Monday Mashup (10/13/14)

October 13, 2014
  • In the latest TERRA! TERRA! TERRA! news, I give you the following from Joshua Katz here

    America’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, revealed the name last week of a top secret, very small Al Qaeda cell operating inside Syria called the Khorasan Group. The revelation by Clapper was the latest in a series of seemingly authorized disclosures of highly sensitive national security information by the Executive Branch.

    Khorasan Group isn’t a name that trips off the tongue. It isn’t sexy. It wasn’t appearing in newspapers and on websites every day. It wasn’t being talked about in Washington — until now. That’s because its name and organization were classified information. The fact that you had, in all likelihood, never heard of Al Qaeda’s Khorasan Group demonstrates the importance of the security placed around any information about this group and confusion in the White House about Al Qaeda.

    As a former Operations Officer for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and an Army Ranger, I have risked my own life to provide this level of secure intelligence to our president and other policy makers.

    Katz deserves our thanks and gratitude for his service, but if he’s going to criticize anyone for revealing what a supposedly secret bunch this outfit is (I know there’s nothing funny about terrorism, but the name of this gang sounds like a bunch of people making slipcovers), maybe he ought to blame some of his fellow wingnut media loudmouths too for saying that the group was made up (here); maybe if they’d kept their mouths shut, Clapper wound not have had to say anything (though, based on this, I wonder if this is a smokescreen too).

    Here’s my point to Katz and anyone else who blames Number 44 over this; make up your minds on what the narrative is supposed to be as far as you’re concerned. Either blame the Obama Administration for hyping a new terror threat that wasn’t there OR blame them for revealing sensitive information about these life forms. You can’t do both.

  • Next, I give you the following from WaPo conservative quota hire Jennifer Rubin (here), on Teahadist U.S. Senate embarrassment Mike Lee of Utah…

    (Lee) extolled Abraham Lincoln as the first great anti-poverty president. (“[I]n America’s original war on poverty, government did not give the poor other people’s money. It gave them access to other people. In Lincoln’s era that meant dredging rivers, building canals, and cutting roads. It meant the Homestead Act and land-grant universities. These public goods weren’t designed to make poverty more tolerable – but to make it more temporary. They reduced the time it took to get products to market, increased access to banks and land, and increased the speed at which knowledge could be developed and shared.”

    What Rubin describes above sounds an awful lot to me like spending on infrastructure, and as noted here, Lee introduced a bill to pretty much eliminate federal transportation funding (it even has an acronym that spells TEA – blow that dog whistle a little louder, why dontcha?).

    Lee is also leading a repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act (a perennial target for the Teahadists), the federal law that requires government contractors to pay workers the local prevailing wage (the Act is named for two Republicans, it should be noted, and it was signed into law by Herbert Hoover, a Republican president; I guess that’s typical for a guy who once said that child labor laws were “unconstitutional” here).

    Turning back to the “values” political red meat that the Teahadists love, Lee had no problem with the Supremes as “unelected, politically unaccountable judges” when they decided Hobby Lobby, but that’s what he thinks of them now that they’ve decided to allow rulings on marriage equality to stand (here).

    Oh, and speaking of our 16th president, he also said the following (noted here, tied to labor and the economy in general)…

    “While we do not propose any war upon capital, we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else.”

    And as a commenter here noted (again, quoting Lincoln)…

    “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital.
    Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed.
    Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”

    So what do Lee and the Teahadists have to say about that?

    Cue the sound of crickets (and I don’t think we should need any motivation to vote for Dems in November, but in case we do, Rubin provides it here).

  • Further, someone from The Daily Tucker is (of course) in favor of genetically modified organisms (or GMOs for short) in our food, as noted here (more background is here)…

    I have to admit that I don’t have a ready comeback in response to the data presented in the Daily Tucker post, but I would only present the anti-GMO point of view here, including data on the money spent by food companies to lobby against GMO labeling in California and Washington state, where much of our food is manufactured and/or processed (additional data on the problems already being caused by genetically modified foods is presented here – and if GMOs are supposed to be so damn safe, then please explain this).

    (By the way, to their credit, ice cream makers Ben and Jerry decided to leave GMOs behind, as noted here).

    Another thing…as noted here, there is a correlation between the pro-GMO forces and the climate change deniers and the “anti-vaxers,” which I found to be a bit interesting.

    To conclude on this topic, I give you the following from this Jerry Rogers person at The Daily Tucker…

    Over four dozen pieces of legislation have been introduced in nearly 30 states to require GMO labeling. Three states actually have labeling requirements on the books. These states and the others that will follow suit will end up disrupting the nation’s entire food chain, from farming to supply to retail. Americans will suffer with higher food prices and fewer choices, but for other parts of the world stuck in poverty, the impact will be a devastating loss of human life. The stakes are high.

    Proof? Anywhere in sight??

    The politics of GMOs need to catch up with the science. There is legislation that may be a good first step in doing just that. Introduced by Reps. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D., N.C.), the bill would preempt state laws and create national standards for food labeling under the sole authority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Putting the issue of labeling under FDA authority will take it out of the hands of the anti-GMO activists. This simple act could reset the national debate over GMOs.

    I’m not totally surprised to read that when you consider this. However, how ridiculous is it that the pro-GMO people want to see federal regulation as opposed to a “patchwork” of state laws, when they favor the states over the feds on practically everything else?

  • Continuing, it looks like someone from The Daily Tucker is back to screech about the ACA (here)…

    Republican attorneys general have been administering the right medicine against this law since it was enacted. Just this week, a federal judge in Oklahoma agreed with Attorney General Scott Pruitt and declared unlawful certain regulations written by the IRS to implement the bloated statute.

    I don’t know what the difference between a “bloated” and a “non-bloated” statute is, and I don’t think this Jessica Medeiros-Garrison person does either. What I do know is that Pruitt and other wing nut AGs for their respective states are basing their opposition to the ACA on some bogus claim that subsidies for Medicaid expansion can only be used for states with state-established health care exchanges, not federal ones, which Media Matters called “a counter intuitive claim that has been widely discredited” here.

    Oh, and it should be noted that the federal judge who ruled in Pruitt’s favor, Ronald A. White, was appointed by George W. Bush (big surprise, I know – here). And as noted here, “to date, nine federal judges have considered this question of whether much of the law should be defunded. Only three — all of whom are Republicans — have agreed that it should be.”

    While doing some assorted Googling for this item, I came across the following on Jessica Medeiros-Garrison here (a lawyer based in Alabama for the record), and it turns out that she was in the middle of a messy divorce from her husband Lee Garrison a year ago; neither one of these individuals embody what I would call exemplary moral character (I merely present a link to the details here; it’s up to you, dear reader, to do the rest if you so choose).

  • Moving on, I give you some of the lowest of the low-hanging fruit here from someone named Michael Schaus who concocted something called “10 Things Liberals Believe That Government Does Well” (he added his categories with snarky little comments, so I think it’s only fair that I should be allowed to reply):

    1. Protecting our freedom

    So who do you think is going to train, feed, house, and maintain all other responsibility for the world’s largest (and most expensive) military (here) – the state of Alabama?

    2. Giving away land to common people

    As noted from here

    The federal government owns 655 million acres of land in the U.S., 29% of the total 2.3 billion acres. It administers its public lands through four agencies: the National Park Service (NPS), which runs the National Park System; the Forest Service (FS), which manages the National Forests; theBureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages public lands; and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which administers the National Wildlife Refuge System. National Monuments are assigned a managing agency at the time of their designation by the President. The Forest Service operates out of the Department of Agriculture, while the other three agencies are in the Department of the Interior.

    So yeah, I would say that the Feds do a good job in this area too.

    3. Educating everyone

    This provides a list of U.S. Department of Education funding as of August 25th of this year (if anyone out there is inclined to sift through all of these numbers and other data, have at it). And despite the Repugs’ war on public education in this country, students from overseas still flock to our universities, so I think the federal government does deserve at least a partial amount of credit for that, seeing as how the federal government subsidizes student loans and all.

    4. Helping us retiring (sic) with dignity

    As noted from here (under “Highlights”)…

    At the end of 2013, the (Operations of the Old Age Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance programs) were providing benefit payments to about 58 million people: 41 million retired workers and dependents of retired workers, 6 million survivors of deceased workers, and 11 million disabled workers and dependents of disabled workers. During the year, an estimated 163 million people had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes. Total expenditures in 2013 were $823 billion. Total income was $855 billion, which consisted of $752 billion in non-interest income and $103 billion in interest earnings. Asset reserves held in special issue U.S. Treasury securities grew from $2,732 billion at the beginning of the year to $2,764 billion at the end of the year.

    Not too shabby as far as I’m concerned…

    5. Improving public health

    As noted from here

    New York, NY, June 16, 2014—Despite having the most expensive health care system, the United States ranks last overall among 11 industrialized countries on measures of health system quality, efficiency, access to care, equity, and healthy lives, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report. The other countries included in the study were Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand Norway, Sweden Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. While there is room for improvement in every country, the U.S. stands out for having the highest costs and lowest performance—the U.S. spent $8,508 per person on health care in 2011, compared with $3,406 in the United Kingdom, which ranked first overall.

    The United States’ ranking is dragged down substantially by deficiencies in access to primary care and inequities and inefficiencies in our health care system according to Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: How the Performance of the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally, 2014 Update, by Karen Davis, of the Roger C. Lipitz Center for Integrated Health Care at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Kristof Stremikis, of the Pacific Business Group on Health, and Commonwealth Fund researchers Cathy Schoen and David Squires. However, provisions in the Affordable Care Act that have already extended coverage to millions of people in the United States can improve the country’s standing in some areas—particularly access to affordable and timely primary care.

    To hear this Michael Schaus guy, though, “Obamacare” is the reason for our health care ills in this country, not our supposedly glorious private sector (and I think it needs to be pointed out once again that, notwithstanding Medicare/Medicaid and the VA, there is no government-sponsored alternative).

    6. Building our transportation network

    Oh yeah, what is that supposedly awful federal government supposed to do about that?

    Try this for starters (as well as the fact that the best the U.S. House Repugs could do is come up with some lame stopgap measure to keep the Federal Highway Trust Fund solvent, as noted here). So, that supposedly awful Kenyan Muslim socialist responded with this.

    7. Investing in communications

    This Schaus guy has a bit of a point here, but read this McClatchy article to learn about how Motorola pulled all kinds of tricks to try and establish dominance in the broadband market (once again, our glorious private sector at work – and I’m pretty sure Motorola has a lot of corporate “person” company here). So maybe our government would spend these funds more efficiently if it weren’t for the fact that the fund recipients are busy trying to gouge their customers and/or competitors.

    8. Building our energy supply

    Why is that supposed to be the job of the federal government when we give out all kinds of tax breaks to the oil biz, as noted here (though we should be doing the same thing for renewables, but of course we’re not, as noted here.)

    9. Inventing the future (NASA)

    Actually, I think we’ve done OK in NASA funding, all things considered (and fortunately, they still have the resources to do ground-breaking research such as this, which of course should be a “hair on fire” moment for anyone in a political capacity who cares about the future of this planet).

    10. Defeating totalitarianism

    See #1.

    Of course, what else can we expect from Schaus, who (as noted here) used developments in so-called “smart” gun technology to baselessly claim that it was a confiscation scheme on the part of former Obama AG Eric Holder?

  • I also wanted to comment on this story

    Republican Gov. Tom Corbett said Monday (10/6) he supports a bill designed to prevent offenders from causing their victims “mental anguish,” a proposal launched after a Vermont college chose as its commencement speaker a man convicted of killing a police officer.

    Corbett spoke at a Capitol event a day after Mumia Abu-Jamal gave a recorded address to about 20 graduates at Goddard College in Plainfield.

    “Nobody has the right to continually taunt the victims of their violent crimes in the public square,” Corbett said.

    He called the college’s choice of Abu-Jamal “unconscionable.”

    The bill that advanced out of a House committee on Monday would allow a victim to go to court for an injunction against “conduct which perpetuates the continuing effects of the crime on the victim.”

    OK, to begin with, I think allowing Abu-Jamal to give a recorded address to the Goddard graduates was a dumb idea. I don’t care if he’s a graduate of the school or not; someone should have stepped in and disallowed it. As far as I’m concerned, a line needs to be drawn somewhere, and I think doing so right at the feet of a convicted murderer of a Philadelphia police officer is a pretty darn good place (kind of makes me wonder what’s going on with that school anyway, since apparently they don’t give out grades…yeah, that will REALLY prepare graduates for the workforce).

    However, this legislation is equally stupid, if not more so. How exactly does the author of this bill propose to establish the cause of “mental anguish”? Survivor flashbacks to the occurrence of the crime? An inadvertent mention of the crime from a passer-by in the form of an offhand remark? Having to watch an hour of Brian Kilmeade on Fox TV?

    (OK, I’ll stop.)

    Also, what exactly constitutes “conduct which perpetuates the continuing effects of crime on the victim”? By that standard, a candlelight vigil could prompt painful remembrances and thus be subject to penalty under this bill.

    As I said, I’ll definitely grant the point that allowing Abu-Jamal yet another platform for his thoroughly undeserved celebrity is stupid. But concocting some bill that doesn’t pass the legal smell test falls under the heading of two wrongs trying to make a right.

  • Finally, as noted here, it turns out Mikey the Beloved in PA-08 has spent about $200 grand on “franking” for campaign ads telling us how wonderful he supposedly is (including online at Twitter and Google), which apparently is not illegal in any way; as the article tells us, there is a franking limit for Senate campaigns, but not U.S. House ones (and why exactly is that, I wonder?).

    However, even though he’s running online ads, he still doesn’t advertise his Town Hall meetings (has he even had any during this campaign?). And it also doesn’t take into consideration his recent refusal to accept an invitation to a candidate’s forum hosted by the Lin-Park Civic Association and the Bucks County NAACP, even though he was notified about the forum five different times in August and September (his Dem opponent Kevin Strouse had no problem saying Yes).

    With that in mind, I give you the following from the Strouse campaign…

    Bristol, PA – Congressman Fitzpatrick, who missed 35% of his House Financial Services Committee hearings, is misleading his constituents with counter-terrorism theater and grandstanding on issues of national security. Fitzpatrick continues to mislead his constituents despite the fact that the Congressman’s Isolate ISIS Act is a duplicative effort that does nothing to further target ISIS’s financing.

    Executive Order 13324, signed by President Bush in 2001, provides the necessary framework for the Treasury department to sanction terrorist funding. Perhaps if the Congressman showed up to his committee hearings he would understand the mechanisms that have been in place for over 13 years to target terrorist network financing and levy sanctions against complicit groups and individuals.

    Strouse commented, “It’s extremely disappointing that Congressman Fitzpatrick would politicize national security problems that he clearly doesn’t understand. I fought terrorism as an Army Ranger in Iraq and as a CIA officer, so it’s time to set the record straight for the 8th District: Treasury already has the necessary authority to target ISIS’s funding, and has been doing so for quite some time. The issue that we ought to be addressing is that training the Syrian rebels will take much longer than Congressman Fitzpatrick and his colleagues have indicated.”

    The Congressional authorization to train Syrian rebels expires in December. Strouse has previously pointed out how short-sighted this short term authorization is, and has emphasized on multiple occasions that adequately training an army takes longer than 90 days.

    As early as 2008, Treasury was targeting the predecessor to ISIS. In February 2008, pursuant to Executive Order 13324, treasury took action against al Qaida in Iraq (AQI), which is the predecessor to ISIS. Instead of grandstanding on issues that are already addressed under current law, Congressman Fitzpatrick and his colleagues should be addressing the soon to expire authorization to train moderate rebel troops.

    Time is short until the election, so if you are able to help the Kevin Strouse campaign in any capacity at all, please click here.

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    Friday Mashup (11/08/13)

    November 8, 2013
  • I give you Repug U.S. House Rep Lamar Smith of Texas (here, in a recent column)…

    We must set priorities and get our nation’s spending under control. To accomplish this we must reform entitlement programs. If we don’t, experts warn, future funding for other budget priorities, including scientific research, could be in jeopardy.

    I have to admit that this is kind of an interesting twist on the typical extortion theme of Smith and his party, as noted here; basically, kick “the poors,” steal Grandma’s Social Security and take her health coverage so she dies early, and THEN we’ll decide to invest in scientific research to create industries in this country that (hopefully) will produce good paying jobs so today’s college graduates won’t still be living at home with mom and dad into their 50s (the students, I mean).

    And just as a reminder as to how we got to this point, this tells us about the effect of the ruinous “sequester” on scientific research (which Smith voted for, of course, as noted here). Also, to give you an idea of how supposedly enlightened Smith is on these matters, this (second bullet) tells us how he falsely charged that scientists hid data that supposedly contradicted the science on man-made climate change, to the point where Smith tried to pass a law requiring politicians to approve scientific funding (and he appointed Teahadist extraordinaire Paul Broun as chairman of the committee’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, a guy who called the evolution and “big bang” theories “lies from the pit of hell” as noted here).

    Oh, and this tells us about Smith’s typical avoidance on the issue of tar sands pollution. And unrelated to science, this tells us that Smith railed about that Kenyan Muslim Socialist prioritizing the deportation of criminals and violent offenders over, say, students, when in 1999, Smith wrote a letter to then-President Clinton encouraging him to do the very thing that Number 44 is doing right now.

    I can’t really think of a wrap-up to this item that tops this pic (applicable to Smith and his pals), so here it is.

  • bird

  • Next, did you know that the disastrous cut in food stamps, affecting about 47 million Americans, was the fault of the U.S. Congressional Democrats?

    Someone named Hughey Newsome at The Daily Tucker tries to explain here

    The expiration of this expanded spending was embedded in the infamous stimulus bill that was rammed through Congress by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in 2009 at the behest of President Obama. Stimulus spending provided for only a temporary increase. After all, people were only supposed to need more SNAP money until the economy recovered. Surely, they figured, the economy would rebound in four-and-a-half years.

    But that was before things like Obamacare and the administration’s war on fossil fuels.

    OWWWWW!!! TEH STUPID!! IT BURNS US!!!

    (And oh yeah, Newsome also blames those pesky, burdensome government regulations which no one can ever seem to identify when they’re bitching about that “big gumint li-bu-ruul” Obama – and I suppose I’ll have to point out yet again here how oil drilling has actually increased under our current occupant of An Oval Office…it’s irrelevant to me whether or not it has increased on federally owned versus privately owned territory.)

    Also, as noted from here, 37 Democratic (including Al Franken of Minnesota) and 2 Independent senators wrote a letter that was sent to a House/Senate conference committee urging that bunch to preserve SNAP funding (nary a Republican on the list, of course). With that in mind, this provides a state-by-state breakdown of the impact of the SNAP cut.

    I think it’s a testimony to the overall moral bankruptcy of the Republican Party that they and their acolytes (including Newsome) have no trouble making the argument that the admitted food stamp boost under the stimulus is supposed to be temporary, and that it should be discontinued lest “the poors” use it for a hammock, or some such nonsense…then turn around a minute later and refuse to say the same thing about those stinking tax cuts of Obama’s wretched predecessor, which were also set to expire over a fixed period of time, as noted here.

  • Continuing, are you looking for someone from Not Your Father’s Republican Party (unless the father is Rafael Cruz, I guess) to put forward some brave, thoughtful policy ideas to address the many critical issues facing this nation?

    Well, Matthew Continetti of The Weakly Standard gives us what Mike Lee has to say on that subject here

    (Lee’s) tax plan would simplify and reduce rates and offer a $2,500 per-child credit (up from $1,000 today) that would offset both income and payroll taxes. His reform of labor laws would allow employees who work overtime to take comp time or flex time in lieu of pay—an option currently available to federal workers but not to the rest of us. His transportation bill would lower the federal gas tax and devolve power to the states and localities. And his education proposal would create a new optional system of accreditation: “States could accredit online courses, or hybrid models with elements on and off campus.” Parents and students would have more flexibility. They’d also have more choices.

    I will readily admit that I’m not an economist, but from my admittedly cursory review, Lee’s tax plan looks like another attempt to try and starve the government “beast” while giving me a pittance in return (and apparently losing my mortgage interest deduction – I’ve never been able to figure out exactly why the Repugs hate that so much). So, count me as siding with Matt Yglesias on this, as noted here; let Lee’s plan be scored by a reputable financial agency first.

    On Lee’s supposedly great plan to give more comp time “in lieu of pay,” Think Progress had something to say about that here. And as far as “lowering” the federal gas tax, do Lee/Continetti realize that the federal gas tax hasn’t risen in 20 years, as noted here? So if anything, the opposite is true (oh, and I can just imagine the zany wingnut hijinks that would ensue if this were left up to the states – can you see a bridge connecting, say, states with one Dem governor and one Repug one, and the Repug guv only agrees to bridge restorations on his or her side?).

    Oh, and under Lee’s “optional” school accreditation, all kinds of fraud and abuse would likely take place without strict federal oversight (here – somebody from WhatsaMatta U would try to market themselves as the online equivalent to an Ivy league school and likely trap a few gullible suckers).

    So basically, when it comes to brand spanking new proposals on how to make government more efficient and improve our lives in the process, look to someone else besides Mike Lee.

  • Further, I have a couple of tidbits related to President Obama and the health care law; first, I give you former Bushie Andrew Card (here – a tad behind the news cycle, I‘ll admit)…

    The man who served as chief of staff under former President George W. Bush and helped sell the Iraq War to the American people said Tuesday that President Barack Obama’s entire team is guilty of misleading the public.

    Andy Card said that the current administration allowed Obama “to mislead the American people for so long” when he promoted the Affordable Care Act. Obama has come under fire recently for his previous claim that those who like their insurance plans can keep them under the health care law, a promise that hasn’t quite panned out as he said it would.

    “Well, first of all, I fault not only the President but I fault the people around the President for allowing him to mislead the American people for so long,” Card told the panel on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “His categorical statements were made not as a candidate but as a President of the United States and words do matter at the White House. And it’s usually somebody in the White House that goes to the President and says, ‘Mr. President, you said that but it’s not entirely true. You’ve got to put a caveat around it.'”

    Blah blah blah…try reading this and then get back to me, OK?

    And as TPM notes, Card has no room to criticize anyone when it comes to “mislead(ing) the American people for so long.” This tells us, among other things, that Card even claimed that Dubya was fiscally responsible, or something.

    My personal favorite from Card, though, is here, when he said in 2004 that Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History would give John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee in that election, “the respect of more time” before conceding; of course, there had been all kinds of voter abuse and disenfranchisement in Ohio at the time under then-Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, and the Kerry team was trying to figure out what, if anything, they could do about it (to me, Card’s line was Bush-ese for “quit stalling and tell everybody I won, you brie-eating, sail boating, East Coast liberal, sponging off your wife’s ketchup fortune”).

    We also had this charming little item from Repug U.S. House Rep Trey Gowdy (with Fix Noise humanoid Megyn Kelly, on the matter of Obama saying that people wouldn’t lose their health insurance, as if Number 44, or any politician, can control what for-profit insurers decide to do)…

    I have never understood why politicians don’t look at their fellow citizens and say, “I made a mistake, I need you to forgive me and it won’t happen again.”

    In response, I give you this item from Gowdy, where he supported immigration reform once before he eventually decided to oppose it.

    So, I guess Gowdy’s original support was a “mistake” as far as he’s concerned? Why doesn’t he just apply his own test to himself?

    As usual, a Repug looks in a mirror and sees everyone’s reflection but their own.

  • Finally, I wanted to point out that I came across the following column recently by Neal Gabler of Reuters, in which he tells us the following…

    An editor championing truth over opinions shouldn’t be an earthquake. But it is. Journalistic extremes have long disregarded fact for ideology. However the bulwarks of American journalism — our mainstream newspapers, websites, magazines, and network news broadcasts — have opted for another principle: Every opinion, no matter how uninformed, deserves equal weight — and journalists dare not come down on one side or the other. It makes balance the new objectivity.

    This careful balancing act is now so commonplace that we hardly recognize it. Most anyone watching the evening network news during the government shutdown, for example, saw man-on-the-street interviews of first one person blaming the Republicans for the fiasco (for which they did bear the greatest responsibility), followed by another person blaming the Democrats, followed by a third blaming everyone in government. That has become standard journalistic practice in mainstream media outlets.

    A large reason for the “on-the-one-hand,” “on-the-other” reporting has been the success of conservatives in creating the shibboleth of a “liberal” media and then working the refs in that media to bend over backward to prove it isn’t true. No one, not least of all liberal editors, wants to be considered one-sided.

    I know this isn’t original stuff, but kudos to Gabler for pointing that out.

    I was reminded of how important it is to stress this over and over when I came across the following item recently on the Op-Ed page of the Bucks County Courier Times, the place where (more often than not) reasoned dialogue and informed commentary die a slow, painful death (by the way, John Carr is no better or worse than any of the wingnuts who fester and take up space in that paper)…

    J_Carr1a

    The highlighted statement is demonstrably false. No, it’s not an opposing point of view or some kind of alternative “take” based on a review of current events. It’s a lie. It is provably wrong (and the Courier Times obviously doesn’t know, or doesn’t care about the difference…sadly, they have a lot of company on that). And for proof, click here.

    The fact that the “fourth estate” has (for the most part) completely abdicated its responsibility to educate and inform (along with the fact that too many of us have let that happen) will be one of the epitaphs of this country over the last 30 years or so. And it is absolutely nothing to be proud of.

    Update 11/11/13: God, this is depressing – definitely thought she was better than that.


  • Thursday Mashup (8/2/12)

    August 2, 2012

    (Note: I’ve had a bit more time to do this recently than I thought, but this won’t be the case very often, for what it’s worth.)

  • To begin, I give you some true hilarity from Willard Mitt Romney economic guru (and former Bushie – that applies to a lot of the Romney-ites, by the way) Glenn Hubbard here (here’s the “Cliff Notes” version…cut taxes, Austerity! Austerity! Austerity!, and “entitlement reform”)…

    In contrast to the sclerosis and joblessness of the past three years, the Romney plan offers an economic U-turn in ideas and choices. When bolstered by sound trade, education, energy and monetary policy, the Romney reform program is expected by the governor’s economic advisers to increase GDP growth by between 0.5% and 1% per year over the next decade. It should also speed up the current recovery, enabling the private sector to create 200,000 to 300,000 jobs per month, or about 12 million new jobs in a Romney first term, and millions more after that due to the plan’s long-run growth effects.

    You know what? At a certain point, I actually find myself running out of words for this utter nonsense; just click here to read and/or view something approximating the same degree of reality as that statement. And oh yeah, this post pretty well dismantles the magical thinking when it comes to the stated Romney/Hubbard position on this subject.

    (And by the way, nice touch for Hubbard to actually take his disagreement with Obama overseas, as noted here – oh yeah, Dixie Chicks, Dixie Chicks, Dixie Chicks…funny thing, though; they weren’t officially representing our government when they criticized Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History.)

    The Romney people simply are not serious. On this or most any other issue. Period – full stop.

    Update 8/4/12: And as more evidence of their “unseriousness,” I give you this.

  • Oh…mah…gawd – it looks like the Obama people were at fault for Solyndra after all (here)…

    “Political pressure” by a White House eager to tout its stimulus agenda was largely to blame for fast-tracking the ill-fated $535 million Solyndra loan guarantee, according to findings in a massive new congressional report released Thursday morning.

    (And gosh, how many pages were in this “massive” report, I wonder? I mean, all Mikey The Beloved and his pals ever do is complain about the size of the Affordable Care Act legislation – could this be yet another example of the Repugs trying to have it both ways? Perish the thought!)

    Oh, and by the way…

    The report, by Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, caps a nearly yearlong investigation by the panel into why the government allegedly ignored red flags to approve the loan. Solyndra, a solar-panel firm, filed for bankruptcy last year.

    Surprised? Oh, and one more thing…

    The report, which follows another GOP-authored congressional study earlier this week on the “Fast and Furious” scandal, is sure to fuel an election-year furor over questionable taxpayer investments in private companies.

    About “Fast and Furious” (or, as I call it, Operation Wide Receiver 2.0), Crooks and Liars tells us the following from here (namely, if the Repugs’ own committee couldn’t fix blame on the White House, what does that tell you?).

    Also, I’ve done the whole “Solyndra!” thing to death, but if anyone still wants to read the reality point of view on this subject, click here.

  • Finally, I know I really should ignore the idiocy of John Stossel, but I guess some stoo-pid is too obnoxious to brush off (here)…

    The Olympics have gone smoothly despite — gasp! — America’s team wearing clothing made in China at the opening ceremony.

    “I’m so upset,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “Take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile, and burn them. … We have people in the textile industry who are desperate for jobs.”

    Here, Reid demonstrates economic cluelessness. It seems logical that Americans lose if American clothing is made overseas. But that’s nonsense. First, it’s no surprise the uniforms were made in China. Most clothing is. That’s fine. It saves money. We invest the savings in other things, like the machines that Chinese factories buy and the trucks that ship the Olympic uniforms.

    The Cato Institute’s Daniel Ikenson’s adds: “We design clothing here. We brand clothing here. We market and retail clothing. … Chinese athletes arrived in London by U.S.-made aircraft, trained on U.S.-designed and -engineered equipment, wear U.S.-designed and -engineered footwear, having perfected their skills using U.S.-created technology.”

    That’s free trade. Trade makes us richer.

    Anyone making that stupid argument during a period of mass unemployment rivaling the Great Depression should endure the same head slap that Stossel once endured from wrestler David Schultz (and yes, I know I’m not supposed to encourage violence, but I’ll tip-toe over the line for this occasion).

    Let’s “set the wayback” for seven years ago, shall we (March 2005 to be exact)..this tells us the following…

    SHANGHAI, March 9 – In the first month after the end of all quotas on textiles and apparel around the world, imports to the United States from China jumped about 75 percent, according to trade figures released by the Chinese government.

    The statistics bear some of the first evidence that China’s booming textile and apparel trade, unhampered by quotas, could be prepared to dominate the global textile trade and add to trade tensions around the world. The quotas came to an end on Dec. 31 as a result of an international agreement reached in 1993.

    In January, the United States imported more than $1.2 billion in textiles and apparel from China, up from about $701 million a year ago. Imports of major apparel products from China jumped 546 percent. Last January, for example, China shipped 941,000 cotton knit shirts, which were limited by quotas; this January, it shipped 18.2 million, a 1,836 percent increase. Imports of cotton knit trousers were up 1,332 percent from a year ago.

    These figures may be understated because China ships a large part of its goods through Hong Kong, and those shipments are not included.

    Fears that China is going to flood the world market with cheap textile exports have already inflamed tensions between Washington and Beijing because of worries about American manufacturing plants being closed and thousands of jobs being lost.

    And sure enough (from here)…

    MOUNT AIRY, N.C. — Jane Knudsen was a 19-year-old mother of two when she went to work in a textile mill here in 1973. Jobs were plentiful: “When you started work, you thought you’d be there until you retired,” she says.

    She didn’t make it. The mill shut down a few years ago. So she took a job with an auto supplier. Then she lost that one. Now 57, she’s a part-time cook at the Surry County jail.

    Here, in the place that inspired Mayberry of The Andy Griffith Show and in textile towns just like it across the Southeast, thousands of workers are starting over again, sometimes painfully, at ages when they thought they’d be planning retirement.

    Mount Airy (pop. 9,500) has lost 3,180 jobs in textile and apparel plant closings since 1999, the North Carolina Employment Security Commission says. The nation has lost 707,000 textile and apparel jobs since January 2000 and nearly 263,000 since a trade pact phased out quotas on textile imports in January 2005, opening the floodgates to imports.

    Those jobs won’t be coming back: The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the three occupations that will lose jobs the fastest (on a percentage basis) from 2008 to 2018 are in textiles. The bureau expects textile and apparel manufacturing jobs will drop 48% to 259,000 from 2008 to 2018.

    What a shame Mrs. Knudsen and other hard-working Americans who had the proverbial rugs pulled out from under them by idiot Washington politicians (cheered on by media stooges like Stossel) can’t land cushy jobs as conservative TV pundits instead.

    Oh, and March 2005 – now who was taking up space in An Oval Office back then? And who is it that the Repugs are doing their best to hide while they make ready for their coronation of Willard Mitt Romney as their presidential candidate in Tampa?


    Heckuva job, Dubya.


  • Too Much Talk While Our Planet Melts

    July 13, 2010

    Call me naive, but I honestly don’t think the issue is getting Obama on board. However, lending our voices with his will enable him to go back to political clowns like Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao, Huckleberry Graham and Holy Joe Lieberman and tell them “hey, these people are standing with me on this even if you aren’t.”


    Today’s Repug “Laff Of The Day”

    February 16, 2010


    As noted here, Repug U.S. House Rep Paul Broun of Georgia tells us the following…

    Today, President Obama will announce the building of two new nuclear reactors at a Southern Company plant in Georgia. This is a step in the right direction towards achieving energy independence in the United States, but there is much more work to be done.

    Increasing nuclear power is just the first step in a comprehensive, all-of-the-above plan for energy independence. Rather than additional regulations, we need additional refineries, clean coal and nuclear power plants, as well as ethanol, biodiesel, wind and solar investments.

    As noted here, Broun voted against the American Clean Energy and Security Act last June.

    The jokes write themselves sometimes, people.


    Friday Mashup (10/23/09)

    October 23, 2009

  • I happened to come across the following highlighted story at the Fix Noise site…

    Fox_Funny_1
    Oh mah gawd, I thought to myself; I’d better click on this story and read it right away!

    And after I did, I found this (with the very different headline of “Google CEO: Vast Web Changes Coming Within Five Years”).

    And just to make sure, I searched the story for “government” and “screw” and found nothing.

    So just to reiterate, Fox “News” ran a story with an imaginary quote from the story subject in the headline.

    And they actually have the gall to whine when they’re not treated like a reasonably serious news organization (more here – unless they were really trying to criticize this but were too lazy and/or cowardly to do it any other way).

  • Pitts_3885523_200X150

  • And in another somewhat shocking development, I came across the following item from The Hill by none other than U.S. Congressional District PA-16’s very own waste of space, Pancake Joe Pitts himself…

    There is one thing that people across the ideological spectrum can agree on when it comes to the issue of energy—the United States needs to produce far more clean energy from a source that does not rely on the whims of tyrants in far off parts of the world.

    Fortunately, there is a technology out there that produces clean, emission free energy without the need for raw materials imported from unstable countries. Our green energy future is a nuclear future.

    I believe that we need to provide for a regulatory process that will encourage an increase in the production of this clean, alternative energy.

    I don’t think we should charge headlong into developing nuclear reactors as a means of lessening our oil dependency, but I grudgingly admit that nukes should be part of the picture (of course, it doesn’t hurt that Limerick, the site of an existing reactor, is in nearby PA-06, but I guess Jim Gerlach, that district’s rep, is too busy trying to run for governor to sign onto this also).

    However, as I read the text of Pitts’ bill, I came across a little item of concern (the very last section, actually)…

    The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 shall not be used to arbitrarily prevent uranium mining from taking place on Federal lands. The Federal Government shall not collect additional leasing fees, beyond that which are currently applicable, to mine uranium on Federal lands. Any fees collected in association with commercial uranium mining on Federal lands that should be applied for remediation purposes, shall only be applied to the remediation of sites that incurred damage as a result of commercial nuclear activities. Such fees shall not be applied to the remediation of any sites that incurred damage as a result of Government or Government-sponsored activities.

    So basically, Pitts is proposing that the Act not be enforced to “prevent uranium mining,” huh?

    This story from last July tells us the following…

    WASHINGTON – The Interior Department announced Monday it is temporarily barring the filing of new mining claims, including for uranium, on nearly 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon.

    The land is being set aside for two years so the department can study whether it should be permanently withdrawn from mining activity, according to a notice published in the Federal Register online. The notice covers 633,547 acres under the control of the Bureau of Land Management and 360,002 acres in Kaibab National Forest.

    The announcement comes ahead of Tuesday’s congressional hearing on a bill to set aside more than 1 million acres of federal lands north and south of the canyon. The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, and environmental groups had been looking to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for temporary protections at the Grand Canyon while the legislation is pending.

    The Interior Department under President George W. Bush was unresponsive to efforts to ban new uranium mining claims. The House Natural Resources Committee invoked a little-used rule to stop any new claims for up to three years, but Interior officials refused to recognize the action and continued to authorize additional mining claims.

    Former Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Rob Arnberger said he would welcome any protection that (Interior Secretary Ken) Salazar offers, but permanent withdrawal is the goal.

    “Are we prepared to allow the landscape to be torn up adjacent to the park, to threaten the hydrological and the natural resources of that park?” Arnberger said. “My answer to that is no. Don’t open it up to exploration.”

    So, if Pitts wants to advocate for more nukes, that’s his right. However, don’t try to play these cowardly and environmentally destructive games in the meantime.

    Given al of this, I guess I shouldn’t complain so much when Pitts regularly votes No, since that’s usually not as detrimental as episodes such as this, when he actually decides to do something but ends up flirting with catastrophe for his (and our) trouble.

  • Malcolm

  • Finally, former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm opined as follows from here…

    Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services, who recently taught Americans the federally-approved way to sneeze this season, was on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

    She was trying to explain widespread delays in the delivery of the H1N1 vaccine across the country.

    Basically, of course, she said it wasn’t the Obama administration’s fault, that as soon as the vaccines come in, they’re being shipped out immediately by the many thousands of doses.

    You know how everyone talks about Americans not making things anymore, that so many manufacturing jobs, for instance, have been shipped overseas?

    Well, Sebelius was essentially saying the same goes for flu-vaccine-making.

    Four of the world’s five makers are foreign. And we all think we know what that means.

    Huh?

    Members of Congress could have been exploring this subject last winter when their latest automatic pay raises took effect.

    Instead, Wednesday they expressed shock and dismay at the situation now that it’s October and thousands are already falling ill with the H1N1 virus…

    Also, Purdue University researchers reported the late deliveries may not matter because by the end of this year 63% of Americans will be infected anyway. So, too many doses, too late.

    Well, this wasn’t helped one bit by the following, as noted here last April…

    Famously, Maine Senator Collins, the supposedly moderate Republican who demanded cuts in health care spending in exchange for her support of a watered-down version of the stimulus, fumed about the pandemic funding: “Does it belong in this bill? Should we have $870 million in this bill? No, we should not.

    Even now, Collins continues to use her official website to highlight the fact that she led the fight to strip the pandemic preparedness money out of the Senate’s version of the stimulus measure.

    And as noted here by Dana Milbank at the WaPo (experiencing a welcome moment of clarity, describing how a certain furry red muppet was called upon to make the case for flu preparedness)…

    This reliance on (PR stunts) rather than medicine is not the fault of the Obama administration, which has done about the best it could with limited tools. It’s the result of years of failure to build adequate vaccine-manufacturing capacity in the United States. Too little work on new vaccine technologies means producers of flu shots still rely on the ancient method of making inoculations with chicken eggs. And the anemic public health system will almost surely buckle this fall as flu sufferers flood emergency rooms.

    If there’s any good news, it’s that the government may be jolted into building an adequate vaccine and public health infrastructure before a more severe pandemic comes along with the potential to kill millions of Americans instead of mere thousands. In the meantime, the best the feds can do is try to slow the spread of the germs until the vaccines arrive…

    And just remember which political party favors delay and obstruction on health care reform as you read this, including fighting the creation of the infrastructure Milbank is talking about.

    Which is nothing to sneeze at, if you will, as the number of flu cases rise across this country (it’s a shame that there’s no similar vaccine to stifle pundit idiocy, or else Malcolm would require multiple injections).


  • Time For Thursday Health Care Hackery (And More)

    August 13, 2009

    Santorum_Card
    If you’re thinking that all I ever do is post about health care anymore, I should tell you that that’s not correct, though you are close to the truth.

    In today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, Former Senator Man-On-Dog laments the cost of the health care reform legislation here (as a former U.S. Senator, I’m sure he has no coverage issues concerning his own health care) and tells us the following…

    Even after all this new spending, almost half a million Pennsylvanians would still be uninsured, according to the Lewin Group, a health-care consulting firm. And if a government plan modeled after Medicare became available to everyone, the firm predicts that a majority of privately insured Pennsylvanians would move to the government plan.

    Oh, by the way, as Media Matters notes here, the Lewin Group is owned by United Healthcare, so don’t expect anything approximating a “fair and balanced” point of view (the Media Matters post also tells us of another sky high – and incorrect – enrollment estimate from Lewin…I would say there’s quite a difference between 88 million and 2 million.)

    And here’s more from our former “family values” senator…

    The health-care proposals could be financed partly through cuts in Medicare reimbursements to health-care providers. Pennsylvania ranks third, behind West Virginia and Maine, in the share of the population on Medicare. So not only would our doctors and hospitals be hurt disproportionately, but other insurance rates would go up as costs are shifted to the private sector.

    Philadelphia also would feel a disproportionate impact. A proposed surtax on the “rich” to pay for expanded coverage would disproportionately strike higher incomes in the region. But the biggest hit would be to the region’s bioscience industry.

    American health care was born in Philadelphia. The city boasts a list of national health-care firsts: first hospital, children’s hospital, medical school, cancer center, and more. Not surprisingly, those institutions are also among the nation’s best. This region leads the country, and our country leads the world in innovative medicine.

    Why? Because private markets reward excellence and innovation. Government-managed systems won’t pay for either. With more than 40,000 people employed in bioscience jobs in the Philadelphia area, a shift away from quality and innovation would disproportionately penalize the region.

    As noted here, the Philadelphia life sciences industry is funded also by the city and the state (I have no information on federal funding, and Santorum’s argument that enrollment in a government-funded public option could mean less for the life sciences industry from Uncle Sam is nothing more than typical propaganda).

    But wait, there’s more!…

    As to the climate bill, it would make coal Public Enemy No. 1, slapping enormous taxes on states that produce it and burn it for electricity. Pennsylvania is among the top five coal-producing states. More than 900 active mines employ more than 20,000 workers in the Commonwealth, in addition to almost 60,000 other jobs related to mining.

    Taxing poor people in Appalachia for the benefit of California, New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey may be politically appealing to Democrats.

    But is it change Pennsylvanians can believe in?

    Demagoguery aside, Santorum actually has a point, shockingly enough. And that’s why ten Democratic senators, including PA’s Bob Casey and Arlen Specter, signed off on a letter that stated as follows (here)…

    In a letter to Obama, the senators asked for a strong “border adjustment mechanism” to help U.S. industries adjustment to higher energy costs. Such a “mechanism” might include a tax or tariff against foreign manufacturers whose costs aren’t affected by the legislation.

    “Any climate change legislation must prevent the export of jobs and related greenhouse gas emissions to countries that fail to take actions to combat the threat of global warming comparable to those taken by the United States,” the senators write.

    And as long as I’m taking note of Little Ricky, this tells us that he’s been “making the stops” in Iowa. To do some ground work. For three years from now. Contemplating the “big chair” at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    It’s almost too scary for words.

    JDMullaneOh, and since it is Thursday, that means that it’s time once more for J.D. Mullane of the Bucks County Courier Times to inflict more nonsense on our public deliberation on health care reform (here…and by the way, read commenter “my2cents” for the reality-based perspective).

    And today, that means attacking something else in the House version of the bill, and that would be Section 1233 (and in so doing, Mullane singles out Dem Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon)…

    Blumenauer, a lawyer, insists that Section 1233 is “carefully crafted” and “bipartisan” and that the “advance planning” it promotes is “voluntary.”

    Yet, the word “voluntary” does not appear in the law. To be fair, neither does the word “mandatory.” This leaves the legal intent vague.

    Blumenauer has denounced critics as “unhinged.” He has issued a “myth vs. fact” paper, insisting that Section 1233 “merely provides coverage under Medicare to have a conversation once every five years if – and only if – a patient wants to make his or her wishes known to a doctor.”

    In fact, Section 1233 says more than that. A patient’s wishes may be “known” and “respected,” but the treatment a patient receives will be “guided by a coalition of stakeholders.” These include doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, long-term care facility managers, lawyers, hospice caregivers and state departments of health.

    I read through Section 1233 from the bill (here), and I can’t find evidence of what Mullane is talking about. But in case I missed something, here is Section 1233 of the bill…

    SEC. 1233. ADVANCE CARE PLANNING CONSULTATION.
    6 (a) MEDICARE.—
    7 (1) IN GENERAL.—Section 1861 of the Social
    8 Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395x) is amended—
    9 (A) in subsection (s)(2)—
    10 (i) by striking ‘‘and’’ at the end of
    11 subparagraph (DD);
    12 (ii) by adding ‘‘and’’ at the end of
    13 subparagraph (EE); and
    14 (iii) by adding at the end the fol15
    lowing new subparagraph:
    16 ‘‘(FF) advance care planning consultation (as
    17 defined in subsection (hhh)(1));’’; and
    18 (B) by adding at the end the following new
    19 subsection:
    20 ‘‘Advance Care Planning Consultation
    21 ‘‘(hhh)(1) Subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), the
    22 term ‘advance care planning consultation’ means a con23
    sultation between the individual and a practitioner de24
    scribed in paragraph (2) regarding advance care planning,
    25 if, subject to paragraph (3), the individual involved has
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    425
    •HR 3200 IH
    1 not had such a consultation within the last 5 years. Such
    2 consultation shall include the following:
    3 ‘‘(A) An explanation by the practitioner of ad4
    vance care planning, including key questions and
    5 considerations, important steps, and suggested peo6
    ple to talk to.
    7 ‘‘(B) An explanation by the practitioner of ad8
    vance directives, including living wills and durable
    9 powers of attorney, and their uses.
    10 ‘‘(C) An explanation by the practitioner of the
    11 role and responsibilities of a health care proxy.
    12 ‘‘(D) The provision by the practitioner of a list
    13 of national and State-specific resources to assist con14
    sumers and their families with advance care plan15
    ning, including the national toll-free hotline, the ad16
    vance care planning clearinghouses, and State legal
    17 service organizations (including those funded
    18 through the Older Americans Act of 1965).
    19 ‘‘(E) An explanation by the practitioner of the
    20 continuum of end-of-life services and supports avail21
    able, including palliative care and hospice, and bene22
    fits for such services and supports that are available
    23 under this title.
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    •HR 3200 IH
    1 ‘‘(F)(i) Subject to clause (ii), an explanation of
    2 orders regarding life sustaining treatment or similar
    3 orders, which shall include—
    4 ‘‘(I) the reasons why the development of
    5 such an order is beneficial to the individual and
    6 the individual’s family and the reasons why
    7 such an order should be updated periodically as
    8 the health of the individual changes;
    9 ‘‘(II) the information needed for an indi10
    vidual or legal surrogate to make informed deci11
    sions regarding the completion of such an
    12 order; and
    13 ‘‘(III) the identification of resources that
    14 an individual may use to determine the require15
    ments of the State in which such individual re16
    sides so that the treatment wishes of that indi17
    vidual will be carried out if the individual is un18
    able to communicate those wishes, including re19
    quirements regarding the designation of a sur20
    rogate decisionmaker (also known as a health
    21 care proxy).
    22 ‘‘(ii) The Secretary shall limit the requirement
    23 for explanations under clause (i) to consultations
    24 furnished in a State—
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    427
    •HR 3200 IH
    1 ‘‘(I) in which all legal barriers have been
    2 addressed for enabling orders for life sustaining
    3 treatment to constitute a set of medical orders
    4 respected across all care settings; and
    5 ‘‘(II) that has in effect a program for or6
    ders for life sustaining treatment described in
    7 clause (iii).
    8 ‘‘(iii) A program for orders for life sustaining
    9 treatment for a States described in this clause is a
    10 program that—
    11 ‘‘(I) ensures such orders are standardized
    12 and uniquely identifiable throughout the State;
    13 ‘‘(II) distributes or makes accessible such
    14 orders to physicians and other health profes15
    sionals that (acting within the scope of the pro16
    fessional’s authority under State law) may sign
    17 orders for life sustaining treatment;
    18 ‘‘(III) provides training for health care
    19 professionals across the continuum of care
    20 about the goals and use of orders for life sus21
    taining treatment; and
    22 ‘‘(IV) is guided by a coalition of stake23
    holders includes representatives from emergency
    24 medical services, emergency department physi25
    cians or nurses, state long-term care associa-
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    •HR 3200 IH
    1 tion, state medical association, state surveyors,
    2 agency responsible for senior services, state de3
    partment of health, state hospital association,
    4 home health association, state bar association,
    5 and state hospice association.
    6 ‘‘(2) A practitioner described in this paragraph is—
    7 ‘‘(A) a physician (as defined in subsection
    8 (r)(1)); and
    9 ‘‘(B) a nurse practitioner or physician’s assist10
    ant who has the authority under State law to sign
    11 orders for life sustaining treatments.
    12 ‘‘(3)(A) An initial preventive physical examination
    13 under subsection (WW), including any related discussion
    14 during such examination, shall not be considered an ad15
    vance care planning consultation for purposes of applying
    16 the 5-year limitation under paragraph (1).
    17 ‘‘(B) An advance care planning consultation with re18
    spect to an individual may be conducted more frequently
    19 than provided under paragraph (1) if there is a significant
    20 change in the health condition of the individual, including
    21 diagnosis of a chronic, progressive, life-limiting disease, a
    22 life-threatening or terminal diagnosis or life-threatening
    23 injury, or upon admission to a skilled nursing facility, a
    24 long-term care facility (as defined by the Secretary), or
    25 a hospice program.
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    •HR 3200 IH
    1 ‘‘(4) A consultation under this subsection may in2
    clude the formulation of an order regarding life sustaining
    3 treatment or a similar order.
    4 ‘‘(5)(A) For purposes of this section, the term ‘order
    5 regarding life sustaining treatment’ means, with respect
    6 to an individual, an actionable medical order relating to
    7 the treatment of that individual that—
    8 ‘‘(i) is signed and dated by a physician (as de9
    fined in subsection (r)(1)) or another health care
    10 professional (as specified by the Secretary and who
    11 is acting within the scope of the professional’s au12
    thority under State law in signing such an order, in13
    cluding a nurse practitioner or physician assistant)
    14 and is in a form that permits it to stay with the in15
    dividual and be followed by health care professionals
    16 and providers across the continuum of care;
    17 ‘‘(ii) effectively communicates the individual’s
    18 preferences regarding life sustaining treatment, in19
    cluding an indication of the treatment and care de20
    sired by the individual;
    21 ‘‘(iii) is uniquely identifiable and standardized
    22 within a given locality, region, or State (as identified
    23 by the Secretary); and
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    •HR 3200 IH
    1 ‘‘(iv) may incorporate any advance directive (as
    2 defined in section 1866(f)(3)) if executed by the in3
    dividual.
    4 ‘‘(B) The level of treatment indicated under subpara5
    graph (A)(ii) may range from an indication for full treat6
    ment to an indication to limit some or all or specified
    7 interventions. Such indicated levels of treatment may in8
    clude indications respecting, among other items—
    9 ‘‘(i) the intensity of medical intervention if the
    10 patient is pulse less, apneic, or has serious cardiac
    11 or pulmonary problems;
    12 ‘‘(ii) the individual’s desire regarding transfer
    13 to a hospital or remaining at the current care set14
    ting;
    15 ‘‘(iii) the use of antibiotics; and
    16 ‘‘(iv) the use of artificially administered nutri17
    tion and hydration.’’.
    18 (2) PAYMENT.—Section 1848(j)(3) of such Act
    19 (42 U.S.C. 1395w–4(j)(3)) is amended by inserting
    20 ‘‘(2)(FF),’’ after ‘‘(2)(EE),’’.
    21 (3) FREQUENCY LIMITATION.—Section 1862(a)
    22 of such Act (42 U.S.C. 1395y(a)) is amended—
    23 (A) in paragraph (1)—
    24 (i) in subparagraph (N), by striking
    25 ‘‘and’’ at the end;
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    1 (ii) in subparagraph (O) by striking
    2 the semicolon at the end and inserting ‘‘,
    3 and’’; and
    4 (iii) by adding at the end the fol5
    lowing new subparagraph:
    6 ‘‘(P) in the case of advance care planning
    7 consultations (as defined in section
    8 1861(hhh)(1)), which are performed more fre9
    quently than is covered under such section;’’;
    10 and
    11 (B) in paragraph (7), by striking ‘‘or (K)’’
    12 and inserting ‘‘(K), or (P)’’.
    13 (4) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made
    14 by this subsection shall apply to consultations fur15
    nished on or after January 1, 2011.
    16 (b) EXPANSION OF PHYSICIAN QUALITY REPORTING
    17 INITIATIVE FOR END OF LIFE CARE.—
    18 (1) PHYSICIAN’S QUALITY REPORTING INITIA19
    TIVE.—Section 1848(k)(2) of the Social Security Act
    20 (42 U.S.C. 1395w–4(k)(2)) is amended by adding at
    21 the end the following new paragraphs:
    22 ‘‘(3) PHYSICIAN’S QUALITY REPORTING INITIA23
    TIVE.—
    24 ‘‘(A) IN GENERAL.—For purposes of re25
    porting data on quality measures for covered
    VerDate Nov 24 2008 00:08 Jul 15, 2009 Jkt 079200 PO 00000 Frm 00431 Fmt 6652 Sfmt 6201 E:\BILLS\H3200.IH H3200 jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with BILLS
    432
    •HR 3200 IH
    1 professional services furnished during 2011 and
    2 any subsequent year, to the extent that meas3
    ures are available, the Secretary shall include
    4 quality measures on end of life care and ad5
    vanced care planning that have been adopted or
    6 endorsed by a consensus-based organization, if
    7 appropriate. Such measures shall measure both
    8 the creation of and adherence to orders for life9
    sustaining treatment.
    10 ‘‘(B) PROPOSED SET OF MEASURES.—The
    11 Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register
    12 proposed quality measures on end of life care
    13 and advanced care planning that the Secretary
    14 determines are described in subparagraph (A)
    15 and would be appropriate for eligible profes16
    sionals to use to submit data to the Secretary.
    17 The Secretary shall provide for a period of pub18
    lic comment on such set of measures before fi19
    nalizing such proposed measures.’’.
    20 (c) INCLUSION OF INFORMATION IN MEDICARE &
    21 YOU HANDBOOK.—
    22 (1) MEDICARE & YOU HANDBOOK.—
    23 (A) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 1 year
    24 after the date of the enactment of this Act, the
    25 Secretary of Health and Human Services shall
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    433
    •HR 3200 IH
    1 update the online version of the Medicare &
    2 You Handbook to include the following:
    3 (i) An explanation of advance care
    4 planning and advance directives, includ5
    ing—
    6 (I) living wills;
    7 (II) durable power of attorney;
    8 (III) orders of life-sustaining
    9 treatment; and
    10 (IV) health care proxies.
    11 (ii) A description of Federal and State
    12 resources available to assist individuals
    13 and their families with advance care plan14
    ning and advance directives, including—
    15 (I) available State legal service
    16 organizations to assist individuals
    17 with advance care planning, including
    18 those organizations that receive fund19
    ing pursuant to the Older Americans
    20 Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 93001 et
    21 seq.);
    22 (II) website links or addresses for
    23 State-specific advance directive forms;
    24 and
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    •HR 3200 IH
    1 (III) any additional information,
    2 as determined by the Secretary.
    3 (B) UPDATE OF PAPER AND SUBSEQUENT
    4 VERSIONS.—The Secretary shall include the in5
    formation described in subparagraph (A) in all
    6 paper and electronic versions of the Medicare &
    7 You Handbook that are published on or after
    8 the date that is 1 year after the date of the en9
    actment of this Act.

    Everybody got that? Good.

    And as noted here…

    Many observers now today write in the media that erroneous interpretations of Section 1233 of Health Care Reform Bill is (sic)very “egregious,” as it involves the lives of our senior citizens. The erroneous interpretation is that the government will counsel the senior citizens every five years on how to end their lives early. This is outrageous interpretation of end of life planning.

    What the Section 1233 of the Health Care Reform Bill really reads is that “Medicare will pay for an “advance care planning consultation” once every five years. Section 1233 is actually creating a new benefit for seniors that will be paid for by Medicare. It will only pay for one consultation every five years unless the patient’s health changes. If that happens, the provision then calls for Medicare to pay for a new consultation when the change in health occurs,” explains SV Herald.

    (More information is available here.)

    By the way, I actually visited J.D. Mullane’s blog yesterday (where common sense goes home to die) and found out that his column will, according to Mullane, now “run…in the Burlington County Times, our sister newspaper across the river, beginning September. I’m looking forward to covering the governor’s race, one of the highest profile matchup’s in the country. With the Courier, the Intel in Doylestown and the Burlington paper, the audience expands to more than 100,000 readers.”

    I just thought anyone out there who was thinking of renewing their subscription to the Courier Times (and who may be reading this) should know that Mullane’s publisher thinks rank propaganda should be rewarded instead of punished.

    And newspapers wonder why they’re losing circulation…


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