Friday Mashup (8/30/13)

August 30, 2013

sexism-2

  • I came across this item from clownhall.com and columnist Walter Williams, and I thought it best to offer it pretty much with just my opinion on it and no links to other stuff (he’s upset because his employer, George Mason University – first sign of trouble – apparently has told him that he has to attend some kind of sexual harassment prevention training; sounds like it was mandated across the board for all university employees)…

    I’m guilty of gross violation of equality of opportunity, racism and possibly sexism. Back in 1960, when interviewing people to establish a marital contract, every woman wasn’t given an equal opportunity. I discriminated against not only white, Indian, Asian, Mexican and handicapped women but men of any race. My choices were confined to good-looking black women. You say, “Williams, that kind of discrimination doesn’t harm anyone!” Nonsense! When I married Mrs. Williams, other women were harmed by having a reduced opportunity set.

    I’ve read this paragraph about four times, and I still can’t totally get my head around (as they say) the unbelievable egotism of that remark, to say nothing of sexism.

    I will give Williams points for consistency, though. As noted here from about three years ago, he was cited by Ed Schultz for saying pretty much the same thing, equating mistreatment from a private business as the same thing as what one does when picking a spouse (at the time, he also complimented a caller for the caller’s wife being “under control” or something). The line about other women “having a reduced opportunity set” when Williams decided to marry is an obnoxious new wrinkle, though.

    This, to me, is part of what lies in the coal-black heart of movement conservatism, my fellow prisoners, and that is a loathing bordering on outright animosity towards anyone or anything that isn’t in their little club (women, minorities, LGBT individuals, the poor, the elderly, children, anyone who has paid into a government entitlement of any kind who, quite rightly, now expects a payout for any one of a number of reasons, etc.).

    One more thing – if my employer told me “Doomsy, we just implemented a company-wide policy dictating that everyone has to take a sexual harassment awareness course within a year,” guess what? I would do it and be grateful for the opportunity to still collect a paycheck (though I’m sure Williams, who occasionally sits in for the OxyContin addict on his radio show, has at least one other “revenue stream” to draw on if his employer fires his sorry ass to enforce a principle…how lucky can a guy get?).

  • Next, I have to admit a bit of perverse curiosity to see how the wingnutosphere covered the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech; I saw some truly ponderous piffle that I decided to ignore…but then I happened to come across this from Jennifer Rubin of Jeff Bezos Daily…

    President Obama has consistently and deliberately tried to identify with Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln and FDR. It’s not enough to let pundits and the public make these analogies, the president goes out of his way to announce his connection with these historical giants, no matter how strained the analogy. Who can blame him? He’s a president whose approval is under water, whose domestic agenda is stalled and whose foreign policy is in utter disarray. A failing president naturally wants to walk in others’ shoes.

    As far as Obama’s approval rating being “under water,” this from Fix Noise (yeah, I know) has him at 42 percent – not great I know, but a number Obama’s wretched predecessor would have grabbed with both hands, as it were, if he had the chance.

    And speaking of Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History and a “connection with…historical giants, no matter how strained the analogy,” I give you this from the 2000 Rethuglican National Convention in the City of Brotherly Love (and as noted here, Rubin is a Dubya cheerleader from waay back)…

    Mr. Chairman, delegates, and my fellow citizens … I accept your nomination. Thank you for this honor. Together, we will renew America’s purpose.

    Our founders first defined that purpose here in Philadelphia … Ben Franklin was here. Thomas Jefferson. And, of course, George Washington — or, as his friends called him, “George W.”

    And that was before he was even “elected” (sorry to make you revisit that).

    And another thing – the only way Obama “associated” with Dr. King was to make a speech to commemorate the anniversary. How does that qualify as “associating”? Others, including veep Joe Biden, gave speeches – does that mean Biden is “associating” with Dr. King too? If not, why not?

    Actually, given all of this, I think the former ombudsman for the WaPo is definitely onto something here.

  • Continuing, I came across a bit of a curious item here

    MSNBC’s Karen Finney on Monday hung up on conservative talker Hugh Hewitt after he repeatedly asked her during an interview on his radio show to say whether Alger Hiss was a communist.

    Hewitt had Finney on his program to discuss her statement on her weekend show that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s rhetoric on health care is reminiscent of the “fear stoking” of Joe McCarthy, who she said “also wanted to take his country back, then it was from the communists who had supposedly infiltrated it.” While Cruz’s mission might be different than McCarthy’s, Finney told viewers of her show “Disrupt,” “the rhetoric sounds eerily the same.”

    Well, apparently, after Finney called into Hewitt’s show, the host started badgering her with questions asking her if she knew of any communists that had infiltrated the U.S. government during the McCarthy era. And things predictably went downhill from there to the point where Hewitt started badgering Finney also with the Alger Hiss stuff.

    When I heard about this, the following question occurred to me: why would Finney call into the Hewitt show in the first place? Did she honestly think Hewitt would be interested in having a serious discussion of whether or not “Calgary” Cruz was really using tactics a la Joe McCarthy? How would she not know that, typical for right-wing media, she would be attacked immediately for some minor or even imaginary point, with the fairly substantive issue she raised being totally ignored?

    As far as I’m concerned, a phrase used to describe our politics any more with a variation of the name “McCarthy” in it is a bit trite by now. I’m not saying we should ignore real or potential demagogues, only that, if we’re going to engage in accusations, we should be as precise as we can be.

    That being said, I don’t know if Cruz is really the Joe McCarthy of our era or not (no many culprits to choose from, unfortunately…Steve King, Louie Gohmert, Steve Stockman…almost a new one every week). What I do know is that, when the comparison to McCarthy was mentioned to Cruz, he embraced it, as noted here (to me, the correct answer should have been “I don’t appreciate that comparison, I wish you wouldn’t make it, and I defy you to show me how it is appropriate,” which of course would lead to a substantive discussion – exactly the sort of thing Cruz doesn’t want, apparently).

    And in the matter of Alger Hiss, I don’t know whether he was a communist or not. I do know that he was convicted of perjury, not espionage, and he spent the rest of his life trying to clear his name (and in a bit of a historical quirk, he managed to outlive his chief accuser, then-Republican U.S. House Representative Richard Nixon of Whittier, CA, by two years).

  • Further (and I don’t know if anyone else will care about this except me, but here I go anyway), I came across the following item from The Weakly Standard…

    President Obama and Attorney General Holder met with a group of 18 mayors at the White House on Tuesday afternoon. The meeting was billed as a discussion “with mayors from cities around the country to discuss reducing youth violence.” And although Republicans hold about a quarter of mayoral positions in the fifty largest cities in the U.S., only one Republican mayor was in attendance at the meeting: Greg Ballard of Indianapolis. The remaining mayors included sixteen Democrats and one independent.

    According to recent data, there are twelve Republicans among the mayors of the fifty largest U.S. cities. Twelve of the eighteen cities represented at the White House meeting are among those fifty.

    OK, so the inference is pretty clear here that President Obama wanted to meet pretty much with Democratic mayors and nobody else. Got it.

    So, with that in mind, I put together the following table from the information linked to Wikipedia nested in the Standard post on the 50 largest U.S. cities as well as other information in the Standard post, and I came up with the following table (R stands for Republican, D for Democrat, and I for Independent, in case you had any doubt about that).

    Name City R D I Attended
    Bach, Steve Colorado Springs X
    Ballard, Greg Indianapolis X Y
    Barrett, Tom Milwaukee X Y
    Bartlett, Jr., Dewey Tulsa X
    Berry, Richard Albuquerque X
    Bing, Dave Detroit X
    Bloomberg, Michael NYC X
    Booker, Cory Newark, NJ X Y
    Brewer, Carl Wichita X
    Brown, Alvin Jacksonville X
    Castro, Julian San Antonio X
    Cluck, Robert Arlington, TX X
    Coleman, Michael Columbus, OH X
    Cook, John El Paso X
    Cornett, Mick Oklahoma City X
    Dean, Karl Nashville X
    Emanuel, Rahm Chicago X
    Filner, Bob (for now) San Diego X
    Fischer, Greg Louisville X
    Foster, Bob Long Beach X
    Garcetti, Eric LA X
    Goodman, Carolyn Las Vegas X
    Gray, Vincent Washington, D.C. X Y
    Hales, Charlie Portland, OR X
    Hancock, Mike Denver X
    Jackson, Frank Cleveland X
    James, Sly Kansas City, MO X Y
    Johnson, Kevin Sacramento X Y
    Kinsey, Patsy Charlotte X
    Landrieu, Mitch New Orleans X Y
    Lee, Ed San Francisco X
    Leffingwell, Lee Austin X
    Mallory, Mark Cincinnati X Y
    McFarlane, Nancy Raleigh X
    McGinn, Mike Seattle X
    Menino, Thomas Boston X
    Nutter, Michael Philadelphia X Y
    Parker, Annise Houston X Y
    Price, Betsy Fort Worth X
    Quan, Jean Oakland X Y
    Rawlings, Mike Dallas X
    Rawlings-Blake, Stephanie Baltimore X Y
    Reed, Chuck San Jose X Y
    Reed, Kasim Atlanta X
    Regalado, Tomas Miami X
    Rothschild, Jon Colorado Springs X
    Rybak, R.T. Minneapolis X Y
    Sessoms, Will Virginia Beach X
    Slay, Francis St. Louis X Y
    Smith, Scott Mesa X
    Stanton, Greg Phoenix X
    Stothert, Jean Omaha X
    Swearengin, Ashley Fresno X
    Walling, Dayne Flint X Y
    Ward, Molly Hampton X Y
    Wharton, A.C. Memphis X Y

    What we learn is that, as the Standard tells us, 11 Republican mayors were indeed absent.

    Do you know, however, how many Democratic mayors were absent also? 23, that’s how many.

    And they are as follows:

    Bing, Dave
    Brewer, Carl
    Brown, Alvin
    Castro, Julian
    Cook, John
    Dean, Karl
    Emmanuel, Rahm
    Filner, Bob (for now)
    Fischer, Greg
    Foster, Bob
    Garcetti, Eric
    Hales, Charlie
    Hancock, Mike
    Jackson, Frank
    Kinsey, Patsy
    Leffingwell, Lee
    Hales, Charlie
    Hancock, Mike
    Jackson, Frank
    Rawlings, Mike
    Reed, Kasim
    Rothschild, Jon
    Stanton, Greg

    I should add that I do not have any information from the White House on who was actually invited (and I‘m assuming the Standard is correct in who actually attended), so the table above reflects a bit of guesswork on my part from the available information.

    I realize that the wingnutosphere really doesn’t have a reason to exist unless it’s trying to gin up one type of “scandal” or another, but as these things go, this one is pretty “weak tea.”

  • Finally, it seems that conservatives overall are all lovey-dovey with actor Ashton Kutcher over a speech he recently gave at the Teen Choice Awards, in which he stated the following (recounted here by Cal Thomas of Fix Noise, self-appointed spokesman for supposedly all things moral)…

    Following screams from young female fans in the audience, Kutcher silenced them with a motivational message that bordered on inspiration. He told them: “I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work. … I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a steppingstone to my next job, and I never quit my job until I had my next job.”

    Kutcher wasn’t through: “The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart and being thoughtful and being generous. Everything else is c–p … that people try to sell to you to make you feel like less. So don’t buy it. Be smart, be thoughtful and be generous.”

    If only Washington politicians would think and talk this way.

    Actually, one of them did recently, stating the following from here (and yes, he’s African American – probably just gave it away)…

    We know that too many young men in our community continue to make bad choices. Growing up, I made a few myself. And I have to confess, sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down. But one of the things you’ve learned over the last four years is that there’s no longer any room for excuses. I understand that there’s a common fraternity creed here at Morehouse: ‘excuses are tools of the incompetent, used to build bridges to nowhere and monuments of nothingness.’ We’ve got no time for excuses – not because the bitter legacies of slavery and segregation have vanished entirely; they haven’t. Not because racism and discrimination no longer exist; that’s still out there. It’s just that in today’s hyperconnected, hypercompetitive world, with a billion young people from China and India and Brazil entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything you haven’t earned. And whatever hardships you may experience because of your race, they pale in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured – and overcame.

    “Be a good role model and set a good example for that young brother coming up. If you know someone who isn’t on point, go back and bring that brother along. The brothers who have been left behind – who haven’t had the same opportunities we have – they need to hear from us. We’ve got to be in the barbershops with them, at church with them, spending time and energy and presence helping pull them up, exposing them to new opportunities, and supporting their dreams.


    And yes, it was this guy (and by the way, Mr. President, on an unrelated but much more urgent matter, please read this).

    But of course, talking down to others and implying (or even saying outright) that they are somehow immoral or inferior, as Thomas does here about Hollywood and Washington politicians overall, is definitely taking a page, as it were, out of the movement conservative playbook.


    Which, more than anyone else, was written by this guy.

    Update: And this generates a sigh of relief on Syria, by the way – how much do you want to bet that, had Number 43 still been in charge, bombs would be dropping all over the place with scores dead and unaccounted for (and legitimate this time) WMDs all over the Middle East, threats of terrorism would be erupting from all over the region, and the demented child-king in An Oval Office would have sneered at the world, saying, “Are you with us or are you against us?” (with families of military members anxious over which God-forsaken location on earth their loved ones would be sent this time).

  • Advertisements

    Wednesday Mashup (8/14/13)

    August 14, 2013
  • Looks like it’s time to rally around the supposedly oh-so-put-upon American Legislative Exchange Council, as the Murdoch Street Journal tells us here

    The campaign to suppress political speech has found its next tactic, using outrage over Trayvon Martin’s killing in Florida as a hammer. (Last) Wednesday, Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin sent a letter to corporate and nonprofit supporters of the American Legislative Exchange Council, asking them to disclose their positions on stand-your-ground legislation that ALEC supported in Florida in 2005.

    ALEC is a group of state legislators from around the country that promotes center-right reform ideas, mostly on economic issues. It has had success spreading those ideas, which has made it a target of liberal activists trying to cut off its funding.

    Like the Repugs did successfully to ACORN, a left-wing advocacy organization which no longer exists, let’s not forget.

    Enter Mr. Durbin. “Although ALEC does not maintain a public list of corporate members or donors, other public documents indicate that your company funded ALEC at some point during the period between ALEC’s adoption of model ‘stand your ground’ legislation in 2005 and the present day,” Mr. Durbin writes in the letter to groups and companies that have donated to ALEC.

    Since support for ALEC doesn’t “necessarily mean” that it endorses every position taken by the organization, Mr. Durbin continues, he is “seeking clarification” on whether companies that have “funded ALEC’s operations in the past currently support ALEC and the model ‘stand your ground’ legislation.” Oh, and by the way, the letter concludes, he intends to make the responses public at a Congressional hearing in September.

    Translation: If your company engages in political debate or supports conservative groups, he will tie your name to controversies or force you to publicly disclaim positions taken by groups you support. Mr. Durbin knows that if he can drive a wedge between ALEC and its corporate donors, it will help cripple the group’s influence on issues like tax policy and education and remove a significant voice for conservative reform in the states, including Illinois.

    “Conservative reform” being code for gutting clean air and water laws, trying to abolish public school education, disenfranchising poor and minority voters, et cetera…

    The plan also sends up a flare for Mr. Durbin’s allies at agitprop outfits like MoveOn.org, which will then target for public abuse and perhaps boycott the companies whose names Mr. Durbin exposes.

    By the way, isn’t it interesting how the Journal refers to ALEC as a group that “promotes center-right reform ideas” and MoveOn.org is an “agitprop outfit.”

    The strategy was used against Target retail stores in 2010, when MoveOn pushed a boycott because Target donated to a group that in turn donated to a GOP candidate for Minnesota Governor.

    MoveOn “targeted” Target, if you will, because the company did indeed donate $150,000 to a Minnesota politician who opposes gay marriage, but decided not to give a matching amount to pro-gay candidates for balance (here).

    Did Target have a right to do that? Yes. Did MoveOn.org have a right to push its boycott in response? Again, yes.

    To me, it just sounds like democracy in action (which is messy at times, for a reason). Of course, leave it to the Journal to view it as a lefty conspiracy, or something.

    ALEC was targeted last year when former White House aide Van Jones accused the group and its donors of racism during the election-year fight over voter ID laws. Through letters and media smear campaigns…

    Proof?

    …the group succeeded in getting such non-profiles in courage as Coca-Cola, Mars and Kraft to stop donating to ALEC. One result is that ALEC closed its task forces that dealt with non-economic issues.

    That was an effort to minimize the political fallout for members and donors around issues that weren’t ALEC’s core mission, but now Democrats are back for more.

    Oh, so the Journal knows what ALEC’s “core mission” is? Oh, right – “center/right reform ideas”…uh huh. And apparently, that includes widespread lobbying while claiming tax-exempt status, as noted here.

    Mr. Durbin knows that companies making hamburgers or allergy drugs don’t care about stand-your-ground laws. His goal is to scare them with reputational damage by mentioning them in the same breath as Trayvon Martin. This is how the modern left—via the IRS, the Federal Election Commission and now in Congress—tries to stifle political debate.

    Ha and ha (and I would say that writing an editorial like this without noting that the Journal is itself a member of ALEC is an attempt to “stifle political debate” also, as noted here – and of course, lefties were targeted by the IRS too, a fact the Journal choose to ignore).

    Oh, and assuming a bill is ever signed into law containing language directly from an “agitprop outfit” like MoveOn.org (this Michigan “right to work” bill received that treatment, including language that came directly from ALEC), I’m sure the Journal will let me know – yeah, right.

    Update 8/15/13: More here

  • Next, I have a feeling that the other Bush brother is getting a little antsy about all the big media love doled out to fellow Repugs (and potential 2016 presidential candidates) Rand “Fake Ophthalmologist” Paul and Ted “Calgary” Cruz (to say nothing of Governor Bully, of course), and I guess the former FAL guv thought he had to make a splash somehow (here)…

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on Wednesday criticized actor Matt Damon, a vocal public-school advocate, for sending his children to private school.

    Matt Damon Refuses to Enroll Kids in Los Angeles Public Schools. Choice ok for Damon, why not everyone else? http://t.co/yHrTbakeIW

    — Jeb Bush (@JebBush) August 6, 2013

    “I’ll take ‘Desperately Trying To Remain Relevant Somehow’ for 100, Alex!”

    There are a few directions you can go with this, but for now, I’d like to point out the following (here, in which the Daily Kos diarist notes that the “research” in support of school choice is largely bankrolled by the Walton Family, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and the usual coterie of right-wing propagandists)…

    School choice may, in fact, hold some promises for reforming education since “choice” is central to human agency and empowerment. But the school choice movement and its advocates are the least likely avenues for us ever realizing what school choice has to offer because the advocates are primarily driven by ideology and funding coming from sources that have intentions that have little to do with universal public education for free and empowered people.

    And the growing evidence that corporate charter schools as the latest choice mechanism are causing harm–in terms of segregation and stratification of student populations–is cause for alarm for all people along the spectrum of school reform and school choice. [5]

    If a school choice advocate sticks to the talking-points script and will not acknowledge the overwhelming evidence that out-of-school factors determine student outcomes, that evidence is mounting that choice stratifies schools, and that evidence on how school is delivered (public, private, charter) is mixed and similar among all types of schooling, then that advocate isn’t worth our time and isn’t contributing to a vibrant and open debate that could help move us toward school reform that benefits each student and our larger society.

    And on top of that, this tells us the following…

    Charter school trends vary substantially across different regions of the country. Latinos are under-enrolled in charter schools in some Western states where they comprise the largest share of students. At the same time, a dozen states (including those with high concentrations of Latino students like Arizona and Texas) report that a majority of Latino charter students attend intensely segregated minority schools. Patterns in the West and in a few areas in the South, the two most racially diverse regions of the country, also suggest that charters serve as havens for white flight from public schools. Finally, in the industrial Midwest, more students enroll in charter schools compared to other regions, and midwestern charter programs display high concentrations of black students.

    Since Brown v. Board of Education, public schools have been compelled to address this disparity. That public schools have been inconsistent in this mission is a conclusion that is not in dispute.

    Charter schools on the other hand, — especially those operated by national Charter Management Organizations like KIPP and National Heritage Academies — tend to reinforce geographic racial patterns in their marketing appeals. On their websites and in their printed materials, these charter chains invariably promote their abilities to educate “underserved” communities and “close achievement gaps,” even though there is no evidence that charters in general are any better at this than traditional public schools. In fact, many of them are worse.

    But beyond all of that, this tells us, among other things, that Jeb Bush is criticizing actor Matt Damon for doing something Bush did himself (oh, and last I checked, Matt Damon isn’t a potential candidate for any government office whatsoever).

    However, I’ll let a professed Jeb Bush supporter get the last word here…

    MS_Kelly_J_Bush_0813
    Actually, no, he isn’t.

  • Continuing, it looks like John Lott is all up in arms (pun intended) over keeping the identity of gun owners a secret (here). Funny, but I didn’t see NRA members being so shy when it came to showing off their hardware at a Starbucks in Newtown, CT recently, as noted here (the place where the Sandy Hook school carnage took place last year, for the benefit of anyone who has somehow forgotten that – to the credit of the Starbucks store, it closed early on Friday, but it should not have had to do that).

    (I suddenly realized that, in accordance with the ALEC editorial earlier, the Murdoch Street Journal would probably try to accuse me now of suppressing the legitimate free speech of the NRA…I have a two-word response, and it isn’t “happy birthday,” or “lock n’ load.”)

    I wonder if Lott is trying to hide the identity of gun owners also because, as determined in a 1994 study noted here, male gun owners were 2 ½ times more likely than non-gun owners to be arrested for non-traffic offenses? And by the way, as noted from the same HuffPo link, a 2012 survey found that most guns used in mass shootings were legally purchased – just an FYI.

    Honestly, though, I think Lott and his pals have nothing to worry about (just whipping up phony outrage as usual). From what I’ve read, Gawker and the New York Journal News took so much flak for publishing the names of New York gun owners that I think the chilling effect of that alone would be enough to prevent anyone else from doing it.

  • Further, I give you Mark Hemingway of The Weakly Standard (here)…

    On August 15, 2012, at 10:46 a.m.—one year ago this week—Floyd Lee Corkins entered the lobby of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. He was carrying a backpack that contained 15 Chick-fil-A -sandwiches, a Sig Sauer 9mm pistol, and 100 rounds of ammunition. Corkins has since pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing for the crimes he proceeded to commit. He’s set to spend decades in a prison cell and fade into obscurity.

    But Leo Johnson deserves to be remembered for his heroism that day. The building manager for the Family Research Council was manning the front desk that morning and let Corkins enter the building under the pretense he was a new intern. The video of what happened after that is remarkable.

    After Corkins takes a suspiciously long time rummaging through his bag to produce identification, Johnson cannily stands up and walks around the desk to get a closer look at what Corkins is doing. Corkins bolts upright, gun in hand. Without the slightest hesitation, Johnson rushes Corkins, who fires twice. A bullet shatters Johnson’s left forearm. “And I just couldn’t hear anything, my arm just kind of blew back. So at that point I was thinking: ‘I have to get this gun,’ ” Johnson told The Weekly Standard. “That was my sole focus—I have to get this gun—this guy’s gonna kill me and kill everybody here.”

    From there, Johnson somehow manages to push Corkins across the lobby and pin him against the wall with his bad arm. “I just started punching him as hard as I could, until I could feel his grip loosen,” recalled Johnson. Eventually he takes the gun from Corkins with his wounded arm. Before long, Corkins is subdued on the ground. Corkins now admits that it was his intention to shoot everyone in the building. There’s no question Johnson saved a lot of lives.

    Leo Johnson’s actions were heroic, absolutely, and Hemingway’s piece tells us about all of Johnson’s difficulty with rehabilitation and medical bills, as well as caring for his elderly mother and very elderly grandmother (and yes, Corkins is just another cowardly idiot with a gun).

    But if you think all of this is just a setup to take a shot at us lefties, then you win a commemorative Mexican terrorist doll with the face of Repug U.S. House Rep Louie Gohmert (the commemorative model with the face of Steve King has “calves the size of cantaloupes”).

    Continuing…

    There’s a lot that should be said about Johnson’s heroism, starting with the fact that it hasn’t been widely recognized. Over the last few years, thanks to events such as the Gabrielle Giffords shooting and the George Zimmerman trial, the media have been subjecting us all to a constant and unavoidable national debate about the nexus of politics and violence. This has been unusually perplexing because the media persist in having this debate even when no connection between politics and violence exists.

    Obama_Baby_Teabagger

    Obama_White_Slavery

    Taxpayer_Obama_Oven


    Really?

    The Family Research Council shooting is one of the few inarguable examples of politically motivated violence in recent years, yet looking back a year later, the incident has garnered comparatively little attention. Corkins openly admits he selected the Family Research Council because the Christian organization is one of the leading opponents of gay marriage in the country. He had Chick-fil-A sandwiches in his backpack because the CEO of the fast-food chain was under fire for publicly supporting a biblical definition of marriage. Corkins said he planned to “smother Chick-fil-A sandwiches in [the] faces” of his victims as a political statement. And in case that didn’t make his motivations transparent, right before Corkins shot Leo Johnson, he told him, “I don’t like your politics.”

    Later in the column, Hemingway blames the Southern Poverty Law Center (as if they had anything to do with Corkins and his criminal behavior) for designating the Family Research Council as a “hate group” (with Leo Johnson basically wondering why anyone would do such a thing – making that designation against the FRC, I mean).

    I’ll tell you why – as noted here

    The SPLC gave the Family Research Council the designation due to anti-gay speech from its leaders, which the SPLC says includes calls for gay men and lesbians to be imprisoned.

    Labeling the Family Research Council a hate group puts one of Washington’s most powerful social issues advocates into the company of groups like the Nation of Islam and the now mostly defunct Aryan Nations in the eyes of the SPLC, which tracks 932 active hate groups in the U.S.

    Groups are labeled hate groups by the SPLC — which made a name for itself by using civil lawsuits to severely weaken the KKK and other white supremacist groups — when they “have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics,” according to the group’s website.

    The main offender in the eyes of the SPLC is Peter Sprigg, the FRC’s senior researcher and vocal opponent of the gay rights movement. In May, Sprigg told me that an end to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would lead to more American servicemen receiving unwelcome same-sex fellatio in their sleep, part of a long line of reasoning from Sprigg suggesting that gay men are more likely to be sex offenders than anyone else.

    SPLC Research Director Heidi Beirich told me the FRC is part of a growing list of what the SPLC calls anti-gay groups masking themselves under the guise of conservatism or Christianity.

    “What this really is is a wholesale defamation attack on gays and lesbians,” Beirich said. “Some of the stuff is just as crude if you compare it to, say, the Klan’s racism. But a lot of it’s a little more sophisticated and they try to make it more scientific even though what they’re pushing are falsehoods.”

    I wish Leo Johnson all the best in his recovery, and he is of course entitled to his opinion no matter how much I may disagree. But to use the horrible attack he endured as an excuse to whitewash the FRC’s bigotry is a whole other level of repulsive that I didn’t think I could ever imagine from the wingnutosphere until now.

  • Finally, it looks like Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina (do I need to mention the party?) is shocked, shocked I tell you! to hear Dem Senator and Majority Leader Harry Reid tell us that Republicans don’t like Obama because he’s an African American (here)…


    Yeah, don’t you hate it when somebody makes up stuff like that?

    “Instead of engaging in serious debate about the failed policies of this administration – from the ever-increasing burdens created by the national health care reform plan to the tax and spend approach to economic recovery, along with countless others – Democrats are once again trying to hide behind a smokescreen,” the Republican said.

    Added Scott: “Our country deserves more from those in Washington. I hope Senator Reid will realize the offensive nature of his remarks and apologize to those who disagree with the President’s policies because of one thing – they are hurting hardworking American families.”

    (Just as a reminder, this tells us once again that the “jobs” plan from congressional Republicans won’t create actual, y’know, jobs.)

    And when it comes to “hurting hardworking American families,” Scott has a pretty good (which is to say, bad) track record, as noted here

  • Scott attempted to prevent the families of striking workers from receiving food stamps (including kids).
  • He also tried to hurt the NLRB’s ability to go after law-breaking employers.
  • In addition, he also authored a bill that would have stripped the National Labor Relations Board of its ability to penalize companies that illegally move jobs in retaliation for workers exercising their legal rights.
  • Scott also supported a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act that determined that immigrant, Native American and LGBT women should be afforded no protections at all, as noted here.
  • Oh, and Scott also helped slash South Carolina’s HIV/AIDS budget and defended billions in subsidies to Big Oil. He also floated the idea of impeaching Obama over the 2011 debt ceiling nonsense (which led to the sequester, let’s not forget, in which “Man Tan” Boehner said he got “98 percent” of everything he wanted). And while he sat on the Charleston (SC) County Council, he wanted to spend an unlimited amount of money to display the Ten Commandments outside of a government building (all of this awfulness is noted here).

    In conclusion, I’d like to point out that I think Harry Reid is wrong. Scott and his pals don’t oppose Obama because he’s black.

    It’s merely because he’s a Democrat.


  • Thursday Mashup (8/8/13)

    August 8, 2013

    rbby_92

  • Gosh, it looks like RNC Chair Reince Priebus has his proverbial shorts in a knot here, all right…

    The Republican National Committee is threatening not to partner with NBC and CNN on future presidential debates unless they halt production of recently announced programs about Hillary Clinton, according to letters RNC Chairman Reince Priebus sent to network heads.

    NBC announced in July that the network would air a four-hour miniseries about the former first lady called “Hillary,” and CNN Films is producing a documentary about her as well.

    In letters addressed to NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt and CNN President Jeff Zucker on Aug. 5, Priebus warned that RNC members intend to vote on a resolution at their party-wide meeting later this month to shut out the networks from partnering with the party on Republican primary debates if they do not cancel the programs.

    “Out of a sense of fairness and decency and in the interest of the political process and your company’s reputation, I call on you to cancel this political ad masquerading as an unbiased production,” Priebus wrote. “If you have not agreed to pull this programming prior to the start of the RNC’s Summer Meeting on August 14, I will seek a binding vote of the RNC stating that the committee will neither partner with you in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates which you sponsor.”

    Somehow I don’t think Priebus knows the meanings of the words “fairness” and “decency,” but that’s a secondary point (and I actually hope the two networks tell him where to go – I realize the ad revenue rules their world and they don’t want to miss out, but all of those debates should be run by the League of Women Voters anyway).

    But to refresh Priebus’s memory in the “political ad masquerading as an unbiased production” department, here and here are prior posts from 2006 concerning the “Path to 9/11” non-documentary that aired on the Disney/ABC/RNC network, full of all kinds of questionable assertions about that dreaded day that (surprise, surprise!) aired two months before the 2006 midterm elections (fortunately, based on the electoral outcome, the strategy backfired).

    And I thought the following was interesting (from here)…

    …I also wonder if Priebus might have motivations of his own for getting some RNC debates off networks. Given that the Republican Party seems no closer than it was in 2012 to reaching a decisive break between its radical and moderate wings, if I were Priebus, I might want to keep that debate between them as far away from mass audiences as possible. Given how far moderate Republicans like Mitt Romney have had to run to the right during their primary campaigns, one of the things that debates do is generate a vast trove of high-quality clips of things that the eventual nominee will eventually have to try to explain away in a shortened general election season. If I were Priebus, I’d want as few of those debates as possible, and I’d want them to happen further from the public eye so my eventual candidate has less baggage that can eventually be hung around her or his neck.

    So we’ll see if our corporate media goes weak in the knees when confronted with the “Ooga Booga! Li-Bu-Ruul Bias!” charge once again (though, based on this, I think the GOP needs a dose of “physician, heal thyself” if they’re so concerned with women voters, among other demographics that they’re losing badly).

    On a related note, I have to tell you that this is a real head-scratcher as far as I’m concerned (h/t Atrios). Normally I definitely side up with David Brock and Media Matters, and I’m sure the NBC miniseries will be nothing but trash TV (and I don’t know how CNN can say they’ll create a “documentary” on HRC without involvement of the news division), but rightly or wrongly, here is where I come down on this.

    First, this furor assumes that cable TV will hold sway over the outcome of the 2016 presidential election (assuming Hillary runs – wink, wink), and to be honest, I don’t know how you can say that. No, I don’t have viewing demographic numbers in front of me at the moment, but I think the very fact that the two cables in question are even contemplating these productions gives you an idea of how hard-up they are ratings-wise (relative to Fox, of course, which is a whole other discussion). And I want to emphasize that I’m talking about holding sway over the general election; from what I read last year, the ratings for the 2,347,618 Republican primary debates actually weren’t bad – if Priebus and Brock have leverage here, this is it (i.e., CNN and NBC wouldn’t want to lose out).

    Second, can you really honestly say that there are that many people without an opinion on the Clintons one way or the other at this point (people likely to be swayed by these two productions, which I’m sure will be heavy on the “entertainment” and very light on the facts and historical context)? So basically, I don’t care if CNN and NBC go ahead with these productions; I have a feeling that there will be salacious stuff with no basis in reality (I can see it now…the closet door of the darkened room pops open while Bill and Gennifer Flowers are engaged in carnal acts, and Hillary, holding a gun, shoots Vince Foster, who was trying to talk Bill out of it…fade to black), but there will probably also be complimentary stuff too. As I said earlier, my beef with Priebus is that he’s alleging preferential treatment from the networks, when he definitely benefitted from some of that in the “Path to 9/11” mess.

    A final observation: how big of a dope is Reince Priebus anyway to end up doing something that ends up playing into the hands of David Brock and Media Matters (and as noted here, just when I was about to post this, Priebus said something else that would qualify as “gobsmacked,” I guess – what a maroon).

    (Last but not least, I think this is full of great observations from kos).

    Update 8/9/13: And I would say that this sums up most of what I’ve been saying for the last eight years or so.

  • Next, I give you the following pro-fracking commercial that recently appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer (here)…

    The Marcellus Shale formation – the second-largest natural-gas field in the world – has been a blessing for Pennsylvania’s workers and our economy.

    Almost a quarter-million people in Pennsylvania work to produce natural gas from the Marcellus Shale or in related industries. Thanks to the growth of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, the Marcellus has been responsible for more than 150,000 new hires in the past three years – almost three-quarters of them state residents. The average salary in core fracking industries is more than $90,000 a year. In 2010 alone, oil and gas development utilizing fracking contributed more than $11 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy.

    Fracking is safe and environmentally friendly. In Pennsylvania, more than a dozen state and federal regulatory agencies oversee all aspects of fracking, from well development to pipeline construction. Properly constructed wells leave a very small environmental imprint, and about 99.5 percent of the solution used to free natural gas from shale formations is just water and sand.

    Pennsylvania leads the country in developing safe, effective fracking technologies and policies – and other states are starting to follow suit.

    If fracking is so “safe” and “environmentally friendly,” then how come the fracking companies, after paying out large settlements to people whose properties have been ruined by fracking, make those folks sign gag orders, extending not just to the parents, but to their kids also, as noted here? (An update is here.) Or, as noted from here, “these gag orders are the reason [drillers] can give testimony to Congress and say there are no documented cases of contamination,” said Earthworks organizer Sharon Wilson.

    And as noted from here, Pennsylvania is 33rd in the nation in employment; that’s OK, but nothing to brag about as far as I’m concerned.


    The writer of this column, Kevin Colosimo, serves as a managing partner at Burleson LLP in Pittsburgh, and is a trustee at large for the Energy and Mineral Law Foundation in Kentucky (I sincerely hope that he is based in Pittsburgh and not Kentucky, since the former is smack in the middle of the Marcellus Shale but the latter isn’t, as you can see from the gray area in the map above – it would be pretty low down for him to be praising something that has no chance of blowing up in his face, an expression you can actually take literally when talking about fracking).

  • Continuing, It’s time to find out what our wet noodle PA-08 rep is up to (from his web site here)…

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8) ignited a bipartisan push Thursday (8/1) with Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) to ensure our nation’s veterans play a critical role in rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure with the introduction of the Fairness to Veterans for Infrastructure Investment Act.

    “Our fighting men and women are the most highly skilled workforce in history,” said Fitzpatrick, “We must leverage their unprecedented skills to get our economy moving once again.”

    “Rebuilding our nation’s transportation infrastructure is one of my top priorities and is absolutely essential to growing our economy and creating jobs,” said Bustos, “The brave veterans who served us so honorably deserve our full support and that starts with making sure they have good-paying jobs here at home.”

    “With the unemployment rate for returning veterans remaining far too high, it is common sense that they should have access to the contracting preferences available for transportation projects,” Bustos continued.

    This is more distracting feel-good pabulum that is yet another feint to burnish Mikey’s alleged “moderate” bona fides while his utterly lunatic U.S. House “leadership” fiddles as our country burns.

    And that is because, as noted here, Dem U.S. House Rep Rosa DeLauro introduced the National Infrastructure Development Bank Act of 2013 on June 27th, but no vote was scheduled (there was no other activity of any kind, apparently). On top of that, the Water Infrastructure Resiliency Act was introduced by Dem U.S. House Rep Lois Capps on February 15th here (same story).

    “Oh, there you go again, telling us that it’s only the Dems who are doing the right thing. How typical!”

    Well, guess what? As noted here, Republican U.S. House Rep Tom Marino of PA also introduced the Energy Infrastructure Improvement Act, and that is currently in the same limbo as the other two bills (the people who have signed on as cosponsors automatically makes me suspicious about the bill’s intent, but it is no less worthy of a vote than the other two). So the utter, craven failure of the House Speaker and Majority Leader cuts both ways.

    With that in mind, this tells us why the federal government should have a role in infrastructure projects, along with the attendant benefits (for example, does anything think we actually would have our highway transportation system from coast to coast if it had been left up totally to the states?). And this tells us how the Repugs have blocked transportation infrastructure projects, thus hindering our recovery (though they have no trouble with funding infrastructure in places like Afghanistan, as noted here).

    Mikey and Cheri Bustos can introduce all of the bills giving the military preference on infrastructure jobs that they want (which is fine by me and commendable, actually), but it won’t matter if there’s no infrastructure funding forthcoming from this wretched Congress.

    Besides, on the subject of the military, I never found out why Mikey voted against a combat pay increase (here) or a guarantee to pay our military in the event of a government shut down (here).

    With all this in mind, if you really want to do right by someone from our military, click here.

    Update 8/16/13: And it looks like Mikey wants to ultimately phase out credits for wind here, which, as far as I’m concerned, is a dumb idea (would the cost savings make that much of a difference?). Wonder if he’d dare do the same thing for Big Oil, as noted here? Do I even need to ask (seeing as he once voted to cut funding of clean energy here)?

  • Further, it’s time to bring “teh stupid” with Fix Noise here

    Vague terrorist threats shutting down nineteen of our embassies, Russian strongman Putin thumbing his nose at President Obama, Iran jerking our chain – the U.S. hasn’t looked this cowardly on the world stage since the Jimmy Carter administration.

    Here at home, too, we’ve gone back to the Carter future; unemployment is high, Keynesian economics are all the rage, our professorial president is increasingly whiny and ineffectual; all that’s missing is a cardigan sweater and that infernal violin.

    I know you know what’s coming – wait for it anyway (and here is food for thought on the whole “Keynesian” stuff)…

    President George W. Bush is widely scorned these days for attempting to export democracy to the peoples of other lands; Mr. Obama, like Carter before him, has sought kindness and justice from the likes of Hugo Chavez and Bashar-Al-Assad. Which is more naïve?

    Naivete is costly. Both the Carter and Obama administrations have been distinguished by the rare murder of an ambassador.

    So was the administration of Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History; this tells us that U.S. Ambassador David Foy was murdered in Pakistan in 2006 (and if you want to real the real story of what happened under Number 43 on this score, click here).

    This Liz Peek person also tells us that Carter didn’t win an agreement on Pershing missiles in Europe to counter the Soviet SS-20 missiles; in response, the following should be noted from here

    (In 1979) Presidents Carter and Brezhnev (sic – Brezhnev was the Soviet Premier) sign SALT II treaty, setting ceiling of 2,400 strategic missiles and bombers on each side, to be reduced to 2,250 by 1981. After Soviets in- vade Afghanistan, US withdraws SALT II from Senate, but both governments say they will abide by provisions. In December NATO decides to deploy 572 US Pershing II and cruise missiles in Europe starting in late 1983 to counter threat from Soviet SS-20s targeted on European cities.

    And here is another choice item from Peek…

    Who today believes that ObamaCare is the best possible answer to reining in the cost of healthcare?

    I do, for one, based on this (#1 just for starters).

    Lather, rinse, repeat (sigh).

  • RS_Media_Friendly_0802

  • Finally, I have to tell you that I’ve been quietly fuming for the last week or so about this pic from The Philadelphia Inquirer over the Rolling Stone story on Dzhokhar Tsarnev and his brother and their alleged involvement in the Boston Marathon bombing (sticking with terrorism).

    Yes, I get the fact that Tsarnev the younger was photographed with a background that would normally be reserved for a rock star that is popular at the moment. However, the cover makes it clear that the magazine quite rightly considers him to be a “monster” (how that constitutes “too friendly” for the tastes of the Inquirer is something I cannot fathom).

    Also I wonder how many of the people who screamed about the magazine’s cover actually took the time to read the story by Janet Reitman? Like just about everything else I’ve ever read in Rolling Stone, it was thoroughly researched and written very well. The story takes you inside the life of this kid, including his family, friends, and lifestyle (I was surprised by how plentiful pot apparently is on college campuses, if the Cambridge area is any indication – I didn’t know parts of the first “Harold and Kumar” movie were a documentary; yes, I’ve been out of that loop for a long time). In addition, while I respect the fact that Tsarnev and his family faced great financial difficulty, I cannot imagine how two parents could emigrate back to Russia two years ago (though they were separated for a time) and leave their four kids at the mercy of whatever fate befell them in this country, including Dzhokhar, his older brother (who really did call the shots) and his two sisters, who ended up in arranged marriages and apparently disappeared (and yes, I know this is partly a cultural issue, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s no excuse on the part of the parents).

    It’s hard to say what exactly led to the Tsarnev Brothers’ murderous and terroristic behavior – whether or not their impulse for violence existed all along, how much of their radicalism was fostered by the disintegration of their family and older brother Tamerlan’s burning desire for jihad (Tamerlan was a Golden Gloves boxer), et cetera. But this to me is a hallmark of good reporting; the story makes you think about it enough to try and connect those dots on your own.

    Does the story make me feel sorry for either of the Tsarnevs? Hell no! The older brother got what he deserved as far as I’m concerned, and at a minimum, I hope the younger one rots in prison (the story tells us that Dhzokhar apparently had a pretty casual attitude while the carnage went on and the manhunt ended up shutting down the city of Boston – let’s give him the rest of his life to think about his behavior, unless he ends up getting a date with a needle).

    It’s easy to bash Rolling Stone as some kind of a nutty, left-wing-hippie publication. That of course is utterly wrong (and I thought the paper has done a good job trying to defuse the cover controversy). It’s obviously a lot harder to give it credit for crafting exemplary journalism. What a pity.

    Update: And I guess it would be a good idea to link to the Rolling Stone piece too, wouldn’t it (here).


  • Friday Mashup (8/2/13)

    August 2, 2013
  • The theme today is “Right-Wing Idiocy on Health Care Reform”- as noted here from The Daily Tucker…

    Republicans on Capitol Hill say the Obama administration is trying to regulate or prevent small companies from providing self-funded insurance for their employees because self-funded insurance plans could be the “Achilles heel” for Obamacare implementation.

    The majority of U.S. employers now offer self-funded insurance plans, in which companies finance employee health plans from their own funds. Many of the companies purchase stop-loss insurance plans from insurance providers. These companies would therefore avoid many Obamacare regulations when the law takes full effect in 2014. The practice of self-funded insurance, which was outright banned in early drafts of Obamacare, represents the “Achilles heel” for Obamacare implementation, according to insiders.

    What a laughable attempt at attribution – and those same “insiders” tell us the following…

    Phyllis Borzi, the Obama administration’s assistant secretary for employee benefits security in the Department of Labor, is a well-known opponent of stop-loss insurance and is suspected of making behind-the-scenes moves to prevent small companies from providing it…

    I would say that that’s a pretty defamatory accusation and could be a real problem if it were actually true; I’d be inclined to believe, though, that Patrick Howley of The Daily Tucker doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about (“according to insiders,” naturally).

    If the Obama Administration hates “stop/loss” insurance so much, then how come the following is true (from an article by Matthew Buettgens and Linda J. Blumberg of The Urban Institute dated November 2012 – sorry, but I’m unable to link to a URL or a .pdf)…

    The Affordable Care Act changes the small-group insurance market substantially beginning in 2014, but most changes do not apply to self-insured plans. This exemption provides an opening for small employers with healthier workers to avoid broader sharing of health care risk, isolating higher-cost groups in the fully insured market. Private stop-loss or reinsurance plans can mediate the risk of self-insurance for small employers, facilitating the decision to self-insure. We simulate small-employer coverage decisions under the law and find that low-risk stop-loss policies lead to higher premiums in the fully insured small-group market. Average single premiums would be up to 25 percent higher, if stop-loss insurance with no additional risk to employers than fully insuring is allowed—an option available in most states absent further government action. Regulation of stop-loss at the federal or state level can, however, prevent such adverse selection and increase stability in small-group insurance coverage.

    So it looks like “stop/loss” in insurance could be further regulated, but Number 44 isn’t trying to go that route.

    Oh, and by the way, I checked the CAP article by John Podesta mentioned by Howley, and I learned the following (here)…

    There are two types of stop-loss insurance: specific, or individual, stop-loss insurance, which protects an employer from a single, unusually high claim from any one employee; and aggregate stop-loss insurance, which limits the total amount the employer must pay each year for all employee health-care claims. In both types, the point at which stop-loss coverage begins is called the “attachment point.” Lower attachment points minimize the employer’s financial risk, and if they are particularly low, they blur the line between self-insured plans and self-funded plans entirely. A self-insured plan with a specific attachment point of $5,000, for example, functions in the same way as a plan with a $5,000 deductible.

    Insurers may also structure stop-loss policies to protect employers from unpredictably high claims that might cause cash-flow issues. Stop-loss policies that limit liability exposure in a single month, for example, or provide immediate reimbursement for claims above the attachment point eliminate this risk.

    Little data exist, however, about the use of stop-loss policies. One survey found that nearly 60 percent of all self-insured firms also have stop-loss insurance. Even less data are available on the type of stop-loss policies and the level of attachment points purchased by self-insured employers. Although survey data suggest that the average individual attachment point for businesses with 5,000 employees or more is about $340,000, similar data for smaller firms are unreliable due to a much smaller sample size.

    The Affordable Care Act requires a study on self-insurance policies used by employers in the large-group market. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Labor, and Department of the Treasury also issued a joint request for information about the use of stop-loss insurance in 2012, asking specifically about stop-loss policies with low attachment points. This data collection and analysis is ongoing.

    So, though it could potentially represent an “Achilles Heel” of sorts to HCR if “stop-loss” policies started popping up all over the place, I would consider that to be highly unlikely, if for no other reason than the fact that large companies would have to start shelling out more and more money to cover their employees just to get out of coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

    And as far as small businesses are concerned – well, if all the employees are comparatively young and fit with minimal health care needs aside from preventive care, you’re may be fine with a stop-loss plan. However (again, from CAP)…

    …once the group’s health status declines, self-funding becomes far more risky and expensive. Stop-loss plans, for example, can raise premiums or refuse to renew coverage once a group becomes less healthy or more expensive to cover. In this case small employers could either drop coverage or return to the fully insured small-group market, adding its less healthy employees to that risk pool.

    And I think the following should also be noted from here (the .pdf should open the viewer, but it’s fussy)…

    Self-insured employers have an increasing cost to control: that of high-dollar medical claims. Just how much healthcare reform will impact those claims is still up to debate. According to an Aon report1, healthcare reform so far has had a .08% to 1.5% impact, depending on the size of the group. That percentage can continue to increase as more provisions go into effect.

    So basically, nobody really has any idea how much self-insured plans will be affected by the Affordable Care Act.

    But then again, to expect anything close to serious journalism from Patrick Howley based on this (in which Howley tried to egg on antiwar protestors at the Smithsonian Institution to make them look bad, something typical of James O’Keefe) is a delusional notion anyway.

  • Next, Scott Gottlieb recently opined as follows at the Murdoch Street Journal (here, on the subject of the expansion of the 340B program as part of health care reform – he explains, somewhat)…

    Under 340B, eligible hospitals are allowed to buy drugs from drug companies at forced discounts of 25% to 50%. The hospitals can then bill government and private insurers for the full cost of the drugs, pocketing the spread. The arrangement gives 340B-qualified hospitals a big incentive to search for patients and prescribe lots of drugs. The costlier the drugs, the bigger the spread. So expensive cancer drugs are especially appealing.

    The original legislation creating 340B envisioned that only about 90 hospitals that care for a “disproportionate share” of indigent patients would qualify. But remember, this is a well-intentioned government program handing out money, with the usual result: By 2011, 1,675 hospitals, or a third of all hospitals in the country, were 340B-qualified.

    Call me a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, but could the expansion actually be due to the fact that more and more hospitals are seeing more and more indigent cases?

    To quote Steve Martin, “Naaaaahhhhh!”

    Of course this has to be another Obama “scandal” where insurers and drug companies are seeing a financial hit, with more and more hospitals “pocketing the spread.” How silly of me not to realize it! All Hail Rush, Sean Hannity and Falafel Bill! And by the way, BENGHAZI!!!

    OK, I’ll stop (and I love the demagoguery about “a well-intentioned government program handing out money,” of course).

    Gottlieb also laments the likelihood that more patients will be treated at hospitals or outpatient facilities than doctor’s offices. Well, suppose we’re talking about a population with easier access to the former than the latter? Or are they invisible as far as the Journal is concerned?

    And this excerpt was a bit of a head-scratcher also…

    Even flourishing hospitals like the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University Health System feed off the subsidies. In 2011, Duke bought $54.8 million in drugs from the discount program and sold them to patients for $131.8 million, for a profit of $76.9 million—a substantial portion of the health system’s 2011 operating profit of $190 million. Only one in 20 patients served by Duke’s 340B pharmacy is uninsured. The rest have their prescription costs covered by Medicare, Medicaid or commercial insurers.

    Now ObamaCare is encouraging even wider 340B abuses.

    Sooo…as far as Gottlieb is concerned, it’s “abuse” for a population of probably poor and elderly individuals to qualify for the 340B drug discount if they already are covered under Medicare or Medicaid? Has Gottlieb tried to price drugs lately for people living on fixed incomes?

    And I’m sorry, but as far as I’m concerned, the “operating profit” of a medical institution is secondary to me versus how effective they are at providing patient care.

    Also…

    The regulatory loosening has led to a proliferation of abuse. The Health Resources and Services Administration, the federal agency that (nominally) oversees the program, recently audited 340B-eligible hospitals. The agency found “adverse findings” (like discounted drugs diverted or dispensed to ineligible patients) with almost half of the 34 institutions the agency examined.

    Didn’t Gottlieb say earlier that, as of 2011, 1,675 hospitals were covered under 340B? So, out of that total, the HSA reported on 34 institutions (and let’s say that “almost half” of 34 is 16, of the total institutions that were examined; those were the ones with “adverse findings”).

    So what percentage of 1,675 is 34? Well, that would be 0.020 percent (maybe not much of a sample, but then again, not much of a reason to carry on about alleged wrongdoing either).

    But of course Gottlieb is no stranger to propagandizing on this issue (this link takes us to a post where he claimed that the individual market for health care would be eliminated outside of the health care exchanges – if I were Politifact, I would rate that as a “pants on fire” claim).


  • Finally, I’ve been meaning to follow up on this item concerning our wet noodle U.S. House rep, so I guess I’d better get to it…

    I expected (The American College of Physicians) Leadership Day to be inspiring, empowering, and a way for me to share my thoughts on health reform with our lawmakers. However, the meeting with my Congressman this past June exceeded all of my expectations. Not only was I able to advocate for patients and physicians, but I also discovered an incredible opportunity in my hometown of Bensalem, Pennsylvania.

    As a constituent of the 8th district of Pennsylvania, I am represented by Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick. On Leadership Day, other members of the Pennsylvania delegation and I were able to speak to the Congressman directly about key ACP issues. Currently, I am a fourth-year medical student at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and am planning to pursue a career in primary care. I told Congressman Fitzpatrick about my passion for public health, community health, and working in underserved communities, and how important it was to expand federal health programs and GME funding for primary care programs. The Congressman was thoughtful and listened—and then asked if I knew about the BCHIP clinic. BCHIP, or the Bucks County Health Improvement Partnership, is the largest free clinic serving uninsured, low-income adults in Bucks County, PA. Founded in 1993 and located in Bensalem, PA, it is locally driven and provides care to over 2,000 adults every year. I was immediately interested in learning more. And then, Congressman Fitzpatrick suggested that we visit the clinic together so I could get a closer look at community health in my own community.

    The article is generally complimentary towards Fitzpatrick, and that’s fine. Any means of providing care to people who otherwise wouldn’t get it is a worthy goal.

    However, here is my concern – suppose you run into complications?

    Because, as a friend of mine pointed out, if you have, say, cancer, you may get a referral to a specialist at a clinic, but that may not necessarily lead to care (suppose the referral doesn’t take your insurance? Suppose you don’t have insurance?). Suppose further that the clinic cannot perform a colonoscopy? And suppose even further that the clinic cannot provide OB/GYN care for women, including pre-natal care and/or pap screens?

    Nope…as good as the free clinic is, it often isn’t a “one-stop shop” for health care, nor can it be that in all cases. In the event of the circumstances I noted above, Planned Parenthood (which Mikey and his pals want to defund) would be needed, as well as the legally mandated provisions of the Affordable Care Act (same thing).

    And with all this in mind, I give you the following from here (based on this story)…

    Congressman Fitzpatrick has established his opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) aka Obamacare and he has spoken consistently against “government control” of health care. In his letter printed June 17 he bemoaned the “army of bureaucrats implementing regulations” under (HHS) Secretary (Kathleen) Sebelius for not being bound by the Hippocratic Oath. He said if they were, “regulations would not exist denying a 10-year-old child a life saving operation.” Fact is, the role of the Department of Health and Human Services is to protect the citizens from harm, all 350 million of us.

    Secretary Sebelius, a politically appointed bureaucrat, was asked by Sen. Pat Toomey, a politician, not a doctor, to alter the transplant rules in a singular independent act. It would defy years of scientific and medical findings and regulations created by medical experts, scientists, doctors, surgeons, and ethicists.

    Fitzpatrick denied that asking Sebelius to alter the regulations was asking for interference when, in my view, that is exactly what it was. He is attempting to connect those “regulations” to Sebelius and eventually the ACA. In a June 17th letter to the newspaper, he condemned a federal bureaucrat for not making a medical decision while saying a federal agency should not be evaluating patients, which is contradictory. At a town hall meeting, he seemed to reserve the right to tell millions of people that if they need a doctor go find a free clinic or charity, when he told a questioner without insurance to do just that.

    Those regulations are not hers to alter; they are hers to administer. There is a deliberate and complicated process in procuring organs and selecting candidates that seeks to ensure fairness. Sadly, because of a finite supply of organs when a patient gets a transplant another will die waiting and that includes mothers and fathers of 10 year old children.

    Fitzpatrick knows the facts, but used the 10 year old child to attack the ACA by saying Sebelius’ action “is an indication of government takeover of healthcare and the ACA exacerbates the situation”. There it is, his real agenda, the continued attack on the ACA.

    It’s nice that Mikey has advocated on behalf of free clinics so those who might not otherwise obtain any care at all would receive it. But his continued intransigence and opposition to the Affordable Care Act is beyond a joke at this point. And using the life-endangering circumstances of a 10-year-old girl in furtherance of this unholy goal is a new low, even for him.


  • Top Posts & Pages