Sunday, January 31, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Washington Post: In case you missed it, "Saturday Night Live" took on Massachusetts Sen.-elect Scott Brown this weekend, depicting the one-time Cosmo model as an irresistible flirt. (Mad Men star Jon Hamm played the senator.) One by one, Democratic lawmakers are driven to distracted by fantasies about the new Republican.
Brown himself approved: "Thank goodness I like a good laugh," he told National Review Online. He said Hamm "did a great job."
Weekend Update nailed the Obama meeting with the Houses top Republicans.
Here's the Mancrunch Dating Ad Banned by CBS. Oddly, They Don't get the Humor and Favre Fan Reference.
You know, maybe this isn't such a bad idea, now that I've seen how Blue Dog Democrats skuttled health care: AP
The Republican National Committee adopted a rule that will prod GOP leaders to provide financial support to only those candidates who support the party's platform. It urges leaders to "carefully screen" the voting record and positions of Republican candidates that want party backing, and determine whether they "wholeheartedly support the core principles and positions" of the party as laid out in its platform. "No more Scozzafavas, please. No more Specters, please. No more Chafees, please,"Hey Democrats, how about no more Ben and Peter Nelson's please, no more Landrieu's please, no more Baucus' or Bayh's please.
Friday, January 29, 2010
One size does not fit all well, says Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a contributing editor of Real Clear Markets and an Adjunct Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Rep. Paul Ryan's "Road Map for America's Future," reintroduced this month:
1. Americans would take refundable tax credits -- $2,300 for singles and $5,700 for families -- and choose private insurance.How does that pay for a $10,000 or $14,000 plan? The average annual family premium for employer-sponsored health insurance rose to $13,375 in 2009. And it comes with a high deductible. Is that affordable for the employee or employer? How does that contain rising health insurance premiums when companies know the government is chipping in taxpayer money, not adjusted to inflation or rising premiums?
2. All insurance plans that are licensed in a particular state would be eligible, and each company would be free to set its own premiums.How does that contain rising premiums? It doesn't.
3. Low-income individuals would get extra tax credits so they could buy the same kind of health care as other Americans.Insurance companies will never have to worry about pricing too many people out of the health insurance market because they know government will give them more of our money.
4. Medicare would remain the same for current beneficiaries and for those 55 and older when they reach 65.This is one way of buying the vote of senior citizens so they won't have to worry their coverage or cast a vote against the idea.
5. But when those born in 1955 or later … They would receive $11,000, adjusted for inflation, to buy a Medicare certified plan.Health care costs go up 3 to 5 times the rate of inflation, leaving the balance in the hands of the fixed income elderly.
6. Those with lower incomes or with more serious health conditions would receive more funding.Government subsidies paying taxpayer cash to unstoppable increases in insurance premiums. Wow, what an idea.
7. Health insurance companies could offer high-deductible plans carrying lower premiums combined with health savings accounts, or more traditional managed care or fee-for-service plans.Great, $11,000 plans with a $10,000 deductible. Now that's affordable.
8. Persons with high-cost chronic illnesses, such as hemophilia or diabetes, would be placed in special affordable state high risk pools, with subventions paid by the government.Corporate welfare. Government gets the high risk patients insurance companies don't want because they cut into their profits. High risk pools are ungodly expensive and don't spread the risk. Taxpayers end of paying again.
9. On Wednesday, Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf wrote to Ryan to tell him that this plan reduced health care costs and the federal deficit. He said: "Under the proposal, national health expenditures would almost certainly be lower than they would under the alternative fiscal scenario. Federal spending for health care would be substantially lower, relative to the amount in that scenario, for working-age people and the Medicare population."This is the ultimate word game. A scam. Sure, when you shift health care costs from the government to the public, federal spending will go down, reducing the deficit. But individual Americans will end up absorbing all the costs that even the government said it could not afford.
And that's Rep. Ryan's Ayn Randian Plan. He's the numbers wiz kid. Any questions?
Phony patriotism exposed! State Republicans want Wisconsin parents to pay for returning veterans "free" tuition, so the state doesn't have to.
Governor Doyle echoed the state’s gratitude to veterans in his State of the State speech … with these words: “…four years ago, I was proud to sign a bill that ensures our veterans have the chance to get an education -- tuition-free -- at one of Wisconsin’s great universities or technical colleges.”See, Republicans pass a law allowing veterans a free college education but didn't pay for it. More on that in a moment.
Because of changes Democrats added to Wisconsin’s budget, our veterans are now forced to apply for the federal Post 9/11 benefit prior to receiving any benefit from the Wisconsin GI Bill … the non-partisan legislative fiscal bureau : “In 2008-09, tuition was increased to generate $18 million in revenues to offset revenues lost by providing tuition and fees remissions to veterans.”
To restore Wisconsin veterans tuition benefits to the original intent, I’m introducing legislation which permits a student to receive full remission of academic fees … without regard to educational assistance under federal programs. In passing my bill, we own up in part to the huge debt owed each and every hero.Here's what I wrote back to State Rep. Petersen: Tuition rose on every other students in the state, and they ended up paying for the Republican backed state GI bill. Patriot chest pounders like you didn't pay for the benefits.
Why shouldn't the federal funding run out first? Better yet, pay for the "free" tuition and put state money where your mouth and patriotism is. As I recall, Democrats asked Republicans where the funding would come from, and one of your partisan colleagues said the university already had enough money, they can pay for it.
And now you have the gall to complain?
Thursday, January 28, 2010
"Rep. Jeb Hensarling did some extreme cherry-picking to suggest that deficits have ballooned under Obama," the Web site writes. "
Politifact.com: Obama said the question sounded more like a talking point from someone running a campaign and was an example of why it's so hard to achieve bipartisan legislation.
In a press release issued by Hensarling after the meeting, he noted that the monthly deficit in October 2009 was $176 billion … to begin with, Hensarling is choosing the highest number. Over his full, eight-year term (including much of the 2009 deficit that rightly falls to him), the country ran up $3.3 trillion in total deficits. That works out to an average of about $412 billion per year -- more than double the number Hensarling is using. If you want to just look at the six years Bush had a Republican Congress, the average drops to about $260 billion a year.
In October 2008, the month before Obama was even elected, the monthly deficit was $232 billion. That's higher than any of the monthly deficits under Obama. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget office estimated the 2009 deficit at nearly $1.2 trillion on the day Obama was sworn in. Obama increased it by about $250 billion.
In summary, Hensarling's numbers only work if you cherry-pick the highest month under full Democratic control and compare it to one of the lowest years under full Republican control. If you compare average months (about $112 billion a month for Obama and the Democratic Congress) to average years under Bush (about $412 billion a year if you include his full 8-year term, or about $260 billion a year if you only include the first six years with a Republican Congress), Hensarling's numbers are wrong. There are so many bookkeeping tricks in this one that he's far from the truth. We his claim False.
On a Platform of Creating Jobs (how they won't say), Republicans Protect Wealthy Elites and Status Quo.
They even oppose a consumer watchdog for the financial industry and are fine staying out of the race with Denmark, China, Germany and France to create new jobs in manufacturing green technologies world wide. Now that's what I call freedom.
Two Wisconsin property tax credits are not only expensive - nearly $900 million per year out of a $13 billion general fund budget - but they are a highly inefficient means of delivering property tax relief to the Wisconsin homeowners and renters for whom the property tax creates the greatest economic hardships, according to a new analysis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Andrew Reschovsky, an economist and school finance expert with UW-Madison's La Follette School of Public Affairs, suggests "the Wisconsin Legislature may want to phase out the school levy credit and the first dollar credit and use the resulting budgetary savings to help finance the reform of education funding and to expand the existing homestead credit."
"A substantial proportion of the credits goes to non-residents, to high-income individuals, and to others not in serious need of property tax relief," he says. "Conversely, only a small share of the credits end up benefiting those whose property taxes are high relative to their incomes."
Reschovsky finds that on a per-student basis, property owners in school districts with the highest property values receive school levy credits that are nearly seven times larger than those going to property owners in districts with the lowest property values.
The first dollar credit results in above-average property tax relief on a per student basis in school districts with the highest property values and below-average property tax relief in the state's poorest school districts.
Reschovsky argues that with money freed up by phasing out the school levy and first dollar credits, the state could expand the number of families eligible for the homestead credit and the amount of property tax relief provided to these families.
All owners of property in Wisconsin receive the credit, whether they are Wisconsin residents or not. Reschovsky finds that only 51 percent of the total school levy credit reduces property taxes of Wisconsin homeowners on their primary residences.
The road map to property tax and school funding relief is now clearly laid out. Will both parties embrace change?
President George Bush put terrorists on trial (remember the shoe bomber Richard Reid) in civilian court without a Republican objection. He was even praised for locking these monsters up.
So the effort by Liz Cheney's scary sounding group, Keep America Safe, to politicize terrorism and to capitalize on peoples fears in the ad below, is transparently manipulative and hysterically grotesque.
So thank you Massachusetts, with your universal state health care program, for giving us the superficially attractive anti-universal health care Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.), who gave Liz Cheney the "slogan" you can believe in: “Tell President Obama our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop terrorists and not lawyers to defend them.”
Since when did we start embracing the idea of government propaganda as an exceptable form of marketing?
There's no webcam for videoconference. It doesn't support Microsoft Office. It doesn't support Flash videos, knocking out a big reason anyone uses the Web. You can't have e-mail and spreadsheet applications open at the same time?
I have always hated Apple. They over charge and gleefully pick the pocket of consumers who buy into the snob appeal of their proprietary hardware and software.
Don't get me wrong, I love the iPad. But for Jobs to functionally disable what is really a sleek computer for reading, surfing the internets and gaming, he's made it clear his apps store is more important than functionality.
This also clears up the dollar amount of the actual deficit when Obama took office (I hope my conservative friend watches this). Unless of course he chose to give lie in the state of the union speech.
You might have also notice that after the first 10 minutes of camera shots, which showed the brooding little boy Republicans sitting rudely quiet (protesting their president in a time of war I might add), the network stopped featuring their side of the isle. Someone behind the scenes must have realized how bad the Republican sit down strike looked, and justifiably so. And didn't Rep. John Boehner look completely drunk? I'd know that kind of smile anywhere.
On the back end of the clip below, Rachel Maddow also notices these partisan school yard bullies.
The right-wing chatter boxes continue to provide flawed analysis about the national and Wisconsin economy.
They ignore the fact that the U.S. economy was permanently and critically altered by NAFTA and other trade agreements that allowed $2.00 a day workers to replace American workers. They miss the point that a nation cannot engage in two wars at a cost of billions of dollars a week which do little to contribute to the productivity of the country.
When we look at the depth and breath of this depression, the worst economic crisis facing the nation since the 1930's, it is beyond fascination to see these extremists demanding the economy they destroyed be repaired in a year.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Forget about corporate free speech, Alito actually believes direct corporate money simply won't affect elections, and isn't a danger to our democracy. It's just "not true."
Alito's in big trouble. Doing away with 100 years of precedent, essentially casting doubt on previous justices rulings, is a no no that brings about judicial chaos. Isn't it time to impeach the five? Keith Olbermann and Rep. Anthony Weiner react below:
Stephen Colbert is quick to remind everyone that he was the first to boldly go public with his corporate sponsor Doritos, when he ran for political office.
...for the Best Democracy Money can Buy as a Republican in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District.It may be political parody…but maybe not.
Until now, corporations only influenced politics with high-paid lobbyists and
backroom deals. But today, thanks to an enlightened supreme court, corporations now have all the rights the founding fathers meant for us.
That's why Murray Hill Incorporated is taking democracy's next step-- running for Congress. It is a vision for the future we can all be proud of. “It’s our democracy,” Murray Hill Inc. says, “We bought it, we paid for it, and we’re going to keep it.”
Vote Murray Hill Incorporated for Congress!
Murray Hill Inc. is believed to be the first “corporate person” to exercise its constitutional right to run for office. As Supreme Court observer Lyle Denniston wrote in his SCOTUSblog, “If anything, the decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission conferred new dignity on corporate “persons,” treating them — under the First Amendment free-speech clause — as the equal of human beings.”
The campaign’s designated human, Eric Hensal, will help the corporation conform to antiquated “human only” procedures and sign the necessary voter registration and candidacy paperwork. “We want to get in on the ground floor of the democracy market before the whole store is bought by China.”
Murray Hill Inc. promises an aggressive, historic campaign that “puts people second” or even third.
“The business of America is business, as we all know. But now, it’s the business of democracy too.”
Gov. Doyle's "Green to Gold" Energy Plan Again, "Bad for Business"-Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.
In a state of permanent whine, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce is opposing a plan to help companies save energy costs in the future by going green, instead leaving their members bottom lines exposed to the wild swings of the commodities market.
Because Wisconsin doesn't have its own natural energy resources to sell to other states, like oil, coal or gas, why not create our own market through wind and solar energy, so we can sell that? It would stabilize prices and give our state a self sustainable energy supply.
Not if WMC can help it. On "Upfront with Mike Gousha," Rep. Spencer Black trashes WMC's use of bogus studies and doom and gloom business prophesies. "We send over $20 billion a year out of our state's economy to purchase fossil fuels. That's an incredible drain on our prosperity." Incredibly, WMC can't even get behind something as simple as:
WMC's slogan has always been, "Wisconsin is Bad For Business." Maybe they should consider the slogan "Why Can't We be More Like Mexico?"
Wisconsin State Journal: Doyle announced the state would establish a $100 million "Green to Gold" revolving loan fund to help manufacturers reduce their energy costs. The fund would use both existing state resources and federal stimulus money.
A push to convince state manufacturers that they can make money by “going green” is being bolstered by a new alliance pairing cost-cutting experts with environmental engineers ... Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership, nonprofit consulting organization … tries to help the state’s 10,000 small and midsized manufacturers … cut costs and reduce their impact on the environment … it can give manufacturers a competitive advantage, with cost savings they can use to grow their companies … The state Department of Commerce offers grants that can help manufacturers pay for up to half the project costs of using WMEP’s services.
Ed Schultz takes a look at the Senatorial Campaign Committees "possible" Republican questionnaire, litmus test if you will. (a google search for this story turned up nothing)
"The insurers and Pharma own health care, the bankers own the financial system, the oil industry owns our energy needs, and the country as a whole is owned by everybody but the voters."
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Think any Democrats will listen? I don't think so. From Ed Schultz:
I clipped together only the frustrated questions and comments Rachel had for Bernstein.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence gave Obama F's for his response to gun violence and proliferation.
Republican Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer said he regretted comments comparing people who take public assistance to stray animals, but the incident continued to draw fire. Bauer said he regretted the remarks "because now it's being used as an analogy, not a metaphor.He sees it as something he has to endure, take the "heat" for saying, and not for any moral or ethical reason. Another ruthless elitist. Listen to his take on kids who can't afford school lunches as well.
"Do I regret it? Sure I do. I wouldn't have to be taking this heat otherwise."
What Bauer said:
Bauer revisited instructions he said his grandmother had given him when he was a small child. Bauer said his grandmother, who was not highly educated, had told him to stop feeding stray animals. "You know why?" he asked. "Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a human ample food supply."This isn't anything new spewing out of the mouths of conservative sadists. Human suffering is trivialized and not tolerated in their self aggrandizing world of individual responsibility and freedom. That message "has been a staple" of social conservatives and evangelicals for decades. Welfare takes away any incentive poor people have to be responsible.
Bauer later said his intent was to explain the government is "breeding a culture of dependency" with its social program, which he said has grown out of control and "amounts to little more than socialism, paid for by hardworking, tax-paying families ... against their wishes."
But how well did Wall Street take its responsibilities to American investors and retirees when they gambled away the global economy and created the Great Recession?
UW-Madison News Release-- AIR-QUALITY IMPROVEMENTS OFFSET CLIMATE POLICY COSTS
The benefits of improved air quality resulting from climate change mitigation policies are likely to outweigh the near-term costs of implementing those policies, according to a new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison … Writing online Jan. 22 in the journal Environmental Research Letters, UW-Madison researchers Gregory Nemet, Tracey Holloway and Paul Meier report that the value of "co-benefits" - especially improved public health due to better air quality - rarely factors into assessments of climate change policy. "The debate is really about how expensive this is going to be, and it excludes the social benefit," says Nemet … you can actually offset all the costs of climate policy by the benefits you get to human health, including reduced health care costs and improved quality of life from people being healthier and living longer," says Nemet.
Linking climate change and air quality would also have the advantage of making desirable outcomes more tangible. "For climate change, the benefits tend to be in the future, in many cases they tend to be global and far away, and they're somewhat uncertain," Nemet says. "With air quality, the benefits happen closer geographically, closer temporally, and there's less uncertainty about what those benefits are going to be."
Note: no links in my UW emails. Sorry.
That's the only reason I'm finally posting this old clip. I can't look away.
Glenn Beck seems to have a problem in the company of Sarah.
Even when it comes to the conservative activist Supreme Court decision to allow person hood to groups and corporations, Republicans are willing to let strict constructionist theory go right out the window along with U.S. sovereignty. I would have thought the threat to America's sovereignty, the same panicky reason climate change deniers give, might have angered the "take our government back" tea partiers. I guess if you don't think about it, it won't be a problem.
Sen. Jim DeMint hasn't read the opinion like most concerned Americans have, and seems a bit uprepared for the question of how much foreign money will influence the electoral process. Keith Oblermann on the back half of the clip gives a few reasons why we should worry.
We're spending hundreds of billions of dollars out of the fear we'll be the victim of another terrorist attack. Republicans insist they can keep us safe no matter the cost.
Despite deregulation and the resulting global economic crash, Republicans would prefer fewer regulations, continuing the boom and bust history that has wiped out families savings and retirement nest eggs.
Even after Rep. Michele Bachmann vilified the census as a way herding Republicans into concentration camps, the RNC is now confusing Americans into thinking their questionnaire is an official government census form. The Washington Post:
Rachel Maddow covered the issue, when few chose to. Where's the citizen and media outrage?
Officials of both parties are sharply criticizing a fundraising mailing from Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele they say could be confused with official correspondence regarding this year’s census.
Calling itself the “Congressional District Census,” the letter comes in an envelope starkly printed with the words, “DO NOT DESTROY OFFICIAL DOCUMENT” and describes itself, on the outside of the envelope, as a “census document” … the latest round comes in a year when the actual United States census is getting under way, and officials say they’re worried that the GOP will sow confusion … with the Census Bureau's regional office criticizing the letter …"biggest concern is that it might be confusing to some residents who get this and then get the real one in a couple of months."
Congress is also taking an interest. “The mailing appears to be designed to resemble official census documents and to deceive recipients as to its true origins,” wrote Democratic (from) the House Subcommittee that oversees the census, in a letter last month to the U.S. Postmaster General. “We believe that the RNC mailings are an attempt to mislead recipients and appear to us to be violations of federal law.” Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry, has also raised concerns, “about the integrity of the census and would discourage any organization from distributing information that intentionally or not is easily confused with official U.S. Census materials.”
Postal officials responded that the mailing stays on the correct side of the law because it doesn’t use the full name of the U.S. Census Bureau or the seal of any government agency.
Even some who have been involved with the program, however, acknowledged that it walks the line. "Of course, duping people is the point. ... That's one of the reasons why it works so well,” said one Republican operative familiar with the program.
Monday, January 25, 2010
But one of the most fascinating mental misfires is their amazing ability to "project" their self destructive policies onto liberals, Democrats and the Obamatons. I swear, they see the ugliest side of their mean spirited ideology and winner take all political agenda as something Democrats do to them. It's like punching yourself in the face while looking in the mirror, and then blaming your reflection. Get ready for the realization that we'll never ever connect to the mentally conservative.
War on the middle class! by Norvell Rose: The headline blared, "Obama talks of restoring security for middle class." …Oh great, they're gonna improve the conditions they caused to worsen by doing more of the stuff that failed in the first place. Brilliant!Don't you just want to scream, "I know you are but what am I?" What Norvell Rose just defined was top down, trickle down economics. It created the Great Recession. It was an example of the right wings willingness to give up everything, the environment, safety nets and public services to corporations so they would someday offer us a job. It's all about jobs isn't it. Even after the Republican economic collapse, and the 14 years of conservative deregulation, Rose blames liberals for devastating the middle class:
Oh, believe me, I know they've already been attacking our institutions, our principles and our bank accounts … WHY would the President of the United States and his liberal storm troopers want to destroy the middle class in this country? Or if not destroy, at least damage and dishearten to the point of paralysis? For a totalitarian regime to successfully consolidate its power and diminish any opposition to its sustained stranglehold on a people, the middle class must be effectively destroyed. There must be no viable middle class, with its non-conformist dream of upward mobility and its path to prosperity. There must be only the upper class — the rulers; and the lower class — the ruled. Order-givers and order-takers. Those who direct the State's work and those who do it. So the strength and security of the middle class — largely in the form of our wealth — must be taken. Not by brute force, but by ill fortune. You know, the deplorable devastation of capitalism and the mess the markets have left us in. The spirit of the middle class must be broken. Not by sticks and stones, rather by crisis upon crisis. Unexpected economic downturn upon unexpected unemployment report.
They told us to invest in home ownership. Now, the sinking value of our real estate has sucked untold wealth out of the middle class … They told us to invest in stocks and bonds. Now, the value of our 401k's, mutual funds and stock portfolios has taken an incredible battering … They told us that only the government could protect us from those big, bad, unscrupulous health insurance companies. That only the government could save the auto industry. The banks. The energy companies.The party of leaders, along with the "unitary executive" George W. Bush, saw themselves in us through projection. No wonder they hated Democrats so much. As Jacob Pickard wrote in "A brief history of the 100 year Republican Majority," how conservatives would hold power with "High national debt, war, and economic depression used as a tool to keep the population worried about feeding there family, fear of terrorism, and keeping a job."
Totalitarianism cannot abide by those pesky, independent, wealth-building, spirit-driven middle-class meddlers; witness what happened with Scott Brown in Massachusetts. The revolt must be crushed...by government helping the people to the point of their helplessness.
We have seen the enemy, and it was us…
"While the treasonous United States media continues their membership in the criminal Obama cult, this film sheds light on the multiple felony crimes and treason committed by illegal U.S. President Barry Soetoro."
"Most people notice their insurance rates have gone up dramatically over the years, and if we don't do anything, insurance coverage may end up being 35, 40 percent of your income. If people want that, that's what they'll get."
Scott Walker: He Was Against Green Energy Jobs Before He Was for It, Even though He's Still Against It...!
I just loved this noticeable conservative contradiction spotlighted in the Democratic Party of Wisconsin's press release:
Though he opposes tax incentives that could create new energy jobs, GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker today is today is hypocritically stopping to pose for pictures at the same Manitowoc firm visited last week by Tom Barrett on his jobs-creation tour.Walker and other Republicans seem to be saying they want to create jobs, yet never have to say how they'll go about doing that.
Walker has cut jobs programs as Milwaukee County executive and has at every turn opposed new- and green-energy job creation, choosing instead to defend the status quo.
"Since Walker's inept administration has done nothing but cut jobs programs and oppose targeted tax incentives for new energy, it is clear by today's hypocrisy that the only job Scott Walker cares about is his own," Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said.
"Though it is fueling his campaign at this point, hypocrisy does not count as alternative energy."
Will the media ask.
Will the media pursue these scoundrels and ask follow up questions to get actual answers. One important note: Tax cuts for businesses does nothing to convince consumers to spend money, which then stimulates demand, resulting in job creation.
Bolstered by the sudden defeat of reform in congress, insurers are now tightening their grip:
NY Times: A front in the national health care battle has opened in New York City … The fight is between Continuum Health Partners, a consortium of five New York hospitals, and United Healthcare … have been in bitter contract negotiations … over United’s demand that the hospitals notify the insurance company within 24 hours after a patient’s admission (or they) would cut its reimbursements for the patient by half. United is negotiating or imposing similar rules at hospitals across the countryIn a case of the pot calling the kettle black, the unnecessary insurance company's role as middle man is claiming they're the victims of greedy hospitals (a true accusation):
Jeffrey Rubin, an economics professor at Rutgers University said United’s approach … “It’s an example of the insurance company getting between you and your doctor,” Dr. Rubin said.
United Healthcare has sent letters … to tens of thousands of patients, warning that they could be cut off from coverage at Continuum hospitals and affiliated doctors, and advising them to start shopping for new ones.
United Healthcare’s New York chief executive, William
Golden, said … that the tension had been fanned by a greedy and intransigent
hospital system that had been seeking unseemly rate increases of more than 40
The hospital chain said United (demanded) a 7 percent to 10 percent cut (and) wanted to … reduce the amount of time patients stay in the hospital, which is associated with complications like infection, and to prevent readmission, a major cost. “Absolutely, honestly, sincerely, this is a genuine attempt to try to improve outcomes for patients,” he said.
But Ruth Levin, Continuum’s chief contract negotiator, said that the hospital chain did not believe that United Healthcare could do a better job of reducing readmissions than its own medical staff could. “When we say, ‘Show me where you went to medical school,’ then they back down,” she said.
Integris Health, an 11-hospital system based in Oklahoma City, has tried to meet the notification requirement and has been frustrated by the administrative burden, even using electronic notification .. said Greg Meyers, VP for revenue integrity, “That doesn’t feel to us like cost control, it feels like a revenue stream enhancement to the insurance companies.”
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Having said that, I feel like a piker compared the following post at LivingLakeCountry.com by Jacob Pickard. Below is just the beginning of an emmensly long but entertaining look at what America might look like under Republican rule in the next 100 years. It will boggle your mind how much thought went into this piece.
A brief history of the 100 year Republican Majority
- In the greatest act of Conservative Judicial activism since the Dread Scott decision the Supreme Court said that Corporations have Free Speech rights and can spend as much money as they want to influence elections. Corporate money floods to the pro-corporate Republican party and official corporate sponsorships enacted to get money.
The last line above is a line I wish I had written. It's point on.
NY Times: Mr. McCain, a Republican from Arizona, said on the CBS news program “Face the Nation” that President Obama should sit down with Republican leaders and
...begin adopting some of their ideas for improving the nation’s health care system such as overhauling medical malpractice lawsuits, allowing residents of one state to buy health insurance from a company in another state, and granting tax credits for people who purchase health insurance on their own.What's perfectly clear: McCain just laid out the Republicans health care insurance industry wish list. The Democrats all along should have discredited each and every one of those points. It's easy:
Tort reform lowers doctors insurance bills, lowers pay outs by insurance companies, but not insurance premiums for people. The CBO and independent research has found tort issues are unfounded. Tort reform penalizes victims, and doesn't do anything about the 98,000 people who die in hospitals each year as a result of preventable medical errors, costing the health care system $29 billion in excess costs. The dirty secret: Much of what can be identified as “defensive medicine” is motivated not by liability concerns but by the desire to generate more income.
Allowing residents to buy health insurance across state lines:It removes basic state mandated coverage, services states have found to be life saving and humane. Secondly, cheaper a-la-cart plans puts the patient at risk by excluding too many basic services, putting limits on treatments, even after paying monthly premiums, and hides those exclusions in small print legalise designed to be ambiguous in court challenges.
Granting tax credits for people who purchase health insurance on their own. The tax credits aren't indexed for inflation, are only a small part (a third or quarter) of the total premium and still "spreads the wealth" using other peoples money to pay for health insurance.
I have never seen the Republicans tack toward the center. EVER. They never give ground.
What ingrained problem has caused the Democratic Party to lose the populous agenda? We mess up the solution to the recognized problem. For example:
Recognizing the problem-Here's what a recent email from Democracy for America laid out:
Obama has signaled he's open to dramatically scaling back health care reform. The chairman of the Senate Banking Committee says he might gut the financial reform bill to appease Republicans. And on top of all that, the Supreme Court just opened the floodgates of corporate cash on politics!
Retreat is exactly the wrong message for Democrats to take from recent election losses. The lesson from Massachusetts is that voters want more change -- not less.The proposed head scratching, mind numbing solution :
Moveon.org: President Obama and some Democrats in Congress are considering scaling back health care in the wake of the Massachusetts election. Join us to encourage Sen. Feingold to push for REAL health care reform NOW.......no delays!That's right, Democrats are supposed to protest outside the offices of a health care reform supporter, Feingold, but not the offices of Republican opponents like Sen. James Sensenbrenner or Rep. Paul Ryan. That will not only tell opponents to wise up, but send a message to Democrats to hold ground. Are the tea party protesters smarter than liberal democrats?
Republicans are the ones to protest. That goes double for Republican thinking free market blue dogs Democrats promoting the same failed conservative principals that got us to this place.
The "left" is not a party annoyance, they're DEMOCRATS!
Saturday, January 23, 2010
I'm amazed at what is not being said by all those who have commented on the decision, by the most judicial activist supreme court America has ever seen, to allow no limits on corporate spending in elections. Not to mention corporate personhood. Newspapers, cable news and radio appear to be affraid to say it.
This is conservative activism, legislating from the bench, by our ideologically bent "strict constructionist" supreme court justices. Why can't we say that?
The right wing never misses a chance to portray any decision they disagree with as "liberal activism." When they do it for strict constructionist reasons, which is a conservative philosophical opinion regarding the constitution, they get a pass.
For instance, President Obama continued to register his disappointment, without saying the obvious;
It "strikes at our democracy itself."
Because of conservative activist justices.
(The ruling) "handed a huge victory to the special interests and their lobbyists - and a powerful blow to our efforts to rein in corporate influence."
Because of conservative activist justices.
"We have begun that work, and it will be a priority for us until we repair the damage that has been done," he said.
Because of conservative activist justices.
"This ruling opens the floodgates for an unlimited amount of special interest money into our democracy."
Because of conservative activist justices.
"It gives the special interest lobbyists new leverage to spend millions on advertising to persuade elected officials to vote their way - or to punish those who don't... I can't think of anything more devastating to the public interest."
Because of conservative activist justices.
"The court's 5 to 4 decision concluded that corporations have the same First Amendment rights as individuals and, therefore, can spend as much company money as they wish to oppose or support individual political candidates."
Because of conservative activist justices.
Never once did Obama mention it. This isn't empty rhetoric. If there ever was a time to say "conservative activist justices," this most certainly would be the time.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Where are the Outraged Tea Party Protesters who Have Now Just Lost their Freedoms to Corporate Money?
I searched long and hard for any evidence of tea party anger over monied corporate interests suffocating an individuals voice and freedom. Do libertarians really think they stand a chance affecting change by pushing against billion dollar corporate interests?
I did find a few lines in this Newsmax story, reflecting the conservatives concerns that corporate America's voice might be threatened by the "left":
"I think this is ideological for the president," Brian Darling, director of Senate relations at the Heritage Foundation, tells Newsmax. "I think he and the left are intent on taking away the voice of corporate America.Sure, especially when the business owners are out spent a gazillion to one.
The Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC was divided along straight conservative and liberal lines. While unions will be equally liberated to spend whatever they want on their preferred slate of candidates, most pundits see it as a clear advantage for the GOP — if only because corporations have much deeper pockets than the unions.
"Many of our tea party members are business owners," Everett Wilkinson, a Tea Party Patriots leader, tells Newsmax. "This will let them get involved easier in the
process … [it will be] much easier to operate."
Walker was talking specifically about health care reform and said that there was no need for change because "only" 8 to 9 percent of the population lack health insurance. Well, apparently in Walker's Wisconsin we can just discard those 500,000 plus people.
I'm just wondering why Walker and Neumann didn't take the opportunity to explain why the stimulus money that was recently awarded for a major biofuel project in Park Falls, was a bad thing.
The private company receiving the help said in an announcement that the stimulus money would help "…create permanent, high-skilled operating jobs in the region, long-term logging jobs, and short-term engineering and construction jobs…"
It seems like it would have been a perfect time for Walker to explain why those long term jobs were not actually helping "real people."
Sen. Orin Hatch: Well, in those days, a lot of things weren’t paid for and that wasn’t right. I have to admit that. On the other hand, we were trying to solve a problem for millions of millions of Americans who were unable to get their drugs.
Andrea Mitchell: Well so are the supporters of expanding health care coverage.
Sen. Orin Hatch: Yeah, but there’s a difference between trying to help senior citizens, who really can’t afford drugs and doing something that effects every American in the United States of America and many people who don’t belong in the United States of America. And do it in a way that even the, even the actuaries of the current administration admit would be not only costly, but put us into tremendous debt. So there’s a real difference between two.
No there isn't, Mr. Hatch. Andrea Mitchell did not correct Hatch about the budget cutting reality of health care reform, discounting the "tremendous debt" Hatch said it would supposedly create.
NY Times: The Supreme Court has handed lobbyists a new weapon. A lobbyist can now tell any elected official: if you vote wrong, my company … (will) spend unlimited sums explicitly advertising against your re-election.
Is it any surprise that the party that brought down the world economy would think an outright corporate takeover of our democracy's elections is a good thing, and can be made even better. Get this next gem:
Republicans disputed the partisan impact of the decision … some Republicans argued for bolstering parties and candidates by getting rid of the limits on their fund-raising as well. Several cases before lower courts, including a suit filed by the Republican National Committee against the Federal Election Commission, seek to challenge those limits.So what good will come out of the conservative activist courts decision?
Benjamin Ginsberg, a Republican campaign lawyer (said),“Candidates lose control of their message. Some of these guys lose control of their whole personalities. Parties will sort of shrink in the relative importance of things,” he added, “and outside groups will take over more of the functions — advertising support, get out the vote — that parties do now.”The conservative bully who intentionally brought this case to the activist supreme court, knowing he stood a good chance of winning based on pure ideology, can't wait for the next election.
David Bossie … who brought the case to defend his campaign-season promotion of the documentary “Hillary: The Movie,” said he was looking forward to rolling out his next film in time for the midterm elections. Titled “Generation Zero,” the movie … lays much of the blame for the recent financial collapse on the Democrats. “Now we have a free hand to let people know it (the campaign film) exists,” Mr. Bossie said.I'll be honest, I'm still stunned at how blatantly ideological the justices were conflating individual rights with a "corporations" imagined group rights. Strict constructionist... my ass.
Below is a frightening discussion of possibilities of unprecedented corporate influence of elections from Democracy 21's Fred Wertheimer and Patton Boggs Att. Ben Ginsberg. Hardball's Chris Matthews struggles to understand a few of the details.
More Than Half of Afghanistan's People Paid Bribes to Public Officials. We're Fighting for What There?
The Economist: A survey by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime found that more than half of Afghanistan’s people had to pay a bribe to a public official last year. The police topped the list of bribe recipients. Nearly 60% of those surveyed saw corruption as a bigger problem than lack of security.
A survey conducted by the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime found that half of the 7,600 Afghans interviewed had paid a bribe in the previous year (see chart), handing over on average $160 each time, about a third of average annual GDP per head. This extrapolates to about $2.5 billion worth of baksheesh nationally every year: roughly as large as Afghanistan’s opium economy, and a quarter of licit economic output.
For most Afghans, corruption outranks insecurity and unemployment as the country’s greatest challenge. Corruption corrodes Mr Karzai’s legitimacy; if he does not curb it, other problems may prove insoluble.
Klipsch, the speaker manufacturer, has come up with a twist on multiroom audio: wirelessly sending music to light bulbs around the house. Its LightSpeaker System transmits music from a PC or iPod to a screw-in unit that combines a 20-watt speaker with a 10-watt LED lamp.Wow. There's only one problem, the price.
A music source is plugged into the included transmitter, and a remote is used to both dim the lights and control the sending of the stereo signal to pairs of speakers. The transmitter can control up to four pairs of speakers, and send two different streams of music to them.
At $600 for the starter kit, plus $250 for each additional speaker, the system doesn’t come cheap. The product will pay for itself in five years.Beside the fact that LED bulbs make lousy lights, but save lots of money, I would wait for an affordable alternative from cut rate manufacturer like Pioneer or Sony.
Right Wing Radical Extremists Legislate from U.S. Supreme Court Bench
With the decision to throw out the legislated ban on corporate contributions to political campaigns, the fanatical right wing U.S. Court majority tore up the Constitution and legislated from the bench.
As any school child knows, t freedom of speech is not absolute. You cannot shout "Fire." in a crowded theater intending to create a panic or disturbance. Two mobsters cannot discuss the execution of their boss and get away with it, even if they do not kill him. And you cannot go up to a stranger in a convincing manner and threaten to punch out his lights.
Every protected freedom has to pass a balancing test.
For over a century, from state houses to the U.S. Congress, there were laws limiting contributions to political campaigns, particularly by corporations.
In this one instance the five justices rewrote over a hundred years of legislation and prior judicial decisions, and with judicial activism that would make the Warren Court blush, plunged our nation into political chaos.
If there is a sliver lining in this dreary cloud, it will be the right wing pundits rationalizing that this is not conservative activism as regarding a decision that even moderate Republicans despair.
The decision drips with hypocrisy.
According to the Huffington Times: The decision completes what Slate's Dahlia Lithwick calls "The Pinocchio Project," in which the Court transforms "a corporation into a real live boy," complete with personhood, free-speech rights and the unfettered opportunity to drown the body politic in a tidal wave of perverse incentives.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Does anyone still remember the last eight years of Bush economic policy, driven by the reckless, drunken sailor spending of a Republican congress? They caused the high jobless rates, loss of manufacturing and deregulation.
Walker Campaign: Scott Walker statement on loss of 163,000 jobs by the Doyle Administration in 2009: “Governor Doyle and Mayor Barrett’s agenda of more taxes, more regulation, and massive government spending cost Wisconsin 163,000 jobs last year and spiked our state’s unemployment to 8.7%.
Instead of bigger government, we must eliminate waste and find better ways for government to do more with less so we can reduce the tax burden on Wisconsin families and get our state back to work.”
Walker blames the Democrats? Mayor Barrett of Milwaukee?
This is pure stupidity.
Corporate Campaigning Unleashed, Mass. Elects Republican Thus Killing Health Care Reform, Dems Move to Middle and Air America Gone!
NY Times: Air America, the progressive talk radio network, said Thursday that it would cease broadcasting immediately, bowing to what it called a “very difficult economic environment.”
Corporate Personhood! Activist Conservative Supreme Court Protects Corporate Freedom to Buy Elections!
AP/NY Times- The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that corporations may spend as freely as they like to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, easing decades-old limits on business efforts to influence federal campaigns.
By a 5-4 vote, the court overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said companies can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to produce and run their own campaign ads. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor joined Stevens' dissent, parts of which he read aloud in the courtroom.
''The censorship we now confront is vast in its reach,'' Justice Anthony Kennedy said.
''It's the Super Bowl of bad decisions,'' said Common Cause president Bob Edgar, a former congressman from Pennsylvania.
Strongly disagreeing, Justice John Paul Stevens said in his dissent, ''The court's ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation. Essentially, five justices were unhappy with the limited nature of the case before us, so they changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law,'' Stevens said.
(NYT-2) He said the majority had committed a grave error in treating corporate speech the same as that of human beings. His decision was joined by the other three members of the court’s liberal wing.
WSJ- Stevens called the majority opinion "a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have…fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. The notion that the First Amendment dictated [today's ruling] is, in my judgment, profoundly misguided. In the context of election to public office, the distinction between corporate and human speakers is significant. Although they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are not actually members of it. In a democratic society, the long-standing consensus on the need to limit corporate campaign spending should outweigh the wooden applications of judge-made rules."
Yet to come, Thom Hartmann on the subject and Fox News.
Here's a fair and balance short take on the decision presented by Fox News. Apparently, the tea party movement should love unlimited amount of big money influence, at least according to the freedom loving conservative in this clip. Notice how much time Fox News gave this breaking story at the time.
According to Fred Wertheimer, the founder and president of Democracy 21, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works to promote campaign finance reform and other political reforms:
Chief Justice Roberts has abandoned the illusory public commitments he made to “judicial modesty” and “respect for precedent” to cast the deciding vote for a radical decision that profoundly undermines our democracy.
The constitutionality of the corporate spending ban was never even raised by the plaintiffs in the lower court consideration of this case. Instead, the justices, on their own, opened up the case to the broader constitutional question, when they could have decided the case on narrower grounds without eliminating more than 100 years of national policy.
To quote Han Solo, "I've got a bad feeling about this." (Google video still unavailable)
The Final Nail in the Democracy Coffin
(AP) -- The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that corporations may spend as freely as they like to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, easing decades-old limits on business efforts to influence federal campaigns.
By a 5-4 vote, the court overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said companies can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to produce and run their own campaign ads.
Put a Fork in It! Democrats Prove Incapable of Running the Country, with Obama Leading the Way. Three More Years of This?
Instead of getting the message that running to the middle abandons base voter support and compromises the whole reason why they were elected in the first place, Democrats are now ready to give up on core beliefs. I'm not kidding. NY Times:
President Obama signaled … that he might be willing to scale back his proposed health care overhaul to a version that could attract bipartisan support ... “I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on,” Mr. Obama said … notably leaving near-universal insurance coverage off his list of core goals. Obama seemed to suggest that … he would be willing to settle for what he could get.Maybe Obama will give up on that too.
But it was not clear that even a stripped-down bill could get through Congress anytime soon.
Senior Republicans showed little new willingness to collaborate with the Democrats. Mr. McConnell was asked if the health care bill was dead. “I sure hope so,” he said.
Even the president’s new proposal to tax big banks for the government’s bailout losses, which Republicans privately conceded was a political winner given widespread anti-Wall Street sentiment, suddenly did not look like such a sure thing. Industry lobbyists noted that Brown publicly opposed the bank tax.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Some got the message, some painfully didn't.
Here's "compromiser" Lannie Davis, with Ed Schultz:
Pres. Harry Truman-Address at the National Convention Banquet of the Americans for Democratic Action. May 17, 1952
Now, we can always rely on the Republicans to help us in an election year, but we can't count on them to do the whole job for us. We have got to go out and do some of it ourselves, if we expect to win.
The first rule in my book is that we have to stick by the liberal principles of the Democratic Party. We are not going to get anywhere by trimming or appeasing. And we don't need to try it.
The record the Democratic Party has made in the last 20 years is the greatest political asset any party ever had in the history of the world. We would be foolish to throw it away. There is nothing our enemies would like better and nothing that would do more to help them win an election.
I've seen it happen time after time. When the Democratic candidate allows himself to be put on the defensive and starts apologizing for the New Deal and the fair Deal, and says he really doesn't believe in them, he is sure to lose. The people don't want a phony Democrat. If it's a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time; that is, they will take a Republican before they will a phony Democrat, and I don't want any phony Democratic candidates in this campaign.
But when a Democratic candidate goes out and explains what the New Deal and fair Deal really are--when he stands up like a man and puts the issues before the people--then Democrats can win, even in places where they have never won before. It has been proven time and again.
We are getting a lot of suggestions to the effect that we ought to water down our platform and abandon parts of our program. These, my friends, are Trojan horse suggestions. I have been in politics for over 30 years, and I know what I am talking about, and I believe I know something about the business. One thing I am sure of: never, never throw away a winning program. This is so elementary that I suspect the people handing out this advice are not really well-wishers of the Democratic Party.
More than that, I don't believe they have the best interests of the American people at heart. There is something more important involved in our program than simply the success of a political party.
The rights and the welfare of millions of Americans are involved in the pledges made
I am sure that the liberal faith is the political faith of the great majority of Americans.
That is why the fair Deal program will not be weakened by compromise. That is why the Democratic Party will nominate a liberal for President.
57% of Brown Voters Say Obama "not delivering enough" on change he promised. Independent Voters Not Afraid to Vote for other Party.
NY Times: Stripped of the 60th vote … will Obama now make further accommodations to Republicans … with more bipartisanship, even at the cost of further alienating liberals annoyed at what they see as his ideological malleability?EVEN SCOTT BROWN VOTERS WANT THE PUBLIC OPTION
Or will he seek to rally his party’s base through confrontation, even if it means giving up on getting much done this year?
…will he heed the warnings … clear overtones of dissatisfaction with the administration’s approach so far?
Most ominously, independent voters — who embraced Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign and are an increasingly critical constituency — seemed to have fled to Mr. Brown in Massachusetts, as they did in Virginia and New Jersey last November. It is hard not to view that as a repudiation of the way Obama and Democratic Congressional leaders have run things.
“The failure to understand how anti-establishment the country has become is a big part of the problem,” Joe Trippi, a Democratic political consultant said of Obama and the White House. “He actually led the way on that in the campaign and didn’t recognize what was happening as he was president.”
Research 2000 Massachusetts Poll Results, at boldprogressives.org
HEALTH CARE BILL OPPONENTS THINK IT "DOESN'T GO FAR ENOUGH"
by 3 to 2 among Obama voters who voted for Brown
by 6 to 1 among Obama voters who stayed home
VOTERS OVERWHELMINGLY SUPPORT THE PUBLIC OPTION
82% of Obama voters who voted for Brown
86% of Obama voters who stayed home
OBAMA VOTERS WANT DEMOCRATS TO BE BOLDER
57% of Brown voters say Obama "not delivering enough" on change he promised
49% to 37% among voters who stayed home
PLUS: Obama voters overwhelming want bold economic populism from Democrats in 2010.
TSA Nominee Resigns Proves Republicans Right About Secret Unionization Agenda. Never Mind! I hate the current Democratic Party of Losers.
Instead of standing up to crazy Republicans claims that airline security should take a back seat to preventing unionized TSA workers, Obama's nominee couldn't hang in there on principle.
Erroll Southers said he was pulling out because his nomination had become a lightning rod for those with a political agenda. Obama had tapped Southers, a former FBI agent, to lead the TSA in September but his confirmation has been blocked by Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, who says he was worried that Southers would allow TSA employees to have collective bargaining rights.
In an e-mail to friends and colleagues, Southers said, "It is unfortunate that we are residing in such contentious political times, that exceptional, 'apolitical' candidates have to seriously consider their willingness to participate in public service."
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Washington Post: As Democrats reel from the loss of a U.S. Senate seat in deep blue Massachusetts, Virginia Sen. Jim Webb becomes the first senator we've seen tonight to call for suspending all votes on health care until newly elected Republican Scott Brown can take office.
Some Democrats had been mulling trying to complete health care legislation before Brown can be seated, to maintain their 60 seat super majority in the senate. But if Webb--or others--oppose the move, the 60-vote margin would be gone and the maneuver impossible.