Monday, December 26, 2011

Mandated Reporting of Child Abuse Suspects

In the aftermath of the Penn State controversy regarding Sandusky and allegations of child abuse, some politicians are trying to expand the laws for mandated reporting of suspected child abuse. Sponsored by Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.), the Speak Up to Protect Every Abused Kid Act would require mandatory reporting of incidents of child abuse or neglect for all adults. The definition of child abuse or neglect under the law would also be expanded to include “any deliberate act, on the part of an individual other than a parent or caretaker, that results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, or sexual abuse or exploitation, or that presents an imminent risk of serious harm to a child.”

According to the Family Defense Center, the four main changes made in the law introduced by these amendments include:
1. An expansion of the definition of child abuse to include “any deliberate act, on the part of an individual other than a parent or caretaker that results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, or sexual abuse or exploitation, or an act or failure to act that presents an imminent risk of serious harm;”

2. Inclusion of mandatory reporting of abuse by non-parents and non-caretakers when a “deliberate” act results in serious harm to a child;

3. A requirement that states provide a system allowing reports of abuse or neglect be made to both the child protective service agency and law enforcement agency, whereas current law only requires states provide a system for reporting to the child protective service agency;

4. A requirement that mandatory reports of child abuse be made “by any adult.”

This video also does a good job of highlighting some of the concerns people are having about the proposed law. I really liked how everyone feels a little different about the idea. The conversation does get a bit off track with the old slippery slope argument, but they bring it back near the end.

I do think the claim that some people may purposely abuse the system a bit absurd since that's a possibility with our current system. In fact, I have first hand experience with someone calling child protective services on us in order to basically punish us. The situation was annoying and quite intimidating, but after an interview the case was dropped. Opponents of the proposed law make it sound like social workers are going to be snatching away children on the mere whisper of abuse. It's a bit unrealistic in my opinion.

I do think there are valid concerns about the funding a law like this would require though. Even a substantial increase in calls to hot lines would require more resources and that's not even including the need for more social workers to investigate the new influx of tips. There's also concern about the wording the bill uses. What constitutes "serious emotional harm?" The Family Defense Center breaks down numerous concerns far better than I ever could, but I'm still not sure how I feel about the bill. Many states already have mandatory reporting for all adults and there doesn't appear to be any difference from what I can see.

I think we can all agree that more needs to be done to protect children, but I think educating people how to identify signs of abuse would go a lot further than something like this. I'm a firm believer that having an open and honest dialogue is always the first step to solving any sort of problem though and at least this has got us talking about it for the moment.

Until a Kardashian steals away our attention of course.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Politifact's 2011 Lie of the Year: 'Republicans voted to end Medicare'

PolitiFact recently chose its 2011 "Lie of the Year" and it happens to be a statement that a lot of people are arguing is true. In a year stuffed full of gems like "The economic stimulus created 'zero jobs'" and "the vaccine to prevent HPV can cause mental retardation," the lie of the year is the Democratic claim that "Republicans voted to end Medicare."

Republicans muscled a budget through the House of Representatives in April that they said would take an important step toward reducing the federal deficit. Introduced by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the plan kept Medicare intact for people 55 or older, but dramatically changed the program for everyone else by privatizing it and providing government subsidies.

Democrats pounced. Just four days after the party-line vote, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a Web ad that said seniors will have to pay $12,500 more for health care “because Republicans voted to end Medicare.” […]

PolitiFact debunked the Medicare charge in nine separate fact-checks rated False or Pants on Fire, most often in attacks leveled against Republican House members.

Now, PolitiFact has chosen the Democrats’ claim as the 2011 Lie of the Year.
As you can guess plenty of people are questioning Politifact's reasoning in this case. It's especially frustrating since Politifact basically said that Democrats would be factually correct "with a few small tweaks to their attack lines." There are three particular details Politifact takes issue with:
1. Democrats ignored the fact that the Ryan plan would not affect people currently in Medicare -- or even the people 55 to 65 who would join the program in the next 10 years.

2. They used harsh terms such as "end" and "kill" when the program would still exist, although in a privatized system.

3. They used pictures and video of elderly people who clearly were too old to be affected by the Ryan plan.
Even though these are all valid concerns, this is still a pretty flimsy argument that basically boils down to semantics. Politifact's stance seems to rely mostly on the definition of the word "Medicare." If any type of assistance that helps senior citizens can be labeled as "Medicare," then the Democrats can never say Medicare is ending. I highly doubt most proponents and recipients of Medicare see it that way though.

Steve Benen:
It’s unnerving that we have to explain this again, but since PolitiFact appears to be struggling with the relevant details, let’s set the record straight.

Medicare is a single-payer health care system offering guaranteed benefits to seniors. The House Republican budget plan intended to privatize the existing system and replace it with something very different — a voucher scheme. It would still be called “Medicare,” but it wouldn’t be Medicare.

It seems foolish to have to parse the meaning of the word “end,” but if there’s a program, and it’s replaced with a different program, proponents brought an end to the original program. That’s what the verb means.

...Indeed, reading through PolitiFact’s defense of its dubious honor, the explanation is effectively a semantics argument — its Lie of the Year, the editors argue, didn’t include the caveats and context that would make it more accurate. But let’s not forget, there were actual, demonstrable, unambiguous lies among the finalists for Lie of the Year. PolitiFact overlooked all of them.
Paul Krugman:
Republicans voted to replace Medicare with a voucher system to buy private insurance — and not just that, a voucher system in which the value of the vouchers would systematically lag the cost of health care, so that there was no guarantee that seniors would even be able to afford private insurance.

The new scheme would still be called “Medicare”, but it would bear little resemblance to the current system, which guarantees essential care to all seniors.

How is this not an end to Medicare? And given all the actual, indisputable lies out there, how on earth could saying that it is be the “Lie of the year”?

The answer is, of course, obvious: the people at Politifact are terrified of being considered partisan if they acknowledge the clear fact that there’s a lot more lying on one side of the political divide than on the other. So they’ve bent over backwards to appear “balanced” — and in the process made themselves useless and irrelevant.

Way to go, guys.
John Hudson:
Responding to critics today, PolitiFact editor Bill Adair tells Politico it's not alone in calling out Democrats on this. "It's worth noting that both and Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post have also rated the claim false," he said. "I appreciate and respect the feedback we're getting and I recognize that our readers won't always agree with our conclusions."

Still that hasn't stopped liberals from seeing this as a move to appear objective and bipartisan at the expense of telling the truth. "It’s pretty clear that drawing complaints from liberals is basically the point here," writes Chait. "PolitiFact is a group that requires roughly equal criticism from right and left in order to maintain its credibility."
If the "lie of the year" requires so much rationalization, then I have a hard time thinking it's probably the worse lie out there. Really this just seems like a way to get people talking about PolitiFact and appease critics on the right. And that kind of defeats the point doesn't it?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Build Your Wings On The Way Down

Some things are easily forgotten when you've been with the same person for a long time. Whether it be learning how to cope with the sudden influx of free time you find yourself wallowing in or more simple changes, like no longer having to think about what type of breakfast cereal your partner prefers, there are dozens of little details that sneak up on you. Things you have to relearn or learn to be without. Long past the time when you think your feelings have changed or you've moved on, you'll find yourself suddenly overcome by the most mundane facets of your life. At least this is the way things have worked out for me so far. I go through my days with a relative sort of peace and then I find myself torn up over small details. Oscar Wilde said the details are always vulgar, but I think they're really just heartbreaking.

There are so many other things I allowed myself to forget. I'd forgotten that sometimes people can unassumingly creep into your life and then leave with all the grace of a tornado. I'd forgotten that sometimes your friends can be the only thing that makes life seem bearable, but they can also be the ones who hurt you the most. I'd forgotten how easy it is to fall a little bit in love with the idea of someone. And I'd forgotten how everything can change in the blink of an eye. Strangers become friends and sometimes friends become lovers, but far too often those same people end up being just another part of your past.

I needed to be reminded that sometimes caring for someone is just another way we hurt ourselves.

Kurt Vonnegut said, “Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be.” Even though I've always looked inward when I read it, the sentiment works both ways. No matter how much you think someone is just running from the truth, there comes a time when that certainty isn't enough. When you just have to accept the pretense, no matter how much your heart screams for otherwise, because it simply hurts too much not to. I wish it wasn't so, but sometimes letting go is the bravest thing you can do.

I know I'm being terribly vague again, but its hard to admit you could be so wrong about someone. To say you fell for someone who didn't fall back. I don't know why, but when you put your trust in the wrong person you're the one who feels a little ashamed. Like there was something that could have been done differently. Some sign that you just needed to try harder to read. I think the first person you truly care for after a big breakup is the most special. There's something sacred about the affection that's formed out of the shattered pieces of your previous love and hopes. But while it may be the most surprising, and therefore the most touching, it's also the most delicate. All it takes is a little carelessness for it to fall right back apart. So here I am learning how to pick up the pieces once again and just trying to build my wings on the way down.

It's strange how the deterioration of one relationship can teach you so much about the relationships you have with the people all around you. Too bad those lessons aren't always easy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Jay Smooth on "Until Abortion Ends"

I wasn't gonna post on the "Until Abortion Ends" protest because...well it's pretty idiotic, but then Jay Smooth had to go and be all Jay Smooth-y. As always, he's perfect.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Promise I'm Alive

Hello lovely readers! I know I've been missing for a considerable amount of time, but I'm happy to say I'm all moved into the new house and, most importantly, I have INTERNET again. Going without an internet connection was quite unpleasant and I have no intention of going through that again. Even though it'll take a while for us to be completely settled in, I already feel like this is my home and I'm happy to finally be done with the old house and all the things it represents. So if you emailed me and I haven't gotten back to yo,u expect to hear from me today or tomorrow.

I'm hoping to start posting regularly again starting this week too. For now I'll leave you with this though. One of my friends posted it on my facebook and I thought it was surprisingly hilarious.