Monday Reads

Good Morning!

Lots of things don’t surprise me these days.  That would include the news that Clinton and Obama were more fiscally conservative than either of the Bush presidents or Ronald Reagan or Nixon or Ford.  For that matter, Carter came in third. Once again, evidence shows that Republican memes are lies.  Here’s a list of possible excuses for the Republican binges.

Let me anticipate some of your objections before you make them. (1) Reagan was fighting a war, he jacked up defense spending instead of discretionary spending, and he inherited a recession with inflation that might, well, inflate his numbers. This is all true, but expanding defense was Reagan’s choice, and a dollar spent, on no matter what, is a dollar taxed or borrowed. (2) Bush was fighting a war and battling a recession, too. Yes, but he had neither inflation nor a Great Recession. (3) Don’t play relativity games with me…too much government spending is too much government spending, even if Obama’s predecessors were worse! There is a time for government cuts, but it’s not when you have 9 percent unemployment and your interest rates are below 2%. (4) The language of Obamacare and financial reform are better indicators of big government than federal spending. It’s fair to measure government size by its total involvement in people’s lives, but that deserves a longer post. (5) We should be more concerned about the taxes and spending to come than the spending that has past. But they haven’t happened yet, so they’re not part of the president’s record.

Economix shows us how the recession has decreased the number of people that have health insurance. Some have lost coverage due to job loss. Some have lost insurance because their employers have scaled down benefits.

The share of children and working-age adults who had insurance through an employer fell 10 percentage points during the last recession, according to a study released on Thursday by the Center for Studying Health System Change, a nonpartisan research group in Washington.

From 2007 to 2010, the share of children and working-age adults with employer-sponsored coverage fell  to 53.5 percent from 63.6 percent, according to the study.

The major contributor to the decline was the loss of employment during the downturn, with almost a third of the people younger than 65 living in a family where no one was working, according to the study. The study is based on the center’s 2007 and 2010 Health Tracking Household Surveys.

The surge in unemployment, coupled with the steady deterioration of the number of employers offering coverage and the number of workers signing up for insurance, is causing a “steady erosion” in employer-based coverage, said Chapin White, a senior researcher at the center who is an author of the study.

I wrote a post on Saturday on how  the Obama administration seems to have back pedaled on its birth control coverage mandate for all but strict religious organizations.  It appears that by providing self-insurance, organizations can avoid having private insurers providing the benefit for them.  This would mean many schools, universities and hospitals–large employers of women–could avoid the mandate to provide women’s preventative health care.

Taking a conciliatory tone and asking for a wide range of public comment, the Obama administration announced this afternoon new accommodations on a controversial mandate requiring contraceptive coverage in health care plans.

Coming after a month of continued opposition from the U.S. bishops to the mandate, which was first revised in early February to exempt certain religious organizations, today’s announced changes from the Department of Health and Human Services make a number of concessions, including allowing religious organizations that self-insure to be made exempt.

It appears that the Administration has no problem with religious institutions discriminating against women or persons that don’t hold their specific views.

Romney’s won the Puerto Rican primaries.  While the delegates are apportioned, Romney’s margin of victory will still give him the entire delegation.

Mitt Romney will win Sunday’s Republican presidential primary in Puerto Rico, CNN projects, based on vote results obtained from local party and election officials.

At 8:35 p.m. ET, with about 23% of total ballots accounted for, the former Massachusetts governor had a substantial lead with more than 25,000 votes — or 83% of the vote.

Rick Santorum was a distant second, at 8% with slightly more than 2,500 votes.

The other two candidates, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, were further behind with 2% and 1% of the vote, respectively.

Speaking at a rally Sunday night in Vernon Hills, Illinois, Romney said that Puerto Rican voters were clear about which of the four candidates “most represent their feelings” — and especially their desire to nominate someone who can bring about a stronger economy and smaller government. He said his party can appeal to Latinos, and win the presidency, with a low-tax, pro-business message.

I’ve been watching this story unfold with absolute horror.  This one has the feel of something that will make the wind change.  Seventeen year old Trayvon Martin was killed by a neighborhood watch “captain” with a police fantasy and a racist mindset.  The more you hear about his killer, the more it will make you wonder about who lives in your neighborhood.

On February 26, 2012, a 17-year-old African-American named Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida. The shooter was George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old white man. Zimmerman admits killing Martin, but claims he was acting in self-defense. Three weeks after Martin’s death, no arrests have been made and Zimmerman remains free.

Here is what everyone should know about the case:

1. Zimmerman called the police to report Martin’s “suspicious” behavior, which he described as “just walking around looking about.” Zimmerman was in his car when he saw Martin walking on the street. He called the police and said: “There’s a real suspicious guy. This guy looks like he’s up to no good, on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around looking about… These a**holes always get away” [Orlando Sentinel]

2. Zimmerman pursued Martin against the explicit instructions of the police dispatcher:

Dispatcher: “Are you following him?”
Zimmerman: “Yeah”
Dispatcher: “OK, we don’t need you to do that.”

[Orlando Sentinel]

3. Prior to the release of the 911 tapes, Zimmerman’s father released a statement claiming “[a]t no time did George follow or confront Mr. Martin.” [Sun Sentinel]

4. Zimmerman was carrying a a 9 millimeter handgun. Martin was carrying a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. [ABC News]

5. Martin weighed 140 pounds. Zimmerman weighs 250 pounds. [Orlando Sentinel; WDBO]

6. Martin’s English teacher described him as “as an A and B student who majored in cheerfulness.” [Orlando Sentinel]

7. Martin had no criminal record. [New York Times]

8. Zimmerman “was charged in July 2005 with resisting arrest with violence and battery on an officer. The charges appear to have been dropped.” [Huffington Post]

9. Zimmerman called the police 46 times since Jan. 1, 2011. [Miami Herald]

10. According to neighbors, Zimmerman was “fixated on crime and focused on young, black males.” [Miami Herald]

11. Zimmerman “had been the subject of complaints by neighbors in his gated community for aggressive tactics” [Huffington Post]

12. A police officer “corrected” a key witness. “The officer told the witness, a long-time teacher, it was Zimmerman who cried for help, said the witness. ABC News has spoken to the teacher and she confirmed that the officer corrected her when she said she heard the teenager shout for help.” [ABC News]

13. Three witnesses say they heard a boy cry for help before a shot was fired. “Three witnesses contacted by The Miami Herald say they saw or heard the moments before and after the Miami Gardens teenager’s killing. All three said they heard the last howl for help from a despondent boy.” [Miami Herald]

14. The officer in charge of the crime scene also received criticism in 2010 when he initially failed to arrest a lieutenant’s son who was videotaped attacking a homeless black man. [New York Times]

15. The police did not test Zimmerman for drugs or alcohol. A law enforcement expert told ABC that Zimmerman sounds intoxicated on the 911 tapes. Drug and alcohol testing is “standard procedure in most homicide investigations.” [ABC News]

The police down here in New Orleans are considered to be so out of control that the DOJ may be taking over operations shortly.  We also have had several suspicious shootings down here recently. 

New Orleans police officials confirmed Thursday that the 20-year-old man who was fatally shot by a plain-clothed narcotics officer during a drug raid at a Gentilly house a day earlier was unarmed. New Orleans police officer Joshua Colclough, 28, fired a single shot Wednesday evening that killed Wendell Allen, 20. Police officials were guarded in their comments about the shooting Thursday, citing the ongoing investigation.

“We have not been able to yet completely understand what exactly occurred,” Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said Thursday.

The shooting took place inside a red-brick, two-story home at 2651 Prentiss Ave. in Gentilly. Officers were executing a search warrant at the home following a days-old probe of marijuana dealing. Serpas said officers later found drug paraphernalia and 138 grams of marijuana — about four and a half ounces — inside the residence.

It was the second fatal shooting of a suspect by police within a week in the NOPD’s 3rd District, a relatively sleepy swath of residential neighborhoods that stretch from Lakeview through Gentilly. In last week’s incident, in Mid-City, two officers were badly injured in a gunfight before the alleged gunman, 20-year-old Justin Sipp, was killed by police gunfire.

Here’s another horrifying story from NY.

A trans woman says that when she was arrested for a minor subway violation, NYPD officers belittled her, called her names, asked about her genitals — and kept her chained to a fence for 28 hours. Now she’s suing. And it turns out she’s far from alone.

In her lawsuit, Temmie Breslauer says she was arrested on January 12 in a subway station for illegally using her dad’s discount fare card (only seniors and people with disabilities can get these). She says the arresting officers — the suit names one, Officer Shah — laughed at her. When they took her to the station, a desk sergeant asked her “whether she had a penis or a vagina.” Breslauer explained that she was in transition. Then, instead of putting her with female inmates or in her own room, the department allegedly chose this course of action:

[S]he was fingerprinted, seated on a bench, then painfully chained to a fence wherein, for no apparent reason, her arm was lifted over her head and attached to the fence to make it appear that she was raising her hand in the classroom. She sat there in that position for 28 hours.

She also says officers not only refused to call her “she,” they instead referred to her as “He-She”, “Faggot,” and “Lady GaGa,” and asked her “So you like to suck dick? Or what?” Meanwhile, people arrested for the same minor crime (misdemeanor “theft of services”) she was were calmly processed and allowed to leave. Finally, she was able to go before a judge, who gave her two days of community service. She says the whole ordeal aggravated her existing PTSD and left her sleepless and suicidal.

Makes you wonder what ever happened to honest, decent people, doesn’t it?

So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?

32 Comments on “Monday Reads”

  1. janicen says:

    Great roundup bb.

    About the self insurance deal, I wonder just how much of a concession that is. Most of the companies employing over 10,000 people already self insure. Unless it’s changed since I worked in insurance, self insured policies are not subject to government mandate. Never have been. So I think what’s being presented as a concession, really isn’t much of a concession after all. Employers with fewer employees really aren’t in a position to self insure because they can’t afford the risk themselves, and the cost to reinsure is prohibitive on a smaller scale.

  2. janicen says:

    About the Trayvon Martin case, it’s clearly time that either the FL State Police or the FBI stepped in because the local police department is mishandling the case, possible because of it’s own corruption.

    • Fannie says:

      Frankly, I am scared to death that we are going back to the 50’s and 60’s. It’s truly crazy everywhere I look. We can’t just sit back and watch, we’ve to get on it, and put pressure on the justice departments, and police departments………

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    It is too painful watching Trayvon Martin’s mother crying for justice at the loss of her child. Unimaginable that this woman is having to fight a system that refuses to investigate a crime that is nothing short of murder.

    Why was Zimmerman allowed to prance all over the place with a loaded gun? Someone who calls law enforcement over 46 times is clearly sending a signal that all is not right with this person.

    How was he “cleared” to participate in a neigborhood watch? Why were his actions of taking the law into his own hands not subject to further review? How is he allowed to walk free?

    I too am urging the FBI to get involved if this is what it takes to get to the bottom of this travesty when a 15 yr old unarmed child is gunned down in cold blood by a trigger happy fool.

  4. Minkoff Minx says:

    Just saw this and it is disturbing: Nobel peace prize winner defends law criminalising homosexuality in Liberia | World news | The Guardian

    The Nobel peace prize winner and president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has defended a law that criminalises homosexual acts, saying: “We like ourselves just the way we are.”

    In a joint interview with Tony Blair, who was left looking visibly uncomfortable by her remarks, Sirleaf told the Guardian: “We’ve got certain traditional values in our society that we would like to preserve.”

    Liberian legislation classes “voluntary sodomy” as a misdemeanour punishable by up to one year in prison, but two new bills have been proposed that would target homosexuality with much tougher sentences.

    Blair, on a visit to Liberia in his capacity as the founder of the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), a charity that aims to strengthen African governments, refused to comment on Sirleaf’s remarks.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      And therein lies the problem.

      Refusing to “comment on Shierif’s remarks” gives silent support when public condemnation is required. We see too much of that tolerance toward the intolerant today as so many in the position to do so stand silently by and allow this crap to flourish.

      How is a Nobel Peace Prize awarded to someone whose inflammatory statements will only lead to more hatred and abuse?

      If the intolerant are allowed to utter this nonsense without fear of contradiction – as we have witnessed just in this primary season alone – than where does it stop?

      The correct answer is that it doesn’t if the majority sits on the sidelines and says nothing.

      Does Germany in the 1930’s ring a bell?

  5. Minkoff Minx says:

    Dak, I did not know about this crap from Obama on the insurance coverage…I have to go read your post right away. Oh it makes me mad.

    • NW Luna says:

      And on top of that, women are still paying more for health insurance

      The new health-care law will prohibit such “gender rating,” starting in 2014. But gaps persist in most states, with no evidence that insurers have taken steps to reduce them.

      For a popular Blue Cross Blue Shield plan in Chicago, a 30-year-old woman pays $375 a month, which is 31 percent more than what a man of the same age pays for the same coverage, according to, a leading online source of health insurance.

      In a report to be issued this week, the National Women’s Law Center, a research and advocacy group, says that in states that have not banned gender rating, more than 90 percent of the best-selling health plans charge women more than men. ….

      Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said the elimination of gender rating was one of the most important changes made by the health-care law, signed by President Obama on March 23, 2010.

      Separate and unequal is still the rule for women.

  6. Pat Johnson says:

    I am in a black mood today.

    I want to take every self righteous, bible beating moron with a “god chip” on their shoulders, and shove a grapefruit into their stupid faces while beating them over their heads with the “good book”.

    I want to stuff those pages down their moronic pieholes until they cry “uncle”.

    I want to shove their “conscience rules” up their butts until their eyes pop out of their heads.

    I can’t express enough how sick to death I am of this bullshit no matter who is leading this “Insanity Parade”.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I would love to see you do that!

    • HT says:

      Can I come along too?

    • peggysue22 says:

      Can I at least watch??? :0)

      The craziness does drive you . . . well, crazy. It’s hard to fight because there’s no way to reason with people who are convinced that their mythology is bigger and badder and oh, so self-righteously more superior than someone else’s reality. And I say this as a woman of faith though I fall more in the Diest category. I put away the personal gods and petty morality long ago.

      When I listen to someone like Rick Santorum, I’m reminded of growing up as a Catholic kid, a pretty devout Catholic kid, and then suddenly reaching the age, where you begin to question ‘stuff.’ My questions were not well received. In fact, I was told more than once just to shut up.

      In my mind, that’s the weakness in all the major faiths, particularly the fundamentalist variety–the oppressive authoritarianism, our way or the highway. The depressing thing [for me at least] is watching the American government move in the same direction. I don’t think it’s a stretch to recall 1930 Germany. We’re sliding into fascism. Religion and over-the-top patriotism [the constant mantra of American exceptionalism] is a great smokescreen.

  7. Pat Johnson says:

    I swear these people are turning me into a raving lunatic!

  8. Woman Voter says:

    Preacher introduces Rick Santorum at campaign rally by calling on Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, & all who don’t worship Jesus to “GET OUT”


    • Woman Voter says:

      So, the Natives have to pack up and “GET OUT” too??? Hate train…embraced by Rick Santorum.

    • dakinikat says:

      Welcome to my world. Accept jayzus or be hated.

      • Woman Voter says:

        Best friend is a Buddhist and we get invites to the special tea ceremonies and all the potlucks. Interesting as Pope John Paul II had made PEACE with the Natives prior to his death and asked apologized for all that was done to the Natives in the name of ‘Christianity’, so a bit alarmed on the Santorum Hate Train…will he go after everyone with hate?

    • Fannie says:

      Damn, sounds like a precusor to genocide, and cleansing from the white man.

    • NW Luna says:

      Santorum needs to be told to “Judge not lest you be judged,” and “you without sin, cast the first stone,” and “turn the other cheek.” The bigot doesn’t even live by the rules of his own religion.