They were against democracy before they were for it

When people vote to take my family, conservatives call it democracy. When people vote to take their money, they call it tyranny, socialism, slavery, blah blah blah. #prop8

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“Community Reinvestment Act” h…

“Community Reinvestment Act” has become, like “confiscatory taxes”, code language for “I’m an ideologue and you should not talk to me.”

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You can’t cry for holy war and…

You can’t cry for holy war and yet say you’re better than jihadists. At that point the difference between you isn’t moral, it’s tactical.

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How do we handle bigots?

EMU, backed up by the courts, says that in certain circumstances, we remove them.

I have some mixed feelings about this case.

The court decided, rightly so in my opinion, that she does not have the right to obtain a degree accredited by the ACA (American Counseling Association) while engaging in behavior that is expressly forbidden by the ACA code of ethics – a code of ethics that she was made aware of before entering the program and taught extensively while enrolled in it. If she wanted to be a “christian counselor” then she should have enrolled in a Christian school that offered some alternative counseling degree that permits students to refuse to treat gays, or to refer gays to “reparative” therapy (as this student said she felt was appropriate.)

MY problem with this is that I fear it will encourage other bigots who aspire to be counselors or social workers to hide their beliefs and to actually agree to treat gay clients. I would not want this to happen; I think people like her shouldn’t be allowed within a hundred yards of troubled gay people seeking counseling. By being up front about her prejudices she probably did some gay folks a favor.

I understand the ACA code of ethics, and I think that in that context the school was right to dismiss her. But I’m not -100%- sure that the COE as currently written is going to result in a superior outcome than one that just says “If you hate gay people, never take one as a patient; refer them elsewhere.”

Full text of the court’s ruling. (PDF)

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Tarryl Clark for Congress

The netroots can help her defeat Michelle Bachmann.  Count me in.

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Death of a killer

Christine Maggiore has died.  Of pneumonia, of course.

On one hand, a family who loved her is now grieving, which is tragic.  On the other hand, she was responsible for deaths.  Many deaths.  If the reports are true that she is the one who convinced Mbecki to withhold AZT from his people, then she is responsible for more deaths than the genocide in Darfur, more than the Haiti earthquake and more than the Tsunami back in 04.  Even the monsterous fact that she killed her own daughter pales in the face of her overall impact.

So, sorry for the family.  But I’m glad she will be given no more time on this earth to use killing people.  Ignorance kills.

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Rescission is rare – except for when it’s not

Rescission is a practice used by health insurance companies that basically means your policy is rescinded (hence, the name.)  The reason usually given is that you lied or omitted information when you got your policy, and thus the contract is voided – the insurance company doesn’t have to pay your claim and can walk away from your policy.

In practice, what this means is that you can get an insurance policy and pay your premiums for years without any objection from the insurance company.  But the moment you look like you’re going to cost money, the insurance company can launch an investigation into your medical history with the express purpose of finding a reason to rescind your policy.  This is entirely legal.

The insurance companies, and many anti-reform pundits and bloggers, tell us that rescission is very rare, affecting only one half of one percent of policies.

Sounds rare, right?  Think again.

Health care spending in the US is highly concentrated. Half of all health care expenditures are spent on the top 5% of spenders. 50% of spenders spend under $700 per year on health care and account for only 3% of all health expenditures.

So, maybe if you select a random person with health coverage and try to estimate their chance of having a claim denied or a policy rescinded the chance will look low. But, because it is the most expensive claims that get investigated, the chances for it to happen to a very sick person are much higher.

It is probably true that most of the insurance company efforts at rescission take place among the top 1% of spenders, as these represent 22% of total expenditures and cost about $35k per year per person. This is where the big savings come in.

If we grant that rescission affects around one half of one percent of policies (which is what the insurance companies claim), and if it is true that rescission efforts are concentrated in that top 1% where the insurance company saves money, that means that if you get seriously ill your chances of experiencing it are 50/50.

If we decide to be more generous, and figure that these “half of one percent” rescission cases are spread out across the top 5% of spenders (which encompasses almost everyone who makes a serious claim) and not only the top 1%, then that means your chances of experiencing it as a member of that group are 1 in 10. I think this is generous.

It’s rare only in that people who require expensive medical care who are not covered by Medicare are rare. Sure, they’re a small percentage of the population. But I have a hard time watching the anti-reform lobby argue that it’s not significant when we can safely say that if you are under 65 and you get seriously sick or injured you’ve got somewhere between a 10% and 50% chance of having your coverage rescinded.

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