Tuesday Mashup (4/23/13)

April 23, 2013

  • I’m a little late I know with this item noting that Earth Day was yesterday (here), and with that in mind, here is a Media Matters post about related stories that are basically going untold by our corporate media (yes, I know they’re from last year, but I haven’t detected that things have changed much).

    Also, on the subject of the environment, Think Progress brings us a pretty exhaustive list of the members of Congress belonging to the “climate zombie caucus” (many of whom continue to take up space on Capitol Hill), and this tells us that, according to the wingnuts, Earth Day is nothing but a communist plot anyway (never mind that that it became law under Republican President Richard Nixon). Also, this tells us about the sordid doings of “Doc” Hastings, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources.

    Want to know why all of this matters? Well, for starters (as a Roman Catholic), I give you this.

  • Also, leave it to the Murdoch Street Journal to regurgitate any and all wingnut talking points, particularly on health care reform as noted here (and by the way, if the Democrats ever run a House committee again and link from that committee’s site to, say, an MSNBC story, I’m sure the wingnut harrumphing will be heard from the mountaintops)…

    Congressional Republicans have mapped out another way to obstruct ObamaCare, thanks to the incompetence of its architects. It’s a shame certain absolutists on the right are mounting another self-defeating rebellion in the name of the impossible.

    The insurrection comes as the Health and Human Services Department has already burned through all the dollars appropriated by the Affordable Care Act for implementation. HHS is now demanding an extra $5.9 billion to set up the law’s insurance exchanges—$2 billion more than it estimated it would take last year—but both Senate Democrats and the House denied the request last month.

    HHS responded by announcing that it would simply steal however many dollars it needs from a separate ObamaCare slush fund. Supposedly devoted to “prevention,” this cash has been funneled to everything from bike-path signs to patronage for liberal pressure groups lobbying for fast-food taxes. Now HHS is reaching into this till for at least $454 million this year, with no accountability.

    Yep, ridiculous is as ridiculous does – as noted here

    …the Affordable Care Act set aside $15 billion over 10 years to support prevention and preventive services through the Prevention and Public Health Fund—the largest commitment ever made by the U.S. government to prevent illness and injury before it occurs and keep people healthy in the first place.

    Attacks on the prevention fund began almost as soon as it was passed. Some Republicans called it a “slush fund,” tried to kill it entirely and then to reduce its funding. Early this year, the fund was slashed to maintain unemployment benefits and avoid cutting pay to doctors in the Medicare program (the so-called “doc fix”).

    Despite the hostility, in 2011, the CDC awarded nearly $300 million in Community Transformation Grants to states, cities and tribes across the country to create safe, walkable streets, promote healthy food environments, support worksite wellness, help children get after-school exercise and reduce people’s exposure to tobacco. One grant went to Oklahoma City, where Republican Mayor Mick Cornett has used the money to boost his efforts to make the city a healthier place.

    Besides, as noted here, the Affordable Care Act incorporates the prevention recommendations from at least two separate pieces of legislation, one from former U.S. House Rep Mike Castle and one from U.S. Senator Mark Kirk.

    And by the way, they’re both Republicans.

  • Continuing, this tells us the following (Update here)…

    Travelers could be in for longer waits at the airport this week, after the Federal Aviation Administration imposed furloughs on air traffic controllers despite claims by some lawmakers that the agency could have complied with the sequester in other ways.

    The FAA went ahead with the furloughs on Sunday, citing the automatic budget cuts that went into effect last month. Some delays appeared in the late evening in and around New York, and according to the FAA were spreading on Monday.

    Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said last week that the FAA “has made zero effort” to avoid the furloughs.

    “The FAA’s decision is a dangerous political stunt that could jeopardize the safety and security of air travelers,” he said in a statement.

    The FAA has estimated there could be flight delays of about 90 minutes during peak periods.

    And if there’s someone who knows all about a “dangerous political stunt,” it’s Tom Coburn.

    You see, Coburn has been obstructing on FAA funding for at least a year and a half, as noted here, to the point where former U.S. Repug Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison called him out, though not by name (Harry Reid came a little closer to that here).

    And by the way, I’m tired of listening to Coburn whine about how dysfunctional Washington is. If he doesn’t like it there so much, then why doesn’t he just get the hell out? It’s not like he doesn’t have other options, right?

  • gwb_13-george-w-bush

  • Further, just when you thought he was gone for good (here)…

    Former President George W. Bush said he feels “no need to defend himself” over the high-profile decisions that marked his two terms in office, saying he will leave those judgments to history.

    “There’s no need to defend myself,” Bush said in an interview with USA Today. “I did what I did and ultimately history will judge.”

    Bush, along with President Obama and former Presidents Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Carter, will be on hand to open the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas on Thursday.

    Here’s a news flash for Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History; half of those polled here from last November still blame him more than Number 44 for the still-perpetually-wretched economy. And this tells us that his approval rating has “skyrocketed” to 35 percent (only the previously mentioned Richard Milhous Nixon, who was faced with impeachment over Watergate that likely would have resulted in a conviction, is more unpopular, as noted here).

    In a really twisted way I’ll admit, Dubya is actually the proverbial “gift that keeps on giving.” By continuing to remind us that he still enjoys the company of mostly decent people everywhere, he is a walking, talking, breathing example of Repug executive “governance” at its very worst, and a perpetual reminder of why his party should never be allowed to wield that degree of power ever again.

    Update 4/25/13: Amen.

  • Finally, I should note that I’m really pissed off about this story, but not for the reason you may think.

    If the kid wearing the T-shirt in question (14-year-old Jared Marcum) didn’t violate any school dress code, then he should have been left alone. Yes, many NRA members continue to gin up their outrage over their crass misinterpretation of the Second Amendment (which, thanks to Hangin’ Judge JR and the Supremes, now has the force of law courtesy of the Heller decision), but this is all we need…another wingnut pity party over being supposedly persecuted and harassed by those oh-so-dastardly liberals trying to take away our freedom!

    I also know that teachers are allowed to make subjective judgments in these situations, and that should be respected too. However, now as a result of this, I’m sure we’ll also have some deep-pocketed pro-gun outfit filing a lawsuit to ensure that anyone on any grounds of any West Virginia school is allowed to carry a concealed weapon (besides, how about a calm, rational discussion with Marcum instead?).

    You want all this nonsense to end, people? Elect Democrats and bug them to pass common sense gun laws. That way, maybe teachers will be less inclined to overreact.

    And by the way, the story tells us that Logan County students wore NRA t-shirts today in solidarity with Marcum.

    thousands-march-against-gun-violence-washington-photos_2
    Heckuva job!


  • Is Daschle Doing The “Health Care Hustle”?

    September 1, 2009

    large_daschle
    Deborah Solomon of the New York Times conducted the following interview with the one-time Obama HHS Secretary nominee in the Sunday magazine, in which we learned the following…

    DS: It has been reported that you’re a paid adviser to the insurance giant UnitedHealth Group, which opposes your belief that health care reform needs to have a public option. Why do you work with them?

    TD: On the left there are those who say that you should never talk to people who differ with you on a high-profile issue. My question to the left would be, whom would they advise these insurance companies talk to? Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin? That’s the alternative. They can talk to Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, or they can talk to me.

    Well, given that UnitedHealth Group has pretty much decided to do anything they possibly can to defeat the public option by claiming it will cost too much money (here), when in reality it will do the opposite (here, according to Daschle himself)…yeah, I think they should be talking to Limbaugh, Beck and Palin instead (to undermine their basically untenable positions, that is).

    And this kind of “hedging his bets” mentality is what bugs me about most Dem “centrists” such as Daschle generally and on this issue in particular (though I guess the instruction “from the top down” was for no “drama” on this issue, and that seems to be the way both Daschle and Kathleen Sebelius – the eventual HHS Secretary – have gone about it).

    The problem, of course, is that there was bound to be “drama” on this issue, a fight that has been simmering at varying degrees in this country for over 70 years. And I’d like to see Daschle drawing the same confrontational line that he takes against “the left” against some of his other “shareholders” on this issue (every time I see Democrats/progressives/liberals/whatever referred to as “the left,” by the way, I feel that we should all be harvesting grain in a field somewhere wearing red bandanas to capture the sweat of our brow and happily singing songs about the workers’ control of the means of production).

    But I digress…

    Meanwhile, Alison Kilkenny of HuffPo tells us the following from here…

    …it was Daschle who first introduced the idea of nonprofit insurance cooperatives as an alternative to the public option. Daschle and his good buddy, Blue Dog Kent Conrad, came up with the idea of insurance co-ops which included the concept of “triggers” that landed Rahm Emanuel in hot water with progressive groups like Firedoglake when he first floated the idea past the public. Basically, the trigger idea meant that the public option would only become a reality if state co-ops or other programs failed to meet certain cost and coverage goals within five years. The idea sank almost immediately thanks in large part to progressive watchdog groups. Now, Henry Waxman told Roll Call, “[Emanuel] doesn’t stand by the trigger…He said the president and his administration and he are for a public plan as one of the options.”

    Privately, Daschle tells his health care industry buddies that the public option is far from finalized. In order to calm the nerves of drug company executives, Daschle told them that “there is no consensus on whether there ought to be a public option.” As recent as last week, he told the hospital executives, “There is virtually no support among Republican members for a public option, and that remains an unresolved element of this debate.” Of course, Daschle is only concerned with support in Congress. Meanwhile, the newest polls indicated that Americans overwhelming(ly) support the idea of including a public option in health care reform.

    Given that, Daschle should remain as adamant about the public option (and its cost benefit) as he first was in the linked post above.

    I understand, though, that Daschle is a strategist, as Jed L. recounts in this Daily Kos post over what would eventually become the fiasco of Medicare Part D. However, I think health care reform calls for the “fire in the belly” approach of the late Sen. Kennedy (probably impossible to calculate the impact of his loss on this issue and so many others), as opposed to the calculated strategy of Daschle who, as Jed notes, wanted to pass the bill to help fellow South Dakota senator Tim Johnson in a campaign against John Thune in 2002, who of course would defeat Daschle two years later.

    (And by the way – and this goes for all Dems – I more or less came to accept that “single payer” wasn’t going to fly, but I never received an explanation to that effect from the party that has tried to pull off health care reform. That would have been a nice courtesy, if nothing else).

    I suppose part of what has spurred me on to say something is a recent episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher” where he criticized the Dems for not selling this issue as forcefully as the Repugs would for one of their pet causes. And though I realize that there’s a big difference between marketing something as complicated as health care reform as opposed to a war of choice in Iraq, I’m not sure that Daschle or the Dems generally have any idea of how to do the former (again, in a way befitting the Bush crowd, which was never shy about what it wanted).

    In closing, I should note that Solomon tells us that Daschle “felt liberated” when he left the Senate to the point where he decided to wear red glasses.

    Given that Tom Daschle has decided to bring the metaphorical knife to the health care gun fight on the matter of the public option (and doesn’t seem to understand those who came properly armed), I believe those glasses have somewhat of a rose-colored tint to them also.

    Update: In a related vein, as they say, I present this (hat tip to Atrios – I should link to John Cole more often).


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