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LA Times on the effort to curtail personal vaccine exemptions in CA:

The vaccination debate has reached fever pitch. Legislation has passed in the state Senate that would do away with the "personal belief exemption" that allows parents in California to refuse to vaccinate their children. As it moves to the Assembly, opponents are ratcheting up their rhetoric, calling the bill a huge intrusion on their rights, and one that is written so broadly that even children with conditions that make vaccinations dangerous for them wouldn't be entitled to exemptions.

The noise surrounding SB 277 is drowning out the truth, which is this: In general, parents have a right to make medical decisions for their children. But when it comes to communicable diseases, which can have devastating consequences on large groups of people, there also is a general societal right to protect public health.

It just happened in Vermont:
Gov. Peter Shumlin has signed without fanfare the legislation that removes the philosophical exemption from Vermont's vaccination law.

On the heels of a polarized and emotional public debate at the Legislature this year, Shumlin signed the bill privately in his office early Thursday afternoon, according to spokesman Scott Coriell.

The exemption is to end July 1, 2016.

Politico has a piece semi-defending Dennis Hastert:
The specific charges against Hastert involve “structured withdrawals,” Hastert is alleged to have taken down a series of transfers from financial institutions all just under the ten thousand dollar reporting threshold, allegedly to evade reporting them to the government. As an add on, Hastert is accused of having lied to federal investigators when questioned about these withdrawals.

These reporting requirements, first adopted in 1970 and recently expanded in the USA Patriot Act—a notable legislative accomplishment, ironically, of Dennis Hastert—were designed to furnish tools for law enforcement in combatting money laundering and drug trafficking. Are the feds saying that Hastert is a money launderer or a drug trafficker? No. What exactly was wrong with his unreported withdrawals? There is a strong suggestion of improper purpose, but the indictment is sparing with the facts.

Hastert is so screwed. Good luck defending him.
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It's Friday, so forget politics for three minutes and watch these felines have a blast
 in a cardboard cat maze. Notice they can't even herd themselves. Best part after 2:05.


Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2009Clarity on Torture Photos a No-Brainer:

Since the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph published their first error-filled stories last week about withheld torture photos, there's been a gradual festering that finally erupted in the past two days.
owl
I was personally suspicious after reading the Telegraph's May 15 story last week claiming that the Australian channel SBS had shown previously unshown photos. When I saw the photo included with the Telegraph's story that was first posted in this regard, it rang a bell. Sure enough, a few minutes on the Google proved to me that it was identical to one of the 15 shown by SBS in February 2006. A naked, hooded prisoner, hanging upside down from an equally naked bunk-bed frame. Only the manner in which his genitals were censored was different. You can see the Telegraph's version here and SBS's via the BBC here. Here's an archive of all the SBS photos from 2006 if you have the stomach for it.

Having my skepticism all but confirmed by this, I took out my trusty phone card and called SBS. It was the weekend in Australia, so I couldn't get the boss. But, I was told by a staffer of the program "Dateline" that contrary to the Telegraph's claims, the station had not shown any photos the night before the newspaper's story was published that had not previously been shown in 2006. [...]

The entire imbroglio stems from the administration's decision not to release 44 photographs to the ACLU, which has - and they deserve our undying thanks for this - sought for six years to acquire ALL documents, photos and videos of torture and abuse at ALL prisons (known and secret) used to house terror suspects. Not for purposes of some voyeuristic desire to watch torture porn, but to build cases against torturers and those who ordered torture.


Tweet of the Day
Evil people often find great success their entire lives, then die completely unrepentant and completely unpunished. Sorry 'bout that.
@TheTweetOfGod


On today's encore Kagro in the Morning show, it's the June 2, 2014 episode. Greg Dworkin rounds up top stories, including the POW exchange, the EPA's new emissions rules (and all the controversy that comes with them), the VA, and how Gop intransigence accidentally yielded a national health care exchange. A musical interlude from Lauren Mayer (aka PsychoSuperMom), "GOP Hypocrisy Blues." An extended discussion of the issues wrapped up in the POW swap. Another open carry demonstration, this time hijacking the Home Depot brand. And now, even the NRA recognizes that this is kind of dumb. And speaking of guns & dumb, Scott Brown is tangled up in something weird & getting weirder.



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Fri May 29, 2015 at 07:30 PM PDT

Jeb Bush’s four percent fraud

by Jon Perr

There's an old Monty Python sketch in which a "Face the Press" interviewer grills the Minister for Home Affairs:
"You claimed that you would build 88,000 million, billion houses a year in the Greater London area alone. In fact, you've built only three in the last fifteen years. Are you a bit disappointed with this result?"
Given some of the recent pronouncements of his campaign, it's easy to imagine President Jeb Bush being subjected to similar shaming. After all, Jeb has been promising for months that if elected he will deliver four percent annual economic growth for the American people. As it turns out, since Ike was in the White House only two presidents—Democrats John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson—averaged at least 4 percent GDP growth over their tenures. And no President named Bush ever reached that mark even once in 12 years.

Nevertheless, Reuters last week offered a fawning story ("How an off-the-cuff remark shaped Jeb Bush's economic vision for U.S.") about how Jeb came up with that magical target, if not any details on how he might hit it:

There were no fancy economic models or forecasts when former Florida Governor Jeb Bush first tossed out the idea that 4 percent annual growth should be the overarching goal for the U.S. economy.

But what started as a casual suggestion during a 2010 conference call with advisers to the George W. Bush Institute, a public policy center in Dallas, has now become the central economic idea of Bush's developing run for the White House.

Last Thursday, Jeb explained to a New Hampshire audience the birth of his sound bite:
"It's a nice round number. It's double the growth that we are growing at. It's not just an aspiration. It's doable."
Four is a nice round number. (It's also an even number and the square of two.) But so far, Bush has offered neither a plan for how he'll achieve it nor a reason why Americans should trust anyone named Bush to run the economy at all.

Head below the fold for more Bush strategy.

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Television commentator Bill O'Reilly checks himself in a mirror prior to interviewing Bono, lead singer of the Irish rock group U2, during the third night of the 2004 Republican National Convention, at Madison Square Garden in New York, September 1, 2004.
Gallup recently released a poll showing that for the first time since they began examining American's views on social issues in 1999, liberals have pulled even with conservatives.
Gallup first asked Americans to describe their views on social issues in 1999, and has repeated the question at least annually since 2001. The broad trend has been toward a shrinking conservative advantage, although that was temporarily interrupted during the first two years of Barack Obama's presidency. Since then, the conservative advantage continued to diminish until it was wiped out this year.

The newfound parity on social ideology is a result of changes in the way both Democrats and Republicans describe their social views. The May 6-10 Gallup poll finds a new high of 53% of Democrats, including Democratic-leaning independents, describing their views on social issues as liberal.

"How can that be" asked an incredulous Bill O'Reilly to his equally perplexed audience. His calcified brain unable to fully compute this changing landscape, Bill decided that simpletons too stupid to walk erect were to blame. That, and the fact that "the net has taken people away from the real world and put them in a fantasy world," unlike, say, Fox News.

Please join me over the fold to see just how far Bill has his head up his own tuchus.

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Reposted from Daily Kos Labor by Laura Clawson
Group of Diverse Students Celebrating Graduation
This year's high school and college graduates don't face as dire an employment picture as graduates during and immediately after the recession, but that doesn't mean they've got it easy. According to a new Economic Policy Institute report, both unemployment and underemployment remain high for young workers—there's 7.2 percent unemployment and 14.9 percent underemployment among young college graduates, where in 2007, before the recession, the same group had 5.5 percent unemployment and 9.6 percent underemployment. For young high school graduates, the unemployment rate is a shocking 19.5 percent, with underemployment close to twice that. And young black and Latino people face an even worse employment picture.

Not only is unemployment high, but wages are stagnant:

The real (inflation-adjusted) wages of young high school graduates are 5.5 percent lower today than in 2000, and the wages of young college graduates are 2.5 percent lower.
  • Women in particular have seen large declines in hourly wages, among both high school and college graduates.
And college graduates, while they have much better odds of finding work than do high school graduates, face significant debt, with college costs having more than doubled in the past 30 years:
Between 2004 and 2014, there was a 92 percent increase in the number of student loan borrowers and a 74 percent increase in average student loan balances (according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York).
But you know the Republican answer to this—screw creating jobs or alleviating student debt, Republicans just want to talk about bootstraps.
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Reposted from Barriers and Bridges by Shaun King
Family photo of Tanisha Anderson
Tanisha Anderson
“They killed my sister,” Joell Anderson, Tanisha’s 40-year-old brother said as he fought back tears. “I watched it.”

Suffering a mental health breakdown on the evening of November 12, Tanisha's family called 911 so that she could be taken to a hospital. Instead of an ambulance, the police arrived. Like so many other families who sought medical attention for their loved ones, police killed Tanisha just a few minutes after arriving.

Could you ever imagine the scenario in which people watched two men slam the head of a police officer on the ground, ignore him while he died, and delay medical support until it was too late? Could you imagine six months after such an incident that investigation was still ongoing and no charges had been brought while the men who killed the officer walked free?

It would never happen. Ever.

Such is the outrageous case with Tanisha Anderson.

Family members who lived with Anderson dialed 911 to request medical assistance after Anderson became disoriented and walked out of her house into the cold, wearing only a nightgown, according to the court filing. After the officers arrived and escorted Anderson to their car, the family says, she began to panic. Family members allege that Aldridge then grabbed Anderson, "slammed her to the sidewalk, and pushed her face into the pavement," and then pressed his knee on her back and handcuffed her, while Myers assisted in restraining her. Within moments, Anderson lost consciousness, the family members said. The lawsuit also alleges that when family members asked the officers to check on her condition, the officers "falsely claimed she was sleeping" and delayed calling for medical assistance. "During the lengthy time that Tanisha lay on the ground," the family said, Aldridge and Myers "failed to provide any medical attention to Tanisha."
As Tanisha called out for her brother and mother, an officer used a “Judo” take down move after having pressed her head down repeatedly in the backseat in what seemed to be a “smothering” manner, Joell Anderson said.

Joell says that after she hit her head on the concrete, and the officer placed his knee on her back, she never opened her eyes or spoke another word.

To add insult to injury, Joell says that his sister’s sundress was lifted above her waist, where it remained as officers refused to administer any aid to the unconscious woman. Joell says that he was forced to go over and use his own jacket to cover her naked lower body, because police would not, even when he asked them to.

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Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.
This is what happens when you let this guy do the thinking for you.
Engage in a bit of pretend for a moment. Pretend we're three or four weeks in the future and pretend that the Supreme Court has ruled in King v. Burwell that the IRS interpreted Obamacare incorrectly all along, so some 8 million people aren't really supposed to be getting subsidies for insurance. Now pretend like, in the intervening month, Republicans have actually been able to both create and coalesce behind the "plan" they've been tossing around, get it passed in both chambers, and not vetoed by President Obama. Given all that, what would that mean for the law, for all the people directly affected, and for everyone else. Disaster, says a new issue brief from the American Academy of Actuaries. Greg Sargent reports:
The group looks at both the idea of a temporary continuation of subsidies, and of the repeal of the individual mandate—both of which have been discussed as part of various GOP contingency fix plans, such as the one offered by Tea Party Senator Ron Johnson, which is backed by dozens of GOP Senators, including the leadership.

Doing away with the mandate, the group concludes, would "threaten the viability of the health insurance market." If the GOP alternative also keeps protections against people with preexisting conditions—which Republicans generally favor, perhaps because they're popular—those with "lower cost health care needs" will drop coverage, meaning the average costs of those left behind will be higher. This "could result in adverse selection that would raise premiums."

The group also concludes that "a temporary extension of premium subsidies" might succeed in delaying the disruption of markets. But it notes that if the temporary subsidies are made available only to those who are currently getting them, and not to new enrollees—an idea that has been circulating—that, too, could create problems. It would result in "lower overall enrollment in the individual market, as some individuals would transition out of coverage, but few would transition in," causing the "risk profile of the market to deteriorate somewhat."

Since we're only talking about a temporary extension, because remember Johnson's plan has them only extend until after he's re-elected, it's only delaying the inevitable disaster—millions dropping insurance when they eventually lose their subsides and the scenario in which "premiums will increase substantially, unless other equally strong mechanisms are implemented." Which will drive more people out of the market and inevitably destabilize. This, Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation tells Sargent, makes actuaries' heads "explode over the prospect of an insurance market where people with pre-existing conditions are guaranteed coverage but there are no subsidies or an individual mandate." That because when there is no mechanism to compel people to be insured and insurers are required to take all comers—generally the sick people—they would have to rise premiums. That means, Levitt says, "all people buying insurance in the individual market, not just those receiving subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, would pay more." So they're not just wrecking things for Obamacare customers, they're wrecking the whole individual insurance market.

Of course, this isn't the inevitable outcome of a Supreme Court ruling. The court could rule for the administration and we can avoid this whole mess. Alternatively, as Sargent says they have a few options. Republicans could wake up to the destruction they've been egging on and decide to actually participate with congressional Democrats and President Obama to fix it. Since that's never going to happen, if they pass anything it'll be this plan that includes repealing the mandate. They know that's veto-bait and they want that plan vetoed so that they can blame all this on Obama. Or, and this seems likeliest because in five years they haven't been able to coalesce on a plan, they don't pass anything and they try to blame it all on Obama anyway. Because it's always his fault.

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Jail cell
Between San Diego and Los Angeles is Orange County, California. With more than 3 million residents, it's larger than 21 states. If Orange County were a separate country, its economy would be the 45th largest in the world. Now known for Disneyland, the county may soon be known for having one of the most corrupt justice systems in the world. The width and depth and duration of the corruption truly boggles the mind. A case that should've been open and shut has blown the lid off some deep secrets.

On October 12, 2011, Orange County experienced the deadliest mass killing in its modern history. Scott Dekraai killed 8 people, including his ex-wife, in a Seal Beach beauty salon. He was arrested wearing full body armor just a few blocks away. Without a doubt, Dekraai was the perpetrator. A dozen surviving witnesses saw him. He admitted to the shooting early on. Yet, nearly four years later, the case against him has all but fallen apart.

It turns out that prosecutors and police officers committed an egregious violation of Dekraai's rights—so much so that Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals shocked everyone and removed the Orange County District Attorney's Office, and all 250 prosecutors, from having anything more to do with the case.

The legal wrangling involved how Dekraai came to occupy a jail cell next to a prolific jailhouse informant. Prosecutors and jailers said it was a coincidence, but Dekraai's attorney insisted it was part of a widespread operation to elicit incriminating remarks from defendants who were represented by lawyers, a violation of their rights.

Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas' conflict of interest in the Dekraai case "is not imaginary," the judge wrote. "It apparently stems from his loyalty to his law enforcement partners at the expense of his other constitutional and statutory obligations."

It turns out that Orange County has a secret system of evidence manufacturing and storage that they have used in countless cases, and the collusion is unraveling dozens of cases and may soon unravel the careers of countless prosecutors and law enforcement officers who've maintained it for decades. It's called TRED.
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From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…

Words of Wisdom for 2015 Grads

"You're stepping into a world that's, well, pretty rough. It's pretty chaotic, pretty divisive. You've got climate change, you've got debt, you've got wars, you've got political paralysis. It's kind of a grim story. But the story, I think, can be retold. And I really believe that you're the ones to do it."
---Robert Redford, Colby College

"I’m here to tell you that activist is not a dirty word. And I’m here to tell your parents that, as well. I didn’t expect to be an activist---I sort of stumbled up on it because, in the words of Larry Kramer, one of the AIDS activists and a mentor of mine, you have to fight for what you love."
---Mark Ruffalo, Dickinson College

"While you’re on Mars, stroll by the Spirit, Opportunity, or Curiosity Mars rovers. Each is fitted with a photometric calibration target, a small sundial that serves as a test pattern for their cameras. Look closely. Engraved on each are these words: 'To those who visit here, we wish a safe journey and the joy of discovery.' The joy of knowing: that’s science. That’s what drives us. It brings out the best in us and makes our species worthy of the future."
---Bill Nye, Rutgers

"A new door is opening for you---a door to a lifetime of rejection. It's inevitable. How do you cope? I hear that Valium and Vicodin work."
---Robert DeNiro, NYU's Tisch School of
the Arts

"Hold on to your old friends. Kiss your Mama. Admit what your dreams are. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t know what you’re gonna do tomorrow. But work hard and don’t be lazy. And put away your damn phone once in a while. And be nice to jerks because we still don’t know the criteria for getting into heaven yet."
---Maya Rudolph, Tulane

"if you think today’s gridlock is bad, let me remind you that it was a good century between the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the passage of the civil rights legislation of the 1960s. And of all the women at the Seneca Falls women’s suffrage convention in 1848, just one lived to see women cast their votes. Just one. But these folks didn’t let the ugliness and the obstacles deter them."
---Michelle Obama, Oberlin

"Any standards worth having will be a challenge to meet. And most of the time, you will fall short. But what is nice about having your own set of standards is that from now on, you fill out your own report card. So do yourself a favor: be an easy grader. Score yourself on a curve. Give yourself extra credit. You have the power. You are your own professor now. Which I know is a little creepy because that means you’re showering with your professor. But you have tenure. They can’t fire you."
---Stephen Colbert, Wake Forest University

Congrats and happy world changing!

Your west coast-friendly edition of  Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Poll

Who won the week

12%233 votes
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| 1919 votes | Vote | Results

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Mental health and income
A new study from the Centers for Disease Control—Serious Psychological Distress Among Adults: United States, 2009–2013—confirms what common sense and the experts have long told us: The poor have more mental health problems than the rich. The study was derived from responses over five years in the in-person National Health Interview Survey. Jonathan Cohn reports:
The study, whose lead author is CDC epidemiologist Judith Weissman, does not address the issue of causality—in other words, whether mental health problems lead to more economic hardship or whether economic hardship leads to more mental health problems. But most researchers believe the process works in both directions.

Studies have shown, for example, that infants and toddlers growing up in low-income communities are more likely to experience the kind of “toxic stress” (neglect, abuse, seeing violence in the home) that can hinder brain development and lead to mental illness in adulthood. Additional studies have suggested, though not conclusively, that adults who become unemployed are more likely to develop depression.

At any rate, it's no surprise that people with mental health issues are more likely to have a tough time finding a good job or keeping one. And that means they are less likely to have health insurance that enables them to get treatment. The availability of mental health coverage through the Affordable Care Act should make some difference in this regard. But the CDC data are mostly too early to show whether there has already been change on that front. A study published last August indicated that a 2010 ACA provision allowing children aged 18-25 to get mental health coverage on their parents' insurance plans had boosted by 5.3 percent the proportion of this cohort that sought treatment for mental illness or disorders.

But, as Cohn points out, getting insurance doesn't solve all the problems for low-income people because many providers won't accept it and the out-of-pocket costs are often very high. The National Alliance on Mental Illiness is pushing for various fixes, including requiring insurers to post accurate directories of treatment providers that are accepting new patients, requiring them to publish standards they use to approve or deny mental health claims, requiring the federal Department of Health and Human Services to mandate that all health plans "provide clear, understandable, easy to access information about health benefits," and urging Congress and the executive branch to find ways to cut out-of-pocket costs for low-income Americans.

That ought to be an agenda item for activists who pledged years ago to improve an ACA that they feel falls short. As long as millions of Americans have no health insurance—for mental health matters as well as others—those pledges will remain unfulfilled.

Discuss
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) speaks about funding for the Department of Homeland Security during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington February 25, 2015. Conservative Republicans urged House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner no
Boehner gets his day in court, and a friendly judge.
Will it ever end? No. Remember how a year ago House Republicans were all up in arms over President Obama's executive actions on immigration? And how they were talking about impeachment? Remember how Speaker John Boehner mollified them? With a lawsuit against Obama for a completely unrelated executive action—delaying the employer mandate under Obamacare, which was something that they wanted to have happen, anyway, and to use Treasury funds that were not appropriated by Congress to pay for $175 billion in subsidies to Obamacare customers.

It took Boehner three tries to get a lawyer to take the case, and thus it ended up not being filed until November. The first hearing in the District Court for the District of Columbia was heard Thursday, a hearing on the White House's motion to dismiss the case and to determine whether Congress actually had standing to sue. But Judge Rosemary Collyer, a George W. Bush appointee, made it clear that she was far more interested in the substance of the case, and furthermore pretty damned hostile to the president, including at one point pondering whether impeachment might not be an option.

Justice Department attorney Joel McElvain opened his argument by describing the House's objections to the Obamacare rules by calling it an "abstract dispute over the implementation" of federal law, and the House therefore had no standing.

Collyer responded by saying, "You don't really think that." She later added, "This is the problem I have with your brief—it's just not direct, you have to address their arguments." She did acknowledge more than once that she was tougher on the administration's lawyer.

The judge also had pointed questions of the House GOP's attorney, George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley. Turley said that dismissing the lawsuit could limit the legislative branch's ability to combat future executive overreach. "That would mean that there's nothing we could do that would stop them," he said.

Collyer later responded in jest: "What about impeachment, is that an option?" She added, "I don't want to suggest… Don't anybody write that down."

McElvain went into the hearing to argue standing, and reasonably so because of that whole separation of powers thing in the Constitution which demands that disputes between the executive and Congress be worked out legislatively. There's also plenty of legal precedents "are pretty clear that members of Congress do not have standing to sue the executive," as Tim Jost, a Washington & Lee University law professor and Obamacare authority explains. "If they did, the litigation would be endless, as every time a president did something a member disagreed with, the courts would be dragged in." We'll see if Collyer puts much stock in precedent.
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Reposted from Comics by Barbara Morrill


Click to enlarge

The massive recall of cars with exploding airbags got me thinking about other things that are deadly and/or dangerous either by design or neglect.

The recall of the Patriot Act, or at least the sunset of its most pernicious sections, looks like it could really happen, thanks to Mitch McConnell being incredibly bad at Majority Leading the Senate. Unfortunately, everything else in this cartoon will probably be injuring/maiming/killing innocent people for years to come.

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