For many months after the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act's website, it was widely stated as incontrovertible fact that Obamacare was the primary reason Democrats were likely to lose control of the Senate.
But new ad data compiled by Bloomberg News tells a very different story. In three of the top-tier Senate races - North Carolina, Arkansas, and Louisiana - spending on spots about the health law has fallen sharply:
The party's experience across the country shows that Republicans can't count on the issue to motivate independent voters they need to oust Democrats in Arkansas, Louisiana and Alaska...
Some GOP candidates, such as Thom Tillis in North Carolina and Scott Brown in New Hampshire, have even vaguely claimed the newly insured should somehow continue to enjoy the law's benefits after it is repealed - again, without saying how. Others, such as Terri Lynn Land in Michigan and Tom Cotton in Arkansas, won't say whether the Medicaid expansion moving forward in their states should be rolled back.
Why has this disappeared as a campaign issue? Because the horror stories about premiums skyrocketing were just stories, wishful thinking by Republicans who have no qualms about sacrificing the lives of their constituents on the altar of their anti-government ideology.
The headlines were all too predictable when Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield announced in June that it would request an average 12.5 percent premium increase for its Connecticut market. "Now EVEN MORE States Report Double-Digit Premium Hikes," the conservative Daily Caller trumpeted.
But that wasn't the whole story. It never is with Obamacare premium news, though that hasn't stopped news outlets from blaring headlines like that one from the Daily Caller whenever an insurance company announces its proposed rates for next year. Skyrocketing premiums are one of the last anti-Obamacare talking points that conservatives have to hold onto.
But then on Monday, the conclusion of the Connecticut story came. State insurance regulators had rejected Anthem's proposed 12.5 percent premium hike. So after some revisions, the company would instead lower its premiums ever so slightly on average -- 0.1 percent -- in 2015, the Connecticut Mirror reported.
"I realize there is tremendous interest in the facts of the incident that led to Michael Brown's death, but I ask for the public's patience as we conduct this investigation. The selective release of sensitive information that we have seen in this case so far is troubling to me. No matter how others pursue their own separate inquiries, the Justice Department is resolved to preserve the integrity of its investigation. This is a critical step in restoring trust between law enforcement and the community, not just in Ferguson, but beyond.
We should all be troubled by the bs we see leaking out of Ferguson. Efforts to smear Michael Brown and divert the focus from the pursuit of justice continue.
I kept reading this sentence from the autopsy report of Dr. Michael M. Baden, reported in the New York Times:
One of the bullets shattered Mr. Brown's right eye, traveled through his face, exited his jaw and re-entered his collarbone. The last two shots in the head would have stopped him in his tracks and were likely the last fired.
Across the nation today, people who believe in and demand justice will be gathering.
Groups on the ground in St. Louis are calling for nationwide solidarity actions in support of Justice for Mike Brown and the end of police and extrajudicial killings everywhere. On Saturday at 1pm -- one week after the murder of Mike Brown by a Ferguson police officer--we in St. Louis will gather at the location that Mike was shot in the Canfield Apartment buildings. We ask that you gather at the places in your community on Saturday where police and extrajudicial killings have occurred to memorialize lives that have been lost and demand justice by ending systemic violence upon communities of color.
In this week's address, with schools getting ready to open their doors again over the next few weeks, the President talked directly to students and parents about the importance of preparing for an education beyond high school.
In today's economy, some higher education continues to be the surest ticket to the middle class, but for too many families across the country, paying for higher education is a constant struggle. The President and First Lady know this first hand -- they only finished paying off their student loans ten years ago -- and that's why they have made it a priority to help make college more affordable for families. They have taken action to reform student loans, expand grants and college tax credits, help make loan payments more manageable, and have proposed plans to make sure colleges also do their part to bring down costs. And just this week, as part of the President's Year of Action, the administration announced a new series of commitments to support students who need a little extra academic help getting through college.
A few weeks ago I had planned to write a piece about the upcoming anniversary of a case of police brutality that had a slightly different end to it than we have come to expect from the criminal injustice system in America. The unarmed black man assaulted by police didn't die. Not only did he not die, he went on to sue the NYC and the NYPD and won "the largest police brutality settlement in New York City history". His primary police assailants were put on trial, and the officer responsible for the sodomizing, Justin Volpe is still incarcerated. Sadly, the others involved are not.
That man was Abner Louima, and the anniversary of his brutal attack, beating and sodomizing while in NYPD custody was on August the 9th, 1997.
But August the 9th is now the anniversary of yet another attack, this time ending in death, of an unarmed young black teenager, at the hands of police. Michael Brown.
States led by anti-abortion governors and legislatures have been passing a broad array of measures over the past few years aimed at making the procedure more difficult for women to obtain.[...]
[A] federal district court judge in Alabama this week struck down as unconstitutional a portion of state law requiring physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges. Last week, a federal appeals court panel struck down a similar law in Mississippi. And a third law of the same type is awaiting a ruling in Wisconsin.[...]
Admitting-privileges legislation would impose stricter requirements on facilities where abortions are performed than on facilities that perform much riskier procedures," says Jeanne Conry, former president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
"As an example, the mortality rate associated with a colonoscopy is more than 40 times greater than that of abortion," she says, yet gastroenterologists who perform such procedures outside of the hospital setting do not face similar requirements "in the context of safety."
Judge Myron Thompson explains in his opinion striking down the law, it "would have the striking result of closing three of Alabama's five abortion clinics." As Thompson interprets the Supreme Court's precedents, his court "must determine whether, examining the regulation in its real-world context," it imposes an obstacle to women's right to choose an abortion that "is more significant than is warranted by the State's justifications for the regulation."
A provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that allows young people to remain on their parents' insurance may have increased the use of mental health services among that demographic, a new study suggests. The findings make a case for an expansion of mental health services for the Millennial generation.
Researchers collected data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health and surveyed more than 20,000 people from 2008 - two years before the ACA provision went into effect - to 2012. They found that young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 who screened positive for mental disorders or substance abuse sought mental health services at a rate five percentage points greater than that of adults in the 26- to 35-year-old age bracket. Out-of-pocket payments for mental health visits among young people also decreased by more than 12 percentage points, according to the study.
Today I authorized two operations in Iraq -- targeted airstrikes to protect our American personnel, and a humanitarian effort to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food and water and facing almost certain death. [...]
To stop the advance on Erbil, I've directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move toward the city. We intend to stay vigilant, and take action if these terrorist forces threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in Iraq, including our consulate in Erbil and our embassy in Baghdad. We're also providing urgent assistance to Iraqi government and Kurdish forces so they can more effectively wage the fight against ISIL.
Second, at the request of the Iraqi government -- we've begun operations to help save Iraqi civilians stranded on the mountain. As ISIL has marched across Iraq, it has waged a ruthless campaign against innocent Iraqis. And these terrorists have been especially barbaric towards religious minorities, including Christian and Yezidis, a small and ancient religious sect. Countless Iraqis have been displaced. And chilling reports describe ISIL militants rounding up families, conducting mass executions, and enslaving Yezidi women.
ISIL forces below have called for the systematic destruction of the entire Yezidi people, which would constitute genocide.
I've said before, the United States cannot and should not intervene every time there's a crisis in the world. So let me be clear about why we must act, and act now. When we face a situation like we do on that mountain -- with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale, when we have a mandate to help -- in this case, a request from the Iraqi government -- and when we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye. We can act, carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide. That's what we're doing on that mountain.
I've, therefore, authorized targeted airstrikes, if necessary, to help forces in Iraq as they fight to break the siege of Mount Sinjar and protect the civilians trapped there. Already, American aircraft have begun conducting humanitarian airdrops of food and water to help these desperate men, women and children survive. Earlier this week, one Iraqi in the area cried to the world, "There is no one coming to help." Well today, America is coming to help. We're also consulting with other countries -- and the United Nations -- who have called for action to address this humanitarian crisis.
I know that many of you are rightly concerned about any American military action in Iraq, even limited strikes like these. I understand that. I ran for this office in part to end our war in Iraq and welcome our troops home, and that's what we've done. As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq. And so even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there's no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq. The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi communities and stronger Iraqi security forces.
More on the humanitarian crisis and the president's statement ...
"I do not see the countries and peoples of Africa as a world apart; I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world - partners with America on behalf of the future we want for all of our children. That partnership must be grounded in mutual responsibility and mutual respect."
President Obama in August will welcome leaders from across the African continent to the Nation's Capital for a three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the first such event of its kind. This Summit, the largest event any U.S. President has held with African heads of state and government, will build on the President's trip to Africa in the summer of 2013 and it will strengthen ties between the United States and one of the world's most dynamic and fastest growing regions. Specifically, the August 4-6 Summit will advance the Administration's focus on trade and investment in Africa and highlight America's commitment to Africa's security, its democratic development, and its people. At the same time, it will highlight the depth and breadth of the United States' commitment to the African continent, advance our shared priorities and enable discussion of concrete ideas to deepen the partnership. At its core, this Summit is about fostering stronger ties between the United States and Africa.
The theme of the Summit is "Investing in the Next Generation." Focusing on the next generation is at the core of a government's responsibility and work, and this Summit is an opportunity to discuss ways of stimulating growth, unlocking opportunities, and creating an enabling environment for the next generation.
The Republican Party is making a point of not mentioning "Impeachment". In fact just yesterday, Famously Insane Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said this:
"I think Congress has to sit down, have a serious look at the rest of this constitution, and that includes that 'i' word that we don't want to say,"
He was talking about the other "I" word, "Immigration" and making sure that President Obama knew that trying to fix the immigration crisis via executive order (yes, the same crisis that Speaker Boehner (R-OH) begged him to fix via executive order) would trigger Impeachment.
Why is Rep. King so adamant about this? Because he is the author of HR 5272, aka, The Republican Party Suicide Note. He was bursting with pride over it:
"The changes brought into this are ones I've developed and advocated for over the past two years," he told CQ Roll Call. "It's like I ordered it off the menu."
Well, as one who wants the Republican party to shrink into Irrelevance (another great "I" word!), seeing them following the lead of Steve King would be something I would order off the menu.
In two days, Congress leaves Washington for a month, and the President noted that there is still time to get things done. But rather than voting on bills that would provide resources to fight wildfires in the West, or prevent the Highway Trust Fund from running out of money, the President pointed out that Republicans in Congress are focused on one issue.
"The main vote that they've scheduled for today is whether or not they decide to sue me for doing my job."
And they voted Thursday, 225 to 201, to do just that.
The president to Congress:
"Come on and help out a little bit. Stop being mad all the time. Stop just hating all the time...Let's get some work done together."
The following was written by a friend of mine, Peter Andersen, an American currently living in Sierra Leone, who, for his internet-based coverage of Sierra Leone's civil war, was made a Member of the Order of the Rokel. The Order of the Rokel, together with the Order of the Republic of Sierra Leone, is Sierra Leone's highest civilian honor. The piece is reproduced here with his permission
The media in North America and Western Europe has finally picked up on the Ebola outbreak, but mostly with the idea that it could come "here." The inflammatory headlines and statements in the first paragraphs are balanced at the bottom, should anyone read that far, by experts who point out that the chance of an outbreak in those regions is vanishingly small.
The comments left after such online articles range from the uninformed to the racist, with the German readers of Focus being especially bad. Yes, people here eat bush meat including monkey and even fruit bat. No, it is not a choice between eating bush meat and starvation. No, it is not only rich people who eat bush meat. No, it is not "superstition" which causes people to catch Ebola, unless by that you mean that people want a decent burial for their loved ones and are uncomfortable with the so-called "medical burial" where the body is zipped into a body bag and tossed without ceremony into an unmarked grave. And no, the cause of Ebola is not overpopulation.
This Ebola crisis is not "about" Europe or America, despite media there trying to find a local angle. They are trying too hard. Suddenly the Liberian official who died in Lagos, Patrick Sawyer, has become "an American of Liberian descent" in the Western press, but he remains a Liberian in the African press. In fact, he lived in Minnesota where his wife and three children reside. He is likely a dual citizen, but that does not make him "an American of Liberian descent" as the BBC would have it. That would imply that he was born in the US of Liberian parents. Ever if that were true (and it isn't), he would still have qualified for a Liberian passport. I am waiting to hear from the BBC how a Liberian official was traveling on official government business from Monrovia to Calabar, Nigeria to an ECOWAS conference with an American passport.
At present I am not worried about an epidemic, or a pandemic, or a serious outbreak in Europe or America. We have not seen a single case caused by exposure in the West, nor have we seen a single infected person arrive from Africa. This is not even, mostly, about us here in Freetown (for now) although we now have had some cases and some people have been exposed. Most of the victims on this side of the border are in Kailahun and Kenema Districts, and it is with them and their families that our thoughts, our prayers, and our sympathies lie. And most especially with those medical staff who work up to 22 hours a day to save those who have been infected. Media, stop dividing them up into Americans and Africans in order to sell your story to a certain market. Even now we are mourning the loss of Dr. Khan and the three nurses who gave their lives saving others, while the Liberians are mourning their own losses. We only recognize one category and it's called "hero."
However Ebola initially started --and fruit bats and bush meat are only an educated guess at this point -- after the initial infection, it travels person to person. With the proper isolation facilities (which the Western countries have) and effective communication of information (which they also have), Ebola should not be hard to control in the West.
While I applaud anyone's efforts to reach out to the black community and share ideas that would improve our families' lives, Paul doesn't understand a very important piece of the puzzle: earning our trust. For Paul to claim to stand up for our values while opposing policy after policy that advances our community is not the way to do this.
Paul's long and troubled history with civil rights issues is generally well known around Kentucky and in Washington, D.C., but for many Ohioans, it's time to take a closer look. Discussing the Civil Rights Act, Paul criticized the law, even emphasizing that he believes private businesses should be able to do whatever they want, including discriminate. He explained his opposition by saying, "I think it's a bad business decision to exclude anybody from your restaurant, but, at the same time, I do believe in private ownership."
This view goes against what the Civil Rights Act was put in place to correct, and I thought this law was settled 50 years ago. Apparently, Paul is ready to relitigate our nation's progress on civil rights. And last year, when the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act, how did Paul respond? He commented, "We have an African-American president." He also supports voter ID laws that disproportionately impact communities of color and women, saying, "There's nothing wrong with it. ... I don't really object to having some rules with how we vote."
So as Paul spends time in Cincinnati today, don't let him fool you. To see what he really believes on issues critical to the black community, look no further than the actions he's taken, the agenda he pushes, and the offensive words he used for years before he decided to run for president.
Rand Paul addressed the Urban League this morning in Cincinnati and in a TelePrompTer speech that included a quote from Malcolm X, Kentucky's junior Senator and famed opponent of the Civil Rights Act declared himself a minority.
Apparently opposing the Civil Rights Act is the same as being Black or Hispanic. And according to Rand Paul, all of his libertarian and Tea Party supporters are just as punished as actual minorities because of the "shade of their ideology."
Poor Rand Paul. It's hard out there for a libertarian, what with The Man always trying to keep him down, pointing out the ridiculousness of his ideology and how it never holds up in real-life scenarios. But what can a man like Rand Paul do except keep fighting the good fight, keep on keeping on to the water's edge, because Rand Paul has been to the mountaintop, Rand Paul has seen the Promised Land, and he yearns for the day when all little boys and girls, black or white, yellow or red, liberal or conservative or libertarian or communist, will be judged not by the color of their skin or the content of their political ideology, but by whatever's left. Character? Sure, let's go with character.
"He wound into a conclusion by talking about how his son, an environmental geologist, told him about how, if he ever got lost, Barber should climb to the highest ground he could find because, above a certain altitude, snakes cannot survive.
'They call this The Snake Line,' Barber said. 'We have got to get America back above The Snake Line.'"
"... if you want to be inspired to build a fusion movement that takes our political discussion above the snake line to the moral high ground, I suggest you find the time [to watch this video]. Lordy...this man is just what our spirits need these days!"
A little after 10am Tuesday morning, two Republican judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered much of the Affordable Care Act defunded. Just two hours later, another federal appeals court, the Fourth Circuit, issued a unanimous opinion upholding the same subsidies that were struck down in the DC Circuit's order.
As we explained this morning, both cases hinge upon a glorified typo in the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare gives states the option to run a health insurance exchange selling coverage to their residents, or they may elect to have the federal government run this exchange. If read in isolation, one line of the Affordable Care Act suggests that only "an Exchange established by the State" can offer subsidies to help people pay for health insurance in the exchange. The DC Circuit's opinion relied on that line to conclude that federally-run exchange subsidies must be defunded.
The plaintiff in the DC case is a woman who worked in the Bush Administration in his Office of Faith and Community. Apparently, nothing says "love thy neighbor" like litigating to deny health care to people. The plaintiff in the 4th Circuit case is a man in West Virginia angry that his freedumbs were taken away when he was forced to get health insurance at a cost of $21 per year.
The entire DC Circuit has been asked to rule on the case and the split on that court is 7-4 Democratic appointees to Republican appointees.
The D.C. federal appeals court initially appeared to throw a stunning legal blow to Obamacare with its decision to invalidate financial subsidies offered through HealthCare.gov. The loss of those subsidies could affect 4.7 million people and send premiums skyrocketing. But the ruling was quickly tempered by a separate appeals court ruling that upheld the subsidies in another case.
[Experts told TPM] that the mechanics of how the workaround could be done aren't completely clear, but the crux would be this: States could continue using HealthCare.gov but pass a bill or otherwise indicate that the website functions as their state-based insurance exchange.
[Additionally, ] HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell "could make it much easier for a second generation of state exchanges to be established now that the federal government has a viable IT platform for both state and federal exchanges to use."
Or we could win back Congress and pass a fix to the technical language of the law.
In this week's address, the President discussed the importance of ensuring that the economic progress we've made is shared by all hardworking Americans. Through his opportunity agenda, the President is focused on creating more jobs, educating more kids, and working to make sure hard work pays off with higher wages and better benefits.
This week, the President will visit a community college in Los Angeles to highlight the need to equip our workers with the skills employers are looking for now and for the good jobs of the future, and he will continue looking for the best way to grow the economy and expand opportunity for more hardworking Americans.
Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a bill that would have protected women's right to make their own health care decisions. In the 56-43 vote - four short of the 60 needed - only three Republicans supported this basic protection for women.
Although the vast majority of American women use birth control at some point in their lives, many women without insurance could not afford the method that would work best for them. The Affordable Care Act guaranteed that health insurance would fully cover the cost of contraception. A recent Supreme Court decision took back that guarantee, telling women they could only be covered if their bosses said it was ok.
"The court was wrong and the Senate Republicans are wrong," Sen. Bernie Sanders said. "Bosses should not be able to impose their religious beliefs on their employees. Bosses should not be able to deny insurance-covered birth control to their female employees. Women should make their own health care decisions, not their employers.
"At a time when tens of millions of women use birth control, there is no valid reason to restrict a woman's access to safe, widely-used preventive services simply because her employer does not approve of what should be her private medical decisions."
The Protect Women's Health from Corporate Interference Act would have ensured that employers cannot interfere in their employees' decisions about contraception or other health services.
Wingnuts are at it again-frothing at the mouth about Attorney General Eric Holder. Not that they have stopped since he was confirmed by the Senate on February 2, 2009. But the escalation of their hate has moved from contempt of Congress to cries of "impeach...impeach!"
I refuse to link to right wing sites-take my word for it, the attacks are vile. The comment sections are even worse. I think he is the "2nd most hated by racists" black man in America-after the POTUS.
He knows it. It doesn't stop him from speaking out-which he did in depth in an interview with ABC News' Senior Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas, which has escalated the calls for his removal.
In this week's address, the President recapped his visits with folks who have written him letters about their own American stories -- their successes and struggles. While congressional Republicans are blocking meaningful measures that would strengthen the middle class, the President continues looking for ways to grow the economy and expand opportunity for more hardworking Americans.
The President again urged Congress to join him, as they were elected to do, in working on behalf of everyday Americans - including those the President spent time with this week - by investing in our infrastructure to support American jobs, and ensuring that the Highway Trust Fund does not expire.
It is emblematic of the hyperpartisanship which has our country in a stranglehold that the president has to remind people that the humanitarian crisis on the border is not theater. But apparently, no crisis or incident (BENGHAZIII!), can be addressed without first dousing the follicles set ablaze by the media and their need to fill air time and print to satisfy the 10-minute news cycle.
President Barack Obama on Wednesday said he is not visiting the U.S. border while in Texas because he is "not interested in photo-ops" and urged Congress to approve funding to deal with the surge of minors illegally streaming into the country.
"There is nothing that is taking place down there that I am not intimately aware of and briefed on," Obama said. "This isn't theater, this is a problem. I'm not interested in photo ops."
Obama met with local politicians and religious leaders in Dallas, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, to discuss the influx of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S. border. The White House has asked for $3.7 billion to deal with the crisis, a request that has been panned by some Republicans who say the president's policies are to blame for migrant children believing they can stay in the country illegally.
Pardon me, the president's policies??? The Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill that reflected the president's policies and which would have helped mitigate this crisis, including some of the money that is now part of an emergency request. But the Republican House of Representatives would not take up the bill because they knew it would pass and that would enrage the nativist wing of the increasingly wingnutty Republican Party. And it is more important to keep their base frothing for the mid-term elections than to solve problems.
One of the things that for me is disheartening is the lack of national attention being focused on the Moral Mondays grass-roots fusion movement that is growing throughout the south.
We cannot depend on the Traditional Media (TM) to carry the message. While TM sources are willing to pay tribute to civil rights history events, and commemorations for fallen martyrs, they are far less apt to give headlines to, and follow the groundswell of support for the pushback against Republican repression of voting rights and civil rights.
We have the responsibility to do the work carrying the message, using our social media - email, facebook, twitter, tumblr, you tube and on blogs.
It is not a matter of the information being unavailable.