Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hot tweets Wednesday

Well, technically, Tuesday, but since it is Wednesday morning, I'll call it Wednesday ... All of these articles were on my TwitterFox when I got home last night:

* Black Flag's Henry Rollins, writing for Vanity Fair, pretty much says it all here: ["In Afghanistan, Worse Is the New Better"]. Oh yeah:
"This is the great optimism of America; a mixture of incredible expectation, supreme work ethic, visionary courage, love of freedom, selective memory, a sense of entitlement, arrogance, and naiveté. Our steadfast belief in democracy and the idea that it needs to be spread over the planet like margarine on toast is at times a rough road, but someone has to pave it, after all. It’s for the greater good, right? Too bad some people are not so easily convinced."
* Another blog post from VF from Michael Wolff: ["Sarah Palin Is Winning"]. I like this line:
"They both have less to do with ideology and more to do with who they are. In both cases their careers did not lead them to run for president; rather, their careers took off because they seemed suddenly marketable enough to be president."
Oh my gosh, that's so true. What a brilliant deduction!

* Michael Moore co-writes this piece on why the supposedly healthcare reform bill won't work: ["13 reasons why the Democrats' health bills won't solve the health care crisis"]. Personally, I like #5:
"A massive government bailout for the insurance industry through the combination of the individual mandate requiring everyone not covered to buy insurance, public subsidies which go for buying insurance, no regulation on what insurers can charge, and no restrictions on their ability to decide what claims to pay."
That's right. It's basically welfare for insurance companies.

* The Bunnymen album will be out soon. The single sounds OK. And Ian McCulloch hasn't lost any of his gusto: ["Shake’n'Mac"]. Hah:
"I always slagged off U2 mercilessly because I didn’t want their fucking fans."
Well, there's no problem with that: The Bunnymen are playing Great Scott in Allston and the House of Blues in the Fenway ... and U2 just got done a couple of nights at Gillette Stadium in the wake of what some are calling a very poor album. 'Nuff said.

Censored 2010 releases top censored stories

From the inbox:

Censored 2010: What would you expect in return if you gave someone 64 million dollars?

Censored 2010: What would you expect in return if you gave someone 64 million dollars? You'll find the answer to that question and other puzzling social and political issues among the new top 25-censored stories just revealed by Project Censored. Here's
the rest of the story. The Top Censored Stories of 2008-09, edited by Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff in cooperation with students and faculty at Sonoma State University and numerous other colleges and universities, is to be officially released September 30, 2009. The Censored 2010 yearbook features the twenty-five most important censored news stories of 2008-09 as selected by Project Censored. The annual yearbook from Project Censored at Sonoma State University is available in bookstores nationwide from Seven Stories Press or can be ordered on-line at Project Censored was the winner of the 2008 PEN Oakland Censorship Award.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday morning news briefs ...

Here are a few things to eye this morning ...

First, this kinda stuff really irks me and probably not for the reasons you imagine: ["NH Says It Can't Afford To Subsidize Day Care"].
Well of course the state can't afford to subsidize day care - it has no money. The money is ours. And we choose to use as much of it as we can to raise our own children, TYVM.
And you have to love the day care provider, always looking out for number one: "I think we've got to look at taxes, real taxes that will make a difference." Why, so you can charge more? Most people can't afford day care anyway and you are already being subsidized. And Wolfeboro? Why is the state subsidizing day care in Wolfeboro, one of the most affluent communities in the state? As our household has found, it is better to sacrifice the small things in order to preserve the large things. We didn't have children to shove them in day care.
Or, maybe we should have a local, regional, or national discussion about parenting, the importance of partnerships, training and understanding on the importance of being responsible parents BEFORE bringing children into the world, etc. I'm shocked at some of the things I hear about parents these days treating children as if they are some kind of toy.
But back to the finance issue: Look, some of us are just squeaking by and now you want to take more of our money and transfer it to others to subsidize their lifestyles? Come on. And don't give me that "If we pass an income tax it will only be paid by the 'rich' ..." That's a crock. It's totally untrue. And there aren't enough "rich" people around to pay all the programs everyone wants. In the end, if we pass in income tax in New Hampshire, parents with kids in day care will have to pick up more work - assuming it is available - because, yes, you too will have to pay the tax. Ordinary people will have to pay it too.

Like most folks, I've been watching the whole "bring the Olympics to Chicago" thing ... not ... and it has been very, very interesting. If you want to catch up on some of it though, keep an eye on the HillBuzz Web site: ["HillBuzz"]. This person, obviously, hasn't gotten over the fact that Hillary Clinton lost the presidential primaries last year. But the bit with the Hitler movie video with script from Mayor Daley in subtitles is too hilarious. And what about those race riots? How come this isn't national news?

I just recently came across Jamie O'Keefe's blog: ["Everything's JOK"].
For those of you that don't know, Jamie is the former Green-Rainbow treasurer candidate from 2002 and 2006 in Massachusetts [I think he garnered 17 percent in that last race ...] He's an all-around good guy and it will be fun to watch him blog.

For those of you, like me, who missed the NAB Radio Show last week, you can check out this PDF: ["NAB Radio Show 2009"] which is actually the preview edition or the main site which features highlights: ["The 2009 NAB Radio Show"]. The latter has a pretty cool TwitterTicker with different posts on it. Attendance was down about 6 percent from 2008 numbers. The 2010 convention will be held in D.C.

More tomorrow ...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday morning short takes ...

Here are a few things to think about this Monday morning ...

First, new tapes released from cameras around the Oklahoma City bombing tragedy apparently have been edited - removing footage of the roads leading to the Murrah Building before the detonation of the bomb: ["Attorney: Oklahoma City bomb tapes appear edited"].
According to the story: "An FOIA request by Trentadue for 26 CIA documents was rejected in June. A letter from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which reviewed the documents, said their release 'could cause grave damage to our national security.'" "Grave damage to our national security"? How? They already supposedly found the perps of this tragedy and executed one of them. What is there to hide? How can this affect our "national security" nearly 15 years later? Amazing ...

Speaking of the Clinton era, get a load of Mike McCurry here, Clinton's former press secretary, going off about the Gov. Mike Sanford scandal: ["Former Clinton press secretary addresses Sanford scandal"].
Oh yeah, President Bill Clinton was credible, revealed consistency, candor, and had credibility ... NOT! Well, actually, he was consistent ... he consistently lied until he was caught perjuring himself. McCurry forgot the two most important "c" words of the time period: Constitutional crisis, which is what Clinton brought the country to because he just couldn't be honest about his failings.
Look, no one is perfect. But in the wake of that mess, let's be totally, totally honest about it, not make things up.

I'm pretty shocked, but not so, about this story: ["Lost Vegas"].
I guess I'm shocked that this hasn't been published in every American newspaper but is being covered by the Brits. It kinda reminds me of those tent city videos that are online but somehow we don't see them on the news. But, I'm not that shocked ... considering we have people living in tents along the Merrimack River. If you have nowhere else to go, these tunnels might be a better option ...

TIME Magazine has this Q&A with Ralph Nader about his new novel: ["Ralph Nader, Fiction Writer"].
Speaking of TIME, we have been getting it delivered at the house [$20 for the year from a preschool fundraiser ...] and it's not a bad read. This week's edition features a "special report" - "The Tragedy of Detroit." TIME bought a house in the city and plans on taking the next year to cover things going on in one of America's most desperate urban centers. It's a pretty cool idea actually.
But, we kinda already know what the problems are and how this came to be, described so eloquently in two letters in the "Inbox" section of the same edition: One, complaining about an IT job being outsourced overseas, and another letter, revealing the $670 billion trade deficit which "represents millions of jobs that have been exported." "It's time to recognize that free trade doesn't work. Bring jobs back from overseas with a 20% across-the-board tariff on imports." Congratulations to Lawrence Briskin of Centerville, Ohio, for nailing it right on the head ... Hey Lawrence: you should run for Congress!

More short takes tomorrow.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Short radio notice ...

I've been asked back to be on the The Jim Christy Show on Roots Up Radio today at 5:30 p.m. Roots Up Radio is an online radio station and can be found here: ["Roots Up Radio"].
Jim is having me back on to talk about the appointment of Paul Kirk to replace Sen. Kennedy. My thoughts? A pretty poor choice indeed ... I mean, an insurance lobbyist appointed in an "emergency" to save the healthcare bill? Not!

Oh this is too funny ...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

'Look into my eyes, what do you see?'

The cult of personality:

This stuff is just getting a bit creepy. I mean, the music teacher couldn't show them "John Henry" or something?

A Novel Idea

Guest perspective by Ralph Nader
At a little noticed meeting with Senate Democrats, Warren Buffett, the famous investors’ guru, told the lawmakers that rich people are not paying enough taxes.

A tax increase for the very wealthy? Many of the Senators backed away from that recommendation, even though it came from the world’s second richest man.

That is just one reason why Mr. Buffett plays a central role in my first work of fiction, "Only the Super Rich Can Save Us!" The title is derived from an exchange between Buffett and a woman from New Orleans. Buffett is leading a convoy of critical supplies right after Katrina to help the fleeing poor stranded on the highways without food, water, medicine and shelter. At one stop, Buffett was distributing supplies when a grandmother clasped his hands, looked right into his eyes and cried out: “Only the super-rich can save us!”

Her words jolted Buffett to his core. Arriving back at his modest home in Omaha, he knew what he had to do.

The next scene is early January 2006. Buffett and 16 enlightened super-rich elders gather at a mountaintop hotel in Maui, and devise an elaborate strategy to take on the corporate goliaths and their Washington allies, and to redirect the country toward long overdue changes.

What follows is a top-down, bottom-up mobilization of Americans from all backgrounds in a head-on power struggle to break the grip of the corporate titans on our government.

With four out of five Americans believing that the U.S. is in decline, imagining the super-rich powerful engine revving up an organized citizenry is a precondition to revitalizing democracy.

Tom Peters, the best selling author of "In Search of Excellence" summed up my book’s objective by calling it a work of fiction that he would love to see become nonfiction.

Step by step, week by week, Buffett’s super-rich, who call themselves “the Meliorists” build their campaigns—first privately and then openly launching their initiatives during the 4th of July weekend with media, fanfare and parades.

Turning real, well-known people into fictional roles does not mean that their past achievements and beliefs are overlooked. To the contrary, I extend their achievements and beliefs to a much more intense level of what I believe they wish to see our country become.

Over the years, I have spoken to many super-rich and found many of them discouraged and saddened about our nation’s inability to solve major problems—a society paralyzed because the few have too much political and economic power over the many.

Buffett, in my "political science fiction," to use my colleague Matt Zawisky’s phrase, selected people like George Soros, Ted Turner, Ross Perot, Sol Price, Yoko Ono, William Gates Sr., Barry Diller, Bill Cosby, Joe Jamail, Bernard Rapoport, Leonard Riggio, Phil Donahue, and others because each brought unique experience, determination, money and rolodexes to that secluded Maui hotel where they met every month.

The “Meliorists” address the enormous mismatch of resources between citizen groups and the corporate supremacists. This time the entrenched CEOs are challenged by the retired or elderly billionaires and megamillionaires who know the ways and means of business and political power, and can throw the resources, smarts and grassroot organizing talent against the corporate behemoths, who are not reluctant to counterattack.

In 1888, a Bostonian by the name of Edward Bellamy published a tremendous bestseller about a utopian U.S. in the year 2000 called “Looking Backward.” The book inspired the then-growing progressive movement.

Obviously, Bellamy’s utopian dream was not actualized. In my book, I show not a utopian society but a primer for how the super-rich, as a catalyst, could provide the means for millions of Americans to upgrade their quality of life and their livelihoods while confidently building civic and political institutions to hold and extend their gains.

I mean this book to interest anyone searching for ways to make fundamental, sustainable change. With this book you could see how your favorite big issue could be handled strategically and tactically. If you just want to escape your despair over our national gridlock and peer into the possible, into what could happen now if enough people and progressive super-rich come together, this book is for you, too.

Every week, leading reformers in our country produce documentations, diagnoses, denunciations of injustice and proposals to address it. Little happens. Too many mismatches. We need major catalysts. But first, we need imaginations rooted in fulfilling available potentials—transformations for us and for posterity.

By the way, my fictional Meliorists have a task force on posterity as well. For more, see OnlyTheSuperRich.Org. Take it from there.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Noise Top 30 chart for October


1. Passion Pit – Manners
2. Magic Magic – Magic Magic
3. The Beatings – Late Season Kids
4. Dinosaur Jr. – Farm
5. Drug Rug – Paint the Fence Invisible
6. The Peppermint Patties – This Ain't No Shitstorm
7. The David Wax Museum – Carpenter Bird
8. The Lights Out – “Gottagetouttahere”
9. Mean Creek – The Sky (Or The Underground)
10. Joe Pernice – It Feels So Good When I Stop
11. 28 Degrees Taurus – Electricity from Post Midnight Thrills
12. The Blizzard of 78 – Book of Lies
13. The Great Bandini – The Great Bandini
14. Huak – The Secret Trees
15. I Have Ears – Sarcastic Majestic
16. The New Collisions – The New Collisions
17. Televandals – “Good for Nothing”
18. The Vivs – Mouth To Mouth
19. The Acro-brats – “Hey Medusa”
20. Apple Betty – Streakin’ Cross the Sky
21. Dear Leader – “Barbarians”
22. Tony the Bookie – The Tony the Bookie Orchestra
23. Wheat – White Ink, Black Ink
24. Casey Desmond – Chilly Allston EP
25. Sarah Rabdau & Self Employed Assassins – Sarah Rabdau & Self Employed Assassins
26. Big Big Bucks – Crucial Schmooze
27. Ian Adams – Stay Up Late
28. Big D & The Kids Table – Fluent in Stroll
29. Me and Joan Collins – love trust faith lust
30. Cursillistas – Les Biches

Predicting the future?

I don't know if this is the best thing to do if you're a business blogger: ["Ten Big Companies That Are Veering Toward Bankruptcy"].
Sprint, Macy's, Hertz ... household names ... wow. I don't know why Sprint is "bleeding" customers. I use them and while they aren't perfect, they aren't bad either. Their marketing campaigns aren't bad either. It is probably the bombardment of advertising by competitors that gets people to keep flipping services. Personally, I would prefer to have one company and be done with it.

How to end the 'birther' movement ...

For those of you that aren't political junkies and don't know what the term means, some have nick-named anyone who challenges President Barack Obama's qualification to serve because he may not have been born in the United States, as a "birther."
The birther movement has become an organizing tool among conservatives although most would consider people who challenge the president's qualifications at this point on the fringe of politics.
But, for a moment, ask yourself, what if they are correct? What if Obama was not born in the United States and therefore not qualified to serve even though he was elected. What if, by some fluke, his parents lied to him his entire life? Weirder things have happened. And, according to Obama himself, his father was not the nicest person in the world.
Most people would say that this doesn't matter at this point. Liberals would - and have - challenged the requirement altogether, calling it nativist.
But in thinking about this a bit, I am surprised that not one single person in the press even asked Obama during the campaign if he could produce a birth certificate proving he could serve. I mean, is it just supposed to be assumed that we all believe everyone qualifies for everything? We don't trust ordinary people to be licensed to drive or other things. Why would we trust this man with something as important as his birth location?
As the birthers put it, there is only one way to find out: The president should produce his "real" birth certificate. Some have said that someone in Hawaii produced something that was considered to be his real birth certificate while others are claiming they have a document from Kenya that is his birth certificate.
Personally, I don't believe that Barack Obama is not a citizen or that he was not born here. It might be true ... I don't actually know, I'm not his father or mother. But I seriously doubt it. But wouldn't it be interesting if the president called their bluff.
Picture this for a moment:
The country is clearly divided for many reasons, over many issues. Some of it is legit; some of it isn't. The country is still involved in fraudulent wars. Even though we own 40 percent of Citibank, they are still being allowed to financially rape people at 26 percent. Cars are being repossessed. Homes are being lost. Families are being destroyed. It's not a good time. Even if we don't all agree on the causes of the nation's problems, we all agree that things are bad.
The president and the Democrat Congress, not unlike the Republicans before them, in my opinion, have done a terrible job of "leading." As Ralph Nader has said, real "reforms" are nowhere to be found. Many other people feel the same way. But many of us have hope for the future.
But hope is not always enough. The Obamas probably do care about people even though they both come across as elitist and snobs. Admittedly, most pols are pretty shady, however, many do care about others and try to do their best. It is clear that Obama wants to succeed even though he is taking the nation in the wrong direction on many fronts. It is clear that he really does want to work on bipartisan solutions that he campaigned on, even though some of those solutions are wrong. But all these nagging problems are creating a creeping movement from the right and left, ordinary people, in many extraordinarily horrific economic situations who are starting to wonder privately and out loud.
So, that is the state of the nation.
One way of de-fanging his birther opponents might be to subject them to such humiliation of fact that they would lose political ground and Obama would gain ground. The "movement," if it can be called that, could collapse in a moment of blunt, honest truth. We have all seen this before, when someone you trust is proven to be wrong and they squirm with excuses and often skulk off into the night, never to be seen before again ... President Obama could do this to the birthers.
The president could hold a roundtable discussion with some of his worst critics and on national television and humiliate them with the truth (assuming it is the truth). The White House press corps would be allowed to watch over the proceedings. It would be done civilly and the president would come out with a huge weapon against his critics.
"Thank you all for coming here tonight," he would open in his comments. "I have gathered this 'truth summit' to disprove one of the most offensive criticism of my time as president, that I am not qualified to serve ... We have with us some gentlemen who claim I was not born here. I have tried to ignore their claims, but this has been a distraction long enough."
President Obama would then pull out of his personal safe a copy of his birth certificate proving that he was born in Hawaii.
"Today with me is so-and-so from such-and-such town in Hawaii to verify that this is indeed a legitimate document."
The person from the town clerk's office of such-and-such looks at the document and verifies it. The birthers look the document over, see that it is a real birth certificate, and the roundtable has so obliterate the birther movement that people might gain the trust of the president.
"These people before you have been lying to you, the American people. As your president, I could not stand for this any longer and have taken these steps in order to prove the point. It is very important that we all come together to fix the problems of the nation. I hope that you will join me in this cause to save our nation ... blah, blah, blah ..."
This, of course, would be unprecedented which means it will never happen.
Most presidents ignore, lie or connive their way out of things. It's easier than the truth, in many ways. They will wag a finger and get all pissy but you know when they do that, they are lying. When President Clinton wagged his finger at that teacher event many moons ago saying, "I'm going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," I and others knew he was lying. The arrogance and defiance was so obvious. I remember watching that and thinking, Oh my gosh, he is so guilty ... When President Nixon lied and tried to fight investigation into his administration's wrong-doings, it too tore the nation apart. If he had just outed the criminals in his org. instead of protecting them, he would have come out of Watergate a hero, not a disgrace.
Clearly, millions of Americans do not trust their president, not unlike the millions of Americans who didn't trust the previous president or the one before that ... I don't understand why Democrats don't understand this but they don't. Just because you win doesn't mean you actually get to govern properly. But there are things this administration can do to in order to move beyond all of this crap and stay leading the people.

And BTW: I sent out a Tweet over the weekend about the NYT's David Brooks' column here talking a bit about why the tea party people are not racists: ["No, It’s Not About Race"]. I urge everyone to read this piece because it really does describe what a lot of people are feeling out there.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The truth about the D.C. march

This is a guest perspective by Politizine reader Benjamin Jones.
For three days I have been struggling for words to describe my feelings about participating in the March on our nation’s Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 12, 2009. I continue to struggle with this so I will just start. Note that this is the first protest my wife and I have ever participated in.
First off, I made close to 2,000,000 new friends from all over America that, I know in my heart, are willing to put their life on the line for my liberty. I will do the same for them. I pledge my life, my assets and my character to them. I love them all and they have my greatest admiration and respect.
They came from small and big towns in every state. Men and women. Adults, youth and children from all ethnic groups. Some carried signs to demonstrate their frustration. Some were silent. Some were vocal. One thing I can guarantee you is that for every one of us that was there, hundreds more wanted to be there. To those I say, do not be discouraged. Stay informed. Continue to attend local tea and liberty group meetings. Keep it clean and honest and reject those politicians and individuals that try to benefit from our movement.
Americans are plenty angry about the direction our country is heading. We will get it back, I assure you. It will take a continued commitment to call our employees on the carpet.
November 2010, will represent a new beginning … the day we begin to fire congressmen and senators and replace them with men and women who believe the Constitution of the United States is a carved-in-stone set of principles and values. These principles and values are our greatest guarantee of liberty and protection against the tyrannical pursuits of our enemies.
About two years ago, after much careful research, I came to the conclusion that my government has been lying to me for many years. The realization that two-party politics, the federal reserve, banking and financial, oil and energy, political action committees, special interests, the media/government complex, the defense industry and strong forces both within and outside the United States are the ones really running our “government of the people and by the people” .
This sent me on an email and discussion crusade that resulted in fractured relations with both friends and family. This bothered me greatly at the time. But I no longer care. Liberty is far more important.
To the men and women in our military I apologize to the deepest recesses of my heart for voting for politicians that have sent you to a foreign land to protect their’s and their friends interests. I admire you for your willingness to volunteer and serve for their benefit. I did and most of my family did. But, you no longer need to do that. We need you here … on this front … America is in peril and we need true Americans to stand up and fight against these enemies from within.
These 2,000,000 new friends that have joined together in the task of taking back our government will prevail because it is our destiny.
If you care about your freedom …. your liberty … your individual rights … then it is time to take up the cause.
Welcome to the fight.
Yours for America and true liberty!
Benjamin Jones

Friday, September 18, 2009

Exactly what the world needed ...

Another zombie movie!!!

You know it's been a long day when ...

you take off your baseball cap at 10:30 p.m. after getting home from work and your wife says, "Your hair looks like Jim Traficant's ..." Thanks dear ... Oh, and BTW, Traficant is out of jail: ["Ex-Con Jim Traficant Weighs Reelection to House"].

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Note to SEA: Do what's best, take the deal!

Today's big news: The governor is playing chicken with the state employees' union here in New Hampshire: ["Lynch: If no deal by tomorrow, layoffs"].
I feel for the SEA, I truly do, but we're in the middle of another great depression here. Non-union, private sector workers, you know, the ones who foot most of the bill for the union (and municipal) employees, have taken a deeper hit than the governor is asking state workers to take. Some of us have received pay cuts AND higher health care premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. We can't afford any more in taxes so the state will have to make due with what is there.
To SEA members: What makes you think you are so special that you can evade the effects of this depression? I have had family in the SEA in the past and there would be no question about how the vote would be taken. They would all take the hit to save the jobs. I frankly can't believe that you are not saving your brothers' and sisters' jobs now!
I have friends currently who work for the state. I asked one of them last year how he would vote when this issue first came up. He said he would vote No. I asked him why. He said, the governor raised my health care costs and part of the deal was that we would get a pay raise if we took the higher health care costs. I said, I understand that but times have changed. There are people losing everything. Everyone has higher health care costs and millions don't have anything. I explained my own situation - two years with a wage freeze and higher health care costs as compared to 2004 when I left the company I now work for to take another job. The entire world is going through this and making sacrifices, I said [we were having this conversation during a pretty rowdy afternoon of Halo 3, which means we're not that bad off when you really think about it ...].
But he was dug in, probably because he has been around long enough not to get let go. I said, Well, then let the governor lay the workers off. If you are not going to bend a little - much less than the people who pay the bills are bending - then good luck to you.
Since that time, it has gotten much worse. We have a number: 750. And private sector employees have received pay cuts and health care costs have gone up even more. I know in my case I received a 7-plus percent pay cut in June. But I love my job and frankly there isn't any work anywhere anyway so we're making the best of it, picking up odd jobs here and there, cutting household expenses, to make ends meet (I can't believe I manage to feed a family of four on $80 to $90 a week! And thank goodness I bought and/or financed long-term most of the high ticket items we needed over the next few years before the pay cut.)
But I gotta tell ya, this is not the way of the brotherhood that I used to know. There was shared sacrifice and shared wealth in the union, or at least there is supposed to be that. I guess that goes out the window now.
Gov. Lynch needs to do what is best for the state. None of us are happy but we all need to make due. If that means the governor has to let workers go to balance the budget, then that is what he has to do.
I would urge, however, the SEA to do the right and just thing, and what is best for the 750 people who are members of their union who are about to lose everything: Take the furlough and be happy, frankly, that you aren't in the dreaded private sector, where things are much, much worse.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Indies smitten with Ayotte

Rasmussen Reports released a new poll today about the 2010 Senate race showing Republican Kelly Ayotte with a decent sized lead: ["Ayotte Leads Hodes 46% to 38% in 2010 New Hampshire Senate Match-Up"].
Both Ayotte and Rep. Paul Hodes garner 81 percent each from their respective parties. But Ayotte leads the independent vote by more than 14 percent, according to the poll.
Not surprisingly, voters are split almost in half about the president's health care proposal, with 72 percent saying they think the middle class will be taxed to cover the costs of the plan. Sixty four percent say the plan will increase the deficit while only 28 percent believe it will make health care better.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cigna, rationing care?

Looks like it:

Oops, I didn't call that one right ...

A press representative of U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, a potential contender for the U.S. Senate seat, just issued the following press release:
After thorough consideration I have decided that I will not be a candidate for the Special U.S. Senate race to succeed Edward M. Kennedy.

The challenge of putting together the resources and organization necessary to wage a competitive statewide campaign in less than 90 days is insurmountable.

Margaret and I are thankful for the words of encouragement and support over the last few weeks.

I have been given a huge honor and responsibility by the families of the 9th Congressional District of Massachusetts. I will continue to try to live up to their highest expectations.
No more predictions from me for a few days at least, hah.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Health care thoughts ...

This is the first in a series of occasional short pieces and data about health care issues.

First, according to the NYT on Sept. 6, cumulative growth in insurance premiums has gone up 120 percent between 1999 and 2008. Premiums have more than doubled in less than 10 years. I can't think of anything else, beyond maybe gas prices, that has doubled in the last 10 years. Maybe I'm just not thinking hard enough ...

Average monthly worker premium contributions have gone from $130 in 1999 to $280 in 2008. Very interesting point here. While this has been spread out over 10 years, if you think of this as disposable income, you can see where this kind of transfer of wealth from one sector to the other could cause economic problems. That's $1,800 more pulled out of the general economy per year and put into the health care economy. We all know where a lot of that money has gone.

The percentage of health care spending, as part of the GDP, has risen from 13.7 percent to 20.3 percent, between 1999 and 2008. So, when conservatives say that Obama is trying to take over 1/7 of the nation's economy, they are close at least in the numbers department. It is actually 1/5 of the economy.

However, the larger point is that the numbers show us all exactly where the problem is. The problem is insurance, not health care. Any "reform" bill should put some cost controls on insurance, not care itself. Any bill that forces people to enroll in an insurance program, without any cost controls in place, is simply welfare for health insurance companies.

Spooky, indeed ...

One of the great things about the Internet, and getting news "free" from the Internet, is being able to read stories like this, which you wouldn't otherwise be able to see: ["Revealed: The ghost fleet of the recession"].
I think that no matter what anyone says at this point, we should all be able to agree that free trade globalism, as an economic theory and practice, has failed America and the world.
It really is time to reverse course and start creating micro economies inside each nation, for the sake of the world's people and the health of the planet's climate, which is clearly affected the pollution caused by the transportation of goods and services.

Also, the WSJ reported on Friday night, that the Obama administration "will put steep import duties on Chinese passenger and light truck tires, responding to what the U.S. International Trade Commission determined to be a surge of Chinese tire exports that has rocked the domestic U.S. tire industry and displaced thousands of jobs."
Well, it's about friggin' time ...

A new 9-11 investigation?

Charlie Sheen is calling for one:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

R.I.P. Jim Carroll

NYT is saying it's a heart attack at 59 ... of course, as he would probably say, he should have been dead years ago. I got to meet him once in 1987 at the book signing for "The Basketball Diaries" ... I have a picture of him somewhere but who knows where that is at this point.

Millions? Maybe not ... maybe

Check out this timelapse video from a Web cam in DC ... Maybe there weren't two million people in D.C. but there were hundreds of thousands, if not more, for sure. The video proves it.

The public option is fading away ...

according to the NYT ... that means that we will all soon be slaves to health insurance companies ... as if most of us are not already ... sigh.

Santorum for what?

Hahahahah ... ["Santorum Admits to Pondering Run for Republican Presidential Nomination - Asks for Prayers"] ... oh we do live in a crazy world ...

So much for "Astroturf" ...

When was the last time more than 2 million people blew off their Saturday to march in protest? Umm, yeah, I can't think of the date either: ["Up to two million march to US Capitol to protest against Obama's spending in 'tea-party' demonstration"].
So much for "Astroturf" ... that doesn't look like "Astroturf" to me ... that looks like an organized political threat.
What I fear is that the Dems have awaken this beast and we'll go back to the horrific days of Tom "Corruption" DeLay and Newt "I cheated on my wives too" Gingrich-types running Congress, without getting any reforms at all ... Pathetic.
It will be 1994 all over again and after the GOP takes back Congress, we'll get the worst of the worst legislation like we did then - GATT/WTO, PMFN trade status to China, the Telecom Bill of 1996, the crime bill and the first PATRIOT Act, the anti-terror bill produced in the wake of Oklahoma City, the peso bailout, most of the Contract with America, etc. - and then what will we be left with?
Give us the reforms we want already! Get out of Iraq already! Cut defense spending already! Cut corporate welfare, subsidies and giveaways already! Tax Wall Street and cut taxes on Main Street already! Give us fair trade already! Stop spending like lunatics and balance the budget already! Do it and do it now. Stop wasting time.
If Democrats think these folks are angry, wait until they have to deal with the likes of people who vote for them! I'm so incensed that they are goofing their majority away it isn't funny.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

R.I.P. "Axe" ....

Our bud Chris Skafidas passed away recently: ["Christopher A. Skafidas"].
So sad. Chris leaves two kids. We called him "Axe," because he loved heavy metal music and was a rock 'n' roller ... R.I.P. buddy. We'll miss you!

Update: I posted these pictures on my facebook site on Sunday night: [Goodbye Axe (Skuffy)].

Sore loser Republicans (follow) sore loser Democrats

I'm surprised that Democrats, liberals, and progressives are so shocked, shocked that Republicans booed parts of Obama's speech or that one called him a liar ... There are clips online of the Democrats doing the same thing during W's State of the Union speeches, including 2005, after Kerry lost the presidency and they were still out of power! Oh, but our boos were appropriate and theirs are not ...
Does anyone really believe that all of a sudden, since the Dems took control of Congress and the Senate, and Obama won the presidency, that the opposition was just going to lie down and take it? If you believe that, you're a ding-a-ling.
And frankly, I don't trust these people on this issue. The issue isn't about "healthcare reform" ... it is about "health insurance reform" ... there isn't much insurance reform in this bill, that I have seen, and everyone is expecting that those items will taken out of the final bill. It's too radical to have single-payer ... it's too radical to put insurance companies that are already rationing care now out of business ... it's too radical to limit the pay of CEOs who run these companies ... all that stuff is too radical ...

It reminds me of the lyrics from the Phil Ochs song from 1966, "Love me, I'm a liberal" ...

I cried when they shot Medgar Evers
Tears ran down my spine
I cried when they shot Mr. Kennedy
As though I'd lost a father of mine
But Malcolm X got what was coming
He got what he asked for this time
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I go to civil rights rallies
And I put down the old D.A.R.
I love Harry and Sidney and Sammy
I hope every colored boy becomes a star
But don't talk about revolution
That's going a little bit too far
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I cheered when Humphrey was chosen
My faith in the system restored
I'm glad the commies were thrown out
of the A.F.L. C.I.O. board
I love Puerto Ricans and Negros
as long as they don't move next door

So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

The people of old Mississippi
Should all hang their heads in shame
I can't understand how their minds work
What's the matter don't they watch Les Crain?
But if you ask me to bus my children
I hope the cops take down your name

So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I read New republic and Nation
I've learned to take every view
You know, I've memorized Lerner and Golden
I feel like I'm almost a Jew
But when it comes to times like Korea
There's no one more red, white and blue

So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I vote for the democratic party
They want the U.N. to be strong
I go to all the Pete Seeger concerts
He sure gets me singing those songs
I'll send all the money you ask for
But don't ask me to come on along

So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

Once I was young and impulsive
I wore every conceivable pin
Even went to the socialist meetings
Learned all the old union hymns
But I've grown older and wiser
And that's why I'm turning you in
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

Or, the Jello Biafra version, which is just as relevant.

I cried when they shot John Lennon
Tears ran down my spine
And I cried when I saw "JFK"
As though I'd lost a father of mine
But Malcolm X and Ice-T had it coming
They got what they asked for this time

So love me, love me, love me
I'm a liberal

I go to pro-choice rallies
Recycle my cans and jars
I'll honk if you love the Dead
Hope those funny grunge bands become stars
But don't talk about revolution
That's going a little bit too far

So love me, love me, love me
I'm a liberal

I cheered when Clinton was chosen
My faith in the system reborn
I'll do anything to save our schools
If my taxes ain't too much more

And I love blacks and gays and Latinos
As long as they don't move next door

So love me, love me, love me
I'm a liberal

Rush Limbaugh and the L.A.P.D.
Should all hang their heads in shame
I can't understand where they're at
Arsenio should set them straight
But if Neigborhood Watch doesn't know you
I hope the cops take your name

So love me, love me, love me
I'm a liberal

Yeh, I read the New Republic(an)
Rolling Stone and Mother Jones too
If I vote it's a Democrat
With a sensible economy view
But when it comes to terrorist Arabs
There's no one more red, white and blue

So love me, love me, love me
I'm a liberal

Once I was young and had an attitude
Stickers covered the car I drove in
Even went on some direct actions
When there weren't rent-a-cops to be seen
Ah, but now I've grown older and wiser
And that's why I'm turning you in

Rolling the Dice Again

Guest perspective by Ralph Nader
The Wall Street gang is at it again! It’s been one year since Wall Street’s collapse and bailout took trillions from taxpayers and the sinking economy. The speculative instruments that pulled down the economy were those super-risky sub-prime mortgages, credit default swaps, collaterized debt obligations—you know—Las Vegas East, using other peoples’ savings.

As if to elaborate their gigantic con job, the investment banks, guaranteed by you the taxpayers, are now packaging life insurances policies in what sane, on the ground businesses would consider deranged exotic money plays.

Here is how the New York Times described the new securitization packages emerging from such corporate welfare goliaths as Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse and their eager rating agency, DBRS.

“The bankers plan to buy ‘life settlements,’ life insurance policies that ill and elderly people sell for cash--…depending on the life expectancy of the insured person. Then they plan to ‘securitize’ these policies…by packaging hundred or thousands together into bonds. They will then resell these bonds to investors, like big pension funds, who will receive the payouts when people with the insurance die.

“The earlier the policy holder dies, the bigger the return—though if people live longer than expected, investors could get poor returns or even lose money.”

Continuing its lead front page story last Sunday, the Times describes Wall Street as “racing ahead for a simple reason: with $26 trillion of life insurance policies in force in the United States, the market could be huge.”

The Insurance Information Institute’s chief economist was not impressed. Speaking for the life insurance business, he said: “It’s not an investment product, [it’s] a gambling product.”

The wild and crazy derivative spree is about to inject a new and recklessly ghoulish game of chance into the financial industry. The Wall Street casino boys are already drooling over the huge fees they expect to collect. Whatever wreckage occurs down the road will soak the investors. Washington, standby for another bailout!

If this sounds alarming, consider the fact that Congress has not even reported out of any House or Senate Committee any regulatory authority for the giant derivatives businesses that places bets on bets on bets in very complex financial instruments.

Trillions of lost dollars, destabilization of the economy, depletion of pension funds and college endowments—to name some affects—and Washington is still in stasis, sitting on its cushions of corporate campaign cash and consorting with industry lobbyists who want nothing done.

Still, you the taxpayers are on the hook for another round with these corporate delinquents and gamblers!

The only difference is that this time the insurance industry seems ready to fight. It does not want to be tarred with what one executive called “the brush of subprime life insurance settlements.”

If so, my advice to insurance companies is to nip this in the bud by going to Capitol Hill. This madness will not be stopped by scattered state insurance commissioners.

With all the unmet needs for productive capital, the masters of the financial universe prefer making money from money through high velocity paper speculation, instead of financing real capital structures strengthening communities around the country.

To be sure, abstract derivatives are where the huge commissions and gigantic executive pay packages flourish. It is the arena where investment banks play blackjack. Heads they win, tails you lose.

But why do people have to pay 5,6,7 percent sales taxes in stores, but the derivative dealers on Wall Street pay no sales tax on hundreds of trillions of transactions every year? Seems like a hefty double standard, which is why Cong. Peter DeFazio (Dem. Oregon) has introduced legislation to tax such speculation. (HR 1068)

In addition, Congress needs to get going and regulate these derivatives and finally repeal Clinton-era and Bush-era laws that gave them a free ride.

Finally, there needs to be a prohibition on investments in such risky instruments by fiduciary institutions. And, standards of prudence have to be reinstated. Old time bankers and pensions managers would understand such reforms. Investor rights to sue these investment firms and rating agencies for deception and fraud are weak and require strengthening.

Someday, our society needs to decide how to increase peoples’ control over their own money and establish incentives that can attract capital flows to where they can be productive. At present, perverse incentives are reflecting sheer speculative power and are promoting grotesque uses of money.

Let these casinos and their gamblers on Wall Street do what they want with their own money, but don’t let them gamble with other peoples’ money.

Debt levels fall ...

This is kinda good news: ["Consumers Cut Borrowing By Record Amount"]

Americans without healthcare lower than three years ago ...

... but the poverty rate inched up from 12.5 percent in 2006 to 13.2 percent in 2007.
The Census Bureau reported this week that 46.3 million people were without health insurance in 2008 ... depending on how you look at that number, it could be both good or bad news. In 2006, there were 47 million people without insurance. That number dropped to 45.7 million in 2007. But then, it rose back up again to the 46.3 million.
So, not unlike the Clinton years, when eight million more people lost their insurance between 1993 and 1999 then when Bush 41 was in office, when Democrats took over Congress, 700,000 people lost insurance.
Or, you could look at it this way: During W's last year, with a Democratically-controlled Congress, hundreds of thousands of people lost health insurance.
Or, you could look at it this way too: During W's last two years, 700,000 more people were enrolled in insurance programs than before 2006.
So, you can make the numbers look both positive and negative, depending on how you frame the numbers.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

On the radio Saturday ...

On Saturday morning, I'll be doing a bit with Samantha Clemens talking about the U.S. Senate special election race. The show is heard on 1510 AM in the Boston area or online at The show airs from 10 to 11 a.m.
Tune in and check it out. WWZN's signal says it runs from Manch to Providence in a big circle around 495. If you can't get it on your table top, you can listen online too.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Capuano in; Meehan out

State House News Service is reporting that U.S. Rep. Mike Capuano is in the race for Senate. Chancellor and former Rep. Marty (bin) Meehan is not. Another guy, a Republican selectman from Canton, Robert Burr, is also running. It's getting interesting ...

Monday, September 7, 2009

Shaking out the Senate tree ...

Glenn Johnson from the Associated Press has a pretty good roundup here about who is in and who is out: ["Former Rep. Joseph Kennedy nixes Senate campaign"].
Junkies may remember Johnson as the reporter who confronted presidential candidate Mitt Romney's fib about no lobbyists assisting his campaign when everyone knew that lobbyist Ron Kaufman was advising his campaign.
Anyhow, the potential monster of the race, JoeK, is officially out. So is the GOP's Kerry Healey, which is a bit of a surprise. These are big changes.
I wonder, what would happen if the Dems had a very bloody primary and the GOP's Scott Brown had a cakewalk? I did an extensive Google search trying to find out if Brown is pro-choice. I didn't get any results.
However, so far, my prediction seems to be coming along nicely: No JoeK and a slew of Dems running.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Quick special election Senate seat roundup

In Massachusetts, the special election Senate race to fill the seat of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy is underway and it looks like it may actually turn into a free-for-all.

So far, Attorney General Martha Coakley and U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch have pulled papers.
Others who are getting a bit more seriously include Rep. Ed Markey, Rep. John Tierney, Rep. Mike Capuano, and attorney Ed O'Reilly, who garnered 31 percent in a primary against Sen. John Kerry last year.

On the GOP side, former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey and state Sen. Scott Brown are nosing around.
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling is considering a run as an independent.
No word yet on what Joe Kennedy is deciding to do.

Capitalism: A Love Story

Oh, this looks good: ["Capitalism: A Love Story"].

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Words matter

Guest perspective by Ralph Nader

Ever wonder what’s happening to words once they fall into the hands of corporate and government propagandists? Too often reporters and editors don’t wonder enough. They ditto the words even when the result is deception or doubletalk.

Here are some examples. Day in and day out we read about “detainees” imprisoned for months or years by the federal government in the U.S., Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan. Doesn’t the media know that the correct word is “prisoners,” regardless of what Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld disseminated?

The raging debate and controversy over health insurance and the $2.5 trillion spent this year on health care involves consumers and “providers.” How touching to describe sellers or vendors, often gouging, denying benefits, manipulating fine print contracts, cheating Medicare and Medicaid in the tens of billions as “providers.”

I always thought “providers” were persons taking care of their families or engaging in charitable service. Somehow, the dictionary definition does not fit the frequently avaricious profiles of Aetna, United Healthcare, Pfizer and Merck.

“Privatization” and the “private sector” are widespread euphemisms that the press falls for daily. Moving government owned assets or functions into corporate hands, as with Blackwater, Halliburton, and the conglomerates now controlling public highways, prisons, and drinking water systems is “corporatization,” not the soft imagery of going “private” or into the “private sector.” It is the corporate sector!

“Medical malpractice reform” is another misnomer. It used to mean restricting the legal rights of wrongfully injured people by hospitals and doctors, or limiting the liability of these corporate vendors when their negligence harms innocent patients. Well, to anybody interested in straight talk, “medical malpractice reform” or the “medical malpractice crisis” should apply to bad or negligent practices by medical professionals. After all, about 100,000 people die every year from physician/hospital malpractice, according to a Harvard School of Public Health report. Hundreds of thousands are rendered sick or injured, not to mention even larger tolls from hospital-induced infections. Proposed “reforms” are sticking it to the wrong people—the patients—not the sellers.

“Free trade” is a widely used euphemism. It is corporate managed trade as evidenced in hundreds of pages of rules favoring corporations in NAFTA and the World Trade Organization. “Free trade” lowers barriers between countries so that cartels, unjustified patent monopolies, counterfeiting, contraband, and other harmful practices and products can move around the world unhindered.

What is remarkable about the constant use of these words is that they permeate the language even if those who stand against the policies of those who first coin these euphemisms. You’ll read about “detainees” and “providers” and “privatization” and “private sector” and “free trade” in the pages of the Nation and Progressive magazines, at progressive conferences with progressive leaders, and during media interviews. After people point out these boomeranging words to them, still nothing changes. Their habit is chronic.

A lot of who we are, of what we do and think is expressed through the language we choose. The word tends to become the thing in our mind as Stuart Chase pointed out seventy years ago in his classic work The Tyranny of Words. Let us stop disrespecting the dictionary! Let’s stop succumbing to the propagandists and the public relations tricksters!

Frank Luntz—the word wizard for the Republicans who invented the term “death tax” to replace “estate tax” is so contemptuous of the Democratic Party’s verbal ineptitude (such as using “public option” instead of “public choice” and regularly using the above-noted misnomers) that he dares them by offering free advice to the Democrats. He suggests they could counteract his “death tax” with their own term “the billionaires’ tax.” There were no Democratic takers. Remember, words matter.

Using words that are accurate and at face value is one of the characteristics of a good book. Three new books stand out for their straight talk. In Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-party Tyranny, Theresa Amato, my former campaign manager, exposes the obstructions that deny voter choice by the two major parties for third party and independent candidates. Just out is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Pulitzer Prize winner, Chris Hedges. Lastly, the boisterous, mischievous short autobiography of that free spirit, Jerry Lee Wilson , The Soloflex Story: An American Parable.

Not withstanding their different styles, these authors exercise semantic discipline.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Stephen Lynch?

OK, since I already went out on a limb on Internet radio yesterday afternoon and predicted that U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch will be elected Senator from Massachusetts in the special election, I may as well explain the logic.
Big ifs here but follow along.
First, I don't know if "Wizard of Ahs" Joe Kennedy is going to run or not but I don't think he will. The Kennedy machine wants him to run but I'm assuming he won't.
There will, instead, be a free-for-all of a primary on the Democratic side, probably seven or eight candidates. Maybe more.
Right now, Martha Oakley is in. U.S. Reps. Michael Capuano, Stephen Lynch, and Ed Markey are considering runs. Most presume Markey won't run, since he is finally the chairman of the Energy Committee. Former Rep. Marty Meehan may run but I have been hearing he won't. The Boston Phoenix's David Bernstein reports that state Senators Mark Montigny and Michael Morrissey may also run. Ed O'Reilly, who ran a renegade campaign against John Kerry in 2008, garnering 31 percent, is also considering another run.
Unlike 2008, when it was unknown whether O'Reilly would be able to get the 15 percent at the Democratic convention to challenge Kerry, none of the candidates have to worry about going to the convention because there are no conventions before special elections (which I just found out yesterday). It's 10,000-plus signatures and that's it.
It's a special election, meaning none of the pols who are in office will lose their seats going for it. So, they'll be a ton going for it.
In a seven- or eight-way primary, Lynch will do well.
First, he'll be the only pro-life Dem in the field. I've seen some statistics that show that as much as 18 or 19 percent of Dems are pro-life in Massachusetts. These folks helped buoy Lynch to the top of a very crowded field in a 2001 special election [39.6 percent in a crowd of seven]. They tend to be solid voters too although they aren't single issue voters, despite what some people think.
Second, there will be a slew of candidates trying to out progressive each other. "I'm more progressive than you. No, I am ..." I would bet that more than half the candidates will be self-described progressives or minorities. They will split the vote all up and eat each other alive.
Third, Lynch's votes have been very populist. He voted against TARP, for example, probably one of the worst public policy proposals to come down the pike in years. Lynch will use his lunchbucket Democrat, "aw shucks" style to win over votes across the state. He will run strong in most of Boston, the South Shore, Cape, and North Shore.
You will see Capuano connecting in the few areas where Italian Democrats vote by ethnicity (places where Celluch did well with Dems in 1998); Coakley and another woman, probably, will split up that base like Susan Tracy and Margie Clapprood did in the 8th race of 1998; there might be a centrist that runs, but "Moonbat Nation" will devour that candidate who will be left floating around, having spent millions. The unenrolleds will be drawn to both primaries, allowing the leftover lunchbuckets to deliver the primary to Lynch.
Over on the GOP side, there will probably be two or three candidates, with the state party wiggling around trying to limit the blood (i.e. candidates) from a nasty primary. Right now, it looks like former Lt. Gov. Kerry Murphy Healey and state Sen. Scott Brown are considering runs. There are even some folks on the Internet suggesting Charlie Baker should run for Senate not governor.
Unlike the Dems, who will field at least a few stray cats, the GOP three will be players, with money and message. The nominee will be pro-choice, leading the 54 percent of unenrolleds who are mostly social liberals thinking twice about a pro-life Democrat.
Lastly, not only will the primaries be a total mess, the final will too.
There will probably be at least four candidates because the Green-Rainbow and Libertarian parties will run candidates. There might even be an independent running too, since former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who is considering a run, is an unenrolled. Not unlike recent gubernatorial coverage, there will be no reason for the debates not to feature all the candidates, since all four parties enjoy major party status.
If JoeK does run, it's all out the window. I don't think he is a shoo-in though, especially if there are only a few folks in the field. Sure, he'll scare off the likes of Capuano and others who really know they don't have a chance in hell anyway. But there are a lot of women in this state who would like to see one of their own in the Senate. If JoeK only faces one or two well-financed candidates, he won't win. I mean, look, O'Reilly was able to get 31 percent against Kerry. What's going to happen when people actually get to hear and see JoeK speak? What about all those votes against organized labor, like NAFTA, GATT/WTO, etc.? It won't matter how good the ads are, the women want this one.
The primary is slated for Dec. 9. The final on Jan. 19, 2010. Let the games begin.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

No ACs?

Yup, I can't believe we got through the hottest months of the summer without air conditioners. Amazing. I think it's a first in many, many years.

More Kennedy talk?

Yes-in-dee-dee-do ... I've been asked back to be on Roots Up Radio today at 5:15 p.m. Roots Up Radio is an online radio station and can be found here: ["Roots Up Radio"].
Jim is having me back on to talk about the story in the NYT article about the Kennedy memoir. We may also talk about the latest round of candidates running too. Tune in if you can.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A big YES! to this ...

Finally, the Dems have proposed a tax that is worthy of existence, a transaction tax on Wall Street stock trades!: ["AFL-CIO, Dems push new Wall Street tax"].
I'm on deadline so I won't go into why this is such a brilliant idea and way past its time. But simply put, it's a 0.1 percent tax on every stock transaction. Meaning, for every $1,000 in transactions, $1 is taxed.
Frankly, this is too small. Ralph Nader and others have suggested 0.25 percent which would be about $2.50 per $1,000 or more than $500 billion, will no adverse affect on regular folks or the economy [I think the estimates in the article are too low]. Combined with a nice 100 percent tariff on all imports, the United States could eliminate the income tax entirely ... although that would never happen. One can wish though ...

C-c-c-c-c-cold ...

Anyone else notice how cold it was this morning? Fall is already here? Yikes!

Mad as Hell Doctors

Guest perspective by Ralph Nader
After several weeks of protests at Senate hearings and health care events by single payer advocates (visit, six physicians from Oregon, with 191 years of combined real-world medical experience, are crossing the country in a 27-foot Winnebago making stops in nearly 30 cities, to debate, educate and advance full medicare for all. Everybody in, nobody out.

Calling themselves “Mad as Hell Doctors,” these physicians are already drawing crowds and expect thousands to turn out at each city that they visit, culminating in a large arrival demonstration in front of the White House around October 1. (Visit

They have written President Obama asking for a meeting “to discuss the future of health care as well as the moral, social, and fiscal imperative of enacting a single-payer system for America at this moment in our history.”

The White House turned them down flat, not even leaving the door open for reconsideration. Mr. Obama has met countless times with the CEOs of large corporations, whose greed and callousness causes so much of this crisis. Though he believes in single payer “if we started from scratch,” he has yet to meet with any single payer delegation.

The White House has shown that it lacks smarts. The formless, waffling Obama health insurance proposal is being shattered by the Republican cluster of Limbaugh-driven lies and the Blue Dog renegades in the Democratic Party, who are busy cashing mounds of campaign checks from the so-called health business. By ignoring and excluding the majority-supported single payer approach, the White House stifles any kind of insurance reform worthy of the name.

Publicized lies are translating into fears among people who should be supporting full medicare for all. reports that “a notorious analysis of the House health care bill contains 48 claims. Twenty-six of them are false, and the rest are mostly misleading. Only four are true. For example, false are claims that the bill includes an order for end-of-life plans or health care for illegal aliens or assertions that ‘your health care will be rationed.’”

So wild are the falsehoods, fueled by runaway internet traffic, that the Republican National Committee implied in a fundraising letter that Democrats may structure the overhaul in a way to deny medical treatment to Republicans!

As with war, truth is the first casualty when it comes to the health care debate. The Democratically-controlled Congress, on its return after Labor Day, needs a wide-ranging personal, evidence-based series of public House and Senate hearings to again publicize the compelling story of avoidable suffering, fraud, waste, egregious profiteering and top executive self-enrichment – all subsidized by taxpayers.

Take the enormous and shocking information researched by Harvard Professor Malcolm Sparrow—an applied mathematician whose knowledge of health care billing schemes and regulatory deficiencies is without peer.

Mr. Sparrow is no arm-chair commentator. He has dug deeply into the enormously comprehensive frauds on medicare and consumers. He has found payments for medical services ordered by deceased doctors or huge payments in treatments for deceased patients—many gone for years.

Highlighting the widespread fraud on medicare by criminal behavior, he argues that these actions should be treated as “a crime problem” not just a “claims-processing problem.” Without criminal prosecutions, there is no deterrent stopping this massive robbery.

How massive? Read these words in recent testimony by Professor Sparrow:

The units of measure for losses due to health care fraud and abuse in this country are hundreds of billions of dollars per year. We just don’t know the first digit. It might be as low as one hundred billion. More likely two or three. Possibly four or five. But whatever that first digit is, it has eleven zeroes after it. These are staggering sums of money to waste, and the task of controlling and reducing these losses warrants a great deal of serious attention.

In the early 1990s, the Congressional Government Accounting Office estimated that billing fraud accounts for 10% of health care spending annually. That would be about $250 billion this year. In 1993, Attorney General Janet Reno declared that health care fraud was the number two crime problem, after violent crime in the country.

With someone as carefully authoritative as Malcolm Sparrow, the Democrats can make this crime spree front and center during the health care debate. People want to be assured that their health insurance dollars are protected. Instead the “license to steal,” which is the title of Mr. Sparrow’s groundbreaking book, continues. And the Republicans continue to sidetrack priorities for action with seedy prevarications.

It is a remarkable commentary on the state of the White House and Congress that the Democrats appear befuddled in dealing with the kind of coarse, cruel, fear-mongering that an FDR and Lyndon Johnson would have overwhelmed and sent packing.

Meanwhile, join the “Care-A-Van” of roadtripping Oregon physicians and their efforts to bring the message of health care for all to Washington, DC.