Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Political Digest June 16, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

No blog for Thursday?
Have a 9-year-old’s ballet recital Wednesday night, so may not get to it. Sorry, but priorities.

Medicare info from a paper I was reviewing
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission reported that 29% of Medicare beneficiaries have trouble finding a primary care doctor to treat them. In Texas, nearly half of the physicians have stopped accepting new Medicare patients into their practice. More than 300 physicians have dropped out of the Medicare program in the last 2 years including 50 in the first three months of 2010. Among primary care providers in Texas, 62% were no longer accepting new Medicare patients. (This is before ObamaCare hits Medicare like a runaway beer truck. As the old joke goes, “Brace yourself, Harry, here comes the bull!”)

Health overhaul to force changes in employer plans
Excerpt: Over and over in the health care debate, President Barack Obama said people who like their current coverage would be able to keep it. But an early draft of an administration regulation estimates that many employers will be forced to make changes to their health plans under the new law. In just three years, a majority of workers—51 percent—will be in plans subject to new federal requirements, according to the draft. Employers say it's more evidence that the law will drive up costs. Republicans say Obama broke his promise. But some experts believe increased regulation will lead to improved benefits for consumers.

American Crossroads attacks Harry Reid in new ads
Excerpt: American Crossroads, a conservative outside organization, is launching television ads today that take Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to task for the economic stimulus package passed by Congress last year. "With Nevada in economic free fall, Harry Reid brags about his taxpayer-funded $787 billion bailout," says the ad narrator. The ad goes on to note that 180,000 Nevadans are out of work and home values have "plummeted." The ad ends with an image of Reid, President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). The ad, which will run for a week and cost the group $120,000, is the first television commercial sponsored by American Crossroads since it was formed in the spring. According to its most recent filing, the group has raised a little over $1 million but has significantly broader financial aspirations. The American Crossroads ad comes six days after former state assemblywoman Sharron Angle surged to a Republican primary win. Reid began the general election campaign two days later with positive ads touting his accomplishments on energy. But he quickly pivoted with a commercial that hits Angle for favoring the elimination of Social Security and for her support of a prison rehabilitation program influenced by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Etheridge apologizes for confrontation caught on video
Excerpt: Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-N.C.) on Monday apologized for behaving aggressively during a confrontation on the street with a young man who claimed to be a student. "I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction and I apologize to all involved," he said in a statement released by his office.

Exclusive: House ethics office asks lobbyists for info on lawmakers
Excerpt: A House ethics office is demanding fundraising information from lobbyists on five Republicans and three Democrats, according to a document obtained by The Hill. The House Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) this month sent letters to officials on K Street requesting detailed information on the lawmakers, all of whom sit on the Financial Services Committee or the Ways and Means Committee. The letter seeks wide-ranging fundraising and campaign contribution data from lobbyists about their dealings with the eight legislators dating back to the beginning of last year.

Obama pleads for $50 billion in state, local aid
Excerpt: President Obama urged reluctant lawmakers Saturday to quickly approve nearly $50 billion in emergency aid to state and local governments, saying the money is needed to avoid "massive layoffs of teachers, police and firefighters" and to support the still-fragile economic recovery. In a letter to congressional leaders, Obama defended last year's huge economic stimulus package, saying it helped break the economy's free fall, but argued that more spending is urgent and unavoidable. "We must take these emergency measures," he wrote in an appeal aimed primarily at members of his own party. The letter comes as rising concern about the national debt is undermining congressional support for additional spending to bolster the economy. Many economists say more spending could help bring down persistently high unemployment, but with Republicans making an issue of the record deficits run up during the recession, many Democratic lawmakers are eager to turn off the stimulus tap.

Retirements by baby-boomer doctors, nurses could strain overhaul
Excerpt: Since the passage of the health-care law in March, much has been said about the coming swarm of millions of retiring baby boomers and the strain they will put on the nation's health-care system. That's only half the problem. Overlooked in the conversation is a particular group of boomers: doctors and nurses who are itching to call it quits. Health-care economists and other experts say retirements in that group over the next 10 to 15 years will greatly weaken the health-care workforce and leave many Americans who are newly insured under the new legislation without much hope of finding a doctor or nurse. Nearly 40 percent of doctors are 55 or older, according to the Center for Workforce Studies of the Association of American Medical Colleges. Included in that group are doctors whose specialties will be the pillars of providing care in 2014, when the overhaul kicks in; family medicine and general practitioners (37 percent); general surgeons (42 percent); pediatrics (33 percent), and internal medicine and pediatrics (35 percent).

Markey, Dems blast oil industry as unprepared for major spills
Lawyer training: if the law is against you, pound the facts. If the facts are against you, pound the law. If both are against you—pound the table!

Don't use my name: The anonymity game
Character assassination from hiding by cowards. Not really a new Washington game by either party, but a game for people without honor. Excerpt: You've heard the pledges before: We're going to swear off the stuff, really we are. Or at least -- hic! -- reduce our consumption. But journalists seem more addicted than ever to the elixir of anonymous sources. I'd be fine with unnamed sources who'd tell us what was really going on at the Minerals Management Agency while oil companies were allowed to write their own ticket with no real contingency plans. You know, people who might lose their jobs if they blew the whistle on wrongdoing -- the kind of folks for whom the shield of anonymity was intended. For day-to-day political potshots, though, it's really become a kind of free pass: Here, say something snarky about someone who ticks you off and we'll publish it. The latest example -- and this instantly hit the cable/talk radio circuit -- was the unnamed White House aide who took a swipe at the unions who backed Blanche Lincoln's primary opponent before her victory. "Organized labor," said the "senior White House official" who called Politico, "just flushed $10 million of their members' money down the toilet on a pointless exercise."

Washington Sketch: Clinton finally ahead of Obama in popularity
Excerpt: It's about two years too late, but Hillary Clinton has finally pulled ahead of Barack Obama. By any measure -- favorability ratings or job approval -- Americans by a sizable margin have warmer views of the secretary of state than they do of the president. This is of little use to Clinton beyond bragging rights, but among Hillary '08 fans there is some satisfaction that the woman Obama once cut down as "likable enough" is now more liked than he is. Depending on the measure and the poll, she leads him by roughly 10 to 25 percentage points.

2010: Goracle Says “Stop Censoring News From Gulf”... 2008, 2009: Goracle Bans Press From Covering His Speeches…

Librarian Sifts Mexican Press to Tally Drug-Cartel-Related Killings in Juárez
Excerpt: A woman is comforted near the body of a murder victim in Juárez, Mexico, in April. LAS CRUCES, N.M.—Molly Molloy keeps a grim diary. "Eight killed in night club," reads her April 28 entry. "Pregnant woman killed during soccer match," she noted on May 4. Ms. Molloy, a 54-year-old librarian at New Mexico State University here, spends most mornings sifting reports in the Mexican press to create a tally of drug-cartel-related killings in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. She is striving to fill a widening information gap about these homicides in Juárez, some 50 miles southeast of Las Cruces, across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. There is no official count of the people killed in Mexico's escalating drug wars—whether the victims are drug traffickers, police or civilians. A government estimate puts the total at about 22,000 in all of Mexico since late 2006.

Gov. Jindal’s petition on the oil spill

Phony friends of Israel
Excerpt: Congressional Democrats say they want to defend Israel -- but without taking on Israel's enemies. Bizarre choice -- so bizarre as to make their professed support for Israel practically meaningless. At issue is a resolution proposed by Rep. Pete King (R-Long Island) that calls on Washington to quit the US Human Rights Council -- which two weeks ago voted 32-3 to condemn Israel's raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla. Incredibly, not a single House Democrat -- not even from the New York delegation -- is willing to co-sponsor King's resolution "unless we take out the language about the UN," he says. Why? No Democrat wants to go on record disagreeing with President Obama's decision to end the Bush-era boycott of the anti-Israel council -- whose members include such human-rights champions as Iran and Libya.

Democrats Vote Down 5 Percent Rule
Excerpt: In a bid to stem taxpayer losses for bad loans guaranteed by federal housing agencies Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn) proposed that borrowers be required to make a 5% down payment in order to qualify. His proposal was rejected 57-42 on a party-line vote because, as Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn) explained: "...passage of such a requirement would restrict home ownership to only those who can afford it.

TN State Rep: “You have to lift up their skirts to see if they’re women.”
Excerpt: Democrats hate women. Rep. Janis Baird Sontany (D-53) said of female Republican state legislators, “You have to lift their skirts to find out if they are women. You sure can’t find out by how they vote!”…Because all women are supposed to vote the same way? So much for thinking for yourselves and letting women make “choices.” It’s like pretending that all black people are the same. Oh but wait, they do that too. TN State Rep. Janis Baird Sontany has decided that if you are a women, there’s a checklist you’ve got to complete to be considered a woman. Don’t have the votes? Clearly you’re a gender traitor

Somali militants threaten World Cup TV viewers
Didn’t get he memo. Excerpt: Excerpt: Somali militants have threatened football fans they will be publicly flogged - or worse - if they are caught watching the World Cup on TV. Gangs of Islamists are reported to be patrolling the areas they control looking for people watching games. Dedicated fans are watching matches in secret, or in the few areas controlled by government forces. On Saturday militants killed two people as they attacked a house where people were watching a game. Militant group Hizbul-Islam also arrested 10 others at the house north-east of the capital Mogadishu where fans were watching the game between Argentina and Nigeria.

Ground Zero Mosque: Americans Get a Taste of Serbdom
Excerpt: Last week I blogged about the radical Islam that, thanks to our interventions in the Balkans, has entrenched itself in Kosovo and is now proceeding according to plan. That is, targeting not the Christians whom we helped them target originally, but the ultimately intended victims: the area’s non-radicalized Muslims. I also mentioned the connection of this trend to the participation of Albanians on the Gaza Flotilla. The very day that I posted these items, there was a new blog acknowledging the same problem — from none other than the Weekly Standard’s Stephen “Suleyman Ahmad al-Kosovi” Schwartz. Schwartz spent the 1990s making radicalization of the Balkans inevitable by shilling for the “national” interests of the nominal Muslims there — who surely would be immune to the radicals we were infesting the region with!

Thousands Arrested in Massive Federal Drug Sweep
Excerpt: More than 2,200 people were arrested, a top Mexican cartel leader was captured, 75 tons of narcotics were seized, and $154 million in cash was confiscated in what's being called the largest federal drug sweep targeting illegal trafficking from south of the border. The massive operation, called "Project Deliverance" and carried out across the U.S., was part of a two-year, multi-agency operation in the Obama administration's ongoing effort to take down Mexican drug smugglers, The Los Angeles Times reported.

1 comment:

  1. As the CFO I play a big role in renewing our firm's health insurance every year. On June 1st we renewed with another carrier because BCBS wanted to charge us a RATE INCREASE OF 82% ACROSS THE BOARD.

    Obviously we cannot afford that as a company, and neither can our employees. Our only alternative was to dramtically scale back our benefits.

    Incidentally, we have an excellent loss-to-premiums ratio, so it's not anything that could be attributed to the health of our workforce!

    I guess it's just CHANGE and HOPE at work!