President George W Bush, said the White House at least twice asked intelligence officials to gather sensitive information on Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who writes an influential blog that criticized the war. Hat Tip: Atrios

$2.6 billion !94, I75 Widening Projects in Detroit and Suburbs: Southeast Michigan and for that matter, all of Michigan is about Cars errr Pickup Trucks. Michigan does not believe in light rail or busses. As everyone who watches the news or read knows, Detroit declared bankruptcy as led by Governor Snyder and Lawyer Ore and is in Emergency Management.

On a different note, Michigan has found some money to repair some of its roads and bridges while not having any for Detroit which made the state more than just a bunch of vegetable truck farms. What you may not know to finance this orange barrel Summer is for every dollar put into road/highway repair or building, the Federal Government puts in $2. Of the $1 put in by the state, ~12% must come from local communities. Of the local communities in the area, Detroit is the largest and would have to put into the kitty the largest percentage (per my buds at the MDOT). Hmmm, $103 million must come from Detroit, etc.? Yea I know it is not enough to fund city pensions and the city does need rebuilding; but, the $2.6 billion certainly is enough to bring those pensions up to 80% funding. Apparently, Ore and Snyder have another plan in mind.