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Thursday, 31 December 2009

Things that haven't been working

I have been having the worst tech week I've ever had this week. And I was already a nervous wreck before the phones went out - which BT says they can fix by January 4th. Even lost broadband for a few hours, but at least have that back. And Echo? Um, well, I think I may have messed something up, or encountered a glitch, or something, so that's still waiting for resolution. For a while there this was proving to be the worst birthday I've had since I was 19. Every time I tried to do something, I lost another bit of tech. Eventually I decided I was not going out to see a movie because I knew if one more thing went wrong (and I was sure something would) I would burst into tears, and I'd rather not go out in the rain just to do that in public.

Things did get better, but I still want to say I am so disappointed in people like BooMan, who appear to think that supporting the neoliberals is the "realistic" approach to progressivism. No, it isn't. It's the design of corporatist conservatives.

Here's Armando's response to Booman, and Booman's reply. But we need to fight the corporations, not lay down for them. Obama and the Democratic leadership are pushing right-wing corporate policies. That's not a theory. And it's not about "ideology" in the sense these comfortable gentlemen are speaking when they explain that we have to be "pragmatic" and "realistic". It's about hungry bellies and broken limbs that might be yours and your children's and siblings' and friends' in the very near future. This isn't abstract; it's about the simple, obvious fact that which way the money goes determines how our lives go. Our lives. We don't actually care about which politician you happened to fall in love with.

Since the comment thing is taking longer than expected, feel free to add any you have to the last thread - I don't know when there will be a new one.
00:35 GMT

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Rocky transitions

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm alarmed at how, as soon as Jane Hamsher stepped off the reservation on health care, on killing our government, and on Rahm's secret slush fund, she started being attacked by "progressives" for doing something many other "progressives" have done, but no other progressive was attacked for. And, interestingly, we are getting the false equivalence of pretending criticisms from the left are somehow identical with weird attacks from the right - such as questioning Rahm's unsavory behavior being, you know, just like the right claiming the Clintons murdered Vince Foster. But, you know, I guess Katrina vanden Heuvel wants to be sure her place is secure on the TV. Sometimes I wonder if these people haven't been explicitly told they have to decry anything and anyone that's actually liberal in order to keep getting those seats on the talk shows.

FAIR's Peter Hart on how the NYT talks: "In this worldview, "ideologues" are those who push for reforms--including single-payer--that they believe will lower costs and offer more comprehensive coverage. "Pragmatists," meanwhile, are moving in the opposite direction, toward higher costs and less coverage, in order to theoretically win the political support of some conservative lawmakers." Good policy is "ideology", bad policy is "pragmatic". And it's true that good policy is an ideology - it's the one the American system is supposed to be aimed at. The belief that passing bad policy to get conservative support is a higher priority is also an ideology, but I think you'll find that most American prefer the "ideological" position.

Ha ha ha.

Man, I was hoping Steve Bates could help me out with this Echo migration thing, but he just took it as an invitation to just migrate his whole blog to Blogspot. Which is fairly amazing, since he's already got enough on his plate. I can't even contemplate the idea. He's right about the math, though - it ain't universal coverage if it still leaves more than 16 million people uninsured.

Meanwhile, I still can't figure out how to get the Echo code right, and I apparently no longer have the ability to check it before uploading, so I may or may not be messing around with this post to try to figure out how to add comments, but for right now, I just wanted to get these links out of the way, so I guess you can either hold your fire or e-mail me. *sigh*
15:55 GMT

Sunday, 27 December 2009

The traditional Christmas post is late

And except for updating the Christmas card from Joshua Held and The Drifters, not much has changed on that front from last year. But here's Frank Finlay doing Marley's speech.

Bruce Schneier looks at the controversy over encrypting video feeds to the troops and says "Sometimes mediocre encryption is better than strong encryption, and sometimes no encryption is better still." And the best answer to terrorism? Refuse to be terrorized.

Oh, look, the IRS has learned what I've only been saying for, um, forever: Contractors cost more than government employees.

This is another no-brainer, so I fully expect Obama and the Dems to screw it up: letting the tax-cuts for the rich to expire. Just a two trillion dollar question.

This Week In Tyranny, Dan contributed a word to the English language: "divo (n.): A male diva. The most substantive discussion on health care reform has been on the liberal blogosphere. Nate Silver initiated a back and forth series of posts that really illuminated the details under consideration. Meanwhile, mainstream outlets preferred to focus on the arias being belted out by the preening, narcissistic and sociopathic divos Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson. And no, I will not link to any of them." Also, Dan on Why the Filibuster Isn't Going Anywhere.

Jonathan Schwarz says he understands Obama's behavior, except for one thing; crazy people are running the planet, and Greg Mankiw may actually be as dumb as he sounds.

Stupid rule against pregnancy in the military dropped after people found out about it.

When it comes to the numbers, Obama's numbers don't add up any better than Bush's.

A Democrat you might want to support

Jon Swift hasn't posted since March, so he hasn't asked me to name my best post of the year. However, Dan submitted his opinion anyway: "Hey, isn't this about the time of year for you to take "Post of the Year" nominations? I had this one as a shoo in until this. So now it's a toss up." I like having my readers tell me if there's anything I wrote all year that they find memorable, so your suggestions are welcome.

I think I'm going to bite the bullet and switch to Echo to avoid losing data and what would probably be a lot more work than I feel like doing on such short warning. Anyone who would like to kick in a few bucks to help out would earn my gratitude, of course. And a little more help from Toast about how to do it wouldn't go amiss, either.

05:05 GMT

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas Eve, London

Carnaby Street Xmas, 2009

Mr. Sideshow took this picture this afternoon in Carnaby Street.

Meanwhile in America, Christmas for some, but not for others.

21:21 GMT

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Baby, it's cold out there

In 2007, public expenditure (i.e., tax money) on health care per person, was around $3,300. That's before you paid your "insurer", before you paid your doctor, before you paid for any form of treatment, you paid $3,300 whether you needed it or not. (As an American, you also had the privilege of paying even more than that for commercial costs, bringing your total to an average of $7290.) In that same year in England, the total expenditure of taxation and private expenditure was$2,992 per person. *

Let me put that another way:

US paid by your taxes: $3,300 (or thereabouts)
UK taxes plus private: $2,992

And the kicker is, even relatively low-income minorities in the UK get better health care than the well-off in America.

But if you were doubtful that the health care bill bites, how do you feel knowing that the AMA, a perennial opponent of good health care reform that represents a minority of physicians, has now endorsed it?

Meanwhile, an observation by a commenter at Eschaton:

Democrats will consult some celibate men from an ancient superstitious cult operating an international pedophile ring led by a former nazi currently living in Rome [about] whether American women should have control over their own bodies or if the U.S. federal government should do it.
I can't believe anyone would say that single-payer was ignored by Obama and Congress because it got no traction in the primaries. As far as the public knew, all of the candidates were advocating that the government "do something" about health care, and when you look at what it was specifically that people said they thought government should be doing, the only way to do it is with a single-payer system. So whether they identified it as "single-payer" or not, that's what they wanted and what they probably thought they were voting for. They didn't withhold their votes from Dennis Kucinich because they didn't like his policies, they voted in large part for candidates who they assumed had similar policies, but chose the one they thought was more likely to be able to deliver on them. Obama, you may recall, was known to have supported single-payer himself - it was one of the reasons he was so much more popular than Hillary. Of course, throughout the primaries, when we questioned Obama's dedication to liberal causes, we were told at every step of the way about those things in his history that "proved" he could be trusted - he'd advocated single-payer, he was a Constitutional scholar, he was a community organizer - so of course, he'd never be the kind of guy who would sell out health care to the insurance companies, enforce Bush's shredding of the Constitution, or oppose a mortgage "cramdown" bill. Single-payer itself was never on the ballot, but the public did vote in a candidate who, as far as they knew at all, had been an advocate of single-payer. (Remember when Obama attacked Hillary for wanting mandates? Mandates are pretty much the only enforceable content in this bill.)

Oh, Miss Litella,how we've missed you.

Everyone seems to think I should use WordPress. Can I use it as just a commenting system patched into my blog? I really don't want to have to use online blogging software. I mean, I currently use TextPad.

Barbara Acklin, "You've Been in Love Too Long."

15:53 GMT

Monday, 21 December 2009

Happy Solstice

As previously noted, Americans want health care reform, but do not like the bill. There are good reasons for this - real health care reform would help our economy as well as protecting Americans, just aside from saving us hundreds of billions of dollars. Now that the polls are showing it, Republicans are happy to talk about the unpopularity of the bill. What they don't say is that Americans do want a health care reform bill - just not this one.

See, the question I can't get past starts with the fact that there have been numerous no-brainer issues where the Democrats were supposed to come in and fix things, things just about everyone favored, and they can't even do those. Health care reform was itself a no-brainer that even the president himself occasionally admitted was a vital emergency issue, and look how much trouble they've had even passing this really, really bad bill that has been continually tweaked to make it more attractive to the alleged "moderates" and "centrists" and the insurance industry. So why on Earth should I believe that if we would just pass this crapfest of a bill, we will then somehow make it better? Krugman is talking about procedural changes to get better legislation passed, but, seriously, how's that going to happen? The simple fact of the matter is that if the Democrats wanted to get good legislation past the Republicans, they could do it. They simply haven't bothered to try, and it is long past time y'all admitted the possibility that they aren't trying because failure is the plan.

Wait a minute - does this mean they actually believed all that crap about how Al Jazeera was sending out secret coded jihadist messages? (via)

What thanks does President Bipartisan get for his insistence on including the Republicans even though everyone hates them? Not a lot.

Even Jane Hamsher wants you to kill the Senate bill.

Somerby has a list of things the press didn't discuss in the healthcare debate. I guess that's getting to be pretty old news, now. The press isn't suddenly going to start talking about them, either, so, you know, have you started putting leaflets out around your neighborhood and various hangouts. No? What's wrong with you?

"The Fed's failure to foresee the crisis or to require adequate safeguards happened in part because it did not understand the risks that banks were taking." What did you think was going to happen when you deep-sixed all the regulations that were designed to stop this kind of thing? (via)

At least there is one country where when reporters are faced with Inhofe, they call it like it is.

Jack Bauer interrogates Santa.

This is neat. (H/t Dominic.)

So, should I stick with Haloscan/Echo, or go to something else? If something else, what? Is it free? Or should I just fork over the cash and go with the new regime? You can throw money in the tipjar if you think I might as well just, pay up and not have to throw my attention to trying to replace it with something else.

20:04 GMT

Sunday, 20 December 2009

That ain't Santa you hear

Triumph Satin shine underwired half cup push upBra of the Week

Aurora Shimmer, Meteor Flash.

Sirota on The Three Assumptions Driving the Push to Pass the Insurance/Drug Industry Health Bill. And, really, he's right - there's no reason we have to pass this bill right now. Sleep on it, people, and pass a better bill next year. There's time. RJ Eskow: "the bill now has more breaks for business but harsher punishment for uninsured individuals, it eliminates the already-weakened public option, it pays doctors less - and it costs the Federal government $23 billion more. Hey, what's not to love?" (And I do like Don Parker's fantasy of Harry Reid turning into LBJ. Yeah, like that could happen.)

We are now at the point where merely expressing annoyance at anyone in authority makes you a terrorist. And when I say "authority", they don't have to have much authority. As with the case of the shopper who said something sassy to a cashier and got tased by - who was it, cops, or just security? - the issue isn't whether you're involved in any kind of crime or violence, it's whether you know your place. You are just acting as a private citizen, and you have to recognize that as such, those who are acting as servants of those in power have greater authority than you. As a mere American citizen, you are not the equal of anyone who is acting for Big Property. And, while it's true that the cops might beat you up whether you sass them or not, they pretty much will subject you to violence if you suggest, in any way, that they may possibly be overstepping, making a mountain out of a molehill, or simply incorrect in their assumptions. This gets amped up well beyond the Kafkaesque when there is any possibility of employing use of the utterly vague and horrifically overbroad term "terrorism". In these cases, you don't even have to express that you are annoyed or upset at them to earn a conviction - you merely have to show some sign that you are concerned with anything other than showing them their due deference. And then you may end up at the mercy of the Supreme Court, which is currently dominated by people who don't actually believe you should have any rights, And the result of this "protection against terrorism" that we have been gifted with is that the American people are becoming well and truly terrorized.

How would they know if it was a bad bill? I mean, what if everyone hates it because it stinks?

I actually don't think Rham knows what he's asking for.

(And I really would like to know why this doesn't seem to matter to them. But then, I assume that's why it doesn't go into effect 'til after the next general election. Maybe they really think they can keep getting away with it. Worse, maybe they're right.)

Moyers talked to Taibbi and Kuttner. Also: Miracle at the Armingo Diner

Louis Armstrong

22:14 GMT

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Give 'til it hurts some more

Kucinich says the Class War is over, and working people lost: "The separation between the finance economy and the real economy is real. This is not some fake idea. You can't call that class warfare. That's a fact."

Even if we did have to pay higher taxes for a single-payer system, our overall costs would be lower because we wouldn't be paying the same again (or more) to insurance companies the way Americans are now. And everyone wants better health care at lower costs. And yet, when you phrase it as "government intervention and higher taxes", people suddenly object to it, despite the fact that they are, in fact, asking the government to "do something". The government "doing something" is government intervention, but the right-wing has some people convinced that some government interventions are government interventions while other government interventions are not government interventions. How does that work?

Thereisnospoon tells you explicitly why No One Is Going To Save You Fools. Because the right got organized and learned how to persuade people to believe things that make no sense, while the rest of us sat back expecting someone else to counter them. "That's partly because the American political Right never quits and never gives up. They know that organization is the key to their success, and they don't trust politicians to do their work for them. Democrats, on the other hand, get disappointed and quit when our politicians don't pan out the way we wanted. That's why we lose." Ironically, they learned that from the left, who seem to have forgotten.

I love this story about the guy who was planning to run against Brownback but just "suddenly" pulled out. "Still, Democratic leaders had touted him as the party's best chance to beat Republican U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback in next year's gubernatorial election." Democratic leaders had touted him, but constituents were just not interested. I wonder if they were influenced by this: "Wiggans is a native Kansan who returned to the state a year ago after a career in the pharmaceutical industry. His background as an entrepreneur and his personal wealth immediately were attractive to the state's minority party."

The Rude Pundit knows that Bernie Sanders is what a real liberal sounds like, because Bernie stood up and told the truth in the Senate - that we don't need the health insurance industry and that they shouldn't get a thing from the health care reform bill. And that the Senate has no plans to pass a good bill. I guess that's right, because Rahm is crowing that he has squashed all the liberals and doesn't have to worry about them anymore.

Caregiver's Resume is just a little reminder of how quickly everything can change, and how little support our society is prepared to supply. As Tata says over at Brilliant at Breakfast, "As long as health care is a shell game with clear financial winners and broken losers, catastrophic illness or injury anywhere around us threatens each of us and there's no protecting ourselves from it. We think we can by tut-tutting when our cousin smokes or when Uncle orders a steak or when Mama pours herself a scotch, but clucking doesn't help. Clicking your seat belt won't prevent the semi from missing the exit ramp. Some suffering is random; it is without meaning and that's all there is to it. The best we can do is provide health care for all people so the suffering doesn't spread. And when suffering does spread, it is the duty of an enlightened society to refuse to make it worse."

Ripley wants to ask our representatives, "Who matters to you? May we see the list? [...] It's a rather simple question to answer, really. There's something like 320 million people in the United States and, obviously, most of us don't matter to the folks in D.C. Frankly, I can't imagine there are more than a few thousand people whose welfare, health and/or families actually hold any meaning to the folks in our government. So, why can't we see the list?"

Yeah, yeah, I've heard all this before, but without an enforcement mechanism to make the insurance companies do the things the bill says they are supposed to do, with real threats of real punishments if they do the things they are not supposed to do, the only thing the bill really does is force Americans to be a captive market to a bunch of thieves. Really. And if you aren't willing to fight to make this bill better by, at the very least, explaining why it is actually a bad bill and insisting that it be made better, your "realistic" approach is just so much empty self-righteousness. Why, yes, I do tell people to call their representatives and write to the newspapers and complain to television news shows, but unless the complaints from the left (as opposed to the tea-baggers and birthers) start to be heard, it will make no difference - and so far, I'm not hearing any concrete proposals for a strategy to make the bill better from the people who think I should tone it down - I'm still just being told, mainly, to STFU. At the moment, the largest health insurance boondoggle in history is on the table, and you want me to calm down? This bill, as currently proposed, should not pass. It shouldn't. Instead of yelling at me, you should be yelling at some Senators yourself and tell them that if they can't get rid of the crap in it and give the good parts some real teeth, they should not vote for it. There is no reason why, if the Brits can give everyone free healthcare at a cost of $2992 per person a year, the United States can't do the same even for $7290 per person a year. We have the money for war, so why not for health care? Just don't tell me to support this giant kick-back scheme. We want better health care, not more executive compensation for insurance honchos.

Guess What? Casual Sex Won't Make You Go Insane. [...] Last week, for example, researchers from the University of Minnesota announced the findings of a study looking at the effect of casual sex on young adults. After studying 1,311 sexually active 18- to 24-year-olds, researchers were somewhat surprised to discover that, "young adults engaging in casual sexual encounters do not appear to be at increased risk for harmful psychological outcomes as compared to sexually active young adults in more committed relationships." And back in 2007, another study at the same institution found that despite what many people believe, non-marital sex doesn't negatively affect a teen's mental health or make a young person more prone to depression.

15:14 GMT

Friday, 18 December 2009

What else can you show me?

I'm really not sure what to do about this. The new owners of Haloscan seem to have come up with a fool-proof plan to totally piss me off. Apparently, this is so I can have all the "exciting" features I hate in other commenting systems. They want me to pay them for the elimination of the things I liked about Haloscan. I mean, there isn't even a field for your homepage URL, which means I can't go look at a commenter's blog easily - I guess they want to reduce, rather than aid, communication It's not that they're asking for much money, true, but it's the principle: A sudden announcement that if I don't give them money it's all over between us. They say they are giving me a whole two weeks to make the decision, but they don't let me see anything but their announcement when I log into the management page to try do things (like delete spam). Or I can terminate my account and "export" all my comments to another system, but as near as I can tell from the discussion thread, that just means pulling it all out to save in a single document on my hard drive. And you can try using their exciting new commenting system right there on the blog, and it is apparently broken. I would think they'd have fixed that before inviting us to buy it from them. I seem to recall back in the dark ages that there was another commenting system around that I liked for the same sort of simplicity as Haloscan, but I liked Haloscan more. Anyone have any suggestions for what to switch to? (Remember, the comment threads themselves can't appear on my own pages, because there's no place for them, and I have to be able to patch the code in by hand.)

Let's all phone my Congressman and ask him whether the bill does any of the things that reduce rising premiums. Is there a cap on premiums? A rate freeze? Competition from a solid public option available to all? A limit on executive compensation? Is there, in fact, any reason to think the bill will do anything to keep premiums from rising? Oh, there isn't?

David Axelrod thinks it's insane to want a better bill. Strangely, Peggy Noonan seems to get it better than Axelrod does: "Peggy Noonan, the columnist and former Reagan speechwriter, told Axelrod: 'On the issue of health care, you are losing the left, you are losing the right, you are losing the center. That looks to me like a political disaster.'" Y'think? Via Atrios, who also linked to this astute post from Aimai on the White House's crap negotiating skills - what they did, versus what they should have done if they wanted to pass a bill.

You're gonna love this little honey in Obama's mortgage plan: "In the fine print of the form homeowners fill out to apply for Obama's program, which lowers monthly payments for three months while the lender decides whether to provide permanent relief, borrowers must waive important notification rights. This clause allows banks to reject borrowers without any written notification and move straight to auctioning off their homes without any warning."

From cgey in comments:: "Damn, this bill sucks so bad it has a Schwarzchild radius, if such measures are needed by its apologists. And let's not forget that the insurance companies have no enforcement mechanism whatsoever to keep them honest or non-mercenary, but somehow the IRS becomes the health insurance enforcer for the entire country. Dammit, it's as if somebody *wanted* to revive the militia movement, from Obama gun-confiscation disinfo to this...."

UK Google's Doodle is cute.

Note to self: Bug Mitch about posting the podcast of the Copper Robot interview with Cory Doctorow.

15:36 GMT

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Reports from the puzzle house

Jay Ackroyd with be talking to Dean Baker on Virtually Speaking tonight, 6:00 PM Pacific. You can listen live or grab the archived feed or .mp3 afterwards (or "see" it live at the Inworld Amphitheater in Second Life).

"The John Birch Society to Co-Sponsor CPAC." They were known, not that long ago, as being a far right as you could go without wearing either a hooded sheet or a swastika. Now they are "mainstream". Ho ho ho.

"Gaps found in young people's sex knowledge [...] 'Abstinence-only curriculums have gone explicitly out of their way to teach misconceptions about contraception,' she said. 'This generation of 20-somethings have missed many opportunities to get medically accurate and correct information.'"

You're about to lose more money to the freeloading rich - that is, the useless children of the dead rich. But remember: Estate taxes aren't just there to collect money, they are also there to keep the immorally rich from becoming so rich they can take over the government. Whoops, too late!

I love Attaturk, and I love Bernie Sanders. However, Attaturk really should remember that, as noted below, Obama never planned to pass the public option.

Scarecrow asks, "How Would a Moderate-Conservative Republican President Do Health Reform?" Interestingly, Jelperman already answered that question in my comments:

If I had slept through the last eighteen months and woke up this morning and you had told me that it's 2009 and we have a new President who:

a) not only refuses to prosecute known war criminals and torturers, but whose DoJ files legal briefs to stop all inquiries in the matter, AND promises to keep 'terrorist' defendants locked up no matter the results of their 'trials' (including Bush's kangaroo military commissions)

b) escalated the war in Afghanistan while continuing to occupy Iraq

c) Let Republicans, right-leaning Democrats, and the Pentagon set the agenda for his four-year term

d) promised health care reform, but only offered a larger version of the incestuous insurance company/government circle-jerk enacted in Massachusetts

e) fired minor government employees at the behest of Glenn Beck

f) gave numerous other gifts to the Right and corporations, while slapping the liberals in the face at every opportunity

I would have thought 'Well, maybe President Romney will only last one term.'

22:54 GMT

Why can't you just admit it stinks?

I keep links to The Constitution and The Bill of Rights on the sidebar because I hope people will read them and remember that they define the purpose and fundamental charter of The United States of America. And that the name for that is "liberal government". If you don't believe in liberal government, you don't believe in the United States of America. You're not a "moderate" or "centrist" if you oppose liberal government, you're not even remotely close to the center of the American political spectrum.

In terms of the spectrum of American policy - that is, what is within the framework of the Constitution - you don't get to call your politics "moderate" just because you don't wear a white hood and burn crosses on people's lawns. But that, apparently, is what most of the Villagers think a "moderate" is. The fact that Obama is only quietly dismissive of liberals and liberal policy is supposed to mean he's "moderate" - that is, he has moderate language compared to, say, Rush Limbaugh and the Republican leadership. He isn't seething with obvious hatred. He just doesn't really care that much. And he knows better than to shout at the top of his lungs that he is killing liberal government while he still has the bloody knife in his hands.

It is now abundantly clear that Obama wants "government by, for, and of the people" no more than George W. Bush did. He does not want democracy - he has actively opposed allowing Americans to get what they need and what they voted for.

And what did they vote for? They voted for a candidate who they were told by the captured media was a socialist. Many of them actually believed that, and others believed it was mere hyperbole for describing some kind of deep-rooted liberal, but what they didn't believe is that they were voting for a conservative who worked for the robber barons and wanted to impoverish what we call "the middle-class" - that is, the working classes

As I have tried to remind you, Obama never intended to pass a public option. He may use Lieberman for cover, but this was Obama's plan all along. That's because Mr. "No Drama" was more concerned with preventing the insurance companies from running ads calling him names than he was with securing decent health coverage for Americans. It was just a bargaining chip he intended to throw away. And that puts him far to the right of the American people. Do not tell me that just because he has gotten away with this so far, this proves that the American people are "moderate". The American people are not "moderate" in Village terms, they are moderate in American terms, which means they are not insane enough to want to be, as so many smart people have noted, forced to buy lousy insurance they can't afford. And once they realize that this is what Obama is forcing on them, they will hate him even more than they hated George W. Bush.

Here's a clue: One reason commercial insurance mandates work in the few countries that have them (although at far greater expense than the other countries that don't have them) is that in all of those countries, health insurance is non-profit. It has to be. That's the law. Oh, and they have to deliver, too.

That is not the situation we now have in the United States. We have absolutely predatory insurers who jack up prices to make immoral profit margins and then don't deliver as promised. And Obama has no intention of changing that.

To add insult to injury, a lot of the people who want to hurry up and pass this bill feel that way because there is some small portion of the bill that positively affects them, and they want it as fast as they can get it. And I certainly understand their feeling that way - and I would sympathize, if hurrying up and passing this bill would actually get it for them.

But take another look, because those parts of the bill don't even kick in any time soon. We're still in hurry-up-and-wait mode - force the bill through now, then sit on our hands and wait out a couple of elections before anyone has to enforce the thing.

So what is the point? There's no law that says the bill has to be passed now and then we don't get anything for several years. We could just as easily decide to slow down, take the time to re-write the bill to be a better one, and then pass it next year to come into effect shortly thereafter.

Yes, we could do that, if the point of this was to get good health care for the people of the United States, rather than just to have a fake political "win" on Obama's ledger that won't go into effect until after those elections have gone by without people realizing what's been done to them.


Total spending on health care, per person, 2007:
United States: $7290
Switzerland: $4417
France: $3601
United Kingdom: $2992
Average of OECD developed nations: $2964
Italy: $2686
Japan: $2581
And you are paying more in taxes to maintain our commercialized health care system than Brits pay for a fully socialized health care system that is free at the point of use.

That is, I pay less in taxes, and no one sends me a bill.

Full coverage for necessary treatment.

No pleading with insurance companies.

No denial of claims.

No co-pays.

No bill.

Oh, and you know what else? A pre-existing condition doesn't mean I get less coverage, it means I get more.

What is Obama offering in exchange for not getting any of that?

14:38 GMT

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

You'll be doin' all right with your Christmas of white

Truthfully, I just got too depressed to blog after I saw this post at Eschaton Monday:

11 Dimensional Chess

No Medicare buy in, no public option.

-Atrios 19:17

Although I don't know why I should be, since surely that would be enough even to wake up the Friends of David Axlerod. Except, it isn't.

Later, after Digby explained the inevitable --

There you have it. Everyone knows that liberals must lose, so down goes the public option and the Medicare Buy-in. The question remains whether King Joseph will allow the government to help older people with long term care needs or any of the other things that anyone could possibly construe as liberal policies.

I think we have a way to go before this bill is bad enough for him and his cronies to allow the Democrats to commit political suicide with it.

-- Atrios said:
I Doubt It's Over

Now that one senator has the power to torpedo the bill, a few more will get some ideas. And demand things. And it will get worse and worse until it is the Dem Suicide Act of 2010, if it isn't already.

And, though no one is explicitly saying so, it turns out that the best way to get any kind of reasonable healthcare reform would have been to demand a British-style National Health Service and declare even single-payer an unacceptable compromise.

Thanks to Lambert for supplying a quote in defense of my reference to Obama's "far-right royalist policies":

The hours men and women worked, the wages they received, the conditions of their labor - these had passed beyond the control of the people, and were imposed by this new industrial dictatorship. The savings of the average family, the capital of the small-businessmen, the investments set aside for old age - other people's money - these were tools which the new economic royalty used to dig itself in. ...

Throughout the nation, opportunity was limited by monopoly. Individual initiative was crushed in the cogs of a great machine. The field open for free business was more and more restricted. Private enterprise, indeed, became too private. It became privileged enterprise, not free enterprise.

An old English judge once said: "Necessitous men are not free men." Liberty requires opportunity to make a living - a living decent according to the standard of the time, a living which gives man not only enough to live by, but something to live for.

For too many of us the political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people's property, other people's money, other people's labor - other people's lives. For too many of us life was no longer free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness.

Against economic tyranny such as this, the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of government. The collapse of 1929 showed up the despotism for what it was. The election of 1932 was the people's mandate to end it. Under that mandate it is being ended.

The royalists of the economic order have conceded that political freedom was the business of the government, but they have maintained that economic slavery was nobody's business. They granted that the government could protect the citizen in his right to vote, but they denied that the government could do anything to protect the citizen in his right to work and his right to live.

Today we stand committed to the proposition that freedom is no half-and-half affair. If the average citizen is guaranteed equal opportunity in the polling place, he must have equal opportunity in the market place.

These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power.-- FDR, 1936

Of course, that was back in the days when the royalists did concede that "political freedom was the business of the government" and did grant "that the government could protect the citizen in his right to vote." Things are worse, now. It would be more accurate to say:
These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we know they already have.

But I'll have a blue, Blue Christmas.

14:54 GMT

Monday, 14 December 2009

Good news and bad news

This Week In Tyranny, "The president believes the White House is above the law. I don't care what kind of intrigue or realpolitik is going on behind the scenes - this a shameful and un-American position to take. Barack Obama has an authoritarian view of executive power. He also appears to be thin skinned and disrespectful of those who smoothed the path before him: 'If the President demands that a Democrat who has served in Congress since Obama was four years old, one who paved the way on civil rights issues to make it possible to elect an African American man President, and one who played a key role in Obama winning the primary, just roll over on legislative issues, who is demeaning whom?' I hope Conyers called him 'son' at least once during their conversation." And, as noted before, the British government hangs out with a bad crowd and caves-in to peer-pressure from the big bully to destroy civil liberties. (There's much more, and you should read it all.)

Default, then rent, and create a Stealth Stimulus - When Americans walk away from the houses they can't afford to pay the overpriced mortgage on and start renting instead, it's creating a different kind of stimulus - because they are paying to rent something solid. (I don't suppose someone will mention to Obama that the horrible bankruptcy bill directly hurts the economy by preventing people from being able to buy new stuff rather than just paying off old debts....)

"Historic Win for Constitutional Rights! Injunction Granted in CCR Lawsuit on Behalf of ACORN: December 11, 2009. New York, NY - Today, U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon granted a preliminary injunction against the United States for unconstitutionally withholding funds from ACORN. In its decision, the court found that there is a likelihood the plaintiffs will be able to show that Congress' targeted defunding of ACORN violates the Constitution's prohibition against Bills of Attainder, legislative acts which single out a specific person or group for punishment. The Court's ruling stated, 'The plaintiffs have raised a fundamental issue of separation of powers. They have been singled out by Congress for punishment that directly and immediately affects their ability to continue to obtain federal funding, in the absence of any judicial, or administrative, process adjudicating guilt... The public will not suffer harm by allowing the plaintiffs to continue work on contracts duly awarded by federal agencies...'

Jamison Foser has a good question: "Why won't the Washington Post run a response to Sarah Palin?" (via)

"Well, that's all very interesting, says the American press, but a famous black man has slept with blondes: A team of eight UK medical experts say that Dr David Kelly, a leading weapons inspector who was at the centre of a row about why Britain went to war in Iraq, was unlikely to have committed suicide."

Border Jumpers are travelling in Uganda.

Dozens of gnomes are in sheriff's custody after police bust Gnome Liberation Front convention.

19:06 GMT

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Just your basic WTF? newsround

Cleo by Panache Danni plunge braBra of the Week

Meteor over Monument Valley

Of course, I meant to mention this on the actual anniversary, but I was distracted. But, as Patrick writes: "On December 11, 1929, the world's first club devoted to science fiction met for the first time. They called themselves the Scienceers. Years later, in 1961, one of their original number recalled those days in a fanzine article which, through the magic of the World Wide Web, can be read here."

One of the interesting things about how all the money is now in the hands of rich right-wingers is the fact that there is less money for liberal causes and organizations, such as the ones we all take for granted will be looking after us while we are looking after something else. Like, for example, "a 25% hole" in the ACLU's annual operating budget, thanks to the loss of one donor who is no longer in an economic position to give them a big shot of cash every year. Which means they need you more than ever, just as we need them more than ever.

There is simply no excuse for the police refusing to politely answer questions from the public, let alone beat them up and, having removed all their protective clothing, dump them out in the middle of a snow storm. (Of course, district court judges directing sheriff's deputies to remove a defense lawyer from a courtroom while he is making a legitimate case on behalf of his client is a bit unkosher, too, and so is the fact that somehow the lawyer ended up with bruised ribs and "booked by the deputies with battery, criminal trespass and resisting arrest.")

I should have known The American Prospect was about to go way downhill as soon as they took me off their blogroll, but now they're attacking Matt Taibbi for saying what's true. Apparently, even when they agree with your facts, you're a "conspiracy theorist" for stating them in public.

Some people are just too easily bought: "After a health insurer group was caught bribing Facebook users with virtual cash to write anti-health care letters to Congress, a prominent health care supporter is trying to turn the stunt against them."

Dept. of Best Country in the World, Education Div.: The Washington Monthly says, "Virtually everywhere in the world people tend to be more educated than their parents. This is no longer true in the United States. A report by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities indicates that the U.S. is one of only two nations on Earth in which people aged 25 to 34 have lower educational attainment than their parents."

Atrios reports: "Bankruptcy cramdown for primary residence mortgages defeated in House." In the House. Come on, how does that even happen?

Or is he the new Big Bad?

01:04 GMT

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Letting it slide

Jay Ackroyd's guests on Virtually Speaking Thursday night were Ian Welsh and Stirling Newberry, who started off on health care, and you can listen to it here. Next week's guest will be Dean Baker, which should also be interesting.

Eric Boehlert with the obit for The Washington Times: "You'd think that somebody with a direct line to the Almighty, and tapped by Jesus to save mankind on Earth, would be able to come up with a better business plan for running a daily newspaper. But, alas, after nearly three decades of unrelenting financial losses, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a federal tax cheat, accused cult leader, and founder of the Unification Church, has decided to pull out. Actually, according to news reports, it's more like Moon's U.S. college-educated sons, as part of an internal family power struggle, have decided to finally cut off the endless stream of Asian church cash that's kept The Washington Times afloat." Well, his work is done - who needs a right-wing newspaper when there's a better-known right-wing newspaper masquerading as part of the "liberal media"?

Krugman is obviously turning into a dirty hippy - he put "centrist" in quotes. He also said: "But while economic analysis says that we should have a large second stimulus, the political reality is that the president - faced with total obstruction from Republicans, while receiving only lukewarm support from some in his own party - probably can't get enough votes in Congress to do more than tinker at the edges of the employment problem." Huh. Maybe he needs to declare it a matter of national security (which it is) and put it "off-budget" with all the other national security crap.

Oh, look, we are promised that if we let the Dems pass their crappy bill, they'll try to pass some more reforms later. Well, isn't that worth waiting for? Um, no.

I can just hear what they'd be saying if a Democrat wore that hat.... And here's Taibbi talking about Obama's governance.

Tony Blair explains why we invaded Iraq. I can't even be arsed to check to see if he said he thinks it worked.

There are really plenty of choices who would be superior to Bernenke. Well, even I would. But Dan has what look to be good reasons to recommend Thomas Hoenig For Fed Chairman.

In case you were wondering how uplifting Obama's Oslo speech was, Sarah Palin liked it. Of course she did - Obama accepted the fergodssakes Nobel Peace Prize by making the case for stupid wars.

14:44 GMT

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Assorted stuff

I think it's perfectly clear that Olympia Snowe is not interested in health care, and any suggested "compromise" with her means compromising away any possibility of getting something we can use. As Atrios said, "All 'compromises' are just shiny objects which will be pulled away at the last second.." (Can't add anything to this one, either. I mean, they're both black! And this one - look, how could a grown person have believed that someone who had never tested a nuclear device and had no delivery systems could be a nuclear threat to anyone in "45 minutes"?) (But, Atrios, The Washington Post is no longer for either of those things - it's for selling right-wing crap.) Oh, and this is right, too, as is this. (Psst! Single-payer!)

I do think Marcy Winograd could turn out to be a vast improvement over Jane Harmon, don't you?

Data: "It turns out that a significant minority of about 25 percent of the people who opposed the plan - or about 12 of the overall sample - did so from the left; they thought the plan didn't go far enough." So, 15% of Americans actually know that "The Plan" for health care reform will hurt our chances of getting real health care reform. However, not all of us oppose the plan for that reason - some support it because they understand that it will pretty much kill real health care reform.

Orrin Hatch whines that Democrats always get what they want.

If there's one thing Joe Lieberman is consistent about, it's his willingness to support the Republican Party.

Paul Volcker tells the truth: "'I wish someone would give me one shred of neutral evidence that financial innovation has led to economic growth - one shred of evidence,' said Mr Volcker, who ran the Fed from 1979 to 1987 and is now chairman of President Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board."

Apparently, the police need tasers because they are afraid of unarmed 10-year-olds. And not just in America: "There was no requirement from the Home Office for forces to consult with the public about increasing Taser numbers but we felt it was important to listen to the views of our communities." There are already plenty of people who think the cops are the most dangerous people on the streets, but apparently the Home Office is even worse - though, of course, they spend less time on the streets.

I'm all for Alistair Darling's idea of a supertax on bank bonuses, but I think high taxes on all immoral levels of wealth should be on the cards, wherever it came from. Of course, in some cases, there should be jail time involved, too.

Congratulations! You've Been Paying Baucus's Girlfriend's Salary.

I couldn't bring myself to post this on the day, but still....)

01:37 GMT

Monday, 07 December 2009

He just won't stop to ask for directions

Elizabeth Warren on America Without a Middle Class: "Today, one in five Americans is unemployed, underemployed or just plain out of work. One in nine families can't make the minimum payment on their credit cards. One in eight mortgages is in default or foreclosure. One in eight Americans is on food stamps. More than 120,000 families are filing for bankruptcy every month. The economic crisis has wiped more than $5 trillion from pensions and savings, has left family balance sheets upside down, and threatens to put ten million homeowners out on the street. [...] Pundits talk about "populist rage" as a way to trivialize the anger and fear coursing through the middle class. But they have it wrong. Families understand with crystalline clarity that the rules they have played by are not the same rules that govern Wall Street. They understand that no American family is "too big to fail." They recognize that business models have shifted and that big banks are pulling out all the stops to squeeze families and boost revenues. They understand that their economic security is under assault and that leaving consumer debt effectively unregulated does not work."

Diane on Copenhagen: "Yesterday, I followed a link to the UK's Guardian which announces an unusual agreement among many of the world's newspapers. All have agreed to run the same editorial calling on world leaders to get something done on climate change at the Copenhagen meeting. Sadly, none of the US papers I start my day with, the NY Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, or L.A. Times participated in this worthy project. I am therefore publishing that editorial, in its entirety, here."

If this means that Jane and FDL are going to stop focusing on "the public option" and start saying the words "Single Payer" a lot, I'm definitely for it. And I'm certainly behind candidacies of people who are pushing for single-payer.

Much as I agree with Digby that this is a wrong story, I expect that even now there are a few nitwits who think the correct response to criticisms of the guy who happens to be president is a stupid question about whether one thinks Hillary would have been better. But that's why it's a wrong story: The primaries are long over, and this is about how, whoever is president, we cannot afford to continue with such right-wing leadership.

A substantial majority of Americans want a public option - by which I assume they mean a public option available to them, not just to a couple million people who fit into a tiny niche. (The insurance companies oppose a real Public Option for exactly that reason - because their research shows that somewhere in the neighborhood of 150,000,000 of their victims customers will leave them to take it.)

How Larry Summers lost Harvard $1.8 billion. Now he gets to help wreck our whole country.

Post-election politicians: The Bloomberg that was green turns to brown.

Bill Moyers responds to Obama's war escalation speech.

23:34 GMT

Saturday, 05 December 2009

Chasing The Great Unspoken

It's fear of trying, really. It's fear of making "the same mistakes" and therefore making the same mistakes.

Like in the comment thread to the post below, in which David W. says:

Well, after the health care reform debacle of 1994, my own expectations of the current reform process has been lowered accordingly. Whether that's a good or bad thing, there it is.
Because you never really learned what the mistakes of the first time really were.

You know, the media and a lot of people who should know better have spent years pretending that the error the Clintons made on health care had something to do with "bringing up" gays in the military instead of concentrating on health care right away. Of course, it was not the Clintons, but the Republicans (and Democratic conservatives) who brought it up, and Clinton's real mistake on that one was to let them get away with it. Don't Ask/Don't Tell was another policy debacle that happened because everyone was too "sensible" to confront it head-on and do what needed to be done, and the GOP has dined on it ever since.

Of course, the real mistake the Clintons - and many proponents of health care reform - made was to make single-payer unmentionable, to ignore or suppress calls for single-payer, to make sure the term never made it to page or screen. No one of any note was allowed to utter the words; it was The Great Unspoken.

How many times do you need to be told that you can not get what you will not ask for?

If you trawl through the pages of this blog, or even have enough memory left to recall it, you might remember that the "effort" to get a Public Option was never a good faith effort. The administration actually told the press that talk of a public option was intended solely as a threat to use against the insurance companies in order to try to make them feel sweeter about a little tinkering to reduce costs a little. That's it. That's all the administration ever intended to offer us, in spite of the fact that they were already giving the insurance companies the gift of millions more suckers who would be forced to buy their crappy product despite the fact that they were the least likely ever to need it. (And the rest of the new suckers would be people who were in no position to fight to get what they'd been forced to pay for.)

It's not just that single-payer was off the table from the git-go - it's that the public option wasn't even really on the table.

And it still isn't. A public option that isn't available to everyone just isn't an option at all, it's just what's left when they already know you have nothing left to take.

But think about this: The administration said publicly that they had no intention of passing a public option. They said it where the insurance companies could see it. They started from the weakest possible negotiating position. And the only reason we are still even talking about the public option is that enough people decided to push back. As far as I can tell, most of them are pushing back only because the administration has given them the go-ahead to do so. But we still have no reason to believe that the public option is in any way their goal. Maybe they just figured out that they needed a bit of grass roots steam to power their fake threat to the insurance companies to get them to play ball.

As I say down in the comments, I have heard all this before, and I don't like having to go through it every 20 years. It's always the same argument - we should be reasonable, we should not ask for too much, we should settle for the "realistic" choice. But that's what got us here. We were told before not to let the "perfect" be the enemy of "the good" - but "the good" is the thing we ended up with that has made things so much more horrible. This is "the good" we were supposed to fight for last time instead of single-payer.

How many more times do you want to live through this? Do you really think you can?

Waiting to find out what price...

15:08 GMT

Friday, 04 December 2009

Shivering in the light

Et tu, Krugman? Look, it's all very well to say that we need health care reform to pass, but it's still got to be health care reform, not just some bill that carries the name. The current bill is crap. There is no natural law that says we have to pass this bill right now or we get no bill; on the contrary, if we pass the bill as it currently stands, we will never get what we need.

We do not need a mandate that would require some people to buy commercial health insurance. Forcing people to buy a commercial product stinks to high heaven as an idea. Politically, of course, it's suicidal, but if you think people don't like paying taxes, wait 'til you see how they react to being taxed by the insurance companies. (A part of me wonders if our legislators have a secret plan to foment revolution this way while deflecting our anger to the insurance companies rather than keeping it aimed at them.)

Remember, Americans are already paying more in taxes for health care per person than the British public is paying for the entire National Health Service. We shouldn't have to pay another dime to the insurance industry.

The minimum bill we actually need to pass makes the government (not a contractor) responsible for providing health insurance for all basic health care (none of this "co-pay" junk) to all Americans through the tax base, with all Americans automatically enrolled, and no opt-outs; it would allow the government to negotiate prices with any provider of treatment/medication; and it also requires that all commercial health insurance be non-profit. Because that's the efficient way to pass health insurance reform - it covers everyone and costs less than any other proposed plan. It is the only fiscally prudent way to do it short of a fully socialized health care system.

People who really want genuine health care reform that would cut costs should spend less time trying to pass this bill and more time demanding that real cost-cutting, in the form of universal single-payer with real enforcement on restraints on insurance companies, be put at the foundations of the bill. Every concession to conservatives should be removed from it. Get rid of anything supporters of health care reform would have to explain away. Fight four-square for a bill like that, and you'll have the public with you in no time. That's the only way to get real health care reform - fight for it.

Because fighting for a bill like the one that's on the table is not a foot in the door for universal health care, it's a guarantee of failure.

* * * * *

Atrios is right about this - what Bernanke is advocating is theft: taking money from Social Security and Medicare because "That's where the money is." That's right, he quoted a famous bank-robber to openly advocate repeal of Medicare and Social Security. Yes, that's where the money is, because it works. We've paid for it. It is not some kind of guild-the-rich plan that exists by borrowing money from China. It is, as George W. Bush used to tell you, your money. And he wants to steal it from you to pay for something other than what you paid for. To make his rich friends happy.

This is very weird, because what Rush is saying is true, but it's true of the right. Who is it who doesn't want to pass comprehensive health care? The right. Who is it who wants to destroy Social Security and Medicare? The right. Who is it who successfully eliminated civics classes from schools and constantly works to suppress teaching the liberal nature of our American form of government in schools - and, indeed, to wreck public school systems? The right. How can Rush get away with saying this stuff in the face of open and blatant campaigns by the right to kill old people, stop health care reform, and wreck our learning institutions? Because right now the right-wingers who are being so effective in aiding the conservative campaign are called "Democrats".

I actually know the answer to the question, "Why Do Mainstream Media Suck Up to Pastor Rick Warren?" What I don't know is why anyone falls for the idea that we should care what Rick Warren thinks.

TPM reports that Republicans are upset that people are pointing to the fact that they voted against the Franken amendment ("to the Pentagon spending bill that would bar 'future and existing' federal contracts to defense contractors and subcontractors 'at any tier' who mandate employees go through a company's arbitration process for workplace discrimination claims - including claims of sexual assault"). It's not Franken who is using their sympathy for rapists against them to brand them rapist-sympathizers, but they are mad at Franken all the same. Politico treats the issue as one of how Franken is interrupting Senate comity by failing to stop people from asking these creeps why they are rapist-sympathizers. No explanation of why these Republicans were so keen to support rapists.

Vote for Susie, even though she changed her link on me last time.

Molly tipped me to a sort of Advent "calendar" here.

Every year I am grateful to Brian Brinks for helping us fight the cold and dark. More here.

13:44 GMT

Thursday, 03 December 2009

Man, it sure is dark in the afternoons lately

I'm pleased to see that we're getting the Hubble Advent Calendar again this year.

And I'm really disappointed in Ezra Klein, who used to be one of the stronger single-payer advocates in Left Blogistan. I can remember when Ezra was all over health care in a really good way. Now he's gone the way of the Obamatrons in advocating for the crummy bill the Democrats want to present us with. (There is way too much of this going around.) It's depressing. Look, the bill we're talking about here shovels more money to the insurance companies and has no enforcement facility for any constraints on what the insurance companies do in the meantime. And the allegedly good parts of the bill don't even start for, what, another four or five years, now? But there is still all this urgency to pass this bill right now. What's the hurry? Junk the whole damn thing and start over, it is really a pretty evil bill. It forces you to buy junk health insurance (and most of it, at this point, is junk health insurance if you can't rely on it to pay when you need it) at whatever prices the insurance industry wants to charge you in order to not deliver. Even the pathetic "public option" they've been talking about will be available to only a couple of million people. The very least a public option of any value would do is use all the streamlining a government program is capable of (to keep costs down) and be available to every single person in America without restrictions on eligibility. But Ezra is willing to settle for subsidizing the insurance industry some more. This is just no good. If you want to make a few piddling changes in who we give a few extra bucks to, just make the marginal changes in existing law that would be necessary and stop pretending we are talking about real reform. Passing any version of what's currently on the table will kill any chance of any honest reform in the foreseeable future, and it should not pass. And we shouldn't even have to be talking about this. We should be demanding single-payer, full stop. Don't tell me it's "not politically viable". It never will be unless we demand it and stop letting them talk us into eating their poisoned apple. There are enough of us.

From Zachary Roth at TPM, "Drug-Makers Paying Off Competitors To Keep Cheap Generics Off Market [...] Over the last few years, drug-makers have embraced a startlingly simple tactic for fending off competition from generic brands: paying them off. In a nutshell, the company that holds the patent on a profitable drug strikes a deal with the maker of the cheaper generic brand: you hold off on marketing your generic for several years, and in return, we'll give you a share of our profits on the drug." DWD wonders why, if this is so, there aren't more generic drug makers: "I don't think they can pay off everyone." Good point. Anyone want to start a business?

Screaming "trade war" is meant to scare us away from doing what needs doing to rebuild America. There's nothing wrong with "protectionism" that actually protects Americans from massive poverty.

A moment of sanity in Milwaukee Public Schools? "MPS to discuss providing condoms to students." Now, that would be a good thing.

"Senator Moves to Hold Up Bernanke Confirmation: Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont said on Wednesday that he would try to block the Senate from confirming Ben S. Bernanke to a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve." Seriously, this should be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, our Congress has been showing us just how much of a mess you can make with no brains. "Mr. Sanders said he would place a hold on Mr. Bernanke's nomination when it reached the Senate floor. Under Senate rules, lawmakers would need 60 votes to override Mr. Sanders and proceed with a vote." Of course, the Dems don't need Bernie's vote when they have so much Republican support.

I thought this was so obvious that I haven't been saying it, but perhaps it's time to remind everyone (Senate, House, media) that the way to reduce deficits is to create jobs.

The Medium Lobster with some Victory Science: "But we must also remember that the Afghans, menaced even though they are by the evil of the Afghans, are not blameless here. Have they sufficiently appreciated our efforts to kill them? No, they have not. Have they effectively and efficiently rebuilt their nation whenever we've had cause to blow it up? No, they have not. Have they become full and effective participants in the ongoing mission to kill them? No, they have not. It is long past time for the people of Afghanistan to step up their efforts to kill themselves, and not merely rely on American generosity to finish the job for them."

Much thanks to Anna for cheering me up with this little BBC1 Christmas ident.

16:00 GMT

Tuesday, 01 December 2009

Happy Fake Advent!

Yes, it's the day the Advent calendars start. Electric December is, of course, ready. Here's BBC Radio 3's Bach Christmas Calendar, the Liverpool Museums calendar, the New York Carver calendar, the Boowa & Kwala calendar, and the North Pole calendar. Woodland Junior School is still doing theirs. So are the Episcopal Dioceses of Washington. Westminster City Council is still doing theirs. The Doctor Who site says they are doing one, but I haven't found it, yet. Maybe by the time you click, it will be up. Meanwhile, let me know if you find a good one.

Every week, Paul Krugman tells them what we need, and every week, they ignore him. (And there are still people who think Jimmy Carter's administration was the high watermark for a bad economy. Of course, those people are either pretty well-insulated today, or just plain dumb.)

Michael Moore is complaining about the things that are killing America, the uneven blowhard Michael Tomasky is showing where his priorities are by attacking Michael Moore.

Amy Goodman interviewed Naomi Klein, and Paul Rosenberg noticed this: "And, you know, I think that that explains in some sense the paralysis in progressive movements in the United States where we think, Obama stands for something because we - our emotions were activated on these issues, but we don't really have much to hold him to because, in fact, if you look at what he said during the campaign, like any good super brand, like any good marketer, he made sure not to promise too much, so that he couldn't be held to it." (However, he did promise a few things, and he has gone back on them. So, like any super-brand run by a big corporation, he can still be expected to screw you.)

I don't know why Steven D thought a bizarre right-wing religious group that believes in the Prosperity Gospel running the country was "harmless" and amusing, but he's not laughing anymore now that he knows they are right behind Uganda's push for gay genocide. Oh, and just as a reminder, supposedly "moderate" right-wing Christianist Rick Warren is okay with that.

What is the lesson of a conservative Supreme Court's decision to ignore the Constitution to set conservative policy in law? (Oh, and yes, you can blame Mike Huckabee for those four dead cops, even if Gail Collins doesn't.)

"Feds plan to battle foreclosure crisis with social awkwardness: Along with slowing payments to uncooperative mortgage lenders, one of their main weapons, according to Treasury Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions Michael S. Barr, will be embarrassment, which presumably will be more effective than the shame they deployed in August."

Alan Grayson says We've paid enough for Afghanistan. Why the French have health care - and we still won't. Vote for Susie.

I'm listening to radio from Menlo Park.

13:03 GMT

Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, December 2009

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