The Rockin Johnny B

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Just the Facts Ma

‘You need to look at your facts’

As regular viewers have no doubt noticed, “All in with Chris Hayes,” which airs just before “The Rachel Maddow Show” weeknights on msnbc, is consistently an exceptionally informative program. And while every night features lively and engaged discussions, there was one segment in particular this week that stood out as unique.
Chris talked – or at least tried to talk – to Jennifer Stefano, the Pennsylvania state director of the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity, ostensibly about health care reform, though as viewers quickly realized, the guest was quite a bit more animated than the voices that usually appear on “All In.”
The segment apparently generated quite a bit of conversation soon after, with reform supporters and opponents “arguing over which side got schooled.” I don’t much care who was “schooled,” but because I’ve been interested in AFP messaging, it seemed worthwhile to do what our pal Ari Melber did last night: fact check Jennifer Stefano’s claims.
The AFP official claimed, for example, that as a result of the Affordable Care Act, “we really are having our choices removed from us as mothers.” Is that true?
Probably not. I say “probably” because Stefano didn’t specify what “choices” she thinks are being “removed,” and it’s tough to fact-check vague assertions, but there’s nothing in the reform law intended to take mothers’ choices away. On the contrary, parents seem to have far more health care options now than before the reform law was passed.
She added, “This law has made 7 million people lose their insurance.” Is that true?
There’s no evidence to support the claim. Estimates vary as to exactly how many consumers received cancelation notices, but (a) even the most conservative Republicans in Congress don’t put the total at 7 million; (b) millions lost their insurance routine under the old system, so the point is rather dubious; and (c) it’s misleading to suggest consumers “lost their insurance,” since most of these Americans really just made a transition from one plan to a different plan.
Stefano then argued, “For the people who have actually signed up on the exchange … only 14 percent of them are actually people without coverage.” Is this true?
No, it’s not. In fact, the conservative activist appeared to be citing a study that concedes it “did not break down their results for people who specifically purchased insurance through Obamacare.”
She also argued that Medicaid expansion would apply to “people making $94,000 a year.” Chris referred to this as “a math train wreck.” Who’s right?
Well, not Stefano.
Finally, Stefano argued, “Here’s what I want, stick to the facts…. Stick to the facts, talk about facts.”
That sounds like a great idea.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Butchie Does It Again

Alright all you animal rights folks.  Here's a story for ya!

Otter signs bill to outlaw dairy spies

By JOHN MILLER    The Associated Press
   BOISE — Gov. Butch Otter signed a bill Friday that imposes jail time and fines against people who secretly film animal abuse at Idaho’s agricultural facilities.
     Otter inked the new law swiftly, just two days after it cleared its final legislative hurdle in the House.     
The bill came in response to videos released by Los Angeles-based vegetarian and animal rights group Mercy for Animals showing workers at Bettencourt Dairy beating, stomping, dragging and sexually abusing cows in 2012
.    Idaho’s $2.5 billion dairy industry complained the group used its videos not to curb abuse, but to unfairly hurt Bettencourt’s business. Bettencourt operates dairies at numerous locations that include more than 60,000 cows and is one of the largest dairy companies in the U.S.    Otter, a rancher, said the measure will help make agriculture producers more secure in their property and their livelihood.
     “My signature today reflects my confidence in their desire to responsibly act in the best interest of the animals on which that livelihood depends,” Otter wrote in a statement. “No animals rights organization cares more or has more at stake than Idaho farmers and ranchers do in ensuring that their animals are healthy, well-treated and productive.”
     Utah, Idaho’s neighbor to the south, has a similar law. It’s being challenged in federal court on grounds that, among other things, it infringes upon activists’ free speech rights to expose cruelty.
     Under Idaho’s measure that was branded by its foes as an “ag gag bill,” people caught surreptitiously filming agricultural operations face up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.    It prohibits making audio or video recordings of such operations without first getting permission, and criminalizes obtaining records from agricultural operations by force or misrepresentation. Lying on an employment application for such a farm is also outlawed.
     In the Legislature, Democrats opposed the bill on grounds that it makes Idaho’s agriculture industry seem like it’s hiding something.
     Mercy For Animals immediately decried Otter’s signature Friday, saying that it transforms Idaho into “a safe haven for animal abuse.”
     “Gov. Otter has failed Idaho and the American people,” said the group’s executive director, Nathan Runkle. “By signing this bill into law, he has sided with those who seek to keep Idaho’s corrupt factory farming practices hidden from public view and created a safe haven for animal abuse and other criminal activity in the state.”
     Bob Naerebout, who heads the Idaho Dairymen’s Association that promoted the measure, said Runkle has it wrong.
     Naerebout contends Mercy For Animals unfairly sought to persuade Bettencourt’s customers to stop buying its milk products even after the farm’s owner, Luis Bettencourt, fired five workers filmed mistreating cows and cooperated with their prosecution.
     “The purpose of the bill was not to hide anything, the purpose of the bill was to address those who get on agriculture operations under false pretenses, with a predetermination to cause injury and economic harm,” Naerebout said. “The dairy producers of Idaho — and dairy producers across this nation — take extremely good care of their cattle.”
     In the wake of the abuse, the University of Idaho Extension, along with the College of Southern Idaho, worked with the dairy industry to offer a program to help teach dairy workers about proper animal care, milking, calf raising and feeding dairy animals.

So...  Don't be snapping no pictures of those dirty ol' cows who are being tortured into giving up that tasty glass of milk.  No sir, not in this state.

Oh, and we ain't havin' none of that there Obamer-care round here.  We want to pay big insurance company premiums and depend on the emergency rooms to take care of us when we get sickly.  We don't take no gub'mint hand outs!

Oh those picked on Christians :)

How do you know if your religious freedom is being attacked?

#10. Your country or region is engaged in a decade-long war on terror. You must hide the cross on your necklace because Fox news portrays your religious group as terrorists and people look at you with disdain everywhere you go.
#9. You are unable to marry your soul-mate because no public officials are willing to legally join a couple that actually believes God intended marriage to be between one man and one woman.
#8. Excited by the news of your fifth pregnancy, you are headed to the doctor for your first prenatal appointment but you cannot get past all the zero-population growth picketers and protestors.  As they block the sidewalk, they yell and jeer, calling you “whore” and “human rabbit”.   The God-given life within your womb leaps with terror at the anger.  When you return to your car, you find it covered with smashed eggs.
#7. Your state allows monuments to be displayed on the capitol lawn but the planning committee has refused to allow your creative sculpture of the Ten Commandments even though they already have a Hindu monkey statue to Lord Hanuman prominently displayed. 
#6. Your vacation request has been denied for Christmas day. You requested this holy day off from work so that you can celebrate the birth of your savior in prayer with your family.  However, your boss denies your vacation request and asks why you cannot simply observe and practice your faith in early December on Hanukkah and Kwanzaa like everyone else does.
#5. Your rapidly growing church group must hold crowded services in a two-car garage because, in your city, churches cannot be built within five miles of any of the Mosques or other historic sites deemed as sacred ground.
#4. The science teacher at your daughter’s school insists that evolution is scientific fact. Despite your efforts to openly discuss Creationism he laughs heartily and rambles on about fossils and carbon dating.
#3. You are outraged because a particular political party repeatedly bashes Christianity, slamming the “Bible” and “Jesus”, in an effort to distract public attention from their own failures and impending downfall.  They have even accused the president of being a Christian!
#2. Your car gets towed by haters while you are in church on Sunday. “Christians Don’t Park Here” signs have been posted on the street all around your church.
#1. You are forced to use birth control in order to remain covered under your insurance plan.  You wonder why.  Clearly someone somewhere doesn’t think you are smart enough to responsibly manage the equipment you were born with.

… And just one more thing.

You are spitting mad because your religion is not listed first on the Wikipedia page of world religions.  There are an estimated 4200 world religions. You might be a victim of a huge threat to your religious freedom if your religion of choice is not listed FIRST.  Let’s face it folks, the religion YOU practice is the most important one, right? Don’t stand for being third or fourth on anybody’s list.  And most certainly don’t get caught praying to or worshipping a God who would stand for that kind of crap either!  If this describes you, your religious freedom might indeed be threatened.

 Don’t miss it! The ultimate sign of religious freedom violation is revealed below…

Religious freedom is a fundamental human right. It is one of the issues that has caused more wars, more world conflicts and more un-neighborly arguments at the end of people’s driveways than almost any other topic throughout all of history anywhere on our planet.  And I’m guessing it’s the same on other similar unenlightened planets throughout the cosmos too.  Let’s face it: People are passionate about their spirituality and religious freedom. And we humanoids seem to actually enjoy fighting about it.
This penchant for squabbling about religious freedom is an age-old argument that humans just cannot seem to resolve. The annals of history are filled with infinite bloody tales of extreme woe and violence all in the name of God. Or whatever name you personally choose to call the Supreme One or in the event that there IS more than one: The Supremes. (Please. Stop! In the name of love!)

The conservatives are to blame!

But who is to blame for starting all these epic feuds and petty spats about religious freedom?  A clear answer can be found in the history books.  The conservatives in every crowd have typically started the fights.  Oops…did I say, conservatives? What I meant to say was, the people who feel self-righteous and believe they are more enlightened than the rest of us.  You know some folks like this, right? The people who are on a mission, motivated by a desire for power and control dripping with fear, to change everyone else’s way of thinking lest we all rot in the depths of Hell or some other heinous fiery place. The people who quiver with anger and throw poison darts when others refuse to succumb to their supposedly-more-enlightened-brainwashed-ridiculousness. Who are these religious freedom crusaders? Hmm…. On second thought, allow me to rewind. Who is to blame? Conservatives and ultra-conservatives.
Of course, they haven’t always been called by THAT name.  They’ve traveled through time under many names openly attacking anyone who thinks differently. But their reasons are always the same. Holy arguments all have similar roots and similar goals.  Religious freedom has long been attacked. Spreading one’s own belief, winning back property, rescuing people and places that are polluted with profanity and avenging past attacks.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the key.

In modern terms? Religious freedom is attacked when somebody thinks they know something bigger and better and then decides to force their ideas upon others.  Instead of simply being open-minded and accepting that others simply think differently. Imagine how history could’ve been different?
But, here’s the good news.  Despite all the fear-based fussing and fighting and the need others may have for control and power, you cannot be persecuted for what you believe, no matter what.  The United Nations says so in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  So there. You have the right to be whatever religion you choose and to believe whatever you want. And nobody can tell you differently. Aaah… religious freedom.

The absolute, ultimate sign that your religious freedom has been violated…

You’re shocked and disappointed as you approach the pearly gates on the day you die to see all the Buddhists, Muslims, Tao’ists, Wiccans and Jews being greeted by Saint Peter as they pass on through into eternity…


It's been a while since I posted.  Fear not, I am not deceased...just lazy.

Some of you know how I feel about private insurance companies.  I worked for a couple of 'em while I was going to college and after I graduated.  I'm here to say most of 'em are scams.  Let me explain.

Health insurance carriers are the biggest LEGAL scammers in the universe.  They control literally billion...maybe even trillions of dollars and they spend that money making damned sure they make billions more.  They really aren't concerned with your health so much as they care about how much they can winnow out of your wallet every month.  This article titled "Insurance Scam; How Private Insurance Companies Are Using Obamacare Fears To Rip People Off." [Randa Morris -- November 2013]

By now you’ve probably heard horror stories about how the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare, has forced so many people to lose their insurance policies. You’ve heard that affordable health insurance policies are being canceled and replaced with policies that are far more expensive than the canceled policies. But have you heard that across the country, insurance regulators are cracking down on the private insurance companies, because of the scam they are running on their customers? Probably not.

 Insurance companies, what’s going on?

What’s going on? Diane Barrette is a good example of what’s going on. Barrette, a 56 year old woman from Florida, who claimed on CBS News that her $54 health insurance policy was going to cost $591 a month because of Obamacare, was a victim of exactly the kind of scam that these state agencies are dealing with.

Barrette had received a letter from one of the private insurance companies, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, telling her that her old policy was canceled. The letter went on to say that the company would be replacing it with the new policy, and quoted a price that was ten times the cost of the old policy. CBS highlighted Barrette’s story as if she were the victim of Obamacare. She wasn’t. She was the victim of another private insurance industry scam. If CBS had been doing their job and acting as reporters and not right wing spokespeople, they would have known it, too.

 Here’s how this scam works.

How this scam works is that private insurance companies send out letters notifying existing customers that their current policy has been canceled, because of the ACA’s new requirements. They then offer customers a new, ACA compliant policy at far higher rates than what the customer would pay if he went through the ACA marketplace. In most cases the insurance companies do not tell their customers what other options are available or even let them know they have a choice under the new law. Some insurance companies have pressed their customers to sign up for the new policies by a certain date, saying if they don’t, their health coverage will be lost.

 Consumer Reports found her a policy for $165.00.

On the program, Barrette tells CBS that she has to hurry and make up her mind by November 1st or she will lose out on her chance to buy in. CBS offered her no explanation of her alternatives, but Consumer Reports examined Barrette’s story shortly after it aired. They easily found her a policy in the Marketplace for $165.00, not the $591 Blue Cross Blue Shield was shamelessly going to charge her.
What’s more, Consumer Reports also looked at her old policy, the one she was paying $54 a month for. They determined that it was “junk.” In essence, Barrette had been paying one of these corrupt private insurance companies  nearly $650 per year, to have almost no real medical coverage, under her previous Blue Cross Blue Shield policy.
(Let me illustrate what is meant by "junk" insurance.  This is a policy that will pay you, say...$300 per day while you are in the hospital.  The problem?  Few people stay in hospitals any more unless they are extremely ill.  Second: $300 per day is less than nothing when it comes to paying a $3000 per day hospital stay.  The shame is that the person owning the policy actually thinks he/she is purchasing something of value, when in fact, he/she has purchased junk that will do her/him little or no good in and when he/she enters a hospital.)

 Insurance companies are exploiting the people who are looking to them for advice.

Talking Points Memo (TPM) recently published an in depth expose’ on how insurance companies like Blue Cross and Blue Shield are scamming people all across the country. While in most states it’s not criminal, it’s a scam nonetheless. By telling consumers that their policies have been canceled under the new law and offering them insurance plans that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars more than what those consumers would pay in the marketplace, these insurance companies are exploiting the people who are looking to them for advice. High pressure tactics are used to get confused customers to sign up for these overpriced policies, including threatening letters and harassing phone calls.

 Humana was fined more than $65,000 in Kentucky for this scam.

In Kentucky, state insurance regulators went after Humana for the scheme. In that state, Humana was one of the worst of these private insurance companies, guilty of exploiting people’s fears over Obamacare. The company sent out thousands of letters to their Kentucky customers telling them their policies were canceled and that they had only a short window of time to buy into new (expensive) policies. The letter also told them that their premiums would go up once Obamacare went into effect. In all, 2,200 people fell for the scam, rushing to buy the marked up policies that the company was selling. The policies were sold at a much higher cost than what is offered in the ACA Marketplace. Humana was fined more than $65,000 for the scam. The 2,200 customers who signed up to buy the more expensive policies were released from their contract with the company.

 In Washington, state regulators issued a consumer alert about the scams.

In Washington, state regulators issued a consumer alert about the scams.Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler wrote:
Don’t just take what your insurance company says, make sure you shop around. You have the right to buy any plan inside the new exchange or in the outside market.
The scam is taking place all across the country, not just in some areas or some states. Consumer complaints have been lodged in Colorado, Missouri and Florida, just to name a few. Since health insurance companies like Humana and Blue Cross Blue Shield operate on a national basis, it is not surprising to see these kinds of letters being received all across the U.S.

 ”The reality is that this could do real harm.”

Laura Etherton, a health policy analyst at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, told TPM:
If you’re an insurance company, you’re trying to hang onto the consumers you have at the highest price you can get them.You can take advantage of the confusion about what people get to have now. It’s a new world. It’s disappointing that insurance companies are sending confusing letters to consumers to take advantage of that confusion. The reality is that this could do real harm.