Archive for July 2009Main
Friday, 31 July 2009
Your happenin' world
Atrios asks, "Just What Am I Supporting Again? It's difficult to sell a plan when a plan doesn't really exist. I don't think people really care about the details, but they do want to be convinced that what will be delivered to them is as good or better than what they currently can get at roughly the same price or less. It would be easy to sell a plan if they could say things like, "Under this plan, all people will be able to buy affordable comprehensive insurance which cannot be taken away." But they can't actually say that at the moment. At least, they can't say it honestly - and the way they are going, they have no intention of trying.
Barry Ritholtz says, "Advance GDP = -1.0%" - that is, GDP is down. And exports are down. (And we still hear how high productivity is, but if all that means is that fewer people are handling more people's jobs, why is that supposed to be good?)
And on Sunday, remember, at 6:00 PM Pacific, Mitch Wagner (yes, that's our Mitch Wagner) will interview Barry Ritholtz of The Big Picture, as Copper Robot; you can be there in Second Life at Seaside Theater, World2Worlds Island - or you can watch it live on the web.
And speaking of all that, tonight at 5:00 PM Pacific (SL) time, General JC Christian will be interviewing David Neiwert of Orcinus at Netroots Nation Arena in Second Life. As most of you know, I hope, David is a specialist in covering the far-right, and has written extensively (in book and blog) about their para-fascism and eliminationism. (I'm not sure yet whether there will be a webcast or if it will be archived.)
And you can listen to Jay Ackroyd's interview with Jessica Valenti last night here. I had no idea that those creepy Purity Balls were publicly funded. (But, man, it was spooky hearing the things I wrote in the '80s and '90s coming from someone who had to be too young to have seen them when I first wrote them.)
My thanks to Ruth and Diane for four good years of Cab Drollery, and I'm sorry to see things change. Best wishes to Diane, especially, who is taking a hiatus due to health issues. You'll definitely be missed. Meanwhile, Ruth will continue doing some posting at The Seminal, and I hope she follows Diane's advice and starts her own blog.
Giant Green Tentacles Attack Buildings from the Inside. (Thanks to Dominic.)
I just had a great dinner at my favorite London restaurant - for the last time. I've been eating there for about 15 years, and tomorrow night they close. The dinner was on the house, because we've become friends in that time. We managed not to cry, but it was a close thing.
Jay Ackroyd's interview of Feministing's Jessica Valenti for Virtually Speaking and BlogTalkRadio is at 6:00 PM Pacific tonight. You can listen live here on the web, or see the show in Second Life at Inworld Amphitheater. You can also listen to the archive when it's posted - find it here.
Some stand-up women.
A moldy slice of bread is not "half a loaf"
I'm not okay with this. If they can wait ten years for a plan to phase in, they can wait 'til next year to pass a better bill. And no, I can't go along with any of the hurry-up-and-wait that's built into the current plan-planning; if they are designing bills that don't kick in until 2013 or whatever, there's no hurry to pass them, either. I want a bill that covers everyone all the way down in the most efficient, manner. I do not want to hear about co-pays (which still mean people delay seeking care because they are worried about being able to afford it), or people who are defined out of the system, or who we don't care about, or who imagine they can't possibly need it. I know there are millions of people who think they have health insurance coverage, but really don't, and I want even them to be covered, so when the insurance company threatens to drop them they can say, "So what? Why should I give you money if you won't give me coverage, anyway?" And I don't want them to lose their homes because they get sick. Other countries can do this. Why can't we? (via)
There's one born every minute
I wish you guys would quit talking about what kind of breakfast meat or lunch meat is going into the healthcare bill. Look, there is no meat, it's all gristle.
Anyone who paid attention to what happened in Vietnam knows that when you take a bunch of kids and put them in a position where it can be both their job and a matter of survival to break what in civilized society is the ultimate rule, it really messes their heads up. And guess what. Yes, we're doing that to our kids again.
Ruth says the right-wing reaction to yet another report that conservative policies blocking proper sex education have caused an about-face in what had been declining rates of abortion has been met by right-wing nuts with the claim that Clinton started it, and Diane says even Draconian cuts to California's services didn't go far enough for Arnold. And I was really sad to learn about Olaf Glad and Big passing on.
Don't you just love the idea that George Walker Bush was the brave civil libertarian who held Cheney in check? Yeah. right.
Matt Taibbi: "Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with Max Baucus, Bill Nelson, or anyone else. If the Obama administration wanted to pass a real health care bill, they would do what George Bush and Tom DeLay did in the first six-odd years of this decade whenever they wanted to pass some nightmare piece of legislation (ie the Prescription Drug Bill or CAFTA): they would take the recalcitrant legislators blocking their path into a back room at the Capitol, and beat them with rubber hoses until they changed their minds. [...] This whole business, it was a litmus test for whether or not we even have a functioning government. Here we had a political majority in congress and a popular president armed with oodles of political capital and backed by the overwhelming sentiment of perhaps 150 million Americans, and this government could not bring itself to offend ten thousand insurance men in order to pass a bill that addresses an urgent emergency. What's left? Third-party politics?"
Oh, look, a letter on healthcare from Marc Perkel in the IHT.
You know, Mike Stark is getting really good at his kind of Legislator in the Street interviews.
I once spent two weeks travelling up the Left Coast with the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus (Blue Show), and my faithful native guide showed me how to look for the simple looking things that often required more skill than the flashy-looking things, but the bit I always found the most fun was these guys.
I had a rough day in the dentist's chair. Okay, it wasn't a whole day, but it felt like it.
Lambert has been saying for some time that we should stop saying "Single-Payer" and start saying "Medicare for All". Paul Krugman has proof that he's right - because a lot of Americans don't get that Medicare is a government program, which is where that disconnect comes from when they make it clear that they love Medicare but hate "government programs". Weirdly, they do the same thing with Social Security. You actually hear people say with a straight face that they've never taken anything from the government and never will, they get by on Social Security and they have their Medicare. (I can't help but wonder where they think it comes from.)
Yet, to my confusion, Krugman later does the I'll take half a loaf dance:If I could start from scratch, I'd go for single-payer. Where introducing single-payer has proved politically possible, it's been a smashing success.Except that it doesn't if we keep going the way we're going, which is to sit on our hands and let the insurance companies write the plan. The current version of "the plan" has none of the necessary features for a foot-in-the-door for single-payer or any other comprehensive way to ensure delivery of healthcare to all Americans - in fact, it's designed not to kick in until conservatives have had a chance to kill it, and if by some failure on their part it does manage to kick in, it's designed to fail.
Politically, single payer is not going to happen any time soon. It's not just the power of the insurance lobby: voters tend to fear the unknown, so that it's much easier to pursue incremental reform than to make a giant leap into a completely different system. And incremental reform has a good - better than 50/50 - chance of happening this year.
Look, a single-payer plan is only politically possible if we demand it. Shuffling our feet and saying, "Oh, well, just pass something." is what got us into all these messes in the first place, and if all that talk of "change" meant anything, it should mean we stop doing that. I'm certainly not getting on the bandwagon to pass more stupid bills.
Ian Welsh on How insurance works and why private insurance costs more than universal government insurance
I'm not feelin' too good myself.
Just say no to junk policies
Readers have alerted me that Ian Welsh is doing some nice work over at his blog, and had a nice heads-up on Bait and Switch on Public Option up the other day:The most devastating critique I've read of the current public option comes from Kip Sullivan. What makes it devastating is that although he's a single payer advocate, instead of attacking it from the point of view of single payer, he takes it on its own terms - comparing the House bill's version of the public option to the one originally proposed by Hacker:What would this mean in effect? 123 million people enrolled, the ability to set premiums substantially below those of private insurers and the ability pay hospitals and doctors less than private insurers, leading to massive cost savings.
- The PO had to be pre-populated with tens of millions of people, that is, it had to begin like Medicare did representing a large pool of people the day it commenced operations (Hacker proposed shifting all or most uninsured people as well as Medicaid and SCHIP enrollees into his public program);
- Subsidies to individuals to buy insurance would be substantial, and only PO enrollees could get subsidies (people who chose to buy insurance from insurance companies could not get subsidies);
- The PO and its subsidies had to be available to all nonelderly Americans (not just the uninsured and employees of small employers);
- The PO had to be given authority to use Medicare's provider reimbursement rates; and
- The insurance industry had to be required to offer the same minimum level of benefits the PO had to offer.
But of the five conditions, only one is met in the new plan: requiring the insurance industry to offer the same plan. Not a single other requirement of the original public option plan is met. Not one. As Sullivan points out, the public plan starts without a single enrollee and has to hire sales staff, negotiate contracts and so on, all while being required to pay back its start up costs within 10 years.
What advantage do you have over the private insurers that means you will be able to out compete them? The only one I can think of is that you don't have to make a profit, but that's only half true, because of the requirement to pay back within 10 years, you effectively do have to turn a profit.
Go read the entire thing. Sullivan's argument is, in my opinion, strong enough as to be devastating. I'll be discussing this more next week, as promised, but Sullivan has said most of what I wanted to say and said it better than I would have. His argument about why the CBO scoring of only 9 million enrollees is either correct, or even overstates the case is of particular interest.
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"Conyers calls for criminal investigation into Bush administration" Well, fine, even though they're on the record that they committed crimes, we can pretend we need to "investigate" for a little while longer, but given their public confessions and all the documentary evidence we now have, isn't it time to actually bring charges?
This should be interesting - Mitch Wagner (Copper Robot) will interview Barry Ritholtz on BlogTalkRadio and in Second Life on the 2nd of August. Neat. And the regular Thursday event at Virtually Speaking will feature Jessica Valenti of Feministing.
Nowhere, doin' nothing
Jamison Foser on Privileging opposition to abortion:MSNBC's Chris Matthews is illustrative of the approach to the topic some have taken. Matthews, who acknowledges his approach to this topic has been shaped by the conservative Weekly Standard, has made his opposition to coverage for abortion clear, claiming President Obama "says they're going to reduce the number of abortions, and that same week he pushes to subsidize abortion? You can't do that."And why should the millions of Americans who opposed the invasion of Iraq - because it was evil and costly on every level - have been forced to pay for that, too? Why collect any taxes at all, when there are bound to be people who oppose the way they are spent. War on Drugs? Abstinence-only sex "education"? War on (SCoPWUS) Drugs? Abortion is actually far less controversial than the invasion of Iraq, and the percentage of Americans who actively support Abstinence-only is small to begin with, while the dwindling support for the drug war from nearly every quarter should be giving legislators pause. Those programs are genuinely immoral and extraordinarily costly. But no one asks whether those of us who oppose them should have to pay for those. Instead we are asked whether the government should be covering abortions, despite the fact that abortion is legal precisely because a majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade. But:
On a recent Hardball, Matthews questioned Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin and Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch about the topic, asking leading questions that encouraged them to state their opposition to insurance coverage of abortion. But Matthews didn't ask them -- and hasn't asked any other guest -- one simple question: Why shouldn't abortions be covered, given that the procedure is legal? Nor has he asked if there are any other legal procedures that shouldn't be covered.
Instead, Matthews has adopted the premise that taxpayer funds shouldn't be used to pay for abortions, no matter how indirectly, because some taxpayers believe abortion to be immoral. On Wednesday's Hardball, for example, Matthews asked Obama adviser David Axelrod: "[I]f the federal government spends money on abortions, that means people who believe abortion is evil would be forced to have their tax money go to pay for abortions. How do you justify that?"
That premise is only superficially compelling, and has no business underlying an impartial news report. After all, millions of Americans believe the death penalty and wars of choice are immoral. But the moral beliefs of pacifists and death penalty opponents are not granted the privilege the media grants opposition to legal abortion -- and so you rarely see a news report premised on the idea that taxpayer funding for war or capital punishment is inappropriate.
But one needn't look further than health care to find such examples. The premise that taxpayers who oppose abortion shouldn't have to pay for them with their tax money carries obvious implications the media ignores: What about contraceptives? Why should a woman denied insurance payment for an abortion be forced to subsidize the prostate exam of a man who insisted he not have to fund her abortion? Why should Christian Scientists who believe only in healing by prayer be forced to subsidize their neighbor's heart surgery?You read that right: The same people who want a government ban on insurance coverage for a legal medical procedure turn around and demagogue about government bureaucrats making medical decisions. That's a pretty obvious inconsistency, the kind any reporter should be able to spot easily. And yet the tension between those two positions has gone unexplored in news reports about the abortion controversy. Matthews certainly didn't ask Orrin Hatch to reconcile the two; he was busy assuring Hatch "I think your side may win this."I've been meaning to bring this up. When the conservatives warn you that a government program can go sour, they're usually talking about garbage conservatives will impose to make it go sour. Then they go, "See? Look what a mess it is! We warned you!" They've done that with schools and everything else forever, and now Bush put his poisoned prescription plan into the mix to kill Medicare and they're trying to wreck (the already weakened) Social Security system, and they're throwing every monkey-wrench they can into healthcare reform. I only wish I knew they were going to have to suffer the consequences themselves.
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World O' Crap takes you inside Pat Boone's fantasy world, where Torture Isn't Torture. Health Care Is Torture! "You know, the CIA could have saved a lot of time if they'd forgone the stress positions, the 'walling,' the waterboarding, the sleep deprivation, and just sat Khalid Sheikh Mohammed down and calmly informed him that if he didn't talk - right this fucking minute! - the U.S. government would pass a health insurance mandate and he'd be forced to buy a comprehensive policy with a low deductible."
There's a good discussion of the Healthcare or Obama Plan issue in my comments here, and I'm with Lambert when he points out that since the plan doesn't kick in before 2013, we should already be suspicious, because, "And you know that if the bill was any good, any good at all, Obama would want to run on it in 2012."
This Week In Tyranny, Dan writes: "So the New York Times has broken the big story about the Bush administration contemplating the use of the military at home as well as abroad. I'm sorry, but this is just another example of something we already knew being repackaged as 'news.'" At least they're reporting it, and doing so in such a way that the headline isn't just, "Nothing to see here, move along." That's actually a step-up for them these days. Also (extracted from here): "Jeremy Scahill has an interesting article on the legal maneuvers of Blackwater/Xe. I hadn't been paying very close attention to the proceedings but Scahill shows how the company's actions basically scream 'WE HAVE A LOT TO HIDE!'" And much more.
"Shanghai Noodle Factory"
It's like sausage, only without spices, skin, substance, or flavor
Bra of the Week
Will it give you enough warning if I label this photo as "Gynecological Smile"?
If I were the kind of person whose decor wouldn't make a mockery of having these kinds of things on their wall, I'd like to have this on mine.
The Lagoon Nebula
Ron Wyden's bill is supposedly one of the better healthcare bills that are floating around in Congress, but reading about it just makes me think what American needs is the NHS. I keep looking at the so-called selling points and thinking, "Oh, good, another way to reduce the likelihood that people will have access." Telling me you can choose between plans tells me you have to make decisions you probably won't know the meaning and consequences of until it's way too late. It tells me that you have to be someone who is good at document-shopping - that is, choosing between a bunch of different details on paper - which consumes a lot of time and energy and usually experienced or professional knowledge. Vouchers? For what? Why should you have to mess around with this stuff? It's just a bunch of extra paperwork you don't need. So why is Ron Wyden, who many people thought was a reliable liberal-progressive, even talking about a plan like this? Let me guess....
And here we have The Republican 10 Point Plan for Health Care, which looks mysteriously familiar.
Bob Somerby notes that Barack Obama made an extraordinary statement in his healthcare presentation when, having twice noted that "we here in the United States are spending about $6000 more than other advanced countries where they're just as healthy," he went on to say, "even if we don't reduce our health care costs by the $6000 that we're paying more than any other country on earth, if we just reduced it by $2000 or $3000, that would mean money in people's pockets. And that's possible to do." So I guess "Yes, we can" actually translates as, "Well, sorta, nearly, maybe, not even halfway."
It's not often that I disagree with Susie Madrak, but if I know one thing about the legislative process, it's that you won't get anything even remotely resembling a good healthcare program if a good program isn't even part of the discussion, and this sausage ain't got no good program in it.
Oh, this could be fun - a debate between Joe Sestak and Arlen Specter at Netroots Nation, moderated by Ari Melber and Susie Madrak. I assume they'll be streaming their programming again.
The sun is hiding again
Who says judges don't make law? Apparently, if a President starts breaking the law, the courts just like to pretend the law doesn't exist in order to facilitate a more repressive government. Even to the point of forcing a plaintiff to prove an entire case before being allowed to make it in court. Cheers!
More than three and half million people have lost their health coverage in the last year? Gosh, don't you think it's time we did something about this? Some thing sane? Yes, the situation is urgent, but not so urgent that we should pass something idiotic that is more of a sop to the insurance companies than a remedy for ordinary Americans. (via).
I actually know the answer to this one: It's because sharing adds up. And a single-payer system reduces costs rather than adding to them. It's a miracle!
Atrios picked Kit Seelye as his Wanker of the Day yesterday, and I have to concur with him and BooMan. Ms. Seelye seems to think that having a President remark on the wrongness of police harassing a respected member of the community on his own doorstep is some kind of imposition of racial issues that only a black President would make. But if I were President of the United States, I would have treated it as a teachable moment, and I would have been more forceful, not less. It's nothing to do with whether you're black. If you can't see that the police should not - and normally do not - harass people who are standing in front of their own homes in an upmarket neighborhood (let alone arrest them for trespassing on their own property!), there's something wrong with you. It's an appalling example of both racism and of the increasing tendency of the police to see themselves as the superiors of ordinary citizens. It doesn't matter if Henry Louis Gates reacted badly to being harassed - as any white man would have - because taking an attitude with people who are rude to you is not a crime. (Also via Eschaton, it looks like Dan Rather's lawsuit has opened up a nice little scoop about how CBS couldn't wait to placate the right-wing loonies.) (Additionally: Gack!.) (Note to Duncan: You're talking about a guy who voted against capping credit card interest at 30%. He doesn't care.)
Curv3ball says: "You know, some things are actually worse than a slight increase in taxes for those whose cups runneth over."
And people are starting to notice that Obama is just more of the same, only with better syntax. Maybe it's true that his ego made him think "bold" and decide to get a healthcare package this year, even if it's a crap package - but I doubt it. I think his desire to be seen as "respectable" by a bunch of right-wingers led him to shy away from presenting a plan that really works and making the case for it. He hasn't been bold at all - he's backed way off of single-payer, of ending the war, of transparency, of basically every promise he made or implied he was making. He knows perfectly well no one voted him in to give their money to Goldman Sachs and force them to buy crappy health insurance that still doesn't deliver healthcare. He's blown it because he didn't have the guts to do the business.
Gnome invasion! Well, maybe after a hard night of insurrection or whatever it is they were up to, the shadowy Gnome Liberation Front members were just really eager for a drink.
Grump grump grump
Jane Hamsher wants me to sign this petition telling Congress they should pass healthcare reform before they go on vacation. I want a petition saying they should pass single-payer or go to jail for the massive fraud they are perpetrating against us.
I was thinking of writing to my Congressman and saying that since he has stopped advocating for progressive policies, I plan to vote in the primary for the most convincing advocate for single-payer, and if the incumbent is still the Democratic nominee, I will vote for the most viable third-party progressive if there is one, and if there isn't, I will vote for me. (Actually, I'm not even sure there's a way to do a write-in, I've never thought about it before. Must check that.) I think it would be great if everyone used a variation on that theme to write to their reps. Especially their Democratic reps. God knows we have to do something. How come there are no huge demonstrations for single-payer? Did you all give up on demonstrating because you had one big demonstration and it didn't stop Bush from invading Iraq?
Every now and then I like to think about what a liberal media would actually be like, only I put it in terms of what it would do, rather than what it wouldn't do. When someone tells me the mainstream media is liberal, I ask, "Oh, really? Are they demanding single-payer and pointing out that it is the most efficient and inexpensive option that would save us hundreds of billions of dollars? Are they pressing the attorney general to prosecute the war criminals who got us into these stupid wars? Are they making the case for reproductive freedom and good sex education? Are they explaining why the War on (Some People Who Use Some) Drugs is a disaster that must be stopped? Are they telling you that public spending on good social programs makes the entire economy and everyone in it better off?" No, they're not.
And speaking of liberal media, I see someone put up both of those Max Keiser videos together and added one from Eliot Spitzer on Goldman Sachs.
The most trusted man in America.
Every disgusting day
This public option thing is truly going to bite, I just know it. I guess "11-dimensional" is just another word for "losing".
How Obama is restoring our international reputation, pt 1807: the Honduran coup.
Go Cheney yourself, and the horse you rode in on. Really, I just have no time for Obama anymore. He is shaping up to be the worst thing that could have happened. Unless everyone digs in their heels right now and refuses to back this pile of filth they are pushing, you really are gong to be legally obliged to buy crappy "insurance" from the fraudsters. 'Cause Obama is such a progressive kinda guy. Whatever the hell that's supposed to mean.
Ruth Calvo says, "Insurance: Collecting Money Without Providing Services Is Theft: The scandalous behavior of our major insurance businesses has become an accepted outrage. When we pay our premiums, we are no longer given the value we were sold with the policy. However, present legislation is being proposed to require that we buy insurance for the good of society. This is another instance of the public interest being stolen, for the profiteering that our business community has turned to. [...] We have standards for charitable organizations that require them to give a certain amount of their funds to actual charitable work. All the more so, if the public is required to have insurance, should the work they contract for be a large proportion of what is actually financed." Oh, I'd go farther and say they should actually be non-profits with a reasonable cap on top salaries. And by "reasonable" I mean what I think is reasonable, not what some insurance industry exec thinks he should get paid.
Harold Meyerson on The Can't-Do Blue Dogs: "Every other nation with an advanced economy long ago secured universal health care for its citizens -- an achievement that the United States alone finds beyond the capacities of mortal man. It wasn't ever thus. Time was when Democratic Congresses enacted Social Security and Medicare over the opposition of powerful interests and Republican ideologues. In fact, our government used to actually pave roads, build bridges and allow for secure retirements by levying taxes on those who could afford to pay them. [...] Centrist Democrats' opposition to health reform verges on the incoherent. [...] The Republican opposition to President Obama's push for health-care reform, on the other hand, makes clear political sense. If they can stop Obama on health care, as South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint recently noted, it "will be his Waterloo." Why Democrats of any ideology want to cripple their own president in his first year in office, and for seeking an objective that has been a stated goal of their party since the Truman administration, is a more mysterious matter." I really wish he would stop calling them "centrists" when they are far to the corporate right.
"Tomgram: David Bromwich, America's Serial Warriors: We have begun to talk casually about our wars; and this should be surprising for several reasons. To begin with, in the history of the United States war has never been considered the normal state of things. For two centuries, Americans were taught to think war itself an aberration, and "wars" in the plural could only have seemed doubly aberrant. Younger generations of Americans, however, are now being taught to expect no end of war -- and no end of wars."
I have no doubt that the recession is largely responsible for the rise in closure of Britain's pubs, but I can't help but wonder, given the timing, whether the smoking ban could have had anything to do with it. I imagine that smokers who used to look forward to having a cigarette in the pub with their drink after working all day in a non-smoking environment are much more likely to look forward to going home for that smoke out of the rain, these days. And the beer is cheaper, too.
A quick one
I don't know, I'm begriming to wonder if the Republicans are doing crap like this because they actually want to make sure Sotomayor gets on the Supreme Court before anyone notices she's not a liberal. I mean, they've solidly locked down the perception that all opposition to Sotomayor, all criticism of her, is merely part of a larger weave of racist, sexist menace and panic mixed with an embarrassing level of clownishness - and who would want to be associated with that?
How are we losing the drug war? I can't even count the ways.
Income inequality continues to grow. News to no one.
Taibbi: "Is Goldman Screwing Taxpayers in TARP Negotiations?" Gosh, they wouldn't do that, would they?
Max Keiser on Bankers' Bonuses: "Those guys are the real terrorists." (Part 2)
Someone's cryin' to be heard
I started this post this morning and then life suddenly got interesting. Then to add insult to injury I actually watched the news and realized, "You know, no matter how old and ugly you and I ever get, we will never look as ugly as the United States looks to the rest of the world right now."
So I'll post a few of the links I already had, and then I'm going to look at this this To Do list Ruth wants us to comment on, and then I'm going to try to pretend everything is roses. Until tomorrow morning.
This Week in Tyranny, we are reminded that everyone already knew that torture was out of the question - and that the Bush administration started the program going before there were any spurious memos claiming it was okay. The fake legal "guidelines" that were allegedly followed so "closely" did not yet even exist to provide excuses for the many people who were knowingly violating the law. And of course they knew, or they wouldn't have had Bybee, Yoo, et al. suddenly creating what could only be seen as an after-the-fact rationalization of the kind an ethically-challenged defense counsel might try to present at criminal trial.
Photography is not a crime - well, most of it. But photographers, including tourists just taking photos of the sights, are increasingly being harassed by the authorities. British photographers have launched a campaign, but no one seems to be talking about the fact that taking pictures of the police now is a crime.
Nancy Pelosi says that the House healthcare bill will supply a six billion dollar surplus (and let the "moderates" and "centrists" pretend to fiscal hawk their way around that!) - maybe. But, you know, six billion bucks is nothing compared to the savings we'd get from single-payer. Ask them why they're not trying to pass that. (202) 225-0100.
And now a word from Chicago Dyke:the other talking point i like to use, and atrios [*] just posted on this topic, is that failure to deliver real health care is also going to cost the dems, in both 10 and 12. people are pissed. and getting more pissed. the kabuki in the Village isn't even remotely entertaining to those of us with health care needs.Traffic (Thank you, Anna.)
the dems have failed to end the war, despite having power since 06. they've handed boatloads of money to banksters while the rest of the economy tanks. now they're likely going to give us a totally sucky nonplan with no real improvements or benefits over the current system. maybe i'm too doomy, but i think that's three strikes that will toss them out, and soon.
Grumpy old farts
"Buchanan is right. This white man is full of resentment. I am a white man, an old white man, a rich old white man, by any reasonable measure; and Pat Buchanan is right. I am full of resentment. Let me tell you what I resent. I resent a jackass like Pat Buchanan busting a vein about how white working men suffer when an 'undeserving' poor woman like Sonia Sotomayor gets ahead in the world by virtue of her own ability and her own skills. [...] I resent Pat Buchanan pretending to defend the white working man when for all his life he has done nothing but defend the privilege of the rich against me, my family, my brothers and sisters of all races, creeds, and cultures who were denied a seat at the table reserved for the bluebloods, regardless of their ability."
I don't think I'd go this far, but there is a ring of truth about certain members of that generation. The trouble is, I think those certain members include Barack Obama.
Max speaks: "For centuries, it's been just one damn thing after another. That's why I hate the whole "black swan" meme. The idea that the bubble collapse is a "fat-tailed event" (much less improbable than everybody realizes). Rubbish. At any one moment it is improbable, but not as improbable as you think. Looking forward, in contrast, the inflation and bursting of another bubble I would rate a virtual certainty. Anybody entrusted with financial regulation should have known that and taken prudential action in advance of the breakdown. The fact that they did not suggests malfeasance, not mere misfeasance. How much have the leading lights of this catastrophe suffered personally for their alleged incompetence? Are any of them in jail? Under threat of prosecution? Stripped of their vast wealth? Deprived of a few premium cable channels? No? What, they're even richer than before? They're running the government?? Oh . . ." (Last night Patrick said told me if this doesn't get me into Twitter, nothing will. I love Max, but I guess nothing will.)
I would agree with this kind of reaction except that the policies of the Obama administration do not, in fact, reflect the will of the people as expressed in the last election. Of course, the right-wing is loading their manly guns and blaming "liberals" for the conservative policies that are wrecking the country; everyone else is just stocking up on pitchforks and torches.
There's more to the theater than repetition repetition repetition
Bra of the Week
Sotomayor Hearings For The Hearing Impaired
I wonder what this great mind would do if he knew that Ronald Reagan, as governor of California, signed a bill that did just the very thing he fears. It reduced the welfare rolls dramatically. (Also: Boys! Gillette is after you!)
Now it comes out - the Cato Institute is actually a bunch of comedy writers. You'll just love their healthcare plan. I really hope this makes it to the TV circuit, it's a sure winner. (via)
Hey, remember David Shaylor, the MI5 agent who was busted for breaking the Official Secrets Act? It seems he's had a secret identity crisis.
Krugman: "The huge bonuses Goldman will soon hand out show that financial-industry highfliers are still operating under a system of heads they win, tails other people lose."
Mike Stark is asking members of Congress the questions journalists won't ask - this time it's about healthcare. Remember, kids: Every three months, the "centrists" and their Republican allies are killing more Americans than Al Qaeda ever did.
And speaking of "centrists", they've managed to kill Card Check in the new labor bill - but Nathan Newman says it's still got some good things left in it, so will they vote for it? Meanwhile Max himself says it's all bollocks to talk about the "irrationality" of the market when there's a very clear formula that involves rich and powerful people making themselves more and more rich and powerful.
I've had a day to think about it and have concluded that there really isn't anything I can say about it, except: Rest in peace, Walter Cronkite.
There is now a bill floating around that I guess could be called "the public plan" - and you need to sharpen your talking points on why it bites and we need single-payer. Here are the first few:1. 10 million people will not be covered. That's not universal coverage.There's more, but these are a good start. Did I mention you need to let Speaker Pelosi know it's not good enough? (202) 225-0100
2. Only 9 million people will be in public option by 2019. That's not enough to keep the insurance companies honest (if that were even possible).
3. Public option does not begin until 2013. That's not "from Day One."
4. Public option is means-tested and fire-walled, so even if you don't like your insurance, you could still be forced to keep it.
5. The bills now have HMO-style care controls, supposedly as a cost control device. These were tried in the 80s, and didn't work. Remember Helen Hunt in "As Good As It Gets"? The audiences cheered. And for good reason.
6. There is no effective appeals mechanism. The three ombudsmen in the House bill do not have conflict resolution authority, as ombudsmen typically do.
7. You could be forced to buy junk insurance.
I regard everyone who doesn't actively support single-payer as an opponent of good healthcare, but there's the opposition, and there's the opposition. We can laugh at the guy's craziness, but every one of these made-up things ends up becoming a part of the public discourse that has to be batted away.
David Gregory still needs to be fired.
Email doesn't count
Plan to contact the Speaker of the House ((202) 225-0100) and tell her that you want and deserve the very best, and to stop making excuses not to give it to us.
On Thursday, Glenzilla let Chuck Todd have it for his feeble excuses for not bothering to prosecute the Bush/Cheney war criminals - an argument that unpacks as, "The Republicans politicize everything so we can say later that you can't prosecute because it would be politicized." The only thing is, of course, that no one ever admits that it's the Republicans who have politicized it. It just "is" politicized, apparently by some act of God. Laughably, Todd agreed to do a podcast with Glenn discussing it, and he really only dug himself in deeper. It was almost funny to listen to.
Not nearly funny enough was Kathleen Sebelius on The Daily Show trying to make it sound okay that The Public Plan is completely uncompetitive since the people who can actually "afford" commercial healthcare won't be able to choose to be in it (Pt. 1, Pt. 2). But not before she allowed the discussion to be diverted into a stupid thing about how much money we'd save if we can make people make healthier lifestyle choices. I did want to smack her and ask her if they were going to put grocery stores with reasonable prices in easy walking distance of everyone - especially in poor neighborhoods. Apparently, we're supposed to eat lettuce sandwiches in order to have a less expensive healthcare system. God alive, woman, could you make it sound any less attractive?
Well, this is a great disappointment to me. The story originally claimed that the Pentagon was experimenting with corpse-eating robots, but the original story has been removed and replaced with one that says the robot is a vegetarian. And I had such visions of robot soldiers killing people to eat them. (Oh, yeah, it's a steam-powered robot, too!)
Nazi Gnomes arrested in Germany. I tell you, this is all getting out of hand. (Actually, this is a serious case of censorship of the arts, but still.) Also: Tarantino's Jukebox
It looks like Mary had the same thoughts I did about the California criminal justice disaster. (Also: Krugman versus Colbert.)
Al Franken has been doing important business in the Senate - asking the nominee for the Supreme Court about the public's compelling interest in having the internet behave as a common carrier.
Atrios wants us to know that Ben Stein is a bait-and-switch artist, and Felix Salmon wants us to know that the only place to get a free credit report is annualcreditreport.com, already paid for with your tax dollars.
Curv3ball makes an excellent point about the logic of certain wingnuts, which boils down to: "The only thing that can keep this country safe from a spectacular attack by al-Qaeda would be a spectacular attack by al-Qaeda."
The General has found some Mormon art.
Seen on the web
There is, at least, one significant silver lining to the economic cloud over California, and that's that it seems to be pushing them to do something really sensible: close some prisons and experiment with alternative corrections programs. The combination of a hard-line approach to criminal "justice" with the hugely bloodsucking privatized prison system has been a massive leech on the economic bloodstream, not to mention it being an enormous social disaster. It would be nice to see us moving away from this approach.
To no one's surprise, Chris Matthews is still the kind of putz who thinks the only priority Americans have on healthcare is that it be bipartisan, but is Chuck Todd uncharacteristically right when he says that Obama just wants to pass something that's called a healthcare bill and then spend the next six months trying to convince people that it actually is healthcare reform? (Wouldn't be a surprise - after all, didn't they pass an economic stimulus package that doesn't stimulate the economy?) Meanwhile, if anyone tells you that Obama's plan is too complicated, show them the handy chart from TNR that shows what we have now. (Then point out that single-payer is simpler than any of them and saves the most money and gives the best coverage.) At least the administration is using a little judo now and then, but it seems to have gone over John McCain's head - or is it just the double-est of double-speak? (And does this mean Democrats are going to start trying to put together a good bill, instead of going for "bipartisanship", or are they actually going to pass a crappy one without the help of Republicans?)
Diane is in shock that the WaPo got one right: "Consumers pay $3.5 billion too much annually for their prescription drugs, according to this rather surprising editorial in the Washington Post. Surprising? Let's just say I felt like I had been smacked upside the head with a mackerel, but in a good way. Fred Hiatt and his editorial board got this one right, in fact, they nailed it." I'm sure they'll do their best to correct the oversight - but it was pretty obvious that a bill that penalized generic drug-makers for selling a drug that was too much like a patented drug would cost consumers money, and so it has.
Southern Beale is gleeful that the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group is facing Chapter 11, but I have a feeling that it's not David Smith and his family who will bear the brunt of the economic downturn for their network.
I see Amy Goodman had Matt Taibbi on Democracy Now! (And, btw, I never did like Lanny Davis, who is now a lobbyist for supporters of the Honduran coup.)
Maron and Seder have done their last show. They were among the best things on the original Air America Radio line-up, but clearly rubbed the wrong people the wrong way. Removing Sam Seder from the daily line-up was pretty much the last straw for me, and I can't be bothered with AAR anymore. But have a look at Sam's interview with Maggie Mahar on money-driven medicine.
Dominic tells me that, at last, there is something for the sniper who has everything.
Terms and conditions
I'm not just disappointed, I'm baffled. I'm disappointed because Hilzoy, who has been one hell of a great blogger who seemed to understand just how serious the situation is has announced that she is quitting blogging. But I'm baffled because, rather than giving any of the usual reasons, such as that the rest of her life had become a higher priority, she seems to be saying that her reason for blogging - that the country had descended into madness - is now gone: "That said, it seems to me that the madness is over. There are lots of people I disagree with, and lots of things I really care about, and even some people who seem to me to have misplaced their sanity, but the country as a whole does not seem to me to be crazy any more. Also, it has been nearly five years since I started. And so it seems to me that it's time for me to turn back into a pumpkin and twelve white mice." I guess that for Hilzoy, the crazy has just become the new normal. For me, it presages much worse to come.
Bob Herbert says the banksters are showing Chutzpah on Steroids: "These malefactors of great wealth (thank you, Teddy) developed hideously destructive credit policies and took insane risks that hurt millions of American families and nearly wrecked the economy. Then they were bailed out with hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, money that came from the very people victimized by the industry's outlandish practices. Now the industry is fighting against creation of an agency that would protect taxpayers and ordinary consumers from a similarly devastating onslaught in the future. And at the same time they are scrambling to raise credit card interest rates and all manner of exploitive fees to build a brand new superstructure of questionable profits on the backs of the taxpayers who came to their rescue. [...] The malefactors of great wealth view an informed consumer as Public Enemy No. 1. The last thing in the world that they want is a fair marketplace, which is why the Consumer Financial Protection Agency can't come fast enough."
You can always watch the Day in 100 seconds videos at TPM if you don't want to (or can't) actually watch the news. I find it amusing background noise when I'm doing the gardening.
Digby has a useful post up about what a racist Jeff Sessions is and the fact that, once upon a time, he was considered to be over-the top. But I was somewhat annoyed by a word that was used in an article she quotes: "Sessions is the personification of a party with an overwhelmingly white, Southern, religious membership." Why is the word "religious" in that sentence? Both parties are "overwhelmingly" religious, in the sense that most of the people in them have some religion (and the party leaders talk about God a lot). And whatever I may think of that, the fact remains that to a lot of people, saying "religious" unpacks as "have values and ethics", and every repetition of the "Republicans are more religious" meme reinforces the idea that Democrats/liberals are just a bunch of unrestrained self-indulgers who don't care about the consequences of their actions. Which actually sounds more like a description of the religious leaders in the GOP.
PNH on losing Charlie Brown: "There's a very real sense in which the modern science fiction world, professional and fan, can be defined as 'the set of people who know what Locus is and care about it.' (Stipulating, of course, that one of the ways people sometimes care about something is to reject it with great force.) These days, SF and fantasy storytelling is a vast, sprawling city, and creators and readers of prose fiction form what is merely one of that city's older neighborhoods. But Locus has been our neighborhood newsletter for as long as most of us have been around. Having Charlie Brown suddenly not there is like losing one of the landmarks that lets you know you're home. " (And, yes, I do find it annoying that so many writers in mainstream publications who are given the task of writing about science fiction get it so wrong.)
Gosh, Rachel is actually covering The Family, the creepy religious cult that helps run Washington. (And if you keep listening, Rachel also exposes the astonishingly ugly racism of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-White Sheet), who apparently thought the KKK were OK until he found out they liked pot.)
The NYT has a story this morning pretty much confirming Sy Hersh's hit squad story: "Since 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency has developed plans to dispatch small teams overseas to kill senior Qaeda terrorists, according to current and former government officials. The plans remained vague and were never carried out, the officials said, and Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, canceled the program last month." I'm reserving judgment on whether they are blowing smoke about whether the plans were ever carried out. Or ever will be.
My girl Susie could use a little help, if you can spare some. Things like this almost make me feel guilty about getting out of our country before I went blind.
Has there been retaliation against the shadowy Gnome Liberation Front? What could be responsible for an arson attack against gnomes?
Under the Ice
Hmmmm? "Since the initial hullabaloo over Hersh's claim of the assassination ring, we've heard almost nothing - or have we? Just this week, CIA Director, Leon Panetta, briefed the House Intelligence Committee that on the previous day he had just shut a secret CIA program that had been in operation since 2001. None of the House Intelligence Committee members had EVER been briefed on this program. One of the members of the committee, Rep. Anna Eshoo, (D-CA), said she could not discuss what was a 'highly classified program.' She did, however, note that when Panetta told House Intelligence Committee members what had been kept secret, 'the whole committee was stunned, even Republicans.' A Republican committee member said it was something they hadn't heard before."
Via Atrios I see that, "two former ranking CIA officials have told TIME that there's another equally plausible possibility: The program could have required the Agency to spy on Americans. Domestic surveillance is outside the CIA's purview - it's usually the FBI's job - and it's easy to see why Cheney would have wanted to keep it from Congress. Both officials say they were never told what was in the program, and that they're only making calculated guesses. But their theory gibes with other reports, quoting ex-CIA officials, that say the program had to do with intelligence collection, not assassinations." And that's something only certain lefty bloggers were willing to say out loud until, well, now. Hilariously, Dianne Feinstein is shocked.
Norma McCorvey arrested at anti-abortion protest. I blame Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington for this - for the way they never quite absorbed that they weren't dealing with just a symbol, but an actual working-class woman who actually wanted an abortion. And that's what she came to them looking for. But to them, hey, here was a pregnant woman who would be perfect for their case - which meant she couldn't actually get an abortion, and ended up going through exactly what she had hoped to prevent. The kicker was that when the three of them were given an award that involved cash, Coffee and Weddington actually suggested to McCorvey that the three of them donate the money to some organization - because to them it was just an award, but to McCorvey it was much-needed money. There was only one cause Coffee and Waddington should have thought that money should have been going to, dammit. No wonder McCorvey is bitter.
Hilzoy, Spencer Ackerman, Perspectives, and others on The Case Against John Yoo.
It has been brought to my attention that I apparently never linked to the story of Dick Durbin saying in public that the banks own Congress. Or perhaps I just never linked to Glenn's article about it. Well, it's never too late. For that matter, reminders are good. Glenn did note, too, that Barney Frank's top staffer got a new job as Goldman Sach's "top lobbyist". "Nobody even tries to hide this any longer. The only way they could make it more blatant is if they hung a huge Goldman Sachs logo on the Capitol dome and then branded it onto the foreheads of leading members of Congress and executive branch officials."
Locus publisher Charles N. Brown, 1937-2009. I can't claim to have known Charlie well, but we always said hi and exchanged a few words, and he was always pleasant to me, and of course both he and his magazine were like huge landmarks in the science fiction community's landscape. Farewell.
I dunno, doesn't this guy seem wrong for the part? I hope I'm wrong. About everything.
I'd like to know what exactly is meant by this:Obama meets Pope, pledges abortion dropWell, if I were president, I, too, would be trying to reduce the abortion rate - by making sure kids had comprehensive sex education and that birth control is easily available.
US President Barack Obama has promised the Pope that he will try to reduce the number of abortions in the United States.
A Vatican spokesman says they discussed the "defence and the promotion of life" and that the President has promised the Pope he will try to limit the number of abortions in America.
In a surprise move, the pontiff gave Mr Obama a booklet explaining Vatican opposition to practices such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research, which Mr Obama supports.
"Mr Obama told the pope of his commitment to reduce the number of abortions and of his attention and respect for the positions of the Catholic Church," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said.
But I don't think Obama has the inclination or the guts to do all that. So what did he mean, with all that respect for the Vatican's positions and all?
Follow the money
Charlie was telling me the other week at the pub that he'd had to re-think the sequel to Halting States because it was based on the idea of a really big Nigerian scam running against the banks, and then something much bigger - like Bernie Madoff and the crumbling of the world economy - started happening, which kind of made his big idea look pretty small-time. But since he's been paying attention to the banking industry, he's been following an oddity in the computer-programmed markets involving none other than Goldman-Sachs, which Dave Bell now alerts me has made it to Charlie's blog, and further, to DKos, where bobswern tells us that an FBI arrest at Goldman Sachs has opened a Pandora's box. Seems GS was playing a significant part in the programmed markets and then suddenly just disappeared, and it seems someone has been doing something very illegal with the program codes. But who? Was it Goldman-Sachs? Were the codes compromised? Have the FBI arrested a patsy? Stay tuned....
A few weeks ago Errington Thompson did a post noting that Mitt Romney is still bragging about his brilliant healthcare plan even though it is crap. (Healthcare costs have increased by 42% in Massachusetts since the program was instituted, rising to 33% higher than the national average.) Thompson makes some good points and has a few good suggestions, but After "Negotiate drug prices" (good) he writes: "Give pharmaceutical companies longer patent times so they have the ability to recuperate their R&D costs." I know the pharmaceutical companies claim they want these things, like they want so many other things, in order to be able to spend it on research and development, but they already have that money to begin with, and they are also subsidized up the wazoo by all the preliminary and sometimes even final research being done at the expense of the taxpayer. And they are still making consistent income by charging (too much, in my opinion) for drugs that are long out of patent; nothing stops drug manufacturers from charging whatever the market will bear for aspirin, for example. (It's not like people with arthritis are going to make their own.) Making more money hasn't made them increase their R&D expenditure; they just treat it as profit and rake it off. Tell them instead that they can use the money they blow on lobbying (to keep prices high and to keep competitive drugs illegal) and advertising to develop useful new drugs instead. (In a more recent post on the same subject, Errington declares single-payer the best option and suggests the way to go. Again, there are some good suggestions, but one that is superfluous: "Let's develop some sort of arbitration system to bring down medical liability costs." One of the greatest motivators to bring malpractice suits is the knowledge that any malpractice may incur more onerous future medical costs, and it's only justice that you be able to sue to get those costs covered. If you have no added costs for using the medical care system, you don't need to worry about that. You just don't hear about malpractice costs in the UK the way you do in America, full stop. But high malpractice insurance costs in America aren't a result of numerous big payoffs in malpractice suits, they are the result of insurance companies gouging their customers to pay for their profligate investment schemes and losses, and just a general desire to make more money. You don't need to negotiate with those companies; you just make it illegal for them to gouge their customers.)
I drew a blank on this title
Bra of the Week
Biomes Blog has a photo up that really reflects my grumpy mood. I keep going to blogs I like looking for stories and it's still about Sarah Palin. Oh, please, deliver me!
Health Care Reform: It's On Obama
Republicans Are Not Aboard. Apparently, everyone knows this unless they work on or near The Hill. (And, you know, really.)
Diane found another interesting way that Medicare patients get screwed because of, well, outsourcing to a private company what should be done by civil servants.
Tata reckons the Democrats really are going to throw reproductive freedom under the bus, and that's probably right unless people push to stop them. (Personally, I don't see how, if we can't get off our asses to stop them from throwing single-payer under the bus.) But the article includes a nice little quote that should be put on postcards to send to your representatives. Call it "The First Rule of Haggling": "You start bargaining from a position beyond your wildest dreams. For instance, if you're going to clean Ted's gutters and you want $100 for the job and Ted is going to bargain with you, you start by telling Ted you'll do it for $200. If Ted says, "No, dude, here's ten bucks and a used bowling ball," you know that Ted is not serious about wanting his gutters cleaned. Note that Republicans offer Democrats used bowling balls all the time. They are not serious about bargaining. If however you ask $200 and Ted says $45, you may get some back and forth that results in a price close to what you want." That'd be the printed side of the postcard. On the other side, you write by hand: "What I want is single-payer. So I'm asking for a fully-funded version of the British NHS - real socialized medicine." Send one to the White House, too. (I hear Obama's internals are weakening - maybe they'll start to pay attention now.)
Friends and enemies
What a lot of people don't understand is that using race wasn't just a neat trick to con people into voting for Republicans, but an extremely neat trick to con people into thinking that "social programs" are just a trick to help black people instead of a remedy to help everyone. And it was necessary to use issues like race, abortion, and gays not simply to alienate people from the Democratic Party, but to make lots of people hate anything that was associated with liberals and liberalism. (Not that they aren't still racists or anything.) And we now have a substantial part of the population that is allergic to anything "liberal" even though they actually support liberalism. This is helped by repeatedly and consistently miscasting liberalism as "belief in big government", so that hating blacks and gays and women's lib is no longer the engine that drives it; in an era of increasingly repressive and invasive government made more and more useless to ordinary Americans, it's easy to hate the idea of "big government" and to hate liberals for supposedly believing in it.
All of this is necessary for distracting people from taking a closer look at what's really going on and where the real fissures and alliances in American politics are, and how much of our policy is organized around petroleum, presenting us with a rather special distortion, as Stirling Newberry notes:This is the first thing that people must realize about the petroleum paradigm: we are paying very high indirect taxes. One form of taxation is the stagnation tax, where governments do not stimulate the economy to full employment, because doing so would radically increase their borrowing costs. Thus ordinary people have much lower wages, much lower job prospects, and much less stability. The millions out of work now, are paying the stagnation tax. Another form of taxation is insurance company profits. These profits go into markets, such as stocks, which raise the prices of stocks, which foreign investors buy. The 30% increase in cost of US health care over what it could be, and the large swathe of uninsured, are a tax that we pay to keep capital flowing in, so that we can turn around and borrow. That borrowing is used for consumption, which seems cheap in the United States, but only because the taxes that pay for it are disembodied. In the rest of the developed world consumption is taxed to pay for education and health care, in the United States, health care and education are taxed to pay for consumption.Newberry goes on explain and graph the fact that the positions in our political discourse and in Congress are not a line from conservatives to progressives with moderates in between, but something quite different:The Confederates and Moderates agree in their guts: they have a gut level fear of a post-petroleum, post-financial, world. A gut level dislike of homosexuals, a gut level distrust of Progressive movement. However, they disagree wildly on how to protect the petroleum paradigm. The Confederates are virulently anti-technocratic, while the Moderates are technocratic to the core. This division means they are barely on speaking terms about the ways to preserve the petroleum economy, including disagreements over taxes, stimulus, and the size of government.I actually think Newberry's view of the future is optimistic, but I also think his analysis deserves to be taken seriously and examined for its insights.
The Confederates have much in common with the pre-1930 Democratic Party, of which they were the base until the Civil Rights era. They are laissez-faire, for example, and localist. Many Moderates defect because Moderates are often regulation for thee, but freedom for me. George Soros, for example, believes in regulation -- except for the financial industry. The Confederates are also socialists for themselves. Looking at Palin's record in politics, one can see that she is, effectively, a socialist. She taxes oil companies to provide benefits and services. It is her religious beliefs, which have deep cracks and contradictions, and contempt for competence, which expose the contradictions in her own career, which prevent her from being a Progressive.
The Moderates and the Progressives agree on how to do things. They both understand the size of government, the need for an ultimate provider of stability, and the importance of discipline, science, and accepting what the numbers say. Indeed, many Moderates, such as Peter Orszag, are fully aware that the numbers the Moderates are looking at, do not add up. But they cannot bring themselves, on a gut level, to abjure the power of the financial system.
[...]From this can be seen the most important political fact of the present: President Obama is a Moderate, and leader of the Moderate wing. On many issues he is a Confederate, such as equal marriage, on many issues he is more towards the Progressive view, particularly on nuclear weapons. But in his guts, he thinks the left is nuts. Hence the utter lack of important Progressive policy advisors.
[...]The natural center of gravity, then, of the financed world of the "Village" (as Digby has coined it) is a vector between Confederate and Moderate directions. This is far to the "right" of the country as a whole.
* * * * *
My Media Pal writes: "Oh, and Sam has the rest of the Taibbi interview posted at his site and Rick Perlstein's on CSPAN2 at 4 pm [Eastern]. (A BookTV event with Theresa Amato, author of Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny). And Sam and Marc are guesthosting Ring of Fire [3:00 PM Eastern] today. Love, Your Media Pal."
It shouldn't be remarkable when an obvious shill for lying corporate "healthcare" gets grilled and set straight by a member of Congress, but, alas, it is. Because we also have people there like this. (Thanks to Dr. Geophysics, who welcomes us to the depression.)
It's curious that "a new report to Congress compiled by the inspectors general of the nation's top intelligence agencies, the Pentagon and the Justice Department" have presented a report to Congress claiming that the unconstitutional domestic surveillance program "began within weeks of the September 11 terrorist attacks," when we already know that the administration was trying to suborn illegal wiretaps from telecom providers at least as early as February of 2001 if not immediately upon taking office. (It's also curious that Buzzflash isn't on this.)
I think it was The General who recommended Urashima Taro.
Ham and pickle
The trouble with unsocialized medicine is the high costs, long wait times, bureaucracy, and lack of choice. Wouldn't you rather have healtchare instead? Or would it make you cry?
I'm having another one of those days when I'm brought to a standstill by a desire to link to everything at Hullabaloo. Like Digby's inkling of why so many Republicans support the Honduran coup, and how Ron Wyden has Village disease, why somebody owes Nancy Pelosi an apology. And Dday on the strange deposition of Karl Rove.
Rick Perry to hire pyromaniac for head of fire department: Well, actually, he might as well be: "Gov. Rick Perry of Texas wants to put in charge of his state's public schools a woman who wants to destroy those schools."
"Humvees In A China Shop: When is a policy review not a policy review? When the conclusions are a foregone certainty and the review is simply a cosmetic exercise to conceal that fact from the public. It's the fifth such review and the foregone certainty is that military leaders will ask for even more troops for Afghanistan in 2010, and that the Obama administration will give them those troops."
Books prisoners can't read: "This is pretty funny. Officials at Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado have turned down an inmate's request to read the two books written by President Obama. Why?" Apparently they contain material "potentially detrimental to national security."
McClatchy says don't get excited about that Franken win and those 60 votes.
Wall St. Cheat Sheet has a flattering picture accompanying their fanboy interview with Matt Taibbi. Man, I thought I was reading Guitar Player magazine or something.
More depressing stuff here.
Just what you expected
Sam Seder interviewed Matt Taibbi on Goldman Sachs on Breakroom Live (or whatever it's called). And for a lovely musical interlude, another hazard of commercialized medicine - your girlfriend only wants you for your health insurance plan. Sammy also explained Grit TV that Obama could do real healthcare if he wanted to, but we don't know who can make him want to.
At Hullabaloo, maybe Blue America's campaign has pushed-back Blanche Lincoln's "centrism" on healthcare; Ward Churchill is more like Hitler than John Yoo, and a board of regents is a "quasi-judicial" panel that cannot be sued; Obama's new presidential post-acquittal detention power; and the continuing Democratic kabuki on healthcare.
Oh, yeah, that thing about how Harry Reid put the word out that there's no point wasting time trying to get a couple of Republican votes and lose 15 Democratic votes for healthcare? Sounded real good, didn't it?
Snakes and ladders
Lambert has the draft text of the "Kennedy bill" on healthcare. Now people need to unpack it.
Even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then: "According to Democratic sources, [Harry] Reid told Baucus that taxing health benefits and failing to include a strong government-run insurance option of some sort in his bill would cost 10 to 15 Democratic votes; Reid told Baucus it wasn't worth securing the support of Grassley and at best a few additional Republicans." Gee, y'think?
Another chance to sell out - Yeah, let's let them make us choose between health care for all and health care for some. No. I want the whole pie.
I'm sure the press gave just as much coverage to this as they do to all of Bill Donahue's whining.
Michael Lewis in Vanity Fair on "The Man Who Crashed the World: Almost a year after A.I.G.'s collapse, despite a tidal wave of outrage, there still has been no clear explanation of what toppled the insurance giant. The author decides to ask the people involved - the silent, shell-shocked traders of the A.I.G. Financial Products unit - and finds that the story may have a villain, whose reign of terror over 400 employees brought the company, the U.S. economy, and the global financial system to their knees. "
Behind closed doors: "Former Bush White House official Karl Rove was questioned by House Judiciary Committee lawyers Tuesday on any role he may have played in politically motivated firings of U.S. attorneys."
This Week In Tyranny, more lies and torture and secrecy and... Well, okay, I guess that was really last week in tyranny, but I've been away.
End Abstinence Only Funding Now!
Ever notice how everyone hates the phone company?
BT just fixed my phone line, so I'm going to have to take some time to catch up. Yes, I did go to an internet café yesterday and check the news briefly, but since no one would let me patch my laptop into their network, I only scanned a few headlines and went home grumpy. So the only thing I've got is a leftover link from Krugman on the CBO report about how changing the game on healthcare works. Back in a bit when I've caught up a little.
A little clip from The President's Analyst.
And it's real, yes it's real
Tim Foley asks, "Who Will Get Locked Out of the Health Exchange? Another question from emails I've received: Everyone knows the mantra of those proposing these health care reform bills is, 'If you have insurance and you like it, you can keep it.' But there's a flip-side question - what happens if you don't like the insurance you have through an employer? Can you ditch it for the friendly ground of the National Health Exchange (House version) or the Health Gateways at the state level (Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee version) and maybe even get yourself a piece of that ultra-competitive public plan everyone keeps talking about? Unfortunately, the answer is 'it depends.' Depending on what makes it into the final bill, many of us could get locked out." And that seems to be the direction the leadership wants to move in - apparently believing that giving all our money to Goldman Sachs has cured solved all our problems and therefore full employment is just around the corner so we'll all have great health insurance through our employers. Which would, of course, force most people who have commercial "insurance" to keep it, and therefore remain effectively uninsured. Remember, about three quarters of the people who ended up in bankruptcy because of medical problems had "health insurance". Damn, I really thought Michael Moore had already driven this point home.
Just think, we've gone from a time when our media got all their news first from Matt Drudge to a time when they get their stories off of Facebook and Twitter. What Sarah Palin says anywhere is, unaccountably, supposed to be news, I guess, but when she conveniently says it on Facebook, it saves a lot of wear and tear on the speed-dial finger, I guess. And so everyone (except me) is posting there, including the the wife of the next head of MI6, and hilarity ensues....
Joe Conason says, "Rush Limbaugh is still a big fat idiot: "It wasn't surprising when, after seven months of legal wrangling, the Minnesota Supreme Court declared that Al Franken had won the 2008 Senate race against incumbent Norm Coleman. Still less surprising (although vastly more entertaining) was the simultaneous breakdown of nearly all of Franken's adversaries on the right, whose regurgitated insults, whining complaints and exploding noggins revealed nothing about him or his victory -- and everything about them."
"Leading Clerics Defy Ayatollah on Disputed Iran Election: The most important group of religious leaders in Iran called the disputed presidential election and the new government illegitimate on Saturday, an act of defiance against the country's supreme leader and the most public sign of a major split in the country's clerical establishment."
One more time
This perfect day
Bra of the Week
Amphetamine-Tongued Warlock Breaks Into Congress, Frightens Joe Barton.
We have now entered the phase where advocating the assassination of members of Congress is regarded as civil discourse among "controversial" public voices.
"This is what happens when you apologize to the wingnuts."
Jonathan Schwarz also learns about more of Saddam's soul-mates; this time, Goldman Sachs.
Senator Grassly explains the proper way to get a good health plan like he has: "Just go work for the federal government." Ah, so that's the answer! Everyone should work for the federal government! Wait, isn't there a name for that...?
Here's a headline I really liked: "Media Outlet Refuses To Run Republican TV Ad Filled With Misrepresentations Of Clean Energy Bill." Wow, imagine that, a local TV station just refused to run a GOP ad because it was full of crap. Neat!
It really is true that being a "conservative Democrat" who in almost every way behaves like they are on the other team has astonishing benefits that a progressive Democrat can only dream of. But I'm not sure getting a divorce from the Democratic Party will be useful given that they still get to keep the house, the car, and all the furniture. And I think it underestimates just how important the Lamont primary victory over Lieberman really was - and the fact that many people who were misled into voting for Lieberman back then have had the wool pulled from their eyes in the aftermath. The people from the national Democratic leadership whose support helped Lieberman in Connecticut aren't as shiny today as they were back then, either, and I think a strong and genuinely progressive effort against conservative Democrats and many Republicans can still make a real dent in the map. So I'm still in favor of electing progressive Democrats where possible, primarying conservative Democrats, and working hard to make real liberals the challengers of choice against sitting Republicans. But if you still end up with a conservative Democrat running against a Republican, I heartily recommend that you find someone progressive you can vote for. There should be zero tolerance of conservatives, no matter what party they are in.
Stops on the Infobahn
I suppose you could consider the Democrats' complete dismissal of single-payer somewhat better than the GOP version of constituent services: "SEIU along with teachers and members of the military set up a table with apple pie and signs welcoming the Senator and urging him to support an American solution to healthcare reform," noted Jane Kleeb, SEIU State Director. "Instead of coming by and saying hello, the Senator walked right by us as we were surrounded by police and said 'good luck with that.'" Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing more demonstrations for single-payer - really big ones that even the press can't ignore would be good. We certainly shouldn't be sitting back while the party tries to get 'Democrats" like this elected.
Krugman is watching That '30s Show: "All of this is depressingly familiar to anyone who has studied economic policy in the 1930s. Once again a Democratic president has pushed through job-creation policies that will mitigate the slump but aren't aggressive enough to produce a full recovery. Once again much of the stimulus at the federal level is being undone by budget retrenchment at the state and local level. So have we failed to learn from history, and are we, therefore, doomed to repeat it? Not necessarily - but it's up to the president and his economic team to ensure that things are different this time. President Obama and his officials need to ramp up their efforts, starting with a plan to make the stimulus bigger." Weirdly, Time seems to get it, this week.
Just in case you were wondering what all that stuff in Honduras that the newspapers never really explained was about, Bernard Chazelle has neatly unpacked what the papers were so unclear about. Meanwhile, Jonathan Schwarz has been reading the FBI records of their interrogation of Saddam Hussein, and keeps finding little gems that suggest he was a soul-mate of Bush and Cheney.
Nicole Powers at Suicide Girls says, "Democrats Blowing It On Health Care." She also explains: "Most of the debate is over the dreaded 'public option.' Oh, dear no. We can't have a public option. That's socialized medicine! Americans must be able to choose! And by that I mean they can't choose a public option! They have to be able to choose between private monopolies! [...] So, that's what the 'free market' kids are fighting for. Monopolies. Yay!"
No, I don't think anything is going to get in the way of Goldman Sachs having a bumper year - on your dime.
Yeah, I'm sure you can get a real groundswell of support for a presidential candidate who carries the name of two previous Republican presidents who even the Republicans have repudiated even before they were out of office. Doesn't stop 'em from tryin', though.
Joe Vecchio promised me that this isn't a parody.
Another day, another catch-up post
We're supposed to support this garbage? I can't help thinking that the only thing to do is a full-scale assault against "the public plan" on the grounds that it doesn't go far enough and won't deliver what we really need, and unstinting advocacy of single-payer or an NHS. Scare the pants off the bastards.
I mean it. It would be great if it was a plan open to all and if people knew what they were choosing between, but the vast majority of commercially insured Americans actually believe they have health insurance, when in fact, as Mick Arran points out, they don't: "'Insurance' that's so worthless it bankrupts you isn't insurance against anything. These people paid premiums for...nothing."
Speaking of costly programs, I wonder what the price tag is on spying on Americans who are interested in what their government is up to. (via)
On the one hand, I know it's true that a political comedian probably knows more about the issues than a Senator does, and I think it's great that Bernie Sanders finally has a colleague he can talk to. On the other hand, I notice that the Dem leadership promptly put Franken on about four committees, which makes me wonder (a) what they think they're buying (probably a guy who doesn't know anything and for that reason will be easily led, in which case they are in for a big surprise), and (b) what Franken thinks they think they are buying. Oh, well, and of course (c) - if they've made any headway on that purchase. (Of course, if they'd ever listened to his radio show, let alone read his books, they'd already know he knows a lot about issues, and they're the ones who look like clowns. (via)
Paul Krugman wonders what the High Wingers really believe. I thought JGabriel did a good job on the answer.
Rolling Stone has finally put "The Great American Bubble Machine: Matt Taibbi on how Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression" online - or, rather, according them (I didn't check) "excerpts", plus a video of Taibbi " exploring the key issues". (Thanks to Dr. Geophysics.) And more Taibbi on the pressure on Goldman Sachs here.
Hilarity watch: One of the world's great newspapers - totally for sale.
Loudon Wainwright III had The Krugman Blues. (h/t David W.)
The funny thing about governments not holding open, public enquiries into disasters such as the 7/7 London bombings is that some guy using an "Arabic-sounding pseudonym" (Muad Dib) might come up with a theory that the government was behind it all. (Thanks to Alun for the tip.)
A flock of starlings as a bird of prey.
I actually wasn't fishing for compliments, but thanks, guys.
On a personal note...
I admit it, I'm irritated. I might even be pissed off. Although I made it abundantly clear that I supported neither Clinton nor Obama in the primaries, I lost a lot of readers and linkers (most of whom have not restored my link to their blogroll) for being an alleged Clintonite, I was hectored by former fans and even long-time friends for being a downer on the Obama love-fest, and I still get people who think the appropriate response to a criticism of Obama is something like, "So? Do you think Clinton would have been any better?" instead of, "Yes, we need to hold him accountable," let alone, "I apologize for giving you a hard time for being suspicious of him." (I think so far one and possibly even two people have apologized for that, but I haven't written a lot of bitter posts about my long list of people who do owe me an apology because, you know, there are more important things than my hurt feelings).
But I also wrote several posts in which I suggested that there was something really creepy about the accusations of racism from Obama-supporters aimed at non-Obama-supporters. I worried over the ugly classism that was being thrown at the Clintonites. I noted that Axelrod had deliberately sent out a memo falsely accusing people in the Clinton camp of saying racist things (and have linked to that memo more than once). I still think that memo was uglier than anything the entire Clinton camp ever did during the entire campaign, and far more dangerous to progressives than anyone has been willing to acknowledge. I have even pointed out that there was something racist about the unfounded assumption on the part of Obama's supporters that the Big O was a black progressive who just happened to be younger and cooler than all the black progressives they were dissing, despite the fact that there wasn't much progressive in his record (and there were some worryingly unprogressive things in both his record and his rhetoric). And I didn't jump on the Let's-Attack-the-PUMAs bandwagon or waste any other time attacking people for supporting Hillary. And yes, I even linked to posts quoting The Confluence from time to time. So, y'know, I don't deserve this crap.
(And look, if you want a blogroll link, just ask for one, don't publish an entire post accusing me of something I didn't do. Any regular reader of this blog knows my blogroll is a bomb site I can't keep up with, not helped by the excruciatingly long period Blogrolling.com has just come out of when I couldn't update my BR listings. Jeez, it's not like I'm Josh or Kos or something.)
Meanwhile, thanks to Charles for alerting me to an amusing music video on another subject but which is, by an amazing coincidence, called "Where Credit Is Due"
Please don't spoil my day, I'm miles away
Southern Beale explains that Health insurance isn't for sick people, it's for healthy people. And: "According to conservatives, government can't fix any of our problems, except for healthcare, which it would fix too well, creating an unfair advantage and putting private insurance companies out of business." You have to be entertained by the completely opposed right-wing arguments - "socialized" health insurance (or medicine) both works so well that it will be "unfair competition" with insurance companies and works so poorly that you will be paying a fortune for long wait times and no choice. Weirdly, the arguments the industry is making in Washington have leaned heavily on the former lately - that it's the government's job to protect the industry from competition rather than to protect Americans from predatory, fraudulent "health insurers". See, they have to defraud you or they won't survive - and gods forbid anything should happen to our holy "health insurance" industry. (Gee, and after 9/11, I thought protecting Americans was supposed to be such a priority. What a quaint idea!)
Rob Kall interviewed former health insurance industry executive, now whistleblower, Wendell Potter, about what the "insurance" industry is really about for WNJC radio - and you can listen to or download the interview at the link.
I know that The Talking Dog, unlike me, was willing to put his faith in Obama back during the primaries in a way that I was not. I figured he'd come around eventually, and he's not avoiding the issue: "I'll just say it: we wuz lied to. Barack... you a damned liar. We wuz promised "change" in this area... that "the dichotomy between our security and our principles is a false one" and all of that high sounding rhetoric, that, as some feared, was just empty oratory. Maybe there is a tactical necessity for this (heading off a rogue military and intel apparatus)... but I don't care; our duty as citizens is to be outraged, and to call our so-called Democratic leadership out on this." Yes. I don't want to underestimate the dangers of a rogue military and intel apparatus (with powerful friends in the corporate junta and their media lackeys - wouldn't be the first time), but yes, it is indeed our job to be outraged, and to call them on it.
Bob Herbert wants to know How Long Is Long Enough? to hold a boy who was kidnapped and tortured six and a half years ago (possibly when he was only 12 years old), and is not known to be guilty of any crime. "There is no credible evidence against Jawad, and his torture-induced confession has rightly been ruled inadmissible by a military judge. But the Obama administration does not feel that he has suffered enough. Not only have administration lawyers opposed defense efforts to secure Jawad's freedom, but they are using, as the primary basis for their opposition, the fruits of the confession that was obtained through torture and has already been deemed inadmissible - without merit, of no value."
Henry Rollins wants us to check out the video he helped make for IAVA.
Oregon legalizes hemp cultivation.
"I'm Only Sleeping" (UK stereo version).
Boy, aren't you glad you don't have socialized medicine?During my time in Venezuela, I developed a cough that went on for three weeks and progressively worsened. Finally, after I had become incredibly congested and developed a fever, I decided to attend a Barrio Adentro clinic. The closest one available was a Barrio Adentro II Centro de Diagonostico Integral (CDI) and I headed in without my medical records or calling to make an appointment. Immediately, I was ushered into a small room where Carmen, a friendly Cuban doctor, began questioning me about my symptoms. She listened to my lungs and walked me over to another examination room where, again without waiting, I had x-rays taken. Afterwards, the technician walked me to a chair and apologized profusely that I had to wait for the x-rays to be developed, promising that it would take no more than five minutes. Sure enough, five minutes later he returned with both x-rays developed. Carmen studied the x-rays and informed me that I had pneumonia, showing me the telltale shadows. She sent me away with my x-rays, three medications to treat my pneumonia, congestion, and fever, and made me promise to come back if my conditioned failed to improve or worsened within three days.Do read the rest. (Via Bill Tchakir, even though he still hasn't learned that when you blogwhore a post, you really ought to link to the actual post.)
I walked out of the clinic with a diagnosis and treatment within twenty-five minutes of entering, without paying a dime. There was no wait, no paperwork, and no questions about my ability to pay, my nationality, or whether, as a foreigner, I was entitled to free comprehensive health care. There was no monetary value connected with my physical well-being; the care I received was not contingent upon my ability to pay. I was treated with dignity, respect, and compassion, my illness was cured and I was able to continue with my journey in Venezuela.
Lambert's search for coverage of the Taibbi article found an interesting lack of result at TPM, but did find that of course Barry Ritholtz has it - posted the whole thing, in fact - at The Big Picture.
Israel arrests humanitarian aid mission: "The Israeli navy took control of a boat that violated an Israeli blockade and crossed into Gazan waters Tuesday, the Israel Defense Forces said, while a Gaza group said the ship was carrying humanitarian aid, a former U.S. congresswoman and a Nobel laureate. The boat's crew included former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, according to the Free Gaza Movement, a human rights group that sent the boat it calls "Spirit of Humanity" from Cyprus. [...] According to the Free Gaza group, McKinney said, "This is an outrageous violation of international law against us. Our boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip," before authorities confiscated cell phones. "President Obama just told Israel to let in humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, and that's exactly what we tried to do. We're asking the international community to demand our release so we can resume our journey," McKinney said, according to the group."
I'm telling you, aspirin is a wonder drug, and acetaminophen isn't. Really, you're better off taking heroin than anything that contains acetaminophen.
I was over at John Cole's place (via) looking at the thread on the post about Politico's exciting analysis of why Norm Coleman lost to Franken, and found gbear posting "the best comment I've seen so far regarding the Franken win":
"BREAKING: HARRY REID ANNOUNCES IT NOW TAKES 61 VOTES TO BREAK A FILIBUSTER." (I rather liked plus C's comment, as well. Also, Brian J.)
RIP Moon of Alabama. "We now must say good-bye."
Pictures from Mars Exploration Rover Mission.
Take it away, Warren!
A post with links
My apologies for missing out on Riverdaughter in the short list of liberal bloggers who are paying attention to Matt Taibbi's article on
The IlluminatiGoldman-Sachs: "Early in the primary season last year, my colleague from up the hall told me of a dinner she had with her Wall Street working neighbors. Now, not all of the people in NJ who work on Wall Street are evil people. Some of them were just rank and file finance types. One of my colleague's friends quit Wall Street to work part time as a professor. So, these people were not in the corner offices. I thought for sure she was going to tell me they were all die hard Republicans. Not so. She said her friends said they feared a Depression if McCain was elected and a deep recession if Obama was elected. They actually thought that Hillary was the one who was most economically sound." I wish I knew what made them think Hillary would save us from both depression and recession. (Charles tells us that Business Week wrote a similar story about Goldman-Sachs, but they made it sound like a good thing.) Meanwhile, Taibbi responds to Goldman's "response".
As Atrios notes, you can't find common ground with people who want the unreasonable.
I guess you could call it a chart of Family Values by state.
Chris Bowers on The Crime and Reward Theory of Government. Texas celebrates the anniversary of Stonewall by raiding a gay bar. Oh, and Congratulations and good luck to Natasha and Chris.
Alterman and Ivory, "Who Jails Journalists?" and Alterman on The Smearing of I.F. Stone.
Senator Franken - Coleman concedes.
A movie review, via PNH, who also supplied a free amusing toy.
Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, July 2009
Is the media in denial?
Back to front page
And, no, it's not named after the book or the movie. It's just another sideshow.