Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Cartoonist Rob Roberts Fired for Depicting the Real Trump

Cartoonist Rob Rogers was fired from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for refusing to do cartoons extolling the virtues and accomplishments of Trump. According to The Association of American Cartoonists; “Rob Rogers is one of the best in the country and his cartoons have been a wildly popular feature of the Post-Gazette. Readers looked forward each morning to opening their papers to see Rogers’ latest pointed commentary.”

Things changed for Rob when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hired Keith Burris as its Editorial Page Editor. Just weeks earlier and before Rob Rogers was let go, Editor Keith Burns had written about meeting a self-proclaimed classical liberal; ”To be a liberal: five principles

2) Free speech is essential.

Freedom of speech and expression is the sine qua non of tolerance and pluralism — the grammar of tolerance; the way we make the principle work.

Liberals fight for the right of every thinker and seeker to pursue his truth, to share it, and to be heard.

The greatest liberal thinker of the 20th century, Isaiah Berlin, said: “The first people totalitarians destroy or silence are men of ideas and free minds.”

Perhaps this rational by Mr. Burris did not apply to Rob Rogers and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had a different idea of what liberalism meant within the confines of its employment. One commenter to Burris’s editorial claimed “Keith wants us to be the ‘right’ kind of liberals” and another said “Keith Burris defining a liberal is like Donald Trump defining femininity.”

Keith Burris in an editorial for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette came out in defense of Donald Trump calling some nations “shithole countries.” Entitled “Reason as racism,” Keith Burris argued that calling someone a racist is “the new McCarthyism” defending the sentiment behind President Donald Trump’s reported suggestion the United States take immigrants from an overwhelmingly white country such as Norway rather than “shithole countries” like Haiti or from continents such as Africa.

Representing 150 employees at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh in a letter to the editor it was “collectively appalled and crestfallen by the repugnant editorial.”

It may be that Rob Roberts no longer meets the qualifications of being a cartoonists at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by not conforming to the political stance taken by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Keith Burris and the publisher John Robinson Block. “Cartoonists are not illustrators for a publisher’s politics,” Rogers quips in reply to Blocks and Burris’s critique of his performance at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“If I drew Trump more often than Block would have liked, it was because I base my cartoons on the most urgent topics at hand. Sadly, Trump provides that fodder every day.”

Some recent cartoons by Rob Roberts the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette would not publish:

Originated and authored by Rob Roberts

Publisher John Robinson Block is a Trump supporter who said during a 2013 community forum on racism that people of color need to pull themselves up “by their bootstraps” like they did in the “old days.” Both Block and Burris met with Trump on his private plane at Toledo Express Airport in September 2016 after a campaign rally.

It is pretty obvious which way the wind blows today at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Tags: , , Comments (6) | |

Healthcare Insurance Companies Lose in Court on ACA Risk Corridor Program

Healthcare Insurers Lose in Court Over Risk Corridor Funds

I have written a couple of times about Sessions, Upton, Kingston, and Republicans sabotaging the ACA Risk Corridor Program with the insertion of Section 227 in the CRomnibus Bill signed in December 2014. Not only did Senator Sessions, Representative Upton (MI), and Representative Kingston (CO) block the funding of the Risk Corridor Program; with the insertion of Section 227 by Representative Kington, they blocked any transfer of funding from other programs as well. A rehash of the results of Republican sabotage shows, it caused a rise in premiums for the unsubsidized (others were picked up), Coops to go bankrupt, and insurance companies to withdraw from the healthcare exchanges.

Today a Federal Appeals Court ruled; “the U.S. government does not owe health insurers $billions in unpaid risk-corridor funds meant to offset losses during the early years (3 years) of the Affordable Care Act exchanges.

More than three dozen insurers claimed the federal government owed them more than $8 billion in risk corridor payments. Ruling 2-1 the COA determined the payments were not necessary since Congress deemed the program had to be budget neutral after the legislation was passed.”

In other words, the court decided a different Congress and/or the administration made up of different political interests can change the intent of another Congress or Administration.

A similar Risk Corridor Program exists in the Medicare Part D program for drugs which has no life time limit and was put in place by Republicans and Bush to cover any risk which may occur from getting too many higher cost insured.

Tags: , , Comments (4) | |

The Singapore Deal

The Singapore Deal

I have refused to forecast what two unpredictable leaders will do, and I shall continue that, other than to say I do not believe North Korea will denuclearize.  Otherwise, well, the written deal was mostly aspirations while there seem to be disagreements about the verbal deals.  DPRK says US has agreed to lift sanctions but US says no.  As it is, at least it happened and there will be more talk, according to the paper agreement. As some famous person said (forget who), “Jaw jaw is better than war war.”

So, let me make people aware of a useful source, which has been putting out things either ahead of regular media or even in disagreement with it recently.  This is North Korean Economy Watch at https://www.nkeconwatch.com . Here are some tidbits.

They were the first to report that Chinese-DPRK trade began increasing after Kim Jong-in met with Moon Jae-in at the DMZ.  “Maximum pressure” has been over for some time already.

A further sign that max pressure off is that there were stable prices in DPRK in the month of May, no noticeable shortages.

A group that Kim Jong-in may be paying attention to is the elite in Pyongyang who now have higher incomes and access to western goods.  They would like more.  The rest of the population does not matter to him.

ROK companies are hot to get into DPRK.

ROK has a plan to engage in infrastructure investment in DPRK, much of this for transportation, focusing on three corridors, all of them going north-south: one in the west going to China, one in the center focusing on between the two Koreas, one in the east focusing on reaching Russia at Vladivostock (I have seen commentators unaware that DPRK and Russia have a common border, if just a small one).

Finally, all the talk of DPRK opening up and liberalizing looks overblown, at least in the near term. Just before the summit a major meeting there involved strong statements that there will be no opening up or moves to more marketization, probably to dampen down expectations of most of the population given how much foreigners are talking about it. The ROK companies may need to wait awhile.

Oh, and as a further point, in recent global hacking competitions, North  Korean teams have won.

Barkley Rosser

Comments (3) | |

A comment on Ballance

 

(Dan here…lifted from Robert’s Stochastic Thoughts.)

 

by Robert Waldmann

In a generally good article on how Trump got nothing out of Kim in Singapore, David Nakamura, Philip Rucker, Anna Fifield, and Anne Gearan make a false claims “Deals reached between Washington and Pyongyang under Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama collapsed after North Korea conducted additional missile and nuclear tests.” This implies in particular that the deal reached between Washington and Pyongyang under President Bill Clinton collapsed after North Korea conducted additional missile and nuclear tests. which is a totally false claim. the deal reached under Clinton collapsed when Bush decided to abandon it, because North Korea had bought centrifuges from Pakistan. Bush said this meant that the fact that spent nuclear fuel contaning plutonium was under seal was irrelevant, since N Korea would just enrich uranium.

Later, after N Korea broke the seals and began extracting plutonium, he declared that N Korean exploration of possibly enriching uranium was no big deal & they were going back to the deal. Then N Korea tested a nuclear bomb.

The known facts are totally consistent with the possibility that the Clinton – Kim Jong Il agreement would have lasted and prevented N Korea from developing a bomb if Bush hadn’t treated Clinton as Trump treats Obama.

In any case, the assertion of historical fact made by Nakamura, Rucker, Fifield, and Gearan is undeniably false. It shows a determination to give a Ballanced assessment of Clinton and Bush even if the facts are different — N Korea detonated at least once nuclear device while Bush, Obama and Trump were president and did not detonate a nuclear device while Clinton was president. This is a relevant fact which is contradicted by their false claim which was clearly made to Ballance the very different cases of Clinton and Bush

Comments (20) | |

When Big Sur Met Silicon Valley: Remembering The Santa Cruz Nonlinear Dynamical Systems Collective

When Big Sur Met Silicon Valley: Remembering The Santa Cruz Nonlinear Dynamical Systems Collective

I spent Memorial Day weekend with extended family members in Santa Cruz, near where many of them live, but with none of them right there  It was most pleasant, but explaining the nature of the place and the University of California branch there led me to think more deeply about the place.  I am not aware of anybody else saying this before, but it struck me that Santa Cruz is a place where some decades ago Big Sur met Silicon Valley.

The place remains a very pleasant Northern California beach town, where tourists like to go and long have.  It was fully crowded this past weekend, difficult to get to the Wharf and Boardwalk downtown and Natural Bridges State Park.  All of this has little to do with these other matters.  But sharp local  observers note that there is an “old” and a “new” Santa Cruz.  The old is symbolized by older wooden houses, some with funky sculptures in the yard and funny mailboxes. This all has a touch of Big Sur somewhat further south along the coast.  One can run into Air Bnb landlords who are cameramen for the Dalai Lama and talk about how well they knew Timothy Leary and own 41 acres in Big Sur and so on.  Yes, really.

The new Santa Cruz is symbolized by newer more expensive places, some with funky mailboxes, but they are not falling over.  Many of these people earn often substantial their money over the Coast mountain range in Silicon Valley a half an hour away.  Big Sur may have been there first, but Silicon Valley is fully there now, and the place is gentrifying fast,.

As it was, from the time that Silicon Valley first got itself going in the 1960s and 1970s, there was a parallel development in Santa Cruz that both fed off of that and in its own way fed into it, if not as much as Stanford University did.  This was the founding in 1966 and subsequent early history of UC-Santa Cruz, sitting on top of a hill northwest of the center of town.  From the beginning it combined an ideal of innovative and progressive education with a highly mathematical, scientific, and technical focus with much emphasis on computers, perfect for its proximity to the developing Silicon Valley.  The former fed off the nearby Big Sur with such places as the Esalen Institute, which was always about serious intellectual and philosophical matters (and still is) as well as the more famous artistic and beat/hippie carryings on there.  On the technical side a curious aid for UCSC upfront was the propitious proximity of the Mount Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton, then second only to Mount Palomar in size, which helped attract top astronomers, who helped bring in the physicists and the mathematicians and computer scientists.

Comments (37) | |

Memorial Day 2018

Memorial Day 2018

For all those, of whatever race, creed, color, or nationality, who gave their lives so that government of the People, by the People, and for the People shall not perish from the Earth:

<

Gettysburg National Cemetery

Antietam National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery

May they rest in peace.

Comments (4) | |

Healthcare’s Three Legged Stool

Charles Gaba at ACASignups talks about the three legs of healthcare supporting it, the composition of them, and why each of those legs are necessary for healthcare.

Charles reviews Enrollee Responsibility, Career Responsibility, and Government Responsibly (the three legs) necessary to support Healthcare in the US, explains how each Republican bill has or would have impacted the ACA, and what needs to be changed in the ACA to make it more effective for all people in the US.

It is an excellent summary of the ACA, Politics impacting the ACA, ACA Issues, and many of the things I have talked about since 2008 in one 17 minute clip.

Comments (4) | |

Sister Survivors

The Detroit News story, January 2018 “What MSU Knew” details when the abuse started. For twenty years, the female athletes who engaged in the Michigan State Gymnastics program complained of Dr. Larry Nassar to university representatives. MSU President Lou Anna Simon was amongst those who were informed and had known of the 2014 Title IX complaint and police report filed against an unnamed physician.

According to university records and victim’s accounts, amongst those who knew of the abuse were athletic trainers, coaches, a university police detective, the local police and an official who is now MSU’s assistant general counsel. Larissa Boyce is believed to be the first to complain in 1997 to the head Gymnastics Coach Kathie Klages at MSU. Klages then told Larry Nasser, no one else, and advised Larissa there could be serious consequences in filing a report. A fellow female Gymnast had also confirmed she had also been touched while being treated by Nasser.

A runner, Christie Achenbach told her coach Kelli Bert about Nassar’s behavior in 1999 while seeking treatment for a hamstring injury. Christie recalled coach Kelli Bert words; “he is an Olympic doctor and he should know what he is doing.” According to Kelli Bert, she does not remember the conversation and did not know Nasser was an Olympic doctor.

Spartan softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez went to Nassar to be treated for lower back pain. She later told MSU Trainer Lianna Hadden of Nassar’s treatment regime. Hadden advised Tiffany to talk to MSU trainer Destiny Teachnor-Hauk. Destiny told Tiffany she could file a report if she was uncomfortable; but, there may be consequences.

Two years after Tiffany’s abuse, Jennifer Rood Bedford complained to Destiny Teachnor-Hauk about being uncomfortable with Nasser’s treatment. As told by Jennifer, Hauk said “that filing a report would involve an investigation, making an accusation against Nassar, and requires a statement that I felt what Nassar did was unprofessional or criminally wrong.” Rood could not say with certainty the treatment was wrong or unprofessional.

The stories being told by female athletes stopped with those who should have been advocating for them. Larissa Boyce had hoped this would come from a female coach. Over seventeen years, Destiny Teachnor-Hauk claims she never heard a complaint about Larry Nasser. The system failed, it failed at the coach/teaching level and not with the athletes who sounded the alarm of sexual abuse at the hands of a doctor. The abuse also happened outside of the MSU system.

The first to publicly testify against Nassar about abuse outside of MSU, Kyle Stephens said he began molesting her in 1998 by exposing himself in the basement of his home. She was 6. In 2004, she told her parents who told MSU Clinical Psychologist Dr. Gary Stollak. The parents met with Nassar and Stollak. Nassar denied everything and her parents believed the doctors. A retired Dr. Stollak testified he had a stroke in 2016 and could not remember any details of the meeting.

Upon leaving the second visit for back pain with Nassar in the Spring of 2004, Brianne Randall-Gay went to local police. She told them he had touched her bare breast and put his hand between her legs. A few weeks later, police asked Randall-Gay and her parents to meet with Nassar. Randall-Gay‘s parents went without her. Nassar said and the police confirmed what she experienced was a legitimate treatment.

Doctors and the police did not believe the young women and girl’s complaints.

Lindsey Lemke is a “Sister Survivor,” the name taken by the 256 survivors of Larry Nassar’s physical sexual assault. She and the others spent the last 18 months fighting “not just for justice for Nassar;” but, they also fought for accountability, “the accountability of Michigan State University who enabled Nassar’s continued abuse” by not reacting.

April of this year found Lindsey attending a dinner at Michigan State, an Athletic Gala sponsored by the university hosts and meant to honor student athletes having a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Lindsey was happy to have a night out celebrating her athletic accomplishments. It turned to a night of frustration and anger as the host talked about the disappointment the Michigan Spartans experienced over the last 16 months because of one man. And no, they were not going to let him bring it down for the University and the remaining Sister Survivors at the university.

Lindsey grew angry as she listened to the comparison being made by the speaker about the hard time MSU was having answering questions and explaining for 16 months about Nasser’s physical sexual abuse of Lindsey and the other female athletes. As explained in The Detroit News, the abuse continued over 20 years. It continued even though Lindsey and the other athletes went to their coaches and others . . . nothing was done.

A false equivalency was being made by the speaker as if the spotlight on Michigan State was the equivalent of the sexual abuse, or worse, then what the women athletes experienced, and endured again as they told their stories in public. The speaker spoke as if there could be an equivalency to each experience endured . . . making the University’s reputation more important than the sexual abuse at the hands of a MSU employee. There was no apology being made to Lindsey Lemke or her Sister Survivors.

In the same week as the dinner and in a Jane Doe investigation, Michigan State University allowed a female witness to be identified as a complainant. This can be a violation of federal law in response to a Title IX lawsuit.

A federal lawsuit filed Monday alleges a former female student was raped by three unnamed members of the school’s basketball team in April 2015. Following that alleged assault, the woman said the school’s counseling center discouraged her from reporting, telling her to “just get yourself better.”

The university responded by posting a detailed response online, raising concerns about student privacy.

Again, MSU failed to take into regard the importance of a student’s safety, their privacy, and the care required to protect them while answering various questions and reports. MSU acts according to its own best interest at the expense of its students.

Between 1997 and 2015, young women, girls, and older women alike raised concerns about Nassar’s treatments. It started to come to a head when Amanda Thomashow filed a formal Title IX complaint about Nassar in 2014. The complaint still did not result in the removal of Nassar.

Over 20 years, Nassar abused hundreds of women while at MSU. The University, its athletic department, and it’s president would continue to deflect responsibility for not taking action. In her letter of resignation, Lou Anna K. Simon the President in charge 13 of the 20 years in her letter of resignation stated:

“I have been told it is virtually impossible to stop a determined sexual predator and pedophile, that they will go to incomprehensible lengths to keep what they do in the shadows. As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable. As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger.”

The State of Michigan appointed former Governor John Engler as the interim president after former President Lou Anna K. Simon was asked to resign by the Board of Trustees. She is still being paid a $750,000 salary for one year and will return to teaching at $500,000 annually. The same Board of Trustees failed to take action in an earlier 2014 Title IX investigation complaint about Nassar is still in place. The abuse was allowed to continue. MSU maintains it did nothing wrong during that investigation the 2014 filing.

John Engler was the political choice;

I will move forward as though my own daughters were on this campus.”

were the words Engler used to help build trust with the MSU Sister Survivors and the public.

Instead of helping to provide greater protection for MSU women and Nassar’s victims, Engler personally campaigned in the legislature against bills meant to increase the statute of limitations for victims of sex abuse and make more authority figures mandatory reporters of child sex abuse. The 15 public universities in Michigan also opposed the bills. Engler claimed Nassar’s victims were only interested in leveraging MSU and were not interested in mediation.

Engler comment raises the question of how does the one responsible for taking action mediate the results of their failure with the victim? The outcome will always be in the mediator’s best intersts.

Engler argued publicly with Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to come forward publicly with allegations against Nassar. At a Trustee’s meeting early in April, “Engler publicly threatened Kaylee Lorincz when she shared the story about his attempt to buy her silence. Kaylee Lorincz also revealed during that meeting Engler lied to her about his settlement talks with other survivors, and downplayed the sexual harassment charges against Nassar’s boss, Dean William Strampel, calling them merely a ‘slap on the butt.’”

The Board of Trustees remains in place and reiterated their support for John Engler.

It is a pattern and a practice for MSU. As Think Progress points out “sexual assault allegations against football and basketball players have been ignored or mishandled by the athletic department and administration at MSU. Investigations into allegations have been shoddy and well hidden (if they happen at all). Victims have been encouraged not to come forward with allegations against high-profile players or coaches on campus due to potential backlash or retaliation.”

The same pattern and practice was experienced by the Sister Survivors as told by them about Nassar experienced by them with the Board of Trustees and the interim President John Engler. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights investigation confirmed MSU had not met multiple Title IX requirements, including notifying students of the name of the Title IX coordinator, conducting investigations within appropriate time frames, and following proper grievance procedures.

Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse case at Penn State received around-the-clock attention for weeks. The Sister Survivor’s case has disappeared from the public eye since MSU’s Nassar was sentenced. Attorney John Manly believes he knows why:

I think it’s sexism, misogyny, and you know, it’s not college football, it’s gymnastics. And the audience for gymnastics doesn’t generate hundreds of millions or billions of dollars.

Think Progress updated its initial report on Michigan State University. The law firm representing MSU sent a letter to the NCAA on May 4. The letter acknowledges Nassar, “under the guise of medical treatment, sexually assaulted at least 25 MSU student-athletes between 1997-2016, including six student-athletes since 2014, when MSU botched its Title IX investigation into Nasser’s abuse.”

The letter was sent to clarify and despite the sexual assaults that,

“no violations of NCAA rules occurred with regard to the criminal conduct of Dr. Larry Nassar, a former employee at the University.”

In spite of the many sexual abuse over 20 years, the assaults mostly occurring on the MSU campus, the deaf ear by MSU employees to female athletes, the condemnation by the Michigan state legislature of MSU for its failure to protect female athletes, and the Gymnastics Coach Kathy asking her team (including survivors of Nassar’s abuse) to sign a card of support for him after he was fired due to the allegations of sexual abuse in 2016; Michigan State University is more concerned about violations of NCAA rules and its image rather than Nassar’s female victims. There is no sympathy, morose, embarrassment when confronted with what was allowed to happen over the years. Business as usual.

The NCAA has not responded to the victims or Michigan State University.

References:

Michigan State still doesn’t care about victims of sexual assault Lindsay Gibbs, Think Progress, March 23, 2018

Michigan State is finding new ways to victimize the survivors of Larry Nassar’s abuse Lindsay Gibbs, Think Progress, April 18, 2018

Michigan State admits Nassar sexually abused student-athletes, but says he didn’t break NCAA bylaws? Think Progress, Lindsay Gibbs, May 4, 2018

What MSU knew: 14 were warned of Nassar abuse Kim Kozlowski, The Detroit News 2018

Michigan State ‘regrets’ providing an ‘unnecessary amount of detail’ in response to Title IX lawsuit‘ MLive, April 13, 2018

run75441 @ Angry Bear Blog

Tags: , , Comments (1) | |

Michigan Medicaid Waiver

The State of Michigan Legislature is applying for an ACA Waiver as I pointed out in my post Why States Should Not Be Allowed to Alter the ACA with Waviers

This is a relief valve for “counties” with high unemployment. In effect if Michigan counties have a high unemployment rate (8.5% or above), the unemployed workers in that county can have Medicaid until such time as the Unemployment Rate drops to 5%. Then the workers are expected to seek employment to be eligible for Medicaid. Ok, that should cover Detroit, Flint, Saginaw, Muskegon, etc. high unemployment rate. which exceeds 8.5%. Or does it qualify them?

The issue with SEC 107B is the word “Counties.” By using solely the word counties, SEC 107B does not make an exception for townships, villages, or cities. For example, Wayne County has an unemployment rate of 5.5% and not 8.5% or greater. As a result, Detroit which does have an unemployment rate greater than 8.5% and sits in Wayne County does not qualify for a Medicaid exemption because it is not a county. Neither would the other Michigan cities in other counties with low unemployment rates qualify. Set this aside for a moment.

The waiver strips predominantly Black populated Michigan cities of Medicaid if the county in which the city resides has an unemployment rate lower than 8.5% even though the city has an unemployment rate higher than 8.5%. Additionally and besides a work requirement of 29 hours per week, the bill will end Medicaid and expanded eligibility for residents after they’ve been on Medicaid for 48 months for those earning between 100% and 133% FPL and eliminate the option to extend coverage by completing healthy behaviors.

To force the issue with lame duck governor Rick Snyder, the Senate on Thursday (May 7th) approved a $56.6 billion budget which includes a suspension of the salaries of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon and other top officials in the department if Governor Snyder does not request and secure a federal waiver to implement the Republican legislation passed Medicaid work requirement, and other proposed parts of the legislation. The CMS has already blocked a lifetime limitation on healthcare in Kentucky’s waiver request. When the legislature includes a particular mandate on a budgetary piece of legislation, it can not be overturned by a vote. Both the House and the Senate are controlled by Repubs.

It is unlikely the CMS will approve Michigan’s waiver as they have already blocked Kansas and I believe Kentucky.

Sponsor of the Legislation Sentaor Shirkey:

“This is personal for me, because I laid a lot of political capital on the line to try to get this done,” (Shirkey coaxed fellow Republicans to support the Medicaid expansion in 2013 but is now leading the reform effort).

I still believe it was the right thing to do, but I’m not going to go back on the promises that were made to get those votes.”

Republican Michigan State Senators Shirkey and Joseph Hune have lifetime healthcare benefits which they passed for themselves in 2012.

run75441 @ Angry Bear Blog

Tags: , , Comments (5) | |