Saturday News: Coop leads the way

COOPER TAKES FIRST STEP TOWARD MEDICAID EXPANSION (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Gov. Roy Cooper made good Friday on his pledge to pursue federal approval for expanding the state’s Medicaid program. Cooper’s first step consisted of submitting a letter and a draft plan to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. His goal is having expansion in place by January 2018. Cooper’s plan amends the Medicaid reform waiver request submitted June 1 by the McCrory administration. That plan focuses on creating a hybrid oversight solution involving for-profit insurers and not-for-profit health-care systems with no expansion.
http://www.journalnow.com/news/elections/local/cooper-takes-first-step-toward-medicaid-expansion/art...

Friday News: 500,000 reasons to ignore them

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GOP ASKS FEDS FOR REJECTION OF COOPER'S PROPOSAL (Fayetteville Observer) -- North Carolina's legislative leaders have asked federal regulators to reject an anticipated proposal by Gov. Roy Cooper to expand Medicaid, citing state laws they say show he lacks the authority to ask on his own. Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore wrote the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Thursday. Cooper announced Wednesday he'd file a request later this week seeking coverage though the federal health care overhaul.
http://www.fayobserver.com/news/north_carolina/gop-asks-feds-for-rejection-of-cooper-s-proposal-inau...

And a child will lead them

Mark Johnson has his first day at school board:

He had successes and failures, he said, but the story that sticks with him is one about a 16-year-old student he taught in his second year. By that time, Johnson had his class management skills down, he explained, so the students would file into the classroom quietly, collect their assignments and books, and start reading.

One particular student — the aforementioned 16-year-old — was more fond of skipping class and cutting up. But one day, when the student walked in and saw all the other kids behaving properly, he asked Johnson for his textbook and assignment. Johnson said he was thrilled. It was a dream moment for a teacher — getting through to a hard-to-reach student. But Johnson’s enthusiasm was smashed moments later when the student called him over after starting the assignment. “I still remember to this day,” Johnson said. “He told me, ‘Mr Johnson, I can’t read the words in this book.’”

I've mentioned this before, but I'm going to do it again: The part of this story that should stand out to everybody reading it, is the fact these kids only had access to their textbook for the 55 minutes they were in class. They should have it with them in study hall, when they go home in the afternoon, right before they go to bed, when they get up in the morning, while they're riding the bus (or car) to school, etc. But when your budget is so tight you've got five or six classes of children sharing the same books, you've got to "ration" their usage. Like a fricking basketball during P.E. That should have been the moral to Mark Johnson's story every time he told it, but it sounds like it didn't even register on him.

Thursday News: Clear your desk, Donald

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DEQ'S VAN DER VAART NEEDS TO EXIT, EVEN IF IT'S NOT GRACEFUL (Capitol Broadcasting Co. editorial) -- Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Donald van der Vaart's self-demotion demeans him and the agency he once led. If he won't go on his own, he should be fired. Van der Vaart’s relatively brief tenure at the helm of the department has been marked more by controversy and dissension than accomplishment. The coal ash disposal issue, sparked by the Dan River spill before he came into office, remains unresolved. A bitter dispute over the wording of warnings connected with potentially unsafe well water ignited into accusations of lying under oath and resignations in protest. He has sought to thwart the development of renewable energy, including solar, one of the state’s top economic growth bright spots. If Cooper’s administration leaders can figure out a way to fire van der Vaart, they need to do it. If he wants, let him sue. Send the lawyers’ bill to the General Assembly, where there seems to be no shortage of legal defense funds.
http://www.wral.com/editorial-deq-s-van-der-vaart-needs-to-exit-even-if-it-s-not-graceful/16400970/

Fascism Watch: The rise of the propagandists

We've always been at war with Eastasia:

Donald Trump ran a campaign built almost exclusively on lies and demagoguery, so it stands to reason that his presidency will usher in a new era of deceitful propaganda as well. It could very well dwarf the George W. Bush administration’s infamous propaganda push around the Iraq War.

As detailed in a recent report from Media Matters, is that Trump can rely on a pre-existing infrastructure of well-funded conspiracy theorists, like Alex Jones, James O’Keefe, and David Daleiden, who pose as “citizen journalists” and pump out a steady stream of lies and misinformation to support the Trump agenda.

The United States has had its share of demagogues over the years, but none have surpassed Trump in his ability to create a narrative out of thin air, and have millions fall for it immediately. And the Liar in Chief has learned a valuable (to him) lesson: He doesn't have to study an issue, or have advisors coach him on how to deal with it. Whatever pops into his twisted mind becomes the reality, and the only people who are delusional are those who question him. And if you're making the wrong assumption that Congress will keep him in check, consider these events:

Governor Cooper set to expand Medicaid in NC

And it may be just that simple:

Cooper’s action seems certain to spur howls of protest from Republican lawmakers and conservative advocacy groups that have long derided Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act (aka”Obamacare”) as “socialized medicine.” Four years ago, at the outset of the administration of Cooper’s predecessor, Pat McCrory, North Carolina legislators enacted a law that purports to prevent the Governor from acting unilaterally to expand Medicaid. Cooper, however, believes that he has authority to act in his role as the state official empowered to craft and negotiate the “Medicaid waiver” plan that North Carolina is currently negotiating with federal officials. It is known that McCrory engaged in conversations with the Obama administration on such a possible move.

Wow. If you had asked me about Medicaid expansion a couple days (or hours) ago, I would have said something along the lines of, "It won't happen until we take back the Legislature." Shows what I know. I am liking Roy Cooper more and more every day.

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