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Dopey the congressman

by Susie

I used to have a friend who sold malpractice insurance to doctors, and she said that as a group, they weren’t all that smart. This little town hall meeting in Michigan seems to bolster that argument as Rep. Dan Denishek, the Republican who replaced Dem Bart Stupak, proves he’s a really big dope:

Rep. Dan Benishek’s (R-MI) embrace of the Republican Party’s platform ran into stiff opposition at a town hall meeting in Saulte Sainte Marie, Michigan when at least a dozen constituents, many of them senior citizens, pushed back against Benishek’s claims on Medicare, Social Security, oil subsides and health care reform.

Benishek couldn’t even get through his opening remarks before attendees began criticizing his support for Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget that would increase the cost of health care for seniors by providing “premium support” vouchers to eligible senior citizens.

“If you have a better idea as how to keep Medicare sustainable over the long term, I’d be happy to hear it,” offered Benishek.

I love that he said that. That’s the “killer” conversation stopper the GOP passes around in their daily talking points, assuming that all voters are as dumb as they are. Ha, ha!

He may have regretted those words after the event, because for half an hour, Benishek fielded several suggestions on how to increase funding for Medicare, ranging from ending oil subsidies to increasing taxes on the wealthiest two percent, suggestions that Benishek summarily dismissed.

Benishek also displayed a shocking lack of self-awareness about his level of knowledge of some key facts. “There are no government subsidies for oil,” he told one woman who suggested ending the very real subsidies given to oil corporations to help defray the cost of Medicare.

At one point, the discussion turned to health care reform. Benishek, who served as a medical doctor before he was elected to Congress in 2010, was thrust onto the national stage after his predecessor Bart Stupak cast the deciding vote in favor of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. He told the audience that the United States has the best health care system in the world, before he was literally laughed at by several attendees.

“We have the highest life spans in the world,” argued Benishek. Several women in the audience quickly pointed out that in fact, many countries with universal health care place higher than the United States in terms of life expectancy, including Canada, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands. The United States ranks 50th, just behind South Korea and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“I don’t believe that’s true,” said Benishek.

“How can you not know that, you’re a medical doctor?” one woman replied.

Because like most conservatives, he doesn’t believe it’s true unless he experiences it himself. And since he’s alive and has great government health care, what’s the problem?

Gotta love them GOPers. This guy’s about as smart as a can of paint.

Driving up oil prices

Imagine that. Maybe someone should do something?

There are growing indications that Wall Street speculators are driving up the price of crude and Americans are paying for their profits at the pump.

“Americans overpaid $10 billion dollars for gas at the pump in the last month alone,” said Gene Guilford, president of the Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association, speaking at a Democratic Steering and Policy Committee hearing  held on April 4. Guilford estimated that speculation is adding roughly 75 cents per gallon of gas.

The high price of gas is not simply due to supply and demand mechanisms, but insteadperceived supply and demand. Currently, a majority of oil trades are made by Wall Street speculators rather than commercial end users of oil. There is increasing evidence that these traders are having a powerful influence on the price of petroleum.

FOIA

CJR talks to two experts on problems with Freedom of Information Act requests:

It’s hard to figure out how to say this, but it often feels like the way that the Obama administration is handling FOIA requests is worse than the Bush administration. And it’s hard to know if that’s because we were so excited by Obama’s and Holder’s statements on transparency at the beginning of the administration—then it was business as usual. In my opinion, there definitely hasn’t been any change. It hasn’t gotten any better. The Obama administration has held on to a lot of the justifications that the Bush administration used to withhold records. The agencies are still applying the exemptions pretty liberally to try to withhold as much information as they can.

Foreshadowing

By Susie
Just last week, Hidden City Philadelphia warned that this property in East Kensington was in danger of being burned down.

On Monday, a massive fire at the property claimed the lives of two firefighters.

Learn the rest of this sorry story here.

Risky

So the good news is, not being able to afford dental care has an upside!

A study published Tuesday in the American Cancer Society journal Cancer reported a link between certain kinds of dental X-rays and the most common brain tumor, one that is almost always benign but can still be debilitating.

The study found at a general level that people with meningioma were more than twice as likely as people without the brain tumor to have had a bitewing X-ray sometime in their life. For a bitewing X-ray, the patient holds the film in place by biting down on a tab.

The exposures to dental X-rays in the study took place in the 1960s, when dental X-rays delivered higher doses of radiation than today’s do. The study compared the self-reported dental X-ray histories of 1,433 adults who had been diagnosed with the tumor with 1,350 who had not.

The study also found an association between the less commonly used panorex X-rays, which are taken outside the mouth and deliver a panoramic view of the full set of top and bottom teeth, and meningioma risk.

People who reported having had a panorex exam before they turned 10 were 4.9 times as likely to develop meningioma as those who had them at any other time, and those who had had them most frequently (but not necessarily at that young age) were about three times as likely to do so as those who had never had a panorex exam.

‘Paternalistic entitlement society’

As part of his strict fitness regime, exercise fanatic Chris Christie does pushups on the Wailing Wall.

I think Gov. Christie is hoping to become Mittens’ VP, but that would require national amnesia and more than just verbal energy on his part.

NEW YORK — Gov. Chris Christie said the country is becoming a “paternalistic entitlement society” this morning in a speech at a conservative conference headed by former President George W. Bush.

Just in case you didn’t know, Chris Christie was a Wall St. lobbyist with zippo prosecution experience who rather coincidentally, became the U.S. Attorney in N.J. only after he, his wife and brother bundled together a large cash contribution to George Bush. I’d euphemistically say he shot to the top of the appointee list, but he wasn’t even on the list until he coughed up the cash. Why, some people even say he bought the position! One might infer a certain sense of entitlement there — but then, that’s why Carl Jung was a genius.

Addressing Bush and other national Republicans, Christie said he hasn’t seen a less optimistic period in the country in his lifetime.

“Government’s telling them stop dreaming, stop striving, we’ll take care of you,” he said at a theater at the New York Historical Society. “We’re turning into a paternalistic entitlement society. That will not just bankrupt us financially, it will bankrupt us morally.”

I wonder if giving fat government contracts to your friends will bankrupt them morally? Nah! Not in Bizarro Republican World! And I’m sure it had nothing to do with your brother not being prosecuted, either.

“We’ll have a bunch of people sitting on a couch waiting for their next government check,” Christie said.

More friends of yours, Governor? And from what I hear, you’re the one who’s sitting on a couch – or being driven in a limo, because you can’t walk to your kid’s ball field. (And let’s not forget, taking helicopter rides to meet with Republican donors!)

And Governor, there would be a lot fewer New Jerseyans sitting on the couch if you hadn’t been posturing and preening over turning down a train tunnel project that would have relieved a lot of congestion. Turns out your reasons were, like so much else about you, all bluster.

Christie and Bush kicked off a day-long conference on pro-growth tax policy run by the President George W. Bush Institute, a group that Bush said allows him to engage in public policy issues behind the scenes.

Speakers throughout the day include Steve Forbes, Congressman Paul Ryan, Karl Rove and several governors. In addition to Bush, Henry Kissinger was in the audience for Christie’s 30-minute speech.

Steve Forbes, who worked hard for every cent he has by selecting Very Lucky DNA; Lyin’ Paul Ryan, who only passes as a Republican intellectual in Beltway circles because in the valley of the blind, the one-eyed man is king; Karl Rove, war criminal; and Henry Kissinger, Nobel Peace Prize-winning war criminal. Yes, these are the role models to which more Americans should aspire — at least, in the World According To Chris.

Worst farm bill ever

If only someone would do something!

I’m alright

by Susie

Kim Richey live:

by Odd Man Out
Paul Osterman writes: “Clearly the United States is the outlier. It is not surprising that the U.S. poverty rate substantially exceeds that of other developed nations.” More here.

He’s a runner

Laura:

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