Saturday, January 16, 2010

More Op-Ed Malpractice From Mikey And The C-T

This Guest Opinion from our former PA-08 U.S. House rep appeared about a week ago, on January 12th to be exact...

Recently I attempted to speak with Congressman Patrick Murphy about the disappointing votes being cast in Washington as the current Congress squanders an historic opportunity to improve health coverage for all Americans. He told me to call him later.

Bucks Countians have been waiting months for their representative in Congress to hear their concerns about the gaggle of bills under consideration in the Capitol. Despite repeated calls for a town hall meeting where constituents can meet their elected federal representative face-to-face, questions and concerns have gone unanswered.
As noted here, Murphy did meet face to face on health care in a “Congressman In Your Corner” event that Murphy stated was not a town hall meeting, so Fitzpatrick is technically correct. However, true to form as always, he omits the fact that Murphy held conference calls with constituents on health care reform to avoid all of the teabagger nonsense such as this (again, in which Barney Frank gives one of these life forms the treatment she deserves).

Back to Mikey…

The reason: Patrick Murphy is in favor of government control of healthcare. I know because he told me so.

And in his quest to vote for a "strong public option" (read: the beginning of the federal government taking over our health decision making)…
OK, time out – here is a video from former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich describing the intent of the public option (which I’m sure will never be realized in part because of the utterly brainless demagoguery of those who opposed health care reform overall)…

Back to Mikey…

…he rushed headlong into H.R. 3962 which provides:

For individual taxpayers: Higher taxes on high-income filers, federal mandates to purchase health insurance or be subject to federal penalties and exemptions for non-resident aliens. In conjunction with the passage of HR 3962 (by the slimmest of margins and with Patrick Murphy's full support), Murphy also voted to pass HR 3961, increasing physician reimbursements and deficit spending, which adds to the federal debt.
As noted here…

HR 3962 is the big House health care bill. HR 3961 is the standalone bill that would spend $210 billion (latest CBO score for the bill) to cancel the Sustainable Growth Rate Formula cuts and pays for it by adding the full cost to the deficit. That proposal failed in the Senate a few weeks ago when only 47 Democrats supported it.
And the fact that HR 3961 was defeated in the Senate is hardly Murphy’s fault (with HR 3961 being the legislation to ensure the deficit neutrality of the health care legislation…and by the way, let’s see whether or not deficit neutrality is achieved in the bill which may yet go through reconciliation after all, as noted here).

Back to Mikey…

For employers: Practically every small business is now federally mandated to provide "qualified" coverage or be subject to a new, 8 percent tax. Employers are also limited in use of Flexible Savings Accounts, which I use to pay out of pocket medical expenses for my children and used for my own recent medical expenses in cancer recovery.
As for as Mikey’s supposedly onerous new tax, this from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius tells us that employers “could qualify for a tax credit to help pay their premiums.[vii] An estimated 12 percent of people insured through small businesses will qualify for tax credits that lower premiums by 8 to 11 percent. This translates into $620 to $860 for individuals and $1,540 to $2,120 for families assuming that the coverage is comparable to what they get today.” And as far as Fitzpatrick’s “flexible savings account,” this tells us that “HSA/high deductible plans shift more of the health financing burden onto those using significant amounts of care, with negative ramifications for the low-income and high-need. Nor is it clear that cost-containment, higher value shopping, or reductions in the uninsured will follow.”

Back to Mikey...

For seniors: $571 billion has been slashed from your allocated Medicare funding; $170 billion has been cut from your Medicare Advantage Plans. Your Medicare D premiums will be increased to help pay for new federal programs your representatives deem nice to have.
I tried to “source” the claim about $571 billion being “slashed” from Medicare, as Mikey put it, and I know it was referenced in an article in The Hill from last November (which, to me, doesn’t automatically assure objectivity), and in looking this up, I found this link to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services report where that $571 billion figure came from, and it tells us the following…

- The estimated Federal costs of the coverage provisions in HR 3962…would increase by a net total of $406 billion during (2010 to 2019) – a combination of $935 billion in net costs associated with coverage provisions, $571 billion in net savings from the Medicare provisions…

- Net Medicare savings are estimated to total $571 billion for fiscal years 2010-2019, with the majority of the savings arising from provisions in Title I of Division B (“Improving Health Care Value”).

- Total net savings from Medicare provisions would offset about $571 billion of the federal costs for the national coverage provisions.
Now I don’t claim to be an expert at crunching numbers, but can someone explain to me how all of this can be translated into “slashing” $571 billion in Medicare funding? Where is it written that the projected savings will come from cutting subscriber coverage?

And as far as Medicare Advantage is concerned, the whole damn thing is a scam anyway for private insurers who get a subsidy that they should pass along to their subscribers, but don’t. Also, Fitzpatrick has no room to criticize ANYBODY on Medicare Part D, which will close the donut hole Fitzpatrick originally helped create, as noted here.

Back to Mikey…

Murphy's bill is packed with problems too numerous to mention in my limited space available.
That’s a con-vee-nient excuse.

But Murphy's bad bill got worse in the U.S. Senate. Now we find out that, in addition to paying new Medicaid increases for Pennsylvania residents, we also are expected to pick up the cost for Nebraska residents because they "cut a deal" to buy Sen. Nelson's support. Still no comment from Patrick. Still no town hall meeting for his constituents.
Why the hell should Patrick Murphy feel obligated to conduct town hall meetings over a Senate screwup when he serves in the House? I think Mikey is losing his mind here.

And by the way, as long as Mikey is alleging that PA-08 residents have to pick up the tab for out-of-state malfeasance (in the case of Ben Nelson and Nebraska), this tells us that Mikey said not a word when government money (including that of PA-08 taxpayers) was used to fund no-bid contracts to firms accused of abuse, fraud, or excessive profiteering in the reconstruction of Hurricane Katrina (70 percent of the contracts were awarded on that basis, again, without a peep from Mikey in protest).

Back to Mikey…

Provide tax relief that makes it easier, not more difficult, for employers to provide health coverage. Reform the health justice system. Incentivize innovative solutions that fight healthcare fraud.
Mikey either doesn’t know that Patrick Murphy introduced this bill to fight Medicare fraud, or he knows but doesn’t want to admit it.

There is $250 billion in easy money - currently wasted - in the federal health programs. Recover the money and use it to cover pre-existing conditions and to reward health care clinics that already provide coverage to the uninsured: the Mother Bachmann clinic in Bensalem, HealthLink in Southampton and The Free Clinic at Doylestown Hospital.
I can’t think of a word to describe how ridiculous it is that Fitzpatrick doesn’t even acknowledge here that the health care reform bill will make it illegal for a subscriber to be dropped from coverage due to a pre-existing condition. And I’m not even going to bother sourcing that $250 billion figure because I’m tired of looking up numbers that Fitzpatrick is apparently too lazy to properly source himself.

(And by the way, I have a question for Guy Petroziello, editorial page editor of the Bucks County Courier Times – why the hell do you continue to publish editorial content where writers don’t source their information?)

Back to Mikey...

I firmly believe that the best solutions already exist in the communities across America. Our representatives should spend more time listening to us and less time listening to the partisans inside the Beltway. An old-fashioned, town hall meeting back home in Bucks County would be a good start.
In a strange kind of way, I was curious to know what Mike Fitzpatrick was up to all of this time, and I genuinely hope his health has improved. That being said, after reading this assault on common sense, I now realize that he has not changed one bit and remains the arrogant liar he formerly was when he served in the U.S. Congress.

Mikey, shut up and get out of the way. Why don’t you join the teabaggers in their massive “pity party” over their perception of Caucasian disenfranchisement due to the election of an African-American president? That way, the adults will be able to fix, to some degree, the mess you helped create.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Stuff

I don't want to shock anyone, but I may actually have an honest-to-goodness post ready to go soon (crossing my fingers - the ones that aren't casted, I mean).

For now, though, Rachel Maddow tells us about the horror in Haiti (NBC correspondent Kerry Sanders goes a great job here, I think, of "winging it" with the on-scene reporting)...

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

...and K.O. reminds us that, despite the catastrophe on that ill-fated island, there is no rest for the wingnuts...

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

...and Spencer Tracy, as the Clarence Darrow character in "Inherit The Wind," the re-creation of the Scopes Monkey Trial, tells us why at about 2:06 of this clip...

...and finally, for no particular reason, I give you this.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thursday Stuff

I have a feeling I'll be repeating this ad every night until next Tuesday; Lawrence O'Donnell called Coakley/Brown in Massachusetts a "toss up" tonight on "Countdown" - this is what happens when voters elect a "hopey, changey" candidate with solid majorities in Congress, though those individuals collectively accomplish almost nothing when it comes to energizing their base (this is noteworthy also)...

...and RIP Teddy Pendergrass, perhaps the most famous star of the "Philly Sound."

Thursday Mashup (1/14/10)

Taking a break from PT to try posting - I'll stop if it becomes too agonizing (my arm I mean, not necessarily the content, though some of the news stories I’m commenting on are also)...

  • I know this blog is ostensibly about news and politics/activism, but I cannot ignore the battle going on at the moment between NBC, Conan O'Brien and Jay Leno.

    I haven't regularly watched late-night TV for years, but speaking only for myself, what I did for a time was watch Leno for his monologue (he still has the best stand-up timing and delivery of anyone) and then watch Letterman for his interviews and skits, since Letterman was more likely to do something goofy or blurt out something unexpected in an interview. O'Brien kind of matches both forms of comedy and does either well and has clever ideas (anybody who gives time to Triumph The Insult Dog is OK by me).

    NBC concocted the Leno 10:00 show first and foremost because they were too cheap to develop prime-time dramas for that slot, and they obviously had no "Plan B" in the event that Leno failed (of course, since Leno finished with strong ratings at his old slot, NBC thought those people would follow him, forgetting completely somehow that 10:00 and 11:30 audiences each have different tastes and expectations…guess they never learned from “That Was The Week That Was” all those years ago, which only lasted for a year). However, for all of Leno's positives, I don't think it was very forward-thinking by the supposed NBC programming geniuses to cater to Leno at the expense of O'Brien, with the latter clearly making hay, as it were, out of this mess as noted here.

    Also, why throw O'Brien under the bus at the expense of Leno, who's more closely identified with a "boomer" audience that is only going to diminish over time? The people watching O'Brien should be the ones advertisers choose to pursue since they'll have more spending power simply because they'll live longer. And now, it looks like they'll pursue O'Brien on Fox instead of The Peacock Network.

    Finally, I admire O'Brien and think he's a bright guy, but please spare me this nonsense from him that he cares about the integrity of the "Tonight Show" franchise. He got rooked by the suits and he's going to bail for a better offer. And by and large, nobody blames him. That's it.

  • Also (returning to more familiar stuff), with the news of the pending departure of John Shadegg from the U.S. House (noted here), I will await stories from our beloved corporate media of the supposed declining electoral fortunes of the national Republican Party; assuming basic fairness was a consideration in their coverage (and as far as I'm concerned, it isn't), I should see at least as many stories to that effect involving Shadegg, who served in federal government, as I saw about how Colorado Governor Bill Ritter's decision not to run affected the national fortunes of the Democrats, even though Ritter's job did not involve federal government in any way (and I know all I'll hear will be the sound of crickets).

    And here is a memorable Shadegg moment that deserves a second look, I believe.

  • Finally, the New York Times told us the following in the very last paragraph of this story about U.S. contractors trying to make money off Iraqi oil…

    Halliburton’s former subsidiary, KBR, which was once run by former Vice President Dick Cheney, has won contracts worth more than $24 billion since the start of the war, giving it vast responsibility for reinvigorating Iraq’s oil sector. Among many other criticisms of the company’s performance in Iraq, Pentagon auditors found that KBR had overcharged the government by more than $200 million.
    Call me a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger who watched “Schoolhouse Rock” too much when growing up (here - actually, I never even saw the show once) or took too many hallucinogenic drugs (here - no comment), but as far as I’m concerned, that should be the lede.
  • Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    Wednesday Stuff

    Let's do what we can to help avoid a "Massachusetts Mistake" next Tuesday, OK...

    ...that being said, the Biblical ruin in Haiti is no doubt the biggest story and cause for concern...

    ...though, of course, that will never stop the right-wing idiots from spewing their garbage; no line these people will refuse to cross, truly...

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    ...and I had another video in mind for tonight, but I think the following (or some variation) is the only appropriate one instead.

    Tuesday, January 12, 2010

    Tuesday Stuff

    (Someday blogging with return to normal, I hope, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.)

    In the meantime, I'm not completely sure what's up with this business about Obama and his excise health care tax which is apparently D.O.A. in the House, but at least the Terra! Terra! Terra! thing seems to be going well, for now (no, I don't agree with what he's doing in Afghanistan, but he should be given at least the same chance to try something he thinks will work as his incompetent predecessor had)...

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    ...and happy 80th birthday to pop icon Glenn Yarbrough of the Limeliters (this song fits on a couple of different levels right now - interesting look with the '60s "furniture girls"...kind of reminded me of a Fellini movie).

    Monday, January 11, 2010

    Monday Stuff

    I gotta tell ya', when it comes to pure, unadulterated political comedy, those teabaggin' wingnuts have it all over everybody else, and that goes for The Club for Growth also (and Mark Leibovich's story in the NYT Magazine yesterday was pretty good)...

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    ...and yeah, I was a little creeped out by this too.

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    Sunday Mashup (1/10/10)

  • I missed this Moonie Times screed from right-wing blowhard Cal Thomas probably because I was in year-end-wrapup mode and it escaped my attention; see, President Obama talked to grade-school kids and said something typically socialistic such as your spirit is more important than your wealth, or thoughtful words to that effect, and Thomas immediately conceived a plot by the redistributing-community-organizer-in-chief, of course.

    What really got me, though, was the following…

    We still have stuff - too much, in fact. Letting go of some of it has not caused people to die in the streets - despite the ludicrous claim by Senate We still have stuff - too much, in fact. Letting go of some of it has not caused people to die in the streets - despite the ludicrous claim by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that someone dies in America every 10 minutes because he or she lacks health insurance.
    Well, I don’t know how “ludicrous” Reid’s claim is, but I do know that Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times wrote the following (from here)…

    We may know intellectually that 18,000 Americans die each year because they don’t have insurance, but to confront one such person is still heartbreaking. And I just can’t believe that we will let this opportunity for health reform slip through our fingers, so that Americans like Nikki continue to die needlessly every 30 minutes.
    So Reid says every 10, and Kristof says every 30. I wasn’t able to “source” either claim as effectively as I would like, though I would take Kristof’s word on this subject over Thomas any day of the week.

  • In addition, the Bucks County Courier Times reported the following today (and it turns out I may need this pic again after all)…

    It looks as if Mike Fitzpatrick is about to enter the 8th District race for Congress.

    Speaking on WNPV radio Saturday morning, the former Republican congressman from Middletown said, "I'm certainly considering it."
    Gee, at this point, I wonder who else is going to get into this fray? What a far cry from two years ago when Tom Manion was the only individual willing to take a shot.

    There is a serious side to this story, and that is the fact that Fitzpatrick appears to have recovered from colorectal cancer, which is good news. However, you can rest assured that, should Mikey decide to compete for his old seat, I plan to bring a wealth of posting material from a few years ago to bear against him.

  • Update 1/13/10: By the way, it did not escape my attention that Fitzpatrick wrote a typically tripe-filled Guest Opinion in the Bucks County Courier Times yesterday. I will respond at my earliest opportunity, though I don't know when that will be.

  • Finally, I give you some pundit wankery from The Old Gray Lady today, from Sheryl Gay Stolberg in particular here (yet another story about how the Dems are supposedly collapsing because of the Dodd, Dorgan and Ritter announcements)…

    WASHINGTON — There are many ways for a politician to make an exit.

    There is the resignation-in-disgrace exit (Richard Nixon) and the sex scandal exit (Larry Craig, Eliot Spitzer) and the kicking-and-screaming exit (Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor who declared, “I will fight, I will fight, I will fight,” as he was about to be impeached). Some politicians (Hillary Clinton, Jon Corzine) have no choice but to make an exit — the voters rejected them.
    Uhh…which voters rejected Hillary Clinton again?

    Oh wait, I get it now. Stolberg is referring to Clinton’s loss to Obama in the Democratic presidential primary in 2008. I see.

    Although Clinton could have resumed serving in the U.S. Senate and only left when Obama named her as Secretary of State, thereby creating the vacant seat eventually filled by Kirsten Gillibrand (after New York governor David Paterson made a hash of everything).

    And besides, by Stolberg’s logic, the voters “rejected” John McCain in Arizona also, though he continues to serve as the senator of that state (as well as Ron Paul, who also ran for president and still serves in Congress, and Joe Biden, who was also “rejected” but is now vice president).

    Here’s what’s going on: Stolberg and her brethren will waste absolutely no opportunity to take a shot at the Clintons, no matter how much of a stretch it may be (and Stolberg has shown no hesitation to create partisan mythology against the Democrats in the past also, as noted here).