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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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CBS Tossed Out">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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