Blog Archives

I might have limited posting for a while…

Due to a medical emergency (the discovery of a potential brain tumor… aint that a kick in the head?) I’m going to be going in for several days of testing, etc., but I’ll try to keep up with you folks. I want you to know how much I appreciate the readers of Under The LobsterScope, and your e-mail to me is always welcome, as well as your likes and comments.

DON’T FORGET TO VOTE THIS MORNING IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY.

I don’t want to wake up in a hospital and find that Mitt the Twit is president.

English: Nate Silver in Washington, D.C.

 Nate Silver

I’m glad that Nate Silver in the NY Times, 538 column, is still got his usually very accurate poll predictions on Obama carrying most of the swing states… and his prediction that our president will be re-elected.

Your e-mail is always appreciated… Bill.

An Economic Quote for the Morning…

… from Paul Krugman in the NY Times:

“Consciously or not, policy makers are catering almost exclusively to the interests of rentiers — those who derive lots of income from assets, who lent large sums of money in the past, often unwisely, but are now being protected from loss at everyone else’s expense.”

Hmmm. “Rentiers.” There’s a new word to learn. It’s sort of a nice way to say bastard bankers, or corporate pigs… a lot of class for a collection of scum ( or “scumiers”). Yet these are the people who have taken their tax deductions and NOT created jobs… nor even encouraged the creation of jobs… but have pocketed their cash in the back of their pants in Mexico and China and India… Certainly it is not being spent here in the good old USA.

And who pays the tab on the huge bill created for operation of our government, military, debt repayments and the loans and support w are making to just about every other civil population but our own? Why, we do. The American “Middle Class“… just a label now, since any economic positives of being in the middle class have been thoroughly negated.

Krugman sums up how these “rentiers” take over the ruling power in our country:

“And that explains why creditor interests bulk so large in policy; not only is this the class that makes big campaign contributions, it’s the class that has personal access to policy makers — many of whom go to work for these people when they exit government through the revolving door. The process of influence doesn’t have to involve raw corruption (although that happens, too). All it requires is the tendency to assume that what’s good for the people you hang out with, the people who seem so impressive in meetings — hey, they’re rich, they’re smart, and they have great tailors — must be good for the economy as a whole.

And we sit by the wayside, left behind, in pain and broken (and broke), thinking that we could get rich, too, rather than standing up and fighting back.

I was so happy to see that the NY Times has the CATF in their Summer Theatre Season listing.

Contemporary American Theater Festival

I didn’t remember seeing CATF last year, but this year, when the NY Times ran it’s annual listing of major theater sites across the country, there was the Contemporary American Theater Festival, the only listing under West Virginia in Summer Stages.

Looks like our local festival, now entering its 21st year, is being recognized in the major listings. Congratulations to Ed Herendeen and staff.

The Plays in Repertory, JULY 8 – 31:
FROM PRAGUE by Kyle Bradstreet
RACE by David Mamet
AGES OF THE MOON by Sam Shepard
WE ARE HERE by Tracy Thorne
THE INSURGENTS by Lucy Thurber

Quote of the Day – Career

“My name is John Stewart and I tell dumb jokes for money.”

– Daily Show host John Stewart in a documentary on the NY Times Crossword Puzzle that I was watching this afternoon.

I’ve never heard someone sum up their successful career as well.

The NY Times on Jon Stewart Vs. Fox News

Or, as Stewart says:
“I have not moved out of the comedian’s box into the news box. The news box is moving toward me.”

Here’s a clip, but the whole article is worth reading:

clipped from www.nytimes.com

Jon Stewart’s Punching Bag, Fox News

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are long gone. Fox News Channel is Jon Stewart’s new enemy No. 1.

Last week that comedian did something that the hosts of “Fox & Friends,” the morning show on Fox News, did not do: he had his staff members call the White House and ask a question.

It may have been in pursuit of farce, not fact, but it gave credence to the people who say “The Daily Show” is journalistic, not just satiric. “Fox & Friends” had repeatedly asked whether the crescent-shaped logo of the nuclear security summit was an “Islamic image,” one selected by President Obama in his outreach to the Muslim world. The White House told “The Daily Show” that the logo was actually based on the Rutherford-Bohr model of the atom.

Mr. Stewart routinely charges that Fox’s news anchors and commentators distort Mr. Obama’s policies and advance a conservative agenda. He reminds some viewers of the left-wing group Media Matters but much funnier.
  blog it

NY Times Editorial: It Happened in Our Backyard

clipped from www.nytimes.com

We sympathized with the concerns about security and inconvenience raised by the Justice Department’s plan to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described 9/11 mastermind, at a federal courthouse in downtown Manhattan, a short walk from ground zero.

But caving in to political pressure and agreeing to move the trial, as The Times reported the Obama administration has decided to do, was the wrong move. New York was the right place for this trial. This is where the attack occurred, and New Yorkers should have been proud to see justice done here. The United States District Court in Manhattan has a long, successful record of trying terrorists, including the ones responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
President George W. Bush’s decision to hold prisoners outside the law and then attempt to try them in rigged military courts was legally wrong, and hugely damaging to American values and this country’s global image.
  blog it
There’s more to be read in this editorial HERE.

And just in case you are wondering, I agree with the Times’ editors.

NY Times Announces a Big Mistake:

This from HuffPo:

The New York Times Wednesday confirmed reports that it would introduce a “metered model” to its website, formally announcing plans to introduce “a paid model for NYTimes.com at the beginning of 2011.”

Under the metered model, the newspaper’s website “will offer users free access to a set number of articles per month and then charge users once they exceed that number.”

“This will enable NYTimes.com to create a second revenue stream and preserve its robust advertising business,” the announcement said. “It will also provide the necessary flexibility to keep an appropriate ratio between free and paid content and stay connected to a search-driven Web.”

Looks like my referrals to the NY Times, and reading them every morning, is about to end. I don’t think they have

Around the Web… Morning Summary

Lots of stuff this morning… more than I’m going to have time to write about today, so here’s a quick tour of the web to see what’s going on. Pull up with a cup of coffee and read away while I look for a job. – BT

On NYTimes.com:

Tensions Mount in Devastated Capital as Aid Starts to Reach Haiti

Taxing Banks for the Bailout

On HuffPo:

Haiti Earthquake: Breaking News, Updates

Jeff Zucker Threatens Conan: ‘I’ll Keep You Off The Air For 3.5 Years’: Nikki Finke

Geithner: Bailed Out AIG ‘Absolutely’ Right To Pay Banks Top Dollar
(I agree with one person who posted a response here: “Geithner = Obama’s Rumsfeld”)

On TPM:

With Health Care On The Line, Campaign Workers Swarm MA-Sen Race


Democrats Push Reluctant Obama To End Antitrust Exemption For Insurance Companies

On Yahoo News:

UN: Looters break into UN warehouses in Haiti

Scientists warned Haiti officials of quake in ’08

NY Times Article stomps on Single-Payer System

Found this David Lindorff piece on BuzzFlash:

In an article in Sunday’s The New York Times, headlined “Medicare for All? ‘Crazy,’ ‘Socialized’ and Unlikely,” reporter Katherine Q. Seelye did her best to damn the idea of government insurance for all with faint praise.

To begin her article, Seelye quoted from a 2005 episode of the NBC drama “West Wing,” in which two presidential candidates, a Democrat played by Jimmy Smits and a Republican played by the always loveable Alan Alda, are discussing health care reform. The Smits character says his “ideal plan” would be Medicare for all. “That’s crazy,” counters the Alda Republican. Then Seelye segued to an opinion piece recently penned by real-life one-time Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern (a noble figure who nonetheless has long since been typecast as an out-of-touch extreme liberal loser), who favors expansion of Medicare into a national single-payer system.

Turning to the real world, Seelye then trotted out several economists, ostensibly to give a broad spectrum of arguments about the idea of single-payer, but in fact carefully avoiding including anyone who actually supports the idea of expanding Medicare.

As her representative liberal, she quoted Brandeis economist Stuart Altman, an Obama adviser during the presidential campaign, who said that while he is not “ideologically uncomfortable” with expanding Medicare, such a move would be “disruptive.” Going then to what she described as “the other end of the political spectrum,” Seeley quoted Robert E. Moffit of the right-wing Heritage Foundation, who claimed Medicare would mean too much government power over health care.” Finally, seeking what she could call middle ground, Seelye turned to Dartmouth economist Jonathan Skinner, who claimed that expanding Medicare would be good because it would cover everyone, but bad because it would mean tripling the Medicare tax, currently 2.9% of paychecks. If we were looking at a political yardstick here, Seelye started at the 16″ mark (Altman), then went to the 36″ mark (Moffit), and finally went to the 24″ mark (Skinner).

But where was an economist from the real left end of the political spectrum, over in the single digits of that yardstick? Altaman, representing the private insurance-based Obama approach, was hardly it!

Seelye might have gone to her colleague, columnist Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at Princeton, who has on a number of occasions written and stated that a single-payer system such as Medicare for all would be “far cheaper” than any private insurance-based system. Krugman, at least, would be over by the 10″ or 12″ line on a political yardstick.

Never has the Times really analyzed the true costs and benefits of the plan espoused in a bill, HR 676, authored by House Judiciary Chair John Conyers (D-MI), which would expand Medicare to cover every American. Seelye mentions Rep. Conyers’ bill, but says innocently that it is “going nowhere” in the House. In fact, his bill, despite having been co-sponsored by 86 members of the House, has been blocked from getting a public hearing in committee by Nancy Pelosi and the House leadership, at the behest of the Obama White House, which is dead-set against a single-payer reform of health care.

The reason the Times and the insurance industry-besotted White House and Congressional leadership don’t want that analysis is that it would show clearly that a single-payer system would mean vast savings for all Americans.

Seelye quotes economist Skinner as claiming that Medicare expansion to cover every American would mean a tripling of the Medicare payroll tax — currently set at 2.9% of wages. But even if we accepted Skinner’s math, it is meaningless without looking at the savings side.

Sure expanding Medicare would mean higher Medicare taxes, but what about the following:

Medicaid, the program that pays for medical care for the poor, and is funded by federal and state taxes, would be eliminated, saving $400 billion a year.

Veterans’ care, currently running at $100 billion a year, would be eliminated.

Perhaps two-thirds of the $300 billion a year spent by federal, state, and local governments to reimburse hospitals for so-called “charity care” for treatment of people who have no insurance but don’t qualify for Medicaid, would be eliminated.

Individuals and employers would no longer have to pay for private insurance.

Several hundred billion dollars currently spent on paperwork by private insurers would be eliminated.

Car insurance would be cheaper as there would no longer have to be coverage for medical bills.

Federal, state, and local governments would no longer have to pay to insure public employees.

In short, if every person were on Medicare, the overall savings would overwhelm the small increase in the Medicare payroll tax of 5.8%.

The bottom line is that Canadians, who have Medicare for all, devote 10% of GDP to health care. Americans, who have private-insurance-based health care except for the elderly, devote 17% of GDP to health care.

Seelye and the Times have never mentioned any of this. Neither does President Obama or the Democratic Congress.

DAVE LINDORFF is a journalist and sometime carpenter living outside Philadelphia. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006). His work can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.