These are my links for February 13th through February 14th:
“Dogs Against Romney”? Democrats Say Unleash the Hound! – Tomorrow outside the Westminster dog show at Madison Square Garden at noon the group “Dogs Against Romney” will protest “to ensure pet lovers are aware that Mitt Romney is mean to dogs,” according to the group’s press release.
While it may seem silly to some, Democrats are have every intention of making sure – if Romney wins the GOP nomination – that every voting American knows about the story of Romney putting his family dog Seamus in a kennel on top of his roof and driving from Boston to Canada, with said canine Seamus making his displeasure known in a rather scatological way. “I have a yellow Lab named Winston,” Fox News’ Chris Wallace said to Romney. “I would no sooner put him in a kennel on the roof of my car than I would one of my children. Question: What were you thinking?” “This is a completely airtight kennel, mounted on the roof of our car,” Romney replied. “He climbed up there regularly, enjoyed himself. He was in a kennel at home a great deal of the time as well. We loved the dog. It was where he was comfortable.” “When Seamus crapped all over the car I’m fairly certain he wasn’t expressing pleasure,” one top Democrat told ABC News.
“Simply put,” Frisch wrote, “the progressive movement is in need of an enemy. George W. Bush is gone. We really don’t have John McCain to kick around any more. Filling the lack of leadership on the right, Fox News has emerged as the central enemy and antagonist of the Obama administration, our Congressional majorities and the progressive movement as a whole.”
“We must take Fox News head-on in a well funded, presidential-style campaign to discredit and embarrass the network, making it illegitimate in the eyes of news consumers.”
What Frisch proceeded to suggest, however, went well beyond what legitimate presidential campaigns attempt. “We should hire private investigators to look into the personal lives of Fox News anchors, hosts, reporters, prominent contributors, senior network and corporate staff,” he wrote.
After that, Frisch argued, should come the legal assault: “We should look into contracting with a major law firm to study any available legal actions that can be taken against Fox News, from a class action law suit to defamation claims for those wronged by the network. I imagine this would be difficult but the right law firm is bound to find some legal ground for us to take action against the network.”
Laura Richardson’s ethics woes mount – Democratic Rep. Laura Richardson instructed taxpayer-funded House aides to work on political redistricting last year, sources familiar with the situation told POLITICO.
Such activities could amount to a violation of prohibitions against lawmakers pressuring aides to do political work, as well as rules against using official resources, including staff, for campaign purposes.
The redistricting work, which has not previously been disclosed, allegedly occurred after it became clear Richardson was under investigation over another set of allegations that she forced House aides to perform political and personal tasks in violation of House rules. Richardson did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Sources told POLITICO that Richardson’s congressional aides collected information about communities outside her district, organized a workshop to train constituents in advance of a public meeting of California’s independent redistricting commission, and wrote talking points for those constituents to deliver during the public-comments portion of the meeting at Long Beach City Hall in April 2011.
The redistricting work was done at Richardson’s direction — rather than on a voluntary basis — these sources said.
A spokesman for the Ethics Committee declined to comment on the Richardson case, but several sources indicated that investigators have expanded the probe and are now looking into the redistricting angle.
Iranians’ Internet access blocked temporarily: experts – Most computer users in Iran were blocked from accessing email, social networking and other services in recent days, U.S.-based Internet experts said on Monday, raising fears the government is extending the reach of its surveillance on ordinary citizens.
Internet service providers presumed to be acting at the Iranian government’s behest began blocking the most common form of secure connections on Friday, according to the outside experts and Iranian bloggers. Traffic rebounded to normal levels on Monday.
The cutoff apparently affected all encrypted international websites outside of Iran that depend on the Secure Sockets Layer protocol, which display addresses beginning with https, according to Earl Zmijewski of Renesys, a U.S. company that tracks Internet traffic worldwide.
SEIU Local 1000 and the Union of American Physicians and Dentists support AB 1655, the “Public Employees Bill of Rights Act.” Here’s what it would do:
• Gives unionized state employees priority over outside contractors and excluded state workers to fill permanent, overtime and on-call positions.
• Sets a one-year statute of limitations for employers to take an adverse action against a state employee. (The current law allows disciplinary actions up to three years after the discovery of fraud, embezzlement or records falsification.)
• Establishes a peer review committee to provide workplace operations input.
• Guarantees that the state won’t impose “unreasonable quotas” on employees.
• Bans extra work created by vacancies, furloughs of layoffs without “fair compensation.”
• Gives priority to workplace safety and health grievances.
• Explicitly bans workplace discrimination.
• Strengthens whistleblower protections.
• Requires employers exercise “preventive and corrective” actions before administering harsher employee discipline.
• Settles grievances in favor of the employee if the employer misses contractual deadlines for response.
• Defines protections and performance and merit evaluation processes for professionally licensed employees.
• Guarantees independent legal representation for professionally licensed workers named as codefendants in litigation against their employers.
A Center for Health Reporting article published in The Bee over the weekend detailed the shortcomings of the managed care program, including long wait times and comparatively low rates of dental care among the more than 110,000 Sacramento County children covered by the program.
In a letter to California Department of Health Care Services Director Toby Douglas, Steinberg called for immediate action to address what he called a “crisis in prevention and treatment services.”
“Despite that state funding, disturbing specific patient cases as well as the department’s own data cited in the article make it abundantly clear that prevention and treatment services are woefully inadequate for those children most in need,” the Sacramento Democrat wrote in the letter.
In addition to the investigation, Steinberg asked the administration to step up its monitoring of dental plans under contract with the program and withhold payments or cancel contracts with plans that fail to provide proper access to care or meet other performance standards.
A new Pew Research Center poll found Santorum and Romney neck-and-neck, with Santorum winning 30 percent of the support among Republican registered voters to Romney’s 28 percent — a difference that falls well within the poll’s five percentage point margin of error. Separately, Gallup’s latest tracking survey of the Republican race found Romney with 32 percent support and Santorum right on his heels with 30 percent.
Of concern for Romney, the Pew poll shows him struggling among the conservative groups that make up the Republican base. Among self-identified conservatives, Santorum leads Romney by an 11 percent margin, 36 percent to 25 percent. Among Tea Party supporters, Santorum leads 42 percent to 23 percent.
Romney’s support among Tea Party supporters is essentially unchanged from last month, when he received 26 percent support from Tea Party supporters to 24 percent each for Santorum and Newt Gingrich. But Santorum’s lead among the group may be a sign that they have begun to see him as the alternative to Romney.
The American Spectator : Can Mitt Close the Deal? – Cold, bleak February has turned into a happy time for us. It’s given us a short break from the constant barrage of debates, speeches and “crucial” primaries in the Republican presidential nomination contest. February has given us, and the candidates, a bit of time to think. Let’s make the most of it.
The nomination is still up for grabs. Mitt Romney has the clearest path to it but Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul are all promising to take it all the way to the convention. To those who natter about how cool a “brokered” convention would be, I say don’t wish for something because you might get it. (Among other frightful questions, who can be the brokers? It’ll be a food fight that benefits only the media.) The Republican Party is too weak and fractured to come out of such an event united and strong enough to win in November.
So let’s assume that Romney is the nominee. The arithmetic is pretty simple. Mitt Romney plus an energized Republican base can beat Obama in November. Romney without an energized base will lose. But the Republican base is conservative, and Romney hasn’t closed the deal with conservatives. Can he?
Let’s face it: Romney isn’t one of us. At CPAC last Friday he said he governed Massachusetts as a “severely conservative” Republican in the tone of voice my late maternal grandmother used to say she was severely constipated. We know his record as state candidate and governor, and national candidate since 2007. We need not rehearse it here. Suffice it to say that it defines him as a transactional conservative. He will apply conservative principles as a business owner might apply production scenarios and estimated profit margins to negotiating a deal. They aren’t part of his core, but will be useful tools for him in campaigning and, if he wins, governing.
“It is not clear whether Gingrich remains in the race because he still believes he could become president next year or because he wants to avenge his wounded pride: an ambiguity that suggests the problem with him as a leader. When he led Santorum in the polls, he urged the Pennsylvanian to leave the race. On his own arguments the proper course for him now is to endorse Santorum and exit,” the editors of the influential conservative online magazine wrote in an op-ed posted Monday.
Santorum moves ahead in Michigan – Rick Santorum’s taken a large lead in Michigan’s upcoming Republican primary. He’s at 39% to 24% for Mitt Romney, 12% for Ron Paul, and 11% for Newt Gingrich.
Santorum’s rise is attributable to two major factors: his own personal popularity (a stellar 67/23 favorability) and GOP voters increasingly souring on Gingrich. Santorum’s becoming something closer and closer to a consensus conservative candidate as Gingrich bleeds support.
Santorum’s winning an outright majority of the Tea Party vote with 53% to 22% for Romney and 10% for Gingrich. He comes close to one with Evangelicals as well at 48% to 20% for Romney and 12% for Gingrich. And he cracks the 50% line with voters identifying as ‘very conservative’ at 51% to 20% for Romney and 10% for Gingrich.
“We agree entirely with Governor Romney and Massachusetts legislators that our goal should be 100 percent insurance coverage for all Americans,” Gingrich wrote in 2006.
And, Gingrich wrote, the key to achieving that goal was doing what Romney did in Massachusetts: Requiring everybody who could afford it to buy health insurance. In fact, Gingrich makes an impassioned case for the so-called individual mandate — which is also at the center of President Obama’s health plan — on conservative grounds.
“We also believe strongly that personal responsibility is vital to creating a 21st Century Intelligent Health System,” Gingrich wrote in the memo which was found on an old Gingrich website by the Wall Street Journal’s Brody Mullins and Janet Adamy.
”Individuals who can afford to purchase health insurance and simply choose not to place an unnecessary burden on a system that is on the verge of collapse; these free-riders undermine the entire health system by placing the onus of responsibility on taxpayers.”
How Can Romney Lose? – The conventional wisdom on the Republican nomination race has once again shifted. In the span of just two weeks, Mitt Romney has gone from seeming quite vulnerable to the near-inevitable Republican nominee. The odds attributed to Mr. Romney winning the nomination at the betting market Intrade, which closed at a low of 42 percent on Dec. 13, had shot up to 72 percent as of Monday night.
I don’t know that Mr. Romney’s stock is mispriced — if anything, it might be a little cheap. It’s not that Mr. Romney is all that strong a candidate. But for him to fail to win the nomination, someone else has to, and it’s hard to see who that is.
Job Creation Is Price for New U.S. Health Law – I am not an expert on health-care policy, but I do know something about job creation. So when a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee asked me to testify about the effect on employers of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sometimes known as Obamacare, I thought I could offer some insights.
As I told the committee in a July 28 hearing, it is critical that Congress does a good job of balancing the benefits of new legislation against the costs of that legislation. That process begins with recognizing that laws like Obamacare come at a price.
Our company, CKE Restaurants Inc., employs about 21,000 people (our franchisees employ 49,000 more) in Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants. For months, we have been working with Mercer Health & Benefits LLC, our health-care consultant, to identify Obamacare’s potential financial impact on CKE. Mercer estimated that when the law is fully implemented our health-care costs will increase about $18 million a year. That would put our total health-care costs at $29.8 million, a 150 percent increase from the roughly $12 million we spent last year.
The money to cover our increased expenses will have to come from somewhere. We are a profitable company and, after paying our obligations, we reinvest our earnings in the business. Reinvesting in the business is how we grow, create jobs and opportunity. This is true for most U.S. businesses.
Obama to ask for debt limit hike: Treasury official – The White House plans to ask Congress by the end of the week for an increase in the government’s debt ceiling to allow the United States to pay its bills on time, according to a senior Treasury Department official on Tuesday.
The approval is expected to go through without a challenge, given that Congress is in recess until later in January and the request is in line with an agreement to keep the U.S. government funded into 2013.
The debt is projected to fall within $100 billion of the current cap by December 30, when the United States has $82 billion in interest on its debt and payments such as Social Security coming due. President Barack Obama is expected to ask for authority to increase the borrowing limit by $1.2 trillion, part of the spending authority that was negotiated between Congress and the White House this summer.
How to Ace a Google Interview – Imagine a man named Jim. He’s applying for a job at Google. Jim knows that the odds are stacked against him. Google receives a million job applications a year. It’s estimated that only about 1 in 130 applications results in a job. By comparison, about 1 in 14 high-school students applying to Harvard gets accepted.
Jim’s first interviewer is late and sweaty: He’s biked to work. He starts with some polite questions about Jim’s work history. Jim eagerly explains his short career. The interviewer doesn’t look at him. He’s tapping away at his laptop, taking notes. “The next question I’m going to ask,” he says, “is a little unusual.”
You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and thrown into a blender. Your mass is reduced so that your density is the same as usual. The blades start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?
Congress considers anti-piracy bills that could cripple Internet industries – Imagine a world where YouTube, Flickr, Facebook or Twitter had never been created due to the cost of regulatory compliance. Imagine an Internet where any website where users can upload text, pictures or video is liable for copyrighted material uploaded to it. Imagine a world where the addresses to those websites could not be found using search engines like Google and Bing, even if you typed them in directly.
Imagine an Internet split into many sections, depending upon where you lived, where a user’s request to visit another website was routed through an addressing system that could not be securely authenticated. Imagine a world where a government could require that a website hosting videos of a bloody revolution be taken down because it also hosted clips from a Hollywood movie.
Imagine that it’s 2012, and much of that world has come to pass after President Obama has signed into law an anti-online piracy bill that Congress enacted in a rare show of bipartisan support. In an election year, after all, would Congress and the President risk being seen as “soft on cybercrime?”
Yes, the examples above represent worst-case scenarios, but unfortunately, they’re grounded in reality. In a time when the American economy needs to catalyze innovation to compete in a global marketplace, members of the United States Congress have advanced legislation that could lead to precisely that landscape.
Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas speaks during a campaign stop in Fort Madison, Iowa, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011
These are my links for December 21st through December 22nd:
Grappling With Ron Paul’s Racist Newsletters – Did you know about the racist newsletters published in the late 1980s and early 1990s under Ron Paul’s name? As the Texas Congressman surges in the GOP primary, the story of the newsletters is garnering headlines, as it did during his 1996 House campaign and his 2008 presidential run. He’s always insisted that he didn’t write the egregiously offensive material, and long ago repudiated it (though not as soon as he should have). Is this an old story voters will look beyond, like Newt Gingrich’s affairs? Or a new story for the vast majority of voters and the plurality of journalists who are less familiar with Paul than the other GOP frontrunners? Is it coming up now “for political reasons”? Or because it’s a legitimate subject of inquiry despite having been aired before in the media?
It seems to me that the story’s reemergence was inevitable and necessary to fully inform primary voters about their choices. This level of scrutiny is rightly what comes with contending for the presidency.
According to The Hill, the former Massachusetts governor was asked by radio host Howie Carr if Onyango Obama, who is allegedly in violation of his immigration status and was arrested for drunk driving this summer, should be deported.
In the Wednesday interview, Romney said the law must be followed.
“Well, if the laws of the United States say he should be deported, and I presume they do, then of course we should follow those laws,” he said.
Asked to clarify those comments in a press conference Thursday, Romney said his stance was not affected by the man’s relationship to the president.
And how many Miami-based HuffPo journalists are doing that? Two, according to Bill Cooke. He reports that Miami Herald staffers are complaining that the HuffPo duo are rewriting their newspaper stories for Huffington Post Miami.
Miami Herald managing editor Rick Hirsch declined to discuss this with Cooke. “I’ll say what I have to say directly to the Huffington Post. There are some things we’ll be discussing soon.”
McConnell offers a way out of the payroll tax cut thicket – As I predicted, the perennial adult in Washington, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), has stepped forward with a way out of the payroll tax box into which the House Republicans have climbed. He sent out this statement:
“The House and Senate have both passed bipartisan bills to require the President to quickly make a decision on whether to support thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs through the Keystone XL pipeline, and to extend unemployment insurance, the temporary payroll tax cut and seniors’ access to medical care. There is no reason why Congress and the President cannot accomplish all of these things before the end of the year. House Republicans sensibly want greater certainty about the duration of these provisions, while Senate Democrats want more time to negotiate the terms. These goals are not mutually exclusive. We can and should do both. Working Americans have suffered enough from the President’s failed economic policies and shouldn’t face the uncertainty of a New Year’s Day tax hike. Leader Reid should appoint conferees on the long-term bill and the House should pass an extension that locks in the thousands of Keystone XL pipeline jobs, prevents any disruption in the payroll tax holiday or other expiring provisions, and allows Congress to work on a solution for the longer extensions.”
Ron Paul’s story changes on racial comments – Rep. Ron Paul has tried since 2001 to disavow racist and incendiary language published in Texas newsletters that bore his name, denying he wrote them and even walking out of an interview on CNN Wednesday. But he vouched for the accuracy of the writings and admitted writing at least some of the passages when first asked about them in an interview in 1996.
Some issues of the newsletters included racist, anti-Israel or anti-gay comments, including a 1992 newsletter in which he said 95% of black men in Washington “are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”
Paul told TheDallas Morning News in 1996 that the contents of his newsletters were accurate but needed to be taken in context. Wednesday, he told CNN he didn’t write the newsletters and didn’t know what was in them.
Video: Ron Paul in 1995: Say, have you read my newsletters? – Mitt Romney can breathe a sigh of relief, because Andrew Kaczynksi has shifted his attention to Ron Paul this week. Andrew dug up a 1995 interview with C-SPAN, a year before running for Congress after a decade out of office. Paul tells C-SPAN that he was ready after the long hiatus to return to Washington, but that’s not the big catch in this clip. Starting at 1:45, Ron Paul explains that his private sector efforts are keeping him too busy — and starts plugging his newsletters:
What Ron Paul Thinks of America – Ron Paul’s supporters are sure of one thing: Their candidate has always been consistent—a point Dr. Paul himself has been making with increasing frequency. It’s a thought that comes up with a certain inevitability now in those roundtables on the Republican field. One cable commentator genially instructed us last Friday, “You have to give Paul credit for sticking to his beliefs.”
He was speaking, it’s hardly necessary to say, of a man who holds some noteworthy views in a candidate for the presidency of the United States. One who is the best-known of our homegrown propagandists for our chief enemies in the world. One who has made himself a leading spokesman for, and recycler of, the long and familiar litany of charges that point to the United States as a leading agent of evil and injustice, the militarist victimizer of millions who want only to live in peace.
Flipper: Romney changes stance on Iraq invasion – Romney’s statement on MSNBC is not only a change from what he said on Fox a few days ago. It’s also a change from his position during his first run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2007-2008. In a January 2008 GOP debate in Florida, Romney was asked, “Was the war in Iraq a good idea worth the cost in blood and treasure we have spent?” Romney answered: “It was the right decision to go into Iraq. I supported it at the time; I support it now.”
“It’s been going on 20 years that I’ve been pestered about this and CNN does it every time,” Paul said, clearly adjitated by the line of questioning. “When are you going to wear yourself out?”
The Texas congressman said that the articles – which did not carry a byline – were written by his publishing staff and that he did not know about them at the time.
“I didn’t write them, I didn’t read them at the time, and I disavow them. That is the answer,” Paul said.
When CNN reporter Gloria Berger defended her questioning as legitimate – noting that some of the articles were “pretty incendiary” – Paul began to remove his microphone.
The newsletters, mainly a forum for essay’s on Paul’s brand of libertarianism, once referred to Martin Luther King Jr. as “the world-class philanderer who beat up his paramours” and who “seduced underage girls and boys.”
In another article, the author writes that “given the inefficiencies of what DC laughingly calls the criminal justice system, I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”
Mitt Romney Says ‘Yes’ To Deporting President Obama’s Uncle – Presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a Boston talk radio host on Wednesday that he supports the deportation of President Obama’s Kenyan-born uncle who was arrested this fall on drunken driving charges in Massachusetts.
When asked by Boston radio personality Howie Carr whether the president’s relative, Onyango Obama, should be deported, Romney said, “the answer is ‘yes.’”
“Well, if the laws of the United States say he should be deported, and I presume they do, then of course we should follow those laws,” Romney said. “And the answer is ‘yes.’”
When Carr brought up Onyango Obama case, Romney first sought clarification: “Who is Uncle Omar, Howie?” the former Massachusetts governor asked the radio host.
Carr explained that the uncle, nicknamed “Omar,” was recently arrested in Framingham, Mass.
“Now he’s claiming he’s got a Social Security number and drivers’ license and no one knows how he got them,” Carr told Romney, “but they’re apparently legit even though he’s in the country illegally.” (Onyango Obama had reportedly defied a 1992 deportation order.)
Said Gingrich: “I’ll tell you what. If he wants to test the heat, I’ll meet him anywhere in Iowa next week, one-on-one, 90 minutes no moderator, just a timekeeper. He wants to try out the kitchen? I’ll debate him anywhere. We’ll bring his ads, and he can defend [them].”
Ron Paul Storms Out Of CNN Interview – Ron Paul walked out of an interview with CNN’s Gloria Borger, following a heated exchange over the controversy regarding racist newsletters sent in his name during the 1990s. Borger asked the Congressman if he had ever read the newsletters. “Did you ever object when you read them?”
“Why don’t you go back and look at what i said yesterday on CNN and what I’ve said for 20 something years. 22 years ago? I didn’t write them, I disavow them, That’s it.”
“But you made money off them,”
“I was still practicing medicine,” Paul responded. “That’s probably why I wasn’t a very good publisher, I had to make a living.”
Tom Del Beccaro, Chairman of the California Republican Party Response to ProPublica Report – “The ProPublica report vindicates my repeated contention that the redistricting process was hijacked. That report, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. The corruption of the process went far beyond what was disclosed in that report. No fair minded person can now say the process or the result was fair. I am calling for an immediate and thorough investigation, by Congressional and State authorities, to get to the bottom of this obviously corrupted process. Beyond that, the Congressional and Senate lines as drawn by the Commission should not be used in any way for the upcoming elections.”
In previous years, the party had used its perennial control of California’s state Legislature to draw district maps that protected Democratic incumbents. But in 2010, California voters put redistricting in the hands of a citizens’ commission where decisions would be guided by public testimony and open debate.
Democrats skew redistricting effort to their benefit, investigation finds – California’s congressional Democrats ran a secret effort earlier this year to manipulate the work of the independent citizen’s panel that drew the state’s new political districts, foiling the intent of reformers who sought to remove the redistricting process from the control of party bosses.
Democrats met behind closed doors at the party’s Washington, D.C. headquarters, hired consultants, drew their ideal districts and presented maps to the panel through proxies who never disclosed their party ties or “public interest” groups created specifically for the purpose. In many cases, the panel responded by doing just what the Democrats wanted.
The New York-based nonprofit investigative foundation ProPublica released findings Wednesday from a months-long reconstruction of the Democrats’ stealth redistricting strategy, relying on internal memos, emails, interviews and map analysis.
The success of the strategy has Democrats projecting they may pick up as many as seven congressional seats in 2012 under new district boundaries adopted last summer, far more than had been expected originally.
“Every member of the Northern California Democratic Caucus has a ticket back to D.C.,” crowed one internal memo. “This is a huge accomplishment that should be celebrated by advocates throughout the region.”
Stroke Damage to Insular Cortex Boosts Smoking Cessation– Smokers who suffer a stroke that causes a lesion at the insular cortex are more than 5 times more likely to stop their nicotine habit than those whose stroke did not result in such a lesion, according to a new study.In addition, the researchers found that preparedness to change also influenced successful smoking cessation poststroke.
The study results were not surprising, given that research has already shown that biological and psychological factors help explain smoking cessation in patients with stroke, said the study’s lead author, Rosa Su?er Soler, PhD, from the Neurology Department, Josep Trueta Hospital, Girona, Spain.
Biologically, the insular cortex may play an important role in emotional decision-making, and in terms of psychology, smoking behavior may be explained by stages, processes, and levels of change, Dr. Su?er told Medscape Medical News. “Before you stop smoking, you must be aware that you have a problem and take the decision to stop smoking.”
The study was published online November 3 in Stroke.
Vaccination Exemptions Rise in California Amid Concerns– Increasing rates of unvaccinated young children with “personal belief exemptions” from vaccination requirements are becoming worrisome, according to research presented here at the American Public Health Association (APHA) 139th Annual Meeting.Recent concern about vaccine safety appears to be gaining strength, and state regulations requiring parents to vaccinate their children before they can attend public schools vary. In California, obtaining a personal belief exemption could not be easier — parents are only required to sign their name to a 2-sentence standard exemption statement on the back of the vaccination requirement form.
In evaluating data on the rates of exemptions from the California Department of Public Health, the state’s Department of Education and the US Census, researchers found that in 2010, the state had about 11,500 kindergartners with personal belief exemptions, representing a 25% increase over the previous 2 years.
The increasing rate indicates that, for kindergartners who have adhered to vaccination schedules, exposure to children with personal belief exemptions is about 2.3 per 100 children.
Because children with the exemptions tend to be found in clusters, the rate of children with exemptions who are exposed to other children who also have exemptions — a higher-risk combination — was 15.6 per 100 in 2010, said lead author Alison Buttenheim, PhD, MBA, from the University of Pennsylvania’s Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholars Program in Philadelphia.
“The average kindergartner with a personal belief exemption attends a school where the exemption rate is 15 per 100, and we see that figure increasing all the time,” she reported.
Previous data from the fall of 2008 showed that 10% of the nearly half-million kindergartners in California attended schools where personal belief exemption rates exceeded 5%, and as many as 61% of kindergartners with 1 or more personal belief exemptions (n = 9196) attended schools where the personal exemption rate exceeded 5%. Among those, a third attended schools where the personal belief exemption rate exceeded 20%.
In a separate study conducted by the same team, the researchers investigated the concerns that parents have about vaccines by evaluating data on the specific vaccines received by 168 patients at a pediatric practice in Philadelphia where the practitioner, though pro-vaccine, is known to accommodate parents who seek alternative vaccination options.
Sales Taxes and the Internet– Online commerce is a big, big business, accounting for nearly one-tenth of retail sales in the United States. It is a lively and growing sector, a bright spot in our troubled economy — thus the gloomy shadow of the taxman inevitably falls upon it, in the form of a bill proposed by Republican senators Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. A similar bill was proposed by Democratic senator Dick Durbin of Illinois earlier in the year, and a separate effort is afoot to have the so-called supercommittee institute new Internet-tax measures as part of its deficit-reduction plan.But it’s not all about big business: The Enzi-Alexander bill would affect entrepreneurs with as little as $500,000 a year in sales.
Contrary to most accounts, there is no sales-tax loophole for online retailers. Customers who buy goods online are in most cases required to pay a “use tax” equivalent to the sales tax they would have paid in a conventional transaction. The problem, from the tax-consumers’ point of view, is that most taxpayers do not comply with the law. The state and local governments that depend upon sales-tax revenue protest that they are strapped for cash. That isn’t entirely true, either: Those jurisdictions are spending more money than ever, most of it on salaries and benefits for the legion of bureaucrats and commissars they maintain.
But in spite of their swollen payrolls and work forces, state and local governments apparently cannot be bothered to hire tax agents in sufficient numbers, thus the now universal practice of their requiring businesses to do their sales-tax collecting for them. The Internet-tax measures under consideration would not expand governments’ power to tax, but its power to conscript businesses into acting as tax collectors.
The original sin here is government’s delegating its tax-collecting duties to private businesses. If government wishes to levy a tax, let it do the work of collecting it. It is true that this would prove burdensome to cities and states. It is also burdensome to the conscripted businesses. The difference is that collecting taxes is government’s duty, not Amazon’s.
Stu’s Dangerous Dozen: Unsafe House Incumbents – Dan Lungren (R-Calif.). Another election means another problem for Lungren, who somehow wins despite his reluctance to raise money. He will be running in a 46 percent McCain district this time, compared with the 48 percent McCain district he ran in last time, but he also will draw the same opponent, Ami Bera. Bera, a doctor who raises money nationally from Indian-Americans, ran a competitive race in a terrible year for a Democrat, so he hopes the better environment will help him close the 7-point gap he had in 2010.
GOP Candidate Beats Obama in Swing States on Jobs, Deficit – Voters in 12 key swing states are substantially more likely to feel that a generic “Republican candidate” for president would do a better job than President Obama of handling the federal deficit and debt, and are slightly more likely to prefer the Republican on the issue of unemployment. Swing-state voters are split on the question of whether Obama or the Republican candidate would do a better job of handing healthcare as well as terrorism and international threats.
Colgate recalls mouthwash over contamination fears– Colgate-Palmolive is removing up to 50,000 bottles of Periogard mouthwash from store shelves in the U.K. due to possible bacterial contamination.The micro-organisms may be harmful to some people with weakened immune systems or some lung conditions, according to the company.
Up to 11 other countries, including some where the product has a different brand name, are also involved in the recall of 300-mL containers containing chlorhexidine.
“The presence of micro-organisms has been detected in some retained production samples of Periogard,” Colgate-Palmolive said in a statement. “Under certain circumstances, these micro-organisms may be harmful to individuals with compromised health. Accordingly, in order to ensure the safety of our consumers, in cooperation with the Medicine and Health Regulatory Authority, Colgate-Palmolive UK is recalling all Periogard.”
ADA updates guidelines for managing ONJ risk patients– A patient receiving antiresorptive therapy for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis has a low risk of developing osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), and benefits of the medication outweigh the risk of ONJ, according to an advisory statement from the ADA.The statement, “Managing the Care of Patients Receiving Antiresorptive Therapy for Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis,” is based on a literature review by an advisory committee of the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs and updates ADA’s 2008 advisory statement (Journal of the American Dental Association, November 2011, Vol. 142:11, pp. 1243-1251).
ONJ associated with antiresorptive agents has mostly been referred to as bisphosphonate-associated ONJ, but nonbisphosphonate antiresorptive agents are now available that also could be associated with ONJ, the panel noted. That is why they refer to the condition as antiresorptive agent-induced ONJ (ARONJ).
A relatively new condition, bisphosphonate-associated ONJ, has received tremendous media attention because of a flurry of lawsuits against the makers of Fosamax and Zometa alleging that the medications led to ONJ.
These lawsuits have been a factor in raising patients’ and dentists’ awareness of the condition, according to Helen Ristic, PhD, director of scientific information for the ADA’s Division of Science and one of the panelists who contributed to the report.
These are my links for August 15th through August 16th:
President 2012: Rick Perry’s Serious Unforced Error – Today in Iowa, Rick Perry was asked about the Federal Reserve and, in a halting 45-second answer, went off on chairman Ben Bernanke: “If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I dunno what y’all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost teacherous…treasonous in my opinion.” The clip is here. Liberals on Twitter exploded immediately in outrage after Think Progress posted it, with the economist Nouriel Roubini actually comparing Perry to the Norwegian mass murderer and saying he should be put in a mental institution.
I think it’s pretty clear from the clip that Perry was trying to play folksy straight-talkin’ populist guy while taking up a complicated issue, using colorful dirt-kicker language to connect to his al-fresco audience as he might in his home town of Paint Creek. And in the early going on Twitter, I suggested the harrumphers were knowingly making a mountain out of a molehill to bring him down a notch. I was wrong.
He’s trying to be the next president, and he needs to be judged on that standard. What Perry did was make a thoughtless blunder, an unforced error; we’re now going to spend a couple of days discussing whether he was summoning violence on Ben Bernanke’s head or not, which is of absolutely no use to Perry.
Rick Perry has a record and he can run on it. This was a minor gaffe and a lesson to be learned by Perry as his campaign ramps up.
The California Online Poker Association, backed by the Morongo and San Manuel bands of Indians as well as many card rooms, has begun airing radio and television ads urging the Legislature to pass Senate Bill 40 by Sen. Lou Correa. The bill would make internet poker legal and tax it, potentially bringing hundreds of millions of dollars to state coffers.
"Unfortunately, nurses, police, fire and services for the poor and disabled will all be cut again if California doesn't find $4 billion in new revenue by December," the radio ad says. "There is a solution. By approving online poker, California has the ability to tap $250 million in new money immediately and billions in years to come."
The ad goes on to urge listeners to "tell the politicians in Sacramento to authorize online poker now. California needs the money and Californians need the jobs."
Oh good another Indian tribe turf war driven by gambling.