May 31, 2014

Unanswered VA Scandal Question: Why Is Even a 14-Day Wait For an Appointment Acceptable?

An item which appears to be overlooked in the Department of Veterans Affairs scandal is the press’s and presumably the public’s blind acceptance of the department’s goal to reduce its average wait times to 14 days as supposedly “aggressive.”

My reaction is that the goal doesn’t seem “aggressive” at all, or even borderline acceptable, based on both personal experience and some admittedly limited research I’ve done on best practices. It seems to me that the average consumer, and for that matter the average journalist, would have a hard time accepting the idea of an average 14-day wait time for a personal appointment involving real urgency. So why should the expectations of or for those who served our country be any lower?

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Despite April Consumer Spending Dip, AP’s Crutsinger Likes Sunny Growth Predictions

After investing so much emotional energy in the idea that the weather-impaired contracting U.S. economy of the first quarter is going to give way to a super-duper awesome second quarter and strong rest of the year, it was foolish to think that Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, would backtrack after just one contradictory report on consumer spending, which “unexpectedly” fell 0.1 percent in April, confounding expectations of a 0.2 percent pickup.

And of course he didn’t. What’s remarkable is that Crutsinger’s Friday report seemed to get even more aggressive with his second-quarter prediction, citing “some analysts” who believe that it will come in at an annualized 4 percent — quite the reversal from the first quarter’s 1.0 percent annualized contraction. Meanwhile, the AP reporter missed a less buoyant report from his colleague Christopher Rugaber which punctured a bit of Crutsinger’s premise. Excerpts from both items follow the jump.

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Inevitable: Complaints About How Sterling Is Being ‘Rewarded’ For Racism

I guess the PC sports press was hoping for a high-tech lyching of sorts, wherein Donald Sterling, the owner in limbo who is soon to be former owner of the National Basketall Association’s Los Angeles Clippers, would be frog-marched out of his office and dumped onto Skid Row, never to be heard from again, for his undeniably racist remarks to his now ex-girlfriend about how he didn’t want her bringing blacks to Clippers games while directing racial invective at other specific persons.

It’s not working out that way. In fact, quite the opposite. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is reportedly paying $2 billion for the Clippers. That’s quite a windfall for Sterling, considering that he apparently paid about $12.5 million for the team in the early 1980s and that the team was valued at about $575 million in the most recent related edition of Forbes. At Huffington Post and ESPN, Earl Ofari Hutchinson and Scoop Jackson, respectively, are almost beside themselves.

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In Covering Shinseki’s Sacking, AP’s Pace Cites VA’s Rising Caseload, Ignores Huge Spending Increases

Julie Pace at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, is used to carrying water for the Obama administration. Last year, she proudly reveled in how she and her wire service sat on information it had about secret U.S.-Iran negotiations for eight months. My immediate take was that “They didn’t report it until the Obama administration said it would be okay to report it.” The AP denied it; unfortunately for the self-described “essential global news network,” another news organization confirmed that it and AP “both had versions of it independently early & were asked to not publish til end of Iran talks.” There’s not a chance in Hades that the AP would have similarly accommodated a Republican or conservative administration.

After that heavy lifting, Pace surely found that giving readers the impression in a Friday report about President Barack Obama’s sacking of Eric Shinseki that the problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs have more to do with its growing caseload than with incompetence and potential criminality was relatively easy.

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Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (053114)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread will stay at or near the top today. Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow. Other topics are also fair game.

Positivity: Colombia Senate Votes: ‘There is No Right to Abortion’

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

Via Sofia Martinez at Life News:

On May 6, Colombia’s Senate unanimously voted that there is no “right to abortion.”

This is a milestone for pro-lifers in Colombia who have been in a fierce battle with abortion advocates who want to establish abortion as a right. Abortion activists have even gone so far as to exploit rape victims to make this happen.
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May 30, 2014

Agenda-Driven Much? CNBC’s Dan Mangan, on Kaiser Poll: ‘Shut Up About Obamacare!’

In a report at CNBC on Thursday, Dan Mangan covered a “Kaiser Health Tracking Poll” which appears to have been pre-cooked to please an administration which would love to have the press give Obamacare even less than the disproportionately low coverage it has received since a few weeks after HealthCare.gov’s disastrous initial rollout.

Mangan eagerly took the bait. His opening sentence: “And the winner by a nose is…shut up about Obamacare!” Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):

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Latest PJ Media Column (‘Too Rolling Stoned’) Is Up

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Sunday morning (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

Low-Info Voter Outreach: USAT Tweets and Makes Excuse For GDP Contraction — On Its Weather Feed

In an apparent attempt to reach those who usually don’t pay much attention to the economy, USA Today sent out a tweet Thursday afternoon in the wake of the government’s report earlier in the day that the U.S. economy contracted by an annualized 1.0 percent — on its weather feed.

The tweet (HT Zero Hedge), plus evidence that the economy has somehow managed to “weather” previous cold and stormy winters, follow the jump:

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Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (053014)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread will stay at or near the top today. Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow. Other topics are also fair game.

Positivity: Pope makes new Christian unity step in meeting with Patriarch

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Jerusalem:

May 25, 2014 / 11:56 am

In a declaration delivered at the end of a private meeting, Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Costantinople Bartholomew I marked a new step on the journey towards unity, stressing their commonality in areas such as respect for the sanctity of life and the protection of the family.

Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew met in Mount Scopus, Jerusalem on May 25 during the pontiff’s current three-day visit to the region.

The two signed a common declaration after a private meeting and an exchange of gifts, and then held an ecumenical celebration in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

The meeting between the Pope and Patriarch marks the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Paul VI and the then Patriarch Athenagoras in Jerusalem Jan. 6 1964, which concluded with the historical embrace between the two.

Pope Francis and the Patriarch Bartholomew wanted to commemorate that historical meeting again in Jerusalem, thus pushing to foster the ecumenical path toward the Unity of Christians.

“Our fraternal encounter today is a new and necessary step on the journey toward the unity to which only the Holy Spirit can lead us, that of communion in legitimate diversity,” the common declaration read.

Pope Francis and the Patriarch Bartholomew declared to look forward “in eager anticipation to the day in which we will finally partake together in the Eucharistic banquet,” and that Christians are “preparing to receive this gift of Eucharistic communion” through “the confession of the one faith, persevering prayer, inner conversion, renewal of life and fraternal dialogue.”

The Pope and the Patriarch underscored the “substantial progress” of the theological encounters which took place under the predecessors St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Patriarch Dimitrios.

The theological dialogue “does not seek a theological lowest common denominator on which to reach a compromise, but is rather about deepening one’s grasp of the whole truth that Christ has given to his Church,” the common declaration said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

May 29, 2014

Nancy Pelosi: VA Wait List Manipulation Isn’t a ‘Scandal With Intention and the Rest of It’ Yet

Imagine the press letting a Republican or conservative get away with trying to avoid uncondtionally calling something as infuriating and outrageous as the Veterans Administration waiting list scandal a real scandal.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did that on Monday (HT Patterico and Real Clear Politics) in an interview with Vox’s Ezra Klein, who naturally let it slide right on by:

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