Franklin County Democrats

The official site of the Democratic Party of Franklin County, Missouri

Browsing Posts published in June, 2014

Crooks and Liars has this story of a new product that is sure to be an essential part of any right-wing terrorists’ day out defending liberty.

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This month in The Atlantic is an interesting article about the declining influence of conservative Christians.  The Great Secession notes that some conservative Christians are dealing with social change by walling themselves off from the rest of society.  The author believes this is a no-win situation.  His inspiration for writing the article was an incident that took place in our state.

A few months ago, an odd news story out of St. Louis caught my eye. A Christian-owned dog-walking business had fired, so to speak, a customer who supported legalizing marijuana. “We simply said it was against the idea of being clean and sober-minded and treating your body as a temple to the Holy Spirit,” one of the service’s owners told The Huffington Post.

The service, Pack Leader, Plus (motto: “Faith. Family. Dogs.”), is not alone in its determination to shut its doors to un-Christian custom. Religious business owners have declined to provide services for gay weddings and commitment ceremonies and refused to offer insurance that covers certain kinds of contraception (as in the Hobby Lobbycase that came through the Supreme Court this term). Mississippi passed legislation in April allowing businesses to claim a religious defense if sued for discrimination; Arizona almost passed such a law (after intense debate, the governor vetoed it); similar measures are in the offing elsewhere. The apparent aim of these bills is to let people like caterers, bakers, photographers, and florists decline to provide services for gay weddings or gay-pride events. But the laws are written broadly and could be used to defend discrimination of many sorts. “We’re trying to protect Missourians from attacks on their religious freedom,” the sponsor of one such bill told The Kansas City Star.

Are Catholics and Baptists the new Amish?

Over the decades, religious traditionalists’ engagement with American secular life has waxed and waned. After the public-relations disaster of the Scopes evolution trial in the 1920s, many conservative Christians recoiled from politics, only to come out swinging in the 1970s, when the Moral Majority and other elements of what came to be called the religious right burst onto the scene. If you believe in cultural cycles, perhaps we’re due for another withdrawal. Certainly, the breakthrough of gay marriage has fed disillusionment and bewilderment. “I suspect the initial reaction among evangelicals is going to be retreat and hope to be left alone,” Maggie Gallagher, a prominent gay-marriage opponent, recently told The Huffington Post.

Still, the desire to be left alone takes on a pretty aggressive cast when it involves slamming the door of a commercial enterprise on people you don’t approve of. The idea that serving as a vendor for, say, a gay commitment ceremony is tantamount to “endorsing” homosexuality, as the new religious-liberty advocates now assert, is a far-reaching proposition, one with few apparent outer boundaries in a densely interwoven mercantile society. It suggests a hair-trigger defensiveness about religious identity that would have seemed odd just a few years ago. As far as I know, during the divorce revolution it never occurred to, say, Catholic bakers to tell remarrying customers, “Your so-called second marriage is a lie, so take your business elsewhere.” That would have seemed not so much principled as bizarre.

What’s the problem with ‘being left alone?”

The problem is that what the social secessionists are asking for does not seem all that reasonable, especially to young Americans. When Christian businesses boycott gay weddings and pride celebrations, and when they lobby and sue for the right to do so, they may think they are sending the message “Just leave us alone.” But the message that mainstream Americans, especially young Americans, receive is very different. They hear: “What we, the faithful, really want is to discriminate. Against gays. Maybe against you or people you hold dear. Heck, against your dog.”

I wonder whether religious advocates of these opt-outs have thought through the implications. Associating Christianity with a desire—no, a determination—to discriminate puts the faithful in open conflict with the value that young Americans hold most sacred. They might as well write off the next two or three or 10 generations, among whom nondiscrimination is the 11th commandment.

What else can a good Christian do?

There is, of course, a very different Christian tradition: a missionary tradition of engagement and education, of resolutely and even cheerfully going out into an often uncomprehending world, rather than staying home with the shutters closed. In this alternative tradition, a Christian photographer might see a same-sex wedding as an opportunity to engage and interact: a chance, perhaps, to explain why the service will be provided, but with a moral caveat or a prayer. Not every gay customer would welcome such a conversation, but it sure beats having the door slammed in your face.

This much I can guarantee: the First Church of Discrimination will find few adherents in 21st-century America. Polls find that, year by year, Americans are growing more secular. The trend is particularly pronounced among the young, many of whom have come to equate religion with intolerance. Social secession will only exacerbate that trend. It is a step toward precisely the future that brought such fear to the eyes of that woman in Philadelphia. For religious traditionalists, it is a step toward isolation and opprobrium—a step bad for society, but even worse for religion. So please, you people in St. Louis: walk those dogs, for God’s sake.

 

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich explains how the Koch Brothers are in a league by themselves in regard to political spending.

He’s done it again.  Jon Stewart’s analysis exposes that GOP talking points can boomerang and if the thrower forgets to put their hands up may be hit right in the mouth.  A kind of Blunt force trauma.  Enjoy this video, it’s a good one!

This video lasts a little over a minute but drives home the point that there is strength in numbers.  Enjoy your weekend and come on down to the Pacific Car Show and Cruise Night.  See you there.

Wendell Potter explains how Making Insurers Do The Right Thing Saves Billions

The chairman of the committee, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, (D-W.Va.), then decided to explore the issue further. After examining years of reports filed by insurance companies, the committee found that, as Rockefeller said Wednesday, “many of the policies health insurance companies were selling to families and businesses were just not a good value” because of their low medical loss ratios.

At Rockefeller’s insistence, the Affordable Care Act included a provision that requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of our premiums on medical care and no more than 20 percent on overhead, including executive salaries and profits. That single provision — which went into effect in 2011 — has saved consumers billions of dollars in just two years.

As I explained to the committee last Wednesday, consumers benefit from the minimum MLR requirement in two significant ways. First, insurers are now operating more cost-efficiently to stay in compliance with the law. As a result, many policyholders are paying lower premiums than they would have been charged otherwise. Second, if an insurer fails to comply and spends less than 80 percent on medical care — or 85 percent in the large group market — it has to issue rebates to its policyholders.

Jonathon Chait has penned Republicans Finally Admit Why They Hate The Affordable Care Act.  Talk about a fun read be sure to include this one.  Looking back at all the Republican talking points with all their certainty of impending doom only to have reality illustrate that doom has indeed come – for the talking points.  Remember these?

Just within the last week, numerous predictions of Obamacare skeptics have suffered ignominious deaths. Consider a few:

1. Obamacare is mostly just signing up customers who already had insurance. The basis for this claim was a preliminary survey conducted by McKinsey last year, well before the first enrollment period for Obamacare was complete. It generated massive coverage in the right-wing media. Since then, newer data has shown much higher figures. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey finds that 57 percent of enrollees lacked insurance previously.

2. Obamacare isn’t even significantly reducing the ranks of the uninsured. This claim built on the previous one — it combined the prediction few people would sign up for new coverage with the prediction that those who did were mostly insured. “CBO has projected that 14 million previously uninsured Americans would gain coverage under the law. With about ten weeks left in this year’s enrollment period, we’re looking at a coverage expansion of less than a million,” suggested Republican health-care adviserAvik Roy.

Measuring the population lacking insurance is historically complex and imprecise, but we now have a bevy of measures showing that Obamacare has already made a huge dent in the uninsured population. Gallup has showed the uninsured rate dropping by about a quarter. A report finds the uninsured rate in Minnesota has fallen by 40 percent. A study of numerous cities by the Robert Woods Johnson foundation projections projects declines of about 60 percent by 2016 in municipalities whose states expanded Medicaid, and half that in states where Republicans have maintained the party’s boycott of Obamacare.

There are more examples of GOP talking points that once rode the Fox News airwaves that now reside in the bottom of a cylindrical receptacle.  But why does the right really hate Obamacare?

It is true that Obamacare is far more helpful to people lower down the income scale. The poorest people get Medicaid, which is free. Those higher up the income ladder get tax credits, which phase out at $45,000 a year for an individual, and $94,000 a year for a family of four. (I wouldn’t call people earning under those levels “poor.”) Of course, people who get employer-sponsored insurance also get their coverage paid for with “other peoples’ money.” The difference is that employer-sponsored insurance uses a tax deduction, which gives the largest benefits to those who earn the most money, as opposed to Obamacare’sy sliding scale tax credit, which gives the most to those who earn the least.

Repubs Against

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