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Thu Feb 12, 2015 at 01:18 PM PST

Planetary Suicide

by Joelsmartguy

Every so often a nonfiction book comes along that, because of its objective, comprehensive coverage of a hot topic, should be carefully read with a highlighter in hand by everyone.  That new book is “Unprecedented” by David Ray Griffin.  Be warned, this book will probably bum you out.  It presents the most readable treatment of the global warming and climate change issue that anyone could wish for.  It is not an emotional rant, but rather a carefully organized and detailed discussion.  Most significantly, with carefully documented sources, it allows a reader to fully appreciate the compelling and overwhelming scientific evidence supporting a negative view of our planet’s and civilization’s future.

Sadly, I suspect that the many climate deniers who most need to read such a book and learn all the facts will probably not do so.  However, for the greater number of sensible people who do believe that the planet is, or is likely to be, on a path to unspeakable disaster, this book is a most useful resource to better understand, debate and actively support faster and more effective political action by the US and other nations.

I was more motivated than most others to read this book because I recently completed a trip into the Antarctic.  With my own eyes I saw evidence of what Griffin discusses, including sea-level rise resulting from melting ice and higher ocean temperatures.  I find this particular problem perhaps the most compelling of a number of global environmental changes that threatens humanity.  Why?  Because sea-level rise has been going on for a long time, eating up coastal lands all over the world.  But now sea-level rise is accelerating and at such a rapid rate that virtually all major coastal cities are extremely threatened.

Emissions already in the atmosphere spell tragedy for 316 US cities where 3.6 million people live, according to a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  And without forceful action, things will only get worse.

People may not care much about a few islands disappearing.  But untold millions of people will face the need to escape cities worldwide that will not be able to cope with and survive many feet of higher oceans flooding their infrastructure, streets and housing.  Where will those millions of people go?  How will such deep economic disaster be managed by governments?

What I saw in Antarctica was the melting away of glaciers on mountains.  Even more startling was seeing unbelievably large tabular, rectangular icebergs in the ocean near Antarctica, often with dimensions of a mile or more.  These are pieces of ice sheets that are increasingly breaking off because of warmer air and water.  Third, is the shrinkage of some penguin home sites because of higher temperatures.

Will technology come to the rescue?  I am old enough to remember the 1960s when there was a passionate argument that rising population and consequent food shortages spelled global doom.  It did not happen.  Why?  Because various technologies came to the rescue and greatly expanded food production.  This and other disaster scenarios that never come to pass foster an attitude of technological optimism.  This blocks both political action and public demands for emergency solutions to ecological catastrophe tied to climate change and global warming.  So, will there be a technological solution enacted fast enough to prevent this new nightmare scenario?  It is a lot to hope for.  It is being called geoengineering.  It includes methods to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and to reflect sunlight.  Griffin pays just a little attention to geoengineering and not in the final section of the book where it belongs.

A major problem with all those trying to get the public, the media and the political world to focus on fast actions to sharply cut carbon dioxide emissions now is that they fear attention to geoengineering will make it harder to take rapid actions to replace dirty technologies with green ones.  Two new related reports on climate intervention by the US National Academy of Sciences support more geoengineering research.  But the head of the research project noted “we need to do more now to reduce emissions, which is the most effective, least risky way to combat climate change.”

The best strategy is to pursue both approaches, emissions reduction and geoengineering, with vigor, but this is not emphasized by Griffin or many others sounding alarms about climate change.  With so much at stake, to depend on either approach by itself is foolish.  To wait until emissions reduction does not greatly cut global disaster threats to develop a geoengineering solution is crazy.

Another cautionary note to the many trying to broaden public passion and government action is to stop saying things like what Griffin says at the end of his book: “Given our refusal to cut emissions over the past 30 years, it is already too late to save the kind of world that has been hospitable to human being since the rise of civilization.”  Ok, maybe that pessimistic view has some credence.  But it also can feed broad public disinterest because it is too late and makes it difficult to take gutsy political action and spend big money on remedies.

As Griffin noted, a 2013 Pew poll found that only 28 percent of Americans believe climate change should be a top priority of federal politicians.  What an utterly dismal situation.  A more recent 2015 poll found that the segment of the US population having the strongest views for addressing climate change are Hispanics and, conversely, Republicans have the least concern about it.  Unless a large majority of people take responsibility for contributing to planetary suicide the worst scenarios are likely to come true.

I urge everyone who reads this book to get at least three other people to also read it.  If pessimism, selfishness and narcissism prevail, concern about future generations will be largely disregarded.  Can most people give high priority to the strong possibility that the human race as we know it today does not survive?  The subtitle of Griffin’s book is “Can civilization survive the CO2 crisis?”  Read the book and you are likely to say No!  Then the question is: Are you now motivated to speak up and work to avoid perilous decay and doomsday?

Discuss

Tue Apr 01, 2014 at 12:44 PM PDT

Time to Fix Medicare

by Joelsmartguy

Send Congress a Bill to eliminate the observation status for Medicare beneficiaries and then work to pass it.

Observation status is being used for Medicare patients in hospitals, making them outpatients rather than inpatients.  There are dire financial consequences, including: facing higher hospital bills because of being covered by Part B rather than Part A, and losing Medicare coverage for skilled nursing care because of not having three hospital days as an inpatient.  There has been a drastic increase of observation status patients in recent years.  Many elderly Americans have faced bills in the tens of thousands of dollars.  A great many find themselves in hospitals but not knowing that they are in the observation status category.  A great many are in this category for many more than the two days most appropriate for this reduced Medicare coverage.  Time to eliminate observation status.

Spend a few minutes signing this petition.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/...

Discuss

Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 02:48 PM PDT

Beware Medicare Madness

by Joelsmartguy

Tuck away the many horror stories of the wrong limbs being amputated, things being left in surgery patients, terrible infections picked up in hospitals and totally wrong diagnoses.  More relevant is a bureaucratic hospitalization horror that far too few Americans covered by Medicare are aware of.

Odds are that you do not know a key question to ask if you ever find yourself in a hospital for an overnight stay that could last from one or two days, or perhaps much more.  What you and anyone accompanying you want to know is whether you are being classified as “under observation.”   This means that legally you are not an inpatient.  If the former, then you are likely to find yourself owing the hospital a large amount of money, because your Medicare or other health insurance will not provide the benefits associated with inpatient status.  Many, many Americans nationwide that were classified as under observation have faced unexpected bills of many tens of thousands of dollars.

So pay very close attention to what you are about to read.

If you in a hospital, possibly in an emergency room, then you or family or friends should ask some tough questions of hospital staff if you are kept in the hospital after being handled in the emergency room.  Ask if you will be kept in as an inpatient.  If told that you will be in the observation category, then you might seriously consider whether you should stay in that hospital, or perhaps seek another one if you are not in immediate need of medical attention beyond what was received in the emergency department.

Indeed, ordinary Americans should recognize what Medicare does, namely that the decision made by the hospital to classify a patient as under observation for billing purposes is a “complex medical judgment.”  What that means is that different interpretations and decisions can be made, either by someone else in the hospital or professionals in a different hospital.  The critical decision to use the observation classification, with so much potential negative impact for patients, is “open to widely variable interpretation” as physician Steven J. Myerson has noted.

Because you may be in a very stressful state resulting from facing some medical condition, it is imperative that family and friends also need to become educated.  Realistically, you may not be in a clear enough mental state when you enter a hospital to ask questions and demand good answers about how the hospital is classifying your stay.

Understand this: Nothing is crazier than entering a hospital for one or more nights and being designated as under observation, which amounts to being an outpatient, rather than an inpatient.  Despite coverage by Medicare you will not have expected benefits.

Beyond hours in the emergency department, you can spend days in a hospital bed, receive regular nursing care, be given drugs and all kinds of tests.  You might even spend time in a critical care or intensive care unit.  But you can still be officially designated an outpatient in observation status.  Even though you might stay in the hospital for more than just one or two nights, unless officially designated an inpatient you face major financial liability.

Under Medicare this means you are not covered by Part A which provides the best hospital coverage, but rather covered under Part B with far inferior coverage.  This practice is as bad as anything you have ever heard about awful health insurance coverage.  Furthermore, Medicare does not cover post-discharge care for Part B observation stays. For example, a patient in observation status for a broken bone will have to pay the full cost of rehabilitation or a nursing home.  But for an inpatient Medicare pays for skilled nursing care following at least three consecutive inpatient days.  Also, observation patients pay out-of-pocket for the medication they receive in the hospital and Subtitle D drug coverage may not cover these costs.

Hard to believe but your personal physician may not know that their patient has been classified by the hospital as outpatient or under observation.  Though it would be very smart for you to raise this issue and make it clear that you do not want to stay in a hospital unless you are being admitted as an inpatient.  But starting in an emergency room makes it difficult to push this issue, but not impossible.

Even the key public document from Medicare makes clear that “You’re an outpatient
if you’re getting emergency department services, observation services, outpatient surgery, lab tests, or X-rays, and the doctor hasn’t written an order to admit you to the hospital as an inpatient.”  Regardless of what a doctor has said, however, hospitals have the power to classify you as under observation.  The government advises “If you’re in the hospital more than a few hours, always ask your doctor or the hospital staff if you’re an inpatient or an outpatient.”  Note the word “always.”  That is terrific, critically important advice.  

You or your accompanying relative or friend must be prepared to challenge a decision of observation status and even raise the possibility of immediately leaving the hospital.  Remember, this is after any actions given in an emergency department.  Being prepared to challenge an observation status decision requires that you fully understand the considerable downside of this hospital classification.

Actually, Medicare maintains a one way communication street.  Medicare doesn’t require hospitals to tell patients they are “under observation,” though many will do so.  It only requires hospitals to tell patients they have been downgraded from inpatient to observation.

To be clear, if you are not classified as an inpatient, then you officially have not been admitted to the hospital though you have entered it.  Toby Edelman of the Center for Medicare Advocacy has noted that "People have no way of knowing they have not been admitted to the hospital.  They go upstairs to a bed, they get a band on their wrist, nurses and doctors come to see them, they get treatment and tests, they fill out a meal chart - and they assume that they have been admitted to the hospital."
How much of a problem is observation status?  In recent years, hospitals have increasingly classified Medicare beneficiaries as observation patients instead of admitting them, according to a Brown University nationwide analysis of Medicare claims.  From 2007 through 2009, the ratio of Medicare observation patients to those admitted as inpatients rose by 34 percent.  Worse, more than 10 percent of patients in observation were kept there for more than 48 hours, and more than 44,800 were kept in observation for 72 hours or longer in 2009 — an increase of 88 percent since 2007.  

A recent New York Times article noted that under Medicare: “the number of seniors entering the hospital for observation increased 69 percent over five years, to 1.6 million in 2011.”  And from 2004 to 2011, the number of observation services administered per Medicare beneficiary rose by almost 34 percent, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, while admissions per beneficiary declined 7.8 percent.  In other words, this observation issue is not a trivial or minor issue affecting just a few people.

Data showing far greater use of the observation status option than widely reported were in a 2013 report to Medicare by the Health and Human Services Inspector General for 2012 hospitalizations.  Some 2.1 million hospitalizations were designated observation status with 11 percent three nights or more and 80 percent originating in emergency departments, but another 1.4 million were long term outpatient stays that could and perhaps should have been coded as observation status.  There were also 1.1 million short term inpatient stays (less than two nights) that also could have been coded as observation status.  With increased enforcement by Medicare and penalties for hospitals, therefore, there is the possibility of 4.6 million or more annual observation status stays.  Medicare patients should be aware of large differences among hospitals.

AARP did its own study and found that from 2001 to 2009 both the frequency and duration of observation status increased.  Although only about 3.5 percent of Medicare beneficiaries were in this class in 2009, Medicare claims for observation patients grew by more than 100 percent, with the greatest increase occurring in cases not leading to an inpatient admission.  The duration of observation visits also increased dramatically.  Observation service visits lasting 48 hours or longer were the least common, but had the greatest increase, almost 250 percent for observation only and more than 100 percent for observation with inpatient admission.

According to a survey by the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) in 2013 more than 80 percent of US geriatric care managers reported that "inappropriate hospital Observation Status determinations were a significant problem in their communities and 75 percent noted that the problem was growing worse.

A University of Wisconsin study found that 10.4 percent of hospitalizations in 2010 and 2011 were in the observation status category and 16.5 percent of them exceeded 48 hours and concluded “observation care in clinical practice is very different than what CMS [the Medicare agency] initially envisioned and creates insurance loopholes that adversely affect patients, health care providers, and hospitals.”  In an Invited Commentary on the Wisconsin study, physician Robert M. Wachter of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, summed up the observation issue as having "morphed into madness."

Note that Medicare guidelines recommend that observation stays be no longer than 24 hours and only "in rare and exceptional cases" extend past 48 hours.   Obviously, this is nearly meaningless in the real world.

Why are hospitals placing more patients in observation status?

Like so much in American society, the answer is money.

Hospitals are at risk from Medicare audits that declare patients wrongly defined as inpatients.  Payment is then rejected, potentially large amounts of money.  The government has increased audits to such a degree that since 2009 four recovery firms have reviewed bills from hospitals and physicians nationwide and recuperated $1.9 billion in overpayments.  Billion!

Two physicians writing in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine said: “When observation is used as a billing status in inpatient areas without changes in care delivery, it's largely a cost-shifting exercise – relieving the hospital of the risk of adverse action by the RAC [Recovery Audit Contractor] but increasing the patient's financial burden.”

To cut its spending, Medicare has accused hospitals of over-charging by "admitting" patients instead of putting them on "observation" status.   For example, in July 2013, Beth Israel New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston paid Medicare $5.3 million to settle claims over this issue.

A new wrinkle under Obamacare is that hospitals can be penalized for readmitting patients in less than 30 days.  But observation patients cannot be counted as readmissions if they happen to return because they were not officially admitted in the first place.  To avoid this risk of financial loss, more patients can be classified as under observation.

A new Medicare rule taking effect April 1, 2014 requires doctors to admit people they anticipate staying for longer than two midnights, but to list those expected to stay for less time as observation patients.  Many medical professionals doubt that this will improve things.  Physician Ann Sheehy of the University of Wisconsin closely examined how this rule will work and concluded: “We found that four of five diagnosis codes were the same across length of stay, indicating that the cut point is arbitrary and really does not distinguish different patient groups, even though insurance benefits will be different based on length of stay.”  Time, not medical condition or hospital actions, is being used.  She also noted that the government will not count nights spent at different hospitals, and that 9 percent of their observation were transfers.

Dr. Sheehy made this great point: “Observation is an outpatient designation, which implies all services delivered could be done in an outpatient setting. This is totally not the case, which is why observation status is so frustrating.”

Because there is essentially no upside to being put into observation status, it is critically important for you or your advocate to be very assertive when entering the hospital.  What actions can you take after you are in the hospital and you are likely in a better mental state to address this problem?  Nothing that is likely to work for you.
The imperative is to check your status each day you are in the hospital and remember that it can be changed (from inpatient to observation, or vice versa) at any time by various hospital doctors or officials.  Sadly, in many cases a patient may not be informed that they have been in observation status until the discharge process.  That is why it is very important to ask the hospital, either through a doctor or nursing staff, what your status is and, if observation, to formally reconsider your case.  Ask if there is a hospital committee that could review your status.  Definitely ask your own doctor whether they are willing to press your case for inpatient status based on medical factors.  In theory, you could appeal observation status with Medicare after you leave the hospital, but that is difficult and few have succeeded.

The Center for Medicare Advocacy makes available a Self Help Packet for Medicare “Observation Status.”  This is definitely worth keeping handy and it would be great if hospitals distributed it.  This group has an active legal case challenging the government’s policy of allowing hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries to be placed in "observation status," rather than formally admitting them, and depriving them of their Part A coverage in violation of the Medicare statute and other laws.  This group makes this important observation:  “Neither the Medicare statute nor the Medicare regulations define observation services.  The only definition appears in various CMS manuals.”

What is really needed is action by Congress to eliminate observation status for any overnight stay, but this is unlikely unless many millions of Medicare beneficiaries demand it.  The ugly truth is that this observation status was a bureaucratic tactic to reduce Medicare spending.  It puts hospitals in the difficult position of putting their patients in a very bad financial situation.  In a real sense hospitals are being blackmailed into serving as agents to implement this awful observation policy.  A vigorous national campaign by AARP demanding congressional action is needed.

Discuss

Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 05:55 AM PST

Hate the Super Rich

by Joelsmartguy

There are times when hatred is a needed, logical and moral stance to take.  Evil, injustice and corruption are fine examples of what to appropriately hate.  For the overwhelming majority of people it is now rational to hate the super rich, notably the thousands of billionaires holding most of the world’s wealth and wielding power over political and economic systems.  They have been successfully raping the global economy and while doing that have kept increasing their wealth as well as economic inequality afflicting ordinary people.  One dollar, one vote describes the new reality.

Before discussing some basic reasons to hate the super rich consider some facts about them.

How many billionaires are there?  According to the inaugural Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census 2013, the global billionaire population reached a record 2,170 individuals in 2013, with a combined net worth of $6.5 trillion.  What happened after the most recent global economic meltdown?  Some 810 individuals became billionaires since the 2009 global financial crisis.  In other words, plain millionaires moved up to billionaire status.

But the super rich include many more than the billionaires, because the top one percent on the economic scale have monster size wealth, according to a new report Working for the Few.  The one percent of the richest people in the world have $110 trillion.  That equates to some 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.  But among the millions of the top one percent, the richest 85 people, true billionaires, have wealth equal to the bottom half of the world’s population.  As to the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.  That leaves 9 percent, about 30 million Americans, in the upper class that did very well as they strive to make it into the top one percent.

When people talk about economic, wealth or income inequality they are really talking about the incredibly small fraction of the richest people relative to the larger population that still are not sharing in the global jackpot, no matter how hard they work.  Inequality means that money is not being fairly distributed.  There have been times in history when prosperity was shared, as in the several decades after World War II.

No surprise that only 7 percent of Americans, according to a Gallup report, currently feel "very satisfied" with our nation's distribution of income and wealth.  Similarly, a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 81 percent of Americans believe the economy is working very or fairly well for the wealthy, compared to 22 percent for the middle class.

Why hate the super rich and the rising economic inequality that benefits them?

This distorted economic system means that democracy is more delusional than real.  Consider this: Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said, “We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both.”  Truly wise words.

The near total lack of public confidence in Congress, both major political parties and the whole political system by Americans goes hand-in-hand with the perverted economic system.  You have every right to hate the super rich because for a long time in many visible and invisible ways they have intentionally manipulated the political system to create and maintain the unjust economic system.  Their economic power gives them political power.  Rather than one person one vote, think in terms of one dollar one vote.

Hate the super rich because their degree of wealth and power is obscene.

Hate the super rich because they persecute the vast majority of people worldwide.  Some of the super rich play up their charitable activities, but that does not negate all the evil consequences of economic inequality on the daily lives of billions of people.

Hate the super rich because their greed is ungodly.  If true democracy is to be restored, then Americans need to be much more than dissatisfied.  They need to get more emotional.  They need to hate.  Then they must convert that hatred into political demands and actions.

We got the USA because early Americans hated the British.  Revolutions and fights for democracy succeed because the right kind of hatred prevails and drives change.  If the USA is to have more justices, economic equality and a better government, much of the public must hate the plutocratic forces running and ruining the nation.

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After having many positive views of New Jersey Governor Christie mainly because he seemed like a better kind of politician, maybe being someone the public could actually trust, I now see him as just another untrustworthy, dishonest politician.

As a political junkie I have followed very closely the whole bridgegate scandal.  Today I closely listened to the two-hour press conference Christie held.

Despite all his apologizing, Christie looks absolutely terrible to all those with critical thinking capabilities.

First, though he fired his deputy chief of staff because she lied about her action as shown in an email wherein she triggered the action to close lanes on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge, he did not come close to saying she was also fired because of what she did.  He was “saddened” because she lied and was disloyal, and acted stupidly, but not because of what she accomplished.  He portrayed himself as a victim, while not expressing authentic guilt over the real victims, those impacted by the traffic gridlock, including school buses and ambulances, not just commuters.

Second, when the lane closings created an enormous amount of gridlock in Fort Lee, New Jersey, causing historic grief and hazards to huge numbers of people, Christie never acted as governor to demand corrective action from the New York – New Jersey Port Authority.  He had two political appointees in high positions there, but he never told his senior staff to take action to remediate the problem, despite considerable negative impacts on citizens in his state that he professes to care so much about.

Even when there was considerable public and media noise about all the negative impacts of the lane closings that lasted for four days, Christie never looked beyond the story that the lane closings were a result of some traffic study.  What kind of traffic study would ever be conducted on the busiest bridge in the world if it created such a total traffic mess?  It is completely irrational to believe that Christie was so dumb as to buy that story, especially because considerable noise was being raised subsequently about a political cause of the bridge problem.

The governor talked a lot about the supposed traffic study, even speculating that perhaps there was a traffic study.  But Port Authority officials had already clearly stated publicly that there had been no traffic study.  So why keep talking about it?

When his two high level political appointed guys at the Port Authority resigned their high-paying jobs many weeks before yesterday’s disclosures of many incriminating emails why did Christie not make immediate calls to them.  Why was he not interested in finding out exactly why they resigned?  Why was he still willing to keep believing in the nonsense story about a traffic study?  Why did he only focus in his press conference on his high level staff person who triggered the lane closings but not the man who received the email and actually implemented the plan to screw the mayor and people of Fort Lee?

State and probably federal investigations will keep the bridgegate scandal a big media story for some time, as it should be.  Christie looks bad.  He no longer looks like the kind of trustworthy politician that could be a viable Republican presidential candidate.  He has lost me and, I suspect, millions of other independents.  When someone in his inner circle who worked for him for five years acts so stupidly to exact political vengeance Christie has a lot more explaining to do.  She did not act to please herself.  She acted because she thought her action was what the governor wanted.  The same goes for the idiot at the Port Authority, who executed the plan that clearly, according to the email, must have been discussed before the email was sent and acted on.

Not only has Christie lost his appeal for higher office, there should be more calls for his resignation from the governorship.  He accepts responsibility for all the bad things that resulted from the lane closings.  But verbal responsibility is really not all that impressive.  More is needed.  His willful ignorance of what was going on with at least four of his political appointees should wipe out his political ambitions for higher office.  The sad victim and narcissist governor cannot escape his well deserved reputation as a bully.  Yes, independents like his straight-talking image, but this bridge scandal demonstrates that Christie is a big fat loser.

Discuss

While driving on my usual errands run the other day I listened a little to Limbaugh’s radio show.  As usual I was completely amazed at the incredible misinformation vomited by the champion of stupidity.

Limbaugh strongly condemned Obamacare because he was convinced that the government has no constitutional right to require citizens to purchase anything, certainly not health insurance.  Interestingly, he did not condemn the conservative controlled Supreme Court for allowing this to happen.  Apparently, superrich Limbaugh forgets that car owners are required to buy automobile insurance.  And there are now jurisdictions where home owners are required to buy flood insurance.  There are also places where people must pay for an ambulance if they do not have insurance coverage.  And let us not forget that government mandates parents to send their children to schools, which requires various kinds of spending (as does even home schooling).  To get from one place to another by car often requires paying a bridge or tunnel toll, as yet another example.  When I travel by air my ticket includes several government mandated costs.

You might think that a genuine conservative would strongly support public policy that prevented people from shifting costs that they should be responsible for to the general public.  Individual responsibility in other words is not some socialist belief as much as it is a true conservative one.

The other ludicrous point he kept making was that Obamacare was a devious plot to ruin private health insurance companies.  Again and again he was misinforming his loyal listeners to the incorrect notion that by forcing people to use health exchanges the hidden goal was to put private health insurance companies out of business.  Just one very big problem.  Health exchanges offer insurance provided by private health insurers, not some government provider.

Indeed, a major reason why many people on the left and independents were and still are unhappy with Obamacare is that they wanted a government single payer system, essentially Medicare for everyone, rather than a system that maintains the grip of private health insurance companies on the health system, because so much money is siphoned out by the insurance companies.

The next day offered another example of Rush slush:  He repeated endlessly that the government entities that created the websites for the new Obamacare health exchanges had "limitless" money for the task.  Limitless?  You really mean all the money they could possibly want?  Give me a break.  Shut the fruck up Rush.

I doubt that Limbaugh himself does not know the true facts.  He is criminally guilty of using the public airwaves to promote and expand the stupidity of Americans.  His lying has reached such high levels that I hope some entity would go to the courts and attempt to get him off the public airwaves, and force him to spread his dung propaganda on media that must be purchased.  What Limbaugh is getting away with is akin to shouting fire ina public place when there is no fire.  In other words, there are limits to constitutionally protected free speech.  Constantly telling lies that are designed to screw up our political system should not be been as allowable free speech.  And his sponsors should also take umbrage at his irresponsible pattern of behavior and stop supporting him.

How stupid are Limbaugh listeners?  Very, if they get their information from him.

Discuss

Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 11:56 AM PDT

Limbaugh Mocks Freedom of Speech

by Joelsmartguy

By now most people know that though it is perfectly fine to shout fire in a packed theater if there really is a fire, even constitutionally protected freedom of speech does not allow such behavior if there is no fire.  It is now clear that Rush Limbaugh is doing exactly the same as shouting fire when none is present during most of his radio rants.  He feels no obligation whatsoever to have a factual basis for spewing forth the most inflammatory statements imaginable.  Single-handedly, he is one of the most powerful forces destroying the American political system and, indeed, our democracy.  It is nonsense to shrug him off as merely an entertainer.

During my daily car ride to run errands I listened to the Rush Limbaugh radio show the other day and was truly stunned by the declaration that right now there is a coup d’etat by the Obama administration.  Limbaugh is the master of public idiocy.  But this assertion is beyond all previous nutty, totally wrong and intentionally provocative Limbaugh statements.  Why make it?  The only obvious answer is that he wants to infuriate his large audience of right wing nuts, to feed their fear, paranoia and hatred.

By any definition of coup d’etat on any dictionary website or Wikipedia there is absolutely no objective, correct information that the Obama administration is right now pursuing a rebellion, revolution, uprising or overthrow of the legally and constitutionally defined structure of the US government.  Nor, as is usually the interpretation, is there any sign whatsoever of violence being used to take over the US government.  Does Limbaugh totally ignore the ongoing power of the Congress and Supreme Court and the entire federal judicial system?  Or even the massive military establishment?

Is there any way to give credibility to the Limbaugh assertion that right now there is a coup d’etat going on?  I challenge others to come to the aid of Limbaugh.

Yes, there are a series of media hyped scandals going on.  But not one of them rises to the level of a violent coup d’etat by some small but powerful group of political insiders wrenching control of the entire federal government.  If you think that Limbaugh is correct, then you are either insane or an idiot, or perhaps just one of the information-poor citizens that Limbaugh constantly talks about.  If anything, Limbaugh has single-handedly helped create a mass of information-poor Americans.

As if this coup d’etat nonsense was not enough, within minutes Limbaugh was also blithely asserting that the Obama presidential campaign could have used the many databases that are currently in the news because of activities of the National Security Agency.  That’s right, Limbaugh publicly accuses the Obama campaign for data mining that made use of these highly debated secret databases with information on phone calls, Internet use and credit card use.  Supposedly explaining why Obama won the presidency.  What a wonderful idea to inject like a powerful narcotic directly into the dilapidated minds of the millions of Limbaugh fans.

Limbaugh does not just extrapolate from some facts to an extreme, far right fantasy.  He uses the public airways to shout obscenities, sheer crazy assertions that are totally disconnected from reality.  I would be so pleased to learn that Limbaugh has a major brain tumor.  Preferably inoperable.  Otherwise, the logical interpretation is that he is just evil.

Discuss

Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 02:26 PM PST

So God Made Republicans

by Joelsmartguy

Stupid people have the right to vote.  Stupid people propel our consumer economy and waste money on myriad things because they are stupid shoppers.  Stupid people have the right to own guns, lots of guns.  Stupid people have free speech.  So, no surprise, in our representative democracy (aka republic) even the most stupid citizens deserve to be represented in government.  God has done this by giving them the Republican Party with lots of stupid politicians running and ruining our nation.

Now we see leading Republicans working hard to rebrand, remessage, rebuild and separate themselves from Tea Party extremists.  This mighty effort is just another example of how stupid and delusional Republicans are.  The pitiful do not deserve our pity, nor respect.  They fail at every turn to intelligently recognize the many truths that explain why they are having so many problems with so many segments of the US population.  Now they create new lies in a feeble attempt to bury the many stupid statements and boldface lies Republican candidates vomited on the public in the past election cycle.  They want us to blame just a few of the most idiotic Republicans that lost important elections and in general Tea Party enthusiasts, while the greater truth is that the Party platform and the endless statements of Mitt The Loser Romney, the presidential primary Republican candidates and the leaders of the Party in Congress were as damaging.

And rather than fess up to all the crap they dumped on the nation, Republicans now are trying to con the public that they have seen the light.  They are more than delusional; they are stupid and politically inept.  It is as if they have so long worked so hard to appeal to the most stupid Americans that they are brain dead and can only speak stupid.

Sadly, the good news for them is that there are millions of utterly stupid Americans that will continue to vote for Republicans, but not enough, thankfully, to put one in the White House, though through rigged congressional districts they can still win lots of seats in Congress.  Stupid deserves stupid, so they deserve Republican politicians and all the destruction of the nation they continue to unload.  But not the rest of us.

It is all about winning elections and nothing to do with principles when it comes to Republicans reinventing themselves.  It is all about crafting new lies to deceive voters.

Krugman was correct: “One side [Democrats] believes, at least in principle, in letting its policy views be shaped by facts; the other [Republicans] believes in suppressing the facts if they contradict its fixed beliefs.  … for all the talk of reforming and reinventing the G.O.P., the ignorance caucus retains a firm grip on the party’s heart and mind.”

Whether it is immigration policy, taxes, the budget deficit and national debt, health care, and our key social programs, Republican politicians, especially in Congress, say the stupidest things.  What the nation needs is not some phony repackaged Republican Party but national recognition that voting for most Republicans is an act of utter and complete stupidity.  If only the various Tea Party groups would drop their stupid thinking about things that have nothing to do with fiscal and economic matters and align with the Libertarian Party.  Then we would have the beginnings of a badly needed alternative to the Democrats.  The grand strategy of the Tea Party crowd to take over the Republican Party has been fundamentally flawed, mainly because of so much emphasis on social issues.  They should have worked to make the Libertarian Party more powerful.

Here is some advice for Republican politicians: Start crafting your policy positions, party platform and messages on the basis you are trying to appeal to intelligent, well informed citizens in all demographic groups who are not addicted to blathering conservative talk radio stars and FOX News.  Stop advocating far right positions on abortion and contraception, gay rights, and other issues that clearly only appeal to dumb, white men and racists, and also positions on taxes and spending that benefit corporations and the top few percent on the economic ladder.

Kurtz was correct in noting Republicans “losing hand that constantly made it appear that the party was holding the economy hostage to protect tax breaks for the rich.”

Rubio, Christie and Jeb Bush, of course, are good examples of impressive Republicans who clearly do not cater to stupidity.  For a successful future, the Republican Party needs to clean its own house and get rid of their stupid politicians if they ever want to appeal to a broad cross section of the American population.

A danger-ahead-sign is that since 2004 young voters have voting for Democrats by larger margins than previous young generations.  The nonpartisan Pew Research Center reported in November that under-30 voters are “the only age group in which a majority said the government should do more to fix problems.”

Advocating limited government is fine as long as it also means a responsive, kind and truthful government serving the needs of non-rich citizens and not catering to corporate interests, nor depending on big money from the superrich.  And it requires the inevitable loss of stupid citizens on the far right.  Political power must be earned.  Time for Republicans to face reality.  Pick your political winners and drop your losers.  Shift emphasis from winning elections by any means to intelligently governing the nation.

Discuss

Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 09:49 AM PST

Gun Patriotism or Hypocrisy?

by Joelsmartguy

Puzzling me for a long time is the inconsistency between two claims by gun and Second Amendment supporters.  One is that what they worship is critically needed to defend themselves against a government that they would view as oppressive and unacceptable.  The other is their belief that the US government has already become awful, stealing their liberties.

Why then, I keep asking myself, have we not seen a violent uprising among the untold millions of Americans owning guns to take back their government?  Why do we not see what goes on in European nations, namely violent public uprisings against governments?

There is more private gun ownership in the US than any other nation.  We have a far right part of the population with considerable public presence and power.  FOX News, the Tea Party movement, and countless groups and think tanks angrily attacking the mainstream media, liberals, and leftist politicians as well as just about everything done by President Obama.

So, why hasn’t the massive number of gun lovers who worship the Second Amendment actually done what they claim is exactly needed, what the Second Amendment was created to give them the right to do, and what their massive gun power supposedly gives them the means to accomplish?  Especially when they lose major elections, when their Republican and conservative politicians fail to deliver to them?

Are the paranoid doom and gloom gun lovers waiting for things to get a whole lot worse before they actually implement the grand plan to use their guns to overthrow what they see as an evil, unconstitutional and oppressive government?  Or, do they just invoke the Second Amendment as a convenient rationale for fighting all attempts to better control guns?

From their perspective, how much worse does the government have to become before they finally get the courage to use their guns and restore American democracy and liberties?  Do they think elections will save their nation?

After all, on a number of recent occasions, such as the election and reelection of President Obama, gun and ammunition sales have skyrocketed, despite an already historic level of gun and ammunition ownership.  Yet still these millions of gun-happy constitutionalists do not act.  What is going on?

Is it rational to explain all this by seeing the gun crowd as being incredibly patient?

Is all their talk and high-minded claims to be the last hope to save the country just a bunch of empty rhetoric, camouflage for fighting better gun control?

Here is what I think explains this remarkable contradiction.  In truth, the gun crowd that see themselves as the ultimate patriots, like the original revolutionaries that fought the British and created the USA, is itself conflicted by self-interests.  That is, most gun owners are receiving so many economic benefits from the existing government and economy that they are unwilling to risk all of them by a massive disruption of the whole US system.  Just like we saw incredible numbers of protesting Tea Party people looking old enough to be collecting Social Security and Medicare benefits, the overwhelming majority of gun nuts are also feeding off of the national system they keep attacking.  They keep buying more expensive guns and ammunition, gold and hordes of long-lasting survival foods to satisfy their paranoid thoughts.  They keep giving money to right wing causes.  They listen all the time to right wing radio and TV pundits.  They have enough wealth to afford lots of things, especially expensive guns.  Yet they do not ACT.  They do not REVOLT.  Even when their favored politicians lose.

Most of us do not equate the gun crowd with the plutocracy run by the richest Americans and corporate interests that aligns itself with Republicans and conservatives.  The plutocrats, however, have no desire for a revolution that tears down the whole US political and economic system that they so benefit from.  What the plutocracy has accomplished, against all logic, is to manipulate the gun crowd into supporting political causes that maintain the status quo that allows the upper rich to get richer.  We have far more economic oppression than political oppression.

In other words, keep spending your discretionary money on guns and ammunition and all the other things so heavily marketed to the most paranoid people as evidenced by all the advertisements on right wing stations for gold and survival foods.  Keep thinking that you need guns to combat criminals, except there is no evidence that crime has actually been curbed by the massive gun ownership rather than other factors.

But by all means keep listening and spending rather than actually REVOLT and bring down the system.  Enjoy your guns.  Just don’t take any risks and use them as defensive political tools.  Don’t do what so many angry Europeans have always done; actually go the streets to bring down governments.  Or what we see Egyptians doing.  Of course, all those angry citizens do not have guns.  Still, they put their lives on the line.

The bottom line is that the whole gun Second Amendment movement seems like just another aspect of conspicuous consumerism that keeps the US economy humming.  When I see millions of these right wing gun enthusiasts give up their Social Security and Medicare benefits I will start to take them more seriously.

CNN has recently reported important information, including: US gun owning population is on the decline with those gun owners stockpiling more firearms; 20 percent of the gun owners with the most firearms possessed about 65 percent of the nation's guns; the US with 5 percent of the world's population owns 50 percent of the world's guns; the number of households owning guns has declined from almost 50 percent in 1973 to just over 32 percent in 2010.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation reported the economic impact of firearm sales — a figure that includes jobs. taxes and sales — hit $31 billion in 2011, up from $19 billion in 2008, an increase of 63 percent despite the economic recession.  Fighting gun control has paid off for the gun industry.

There are good reasons to support better gun control laws, but fearing political revolution and violent overthrow of the government because of massive gun ownership may not be relevant.  Democrats will likely keep fearing any emphasis on gun control even though the majority of their supporters favor gun control over gun ownership.  As pointed out this year before the election: “Figures provided by Michael Dimock, Pew’s associate research director, show that the biggest shifts toward opposition to gun control have come among the same blue-collar whites who have displayed the greatest alienation to Obama across the board.”  Also, note that Pew found 72 percent of Republicans said it is more important to protect the rights of gun owners, compared to just 27 percent of Democrats.

As to the roughly, at most, 100 million American gun owners, keep fighting more gun control laws.  Keep buying even more guns, keep the multibillion dollar gun industry thriving.  Keep screaming about your Second Amendment rights.  Keep voting for Republicans.  Keep listening to Limbaugh and Hannity and all the other idols that are among the richest Americans.  Keep deluding yourselves that you are the only hope for the nation.  Don’t face your hypocrisy.  Delusion is the opiate of the right.

Or, just give up, bite the bullet and shoot yourselves.  Make us gun control enthusiasts happy.

I agree with Sanjay Sanghoee “The belief that we need to stockpile guns of every kind to protect us from our own government is a sign of deep paranoia and madness. And to the people who think that way, let me ask you this: do you really believe that if the U.S. government decided for some reason to direct all its military might against you, you would stand a chance against them?”  Of course not, this is why all the adoration of the Second Amendment is a smokescreen for fighting better gun control.  Gun lobbies protect their business, not freedom and liberty.

The key conclusion is this: Though we need a constitutional path to major political reforms other than elections, even a Second American Revolution, the best path is not through the Second Amendment but rather through what the Founders gave us in Article V, namely a convention of state delegates with the power to propose constitutional amendments.  The nation would benefit from transferring the passion for Second Amendment gun rights into support for using the Article V convention strategy.

Discuss

Sat Apr 07, 2012 at 09:14 AM PDT

Economic Revolution

by Joelsmartguy

Believing in the classic American Dream that hard work will deliver prosperity is like believing that buying super lottery tickets is a smart way to become wealthy.  Both are delusional beliefs because both are bets on incredible long shots that will disappoint nearly everyone who believes this garbage.  The American Dream has been destroyed by a revolution from the top.

Americans have been watching authentic bottom-up revolutions in other countries but remain oblivious to a very different kind of revolution by elites that has been in progress for over three decades in the US.  It has not destroyed the government or Constitution, merely bought control of both.  Our government was not overthrown in a bloody revolution.  It was purchased to win the class war against the 99 percent.

Call it the frog revolution.  It is best understood by the parable of the frog in water that stays in it as the temperature is raised, ultimately to the boiling point, killing the frog.  The key indicator of the US frog revolution is a mountain of data showing the rise in economic inequality, the loss of upward economic mobility, and the killing of the middle class.  The vast majority of Americans, the 99 percent of frogs, remain ignorant of how they are being destroyed by that infamous rich and powerful one percent.  

Note that in a poll released by Pew, 19 percent of Americans agreed with the statement that “success in life is pretty much determined by forces outside of our control,” the highest number since 1994.  It would be much higher if there was not an epidemic of delusional thinking.  But more on target, 40 percent of Americans — also the highest number since 1994 — agreed with the statement that “hard work and determination are no guarantee of success for most people.”  For the counter-revolution we need that number must get much higher.

Consider new data about American reality from a study by University of California economist Emmanuel Saez.  In 2010, despite non healed wounds from the great recession, an amazing 93 percent of the additional income created in the country that year, compared to 2009 — $288 billion — went to the top 1 percent of taxpayers, those with at least $352,000 in income. That delivered an average single-year pay increase of 11.6 percent to each of these households.  Yes, the rich are getting richer.

But there is more to this depressing story. All the talk about the top 1 percent misses the truth about the super rich.  In 2010, 37 percent of these additional earnings went to just the top 0.01 percent, a miniscule collection of about 15,000 households with average incomes of $23.8 million. They saw their incomes rise by 21.5 percent.  The richer you are the richer you get.

What about ordinary Americans?  The bottom 99 percent received a microscopic $80 increase in pay per person in 2010, after adjusting for inflation. The top 1 percent, whose average income was $1,019,089, saw an 11.6 percent increase in income.  Most Americans are no longer sharing in economic recovery or growth.
Consider this finding: David Madland and Nick Bunker of the Center for American Progress recently found that in pre-frog revolution 1968, when 28 percent of the workforce was unionized, 53 percent of the nation’s income went to the middle class.  In 2010, when only 11.9 percent of the nation’s workers were unionized, the fraction earned by the middle class had fallen to 46.5 percent.  And if current efforts to destroy unions are successful the vast majority of non-unionized workers will suffer more.

Still more numbing numbers: Over time the top 1 percent has done better in successive economic recoveries of the past two decades. In the Clinton era expansion, 45 percent of the total income gains went to the top 1 percent; in the Bush recovery, it was 65 percent; now it is 93 percent.   How much more negative impacts of the frog revolution will it take for a counter-revolution to take back our country?

Add to all this: Research by Julia Isaacs of the Brookings Institution, as part of the Economic Mobility Project, has shown that intergenerational mobility in the United States has fallen far below the levels in Germany, Finland, Denmark and other more social democratic nations of Northern Europe.  In other words, the American Dream really is nothing more than a big, delusional lie that far too many Americans still cling to and that mainstream politicians still boast about.  Those politicians enable the elites to sustain the top-down frog revolution.

Listen, all around the 99 percent the socioeconomic waters are still being heated up more by the rich and powerful 1 percent that runs the two-party plutocracy.  Delusional frog-citizens are mostly blind to the hot water they are in.  Far too many are still clinging to the myth that voting for one party or the other will somehow make things better.  Wrong.  Both major parties have allowed and sustained the top-down frog revolution.  What we need for the counter-revolution is finding a way to overturn the status quo political system.

A major opportunity is using what the Founders gave us in the Constitution: an Article V convention of state delegates with the power to propose reform constitutional amendments.  This should be a priority for both the Tea Party and Occupy movements and any candidate coming through the Americans Elect nomination process on the Internet should also support using the convention option.

What is at risk without effective rebellion is much more than dollars.  Harold Meyerson got it right: “If belief and participation in democracy are sustained by people’s conviction that democracy produces good economic outcomes, then the growing concentration of wealth and income in the United States is a long-term threat to everything we profess to stand for.”

Discuss

Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 01:19 PM PST

Losing Constitutional Competition

by Joelsmartguy

Among Americans there remains strong pride about the US Constitution, even though there is widespread support for creating reform amendments to it.  Globally, however, what should surprise Americans is a significant loss of respect for it.  Other nations, especially those creating new democracies, see better constitutions elsewhere.  This is not opinion.  It is fact.  And it is important to understand this historic shift.

A new university study sends a disturbing message to all Americans that want to hang on to the fiction that the US constitution is not only the world’s best one, but does not need to be improved.  Do not mentally block this finding: “The U.S. Constitution appears to be losing its appeal as a model for constitutional drafters elsewhere,” according to the study by David S. Law of Washington University in St. Louis and Mila Versteeg of the University of Virginia.

What exists today is far different than what was proudly proclaimed in 1987, on the Constitution’s bicentennial, by Time magazine  which calculated that “of the 170 countries that exist today, more than 160 have written charters modeled directly or indirectly on the U.S. version.”  

Why has the US Constitution lost standing abroad even though Americans cling to their belief that it is sacred and the world’s best constitution?

The new study examined the provisions of 729 constitutions adopted by 188 countries from 1946 to 2006, and they considered 237 variables regarding various rights and ways to enforce them.  This is what they found: “Among the world’s democracies constitutional similarity to the United States has clearly gone into free fall.  Over the 1960s and 1970s, democratic constitutions as a whole became more similar to the U.S. Constitution, only to reverse course in the 1980s and 1990s.  … the constitutions of the world’s democracies are, on average, less similar to the U.S. Constitution now than they were at the end of World War II.”

Professor Law identified a central reason for the trend: the availability of newer, sexier and more powerful operating systems in the constitutional marketplace. “Nobody wants to copy Windows 3.1,” he said.   In other words, the US Constitution is old and out of date.

A Supreme Court Justice has also weighed in.  In a television interview during a recent visit to Egypt, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said. “I would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.”  She recommended, instead, the South African Constitution, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the European Convention on Human Rights.  Such a view should be respected.

Should Americans disregard these findings and perspectives?  Absolutely not.  Only if more people pay attention to this global trend will they better see the need to seriously consider constitutional amendments to improve American democracy.  The core problem, however, is one shortcoming of the US Constitution: the great difficulty in amending it.  In this regard, noted legal authority Sanford Levinson wrote in 2006 in his book “Our Undemocratic Constitution” that “the U.S. Constitution is the most difficult to amend of any constitution currently existing in the world today.”

All over the country diverse people and groups on the right and left are advocating for reform amendments, such as getting all private money out of politics, creating term limits for Congress, removing personhood for corporations, and imposing a balanced budget requirement on Congress.

The problem is that Congress is quite unlikely to propose serious reform amendments, which means that the option in the Constitution for an Article V convention of state delegates must be used.  But Congress refuses to obey the Constitution by ignoring the hundreds of state applications for a convention from 49 states, more than the single requirement of two-thirds of states in Article V.  Learn more at the website of Friends of the Article V Convention, the nonpartisan national group advocating for the first convention.

Consider this: Other nations routinely trade in their constitutions wholesale, replacing them on average every 19 years.   But it would be silly to propose a totally new US Constitution; that is too radical an idea.  However, it is amazing that Thomas Jefferson, in a 1789 letter to James Madison, noted that every constitution “naturally expires at the end of 19 years” because “the earth belongs always to the living generation.”  Too bad the Constitution gives Congress the power to convene an Article V convention.

Americans should wake up, stop their delusional thinking and recognize that the US Constitution needs to be updated through reform amendments.  We the people must pressure Congress to convene the first Article V convention.  Otherwise the Supreme Court will continue to make interpretations that are more political than legal in nature and the federal government will continue to erode personal freedoms and liberties.  And more and more other democracies will operate under better constitutions.

Discuss

Sat Feb 18, 2012 at 03:40 PM PST

Romney, Severly Awful

by Joelsmartguy

There are many, many reasons to have low regard for Mitt Romney.  All but the totally delusional correctly see him as disingenuous, dishonest, devious and devoid of an authentic set of core beliefs.  He is a shill for corporate and rich elites.  He is the phony smiling, perfect hair poster jerk for the proverbial one percent.  But I now clearly see that there is another, more important reason to feel like vomiting at the thought of President Romney.

As almost everyone knows by now, Romney has been a senior, influential member of the Mormon Church, which has been roundly criticized for being an inauthentic Christian religion and for various beliefs and practices made comical in the hugely successful Broadway show The Book of Mormon.  But there is one particular Mormon practice that is so upsetting to most people who learn about it that deserves to become an issue in this presidential campaign.

I want Mitt Romney to stand up and have the courage and decency to proclaim to Americans exactly whether he personally supports the Mormon practice known as proxy baptism.  If you are not a member of the Mormon faith, then you should take this very seriously.  Proxy baptism is like email spam, junk mail and unwanted marketing phone calls that invade our lives, destroy our privacy, waste our time and make our blood boil.  Actually, proxy baptism is a zillion times worse.  It represents the invasion of one religion against all others and atheism also.

In a nutshell, proxy baptism refers to the Mormon practice of baptizing a living person on behalf of someone who is dead and was not a member of the Mormon Church.  The goal is to get that non-Mormon person into Mormon-defined heaven, which is totally different than what all other religions think of as heaven.  The dead person nor anyone related to the dead person does not necessarily give permission or express any desire to be so baptized.

Standing in for dead people are young Mormon men and women dressed in white robes in Mormon temple ceremonies worldwide, which is considered an honor for them.
Over time many people who are not Mormons have mounted attacks on this practice, viewing the Mormon practice as a serious invasion of their lives and beliefs.  Someone who has received considerable attention as such a critic is Nobel-laureate Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and a top official from the Simon Wiesenthal Center.  He has focused on posthumously baptizing Jewish victims of the Holocaust.  Despite his attempts to stop Mormons doing this and despite promises they would, the practice has continued.

I think it totally reasonable for everyone to demand that Romney take a public position on this Mormon practice.  Specifically, I want Romney to declare in clear, unambiguous language whether he has participated in such proxy baptisms, whether he believes that this practice is appropriate, and whether or not he understands why non-Mormons would object to this practice.

Should Americans resent a US President that supports Mormon proxy baptizing?  Absolutely.

Officially, the Mormon Church has refused to abandon this practice.  “With deepest respect to our Jewish friends, the church cannot abandon fundamental aspects of its religious doctrine and practice,” the church says on its website, “and it should not be asked to do so.”  Many millions of non-Mormons have apparently been proxy baptized, including famous people: Adolph Hitler, Christopher Columbus, most signers of the US Declaration of Independence, Paul Revere, William Shakespeare, Golda Meir, Albert Einstein, President Obama’s mother and Irving Berlin, for example.  There is no attempt by the church to document that non-Mormons had expressed any desire to be baptized into the Mormon faith.  And church attempts to limit proxy baptizing to a member’s or family member’s ancestors apparently have failed.

Interestingly, those in the Hindu faith have said that Hindu feelings would naturally be hurt if their ancestors were baptized without their will.  Similarly, the Catholic Church has also publicly objected to the Mormon baptism of its members.

To be fair and non-partisan, I also believe that US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who also is a Mormon should similarly be pressured to state publicly his positions on proxy baptizing.  After all, because this practice is imposed on non-Mormons, we have a right to know whether elected officials endorse it.

If there is any part of Mitt Romney’s life that he should be able to speak honestly about it is his religious beliefs.  So go ahead Mitt, tell Americans exactly what you believe about this Mormon proxy baptizing practice.  Be severely honest just as you have been severely conservative.

In sum, the central issue is RESPECT.  Mormons are not respecting the religious beliefs of people they are proxy baptizing.  Similarly, all the evil people hitting me with spam emails, junk mail and unwanted phone calls show me no respect whatsoever.   Do I believe that Mormons have the power to send non-Mormons into their heaven?  Hell no.  I do not believe that even Mormons will get into their conception of heaven.  Of all religions that I have ever learned about I find Mormonism the most ridiculous and cult like.  I just hope if any reporter has the courage to ask Romney about proxy baptizing that they also ask him if he is wearing his magic underwear that as a dedicated and very senior member of the Mormon Church he is supposed to be wearing all the time...  No need to waste taxpayer money on Secret Service protection.

Discuss
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