From the New York Times, 1/1/2014:
WASHINGTON — Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Tuesday temporarily blocked the Obama administration from forcing some religious-affiliated groups to provide health insurance coverage of birth control or face penalties as part of the Affordable Care Act.
This dispite the Administrations attempts to accomodate religious groups and thereby creating a nightmare for underwriters. Providing special riders to policies to accomodate what is likely to be a welter of 'religious exceptions of concience' to will result to increased premiums and very likely diminished coverage for us all.
It should be noted that contraception reduces health care costs: pregnancy is much, much expensive that its prevention, especially unwanted pregnancies with their associated low-birth weights and higher percentage of defective births.
Contraception is also prescribe for many conditions other than pregnancy prevention, from endometriosis to acne. Will policies allow prescription for conditions other than prevention? How would that work?
Orthodox Jews allow for chemical contraception, but prohibit mechanical contraception; will Jews require an exception to IUDs, but allow The Pill?
Will these exceptions venture into other areas? If you're employed by a Seventh-Day Adventist, will you wind up paying for that blood transfusion you received undergoing major surgery?
Sotamayor's injunction raises so many questions, primary among them Why require the Affordable Care Act to meet any religious objection to coverage? These objections are just attempts to impose on ;individuals to observe un-justifiable religious tenets, who may or not be members of the faith.
Gee, maybe we allow poll rank and file Catholics, 85% of whom have no objection to using contraception, decide this issue. I think that's the target for the Catholic hierarchy who have been largely unsuccessful in persuading their members to accept church canon in this area.
I don't like knowing that my premiums are higher because someone has addicted themself to alchohol and must pay for treatment. I may also object to paying for women's health. I'm a guy way past the age when I'm contemplating having another kid. .
But my objections are NOT religious. When viewed on their merits, they are poor ideas and not credible objections. Heath insurance is all about paying for other people's ills; it's all about shared risk and the greater public good.
The religious freedom argument is bogus. In no way does the ACA restrict an individual's religous practice. If one personally objects to using contraceptives, to abortion, to blood transfusions, don't use these drugs, don't avail yourself to such services!
The pathos of the Little Sisters of the Poor swayed the Justice's devoted Catholic mind. There is no objective standard for this exception. Were Justice Sotamayor a secular-minded judge, an atheist perhaps, no credit would be given to such an unworkable, impractical and unfair exceptions to the ACA.
General · Politics
Discovered a bug in Test::WWW::Mechanize, at least using the Catalyst framework.
ok($mech->put(),"returns true, though the RESTful PUT fails!");
$mech->put_ok($put, "returns false, though the RESTful PUT succeeds!?");
This bug really degrades the quality of TAP as any subsequent tests within a subtest are skipped on failure. Futher, the $mech->put() failure proscribes a work-around. More research for me, for sure.
Development · Perl · Testing
Distressing news from Charlotte: my mother Ruth is in hospice after a horrendously painful bout of cellulitis. Someone who have lived so long and generously does not deserve such suffering. We hope her time with us will be at least comfortable. When I last spoke to her, she sounded weak but lucid, surrounded by Leah, my sister, and her spouse, Terri. We are thankful for that and for them to comfort and support her.
It is a time to reflect on the breadth of her life. She was born in 1911. She remembers the influenza epidemic of 1918 that took her brother Ignaz's life aboard a troop ship returning from Europe's battle field. She remembers the depression, when her father Max lost 'the jewelry store', and World War II, Korea, Vietnam...so many wars.
She spent 50 years as secretary to our local temple. Judaism was always the focal point of our family. She raised three sons and a daughter, all of whom, a bit battered and worse for wear, will survive her.
One hundred two years.
Ponuru and Levin bemoan the lack of an Republican Conservative alternative to the Affordable Care Act. "To avoid a lurch to the left if the current law fails, the time is right to present sensible, market-oriented reforms."
On Morning Joe, where JS never fails to miss the point, Scarborough remains depressingly consistent by insisting just how much better Repubs would do in '14 if they just presented a plausible alternative to ObamaCare.
Let's consider the Ryan plan, the GOP's flagship alternative. It would roll back all of the ACA's benefits and would allow insurance companies to incorporate in states with the lowest regulatory standards. Though it claims to allow persons with pre-existing conditions to enroll and dis-allow recision (gee, maybe the ACA is not so bad afterall), it says nothing about the process or financing that would support such features. In short, the Republican plan would leave the country worse off even without the implementation of ObamaCare. Like most of Paul Ryan's policy excresenses, it has crawled back into the Heritage Foundation's archives and out of the political spotlight.
But that's not the point. There will never be a credible Republican alternative for universal health care.
It's very clear that the GOP doesn't believe that the government has a role in seeing after the health of ordinary Americans. It doesn't believe that the welfare of the elderly, the very young, the poverty-stricken, the working stiff should be a national concern.
The Republicans do not believe in Medicare, in Social Security in Food Stamps. If you ain't got the bucks, if you must deal with adversity, tough luck, too bad.
Universal Health Care? You must be kidding.
Moved over to USDA/NASS (National Agricultural Statistical Services) from HHS/ASPE. From warm and fuzzy to hardcore development.
All at once I move from Windows (yeah!) to UNIX (cool) while learning PERL and the Catalyst restful framework. Its been three weeks of head-stuffing and often frustrating development. I fell exhausted at the end of every day.
I'm in a bullpen with a guru and two other developers, under the gun because of some supervisor's paranoia. The team seems confident of coming through on time; me, I have no idea.
I find my own task quite frustrating. When my tests fail I must determine whether my code is at fault, if the test is deprecated or if the test is dead in the water. The last I discovered after hours of trying Friday. I seems that a RESTful request by a test - as opposed to an HTTP request - fails authentication. Our geeks were unable to come up with a solution. Back to the forums and newsnets.
I just wish I could be more productive.
UNIX rocks! I've always been on Windows (I write this on Win8 from home) and a mouser. Now, using Ubuntu, terminal windows and Vim, I gotta keep the hands at home and away from the arrow keys. That education is coming along well, however, slowly. It takes time to develope muscle memory (and fix bad typing practices from years of using the dreaded mouse).
Especially using Vim, I still have to think. There are times I really get lost, inronically, when I complete a command automatically - :q! - without thinking, then try to remember what I've done!
So, just a ton of stuff to learn. I really hope I get a handle on all this soon.
We have seen it. We have born witness to the Ted Cruz apotheosis.
It was in Ted's power to lay claim to the shutdown, to the default. He had the power of veto, to make his claim, to stay his course of obstruction and chaos.
When all eyes were on him, when his name was on every commentators breath on every news channel, when he was the lynchpin of the mob, when he acheived what he so eagerly sought - the complete attention of the the nation - Ted Cruz demurred. Ted Cruz proved himself a coward.
In the end, he did not have the will to claim responsibility for all the damage, the suffering, the humiliation he caused. Instead, he will settle for a quiet 'no', a final vote to keep government shut and send America into economic chaos. A pathetic and useless end.
No senator in recent memory has engendered such overt hatred and dismay as Cruz. No political personality has been so transparently self-serving. Neither Congress, the House and the Senate, even Tea Party conservatives, will trust him with anything. When this continuing resolution needs renewing, and the debt ceiling needs raising, no one will seek Ted Cruz's council. He has betrayed friend and foe.
Maybe he can rehabilitate himself with the hard, unglamorous work of legislating, though I think it's not something that interests him. He will continue to look for the 'hook', the easy lever to power and notariety. However, the memory of the Senate is longer than that of the public. In that body, where politess and political comity count for much more than effusive personality, he will not be forgiven.
October 16, 2013 ·
It seems that Tea Party Assholes (TPA) - especially Bachmann, Cruz, Palin (oy veh what a cast!) - invited America to a masquarade based on lies.
TPA Representatives in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (chair by TPA Issa) called National Park Service Director Jarvis on the carpet to explain why he denied WWII veterans access to the World War II Memorial. Director Jarvis responded that he allowed veteran groups access to the WWII Memorial - as well as the somewhat less photogenic Korean and Vietnam memorials - as 'a First Amendment activity'. No veteran group was ever turned away from visiting these national monuments during the shutdown.
The national freak show in the shadow of the Washington Monument was a lie, a sham and certainly entirely off the irony meter.
In the face of possible default, the stock market is up 200 points. More suffering for the middle class, more gelt for Wall Street.
Day 16 of the shutdown. I've been out of work two weeks. As a contractor, I've lost irrecoverable income; no retroactive pay for me.
It is so discouraging. I worked at ASPE, the heart of darkness as far as Obamacare is concerned - the offices that shaped policy for that landmark legislation. And if I learned anything working as HHS, it's just how hard people in government labor in service to the nation.
Yet the far right can only disparage those efforts. It has no understanding of policy, no interest in a constructive dialog. Instead, we get avowed un-truth, slander and wanton disrespect for the institutions of legislation. It is a conclave of ignorants, steeped in racial bigotry, with minds poisoned by religion. Somehow, this minority has been allowed to grab the levers of national power.
I really believe that the Shutdown was the point of the Shutdown. The Tea Party regards closing the government as its own victory. They have vindictively punished hundreds of thousands because they've been unable to achieve their political ends legitimately.
So now we come to the final impasse, the 11th hour despiration, the ultimate attempt at sanity before catastrophe. Will the bona-fide assholes - Ted Cruz in particular - be able to resist the temptation for grands standing and agrandizement at the expense of the country's welfare? I certainly hope so.
Stocks are up at this moment. I don't know why. I'm certainly not so optimistic. To the Tea Party, America in default is its own point. Why? Because they can.
It is far, far past the time that you do for Ted Cruz what you did for Rick Santorum!
Please? Pretty please?