The Rockin Johnny B

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why Obamacare?

Healthcare In America Is Already 'The Best In The World'
One of the more positive sounding admonitions from health care reform opponents was that the United States had "the best health care in the world," so why would you mess with it? Well, it's true that if you want the experience the pinnacle of medical care, you come to the United States. And if you want the pinnacle of haute cuisine, you go to Per Se. If you want the pinnacle of commercial air travel, you get a first class seat on British Airways. Now, naturally, you wouldn't let just anyone mess with someone's tasting menu or state-of-the-art air-beds. But like anything that's "the best," the best health care in the world isn't for everybody. The costs are prohibitively high, the access is prohibitively exclusive, and the resources are prohibitively scarce.

What do the people in America who "fly coach" in the health care system get? Well, at the time of the health care reform debate, they were participating in a system that was, by all objective measurements, overpriced and underperforming -- if you were lucky enough to be participating in it. As anyone who's fortunate enough to have employer based health care or unfortunate enough to have a pre-existing condition can tell you, health care for ordinary people already involved all of those things that we were told would be a feature of the Affordable Care Act -- long waits, limited choice, and rationing.

When the Commonwealth Fund rated health care systems by nation, the top marks in the surveyed categories went to the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the Netherlands. Ezra Klein examined the study, and observed:

"The issue isn't just that we don't have universal health care. Our delivery system underperforms, too. 'Even when access and equity measures are not considered, the U.S. ranks behind most of the other countries on most measures. With the inclusion of primary care physician survey data in the analysis, it is apparent that the U.S. is lagging in adoption of national policies that promote primary care, quality improvement, and information technology.'"

Death Panels
The only thing that perhaps matched the vastness of the spread or the depth of the traction of the "death panel" lie was the predictability that such a lie would come to be told in the first place. After all, this was a Democratic president trying to sell a new health care reform plan with the intention of opening access and reducing cost to millions of Americans who had gone without for so long. What's the best way to counter it? Tell everyone that millions of Americans would have increased access ... to Death!

The best account of how the "death panel" myth was born into this world and spread like garbage across the landscape has been penned by Brendan Nyhan, who in 2010 wrote "Why the "Death Panel" Myth Wouldn't Die: Misinformation in the Health Care Reform Debate." You should go read the whole thing.

But to summarize, the lie began where many lies about health care reform begin -- with serial liar Betsy McCaughey, who in 1994 polluted the pages of the New Republic with a staggering pile of deception in an effort to scuttle President Bill Clinton's health care reform. As Nyhan documents, she re-emerged in 2009 when "she invented the false claim that the health care legislation
in Congress would result in seniors being directed to 'end their life sooner.'"

Nyhan: "McCaughey's statement was a reference to a provision in the Democratic health care bill that would have provided funding for an advanced care planning for Medicare recipients once every five years or more frequently if they become seriously ill. As independent fact-checkers showed ( 2009b; 2009a), her statement that these consultations would be mandatory was simply false--they would be entirely voluntary. Similarly, there is no evidence that Medicare patients would be pressured during these consultations to "do what's in society's best interest...and cut your life short."

But the match that lit the death panel flame was not McCaughey, it was Sarah Palin, who repeated McCaughey's claims in a Facebook posting and invented the term "death panel." As Nyhan reports, Palin's claims were met with condemnation from independent observers and factcheckers, but the virality of the term "death panel" far outstripped its own debunking. To this day, the shorthand for this outrageous falsehood remains more firmly planted in the discourse than the truth.

One thing worth pointing out is that Palin, in creating the term "death panel," intended to deceive people with it. In an interview with the National Review, Palin admitted: "The term I used to describe the panel making these decisions should not be taken literally." Rather, it was "a lot like when President Reagan used to refer to the Soviet Union as the 'evil empire.' He got his point across." Of course, while Reagan was exaggerating for effect, he wasn't trying to prey on the goodwill of those who were listening to him.

The Affordable Care Act Is A "Jobs-Killer"
Naturally, the GOP greeted anything that the Obama White House did -- from regulating pollution to flossing after meals -- as something that would "kill jobs." The Affordable Care Act was no different. As you might recall, Republicans' first attempt at repeal came in the form of an inartfully named law called the "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act." But did the health reform plan threaten jobs? Not by any honest measure. Per McClatchy Newspapers:

    "The claim has no justification," said Micah Weinberg, a senior research fellow at the centrist New America Foundation's Health Policy Program.

    Since the law contains dual mandates that most individuals must obtain health insurance coverage and most employers must offer it by 2014, "the effect on employment is probably zero or close to it," said Amitabh Chandra, a professor of public policy at Harvard University.

As McClatchy reported, the "job-killing" claim creatively used the "lie of omission" -- relying on "out of date" data or omitting "offsetting information that would weaken the argument." The Congressional Budget Office, playing it straight, deemed it essentially too premature to measure what the effect the bill would have on the labor market. At the time, Speaker John Boehner dismissed the CBO, saying, "CBO is entitled to their opinion."

Perhaps, but lately, job growth in the health care industry has bucked the economic downturn and health care has remained a robust sector of employment. And it stands to reason that enrolling another 30 million Americans into health insurance will increase the demand for health care services and products, which in turn should trigger the creation of more jobs.

Is there a downside? Sure. More demand, and greater labor costs, could push health care prices upward even as other effects of health reform push them down. But it's more likely that repealing the bill will have a negative impact on jobs than retaining it.

The Affordable Care Act Would Add To The Deficit
The only thing more important than painting the Affordable Care Act as a certain killer of jobs was to paint it as a certain murderer of America's fiscal future. Surely this big government program was going to push indebtedness to such a height that our servitude to our future Chinese overlords was a fait accompli. As Ryan Grim reported in May of 2010, the CBO disagreed:

    Comprehensive health care reform will cost the federal government $940 billion over a ten-year period, but will increase revenue and cut other costs by a greater amount, leading to a reduction of $138 billion in the federal deficit over the same period, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, a Democratic source tells HuffPost. It will cut the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the second ten year period.

    The source said it also extends Medicare's solvency by at least nine years and reduces the rate of its growth by 1.4 percent, while closing the doughnut hole for seniors, meaning there will no longer be a gap in coverage of medication.

Recently, the CBO updated its ten-year estimate by dropping off the first two years of the law (where there was little to no implementation) and adding two years at the back end (during which time there would be full implementation). As you might imagine, replacing two years of low numbers with two years of higher numbers increased the ten-year estimate. But opponents of the bill immediately freaked out and declared the costs to have skyrocketed. As Jonathan Chait reported:

    The outcry was so widespread that the CBO took the unusual step of releasing a second update to explain to outraged conservatives that they were completely misreading the whole thing:

    "Some of the commentary on those reports has suggested that CBO and JCT have changed their estimates of the effects of the ACA to a significant degree. That's not our perspective. ...

    Although the latest projections extend the original ones by three years (corresponding to the shift in the regular ten-year projection period since the ACA was first being developed), the projections for each given year have changed little, on net, since March 2010."

    That is CBO-speak for: "Go home. You people are all crazy."

As Chait goes on to note, the CBO now projects that "the law would reduce the deficit by slightly more than it had originally forecast."

The Affordable Care Act $500 Billion Cut From Medicare
Normally, if you tell Republicans that you're going to cut $500 billion from Medicare, they will respond by saying, "Hooray, but could we make it $700 billion?" But the moment they got it into their heads that the Affordable Care Act would make that cut from Medicare, suddenly everyone from the party of ending Medicare As We Know It, Forever got all hot with concern about what would happen to these longstanding recipients of government health care.

In fairness, as Factcheck pointed out, the GOP opponents of Obama's plan were simply picking up a cudgel that had recently been wielded by the president himself:

    Whether these are "cuts" or much-needed "savings" depends on the political expedience of the moment, it seems. When Republican Sen. John McCain, then a presidential candidate, proposed similar reductions to pay for his health care plan, it was the Obama camp that attacked the Republican for cutting benefits.


    Whatever you want to call them, it's a $500 billion reduction in the growth of future spending over 10 years, not a slashing of the current Medicare budget or benefits. It's true that those who get their coverage through Medicare Advantage's private plans (about 22 percent of Medicare enrollees) would see fewer add-on benefits; the bill aims to reduce the heftier payments made by the government to Medicare Advantage plans, compared with regular fee-for-service Medicare.

The New England Journal of Medicine concurred:

    A phased elimination of the substantial overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans, which now enroll nearly 25% of Medicare beneficiaries, will produce an estimated $132 billion in savings over 10 years.


    The ACA also produces nearly $200 billion in savings by assuming that providers can improve their productivity as firms in other industries have done. On the basis of this presumed improvement, the law reduces Medicare's annual "market basket" updates for most types of providers - a provision that has generated controversy.

The law doesn't cut any customer benefits, just the amount that providers get paid. Hospitals and drug companies agreed to these cuts based on the calculation that more people with insurance meant more people consuming what they sell and, more importantly for the hospitals, fewer people getting treated and simply not paying for it.

The Affordable Care Act Provides Free Health Care For Undocumented Immigrants
This lie was launched to prominence with the help of a false accuser, South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson, who famously heckled President Barack Obama during an address to a Joint Session of Congress by yelling "You lie!" after the president had mentioned that undocumented immigrants would not be eligible for the credits for the bill's proposed health care exchanges.

As Time's Michael Scherer pointed out, this was not much of a challenge for factcheckers:

    In the Senate Finance Committee's working framework for a health plan, which Obama's speech seemed most to mimic, there is the line, "No illegal immigrants will benefit from the health care tax credits." Similarly, the major health-care-reform bill to pass out of committee in the House, H.R. 3200, contains Section 246, which is called "NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS."

In fact, as Ezra Klein pointed out, the Affordable Care Act "goes out of its way to exclude" undocumented immigrants:

    As the AP points out...there are about 7 million unauthorized immigrants who will be prohibited from buying insurance on the newly created exchanges, even if they pay out of their own pocket. And the exclusion of this group from health reform -- along with other restrictions that affect fully legal immigrants as well -- could create a massive coverage gap that puts a strain on the rest of the health system as well.

Klein goes on to add that "immigrants-rights advocates tried to prevent this scenario from happening," but they ended up losing to the politics of the day. The concession they won was a promise from the president that he would shepherd a comprehensive immigration reform package through the legislature. They lost that round, too.

Republicans, And Their Ideas, Were Left Out Of The Bill And The Process
Were health care policies dear to Republicans left out of the health care reform bill? Totally! Unless we're counting the following:

--Deficit-neutral bill
--Longterm cost reduction
--Interstate competition that allows consumers to purchase insurance across state lines
--Medical malpractice reform
--High-risk pools
--An extension of the time young people were allowed to remain on their parents' policies
--No public money for abortion
--Small business exemptions/tax credits
--Job wellness programs
--Delivery system reform

In fact, the Democrats were eager to get GOP input and enthusiastic about including many of their desired components in the bill.

Oh, and did we mention that the Affordable Care Act was modeled on a reform designed and implemented by a former Republican governor and presidential candidate, whose innovation was widely celebrated by the GOP while said former governor was running for president? And did we mention that the individual mandate that was used in Romneycare to ensure "no free riders" was originally dreamed up by the Heritage Foundation? And did we add that additional DNA of the Affordable Care Act was borrowed from the Senate GOP alternative to the Clinton plan in the 1990s and the 2009 Bipartisan Policy Committee plan, which was endorsed by Tom Daschle, Howard Baker, and Bob Dole?

As for the process, you might recall that the White House very patiently waited for the bipartisan Gang Of Six to weigh in with its own solution, and openly courted one Republican gang member, Sen. Chuck Grassley, long after it was clear to every reporter inside the Beltway that Grassley was intentionally acting in bad faith.

And perhaps you don't recall the bipartisan health care summit that was held in March of 2009? if so, don't feel bad about it -- RNC Chairman Michael Steele couldn't remember it either, when he yelled at the president for not having one.

The Demonization Of 'Deem And Pass'
So, here's a fun little story about obscure parliamentary procedures. In May of 2010, as the health care reform michegas was steaming toward its endgame, it looked like the measure might fall. The Senate had passed a bill, but the House was stuck in a bit of a jam. It had no other choice but to take a vote on the Senate's bill, because if the House bill ended up in a conference committee to be reconciled with the Senate's, the whole resulting she-bang was assured of a filibuster, as the Democrats had, in the intervening period, lost their Senate supermajority.

But the House had a problem. As I wrote at the time:

    House members are averse to doing anything that looks like they approve of the various side-deals that were made in the Senate -- like the so-called "Cornhusker Kickback." The House intends to remove those unpopular features in budget reconciliation, but if they pursue budget reconciliation on a standard legislative timeline -- where they pass the Senate bill outright first and then go back to pass a reconciliation package of fixes -- they'd still appear to be endorsing the sketchy side deals, and then the GOP would jump up and down on their heads.

    Enter "deem and pass." Under this process, the House will simply skip to approving the reconciliation fixes, and "deem" the Senate bill to be passed. By doing it this way, the Democrats get the Senate bill passed while simultaneously coming out against the unpopular features of the same.

"Deem and pass" is the aforementioned obscure parliamentary procedure. And here's the thing about obscure parliamentary procedures -- everyone loves them when their side is doing them, but when they're being done to you, then they are basically evil schemes from the blasted plains of Hell.

So if you're guessing that the Republicans declared the Democrats' use of "deem and pass" -- which also carried the moniker "the Slaughter Rule," after Rep. Louise Slaughter, who proposed its use in this instance -- to be a monstrous and unprecedented abuse of power, then give yourself a prize! And give yourself a bonus if you guessed that in reality, the GOP had used "deem and pass" lots of times. As Ryan Grim reported, "deeming resolutions" had been in use dating back to 1933, and in 2005 and 2006, Republicans employed them 36 times.

Other Republicans complained that Slaughter was supporting a tactic that she once vigorously opposed. That's true! She fought the "deem and pass" during the Bush administration and lost. Which is precisely when she learned how effective it could be!

The Affordable Care Act Would Create A Mad Army of IRS Agents
Lots of people wouldn't mind having better access to more affordable health care. But what if it came with thousands of IRS agents, picking through your stool sample? That sounds pretty bad. It also sounds pretty implausible! But that was no impediment to multiple health care reform opponents making claims that the tax man was COMMINAGETCHA!

In this case, the individual mandate -- which requires people to purchase insurance or incur a tax penalty -- provided the fertile soil for this deception to spread. A March 2010 floor speech from a panicked Sen. John Ensign was typical of the genre:

    My amendment goes to the heart of one of the problems with this bill. There is an individual mandate that puts fines on people that can also attach civil penalties. And 16,500 new IRS agents are going to be required to be hired because of the health care reform bill.

March of 2010 was a pretty great time for this particular lie. In one five day period, Ensign was joined by Reps. Paul Ryan ("There is an individual mandate. It mandates individuals purchase government-approved health insurance or face a fine to be collected by the IRS which will need $10 billion additional and 16,500 new IRS agents to police and enforce this mandate."), Pete Sessions ("16,000 new IRS agents will be hired simply to make sure that this health care bill is enforced.") and Cliff Stearns ("There is $10 billion to hire about 16,000 new IRS agents to enforce the individual mandate on every American").

All wrong! Per Factcheck:

    This wildly inaccurate claim started as an inflated, partisan assertion that 16,500 new IRS employees might be required to administer the new law. That devolved quickly into a claim, made by some Republican lawmakers, that 16,500 IRS "agents" would be required. Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas even claimed in a televised interview that all 16,500 would be carrying guns. None of those claims is true.

    The IRS' main job under the new law isn't to enforce penalties. Its first task is to inform many small-business owners of a new tax credit that the new law grants them -- starting this year -- which will pay up to 35 percent of the employer's contribution toward their workers' health insurance. And in 2014 the IRS will also be administering additional subsidies -- in the form of refundable tax credits -- to help millions of low- and middle-income individuals buy health insurance.

    The law does make individuals subject to a tax, starting in 2014, if they fail to obtain health insurance coverage. But IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman testified before a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee March 25 that the IRS won't be auditing individuals to certify that they have obtained health insurance.

As Factcheck goes on to note, on page 131 of the bill that was passed, the IRS is explicitly prohibited from "from using the liens and levies commonly used to collect money owed by delinquent taxpayers, and rules out any criminal penalties for individuals who refuse to pay the tax or those who don't obtain coverage."

Affordable Care Act Bill Is Way Too Long And Impossible To Read!
Oh, Congresscritters, the poor dears! So many bills to read and so little time -- between raising campaign cash at lush fundraisers and receiving marching orders from powerful corporate interests -- to actually read them all. And this Affordable Care Act was a real humdinger of a long bill. And long bills are bad because length implies complication and complication requires study and study implies some form of "work." So the proper thing to do is to mulch the entire print run of the bill and use it to power the boiler that heats the "sex dungeon" in the Longworth Office Building, the end!

Actually, reading the bill is not that hard, despite the complaints. As the folks at Computational Legal Studies were able to divine:

    Those versed in the typesetting practices of the United States Congress know that the printed version of a bill contains a significant amount of whitespace including non-trivial space between lines, large headers and margins, an embedded table of contents, and large font. For example, consider page 12 of the printed version of H.R. 3962. This page contains fewer than 150 substantive words.

    We believe a simple page count vastly overstates the actual length of bill. Rather than use page counts, we counted the number of words contained in the bill and compared these counts to the number of words in the existing United States Code. In addition, we consider the number of text blocks in the bill -- where a text block is a unit of text under a section, subsection, clause, or sub-clause.

As HuffPost noted in March of 2010, "the total number of words in the House Health Reform Bill are 363,086," and when you throw out the words in the titles and tables of contents and whatnot, leaving only words that "impact substantive law," the word count drops to 234,812.

"Harry Potter And the Order Of The Phoenix," a popular book read by small children, is 257,000 words long. (Although in fairness to Congress, the Affordable Care Act contains very few exciting accounts of Quidditch matches.)

The 2012ers Join The Fun
We couldn't have a list of Affordable Care Act distortions without noting the ways some of your 2012ers have added to the canon.

Herman Cain said that if the ACA had been implemented, he'd be dead. Not likely! The new law expands coverage so that uninsured individuals who face what Cain faced (cancer) have a better chance of getting coverage, and it restricts insurers from tossing cancer patients off the rolls based on their "pre-existing condition." But more to the point, Cain would have always been the wealthy guy who could afford to choose his doctor and pick the care he wanted. The Affordable Care Act doesn't prohibit wealthy people from spending money.

Rick Santorum says that his daughter, who is diagnosed with a genetic disorder called trisomy 18 and who required special needs care, would be "denied care" under the Affordable Care Act. Nope! Again, the law restricts insurers from throwing people with pre-existing conditions off their rolls. And for individuals under 19, that went into effect in September of 2010.

Michele Bachmann believes that the Affordable Care Act would open "sex clinics" in public schools. This is Michele Bachmann we're talking about. Do you even need to ask?

And finally, Mitt Romney has said, as recently as March 5, that he never intended his CommonwealthCare reform to serve as a "model for the nation." "Very early on," he insisted, "we were asked -- is what you've done in Massachusetts something you would have the entire government do, the federal government do? I said no, from the very beginning." Unless "very early on" and "from the very beginning" mean something different from the conventional definition of those phrases, Romney should augment his daily pharmaceutical intake with some memory-enhancing gingko biloba.

So Many More To Choose From!
Obviously, we did what we could to include as many of these lies and distortions as possible, but there's no way to include them all. If you're a completist, however, be sure to check out the Impossible Tale Of The One-Dollar Abortion, the Story of the State-Based Inflexibility That Wasn't, The Curious Case of the Politically Connected Waivers and Nancy Drew And The Hidden $105 Billion Expenditure.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Don't get me wrong, I am not a Pro-Life or Pro-Choice individual. However, I do believe in factual debate. Things get very confusing when you try to debate a Tea Partier or any other Pro-Life advocate that is hanging near the far right of choices women make about their bodies. Row v Wade pretty much summed up what the Supreme Court says about this issue, but there are a few facts one needs to know to make some kind of an intelligent assessment of the issue of fetus's rights. *Underlines are mine.

1. Natural Causes; If human life begins at conception (Republicans insist it does) then at least 50 to 75 percent of all human life ends within the first month after conception, naturally. The woman’s body expels the “life” through her menstrual cycle, in most cases never even realizing that she was pregnant. It’s interesting to note that the rate of these “natural deaths” is greatly reduced by the use of birth of control, since it prevents conception to begin with. If Republicans sincerely believe that life begins at conception, there should be a mass outcry over this “loss of life.” It would be considered a mass epidemic of unprecedented proportion, if the belief that half of all humans were dying before ever “having a chance to live” was in any way logical, sincere, fact based or sane. There would be major scientific studies to determine the cause of death, we would have national days of mourning in which women buried the fetal remains, and Tea Partiers gathered to sob hysterically holding photos of dirty tampons and carrying signs that say “Stop the killing of innocence.” Most importantly, however, there would be a sincere desire to prevent the “loss of life” by encouraging the use of birth control, rather than opposing it. Statistics prove that nearly all of these “horrible deaths” of the unborn could be prevented if sexually active men and women were using a reliable method of birth control.

2. Gun Violence: Republicans have campaigned against any and every proposed legislation that could help reduce the number of unborn and new born infants that are killed because of the epidemic of gun violence in the U.S. From an article published by Addicting Info in July, 2013;
In 2001, Isabelle Horon and Diana Cheng published a detailed study in the Journal of the American Medical Association which found “a pregnant or recently pregnant woman is more likely to be a victim of homicide than to die of any other cause.”
In December of 2004 the Washington Post published a report titled “Many New or Expectant Mothers Die Violent Deaths.”
Their killings produced only a few headlines, but across the country in the last decade, hundreds of pregnant women and new mothers have been slain.
The Post’s analysis showed that killings of pregnant women span all racial and ethnic groups. 67 percent of cases where a weapon was identified in medical or police reports, showed that firearms were used in the murders of pregnant women.
What’s more, guns don’t just kill the unborn, they kill newborns, babies, toddlers, school children, Junior High and High School Children. They kill via suicide, homicide and accidental death. Rarely are guns used to kill the guilty. It is far more likely that a firearm will be used to kill an innocent child, than to stop an intruder or defend against an attacker, contrary to NRA and right wing myths.
While Republicans adamantly refuse to give up any of their rights in order to save the many “innocent lives” that are ended every year by gun violence in the United States, they have no difficulty supporting legislation that involves using a vaginal probe to search a woman’s vagina.

3. War: Rarely, if ever, will you find a right-wing “source” that makes an effort to address the realities of war. By keeping the issue of war and the “killing of the unborn” as far away from each other as possible, Republicans have successfully managed to separate the two ideas in the minds of their loyal followers. In reality, however, war kills the unborn, the newly born and multitudes of living, breathing human beings at every stage of life, from early childhood to old age. In Iraq, for example, an estimated 125,000 unarmed civilians were killed between 2003 and 2010. 80% of those casualties were children. The overwhelming majority of civilian casualties occurred in 2003, with civilian deaths spiking again in 2006 and 2007, under the leadership of American president George Bush.
The IBC only tracks civilians killed by violent means, so the numbers do not include the hundreds of thousands who have died because of the country’s devastated economy and environment. The documentary film Iraq’s Missing Billions shows the conditions of Iraqi citizens since the U.S. invasion, and documents the hundreds of thousands of unborn and newborn infant deaths that continue to occur daily, because of U.S. exploitation in the country. Neither the IBC or the previously mentioned documentary film begin to touch on the rate of miscarriages, still born infants, deformed and disfigured children, children with developmental delays and those who die within the first year of life, because of the U.S. forces use of depleted uranium in the country. These statistics are for the second Iraqi invasion only, they don’t include preborn, newborn or childhood deaths which have occurred as the result of other U.S. wars or the first invasion of Iraq, led by George Bush Sr.
4. Poor Maternal Health At Time Of Conception: Even as Republican’s in Washington launch another assault on the Affordable Care Act, they continue working at the state level to restrict women’s access to safe, affordable health care. Yet statistics show that women who are in poor health at the time of conception are far more likely to miscarry than those who are already in good health. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) the single most important factor for a healthy pregnancy is a healthy mother. This means that every woman who is of child-bearing age should have regular health screenings, as well as access to services and medications which can help diagnose, prevent, treat or cure chronic or temporary health conditions. This includes things like proper nourishment and a wide range of other important health services, all of which should be made available to all women at a rate they can afford. A woman’s health should not and cannot be just an after thought, once a pregnancy is already confirmed. A woman whose health has been neglected prior to pregnancy has a far greater chance of miscarriage and is more likely to have a fetus die in the womb, than a woman who has had access to affordable medical care and treatment throughout her lifetime.
5. Violence Against Women: Violence against women is a leading cause of death among pregnant women. Often domestic violence in the home escalates during and after pregnancy, as perpetrators become more violent and controlling, as the pregnancy progresses. According to the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center domestic violence is the most common health problem which affects women during pregnancy and one that greatly threatens the health of both the mother’s and unborn baby. Information published by UCSF states that the effects of domestic violence during pregnancy often include injury to the uterus which directly effects the fetus, miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. The risk to the infant after it is born remains high, as children are often targeted by perpetrators of domestic violence, as a way to retaliate against the mother. Infants and children living in homes affected by domestic violence are also at a much higher risk of injury, and may be killed unintentionally, as these children are often caught in the cross fire of violence aimed at the woman. Every Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted no to renewing the Violence Against Women Act in February of 2012.
6. Lack of Prenatal Healthcare: Republican Jodie Laubenberg, who co-authored Texas strict anti-abortion laws in 2013, because she believes that “life begins at conception” also opposed health care for newly developing fetuses, saying they should not have health care because “they aren’t born yet.” Yet according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health:
Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care.”
7. Toxins in Air, Water and Food; According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
While many of the chemicals used in drilling and fracking process are proprietary, the list includes benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, xylene, ethylene glycol, glutaraldehyde and other biocides, hydrochloric acid, and hydrogen treated light petroleum distillates. These substances have a wide spectrum of potential toxic effects on humans ranging from cancer to adverse effects on the reproductive, neurological, and endocrine systems (ATSDR, Colborn T, et al, U.S. EPA 2009).”
Additionally, the AAP reports:
Air pollutants are associated with a spectrum of adverse health outcomes in humans. Increases in particulate matter air pollution, for example, have been linked to respiratory illnesses, wheezing in infants, cardiovascular events, and premature death (Laden F, et al, Lewtas J, Ryan PH, et al, Sacks JD, et al).”
The Center for Environmental Health links fracking to miscarriage, as well as impaired learning and impaired intellectual ability in children who are exposed to the air and water near fracking wells. Yet, Republicans like George Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Ryan John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and hundreds of others across the country not only worked to ensure that the fossil fuel industry was granted exemptions from clean air and clean water standards which could save “innocent lives”, they have also profited enormously from personal investments in these same baby killing industries.
8. Poor Nutrition: Republicans almost unanimously oppose the Supplemental Nutrition or SNAP program, and continuously try to eliminate the Federal Women, Infants and Children food program (WIC) which provides only the most basic essentials such as cereal, milk, cheese, whole grain bread, a minute amount of fresh produce and beans or peanut butter for women during pregnancy and baby food and formula for infants, following birth. The VMC provides hundreds of resources on how maternal malnutrition contributes to miscarriage, still birth, brain impairment, physical deformities and a host of other serious health problems that can occur during and after pregnancy. One important note is that the mothers nutritional health prior to pregnancy has a drastic impact on whether or not the fetus will grow and develop normally.
Fetal development is also affected by maternal nutritional status before pregnancy. It is during the first five weeks of pregnancy when the fetus develops most of its organs (e.g. heart, brain, lungs). At this stage the fetus is most vulnerable to the mother’s malnutrition. Nutritional deficiencies at this time may retard the growth of the fetus’s organs. As the woman is usually unaware she is pregnant at this early stage, she can only ensure she is well nourished by eating properly before she becomes pregnant.”
Poor nutrition prior to pregnancy may also interfere with cell reproduction, prohibiting the embryo from being implanted in the wall of the uterus (early miscarriage), or causing an abnormal division of cells, leading to complications later in the pregnancy.
9. Socio-economic and environmental factors: Republicans oppose equal pay for women, and also oppose food, housing and cash assistance for needy families. Yet many socio-economic factors can contribute to miscarriage or stillbirth, as well as premature infant death. Some of these factors include homelessness, severe poverty and unsanitary and unhealthy living conditions. Women who live in unsafe environments, homeless shelters, vehicles or those who travel from place to place in search of a roof over their heads are at increased risk of experiencing pregnancy complications.
Stress and trauma can also increase a woman’s risk of miscarriage and complications during pregnancy. These two serious health problems that face many mothers who are struggling economically, are not generally considered important in the debate about women’s health. Many pregnant women continue working late into pregnancy, some women are forced to work extremely long hours and hold down more than one job, in order to provide for their families. Many employers will not hire a woman if she is pregnant, and women in these circumstances may have difficulty taking time off work to attend medical appointments or care for themselves, when pregnant. 
10. Abortion: According to the CDC (the only agency in the United States that has the ability to monitor and track abortion rates) in 2009 there were 15.1 abortions for every 1,000 live births. Of those abortion 91.7 percent were performed earlier than 13th week of pregnancy, and of those the majority, almost 70 percent, were performed prior to the 8th week of pregnancy. Additionally, many abortions are performed for medical reasons. In this highly informative article published on, the author explains the many reasons she lost faith in American’s pro-life movement.
Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. For example, the abortion rate is 29 per 1,000 women of childbearing age in Africa and 32 per 1,000 in Latin America—regions in which abortion is illegal under most circumstances in the majority of countries. The rate is 12 per 1,000 in Western Europe, where abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds.”

Monday, September 2, 2013


I just had to add this to today's posts.  This is from Addicting Info by Wes Williams.  What he says is absolutely true whether or not you believe it.  People really don't understand the welfare system and they need to.

Every so often Facebook is covered with the little “ecards” and other items that complain about “lazy people on welfare” who have an iPhone, a new car, are buying cigarettes, and are just generally living the good life off of the rest of us who work for a living. Close your eyes for a moment, and develop a mental picture of an “average welfare recipient.” Now use that mental picture as a frame of reference for what you are about to read. If you are like many Americans, be prepared to have your beliefs about welfare and welfare recipients shattered.

Myth: “People on welfare are lazy and sit at home collecting it while the rest of us work to support them.”
Fact: The welfare reform law that was signed by President Clinton in 1996 largely turned control over welfare benefits to the states, but the federal government provides some of the funding for state welfare programs through a program called Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF). TANF grants to states require that all welfare recipients must find work within two years of first receiving benefits. This includes single parents, who are required to work at least 30 hours per week. Two-parent families are required to work 35 to 50 hours per week. Failure to obtain work could result in loss of benefits. It is also worth noting that, thanks to the pay offerings of companies such as Walmart, many who work at low wage jobs qualify for public assistanceeven though they work full-time.
      The popular perception is that welfare recipients don’t want to work. There are people in all sorts of situations who would probably prefer not to work, but for welfare recipients the law gives them no choice;  within two years they have to find work or face losing benefits.

Myth: “People who go on welfare stay on it forever.”
Fact: According to, the vast majority of TANF recipients, 80.4 percent,  receive benefits for five years or less. (The site still refers to the program by the old name of Aid To Families With Dependent Children. AFDC is the program that seems to be most often identified with the term “welfare.” AFDC programs were replaced at the federal level by TANF in 1996, but it is still common to hear the program referred to as AFDC.)

Myth: “There’s a woman in Chicago. She has 80 names, 30 addresses, 12 Social Security cards. … She’s got Medicaid, getting food stamps and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income alone is over $150,000″ – Ronald Reagan
Fact: Ah, the “welfare queen.” Ronny loved to tell his stories, and his welfare queen story is one of the most popular. The only problem is, the woman he talked about didn’t exist. There is some evidence that elements of this story may have been based on facts, but the descriptions of abuse by an actual woman were wildly exaggerated by Reagan.

Myth: “Welfare recipients keep having more kids so they can get more benefits.”
Fact: According to a 2010 report released by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the average family receiving TANF benefits has 1.8 children, which is about the same as the national average. Half of the families receiving TANF benefits only have one child. In fact, the average size of families receiving welfare benefits has declined from 4.0 in 1969 to 2.4 in 2010. Also, some states, such as Delaware and Georgia, make it clear to those who sign up for TANF benefits that their benefits will not increase if they have additional children. Taken from the Delaware Department of Health and Human Services website:
You will get information on family planning.  Your check will not increase if you have a baby 10 months or more after you sign up for this program. [Emphasis added]
Government Accountability Office report (page 45), shows the amount of TANF benefits paid in each state for one to three children. Even in states where having additional children will result in a benefit increase, that increase is, in most cases, $100 a month or less.

Myth: “Where Is The U.S. Headed If More Than 100 Million People Get Welfare?” – Headline of August 2012 column by CNN’s Jack Cafferty
Fact: 100 million Americans on welfare? Cafferty apparently gets his information from a biased source, the Center For Immigration Studies, which is connected to identified racist John Tanton. According to the 2010 federal HHS report1,084,828 adults and 3,280,153 children received TANF benefits that year, a far cry from 100 million.

Myth: ”I see these guys all the time, hanging out and drinking, and doing drugs, collecting welfare instead of working.”
Fact: The able-bodied single male with no dependent children who collects welfare in the United States pretty much does not exist, since the primary goal of most welfare programs is to provide temporary support for children and families. Single males can receive certain benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if they are disabled.

Myth: “Most welfare recipients are drug users.”
Fact: That’s apparently what Florida governor Rick Scott thought, too. The state of Florida began drug testing welfare recipients in 2011. About 2 percent tested positive for drug use. According to the New York Times, federal statistics show that the rate of drug use among welfare recipients is about the same as it is for the public at large.

Myth: “Most welfare recipients are minorities and illegal immigrants.”
Fact: TANF benefits were paid out to roughly the same percentage of white and black recipients in 2010, according to the HHS report. In fact, the percentage of black families receiving welfare benefits has declined by almost 7 percent since 2000. Regarding illegal immigrants: those who are in the United States illegally are ineligible for benefits other than emergency Medicaid.

Myth: ”People collect welfare instead of work, and they get rich. They all have iPhones, drive new cars, have widescreen tv’s, etc. I work and I can’t afford any of that!”
Fact:  Since welfare payments vary by state and by the size of the family, it’s hard to provide all the pertinent numbers here, but here are some ranges:
  • A family of four can expect up to $500 a month in food stamp benefits. A single person can expect an average of $200 a month.
  • The average monthly allowance under TANF/AFDC is $900 for a family of four. For a single person the average is about $300.
It would be interesting to see what kind of “new car” anyone could buy on that income, or even an iPhone, for that matter. (Remember, despite what Newt Gingrich may have claimed during the 2012 election campaign, you can’t use food stamps for anything except food, so when you’re figuring how much money someone might have for an iPhone or a car, take that money out of the equation.) It is also worth observing that the people who sneer about welfare recipients having those things don’t take into consideration that the person may have had that iPhone or car before having to go on welfare. Along these lines, perhaps the most laughable criticism is of welfare recipients who have tattoos. Tattoos are permanent, folks! How do you know that someone got a tattoo after starting to receive welfare?
One final fact about welfare. Would anybody like to guess who makes up the single largest group on welfare in the United States? It’s children. One out of every four children in the United States receives welfare benefits.
    Because the rules surrounding TANF require recipients to look for work, the problem is not with laziness, or a lack of education, but rather with the availability of jobs with good wages and benefits. Were more parents able to find well-paying jobs, fewer of their children would need welfare benefits. In fact, were more good jobs available, fewer Americans in general would need the assistance of welfare

Read more:

The Vote on Syria

This is to make you go hmmmm.  In case you ever thought Barack Obama was stupid, this should quell that thought.

Obama has asked Congress to vote on whether or not we attack Syria with cruise missiles. Congress, particularly the GOP must wetting themselves. The warhawks very much want to attack because they LOVE any excuse to blow up people in other countries. But it’s veeeeeery unpopular. The “I oppose everything Obama says” will want to say no simply because Obama wants to. Some others will say no because they actually want to stay out of the Middle East.

There are four ways this could go:

1    Congress votes “yes” and we attack. Well, The GOP will not be able to attack Obama because Republicans would have had to vote yes in the first place.
2    Congress votes “no” and we don’t attack. Now they can’t attack Obama as soft on terror or whatever because Republicans would have had to have voted against it.
3    Congress votes “yes” and we don’t attack. Yeah, right.
4    Congress votes “no” and Obama decides to attack anyway. This is the only scenario that will help Republicans and is very unlikely. It would, however, bolster their talking points that Obama is a dictator that ignores the Constitution. Which is why he wouldn’t do it.

There’s almost no good outcome for the GOP here and that’s why, I think, is part of the reason Obama is demanding that Congress do its job for a change.

By the way, the title of this post is a total lie. There is literally nothing Obama could do to shut his critics up. He could save the reincarnation of Jesus from a pack Islamic fundamentalist suicide bombers using an AR15 painted with the American flag while french kissing Ronald Reagan’s corpse and singing Ted Nugent’s greatest hits and they would complain about the shoes he was wearing. Oh well.


Sunday, September 1, 2013


I knew it now you do too.  Finally, someone came out and actually documented the salacious Fox News [dare I use News and Fox in the same sentence?].  Read on my friends...

There are thousands of examples of FOX not just “leaning” in a particular direction on an issue… but actively changing around the words and meanings of interviews to make them seem to say the opposite of what the person interviewed actually said; of lies about what happened; of incorrect graphics…for example, calling Congressman Mark Foley a Democrat when he got caught in gay chatter with pages and calling Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords a Republican when there was an outpouring of sympathy for her after she got shot.

FOX took a sparsely-attended tea-party rally in Washington and spliced in video of a heavily-attended event of an entirely different nature from months earlier.

FOX has gotten caught using image manipulation software to edit the appearance of people they don’t like to make them appear more sinister.

FOX alters poll results to mislead its viewers; in one case, their massacre of a Rasmussen poll on climate change ended up with a poll number of 120%–mathematically impossible, of course, except in FOX world.
On 4-24-09… White House correspondent Wendell Goler cropped a comment by Obama and took it out of context — effectively reversing the statement’s meaning — to falsely suggest that Obama supports creating a health care system “like the European countries.”

A 2010 Ohio State University study of public misperceptions about the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” found that viewers who relied on Fox News were 66% more likely to believe incorrect rumors than those with “low reliance” on Fox News ~Wikipedia

A study by the Program on International Policy Attitudes showed 67% of Fox viewers believed that the “U.S. has found clear evidence in Iraq that Saddam Hussein was working closely with the al Qaeda terrorist organization” (He wasn’t. He hated, feared and banned them, but you’d never know that by watching FOX).
Wait, it gets worse: For all other networks and news sources, the MORE you watch them, the MORE you know about the actual facts. Those who view CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, & NPR the MOST, have the BEST grasp of the FACTS. With FOX it – is- the – opposite!! Which is what gave birth to the mocking slogan: THE MORE YOU WATCH FOX, THE LESS YOU KNOW.

In the summer of 2003, 34% of Americans who did not follow the news very closely believed evidence had been found that linked Iraq with al Qaeda before the U.S. invasion. 42% of people who were moderate consumers of FOX news had that opinion. Among those who “watched FOX News very closely” … that number was 80% !! ~Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 118, #4 THE MORE YOU WATCH FOX, THE LESS YOU KNOW!

FOX News’ Happening Now cropped clips of Obama from an April 3 speech in France to falsely suggest that Obama only criticized the United States. In doing so, Happening Now joined conservative commentators and Fox News hosts who have cropped or misrepresented Obama’s overseas remarks to falsely suggest, in the words of host Sean Hannity, that Obama was “blam[ing] America first” and, more broadly, that Obama’s earlier overseas trip constituted an “apology tour.”

Fox News presented a clip of Joe Biden criticizing John McCain’s “the fundamentals of the economy are strong” statement…. Problem is, this was something Biden was QUOTING…from SIX MONTHS EARLIER… but it was edited by FOX to make it seem that Biden was stating it as his own opinion. The bogus clip was introduced by Live Desk co-host Martha MacCallum as comments Biden had made in interviews THIS WEEKEND.

FOX pushed the bogus stat that cap-and-trade would cost “every American family $1,761 annually.” has labeled the statistic false and noted that the talking point has been pushed by Republicans.
On 9/30/09 FOX Gregg Jarrett said on the air that the Obama Department of Justice “thinks it’s OK to intimidate white people, not OK to intimidate black people at the polls.”

‎”If we went back … to the fall of 2008, to the campaign, that was a time this country was in two wars that we had a financial collapse probably more significant than any financial collapse since the Great Depression. If you were a Fox News viewer in the fall election what you would have seen were that the biggest stories and the biggest threats facing America were a guy named Bill Ayers and a something called ACORN.” ~Anita Dunn

A 2011 Kaiser Family Foundation survey on U.S. misconceptions about health care reform found that Fox News viewers scored lower for factual knowledge than other news viewers.