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Archive for June 16th, 2011

GAO OK with Health Care Waivers

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 16th, 2011 4:47 am by HL

GAO OK with Health Care Waivers
A much anticipated audit of the waivers to the health care reform law landed with a whimper on Tuesday. “We found that [the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight] granted waivers mostly for applications that projected the annual limit restriction would result in a significant premium increase of more than 10 percent, in addition to a significant decrease in access to benefits,” the GAO report said. “Conversely, most of the denied applications projected a premium increase of 6 percent or less.”



Early Morning Swim

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 16th, 2011 4:46 am by HL

Early Morning Swim

What comes up when you google ‘hypocrite’?
Rick Santorum will gladly take the medicare money you would not be allowed to have…by Rick Santorum.

froth provided by Greg McMullin at flickr.com

Rick Santorum appears to think he’s a serious candidate for the GOP Presidential nomination as this occurred yesterday.

Rick Santorum…has quit his post as a member of the board of directors of Universal Health Services Inc., a for-profit mental-health hospital chain

Ol’ Ricky was paid a not too measly $168,000 to do things like rubber-stamp the CEO of Universal getting a $10 million compensation package.

But this becomes more interesting considering some of Santorum’s policy positions:

Unlike Rep. Paul Ryan and the GOP leadership, which has excluded today’s seniors from their plan to destroy Medicare, Santorum wants “most” kicked off the program, and he said so in a recent interview with Fox News conservative opinion host Sean Hannity.

Pretty bold statement considering how Ricky’s just now former employer supported his cushy salary:

Universal relied on taxpayer-funded Medicare and Medicaid payments for 38% of its $5.6 billion in revenues last year, according to the company’s annual report.

I’m sure he bravely refused 38% of his check the last four years.


Watch Your Back, Barack

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 16th, 2011 4:45 am by HL

Watch Your Back, Barack
Viewing the Republican presidential debate was two hours of sheer misery, mixed with a foreboding that one of these people could defeat President Barack Obama.

By Bill Boyarsky

Viewing the Republican presidential debate was two hours of sheer misery, mixed with a foreboding that one of these people could defeat President Barack Obama.


Related Entries



David Paleologos: A Roadmap for the White House in 2012: Obama’s Electoral Chess

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 16th, 2011 4:44 am by HL

David Paleologos: A Roadmap for the White House in 2012: Obama’s Electoral Chess
What could Obama do to shore up his strength in these states in lieu of an improved economy? It’s not out of the question for him to consider a new candidate for Vice President.

Liz Krueger: A Step Toward Equal Pay
Some injustices are not always as easy to spot. In fact, sometimes they’re well hidden. Therefore if we want to end wage disparities, and give women the justice, and pay, they deserve, than we must take the first step in bringing this discrimination to light.

House Democratic Leaders To Huddle On Weiner Scandal
WASHINGTON — House Democratic leaders are planning to meet Thursday to consider the next step in handling the scandal embroiling Rep. Anthony Weiner, who has…

Debt Ceiling Negotiations Face Daunting Odds
WASHINGTON — For all the optimistic talk, negotiators seeking a deal for lifting a lid on how much money the government can borrow are learning…

GOP Candidates Could Face Problems Back Home
In the hunt for the White House, the GOP’s leading presidential contenders know they would struggle to win the voters who know them best….


Fox Hypes Bogus Theory That ATF Operation Meant To Lay Groundwork For Stricter Gun Laws

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 16th, 2011 4:43 am by HL

Fox Hypes Bogus Theory That ATF Operation Meant To Lay Groundwork For Stricter Gun Laws

Continuing its pattern of hyping ridiculous conspiracy theories to attack the Obama administration, Fox News baselessly suggested that the ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious was deliberately designed to go badly in order to justify stricter U.S. gun laws. In fact, even a report prepared for House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) refutes this theory.

Fox Forwards Theory That ATF Operation “Was Allowed To Happen To Justify Tougher Gun Laws In The U.S.”

Fox Correspondent La Jeunesse: “Some Say [Operation Fast And Furious] Was Innocent, Others Believe It Was Allowed To Happen To Justify Tougher Gun Laws In The U.S.” On the June 13 edition of Fox News’ supposed “straight news” program Special Report, Fox News correspondent William La Jeunesse correctly noted that a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operation “put thousands of guns into the hands of Mexican cartels with the intent of seeing where those guns were going.” But later in the segment, La Jeunesse treated the bogus theory that the operation “was allowed to happen to justify tougher gun laws in the U.S.” as an equally plausible explanation for the program. From the segment:

BRET BAIER (host): Congress today looked into a secret government project to track guns to Mexican drug cartels that allegedly backfired in a spectacular and deadly fashion. Correspondent William La Jeunesse reports on the inquiry into Operation Fast and Furious.

[BEGIN VIDEO CLIP]

ISSA: The American people deserve prompt and complete answers to the questions surrounding this operation. 

LA JEUNESSE: House Government Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa laid the legal groundwork to hold in contempt the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Director Ken Melson and potentially Attorney General Eric Holder over their refusal to hand over documents regarding Operation Fast and Furious, the administration’s secret program that put thousands of guns into the hands of Mexican cartels with the intent of seeing where those guns were going. Yet publicly it blamed U.S. gun stores.

BARACK OBAMA: More than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States.

LA JEUNESSE: For months the administration ignored Issa’s subpoena for reports explaining how Fast and Furious got started, communications between the FBI and the ATF over guns related to the death of Border Agent Brian Terry, and documents between the ATF and the DOJ regarding Fast and Furious.

ISSA: Now the question is “Will DOJ give us the documents or will law enforcement officials little by little, as whistleblowers, give us exactly what we want to show that this problem goes to the highest levels?”

LA JEUNESSE: Documents show ATF allowed Jaime Avila to buy 47 weapons after it knew he smuggled them to Mexico, including the one that killed Agent Terry. The ATF also let Uriel Patino buy more than 600 guns, including dozens of AK-47s, while agents watched him on video camera.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD): We can issue subpoenas, we can demand documents, and we can conduct depositions. But we have to exercise that authority responsibly. 

LA JEUNESSE: Some Democrats and the Department of Justice fear releasing the documents could hurt an inspector general’s investigation. Today’s panel disagreed.

[…]

[END VIDEO CLIP]

LA JEUNESSE: The president told Mexican TV Fast and Furious was a mistake. Some say it was innocent, others believe it was allowed to happen to justify tougher gun laws in the U.S. [Fox News, Special Report, 6/13/11]

Fox’s MacCallum: “The Program’s Aim Was To … Build Up Evidence That Would Blame Cartel Violence On Gun Stores And Owners And Lax U.S. Gun Laws.” During a segment on the June 14 edition of Fox News’ America Live discussing Operation Fast and Furious, guest host Martha MacCallum correctly reported that the operation’s “aim was to try to track gun sales in Mexico, to Mexico, rather.” But MacCallum added, incorrectly, that the operation sought to “blame cartel violence on … lax U.S. gun laws.” From the segment:

MacCALLUM: We have breaking news on the botched U.S. gun operation that intentionally put guns in the hands of drug cartel members in Mexico and the investigation into whether those guns were used in murders. Now, the House Oversight Committee is set to release a stunning new report today that we’re hearing will suggest that the Justice Department supervised the program and then tried to stonewall attempts to find out what really happened when the program went awry in Mexico.

[…]

MacCALLUM: So we are now awaiting the official release of this report from the House Oversight Committee on what was called the Operation Fast and Furious. Now, the program’s aim was to try to track gun sales in Mexico, to Mexico, rather, and to build up evidence that would blame cartel violence on gun stores and owners and lax U.S. gun laws, OK? Now, Attorney General Eric Holder claims neither he nor the president authorized this operation that essentially sent guns into Mexico in the hopes of following them and figuring out where they were going, and then they were used in murderous ways. [Fox News, America Live, 6/14/11]

FoxNews.com: “Critics Of The Program” Say Project Aimed To Track Gun Sales “To Build Up Evidence To Publicly Blame Cartel Violence On U.S. Gun Store Owners And Lax American Gun Laws.” From a June 13 FoxNews.com article by La Jeunesse:

Since Watergate, Congress has held just 12 senior U.S. government officials in contempt for failure to produce subpoenaed documents. On Monday, that process begins again.

A hearing in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is laying the groundwork to compel U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to turn over documents related to “Operation Fast and Furious,” a secret Obama administration program that put thousands of guns into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

Fast and Furious aimed to track gun sales to Mexico, allegedly, say critics of the program, to build up evidence to publicly blame cartel violence on U.S. gun store owners and lax American gun laws. [FoxNews.com, 6/13/11]

In March, Fox “Straight News” Program Hosted NRA’s LaPierre To Push Theory That Government Tried To Create “A River Of Guns” Flowing Into Mexico For “Political Advantage.” On March 10, Fox News’ Happening Now hosted National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre to discuss the ATF program. LaPierre asserted that “the Obama administration, Hillary Clinton and Attorney General [Eric] Holder have blam[ed] Second Amendment freedom” for Mexican drug violence, but “can only prove a trickle of guns going down to Mexico.” LaPierre then suggested that “someone in government decided to change that trickle into a river of guns going down there to seek political advantage.” From the segment:

JON SCOTT (co-host): Your point, Wayne, is that a lot of these gun sales, in your view, would have been squelched, some of these gun dealers wanted to question the sales, wanted to prevent guns from going, but Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms wouldn’t let them.

LaPIERRE: Yeah, that’s right. I mean, there needs to be a thorough congressional investigation on all this. What it looks like to a lot of people is the Obama administration, Hillary Clinton, and Attorney General Holder have spent the last two and a half years blaming the Second Amendment freedom in this country for what’s going on with the cartels in effort to set the stage for more gun restrictions on the law abiding people in this country. And yet they can only prove a trickle of guns going down to Mexico. Someone in the government, it looks like to a lot of people, decided to change that trickle into a river of guns going down there to seek political advantage. I mean, they have almost no prosecutions, very few out of it. They sent thousands and thousands of guns over to the cartels, and there was such a long period of time while great law enforcement officers said, “It’s crazy, it’s idiotic. Why are you going it? It makes no sense and people are going to get killed.” [Fox News, Happening Now, 3/10/11, via Media Matters]

Even Issa’s Report Found That “Purpose” Of Project Was To “Build A Large, Complex Conspiracy Case”

Issa Report: “The Purpose Was To Wait And Watch, In The Hope That Law Enforcement Could Identify Other Members Of A Trafficking Network And Build A Large, Complex Conspiracy Case.” Fox’s conspiracy theory is not even supported by a report prepared by members of Issa’s and Grassley’s staff. A “joint staff report” prepared for House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) found that the ultimate purpose of Operation Fast and Furious was to “identify other members of a trafficking network and build a large, complex conspiracy case.” From the report:

In the fall of 2009, the Department of Justice (DOJ) developed a risky new strategy to combat gun trafficking along the Southwest Border. The new strategy directed federal law enforcement to shift its focus away from seizing firearms from criminals as soon as possible — and to focus instead on identifying members of trafficking networks. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) implemented that strategy using a reckless investigative technique that street agents call “gunwalking.” ATF’s Phoenix Field Division began allowing suspects to walk away with illegally purchased guns. The purpose was to wait and watch, in the hope that law enforcement could identify other members of a trafficking network and build a large, complex conspiracy case.

[…]

The operation’s goal was to establish a nexus between straw purchasers of assault-style weapons in the United States and Mexican drug-trafficking organizations (DTOs) operating on both sides of the United States-Mexico border. Straw purchasers are individuals who are legally entitled to purchase firearms for themselves, but who unlawfully purchase weapons with the intent to transfer them into the hands of DTOs or other criminals. [Joint Staff Report on The Department Of Justice’s Operation Fast And Furious: Accounts Of ATF Agents, 6/14/11]

  • Issa Had Promised To Hold The Obama Administration Accountable “Like They’ve Never Been Held Accountable.” Issa is unlikely to have let the Obama administration off the hook, given his reported promise that in his role as House Oversight Committee chairman, “the Obama Administration will be held accountable ‘like they’ve never been held accountable.’ ” [Human Events 10/19/10]

Issa Report: “Unfortunately, ATF Never Achieved The Laudable Goal Of Dismantling A Drug Cartel.” From the staff report prepared for Issa and Grassley.

Unfortunately, ATF never achieved the laudable goal of dismantling a drug cartel. In fact, ATF never even got close. After months and months of investigative work, Fast and Furious resulted only in indictments of 20 straw purchasers. Those indictments came only after the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. The indictments, filed January 19, 2011, focus mainly on what is known as “lying and buying.” Lying and buying involves a straw purchaser falsely filling out ATF Form 4473, which is to be completed truthfully in order to legally acquire a firearm. Even worse, ATF knew most of the indicted straw purchasers to be straw purchasers before Fast and Furious even began. [Joint Staff Report on The Department Of Justice’s Operation Fast And Furious: Accounts Of ATF Agents, 6/14/11]

Fox Has A History Of Hyping Baseless Conspiracy Theories To Attack Obama

Fox Has Repeatedly Hyped Birther Conspiracy Theories. As Media Matters has documented, many of Fox’s premiere personalities, including Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, called on Obama to release his long form birth certificate following Donald Trump’s lead. Even after the long form birth certificate was released, Fox Business host Eric Bolling tried to cast doubt on the document’s authenticity, speculating that a portion of the document “had to be Photoshopped in.” [Media Matters, 4/20/11]

Fox Has Promoted Falsehoods About Obama’s Faith. Fox personalities have also repeatedly spreading falsehoods about Obama’s faith, including that Obama attended a “madrassa,” and questioning whether he is a Muslim. For instance, Fox News’ Special Report aired a quote by Obama national security official Denis McDonough, in which he talked about how Obama “experienced Islam on three continents” and grew up in Indonesia with a Muslim father, and asked: “Islam or Isn’t He?” [Media Matters, 11/29/10]

Fox Has Promoted Oil Spill Conspiracy Theories To Attack Obama. In addition, Fox personalities have promoted the theory that the Obama administration deliberately chose to let the BP oil spill “get really bad” so it would have an “excuse” to “shut down offshore drilling” and that Obama refused help with the spill in order to pass cap and trade. [Media Matters, 11/29/10]



Round 2: Pete King To Look At Muslim Radicalization In Prisons

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 16th, 2011 4:42 am by HL

Round 2: Pete King To Look At Muslim Radicalization In Prisons
Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) much-maligned look into the Muslim threat within continues on Wednesday with a hearing on radicalization in American prisons.

LEAKED: Secret Report On Jindal’s Privatization Plan
A confidential report at the center of the debate over Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s push to privatize state employees’ health insurance has been leaked. The so-called “Chaffe report,” published Tuesday by the Baton Rouge Advocate, seeks to “establish the fair market value of the operations” of the state’s Office of Group Benefits (OGB), which provides health care insurance for around 250,000 state workers, retirees and their dependents.

Lawyer: Feds Have Closed Investigation Of Coleman Donor
Attorneys for a friend and donor of former U.S. Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) say federal investigators have closed a years-long investigation into their client, financier Nasser Kazeminy, The Pioneer Press reports. The investigation stemmed from lawsuits involving a company Kazeminy owned, in which an allegation was raised that he had tried to funneled up to $100,000 to Coleman’s wife.



Snow Whitey and the SIX Dwarfs

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 16th, 2011 4:39 am by HL

Snow Whitey and the SIX Dwarfs


Democrats May Strip Weiner of Committee Seat

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 16th, 2011 4:38 am by HL

Democrats May Strip Weiner of Committee Seat
House Democratic leaders are likely to discuss the next steps in their response to the scandal surrounding Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) later today, “including potentially relieving the New York Democrat of his spot on a key committee in an effort to pressure him to resign,” the Washington Post reports.

“If Democratic leaders choose to act more forcefully to pressure Weiner to give up his seat, one available option is relieve Weiner of his spot on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees a broad range of issues, from consumer protection and the telecommunications industry to public health and the environment. Such a move would require the approval of the full House.”

Politico: “The renewed effort comes even as some of Weiner’s closest friends in the House are criticizing Democratic colleagues for piling on.”

Romney Solidifies Lead
A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds Mitt Romney way ahead of the other Republican presidential candidates with 30%, followed by Sarah Palin at 14%, Herman Cain at 12%, Rick Perry at 8%, Ron Paul at 7%, Newt Gingrich at 6%, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum at 4% and Michele Bachmann at 3%.

Nonetheless, 45% said they would probably vote to re-elect President Obama, while 40% said they would choose a Republican. Against specific GOP contenders, the president’s lead widened with Obama beating Romney, 49% to 43%.

Presidential Losers
The Crystal Ball finds that 31 of 43 U.S. presidents had been defeated in elections at least once on their way to the White House.

“Remarkably, two presidents were defeated three times (William McKinley and George H.W. Bush), and four others lost four times (William Henry Harrison and his grandson, Benjamin Harrison, as well as one of our best presidents, Abraham Lincoln; and one of our worst, James Buchanan).”

“Of the 12 presidents who entered the White House with an undefeated electoral record, Gerald Ford is the most recent. Of course, he wasn’t elected president — or vice president, for that matter — and his victories consisted entirely of a string of U.S. House wins from 1948 to 1972 in his Grand Rapids, MI district. The last elected president who won every prior political contest was Woodrow Wilson. Of course, Wilson wasn’t a professional politician and had only run once before gaining the presidency, for governor of New Jersey in 1910. (Dwight Eisenhower isn’t included, since he never ran at all before his elevation to the White House.)”

Quote of the Day
“Look, Callista and I have a very similar relationship to Nancy and Ronnie Reagan. And people blame Nancy Reagan for things that Ronald Reagan did.”

— Newt Gingrich, in an interview on Fox News, on reports his wife didn’t get along with his now departed campaign staff.


Why the President Must Come Up With Demand-Side Solutions, And Not Go Over to the Supply Side

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 16th, 2011 4:37 am by HL

Why the President Must Come Up With Demand-Side Solutions, And Not Go Over to the Supply Side
“I am concerned about the fact that the recovery that we’re on is not producing jobs as fast as I want it to happen,” President Obama said Tuesday, amid the flood of bad economic news, including last Friday’s alarming jobs…

Portnoy’s Revenge
Not long after Philip Roth published Portnoy’s Complaint, Jacqueline Susann went on the Johnny Carson show. Susann, we remember, had become famous for her pulp novel Valley of the Dolls, which triangulated, in what seemed an all-American way, ambition, sex…

Jamie Dimon’s Bizarre Idea About Why The Recovery Has Stalled
According to JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, the recovery has stalled because of strict banking regulation. I’m not making this up. At a financial conference today, Dimon told Fed chief Ben Bernanke there’s no longer any reason to crack down…



Your DVR Guzzles Electricity ? Whether You Record the Daily Show or Not!

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 16th, 2011 4:36 am by HL

Your DVR Guzzles Electricity ? Whether You Record the Daily Show or Not!
Turns out that one of the most inconspicuous home fixtures is one of the biggest energy hogs — even when they aren’t recording or replaying programs! Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) allow users to record television programs to a storage device (hard drive, memory card, etc.).  They also use more electricity than a refrigerator! (albeit, an […]

Turns out that one of the most inconspicuous home fixtures is one of the biggest energy hogs — even when they aren’t recording or replaying programs!

Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) allow users to record television programs to a storage device (hard drive, memory card, etc.).  They also use more electricity than a refrigerator! (albeit, an energy efficient one.)

The startling state of DVR efficiency was brought to light by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The report finds:

In 2010, set-top boxes in the United States consumed approximately 27 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is equivalent to the annual output of nine average (500 MW) coal-fired power plants. The electricity required to operate all U.S. boxes is equal to the annual household electricity consumption of the entire state of Maryland, results in 16 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and costs households more than $3 billion each year.

Remarkably, “U.S. set-top boxes continue to use almost as much power when not in use as they do when in use. However, leading European service providers have begun to solve this problem in their newest boxes”:

According to NRDC, there is much that can be done to improve DVR efficiency including:

Meeting ENERGY STAR requirements
Manufacturers are strongly encouraged to design products that meet or surpass ENERGY STAR Version 4.0 requirements as soon as possible.

Employing Automatic Low-Power States
Future products should automatically enter a low power state when the user is neither watching nor recording or downloading a show, and should wake up in a sufficiently short period of time to prevent customer dissatisfaction.

Replacing Outdated and Inefficient Set-Top Boxes
Service providers should accelerate deployment of new energy-efficient set-top boxes and make any needed changes in their “upstream” equipment to ensure the energy saving features are successfully utilized. Service providers are encouraged to shift to multi-room solutions that require only one main box and employ much lower power boxes (thin clients) to view content on other televisions in the home.

Spurring Technological Innovation
Service providers should work with their supply chain and industry groups to accelerate adoption of standards that enable:

  • Multi-room clients to achieve deep sleep with short wake time
  • Connected consumer electronics devices such as the television, set-top box, and DVD player to share power state information in support of more effective power management
  • Data connections should operate at lower power levels when not in use
  • Service providers to wake set-top boxes from deep sleep

With a little commonsense and ingenuity, your favorite television program can be enjoyed anytime of the day — without burning up your money and the planet.

– Tyce Herrman

Low-Income Students Attend For-Profit Colleges At Four Times The Rate Of Other Students
According to a study by the Institute for Higher Education Policy “in the last 10 years, low-income students have increasingly being drawn to proprietary colleges and now attend at four times the rate of other students.” The study finds that students “whose total household income is near or below the federal poverty level are likely […]

According to a study by the Institute for Higher Education Policy “in the last 10 years, low-income students have increasingly being drawn to proprietary colleges and now attend at four times the rate of other students.” The study finds that students “whose total household income is near or below the federal poverty level are likely to be overrepresented at for-profit institutions and underrepresented at public and private nonprofit four-year institutions.” As we’ve documented, many of these subprime schools make up to 90 percent of their revenue from the federal government, yet leave their students crippled with debt and with bleak job prospects. Several of the schools have been charged with using illegal recruiting practices aimed at low-income students.