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Archive for September, 2009

Steve Kagen: Health Insurance Hypocrite

Great takedown by the Media Research Center as well as the Berry Laker.

Seems for a man who didn’t take Congress’s health plan (and will tell you if you have a minute, a microphone, or a reporter’s notebook), sure did like using the free Congressional physical therapy clinic.

(Yes, they appear to have one)

ABC GRAPHIC: Special Health Care for Lawmakers? Unknown Office on Capitol Hill

REP. STEVE KAGEN (D-Wisconsin): Health care costs in this country, are impossible for everyone.

TIM JOHNSON: When Wisconsin Congressman Steve Kagan, an advocate for health care reform, needed knee surgery last winter, he paid for it out of his own pocket. That’s because Kagan, a medical doctor, turned down the health insurance options offered to members of Congress.

CAMPAIGN AD: And refused coverage for himself.

KAGEN: I said, I tell you what. I respectfully decline. Until you can make that same offer to everyone that I have the honor of representing, I just don’t think it’s fair.

JOHNSON: But, while his surgery personally cost him thousands of dollars, Kagen says he paid nothing for the extensive rehab he needed. That was provided by the U.S. government. In fact, Kagen and his hundreds fellow members of Congress receive some of the best health care in the country, without even using insurance. And all right in the U.S. Capitol, at a little known and rarely discussed clinic called the Office of Attending Physician.

KAGEN: They have a small pharmacy. They have physicians and nurses that will see you on the spot, at the beck and call. And they have physical therapy available, which I took advantage of when I had my knee surgery.

JOHNSON: And I assume the members of Congress pays for this somewhat?

KAGEN: It’s one of the, quote, benefits of being a member of Congress.

I noticed something else is the Berry Laker’s post, but I need to do a little bit more digging (and emailing) before that post may see the light of day.

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Rather Appeal in Lawsuit versus CBS Tossed Out

Courage Dan.


Newsman Dan Rather suffered another blow Tuesday in his long legal fight with CBS when a state appeals court dismissed his $70 million suit against the network.

The folksy newsman sued CBS after his 44-year career at the network collapsed in the wake of a disputed September 2004 report about President George W. Bush‘s Vietnam-era military service.

“This is the death knell for the Rather complaints,” said Louis Briskman, general counsel for CBS.

Rather, 77, filed suit in September 2007, charging that his contract was breached and that he lost job opportunities when he was “warehoused” and scapegoated by network honchos who wanted to make nice with the Bush White House.

But an Appellate Division panel unanimously sided with the network, pointing out that the former “CBS Evening News” anchorman continued to collect his $6 million annual salary until he finally parted ways with CBS in June 2006.

A lawyer for Rather said he plans to take the case to the state’s highest court.

Frankly, CBS should have ‘warehoused’ Rather years before 2004.  Would have saved all parties a ton of headaches.

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Canada-U.S. Reach “Buy American” Exemption Agreement

This is wonderful news!

(Of course, it would have been better if Congress and the White House never put those lame-brained, idiotic, economically-ignorant, and did I mention job-killing “Buy American” provisions in the stimulus to begin with.)

A deal may be imminent that will exempt Canada from the controversial Buy American provision included in the U.S. stimulus package, CBC News has learned.

According to Canadian government sources, Ottawa expects that the White House will use its discretionary power to exempt Canada from the clause very soon. In return, Canada would simultaneously announce that its provincial and municipal doors are now wide open to U.S. companies.

Sources say the announcement could be made when the two trade negotiators, Ottawa’s Don Stephenson and Washington’s Everett Eissenstat hold their first formal meeting.

The provision gives priority to U.S. iron, steel and other manufactured goods for use in state-level and municipal public works and building projects funded with taxpayer stimulus money. Canadian governments and businesses have railed against the policy.

During Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit with U.S. President Barack Obama last week, Harper again made a pitch for an exclusion for Canada from “Buy American” provisions.

Harper and Obama said the two sides were looking into ways of addressing the issue, including the possibility of including the provinces in a multilateral deal.

Obama has said the clause conforms with all World Trade Organization and NAFTA regulations because it deals with what’s called sub-national governments — such as states and municipalities — which aren’t included in trade treaties.

Last week, Obama suggested that Canada’s provinces must open their local markets to American companies. Canadian officials say the White House first stated its terms last spring, after Obama’s visit to Ottawa.

One worried trade partner seemingly satisfied, Lord only knows how many more will now come knocking on the door for their exemption as well.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Congress and the White House need to revoke that provision in the stimulus bill.

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Cartoon of the Day


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Best Political Reporters in the 50 States

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza put togther quite the list here of top political reporters in each of the 50 states.  Here’s what he put down for Wisconsin.

Wisconsin: The Wheeler Report’s Dick Wheeler

I don’t disagree with this pick at all.  Dick is well-known for busting his tail when he is covering events live getting out as much information, press releases, etc., out to his website.  Got to notice this myself in 2005, when I was in attendance at a JFC Budget Hearing at Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland.  I just think like with Cillizza’s blog list from earlier in the year, he left more than a couple deserving souls off.

In my opinion, this list is incomplete without at least two men.  They are JR Ross of WisPolitics.com and Madison Bureau Chief of the Appleton Post-Crescent Ben Jones.

Over the years, before I went out to DC, I got to see both of these guys in action (In the case of JR, I think he emailed me once too…) and they are two hard-working guys with a boatload of sources and who cut things typically down the middle.

How Cillizza missed you two is a mystery to me.

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Dumbasses of the Week

It’s one thing to be caught on film a la Bob Ryan, likely-to-be ex-Mayor of the City of Sheboygan, it’s another to put the thing on Facebook yourself like these two morons.

Another good call by Calumet County Sheriff Jerry Pagel.

CHILTON, Wis. (AP) – One Calumet County sheriff’s deputy has resigned and another has been demoted to a non-sworn position after a Facebook video showed them burning a stuffed dummy wearing a department uniform.

Calumet County Sheriff Jerry Pagel showed the video to the media Tuesday. He says the incident “caused disgrace” to law enforcement. The two deputies and others attended the burning, and racial comments were heard in the video.

The officers were put on leave during an internal investigation. On Tuesday, Pagel announced Deputy Jennifer Bass resigned Sept. 10. She was a jailer with four years on the department. Wendy Schmitz was demoted to a dispatcher. She had been an investigative sergeant with 12 years on the department.

Press requests for comments from the two deputies were not returned.


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Talk About Your Misleading Headline

Oh dear lord, cancel the Virigina Gubernatorial primary, we have a headline guaranteed to end the race hear and now; giving it to Democrat Creigh Deeds for sure.


Former Virginia GOP Governor Endorses Deeds

ARLINGTON, Va. – Former Gov. Linwood Holton has endorsed state Sen. Creigh Deeds for governor.

Holton was Virginia’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction. He endorsed Deeds on Tuesday, citing the need for Democrats and Republicans to work together to solve the state’s transportation-funding crisis without sacrificing other core services.

At an appearance with Deeds at an Arlington subway station, Holton said Republican candidate Bob McDonnell’s transportation plan is unrealistic.

Holy cow, that’s news!

No, it’s actually not.

Holton, Democratic Gov. Timothy Kaine’s father-in-law, was governor from 1970-74 and was known as a centrist leader. As the state GOP has become more conservative, Holton has endorsed Democrats, including Kaine and Barack Obama.

The creditiblity of Kaine as DNC Chair is on the line with this election in less than six weeks.  All polling — after a tightening after non-stop reporting by the Washington Post on McDonnell’s 20 year-old college thesis — now has McDonnell leading anywhere between 5 to 12 percentage points.

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Cartoon of the Day


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Time to Sue the Membership

The Washington Times reported yesterday the American Association for Justice — formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America — is broke.  And not just broke, really broke…to the tune of $6.2 million in debt.

The trial lawyers lobby has been awash in debt and bleeding members – just as it embarks on a national campaign to block any clampdown on medical malpractice lawsuits as part of President Obama’s health care overhaul.

The American Association for Justice, the most prominent group representing plaintiffs’ attorneys, has seen a shake-up in its executive suite and has struggled to deal with what appears to be a mounting budget shortfall. To help it fight congressional efforts to make it harder for patients to sue doctors and lawyers, it recently sent out an extra solicitation to its members, asking them to fork over money for a lobbying campaign.

The most striking evidence of its financial woes is a swift decline in income, which resulted in a more than $6.2 million deficit in its operating budget for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2008, the most recent year for which data are available.

The biggest hit to its books was in membership dues, which dropped from $28.6 million in 2005 to $19.2 million in 2008, according to the annual AAJ financial report for that fiscal year filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

“That is our number-one priority: to strengthen our membership,” said Joey Diaz, a member of the AAJ executive committee, speaking by phone from his law office in Madison, Miss. “We have a number of people working on membership and we have reversed that [downward] trend and are starting to move forward again.”

Mr. Diaz said he did not know the status of the association’s finances because he does not serve on the budget committee.

Of course, there had to be a Wisconsin tie to the trial lawyers’ lobby.  What, Robert Habush too busy to pick up the phone?

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Robot or Cutout, You Decide

This isn’t new stuff, but it is funny.

Barack Obama’s amazingly consistent smile from Eric Spiegelman on Vimeo.

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