Keith Olbermann is Out at MSNBC

Comcast all-too-clearly cans Olbermann.

Ali Velshi, Howard Kurtz throw Olbermann under the bus and Bill Carter plays dumb on CNN.

David Shuster shows what a class-act he is.

Developing…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

 

Health Care Bill Fact Sheet

The FDL health care team has been covering the health care debate in congress since it began last year. They have put together a fact sheet to help readers sort through the myths and facts of the health care bill:

Myth

Truth

1. This is a universal health care bill.
The bill is neither universal health care nor universal health insurance.

Per the CBO:

  • Total uninsured in 2019 with no bill: 54 million
  • Total uninsured in 2019 with Senate bill: 24 million (44%)
2. Insurance companies hate this bill

This bill is almost identical to the plan written by AHIP, the insurance company trade association, in 2009. The original Senate Finance Committee bill was authored by a former Wellpoint VP. Since Congress released the first of its health care bills on October 30, 2009, health care stocks have risen 28.35%.
3. The bill will significantly bring down insurance premiums for most Americans.
The bill will not bring down premiums significantly, and certainly not the $2,500/year that the President promised.

Annual premiums in 2016, status quo / with bill:

Small group market, single: $7,800 / $7,800

Small group market, family: $19,3oo / $19,200

Large Group market, single: $7,400 / $7,300

Large group market, family: $21,100 / $21,300

Individual market, single: $5,500 / $5,800*

Individual market, family: $13,100 / $15,200*

4. The bill will make health care affordable for middle class Americans.
The bill will impose a financial hardship on middle class Americans who will be forced to buy a product that they can’t afford to use.A family of four making $66,370 will be forced to pay $8,628 per year for insurance. After basic necessities, this leaves them with $8,307 in discretionary income — out of which they would have to cover clothing, credit card and other debt, child care and education costs, in addition to $5,882 in annual out-of-pocket medical expenses for which families will be responsible.
5. This plan is similar to the Massachusetts plan, which makes health care affordable. Many Massachusetts residents forgo health care because they can’t afford it.A 2009 study by the state of Massachusetts found that:

  • 21% of residents forgo medical treatment because they can’t afford it, including 12% of children
  • 18% have health insurance but can’t afford to use it
6. This bill provide health care to 31 million people who are currently uninsured.
This bill will mandate that millions of people who are currently uninsured must purchase insurance from private companies, or the IRS will collect up to 2% of their annual income in penalties. Some will be assisted with government subsidies.
7. You can keep the insurance you have if you like it.
The excise tax will result in employers switching to plans with higher co-pays and fewer covered services.

Older, less healthy employees with employer-based health care will be forced to pay much more in out-of-pocket expenses than they do now.

8. The “excise tax” will encourage employers to reduce the scope of health care benefits, and they will pass the savings on to employees in the form of higher wages. There is insufficient evidence that employers pass savings from reduced benefits on to employees.
9. This bill employs nearly every cost control idea available to bring down costs.
This bill does not bring down costs and leaves out nearly every key cost control measure, including:

  • Public Option ($25-$110 billion)
  • Medicare buy-in
  • Drug reimportation ($19 billion)
  • Medicare drug price negotiation ($300 billion)
  • Shorter pathway to generic biologics ($71 billion)
10. The bill will require big companies like WalMart to provide insurance for their employees The bill was written so that most WalMart employees will qualify for subsidies, and taxpayers will pick up a large portion of the cost of their coverage.
11. The bill “bends the cost curve” on health care.
The bill ignored proven ways to cut health care costs and still leaves 24 million people uninsured, all while slightly raising total annual costs by $234 million in 2019. “Bends the cost curve” is a misleading and trivial claim, as the US would still spend far more for care than other advanced countries.

In 2009, health care costs were 17.3% of GDP.

Annual cost of health care in 2019, status quo: $4,670.6 billion (20.8% of GDP)

Annual cost of health care in 2019, Senate bill: $4,693.5 billion (20.9% of GDP)

12. The bill will provide immediate access to insurance for Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition. Access to the “high risk pool” is limited and the pool is underfunded. It will cover few people, and will run out of money in 2011 or 2012Only those who have been uninsured for more than six months will qualify for the high risk pool. Only 0.7% of those without insurance now will get coverage, and the CMS report estimates it will run out of funding by 2011 or 2012.
13. The bill prohibits dropping people in individual plans from coverage when they get sick. The bill does not empower a regulatory body to keep people from being dropped when they’re sick.There are already many states that have laws on the books prohibiting people from being dropped when they’re sick, but without an enforcement mechanism, there is little to hold the insurance companies in check.
14. The bill ensures consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to challenge new insurance plan decisions. The “internal appeals process” is in the hands of the insurance companies themselves, and the “external” one is up to each state.
Ensuring that consumers have access to “internal appeals” simply means the insurance companies have to review their own decisions. And it is the responsibility of each state to provide an “external appeals process,” as there is neither funding nor a regulatory mechanism for enforcement at the federal level.
15. This bill will stop insurance companies from hiking rates 30%-40% per year.

This bill does not limit insurance company rate hikes. Private insurers continue to be exempt from anti-trust laws, and are free to raise rates without fear of competition in many areas of the country.
16. When the bill passes, people will begin receiving benefits under this bill immediately
Most provisions in this bill, such as an end to the ban on pre-existing conditions for adults, do not take effect until 2014. Six months from the date of passage, children could not be excluded from coverage due to pre-existing conditions, though insurance companies could charge more to cover them. Children would also be allowed to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26. There will be an elimination of lifetime coverage limits, a high risk pool for those who have been uninsured for more than 6 months, and community health centers will start receiving money.
17. The bill creates a pathway for single payer.

Bernie Sanders’ provision in the Senate bill does not start until 2017, and does not cover the Department of Labor, so no, it doesn’t create a pathway for single payer.
Obama told Dennis Kucinich that the Ohio Representative’s amendment is similar to Bernie Sanders’ provision in the Senate bill, and creates a pathway to single payer. Since the waiver does not start until 2017, and does not cover the Department of Labor, it is nearly impossible to see how it gets around the ERISA laws that stand in the way of any practical state single payer system.
18 The bill will end medical bankruptcy and provide all Americans with peace of mind.
Most people with medical bankruptcies already have insurance, and out-of-pocket expenses will continue to be a burden on the middle class.

  • In 2009, 1.5 million Americans declared bankruptcy
  • Of those, 62% were medically related
  • Three-quarters of those had health insurance
  • The Obama bill leaves 24 million without insurance
  • The maximum yearly out-of-pocket limit for a family will be $11,900 (PDF) on top of premiums
  • A family with serious medical problems that last for a few years could easily be financially crushed by medical costs

*Cost of premiums goes up somewhat due to subsidies and mandates of better coverage. CBO assumes that cost of individual policies goes down 7-10%, and that people will buy more generous policies.

Documentation:

  1. March 11, Letter from Doug Elmendorf to Harry Reid (PDF)
  2. The AHIP Plan in Context, Igor Volsky; The Max Baucus WellPoint/Liz Fowler Plan, Marcy Wheeler
  3. CBO Score, 11-30-2009
  4. “Affordable” Health Care, Marcy Wheeler
  5. Gruber Doesn’t Reveal That 21% of Massachusetts Residents Can’t Afford Health Care, Marcy Wheeler; Massachusetts Survey (PDF)
  6. Health Care on the Road to Neo-Feudalism, Marcy Wheeler
  7. CMS: Excise Tax on Insurance Will Make Your Insurane Coverage Worse and Cause Almost No Reduction in NHE, Jon Walker
  8. Employer Health Costs Do Not Drive Wage Trends, Lawrence Mishel
  9. CBO Estimates Show Public Plan With Higher Savings Rate, Congress Daily; Drug Importation Amendment Likely This Week, Politico; Medicare Part D IAF; A Monopoloy on Biologics Will Drain Health Care Resources, Lancet Student
  10. MaxTax Is a Plan to Use Our Taxes to Reward Wal-Mart for Keeping Its Workers in Poverty, Marcy Wheeler
  11. Estimated Financial Effects of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009,” as Proposed by the Senate Majority Leader on November 18, 2009, CMS (PDF)
  12. ibid
  13. ibid
  14. ibid
  15. Health insurance companies hang onto their antitrust exemption, Protect Consumer Justice.org
  16. What passage of health care reform would mean for the average American, DC Examiner
  17. How to get a State Single Payer Opt-Out as Part of Reconciliation, Jon Walker
  18. Medical bills prompt more than 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies, CNN.com; The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Section‐by‐Section Analysis (PDF)

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What Exactly Do The Insurance Companies Get From Health Care Reform? ~ Olbermann and Potter

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Alan Grayson With Keith Olbermann on The Health Insurance Companies' Anti-Trust Exemption

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Gawker Claims Mancow Waterboarding Was Fake

G A W K E R

mancow

THE CAJUN BOY

Yesterday we showed you video of Erich “Mancow” Muller, a Chicago-based right-wing shockjock, appearing as a guest on Keith Olbermann‘s show to discuss his being waterboarded. He claimed it led to an ideological conversion! But now a tipster has provided information that suggests the whole thing may be a hoax.

[Update: Mancow tells us on Friday morning: “‘Hoax’ is probably not the right word, but we did think it was going to be a joke.”]

The information provided to Gawker by our tipster came in a series of emails and is somewhat layered, so we’ll try to lay it all out as unconfusingly as possible. Where the story begins is last Thursday afternoon, the day before Mancow was scheduled to be waterboarded, when the person slated to do the waterboarding suddenly backed out, sending Mancow’s publicity team into a mild frenzy to find someone to replace him. A chain of emails followed, emails that were subsequently forwarded to Gawker by our tipster.

There are three main players in the following sequence of events:

-The first is a Chicago-based publicist named Linda Shafran whose clients include the Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos shows, in addition to Erich “Mancow” Muller. In describing Shafran our tipster added:

“Linda Shafran is Springer’s current publicist until the show starts shooting in CT. Since Springer is her primary source of income, she’s now trying to help promote Mancow nationally as a shock jock alternative to Howard Stern.”

-The second person involved in this is a man named David Kupcinet. He runs a Chicago-based foundation for veterans called Kup’s Purple Heart Foundation. He is the grandson of Irv Kupcinet, a somewhat legendary Chicago gossip columnist who wrote a column for the Chicago Sun Times for over 60 years. At the behest of a friend, Linda Shafran contacted Kupcinet on Thursday hoping that his relationships with Chicago-area veterans and military personnel could help her find a replacement waterboarder.

-The third person involved here, to a much lesser degree, is another Chicago-based publicist named Kathy Posner. According to our tipster, Posner is Jerry Springer’s former flack and a friend of both Linda Shafran and Erich “Mancow” Muller. According to one of the emails we were forwarded, it was Posner who suggested that Shafran contact David Kupcinet to find a replacement waterboarder.

Now, with all of that background established, here are some of the emails that followed between Shafran and Kupcinet, the first being the initial contact between the two on the matter:

From: [redacted]
Date: Thu, May 21, 2009 at 1:15 PM
To: [redacted]
Subject: URGENT

Don’t shoot the messenger

Mancow has been promoting all week that he is getting waterboarded tomorrow between 8-9am on-air. We have camera crew shooting it for WGN

The swat guy he had to do the waterboarding now can’t do it. Do you know any military guy that might come down to WLS radio tomorrow (190 N. State Street) to waterboard Mancow????

Kathy said you know lots of military guys that might do it…or a policeman or fireman or EMT.

HELP

Linda Shafran
Jerry Springer Show
454 N. Columbus Dr.
Chicago, IL 60611
PH: [redacted]
cell: [redacted]
Email: [redacted]

Kupcinet, or “Kuppy,” responded a few minutes later:

From: [redacted]
Date: Thu, May 21, 2009 at 1:28 PM
To: [redacted]
Subject: Re: URGENT

What exactly do you mean? You mean really tortured? What exactly would it consist of and do they need to bring gear or does Cow have what he needs or what?

Get back to me quick an ill find u a guy.

Kuppy

(P.S. Love you)

Sent from my iPhone

Now, here’s the key email in the exchange, with Shafran saying in no uncertain terms that the whole thing is being staged as a hoax:

From: [redacted]
Date: Thu, May 21, 2009 at 1:38 PM
To: [redacted]
Cc: [redacted]
Subject: Re: URGENT

You are a ROCK STAR!!!

It is going to have to look “real” but of course would be simulated with Mancow acting like he is drowning. It will be a hoax but have to look real. Would be great if they could dress in fatigues and bring whatever is needed. We will supply the water

xxxx

Linda Shafran
Jerry Springer Show
454 N. Columbus Dr.
Chicago, IL 60611
PH: [redacted]
cell: [redacted]
Email: [redacted]

After getting this email from Shafran, David Kupcinet suggested she contact Marine Sgt. Clay South, the person who eventually carried out Mancow’s waterboarding. We include this next email only because we find the compensation offer extended to South from Mancow via Shafran to be somewhat amusing:

From: [redacted]
Date: Thu, May 21, 2009 at 2:02 PM
To: [redacted]
Subject: MANCOW WAS ALL OVER IT

I tried to call you but got voicemail. I talked to Mancow and he said “Are you kidding – of course he can mention the charity and talk about his experiences over there”

I am going to call Klay now. Mancow will pay gas and parking.

Linda Shafran
Jerry Springer Show
454 N. Columbus Dr.
Chicago, IL 60611
PH: [redacted]
FX: [redacted]
Email: [redacted]

We contacted Linda Shafran last night for a statement about this and she emailed us back with an emphatic denial that anything was faked:

It was NOT a hoax. Early on when we were looking for someone to waterboard, an email was sent out looking for someone to do it and I mistakenly said it would be staged. That was my mistake and a misunderstanding.

But that was early and NOT TRUE AT ALL. It was not staged. NOT AT ALL. When it happened several days later, it was real, honest, actual, not staged.

Any info you have was my mistake. THE WATERBOARDING OF MANCOW WAS REAL!!!!!!

The glaring discrepancy in Shafran’s statement to us is that her emails to Kupcinet are dated Thursday, May 21st, the day prior to Mancow’s waterboarding, while she now claims that these emails were sent out “early on” and that the waterboarding took place “several days later.” Additionally, she even mentions that Mancow “is getting waterboarded tomorrow” in her first note to Kupcinet.

Regarding the emails between Safran and Kupcinet, our tipster also informed us that they were shared with Keith Olbermann’s producers prior to Mancow’s appearance on his show. We were told that they were beyond livid when they found out about them and expressed their extreme displeasure for the whole situation with Linda Shafran over the phone, but went ahead with the planned segment anyway, making no mention of the fact that they’d received advance word that the whole thing may have been staged. However, we were unable to confirm this with anyone at MSNBC.

Now, we’re obviously no experts on the art of waterboarding, but we’ve done a bit of research on it and also went back and watched the video of Christopher Hitchens‘ waterboarding in 2008 to compare and contrast his waterboarding against Mancow’s, and we couldn’t help but notice some rather striking differences.

In the Hitchens video, everything is carried out pretty much according to universal waterboarding protocol as we’ve come to understand it. His limbs and torso are tightly bound by restraints. The platform on which he lays appears to be tilted slightly downward so that his head is positioned below his heart. His head is also completely covered and the water used looks as though it’s poured directly into his breathing passages.

In contrast, Mancow isn’t bound by restraints at all, he doesn’t appear to have his body positioned at a decline, only a portion of his face from the nose up is covered, and the water is being poured on him inappropriately.

In short, when we watched the Mancow video for the first time it struck us in a “well that doesn’t look TOO awful” sort of way. For a brief moment it even made us want to call some friends over so we could all waterboard each other and see what all the fuss is about. On the other hand, the Hitchens video is somewhat nightmarish, making us want to never have anything to do with a waterboarding, ever.

In our post yesterday we actually praised Mancow for having the courage to undergo the infamous interrogation technique AND then going so far as to appear as a guest on a show hosted by television’s shoutiest liberal to proclaim how wrong and misguided he’s been all along. Here’s part of what we said:

We suppose it’d be easy to mock and ridicule “Mancow” here, as he does seem to be an extraordinarily massive tool, not even taking into consideration that he was one of the main guys spreading the “Obama is a closet Muslim” rumors during the election, but there’s something truly admirable in a) being sufficiently curious and willing to undergo the procedure personally to truly see what it was like to be on the receiving end of a waterboarding, and b) appearing on the air with arguably the most unabashedly liberal host on television to profess how horribly wrong he’d been previously.

Despite the emails indicating that the whole thing may have been staged, there’s a small part of us that still wants to extend Erich “Mancow” Muller the benefit of the doubt, despite his being no stranger to controversy, but our skepticism at this point is pretty dang high, and we can’t help from feeling as though we, along with a host of others, have been duped by a cheap publicity stunt.

What He Just Said: The Brilliant Bob Somerby on the Madness of Maureen Dowd

March 30, 2009 9:46 est.

BS was the second guy I ever read on the tubes…-JT

Feel free to focus for five…you little freaks…

300px-fozzie_season_1

STILL DUMBING US DOWN! A former sports guy—and a former Rhodes Scholar—continue to dumb liberals down: // link // print // previous // next //

MONDAY, MARCH 30, 2009

Since we asked: On Friday, we asked a question (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/27/09): Now that the Washington Post had semi-corrected its bungled report about the weakling Obama Admin, would Rachel Maddow follow suit? Last Tuesday night, Maddow’s report had been even more wrong than the Post’s efforts had been.

Did Maddow correct? We’d have to say no. She did devote a lengthy segment to the topic in question—a segment we thought was quite remarkable for the ways it seemed to pretend that Maddow was brilliantly right all along. To see Friday’s segment, just click here (it runs more than seven minutes). We’ll discuss this topic later this week.

By the way, do you want to see Maddow’s original segment? It seems to have disappeared.

The emperor’s favorite columnist: Sadly for you and your whole family, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” may be Hans Christian Andersen’s most contemporary fable. Quite frequently, people simply can’t see lunacy, even as it stands before them—if the lunacy in question involves a famous authority figure.

We thought of Andersen when we read Maureen Dowd’s Sunday column. Dowd is the most famous columnist at our most influential newspaper—and she’s been visibly crazy for years. Continue reading What He Just Said: The Brilliant Bob Somerby on the Madness of Maureen Dowd

General Barry McCaffrey Exposed For The Ultimate Spineless Shill That He Is

THE NEW YORK TIMES

November 30, 2008

One Man’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex

In the spring of 2007 a tiny military contractor with a slender track record went shopping for a precious Beltway commodity.

The company, Defense Solutions, sought the services of a retired general with national stature, someone who could open doors at the highest levels of government and help it win a huge prize: the right to supply Iraq with thousands of armored vehicles.

Access like this does not come cheap, but it was an opportunity potentially worth billions in sales, and Defense Solutions soon found its man. The company signed Barry R. McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general and military analyst for NBC News, to a consulting contract starting June 15, 2007.

Four days later the general swung into action. He sent a personal note and 15-page briefing packet to David H. Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq, strongly recommending Defense Solutions and its offer to supply Iraq with 5,000 armored vehicles from Eastern Europe. “No other proposal is quicker, less costly, or more certain to succeed,” he said.

Thus, within days of hiring General McCaffrey, the Defense Solutions sales pitch was in the hands of the American commander with the greatest influence over Iraq’s expanding military.

“That’s what I pay him for,” Timothy D. Ringgold, chief executive of Defense Solutions, said in an interview.

Continue reading General Barry McCaffrey Exposed For The Ultimate Spineless Shill That He Is

President-Elect Barack Obama's Press Conference | Dec 1 2008

Part Two

Good Ol' Charlie Gibson Gets In One Final Bootlicking Of President George "W/Torture" Bush

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Charles Gibson aboard for Bush interview

cg

ABC anchor will boat to Camp David with first family

By Paul J. Gough

Nov 25, 2008, 06:18 PM ET

NEW YORK — During the same week Barbara Walters interviews the president-elect in Chicago, ABC’s “World News” anchor Charles Gibson will interview President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush during the holiday weekend.

Gibson will ride with the first family on Marine One from the White House to Camp David, then interview Mr. and Mrs. Bush there. Gibson will ask about the past eight years, the couple’s future plans and if they have any advice for Bush’s successor, Sen. Barack Obama, and his family.

The interview will air on Monday’s “World News With Charles Gibson” plus that show’s webcast, “Good Morning America” and elsewhere.