Showing posts with label Tea Party. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tea Party. Show all posts

Friday, August 12, 2011

Rick Perry's Efforts to Save Us All

It seems to be a law of electoral politics that the most popular candidate is the one with the most messianic potential.  This can be seen on both the right and the left as many hoped Barack Obama would deliver the nation from eight years of George W. Bush.  After almost three years of Obama in office his opponents on the right and the tea party, according to the polls, are now looking to George W. Bush's successor in the Texas Governor's mansion, Rick Perry.  His supporters claim that he's produced ten straight balanced budgets while having a better employment situation than other states. 

Looking at the state's official rate for July, 8.1%, it is lower than the national official rate of 9.1%.  There are problems with the way in which unemployment is measured (see related post below).  In my last post I talked about how his state led the nation in the rate of the uninsured at 26.8% in 2007 before the recession or approximately 5.7 million (2009 data will be released this fall by the Census Bureau to give an idea of the impact of the recession) and ranked fifth highest in those who were with in 200% of the federal poverty level at 36.1%.  With all of the state's income data considered for 2007, Texas ranks with the 22nd highest per capita income among the states.  This suggests that there is a wide income disparity in Texas.

The clip below gives a good discussion of the influence of religious right groups on Gov. Perry.  Of course we all want to work but the kind of job matters too.  We don't just need more jobs we all need better jobs.


**Update**
There is a new discussion of Perry's background and record in Texas on Democracy Now.
** Related Posts**

A Statistical Profile of the Uninsured in Washington, DC, New Mexico, and Texas

 

Obama Debt Ceiling Approval Ratings Reflect Approval Ratings on Health Care Law

 

Unemployment: A Universal Underreported Problem

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Right Stimuli (or as the Tea Party would say Stimuluses)

As filming of the new Batman film begins in Pittsburgh this week, stories are circulating about how much money it will pump into the local economy for hotels, restaurants, and the entertainment industry.  This may be true for the hotels, restaurants, and the rest of the local entertainment industry, many of whose employees are uninsured.  Once the filming is over and the trucks have packed up the businesses will go back to normal and any benefit will go as profit to the owners of these establishments.  Will this benefit trickle down to those in the local economy who need it the most?

The fleeting and imaginary benefits from private stimulus spending, which many in Congress who are holding up raising the debt ceiling admire, pale in comparison to the real power struggles that go on between corporate superpowers such as UPMC and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield where the real losers are the patients who depend on them for medical care.  The Western PA Coalition for Single Payer Healthcare put on a
parody of the struggle using Batman & Robin to symbolize real heroes work to correct injustices for the real downtrodden.  The event first took place at Senator Pat Toomey's office and then at Senator Robert Casey's.  It is summarized in the YouTube video below.




The best way to assist those in need is to provide it directly to those who need it the most.  The movies may provide some badly needed diversion but it falls well short of a long tern solution to our economic woes.

**Update**

The same day the lamestream media CNN aired this report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta about a mini Darth Vader campaigning in Congress against cut's in children's Medicaid.  The boy who played Vader in a Volkswagen commercial has a heart condition and was well placed for media attention and attention from Senators while the rally on Friday is totally ignored by Senators Toomey and Casey..  The irony of such a disconnect is amazing.  While one feels bad for the boy, in a true Medicare for all system such an effort would be completely unnecessary. 







**Related Posts**

Highmark/UPMC Tussle | Healthcare 4 All PA Education Fund 

 

Pat Toomey: In More Than a 30 Second Ad 

 

Obama Debt Ceiling Approval Ratings Reflect Approval Ratings on Health Care Law

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The US and Republicans Want Health Care Law Repealed....?

Rasmussen Reports polling has come out with a survey that says that support for repeal for the Obama health care law now stands at 60% for at least somewhat in favor of repeal to 38% against. They say 49% strongly favor repeal (but don't say why) . This poll came out on Monday and is higher than the 55%-41% ratio that was reported for a poll taken on Dec 17-18. Their press release on the survey can be read here.

Health Care Law - Rasmussen Reports™

Rasmussen charges $19.95/month for a platinum membership for access to the full survey and crosstabulations which I refuse to pay (the wording of the questions can be read here). As luck would have it CNN conducted a similar survey of 1,008 adults over Dec 17-19 which found a similar 54%-43% split and made the questions and crosstabulations available for free (just as they did with their exit poll and Fox News did not). The full report can be read at:

Interviews with 1,008 adult Americans conducted by telephone
by Opinion Research Corporation on December 17-19, 2010. The
margin of sampling error for results based on the total sample is
plus or minus 3 percentage points.


The poll did break down the reasons why they oppose the law and tracked the responses over time. As in my other post on health care law polling those who favor the law combined with those who oppose it because it is not liberal enough comprise a majority of the population. As can be seen from the table, with the margin of error from each survey at +/- 3%, that, if anything, the percentage of those favoring the law has increased slightly from 39% to 43%, while those who oppose it for being too liberal decreased slightly from 43% to 37%. Those who oppose if for being not liberal enough showed no change at 13% and those who express no opinion showed hardly any change. The questions are worded as such followed by the responses from both questions combined.

24. As you may know, a bill that makes major changes to the country's health care system became law earlier this year. Based on what you have read or heard about that legislation, do you generally favor or generally oppose it?
25. (IF OPPOSE) Do you oppose that legislation because you think its approach toward health care is too liberal, or because you think it is not liberal enough?


Dec 17-19
2010
Aug. 6-10
2010
Mar 19-21
2010
Favor
43%
40%
39%
Oppose, too liberal
37%
41%
43%
Oppose, not liberal enough
13%
13%
13%
No opinion
7%
6%
5%

The report on page 5 shows predictably how support for the law differs across genders (with women more likely to oppose it for not being liberal enough 15% to 10%) and across racial and income groups (with whites more likely to oppose it for being too liberal than nonwhites 42%-22% and higher income groups opposing it similarly relative to low income 47%-26%). Liberals, moderates, and conservatives favor and oppose the law in predicable directions.

The poll then went on to question the respondents about three specific provisions in the new law: the individual mandate requiring everyone not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid or other governmental insurance to purchase private insurance, preventing insurance companies from dropping for people who become seriously ill, and also preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions. The results are summarized in the table below. The least popular individual mandate which was declared unconstitutional by a Virginia Federal Judge has been steadily losing popularity. The other two provisions preventing insurance companies from denying coverage due to illness have been consistently popular.

26. Now here are a few provisions in the health care bill. Please tell me whether you favor or oppose
each one: (RANDOM ORDER)

Favor
Oppose
No opinion
Requiring all Americans who do not have
health insurance to get it
December 17-19, 2010
38%
60%
2%
August 6-10, 2010
44%
56%
1%
February 12-15, 2010
45%
53%
1%
November 13-15, 2009*
49%
49%
1%
Preventing health insurance companies from dropping coverage for people who
become seriously ill
December 17-19, 2010
61%
39%
*
August 6-10, 2010
59%
41%
*
February 12-15, 2010
62%
38%
*
November 13-15, 2009*
60%
39%
*
Preventing health insurance companies from denying coverage to people with
pre-existing conditions
December 17-19, 2010
64%
35%
1%
August 6-10, 2010
58%
42%
1%
February 12-15, 2010
58%
42%
1%
November 13-15, 2009*
60%
40%
1%

Pages 7 thru 9 summarize the breakdown of these three questions by demographics and ideology. They indicate fairly consistent opposition to the individual mandate with somewhat higher opposition in whites and men than nonwhites and women but the differences are within the statistical margin of error so no definitive conclusions can be drawn. There is some ideological division on this issue but it is not wide between liberals and moderates with stronger opposition among conservatives.

Support for placing limitations on insurance companies is fairly consistent across genders, racial groups, income levels, ideologies, political parties, and regions of the US such as in the table below for preventing insurance companies from dropping coverage for those who become seriously ill. Even 63% of tea party supporters support this provision and 55% of them support the provision preventing insurance companies from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions. Many of them do not seem to mind government intervention in this case.




Political Party
Political Ideology
Total
Democrat
Independent
Republican
Liberal
Moderate
Conservative
Favor
61%
63%
62%
56%
61%
64%
59%
Oppose
39%
37%
38%
44%
39%
36%
41%
Sampling Error
+/-3.0
+/-5.5
+/-4.5
+/-6.0
+/-7.5
+/-5.0
+/-5.0

Not asked in the CNN poll (or perhaps Rasmussen) is ways in which the law could be made more liberal such as with a public option or single payer alternatives. The unpopularity of the individual mandate suggests that further follow up information may need to be collected on this question.

The ideological divide on health care becomes less clear when you start talking about specific proposals and don't hide behind catch phrases like 'big government.' I'm not going to pay the $19.95 just to see exactly what was asked and what was the demographic breakdown for Rasmussen's poll. They say in their press release that "With the Republican takeover of the House driven in part by widespread opposition to the health care law, debate is already heavy in Washington over whether the new GOP majority will push for full repeal of the measure. But 52% of voters think
Congress should review the health care bill piece by piece and keep the parts it likes."

Which parts of the law would the new teary eyed Speaker John Boehner like? The ones the tea party likes or the ones the insurance companies like? Will Obama stick to his principles when it matters most? Stay tuned.

**Related Posts**

Health Care Law - New Rasmussen Poll Down the Memory Hole

 

POLL: Dislike of healthcare law crosses party lines, 1 in 4 Dems want repeal - TheHill.com (But Doesn't Ask Why)


Ezra Klein - Column: A world with an individual mandate


Teapartiers sandbagged by health insurers | MollyRush's Blog and a calculation mortality rates for lack of insurance. 

 

 Cognitive dissonance in Pittsburgh and beyond: Want to die?


**Update**

Rasmussen published another poll on the health care law showing a 60%-36% in favor of repeal. This time they did also not make the cross tabulations available for free but they did make the wording of the questions available. The questions that are asked are as revealing as the the ones that are not. There's no question about why repeal might be desired as in the CNN poll. In question 4 respondents are asked about their coverage but there's no alternative for the uninsured which is estimated to be 50 million or 17% of the US population. The title of their press release and the wording of question four indicate that the uninsured were excluded from their sample. There was no discussion of demographics either in the press release. The press release for this survey can be read here.

Health Care Law

National Survey of 1,000 Likely Voters
Conducted January 2, 2011 2010
By Rasmussen Reports
1* Will the health care plan passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama be good for the country or bad for the country?
2* A proposal has been made to repeal the health care bill and stop it from going into effect. Do you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose a proposal to repeal the health care bill?
3* How likely is it that passage of the health care reform plan will mean you have to change your own insurance coverage?
4* How do you rate your own health insurance coverage?
NOTE: Margin of Sampling Error, +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What is Sanity?

2010 can be called a year of anxiety. In Europe and the US, we see protesting because parts of both societies fear that their fabric is coming apart at the slightest suggestion of change. In France's case, the labor unions are staging nationwide strikes against President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to raise the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62 to save money. In the photo to the right the protester's sign says "listen to the anger of the people." The protests are not expected to be successful and have caused considerable disruption in the country (the link to the article says that they are costing France more than $600 million per day). However they still have strong public support.

Strikes costing France €400m a day says finance minister | World news | The Guardian

Similar protests have been occurring this year in Greece whose credit rating this year has taken a hit and has been forced to impose austerity measures after being bailed out by the European Union. Likewise austerity measures are occurring in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, Ireland and other countries with strikes happening to protect their social safety nets. There just as here in the US immigration and Islamophobia are hot button issues that inflame passions across the political spectrum.

To us here in the US it may seem like whining given that Europeans get a lot more in social services from their governments than we do (though they pay more in taxes). Some belt tightening is necessary in tough times the Tea Party goers say. Here we have protests on the left and the right when changes are made to the social fabric but they are more sporadic. This year the Tea Party protests have gotten the most attention and they have had the most impact in the Republican primaries this year with them poised to gain in this year's elections.



The Health Care Bill is one of the major things that has galvanized the Tea Party. They see no difference between the bill and the systems that are found in in Europe. Sarah Palin's Facebook posts and Fox News can whip them up into a tizzy now over things like imaginary death panels that they think would be used against grandma instead of real ones at HMOs that are being used now to deny needed care in the name of maintaining profit margins (some of which continues in the post linked here).


After shooting President Lincoln the crowd heard John Wilkes Booth shout "Sic semper tyrannus" which means thus always to tyrants in Latin. While he thought he was saving the south from some imaginary tyranny he had no problem with the very real tyranny the newly freed slaves had been experiencing for the previous 220 years in the US.



Conspiracy theories that many would consider insane are not confined to the right. The 9/11 truther movement has been convinced that the Bush Administration either was deliberately behind the attacks or they knew it was coming and deliberately did not lift a finger to stop it. Like the death panel claims, evidence for this has been sketchy (sketchy in the sense of seeing clouds in the sky that look like Ronald Reagan or Mumia Abu Jamal) at best but there is a tiny minority (which may be bigger in some other countries)that clings to this belief.

Getting to the title of this post the definition of what is sanity may seem to depend on one's political orientation. This type of sanity is unrelated to the type of insanity defined by the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Society. Most of these folks can hold a job, do not deviate from social norms, and are not a threat to themselves or others.

A Tea Partier may see both the protesters in France and 9/11 truthers here as insane and vice versa. It all depends on the context that the protests occur. It is often said that insanity is just a sane response to an insane situation.

Often when felt persecuted this poem by Pastor Martin Niemoller is quoted or paraphrased:

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Their detractors may scoff when they're not actually being subjected to mass murder.

This Saturday I and thousands of others will be going to Washington, DC to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Keep Fear Alive as a satirical way of looking at how both are manipulated to serve everyone's purposes. Updates are to come. Last night President Obama did go on the The Daily Show but sounded defensive.



**Update**

The Rally Experience I was at the rally and there were many thousands there. Having been at the protest rallies against the invasion of Iraq in DC in 2003 where there were about 100,000 people. In my opinion this definitely had a bigger crowd. The metros were backed up. I got to the mall about 40 minutes late. Comedy Central (Jon Stewart's network) did not seem to be prepared for the size of the crowd with too few jumbo-trons or a good enough sound system. There were people in trees and sitting on top of walk signals to get a better view. The video montage that I put together should give a good idea for what it was like being in the crowd.



It reminded me of being at St. Peter's Basilica in 2008 when Pope Benedict XVI was saying Mass on Pentecost Sunday when everyone was jockeying to get a better view of altar and there was security making sure no one rushed the altar(stage). This was a type of spiritual journey for those who came just as at it was at Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor rally seemed to be for his followers (it's tempting to quibble over the numbers at both rallies but I won't). Unlike protest rallies, rallies like these are needed sometimes as a catharsis.

This was my experience at the Vatican and Rome where they have more experience with crowds than Comedy Central.



To see some of the comedic highlights of the rally that I missed you can click the link below. Fr. Guido Sarducci gave the benediction at the beginning of the rally.

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear Videos

Getting back to the title question of this post What is Sanity? or more precisely what is sane? These two men sitting atop the Walk/Don't Walk lights (one of them dressed as a baby) and others sitting atop of portable toilets just to get a better view of Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert telling jokes may not be the most sane thing to do depending on one's point of view. For them and the others like me there it filled a void that was missing in all of the bickering between different sides who are convinced that they are absolutely right. In the end what is right or true, a very elusive thing indeed, is what restores sanity.



**Update**

Stewart responds to critics on the left who wanted the rally to have a specific message. Everyone had their own expectations I guess.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
MSNBC Suspends Keith Olbermann
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity


**Final Update (I swear)**

Comedy Central's broadcast of the rally has been nominated for four Daytime Emmy awards against the Macy's Day parade and PBS's horse travel show Equitrekking.  Sounds like a fitting end for this post.


**Related Post**