Saturday, March 17, 2012

Newt Gingrich's Accidental Humblebrag

Originally posted to The Jed Report on Fri Mar 16, 2012

Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich keeps on digging (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Newt Gingrich says Ronald Reagan is his only intellectual equal in the Republican Party:

"Other than Ronald Reagan, I know of no Republican in my lifetime who's been able to talk like this," Mr. Gingrich told a banquet crowd here, referring to his own policy ideas on energy, brain science and other matters. "That's why I'm still running, because the gap is so huge."
I know Newt was boasting, but when you're trying to offer yourself up as an intellectual giant, you might want to avoid comparing yourself to a guy who falsely claimed trees were a major source of pollution, who falsely claimed there was no Russian word for freedom, and who falsely denied funding death squads with illegal arms sales to Iranians.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Saturday Satire: Romney, Santorum, Gingrich

Copyright © 2012 Creators Syndicate

CartoonArts International

Copyright © 2012 Universal Press Syndicate






Texas Loses Medicaid Funding In Effort To Spite Planned Parenthood

   You have to love those dumb-assed Republicans in the Texas government, because no one else does. At least not the 130,000 women who are affected by this GOP bullshit.

by Joan McCarter on Thu Mar 15, 2012

Last Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that they would be informing the State of Texas that the state would lose basic health and family planning services funding from Medicaid because it is in violation of federal law. The state wrote Planned Parenthood out of the state's Women's Health Program, a Medicaid-waiver program.

As of today, Texas has been officially informed that the funding is lost, via this letter from HHS official Cindy Mann, director of the Center for Medicaid and State Operations (CMSO). Here's the key part:

Texas has elected to move forward with a State rule that restricts freedom of choice of health care providers for women enrolled in WHP effective March 14, 2012 Consistent with longstanding statutory provisions that assure free choice of family planning providers, the Demonstration does not provide the State the authority to impose such a limitation, and we advised the State in our December 12, 2011 letter that we had concluded that such authority would not be granted. We very much regret the State's decision to implement this rule, which will prevent women enrolled in the program from receiving services from the trusted health care providers they have chosen and relied upon for their care. Last year, nearly half of all the services under WHP were provided by clinics that are likely to be excluded from the program under the new rule.

In light of Texas' actions, CMS is not in a position to extend or renew the current Demonstration, except for purpose of phasing out this Demonstration.

An HHS official told reporters today:
“Medicaid law is very clear; a state may not restrict patients’ choice of providers of services like mammograms and other cancer screenings, if those providers are qualified to deliver care covered by Medicaid. Patients, not state government officials, should be able to choose the doctors and other health care providers that are best for them and their families. In 2005, Texas requested this same authority to restrict patients’ choices, and the Bush Administration did not grant it to them either.”

The war on women's health just resulted in 130,000 casualties in Texas.

Another "End of Medicare as we know it" scare from the right

by gravlax    Wed Mar 14, 2012        Original

Remember when all you heard from the right was that government in healthcare was bad? Maybe the left won a framing battle over the right to medical coverage in the form of Medicare. Of course, the right is still attacking medical coverage while, at the same time, claiming to want to preserve it. Same old conservative double-speak.

Hollywood Tea Partier Pat Boone, recipient of the 2011 CPAC "Lifetime Achievement Award", is the "star" of a new ad by the 60 Plus Association, the conservative alternative to AARP.

Pat Boone and Explore Talent at MusiCares 2009

          Pat Boone told a whopper

The ad is part of a $3.5 million campaign asking Democratic Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Ben Nelson (D-FL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI to eliminate part of what is known as "Obamacare".

See this article in The Washington Post's Fact Checker, "More ‘Mediscare’ hooey, GOP version". Glenn Kessler gives the Mediscare claims 3 Pinochios, for "Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions".

I give it four capers, for "complete b.s.".

Pat Boone

Pat Boone at 2011 CPAC (photo by Gage Skidmore)

The ad concerns the Independent Payment Advisory Board, set up by sections 3403 and 10320 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

While the GOP has yet to come up with the equivalent of "Death Panels" for the IPAB, this ad is part of an ongoing effort to convince voters that this board can ration care and deny certain Medicare payments, as well as cut up to $500 million from Medicare.

The 60 Plus ad ...
Attacking the IPAB is another front in the "
War on 'Obamacare'".

I, for one have not seen this particular attack before, but according to the WaPo article, this is nothing new.

Perhaps it is because I don't live in a highly contested area or that I am not watching the right channels on the teevee or visiting the right sites on the intertoobs.

Either way, this is new to me. So I will try to wade through the issue with the help of Glenn Kessler and the help of teh google.

(also, see this article from TPMDC about the efforts to repeal the IPAB and positions taken by both Democrats and Republicans re: its repeal)

follow below the Orange Squigglies of Mediscare for more ...

“President Obama’s health care law cuts $500 billion from Medicare.”

from Kessler,
"This is another oldie but goodie.
Under Obama’s health-care law, Medicare spending continues to go up year after year.
Moreover, the savings actually are wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries."
So, that part seems to be WRONG. I believe that Kessler uses the term "oldie but goodie" as a euphemism for total malarky. He is much too evenhanded for such a term so I will use it in his stead.

The $500 billion figure comes from an accounting method in which one takes the anticipated spending on Medicare, known as the baseline, and compares it with anticipated savings from the ACA. See slide 15 of this tutorial from the Kaiser Family Foundation for a chart of year-by-year savings.

In 2015, the new healthcare law is expected to save $50 billion, a baseline of $725 billion and projected spending after the bill of $675 billon. In 2019, the new law is projected to save nearly $100 billion, a baseline of $943 billion and and projected spending of $845 billion.

That is a significant saving but it is still nowhere near the $500 billion claim that comes from the right. Either that is some really fuzzy math, or just plain old making up numbers. I lean towards the latter.

"It's like a Medicare IRS"

from Kessler,
"In effect, the IPAB appears designed to mimic the
Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission, which was designed in the late 1980s by then Rep. Dick Armey (R-Tex.) with the backing of the Reagan administration."
The 15 members of the IPAB will be appointed by the President and subject to Senate confirmation. The board's purpose is to make recommendations for reducing costs should the rate of growth exceed a certain target, beginning in 2015.

Beginning in 2018, should spending still exceed the target, the board would then submit a cost-cutting plan to the White House and Congress. The Senate would be able to pass a different set of cuts or reject the IPAB proposal by a three-fifths vote.

The IRS, on the other hand, is tasked with estimating the amount of taxes owed and recording payments made, with the odd audit thrown in. The audit rate for 2010 was 6.5 audits per 1,000 taxpayers.

Granted, the IRS is an easy target for anyone trying to create populist outrage. I know that I don't enjoy paying taxes but I do acknowledge their need and celebrate all the groovy things that those taxes pay for. Also, I should note, all of the things that I wish my taxes weren't spent on like rising incarceration, the War on Drugs, and war in general.

Unlike many on the right, and pretty much anybody at a Tea Party rally, I believe in taxes AND single-payer healthcare. So, I take this claim to be a cheap ploy to drum up anti-government sentiment on the right.

“This IPAB board can ration care and deny certain Medicare treatments”

from Kessler,
"The health-care law, by the way, explicitly says that the recommendations cannot lead to rationing of health care. (See
page 428 of the law.)"
Again, WRONG. I am having a hard time trying to find a better way to say this than Kessler. But here's a shot.

Lying-pants on fire-malingering-no good-rotten-dirty-lying-liar!

"Your choices could be limited and you may not be able to keep your own doctor"

from Kessler,
"The law also limits recommendations that would change benefits, modify eligibility or increase Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing, such as deductibles, coinsurance and co-payments."
The only way this could be true would be the case of a doctor not choosing to accept Medicare payments. I have run across many physicians who have made this choice for various reasons. The most common is the complaint that the rules for submitting payments are onerous.

But, any medial insurance system might result in a patient not being able to keep their own doctor. Fee for Service programs might see doctors raising prices, which could result in a patient no longer being able to afford that particular doctor. HMO's restrict patients to in-network providers. PPO's allow you to see out of network physicians but at a higher co-pay.

So this is more pandering and fear-mongering from 60 plus. Everyone wants to have a relationship with their doctor. Everyone wants that continuity of care. Also, everyone wants the ability to find a doctor that they feel comfortable with. While I am not a professional, my reading of the ACA does not say anything about keeping patients from their doctors.

Certain Republican legislation regarding abortion and contraception, on the other hand, certainly does seem to be a way to get between a patient and their doctor or at least to get into the room with them.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rush Limbaugh Advertisers Running Away

    As of Monday, March 12,2012, Limbaugh’s show has lost some 142 advertisers, and many are big, household names.

  21st Century Insurance • • Rite Aid • Ace Hardware • Honda • Robitussin • Acura • IBM • Sam  Adams • Advance Auto Parts •  Sam’s Club • Advil (All products) •Allegra (all products) • Johnson & Johnson (All Brands)• Little Caesars • Sony • Lowe’s • State Farm • British Petroleum • Luxottica • Staples • Bullfrog Sunblock • Macy’s • Sterling/Kay Jared Jewelers • Caltrate • MasterCard • Subway • Centrum • McDonalds

  Check out all of the advertisers pulling their ads in this Premiere Radio Networks memo.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

GOP Losing Birth Control Debate

Republicans have lost the birth control debate

by Joan McCarter    Wed Mar 14, 2012

Nice corner you've painted yourself into there, GOP.

bloomberg poll

bloomberg poll

Seventy-seven percent of respondents to this Bloomberg poll think that the political debate over birth control should not be happening, and 62 percent completely reject the idea that this is about "religious liberty," and recognize that is absolutely is “a matter of women’s health and access to birth control.” Here's how one respondent, a Republican woman, responded on the question:

“I don’t understand why it’s even an issue in politics—a woman’s decision of what she’s going to do for her health and her family,” said Alycia Vetter, a 44-year-old Republican and Romney supporter in Denver. “And I’m pro-life.”
Hopefully a lot of Republicans, like Ms. Vetter, will finally wake up to the fact that the extremists are now in charge of their party. Maybe it will make them pay a little more attention to things like Mitt Romney vowing to end Planned Parenthood and rethink their support.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

With Such High Percentages of Blacks in the South, Why Don't Blacks Have More Political Power There?

Originally posted to Kwik on Mon Mar 12, 2012

As millions of white Republicans (and I suppose a few from other races) prepare to vote in Tuesday's GOP Presidential Primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, I can't help but wonder how Republicans retain such strongholds on political power in southern states with such high percentages of black citizens not named Ward Connerly, Thomas Sowell or Alan Keyes.

     Before my late father-in-law died, my wife, our kids and I used to visit him in Sandersville, Ga. a few times a year.  Sandersville is exactly what you'd expect from a small southern, rural town.  Three things used to stand out to me during our visits:  the genuine warmth from folks of all races, the glaring neighborhood segregation between the haves and have nots and that the very few whites I saw seemed to own and/or manage all the businesses in town -- except for the black funeral home.

     According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Sandersville is about 59% black and 40% white.  Based on what I've seen I have serious doubts about the accuracy of those figures.  I'd put the black percentage up around 75%.  Yet, of the six city council positions (including the mayor), four are held by whites.   

     Once I asked my father-in-law if the mayor of Sandersville was black.  He shook his head and said, "They ain't gonna let that happen."  I suppose the "they" he referred to are the same "theys" who are working hard to suppress the minority vote in the South and all across America today.  He went on to say, "We get along around here as long as we accept the status quo.  As long as we accept the fact that they have all the money and the power there's an uneasy peace between the races here."  I suppose having a white mayor is part of keeping that uneasy peace.

     I'm not saying that just because blacks make up the majority in Sandersville that they should, just by virtue of that majority, have a black mayor or even the majority of the seats on the city council, but the fact that they don't makes me wonder why not?  The town was founded in 1796.  It would seem it would have had at least one black mayor over 216 years. 

     But it makes you wonder if the blacks in Sandersville and the rest of the Deep South even care about political power.  Or are they somehow discouraged from voting or holding office?  Are they still afraid of cowards in white hoods coming in the night burning crosses in their yards?  Could it be residual effects from the Reconstruction Period and Jim Crow era?  And with all the voter suppression efforts and laws passing across American, I think it's about to get worse.

     It's a shame that more blacks don't vote in states like Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina and Mississippi where we make up at least a quarter of the statewide populations.  If so, then maybe the Republican South wouldn't be so Republican.