28% vote to deny Arkansas private option

The Arkansas Times reports that the Arkansas House of Representatives has failed to vote to accept federal funding for Medicaid expansion via the private option for Fiscal 2015. 

The Arkansas House of Representatives voted 70-27 with one present to approve an appropriation bill to continue for a second year the private option version of Medicaid expansion provided by the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

That was five votes short of the number needed. It will be brought up again.

28% of the chamber did not vote to accept free money.  They decided to throw 95,000 people off of Medicaid. 

I’ll split the no block to an equal split of special crazification factor and general crazification factors. 

 



Yup. Holder Goes There. (About Damn Time Too)

Here’s Eric Holder on the systematic elimination of political rights from millions of Americans:

“It is unwise, it is unjust, and it is not in keeping with our democratic values.” [Via TPM]

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And just who might be disproportionately represented among those barred from giving their consent to their governing?

African-Americans represent more than a third of the estimated 5.8 million people who are prohibited from voting, according to the Sentencing Project, a research group that favors more liberal sentencing policies. And in Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia, more than one in five African-Americans has lost the right to vote. [link in the original]

And the last question in this mockery of a catechism, what lies behind the desperate push to of keep ex-cons from resuming full participation in our polity? The question answers itself:

Studies show that felons who have been denied the right to vote are far more likely to vote for Democrats than Republicans. In 2002, scholars at the University of Minnesota and Northwestern University concluded that the 2000 presidential election “would almost certainly have been reversed” had felons been allowed to vote. [link in the original]

In Florida, the state that tipped that election, 10 percent of the population is ineligible to vote because of the ban on felons at the polls, Mr. Holder said.

Denying those who’ve completed the sentences the law requires for their acts the right to vote is nothing new.  It’s just the latest in a guerrilla campaign running more than a century now, one aimed at reversing the results of the shooting war that only nominally ended in 1865.  Bad enough that African Americans could no longer be bought and sold, but heaven forfend that they actually exercise the essential rights of any citizen.  Or, as Holder put it in terms suited to the meanest understanding:

“Although well over a century has passed since post-Reconstruction states used these measures to strip African-Americans of their most fundamental rights, the impact of felony disenfranchisement on modern communities of color remains both disproportionate and unacceptable” he said….

The sad truth is that Holder and the Department of Justice can’t do much here.  States retain the right to set election law, and, as the Times noted,

The question of how people vote is contentious, particularly since the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act last year. That decision allowed states to pass voting laws that would otherwise have needed federal approval.

But still, good on him for getting this out there, and in the terms he used.  Racism isn’t a residue of times gone by, eroding with each passing year.  It’s not a state of mind, something that is or isn’t in someone’s heart.  It inheres in the actual decisions made, consequences sought and embraced, that result in harm done to specific individuals and groups.  It lies at the heart of the choices being made right now, overwhelming by one political party, the GOP, as it attempts to return to the pinnacle of power.

Holder’s making that clear in surprisingly  (to me) uncompromising language.  Good.  This is how both Overton Windows and, over waaaaay too much time, actual policy shifts.

Image: Vincent van Gogh, Prisoners Exercising, 1890. (Yeah. I’ve used this one before. You gotta problem with that?)








Moral March on Raleigh

I got an email from commenter phoebesmother:

My sister, who lives near Chapel Hill, is involved in this movement big time (she’s been arrested and charged, but for some reason the prosecutors dropped all the charges on anyone arrested the day she was arrested, one of the early days). She called me just now to convey HOW EXCITED she is about the march this Saturday, which is a permitted march, not civil disobedience in the manner of the ongoing Moral Monday protests.

You’ve covered this movement earlier and it would be great if BJ (my constant companion) would talk it up before Saturday. She says folks are coming to Raleigh from all 50 counties and from many other states, even a busload of folks from a UU congregation in California. We know that voter suppression laws are this century’s civil rights issue and are hard to fight against. But in NC it’s every bad impulse of the Republicans, from cutting unemployment benefits and Medicaid to real aggression against teachers. She tells me the legislature has passed a “signing bonus” bribery offer to teachers, asking them to sign away their labor rights and return to “firing at will” with no recourse. She says that teachers are wearing stickers and buttons saying “decline to sign.”

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Here’s more march info, and here’s why the public school teachers who are part of Reverend Barber’s coalition will be wearing those “decline to sign” buttons mentioned in the email.

On February 8, 2014, tens of thousands of people will gather at Shaw University on Wilmington St. between South St. and MLK Jr. Blvd. at 9:00 a.m. in downtown Raleigh. We will march around 10:30 a.m. after which we will begin the mass people’s assembly on the doorstep of the State Capitol.

For the past seven years, a fusion movement has been growing in North Carolina. In 2006, the Historic Thousands on Jones St. (HKonJ) People’s Assembly Coalition was formed under the leadership of Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II and the North Carolina NAACP. It has grown to include over 150 coalition partners.

If you go to the march (and if you’re in North Carolina I hope you do go) remember to “wear red for public ed”.



A Lesson In Compassion (From Within A “Family Values” State)

Nothing says the dignity of humanity; nothing says kindness; nothing says how a high level of public religiosity makes for a better society than literally ripping  food out of hungry kids hands, and, in front of them, throwing it away:

Up to 40 kids at Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City picked up their lunches Tuesday, then watched as the meals were taken and thrown away because of outstanding balances on their accounts — a move that shocked and angered parents.

Max_Liebermann_Kindervolksküche

“It was pretty traumatic and humiliating,” said Erica Lukes, whose 11-year-old daughter had her cafeteria lunch taken from her as she stood in line Tuesday at Uintah Elementary School, 1571 E. 1300 South.

Eleven years old!

I’m a dad, as y’all probably know.  My kid is 13 now.  He’s a total pain in the ass about food right now — won’t touch most stuff, including his school’s cafeteria fare.  He takes food from home and we top him up when he gets home.  But he used to get some stuff there.  I remember topping up his account once or twice when I dropped him off — we’d either crossed over into the red or come too close to it.  No one at his school would have dreamed of grabbing his bagel; we’d get a note asking for another five bucks for the system.  That’s how you do it.

If anyone had stopped my son in the middle of the cafeteria line, grabbed his tray and dumped his lunch?

I can’t imagine what I’d have done and said.  I can imagine what that experience would do to my child — to any kid.  Public poor-shaming –turning some little kid, with no power, no agency, no ability to defend or deflect or do anything, into nothing more than your prop in some twisted morality play about the undeserving proles.  I’m sorry about the run-on there. The rage and refracted sorrow/sympathy for the chidren some asshole(s) decided it was OK to hurt just overwhelms my ability to calm down my syntax.  But you get the point:  this  is no way to teach an 11 year old anything.  Or rather it’s just the right way to learn both that child and all her or his peers how to be the worst we can be.

One more thing:  I’m slamming on Utah in the headline, because I’m sick of sitting here in godless Massachusetts listening to folks from the religiousist corners of our country tell us how we all need to emulate the values in which such places are alledgedly rich.

But I take this personally too.  This isn’t just Utah.  An action like this is the logical endpoint of a culture that frames all things as the battle of the individual against society.  I like living in a social setting.  I think the genius of American democracy in the abstract is that it provides a once-novel way of mediating between levels of association from village on up and the individual.  So when  I hear the words “American exceptionalism,  I’d like them to have some other meaning than that we are exceptional in our capacity to be cruel to hungry children.

Image: Max Liebermann, Kindervolksküche, 1915



Health outcomes over health outlays

The Hill reports on a proposal that is floating in Congress to change Medicare payment methodologies that has an unusual and perhaps effective set of sponsors behind it:

New legislation from Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Reps. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) would attempt to improve care for chronically ill seniors by revamping how their providers are paid.

Under the bill, voluntary “Better Care” plans and practices would specialize in treating patients with multiple chronic conditions. In return, they would receive specially tailored payments that reward good outcomes.

AARP backed the legislation in a statement, noting that 75 percent of healthcare dollars are spent on chronic disease.

“It is important to better coordinate and improve the quality of care for these individuals … rather than to just ask individuals to continue to pay more for their healthcare,” said AARP Legislative Policy Director David Certner in a statement.

The proposal seems to be a low strings attached capitation model with risk adjustments based on member age and pre-exisiting health conditions.  The AP has some more details: Read more