These are my links for January 7th through January 8th:
Hospital Opens Emergency Tent in Midst of Increasing Flu Cases – It’s the most miserable time of the year for many people in the area. Flu season is in full effect and this one in particular is shaping up to be more extreme than usual.The State Department of Health reports that four Pennsylvanians have already died of complications from the influenza virus.In response to the early start of flu season, the Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest had to open an emergency space to care for the increased number of people with flu-like symptoms.The hospital tells NBC10’s Katy Zachry why the tent was erected.
“If we can remove them from the main ED and put them in environment where everyone is masked and everyone can be protected, it’s safer for them and certainly safer for the staff,” said Terry Burger, hospital director of infection control
GOP may use debt ceiling to force Harry Reid to pass budget – Tuesday marks the 1,350th day since the Senate passed a budget. The law requires Congress to pass a budget every year, on the grounds that Americans deserve to know how the government plans to spend the trillions of taxpayer dollars it collects, along with dollars it borrows at the taxpayers’ expense. But Majority Leader Harry Reid, who last allowed a budget through the Senate in April 2009, has ignored the law since then.There’s no mystery why. The budget passed by large Democratic majorities in the first months of the Obama administration had hugely elevated levels of spending in it. By not passing a new spending plan since, Reid has in effect made those levels the new budgetary baseline. Congress has kept the government going with continuing resolutions based on the last budget signed into law.While Reid has forbidden action, the House has passed budgets as required. Senate Democrats have been highly critical of those budgets, designed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. But under Reid’s leadership, Democrats have steadfastly refused to come up with a plan of their own.
ObamaCare: Fast-Food Worker Hours Cut, New Health Care Law Blamed – A fast-food chain is slashing employee hours so franchise owners don’t have to pay health benefits. Around 100 local Wendy’s workers have learned their hours are being cut. A spokesperson says a new health care law is to blame.“Thirty-six to 37 hours a week.” That’s how many hours T.J. Growbeck works at the 84th and Giles Wendy’s restaurant. The money he earns helps him pay for the basics, but that’s not the case for all his co-workers. “There are some people doing it trying to get by.”The company has announced that all non-management positions will have their hours reduced to 28 a week. Gary Burdette, Vice President of Operations for the local franchise, says the cuts are coming because the new Affordable Health Care Act requires employers to offer health insurance to employees working 32-38 hours a week. Under the current law they are not considered full time and that as a small business owner, he can’t afford to stay in operation and pay for everyone’s health insurance.
Obama’s CIA nominee to face tough questions about ‘enhanced interrogation’ – President Obama’s pick to head the CIA could face a rough road to confirmation in the Senate due to his involvement in the “enhanced interrogation” techniques of the George W. Bush administration.The president on Monday announced he would nominate John Brennan, the White House’s counterterrorism chief, to lead the top spy agency following the recent departure of David Petraeus.
GOP sees Chuck Hagel pick as chance for payback – As the tactical skirmishing begins over Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be secretary of defense, the short-term political calculus from 30,000 feet clearly favors Republicans: Hagel’s confirmation hearings are a potential boon for the GOP and a source of queasiness for pro-Israel Democrats, despite the historically long odds of blunting a presidential pick.
An appreciation: Richard Ben Cramer’s masterpiece – I don’t recall the first time I read “What It Takes,” but I knew exactly where to find it on my bookshelf Monday night upon hearing the awful news that Richard Ben Cramer had died.It’s insufficient to say that Cramer’s 1,047-page tour de force on the 1988 presidential race is the best book ever written about a campaign. It is that. But what makes it so valuable, so rewarding, just so much damn fun is that it illustrates why politics and journalism is so much damn fun.
Hagel’s Views Do Matter – Suppose a president were to request an assessment of a hypothetical strike on Iran. Suppose the secretary of defense delivers to him a plan requiring the insertion of US ground forces into Iranian cities to be sure of destroying relevant facilities. That “plan” is as much a veto of a strike as any decision.Donald Rumsfeld enabled the Iraq war by producing estimates it could be won with as few as 135,000 troops. Had he instead on 300,000, the war would not have occurred: it would have seemed too heavy a lift. (As indeed it proved.)A Secretary Hagel could similarly thwart policies he disapproved of by magnifying their cost and difficulty. That’s why his views matter, and that’s why it’s so disingenuous to claim they do not.
Gabrielle Giffords launches anti-gun website – Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband on Tuesday unveiled a new anti-gun violence initiative – two years after she was shot in the head at an event with constituents in Tucson, Arizona.Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, are behind Americans for Responsible Solutions, an effort that “will encourage elected officials to stand up for solutions to prevent gun violence and protect responsible gun ownership by communicating directly with the constituents that elect them,” according to the newly launched website, which is paid for by the Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC.
Chuck Hagel: The Armed Services Committee whip list – Seven of the 12 Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee have already expressed some opposition to Chuck Hagel, mere hours after the former Nebraska GOP senator was officially nominated to be Defense Secretary.Hagel doesn’t technically need any GOP votes to advance beyond the committee, on which Democrats hold a 14-12 majority, but some Democrats have also suggested they are hesitant to confirm him.Five of 14 Democrats on the committee have so far suggested they are either going to vote for Hagel or are leaning toward voting for him. Four others have withheld judgment and the rest haven’t spoken out publicly.Here’s how it breaks down so far
Chuck Hagel’s chances — in 3 charts – As Chuck Hagel, the former Nebraska senator and now President Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense, gears up for his confirmation process in the Senate, there is at least a possibility that he won’t be cleared by the upper chamber to head up the Pentagon.Just how often does the Senate oppose a Cabinet nominee to the point that he or she is rejected or withdraws? And for what reasons? Thanks to a research paper from James D. King, who heads the political science department at the University of Wyoming, we have the answers to these questions.We encourage you to read the entire report, from which we’ve plucked out some charts illustrating three truths about the Cabinet confirmation process – two of which The Fix’s Aaron Blake also noted in a recent post — that reveal both good and bad news for Hagel’s odds:1) The vast majority of individuals whom presidents nominate to their Cabinets are confirmed by the Senate.
2) The defense secretary post has tended to be a source of very little controversy.
3) Public policy issues account for much of the opposition in the confirmation process.
Topsy-turvy Hagel politics – President Obama wants to get credit for bipartisanship, so he picks a Republican defense secretary who will garner few if any Republican votes. He walks away from a politically loyal African American woman for secretary of state (whose nomination would open up his political liabilities) but goes forward with a white, Republican man (whose nomination puts gobs of Senate Republicans in an untenable spot). The two groups of Democrats (gays and Jews) who turned out in droves for him watch a nomination proceed with someone who had tried to exclude gays from government and accused Jews of dual loyalty.
Obama’s Hagelian imperative – Presidents define themselves in large measure by the fights they pick, especially if these fights create tension with members of their own party or base. By nominating Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, President Obama has picked a fight that most would consider unnecessary, and that fight puts him in tension with some Democratic Senators and a portion of his base.He thus defines himself. Not as a president who wants to tilt away from Israel and away from confrontation with Iran; Obama can (and I would argue has) defined himself that way without nominating Hagel. Rather, he defines himself as wanting publicly to stick it to Israel and its strongest U.S. supporters – to rub their faces in his redirection of U.S. policy. As Lindsey Graham says, this is an “in your face” nomination.
Mr. Hagel and the Jews – During the hearings on Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be secretary of defense, it’s clear that the views of gay rights organizations will be heard. There the issue seems to be whether Hagel’s apology for previous remarks and beliefs was sincere, or motivated solely by self-interest. He had years to apologize publicly, but did so only when opposition from gay rights groups threatened his nomination.
GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum hopes Michigan Democrats can help him earn a victory in Tuesday’s primary. That’s right. The former Pennsylvania senator’s campaign paid for a robocall asking Democrats to vote for him in Tuesday’s primary. Recent polls show chief rival and Michigan native Mitt Romney and Santorum virtually even heading into the primary. “We know that if we can get a Reagan Democrat in the primary, we can get them in the fall,” said Hogan Gidley, communications director for Santorum. He confirmed the campaign paid for the call. Political observers say the move is just another sign of how close the GOP race is — and a “logical ploy.” As Santorum has done during numerous Michigan visits the past two weeks, the call attacked Romney’s stance on the auto bailouts, saying the former Massachusetts governor’s opposition “was a slap in the face” to Michigan workers, according to audio obtained by online political news outlet Talking Points Memo. Santorum also opposed the auto bailout, but said his consistent stance against all bailouts, including the Wall Street bailout, sets him above Romney.
Will California’s Central Valley Bloom Again? – Is sanity finally coming to California’s Central Valley? America’s breadbasket has long been victim of capricious water cutoffs to “save” the environment. A bill in Congress puts an end to this man-made drought. It should pass.
Rep. Devin Nunes of Visalia, Calif., has come forward with a legislative remedy for the policies that have turned fertile fields into hollowed-out dust bowls in the name of “being green.”
Nunes’ Sacramento-San Joaquin Water Reliability Act goes to a vote in the House Wednesday and if it passes, it will guarantee that water the farmers paid for finally gets to the parched Central Valley. It will put an end to the sorry stream of shriveled vineyards, blackened almond groves and unemployed farm workers standing in alms lines for bagged carrots from China.
The insanity of the current policies against some of America’s most productive farmers in one of the world’s richest farm belts is largely the work leftist politicians from the wealthy enclaves of the San Francisco Bay Area. This group has exerted its political muscle on the less politically powerful region that produces more than half the fruits and vegetables consumed in the U.S. — with $26 billion in annual sales.
The company told the State Department in a letter Monday that it will begin construction of a section of the pipeline that runs from Cushing, Okla., to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The stand-alone portion of the project, which TransCanada dubbed the Gulf Coast Project, will cost $2.3 billion and will be completed in mid-to-late 2013, according to the company. The project must still receive other regulatory approvals.
Separately, TransCanada said it would reapply “in the near future” for a permit that would allow the Keystone XL pipeline to cross from Alberta, Canada, into the United States.
The seizures were cited as a reason for seeking another month’s delay in a preliminary hearing in the case. A hearing that had been scheduled for Tuesday in federal court has now been set for March 16.
“The investigation has continued, and since the last continuance in this case, the government has seized a significant number of computers which need to be processed,” said a court filing by Assistant U.S. Atty. John K. Vincent. The filing does not identify whose computers were confiscated. “The government needs additional time to review, analyze, and synthesize materials that it has obtained during the course of this investigation,” the filing said.
Maloofs pledge to contribute $75 million upfront for new downtown arena – The city of Sacramento and the Kings announced a tentative deal today to build a new arena in the downtown railyard. More than half the money would come from leasing the city’s parking to a private operator, but the team’s owners say they’ve also agreed to pay $75 million upfront.
George Maloof, the family member who pushed the hardest to move to Anaheim last year, said he believes the deal with Sacramento will allow the team to sustain itself financially for years in Sacramento, a small-market city. “We’re going to have a new building, we’ll be able to attract players. It will be much easier.”
In high desert district, a mirror image of Ventura County situation? – If Democrats in Ventura County think Supervisor Linda Parks might create headaches for them by running as a “no party preference” candidate in the 26th Congressional District, perhaps they can get together with Republicans in the San Bernardino County-based 8th Congressional District to commisserate.
Former Assemblyman Anthony Adams, a moderate Republican who was assailed by conservatives because of his vote for a 2009 compromise that produced a state budget balanced with both spending cuts and temporary tax increases that have since expired, announced today he will be running as a “no party preference” candidate in the heavily Republican 8th District. The potential problem for the GOP is that there are five announced Republican candidates already, and only one Democrat. Like Ventura County’s 26th District, the 8th is an open seat with no incumbent.
Jerry Brown presses Obama on Medi-Cal, meets with labor – Gov. Jerry Brown continued to press President Barack Obama today for authorization to enact further cuts to Medi-Cal to help balance California’s budget, even as the administration showed no sign of relenting and complained about the severity of state budget cuts in other areas.
Obama told governors in a meeting this morning that too many states are cutting education programs too deeply, citing teacher layoffs and rising college tuition.
“We’ve all faced some stark choices over the past several years,” Obama said. “But that is no excuse to lose sight of what matters most. And the fact is that too many states are making cuts to education that I believe are simply too big.”
The big majority opted for a lower tax bill when asked to choose specific rates; precisely 75 percent said the right level for top earners was 30 percent or below.
The current rate for top earners is 35 percent. Only 4 percent thought it was appropriate to take 40 percent, which is approximately the level that President Obama is seeking from January 2013 onward.
Buffett: Banks Victimized by Evicted Homeowners – Warren Buffett, who controls the biggest shareholding of the No. 1 U.S. mortgage lender, said banks were victimized by some homeowners who refinanced their loans before getting evicted.
“Large numbers of people who have ‘lost’ their house through foreclosure have actually realized a profit because they carried out refinancings earlier that gave them cash in excess of their cost,” Buffett, chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), said Feb. 25 in his annual letter. “In these cases, the evicted homeowner was the winner, and the victim was the lender.”
Diane Sawyer, Anderson Cooper and Brian Williams are America’s Favorite News Personalities – Looking at a list of 26 current affairs personalities, when asked which three are their favorites, almost one-quarter say ABC News’ Diane Sawyer (23%), while one in five each say CNN’s Anderson Cooper (19%) and NBC’s Brian Williams (19%). Rounding out the top five favorite current affairs personalities is Bill O’Reilly (15%) and Barbara Walters (15%). A little further down the list are George Stephanopoulos (14%), Matt Lauer (13%), Katie Couric (13%), Rush Limbaugh (9%) and Sean Hannity (9%).
These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,016 adults surveyed online between January 16 and 23, 2012 by Harris Interactive.
Looking at the flip side, which three of the 26 news personalities are America’s least favorite, almost half say Rush Limbaugh (46%). Three in ten say Bill O’Reilly (31%) and almost one-quarter say their least favorite is Nancy Grace (23%). Rounding out the top ten least favorite news personalities are Sean Hannity (14%), Katie Couric (10%), Piers Morgan (10%), Barbara Walters (10%), Chris Matthews (10%), Rachel Maddow (7%) and Wolf Blitzer (7%).
These are my links for August 1st through August 2nd:
Jonah Goldberg : To Hell with You People Re: Giffords and "Civility" – Look, I am past exhausted talking about liberal media bias. It’s real, we all know it, and people who deny it aren’t even fooling themselves. But some things just have to be pointed out. This morning I watched the first 15 minutes of the Today Show. I don’t particularly love or even like the program, but I find it useful to see what the producers think is the big news of the day. And sometimes Chuck Todd is on, and I like him. If I sound defensive about watching the show it’s only because I am.
Anyway, the first ten minutes was about Gabby Giffords’ return to the House yesterday. I’m not sure it merited the full ten minutes or trumped the hard news that later followed, but it’s a great story and everyone is rooting for the lady, so I’m fine with it.
But think about this for a second. The Giffords shooting sent the media elite in this country into a bout of St. Vitus’s dance that would have warranted an army of exorcists in previous ages. Sarah Palin’s Facebook map was an evil totem that forced some guy to go on a shooting spree. The New York Times, the Washington Post, all three broadcast networks — particularly NBC whose senior foreign-affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell, devotes, by my rough reckoning, ten times as much air time to whining about Sarah Palin as she does about anything having to do with foreign affairs — flooded the zone with “Have you no shame” finger wagging. A memo went forth demanding that everyone at MSNBC get their dresses over their heads about the evil “tone” from the right. Media Matters went into overdrive working the interns 24/7 to “prove” that Republicans deliberately foment violence with their evil targets on their evil congressional maps.
Everyone “knew” the shooter was a tea partier. Except he wasn’t. He wasn’t even a conservative. He was a sick, demented, nutball. And it still didn’t matter! More bleating and caterwauling about the “tone” followed. More chin stroking and tut-tutting from Meet the Press roundtables and “very special segments” on the Today Show. More pizzas were ordered for the Media Matters galley slaves.
The governor signed the legislation after The Times reported a proliferation in the number of erotic massage parlors in Los Angeles.
Massage therapists are required to receive 500 hours of training from a massage school in order to get a state certificate to operate in California. But officials say diploma mills have sprung up that provide fraudulent transcripts indicating that therapists have received the required training when they have not.
Under the new law, police departments will report to the California Massage Therapy Council the identities of massage schools attended by therapists who have been prosecuted for prostitution.
"Gathering this information in a single location makes it easier for law enforcement to recognize and prosecute fraudulent massage schools," said Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), author of SB 285.
His bill also makes it a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine up to $2,500, for schools to provide a certificate to a massage therapist knowing that the person has not received the training represented by the certificate.