Friday Mashup (2/1/13)

February 1, 2013
  • It’s been a little while since I checked in with former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm of Investor’s Business Daily, but, kind of like the dull toothache you experience when you bite down a little too hard on a freezer pop, he has returned, Obama-baiting rhetoric and “Democrat” Party references in tow (here, and as is almost always the case accompanied by polling numbers that don’t come close to telling the whole story)…

    Predictably perhaps, the nation’s economy, which President Obama has vowed to repair even more often than he golfs, earns the least satisfaction from Americans, according to the new Gallup survey. Only one-in-five Americans (20%), presumably among those still employed, are somewhat or very satisfied with the economy. That’s down 27 points since the same 2005 Gallup survey.

    Inquiring minds giving Malcolm more attention than he deserves would be wondering I’m sure why the Dubya loyalist would go back to 2005. Why, that was at the peak of our last economic bubble under Former President Highest Disapproval Rating in Gallup Poll History, of course (you know, so Malcolm could skew the numbers as much as he could).

    And let me note also that, while only 20 percent of this country is satisfied with the economy, Gallup also tells us here that 14 percent approve of our wretched U.S. Congress.

    So with an economic approval of only 20 percent, Obama’s actual approval number would be about that or near Congressional approval if Malcolm were correct to blame Number 44 exclusively, right?

    Uh, no (48 percent, to be exact).

  • Next, Repug U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch tells us here that upgrading our system of background checks in this country prior to approving to gun purchases would lead to a “reduction in liberty,” or something.

    Really?

    To get an idea of why Hatch said that, you need only read this; basically, like all Repugs in Congress, Hatch is worried about saying or doing anything whatsoever that could bite him in the ass from the Limbaugh-Hannity-Drudge faction that was once the fringe, but pretty much calls the shots now in his party (Hatch easily won re-election last year, but the fundraising pretty much never stops any more in the absence of public-money-only campaign financing).

    Hatch also doesn’t want to do anything whatsoever to shut off that flow of dough from the NRA, which has graced him with about $136 grand to date, as noted here.

  • Continuing, I give you the latest from Stu Bykofsky at philly.com on immigration (here)…

    If we fail to get enforcement – not just at the border, but in the workplace – we will “invite” millions more “guests” to arrive illegally, and we will repeat the same drama again.

    That’s a recipe for disaster.

    In response, this tells us that, after about 30-40 years of steadily increasing immigration to this country from Mexico (legal and otherwise), the pace has slowed down. Also, this tells us that PA Repug U.S. House Rep Lou Barletta (who I discussed here) said recently that there basically was no point to pursuing immigration reform for unskilled workers since, well, they’ll just become Democrats anyway (nice guy).

    Think Progress has the nonsense from Barletta and a lot more important stuff on this issue from here (and on the question of Obama and enforcement, the following should be noted from here).

    Update 2/3/13: More “epic fail” from Barletta is here – voters in his district who supported this clown must be so proud (I’m sure Barletta needs special protection from an would-be assailant brandishing a spoon).

  • And speaking of policies from the Obama Administration, I give you this

    Smith & Nephew eliminated nearly 100 jobs in Memphis and Andover, Mass., on Thursday, Jan. 31, as the medical device company cuts expenses in an effort to offset tax hikes included in the Affordable Care Act.

    The Affordable Care Act includes a 2.3 percent medical device tax, which took effect Jan. 1.

    The London-based company, which employs about 1,800 people in Memphis, said the new tax will cost the industry about $30 billion over 10 years.

    “(The tax) has impacted a number of companies across the U.S.,” said Joe Metzger, senior vice president of corporate communications. “Smith & Nephew is not immune from this added expense burden.”

    Smith & Nephew announced in February 2012 that it would reduce its global workforce by 7 percent over the next three years. Several other companies announced similar plans, including Stryker and Medtronic.

    I’m sorry about the Smith & Nephew workers in this country who are now out of a job, of course. However, the company still was able to pursue a deal worth about $782 million in cash last year to acquire Healthpoint Biotherapeutics, a “big name” among bio-pharma companies (here). Didn’t they anticipate what they thought would be the “rainy day” of more medical device taxes to protect their workers?

    And I wonder if a $22 million settlement in a bribery case had anything to do with their sudden financial hardship (here and here)?

  • Finally, with the return of a new Congressional session last month, that marked a return of the old Repug U.S. House wingnut extraordinaire Steve King of Iowa (here, among other idiocies)…

    Mr. Obama’s executive elimination of all work requirements of “welfare to work” violated the 1996 welfare reform work legislation, which was signed by President Clinton. Mr. Obama violated the Constitution by waiving provisions that the law specifically stated could not be waived by the president.

    It should be noted that Politifact had something to say about that urban legend of sorts here when it was uttered by Former Senator Man-On-Dog during the Repug presidential primary last year (just add this to the ever-growing catalog of King wingnuttia, much of which is chronicled here).

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    Monday Mashup Part One (10/11/10)

    October 11, 2010

    (At least one of these items is from last week, but this is the first chance I’ve had to post on it.)

  • 1) Former Senator (and would-be Repug party presidential nominee, apparently – dear God, please let him win the nomination…I’ll post forever!) Man-On-Dog opined as follows in (where else?) The Philadelphia Inquirer recently here…

    Liberal elites are once again using health-care policy to advance one of their agenda items, this time on the abortion front.

    The American Civil Liberties Union has launched an effort to force religious hospitals to provide abortions. The organization is asking the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – which controls nearly $800 billion in President Obama’s latest budget – to force hospitals to provide abortions or lose federal funding.

    The views of the centers’ administrator, Dr. Donald Berwick, are so controversial that Obama had to appoint him while Congress was in recess. Now he is overseeing the writing of countless new health-care regulations, and the ACLU can’t let an opportunity like that slip by.

    Using a handful of mostly anonymous anecdotes about pregnant women who were denied abortions at religiously affiliated hospitals, the group is demanding that Berwick’s agency rewrite the rules of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act to force care providers to perform abortions.

    I’m not going to post about Dr. Berwick because I don’t want to rehash any right-wing arguments and thus inadvertently give them more oxygen than they deserve. Instead, I want to focus on an “anonymous anecdote,” as Little Ricky glibly puts it, that seems to be a lynchpin for his specious argument (of course, he con-vee-niently chooses to downplay the anonymity right patients have anyway due to HIPAA regulations).

    This tells us of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ, a Catholic-owned hospital that provided a life-saving abortion to a young mother of four who was dying from pulmonary hypertension.

    As the story tells us…

    The hospital’s Ethics Committee determined that her physicians would be permitted to perform the abortion under the Ethical and Religious Directives under which Catholic hospitals operate. Though the hospital provided the necessary care in this instance, the Catholic hierarchy — via the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (PDF) and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix (PDF) — subsequently issued statements denouncing the emergency abortion, and making clear that abortion can essentially never be performed at a Catholic hospital. This means that the next woman who enters a Catholic hospital in need of an emergency abortion could die.

    And as this story tells us, the hospital administrator, Sr. Margaret McBride, was “automatically excommunicated” by Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted.

    The story from the ACLU web site tells us that the group “asked the federal government to ensure that religiously affiliated hospitals provide emergency reproductive health care as required by the Emergency Medical Conditions and Women in Labor Act and the Conditions of Participation for hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds (PDF).”

    Of course, given what passes for Santorum’s thought processes, forcing Catholic hospitals to comply with the law automatically gets spun into forcing health providers who oppose abortion to act against their “conscience.”

    So just remember, you would-be moms who run into catastrophic circumstances with your pregnancy, as far as Santorum is concerned, you can either save your own life and commit a mortal sin in the process, or die a slow, excruciating death with a clear conscience, just so long as you “propagate” the faith.

  • 2) Also, I haven’t had much to say about columnist Deroy Murdock, but this item was impossible to ignore, particularly the following…

    Washington dictates showerhead water pressure, limits the capacity of flush toilets, and essentially will ban Edison-style light bulbs as of 2014.

    Yep, looks like those dern terrists are even gonna come after us in our bathrooms (Godless heathens, including those danged li-bu-ruuls).

    This tells us that the law phasing out incandescent light bulbs was signed in 2007, so whatever you may think of that (and the jury seems to still be out, as they say, on the replacement-type bulbs…I’ve read that though fluorescent bulbs contain a smaller amount of mercury than the traditional incandescent bulbs, they pose more of a risk of mercury exposure than the older type if they break), you can’t blame Obama for that (not as president, anyway).

    But in terms of the water from the shower heads, the Murdoch Street Journal tells us here that consumers mostly aren’t affected, and 95 percent of existing shower heads are compliant anyway.

    So it looks like Deroy Murdock is all wet (sorry, too easy).

  • 3) Finally, it’s time for another chapter of Fun With Poll Numbers Starring Former Laura Bush Employee Andrew Malcolm (here)…

    According to president No. 44, George Bush presided over eight years of failed policies and left a huge mess that Obama has been unable to clean up, even with Joe Biden’s verbal help.

    But here’s the problem. And it’s a big one: The American public is now disagreeing with Barack Obama on that issue, too. A new CNN/Opinion Research Poll shows the pair are virtually tied now in terms of approval of their presidencies.

    This tells us the following (“Photoshopped” pic and all)…

    A new CNN/Opinion Dynamics poll released today should provide some hope to Democrats and cause a bit of concern for the GOP ahead of the mid term elections. The poll revealed that a majority of Americans (53%) blame George W. Bush and the GOP not Barack Obama and the Democrats for the nation’s current economic problems.

    The CNN/ Opinion Dynamics poll asked a very simple question. Who do you hold responsible for the nation’s current economic problems George W. Bush and the GOP, or Barack Obama and the Democrats? Fifty three percent of respondents blamed Bush and the Republicans, while only 33% blamed Obama and the Democrats, 10% blamed both parties, 3% said neither, and 1% were not sure.

    In the poll cited by Malcolm, the numbers are 47 percent Obama and 45 percent Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History (which, despite it all, are twice those at least of a former moose-hunting, half-term Alaska governor, as noted here).


  • Abyseeinya, Little Ricky

    July 15, 2010

    Santorum_Card
    As noted here, yesterday marked the final “regular” (???) column in the Philadelphia Inquirer by Former Senator Man-On-Dog himself, Little Ricky Santorum. And, true to form, he conjured up all kinds of “Oooga Booga!” scenarios in response to the news that “a federal district court judge in… Boston ruled that the majority of Republicans and Democrats in Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act for the one purpose forbidden by law: ‘to disadvantage a group of which it disapproves’.”

    To which I reply, well…duuuuh! And of course, it is also appropriate that Santorum ended his stint at the Inky by taking another shot at Beantown, as he did here.

    As noted here, “The (Boston) ruling relied on two arguments: that the law interfered with the rights of states guaranteed in the 10th Amendment, and that it violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause. “

    Am I the only one who finds it ironic that a “tenther,” “states rights” argument was used to refute a position or belief most commonly held by Tea Party wingnuts?

    Well anyway, I should note that, on the occasion of Santorum’s final Inquirer column, it really behooves us all to take a look back at some of his less stellar moments (I’m just providing excerpts here – if I included all of them, it would take two days to write this post)…

  • Said President Obama was “detached from the American experience” here
  • Said Obama’s “charm offensive” was a bust in Muslim nations, though the numbers state otherwise (here)…
  • Blamed President Clinton for inflating the housing bubble here (seriously)…
  • Argued here that if a government-run public option had been included in health care reform, it would have meant fewer dollars for the life sciences industry in Philadelphia…
  • Defended Dutch filmmaker and politician Geert Wilders from Muslim attacks without noting that Wilders had drawn a correlation between the Koran and Mein Kampf here
  • Criticized Joe Biden for blocking a resolution he sponsored against Iran when he was senator, though Santorum voted against a resolution penalizing companies doing business with Iran (here)…
  • Asked (and answered), “But are any treatments with embryonic stem cells being used today? No,” and also asked/answered, “Are there any anticipated in the near future? No,” and he was wrong on both counts (here)…
  • Said that Hugo Chavez of Venezuela was “replacing legitimate popular elections” here (uh, no – if that country rids itself of him, they’ll be able to do it without our help)
  • Criticized Obama for trying to control the manipulation of gas prices on the futures market here – meanwhile, he voted No on a bill to reduce our oil usage by 40 percent instead of 5 percent by 2025, voted Yes on terminating Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards for vehicles within 15 months, and voted Yes to defund renewable and solar energy…
  • Kept up the same theme as his signoff column about how “teh gay” is trying to destroy marriage here
  • And just to let you know that I actually agreed with Santorum once in a great, great while, I did so in response to this column in which he criticized a PA voter for switching his party allegiance from Republican to Democratic in 2008 to vote for the “weaker” Dem presidential candidate in the primary election (Pennsylvania has “closed,” primaries, I should point out).
  • Finally, for what it’s worth, this was my reaction when I first heard that The Inquirer was going to give Santorum a “soap box” for his blather.
  • So there you have it, and with that, one “regular” right-wing ideologue columnist for philly.com bites the dust (don’t worry, though, since they still have at least three more between Kevin Ferris, Christine Flowers and John Yoo).

    And I have no doubt that we’ll hear from Little Ricky again – I’m sure either The National Review or The Daily Caller is beckoning, probably among others.


    Wednesday Mashup Part One (6/30/10)

    June 30, 2010

  • 1) Someone named Christian Adams over at the Washington Times tells us the following (here)…

    On the day President Obama was elected, armed men wearing the black berets and jackboots of the New Black Panther Party were stationed at the entrance to a polling place in Philadelphia. They brandished a weapon and intimidated voters and poll watchers. After the election, the Justice Department brought a voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party and those armed thugs. I and other Justice attorneys diligently pursued the case and obtained an entry of default after the defendants ignored the charges. Before a final judgment could be entered in May 2009, our superiors ordered us to dismiss the case.

    The New Black Panther case was the simplest and most obvious violation of federal law I saw in my Justice Department career. Because of the corrupt nature of the dismissal, statements falsely characterizing the case and, most of all, indefensible orders for the career attorneys not to comply with lawful subpoenas investigating the dismissal, this month I resigned my position as a Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney.

    I already got into the Black Panther thing here, linking to a TPM post which pretty much blew the whole “controversy” to bits, though, being a true “zombie lie,” I expect this to keep getting resuscitated by the wingnutosphere on a fairly frequent basis (and I really could care less about Adams quitting – I’m sure he’ll be employed with some cushy right-wing think tank before too much longer).

    However, the real reason why I’m saying anything about this at all is because of this piece of nonsense from Adams’s column today…

    Some have called the actions in Philadelphia an isolated incident, not worthy of federal attention. To the contrary, the Black Panthers in October 2008 announced a nationwide deployment for the election. We had indications that polling-place thugs were deployed elsewhere, not only in November 2008, but also during the Democratic primaries, where they targeted white Hillary Rodham Clinton supporters. In any event, the law clearly prohibits even isolated incidents of voter intimidation.

    Using that Google thingie, I performed some random searches and found absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support this claim (aside from hysteria at sites linking to Adams). None.

    However, I did find out the following about Adams (here)…

    Adams was hired to the Civil Rights Division in 2005 by Bradley Schlozman, the Bush appointee who, as acting head of the division in 2006, was found to have violated rules against politicized hiring, then lied to Congress about it.

    Adams is also a former volunteer with the right-wing National Republican Lawyers Association, which has criticized the Obama Justice Department for dropping the New Black Panther case.

    And in 2004, as a Bush campaign poll watcher in Florida, Adams publicly criticized a black couple that refused to accept a provisional ballot, after election officials said they had no record of the couple’s change of address forms, Bloomberg reported. Voters had been warned not to accept provisional ballots, because of the risk that they could later be discounted.

    This whole “Black Panther” thing is an utter farce, treated seriously by news organizations which, if they were doing anything close to what their jobs purport to be, would have blown it to bits long ago.

  • Update 7/3/10: More on Adams here…

  • 2) Also, Matt Bai of The New York Times keeps giving me posting material (here)…

    This blurring of racial and ethnic lines (in our political campaigns) is, for the most part, deeply inspiring, the manifestation of hard-won progress. Race has not exactly been a nonfactor in Ms. Haley’s campaign (one Republican called her and Mr. Obama “ragheads”), but she has spent a lot more of her energy refuting accusations about her sex life — an intimation of scandal that is thoroughly egalitarian.

    The peril for candidates aspiring to a kind of post-racial identity, however, is that they defy our inclination to cast politicians as protagonists. “If you’re going to tell people who you are, then you’ve got to tell them your story,” (former presidential candidate Michael) Dukakis says now. Minus the continual telling and retelling of the story, voters may like what you signify as a politician, but they may find it harder, when times get rough, to assume your authenticity.

    And so, over the course of the last several weeks, commentators have taken to portraying Mr. Obama as clinical and insufficiently emotive, which is really just another way of saying the president is not really knowable. It is a caricature his opponents can exploit in part because a lot of voters remain murky on his cultural identity.

    “Obama is detached from the American experience,” Rick Santorum, the former Republican senator from Pennsylvania, told a blog called the Iowa Republican on Monday. “He just doesn’t identify with the average American because of his own background — Indonesia and Hawaii.”

    It was a dubious remark, heavy with racial implications.

    I don’t mean to dignify the idiocy of Rick Santorum by quoting him here, or echoing the meely-mouthed concerned trolling of Matt Bai, but on the subject of voters “remain(ing) murky on (Obama’s) cultural background,” I give you this from Think Progress, which tells us that 24 percent of those polled believe Number 44 was born outside of the U.S.

    It’s almost not even worth responding to anymore, really.

    Oh, and on the subject of diversity in politics, Bai cites the following joke once told on the campaign trail by The Gipper himself in 1980 (here)…

    “How do you tell the Polish (guy) at a cockfight? He’s the one with a duck.”

    “How do you tell the Italian (guy)? He’s the one who bets on the duck.”

    “How do you know the Mafia is involved? The duck wins.”

    And of course, The Sainted Ronnie R was just full of outrage because people believed that he thought the joke was funny, even though he said, “I don’t like that type of humor.”

    Sure…

  • 3) And finally, Attaturk at Eschaton presents the latest dustup in “left blogostan” here between Glenzilla and Joke Line (who sayeth as follows)…

    Greenwald–who, so far as I can tell, only regards the United States as a force for evil in the world

    I have to back up a bit here and explain that columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, one of our most notorious and unapologetic Iraq war cheerleaders, beat up on David Weigel, who resigned from the Washington Post after some Emails that were assumed to be on a private listserv were obtained by Tucker Carlson and other conservative miscreants and made public. Glenn Greenwald then went after Goldberg, and now, Klein has gone after Greenwald (you can read what Klein says and Greenwald’s typically thorough response here…kind of hard to summarize all of Greenwald’s details in this post).

    Oh, and one more thing, Joe…

    If you’re going to say anything about Weigel, the least you can do is spell his name right.


  • Thursday Mashup (6/3/10)

    June 3, 2010

  • 1) File this one under “A Headline I Wished I’d Seen When A Certain 43rd President Took Up Space In An Oval Office.”
  • 2) And speaking of presidents, I give you some true hilarity from Repug strategist Cheri Jacobus here from The Hill…

    Obama has big problems. No doubt about that. To be considered as incompetent as Jimmy Carter, and as sleazy as Rod Blagojevich, is no one’s idea of “good news” on even the worst of days in the White House.

    President Obama’s protracted fumbling of the BP oil spill and the mess in the Gulf of Mexico is going to have long-term consequences for him. As it stands now, the nation is stunned at the lack of competence or ability to convey that he is capable of leading a charge to get this thing under control. Throwing everything but the kitchen sink — literally — into the hole is hardly comforting. At this point, many Americans might even be asking, “What would Jimmy Carter do?” because even the worst of the worst seems better than what we’ve got now.

    I realize that this is typical in the world of accountability-free punditry, but here, the numbers I see are a lot closer to 39 percent approval of Obama’s handling of the spill with up to 55 percent disapproving which, though not good numbers, are not apocalyptic either (and again, it’s a bit ironic that those who are screaming the loudest about Obama getting the government involved in the oil refining industry are those who also screamed the loudest when the government became involved with the “banksters” and the auto companies).

    Also, to get a pretty good snapshot of just how bad it is in the Gulf (and I think calling it a “spill” at this point is, unfortunately, too benign), I would suggest reading this Times of London article, particularly the first four paragraphs.

  • Update: Yep, it looks like our somnambulant corporate media is finally paying attention (here, though I certainly don’t put Think Progress in that category).

  • 3) Finally on the subject of our chief executives, I give you Former Senator Man-On-Dog in the Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday (here)…

    Are Obama’s efforts to make friends in Muslim countries working? A Gallup poll released last week suggests that his charm offensive is a bust in some key Muslim nations.

    The poll examined public approval of U.S. leadership in those countries today compared with that under President George W. Bush in 2008. The approval rating in Iraq, at 30 percent, was down from 35 percent under Bush. Lebanon’s, at 25 percent, was the same as under Bush. Egypt’s and the Palestinian territories’, at 19 and 16 percent respectively, were up from 6 and 13 percent.

    Seriously, Little Ricky? You’re actually going to try comparing Obama’s overseas popularity to that of Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History?

    Well, since Santorum doesn’t include a link to the poll in question (and I looked but couldn’t find the exact poll also), I should point out the following from here in a poll from last September (the latest information I could find)…

    …77 per cent of European citizens support Obama’s handling of international affairs, while only 19 per cent found former President George W Bush doing the same.

    It also revealed that 75 per cent of Europeans have confidence in Obama’s ability to combat terrorism and two thirds now have a favourable view of America.

    “We see a remarkable shift in trans-Atlantic opinion from the previous administration,” The Telegraph quoted Craig Kennedy, the president of the German Marshall Fund, as saying.

    And if he’s really interested to learn about one famous Englishman’s opinion of our most recent president, perhaps Little Ricky should take note of Sir Paul’s “library” anecdote here (special “I’m Looking Through You” citation…thanks again for “The Concert For NYC” right after the attack).


  • Little Ricky’s House Of Cards Tumbles Down

    May 19, 2010


    I give you Former Senator Man-On-Dog in the Inky today (here)…

    Over the past year, Americans watched President Obama and congressional Democrats use caustic anti-business rhetoric to rally support for nationalizing major parts of the auto industry, increasing government involvement in health care, limiting executive compensation, and abolishing much of the private sector’s role in student loans.

    Next up, Democrats have set their sights on the financial-services sector. One would think that reforming the government-created entities at the epicenter of the 2008 crash, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, would be first on their agenda. One would be wrong.

    Why? Because these quasi-governmental entities were created and are controlled by Democrats in Washington. If Fannie and Freddie were a creation of the marketplace, Democrats would have made them public enemies Nos. 1 and 2 long ago.

    Little Ricky then goes on to criticize President Clinton for inflating the housing bubble.

    Yes, I’m serious.

    And as far as blaming the Dems for what has transpired with the mortgage giants, this tells us that former Dem Sen. Paul Sarbanes (of “Sarbanes-Oxley” for the uninitiated) warned that “ideologues” have created an impasse over trying to pass GSE reform legislation in 2003 (GSE stands for “government sponsored enterprises,” but for our purposes, we’re basically talking about Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Bank System; S.1508, the reform bill championed by former-Dem-turned-Repug Richard Shelby, was opposed by Bushco because “its receivership provisions were not strong enough,” which, somehow, I think could have been addressed if they weren’t more concerned with scuttling it outright).

    As noted in the prior post, though, a fight took place in 2005 over GSE reform in which “conservative Republicans (were) already bracing…if Shelby’s bill contains any measure that would require the two lending giants to divert a portion of their profits.” And the National Association of Home Builders opposed the 2006 bill from Shelby because it “failed to adequately address the nation’s housing needs” (not sure exactly what that was all about, but again, couldn’t that have been worked out with the NAHB first? After all, they’re a “trade association based in Washington, D.C.,” which automatically makes me inclined to think lobbyists and big bucks, the primary audience for Repugs and too many Dems also).

    So what eventually happened? It was taken over in 2008 by Republican President Former Highest Disapproval Rating in Gallup Poll History and put under the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (here) under James B. Lockhart III, who rebuffed New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo when the following occurred the year before (from here)…

    WaMu has not yet been included in the (Cuomo) suit but earlier this week Cuomo demanded that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae each appoint an Independent Examiner to review mortgages and the underlying appraisals that the two GSEs have purchased with particular emphasis on those purchased from WaMu.

    And remember, this action occurred in ’07 before Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were fully taken over by OFHEO (and in response, Lockhart basically told Cuomo to get lost, since it was a federal matter).

    I think it might have made more sense for Lockhart to cooperate with Cuomo in the investigation since, as noted here, we’re still dealing with the fallout of the housing crisis that was fully underway when Cuomo decided to act, as opposed to Lockhart.

    And just to remind us all, Cuomo is a Democrat and Lockhart is a Republican (and here is a timeline of Bushco telling Congress – which, at that time, was run by Repugs – basically where they can go with any notion of reform for real).

    I’m not going to tell you that the Dems are completely innocent in the matter of the economic mess caused by the explosion of the mortgage bubble either; after all, they didn’t get “cramdown” legislation passed either to get underwater mortgages restructured, though they did try. However, they are a hell of a lot less culpable here than the opposition party.

    Rick Santorum is an utterly unrepentant partisan liar. The fact that he parades himself as a Catholic of piety and still writes these noxious words just about makes me physically ill (and more fool the Inky for continuing to give him column space).


    Time For Thursday Health Care Hackery (And More)

    August 13, 2009

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    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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    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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    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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    429
    •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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    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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    •HR 3200 IH
    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
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    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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    •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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    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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