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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Taking a break

The Dunning Letter is on indefinite hiatus but please use the "Search" option to look for subjects of interest.  There are over 700 posts to choose from.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

You could profit off your health insurance

In yet another part of the new health-care law that favors consumers, insurance companies will be forced to spend a minimum of the premium you pay on health care and quality. For smaller companies the figure is 80 cents on the premium dollar. For employer plans covering over 50 people, the requirement is 85 cents. This is similar to a law passed a few years ago requiring charities to spend a minimum of your donations on the cause for which they are collecting.

If the insurer fails to meet the minimum, they will be forced to issue rebates to customers. The idea is to encourage better health care over excess spending on administration, marketing and executive bonuses by the insurance company. Some insurers are already complaining, which might indicate an inequality in paid premiums on their part to health care delivered.

Others are threatening to stop offering insurance to the individual market, with Georgia, Iowa, Maine and So. Carolina afraid this could lead to loss of coverage. But industry analyst, Les Funtleyder, says Health and Human Services has considerable latitude in making adjustments for insurers’ marketing needs. It would seem that the consumer can expect a higher quality of health care with this new ruling since many plans only spend from 60 to 80 cents on the dollar.

The new rule goes into effect January 1, and in 2012 up to 9 million customers could get rebates averaging $164. It’s nice to know for once that the consumer is getting a break with the greedy health insurers paying the bill. It is also pathetic that this must be done to keep these companies honest. The $164 could be a discount on premiums or payment direct to policyholder.

In the future, customers can shop for health insurance using this new gauge of just how well insurers pay benefits, but must be mindful of the new jargon. The ratio companies spend on care is “medical loss ratio.” They’ve known this all along but as long as they were able to get away with spending only 60 percent of your premium on your health care, the greedy ones did it.

And remember, the Republicans have said repeatedly that they would repeal the health care act.

Read more on this subject here.

Read more health care posts here.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Is the Tea Party planning a revolution? Part 3

"Gunfight" by Professor Adam Winkler
 In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, it was established that the Tea Party is planning a revolution, and one of its major thrusts will be to roll back the nation’s gun laws, the effective few that are on the books that are responsible for holding down gun violence. Now I know what the gun bubbas are saying to this, that there was a surge in weapons ownership recently and that’s what keeps our neighborhoods safe. Pure bunk!

First of all, I don’t know anyone where I live that owns a handgun, and if I did, they would be the last one I would call on. Furthermore, I don’t feel one iota safer walking down the street next to Wyatt Earp who is carrying a gun, which, because of the way he flaunts it, could easily be wrested away from him or her by a bad guy who could end up shooting me. Like former President Ronald Reagan said, “There’s no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.”

Finally, it is rare that you see coverage in the media where an armed citizen has saved the life of an innocent bystander, and also infrequent when a gun owner uses their weapon to protect themselves. Most everything you read indicates the crooks, depending on just how desperate they are, will go to any length to get what they want, and no amateur gun-carrying Dick Tracy will help. This is particularly true of drug addicts.

My point is that more guns on the street are certainly responsible for the recent rash of shooting violence across the U.S.

So back to the Tea Party and getting rid of all gun laws. According to UCLA Constitutional Law Professor Adam Winkler, their extremism is illustrated by the fact that many of their candidates are endorsed by Gun Owners of America, headed up by Larry Pratt, which argues that the NRA doesn’t support gun rights enough. Would you believe, the GOA thinks the NRA is too compromising? Pratt is also known for his part in starting the lunatic 1990’s patriot militia movement, which died after Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

Professor Winkler believes that although guns rights individuals value their firearms for self-protection, the Tea Party and a rejuvenation of the militia movement covet them for revolution. This was evident by Sharon Angle’s run for the Senate against Harry Reid in Nevada when she told supporters if you don’t get rid of Harry Reid, the people will be forced to turn to “Second Amendment” remedies. Harry Reid won.

You can see Chris Matthews take on the Tea Party by a priceless comment he made recently in the following You Tube video.

While the Tea Party dresses up all their rhetoric for hot button issues like economics and too much government, “Make no mistake,” says Professor Winkler, “when it comes to guns, they’re talking about revolution.”

Read more Tea Party posts here.

Be sure and look for Professor Adam Winkler’s book, “Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America,” which will be published by W.W. Norton in the summer of 2011.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Is the Tea Party planning a revolution? Part 2

In Part 1 of this article, I introduced Adam Winkler who is a constitutional law professor at UCLA, who says the Tea Party wants an “extreme roll back of the nation’s gun laws.” This is being pursued in several states by Tea Party candidates such as Paul Rand in Kentucky and Joe Miller in Alaska, who advocate adoption of the radical Firearms Freedom Acts, which are basically insurrectionist in their purpose. In Wyoming, if a federal officer attempts to enforce federal gun laws, he could get up to a year in jail.

One might expect that out of a state which former Vice President and infamous liar under GWB, Dick Cheney, hails from.

The Tea Party crackpots disguise their actions as states’ rights, but the intention is purely to eliminate all gun control. A move that could put more weapons in the hands of drug users and domestic batterers, as well as undermine gun dealer record-keeping laws that are used to solve crimes, Winkler says. As an example, the Professor also comments that Rand Paul is hell-bent on “no gun control period,” even if firearms end up in the hands of criminals.

Although the Tea Party tries to connect with the Ronald Reagan era, they fail to mention that Reagan “vigorously” endorsed the Brady Act, named for his press secretary injured seriously by a handgun. And one of my favorites, while Reagan was Governor of California, he supported laws banning gun bubbas from carrying loaded weapons around on public streets.

As a matter of fact, the former President said: “There’s no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.” AMEN!

But Joe Miller, still trying to associate himself with Reagan, prompted his supporters in July to arrogantly parade with their guns openly displayed. They’re seen with military-type rifles on their shoulders and handguns strapped to their belt in an attempt to mirror Wyatt Earp. See the video below, and tell me if this doesn’t look like the biggest gang of misfits you’ve ever seen. Pathetic!

Tomorrow, Gun owners of America, another gun group even more radical than the NRA.

See earlier Tea Party posts here.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Is the Tea Party planning a revolution?

Adam Winkler is a constitutional law professor at UCLA, and recently wrote about how the Tea Party movement plans to overturn gun control laws. Just what is needed in this country…an extension of the NRA. Winkler says the issue was “conspicuously absent” in the recent election, but an undercurrent running through the campaign rhetoric was that the Tea Party wants an “extreme roll back of the nation’s gun laws.”

This could be the result of the dilution of the D.C. v. Heller U.S. Supreme Court decision that said the Second Amendment does protect the right of an individual’s right to own guns for self-defense. In that decision SCOTUS added: “…nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions on the commercial sale of arms."

The lower courts have followed that interpretation to uphold laws re. the possession of firearms by “felons, drug addicts, illegal aliens, and individuals convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors.” Also “laws prohibiting particular types of weapons, including sawed-off shotguns and machine guns, and specific weapons attachments.” And “laws barring guns in school zones and post offices, and laws outlawing "straw" purchases, the carrying of concealed weapons, possession of an unregistered firearm, and particular types of ammunition.”
With these courts upholding every one of these laws, as Professor Winkler put it, “Since Heller, its Gun Control 60, Individual Right 0." See the Professor’s You Tube video, below, that concludes the major problem of gun control advocates is potential bills through state legislatures.

The CATO Institute financially backed the Heller legislation and thinks the above addendum added by Justice Scalia merely caused confusion in the ruling. The gun fanatics disagree—wouldn’t we be disappointed if they didn’t?—saying it just confirms that the Supreme Court “believes that almost all gun control measures on the books today are perfectly lawful.” With all these disappointments, amid the flag waving by the NRA of what they had accomplished on Heller, the Tea Party quietly made their plans.

On Monday, the Tea Party gun control revolution.


Thursday, December 02, 2010

Former Rep. Tom Delay from Texas proves how far a politician can fall

He was one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress, and had the nickname of “the Hammer” due to his bullying style of handling people. Former Rep. Tom Delay, once the number two person in the House of Representatives, was found guilty of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He, of course, plans to appeal the verdict. The decision was based on $190,000 of corporate donations that were involved in a Texas-style “money swap.”

Delay had two co-conspirators that assisted in getting the money to the Washington-based Republican National Committee, which disbursed it to seven Texas House candidates. The prosecution said that the $190,000 was instrumental in the GOP taking control of the Texas House. That, in turn, paved the way for redistricting that sent more Texas Republicans to Congress in 2004.

The judge has several options in sentencing Delay of up to life in prison, but a Texas defense attorney remarked that he would probably only get a few years, if he gets any prison at all. Delay was also mixed up with former lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, in 2005, an association that ended his 22-year political career. The Hammer later surfaced in 2009 as the Dancer in ABC’s TV show, “Dancing with the Stars.”

On the other side of the aisle is Charlie Rangel, congressman from New York’s Harlem district, a 40-year veteran who is being charged with financial and fundraising misconduct by the House. Rangel, who is 80 years old, pleaded with the House to not call him corrupt, and it did not. Convicted on 11 counts of ethical wrongdoing, the ethics committee recommended 9 to 1 for censure.

Rangel is accused of using the power of his office to solicit money for a college center named after him. There were ten years of misleading financial statements re. his assets and other shenanigans over a New York apartment. As the former chairman of the House’s tax-writing committee, it was considered particularly flagrant that he hadn’t paid taxes on income from one of his properties for 17 years.

Two wrongs—one from each side of the political aisle—do not make a right. And you can kiss “transparency” and “accountability” goodbye in the future with the incoming Republican House ready to ditch the Office of Congressional Ethics. This is an independent body established to watch over Congress, and apparently as far as the GOP is concerned, doing too good of a job. What does this say about the Republicans many of you voted for, and Congress in general?


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The gun nuts are coming out of the woodwork – Part 2

I would hope that all of my normal readers would take the time to read yesterday’s post before starting on today’s, so you can get a feel for just how ludicrous the gun freaks can be when someone attacks their right to do whatever they want with a gun. It’s hard to fathom how this conglomeration of radicals has become so strong when they only represent around 25 percent of the adult population. At any rate, I would sincerely be interested in hearing from those of you that believe in some form of gun control.

Now on to answers to more comments from Monday.

AM thinks it is OK that 5,000 firearms ended up in Mexico from American gun dealers, a flippant attitude the folks in Juarez who have lost family members recently to cartels might not share. Anyway, I am certainly not sure about AM’s figures with the news coverage of high powered weapons finding their way across the border from Arizona recently showing up at Mexican crime scenes. The ATF confirmed this indicating that weapons seizures on the border have doubled this year. Not exactly how the Mexican government would make a purchase, but thanks for the math lesson.

And the AKs that AM says come from Central and South America, it is obvious he should advise ATF that 90 % of the 158 assault rifles seized in Mexico where they were taken from the drug cartel Los Zetas in May alone, didn’t really come from the United States as the ATF claimed. However, AM, it’s really Ok to be stupid; I have to feign stupidly any time I am dealing with gun screwballs.

RNK, please don’t ignore my gun show loophole “fantasy,” just go to the link to yesterday’s post on this subject and see just how mixed up you people have become. And speaking of logic, yours is diluted to the point of hilarity re. why we should not get rid of the weapons confiscated in crimes. These “inanimate objects’ you speak of are responsible for the recent rash of shootings that are taking place throughout the U.S. As far as burning American currency, AM, it is illegal, or is this something the NRA didn’t teach you?

I don’t know about you, RNK, but in my entire life I have never been faced with the necessity to defend myself with a gun. Also, not one of my family, friends or acquaintances has ever indicated this need. Yes, it happens, but does the number of instances justify a gun lobby that supports defeating laws that simply seek time to check a potential gun owner’s background? I think not and no amount of NRA gibberish will convince me of this.