Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Senators Introduce Bill to Repeal Telco Immunity


Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) announced the measure Monday. In a release, they said the bill “eliminates retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that allegedly participated in President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program.”

The four senators, all liberal Democrats, emphasized that they believed granting the industry immunity violated the law and due process.

“I believe we best defend America when we also defend its founding principles,” Dodd said in the release. “We make our nation safer when we eliminate the false choice between liberty and security. But by granting retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies who may have participated in warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, the Congress violated the protection of our citizen’s privacy and due process right and we must not allow that to stand.”

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) hailed the measure as a return to the rule of law.

Dean: Bush Would Love Baucus Health Care Bill


“This is a bill that George Bush would love, it’s a massive redistribution of government taxpayers’ money to the insurance industry, exactly the same thing that was going on with the banking industry and other industries on Wall Street,” Dean told Countdown guest host Lawrence O’Donnell. “It is a bad bill, this Finance Committee bill, it doesn’t insure people, and it spends an awful lot of money and it gives it away to the insurance companies. So I do think ultimately the bill will have a public option in it, because I don’t think the Democratic Party will stand for this.”

Asked by O’Donnell how the public option would make it into a Senate bill, given the level of opposition to it, Dean said that “we think there are 51 or 52 Democratic senators who will vote for some sort of public option.”
Today the Senate Finance Committee takes up the public option amendments. A summary of the three amendments can be found here.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Max Baucus' price tag. Put this ad on TV in Montana.

Explain that to me...

CAP in the inbox:

President Obama said that a world leader approached him at the G20 summit last week wondering why his critics are smearing him. The unidentified world leader told Obama, "We don't understand it. You're trying to make sure everybody has health care and they're putting a Hitler mustache on you -- I don't -- that doesn’t make sense to me. Explain that to me."
Four words: Frank Luntz, Glenn Beck.

Friday, September 25, 2009



The local coroner has confirmed that the word "Fed" had been written on Bill Sparkman's chest when he was found dead earlier this month.

Jim Trosper, the Clay County coroner, confirmed the information to TPMmuckraker moments ago, adding that the word appeared to have been written in felt tip marker. He declined to give additional details.

An anonymous source had told the AP earlier this week that the word had been written on Sparkman's chest, setting off speculation that the Census worker had been killed in an act of anti-government sentiment. But the FBI and state police had tried to put a damper on that notion yesterday, telling reporters that the AP story contained errors, and that Sparkman was touching the ground, not hanging, when found.

Authorities have said Sparkman died of asphyxiation, but have still not officially ruled his death a homicide.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Funding Sanity

UDP's Todd Taylor cuts to the chase:

The truth is that Republicans are more interested in attacks and instilling fear than they are in making tough decisions on the important issues facing Americans.

If you had any doubts that 2010 is an important year or thoughts about sitting this next election cycle out, hopefully you now see that Republicans are on a mission to say and do anything to grab back the power they lost.

Historically, the President’s political party loses seats in the mid-term election. We must fight harder than ever to ensure that history does not repeat itself in 2010.

That is why we are asking for your help now. It is our responsibility to make sure the lies and distortions that Republicans try to pass off as fact do not go unchallenged.

We know the power of information. We recognize the power of our grassroots army to deliver that message. Democrats have a mission, too. Our cause is just. Our cause is moral. I am counting on you to stand with us to help us accomplish our mutual goal. That is … to share the truth with your friends and family … to organize in your local community … and to contribute to the Utah Democratic Party.

Wallets, out. Considering the heightened bat-shit and dishonest rhetoric coming from the right, you can consider your donation not only a contribution to the party, but a public service.

Values Voters to Teabaggers: You Call That Crazy? Watch This!

It's like a cage-match for the title of village idiot. In 3-D.

Moral Kombat
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Mitt-Flop Returns

Or never went away, depending on your perspective. Political Wire:

"When government is trying to take over health care, buying car companies, bailing out banks, and giving half the White House staff the title of czar -- we have every good reason to be alarmed and to speak our mind!"

-- Mitt Romney, quoted by the Salt Lake Tribune, at the Values Voters Summit last weekend.

"The TARP program, while not transparent and not having been used as wisely it should have been, was nevertheless necessary to keep banks from collapsing in a cascade of failures. You cannot have a free economy and free market if there is not a financial system."

-- Romney, quoted by Reuters in March 2009.
Am I the Democrat really looking forward to a Romney campaign in 2012? The political humor potential is outweighed only by a Palin run.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Southern Baggage: Most Republicans Aren't Racists, But Most Racists Are Republicans

Which creates a very complex challenge to an increasingly regional party. One they have yet to competently address. TAP:

As a political proposition, this circumstance should concern the GOP even more, since most of those people harboring racial resentment think the Republican Party should be their voice on opposition to immigration, affirmative action, civil rights, and anything proposed by a black president like health-care reform.

So far, there have been no signs of enlightenment from the GOP leadership on this. Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele, whom, I think, presumes that his own blackness is a sufficient argument against charges that the party is racist, went down a familiar path this week by accusing the Democrats of playing the race card as a diversion. "This is a pathetic distraction by Democrats to shift attention away from the president's wildly unpopular government-run health-care plan that the American people simply oppose," Steele said. "Playing the race card shows that Democrats are willing to deal from the bottom of the deck." The White House, in an especially bold show of political expediency, tried to defuse the issue by saying it believed that the heated disagreements were mostly about policy and not about race. Unlike the GOP, the Obama administration understands that there is no upside to having the debate turn on racial attitudes.

Without denying the existence of the race card or even its occasional overuse, this is self-delusion of the highest order on Steele’s part. Steele, it is worth remembering, became chair of his party after seven ballots, when the political considerations were essentially reduced to whether the GOP should elect its first black chair or more accomplished white leader Katon Dawson. A white leader who, sadly, had been a member of a whites-only country club in -- guess where -- South Carolina.

Health Care Math

Congress Matters:

News Flash: If the public option really does cost $1 trillion over ten years, the House bill covers 54.4 percent of the costs just by increasing taxes on the rich to pre-Bush era levels. These figures do not include cost reductions in other programs nor do they take into account premiums that one would expect enrollees to pay. Naturally, the point is to make insurance affordable. Consider this. If 47 million uninsured people enroll and are charged $100 per month for the public option, the math works out like this:

47 million uninsured x $100/month = $4.7 billion per month

$4.7 billion/month x 12 months = $56.4 billion per year

$56.4 billion/year x 10 years = $564 billion over ten years

$564 billion + $583 billion = $1.147 trillion.

And that is assuming 1) no other cost savings and 2) that it actually would cost $1 trillion to run a not-for-profit health insurance program.

Game, set, match.

Sunday, September 20, 2009



Norton has some problems.
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is investigating whether a former secretary of the interior, Gale A. Norton, violated the law by granting valuable leases to Royal Dutch Shell around the time she was considering going to work for the company after she left office, officials said Thursday.
Look over there! ACORN!

Gov 2.0 Summit: Speeding Up Government

Andrew McLaughlin, Deputy Chief Technology Officer of the Obama administration,
Tim O'Reilly, O'Reilly Media, Inc., Gov 2.0 Summit "Closing Keynote." (See all videos and RSS for more panels)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

You Lie

Rick Sanchez, American Hero.

Here, CNN's Rick Sanchez not only destroys Fox News’ ad claiming they were the only network to cover the Tea Party protests, he takes aim at Fox News’ “fair and balanced” mantra. “Bottom line is, we do cover the news and we did extensively cover this event. We didn’t promote the event. That’s not what real news organizations are supposed to do. We covered the event. I would invite you to look into that distinction between those two words, ‘promote’ and ‘cover.’ Cover is kind of like a fair and balanced way of doing things. You get it? You might want to look into that. His parting shot to Fox? “Two words: ...You lie.”

Putting Away the Playstation (DFA Night School: Campus Organizing)

DFA in the inbox:

The summer is over, Congress is back in session, and most students are back to school.

Students have always been at the forefront of societal change. Causes like civil rights, peace & justice, and environmental protection all took root on college campuses before influencing the country as a whole. Likewise students today are putting away the Playstation and continuing in this strong activist tradition. This month we will be joined by three rock star organizers for a training on organizing college students.

Tune in this Wednesday September 23rd for this month's Night School on Campus Organizing.

RSVP for DFA Night School

Campus Organizing
September 23, 2009 - 8:30 Eastern

We will be joined by three of the most talented student organizers around, representing the College Democrats, Power Shift, Greenpeace and Network. These organizers will discuss the strategies and tactics for mobilizing today's college students.

RSVP today, and listen next Wednesday, to hear how today's college students are making a difference.

Friday, September 18, 2009

But They'll Think We're Crazy...

Really? Suddenly this is a concern? I think it might be a little too late.

This paragraph is buried deep within their latest piece on Boehner's efforts to keep up with the GOP base:

Sources say they [Boehner and Cantor] have been especially wary of the possible damage inflicted on the party's reputation by bomb-throwing Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who last fall called for an investigation into whether members of Congress are "pro-America or anti-America."

They certainly are in a bind when it comes to Bachmann. On the one hand, the base loves her and she's frequently invited on television. On the other hand, she calls for revolution and warns against the government using Census data to round people up into internment camps. What's a body to do?

Is easy to mock the rhetoric coming from the right (and fun, too!). But I do have a serious grievance with their tactics. Many times misinformation has risen in town halls that I've witnessed or watched. Outlandish claims and declarations have peppered the news for months. Numerous times GOP reps have either let it stand unchallenged, or fanned the lunatic flames.

It's irresponsible, and a blow to their credibility. It's something I hope voters remember when they finally do grow up and return to discussing policy instead of comparing Obama to Hitler. And I never want to be known as one who defended Bachmann. Ever. But it's quite a hypocrisy now for Boehner and Cantor to single her out as "the problem" with the GOP's credibility.

They have shown no respect for the debate, and prefer the sound-byte campaign arena to intelligent discussion and policy discussions.

Senators: "Our Hands Are Tied" and "What Can We Do?"

Conservative Democrats in the Senate are quickly adopting a series of weak excuses for walking away from a public option.

Instead of arguing against the public option in policy terms, the Senators instead argue that the public option simply cannot pass. In fact, among these five Senators, only Joe Lieberman has even stated his opposition to a public option--and Lieberman cites the inability of the public option to pass as his "most important" rationale for opposition.

What's worse is that the argument 60 votes are needed for the public option is simply false. Not only have many experts argued that a public option can be included in reconciliation, but any filibuster can be broken with only 51 Senators. Even if there are differing interpretations of reconciliation, the later cannot be disputed--any filibuster can be broken with 51 votes.

This is how conservative Democrats talk to progressive Democrats. Instead of coming out against progressive policy ideas on their merits, they instead offer up process argument. Further, as is the case with the arguments above, such process arguments are typically bogus. They all claim there aren't enough votes for a public option, without citing a list of Senators that makes it impossible, and without addressing either reconciliation or the nuclear option.
They aren't putting themselves on record opposing the policy in policy terms, and they aren't being truthful about the rules they are using as a misleading excuse. Yes we'd love to do something meaningful. Yes we'd love to have reform with some teeth. Yes dropping this ball will bite us in 2010 and even 2012. But what can we do?

It's FISA fight, redux. There are glaring holes in the House leadership strategies. A majority vote could get this through.

Sign DFA's petition challenging the 60 vote myth.

Western Business Roundtable: Congressmen, Not EPA, Should Monitor Emissions

Winners of our Strangest Argument of the Week award: The Western Business Roundtable, who said:

Congress is best suited to determine how a national greenhouse gas emissions reduction program should work. Therefore, any bill should explicitly preempt the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
Um? No. EPA scientists versus lawmakers exposed to lobbyists and with an inclination to turn a blind eye to regional polluters?

Points for creativity though.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Answering Sen. Chris Buttars Health Care Questions: Thanks to The Senate Site

As a nice wrap up to our efforts to answer the questions Sen. Chris Buttars and Sen. John Valentine have had trouble answering about HR3200, The Senate Site has posted a more concise version of our week long response, put together from the overall series by Craig41.

As wrap ups go, we couldn't have hoped for better. It speaks volumes to the integrity of The Senate Site and those who make it happen every day that they would give our response attention equal to that of the Senators.

Our goal was to bring real information into the debate in the face of what we believe was a very cheap and superficial attempt by both Senators to strip real information from that same debate. And to poke a little fun at one of our most iconic and embarrassing legislators fallen victim to an apparent chain email chock full of anti-reform propaganda.

Take a minute to thank The Senate Site for acknowledging our research.

You can't ask for any more than for them to listen, and I think this proves that they are.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Insurance Stocks Rally as Baucus Reveals Bill

Who will benefit most from the the Baucus "reform" bill? Think Progress gives us a hint:

Earlier this morning Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) unveiled his committee’s health care bill, which has no public option and mandates that everyone buy insurance. While Baucus has failed to garner support from any congressional Republicans and has outraged progressives, there has been one very positive response to his proposal.

Following Baucus’ announcement, HealthNet shares increased by 3%, United Health Group Inc shares rose by 2.7%, Humana Inc. grew by 2.6%, Wellpoint stock gained 1.7% and Aetna Inc rose 1.6%
Thanks, Max. Next?

Average Family Health Ins. Policy: $24,180/Year by 2019

For those aruging we can wait for reform: Ezra's numbers.

The average cost of a family health insurance policy in 2009 was $13,375.

Over the past ten years, premiums have increased by 131 percent, while wages have grown 38 percent and inflation has grown 28 percent.

If health-care costs grow as fast as they have over the past five years, the average premium for a family policy in 2019 will be $24,180. If they grow as fast as they have over the past 10 years, premiums in 2019 will average $30,803.

No one quite knows when, or how, the system will crumble. But make no mistake. At this rate of increase, it will, eventually, crumble. Want more numbers? They're here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Shurtleff Hits Bennett for Applauding... the Truth?

Mark Shurtleff's campaign is quickly cementing itself as the premiere example of the state of the fringe GOP. He's (no kidding) taking a swipe (not joking at all here) at Bennett for (get this) applauding the President for (unbelievable!) calling lies, lies.

End-of-life consultations, cast as so-called "death panels" by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to discredit Democratic health care reform efforts, continue to fuel the fire in at least one U.S. Senate race: Utah's.

Last week, Sen. Bob Bennett was one of four Republicans during a joint session of Congress who stood and applauded President Barack Obama's dismissal of Palin's and other conservative critics' characterization as "a lie, plain and simple."
What a liberal that Bennett is, what with his fondness of reality and stuff! #TCOT #TCOT #TCOT #IAMTHEMOB #TEABAGGING #TEAPARTY #GLENNBECK #TCOT #SARAHPALIN #DEATHPANELS #TCOT

I don't think we can any longer refer to Shurtleff as one who's "dumbing down the debate." Shurtleff has apparently embraced the dumb fully. In fact, the debate -- which will lead to one of the most comedic primaries in Utah history, I predict -- is brain dead.

AHIP Report: Seniors in Medicare Receive Higher Quality Care

AHIP explains the conclusion, and the why in a new report.

The new study echoes the findings of an earlier analysis of AHIP member data showing that seniors in Medicare health plans can receive higher quality care compared to fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare.

"Medicare Advantage plans coordinate care, help seniors manage chronic conditions, and focus on prevention to help seniors stay healthy in the first place," said Karen Ignagni, President and CEO of AHIP.

Instead of focusing almost exclusively on treating beneficiaries when they are sick, Medicare Advantage plans place a strong emphasis on preventive health care services that detect diseases at an early stage and disease management programs for seniors with chronic illnesses to help them keep their conditions under control. These programs are working to help keep patients out of the hospital and avoid potentially harmful complications.
The public option is the closest we'll get right now to a "Medicare for all" competitor to private insurance. Sign the petition demanding it be a part of a health care reform package.

912 Teabaggers: Photos and Video

Many slide shows up today on the Beck's 912er million man 60k man march. Hilarious and creepy at the same time. TPM and HuffPo have more. (If the photos aren't enough crazy for your Tuesday morning comedy appetite, check out some video).

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pew: Fox Approval Down, CNN/Local Papers Up

Pew's annual media survey report is out today. Not surprisingly, public opinion of the media overall is at a record low, with Republicans citing a higher dissatisfaction than Democrats (apparently reality still has a liberal bias). E & P Pub spots a more interesting set of responses though:

Despite all the hype about Fox News’ growing popularity, the survey found that its favorable rating had declined from 61% to 55% from July 2007 to 2009 while CNN actually climbed a bit from 50% to 60%. This trend held true for unfavorable ratings as well.

And, surprise, this is topped by the 65% who give a favorable nod to their local daily newspaper or national paper they read most.

Health Care Reform Distortions: You Can't Blame it All on the Tea-Baggers

Most of it, just not all.

When Tom Rosensteil of the Project for Excellence in Journalism appeared on the PBS NewsHour on August 31 to talk about the press and health policy, he noted that his group's studies found that "the protests have gotten more coverage, actually, than description of the healthcare plans, or -- and twice as much coverage as the stories about the state of the healthcare system." He later elaborated:

What, really, I think, surprises me in the coverage is how little coverage there is of how our healthcare system works, what's wrong with what -- what's wrong with it, and what the alternatives could be, based on other countries, other systems, alternative programs in the United States.

That represents only 8 percent of all the coverage that we have seen this year, vs. 55 percent about the political horse races and battles over this, and another 16 percent of the coverage on the protests.

The way it's been covered in the media doesn't generate the bullshit, but they certainly haven't gone out of their way to clear it up, either.

Screaming tea-baggers sells, I guess.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Once This Bill Passes, I Own It"

The President on 60 Minutes tonight, speaking on health care reform.

Keep an Eye on Herbert

Despite his moderate speak (so far), and the thwarting of Darth Sidious Gayle Ruzicka with the nomination of a moderate to the Lt. Gov desk, Herbert will be no Huntsman.

SALT LAKE CITY—Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has barely been in office a month, but he's not wasting any time charting a more conservative course than his predecessor on the very issues Jon Huntsman used to vault to national prominence within the GOP and an ambassadorship to China.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Herbert outlined how he is skeptical of how much humans affect global warming; that he fears protecting gay people from discrimination could lead to courts legalizing gay marriage; and said he has no desire to do any more to bring Utah's liquor laws in line with much of the country.

It is a marked shift from Huntsman, the most popular governor in state history, who had a habit of angering the conservatives that dominate state party politics. Herbert will need those conservatives if he wants to win the GOP nomination in May, although his comments aren't just political posturing.

History, Deciding: Bush's Economic Record

The phrase George W. Bush clung to desperately as he left office one of the least popular President's of recent time was "let history decide." Well, history is doing just that. Political Wire:

Ronald Brownstein notes that the annual Census Bureau report on income, poverty and access to health care "closes the books on the economic record of George W. Bush. It's not a record many Republicans are likely to point to with pride."

"On every major measurement, the Census Bureau report shows that the country lost ground during Bush's two terms. While Bush was in office, the median household income declined, poverty increased, childhood poverty increased even more, and the number of Americans without health insurance spiked. By contrast, the country's condition improved on each of those measures during Bill Clinton's two terms, often substantially."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Now It's: Keep Your 10th Amendment Off My Medicare!


Asked whether states should use the 10th Amendment to prevent health care reform from taking effect, he replied that an assertion of states’ rights was “probably the only way we’re going to stop this reckless spending.” He continued, “There’s no constitutional authority for the government to actually do [the reform proposed by Democrats], but whether the courts take it up is a different matter.”

The rules change, however, when it comes to Medicare.

DeMint expressed doubts as to the legality of Medicare under the Constitution, but said, “Regardless of constitutionality, it is a promise that we have to keep. … I think Medicare and Social Security have to be protected.”

When asked if there was any chance that health reform legislation drafted by the Democratic Congress could win his support and that of his fellow conservatives, he replied, “No, because they’re not willing to talk about anything but bigger government.” The role of Republicans in the debate, he said, is to kill the current iteration of reform and start over.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Video: Rob Bishop's Health Care Townhall

Intended to have this up weeks ago, but we've been busy battling tea-baggers on all sides: Video highlights from the Q & A at Rob Bishop's health care townhall on Aug 26th.

Posting without comment, because... well, the questions say it all, really.

Matheson's Letter

UT Democrats:

In a letter ot Governor Herbert, Congressman Jim Matheson today reminded the Governor legislation "to ban the importation of [foreign nuclear] waste is currently begin considered in Congress." Congressman Matheson has consistently opposed efforts to bring nuclear waste into Utah from outside the country.

To read a copy of the Congressman's letter, click here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Craig Frank, Carl Wimmer, Chris Buttars School of Internet Do's and Don'ts

One day I imagine new legislators will be trained to use the internet effectively simply by seating them in front of a blackboard with pictures of Sen. Chris Buttars, Rep. Craig Frank, and Rep. Carl Wimmer attached. The instructor will say only "don't do this, this, this or this (and try to delete the evidence), and you'll do just fine."

The internet can be challenging.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Matheson Tele-Townhall

Matheson (opening statements): Healthcare is a dominant part of the news. Incredibly important and incredibly complicated issue. A lot of misinformation in the media. We continue to move ahead in the worst recession since WWII. Number of indicators of progress. Personal savings rate. Growth. In Utah we're fortunate that unemployment is lower... health care is a factor in how our economy works. Cutting a deal for importation of radioactive waste is a bad idea, bad policy. Validates the need for federal legislation.


Gary, SLC: Physician here in town. Heard you talk about the fiscal concern of health care reform, but haven't heard you talk about the moral case for reform. Would you support a revenue neutral plan?
Matheson: Cost issue, and access issue are both on the table for discussion. I'd throw on a third: quality. The concern I have is that a lot of people don't think we need reform. If costs keep going up at a greater rate than inflation, we're not even going to keep what we've got. It's not a sustainable path. I don't think the current house bill meets all fronts. It does nothing to address out of control costs.

Andy, SLC: Does the federal gov intend to create a nationalized medical records database?
Matheson: No plan to make a national records database. In Utah, IHC is one of the leaders in the country in electronic records.

Judy, SLC: Have you read the Baucus Bill, and is it giving you more confidence in the process (would you vote for it?)?
Matheson: Draft framework was introduced. Haven't read it yet, but have a copy. It's a product of a bipartisan effort in the Senate, so I'm hopeful it's another positive step. Again, health care is a complex issue. It only contributes in a positive way.

David, Murray: What about utilization and cost control?
Matheson: We have over-utilization of our health care system. A few: doctors are concerned about liability and being sued. Defensive medicine. Met with radiologists two weeks ago who estimate 30% of their procedures are just defensive procedures. Utah is one of the best states in being efficient. Would be helpful if we could apply Utah practices in other parts of country. For cost control, address liability and administrative costs.

Janet, SLC: Why not a public option to reduce huge profits in private insurance plans? Public plans are much lower in administrative costs. Why the reluctance?
Matheson: Term "public option" thrown around without much definition. What folks are looking for is competition to private health insurance. Another object that hasn't been discussed: no viable alternative for individuals to get insurance. No true "risk pooling" ops. Not so great for small businesses either. Pooling has value, and choices create competition. Co-opts exist already in other states. Another way to achieve these same alternatives, pooling mechanism, but not a government run program at all. Worthy of consideration.

Don, SLC: I support your concerns about costs, but I believe it's important to show we are serious about reform, create insurance companies rather than financial companies. Costs can be worked going forward. Can you support something to show we are serious?
Matheson: Broad consensus about guaranteed issue. Any reform package will most likely include that type of provision. I conquer, better to move something sooner than later. I hope it happens.

Amber, SLC: How do you feel about increasing competition by allowing purchase across state lines?
Matheson: Something to look at. Gets complicated. Denying that opportunity doesn't make much sense to me. Two extreme examples, Utah, and Florida. Very different set of individuals. Have to be careful how it's structured.

Lynn, SLC: Seems wrong drug company reps would be schmoozing doctors. What's wrong with cheaper generics?
Matheson: Get good info into the hands of consumers. Challenge today, who analyzes these things? Do drug companies do it? They have certain motivations that may conflict with the best treatment. Expand "comparative effectiveness" research. Manufacturers DO respond to new data too.

Jennifer, SLC: I encourage you to join with fellow Democrats when it comes time to vote. CBO chronically underestimates savings in health care reform because it's so hard to get comparisons. Urge you to take CBO with a grain of salt. Food and lifestyle also an issue. Have you been working on Child Nutrition Act?
Matheson: You're right. Any estimate of cost impacts on something this complicated should be taken with a grain of salt. CBO discounts potential savings of better coverage. 3/4's of what we spend on health care are on chronic conditions: cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. All three are preventable based on lifestyle. Stop smoking, eat better, reduce frequency. There is a reason other countries have longer life expectancy... there a lot of reasons, but one reason is lifestyle. Baltimore school system is a good example of improvements without needing more money.

Carolyn, SLC: Cost we also deal with is uninsured in the emergency room. Since you haven't supported a public option to reduce this expense, how would you reduce this expense? If we wait for co-opts, it could be a long time.
Matheson: Cost of uninsured is borne by everyone. I take issue with public plan being the way to get access issue accomplished. Public plan or not, if folks can't afford insurance, they're going to be uninsured. The way to deal with the uninsured is to address economic reasons they are uninsured. I don't think public option is the discussion to have to address the issue.

David, Murray: How will Medicare fair under health care reform?
Matheson: Not clear payments for covering uninsured will come out of Medicare. Costs grow more than inflation, we can't sustain that. It's what's blowing up the federal budget. Access will help in some ways. To ensure long term integrity of any health care options that exist, we have to control expensive growth going forward. There is a lot of inefficiency in Medicare today. About 1 in 5 Medicare recipients are re-hospitalized. We don't pay doctors to do follow up care before circumstances deteriorate and become more costly. We don't want to cut services from Medicare, but there is over-utilization we need to get a handle on.

Liz, SLC: Senator Matheson (yes, she said Senator). As a physician, I think the number one reason for the cost for medicine in the US is the threat of malpractice suits. What about tort reform?
Matheson: I agree it's an important part of cost control. In the polarized world of DC, one political party wants to talk about it, the other doesn't, and I think that's unfortunate. It's a piece of the puzzle. Lower premium costs. Medical decisions shouldn't be driven by other agendas.

Greg, SLC: You talked about IHC success with electronic record keeping. Can you cite an example inside the VA or military hospitals?
Matheson: VA system has led the way on electronic medical systems. Interestingly enough, since the VA is a public entity, it's software is available to anyone. Rate of change is challenging, but creates opportunity.

Fred, SLC: My concern is that... why do we have to have a national re-write of the entire medical system that the CBO projects will cost $1 Trillion plus?
Matheson: I'll repeat what I said earlier. A number of different pieces of legislation introduced. Agenda items: How do you go about covering the uninsured, how do you control excessive growth of costs. Talk to any business man, they'll verify how much these costs are growing. Fastest growing part of the federal budget, and the budgets of all 50 states. Efforts at the federal level we're going to have to look at to create a stable future.

Lori, SLC: What, realistically, are the outlooks for something substantial happening this year?
Matheson: Good question without a good answer. When it comes to cable channels and internet, there has been a lot of misinformation and demagoguery. I don't think we can sustain the path we're on right now over time. This isn't liberal, conservative, Democrat or Republican. Just go talk to real people. I'm rambling because there is no specific answer, but there is a concerted effort. The two parties should be working together more than they are.

JoAnne, Murray: Concerned Obama wants to hurry and "get it through"? I'm a registered nurse and I don't even know what's in the bill.
Matheson: Deliberative process important. Large group, including me, opposed having it ready before August recess. Two edged sword. Study it forever, and nothing happens, but too much urgency, mistakes get made. Hoping for sweet spot.

(Moderator: Out of time...)

Matheson: These townhalls are open to any issue, but ironically we talked about health care the whole time. Take the time to learn as much as you can about this issue. The dialog on the internet and the cable channels isn't productive in my opinion. I want to hear from you. Google the House of Reps, contact me through email or phone. Specific link for HCR comments.

Chambliss to Obama: Beware the Tea-Baggers!


Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) said today that, because of angry town hallers and the like, President Obama should show "humility" when he speaks to Congress Wednesday night.

"What you're seeing is folks on my side anxious to see what the president has to say tomorrow night," Chambliss said. "I think he's gonna have to express some humility based on what we've seen around the country this August and that's not his inclination."

The implication here is that Chambliss's side -- the one that opposes much of the Democrats' reform plan, especially a public option -- is winning, and that the president had better be humble.
I'm cutting him some slack because... well, he lives in Georgia. Anyone would have a hard time thinking clearly in that humidity.

Ah, Gayle

Isn't she insightful!

Katharine Dalton, a fourth-grade teacher in Salt Lake City, said the speech "supports what we are already saying as educators and parents -- that a big part of the responsibility for our students' education falls on our students."

She said Obama's address carries additional weight, however, not only because it came from the president, but also because viewers would be aware that students across the nation would be hearing the same message. She plans to show the speech to her class Wednesday, the day after its delivery so she could invite parents to her class to watch it with their students.

The controversy surrounding Obama's address mystifies Dalton. "I don't understand what we are arguing about," she said. "Students need to understand who our president is. They need to hear him speak."

But Gayle Ruzicka, president of the conservative Utah Eagle Forum, said Monday there is no way to know whether the speech Dalton and millions of others read Monday was the one that Obama initially intended to deliver, or if it had been changed as a result of the dust-up.

Either way, Ruzicka said, the White House could have prevented the problems altogether if it had been more open about its intentions.

Parents should have "been notified and been given an opportunity to see it first," Ruzicka said. "If they had just been upfront from the beginning and it had been an 'opt in,' where parents had to sign for their children to be there and hear from the president, it probably wouldn't have been a big controversy."
Yeah, that, or if certain conservatives in Utah would simply... you know, GROW UP.

Why do we still care what Gayle Ruzicka thinks?

Friday, September 4, 2009

GOP Invents Fake Anti-Refrom "Doctors Council"

And ads the names of doctors to the "council" without their consent.

Rep. Craig Frank's Itchy "Delete Comment" Finger

Rep. Craig Frank, of non-binding resolution and Prosthelytize, Ambassador! fame, found some criticism of Barack Obama's "I Pledge" video posted at UPD by his "mentor," Providence Mayor and poli-sci professor Randy Simmons, simply HI-LARIOUS.

What he didn't like was our feedback.

Being a man of integrity, and most definitely not one to dumb down the discussion, no sir, no way, what did Rep. Frank decide to do?

He deleted all comments on the post.

Misty @ Saintless had seen my comments, and planned to add her own later, but when she loaded the page, she noticed mine were missing. She mentioned this on the post, but that comment, too, was deleted. Later, Craig41 noticed a strange word wrapping in Randy's original "thoughts" at UPD, and discovered that Randy's "thoughts" may have actually be lifted -- a la Chris Buttars -- from other blogs (Randy of course denies this... they are his, he wrote them, and need he remind you he is a PROFESSOR OF SCIENCE?!). Those comments, of course, are gone.

Rep. Frank's actions speak volumes about an inherent lack of integrity. What it says -- especially considering he's left standing all comments on a previous, related post that are more... supportive -- is that Rep. Frank likes criticism, as long as it's not directed at him. Talks big, but back it up, as my father used to say. Can dish it out, but can't take it. Is a giant sissy, as JM Bell would say.

It's like middle school out there, some days (and we haven't even gotten to Rep. Carl Wimmer yet!).

In the interest of reinstituting a little honesty in our political discourse here are the comments Rep. Frank couldn't stomach and deleted (If you hurry, you can see the comments I've reposted on his blog before he deletes them again):

#jasonthe Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
September 3rd, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Randy Simmons. Sigh… Please everyone, I URGE you to take a moment to go read this amazing chunk of wit Rep. Craig Frank thinks is just so witty and full of ingenious wit that he should link to it. I’ll wait…

Back already? Yeah. It was that stupid. And yep, that man is a “Professor.” They’ll hire anyone, huh?

If there were an award for the ability to find the most nonsensical, trite, and free from all reality article or essay or post on the internet and linking to it on your blog, I would give you that award tonight, Frank.

I don’t know how you do it, but you, my man, are at least consistent.

Randy Simmons… LOL.

# jasonthe Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
September 3rd, 2009 at 8:17 pm

OH, I missed that he was your mentor. Double LOL. This is starting to make so much sense now.

## Misty Fowler Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
September 4th, 2009 at 12:16 am

Yeah, there were 2 comments on here earlier, before Craig’s. Where’d they go?

# jasonthe Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
September 4th, 2009 at 12:10 am

I think someone was considering deleting my comments from their page, were I to guess.

# jasonthe Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
September 4th, 2009 at 12:18 am

Oh, my comments are awaiting moderation now.

Sounds like somebody is being sensitive on the internet.

# jasonthe Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
September 4th, 2009 at 12:19 am

The comments were:

# jasonthe Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
September 3rd, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Randy Simmons. Sigh… Please everyone, I URGE you to take a moment to go read this amazing chunk of wit Rep. Craig Frank thinks is just so witty and full of ingenious wit that he should link to it. I’ll wait…

Back already? Yeah. It was that stupid. And yep, that man is a “Professor.” They’ll hire anyone, huh?

If there were an award for the ability to find the most nonsensical, trite, and free from all reality article or essay or post on the internet and linking to it on your blog, I would give you that award tonight, Frank.

I don’t know how you do it, but you, my man, are at least consistent.

Randy Simmons… LOL.

# jasonthe Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
September 3rd, 2009 at 8:17 pm

OH, I missed that he was your mentor. Double LOL. This is starting to make so much sense now.

#Misty Fowler Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
September 4th, 2009 at 12:22 am

That’s better. Thanks for posting them, Jason. I’m sure that they just got lost in cyberspace somewhere.

# jasonthe Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
September 4th, 2009 at 12:27 am

Lost to the same place the post where Rep. Frank suggested Huntsman use his new ambassadorship in China as a chance to prosthelytize.

The internet can be challenging.

#Misty Fowler Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
September 4th, 2009 at 12:30 am

The internet can be challenging, but that’s why we have screenshots, right? As Wimmer found out earlier today….

#craig41 Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
September 4th, 2009 at 12:24 am

your mentor puts chain emails in a blog post without crediting them, do you look up to buttars too?

no wonder ethics reform never gets anywhere in this state’s legislature.

# jasonthe Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
September 4th, 2009 at 12:29 am

Oh now THAT makes this even funnier, Craig (41… not the one mentored by the plagiarist).

Thursday, September 3, 2009

House Progressives: No Public Option, No Support

Greg Sargent:

In a letter delivered to the White House moments ago, the two leaders of the bloc of House progressives bluntly told President Obama that they will not support any health care plan without a public option in it — and demanded a meeting to inform him face to face.

The not-yet-released letter — the first joint statement from progressives since news emerged that Obama might not address the public option in next week’s speech — is their sharpest challenge yet to the president, given the extraordinary sensitivity of this political moment. The letter urges him to mention the public option in his speech.

“Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, a public option built on the Medicare provider system and with reimbursement based on Mediare rates — not negotiated rates — is unacceptable,” reads the letter, which was sent over by a source. It was signed by Reps. Lynn Woolsey and Raul Grijalva, the two leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

It's been a question burning for those of us supporting a public option as the only viable way to reduce costs in a health care reform bill, whether or not the Progressive Caucus would take a stand. Some are balking at the idea, as it means Progressives will essentially be joining Republicans in opposition to the bill if it doesn't contain a public option.

For perspective, I'd like to remind everyone of just how frustrating you've found the Blue Dogs through this, and how many times you've wondered how they became so influential while representing just a small portion of a large House.

This is how they did it.

It's not the preferred outcome, but if the caucus is forced to, and stands firm in opposition to reform without a public option, the caucus will be more seriously consulted in the drafting of future legislation, and not just those bills pertaining to health care.

Big picture time, if it comes to them voting against the bill.

School District Heroes Narrowly Rescue Children from Hearing Ideas They Might Then Discuss

Josh Loftin @ City Weekly:

Thankfully, school districts have rushed to the defense of their students, who they fear might actually be educated by things like a presidential speech and the ensuing debate. And education is certainly not something any upstanding American would support, which makes the purpose of his speech even more disturbing:

During this special address, the president will speak directly to the nation’s children and youth about persisting and succeeding in school.

My. God. It's insidious, this president's insistence on speaking to children. If we allow this to happen, the fall-out will be horrendous. Right off the bat, C-Span's audience share will jump, which is obviously a primary motivation for this speech because better C-Span ratings means more opportunity for them to air debates hosted by a Democratic Congress. Oh, and if he's really successful, he might actually demand a prime time slot, which would then bump the latest iteration of the completely American heterosexual Dancing With... show.

But, as I said, thankfully schools have rushed in to save their children. With a type of foresight unseen since sex ed or evolution debates, multiple districts in Utah have issued letters to parents offering to allow their children to opt out of the speech. Thank. God.


Hopefully, the "other meaningful work" that can be assigned, as described in a Jordan School District memo, is something along those same lines. Personally, I would suggest an essay on convenient patriotism.

Remember This?

Remember this? It excited millions. Obama the candidate excited millions more. But Yes We Can has become Well...Maybe in the health care debate.

If you donated, made phone calls, talked to friends and family, wore a t-shirt, displayed a sign, or voted for Barack Obama, ad your name to Wired for Change's petition for the President to support a strong public option, not a watered down "trigger."

We fought for him, he can fight for us.

Carl Wimmer Has Had Enough

Rep. Carl Wimmer (R-WeDontNeedNoStinkin'EthicsVille) is fed up with all of your high-fallutin' ethics questions and your uppity concern over self-compromised elected officials.

Enough! Just shut it! Shush! Zip it! Seriously guys, stop it! He'll tell! He's dialing Gayle right now... he means it. Ooh if he could write the governor to get you fired he sooooo would right now! Alright, that's it, he's gonna block you so good!

Don't you know who you're talking to?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Failure Caucus


Democrats, they know, are bad for markets and the economy, while Republicans are good for both—evidence be damned. They don't need any stinking data to tell them the rescue efforts are going to end in disaster. These are folks who believe that the stock market fell in February and March because it hated Barack Obama (and has rallied since then because he's become less popular)*; who believe that the New Deal prolonged the Depression; and who act as if the last 16 years of fiscal, monetary, and economic history didn't take place. In their view, fiscal stimulus can't work because it's done by the government and the Fed's expansionary efforts must, at all times, always be inflationary. Ergo, we're doomed. (This was the substance of the Paul Krugman-Niall Ferguson feud.) What's both impressive and annoying about these folks is their inability to process information that runs counter to their bedrock beliefs. When data comes in that suggests otherwise, they ignore it or declare victory. Niall Ferguson recently told the Times of London that he "won the argument" he and Krugman had about "the future path of long-term interest rates." (As this chart of the 10-year treasury note over the past two years shows, he's done no such thing.)

This crowd is downright hostile to the optimists. I spent some time on the phone this morning with Michael Darda, an economist at MKM Partners. Darda is no squish. He used to write a lot for the National Review. But when he tells conservative audiences he's expecting the economy to grow at a 4 percent annual rate through the end of 2010, the reaction is frequently disbelief. Darda bases his conclusions largely on his reading of leading indicators, credit markets, and past performance in the wake of recessions—not on who controls the White House. Yes, taxes are likely to rise in 2011, and the Fed will have to tighten monetary policy. But that's no reason to be bearish now, he argues. "The real risk is in being too negative."

That risk is highest for the political division of the Failure Caucus. The conventional wisdom on the right holds that President Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress are setting themselves up for a big fall through their overreaching. But I'd argue that it's the Republican Party, which was always on the side of greater growth, higher stock prices, and more wealth, that has painted itself into a corner.
Here in Utah, it's less of a corner, and more of a very small box without air holes.

Gary Trauner Takes on Max Baucus and "Beltway Disease" in Jackson Hole, WY

Good stuff, here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Conservative Humor Lives!

Via tea parties on buses. Washington Independent:

I’ve generally ignored the “Tea Party Express,” a project of the Our Country Deserves Better PAC that’s taking a bus across the country to rev up anti-tax protests along the way. I may have made a mistake. One, Fox News is covering it to the hilt, sending fraudster Griff Jenkins along with the tour to provide updates. Two, it’s hilarious. Below are two videos from the Sacramento event that launched the tour.

Here, Lloyd Marcus leads the crowd in a parody of “Theme from ‘New York, New York’” all about “taking our country back in 2010.”

If We're Just Going to Make Stuff Up...

Indecision Blog:

Have you been injured in an auto accident? Have you suffered the loss of one or more limbs in the workplace? Or have you maybe simply walked under the wrong falling anvil?

If not, you can be assured that all of those things and more will happen to you under the Democrats' new health care reform bill. I mean, if we're just gonna make up a bunch of problems with the bill, let's go all out…
I'm not sure what it says about the discourse when the comedians are getting their shots in better than most elected officials.

No offense, Dennis.

Conservative Republicans Concentrated in Upper Incomes

So says The Monkey Cage's Andrew Gelman.

With graphs.