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Thu Jul 05, 2012 at 05:57 PM PDT

No Apology

by tiggers thotful spot


No Apology: The Case for American Greatness
is a book by former Massachusetts Governor and U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney...
The title makes reference to Romney's contention that President Barack Obama has repeatedly apologized for past American actions during trips abroad, and the subtitle to Romney's belief in American exceptionalism.
July 6, 2012 (in Europe)
Key Argentine “Dirty War” figures jailed for baby thefts

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Three key figures from Argentina’s “Dirty War” got hefty jail terms for the systematic theft of babies from political prisoners during the 1976-1983 dictatorship, an Argentine court ruled on Thursday.

What do these two things have to do with each other? Answer below the orange orb...
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Good news on the Health Care For All Front! On Thursday, January 19, 2012, the California Senate Appropriations Committee approved the California Universal Health Care Act.

Senate Bill 810 guarantees all Californians comprehensive, universal health care while reducing the state’s ballooning health care costs and improving the quality of care and delivery of health services statewide.

The bill will move to the assembly next, for more hearings.

Poll

What is the biggest barrier to Universal Health Care?

93%186 votes
6%13 votes

| 199 votes | Vote | Results

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Everybody by now has probably heard about the television show "Hoarders",

a fascinating look inside the lives of two different people whose inability to part with their belongings is so out of control that they are on the verge of a personal crisis.

Well let me tell you about another group of hoarders: Global millionaires.

The first group, we're made to believe, needs "professional help". And they probably do. The second group, we're told, are "the job creators". And we must continually help them, too, by letting them amass untold fortunes that nobody could possibly spend in a lifetime unless they are running short of sports sedans made out of silver or martinis with diamonds in them.

Usually the right wingers claim you can't raise enough money by taxing the rich. But is that a lie? Well, the numbers say you could do a hell of a lot. Follow me after the break.

Poll

Who are the REAL hoarders?

21%5 votes
73%17 votes
0%0 votes
4%1 votes

| 23 votes | Vote | Results

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This looks like an important bit of actual journalism from an American newspaper (Detroit Free Press)

Fannie Mae promises to keep families in homes, but instead pressures banks to foreclose

The first of a three part series, the article details how internal Fannie Mae records show a pattern of forcing sales of the homes of families whose payments are delinquent, even as the families were being assured they could obtain mortgage relief.

In addition to shoving families to the curb, this only worsens the situation in neighborhoods with sharply declining property valuations.

Furthermore, the US Taxpayer is on the hook for losses on these loans, thanks to the federal bailout.

Government of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%! They took the "risks" (actual risks may vary), we get to pay  (something like $400 billion, when all is said in done), and some of us get the shaft anyway (and end up on the street).

The [confidential] records cover Fannie Mae's foreclosure decisions on more than 2,300 properties, a snapshot from among the millions of mortgages Fannie handles nationally. The documents show Fannie Mae has told banks to foreclose on some delinquent homeowners -- those more than a year behind -- even as the banks were trying to help borrowers save their houses, a violation of Fannie's own policy.
Poll

Had enough yet?

85%6 votes
0%0 votes
14%1 votes

| 7 votes | Vote | Results

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Earlier today I mentioned in a comment that single payer healthcare is pro-entrepreneur. I know people who won't leave a corporate job because to be self-employed or start their own company is to risk massive health insurance bills, or perhaps the loss of health insurance due to a business failure.

Our politicians puff out their chests reflexively when talking about small business being the "economic engine".

But the facts, measured in a 2009 study (WARNING: PDF) by John Schmitt and Nathan Lane at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, sadly contradict some of the fantasies.

By every measure of small-business employment, the United States has among the world’s smallest small-business sectors (as a proportion of total national employment)...

And why might that be?

One plausible explanation for the consistently higher shares of self-employment and small-business employment in the rest of the world’s rich economies is that all have some form of universal access to health care. The high cost to self-employed workers and small businesses of the private, employer-based health care system in place in the United States may act as a significant deterrent to small start-up companies, an experience not shared by entrepreneurs in countries with universal access to health care.
Poll

How much money does the US healthcare system waste?

10%3 votes
13%4 votes
66%20 votes
10%3 votes

| 30 votes | Vote | Results

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A headline from April 13 2011:
Record number of Americans get government help

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- One in six Americans is receiving help from the government, just as fiscal austerity threatens to reduce some of that aid. Soaring unemployment during The Great Recession has driven tens of millions of people to the dole. Enrollment in Medicaid and food stamp programs are at record highs, while unemployment insurance rolls remain at elevated levels.

But don't worry, I can just hear Mr Friedman tapping away... it will get better in another six months.

Poll

What's worse?

20%2 votes
20%2 votes
60%6 votes

| 10 votes | Vote | Results

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At one point in my lifetime politicians talked about poverty. Not any more. Now we have to help the middle class. Don't get me wrong, the middle class could use a break after decades of stagnating or declining standards of living.

But:

Participation (food stamps) has set records for 23 straight months.

and

Gene Evans, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Human Services, says the 750,000 people now in the SNAP program means that about one of every five people in Oregon is now receiving food stamp benefits.

and

"Since the fall of ’08, we’ve had an increase practically every month" statewide, said Jan Freeman, director of the SNAP program in Illinois. "We’re not seeing it go down yet."

Poll

Know anyone on food stamps?

25%17 votes
65%43 votes
3%2 votes
1%1 votes
4%3 votes

| 66 votes | Vote | Results

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Fifty years ago today, Patrice Lumumba was tortured and gunned down in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The first democratically elected leader of the newly independent country, he was just 35 years old.

This heinous crime was a culmination of two inter-related assassination plots by American and Belgian governments, which used Congolese accomplices and a Belgian execution squad to carry out the deed.

Today Lumumba's country  is "in a state of wreckage from which it has not yet recovered," living with the effects of war, sexual violence, corruption, poverty and disease. A country rich in natural resources (the richest country in the world in terms of natural resources?) its per-capita GDP is less than $200 per year (second poorest on Earth).

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The vast wasteland that is cable television in the United States (Colbert and Stewart and Rachel Maddow the few exceptions)... seems like it might be shrinking lately.

Cable subscribers flee, but is Internet to blame?

Time Warner Cable lost 155,000 video subscribers in the July-September quarter, compared with 64,000 a year ago.

The only larger cable company, Comcast Corp., reported last week that its subscriber loss more than doubled in the third quarter, to 275,000...

Of the satellite companies, DirecTV gained subscribers and Dish Network Corp. lost them.

According to the article, the cable companies don't necessarily suspect that it's people switching to the internet to access programming. It could be due to the growth of poverty.

The price of cable TV has risen to the point where it's simply not affordable to lots of lower-income homes. And right now there are an awful lot of lower-income homes...

Poll

What's worth watching?

9%26 votes
4%13 votes
1%3 votes
4%11 votes
15%42 votes
26%72 votes
2%6 votes
9%26 votes
27%74 votes

| 273 votes | Vote | Results

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Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons

Not that anybody really needed the first "official evidence" of Israeli nukes. But there is plenty of embarrassing stuff to go with it, including a new three month prison sentence for whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, and an embarrassing letter from Shimon Peres noting Israel's and apartheid South Africa's "common hatred of injustice and our refusal to submit to it."

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Drs. Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein of Physicians for a National Health Program remind us what is wrong with all the health insurance reform proposals now "on the table":  for-profit health insurance is a defective product.

Once Congress finishes mandating that we all buy private health insurance, it can move on to requiring Americans to purchase other defective products.

A Ford Pinto in every garage?

Lead-painted toys for every child?

Melamine-laced chow for every puppy?

Private health insurance doesn’t work.

Even middle-class families with supposedly good coverage are just one serious illness away from financial ruin.

Poll

What is your least-favorite defective product?

39%13 votes
33%11 votes
6%2 votes
6%2 votes
6%2 votes
0%0 votes
9%3 votes

| 33 votes | Vote | Results

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Massachusetts is currently home to the RomneyCare experiment that forces people to buy private (for-profit) health insurance, or they face fines.

The Massachusetts plan, which inspired similar proposals by governors in other states and by Democratic presidential candidates, requires all residents to have health insurance or face financial penalties. Among their options is a subsidized state plan, called Commonwealth Care, for low-income residents who make too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Yesterday, 10 districts voted overwhelming in favor of this ballot question, by a margin of 72% to 28% (124,875 votes to 48,278 votes)

Summary: Should the representative from this district be instructed to support legislation creating a cost-effective single payer health insurance system that is available to all residents, and oppose laws penalizing those who fail to obtain health insurance

Poll

Is it time for single payer?

89%1512 votes
6%111 votes
1%25 votes
2%49 votes

| 1697 votes | Vote | Results

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