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Archive for January 5th, 2011

How Saddam’s Statue Was Toppled

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 5th, 2011 5:49 am by HL

How Saddam’s Statue Was Toppled
New Yorker: The toppling of Saddam’s statue turned out to be emblematic of primarily one thing: the fact that American troops had taken the center of Baghdad. That was significant, but everything else the toppling was said to represent during repeated replays on television — victory for America, the end of the war, joy throughout Iraq — was a disservice to the truth. How did it happen?



Late Late Night FDL: Joy

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 5th, 2011 5:48 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: Joy
Lucinda WilliamsJoy.

Lucinda WilliamsJoy.

What’s on your mind?

“Your Biggest Fan”
The Republican method of legislation and the Obama Adminstration’s mistakes compound the ability to pass better legislation, if any.

via me at flickr.com

It’s been nearly a month since we heard from David Broder, a blessed 28 Days — uh oh.

But at that time, he’d let Barack Obama know that he had won him over:

Obama used his news conference Tuesday [December 7th, a day which will live in Brodery”] to define himself, more clearly than ever before, as a raging moderate – a man who recognizes that compromise is the key to serving a broad and diverse set of constituencies, rather than fit some ideological standard of intellectual purity.

Meanwhile, in the world of the Republican Party:

“We worked very hard to keep our fingerprints off [legislation advanced by Democrats],” McConnell says. “Because we thought — correctly, I think — that the only way the American people would know that a great debate was going on was if the measures were not bipartisan. When you hang the ‘bipartisan’ tag on something, the perception is that differences have been worked out, and there’s a broad agreement that that’s the way forward.”

So even good and popular legislation can be made to seem “extreme” and dangerous by not being bipartisan.

And it’s not like Obama didn’t offer compromises anyway, thinking he looked like the “bipartisan” guy Broder loves, while undermining both the effectiveness of legislation and playing into this false, but real, perception.

He may be playing 11-dimensional chess, but he has often kind of sucked at it.


Aspiring iPad Killers Crash CES

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 5th, 2011 5:47 am by HL

Aspiring iPad Killers Crash CES
The iPad was the little tablet that could. Now the rush to crash Apple’s party is on. Here’s a look at some of the upstarts turning heads at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show.

The iPad was the little tablet that could. Now the rush to crash Apple’s party is on. Here’s a look at some of the upstarts turning heads at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show.

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GOP Gears Up to Take Down Health Care Reform
Emboldened by their big wins in last fall’s midterm elections, Republican members of Congress are sharpening their battle axes with the aim of hacking away at the health care reform legislation that President Obama and the Democrats took such great pains to pass while they commanded the majority in both houses. The GOP may not succeed in repealing the bill, but they can still hit it where it hurts the most: on the monetary level.  —KA Reuters via Google News: The reforms, passed early last year as the legislative high point of Obama’s first two years, were aimed at addressing the huge cost of U.S. healthcare and eventually extending health insurance to all Americans. But Republicans, portraying them as a costly extension of government control over people’s lives, have vowed to reverse them and set a House vote on their repeal for January 12. While such a drastic move faces a block in the Senate, it will give a stark signal of their intentions and foreshadow a dogged campaign to cut off funding for the many changes due in coming years. Read more

Emboldened by their big wins in last fall’s midterm elections, Republican members of Congress are sharpening their battle axes with the aim of hacking away at the health care reform legislation that President Obama and the Democrats took such great pains to pass while they commanded the majority in both houses. The GOP may not succeed in repealing the bill, but they can still hit it where it hurts the most: on the monetary level.? —KA

Reuters via Google News:

The reforms, passed early last year as the legislative high point of Obama’s first two years, were aimed at addressing the huge cost of U.S. healthcare and eventually extending health insurance to all Americans.

But Republicans, portraying them as a costly extension of government control over people’s lives, have vowed to reverse them and set a House vote on their repeal for January 12.

While such a drastic move faces a block in the Senate, it will give a stark signal of their intentions and foreshadow a dogged campaign to cut off funding for the many changes due in coming years.

Read more

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He’s Back–With A New Heart Pump

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 5th, 2011 5:46 am by HL

He’s Back–With A New Heart Pump
WASHINGTON — A few days before Christmas, former Vice President Dick Cheney ended a self-imposed sabbatical from partisan politics to headline a fund-raiser for Maria…

Cyber Attack On Government Workers Disguised As White House Christmas Email
WASHINGTON — It looked like an innocent e-mail Christmas card from the White House. But the holiday greeting that surfaced just before Christmas was a…

HUFFPOST HILL – 112th Congress Back-And-Forth Begins
The unemployment rate might be nearing double digits but Hill types are doing just fine. Kit Bond and Ron Klain are leaving their government jobs….


Fox Obscures And Misinforms On Prescription “Doughnut Hole” Fix

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 5th, 2011 5:45 am by HL

Fox Obscures And Misinforms On Prescription “Doughnut Hole” Fix

Fox & Friends repeatedly misinformed about a provision in the health care reform law that fixes Medicare Part D’s coverage gap, known as the “doughnut hole.” Purporting to explain the “doughnut hole,” Fox & Friends used the example of a fictional patient whose annual prescription costs did not reach the level of the coverage gap and later hosted Laura Ingraham, who falsely suggested the health care reform law did not fix this coverage gap.

Fox & Friends Explains “Doughnut Hole” By Creating Fictional Patient Who Doesn’t Reach It

Senate Democrats Cited “Doughnut Hole” Fix in Warning Boehner They Would “Block” Health Care Repeal. On January 3, Senate Democratic leadership reportedly sent incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) a letter which warned: “If House Republicans move forward with a repeal of the health care law that threatens consumer benefits like the ‘doughnut hole’ fix, we will block it in the Senate. …This proposal deserves a chance to work. It is too important to be treated as collateral damage in a partisan mission to repeal health care.” [Politico, 1/3/11]

Fox & Friends Invents “Charley Smith,” A Fictional Patient With Low Drug Costs, To Explain The Coverage Gap. Reporting on the Democrats’ letter, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy purported to explain the gap between normal Medicare Part D coverage and catastrophic coverage by inventing a fictional patient named “Charley Smith.” In Doocy’s fictional scenario, Charley Smith’s drug costs were below the level where he would enter the coverage gap, leading Doocy to conclude, “Since Charley did not reach the $2,840 initial coverage limit, he will not enter the doughnut hole.” The only explanation offered for a patient who might enter the coverage gap came from Doocy’s co-host Brian Kilmeade, who said:

KILMEADE: And then when you hit the coverage limit, you got to pay everything. And then when you get to that 2,840 coverage limit, then you’re writing the check, and then all of a sudden, the answers will come in, you’ll get insurance. [Fox News’ Fox & Friends, 1/4/11]

Later in the show, Doocy accurately outlined the various coverage levels, but did not explain how the health care reform legislation addressed the doughnut hole.

In Reality, Millions Of Seniors Are Affected By The Doughnut Hole

The Part D Coverage Gap Leaves Seniors Paying Full Price For Prescription Drugs Until “Catastrophic Coverage” Kicks In. Medicare Part D offers coverage for beneficiaries’ prescription costs. The way the plan is structured, a patient is responsible for a co-payment and deductible, and the plan shares prescription drug costs until the total cost of all prescription drugs in a year reaches $2,830. At that point, beneficiaries are responsible for paying 100 percent of their prescription drug costs until the total cost reaches $6,440. After that, 95 percent of the costs are covered by “catastrophic coverage.” The gap between the normal coverage and catastrophic coverage, during which seniors are responsible for all drug costs, is known as the Part D coverage gap, or “doughnut hole.” [Department of Health and Human Services, accessed 1/4/11; Kaiser Family Foundation, “The Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit,” accessed 1/4/11]

Kaiser Family Foundation: 3.4 Million Seniors Reached Coverage Gap In 2007. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Medicare Chartbook, 26 percent of Medicare Part D enrollees who “filled one or more prescriptions but did not receive low-income subsidies in 2007” reached the coverage gap. According to KFF’s estimate, this accounted for 3.4 million seniors in 2007, or 14 percent of all Part D enrollees. From the Kaiser Family Foundation:

partdenrolees

[Kaiser Family Foundation’s Medicare Chartbook, Fourth Edition, 2010, accessed 1/4/11]

Ingraham Falsely Suggests Health Care Bill Does Not Address Coverage Gap

Ingraham Challenges Sen. Schumer To “Point The Page Number And Paragraph … Where The Doughnut Hole Is Fixed.” Later on Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson claimed that “nobody knows what the heck [the doughnut hole] is.” Guest Laura Ingraham responded: “You then have to ask Senator Schumer: Point to — point the page number and paragraph, subparagraph number, where the doughnut hole is fixed. I mean, these guys don’t even know what’s in this legislation, all right?” [Fox & Friends, 1/4/11]

Coverage Gap Is Addressed in Section 3301 Of The Bill

Section 3301 Outlines The “Medicare Coverage Gap Discount Program,” Which Provides Discounts To Beneficiaries In Coverage Gap. The doughnut hole is addressed by the “Medicare Coverage Gap Discount Program,” which can be found on page 343, Subtitle D, Section 3301 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, as passed by the House and Senate. As the Los Angeles Times reported, beginning in 2010, “any Medicare beneficiary who crosses into the doughnut hole will receive a $250 check to help pay for the drugs. Then, starting in January [2011], patients in the coverage gap will get a 50% discount on brand-name drugs.” [Government Printing Office, accessed 1/4/11; Los Angeles Times, 3/26/10]


Miami Gun Runner Gets 4 Years, Says ‘Good Times’ Weren’t Worth It

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 5th, 2011 5:44 am by HL

Miami Gun Runner Gets 4 Years, Says ‘Good Times’ Weren’t Worth It
Miami gun runner Efraim Diveroli was sentenced yesterday to four years in prison for trying to ship millions of rounds of Chinese-made ammunition to forces in Afghanistan fighting alongside U.S. troops.

Report: Saudi Arabia Captures Israeli Vulture For Being Mossad Spy
Saudi Arabian officials have reportedly arrested a vulture suspected of being a Mossad spy, after the bird, tagged by Israeli scientists, flew into Saudi territory today.

Navy Captain Officially Fired From Command Over Videos
The Navy announced this afternoon that it has fired Capt. Owen Honors from his post as commander of the USS Enterprise over crude videos he made in 2006 and 2007.



Bachmann Weighing Run for President

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 5th, 2011 5:41 am by HL

Bachmann Weighing Run for President
ABC News has learned that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is seriously weighing whether to seek the Republican nomination for president in 2012.

“A source close to the three-term congresswoman said Bachmann will travel to Iowa this month for multiple meetings to seek advice from political forces there and party elders close to the caucus process before coming to a final decision regarding a potential presidential run.”

Baldwin Suggests (Again) He May Run for Office
Alec Baldwin told CNN he is “very, very interested” in running for office but to leave acting would be “extremely painful.”

Said Baldwin: “I have sometimes thought I could move to New Jersey or Connecticut and run. I’d love to run against Joe Lieberman. I have no use for him. But it’s all fantasy.”

Quote of the Day
“I believe the American experiment is in mortal peril because of the debt we have coming… This is more frightening than even the Soviet nuclear threat, which would have been more horrible. If we go broke, we’ll still be alive, but the probability was so small. In this case, the damage, the catastrophe, will be very, very severe, and the probability — I mean, and it’s inexorable.”

— Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, in an interview with the New York Times.

Republicans Set to Take Power
“Republicans will lay claim to a broad — if partial — governing mandate at exactly noon on Wednesday, ushering into Washington scores of new conservative lawmakers who promise to challenge President Obama’s vision for America’s economic future,” the New York Times reports.

Almost as soon as they take control of the House of Representatives, the Washington Post notes Republicans “will embark on a 20-day plan aimed at undoing major aspects of President Obama’s agenda as they seek to take advantage of the weeks before the Senate’s return and the president’s State of the Union address.”

“Recognizing the limits of their power, Republican leaders said they will follow their initial aggressive stance with efforts to force Obama into what they consider principled compromises.”


Who Guards Corrections Corporation of America as it Guards Our Immigration Prisons?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 5th, 2011 5:40 am by HL

Who Guards Corrections Corporation of America as it Guards Our Immigration Prisons?
A federal prosecutor is likely investigating claims that CCA used inmate violence to force prisoners to snitch on one another or be moved to extremely violent units.

Is the Ruination of America Possible?
While the United States has suffered the worst recession in living memory, things have only gotten better for the wealthy.

Republicans’ Radical Plans for Budget Could Threaten the Economic Security of Millions
Newly emboldened Republicans plan to use arcane House procedural rules for a scorched-earth assault against government spending.


Price for Jonathan Pollard’s Release Should be a Done Deal on Palestine

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 5th, 2011 5:39 am by HL

Price for Jonathan Pollard’s Release Should be a Done Deal on Palestine
Jonathan Pollard was paid for his espionage by a foreign government. Whether that government was the Soviet Union, China, Great Britain, or as it turned out — Israel — Pollard was a compensated enemy of the US national interest and…

Barbour, the Citizens’ Councils, and the GOP
Every few years it seems the public is treated to an unguarded moment by a southern Republican of a certain age expressing admiration for his political forebears. The latest is Mississippi governor Haley Barbour’s celebration of the Citizens’ Councils as…



When States Default: 2011, Meet 1841

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on January 5th, 2011 5:31 am by HL

When States Default: 2011, Meet 1841
Dennis Berman, Wall Street Journal
Land values soared. States splurged on new programs. Then it all went bust, bringing down banks and state governments with them. This wasn't America in 2011, it was America in 1841, when a now-forgotten depression pushed eight states and a desolate territory called Florida into the unthinkable: They defaulted on debts.Deputy Money & Investing Editor Dennis Berman explains to WSJ's Evan Newmark why history shows higher taxes are highly probable as states cope with defaults on their loans.This was an incredible step, even then. Fledgling U.S. states like Indiana and Illinois were…

Federal Gov’t Must Rediscover Constitution’s Limits
Roger Pilon, WSJ
If the new Congress to be sworn in on Wednesday is the tea party's cardinal achievement so far, its most symbolic achievement will come on Thursday, when the first order of business in the House will be a reading, aloud, of the Constitution. That event alone will not bring us any closer to limited government. But it will help get a debate going that for too long has been dormant.Already, House Democrats are lining up to ridicule a closely related rule that the Republican majority has said it will adopt, requiring members to cite the specific constitutional authority for any bill they…

Shield Bill a Clear Danger to Free Speech
Geoffrey Stone, New York Times
THE so-called Shield bill, which was recently introduced in both houses of Congress in response to the WikiLeaks disclosures, would amend the Espionage Act of 1917 to make it a crime for any person knowingly and willfully to disseminate, “in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States,” any classified information “concerning the human intelligence activities of the United States.”

What We Learned in 2010
George Will, Newsweek
Except for the ongoing saga of Brett Favre, the recidivist retirer who became the world's first intergalactic bore, 2010 was more stimulating than the Obama administration's stimulus has been. Although fueled by a $535 million stimulus loan, and blessed by a presidential visit in May, California's Solyndra, Inc., which manufactures solar panels, announced in November that it was closing a factory and laying off workers.