We’ve said “Never again” so many times that the phrase has lost its meaning.
We said it after Columbine.
We said it after Gabby Giffords’ meet-and-greet was sprayed with bullets, and a nine year old girl was killed.
We said it after Sandy Hook, after 20 children were murdered.
Black and Latino parents say it after every drive by shooting, every murder on our streets.
But it always seems to happen again, and again.
Thirty-five thousand Americans have been killed by gun violence since Sandy Hook. “Never again” quickly turned into “business as usual”, as the NRA flexed its muscles, as Sandy Hook Truthers oozed up from the mud, as politicians scurried to assure their fealty to gun fetishists.
Now, we might have reached a tipping point.
And if it happens, if Isla Vista is what turns the trajectory, it will be, sad to say, because it happened in an affluent, influential neighborhood, filled with college students, a “white” area which wasn’t supposed to witness such horrific violence.
And if it happens, it might be due to the efforts of Richard Martinez, father of one of the slain.
Get the facts – there’s now a permanent link in the sidebar on the right
ThinkProgress: The Remarkable Slowdown In Health Care Costs Since The Passage Of Obamacare
A new survey of health care premiums for employer-sponsored health care coverage shows that health care inflation is slowing, further undermining critics’ predictions that costs would skyrocket in the aftermath of the Affordable Care Act.
…. Other reports have also uncovered a slowdown in cost increases. The number of double-digit rate increases requested by health insurers in the individual market has plummeted over the past four years and Medicare’s projected spending between 2010 and 2020 had dropped by over $500 billion. Under the new cost scenario, the entitlement program would, by 2085, make up 4 percent of the economy instead of the previously projected 7 percent.
Annual growth of medical spending has also slowed “from a high of about 8.8 percent in 2003 to an average of about 3 percent per capita from 2009 to 2011, according to data reported in January by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.”
USA Today: States predict more insurance customers
Estimates from 19 states operating health insurance exchanges to help the uninsured find coverage show that at least 8.5 million will use the exchanges to buy insurance. That would far outstrip the federal government’s estimate of 7 million new customers for all 50 states under the 2010 health care law….
…. “It’s not a positive development for the Republican opponents who would like to see this fail,” said Paul Ginsburg, president of the Center for Studying Health System Change…..
Jamelle Bouie: Anti-Obamacare Rage, Once a GOP Hit, Fizzles Despite Town Halls
Tea Party Republicans had a huge hit with their rage against Obamacare. It gave them control of the House of Representatives in 2010, fueled their anti-spending crusade in 2011, inspired the most vocal of the GOP presidential candidates, and elevated a host of right-wing politicians to the Senate, providing a national platform for the crusade against the so-called government takeover of health care.
Hits aren’t built to last, however, and after a while, this one began to fizzle … The magic has fizzled so much that some Republicans have begun to walk away from the project altogether, even as others work to turn Obamacare funding into cause for a government shutdown.
… Heritage can play as many of the old tunes as it likes. When October 1 comes, the Affordable Care Act will be there, ready to confer benefits, provide security, and begin the slow transformation of American health care.
TPM: Rick Perry In Talks To Accept Obamacare Funding For Elderly
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), an ardent opponent of the Affordable Care Act, is in talks with Obama administration officials to accept an estimated $100 million in care for the elderly and disabled through Obamacare….
Texas health officials are seeking to enroll in the so-called Community First Choice program available via the law’s Medicaid expansion. Perry officially declined to enroll his state in the program, saying in April that expanding the program for the poor would make Texas “hostage” to the federal government.
TPM: Only One in Four Young Adults Know About Obamacare Exchanges
Only one in four young American adults are aware of the online health insurance marketplaces that will open on Oct. 1 as part of the federal health care reform law, according to a report released Wednesday.
In a survey of adults ages 19 to 29 by the non-profit nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund, just 27 percent said they knew they would be able to purchase insurance on the marketplaces, also known as exchanges, starting Oct. 1.
The young adult population has been the focal point of the Obama administration’s campaign to promote the marketplaces. The White House has said that it wants to enroll 2.7 million people ages 18 to 35 in the exchanges by next year; 7 million people in total are expected to sign up for health coverage.
The new report underlines the challenge that the administration faces in reaching that population….
Michael Tomasky: Republicans Move to the Center? Nope, They’re Crazier Than Ever
If you thought the GOP would adopt more moderate positions after its 2012 debacle, you were wrong. From debate threats to defunding Obamacare and even more purges, Michael Tomasky on how the insanity’s only increasing.
If you’d asked me six months ago whether the Republican Party would manage to find a few ways to sidle back toward the center between now and 2016, I’d have said yes. But today, on the basis of evidence offered so far this year, I’d have to say a big fat no. With every passing month, the party contrives new ways to go crazier. There’s a lot of time between now and 2016, but it’s hard to watch recent events without concluding that the extreme part of the base is gaining more and more internal control.
Completely random old pic (Portsmouth, N.H., Sept. 7, 2012)
Today (all times Eastern)
11:0: President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing
11:45: Meets with senior advisors
12:45: Josh Earnest briefs the press
2:15: President Obama meets with independent financial regulators
A sign along Harding Hill in West Tisbury, Massachusetts, August 18
USA Today: Coming off a week’s vacation, President Obama deals Monday with new rules on the financial system.
Obama holds a closed-door meeting with financial regulators to discuss the impact of new laws, the White House says, including the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform bill and the Consumer Protection Act.
The guest list includes the Comptroller of the Currency, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).
Also: The chairs of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the National Credit Union Administration, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
In a rare occurrence, Vice President Joe Biden will join President Barack Obama in Scranton for the last stop on the president’s two-day bus tour promoting affordable higher education.
…. The president is scheduled to appear Friday at Lackawanna College, a school spokeswoman and the White House confirmed Friday. The school will be the last stop on a tour that takes Mr. Obama on Thursday to the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, N.Y., and the State University of New York and Henninger High School in Syracuse. Hours before the Scranton stop, the president will take part in a town hall at Binghamton University.
“At each stop, the president will discuss the importance of ensuring that every American has the opportunity to achieve a quality education by reducing cost and improving the value of higher education for middle-class students and their families,” a White House official said…
ThinkProgress: How Testicular Cancer Convinced A Former Republican Staffer To Leave His Party
Before he could realize the value of affordable health care, one Republican campaign staffer had to experience what it’s like to be without it.
Clint Murphy, who’s been involved with Republican campaigns since the 1990s, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2000 when he was 25 years old. Four years and four rounds of chemo treatment later — all of which was covered by insurance — Murphy was in remission. Insurance wasn’t a problem in his subsequent political jobs — he worked on John McCain’s election campaign in 2008 — but when he quit politics in 2010 and entered real estate, he realized just how difficult obtaining insurance with a pre-existing condition could be.
…. That’s why Murphy had this to say to his Republican friends who oppose Obamacare on Facebook last week: “When you say you’re against it, you’re saying that you don’t want people like me to have health insurance.”
Steve Benen: Far-right ‘ready to erupt’ over health care?
President Obama’s weekly addresses tend to be pretty tame, at least as far as political rhetoric goes, but over the weekend his latest weekly message included some fairly pointed language about Republican efforts to sabotage the federal health care system.
Some congressional Republicans, Obama said, are “working hard to confuse people, and making empty promises that they’ll either shut down the health care law, or, if they don’t get their way, they’ll shut down the government…. A lot of Republicans seem to believe that if they can gum up the works and make this law fail, they’ll somehow be sticking it to me. But they’d just be sticking it to you.”
And while the White House pushes against the GOP shutdown threats, far-right activists continue to push in the opposite direction.
Recent political reporting suggests that Republican leaders are in a state of high anxiety, trapped between an angry base that still views Obamacare as the moral equivalent of slavery and the reality that health reform is the law of the land and is going to happen.
But those leaders don’t deserve any sympathy. For one thing, that irrational base is a Frankenstein monster of their own creation. Beyond that, everything I’ve seen indicates that members of the Republican elite still don’t get the basics of health reform — and that this lack of understanding is in the process of turning into a major political liability.
On the unstoppability of Obamacare: We have this system in which Congress passes laws, the president signs them, and then they go into effect. The Affordable Care Act went through this process, and there is no legitimate way for Republicans to stop it.
Reuters: Illinois expands background checks to all gun purchases
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a gun-control measure into law on Sunday that expands background checks to cover all firearms purchases in the state, closing what he said was a loophole that exempted gun sales between private parties.
The new law also requires all gun owners to report any lost or stolen firearms to local police within 72 hours.
“Guns are a plague on too many of our communities,” Quinn, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Making sure guns do not fall into the wrong hands is critical to keeping the people of Illinois safe. This commonsense law will help our law enforcement crack down on crime and make our streets safer.”
The expanded background checks go into effect on January 1, 2014.
Michael Tomasky: Julian Assange Loves Rand Paul and His ‘Very Principled Positions’
Julian Assange, who back when he roamed the earth freely used to do things like show up on the steps of St. Paul’s to protest the wrongs of capitalism, has now apparently placed his faith in the man who is arguably the capitalists’ single biggest lickspittle in Washington, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). In and of itself, this is only mildly interesting. But Assange’s admirers on the left are so seduced by his oppositionalist posture and his desire to stick it to the man (as long as the man is the government of the United States) that they seem willing to follow him off any cliff, maybe even the cliff of voting for Paul in 2016. It’s a jejune politics, and ultimately a politics of leisure. No one whose day-to-day life is materially affected by the question of who is in office has time for such silly games, and therefore, no one who purports to be in solidarity with those people should either.
… these seemingly left-wing anti-establishment types should never be trusted. These are just playtime politics, luxuries for the leisure class. If you want a real left-winger, I say stick with Marx. At least he understood that politics is chiefly about economic relations. Anyone who doesn’t understand that is sending you down blind alleys, knows little about politics to begin with, and should be shunned by anyone who claims to be anywhere on the broad left side of the spectrum.
They carried signs that demanded “Voting Rights,” “Jobs for All” and “Decent Housing.” They protested the vigilante killing of an unarmed black teenager in the South and his killer’s acquittal. They denounced racial profiling in the country’s largest city.
This isn’t 1963 but 2013, when so many of the issues that gave rise to the March on Washington fifty years ago remain unfulfilled or under siege today. That’s why, on August 24, a broad coalition of civil rights organizations, unions, progressive groups and Democratic Party leaders will rally at the Lincoln Memorial and proceed to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to honor the fiftieth anniversary of the march and dramatize the contemporary fight. (President Obama will participate in a separate event commemorating the official anniversary on August 28.)
The Supreme Court’s decision gutting the Voting Rights Act in late June and the acquittal of George Zimmerman less than three weeks later make this year’s march “exponentially more urgent” with respect to pressuring Congress and arousing the conscience of the nation, says Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP, a co-sponsor of the march.
Erica Lafferty, daughter of Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, stops at her mother’s grave on her wedding day
People: ….. “I wanted to let her know how much I missed her,” Lafferty says. “No daughter should ever have to do that on her wedding day … and I make sure she is always part of every day, like she always had been.”
…. For her bridal ensemble, Lafferty wore custom-dyed converse sneakers, something she and her mom often joked about.
“My mom always teased me because I was such a tomboy,” she says. “When I was picking out my dress, we found you could custom Converse sneakers, so she knew I had ordered them.”
Lafferty works with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, “to fight common-sense gun laws and join with others who’ve lost loved ones. I’m using my voice to make sure that things change and ensure no one else has to experience one of the most important days of their life without their mother due to gun violence.”
President Barack Obama shoots baskets on the White House basketball court with Justin Friedlander and his family, July 6, 2010. Friedlander, who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in March, 2009, has launched an initiative called “Justin’s Quest,” in which he will shoot 63,000 basketball shots, one for every person diagnosed with a primary brain tumor each year in the United States. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
ThinkProgress: While the unemployment rate for all veterans fell below the national unemployment rate months ago, one group of veterans — those who have served since September 11, 2001 in Iraq and Afghanistan — continued to lag behind as the rest of the job market recovered. But in the last few months, the unemployment rate for so-called Gulf War II era veterans —defined by the BLS as those who served in the Armed Forces sometime since September 2001 and have since returned to civilian life — has steadily declined, even eventually dipping below the national unemployment rate for the first time since February 2012. That trend continued on Friday, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its June jobs report showing that the unemployment rate for this newest group of veterans fell to just 7.2 percent last month, its lowest level ever since the BLS regularly began tracking veterans’ unemployment rates in 2009. June also marks the fifth consecutive month in which the unemployment rate for new veterans has fallen.
Always cute when the party that left us losing 900,000 jobs a month complains that only 195,000 jobs were created.
The unemployment rate for veterans overall still remains lower than the national average, at just 6.3 percent. A coalition of businesses and officials in the Obama administration have placed a premium on the hiring of veterans. Legislation like the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 offer businesses tax credits for each veteran a company hires and strengthens federal transition assistance programs, while companies like Tesla Motors, Southwest Airlines and JPMorgan Chase have been commended by veterans groups like the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) for their commitment towards the hiring of returning veterans.
First Lady Michelle Obama has also made a big effort to help transition veterans into civilian jobs upon their return, most recently with the announcement of a new credentialing program that aims to help veterans acquire the necessary civilian certification for jobs in the IT industry.
Bryce Covert: Rhode Island state House voted 53-18 to pass a bill that would allow workers to take paid time off to care for a new child or a sick or injured family member. The Senate had previously passed the bill, but due to a technical change in the House version it headed back for a final vote in the Senate. That vote will send it to Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s (D) desk, who activists expect will sign it into law.
The bill expands the state’s current Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) program, which currently only covers those who need time off for a work-related illness or injury, to cover those who need family leave. Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) will allow workers to pay into the program through a payroll deduction and then, starting January 2014, take up to four weeks of paid leave, which would rise to six weeks the year after and eight weeks by 2016. Paying into the program would cost someone making $43,000 a year 83 cents a week. The minimum weekly payment for the TDI program is currently $72 and the maximum is $752. It would cover nearly 80 percent of the state’s workforce. California and New Jersey are the only other two states that have programs similar to this one, which allow employees to pay into paid leave insurance. Connecticut also took a step toward creating such a program recently by setting up a task force to study the feasibility.
Bryce Covert: All but 12 House Republicans voted for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act two weeks ago, which would ban abortions in the country 20 weeks after fertilization. But for the party of supposed fiscal restraint, such a move comes with a cost. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored the bill last week and found that it would increase government spending and deficits. This should surprise no one, however. Reducing access to women’s reproductive choices comes with a high price tag for taxpayers. In scoring the House bill, the CBO said, “Depending on the number of additional births under H.R. 1797, such Medicaid costs could range from about $75 million over the next 10 years to more than $400 million over that period.” The bill would increase the deficit by $75 million between 2014 and 2018 and by $225 million from 2014 to 2023. These costs are thanks to the fact that 40 percent of all births are paid for by Medicaid and additional births will drive up those costs.
Texas, however, should know that cutting off reproductive choices can drive up the government’s costs. In 2011, state legislators slashed funding for family planning services by $73 million in an attempt to deny Planned Parenthood taxpayer dollars because it provides abortions, despite the fact that the clinics that receive state subsidies didn’t provide the service. Denying low-income women access to family planning services was going to mean the delivery of 24,000 babies that they wouldn’t otherwise have had, which were going to cost Texans as much as $273 million thanks to medical expenses and covering their infants under Medicaid. After staring down those numbers, Texas lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have started working to reinstate the funds.
Guests take pictures as President Barack Obama signs HR 4348, the Transportation and Student Loan Interest Rate bill, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, July 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Jamelle Bouie: Today’s story from the New York Times on IRS “filtering” should be the final word on whether this was political targeting or a more mundane instance of mistakes and misjudgments from overworked bureaucrats. Of the nearly 200,000 applications for tax-exempt status the IRS received between 2010 and 2012, it flagged 22,000 for further review. Of those, just 296 came from partisan political groups. In other words, notes the Times, “most of the applications pulled aside for further scrutiny in those years had nothing to do with politics, conservative or liberal, just as most of the red flags thrown up by the I.R.S.’s lookout lists were not overtly political.”
What were some of the other groups flagged by the IRS? “Medical marijuana purveyors, organizations formed to carry out President Obama’s health care law, and open source software developers who create software tools for computer code writers and distribute them free of charge.” Unless Republicans can prove that the White House has it out for open-source developers as well as tea party activists, it’s hard to see how they continue to stand by their claims.
President Barack Obama listens during a communications planning meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, July 6, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Neil Irwin: Usually, we are among the first to insist that the monthly jobs report matters not for the wild swings it can create on financial markets but for what it tells us about the state of the U.S. economy and the employment and earnings prospects of our 300 million fellow citizens. Not today. The jobs numbers were pretty good: The nation added 195,000 positions in June, and job creation was significantly stronger than it seemed in April and May. The unemployment rate was unchanged, but more people joined the workforce. All in all, things seem to be getting better, and maybe getting better more quickly than it had seemed 24 hours ago.
Tom Kludt: The 7-year-old Virginia boy who was struck by a stray bullet while on his way to watch a Fourth of July fireworks display died Friday, according to Richmond-based NBC affiliate WWBT. Police said the accident was likely the result of someone firing a gun in the air to celebrate the holiday. It is still unknown who fired the shot.
The boy and his father were walking to watch a fireworks show in Brandermill, Va. when the youngster fell behind before suddenly dropping to the ground. His father thought his son had passed out until he noticed the bullet wound on top the boy’s head. The boy died at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond, Va.
Zoe Schlanger: A South Dakota man fell asleep on his back porch while holding a loaded handgun, and accidentally shot himself in the midsection when a relative turned on the porch light, the Daily Republic reported.
The 34-year-old man suffered minor flesh wounds and was able to transport himself to the hospital.
TPM: Baltimore man Lassiter Basket, 82, was careful to use blanks and shoot indoors when he fired his handgun to celebrate the Fourth of July, the Baltimore Sun reported. Fragments of a blank moved through his great-granddaughter’s bedroom wall, and burned into her wrists and leg.
LOLGOP: As some debate whether this country has become more like George Orwell’s 1984 of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, keep in mind that for millions of Americans who have no time to debate such a lofty question, actual oppression exists. This oppression isn’t a overwhelming fear of a the Thought Police or even a steady drugging that manufactures consent. It isn’t theoretical or some slippery slope that slowly envelops true liberty. It’s a never-ending concern about survival and sustenance. It’s a need to keep children fed, clothed and well. It’s knowing that disaster lurks every time your boss is unhappy with you.
The dystopian future we may fear already exists for millions. If you’re expecting fascism to come with a cross and a flag, you’re immune — due to over or underexposure — to the actual economic feudalism that has always trapped the working poor in the country. It’s called wage slavery. The easiest way to trap someone into a life of wage slavery is deny them education and have them start a family before they can afford it. Texas Republicans have this formula for a lifetime of poverty worked out to a science.
The Texas GOP’s jihad against family planning and Planned Parenthood creates unintended pregnancies and leaves poor women with no options. This creates generational poverty and a low-wage workforce with no time to consider how the petrol-funded theocracy of the Lone Star state is designed to make the rich richer and workers less safe and more dependent on the corporations that have indentured them.
President Barack Obama shares his strawberry pie with a boy during a lunch stop at Kozy Corners restaurant in Oak Harbor, Ohio. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Christopher S. Rugaber: U.S. employers added a robust 195,000 jobs in June and many more in April and May than previously thought. The job growth raises hopes for a stronger economy in the second half of 2013. The unemployment rate remained 7.6 percent. That was because more people started looking for work in June — a healthy sign. Once people without jobs start looking for one, the government counts them as unemployed. Pay also rose sharply in June, the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report Friday showed. Pay has now outpaced inflation over the past year.
Stock index futures rose shortly after the report was released at 8:30 a.m. EDT. And the yield on the 10-year Treasury note jumped from 2.56 percent to 2.65 percent, a sign that investors think the economy is improving. Friday’s report showed that the economy added 70,000 more jobs in April and May than the government had previously estimated — 50,000 in April and 20,000 in May. Average hourly pay rose 10 cents to $24.01, 2.2 percent higher than a year ago. The hotels, restaurants and entertainment industry added 75,000 jobs last month. Retailers added 37,000. Temporary jobs rose 10,000. Manufacturing shed 6,000 jobs. But construction added 13,000, and health care gained 20,000.
Auto sales in the January-June period topped 7.8 million, their best first half since 2007, according to Autodata Corp. and Ward’s AutoInfoBank. Sales of previously occupied homes exceeded 5 million in May, the first time that’s happened since November 2009. New-home sales rose at their fastest pace in five years.