Washington State Senate Race Update

As of 7:30 this morning the Murray-Rossi Senate race in Washington is not yet called, but with 74 percent of the vote counted Murray now has about a 2 percentage point lead. David NYC of Swing State Project writes that Rossi is doing worse in some districts than he did in 2004, when he ran unsuccessfully for governor.

As a commenter to the last post pointed out, there is some dispute of NBC’s calculation that only 32 percent of “tea party” candidates won their elections. The argument is that NBC’s calculations left out a great many “tea party” candidates that won elections Tuesday.

However, I don’t think NBC should be blamed for being confused. What distinguishes a “tea party” candidate from a regular Republican candidate? About the only “cause” the teabaggers seem to agree on is that they want taxes and non-defense government spending cut, and they want “smaller” government. And this is different from other Republicans, how, exactly? The GOP has been babbling this same line for more than 30 years.

NBC’s Alexandra Moe explained which politicians were considered “tea party” candidates:

Identifying Tea Party candidates is undoubtedly inexact. Our criteria, generally, was to include anyone who has either been backed by a Tea Party group or has identified themselves as a member of the Tea Party movement. Toward the end of this cycle, however, seemingly every Republican was trying to associate themselves this way. One left off the list was Dino Rossi, despite Jim DeMint endorsing him, since Tea Party groups backed Clint Didier in the primary.

A rightie blogger lists a number of “tea party” candidates NBC left out who seem to have met NBC’s criteria and should have been included.

But it would be interesting to know which self-identified tea partiers also received the support of the Old Guard, in particular organizations associated with Karl Rove and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce? These groups babble about tax cuts and small government also, but the real agenda is to sell America off in pieces to multinational corporations, outsource any job with decent pay to some third world country and render us ordinary citizens into sharecroppers on the Koch Industries plantation.

And, Florida, do you realize just how sleazy and corrupt your new tea-party-backed governor actually is? This is from something I wrote for Op Ed News last year:

Richard L. Scott was a Dallas lawyer with no background in medicine, but who specialized in hospital and health care mergers and acquisitions. In 1987, he and Richard Rainwater, a Texas investor and fund manager, each put up $125,000 to start a company called Columbia Hospital Corporation. (In the 1990s Scott and Rainwater also were partners with George W. Bush in ownership of the Texas Rangers.) In 1988, Columbia bought two hospitals in El Paso, Texas. The partners acquired more hospitals through stock purchases. In 1994, Columbia acquired Nashville-based Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), founded by the Frist family, of which former Republican Senator Bill Frist is a member.

By 1997, Scott was Chairman and CEO of Columbia/HCA, then the world’s largest health care provider. Scott headed an empire of more than 340 hospitals, many other health care properties, which had annual revenues in excess of $23 billion. But that year, evidence of Medicare fraud emerged, and federal agents seized records from several Columbia/HCA locations. In July 1997, Scott was forced out by the board of directors and replaced by Thomas Frist, Jr., HCA founder and brother of Sen. Bill Frist. Columbia/HCA admitted to “systematically overcharging the government” and increasing “Medicare billings by exaggerating” illnesses, and paid $1.7 billion to settle. …

… One of Scott’s trademark tactics was to eliminate competition by buying nearby hospitals and shutting them down, so that his chain could dominate the local hospital market. He argued that this made money for his shareholders, but in many cases this angered local communities, and in some cases the Federal Trade Commission was called in to thwart Scott’s plans.

And then in 1997 the fraudulent billing practices came to light. Scott himself was never accused of a crime. However, Dan Ackman wrote for Forbes (December 14, 2000) that the seven-year federal investigation of Columbia/HCA revealed a pattern of fraud that “ran deep within HCA’s way of doing business.”

“The company admitted to systematically overcharging the government by claiming marketing costs as reimbursable, by striking illegal deals with home care agencies, and by filing false data about how hospital space was being used.

“The company increased Medicare billings by exaggerating the seriousness of the illnesses they were treating. It also granted doctors partnerships in company hospitals as a kickback for the doctors referring patients to HCA. In addition, it gave doctors ‘loans’ that were never expected to be paid back, free rent, free office furniture, and free drugs from hospital pharmacies.”

Folks, that’s your “free market” health care system at work.

Good luck, Florida. You’ll need it.

18 thoughts on “Washington State Senate Race Update

  1. Wow. Scott almost makes Jeb Bush look like a saint. I remember the Columbia/HCA scandal because I was working in a peripheral health-care field at the time. I especially remember the Frist family connection; I guess this just goes to show that if enough time passes, even the rankest scoundrel can become the darling of idiots. The American Dream at work!

  2. Not surprsingly, many voters in this country voted for strong Republican “Towers of ‘Babble'” (no matter how incoherent), to Democratic incumbents with spines of Jello.
    Hello? You couldn’t get a decent message out on equal pay for women, health care, credit card reform, etc?

    As for Scott, he’s a Republican trendsetter. Usually, they wait until they’re elected to become crooks. He’s ahead of of the game. He was a crook before he even ran.
    Here’s the really fun part Florida, as Governor he can nix any future investigations into him and malfeasance! So, congratulations! You gave Scott a “get out of jail free.”

  3. Wow. Scott almost makes Jeb Bush look like a saint.

    I was thinking the same thing. And I don’t see anything in Scott’s background to indicate he has any clue how to be chief administrator of a state government. Yes he was CEO of a large corporation, but there’s a difference between “managing a business” and “making lots of money through fraud and other cutthroat practices.” As governor, who’s he gonna cheat beside small business and regular citizens?

  4. “As a commenter to the last post pointed out, there is some dispute of NBC’s calculation that only 32 percent of “tea party” candidates won their elections.”

    I don’t see any dispute other than the fact that they acknowledge any “teaparty” candidates. Again not one person elected on Tuesday has a T or a TP or any other fucking letter other than an R or a D next to their name. So their aint no “Teaparty” candidates just tired old Republicants with tired old republicant ideas hiding behind a new label!

  5. http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/why-rick-scott-failed-to-add-tampa-general-to-his-giant-hospital-chain/1118991

    I lived in Tampa when the story in the link above happened. He also made an attempt to take over University Community Hospital along with Tampa General, around the same time. My wife worked at both of these hospitals and trust me, the tactics were as sleazy as you can imagine. If you can get into the old St. Petersburg Times articles, the picture gets a little clearer. As I recall the hospital review board was involved too. The plan for UCH was to impose a very high staff to patient ratio due to a “mishap” that occurred there. It would make the hospital economically unsustainable. They would have a fire sale and Columbia/HCA would step in. The sanctions would then be lifted and Columbia/HCA would have another bargain in its pocket. A co-worker from Ohio, said they used the same tactic in her town.

    “60 Minutes” did a piece on this phenomenon. As I recall, Columbia/HCA stock was given an unusually high price to value ratio, which fueled their hunger for acquisition. It was dirty crony capitalism all around.

    I have to say, I can’t be objective about this because it personally affected my life. So, trust the articles, not my memory.

    On the other hand, secession is starting to look pretty good. Florida and Texas both were independent at one time and we could throw in Kentucky for good measure. I am sure they would be very happy together.

    Does anyone have a used “Rossetta Stone” – French, for sale? I’ll trade a few dairy goats and some goat milk soap.

    ‘What a revoltin’ development this is.”
    — Chester A. Riley

  6. goatherd…I’m looking to get my hands on a Rossetta Stone or a Berlitz course in Pashtun…I’m hoping that I can get a piece of the construction action on the $511 million dollar renovation we’re gonna be doing on the embassy in Kabul. The construction industry here in Florida is kinda flat lined right now. Does anybody know to translate ” Have tools, will travel” into Pashtun?

  7. Swami,
    Don’t waste your money on Pashtun. Halliburton still speaks good old American ‘green,’ as in backs. Get hired into a position that pays you enough to hire a good, trustworthy translator. The key word there is ‘trustworthy,’ or your plans may all go up in smoke. Literally.

  8. cundgulag – your mention of a ‘get out of jail free card’ has been a common practice in American politics for years. Shortly before Bush the First left office he pardoned Weinberger, McFalane and four others linked to Iran-Contra which effectively closed the book on Independent Council Walsh’s investigation into Iran-Contra.

    Bush’s action, of course, was ultimately to protect himself. Walsh had amassed enough evidence incriminating Bush as a major player in the Iran-Contra scandal – in effect, Bush pardoned himself.

    As to malfeasance in the Medicare Program, I wrote down this little gem a while back, didn’t write down where it came from unfortunately: Waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicare Program costs the government between $700 billion and $1 trillion/year.

  9. I guess the next few years will tell. If the Republicans crash the economy again and fail to blame it on the Democrats, we may get by. But, they have a very effective public relations/propaganda organization in place. Witness how they completely stifled the progressive message, obstructed financial form and allowed just enough of the stimulus get through to allow them to swoon over big government and deficits. They probably plan to deepen the recession and let their Ministry of Truth handle “pinning the tail on the donkey”.

    FDR said that the essence of Fascism is the control of government by a person, party or a class, that is, by someone other than the people. The teapartiers, despite their rhetoric, seem intent to deliver the USA to the corporate masters, Rick Scott is a good example. The worst that could happen, and it is not altogether improbable, is that we will have a kind of totalitarianism where the power is held by corporations without the current inconvenience of democratic government. It will be a final testament to “yankee ingenuity”, discarding that tired old industrial age fascism for something new and exciting for the age of liberated finance, at least, that will be the sales pitch.

    I had two recent conversations with some of my fundamentalist neighbors. I have known them for 13 years and they are both helpful, well intentioned people. One is a minister and an intelligent, curious sort. The other doesn’t strike me as exceedingly bright, but he is no dummy either. The minister was sympathetic to the teaparty and basically revived some old John Birch Society chestnuts (not the flouride) and the other was completely on Bizarro World. In short, both were obsessed by things that had no basis in reality. I have to admit that if I thought some of the things they believe were true I would be as upset as they were. But, it reminded me of a friend who experienced a psychotic break many years ago. She showed up at work with most of her belongings packed in her car and told her co-workers that she would be sleeping at work because “the people living in my attic are trying to kill me.” Let’s just say things didn’t end well.

    There is a peculiar toxicity when compelling misinformation finds purchase in the minds of people who think they are actors in God’s Plan awaiting the Rapture. I remember meeting a woman distributing “endtime” literature in a parking lot. She was haranguing some unfortunate shoppers ahead of me. I wasn’t in an indulgent mood when she approached me, but when I looked her in the eye I felt more empathy for her, alloyed with the reasonable suspicion that she was dangerously insane. I accepted the pamphlet, but I got away without buying the gospel tapes.

    If there is a common thread to all this drivel it’s that all of these friends and neighbors were, or are normal, high functioning people (I can’t vouch for the “endtime lady” but she seemed so.) in the process of sliding off the rails to one degree or another. And this was effected by planting fear and misinformation in their minds. Like people who are hallucinating, their actions are not necessarily irrational, but they are reacting to distortions, not reality. Each of them might make a passable Teapart candidate.

    Living in the Bible Belt can be strange. I just hope I get to die of natural causes.

  10. No need to use Pashtun — just send it in good ol’ English to Halliburton, and maybe a copy to Xe. They’ll end up writing the checks.

  11. Swami, New Zealand is looking for construction managers to help in the post earth quake rebuilding; it is spring time in New Zealand, and rumor has it they speak a variation of english.

    We Florida boys and girls are stuck with Rick Scott, and I’m very woried he will take an ax to our social and construction projects. His campaign promise was to cut spending AND cut taxes while creating jobs, political alchemy at best

  12. Felicity,
    I understand when Republicans ignore the law and its consequences, and pardon everyone and their Mama. It’s in their nature!
    I’m bothered more when Carter, Clinton, and lately, Pelosi, Reid and Obama, give war criminals and the most corrupt individuals not in sociopathic wards in Insane Asylums a ‘get out of jail free card.’ BEFORE THEY EVEN LOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I’m tired of being a Democrat. The people who represent me are not even smart enough to show up to a gun fight with a f*cking knife. They show up with a stupid plastic ‘SPORK!”
    I hate it when my party opposes moral cowards and bullies with plain old vanilla cowards. Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. Year after year. Well, you get the idea…
    Obama showed me NO GUTS last night. NONE! I’m not giving up on him. But I’m pretty God-damned close. Grow a spine!
    Democrats. MAN UP*, AND GROW A PAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    *No insult intended to Pelosi or Hillary, who have at least twice as much guts and ‘balls’ as Harry “Spork” Reid, and Barack “I’ll compromise ’till they get what they want” Obama.

  13. Goatherd, it is obvious that magical thinking and superstition are rampant in our country, it will take several generations to fix the problem.

  14. There ought to be more dirt to dig up on Scott. Sounds like a career criminal. Makes Blagowavich [sic] look like a choir boy. Maybe the Feds can instigate a take down.

  15. “As for Scott, he’s a Republican trendsetter. Usually, they wait until they’re elected to become crooks. He’s ahead of of the game. He was a crook before he even ran.”

    ROFLMAO – Can I use that?

  16. When I went to High School, the Canepa kids were notorious for getting into trouble which their parents always bought them out of. And they were smug that the rules were for the peasants. That’s who Scott reminds me of – the Canepa kids. He thinks he has the game rigged because he’s gonna be untouchable as the boss.

    The Canepas got expelled in their last year for drugs on campus – and all the money that was offered as bribes – I mean contributions for athletic programs – was refused. Some nuns won’t be bribed. The Canepas graduated from the public school. I think Scott WILL try to get over on Florida with illegal deals. He put up 25 million+ of his own money to buy the office of governor and I think he expects a return on that investment. He’s not smart enough not to get caught.

  17. goatherd – fascinating. Question, have you ever challenged their wrong facts, or ever ‘set them straight’ on their misinformation? If so, what was their reaction.

    cundgulag – When Pelosi almost literally began her reign as Speaker with “Impeachment is off the table” I about dropped my cookies. Which brings me to the inane political mantra “it’s time to move forward.” So-called white collar crimes are overlooked, the criminals who committed them are never brought to justice thus, among other things, there is nothing to prevent them being repeated or putting in place measures that might prevent them in the future.

    “Time to move forward” (or)” time to move on” has and continues to lead us right off the proverbial cliff to lie in a heap of rubble at the bottom never knowing what ‘hit’ us.

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