Monthly Archives: September 2009

Is Olympia Snowe thinking about her future?

This piece in Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire caught my attention:
clipped from politicalwire.com

Snowe’s Constituents Back Obama Plan

A new Democracy Corps poll in Maine finds that Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) “enjoys broad support in her home state, but she faces significant political problems if she opposes President Obama’s health insurance reform.”

Specifically, a Snowe vote against a reform bill “results in Mainers evenly divided on whether she should be re-elected, while support for Obama’s plan produces 53% who want to re-elect Snowe compared to 38% who want someone new as U.S. Senator.”

In addition, Mainers “overwhelmingly support a government sponsored non-profit health insurance option, 63% to 27%.
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Jay and Al… Two of my Favorite Senators vs. Greedy Insurers

Listening to Jay Rockefeller (who is one of my 2 Senators here in WV) on Keith Olbermann a few minutes ago, he talked about an Amendment he is going to propose at the Finance Committee markup, probably tonite (they are working late). He said it was adapted from an Amendment that Al Franken had proposed at his own committee ( Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee) when they put their Health Care proposal together.

Al and Jay have tightened it… it helps stand up to the Insurance Companies walking away with 90% of the funds that the new bill will create, funds which, in their greed, has caused the Insurers and their lobbyists to keep Baucus away from the Public Option and has made any number of Senators their puppets.

Good for Al and Jay… let’s see if Baucus lets this Amendment get in (you know the Repiglicans, led by Chuck the Schmuck Grassley, will vote against it.)

Florida Representative Alan Grayson gets my thumbs…both up.

It was all the complaints coming from Repiglicans (who are the masters of attack speeches and evil media blitzes) that drew me to this video on You Tube. Florida Democrat Grayson summed up the Repiglican Health Plan to a “T”:

Broadway in 1977

Here’s a kick. Would you like to hear radio interviews of Broadway stars, writers and producers that were taped in 1977?

I originally went to this site because it had an interview with Meryl Streep who was starring in HAPPY END, the Brecht Weill Musical. It was one of the first dates I took my wife of 30 years on in NY (took her Mother, too). Listening now it brought back memories… and it was a great show, too.

You can hear Hermione Gingold, John Kander, Jack Gilford and more. Go to “This Is Broadway” which is adding interviews every day.

Quote of the Day

“The harder I struggled to understand Baucus’ nonsensical self-defense, only one meaning seemed possible: Baucus didn’t vote against the public option despite the fact that it would “hold insurance companies’ feet to the fire,” but because it would. His insurance industry contributors got their money’s worth today, but the people of Montana did not.”

– Joan Walsh in Salon

Garrison Keillor in Salon this morning….

…has a great piece which solves the deficit by cutting the Republicans out of Health Care payments (they don’t seem to support Health care anyway.) Funny, thoughtful… here’s a clip:

When an entire major party has excused itself from meaningful debate and a thoughtful U.S. senator like Orrin Hatch no longer finds it important to make sense and an up-and-comer like Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty attacks the president for giving a speech telling schoolchildren to work hard in school and get good grades, one starts to wonder if the country wouldn’t be better off without them and if Republicans should be cut out of the healthcare system entirely and simply provided with aspirin and hand sanitizer. Thirty-two percent of the population identifies with the GOP, and if we cut off healthcare to them, we could probably pay off the deficit in short order.

It’s time to dump the dead-end issues that have wasted too much time already. Old men shouldn’t be allowed to doze off at the switch and muck up the works for the young who will have to repair the damage. Get over yourselves. Your replacements have arrived, and you should think about them now and then. Enough with the shrieking. Pass healthcare reform.

Read the whole post at http://www.salon.com/opinion/keillor/2009/09/30/the_shallows/index.html?source=newsletter.

Senate Finance Committee – with Baucus leading the way – votes down the Public Option.

This is dismal. Both Jay Rockfeller (my Democratic Senator from here in WV) and Chuck Schumer, D-NY, proposed Public Option amendments to the Finance Committee’s bill… and 3 Democrats voted against Schumer, 5 voted against Rockefeller. The leading Democrat to step on the Public Option was Chairman Max Baucus. The one Republican who people seem to think might go along with a bill, Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, also voted against both amendments.

Senator Schumer:

My amendment to add a public option to the Senate Finance Committee bill came up just two votes short of being adopted by the full committee this afternoon.

This is unfortunate news but not a surprise. Remember, the Senate Finance Committee is more conservative than the Senate as a whole. And 4 out of 5 Congressional committees with jurisdiction over health care reform have passed a public option.

This is the opening day of our fight, and I will continue to work to improve the health care reform bill as we take the legislation to the Senate floor.

Some of the other Democratic Senators are now looking at bringing the Public Option to the Senate Floor and polling is showing increasing support by the voting public. Baucus is sitting on the $3.4 Million that the Insurance companies have invested in his campaigns and working as hard as he can to keep them in the catbird seat.

Snowe is getting pushed hard by her constituency as well:

So far the 4 proposals from House Committees and the one other Senate Committee bill HAVE a Public Option… Eventually this has all got to be brought together as one bill… and whether it can get 60 Senate votes to avoid a Republican filibuster, or the mere fifty votes necessary for a “reconciliation,” will remain to be seen.

I’m willing to campaign against ALL Democrats who work against what the majority of Americans want and need. Millions of others will be playing on the same team. Baucus should wise up.

I agree with Debbie about Roman Polanski

I copy this intact from Debbie Does Nothing:

Roman Polanski raped a child

I’m so sick of all the “artists,” including people I admire like Debra Winger, bemoaning the fact that Roman Polanski was arrested on outstanding warrants on the child rape for which he was convicted. They keep saying oh, it’s been 30 years, isn’t it time to just let it go?

Whose fault is it that it’s been 30 years? If he had stayed in California, he would have served his time and been released many years ago. If he served any time at all – chances are lawyers could’ve got him out on appeal.

People seem to forget he drugged a 13 year old girl with quaaludes and champagne, forced her to pose for nude photos, then fucked her in the ass.

She was 13.

13.

My wife and I watched this on the TV news last night… all the European fols who are saying he’s suffered enough. Don’t they have daughters?

And in his suffering he got to keep directing and even won an Oscar. That’s suffering all right.

Quote of the Day

“Democrats must accept that bipartisanship is dead. It’s not sleeping, it’s not comatose, it’s not hiding. It is dead, dead, dead. Republicans clearly have no desire to work constructively for a bipartisan bill.”

– Paul Begala in Politico

If you’re watching the Senate Finance Committee markup today and listened to Chuck (The Schmuck) Grassley, then this goes without saying.

Here’s one for Theatre folks like me… one you probably haven’t seen…

Got this in my morning e-mail from Thomas Cott (who calls his posts “You’ve Cott Mail”… funny, no?). It was from a theatre web blog (which I am adding to my Blogroll) called 99 Seats:
Commentary: Why sports win out over theater — and what we should do about it

$ 943.3 million. $188 million. $1.1 billion. Those three numbers are the 2008 total revenues for the 43 shows on Broadway, the 2008 [ticket] revenue for the New York Yankees and the amount of money New York City contributed to the building of the new Yankee Stadium. If you want to argue that art is unnecessary, then you better be ready to argue that sports are even less necessary. And, yes, many, many people argued that it was a poor use of public funds to build a stadium. But that didn’t stop it. Sports win out because, despite the number of people who don’t like it, who can’t afford to go to the stadium, despite the overpaid players and despicable owners, it’s still perceived as a thing of joy and beauty for the whole city. Theatre can’t shake its rep of being just for the moneyed elites. A sports team is part of the fabric of a city, the spirit of a town. Theatre is a luxury. It’s controversial, a political hot potato, and nothing anyone wants to get caught dead supporting, unless it’s something that’s going to turn a quick profit, or get them in bed with a comely chorine. This is at the root of all of our problems in the theatre. We don’t rate enough for real government support. That’s why I support less non-profit and more for-profit ventures. More theatres eating what they kill, so to speak. More independence from donors and less need for government money.

This is something I’ve been saying for years, and it goes way beyond City governments and expenses. It goes back to the basics of our educational system where schools pour both money and requirements into athletics and put the arts on the First To Cut list. Did your High School or College require you to participate in Theatre? Did they require you to participate in a Sport? You tell me.

I’ve always felt that I’m in a distinct minority… I could care less about the Sunday football game on Television, but I’ll go out of my way for the smallest Community Theatre production. A trip to New York without going to the Theatre is a great waste of time. You see where I’m gong with this.

So if you think the arts are unnecessary, think again. PLEASE!

Opponents of Alaska wilderness road enlist ex-secretary Babbitt

I found this in my McClatchy update this morning… with everything else that has changed for the worse in America since Reagan, the state of our National preserves is one thing I would hope would remain pristine in the face of corporate advances.
clipped from www.mcclatchydc.com
Opponents of a proposed road through Alaska’s Izembek Wildlife Refuge have enlisted the help of an environmental heavyweight: former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.

Babbitt, a former Arizona governor who served in President Bill Clinton’s Cabinet, has signed a letter asking the current occupant of the office, Ken Salazar, to find that a road through the refuge is not in the public interest.

If Salazar agrees to the road, it would the first-ever road authorized in a wilderness area in the 45-year history of the Wilderness Act, Babbitt warned, setting a “dangerous precedent.”

The road could “jeopardize all the wilderness lands that we and so many others have worked tirelessly to set aside for future generations: every national park, refuge and wilderness area that the Department is pledged to protect,” Babbitt wrote to Salazar.

The Interior Department is reviewing Babbitt’s letter, said spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff.

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I hope the Blue Dogs read the CongressDaily section of the National Journal over the weekend.

If they did, they would find that the preferred Public Option plan has been shown by The Congressional Budget Office (which, as we know, is impartial) to save $85 Billion more than the plan they favor (and Blue Dogs are ONLY Blue Dogs because they want to save money!). Here’s a cut from the article:

In a bid to wrangle concessions from the Blue Dog Coalition on healthcare reform, House leaders Thursday released CBO estimates for liberals’ preferred version of the public option that show $85 billion more in savings than for the version the Blue Dogs prefer.

Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., a Blue Dog co-chair, said any possible new momentum toward a public option tethered to Medicare rates is, in part, “because of the cost issue” and the updated CBO score.

The original House bill required the public plan to pay providers 5 percent more than Medicare reimbursement rates. But as part of a package of concessions to Blue Dogs, the House Energy and Commerce Committee accepted an amendment that requires the HHS Secretary to negotiate rates with providers. That version of the plan will save only $25 billion.

In total, a public plan based on Medicare rates would save $110 billion over 10 years. That is $20 billion more than earlier estimates, a spokesman for House Speaker Pelosi said.

So if your Representative is a Blue Dog, give ’em a call. Today. Now. They’ll be working again tomorrow (after Atoning for their kissing of lobbyists asses for Yom Kippur) and they need to hear from you.

Max Baucus Needs To See This!

Act Blue is running this ad in Montana, Max Baucus’ home turf. It’s about one of his constituents, Bing Perrine, who couldn’t get health insurance and has a $100,000 hospital bill to pay.

You can help ActBlue keep the pressure up on Baucus by donating HERE.

Thanks,
Bill

So where are we in Economic History?

Pretend it is 70 years from now and folks are looking back at 2009 and our economic situation. Would they notice that major corporations, like Insurance companies and banks, were making record profits at the end of a major recession? Would they notice that unemployment vs. new jobs was running a a rate of 6 to 1?
Would they see that the Congress didn’t seem to want to challenge the control of the rich over the remaining 99% of the population by putting back taxes which were made into exemptions by thirty years of conservative ignorance?

And maybe they would look at 70 years before 2009 and see what was done in a remarkably similar situation. There was a President then who, although a son of the rich, adopted the situation of the poor and the middle class and worked to fix the problem.

In Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s own words back then (April 29, 1938):

“Democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism — ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. Democracy is not safe if its business system cannot provide employment, and produce and distribute goods in such a way, as to sustain an acceptable standard of living.”

– (from “Recommendations to the Congress to Curb Monopolies and the Concentration of Economic Power”…read it all HERE.)

We have learned a lot since the days of FDR, haven’t we? Back then we learned that regulations actually protect the economy and give us the possibility of growth and change. FDR experimented with many plans that did not work, but over time we learned which things did and had measures like the Glass-Steagle Act come out of Congress keeping banks away from risky investments, among other things.

Somewhere along the way we were seduced by Reaganism to believe that the government was untrustworthy and corporations could do everything better. We let private greed slowly but surely take over every part of our economy… and now, when change needs to happen again, we find a Congress that is heavily subsidized by the corporate interests which need to be regulated.

I would like to believe in my government again. I am ready to back my President and those few Representatives and Senators who do not seem to be direct employees of corporate lobbyists… and I believe a majority of THINKING AMERICANS are ready to back them as well.

I hope that, in that future time when people are looking back, they realize what we did to solve the problem and that we brought back our Democracy with strength and energy and pride.

Words of Wisdom RE: Health Care

I had missed a post by Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., in HuffPo the other day. It was called President Obama: Get Angry About Health Care Reform.

Here’s a really revealing clip:

President Obama’s Sept. 9th speech on health care reform to Congress was like a kindly doctor’s first consultation with an overweight, one-pack-a-day patient who is still ambulatory and functional. The president was reasonable and restrained, pointing out that Congress needs to make a better choice, one that reflects the centrist view.

But it did not work because the president, a rare politician who seems essentially immune to political greed, misjudged how much insurance and pharmaceutical funding has corrupted both parties. The center, as it turned out, has moved so far right that it sits smack in the middle of a self-destructive kleptocracy. Congress has, via the Baucus bill, essentially told the president that “this pathetic performance is the best we can muster.”

So far, watching the Senate Finance Committee mark up sessions, we see that PhARMA is being protected and will not have to lose more than the $80 million they already agreed to (and when I say “lose” I mean from their billions in profit) and the Insurance companies appear to be making big plans for the huge profits they’ll make when the Public Option is diminished or dumped.

The idea of Obama getting angry about all this and pushing for what we really need… ie: a Public Option or, better still, a government mandated single-payer system (yeah, like that’s going to happen)… could make the majority of Americans see the President we thought we had voted for.

So what are the odds?

Now you tell me!

Watching Dylan Ratigan’s Morning Meeting I heard White House reporter Chuck Todd comment on the fact that there are 6 people looking for every 1 job available (while meanwhile the banks are showing record profits.)

Either jobs aren’t a number one priority at this point, or profit triumphs over work.

Anyway… I wish the five other guys who are looking for work at the jobs I’ve been going after would take a couple of days off.

Thoughts on Education, Religion and Our Culture

There is an article in Salon this morning about Home Schooling which I though was quite good, as it was written from the point of view of a Brooklyn Liberal father whose twins are being schooled at home for, what seem to be, non-religious reasons. I think that’s great, but it doesn’t jibe with what most of us think about when we consider Home Schooling.

A couple of years ago, home schooling was pushed by the religious right in order to avoid the teachings in public schools which were closer to Darwinism and scientific method. This was the major thrust of “Creation Science” as an educational discipline.

If you don’t know what Creation Science means, here is a number by Roy Zimmerman:

OK, this is America and people can believe anything they want. And they can make sure their children learn the things they believe as well. But it is worth considering why a majority of Europeans (the last figure I saw was 83%) are non-believers as opposed to 9 to 12% of Americans, and they are amazed at the fundamentalist beliefs that affect our country’s education and politics. One of the sources of these European opinions are expressly brought out by a pair of TV comics called The Chasers. A sample (called “Do you believe he Bible is true?):

I think what made much of Europe believe (or not believe) the way they do was the effect of World War II in bringing folks to the real truth: there was no God there to protect them as their cities were devastated and their civilization was destroyed. We, on the other hand, with the exception of Pearl Harbor, were left intact and wealthy by the war, which supported the God-is-on-our-side concept (as well as the time between capitalism and religion as a money making prospect).

Anyhow, to sum up, education, religion and home schooling have developed quite a few links in our culture which often works against us… and has a lot to do with whether or not we can put up a real fight against all the political stuff affecting us now.

A Quote from Paul Volcker (that we ought to listen to… and the Fed should as well)

“As a general matter, I would exclude from commercial banking institutions, which are potential beneficiaries of official (i.e., taxpayer) financial support, certain risky activities entirely suitable for our capital markets. Ownership or sponsorship of hedge funds and private equity funds should be among those prohibited activities. So should in my view a heavy volume of proprietary trading with its inherent risks.”

– Paul Volcker speaking in Los Angeles earlier this month.

So what does this mean for our economy and what should be done by both President Obama and the Federal Reserve (and which is definitely NOT being done)? Robert Kuttner has an interesting piece in HuffPo called Listening to Paul Volcker.

READ IT. Then think about contacting the President, the Fed and your Congressfolk.

Biden Speaks to Seniors RE: Medicare

The Vice-President spoke to Senior Citizens in Maryland about Medicare, blowing holes in the Right-Wing’s statements about Death Panels. Here he is (note – this is a White House created piece, hence it reads as advertising):

Quote of the Day

“I know insurance companies treat their clients badly and charge way too much for their products. I know there is a way the government could create a public option that would help millions of Americans with these problems, but helping people is not my top priority. I think it is much more important to give large for-profit corporations another chance to screw over the American people.”

Jon Walker at FireDogLake’s Campaign Silo saying what politicians (Harry Reid in this instance) REALLY MEAN when they support a “Trigger” in the Health Care legislation as opposed to a straight-forward Political Option.

William Safire has Died at Age 79

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Conservative Columnist and former White House Speech Writer has died of cancer in a Maryland hospice. He wrote a NY Times column for 30 years and, during the Nixon Administration, coined Spiro Agnew’s famous phrase: “nattering nabobs of negativism.”

Safire made a specialty of analyzing the correct use of the English language, and in more than 3000 columns and 15 books he had plenty of opportunity to show off his craft.

I never agreed with his point of view, but I must say I admired his weight and staying power in journalism.

Let’s take a break…

I’ve been blogging so much lately that I am really tired out. I’m going to take a few hours off today… but I’ll be back.

Have a nice Sunday Morning.

-Bill

PS: You can now find my more mundane stuff at OPEN SALON.

MyBarackObama.com is having a Video Contest

hrvc_logoThe Obama/DNC support group, Organizing for America, is having a video competition called Health Reform Video Challenge. Contest starts 12:01 AM (ET) on 9/26/09 and ends 11:59 PM (ET) on 10/18/09. Winners will be selected by 11/7/09 and notified by phone and/or e-mail by 11/9/09. One winner will receive the following prize: all or part of the winner’s video may be used in a TV ad associated with DNC’s health reform campaign (approximate retail value: $0). 20 finalists will be selected by a panel of judges comprised of DNC employees; the winner will be selected by public voters and a panel of experts.

All you have to do is create a 30-second video.

For more details and official rules, go HERE.

A Bit of Atheist Humor

Here is a piece I picked up at 123 Religious Comics. I must warn any of the non-atheists who read my stuff that this might offend you… but there are no bad words and it creates a fine matrix for pet lovers everywhere.

What’s even more fascinating about this is how it shows where REAL religions come from… built out of stories and thin air.

An Extra Cartoon for the Week

If I had seen this one yesterday it would have at least tied for Cartoon of the Week. I give it to you now.

From Pat Oliphant, Universal Press Syndicate:

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Remember when there was a REAL News Media?