Archive for July 3rd, 2013

03
Jul
13

Night Owls: Throwback Days

Tonight, we’re looking at original music and another artist’s take on the song. Tell us your favorites. 😀

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U2 – Love Is Blindness

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Jack White – Love Is Blindness. I prefer Jack White’s version because the rage, pain, and passion in his voice is raw and real. It feels like Bono is gently reminiscing about a past relationship while Jack White is caught up in a turbulent maelstrom and you experience the wonder yet pain of love.

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03
Jul
13

This and That

President Barack Obama meets with members of his national security team to discuss the situation in Egypt, in the Situation Room of the White House, July 3 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Statement by President Barack Obama on Egypt:

As I have said since the Egyptian Revolution, the United States supports a set of core principles, including opposition to violence, protection of universal human rights, and reform that meets the legitimate aspirations of the people.  The United States does not support particular individuals or political parties, but we are committed to the democratic process and respect for the rule of law.  Since the current unrest in Egypt began, we have called on all parties to work together to address the legitimate grievances of the Egyptian people, in accordance with the democratic process, and without recourse to violence or the use of force.

The United States is monitoring the very fluid situation in Egypt, and we believe that ultimately the future of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people. Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsy and suspend the Egyptian constitution. I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsy and his supporters. Given today’s developments, I have also directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt.

The United States continues to believe firmly that the best foundation for lasting stability in Egypt is a democratic political order with participation from all sides and all political parties —secular and religious, civilian and military. During this uncertain period, we expect the military to ensure that the rights of all Egyptian men and women are protected, including the right to peaceful assembly, due process, and free and fair trials in civilian courts.  Moreover, the goal of any political process should be a government that respects the rights of all people, majority and minority; that institutionalizes the checks and balances upon which democracy depends; and that places the interests of the people above party or faction. The voices of all those who have protested peacefully must be heard – including those who welcomed today’s developments, and those who have supported President Morsy. In the interim, I urge all sides to avoid violence and come together to ensure the lasting restoration of Egypt’s democracy.

No transition to democracy comes without difficulty, but in the end it must stay true to the will of the people. An honest, capable and representative government is what ordinary Egyptians seek and what they deserve. The longstanding partnership between the United States and Egypt is based on shared interests and values, and we will continue to work with the Egyptian people to ensure that Egypt’s transition to democracy succeeds.

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NYT: Congressional Budget Analysts Release Positive Economic Assessment of Immigration Overhaul

Congressional budget analysts on Wednesday released a positive economic assessment of the broad overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws that passed the Senate last week, saying that the new legislation would cut more than $800 billion from the federal deficit over the next two decades and lead to 9.6 million new legal residents in the country.

Though the Congressional Budget Office had offered in June a similar estimate of the immigration bill that was then being debated in the Senate — in a report that found the benefits of an increase in legal residents from the immigration overhaul would outweigh the costs — the new report provides an analysis of the actual bill recently passed by the Senate.

More here

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Steve Benen: Koch brothers push GOP officials to sign anti-climate pledge

The Republican Party is certainly fond of its pledges. Grover Norquist, of course, has his infamous anti-tax pledge that has interfered with federal policymaking in recent decades, and in 2011, GOP presidential candidates were pushed to endorse an anti-gay pledge from the National Organization for Marriage.

But as it turns out, there’s another pledge that’s taken root in Republican politics that’s received far less attention. The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reports this week on the “No Climate Tax Pledge” pushed by Charles and David Koch….

More here

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Too funny….

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Atlantic Wire: The Tale of the Re-Routed Bolivian President’s Plane Is Falling Apart

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03
Jul
13

chat away…

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03
Jul
13

Chat…Chat….Chat

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03
Jul
13

The Good That Is ObamaCare

Information is power. ObamaCare works and is here to stay, so go out into the world and educate people. 2014 is around the corner and we have to be our own news and become even more proactive. Don’t let the media, so called progressive experts or the GOP demoralize you. Even if you only inform one person about the fantastic awesomeness that is ObamaCare, you have created a ripple effect because that person will tell another and another and another. Nobody said implementation of ObamaCare would be easy; Medicare and Social Security had a rough ride initially, but now? Try to mess with them negatively and watch the backlash explode. I will keep on providing tools that will help you disseminate facts and stop the lies. 😀

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RWJF: Traditionally, individuals considering leaving their job to strike out on their own have worried that they may be denied health insurance coverage because they have preexisting conditions, fear losing access to a trusted physician, or are unable to afford the premiums without an employer sharing the costs. The result is that some U.S. workers feel “job lock,” being tethered to their jobs and unable to leave, even if their skills and talents no longer match their position.

New research estimates that the number of self-employed Americans will be 1.5 million higher in 2014 because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Beginning next year, access to high-quality, subsidized health insurance coverage will no longer be exclusively tied to employment, which could lead people to pursue their own businesses as self-employed entrepreneurs.

More here

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Denise Early: Around 900,000 people living in Arizona do not have health insurance. Over 90% of them will get help from Obamacare. 94% of uninsured people in Tucson will get help paying for their health insurance under Obamacare, according to Enroll America. Based on census data, 50%  of the uninsured in Tucson would qualify for expanded Medicaid. In Arizona, Medicaid is run by AHCCCS, pronounced “access” (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System). 44% of uninsured Tucsonans would qualify for help with their health insurance premium.

More here

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The White House Blog: The Medicare Trustees reported some good news for seniors and taxpayers: The Medicare program will be solvent through 2026, nearly a decade longer than projected at the time of passage of the Affordable Care Act. This is 2 years longer than projected last year. Their annual report also shows that the long run actuarial deficit in the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund – a measure of its long-term fiscal health – has been cut by more than 70 percent since enactment of the health care law. The long-run Medicare deficit has fallen from 3.88 percent of taxable payroll in the 2009 Trustees Report to 1.11 percent in this report.

These long-run gains are matched by short-term relief: the Trustees also project that the Part B premium will not increase between 2013 and 2014, keeping out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries down. Medicare cost growth has remained at historically low levels over the past three years even as new benefits for preventive care and prescription drugs have helped tens of millions of beneficiaries access care at lower cost. The law reduces prescription drug costs by closing the donut hole, a policy that has already saved more than 6 million seniors more than $700 each. And more than 32 million seniors have accessed a free preventive service under the law, helping them stay healthy and avoid future illness.

More here

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Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas: In 2009, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that a medium-level “silver” plan — which covers 70 percent of a beneficiary’s expected health costs — on the California health exchange would cost $5,200 annually. More recently, a report from the consulting firm Milliman predicted it would carry a $450 monthly premium. Yesterday, we got the real numbers. And they’re lower than anyone thought.

The way this competition can drive down rates is already evident in Oregon. There, one insurer came in with monthly premium costs in the $169 range, while other insurers asked to charge more than $400. But then, seeing  what their competitors were charging, two insurers came back to the state’s regulators and asked if they could refile at lower rates. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be competitive in the exchange. The Obama administration was ecstatic to see this: It’s exactly what they’re hoping will happen across the country.

More here

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USA TODAY: Market forces and an impetus to attract younger, healthier people into the insurance market will help keep health insurance premiums lower as the 2010 health care law takes effect on Jan. 1, industry analysts and insurance officials say.

“If they price too high, young people won’t buy insurance, and that’s going to hurt the companies,” said Jay Angoff, who led initial implementation of the law for HHS. “They need these people to come in. It’s an industry problem.”

More here

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Ezra Klein: Last week, California released early information on the rates insurers intend to charge on the new insurance marketplaces — known as “exchanges” — that the state is setting up under Obamacare. They were far lower than anyone expected. “This is a home run for consumers in every region of California,” crowed Peter Lee, director of the state’s exchanges. The Affordable Care Act’s critics saw it differently. Avik Roy, a conservative health writer at Forbes, said Lee was being “misleading” and that “Obamacare, in fact, will increase individual-market premiums in California by as much as 146 percent.” Obamacare, he said, would trigger “rate shock,” the jolt people feel when they see higher rates.  Roy got his 146 percent by heading to eHealthInsurance.com, running a search for insurance plans in California and comparing the cost of the cheapest plans to the cost of the plans being offered in the exchanges. That’s not just comparing apples to oranges. It’s comparing apples to oranges that the fruit guy may not even let you buy.

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Click to buy the plan and eventually you’ll have to answer pages and pages of questions about your health history. Ever had cancer? How about an ulcer? How about a headache? Do you feel sad when it rains?  Is there a history of cardiovascular disease in your family? Have you ever known anyone who had the flu? The actual cost of the plan will depend on how you answer those questions. According to HealthCare.gov, 14 percent of people who try to buy that plan are turned away outright. Another 12 percent are told they’ll have to pay more than $109.

Comparing the pre-underwriting price of this plan to those in Obamacare’s exchanges is ridiculous. The plans in Obamacare’s exchanges have to include those people. They can’t turn anyone away or jack up rates because of a history of arthritis or heart disease. They also have to offer insurance that meets a certain minimum standard. Under Obamacare, for instance, the out-of-pocket limit for someone making 100 to 200 percent of the poverty line is $1,983. Under the Value 4500, you could spend up to $9,500 before the out-of-pocket limit kicked in. Obamacare also has subsidies for people making up to four times the poverty line. The poor pay next to nothing. The rich pay full freight.

More here

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Sy Mukherjee: Golden State small businesses and their employees got some great news: two of the state’s largest insurers will have to give them over $36 million in insurance rebates because of an Obamacare consumer protection.

The health law forces insurers to spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they charge on paying for actual medical services, rather than administrative overhead or profits. That means more money for ordinary consumers — and less for profitable insurance companies.

The so-called “80/20 rule” put $1.5 billion back into Americans’ pockets in 2011 alone. The average rebate was $151 per family across all insurance markets, and in states where insurers blatantly gouged prices, average rebates topped a whopping $500 per family.

Now, the benefits for Californians with small business health plans are beginning to materialize. Blue Shield of California will be forced to pay back $24.5 million in rebates. Anthem Blue Cross will have to pay back another $12 million.

More here

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Tara Culp-Ressler: A new study focusing on low-income women in St. Louis, MO concludes that expanding access to free contraception — just as the health care reform law does through its provision to provide birth control without a co-pay — leads to significantly lower rates of unintended teen pregnancy and abortion. Researchers found that when women weren’t prohibited by cost, they chose more effective, long-lasting forms of birth control and experienced many fewer unintended pregnancies as a result.

More here

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ThinkProgress: Americans who bought individual health plans in 2012 saved $2.1 billion thanks to Obamacare consumer protections that limit how much insurers can profit off of Americans’ premiums, according to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). The vast majority of those savings stem from individual health plan providers lowering the premiums they charge Americans in an effort to comply with the reform law.

The Kaiser study comes shortly after several major California insurers announced that they would have to pay back $36 million to small businesses and their employees after charging them too much. Obamacare mandates that insurers on the individual market spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they charge on actual medical services, or reimburse the amount they overspent to their customers.

But insurers can avoid writing those checks after-the-fact if they just lower their premiums to begin with — and KFF’s study concludes that’s what many individual plan providers have been doing.

More here

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President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act into law on March 23rd, 2010.

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03
Jul
13

Rise and Shine

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Today:

The President has no public events scheduled.

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See Steve Benen on the jobs news here

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Steve Benen: Key ‘Obamacare’ provision delayed until 2015

News from the Obama administration about the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act caused quite a stir last night, but it’s worth pausing to appreciate the extent of the impact …. I think some of the reactions to the one-year delay have been a little excessive. Maybe it’ll be easier to tackle this in Q&A form.

* What’s the employer mandate? In practical terms, the policy name is a bit of misnomer — there is no actual “mandate.” Under the Affordable Care Act, businesses with 50 or more full-time employees are told they need to offer health care coverage to their employees, but those who choose not to pay a fairly modest tax penalty. As of last night, that penalty won’t kick in, at the earliest, before 2015.

* Won’t this mandate discourage those businesses from hiring? It’s been an important part of the criticism, but Obamacare extends all kinds of breaks to these employers to help subsidize the insurance and soften the blow of increased costs.

More here

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Spandan (The People’s View): How the Professional Left’s Blind Obama Hatred Got them Played by a Far-Right Nutjob

Some outlets reported last week that NSA leaker and fugitive Edward Snowden was caught into a bit of hypocrisy: public chat records indicate that back in the ancient times of 2009, he wanted leakers “shot in the balls.” Yeah, he said that. But that’s not all he said. Oh, no. The Technology site Ars Technica posted extensive public chat logs from Snowden, then using the monkier TheTrueHOOHA, that confirms what I had suspected since finding his campaign contributions to Glenn Greenwald’s straight crush Ron Paul.

So let’s talk about this man that has been granted hero status by the Left’s loudest prognosticators and provocateurs….

More here

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Smartypants: The scent of desperation

As we watch the Republicans in states like North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Texas attempt to pass draconian bills affecting things like women’s right to chose and citizen’s access to the ballot, I can’t help but say that I smell a sense of desperation. Its almost as if they know they are a dying beast and are in a hurry to do as much damage as possible prior to their demise.

They’re right….

More here

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Business Insider: MSNBC Just Had Its Most Dreadful Ratings Period In 6 Years

Despite a heavy period of news that included the Boston Marathon bombings and the Jodi Arias trial, MSNBC’s second-quarter ratings plunged to their lowest level since 2007.

…. “The Rachel Maddow Show” suffered its lowest-rated quarter in terms of total viewers since 2008. And June alone was the lowest rated month ever for Maddow in both total viewers and in the 25-54 group.

—-> New host Chris Hayes continues to pull in sluggish ratings for “All In With Chris Hayes,” which in its first full quarter on air provided MSNBC with the lowest-rated 8 p.m. hour in the 25-54 demographic since 2006.

More here

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President Obama and daughter Malia talk aboard a ferry traveling to Gorée Island, Senegal (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama dance with guests during an official dinner hosted by President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and First Lady Thobeka Madiba-Zumaat (Pete Souza)

Sasha Obama unlocks the door to former South African President Nelson Mandela’s cell during a tour of Robben Island Prison (Pete Souza)

See slideshow here

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On this day….

Residents greet President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama upon their arrival at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., July 3, 2010. (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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MoooOOOooorning! Hadn’t time to do a longer R&S, missing lots of newsie stuff, but will catch up later.




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