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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Condi Rice Is The Antithesis Of Human Rights

Category: Society
Posted: 04/18/14 17:47, Edited: 04/18/14 18:23

by Dave Mindeman

Condoleeza Rice spoke yesterday as part of a Civil Rights lecture series at the University of Minnesota. There were a number of protesters - many of them feeling that Dr. Rice's invitation should have been withdrawn. More of them wanted to make it clear that they consider her a war criminal as an enabler to torture.

I'm not going to go into any analysis on whether or not Dr. Rice should have spoken. That was for others to decide. I DO question the idea that Dr. Rice should be part of a civil rights lecture series. Her involvement in the civil rights struggle was minimal at best - but she has probably done great harm to the cause of human rights.

Conservatives are quick to pounce on Obama's foreign policy....especially when it comes to Russia.

But the policies of G.W.Bush, with Condi Rice, have made a mockery of our moral high ground. When we try to say that nobody should invade another country under a false pretext - who is not going to laugh?

When we talk about Putin's treatment of the Russian people, how are we to argue with Putin's discussion of surveillance on our own people. A policy that began under G.W. Bush.

And when other countries pull people off the streets and imprison them indefinitely without charges, can we say that's wrong? Can we say it the same way Jimmy Carter might have said it? or Clinton?

The full historical perspective about the G.W. Bush years has still not been written. Condi Rice may believe that the Bush administration did what was necessary to protect Americans.

But what is the precedent? Those Tea Party Patriots that reverence the Constitution - can they say that Republicans have protected it? Can they say that that sacred document has been adhered to in good times and bad?

The precedent that Condi Rice defends is one of government by fear. A precedent that believes we need to suspend our rights when we are threatened. That the Constitution is a luxury we cannot afford in times of war or imminent threat.

I don't believe that. Many people do not believe that. But Condi Rice does - she has to because she implemented a wrong-headed policy that continues on and on.

I understand that she has a right to speak. She was invited and she accepted. Case closed there. But if we are being led to believe that somehow Condi Rice can speak to the struggle of civil rights with ANY authority, then we are being deceived.

Rice represents a policy idea that many people totally reject. History will eventually reject it as well.
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Conservatives Won't Tell You - But The ACA Is Doing The Job

Category: Health Care
Posted: 04/18/14 00:24

by Dave Mindeman

The ACA hit 8 million sign-ups.

Actually it is over that figure, but the 8 million is a good announcement figure. Except you won't hear much about it from conservative media. Fox News front page had a single small link which actually appeared in the Fox Business section, not the main page.

The main page, of course, had to blair the headline....

REID: Bundy Supporters Are Terrorists

The Minnesota conservative blog aggregate is Look True North. Not one single post about the ACA milestone - even to criticize it.

Everything about the ACA is starting to fall into place-- as it was designed to do. The numbers surpassed projections. The 18-34 group makes up about 28% of the total - a little low, but it has been steadily climbing and will probably be a bigger share in the 2015 sign up period.

Polls indicate that the number of uninsured is dropping -- much more in the states that accepted the Medicaid expansion. Numbers are beginning to show that over 5 million people are being DENIED the opportunity to sign up in the "red" states that refused the expansion.

The number of paid premiums is in the 85 to 90% range.

Even the persistent critique about "keeping your plan if you like it" has a snag to it. Obamacare has 10 certain requirements that make an insurance plan offer true complete insurance. I think it is worth noting what those 10 items are:

1. Ambulatory Health Services. This is basically outpatient care and most insurance coverages had this.

2. Prescription Drug Coverage. Most insurance plans would offer this ONLY with an additional cost. With the ACA, some form of this must be offered in the original plan.

3. Emergency Room Visits. Most plans had this but the ACA did away with coverage denial because it lacked "pre-authorization". Some plans would still write that into their policies - now they cannot.

4. Mental Health Services. Few insurance plans would write this into their policies. They must have it with the ACA although they can charge up to $40 as a copay.

5. Hospitalization. Plans usually covered this but with all sorts of different variables. The ACA requires coverage - although up to 20% copayment may be needed within deductible limits.

6. Rehabilitative and Habilitative Services. A lot of insurance plans would cover rehab - but the ACA requires habilitative service which are therapies to help overcome long-term disabilities, such as those that accompany a disease like multiple sclerosis. Insurance plans tried to opt out of a long term commitment.

7. Preventive and Wellness Services. The ACA instructs insurers to provide all of the 50 preventive services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force at no extra cost. Prior to the ACA, insurance would only cover things they knew could save THEM money in the long run. Others would ignore all of it and take their chances if the contract was short term. Many believe that this part of the ACA will be the biggest cost saver in the law.

8. Laboratory Services. Although most lab test were always covered, the ACA makes it a standard. Insurance companies can't pick and choose which test can be in their plan.

9. Pediatric Care. The ACA adds some preventative dental and vision coverage as mandatory.

10. Maternity and Newborn Care. Yeah - men don't need this, but their significant others might in family coverage. Some of this care, like prenatal nutrition and care and some parts of childbirth were left out of regular insurance coverage. Up to 2/3's of plans did not meet the new ACA requirements in this area.

When you look at these standard coverages in the new law, you can see how many of the "junk" plans would have to be scrapped and new policies issued. Yes, a lot of people lost the plan they "liked"....they were just fortunate enough not to need it.

A lot of the insurance horror stories and coverage nightmares that have become part of media coverage over the years will be ending.

Reliable, affordable health care is here to stay. The conservatives will continue to complain about whatever they can...they have to, it has become their only political plan for this election cycle. But the ACA is working and has gone beyond the threshold of viability.

We can now move on to improve the law where needed and health care can be a bipartisan priority.

At least I can dream.....
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Another Study on Marijuana Released - But Anything New?

Category: Medical Marijuana
Posted: 04/17/14 00:28, Edited: 04/17/14 00:31

by Dave Mindeman

On cue, a study was released regarding marijuana use in the young. And as you might expect there are concerns....

Science Daily reports researchers compared the size, shape, and density of the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala - a brain region that plays a central role in emotion - in 20 marijuana users and 20 non-users.

Researchers also found a direct correlation between the number of times users smoked and abnormalities in the brain. A brain region called the nucleus accumbens, known to be involved in reward processing -- was larger and altered in its shape and structure in the marijuana users compared to non-users.

The study (which incidently seems like a small sample) also had a lot of things it didn't say. It didn't know what the significance of this finding is for certain. They only know that they have concerns on changes in that area.

They downplayed the fact that alcohol also affects that area of the brain. So does nicotine. The marijuana changes were different from alcohol, but again, what significance that has was not delineated.

More information is needed....

Researchers say the findings also highlight the importance of research aimed at understanding the long-term effects of low to moderate marijuana use on the brain.

Except there has already been a lot of research. And the use of marijuana is not a new concept. We know that marijuana affects mood and reduces inhibitive behavior. Alcohol and nicotine have those type of effects as well.

Yes, more study is warranted. And we can continue those studies while we allow for the limited use of medicinal marijuana. This is not a drug that was just discovered. It is not a drug that needs clinical trials to find out its effects. The effects are known....and some of those effects have true medicinal value.

There will be more studies to come, but that shouldn't stop us from moving forward on what is already known to be the benefits of this drug.
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