Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Second Amendment

You can't open a blog, newspaper or magazine without reading about the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado.  I had decided that there was more then enough coverage without any input from me.  I did not intend to write about it until I decided to read up on the Supreme Court decisions on the Second Amendment.  

I remembered that many years ago I read an article written by a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on the subject.  He was retired and, therefore, free to speak out.  His theory impressed me because my thinking was along the same lines.  (I have tried in vain to find out which Justice wrote the article.  I thought it was Justice Thurgood Marshall, but was unable to find conformation of that.)

The Justice had come to the conclusion that the Second Amendment was written at a time when the country did not have a standing army and a 'well regulated militia' was needed should we be invaded.  Thus, it made citizen soldiers of every able bodied man in times of crisis.  (It further kept the cost of providing for an army by making the  citizens buy their own muskets.   My theory)   The Justice came to the conclusion that the operative part of the amendment is the one ignored by the NRA, "A well regulated militia."  Because the National Guard is the equivalent of the militia now, they are the ones protected by the Second Amendment.   It does not mean that every Dick or Jane can own as many weapons as they can afford.

The founding fathers could not have foreseen the  terrible weapons of today and would probably be horrified to know the carnage carried out now and made possible by the amendment.

Be that as it may, the Supreme Court has, in several decisions, decided that the amendment guarantying the right to bear arms is settled law.   The Courts have taken the position that the first words must be taken literally.  

While I revere our Constitution I believe that the "right to bear arms" does not guarantee that they can't be controlled.  And most legal scholars agree with me on that point.  The first amendment guarantying freedom of speech does not give an individual the right to yell "fire" in a crowded theater.

The NRA have successfully perverted the right to bear arms to mean that anybody can be armed with the most dangerous weapons and with as many as they wish to buy, with as few checks as possible.

The NRA doesn't give crap about the individual's right.  It's all about making the weapon manufacturers happy and drumming up as much business as possible for them.   When will the public say "Enough killing" and demand that the ban on automatic guns be reinstated?

This is another glaring example of the way Democracy is being distorted and weakened.   It makes me angry and sad. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I am sick of the Republican lies and distortion about ACA (Affordable Care Act) so I went to an article on Alter Net that explains what ACA will do. You may want to bookmark this page if you need to refer back to the facts as stated in the editorial.  Every time someone makes a false claim you will be able to disprove it.

Ironically, Fox talking heads and the Republicans (including the wanna-be-president Romney) have done a very good job of misinforming the public about the act, as poll after poll shows.  But when those same people who are against the act are asked about the provisions in it they are all for them.  How stupid is that?   
Most people do not have a clue as to what is in the act so I decided to clarify some of the misinformation being spread around like manure.

(You may have to type it in your browser if you want to read the entire article.  The link doesn't seem to work.  Or go to Alter Net for a copy.)
I have edited it and have left in the salient facts.  
So here, in no particular order, are 10 things you may not know about the Affordable Care Act.
1.The law will look a lot less tyrannical when people start getting checks in the mail to help pay for their insurance.
Folks making up to four times the federal poverty line will be eligible for subsidies. In 2012, that would mean a family of four making up to $92,200 (it's a bit higher in Alaska) would see some cash.
Those who don't pay enough in federal income taxes will get a check in the mail from the IRS.
2. The Richest Americans Are Going to Pay More Taxes
Wealthy investors are outraged, but most people probably don't know that a 3.8% surcharge on investment income – dividends and capital gains -- kicks in this January for everyone with an adjusted gross income of over $200,000 ($250,000 for joint filers).
3. Insurers' Overhead – and Profit Margins -- Are Limited
For the past 18 months or so, insurers have been required to spend 85 percent of the premiums they collect on healthcare (80 percent for individual and small-group plans). If they spend less than that, they have to send their customers a rebate to cover the difference.

4. Much Ado About the Mandate
most people probably don't know just how modest the impact of the mandate really is. According to the Congressional Budget Office, just 1 percent of the population will pay the penalty, which maxes out at 1 percent of one's income.
'In the case of any failure by a taxpayer to timely pay any penalty imposed by this section, such taxpayer shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty with respect to such failure.'" They can only dock future tax refunds.
5. The Employer Mandate
Starting in 2014, companies with 50 or more full-time workers (two part-timers count as one full-timer for this purpose) will have to pay penalties if they don't cover their employees' health insurance.  A majority of Americans – and a third of Democrats – think the healthcare law will increase the deficit. But according to the Congressional Budget Office, the law will reduce the projected deficit by $210 billion over the next decade.
7. Beginning in 2014, insurers won't be able to charge women higher premiums than men.
Also coming in 2014: a ban on insurers placing annual limits on healthcare (lifetime coverage limits were already banned in 2010).
The Kaiser poll found that few people were aware of another popular new insurance regulation: since 2010, insurance companies can no longer charge co-pays or hold you to a deductible for preventive health services.
The healthcare law also allocates $11 billion over a five-year period to build new CHCs and upgrade existing infrastructure. Most of the dollars will end up in poorer communities.
A lot of under served people live in rural America, and the law also provides money to train and place 16,000 primary caregivers in rural communities over a five-year period.
9. Essential Benefits
Starting in 2014, in order for insurers to sell coverage through state-based exchanges – a place where a lot of the newly insured will likely end up – they will be required to cover a package of “essential benefits,” including maternity care, mental healthcare and substance abuse treatment, pediatric care, ambulance rides and hospitalization.
They don't have to if they don't want to participate in the exchanges, yet this measure is, according to many, at the heart of the supposed “government takeover” of our healthcare system.
10. It's Not So Easy to Repeal
Unless the Republicans were to win both the White House and a huge number of senate seats, they “can do little more than weaken Obamacare’s regulations and defund some of its provisions.” They also have nothing to replace it with, and would own our screwed up healthcare system for a generation. And they'd lose an issue that fires up the conservative base. They will, however, do their best to gum up the works as the law is implemented. 
Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy: And Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America. Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter.
© 2012 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
VAndiew this story online at:
Republican politicians across the country claim that Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid, the widely popular program which makes health insurance available for lower-income Americans, will increase costs for states. Ten Republican governors have pledged not to accept the Medicaid expansion funds and 22 other governors are considering turning down the money.
Directly disproving Republican claims, an extensive study reveals that the Affordable Care Act significantly benefits states by reducing their uncompensated care costs. In the months preceding the passage of the ACA, the President’s Council of Economic Advisors released a report on the impact of the bill on state budgets. Though the bill hadn’t yet passed when the report was written, the Council studied the Medicaid expansion which has since become law. The Council looked at the uncompensated care spending of 16 states demographically and geographically representative of the country (AR, CA, FL, ID, IN, IA, ME, MI, MN, MO, NE, NC, OR, PA, VT, WY).
The report reveals that states are currently spending billions each year providing coverage to the uninsured in three ways. Obamacare addresses each source to reduce state health insurance costs.
1. Under Obamacare, states no longer have to finance health insurance for people above 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
2. Under Obamacare, states pay billions less to cover people below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. For the first three years of the expanded Medicaid program, the federal government will cover 100 percent of Medicaid costs. The surveyed states will save $4.2 billion (100 percent of their uncompensated care costs) annually for the first three years, and $3.0 billion annually starting in 2019.
3. By making health insurance universally available, Obamacare slashes the “hidden tax” states pay in health insurance premiums. States pay a “hidden tax” in the form of higher insurance premiums to account for the cost of covering the uninsured. “By greatly reducing uncompensated care,” the Council explains, Obamacare works to “reduce this hidden tax.”
This study blows a hole in Republican claims that 
Obamacare has ill economic effects. In reality, Obamacare saves states money while improving the overall economy. Republicans who care more about fiscal responsibility than political gamesmanship would do well to embrace it.
This article was published at NationofChange at: All rights are reserved.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sad news

This has been  a sad week for me.  My son, Mark, returned home from work last Thursday evening and found his wife, Karen, lying dead on the floor.  My daughter, Gail,  is with him now, but must return home tonight to go to her part time job tomorrow.  Her new boss was understanding and that was a blessing because she has only been on the job for two weeks.  I am not going to California where Mark lives because he has a lot of support and I would just be in the way.  

I am a native of Colorado Springs and I doubt that there is a single person who has not heard about the terrible fires raging in my home town.  I have been trying to place exactly where the fires are, but I think they must be near the Garden of the Gods and I grew up very close to that area.  It is such a devastating disaster that it is difficult to comprehend.   I have a dear friend from childhood living in the West side and her partner has emphysema.  I can only imagine how the smoke is affecting him.  He is on oxygen all the time and this must make breathing the air very dangerous for him and for others with breathing problems.  I will try calling my friend tomorrow to get more on the spot details.

My oldest daughter was sent a series of pictures and they tell a story of a massive tragedy.   Click to enlarge.

I hope the President is speedy with disaster aid for those poor people who have lost everything.