Sebelius reports no contact from White House

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Gov. Sebelius at White House Dinner

Gov. Sebelius at White House Dinner

Hat Tip: Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius says she has had no conversations with President Barack Obama about possibly joining his Cabinet as health secretary.

Sebelius (seh-BEEL’-yuhs) was in Washington on Sunday for the winter meetings of the National Governors Association.

Administration officials have said she is near the top of the list of people being considered to run the Health and Human Service Department. But Sebelius tells The Associated Press that “there’s really nothing to tell” about the prospects of her getting the job.

The two-term Democratic governor also is deflecting questions about whether she’ll run for the Senate next year.

I missed this item yesterday and it is incredibly troubling.   This is a sign, y’all.  I just don’t know what.

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Obama Chooses Sebelius for HHS

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sebelius

According to OpenLeft and the NY Times, President Obama has settled on Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius to Secretary of Health and Human Services.  I couldn’t be more pleased. 

Hat Tip : By PETER BAKER, NY TIMES

 

WASHINGTON – President Obama has settled on Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, a key ally with a record of working across party lines, as his top choice for secretary of health and human services, advisers said Wednesday.

 

Should she be nominated, Ms. Sebelius would bring eight years of experience as her state’s insurance commissioner as well as six years as a governor running a state Medicaid program. But with Mr. Obama about to begin a drive to expand health coverage — an issue on which the parties have deep ideological divisions — her strongest asset in the White House view may be her record of navigating partisan politics as a Democrat in one of the country’s most Republican states.

 

Ms. Sebelius resolved a state budget crisis on Tuesday and plans to be in Washington from Saturday through Tuesday for a meeting of the National Governors’ Association. Asked about the cabinet job, her spokeswoman, Beth Martino, said the governor “is focused on the economic challenges currently facing Kansas, including our state budget and the impacts of the federal stimulus package.”

 

Mr. Obama’s first pick for the job, former Senator Tom Daschle, withdrew over his failure to pay $128,000 in taxes until nominated, provoking a storm of criticism and a presidential mea culpa.

 

With his economic recovery plan signed into law, Mr. Obama plans to turn his attention more to health care next week with a budget blueprint that will begin to advance his ideas about covering the uninsured, advisers said. He may also make health care an important theme of his prime-time address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, they said.

 

It remained unclear whether the White House would finish vetting Ms. Sebelius in time to finalize her nomination by next week. Advisers described her as “the leading candidate” and said there were no others to mention, although they emphasized no final decision has been made.

 

 

 Governor Sebelius, you’ll recall, is the woman I supported for Obama’s Vice.  

Phil Bredesen, Corporate Pedophile

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Imagination Library Week

When Skeptical Brotha regular Zeitgiest9000 posted yesterday that the Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder is reporting that the Obama Administration is vetting Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen for Secretary of Health and Human Services, my head exploded. I damn near stroked out, y’all. A diehard Hillarycrat, this is his transparent way of saying that we would have been better off with the Queen of Triangulation, and by extension, her approach to health care reform. I don’t know if that’s true, but if Barack Obama gives a mutha%$#*ing bastard like Phil Bredesen the reins of HHS, I do know we’ll all wish we had been volunteer slaves on the Clintons neo-liberal plantation.

Placing Governor Bredesen in charge of the Administration’s health care reform effort is analogous to giving a pedophile unfettered access to children. At least an establishment tool like Tom Daschle has a few scruples left; a capitalist pig like Phil Bredesen has none. It’s my moral obligation to sound the alarm so that this capitalist piggy screams “wee, wee, wee,” all the way home.

I know what you’re thinking. “Damn, Skeptical Brotha has gone off his meds.” If you must know, I ain’t on no meds, at least not for that, but if I were, and I depended on Tennessee’s Medicaid program, for example, a mutha%$#*a like Phil Bredesen would be rationing my sh*t to “2 name brand drugs and 3 generic prescription drugs monthly, the lowest in the country.” This is done without any regard for the maladies people have or what doctors say their patients need. Thanks be to Gawd that my therapist thinks my depression is situational and not clinical. That is a conversation for another day and I need to stay on task.

Let me be clear so there can be no misunderstanding. Phil Bredesen is a corporate pedophile whose unconscionable greed as a former HMO executive made him a multimillionaire and unscrupulous politician who elects to balance Tennessee’s state budget on the backs of sick children and vulnerable adults by using the spurious pretext of cost to deny them access to proper medical care.

Old habits die hard and Bredesen’s unconscionable greed was made manifest by the deliberate denial of medical care to an unsuspecting public covered by his HMO. His private sector “success,” in turn, made him the type of slimy prick the corporate power structure encourages to run for public office. He began his career as the Mayor of Nashville and subsequently became Tennessee’s Governor. If I do this right, he’ll never receive a cabinet appointment in the Obama Administration because of his shameful record as the business lobby’s nefarious servant directing the state of Tennessee to follow his callous and right-wing business model.

Before Bredesen eff’ed it up, TennCare was the most generous and cost-effective Medicaid program in the country. Not only did it cover indigent care, its intended function, it also drew down ample federal subsidies to expand coverage to adults who couldn’t gain access to health coverage because of pre-existing conditions or prohibitive cost. The subsidies kept hospitals and clinics operating in areas that provided essential care to the isolated rural poor and reduced the rate of uninsured to one of the lowest in the country. The program operated in the black until a Republican governor started messing with it. Bredesen was (s)elected by the power structure in 2002 to finish the job.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund wrote to the Governor in 2004 about their fear that Bredesen’s “reforms” would give the state or its contractors “sole discretion to decide whether a service is covered, without meaningful regard to widely accepted standards of medical care or appropriate deference to the professional judgment of the treating physician.”

“…This invites physicians and/or the TennCare Bureau and its contractors to apply a standard of care to an already vulnerable population that could threaten a patient’s health and cause ‘life-threatening consequences.”

Given the terrible way in which the black poor were and continue to be treated and the fact that forty percent of the African American population of Tennessee was dependent on the state’s Medicaid program for basic access to medical care; a number, which included at least 50 percent of black children, the NAACP’s fears were well founded.

Bredesen ignored the concerns of his detractors and they sued the hell out of the state. They attempted to make the Governor and his minions accountable for a draconian, bare bones Medicaid program that cut over two hundred thousand elderly and disabled people off from assistance they formerly received resulting in “an increase in preventable deaths by a rate that equals an additional death every 30 hours.”

A federal Court found in 2001 that the state and its managed care contractors were systematically violating quality of care standards governing the treatment of low-income TennCare children, including those in the state’s troubled foster care system. There was extensive evidence that children suffered serious harm as a result of those violations. In 2006, state officials claimed to have fixed the problems. But a panel of court-appointed monitors issued a lengthy report last year (2007) finding that the state had not proven that claim, and there remained evidence of widespread problems.

In June last year, a federal appeals court authorized a computer expert to determine whether the Bredesen Administration had altered computer records to evade court orders to produce records documenting the state’s systematic denials of care to 650,000 children covered by the state’s Medicaid program. According to the Tennessee Justice Center, “the Governor and other officials disclosed that they had used Bredesen’s personal email system and their personal computers for state business. They claimed that by putting the public records on personal computers, officials could shield them from inspection.”

Bredesen’s heartlessness is borne out by numerous horror stories documented by Families USA:

Could you sleep at night if your budget cuts eliminated an elderly woman from receiving treatment for schizophrenia and lung cancer?

Could you cancel a prostate cancer operation for an elderly senior living on less than $1000 a month just days before the procedure?

Could you look at yourself in the mirror if you prevented anyone suffering from emphysema or some other respiratory condition from getting round-the-clock oxygen?

Could you face the public knowing that you cut off insulin dependent diabetics from their medication?

Phil Bredesen can because he is a monster. The cumulative impact of his evil is unfathomable. It doesn’t take a genius to understand why Republicans vote for him or why my favorite neo-liberal ass clown’s at the New Republic fetishize his massive cruelty.

Any sentient Democrat who believes that a bastard like Phil Bredesen merits consideration for Barack Obama’s cabinet should be fitted for a straight jacket and locked away forever in a padded cell. I am compelled to write today. I am ringing the bell and sounding the alarm. Let the word go forth, from this time and place, that the progressive blogosphere finds a Bredesen appointment totally unacceptable. It is the highest insult for progressives for him to even be vetted by this Administration. His appointment would be a stench in the nostrils of God and a sick joke on the most vulnerable among us, especially sick and disabled children and adults, like the elderly and the uninsured, the people his green eyeshades target as the expendable poor that are socially acceptable to kill.

I Don’t Care What You Say…

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Daschle-Confirmation Hearing

You fight for the ones that were with you from day one. Tom Daschle encouraged Barack Obama to run for President and not be intimidated by the Clinton Juggernaut, which he ultimately defanged and defeated. All the Senate old heads sat a brotha down and schooled him. “Your chance, if it comes at all, won’t come but once—grab it.” He did, and retired old heads like Daschle provided wise counsel along the path to ultimate power. Daschle, apart from being the ultimate Senate insider, health care expert, and former Majority Leader, knew the internal machinations of the Senate and its formidable personalities. His addition to the Obama cabinet and on the White House staff signaled that Tom was back in the saddle and czar of the most formidable reform effort, aside from the economic recovery, on Barack Obama’s plate. This is and was a serious portfolio and his tax status, irrelevant as it is, was no reason to cast him aside when his skill set is in short supply and his discipline, focus, and ideological purity on health care reform is so badly needed.

 

I simply don’t buy, given the reaction of Senate Democratic old heads, that Daschle removed himself from consideration. He was pushed—by whom, besides arse clowns like John Ensign, remains to be seen. This is a fine mess and I no longer have any warm and fuzzy feelings about health care reform in this Administration.


Nobody can tell me that throwing Daschle overboard and then fishing Judd Gregg’s right wing behind out of the soup is “Change We Can Believe In.”

Richardson withdraws, historic opportunity at hand

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News broke this afternoon that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Commerce, has withdrawn his nomination over questions regarding a federal investigation of the state’s $1.5 million dollar financial services contract with a Beverly Hills, California firm, CDR, who’s CEO, David Rubin, donated $110,000 to political committee’s affiliated with Governor Richardson.

 

I am heartsick because I’ve always felt that Richardson’s presence in the cabinet essential to Obama’s success. Nevertheless, as my grandma is fond of saying, “one monkey don’t stop no show.” The vacancy represents an opportunity to do something no president has done and after the Warren fiasco a few weeks back, I’ve come to feel pretty strongly that Barack Obama needs to appoint a “gay American,” as former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevy put it, to the cabinet of the United States.

 

When you stop and think about it this is a barrier that Bill Clinton should have shattered years ago, and one Al Gore probably would have if the ignorant tumbleweed that is George W. Bush hadn’t tripped him up. Clinton, after the broken promise of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” attempted to buy off the LGBT community with the appointments of James Hormel as ambassador to Luxemburg and Roberta Achtenberg as Deputy Secretary of HUD. The public break with activist David Mixner, a leading LGBT fundraiser and convention delegate for Clinton, damaged Clinton’s relationship with the LGBT community in a big way.

 

Nothing of that magnitude has occurred in this new Administration, but the hue and cry over Rick Warren’s inaugural invocation channels the white-hot righteous indignation of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Debate, and Bubba’s craven signing of the Defense of Marriage Act, which were straightforward betrayals. Obama hasn’t gone back on his word to the LGBT community on any significant issue, at least not yet. But he’s black, so I suppose there are some activists who feel the need to put Obama, and the rest of his dark skinned brethren, “in our place,” and psychologically project their legitimate anger for the failure of prop 8 on the most convenient scapegoats in America—black people, who don’t even make up 7% of California’s population.

 

Anyway, y’all, after little investigation, I’ve come up with two outstanding people that I think can send an inclusive message to the country and tamp down some of the fires of faux outrage burning in the blogosphere.

 

JARRETT BARRIOS

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The first person to come to mind is former Massachusetts State Senator Jarrett Barrios, the CEO of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts. As CEO, he oversees a $55 million dollar endowment that focuses on expanding health care access and improved delivery to the uninsured and underinsured. Barrios, a Cuban American originally from Tampa, Florida, served for 8 years in both Houses of the Massachusetts legislature. An honors graduate of Harvard University, Barrios also possess a law degree from Georgetown University.

 

In the legislature he made Health Care access and delivery his signature issue and authored legislation requiring Massachusetts hospitals to provide interpreters to non-English speakers. In addition, he authored legislation protecting consumers from unscrupulous predatory lenders and required that lenders abide by Massachusetts laws requiring community reinvestment and he pushed for tax credits to subsidize the construction of more affordable housing.

 

A practicing attorney, Barrios has worked for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and for the law firms DLA Piper and Hill & Barlow.

 

Lastly, as you may have already surmised, Jarrett Barrios is a gay man who led the fight in the Massachusetts Senate to preserve marriage rights for same-sex couples. He is married to Doug Hattaway, a democratic strategist and former Hillary Clinton spokesman.

 

The Obama Administration has focused on excellence in its cabinet appointments. I believe that Jarrett Barrios’ academic and professional credentials will stand the test and that he would be an outstanding Secretary of Commerce.

 

SUSAN LEAL

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Because I believe in balance, it is necessary to consider people of both genders and the accomplished Susan Leal, a former businesswoman, health-care executive, Public Utilities Regulator, San Francisco Treasurer and Supervisor, is an even more qualified choice than the first I put forward.

 

Ms. Leal, 59, is a native of San Francisco and a veteran civic leader. She is a first generation daughter of Mexican immigrants and the first Latina to serve on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. While on the board, Ms. Leal co-authored San Francisco’s landmark domestic partners ordinance.

 

An honors graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, Leal has degrees in Economics and Law and has an extensive background as a staffer in both the California General Assembly and the U.S. Congress. While in Washington Ms. Leal served as a staff attorney for the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Investigations. Back in California, she served as general counsel to the Assembly Committee on Ways & Means.

 

Elected San Francisco’s Treasurer in 1998, she oversaw a $3 billion dollar portfolio of investments and she was the first treasurer to screen the city’s investments to ensure the city invested with socially responsible companies that respected workers, consumers and the environment.

 

A shrewd and successful businesswoman, Ms. Leal and a few friends created a health care startup that they subsequently took public and later sold at a profit.

 

Finally, Ms. Leal last served the public as a utilities regulator and she tangled with PG&E, the powerful utility made infamous in the movie Erin Brockovich.

 

Ms. Leal would make an excellent Secretary of Commerce, Chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or as a Deputy Secretary of Energy or Interior. Both of these individuals are qualified, well-educated, Latino and Gay.  It’s past time that all God’s children are represented in the halls of power.