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Yearning to breathe free and equal: Morning notes

Posted by Max Brantley on Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 6:35 AM

Odds and ends for a quiet Monday morning:

* IMMIGRATION: Does the presence of Republican senators like Graham, McCain and Rubio provide sufficient cover for others in the GOP to join a bipartisan proposal for immigration reform that reportedly includes a path to citizenship for existing residents of the U.S.? The Arkansas delegation, including one politically sensitive Democrat, could be canaries in the coal mine.

* DO UNTO OTHERS: The Arkansas Interfaith Alliance speaks up for expansion of Arkansas's Medicaid program. They know the charitable safety net doesn't cover existing needs for people who'd be helped.

* SONG OF THE SOUTH — 'DEFEATED AND DUMB': Garry Wills writes in the New York Review of Books on the South and its historic political estrangement from the rest of the country, even in ways harmful to itself today after decades of dining heartily on federal handouts.

But the current South is willing to cut off its own nose to show contempt for the government. Governor Rick Scott of Florida turned down more than $2 billion in federal funds for a high-speed rail system in Florida that would have created jobs and millions of dollars in revenues, just to show he was independent of the hated federal government. In this mood, his forebears would have turned down TVA. People across the South are going even farther than Scott, begging to secede again from the Union. Packer notes that the tea is cooling in parties across the rest of the nation, but seems to be fermenting to a more toxic brew in the South. No one needs better health care more than the South, but it fights it off so long as Obama is offering it, its governors turning down funds for Medicaid. This is a region that rejects sex education, though its rate of teenage pregnancies is double and in places triple that of New England. It fights federal help with education, preferring to inoculate its children against science by denying evolution.

No part of the country will suffer the effects of global warming earlier or with more devastation than the South, yet its politicians resist measures to curb carbon emissions and deny the very existence of climate change—sending it to the dungeon with evolution and biblical errancy. One doesn’t need much imagination to see the South with lowered or swollen waters in its rivers and ports, raging kudzu, swarming mosquitos, and record-breaking high temperatures, still telling itself that global-warming talk is just a liberal conspiracy. But it just digs deeper in denial. The South has decided to be defeated and dumb.

And, still ...

Tradition dies hard, hardest among those who cannot admit to the toll it has taken on them. That is why the worst aspects of the South are resurfacing under Obama’s presidency. It is the dignity. That a black should have not merely rights but prominence, authority, and even awe—that is what many Southerners cannot stomach.

* AND SPEAKING OF THE SOUTH — AND SEX: A correspondent passes on a link with a ranking of the states on sexual health. The composite scores derive from such thing as disease rates, rape rates, HIV/AIDS, teen birth, marriage and divorce, general health, laws affecting sexual issues. Bottom of the list, 46-51: Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi.

* A SOLUTION: WISDOM FROM THE WEALTHY: A morning doesn't pass without a tout from a hired minion of the Billionaire Boys Club with a reminder of the Tuesday rally for the Club's education "reform" agenda. Jeb Bush and Jim Walton will have a "conversation" on the topic at the Capitol at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday. This will be followed later in the morning at the Doubletree Hotel with a panel discussion by an assembly of wealthy corporate titans who inherited family businesses — Walton, Walter Hussman, Bill Dillard and Claiborne (Murphy Oil) Deming. Nothing but some lucky sperm and a charter school or voucher to a private school separates you from turning out as well as they did. It's part of "school choice week," a PR effort for legislation such as that pending in Arkansas to fractionalize the public school system.

Comments (23)

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"We have met the enemy and he is us." - Pogo

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Posted by jrb on 01/28/2013 at 7:51 AM

"40% of the working people" in our state are poor. That is disgusting. And some would deny them health care? Which is worse?

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Posted by Verla Sweere on 01/28/2013 at 8:03 AM

Verla, that is because our business "leaders" only want companies that don't give benefits so it doesn't cause existing company empoyees to jump to the new companies.

Same rationale that went into Helena refusing the fisrt railroad bridge across the Mississippi because people wouldn't be willing to work for a quarter an hour when dollar plus jobs were available on the railroad and the businesses that came with it. The railroads decided on Memphis where they were welcomed and we know how well that worked out for Memphis and Helena-West Helena which is still somewhere in the late 1850's.

Never let us miss a chance to shoot ourselves in the foot! Our college graduates will find good paying jobs in other states and they will settle there. They might come back to retire but not be a part of the state when their earning are the highest (because the local companies here never see the reason to pay national-level wages unless it is a national company).

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Posted by couldn't be better on 01/28/2013 at 8:21 AM

Thanks, CBB--or our college graduates will come back to run for congress where they will stab us in the back.
For those who lost cable/comcast service. Official complaint got me a $16.66 credit, which sure beat a $5.99 on demand movie for which you need to mail in a coupon with a 46 cent stamp.

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Posted by Verla Sweere on 01/28/2013 at 8:28 AM

“. . . after decades of dining heartily on federal handouts.”

UAMS recently issued its “2012 Advancement Report” to those who contribute dollars to the place.

It is noted therein that “UAMS ranks in the top 18 percent of all U.S. colleges and universities in research funding from the federal government.”

Which might account, in part, for the fact that:

♦ The UAMS BioVentures business incubator has created 46 companies since its beginning. Currently, 19 of these companies produce annual payroll of $26.5 million.

♦ The UAMS College of Medicine is recognized in the Top 10 in the nation for producing family medicine physicians, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.

♦ The Pharmaceutical Sciences program in the UAMS College of Pharmacy is ranked #5 in the nation by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

♦ The UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute is the only such facility in Arkansas and one of only nine in the U.S.

♦ The UAMS College of Medicine Department of Geriatrics is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the 7th best geriatric graduate program in the nation out of 130 peers.

I could go on, but I believe the point has been made.

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Posted by Durango on 01/28/2013 at 8:42 AM

I found in a recent issue of the Dem-Gas one of the flyers about how Jeb Bush, Jim Walton, and Hussman were going to rally our states parents and others to improve education in Arkansas. Arkansas, behind developments as always, just got around to turning Republican, so I wonder how long it will take Arkansas voters to catch on -- as voters showed they were beginning to do nationally -- to what Paul Krugman calls "Makers, Takers, Fakers":

"... I think it’s important to understand the extent to which leading Republicans live in an intellectual bubble. They get their news from Fox and other captive media, they get their policy analysis from billionaire-financed right-wing think tanks, and they’re often blissfully unaware both of contrary evidence and of how their positions sound to outsiders.

"... national politicians learned last year that this kind of talk plays badly with the public, so they’re trying to obscure their positions. Paul Ryan, for example, has lately made a transparently dishonest attempt to claim that when he spoke about 'takers' living off the efforts of the 'makers' — at one point he assigned 60 percent of Americans to the taker category — he wasn’t talking about people receiving Social Security and Medicare. (He was.) "…

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Posted by Snapback on 01/28/2013 at 8:52 AM

Saw in the 'Republicrat' (Democrat? Ha, ha, ha.) that the charter school rally luncheon will have 14 speakers. 14!!! If each one yammers on for just 1 minute, that will be 14 minutes of hot air, enough steam energy to publish a week's worth of Republicrat papers.

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Posted by Sound Policy on 01/28/2013 at 9:13 AM

Durango, you make the point that, thanks to federal funding, UAMS is an above average med school. How many of the health professionals trained there flee to modern pastures upon graduation rather than stay in 19th century Arkansas?

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Posted by YossarianMinderbinder on 01/28/2013 at 9:14 AM

Taylor Branch, in this interview by James Fallows, pays homage to Lyndon Johnson for signing the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Branch calls it the "third great pillar of the civil rights era". It begins at about 15 minutes.……

The interview is just over an hour long. Try to listen to the first half hour at least, if you don't have time for the whole thing. There are lots of good insights regarding immigration, race, the "whiteness" of the republican party and the switch of southern Democrats to Republican which happened almost overnight when Barry Goldwater announced at the 1964 Republican Convention in San Francisco that he would not support the Civil Rights Act. The attorneys that Goldwater consulted at the time were William Rehnquist and Robert Bork.

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Posted by the outlier on 01/28/2013 at 9:59 AM

“How many of the health professionals trained there flee to modern pastures upon graduation rather than stay in 19th century Arkansas?”

Yoss, I’ll let Debra Fiser, M.D., Dean of the UAMS College of Medicine, answer your question:

“As Arkansas’ only medical school, we train the majority of the state’s doctors. Our students’ outstanding performance on national exams in recent years is a reflection of our faculty’s commitment to education.”…

While I’m here, I’ll address cbb’s assertion that “Our college graduates will find good paying jobs in other states and they will settle there.”

According to a February 4, 2011, article in the ArkD-G, the state is actually experiencing a “brain gain” rather than a drain. To wit:

“Last year, out-of-state students comprised 53 percent of the graduate students at UA Fayetteville. Almost 90 percent of those out-of-state students accepted jobs in Arkansas the year after graduation.”

I’d add that at least 6,000 undergraduate students currently at the UofA are from out-of-state, most of ‘em from Texas and Missouri. That’s more than 30% of the total enrollment. Another 2,000 students from out-of-state can be found at ASU in Jonesboro.

If those completing graduate school at the UofA are any indication, I suspect most of the UofA out-of-state undergraduates will remain in the state when their school days are behind them. Ditto the 2,000 at ASU.

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Posted by Durango on 01/28/2013 at 10:21 AM

Something to note Durango, and all.

If UAMS does indeed train most of the doctors in Arkansas, then there is a bunch of taxation without medical care in return.

Gov't is taking taxes and a big chunk of citizens are unable to benefit from what is built (UAMS) and trained (doctors, nurses, techs etc.) with the taxes.

"You didn't build that" giant hospital complex. Taxes funded it.

The Uninsured with no access to the doctors have been taxed to train those doctors, but since we have a for-profit private insurance industry as a defacto gatekeeper on care someone working for a company that doesn't provide health coverage can't reap the return. (Not allowing access until it is a dire emergency and organs are failing is not the same as access) (Then just stabilize you and send off with paperwork and giant bill is neither ongoing care)

How would you people feel if you were taxed to build roads but only people like me with company cars could afford to drive on them?

Blue Cross spent their money building office buildings full of paper pushers, BCBS did not build UAMS.

A single payer program is the only fair system. Why does BCBS get to skim 30% off the top?

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Posted by Citizen1 on 01/28/2013 at 11:05 AM

The south and their racial history is a fact. I am very saddened by it. I usually don't go to the liberal website "Think Progress," but I did enjoy the article they did on the 1962 Ole Miss riot. I am doing a series on the “Ghosts of Ole Miss broadcast.”

I enjoyed watching the Ghosts of Ole Miss broadcast on ESPN on 1-27-13 with my mother. She went to Ole Miss in the early 1960′s. Also living in Little Rock my wife has relatives that were also present and involved at Central High during the 1957 Little Rock Central High School Crisis. It is amazing that the neighboring states Arkansas and Mississippi both were a part of history like this.…

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Posted by SalineRepublican on 01/28/2013 at 11:09 AM

Severe storm risk elevated to "Moderate" for Tuesday -…

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Posted by radical centrist on 01/28/2013 at 11:42 AM

"Why does BCBS get to skim 30% off the top?"

First, the insurance industry is, compared to rest of the country, small. It is much easier to effectively organize the 30 or 40 health insurance companies into a politically powerful force than millions of ordinary people.

Second, the benefits to political organization for insurance companies are very, very large and concentrated on a few people. Successfully influencing the political system in their favor is worth billions and billions of dollars. For your average citizen, successfully influencing the political system in their favor is worth maybe hundreds of dollars and is simply not worth the effort.

A single payor system wouldn't help that one bit. The insurance industry would just use their political pull to have the single payor system benefit them. That's what they do with Medicare and Medicaid.

Watch this, but substitute BCBS for NRA:

Posted by Gylippus on 01/28/2013 at 11:53 AM

Arkansas ranks 48th (2009 figures) in physicians per population. With the time-lag between entering the field and beneficial patient outcomes, Arkansas still remains one of the deadlier states to be in. We rank at the bottom of most health indices.

As far as college grads, Arkansas ranks 49th for BS/BA degrees and 50th for advanced degrees. Even with the unconfirmed assumption that many grads will stay in Arkansas, it will take many years to nudge Arkansas out of the lowest 1/5 of the states in educational achievement.

Further, the distribution of graduates (and physicians) tend to cluster in a few tiny islands in the state, surrounded by a vast anti-intellectual swamp. It is rare to find professionals willing to plunge their families into environments where education is not valued and prejudices run rampant throughout the social and political structure.

To tout the influx of students from Missouri and Texas, where similar conditions persist, is hardly a gleaming beacon of hope.

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Posted by YossarianMinderbinder on 01/28/2013 at 12:28 PM

>>A single payor system wouldn't help that one bit. The insurance industry would just use their political pull to have the single payor system benefit them. That's what they do with Medicare and Medicaid.<

Boy! That's really a rabbit out of the hat. Care to tell us how that would work? Like how does Medicaid benefit the health insurance industry?

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Posted by eLwood on 01/28/2013 at 12:45 PM

Someone has to process all that paperwork. Some states contract it out to insurance companies.

Posted by Gylippus on 01/28/2013 at 12:59 PM

>>Some states contract it out to insurance companies.

Is this an admission that private outsourcing of government chores is not done more efficiently by bidness? Do tell!

That "paperwork" comprises less than 5% of Medicare's expenditures. Medicaid, I believe, still does their own in-house paperwork, mostly accept and reject letters, letters of warning, just very basic stuff is all the paperwork they do and most of it is by computer, same for Medicare.

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Posted by eLwood on 01/28/2013 at 1:27 PM

>> a path to citizenship for existing residents of the U.S.?

Oh, pray thee! Where is Ronald Reagan now that we need him?…

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Posted by eLwood on 01/28/2013 at 1:30 PM

Commissioner Watkins has been walking around personally apologizing to employees trying to save his job.
"It’s my policy to apology to people I have affected by my actions".
He is going to each employee’s office and asking for them to accept the apology.
Most are NOT.

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Posted by clay pigeon on 01/28/2013 at 1:47 PM

Look at valid, relevant data and then tell me charter schools are a panacea. I'll take the 90/90/90 schools over charters every time along with the hard work on all stakeholders part to make it so. Exemplary schools don't just happen or come to pass as a result of cheerleading. It takes important work from everyone involved to make it happen.

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Posted by mrprincipal07 on 01/28/2013 at 2:04 PM

“Arkansas ranks 48th (2009 figures) in physicians per population.” ~ Yoss

Yep, but 42nd in the all-important category of primary care physicians (last I heard), thanks to the emphasis UAMS is placing on educating and retaining PCPs.

Not a lot to brag about, granted, but an improvement since five years ago when the “Healthy Workforce in Arkansas” study by the UAMS Center for Rural Health said there were almost 1,000 PCP vacancies.

Were it only an Arkansas problem. The United States will require at least 52,000 more family doctors in the year 2025.…

And that’s just family doctors. There are estimates predicting a national shortage of 125,000 to 150,000 physicians (of all kinds) in the next 12 years. Think Congress might help?

The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2009 would have increased the number of Medicare-funded residency positions by 15,000 at an estimated cost of $12 billion over 10 years. The act (severely lacking but nevertheless helpful) never passed in the House or Senate.

“To tout the influx of [UofA] students from Missouri and Texas, where similar conditions persist, is hardly a gleaming beacon of hope.” ~ Yoss

That influx of nonresident undergraduate students at the UofA is largely from Texas, Missouri, and other nearby states, of course. But the student population comprises young people from all 50 states (yeah, even Maine, California, Oregon, and New York), plus DC. The school’s office of institutional research says many will stay here after graduation. I see that as a great “beacon of hope.”

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Posted by Durango on 01/28/2013 at 2:52 PM

Trust UAMS's "office of institutional research" OR that right-wing propaganda rag, the Democrat-Gazette, for objective and unbiased information on anything connected with The Natural State's retention of its best-educated?


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Posted by Norma Bates on 01/28/2013 at 5:17 PM
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