$4 gasoline? It’s news to Bush!

29gasprice The prospect of sharply higher fuel prices, including $4-a-gallon gasoline, may not have made it into Oval Office briefing books, perhaps explaining why President Bush was surprised Thursday when a reporter mentioned what energy analysts are saying could happen soon in many parts of the country.

Wait, what did you just say? You’re predicting $4-a-gallon gasoline?” Bush responded to a reporter who said some analysts expect prices to soon climb that high. “That’s interesting. I hadn’t heard that. . . . I know it’s high now.”

The price of oil set another record Thursday, jumping $2.95 to close at $102.59 a barrel in New York futures trading.

But even before the recent surge in oil prices, analysts were predicting that the average price of a gallon of gasoline could reach $3.75 nationwide in the near term and top $4 in states such as California and Hawaii.

BushVision Bush’s acknowledged unfamiliarity with the recent cost of gasoline produced some fumes at the pump.

At a Shell service station in the Bay Area city of San Mateo, the price of a gallon of regular had already reached $4.29, well above the state average of $3.42, as measured by the AAA auto club.

“Bush is out of touch with a lot of things we are facing today,” said 33-year-old Marisa Cajbon, who was filling her Toyota Sequoia SUV with the expensive fuel. “I have to buy gas. I need to work. I have two kids. I think it’s unfortunate. I think it’s a crime.”… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <LA Times>

As the Machiavellian Moron is not known for his farsightedness, and considering that his attention is deeply engrossed in a desperate attempt to finish My Pet Goat, before he leaves office. We should not be surprised that he would not be informed over matters that have little bearing on his desire to conquer the world, unless they impacted the well being of millionaires.

John “McConJob” McCain fully supports Bush’s economic policies. Are you ready to pay $10.00 per gallon at the pump by 2012? If so, McConJob is your guy!

Cross Posted from Politics Plus

John McCain’s chart-topping single

I never realized that McConJob had such star potential. Enjoy this video from Brave New Films.

Cross Posted from Politics Plus

Bush/GOP Meddling in Pakistan

29pakistan The Bush administration’s continued backing of President Pervez Musharraf, despite the overwhelming rejection of his party by voters this month, is fueling a new level of frustration in Pakistan with the United States.

Human rights advocates held a candlelight vigil last week in Karachi, Pakistan, during an anti-Musharraf demonstration.

That support has rankled the public, politicians and journalists here, inciting deep anger at what is perceived as American meddling and the refusal of Washington to embrace the new, democratically elected government. John D. Negroponte, the deputy secretary of state, said Thursday during a Senate panel hearing that the United States would maintain its close ties to Mr. Musharraf.

Pakistanis say the Bush administration is grossly misjudging the political mood in Pakistan and squandering an opportunity to win support from the Pakistani public for its fight against terrorism. The opposition parties that won the Feb. 18 parliamentary elections say they are moderate and pro-American. By working with them, analysts say, Washington could gain a vital, new ally.

The American insistence that Mr. Musharraf play a significant role, they say, will only draw out a power struggle with the president and distract the new government from pushing ahead with alternatives to Mr. Musharraf’s policies on the economy and terrorism, which are widely viewed here as having failed.

“I’ve never seen such an irrational, impractical move on the part of the United States,” said Rasul Baksh Rais, a political scientist at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. “The whole country has voted against Musharraf. This was a referendum against Musharraf.”

Over the last week, more than a dozen editorials and commentaries have appeared in Pakistan’s leading newspapers accusing the United States of “meddling” in the country’s affairs. Many have taken particular umbrage at statements by President Bush and other senior officials praising Mr. Musharraf, despite his lack of support among voters… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

Earth to MonkeyFuhrer! Earth to GOPerReich!! Wake up!!! There is a reason Pakistani’s think you are meddling in their affairs. YOU ARE!!!!

Cross Posted from Politics Plus

McCain: Worst Senator for Children!

28mccain2 Today, the Children’s Defense Fund Action Council released its 2007 Nonpartisan Congressional Scorecard. CDF reports some positive news, particularly that average scores for members of Congress “improved from the previous three years with more Members scoring 100 percent than in 2004, 2005 or 2006.”

Many, however, did not fare so well. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) received a 10 percent ratingthe worst in the U.S. Senate.

CDF ranked members on 10 votes affecting children:

  • 1. Increase minimum wage (H.R. 2)
  • 2. Increase funding for children with disabilities (S. Con. Res. 21)
  • 3. Protect children from unsafe medications (S. 1082)
  • 4. 2008 Budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 21)
  • 5. SCHIP Reauthorization (H.R. 976)
  • 6. College Cost Reduction and Access Act (H.R. 2669)
  • 7. SCHIP (H.R. 976 – motion to concur)
  • 8. DREAM Act (S. 2205)
  • 9. Funding child health and education (H.R. 3043)
  • 10. Improving Head Start programs (H.R. 1429)

… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Think Progress>

Every penny McCain and the GOP have to spend on worthy goals such as these is a penny they can’t spend on millionaires. To McCain and the GOP, children matter only insofar as they are a resource for their future use slave-wage workers and cannon fodder.

Cross posted from Politics Plus

Private Medicare Plans’ Cost Questioned

28medicare Private Medicare plans often cost beneficiaries more than the traditional government-run Medicare program, Congressional investigators say.

Many private plans advertise extra benefits and low costs. But in a report to be issued Thursday, the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, says that many people in private plans face higher costs for home health care, nursing homes and some hospital stays.

About one-fifth of the 44 million Medicare beneficiaries — 9 million people — are in private plans, known as Medicare Advantage plans.

The report says, “Medicare spends more per beneficiary in Medicare Advantage than it does for beneficiaries in the original Medicare fee-for-service program, at an estimated additional cost to Medicare of $54 billion from 2009 through 2012.”

Bush administration officials and insurance executives say the private plans provide a bargain. “Medicare Advantage plans are offering an average of approximately $1,100 in additional annual value to beneficiaries in terms of cost savings and added benefits,” said Kerry N. Weems, the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Moreover, insurers say, co-payments and deductibles are generally lower in private plans than in traditional Medicare. In data submitted to the government, insurers estimated that their beneficiaries paid, on average, $49 a month in such costs, or 42 percent of what they would have paid in traditional Medicare.

But the Government Accountability Office said the experience of particular beneficiaries might not match the average, so their out-of-pocket costs could substantially exceed those in traditional Medicare.

Last year, it said, “19 percent of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries were in plans that projected higher cost-sharing for home health services, and 16 percent of beneficiaries were in plans that projected higher cost-sharing for inpatient services.”

Insurers often boast that they protect Medicare beneficiaries against high out-of-pocket costs by setting annual limits.

The Government Accountability Office found that “48 percent of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries were in plans that had an out-of-pocket maximum.” The limits typically ranged from $2,750 to $4,600 a year and averaged about $3,500.

But, the report said, certain costs are not counted toward the out-of-pocket limits established by some insurers. Thus, it said, among Medicare plans with out-of-pocket limits, 29 percent exclude the cost of some cancer drugs, 23 percent exclude the cost of some mental health services and 21 percent exclude home health care expenses… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <NY Times>

OK, this is some pretty complex data, but let me try to put it in a nut shell. When someone signs up for a medicare advantage program, their premium goes to an insurance company, not back into the medicare system. That costs the system about $52 billion a year. Nevertheless the government reimburses the insurance companies at a higher average rate than it reimburses patients. That difference costs the system and additional $13.5 billion a year. So overall that’s over $65 billion lost to the system. In addition, many if not most of the insurance companies leave their clients without coverage for some of the most expensive items there are. In short, Bush and the GOP have transformed Medicare into a welfare program for Big Insurance. The House tried to equalize the reimbursement rate last year, but the GOP blocked it with a filibuster. No wonder the system is in trouble!

Cross posted from Politics Plus

Air Force Blocks Access to Many Blogs

070712-F-3961R-103.jpg The Air Force is tightening restrictions on which blogs its troops can read, cutting off access to just about any independent site with the word “blog” in its web address. It’s the latest move in a larger struggle within the military over the value — and hazards — of the sites. At least one senior Air Force official calls the squeeze so “utterly stupid, it makes me want to scream.”

Until recently, each major command of the Air Force had some control over what sites their troops could visit, the Air Force Times reports. Then the Air Force Network Operations Center, under the service’s new “Cyber Command,” took over.

AFNOC has imposed bans on all sites with “blog” in their URLs, thus cutting off any sites hosted by Blogspot. Other blogs, and sites in general, are blocked based on content reviews performed at the base, command and AFNOC level …

The idea isn’t to keep airmen in the dark — they can still access news sources that areprimary, official-use sources,” said Maj. Henry Schott, A5 for Air Force Network Operations. “Basically … if it’s a place like The New York Times, an established, reputable media outlet, then it’s fairly cut and dry that that’s a good source, an authorized source,” he said …

AFNOC blocks sites by using Blue Coat software, which categorizes sites based on their content and allows users to block sub-categories as they choose.

“Often, we block first and then review exceptions,” said Tech. Sgt. Christopher DeWitt, a Cyber Command spokesman.

As a result, airmen posting online have cited instances of seemingly innocuous sites — such as educational databases and some work-related sites — getting wrapped up in broad proxy filters.

… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Wired>

Do you believe that they aren’t trying to keep airmen in the dark? When they refer to “primary official-use sources” they are referring to the MSM. They want to make sure that all the news the troops get is filtered through the right-wing media. How ironic that the ChickenHawk-in-Chief and his GOP Reich deny First Amendment freedom to the very people tasked with defending it!

Bush/GOP-speak Dictionary:

Support the troops=Use as cannon fodder until dead or severely wounded; then discard.

Cross posted from Politics Plus

Iraqi Council Strikes Down Key Law

28iraqpresidentcouncil Iraq’s presidential council rejected a plan for new provincial elections and sent the bill back to parliament Wednesday for reworking, a major setback to U.S.-backed efforts to promote national reconciliation.

The ruling came despite a reported last-minute telephone call by Vice President Dick Cheney to the main holdout on the three-member panel, which has to sign off on laws passed by the legislature. The White House tried to put its best face on the development, saying “this is democracy at work.”

The outcome underscored the immense challenges involved in efforts to distribute power among Shiites, Sunni Arabs and Kurds five years after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Such power-sharing agreements are the end goal of last year’s buildup of U.S. troops. The hope has been that the declining bloodshed will remove the fear that has paralyzed Iraqi politicians, enabling them to compromise and strike deals across the sectarian divide. And that, in theory, should blunt support for the Sunni insurgency and allow American troops to withdraw from the country… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Huffington Post>

The Bush/GOP Reich has touted the passage of this bill by the Iraqi parliament heavily to support the absurd notion that the surge, aka the ChickenHawk charge, is working. That the Iraqi factions are still not willing to settle their differences is the best evidence there is that it is not. As long as US troops are there to keep the lid on the pot, the squabbling Iraqi leaders have no incentive to come together. On the other hand, faced with a timetable for withdrawal, the4y might be willing to settle rather than face the chaotic consequences of their intransigence.

Cross posted from Politics Plus