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It's time for the President's Emergency Program for Ebola Relief

Sun, 10/19/2014 - 20:16

Goal Thermometer

The President's Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was arguably President George W. Bush's single greatest achievement. Thanks to American leadership and over $50 billion in U.S. funding committed since President Bush launched the initiative in 2003, millions of lives have been saved and millions more HIV/AIDS cases prevented in 15 African countries targeted for international action. During his July 2013 trip to Africa, President Obama rightly called PEPFAR one Bush's "crowning achievements" and used their joint 2013 visit to Tanzania to "thank him on behalf of the American people for showing how American generosity and foresight could end up making a real difference in people's lives." As Bill Clinton put it in 2012:

"I have to be grateful, and you should be too, that President George W. Bush supported PEPFAR. It saved the lives of millions of people in poor countries." That's why it's once again time for the United States to step up with a new multi-year, multi-billion dollar commitment, this time against Ebola. With over 4,500 already dead and tens of thousands more at risk in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, it's not simply (as Bill Clinton is so fond of saying) "the right thing to do. In this case, charity does not begin at home: Americans' health and safety requires America to go all in—in Africa.

While the U.S. media fuel panic over the one fatality and handful of Ebola cases here, the need for urgent, global mobilization to save West Africa cannot be overstated. As CNN reported on Friday:

Liberia, meanwhile, which is hardest hit by the virus, says it requires 2.4 million boxes of protective gloves -- and 85,000 body bags, to be able to fight the virus in the next six months. Currently, it only has 18,000 boxes of gloves and less than 5,000 body bags.

Let that second number sink in.

Eight-five thousand body bags needed.[Emphasis original.]

As Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson put it bluntly in her plea for international action, the Ebola virus "respects no borders."
"We all have a stake in the battle against Ebola. It is the duty of all of us, as global citizens, to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves." And the United States has only begun to fight. Please chip in $3 to help the slate of Daily Kos endorsed candidates.

Defeat Mitch McConnell in just two hours. Sign up to make GOTV calls to Democrats. Please read below the fold for more on this story.

California prisons, Newt Gingrich, and broken clocks

Sun, 10/19/2014 - 20:15
Prison fence with razor wire. It is distressing to be on the same side of an issue as Newt Gingrich—the man whose Contract with America, based on a Heritage Foundation wish list, started our government on the road to hyper-partisanship. The man who introduced us to the Taking Back Our Streets Act, which included funding for prison construction to accommodate the prisoners that it would have produced. The man who pushed for the impeachment of a president over a blow job while engaging in an extramarital affair with a House staffer.

On the same side of an issue with a man like that? I don't even want to be in the same universe. And when I read the Los Angeles Times editorial that he co-authored in support of California's Proposition 47, I rushed to re-read the ballot measure to find what I had missed that made it attractive to someone like him.

His co-author was B. Wayne Hughes Jr., a wealthy conservative and board member of the American Action Network (affiliated with Karl Rove's American Crossroads, which counted Hughes' father as its largest donor) and founder of the non-profit, Serving California. Hughes formed Serving California after meeting Chuck Colson, who recruited him into investing in Colson's Prison Fellowship, which is tied to The Family, a group from the religious right.

According to the Serving California website:

Serving California implemented a program in 19 state prisons involving to date over 1050 California inmates. The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI) is a three and a half year Christian educational and personal character reformation program. Roughly the equivalent of a Master’s Degree in Theology, the TUMI curriculum consists of 16 different courses requiring the completion of 43 different books and other related materials. Each student engages in Biblical course studies designed to improve reading and writing techniques, critical thinking, ethics, leadership and character development. Somehow, spreading the gospel according to the Family didn't make me any more comfortable with the alliance, but Hughes has been willing to sink $1.255 million of his own money into the campaign for Proposition 47, making him its largest financial supporter. Follow me below the fold to find out what it is that we agree on.

Stand Your Ground: Women and blacks need not apply

Sun, 10/19/2014 - 18:30
George Zimmerman, July 13, 2013. Zimmerman can kill a kid outside his home. A woman can't defend herself inside her home. That's "stand your ground." On February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin was shot to death. His crime? He happened to be black, and a racist overzealous neighborhood vigilante named George Zimmerman decided to take matters into his own hands. He believed that "those assholes always get away" and he decided to make sure Trayvon didn't. So he ignored the advice of the dispatcher and left his home, armed, and had a confrontation. We don't know the exact details of how that confrontation played out. But what we do know is that Trayvon Martin ended up dead for the simple crime of walking down his own street.

Normally, one would think that if someone ignores police dispatch, goes out of the house armed, provokes a confrontation with an innocent teenager, and then kills him, that would result in some sort of murder conviction. Not so in the state of Florida, however. Florida is one of many states with so-called "Stand Your Ground" laws, which grant immunity from prosecution if a person has a reasonable belief that they are fearing for their own life in a confrontation.

Just to be clear, this law was not the direct reason that Zimmerman is not currently in jail. The law grants immunity from prosecution, and Zimmerman was prosecuted for the homicide he committed. But as Kevin Drum wrote shortly after Zimmerman's acquittal last year, the fact that the law was in the news had a definite effect on the jury's perceptions of Zimmerman's guilt:

And consider it they did. According to the most outspoken juror, known only as Juror B-37, Stand Your Ground was key to reaching their verdict. She told CNN's Anderson Cooper in an interview that neither second-degree murder nor manslaughter applied in Zimmerman's case "because of the heat of the moment and the 'stand your ground.' He had a right to defend himself. If he felt threatened that his life was going to be taken away from him or he was going to have bodily harm, he had a right." So that's it then, right? Even if you're the one that provokes the confrontation, even if you're the only one with a gun, even if the person you kill is completely innocent of any wrongdoing whatsoever—as long as you feared for your safety at some point during the confrontation, you have a right to kill.

As long as you're a man who isn't black. If you're a woman or if you're black, it's a different story. More below the fold.

How the World Series could decide the 2014 elections—seriously

Sun, 10/19/2014 - 18:15
 Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports - RTR4ACKD The Kansas City Royals just won their first pennant since 1985. Could they also help Sen. Pat Roberts (R) win re-election? Goal Thermometer

On Tuesday, the San Francisco Giants will face the Kansas City Royals in the first game of the 2014 World Series. A lot is at stake, and not just on the diamond. Baseball's playoffs could affect at least one U.S. House race, a key gubernatorial battle, and perhaps even control of the U.S. Senate.

No, I'm not arguing that a Giants victory means the Democrats will keep the Senate, or that if the American League dominates, so will Republicans—nothing superstitious or silly like that. Rather, the World Series provides campaigns the opportunity to advertise to a much larger—and more in-tune—audience than usual. Viewers are much more likely to watch major sporting events live, which means they're less apt to record them and fast-forward through the ads.

Back in September, in an article exploring this topic, Roll Call's Abby Livingston explained that baseball viewers tend to be disproportionally white and male. Republicans will be looking to get as many votes out of this generally conservative demographic as possible, while Democrats will be trying to make some inroads with them before Election Day.

Of course, anyone looking to run spots in Northern California or the Kansas City area will need to pay a premium if they want to advertise during a World Series game. Airing a 30-second spot nationally costs a cool $470,000. Locally targeted ads cost a lot less but are still far from cheap, so many campaigns and outside groups will decide that they can't afford the price tag. However, others will spend what it takes to get their message out.

Make sure there's no joy in Republicanville. Chip in $3 to leave John Boehner and Mitch McConnell at the bat.

Defeat Mitch McConnell in just two hours. Sign up to make GOTV calls to Democrats. And there are a number of key races in both media markets, so head below the fold for a close-up look at how the World Series may impact the 2014 elections.

Is it legal for the police to shoot an unarmed, surrendered citizen?

Sun, 10/19/2014 - 16:45
980 Pulitzer Prize, Spot News Photography, Jahangir Razmi of Ettela'at, Iran     Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini's Islamic Revolution steamrolls over Iran, imposing his Shiite Muslim beliefs on the entire country and destroying Across the years in the United States, police officers have consistently been found not guilty in the shooting deaths of countless unarmed, non-violent citizens.

Kendrec McDade comes to mind.

So does Amadou Diallo.

Sean Bell is another.

Add Ramarley Graham to that list.

John Crawford also fits this bill.

In each of these horrific cases, the victims were unarmed and not committing a crime, but police, with stories, far-fetched or otherwise, were able to convince juries that they reasonably feared for their safety. At the root of widespread anger in African-American communities over these cases is the idea that if a white officer imagines a threat, he is basically allowed to act on it, no matter how fictitious the threat may truly be. In the shooting deaths of Amadou Diallo and Kendrec McDade, officers successfully argued that they believed they saw Diallo and McDade not only possess guns, but actually fire them—even though both men were completely unarmed.

Considering the facts of Mike Brown's shooting death at the hands of Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson on August 9, the question is, then, is it legal for a police officer who is reasonably aware that a citizen is unarmed, to shoot and kill that citizen if the citizen is incapacitated or has peaceably surrendered?

In the end, the shooting death of Brown and the case against Wilson may go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Follow below for more.

Will Republicans succeed in using Ebola and ISIS to manipulate the American psyche?

Sun, 10/19/2014 - 15:00

There is a confluence of events that currently have many Americans in a funk. A continuum has reflected an economy that simply is not working for the working middle class even though—as explained by President Obama and Paul Krugman—conditions have much improved. ISIS and Ebola have instilled an irrational fear in many.

Is the working poor and working middle class weak-minded, willfully ignorant, easily scared, or simply gullible? The politics of deception is not new. What is new is how easily the deception works.

How did we get here? How can the country that built the Panama Canal, Hoover Dam, the Interstate Highway System, and voyaged to the moon and back degenerate into a dysfunctional semblance of a super power? How is it possible that Americans may potentially put those who will continue pilfering them in power after the 2014 election?

It is the systematic manipulation of the minds of enough Americans that is responsible. The well-established American plutocracy continues to fuel the machine of deception. What’s most amazing is how long-lived this manipulation has been.

Follow below the fold for more.

Fox's Keith Ablow: Obama not protecting us from Ebola because his 'affinities' are with Africa

Sun, 10/19/2014 - 13:15
Dr. Keith Ablow during one of his many Fox News appearances An honest question: Fox News, how are you okay with this? The rest of the punditry world: Is this the bounds of "professional" discourse now?
Fox News contributor Keith Ablow went on an unhinged racial rant against President Obama, accusing him of failing to protect the country against Ebola because his "affinities, his affiliations are with" Africa and "not us ... He's their leader." Keith Ablow is the Fox News resident "psychiatrist," and his long-held schtick is to come on Fox News, usually in the already dismal caverns of Fox & Friends, to explain why the current president of the United States is not a true American in spirit. Period. It is presented as a medical opinion and given the accompanying jargon: The opposition president (opposition to Fox News, that is) has any number of psychological conditions that cause him to hate America, and to want to destroy America, and to be glad when something bad happens to America, and all of this is conducted via "Dr." Keith Ablow's patented method of psychological seance.

It nearly all revolves around the central observation that the first non-white president of the United States had a black father, a black foreign father, and that the president's own inherited genes and skin tone and the presumed heritage that goes with those things make him therefore mentally unqualified to lead true America. Sometimes it is presented as dog whistle. Just as often it is stated outright, as you can see below the fold:

Three minutes on Ebola worth watching on 'Meet the Press.' Really!

Sun, 10/19/2014 - 13:14

Meet The Press finally put on a substantive program that showed a few rays of what good journalism could look like. The discussion on Ebola was mostly substantive. There were a few instances where political reporters showed their lack of objectivity and journalistic decency however. The experts effectively squashed their flawed reasoning.

Chuck Todd had two unbiased experts on the show. Laurie Garrett is a Pulitzer prize-winning science journalist/writer and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Dr. Gabe Kelen is professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Johns Hopkins, director of the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR), and director of the Center for the Study of Preparedness and Catastrophic Event Response (PACER).

Early on Chuck Todd showed an important table that put Ebola into context. Ebola as an actual killer in America is rare compared to many other diseases, activities, and natural events that should give Americans much more concern.

Chuck Todd allowed his panel to ask the professionals questions. Manu Raju started off with a leading question. "We were talking about budget cuts and the ability to find a vaccine," Manu Raju said. "The bottom line is that still the NIH has billions of dollars a year that it spends on finding vaccines. I am wondering, to what extent do you think the government is to blame for not prioritizing efforts to find a vaccine for Ebola?"

Laurie Garrett pushed back at Raju calling his statement grossly unfair. Her answer revealed the reasons why strong government involvement in health care is a must unlike what many who oppose healthcare reform believe. "No one could convince industry that it was in their interest to build up a huge stockpile of something that might never get used, might never get purchased," Laurie Garret said. "So in fact there was a vaccine center at NIH. They did develop a possible prototype  Ebola vaccine. ... There was no incentive to take it through the pipeline for commercialization." In effect private industry cannot be counted on nor should they be counted on for these types of vaccines are other health issues because their motive is profit (justifiably) and not the well-being of a citizenry. That is the government's job.

Stephanie Cutter went on to make the point about the effects of budget cuts on the response to healthcare events like Ebola. Dr. Gabe Kelen had likely the most prescient statement on the real problem with funding and political realities.

"Here is how it works," Dr. Gabe Kelen said. "You have a fixed budget. A crisis comes. You move all your resources into that. And now the real question is not this, we are concentrating on this. We got a wake up call on it. What is it that the resources have been moved away from that two years from now that someone is going to criticize, 'Why didn't you look at this? God you are not prepared.'"


Zombie lies: Debunked or not, right-wing talking heads won't let them die

Sun, 10/19/2014 - 11:30
Young Republican zombie chapter president? Goal Thermometer

There are lies, damned lies, and right-wing zombie lies. What's a right-wing zombie lie? It's an untruth that—no matter how many times it is debunked, no matter how many times it is killed—keeps coming out of the mouths of right-wingers. Most of the rank-and-file conservatives with whom we might interact get their information from conservative media sources. They live inside a right-wing information bubble. Republican politicians are ensconced within it as well. Inside the walls of that closed environment, facts that do not jibe with conservative ideology or the conservative interpretation of events are twisted, turned on their head, or simply ignored. The lies live on.

Remember David Horowitz? He's a notorious race-baiter who recently published Black Skin Privilege and the American Dream. The cover, of course, depicts President Obama as the personification of black privilege, which the book's description characterizes as "the most insidious bias in our culture today." A real lover of the truth, that one. In 2006, Horowitz was forced to retract two very specific claims he had made about supposed liberal bias in university classrooms. In an interview conducted after the retractions, he actually said that "everybody who is familiar with university classrooms knows" that what he said is true, and who cares if he doesn't have, I don't know, evidence. But back to his recent lies about race-baiting.

Last week Horowitz was a guest on the "Eagle Forum Live" radio program, hosted by another infamous right-winger, Phyllis Schafly (herself caught in a lie about Barack Obama earlier this year). The two were talking about Michael Brown and the ongoing protests that followed his shooting death at the hands of Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson this past summer. Horowitz characterized Brown as "just a thug" and condemned the protesters as people "who destroyed a city to get a cop who was defending himself. Look at the picture of him in the hospital with his eye socket practically blown out." Also, let's not forget Horowitz's final point, another "truth" only he's brave enough to speak: "There’s no community that’s more racist in America than the black community. And everybody knows it, but nobody will say it."

Right. Black skin privilege and all. So we have Horowitz's big lie, buttressed by a smaller lie, but a very important one that helps convince right-wing listeners about the truth of the big one. That's the lie about Darren Wilson's eye socket. Of course, if Michael Brown had blown out the eye socket of the cop who shot him, that would be a pretty strong point against the protesters and in favor of Horowitz's broader points about race in America. One small problem: It didn't happen.

Want to fight the lies of the right? Beat them at the ballot box. Remember that if we turn out, we win. Chip in $3 to help GOTV for Daily Kos-endorsed candidates.

Vote Button Voting by mail is convenient, easy, and defeats the best of the GOP's voter suppression efforts. Sign up here to check eligibility and vote by mail, then get your friends, family, and coworkers to sign up as well. For more about this and about the broader issue of right-wing zombie lies, please follow me beyond the fold.

How Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker shows contempt for the working poor

Sun, 10/19/2014 - 09:45

Goal Thermometer

The question was posed by Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "What is your position on the minimum wage? Should we have it?

Scott Walker's response: "Well, I am not going to repeal it, but I don't think it serves a purpose."

Watch the video, look at his facial expression at around 35-36 seconds when he says, "I don't think it serves a purpose." That statement, that facial expression, tells you all you need to know about Walker and his contempt for the working poor of Wisconsin. Later in the video, at about 2:19, he goes on about flipping burgers at McDonald's and how he did not expect to make $15 an hour doing it. I am Scott Walker's age, and I worked at McDonald's when I was in high school flippin' burgers. I made $3.35 an hour. After a month on the job, I got a raise to $3.45 an hour. I would have gotten another 20 cents an hour, but I was told I did not smile enough to warrant it (you try to smile while wearing brown polyester and are covered in french fry grease).

Walker obviously does not care about the working poor, or the middle-class. It is time to show him the door and elect Mary Burke. Please give $3 to help Wisconsin become Scott-free.

Jump below the fold for more.

A fiery prophet for social justice and for why we must vote: the Rev. William Barber

Sun, 10/19/2014 - 08:00
Rev. William Barber If we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now!—the Rev. Dr. William Barber II.

Election Day 2014 is on Tuesday, November 4, a little over two weeks away. This election will make a profound difference in the lives of many of our citizens. For some, it is a matter of life and death—given the refusal of some states to accept Medicaid expansion. We are all too aware of right-wing extremist efforts in many of those same states to suppress the vote, and to construct obstacles to voting.

One of the most powerful voices in the nation, fighting to mobilize a broad-based coalition of social activists to fight voter suppression, is that of the Rev. Dr. William Barber II. What is disconcerting is that with only a few exceptions, the major traditional media have managed to ignore his voice and the Moral Mondays movement he is leading—from his home base of North Carolina, to as far north as Wisconsin.

How did much of the press manage to ignore 80,000 people who marched in Raleigh, North Carolina, back in February?

While the traditional media is willing to pay homage to Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks in memorials and tributes, journalists are far too willing to pretend that the civil rights movement was buried with Dr. King. Contrary to those who speak as if the movement ended in 1968, it is alive and growing. Blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, women and men—straight and LGBT, religious and non-religious, young and old—have come together in a breathtaking and extraordinary fusion movement, Moral Mondays, spearheaded by the Rev. William Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP. His book about that movement, Forward Together: A Moral Message for the Nation, is being released by Chalice Press November 1.

One of the keystones of the Forward Together Moral Mondays Movement is voter mobilization—getting people registered and out to cast their ballots in a Moral March to the Polls. We can help to spread the word, using social media skills and tools.

Follow me below the fold for more on the Rev. Barber, his book, and the Moral Mondays Movement.

Please support Daily Kos-endorsed candidates who believe voting is fundamental.

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Not so hot zone edition

Sun, 10/19/2014 - 06:00
Ebola Virus Ross Dothat on Ebola and incompetence. I promised myself I wouldn’t do it, but I did: While flying from D.C. to Dallas last week, just after the news came out that an Ebola-infected nurse had been allowed to fly while running a fever, I went back and read the opening pages of Stephen King’s “The Stand.”

In King’s epic, perhaps his finest, a superflu with a 99.4 percent fatality rate accidentally escapes from a desert laboratory and lays waste to civilization. King being King, supernatural developments ensue for the survivors. But the book is at its most terrifying in the unraveling with which it opens, when the only bogeyman that matters is a hacking cough that spreads and spreads and spreads. ...

But conspiracy culture, while always resilient, has had a tough go of it of late. From the Iraq war to Hurricane Katrina and various Obama-era debacles, the public has been steadily conditioned to fear government incompetence much more than it fears secret conspiracies against the public good. Instead of the Bilderbergers and the Trilateralists and the cigarette-smoking man, it’s Mike “heckuva job” Brown and George “slam dunk” Tenet and whoever was allegedly in charge of the V.A. hospital system who haunt our collective unconscious these days.

Hmm, a Republican telling us that what really concerns him is that government is incompetent. But then, competent government is the enemy. For forty years, Republicans have concentrated on destroying the government, and now they want to complain that they succeeded. It's like all those people who are suddenly surprised that countries we worked so hard to make weak and unstable are weak and unstable.

Alan Feuer is also in the grip of... ebola fever (sue me, I couldn't help myself).

The spread of Ebola from western Africa to suburban Texas has brought with it another strain of contagion: conspiracy theories.

The outbreak began in September, when The Daily Observer, a Liberian newspaper, published an article alleging that the virus was not what it seemed — a medical disaster — but rather a bioweapon designed by the United States military to depopulate the planet. Not long after, accusations appeared online contending that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had patented the virus and was poised to make a fortune from a new vaccine it had created with the pharmaceutical industry. There were even reports that the New World Order, that classic conspiracy bugbear involving global elites, had engineered Ebola in order to impose quarantines, travel bans and eventually martial law.

While most of these theories have so far lingered on the fringes of the Internet, a few stubborn cases have crept into the mainstream. In the last few weeks, conservative figures like Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham have floated the idea that President Obama had sent aid to Africa, risking American lives, because of his guilt over slavery and colonialism. And just days ago, the hip-hop artist Chris Brown took to Twitter, announcing to his 13 million followers: “I don’t know ... but I think this Ebola epidemic is a form of population control.”

Just waiting for the first mailer telling voters that the ballots for the midterm election are contaminated with ebola. Actually, I surprised Mitch McConnell isn't running that ad.

Steven Petrow is also in the hot gossip zone.

There have been only three confirmed cases of, and one death from, Ebola in the United States. But a related condition is spreading much faster: Americans nationwide are showing signs of an epidemic of fear, all too reminiscent of the stigmatization, dread of contagion and panic of the early years of HIV/AIDS. I would know: In the 1980s and 1990s, I was living in San Francisco — a gay man at risk of contracting the disease, an AIDS hotline volunteer and a journalist covering the emerging epidemic. ...

Early in the AIDS epidemic, this kind of anxiety quickly morphed into panic: HIV-infected kids such as Ryan White were banned from schools; employees were fired simply because they were suspected of having AIDS; police officers in Washington raided a gay bar wearing gloves, face masks and bulletproof vests to protect themselves from what was described then as a “lethal threat.”

Dana Milbank looks at... the politics of ebola. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, administered a dose of truth to political Washington this week.

For this honest service, Collins was pilloried.

In an interview published Sunday night, Collins shared with the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein his belief that, if not for recent federal spending cuts, “we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this” Ebola outbreak.

This should not be controversial. His conjecture was based on cold budgeting facts. NIH funding between fiscal year 2010 and fiscal 2014 had dropped 10 percent in real dollars — and vaccine research took a proportionate hit. Research on an Ebola vaccine, at $37 million in 2010, was halved to $18 million in 2014. ...

With Ebola vaccines now entering clinical trials, it’s not much of a stretch to conclude that, with those extra research dollars, vaccines would now be on the market — potentially saving thousands of lives in Africa and avoiding panic in the United States.

I think of it as the Bobby Jindal effect–Step 1: Republicans cut volcano monitors, Step 2: volcano blows up without warning, Step 3: Republicans blame government. Return to step 1.  Read the rest of this one. You need to see just how ridiculous the Republican protests on this issue really are.

Then come on inside. It's germ free in there...

Sunday Talk: Now is the time to panic!

Sat, 10/18/2014 - 23:00
The end (of the election season) is near (or maybe not), and the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

There's a perfect storm heading toward America's border, determined to kill us all in a show of solidarity with Africa.

Its name is "Obama's Katrina"—you may remember it from such scandals as: the IRS targeting of conservative groups, #Benghazi, and the latte salute.

Not to take anything away from them, but the threats posed by those scandals pale in comparison to this one, which has gone viral.

You don't need to be a self-certified ophthalmologist like Rand Paul to see
it—it's all there, black and white, clear as crystal.

You have no chance to survive; make your time.

These are some of the people whose lives have been changed by Medicaid

Sat, 10/18/2014 - 20:45
Wisconisn Governor Scott Walker gestures as he addresses the second session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, August 28, 2012 REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES  - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) Don't let Scott Walker deny any more people Medicaid. Goal ThermometerThinkProgress has a great, long piece profiling some of the people whose lives have likely been saved—and definitely made immensely better—by Medicaid expansion. Here are a few:
Fifty eight-year-old [Mark] Sigoloff, a freelance writer who lives in Illinois, was surprised when he got a notice in the mail last year telling him he was eligible for public insurance coverage. […]

One of the first things he did was go to the doctor. He knew he had issues with high blood pressure that he had been neglecting during the 11 years that he hadn’t gone to regular check-ups. But he didn’t expect to discover that he also had a brain tumor.

I always had a feeling I was a walking time bomb, and it turned out I was right.
Sigoloff was referred to a neurosurgeon and received radiation treatment. So far, everything seems to be going well. […]

Charles McClinon, a 50-year-old Ohio resident who lives with epilepsy, told ThinkProgress, “The peace of mind is worth more than anything. I could be a millionaire, but if I don’t have peace of mind, what good is it? And that’s one thing this type of insurance is good for. I know I can get the kind of care I need.” […]

Plagued with multiple sclerosis and having difficulty finding work, [Carol Fisher Hardaway] didn’t qualify for coverage in Texas because the political leaders there have refused to expand the Medicaid program. She ended up relocating to the Maryland area, where her son lives and where state officials have implemented the expansion, so she could have affordable access to health care. […]

She described her new coverage as “literally a miracle” when it comes to treating her chronic condition. “I’m not cured—I’ll never be cured. But I don’t writhe in spasms 12 times a day,” she said. “I think that’s pretty good!”

Fisher Hardaway has no great love for Gov. Rick Perry. "If Rick Perry had to go without insurance like I did, he would change things pretty quick, I think," she told ThinkProgress. "It’s very selfish to me. There are hundreds of thousands of people like me who are still struggling, stuck between a rock and a hard place."

There are still about 5 million people stuck there, not able to qualify for regular Medicaid and in states that refused to take the expansion, out of pure political spite. The stories ThinkProgress tells are the stories that could be happening in every single state, that should be happening in every state. It can happen in Texas and it can happen in Florida—the states with the highest number of uninsured residents—and it can happen in Wisconsin and in Maine with Democratic governors.

Help us elect a slate of Democratic governors, and give the promise of health care to millions of Americans. Please give $3 to our endorsed candidates.

Vote Button Voting by mail is convenient, easy, and defeats the best of the GOP's voter suppression efforts. Sign up here to check eligibility and vote by mail, then get your friends, family, and coworkers to sign up as well. The people profiled by ThinkProgress aren't remarkable, and their stories should not be, either. People getting the health care they need should warrant any attention by the media—it should just be how it works in this country. If we elect a few more Democrats to office, it will be.

Open thread: Police shootings, Stand Your Ground and social justice

Sat, 10/18/2014 - 17:00

What's coming up on Sunday Kos ...

  • California Prisons, Newt Gingrich, and broken clocks, by Susan Grigsby
  • A fiery prophet for social justice and for why we must vote: Rev. William Barber, by Denise Oliver Velez
  • Stand Your Ground: Women and blacks need not apply, by Dante Atkins
  • Fox's Keith Ablow: Obama not protecting us from Ebola because his 'affinities' are with Africa, by Hunter
  • How Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker shows contempt for the working poor, by Mark E Andersen
  • Is it legal for the police to shoot an unarmed, surrendered citizen, by Shaun King
  • Will Republicans succeed using Ebola & ISIS to manipulate the American psyche, by Egberto Willies
  • Zombie lies: Debunked or not, right-wing talking heads won't let them die, by Ian Reifowitz

Yes, it's true: Police only shot four people (and nobody died) in all of England the past two years

Sat, 10/18/2014 - 16:00
Non-Violence, a sculpture by Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd, in Malmö, Sweden. Earlier this year my family and I had a chance to travel the world. I had just received a generous advance for my first book, all of our kids were being homeschooled, and the lease was up on our Southern California home. As a family we had crossed the Texas border into Mexico one time, but we had never actually used our passports before. We saw the opportunity to escape the American bubble for an extended trip as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the six of us. What we saw in London and Paris and throughout South Africa during our months abroad was postcard-worthy, but now that we’re back in the states, one thing has stuck with me: For good reason, people view our country like it’s the wild, wild west—and our police are front and center in this popular opinion.

Jump below the fold for more.

Spotlight on green news & views: Protest in the Pacific, boom is not all it's fracked up to be

Sat, 10/18/2014 - 15:00
Vanuatans prepare for protest

Many environmentally related posts appearing at Daily Kos each week don't attract the attention they deserve. To help get more eyeballs, Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The most recent Wednesday Spotlight can be seen here. So far, more than 19,790 environmentally oriented diaries have been rescued for inclusion in this weekly collection since 2006. Inclusion of a diary in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.

"We are not drowning. We are fighting."—by boatsie: "Paddling out in hand-made canoes from Australia's Horseshoe Beach, twelve Pacific Island nations early this morning blockaded coal ships as they approached Newcastle, the world’s largest coal port. Late last night Australia time, as the small flotilla returned to shore, only four of twelve ships approaching the port, including two coal ships, had broken through their blockade. Now that is what I call an event of awesome beauty. Of heroic desperation. A poignant battle cry so primal in its power it ought to ignite a vehement, almost voracious response from around the globe. 'For 20 years we’ve asked world leaders to take action to stop polluting the atmosphere. We cannot wait longer. Now, warriors of the Pacific are rising peacefully to protect the Pacific Islands from climate change. 
Our message: We are not drowning. We are fighting.'" green dots Momentum builds in Louisiana, the latest front in the fight against coal exports—by Mary Anne Hitt: "In recent weeks, something amazing has been happening in the Gulf Coast of Louisiana—communities have been standing up and casting votes to ring the alarm about proposed coal export projects. As U.S. coal use has declined, mining companies are looking for a future in international markets. And while most people might think of the Pacific Northwest as ground zero for planned coal export facilities, the Gulf Coast is home to over a dozen proposed coal export terminals as well. Thankfully, as the plans to export coal through the state grow, so does the opposition from local residents.
Case in point - the small town of Gretna, Louisiana, in Jefferson Parish. This is a historic metro area of New Orleans, and it's also the site of a proposed coal export project called the RAM coal export terminal. If constructed, the facility could see some six to eight million tons of coal and refinery waste exported overseas every year (that's about six coal-fired power plants worth of coal). It would add to the dust and water pollution burden in the communities it neighbors by sending mile-long, uncovered coal trains running through historic neighborhoods, and it also threatens the state's vital coastal restoration projects."
green dots madrona big sheets The Daily Bucket - madrona shedding season—by OceanDiver: "Clinging tenaciously to dry rocky bluffs, madrona trees settle into the autumn season with a flamboyant display of color. It's quite unlike the leafy shades of red that briefly decorate deciduous forests before those trees drop their foliage and subside into the colorless dormancy of winter. The bright colors of madronas come from their bark, varying and persisting throughout year, renewed each autumn by a thin outer layer falling away. Arbutus menziesii is a lovely iconic tree that stands out in the coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest, remarkable in many ways. In contrast to the telephone-pole-straight trunks typical of conifers, it grows in randomly beautiful curvaceous forms which makes each tree unique. It flourishes on rock with minimal soil and its large glossy broadleaf foliage is evergreen. Its wood and flowers and fruits are special too."

You can find more rescued green diaries below the sustainable squiggle.

This week in the war on workers: $10.10 minimum wage could save the government $7.6 billion

Sat, 10/18/2014 - 12:55
Bar graph showing percent of people in different hourly wage brackets who receive means-tested public assistance. Unsurprisingly, public assistance goes down as wages go up. Hey, surprise. When companies like Walmart and McDonald's pay low wages, their workers have to go on public assistance. And that means that low wages lead to higher public assistance use. In fact, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would save the government $7.6 billion a year, because working people would be paid enough to live on:
  • About half of all workers in the bottom 20 percent of wage earners (roughly anyone earning less than $10.10) receive public assistance in the form of Medicaid and the six primary means-tested income-support programs, either directly or through a family member. [...]
  • Workers in the bottom 20 percent of wage earners receive over $45 billion in government assistance each year from the six primary means-tested income-support programs.
  • Roughly half of all public assistance dollars from means-tested income-support programs that go to working individuals go to workers with wages below $10.10.
  • If the minimum wage were raised to $10.10, more than 1.7 million American workers would no longer rely on public assistance programs.
  • Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would reduce government expenditures on current income-support programs by $7.6 billion per year—and possibly more, given the conservative nature of this estimate. This would allow these funds to be repurposed into either new programs or expansions of existing programs to further leverage the poverty-fighting impact of this spending.
  • Safety net programs would save 24 cents for every additional dollar in wages paid to workers affected by a minimum-wage increase to $10.10.
Continue reading below the fold for more of the week's labor and education news.

Saturday nutpick-a-palooza: The communist plot against conservative self-esteem

Sat, 10/18/2014 - 12:00

This week's source material:

Screenshot of World News Daily story DISTURBING MYSTERY AFFECTING YOUR FAVORITE NEWS SITES Those who run watchdog news websites are scratching their heads and trying to make sense of the latest data released by a California company that measures website traffic.

According to data for July through September, almost every major website – from WND to the Drudge Report and Breitbart – saw its rankings drop on Alexa.com while pro-government sites mostly went up.

1) No one gives a shit about Alexa. Seriously, no one. Well, except these guys apparently.

2) Alexa is in California? Mystery solved! It's a commie plot.

Familiar names in alternative media like the Drudge Report, Breitbart, Infowars, the Blaze, Newsmax, WND, FoxNews.com, and the Daily Caller all saw their rankings plummet while sites such as NPR.org, the Daily Kos, Democracy Now!, Media Matters and ThinkProgress all rose in the rankings. The only explanation is communism.
Alexa purports to measure the traffic of thousands of websites around the world and then assigns a ranking to each site. The lower the number the higher the ranking of the website.

The data can be important because it is used, along with that collected by a handful of similar companies like Comscore, Quantcast and Google Analytics, to determine placement of advertisements that websites rely on to pay the bills and keep running.

1) No one gives a shit about Alexa. Didn't I already mention this? No advertiser gives a shit about Alexa, no Google network ad gives a shit about Alexa. You know who gives a shit about Alexa? No one, that's who. Oh, except these jokers.

2) Still no one gives a shit about Alexa.

Tucker Carlson, founder of Washington, D.C.-based the Daily Caller, said the data being put out by Alexa doesn’t square with that being reported by his own analytics.

“We had 13,557,850 unique visitors in September,” Carlson told WND. “By comparison, we had 12,784,656 uniques in August, so Alexa would be wrong if they’re reading the data correctly.”

That would all be well and good if Alexa measured unique visitors. It doesn't. It's a relative ranking. Daily Caller could see increased traffic, yet drop in Alexa ratings if, say, Daily Kos sees an even bigger increase in traffic. That's why no one gives a shit about Alexa. No one gives a shit about your relative rating. They care about how many eyeballs you reach and the demographics of those people. I'd actually forgotten Alexa existed, and hadn't visited in probably 4-5 years, and guess what? I still haven't gone back and visited, because smart people don't give a shit about Alexa.

But hey, when there are ebola-infected commies under your bed, you've got to strike hard against the enemy when they attempt to damage your self-esteem by showing you the reality that liberal sites are growing relative to the rest of the web, and conservative sites -- like their movement -- are stagnating. It's hard to keep those irrelevant Alexa ratings up when your base is dying off by the month. So don't worry conservative sites with falling Alexa ratings! No one gives a shit about your Alexa ratings! The fact that you've only won more votes in one of the last five presidential elections? Now that's something we can heartily point to and laugh.

But how hurt is their self-esteem? Head below the fold and find out.

This week in the war on voting: SCOTUS gives TX voter ID law the go-ahead, AR tosses its ID law

Sat, 10/18/2014 - 11:00
NC voting suppression protest This week in the war on voting is a joint project of Joan McCarter and Meteor Blades

Goal ThermometerThe U.S. Supreme Court ruled Saturday that Texas can use the voter ID law it originally passed in 2011 in the upcoming election. For the moment, that puts the kibosh on challenges to the law that have ensued ever since. It was a bitter defeat for Obama Department of Justice and other plaintiffs who had argued that the Court should stay the decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to enforce the ID law this election cycle. The appeals court had itself on Oct. 14 stayed a 143-page district court decision following a two-week trial saying the ID law discriminates against minorities, the young and the poor who are less likely than older, more affluent white voters to have the mandated forms of ID necessary to cast a ballot.

Early voting begins Monday in Texas.

The High Court's ruling, the fourth in three weeks affecting major voting law changes, was unsigned, as is usual in such cases. But Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a six-page dissent joined by her colleagues Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

The law requires that, before voting, citizens must present a driver's license, passport, military ID or Texas gun license. Student IDs and tribal IDs of American Indians are among the forms Texas will not accept as valid for voting, making the law one of the strictest in the nation. Adam Liptak reports:

Those requirements, Justice Ginsburg wrote, “may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5 percent of all registered voters) from voting for lack of compliant identification.”

“A sharply disproportionate percentage of those voters are African American or Hispanic,” she added, adding that “racial discrimination in elections in Texas is no mere historical artifact.”

Texas officials had argued that there was no evidence that the ID law would disenfranchise so many people, no proof any legislator supporting the law had a discriminatory intent and that the decision of plaintiffs to seek a trial in the lower court so close to the election instead of in 2015 was "opportunistic." Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican gubernatorial candidate who is favored to beat Democrat Wendy Davis, had labeled the lower court ruling "preposterous" and said Judge Nelva Gonzales-Ramos decision had ignored evidence presented by the state.

This isn't the end of the voter ID case. Neither the Fifth Circuit that stayed the Gonzales' ruling nor the Supreme Court that backed up that stay have ruled on the law's constitutionality.

More on the war on voting continues below the orange butterfly ballot.

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