Legalize All Drugs Now

I don’t make a business of having popular opinions, and this rates as one of my least popular opinions: legalize all drugs, destroy the narco black market tomorrow.

Some of these newly legal substances are more dangerous than others, a one-size-fits-all reform policy would be unworkable.

The first part to understand in my reform policy is that drug addiction is treated as a “disease” as in a medical disorder. All forms of chemical / substance abuse must be recognized legally as individual physical impairments. This effectively separates the non-violent drug offenders from violent offenders.

Drugs like marijuana that are not connected to cases of death via overdose would receive the same treatment as alcohol and tobacco. Regulating based on age restrictions and driving under the influence based on existing regulations regarding alcohol.

Drugs that fail the standard of “death via overdose” should be subject to prescription. Just as we already have a Methadone program, we should do away with this and model after them dispensaries that provide clean, safe environments for addicts to get access to recovery programs and their drugs in the same place. For free.

I feel that decriminalization may prove to be the viable solution to getting the non-violent drug offenders out of the criminal justice system and ceasing the needless waste of the false ‘war on drugs.’

However, advocating for decriminalization has always been merely a pragmatic stance of mine given that the notion of having what I would call “sane drug policy” in the U.S. is likely too much commonsense to ever actually happen.

Boston Judge Rules Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

A touch of good news out of Boston.

It is about time the simple issue of a violation of equal protection under the law created by gay marriage bans of any sort was struck down as unconstitutional by a federal court.

HuffingtonPost.com:

BOSTON (Associated Press) — The federal law banning gay marriage is unconstitutional because it interferes with the right of a state to define the institution and therefore denies married gay couples some federal benefits, a federal judge ruled Thursday in Boston.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro ruled in favor of gay couples’ rights in two separate challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, a 1996 law that the Obama administration has argued for repealing.

The rulings apply to Massachusetts but could have broader implications if they’re upheld on appeal.

The state had argued the law denied benefits such as Medicaid to gay married couples in Massachusetts, where same-sex unions have been legal since 2004.

Tauro agreed and said the act forces Massachusetts to discriminate against its own citizens in order to be eligible for federal funding in federal-state partnerships.

Buffet Offers Optimism To Krugman

Warren Buffet has presented a rosy sunshine picture of the U.S. Economy to contrast against the desolate landscape in Paul Krugman’s warnings of “the early stages of a third depression.

I believe Buffet may be practicing the concept that psychology rules a large part of every economy. As strange as it is, it might help change a ‘fragile recovery’ to a ‘full recovery’ just by beating the drums of “we are coming back.”

The stimulus is working, though more money should have been allocated directly to the states that need it the most. And in the next two or three years is certainly the time frame in which we will know if Krugman or Buffet was right.

SB1070 For Dummies & Hayward Hung By The Toes

This YouTube video from 4409 “Wake Up America” Productions is what people really need to understand about ‘that law’ that everyone is talking about when not picturing BP exec Tony Hayward in some contraption from one of the Saw movies.
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“Please don’t kill me, America! I promise another ad campaign and more toxic dispersant!”
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This is not about immigration. This is about encroaching on civil liberties first with racial profiling and then moving forward from there to effect all groups.
At least five lawsuits have been filed thus far to fight against the Arizona law coming on behalf of the ACLU and others.
AZCentral.com:

A group of 14 civil and immigrant-rights organizations and 10 individuals on Monday filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Arizona’s new immigration law. It is the fifth legal challenge of the law, which goes into effect July 29 and makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally.

All the lawsuits seek to prevent the law from going into effect. However, this latest case names Arizona’s county officials as defendants, while previous suits were filed against state officials.

Participants in this case include the American Civil Liberties Union, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, National Immigration Law Center, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Day Laborer Organizing Network and Asian Pacific American Legal Center.

Since I put “for dummies” in my headline I’ll move forward slowly about the why on this show-me-your-papers law signed by Jan Brewer is unconstitutional. Instead slamming a bunch of legalese at you it’s much better to simply look closely at the Section B paragraph of AZ SB 1070:
“For any lawful stop, detention or arrest made by a law enforcement official …”
This just means anything at all that might be contact with the police. If they flag you down on the street when you are walking, that is a “lawful stop.” It has very little to do with vehicles and everything to do with the security of your person from harassment from the police. Even when a police officer who has mistaken your identity, let’s say, it is still a committing a “lawful stop” to detain you and discover your true identity. In short, this opening clause of the law is both sweeping and overreaching in terms of the authority it grants. In this language alone that law has isolated undocumented workers from seeking police services should they be attacked or threatened in their safety for even requesting police services: a 911 call is nothing more an invitation to legal harassment and then deportation.
“… where reasonable suspicion exists that a person is alien and is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made … to determine immigration status of the person”
Many advocates for this draconian law claim it mirrors the existing federal immigration law, but this is completely false. No standing U.S. law fails to define what exactly “reasonable suspicion” is to be recognized as in regards to infraction in question. You may have heard the phrase: “What does an illegal look like?” This is what these people are referring to. There is no standard set within any part of this law as to what exactly is the definition of “reasonable suspicion” of being here under undocumented (“alien”) status. This failure to define what the terms of “reasonable suspicion” entail creates a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against “unreasonable search and seizure” which requires “probable cause” be clearly established prior to such “reasonable attempt”s of the Arizona law to toss you in a cell or search your person in any manner. Furthermore, the Fifth Amendment also protects any person, be they citizen or not, from incriminating themselves so this very act of having state authorities asking a person to identify their status with the federal immigration bureau is a “reasonable attempt” to force the affected party to admit to a minor misdemeanor. Which still ultimately amounts to a form of self incrimination. Another way to understand this is know that if a undocumented worker knew their rights at the time of a “lawful stop” taking place they would be within their rights to claim the Fifth Amendment protections while being asked by a state official their federal immigration status.
“… may not consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of the subsection …”
This clause was added after the initial drafting of the law and fails to clarify just exactly how an officer is to determine immigration status without the use of “race, color and national origin” as the primary factor is raising the question. Had the misguided authors of this law inserted their media commentary that “clothing” was a factor to be decided upon it would have held more weight than this rather self defeating clause. As I stated above, without the method of attaining “reasonable suspicion” of being here under undocumented status outlined in the this law it remains the only standard in which to enforce such a law would be racial profiling. This clause turned a simply unconstitutional law into a literally unenforceable law.
The greatest layer of the unconstitutionality of AZ SB 1070 is the very top layer:
It is not the business of state authority to tread upon the direct charge of federal agencies. Even when they have a false charge of “inaction” on behalf of the federal government, the state laws never supersede federal authority on existing issues. Before any of the other elements of unconstitutionality would be considered this first brazen disregard for the Constitution will get this anti-civil liberties and pro-racial profiling law thrown out of court.
My point from the beginning is it is disgusting and un-American of all involved with this law to even have to drag this veiled racism mixed with an unconstitutional power-grab into our courts in the first place. Striking down this law effectively and immediately is the only course of action that will save both money and freedom in one swift movement.
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Colbert knows what to do with those Tony Hayward types…
What I myself find especially funny lately is this strange group of people out there, I guess we’ll call them the “Blame No One Party” because that seems to be their game here. They are trying to convince us that blaming someone for the catastrophe that they oversaw and helped create is some act of mad lunacy. That we all should be looking forward. To what exactly I’m not too clear. The next environmental disaster that Big Oil will bless us with? I’ll be over here with my burning Tony Hayward effigy and “Boycott BP” signs, thank you very much.
Don’t forget this is the “worst oil spill in U.S. history” and has turned the Gulf of Mexico “into a dead zone.”
I’m for cutting all our government contracts with BP, and cutting their jet fuel arrangement with the Pentagon as well. A company like BP has no place working under federal auspices of any sort. They have effectively destroyed America. Were this deliberate and not rampant greed and arrogance it could easily be classified as some form of terrorist or economic attack on all of America.
It seems when extremists blow people up: it’s a crime and everybody is mobilized to catch the criminals. But when careless suits at BP blow people up: it’s something to be ignored and just accepted as part of modern life.
UPDATE:
IPC has backed my statements here in their Q&A Guide.

MLA: Open Letter to Arizona Governor

At its May 2010 meeting, the Executive Council approved the following open letter to Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona.

Dear Governor Brewer,

We write regarding legislative and policy initiatives in the State of Arizona that concern us as teachers and scholars of language and literature. You have recently signed legislation (SB 1070) that may place nonnative speakers of English and speakers of other languages in legal jeopardy. In addition, we understand that the Arizona Department of Education has decided to bar teachers from teaching English if they speak English with an accent. Furthermore, you have signed legislation (HB 2281) critical of ethnic studies curricula.

These actions raise several concerns regarding education and language, topics at the heart of the mission of the Modern Language Association of America (MLA). We urge you to keep the following in mind as the State of Arizona pursues its education policy:

(1) There is no rational basis for making language ability an indicator of an individual’s citizenship or residency status. This is especially the case in the United States, where many different languages are spoken on a daily basis. The MLA documents this diversity of language speakers in the United States with its Language Map (http://www.mla.org/map_main), which we urge you to consult. Many native as well as immigrant populations use languages other than English, and English language fluency is, of course, hardly restricted to the United States: a speaker of English is not necessarily a United States citizen or legal resident.

(2) Native and nonnative speakers alike always display considerable variation in accent. This fact holds for speakers of American English—compare accents from the Northeast with those from the Southwest—as well as for speakers of other languages. Indeed, there is no unaccented English. There are only speakers with different accents. It therefore makes little sense to bar individuals from teaching because they “have an accent,” since accent is always unavoidable. Efforts to exclude individuals on the basis of accent will likely be arbitrary and discriminatory. The recruitment and retention of effective teachers should not be impeded by concerns that are irrelevant to the important goal of facilitating student learning.

(3) For several decades, ethnic studies curricula have provided important gateways for students to learn about the diversity of heritages in the United States, a key educational goal of the liberal arts education that is the bedrock of American higher education. The field has developed sophisticated pedagogies that stretch across the humanities and the social sciences, providing significant insights into American history and society. Students in ethnic studies classes gain an appreciation for a wealth of cultural expression in literature and the arts and a recognition of the multiple traditions that have found a home in our nation. Policies that curtail this vision will weaken the quality of education, thereby depriving students of key learning opportunities as they move on to higher education institutions.

Because citizens of the United States speak many different languages in addition to English, because every speaker of every language has an accent, and because ethnic studies is important to contemporary American education, we urge you to work toward reversing the policy decisions we cited at the beginning of this letter.

The MLA would be delighted to cooperate with you to formulate educational and language policies that are based on sound research and scholarship and that reflect the state of the art in contemporary American education.

Arizona Expresses Their Racism

Eleanor Roosevelt with the Spanish version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Arizona Senate and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer have passed an unconstitutional and pro-racial profiling law that has sparked intense debate across the nation over the issue of illegal immigration.

The law was written to pander to racist elements in the Republican Party and on the political right-wing. It does nothing to solve the problem, and creates a police-state devoid of civil liberties.

It is nothing more than lies that the federal government has done nothing about the issue, thereby making Arizona justified to pass an unconstitutional and immoral law.

FOR ANY LAWFUL CONTACT MADE BY A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL OR AGENCY OF THIS STATE OR A COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE WHERE REASONABLE SUSPICION EXISTS THAT THE PERSON IS AN ALIEN WHO IS UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES, A REASONABLE ATTEMPT SHALL BE MADE, WHEN PRACTICABLE, TO DETERMINE THE IMMIGRATION STATUS OF THE PERSON.

Revisions to the AZ SB 1070 have changed “lawful contact” to “lawful stop, detention, or arrest” which changes nothing.

A “lawful stop” and a “lawful contact” is the same thing. These revisions are a waste of the nation’s time. Until the law is abolished utterly there is nothing but racism and fascist tyranny being brought forth by Arizona.

This law violates the U.S. Constitution, requires that police officers engage in racial profiling (which is illegal), opens the door to endless lawsuits that will bankrupt the state, and validates the racist lies of immoral monsters in regards to undocumented workers.

I stand proud with the Boycott AZ movement. Those who love freedom and love American values must boycott all Arizona tourism and encourage a complete cancellation of all events and meetings held within the state until the governor and the state senate abolish this draconian law.

I also support the notion of Major League Baseball pulling out of the Phoenix All Star Game unless the state wishes to return to morality and constitutional enactment of laws.

The U.S. Constitution protects persons, not just citizens. The right to be secure in your person, and not be subject to this “show me your papers” fascistic law is a foundation of our country’s values.

These people spouting racism and excitedly endorsing this Arizona law are not Americans, in my view. They are the most disgusting and vile element of our society who hold no love for freedom, truth, or liberty.

WSJ: Drilling Process Attracts Scrutiny in Rig Explosion

Gerald Herbert / The Associated Press

Russel Gold & Ben Casselman of The Wall Street Journal:

An oil-drilling procedure called cementing is coming under scrutiny as a possible cause of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico that has led to one of the biggest oil spills in U.S. history, drilling experts said Thursday.

The process is supposed to prevent oil and natural gas from escaping by filling gaps between the outside of the well pipe and the inside of the hole bored into the ocean floor. Cement, pumped down the well from the drilling rig, is also used to plug wells after they have been abandoned or when drilling has finished but production hasn’t begun.

In the case of the Deepwater Horizon, workers had finished pumping cement to fill the space between the pipe and the sides of the hole and had begun temporarily plugging the well with cement; it isn’t known whether they had completed the plugging process before the blast.

Regulators have previously identified problems in the cementing process as a leading cause of well blowouts, in which oil and natural gas surge out of a well with explosive force. When cement develops cracks or doesn’t set properly, oil and gas can escape, ultimately flowing out of control. The gas is highly combustible and prone to ignite, as it appears to have done aboard the Deepwater Horizon, which was leased by BP PLC, the British oil giant.

Concerns about the cementing process—and about whether rigs have enough safeguards to prevent blowouts—raise questions about whether the industry can safely drill in deep water and whether regulators are up to the task of monitoring them.

The scrutiny on cementing will focus attention on Halliburton Co., the oilfield-services firm that was handling the cementing process on the rig, which burned and sank last week. The disaster, which killed 11, has left a gusher of oil streaming into the Gulf from a mile under the surface.

Federal officials declined to comment on their investigation, and Halliburton didn’t respond to questions from The Wall Street Journal.

There are serious questions to be asked of Halliburton Co. and their unwillingness to talk to a source as reputable as the Wall Street Journal begs the question if indeed they do hold some serious level of responsibility in this recent oil drilling disaster.

Why The Health Care Debate Is So Contentious

Even prior to the abortion issue being pointlessly dragged into the debate over health care reform the issue has been one of the most contentious debates I have ever seen in politics.

The question quickly becomes: Why?

I feel I have an answer, and it mirrors the matter of the abortion debate as well.

It is simple:

Both sides view the other as disingenuous and downright evil.

From the perspective of the anti-reformists all support for this bill is a disguised effort to destroy capitalism and / or expand the federal government to an unreasonable size.

From the perspective of the pro-reformists all rejection of this bill is a disguised effort to spread hatred, intolerance, racism and violence under the banner of a “tea party” and / or purely strategic politics of conservatives seeking to undermine all bills proposed under President Obama.

(There is, of course, a great deal more complexity at play here in both positions.)

In a situation where both groups view the other as “liars” there is no debate to be had. No discussion that will bare fruits. None.

The fear and lies surrounding this health bill entirely native to the rightwing has no bartering point from which to start from. There is no common ground to find with a person who lies about the record and rejects all evidence that does not compliment their existing preconceptions.

Throughout this year long national debate I have strived to pull the emotions out and put the facts in their place, but such actions only serve a purpose when there remains holdouts on both sides. In the course of this I have seen new levels of hostility directed at me personally more so then ever before in my experience.

I have never “unfriended” and “blocked” so many people in my entire ten-plus years on the Internet.

The incitement toward violence, the death threats, the partisan hate; all existed prior to the matter becoming national in the death threats against Democrats post-HCR. All of this existed in the venom directed at health reform advocates on a daily basis from individuals of a very low moral fiber and very poor understanding of democracy.

In matters discussing life and death, I’d rather not see so many and myself give in to fear; but it truly doesn’t surprise me in the least to see this country explode in mindless paranoia. Big changes equates to big fears, bad economy equates to paranoia on the rise.

In the solid matter of facts, this health bill is a net-positive for America.

But this issue will not lose any of it’s contentious nature no matter how many facts are interjected in the mass spreading of paranoid myths. For too many Americans it is simply easier to believe the worst, and the biased conservative media is sure to provide them endless piles of red meat.

11th Hour of U.S. Health Care Reform

WASHINGTON — After a frenzied push to nail down final commitments and resolve lingering disputes in their ranks, House Democrats today are poised to pass the most sweeping change to the nation’s health care system since the creation of Medicare nearly half a century ago.

President Obama has at long last starting stumping for health care reform and started speaking the truth to the power of the health insurance companies strangling American families worse and worse every year. Whatever strategic issues I have with Democratic Health Care Reform, the bottom line is the party and the president have stepped up to do the right thing and put forward the agenda of the American people instead of the agenda of Corporate America being placed in the highest priority. Whatever enhancements I myself would add to this bill (Public Option) it is nonetheless a step in the right direction and beyond that point, if we failed to complete at the bare minimum of this reform in the system there will be dire consequences on the overall national economic stability in years to come.

This is the eleventh-hour of health care reform in the U.S., and this political blogger is predicting we will see these reforms pass.

Good news, to be sure.

After more than forty years of inaction and failures to address this most important issue we shall at long last see moral standards in our health care system and some limit placed on the corrupt practices of the insurance companies.

Senate Reconciliation Now!

The Republican obstructionism on the health care reform agenda is not “principled objections” as Senate minority leader Eric Cantor suggests. It is non-principled, pure nihilistic policy of poisoning the well and deception on behalf of conservatives.

The liberal majority that elected Democrats to office in 2008 has spoken.

The Public Option must survive in a final health care bill, and the process of reconciliation between House and Senate bills is the only avenue by which Democratic representatives can claim to have made any “meaningful reform” come reelection time.

Make it clear that this will not go away, and we the liberal progressives will not be silent.

This push did not come from the White House, or the Progressive Caucus, or from the desk of Sen. Harry Reid. This push for a strong public option through reconciliation came from the people who understand that health care is a moral issue, not merely a budgetary issue.

Both President Obama and Senator Reid remain open to the pursuit of Senate reconciliation, but I believe it important to state that this in itself is the “failure to sell health care reform to the American people” I spoke of before.

Instead, we will have to make perfectly clear that the public option must go forward and does not continue to be the “public optional.”

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced on Friday afternoon that he would work with other Democrats and the White House to pass a public option through reconciliation if that’s the legislative path the party chooses.

The party has spoken. The ball is their court now in congress, but we must not allow this to fade into the night.

Just as Paul Krugman recently closed an op-ed with, “Health Care Reform Now!” I would say the as he except in different words given the changing of the situation but holding the same meaning:

Senate Reconciliation Now!

I Believe Glenn Beck is Dangerous for America

MediaMatters.orgBeck, O’Reilly respond to Misinformer of the Year

This all bounces around in circles, just as Glenn Beck had hoped it would. He is supporting unconstitutional rhetoric and calling the people calling him out on it as doing the same. He is hiding behind a shroud of lies and then claiming that the scorn that befalls him is an attempt to silence truth. It seems the new right-wing meme to just accuse the other guy of exactly what you are doing so they have trouble calling you out on the ugly that you just spread all over the table.
Liars of this magnitude are not just merely irritating, as some have suggested to me, they are dangerous when given a platform of supposed credibility. Beck spends much of his time smearing progressives and Obama; but by the same tools he uses to falsely blame progressives / liberals are all of societies woes I could turn about and say that conservatives are the core of what is diseased and sick with the country. The same vile venom could be reversed to make the “enemy” the other side. There is no discourse to be had and that is exactly the goal from the beginning for this latest vein of populist-conservative banter. Glenn Beck will lie at any cost and continue to destroy democracy with his fear-mongering theories until people like you and me stand up and will say we have had enough of this vile anti-American propaganda. Partisan bullies like Bill O’Reilly and the rest of the corporate tools will always jump to defend the likes of these mindless hateful notions touted by Glenn Beck. The disgusting angle on both of these men is they claim to be “bipartisan” but they constantly attempt to demean and fabricate facts about liberals but never use the same dirty tactics against conservatives. Glenn Beck is the most unpatriotic broadcaster in U.S. History, and the fact that he remains on the air proves that racism and hate-speech sells better than Americanism and education. Perhaps Rodger Ailes made a simple business decision: that selling fear-mongering and race baiting was more important than representing American values.
After watching this video one could conclude, as Bill O’Reilly wants everyone to, that all voices against Glenn Beck have been those of the political left. But this is in fact not true. The Anti Defamation League is not a political-left group and they have gone out of their way to illustrate how dangerous and hateful this man’s chosen rhetoric is. What these people engage in just simply a labeling-game of a highly partisan nature of any ideological group that disagrees with their positions. Their own policy positions and tactile logic being so lacking they resort to defining the opposition instead of sharing their own perspective weighed against another extreme position. That is the definition of “fair & balanced” or “bipartisanship” … both sides of the political spectrum; not just one side amplified to an unrealistic height.
Everyone has to be a “far left radical” or a red baiting term like “socialist” or “Marxist” because if they are not then people might realize that being a patriotic American means respecting the difference of opinion rather than allowing yourself to be so broken and dishonest a person to believe or spread unsubstantiated slurs about liberals / progressives / Democrats instead of your own differing policy ideas and world view. It is Glenn Beck leading the charge, with the other pundits of Fox and the Tea Party riding behind him, to destroy the political debate and corrupt the political dialect in this country as much as possible. This man toys with racism, McCarthyism, political bigotry and fear-mongering about the government like they were all harmless tools when they deadly weapons that will destroy our democracy if left to spread like a virus throughout the country. To put it another way: Beck seeks to destroy the middle and push everyone into hateful opposing camps instead of negotiating parties. I have for many weeks been mulling over exactly what could be said that is truly “bipartisan” about Glenn Beck and all his noise. That is what I come up with, just that alone. He seeks to destroy the middle and aggravate existing social tensions for profiteering motives at the expense of our very system of democracy were his notions and supposedly genuine “fears” followed through to their logical conclusion. Glenn Beck paints an America that is dark and filled with myths that become reasons to hate the world.
However, all is not lost. I suggested we “Hit Glenn Beck Where It Hurts,” in the advertisers. And to some extent we were successful: a reported total of 20 sponsors dropped Glenn Beck after his racialist statement about a U.S. President was not apologized for nor retracted formally by the network at the reported request via multiple letters to Rodger Ailes.
Many people saw the truth: that this was not about political opinions anymore and that Beck had purposefully been race baiting when he called Obama a “racist.” The case that defines Glenn Beck is a case that they will never air or likely ever speak out on any version of Fox News. That being the most “extremist” internet-attack against Beck, that in fact illustrates quite well what his common tactic is when creating his fantastic tales of fiction. Minus the shock-value, the point is more on a legal aspect as to where his true allegiances lie. Beck went outside the United States, and sought European-brands of justice to serve him when he became aware of this “rumor” about him and wanted them squashed. He could have sought to U.S. Constitution that he claims to love so dearly to help defend him in what he saw as a violation of his rights, but instead he opted to try and simply destroy the opposing voice with a foreign court. It did not stop there, from there Beck has used his big-money influences to try and push this website promoting this “rumor” as “satirical comedy” off the bandwidth with dirty corporate tactics; the very same tactics he claims to despise so much. The website remains, and freedom of speech is protected despite Beck’s attempt to destroy it. I re-posted that website content onto my blog in the spirit of “rodeo clowning” that Glenn Beck is so found of himself. I refuse to take it down even if I don’t completely enjoying having it up.
Glenn Beck is smarter than he wants his audience to know. A trend popular with women working at Fox, but Beck has taken it up for himself and it seems to work rather well for him. He saw out over the horizon the same unwarranted fears and same old social tensions coming to rise in this country that I did nearly two years ago now. I mused that the time that I could go out into the lands as the healing suave, to bring some truth to matter and some real policy differences that people could see rather than hollow boiler-plate talking points. But what he decided to do was to pour gasoline on the fears and start putting Hitler-mustaches on anyone not giving to these ever-present right-wing propagandists that he frequently has as guests on his television and radio programs. He and I are not so different, in that that he is an embodiment of someone like myself in my “extremes of opinions” except minus all morality, patriotism and ethical standards. It’s all very clever word-plays and out-of-context quotes and rewriting of U.S. History; but it’s not impressive because I could have done it too. Lying is easy, but the question is: Is it worth it? In the end his soul will have to answer for the racism and many, many lies he has told. The money he makes while treating his audience like they are severely lacking intelligence (many unfortunately are) will buy him his ticket to the country club with Limbaugh and O’Reilly and the rest, but the currency of his character is forever darkened by the path he has chosen for himself.

Urban Institute Overviews The Public Option

Ezra Klein of The Washington Post has called this the “best overview of the public option” he has read so far, and I concur:

Getting to a Public Option that Contains Costs: Negotiations, Opt-Outs and Triggers

The debate over a public option has essentially become a debate over the size and role of government in the health care system. The central argument, as we see it, should be one of fiscal conservatism—that a public option should play a role in addressing the very serious problem of health care cost containment. The current debate between the left and the right on this issue is obscuring the fact that consolidation in both the insurance and provider markets is propelling a higher rate of growth in health care costs. The consolidation of power, particularly in provider markets, makes it extremely difficult for insurers to negotiate rates for their services and contributes to rapid growth in health care costs. A strong public option is one that ties provider rates in some way to Medicare rates (though set at likely higher levels), and that is open to any individual or firm regardless of firm size. It would thus provide countervailing power to providers and help control cost growth.

We argue that a strong version is necessary because there is little else in health reform that can be counted on to contribute significantly to cost containment in the short term. Capping tax-exempt employer contributions to health insurance has great support among many analysts (including us), but it faces considerable political opposition. Proposals such as comparative effectiveness research, new payment approaches, medical homes and accountable care organizations, all offer promise but could take years to provide savings. Thus, the use of a strong public option to reduce government subsidy costs and as a cost containment device should be an essential part of the health reform debate.

We recognize that there is opposition to a strong public option. Both the House and Senate proposals are considering relatively weak versions to make the public option more acceptable. Both proposals would have the public option negotiate rates with physicians and hospitals. We see two problems with this. One is that negotiating rates is not simple and it raises difficult implementation issues; for example, with whom would the government negotiate? Further, negotiations are most likely to be unsuccessful with providers who have substantial market power. Since this is at the heart of the cost problem, a strategy of negotiations seems unlikely to be effective, as has been affirmed by cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.

The Senate has proposed a public option with an opt-out provision. This has the advantage of recognizing regional diversity in political philosophy by allowing states to pass legislation to keep it from being offered in their states. A disadvantage of this proposal is that it would exclude many who would potentially benefit from a public option. The states likely to opt out are likely to be those with high shares of low-income people and many uninsured.

The other alternative is to establish a strong public option but not implement it unless a triggering event occurred. The goal would be to allow the private insurance system to prove that it can control costs with a new set of insurance rules and state exchanges. The triggering events could be the level of premiums exceeding a certain percentage of family incomes or the growth in health care spending exceeding certain benchmarks. Since the public option would only be triggered because of excessive costs, however measured, we assume that a relatively strong version of a public option would come into play.

We recognize that taking a strong public option off the table may be necessary to enact reform legislation. But this will mean, at a minimum, higher government subsidy costs by not permitting a payer with substantial market power to bring cost containment pressure on the system. The outcome is likely to be that costs will continue to spiral upward. In effect, the nation would be relying on the range of promising pilot approaches to cost containment that would take some time to be successful. If they are not, we may be left with increasingly regulatory approaches, such as rate setting or utilization controls that apply to all payers. This would mean much more government involvement than giving people a choice of a low-cost public option that would be required to compete with private insurers.

(Read entire paper in PDF)