Open Thread: Saturday Night (Bonus) Garden Chat

From commentor Linda M:

Just recently, my SO and I were trimming some branches that were encroaching on our upper deck. When a branch fell on the floor of the deck, I (the all-observant one) noticed this beautiful, fuzzy caterpillar running for cover. I carefully placed it on some foliage in one of our plant containers on the deck and then ran and got the camera. I later looked it up on what’ It is a tussock moth caterpillar. When it becomes a moth, it is apparently a very drab, gray color (although, gray is my favorite color). I was so pleased to be able to spot the caterpillar at this stage and then get a picture to share.

I also have a garden question about bees. I recently went out on the upper deck to water the two containers up there. It was mid-day, about 100 degrees, and oh, so sunny. When I poured water in the big container, I noticed a couple of bees flying around the plants. Then, as the water soaked into the container and out the bottom, I realized I had disturbed what is evidently two or three bee hives under that planter. There seemed to be hundreds of bees swarming around all of a sudden. I backed away, but didn’t get away fast enough. One of the very aggressive stingers managed to attach itself to my thigh and stung me. Luckily, it was just one–the others were still around the bottom of the container. Now, I’m afraid to even go out on that deck. I know I have to do something, but I don’t know what. Any suggestions?

Last time I thought this had happened to me, it turned out to be yellowjackets, or “paper wasps”, who’d built a nest in the punky wood under our front doorstep. Which was a relief, frankly, because nobody cared if we nuked them from orbit… Anybody got advice on relocating a bee colony safely?

They Knew All Along

It’s like they took notes from the vatican:

Joe Paterno appears to have played a greater role than previously known in Penn State’s handling of a 2001 report that Jerry Sandusky had sexually assaulted a boy in a university shower, according to a person with knowledge of aspects of an independent investigation of the Sandusky scandal.

E-mail correspondence among senior Penn State officials suggests that Paterno influenced the university’s decision not to formally report the accusation against Sandusky to the child welfare authorities, the person said. The university’s failure to alert the police or child welfare authorities in 2001 has been an issue at the center of the explosive scandal — having led to criminal charges against two senior administrators and the firing of Paterno last fall.

The university’s much maligned handling of the 2001 assault began when Mike McQueary, a graduate assistant in Paterno’s football program, told Paterno that he had seen Sandusky assaulting a boy of about 10 in the football building showers. McQueary has testified several times that he made clear to Paterno, and later to university officials, that what he had seen Sandusky doing to the child was terrible and explicitly sexual in nature.

To date, the public understanding of Paterno’s subsequent actions has been that he relayed McQueary’s account to the university’s athletic director and then had no further involvement in the matter.

Get these officials in jail cells next to Monsignor Lynn.

Open Thread

Nice to be back in the 21st century with electricity again. When my cell service went out this morning, on top of the power outage, I began to feel like Tom Hanks in Cast Away.

Libraries Are A Luxury, Citizen

And while we’re on the subjects of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal being an asshole and Cole being at the library and the community functions that libraries serve, let’s have another round of applause for what massive GOP revenue elimination at the state level brings: a government that dies off in bits and pieces.

Citing budget concerns, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed a $25-billion budget that eliminates almost $900,000 in state funding for its libraries. In a statement, the governor’s chief budget aide, Paul Rainwater, said, “In tight budget times, we prioritized funding for healthcare and education. Operations such as local libraries can be supported with local, not state dollars.”

Sorry, rural parts of Louisiana like Concordia Parish.  Libraries are a luxury and a drain on our precious job creators.  Fund them your gorram selves.  That would of course means raising local taxes, which is prohibited and will only assure that the Tea Party eliminates you from public office.  You will make do, citizen.  All hail the job creators.

“There’s no longer a food stamp office; there’s no longer a social security office. In our rural parish, a lot of our people have low literacy skills and very few computer skills. They come to the library because all of that has to be done online. There are some offices in some bigger areas but there’s no mass transportation and a lot of our people do not have transportation to a place that’s two hours away. A lot of our people have children in the military and they come to email their children that are all over the world on these bases. And almost all of the companies require you to do a job application online, even if it’s just for a truck driver who doesn’t need to be great at computer skills, so it is very important that we offer this service.”

Concordia formerly got $12,000 per year from the state, which it used to “keep up all of the maintenance [on its 52 PCs], buy new software, and to buy new equipment as needed.”

With that money gone, Concordia plans not to buy anything new, and hopes all its old equipment keeps working. Maintenance costs will have to come out of the materials budget. In the meantime, Taylor is already working on getting the funding restored. “We are already talking to our legislators about the next budget,” she said. “We are going to work really hard to make the legislators understand how important it is in these rural areas because citizens depend on the public library. We’re going to hope for the Legislature to open their eyes to what we do every day.”

The Legislature works for the job creators, citizen.  If you want a job, you’ll fill out an application online.  If you can’t find a way to do that, you clearly don’t want the job badly enough. The job creators will not be inconvenienced with taxes and regulatory burdens to pay for you freeloaders “reading books” and “using computers”.  If you want to have libraries and access to the internet, you would get a job and buy it yourself.  The job creators are sick and tired of your whining.  Convince someone with money to fund it.  We have better things to do with tax money, like giving it to the job creators.

If you’re reading this right now, you have access to the internet.  So why are you complaining, citizen?

All hail the job creators.  Now get back to work.

Costs and benefits

So, I was really thrilled with the Obamacare ruling. I was too cowardly to make a call ahead of time, plus predicting is quite clearly a “jinx” (just FYI) so anyone who was brave enough to write it down gets all credit from me whether they were right or wrong.

On that, we talk a lot about medical debt and bankruptcy, but the thing about bankruptcy is, if it’s a Chapter 7, medical debt is discharged. It goes away.

Medical debt is much, much bigger than that. Bankruptcy is really the last stop on the medical debt misery train for working class or middle class people. There are a lot of interim stops along the way that are not so great: reallocating family resources to paying down medical debt, wage garnishment, liens, and on and on.

With any luck, if this thing works right, maybe some of this will go away (pdf):

In 2007, more than two out of five working-age adults—41 percent—had trouble paying their health care bills, or were already paying off medical debt.The consequences of medical debt are serious. People who have medical debt worry about their health care bills and may therefore delay getting needed care—or go without it entirely. Medical debt also contributes to bankruptcy and housing insecurity, and it leaves consumers vulnerable to serious consequences when they are sued by health care providers or debt collectors—consequences such as wage garnishment, home foreclosure, and damaged credit.

Why Is Medical Debt Different from Other Kinds of Debt?
Medical Debt Strikes without Warning When People Are Most Vulnerable

Unlike credit card debt or other kinds of debt, medical debt is usually beyond a person’s control and impossible to plan for.

Illness and injury happen suddenly and unexpectedly. People don’t choose to get sick or to be injured, but when this happens, they find themselves with unplanned and involuntary health care expenses. These expenses can run into the thousands of dollars.

Making monthly payments toward health care bills can be a strain under the best of circumstances, and a long-term illness can make a difficult situation even worse.

If people with serious health problems have to miss work because of their health, they may earn less money and may have even greater difficulty paying off their bills.

I see medical debt that doesn’t reach crisis bankruptcy stage often, where I live, and I think it should be addressed when we talk about the costs of our decades-long avoidance of universal coverage.

We are paying for our current health care system. It isn’t free. When we analyze the costs and benefits of Obamacare, maybe we should take into account that a lot of uninsured and underinsured people are paying for the health care they receive, whether they can “afford it” or not, and they aren’t necessarily lining up voluntarily to pay these bills. In many cases, a court is issuing a judgment and then their wages are being garnished.

Understand, I don’t object to providers getting paid. They provide an essential service and they should absolutely get paid for the work that they do. What I object to is the idea that the uninsured or underinsured aren’t being compelled to pay for anything, so anything they pay for insurance under Obamacare is all downside and government seizure and an intolerable loss of liberty. They’re paying, plenty, in the wonderful “system” we have now, and having your wages garnished looks nothing at all like “freedom” to me.

Bitter Wingnut Obamacare Tears: Mississippi Tea Party Chairman Roy Nicholson Edition

It’s day three after That Black Guy Shoved Healthcare Down Your Throat, and wingnuts around the country are still crying about it.

I dare not hazard a guess as to what happened to poor Jan Schmidt — she very well may required medical attention after her outburst. As for Michigan’s GOP former spokesperson Matt Davis, presumably he is still lighting torches and muttering about freedom.

And way down South, Mississippi Tea Party chairman Roy Nicholson is encouraging Tea Party malcontents to gas up their scooters and prepare for armed rebellion because treason and Jesus and stuff.

Romney and Kobach and Voting Rights

The United States had another win on Obamacare Day, when the State of Arizona lost in an attempt to ignore or dodge federal law:

The Supreme Court today denied an application by the State of Arizona to put on hold an April ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The Ninth Circuit sitting en banc found that voter registration provisions of Arizona’s Proposition 200 violate the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), and that Arizona cannot reject federal mail-in voter registration applications if they do not include documentary proof of citizenship.
While Arizona can still seek Supreme Court review of the Ninth Circuit decision, today’s Supreme Court’s decision makes it unlikely that the Court would grant such a request.

This means that the State of Arizona cannot impose restrictions on voting if those restrictions violate the National Voter Registration Act.

Meet Kris Kobach, the Secretary of State of Kansas, who has been advising Romney since 2008:

Kobach is most known, however, as the author of the Arizona Senate Bill 1070, the controversial law that gives local police broad powers to question and arrest undocumented immigrants. Several other states, including Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, used the law as model for similar legislation. Kobach helped write the Alabama version.
He also is the driving force behind proof-of-citizenship voter registration requirements in Kansas that other states have modeled. In January, Kobach endorsed the presidential campaign of Republican Mitt Romney days before the South Carolina primary.

Kris Kobach believes that he is an advisor to Mitt Romney. This is potentially controversial, because Kobach is an anti-immigrant extremist who has also has done extensive work on voting issues. As in all things involving Mitt Romney, there are so many lies and dodges and contradictory claims that I have no earthly idea whether Kobach is an “official” advisor to Mitt Romney or not.

This is what Mitt Romney said about Kobach:

“We need more conservative leaders like Kris willing to stand up for the rule of law,” Romney said in a January 2012 statement announcing Kobach’s endorsement of his most recent bid. “With Kris on the team, I look forward to working with him to take forceful steps to curtail illegal immigration and to support states like South Carolina and Arizona that are stepping forward to address this problem.”

This is what Kobach said about Romney last January:

Kobach told Fox News in January that Romney held the most far-right views on immigration of any of the GOP presidential candidates — perhaps not the message the candidate wants to put forward for a general election in which many Latino voters disagree with those ideas.

Here’s Kobach’s conspiracy theory on this confusion between advisor, informal advisor and supporter, confusion Mitt Romney created with his customary cowardice, aversion to risk, and dishonesty:

He brushed off the incident as “a tempest in the teapot that’s being purposefully … fabricated by the Obama campaign,” a reference to the Obama campaign’s efforts to portray the report as an indication that Romney was turning to the center in order to re-position himself for the general election.
“Nothing’s changed,” Kobach says. “I just got off the phone with the senior officials in the Romney campaign and they confirmed nothing’s changed, I’m still an informal adviser in the sense that I regularly provide policy advice to the Romney team. The governor takes my advice, and does what he wants with it.”
“This is probably an interesting little example of the kind of the games that the Obama team will play,” he added, “that is, they’ll try to goad someone on the Romney team into saying something that semantically can be twisted into a change of position, and then they’ll accuse the candidate of changing position, when in fact nothing’s changed.”

It’s not that Mitt Romney is absolutely incapable of issuing a simple, unambiguous factual statement, it’s President Obama and his evil Chicago machine mandating that Mitt Romney do these crazy cartwheels every time someone asks him a direct question. The truth is, no one in this country has any idea where Mitt Romney really is on voting rights, or immigration, or anything else. Mitt Romney would like to keep it that way, because it’s safer for Mitt Romney.