Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saturday Stuff

Please secede, Texas...

...and here's the latest on the "values voter" summit (what a bunch of WATBs)...

...and even though this is a couple of news cycles old, I still thought it had some good observations from Bill Maher...

...and here's something for anyone contemplating nuptuals this time of year (ending my string of "message" music videos here).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Stuff

I don't pay attention to our military nearly as much as I should here, but if this isn't a case to do that, then no such case exists: Rachel Maddow reports on the Medal of Honor awarded posthumously to Sgt. First Class Jared C. Monti...

...and please understand that I don't intend to demean Sgt. Monti's heroism here by trying to compare it to a movie; it's just that I always associated this song with courage and sacrifice (it starts at about :45).

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (09/18/09)

As reported in last Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer, here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress were recorded on major roll-call votes last week.

(Yes, they're baaack, but I don't have much again.)


Chesapeake Bay watershed. Voting 311-107, the House passed a bill (HR 965) making permanent a federal-state program that promotes citizen involvement in restoring the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York. Overseen by the National Park Service at a budget of about $1 million annually, the program provides funds and technical assistance for the conservation of water trails, wildlife refuges, historic sites, and other units in the ecosystem, which is the nation's largest estuary.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: John Adler (D., N.J.), Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).


Tourism in America. Voting 79-19, the Senate passed a bill (S 1023) that would establish a federal corporation to increase foreign travel to the United States and expand existing Department of Commerce tourism programs. The Corporation for Travel Promotion would be funded by assessments of about $20 million annually on the U.S. hospitality industry and $160 million annually in fees received by the Department of Homeland Security for granting visa waivers to foreign travelers. The bill awaits House action.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Ted Kaufman (D., Del.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), and Arlen Specter (D., Pa.).

Cass Sunstein nomination. The Senate confirmed, 57-40, professor Cass R. Sunstein of the Harvard Law School to head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Established by the 1980 Paperwork Reduction Act, the agency has final say on the wording of new regulations, oversees the federal regulatory process, and directs executive-branch policies in areas such as technology, privacy, and statistics.

A yes vote was to confirm Sunstein.

Voting yes: Carper, Casey, Kaufman, Lautenberg, Menendez, and Specter.
Looks like Glenn “Lonesome Rhodes” Beck will have to find some other Obama Administration figure to demagogue over (as noted here, Sunstein was confirmed by a 57-40 vote, with Dems Blanche Lincoln, Jim Webb, Mark Begich and Mark Pryor voting against the nomination for some reason, while only five Republicans supported it…and I thought this had some interesting information – tells you how desperate the wingnuts are that they would go after him since he, after all, is probably the closest they’ll get in this administration to someone like them, excluding Larry Summers of course).

This week, the House took up bills to improve vehicle technologies and overhaul student aid, while the Senate debated fiscal 2009 appropriations bills.

Somebody Here Is Nuts, But It's Not ACORN

(And I also posted here.)

I’ll begin with this “Thumbs Up” writeup from the Bucks County Courier Times this morning…

To the U.S. Senate for its prudent vote blocking grant money for ACORN, a controversial community organization involved in several voter-registration fraud cases.

ACORN has used Department of Housing and Urban Development grant money in the past to counsel low-income people on how to obtain a mortgage and for fair housing education and outreach.

These are laudable programs. But the group is suffering from a self-inflicted black eye after a pair of activists posing as a prostitute and her pimp released hidden camera videos of ACORN employees giving advice on buying a house and how to hide the woman's illicit income.

The ban comes just as ACORN, which has received $53 million in taxpayer money since 1994, had become eligible for a wider set of funds.

Call it good timing.
Of course, the august editorial board of the Courier Times also praised the Baucus health care bill because the bill is “just 223 pages.”

Call it lousy editorializing (and by the way, this tells us of the 83-7 Senate vote that froze out ACORN’s funding; I’ve dumped on Bob Casey in the past, but kudos to him for standing as one of the seven – along with Roland Burris, Dick Durbin, Kirsten Gillibrand, Pat Leahy, Bernie Sanders and Sheldon Whitehouse…and a great big raspberry goes out to “Democrat” Arlen Specter for standing as one of the 83).

And as a reminder of why ACORN lost its funding, this tells us of the entire episode where James O’Keefe posed as a pimp and Clown Hall columnist Hannah Giles posed as a hooker and approached the DC ACORN office, where some truly clueless ACORN staffers appeared to encourage prostitution and tax evasion by assisting them (of course, the filming could have been illegal, but the New York Times and Baltimore Sun, among other news sources, chose not to report that).

Also, I’d like to remind everyone of a couple of points. As noted here by ACORN’s Mike Shea, no client files were created or billed, no loan documents were signed or submitted, and no bank loans were arranged for O’Keefe and Giles.

Another thing…these two people are not “activists,” as the Courier Times calls them. At the very least, they’re troublemakers advancing no cause except their own self-promotion. I was always taught than an activist worked for some kind of a constructive purpose…silly me, I guess.

Want more evidence of O’Keefe causing nonsense? This story tells us the following (the source for the above pic)…

The Irish American 'pimp' at the center of the ACORN video controversy once launched a fake campaign to ban Lucky Charms from the campus at Rutgers.

"Cereal killer" James O'Keefe, the then editor of a conservative magazine at Rutgers, has become a right-wing icon with his hidden videos which show an Acorn employee advising O'Keefe how to seek loans while he poses as a pimp.

In 2004, he stirred up a lot of fake anger in a campus campaign against Lucky Charms saying they were offensive to Irish Americans.

He posed as an upset Irish American and ambushed a Rutgers University official with three other mischief makers to make an official complaint about Lucky Charms and Irish stereotypes.

O'Keefe used a hidden video to record the school official who was clearly doing the right thing in accommodating O'Keefe's complaints.

In the video, O'Keefe says he is worried that Lucky Charms make people think that all Irish Americans are short and wear green coats. (Has he seen New Jersey on St Patrick's Day?!)

Posing as an aggrieved Irish man, O'Keefe tells the official that he's tired of the Lucky Charms branding which portrays Irish Americans as "a green-cladded (sic) gnome, and as you can see ... we're not all short," O'Keefe says. "We have differences of height, and we think this is stereotypical of Irish-Americans."

The tape could be hilarious but the joke falls flat because the whole thing's so pompous.

Is this the best the right can do? Rely on a man who waged a phony war against Lucky Charms?
Apparently so – and as Media Matters tells us here, O'Keefe previously taped distribution of a "good wife's guide" to a women's studies class at Rutgers (the school had the unfortunate distinction of serving as the butt of many of O’Keefe’s stupid antics, as noted here).

And here are some “other lovely treats” from O’Keefe, as Daily Kos diarist mconvente tells us:

*(O’Keefe teamed) with Joe Nedick, fellow founder of The Centurion and Cap and Skull member to release the names of the senior Cap and Skull society members during the first week of the 2005-2006 academic year, trashing a long time tradition of keeping their membership secret until the new class was tapped. (Source - PDF)

*(O’Keefe criticized) Rutgers University curriculum standards requiring all students to take a non-Western course, accusing the policy of deeming a "Southern American Christian" less cultured than an "isolated non-Westerner". As a quote, Mr. O'Keefe writes "Multiculturalist Rutgers professors have become eccentric elites, sadly out of touch from with American culture, family, and purpose" (Source - page 9 - PDF)

*(He repeatedly bashed) famous Rutgers Alum Paul Robeson for his support of socialist policies, despite his grand accomplishments as a student, athlete, actor, and early civil rights icon. (Source - page 15, plus MANY others - PDF)

*(He) personally prevent(ed) via town-hall-esque shenanigans the start of a student government meeting for 45 minutes as protest for the student government endorsing a unification of separate colleges into one Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences.

*(He claimed) a liberal bias in distribution of student fees for organization funding, citing the fact that the Islamic Society of Rutgers and RU Against the War got more funding than the Israeli Action Committee and RU For the Troops, respectively. Of course, as former Treasurer of the student government and delegate to the Allocations Board, (the diarist) would like to inform (us) that funding is strictly formula-based and if groups apply within the guidelines for more funding (i.e. - larger event, more food, etc.), they will get funded more. (Source - Page 20 - PDF)
So, because of a guy who has pulled these types of antics, Congress chose to freeze out ACORN funding.

And Joe Conason tells us here of what ACORN primarily does (and you can figure out how people will be hurt by the cowardice of many of our elected officials)…

Like so many conservative attacks, the crusade against ACORN has been highly exaggerated and even falsified to create a demonic image that bears little resemblance to the real organization. Working in the nation's poorest places, and hiring the people who live there, ACORN is not immune to the pathologies that can afflict institutions in those communities. As a large nonprofit handling many millions of dollars, it has suffered from mismanagement at the top as well -- although there is nothing unique in that, either.

Yet ACORN's troubles should be considered in the context of a history of honorable service to the dispossessed and impoverished. No doubt it was fun to dupe a few morons into providing tax advice to a "pimp and ho," but what ACORN actually does, every day, is help struggling families with the Earned Income Tax Credit (whose benefits were expanded by both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton). And while the idea of getting housing assistance for a brothel was clever, what ACORN really does, every day, is help those same working families avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes.

Perhaps the congressional investigation now demanded by some Republican politicians would be a useful exercise, if conducted impartially. A fair investigation might begin to dispel some of the wild mythology promoted by right-wing media outlets.

The proportion of (actual ACORN) fraud is infinitesimal. For example, a half-dozen ACORN workers were charged with registration fraud or other election-related crimes in the 2004 election. They had completed fewer than two dozen false registrations -- out of more than a million new voters registered by ACORN during that cycle. The mythology that suggests that thousands or even millions of illegal registrants voted is itself a fraud.
And as Conason tells us, “when ACORN officials discovered those cases, they informed the state authorities and turned in the miscreants."

So congratulations, all of you weak-kneed editorialists and politicians of both parties. You successfully caved to the conservative noise machine, legitimizing the juvenile antics of a couple of professional opportunists who, after being turned away repeatedly, finally found some victims who fell for their con.

I’m sure the people who will no doubt lose their homes as a result of ACORN’s loss of government funding will thank you.

Update 1: Great stuff by BooMan on this here (h/t Atrios)...

Update 2 9/19/09: More from Media Matters here...

Update 3 9/21/09: I see that the apple doesn't fall far from the same rotten tree (trying not to beat the ACORN metaphor to death) here...

Update 4 9/22/09: On second thought (h/t Atrios)...

Update 5 9/25/09: Good (and congratulations to O'Keefe and Giles for breaking the law...ha, ha, ha).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday Stuff

I know this kind of ties into an earlier post from today; though I really don't want to waste much time pointing out the stupendously obvious fact that Flush Limbore is a racist idiot, I need to point out one more time anyway that...Flush Limbore is a racist idiot...

...and I realize this timeless performance by Billie Holiday wouldn't mean anything to Flush and his crowd, but I believe this is a reminder of where we once were as a nation, and where Flush and his crowd would have us once more.

"Tweaking" A Patrick Push For "Tort Deform"

The Bucks County Courier Times tells us the following today (here)…

Patrick Murphy tried to reassure those who fear the health care reform working its way through Congress by referring to it as a "tweak."
(And by the way, I also posted here.)

During a telephone town hall on health care Wednesday night, the 8th District Democrat used the word several times to describe the effort he supports.

"We need to tweak it to make it a little bit better for those falling through the cracks," he said.

In his second major telephone event in three weeks, Murphy said for any plan to win his vote it must:

- Be deficit neutral.
- Benefit small business.
- Not allow insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.
- Close the Medicare Part D doughnut hole, where beneficiaries are responsible for the full cost of prescriptions drugs and 100 percent coverage for preventative screenings.

And he added a fifth mandatory element:

- Tort reform must be included.
(And by the way, Above Average Jane has more on the teletown hall here - good move to try and freeze out as many wingnuts as possible.)

As far as whether or not reform would be “deficit neutral,” this June story tells us that Obama told a physicians conference that it would be, with savings realized by instituting competitive bidding into Medicare Advantage, using Medicare reimbursements to help reduce preventable readmissions, and the evergreen “rooting out waste, abuse and fraud,” among other means (and by the way, concerning that $1 trillion number, see Myth #5 on this list).

And as far as health care’s impact on small businesses is concerned, this tells us the following…

(The White House Council of Economic Advisers) report concludes that the reforms outlined by both chambers of Congress in their competing proposals will benefit small businesses by lowering their health care costs and increasing coverage options for their workers. If the current system continues unchecked, "small business profits will shrink over time because of rising health-care costs that firms cannot fully pass on to workers," the report says, citing a recent analysis by the Small Business Majority, a pro-reform advocacy group.

That analysis found that rising health-care expenses will cost small companies an estimated $700 million in lost profits this year. By 2018, the annual cost of lost profits will reach $12 billion, according to the Small Business Majority's forecasts.

But in the short term, reform will be even more expensive, according to the same analysis. A reform plan similar to the one proposed by the House would reduce small business profits by a whopping $6.5 billion this year. It's not until 2013 that the reformed system's savings would increase, rather than reduce, small business profits.
Hmm, that’s a tough nut to crack, indeed (though, as the story states, doing nothing isn't an alternative). We’ll see.

And of course, closing the infamous Medicare Part D “donut hole” and not allowing discrimination for pre-existing conditions are a given (though, to be fair, those in good health are bound to pick up the tab to one degree or another for those who aren’t, which I have no problem with, by the way, depending on how that’s managed in the bill that is eventually signed into law… we have a precedent for that sort of thing in Medicare, VA and the SCHIP programs, with Medicare treating an older population with more critical needs on balance, so, despite the town hall nonsense, it’s not as if we don’t know how to do this sort of thing in this country).

However, the fifth element stated by Murphy caught my attention, and that was the dreaded “tort reform.”

Now I believe Patrick is in earnest here, and I think he’s genuinely trying to do the right thing (more of what he has accomplished and what he supports on health care is accessible from this link – hat tip to Above Average Jane again for that one.)

Also, I think he’s taking a lead from the Obama Administration on tort reform (I didn’t know this until now, but as of last May, the president was actually willing to negotiate with the Repugs on curbing malpractice awards, as noted here, until the “Party of No” did what it does best…that would have been at least as bad of an idea as anything proposed by Max Baucus...R-MT, as Fix Noise refers to him – however, as noted here, it looks like the Administration is still trying to keep that option alive).

As noted here, though, tort reform really wouldn't lower health care costs – as Anne Underwood of the New York Times tells us…

According to the actuarial consulting firm Towers Perrin, medical malpractice tort costs were $30.4 billion in 2007, the last year for which data are available. We have a more than a $2 trillion health care system. That puts litigation costs and malpractice insurance at 1 to 1.5 percent of total medical costs. That’s a rounding error. Liability isn’t even the tail on the cost dog. It’s the hair on the end of the tail.
Also, the Trial Lawyers blog tells us here that, on average, 98,000 people die a year due to medical malpractice (yes, they have a financial interest here, but if you suffer a catastrophic injury, who else is going to represent you?).

And really, ladies and gentlemen and boys and girls, if you knew that you would suffer chronic pain for the rest of your life due to a doctor’s mistake (assume you were in your 20s), how amenable would YOU be to a judge or jury telling you that you’re looking at, say, a million dollar cap for a problem with a compressed vertebrae? You want to know how quickly you would burn through that million dollars?

To look at an example of where tort reform was signed into law…and I’ll bet you’ll never guess, huh?...just look at Texas (noted here). After tort reform was passed, doctors “flocked” there, as the story tells us. And insurance premiums nearly doubled anyway!

With respect, Congressman, please do not expend too much energy on this aspect of health care legislation. It is only going to further insulate health care professionals who reside in their own “secret society” anyway. And if you think it’s going to win over any right-wing converts, just read the utterly bilious, propagandistic, uninformed, badly written (and badly spelled) comments to the Courier Times story, and you’ll have your answer.

Offensive Versus "Satirical"

Let's review some more corporate media rules, my fellow prisoners.

What appears below is rightly considered offensive (and as I said before, to my knowledge, this is the only "Bush as Hitler" pic you'll find here)...

...but according to this story, what appears below could be considered as "satirical."

What country am I living in again?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday Stuff

K.O. brings us the gory details of the awful Max Baucus health care bill with Howard Fineman of Newsweek (and it's possible that it might not even be voted out of Baucus' committee - it would serve him right)...

...and I'm sure this is a pretty accurate depiction of how health care would be delivered were the Baucus plan ever to become reality (God forbid)...

..."Worst Persons" (Michele Bachmann - speaking of someone whose "brain hurts," she does that to me - envisions someone from the Obama Administration counting our calories for us, when in reality what the administration is trying to do is actually ensure the safety of our food, one of the many aspects of governance so woefully ignored by Bushco; Glenn Beck screws up both the anti-McCarthy quote and the attribution, though he's on a course to end up the same way as Wisconsin's former senator...does a "rubber room" await?; and Joe "Wrong Way" Wilson claims to be an immigration lawyer, huh? YOU LIE!!)...

...and RIP, Mary Travers.

Today's Health Care Reform Reminder

This may be it for posting today - I'm not sure. Anyway, here is a reminder about "why we fight."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday Stuff

"Worst Persons" (Dick Morris of Fix Noise points out that "nobody on the right has criticized Obama over race"..., not much they haven't, you fool; Michele Bachmann is back to spout more nonsense about illegal immigrants - you know, there was a time when I would have liked to have seen her, Palin, Wrong-Way Wilson and some of these characters defeated and the Repug Party return to some kind of pre-1992 level of sanity, but now, I hope that never happens...I hope they continue taking up space and serving as the equivalent of political carnival freaks for all time, since I'm sure those teabaggin' 9/12 wingnuts (1 million? 2 million? How many attended Saturday as of five minutes ago?) wouldn't have it any other way; and speaking of which, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx of North Carolina JUST HAPPENS to point out that conservative hacktacular scribe Thomas Sowell criticized Obama, and he JUST HAPPENS to be an African America also)...

Update 9/16/09: What BarbinMD sez here...

...and this song seems appropriate after too much blogging about the wingnuts (my guess is that most bloggers generally feel like this from time to time).

Update 9/16/09: By the way, on another matter, this is what commenter Anon is referring to.

Tuesday Mashup (9/15/09)

(And I also posted here.)

  • More comedy from The Weakly Standard (here)…

    You know how the Obama administration's most dire economic forecasts turned out to be far too optimistic? Well, that's actually great news for the environment. As Climate Progress reports, it's "the perfect storm: a weak economy, low natural gas prices, state renewable energy standards, and a clean-energy-friendly stimulus." The result: "by year’s end we’ll actually be more than 8.5% below 2005 levels in energy-related CO2 emissions, which make up the overwhelming majority of U.S. greenhouse gases. And that is halfway to the 2020 Waxman-Markey target! And EIA doesn’t project a dramatic recovery in emissions in 2010 — just a 0.9% rise."

    Obama's economic stewardship has brought use halfway to the Waxman-Markey target!!! It only took 2.5 million people losing their jobs!!!!!! Imagine how much more damage Obama can do to the economy, and how much less CO2 this country will produce, if Obama can put another 2.5 million people out of work!!!!!!!
    Hey, whaddaya know? It’s fun to type with lots of exclamation points!!!!!

    Actually, the only reason I’m bothering to note this nonsense at all is because, in this post yesterday about the execrable economic performance of the prior presidential administration, I didn’t really say much about how bad Dubya was on employment (kudos to Bob Herbert for paying attention to that story here, though our corporate media generally does only on Labor Day anymore).

    Here is the reality…

    The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose from 4.2% in January 2001, peaking at 6.3% in June 2003 and reaching a trough of 4.4% in March 2007. After an economic slowdown, the rate rose again to 6.1% in August 2008 and up to 7.2% in December 2008. [55] From December 2007 when the recession started to December 2008, an additional 3.6 million people became unemployed. [56] And, in January 2009, (Bush’s) last month in office, the nation lost 655,000 jobs, raising the unemployment rate to 7.6 percent, the highest level in more than 15 years. [57]
    So, if I were Michael Goldfarb, I’d keep my mouth shut on this issue, since Number 43 has no “bragging rights” at all (and speaking of bragging, get a load of this; truly an insufferable, incompetent lout for the ages).

  • This post at The Hill tells us the following…

    Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) is asking that both the Senate and executive branch open investigations into the actions of ACORN.

    The Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has come under fire recently when an undercover video showed employees offering to falsify housing applications for individuals claiming to be involved in prostitution. Additionally, former ACORN employees were arrested for allegedly falsifying vote applications during the 2008 election.

    ACORN has stressed that the actions were the work of a few employees and do not represent the organization's policies.

    "It is imperative that we proceed immediately to investigate what appears to be ACORN’s stunning disregard for the law and abuse of taxpayer funds. Such an investigation would serve as the basis for determining not only whether ACORN is worthy of receiving other federal funds this year, but ever again.”
    Give me a break; meanwhile, ACORN’s Mike Shea tells us the following (here)…

    Last week the nation became aware of video tapes made by a conservative activist targeting ACORN and ACORN Housing Corporation field offices across the country. A secret camera was used to record informal conversations. Three of the employees seen in the tapes are ACORN Housing employees, who are observed responding to the imposter's inquiries about ways to hide an illegal enterprise.

    I was horrified, just like many of you, when I saw the video. While no transaction took place in this incident -- no client files were created or billed, no loan documents were signed or submitted, no bank loans were arranged -- this is not how members of our organization should behave. The employees might not have broken any laws, but they violated the moral and ethical standards that we have set for ourselves.

    We have fired or suspended all of the employees that appear in the tapes and have transferred their client files to other offices. We have suspended all Housing counseling work in the DC office until we conduct a thorough investigation of that office's activity.
    And as far as “abuse of taxpayer funds” is concerned, this Think Progress post tells us that Shelby, along with the rest of his party, opposed caps on executive compensation at Wall Street financial firms, including those that received TARP money.

    That’s a hell of a lot more of an “abuse of taxpayer funds” than anything ACORN has ever accomplished (and again, as Shea says, nobody was billed over this incident).

  • Update 1 9/16/09: And it looks like O'Keefe and his flunky tried the same stunt they pulled in DC also in Philadelphia, but with an altogether different result (here)...Shea actually notes this in his post above.

    Update 2 9/16/09: And oh yeah, is anyone going to investigate this?

    Update 3 9/17/09: I also agree that this is priceless; great catch.

  • Mike Huckabee weighed in as follows at Politico (here)…

    “I’m sad to report today a death of a good friend to all of us…..Journalism,” Huckabee wrote in a post on his political action committee’s blog. “The once esteemed 4th estate of our nation and the protector of our freedoms and a watchdog of our rights has passed away after a long struggle with a crippling and debilitating disease of acute dishonesty aggravated by advanced laziness and the loss of brain function.”
    I would say that Huckabee has contributed himself in the “acute dishonesty” department with reports such as this, which claim that “not a drop of oil” was spilled during the Katrina disaster, when in reality, "124 spills were reported with a total volume of roughly 17,700 barrels of total petroleum products” as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita combined.

    And when it comes to “loss of brain function,” I would also say that Huckabee is a subject matter expert based on this.

  • Finally (for the “Forward Into The Past” files) this FOX News link takes us to a section of stories on “America’s Future” that includes a link to a post called “McCain, Obama Clash on Tactics for Fighting Terrorism.”

    The post was written in August 2008.

    Tee, hee, hee…
  • Monday, September 14, 2009

    Monday Stuff

    Rachel Maddow talks to Prof. Elizabeth Warren of Harvard Law School, who heads a Congressional panel overseeing TARP and regulatory reform, timed for the one-year anniversary of our financial collapse...can hardly wait for "Skank of America" and "Shitty Group" to put together their own Astroturf organizations like Freedom Works to go out there and get people to "rally" behind allowing these criminals to continue robbing us, all in the name of fighting "socialism")...

    ...and I thought this song was appropriate for the occasion.

    Another Monday Health Care Mashup (9/14/09)

    (And I also posted here.)

  • Trudy Rubin of The Philadelphia Inquirer offered an intriguing reason to basically allow President Obama to do whatever he wants on health care in her column yesterday…

    Are some Democratic legislators who are squabbling over health care secret supporters of the Taliban? Are some Republican legislators in cahoots with Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

    I'm dead serious when I ask those questions, as we pass another anniversary of 9/11.

    President Obama must make critical decisions this fall about policies toward Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran - decisions forced on him early in his term because of wrongheaded policies by the previous administration.

    A U.S. president who fails on his signature issue - health care - won't have the strength and public support to deal with new challenges by Islamists. He will be seen at home and abroad as seriously weakened. Yet neither party seems much bothered by this threat.
    Gosh, I’m surprised that Rubin didn’t tell us whether or not Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud supports a single-payer bill or not.

    Seriously, this is truly shocking nonsense coming from a pro like Rubin. Yes, no one wants to “weaken” the President, but that doesn’t mean that intelligent dialogue on this issue should be stifled either (of course, one problem is that there really hasn’t been much intelligent dialogue from the anti-reform crowd). And I don’t believe a thoughtful exchange would damage Obama’s standing, since, like most politicians, he seems to thrive on it.

    I fervently hope and pray that the bill that eventually emerges from all of this includes a public option as part of genuine reform. However, if it doesn’t and Obama is somehow “weakened” as a result, he will have only himself to blame (as opposed to those “unwitting assistants” of the Taliban who actually supported something else instead).

    (And by the way, speaking of the public option, it looks like the Wal-Mart twins, Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln, are out of step with their constituents once more based on this.)

  • And not to be outdone, Rubin’s editorial playmate Michael Smerconish brought up the issue of coverage for illegal immigrants, but actually sought to blame The Sainted Ronnie R instead of Obama for a 1986 law that provided for emergency care for anyone regardless of their legal status in this country (one of the handful of good things Reagan actually did, IMHO).

    And in the midst of his column, Smerky informed us of the following…

    …according to two experts I spoke to last week, there remains a practical contradiction between the 1986 law and excluding illegals from the health-care umbrella.

    Dr. Gail Wilensky is no fan of the president's health-care prescriptions. Wilensky managed Medicare and Medicaid under George H.W. Bush and advised Sen. John McCain's campaign in 2008. She is now a senior fellow at Project HOPE, an international health education foundation.

    By promising to follow the 1986 law and prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving health coverage, she told me, the president was "not quite explaining the facts" in terms of emergency situations.

    "We do provide some care to illegal immigrants," she said. "There's not intended coverage under the proposals, but hospitals and workers or employers may not know that some of their employees are here illegally. And the fact is coverage at some level will be provided because people don't know that they're providing coverage to illegal immigrants. It will not be done intentionally."
    As far as I’m concerned, the “stupidity defense” on the part of employers for hiring illegals has never been a good excuse before, and it certainly isn’t now.

    Though the Obama Administration has stepped up enforcement against employers for hiring illegals (here), this tells us that, as recently as 2005 (and probably later), employers faced little in the way of penalties for doing so. So if “hospitals and workers or employers” don’t know if some of their employees are here illegally, then they should face the full weight of the law for their noncompliance.

    And by the way, even though I disagree with him, I’m not sure what it says about Smerky that he’s actually criticizing the right wing’s most exalted figure (and regarding the way Smerky ended his column, I’d have payed good money to watch what happened to The Bad Joe Wilson if he’d yelled out “You lie” to The Gipper...of course, knowing the right-wing media echo chamber, they would have put out the story that Tip O’Neill put it up to it, or something).

  • Adam Nagourney of the New York Times told us the following yesterday (from here)…

    Older Americans are more likely to oppose Mr. Obama’s (health care) initiative than any other age group. The White House views this dynamic as one of the biggest obstacles to tamping down public concerns about its approach and assembling a legislative coalition to get a bill passed in Congress.
    Really? This story in the Bucks County Courier Times yesterday told us the following…

    Seniors who are forced to pay a large part of their income for prescriptions want the health care reform bill passed.

    Evelyn Gordon's passion for health care reform gained strength after her father died needlessly, she said.

    Shortly before he turned 65 and became eligible for Medicare, he suffered kidney failure because he wasn't able to afford the needed treatment.

    "Because of his history of heart disease and two bypass surgeries, his health care wouldn't pay for (his needs). He couldn't afford the premiums. If he'd had access to affordable health care, he'd be alive today," said Gordon, of Morrisville.

    After getting fed up with seeing examples of people whose health care plans failed them, Gordon joined a group of seniors Saturday who gathered at the Lower Bucks Senior Activity Center in Bristol to hear Congressman Patrick Murphy, D-8, speak in support of the health insurance reform bill.

    Murphy focused on how the plan would close the widening coverage gap in the standard Medicare drug benefit.

    Currently, seniors on Medicare get coverage for up to $2,700 per year in prescription drug payments. Coverage does not begin again until the recipient's drug costs exceed $6,100 annually, so seniors must pay out-of-pocket for all costs in between. This "doughnut hole" has been getting wider for years, leading some seniors to scrimp on their prescriptions or fall into financial turmoil.

    Across the country, 27 million seniors depend on Medicare's prescription drug program, with 11,200 of them in Bucks County, said Murphy.

    The reform bill President Barack Obama has been pushing will immediately start closing the coverage gap by providing a discount of at least 50 percent on prescription drugs for those whose spending falls within the gap.
    Maybe before Nagourney decides to write about “older Americans” again, it would do him some good to actually go out and talk to a few of them first.

  • And last but certainly least, I give you the following from former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm here (his post, for lack of a better word, shows a young man watching what is probably a football game yesterday and shielding his eyes from the sun)…

    An unidentified American sports fan, caught in the uncomfortable perils of global warming and climate change, awaits emergency federal guidance from the Obama White House on how best to combat the sun's glare at an afternoon athletic contest.

    After eight years of failed Bush-Cheney Republican policies, potentially millions of Americans like this remain uncovered and in similar straits threatening their basic healthcare, a predicament the protective Democratic administration finds unacceptable in an era of rapid change for a country that can put a man on the moon.

    According to uninformed Washington sources, under the multi-billion-dollar Cash for Caps program being discussed, American residents who qualify (including illegal immigrants) will receive personalized instruction for up to six weeks on precisely how to properly position a visored cap to protect the face against the harmful sun's ruthless rays.
    So now it’s “jokes” about potential skin cancer, huh Malcolm?

    This tells us the following…

    THURSDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- New cases of the deadly skin cancer melanoma are increasing among men and women in the United States, particularly among older men, researchers report.

    Whether the increase in melanoma signals an epidemic is a matter of debate. However, the rate is increasing among all Americans and cannot be due to better screening alone, the researchers contend.

    "Melanoma rates are still going up, especially among older white men," said lead researcher Dr. Eleni Linos, from the dermatology department at Stanford University Medical Center. "This calls for greater awareness for patients, their families and physicians."

    Rates of melanoma increased by 3.1 percent a year, the researchers found. The increased rate was for all types of melanoma and for all thicknesses of tumors. Moreover, the rate of melanoma doubled in all socioeconomic groups, while deaths from the disease did not increase significantly.

    "Scientists have debated whether the rising statistics for melanoma are skewed, as doctors detect more benign cancers earlier through screening," Linos said.

    Melanoma rates are going up among all socioeconomic groups, which is a marker for access to physician care, and across all levels of tumor thickness, which is a marker of severity of this disease, Linos noted. Among men age 65 and older, the rates of melanoma have reached more than 125 cases per 100,000 men.

    "Because the incidence has gone up for both men and women of all social groups and across all levels of cancer thickness, we believe this represents a genuine increase in melanoma cases, not just a sign of better screening," she said.
    And as noted here (didn’t edit this much)…

    Although Sun is the main factor for the existence of life on earth, but scientist believe that continue(d) depletion of (the) ozone layer has significant negative impact on our skin too. Ultra violet rays are subdivided into three categories depending on their wave lengths, UVA-400-320 nm; UVB-320-290 nm; UVC-290-200 nm. Among all UVB radiation is by far the most harmful radiation that directly affect the skin causing different pigmentation disorder and increase risk of skin cancer. As ozone layer control the radiation, but recent depletion of ozone layer has increased the chances of many skin disease. Scientists believe that increase of temperature by 2% for a long-term due to changes of climate, might increase the carcinogenic effect of ultraviolet radiation by 10%.
    I don’t know if Malcolm is 65 or older or not, but given that “older Americans” are at more of a risk from melanoma now than ever before, he should probably act on some of this information (even if warnings come from a liberal infidel like yours truly).

    And besides, I think his “Cash for Caps” is a total non-starter, as they say. However, maybe paying right-wing ideologue pundits not to spew their drivel could be a “stimulus” also (of common sense, that is).

    “Cash for Hacks,” anyone?