An Epidemic of Untreatable Illogic

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One of my favorite diseases—and I say favorite because it has a great moral associated with its diagnosis—is an old, discredited but useful look at how the views of power filtered down to popular medicine, a disease named drapetomonia. Ever hear of it? It was one of the first illnesses to have a very clear ethnic identity—it only affected blacks. It was also one of the first specific mental health diagnoses. Declared an epidemic among its target population, shortly after being discovered by a Georgian physician in 1851, its treatment protocols involved harsh whippings and restraints in chains.

Today, it is one of the few discredited diseases reemerging as one of the false equivalencies that increasingly characterize American views of politics–and global warming, evolution, education, economic growth, race, and religion. I see a new strain of the disease emerging, and clearly we have no cure, or even treatment or care for it.

My old favorite, drapetomonia, was a response to a social condition, slavery, and was diagnosed as the condition that made slaves run away. Flee toward freedom. Hide in the woods, outside of civil authority, living in a place of fear. The new equivalency has jumped the old ethnic bounds. But it sees itself as flying toward freedom. Leaving behind civil authority—and also living in a place of fear. The new strain is tied to the older drapetomonia by its implied inability to accept reality, but it is characterized by far greater frequencies of delusions. The old and the new, the up and the down have been with us since the beginning. As the poet W. H. Auden said, “the situation of our time surrounds us like a baffling crime.” But this new strain forgets why the old strain was discredited, lost its potency and went bust: it described a wrong reality; it was a projection of its own delusions.

So, too, today, in the new, unnamed strain is the double circle of logic whose answers assume the truth of its assertions. My favorite example this week was a radio interview with Virginia’s Attorney General, whose radio host pointed out that the President did not win the red states where a photo ID law was in place or early voting was drastically restricted, and the wins and loses of those states alone were sufficient to point to clear evidence of a pattern of widespread Democratic fraud being rampant throughout the country. Well, Barack Obama didn’t win those same red states last time either, in 2008, before restrictions of early voting or photo ID laws were enacted. And he won all of the states he won before, without a single reputable complaint of fraud, except in the mouths of talk show hosts and elected officials whose delusions are a double circle. Continue reading An Epidemic of Untreatable Illogic

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Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced early this afternoon that he has certified the final vote tally from tomorrow’s Presidential election and that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is the winner of his state’s 18 electoral votes. Officials in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida are expected to follow suit as soon as Tuesday morning.

Reading from a prepared statement, Husted told reporters, “Because this may very well be the most important election in our nation’s history, I believe it would have been the height of irresponsibility to have waited until the last minute before certifying the vote. Ohioans’ voices deserve to be heard.”

When asked if his decision might be considered premature, the visibly irate Secretary shot back, “I didn’t hear any of you media types criticizing the head of FEMA for spending millions of dollars to deploy resources to the Northeast just because a couple of so-called scientists predicted a hurricane would strike there — even though everybody knows that most of those storms make landfall much farther south. My experts forecast that Gov. Romney will garner the majority of votes, so I acted accordingly. The good people of this state don’t pay me to sit on my hands; they pay me to do my job.” Continue reading BREAKING NEWS: ROMNEY WINS OHIO

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Opportunity! Health Care, Jobs, and Race

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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in the Blue Room of the White House, July 4, 2010, before delivering remarks to military families during a Fourth of July celebration. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Jobs, Growth, and Recovery

Is President Obama accountable for the slow economic recovery? Did the size of the crisis–the biggest since Hoover–have something to do with the US’ weak fundamentals? Or the ongoing saga of Europe, at the brink of collapse every week? Canoes don’t paddle well on dry beds. An American president of any party finds it hard to “fix” a national economy when every idea is labeled and rejected as partisan, even when confronted with empirical proof, theoretical verification, and country examples.

US Job Growth (non-farm), July 2011 - 2012, under President Obama

Globally, the US leads all economies in the recovery!

Accusing someone doesn’t make them guilty. First, choices, players, conditions, opposing forces, and standards must be assessed. The initial stimulus sent money to the states to provide for the increased demand for basic services, health, unemployment, education, public safety during a time when revenue fell dramatically. The money helped cushion the sudden shock of people who lose jobs in the tailspin. This aid to states was essential. Even those guilty of criticizing it requested and received the money for a variety of projects and programs.

Should the success of the stimulus be measured solely by job creation? That ignores that fully one-third of the stimulus was a payroll tax cut to put more money in the hands of families. It also helped families who couldn’t find jobs.

The recession was international. Where does the US rank globally, among all nations? Globally, the US leads all economies in the recovery!

The US has a higher per-capita GDP than Germany, Europe’s leading economy. China, the world’s second largest economy, had a strong 2011, but now, its year-over-year GDP is falling and its growth rate is slowing.

US GDP growth in constant dollars has trended consistently upward since the recession’s end. In contrast, our most prosperous neighbor in the hemisphere, Brazil, whose economy is now larger (6th in the world!) than Britain and Canada’s, saw its GDP (in constant dollars) drop significantly last year.

In 2011, US corporate profit hit record highs. The aggregate? $824 billion. Profit margins (profit after expenses and taxes) also accelerated to an all-time high. In fact, profits recovered quicker and grew faster after the recession than anytime in US history. Conversely, wages are down. Obama has promised to address the inequity of the middle class’ income and wealth. Wages are revenues for other companies, and as long as wages are low, the recovery will be inhibited, creating a negative feedback cycle of job losses, low wages, and low demand.

Germany’s unemployment is lower than the US, at 6.5% having fallen since February from 7.5%. Brazil, Canada (7.5%) and England match the US rate at 8% (for Brazil, a metropolitan-based rate). Mexico’s unemployment? 5.5 percent, the hemisphere’s best, is severely undercounted. Our economy is still almost a third larger than China’s and 15% larger than Eurozone’s.

Finally, US interest and inflation rates are at all-time lows. Inflation-indexed 10-year treasuries have negative returns! (You pay the government to park your money!) Currently, fixed-yield securities (constant maturities for 10 years) return 1.63 percent.

It’s hard for a single country, even one the size of the US, tied to so many markets, to outpace the world! Sometimes, for reasons or events beyond political control, times are hard. As the US de-leverages from the housing bubble and banking crisis, demand will not return until private debt levels (not public!) provide an impetus to spend.

US Job Growth (non-farm), July 2007 - 2008, under President Bush

Looking at the global details, the benchmarks, GDP comparisons, the rates of growth worldwide by verified standards and measures, the US is still the number one economy in the world and leads the global recovery.

Slowly, the US is shaking off the effects of a deep crisis without falling back into a double dip, as England did. Add record corporate profits and lower taxes to the US’ leadership record, and Barack Obama has done an outstanding job resetting the economy in a world still stalled, trying to recover its punch.


President Barack Obama hugs Stephanie Davies, who helped keep her friend, Allie Young, left, alive after she was shot during the movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado. University of Colorado Hospital, July 22, 2012. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Health Care and the Savings Debate

The President’s plan expands and protects services for seniors and the uninsured

Rising costs? Cuts in Medicaid services? Taking away seniors paid-in benefits to pay for expanding Obamacare? Under the President’s plan, seniors keep their full range of services while coverage is expanded.

In his speech Mitt Romney said no:

His [Obama’s] $716 billion cut to Medicare to finance Obamacare will both hurt today’s seniors, and depress innovation – and jobs – in medicine.

Here’s an insight from a New York Times reader in San Francisco that explains why Medicaid clients will keep their coverage and tells how the savings work.

I’m a little worried that the worst lie is not being pointed out completely. It is not that Ryan, hypocritically calls for the same cuts in Medicare reimbursements to hospitals as Obama; but rather Obama doesn’t really cut the total reimbursement to hospitals at all–while Ryan would.

Everyone keeps missing the Medicare point. Reimbursements to hospitals are overpaid because hospitals carry the extra expense of providing care to the uninsured for which they aren’t reimbursed. The Obama plan essentially insures that hospitals continue to get the same amount of total reimbursement–less from medicare but more from the previously uninsured because they will be required to have insurance under Obamacare (shouldn’t be ashamed to call it that).

The Ryan plan is an actual cut–because they are not going to require the uninsured to get insurance. HUGE difference that seems to be ignored in the sea of Ryan prevarication.

The President’s plan expands and protects services for seniors and the uninsured.

Soon doctors will get out of practicing medicine? With the provisions in the ACA to cap and deter frivolous lawsuits, malpractice costs should drop. But adjustments can be made–as Bush did with Part D, and with the Advantage program.

The Democrats have a plan! Their plan for cost savings is included in the PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare) and is already showing great results. Its major thrust targeted fraud. Last fiscal year, the Attorney General announced a record total annual recovery: $4.1 billion in fraud. In February, he brought the single biggest case against fraud, taking down an extended network that bilked $375 million in illegal payments by, in some cases, going door to door to sign up recipients for false claims. No small change! Continue reading Opportunity! Health Care, Jobs, and Race

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BREAKING: Romney Selects Florida’s West as Running Mate

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Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Willard ‘Mitt’ Romney stunned the political establishment and left pundits scrambling for their notes this morning when he announced his choice of freshman Florida Congressman Allen West to round out the GOP ticket. If Romney is elected, West would become the first African American and only the third paranoid schizophrenic to hold the office of Vice President of the United States.

Making his first public appearance with a black man, Romney praised West’s “… keen understanding of the vital issues we face born from a distinguished career in service to our country,” before noting, “And look at him — his hair is just the right length.”

Speaking to reporters gathered at his family vacation compound in the tony New Hampshire enclave of Lake Weepissondappor, the former Massachusetts Governor and Prep School ‘prankster’ quickly dismissed the notion that race played a factor in his decision:

“Allen understands, as I do, the empirical threat to the United States posed by the Soviet Union and will work with me in continuing the good work he has already begun to root out Communists in Congress as well as other areas of government. He also understands – as he discussed with voters just yesterday – that the economic policies pursued by President Obama will ultimately lead to government enslavement of the American worker – something we firmly believe is better left to the private sector.”

West, a Tea Party favorite sure to solidify support for Romney among African American fascists, was not on most experts’ ‘Veepstakes’ radar despite being touted for the post by the likes of Herman Cain, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and former Miss Alaska runner-up Sarah Palin. Last April, Palin told her Fox News colleague Sean Hannity, “I love that he has military experience – 20 years and all of it in integrated units… He understands the Constitution. He understands our national foreign policy issues that must be addressed. And for my money, he’s still the best to ever play Batman.” Continue reading BREAKING: Romney Selects Florida’s West as Running Mate

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The New Shock and Awe - The Republican War Against Women

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It used to be that you would write an article or give a speech about how Republicans would love to turn back the clock on women’s rights and you would get a lot of kind but condescending expressions and responses. Many women and men who would read these articles thought that this not only could never happen, but they couldn’t imagine that Republicans had the desire and will to actually do it. I’ve always believed deep down that if the GOP thought they could get away with turning the clock back on women’s rights, they would try.

Two generations of women have been born since the feminist movements of the late 60s early 1970s. That means that around half of the women in this country do not know life before the hard-fought gains of the women that came before them. Generations X and Y have never known a world where women don’t have the right to make their own reproductive choices like contraceptives and abortion. They have never known a world where the statutes against the workplace crime of sexual harassment didn’t exist. They don’t remember a world where women who wanted to have a career outside of teaching or nursing were met with virtually immutable resistance.

There are still some glass ceilings around now waiting to be breached, but before the early 1970s, there weren’t ceilings, there were glass boxes.

Women had very few choices about how they could live their lives and how their intimate relations could be conducted. Society nearly demanded that women submit to control by their husbands and the demands of stay-at-home motherhood and housekeeping.

Those of us who were born or came of age after that time don’t know what that was like, and it should be said that while women are far better off now than before the 1970s, much work needs to be done.

Still, all this time the Republican party has been conspiring to return women to the glass box. It’s obvious now that was the case, but what made it obvious to me before the recent GOP war on women was the statements by conservative pundits and media personalities like, yes, Rush Limbaugh. Long before he attacked Sandra Fluke as a, quote, “slut”, he had an ongoing, several decades long war against women’s rights activists, belittling them, calling them names like “feminazis”. And Limbaugh was far from the only one.

What is clear now is that these conservative media personalities were purposefully weakening the women’s rights movement; they were ridiculing the idea that there was a reason to continue to have women’s activists, claiming that they were anti-men, and all of the slander and innuendo we have heard from Rush and his ilk over the last 30 years, all the while biding their time for when they hoped to go on the attack legislatively.

When Republicans won back the House in 2010 and reduced the Democratic control in the Senate to one seat and had President Obama seemingly reeling and fighting to stay on his feet, they launched their war on women. The first salvos were launched during the run-up to 2010 election.

Five high-profile Tea Party Republican Senate candidates – Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ken Buck of Colorado, Joe Miller of Alaska, Sharron Angle of Nevada and Christine O’Donnell of Delaware – announced they were against a woman’s right to have an abortion even in the case of rape or incest! They wanted women who were raped and girls who got pregnant by a relative to be forced to bear those children. Several Republican Senate and House candidates also announced they were against birth control pills and other contraception choices for women.

During that campaign, you had Republican Senator DeMint say that if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn’t be teaching in the classroom, and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who’s sleeping with her boyfriend — she shouldn’t be in the classroom. No mention, of course, about men who are promiscuous with women. Continue reading The New Shock and Awe – The Republican War Against Women

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RNC to Suspend Presidential Primaries, Introduce New Logo

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A visibly haggard Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus emerged from a closed-door emergency meeting of the RNC’s Executive Council this afternoon and announced to the crowd gathered outside the meeting room the immediate suspension of his party’s 2012 Presidential primaries.

Word of the announcement spread like wildfire as several of the lunchtime throng seated in the main dining room of the Whitewater, Wisconsin Applebee’s realized that the seemingly disoriented individual who had just emerged from the restaurant’s banquet room to disturb their midday meal was no ordinary rambling lunatic, and apparently something important was afoot. While several took to Twitter and Facebook to document their presence at this unprecedented, historic event, another called a local newspaper to suggest they send a reporter.

“I honestly couldn’t believe my luck — this is probably the best scoop I’ll get all year,” said Skippy Fartbuster, editor-in-chief of the Whitewater Central High Weekly Bugle, who took the call.

In a Fartbuster exclusive, Priebus explained RNC strategy going forward: Continue reading RNC to Suspend Presidential Primaries, Introduce New Logo

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Digging Deeper: Massive Bets on Political Micro-targeting

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The party that wants to get government off your back knows all about you. They can match your voting record with the web sites you visit. They know your internet haunts. They can estimate the size of your gifts. They can even makes choices for you. But they also hide choices from you.

Mitt Romney protests that he is one-of-kind, a single political entity whose beliefs and faith have never changed, but even as he argues the point, multiple Mitt Romneys in real time are showing up on the web. There’s Mitt Romney as spiritual guru, the capital mystic concerned with America’s soul. He’s for older supporters, party members, and donors; they get this ad displayed only a click away. There’s Mitt as the dog and family guy. Independents, undecided, middle-aged people are told he is like us. Either way (both ways!), Mitt is a manipulator. His version of democracy takes away your choice. His “Believe in America” is a high tech version that demands you believe what he tells you, while telling everybody different things. He may lack intimacy and warmth, but he is Big Brother personified.

He is jumping squarely on your back and wants you to take him for a ride. He is secretly gathering information about you and your habits, and using that information to paint his image as a match for your values. And he doesn’t tell you that’s his way of restoring America.

And in typical Romney fashion, “Two people in the same house could get different messages,”  Romney’s digital director, Zack Moffatt said. “Not only will the message change, the type of content will change.”

Political advertising is the ultimate milieu for flip-floppers, and net ads still fly under the radar but can have a big potential impact on any election, national or local. A campaign can now buy its own audience. Cheap. The Republican National Committee claims it can target your house with thousands of ads that only cost between $5 and $10 a batch. These ads move with virtual size and speed; in fact speed is their greatest force. They can strike in nanoseconds to drive the conversation, influence opinion, counter an attack, spread buzz phrases, scatter the attack and poison the political well. Continue reading Digging Deeper: Massive Bets on Political Micro-targeting

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