Archive for July 14th, 2009

As already noted in the previous blog entries here and here, there are many things which concern conservatives and libertarians regarding Sonia Sotomayor’s previous positions, statements and rulings.

We have heard nothing from the left regarding Sotomayor’s judicial activism and disturbing racist comments. On the contrary, we have only heard about her “compelling life story”, as if that makes any difference in whether she will be a fair and impartial judge. From the perspective of the left, this nomination is about everything but Sotomayer’s ability to be fair and impartial. Instead, focusing on the human interest story of an extremely liberal and controversial judge who has just had one of her race based rulings overturned by SCOTUS.

Sotomayor is a product of affirmative action. Her acceptance into Ivy league schools was not simply based on merit, but based on quotas, so how could she not judge through a racial lens, considering that she has benefited greatly from racial quotas.

Unfortunately, there are not enough votes to block this nomination, or the political will to block it either. As Lindsey Graham noted, with 60 democrats in the senate, her confirmation is a done deal. Even after voicing all of his concerns, Graham is still not committed to opposing Sotomayor’s nomination. This is typical for neocons like Lindsey Graham. Many of whom are simply grandstander’s looking for camera time.

Nonetheless, real conservatives such as Jeff Sessions (R – Alabama) have a duty to expose Sotomayor for the true liberal judical activist I believe her to be. They can, at the least, hold her feet to the fire regarding her past statements and actions, giving the American public the opportunity to see how important it is to choose a president who will make wise nominations to SCOTUS, rather that what we are now seeing with this idealogical and highly politically motivated nomination.

As far as I can see, that is about all the conservatives can gain at this point.

Is Obama’s appointment of “health policy Czar” to progressive Nancy-Ann DeParle’s another case of an industry insider who would never have survived congressional scutiny and confirmation?  Of course it is.  Even our disfuntional and corrupt Congress would have to deny her a conformation.  Does she have a very comprehensive understanding of the ins and outs of America’s health care system.  Of course she does.  I would say she knows it too well.  She’s managed to make millions of dollars from the industry in the way of stock options and salaries from companies she has sat on the Boards of.  She’s part of Washington’s revolving door which allows federal employees to leave the government and hook up with the companies they were overseeing, and then come back to work for the federal government and oversee the companies they were working for, ad infinum.  There is so much wrong with DeParle and her conflicts of interest (quite a few), I would expect great future success of her former employers’ relationship with the federal government.

First, here are several appropriate statements and quote provided by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University School of Communication:

And the public wasn’t told that much of that corporate career was built at companies that have frequently had to defend themselves against federal investigations. After leaving government, DeParle accepted director positions at half a dozen companies suspected of violating the very laws and regulations she had enforced for Medicare. Those companies got into further trouble on her watch as a director.

“This woman owes her fortune to the corporations that she is making decisions about,” said Dr. David Himmelstein, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard University and a co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program. “She cashed in really big on her previous role in government and made millions and millions of dollars. Then she divests and all of a sudden she’s Snow White. It’s ridiculous.”

At three companies — Guidant, DaVita and Specialty Laboratories — DeParle was not only a director but also served on board committees responsible for monitoring the companies’ compliance with laws and regulations.

Federal Government Experience

1993-97,  Associate Director for Health and Personnel at the White House Office of Management and Budget

1997-2000, Administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), recently renamed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). As headed up Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP.  Additional information

2002-2008, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MEDPAC).
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) is an independent Congressional agency established by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-33) to advise the U.S. Congress on issues affecting the Medicare program. They discuss policy issues and formulate its recommendations to the Congress.

Professional Career

JP Morgan Chase – no explanation needed
CCMP Capital Advisors – expertise in healthcare infrastructure
Accredo Health, Inc, acquired by Medco Health Solutions – provides specialized pharmacy (mail service) and related services
Triad Hospitals – ownes 115 hospitals in the U.S. Purchased by JP Morgan CCMP Capital Advisors and Goldman Sachs in 2007
Cerner – major mfg of electronic medical records software
Legacy Hospital Partners – owned by JP Morgan’s CCMP Capital Partners, privately held company established to provide essential capital and expertise to not-for-profit hospitals and hospital systems and forms joint ventures to acquire, own, operate and manage acute care facilities
Caremore Health Plan – provide focused and innovative healthcare approaches to the complex problems of aging and protect precious financial resources of seniors and the Medicare Program through innovative methods of managing chronic disease, frailty, and end of life
DaVita Corp – provider of dialysis services
Boston Scientific, Inc – develops innovative products, technologies and services across a wide range of medical specialties

To be continued

As the newspaper print business is steadily declining, it would only be a matter of time before some newspaper websites began charging for access to their online news edition.

A U.S. newspaper says it will begin charging for access to its Web site this week, warning that the days of giving content away for free are over.

The Valley Morning Star announced in its online edition Monday that Web site access would remain free for subscribers who receive the print edition seven days a week. But weekend subscribers and non-subscribers will have to pay a 75-cent daily subscription fee for the Web site. Monthly rates will also be available.

It’s ironic that this newspaper is owned by Freedom Communications.  People already pay for Internet access and can get most news out there for free.  These newspapers, other than their local stories, pick and choose from various AP, UPI, etc.. feeds like all the other newspapers do.

From the newspaper itself, it states:

Valleystar.com will continue to provide state, national and international news from the Associated Press at no charge.

Unfortunately for The Valley Morning Star, most of their news will be available somewhere else for free.  Good luck trying to resuscitate their dying newsprint at the expense of their online viewers.  I have seen where other daily newspapers require you to register to access their on-line news copy, but not actually charge a daily/monthly fee.

Well, it didn’t take long for the well connected, tainted, controversial, and wealthy Steve Rattner to step down as Car Czar I.  I don’t think it was an Obama issue, considering the haphazard policies and questionable appointments he’s made. I think it was the pressure from the NY State pension scandal, plus I’m sure he’s missing out on megabucks working for the government.

Rattner was accused of providing more than $1mil in unreported fees to Hank Morris, top adviser to the former NY state comptroller Alan Hevesi, to secure investments in both the state’s pension funds.  This was in collusion with the fund’s manager David Loglisci.  Aldus Equity founder Saul Meyer was also charged.  Barrett Wissman, who runs a hedge fund HFV, pleaded guilty to conspiring with the aforementioned Hank Morris.  Also named in the indictment was private equity firm Levine Leichtman.  After it played out, The Carlyle Group was fined $20mil and, of course, got away with denying any wrongdoing.  Of course, the Rattner(Quadrangle Group)-NY State pension fund association has been swept under the rug.

Even though he stepped down as a managing partner at Quadrangle Group in February 2009, the implications still lingered.  Here’s the financial disclosure he submitted when appointed by Obama.  Here are his campaign contributions for 2004-2008.

Quadrangle Group LLC is a private investment firm that invests in the global media and communications industries.  While at Quadrangle Group Rattner’s company managed Michael Bloomberg’s personal wealth and philanthropy assets.  Before founding Quadrangle, the Principals were Managing Directors at Lazard Frères & Co. LLC where Mr. Rattner was Deputy Chairman in the Media and Communications Group.  Mr. Rattner founded Lazard’s Media and Communications Group in 1989.

Seeing that he’s worth somewhere between $108-$608mil, he probably would have an easier time enjoying life without scrutiny.  Next up, Car Czar II featuring Ron Bloom, former special adviser to the president of the UAW.