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Archive for March 15th, 2010

Actor Pete Graves Dies at 83

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 15th, 2010 4:52 am by HL

Actor Pete Graves Dies at 83
The actor Peter Graves, star of TV’s Mission: Impossible and utterer of the Airplane! line “Have you ever seen a grown man naked?”, has died at age 83 at his home in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

Oil Refinery Cutbacks May Raise Gas Prices
Some of the nation’s biggest oil companies are looking at permanently reducing how much gasoline and diesel fuel they make, a move that analysts say would almost certainly trigger higher prices for drivers. Energy companies are suffering huge losses from refining because of slumping gasoline use — a product of the economic downturn and changing consumer habits and preferences. Energy experts say refining cutbacks have begun and will accelerate as corporations strive for profits.


Kucinich: Nader of Health Care – or The Only One with the Guts and Brains to Do the Right Thing?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 15th, 2010 4:51 am by HL

Kucinich: Nader of Health Care – or The Only One with the Guts and Brains to Do the Right Thing?
Dennis Kucinich is getting slammed by the people he once counted among his friends. Why? Because he is sticking to the one thing progressives supposedly had been fighting for – the public option. Radio host Ian Masters talked with Dennis to get his side of the story.

I taped with Congressman Kucinich for “The Daily Briefing” (5 to 6 PM PT on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and at www.kpfk.org). I was about to ask him to answer charges that he was the Ralph Nader of health care but he abruptly bailed to take a vote. My producer then sent him a text: “We just did a quick interview with you. Would you be willing to respond to charges you are the Nader of health care? Call this number.” I was on the air running the incomplete interview when he called in, and we went live with the Congressman.

I was prepared to dismiss him like Marcos Moulitsas did as a suicidally self-righteous progressive in the Nader mould (see here and here), but after trying to pin him down on what he is up to, it appears Kucinich might be the only Democratic Congressman with the guts and brains to get something done about reforming healthcare, as opposed to health insurance.

As Kucinich told me, this is a matter of doing what an elected representative should do:

KUCINICH: I have a responsibility on behalf of all those people who want to see a public option to help the White House cross that divide. . . . If I cave in without any public option, that could kill any hopes of keeping it alive in the Senate.

I asked him what he thought of the comparisons to Nader. His response showed his appreciation of the consumer activist, but also his continuing loyalty to the Democratic party:

KUCINICH: If being the Ralph Nader of health care means I’m against consumer fraud and against monopolies, that’s OK. But if being the Ralph Nader of health care means that I’m scuttling the Democratic Party, that’s not true. I’m inside the party. I represent a voice inside the party that has helped to make health care an issue in three successive Democratic Platform committees and two national campaigns . . . I haven’t gone outside the party, and the party still has a chance to be able to deliver to the American people a health care bill that would be worthy of broader support.

After watching the Democrat’s Progressive Caucus dutifully roll over for the White House, Kucinich’s original House vote against the bill has meaning now, unlike Lynn Woolsey’s and others. Since the House has to vote on the Senate bill as is, without changing a comma, this is the only time to make a deal, not later during reconciliation when some Senate parliamentarian gets to slice and dice it. In taking a stand as the critical vote that the White House needs, Kucinich appears to be giving Democratic Senators cover as more and more of them declare their support for the public option.

I have a new show in drive time every weeknight at 8pm ET/5pm PT on KPFK, which is available via live stream here.

Tags: Dennis Kucinich, healthcare, Ian Masters, kpfk pacifica, progressives, public option


The Appearance of Profitability
Clarence Thomas finds a way to keep profitability in the family via ‘impartial justice’

It has become apparent that from Roberts, to Scalia, to Alito, to Thomas there is no such thing as an appearance of impropriety to a conservative justice.

But how nice for Clarence Thomas that in voting with the 5-4 majority in Citizens United he not only saw no conflict of interest; he managed to give his wife a business opportunity CA-CHING!

As “an ordinary citizen from Omaha, Neb.” and Teabagger.

Although the busier Mrs. Thomas stays, the less likely she is to review her husband’s “history” file on the home PC. After all, as long as she thinks “Red-tube” is like You-Tube for monitoring liberal propaganda, as he’s explained to her, the better it is for domestic tranquility.

Tags: Clarence Thomas, SCOTUS, Virginia Lamp Thomas

I’m Down With Dennis
Let me get this straight. The Senate will pass a public option if the House will. And the House will, because it already did. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi won’t allow it. So the mortal enemy of public-option backers is . . . Dennis Kucinich.

Dennis Kucinich (photo 2007, courtesy of CAPAF)

Let me get this straight. The Senate will pass a public option if the House will. And the House will, because it already did. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi won’t allow it. So the mortal enemy of public-option backers is . . . Dennis Kucinich.

Why? Because when Congressman Kucinich said he’d stand for a public option he stupidly thought he was supposed to mean it.

Let’s review a brief history of the disease known as “health insurance reform.”

When the president and the speaker of the House thought it would be strategic to censor any talk of single-payer healthcare, almost every member of Congress and almost every astroturfing party-before-country activist group and labor union, and almost every follower of those groups, fell obediently into line. “We’ll open the debate with the least we’ll settle for, a pathetic token public-option,” they thought cleverly, rubbing their hands together. “Then we’ll compromise down from there.”

But after demanding the “public option,” too many people refused to toss it overboard, and public pressure grew to keep it in. So 60 congress members signed a letter to the speaker last summer insisting that they would not settle for a health insurance bill that lacked a serious public option. When they were presented with a bill that did not meet their demands, almost all of them voted for it anyway.

Now 51 senators say they will pass a bill including a super-pathetic token public option of the sort passed by the House last summer, but Pelosi wants to pass a bill without anything even called a “public option” in it. Almost all of the congressional public-option stalwarts want to go along with the speaker and the president. And almost all of the astroturfing party-before-country activist groups want to fall obediently into line.

Meanwhile several states are moving single-payer healthcare bills through their legislatures, but they face likely lawsuits from insurance companies over conflicts with federal law if they try to actually get their residents healthcare. Senator Bernie Sanders is advertising the Senate bill as solving this problem, routinely failing to mention that his solution, if it is one, does not kick in for seven years. But an amendment passed in a House committee last summer would have clearly and unequivocally taken care of states’ concerns. The president told the speaker to strip that amendment out of the bill, and almost no members of Congress complained when she did so.

Where does Dennis Kucinich fit into this story? He’s the reason the word “almost” appears in it so many times. He didn’t open negotiations by proposing the lowest he’d accept. He pushed for a real single-payer solution. He single-handedly framed the public option as a compromise rather than a communist plot. Kucinich signed the letter committing to take a stand for at least a public option. But he made the mistake of thinking people actually wanted him to mean it. So he took that lonely stand. And he introduced and passed the amendment that would have allowed states to provide their residents with a serious healthcare solution.

Now, all the astroturfers applauded and encouraged taking a stand for a public option when there were 60 congress members pretending to do it, without apparently giving any thought to how greatly weakened progressives would be in Congress if they didn’t follow through. Did they think the chance that a bluff might work was worth damaging all future campaigns? Did they disbelieve all their own talk about how the bill would be worthless without the “public option.” It’s hard to know. The so-called public option had shrunk to such a token gesture that it was always hard to know what good they imagined it would do if included. And today they talk about passing a bill without even that token included, and passing it “for political reasons,” usually avoiding the question of whether the bill is actually better or worse than nothing.

But suppose that you honestly thought the public option was worth at least pretending to take a stand for, and now you no longer do, but you think the remaining bill does more good than harm. Why would you have no complaint with Pelosi who could put the “public option” back in and pass the bill? Why would you have no complaint with congress members who oppose the bill on the grounds that it protects abortion rights? Why would your complaints be focused on the one guy who stuck to what you used to want him to stick to? Could embarrassment be a factor here? Shame? Humiliation? Do you feel uneasy about asking that ever congress member be an obedient slave to the president? Do you sense that progressives would then be excluded entirely? Does it worry you that you’re protesting insurance companies in support of a bill that causes insurance companies’ stocks to rise?

Even the activist groups that have acted on principle throughout this ordeal have fallen short of Kucinich’s actions. Kucinich knew that real progress would come through the states, so he worked to pass an amendment permitting state single-payer. And virtually nobody backed him up. Activist groups either prattled on in a fog about national single-payer, or they focused exclusively on the so-called public option. These two camps wouldn’t talk to each other, but they both agreed on leaving states’ concerns by the wayside.

If, in stark contrast to what was done, labor unions and activist groups and progressive media had taken their agenda from their membership and brought it to Washington, rather than the reverse, then very quickly Kucinich would not have been alone in demanding single-payer, and the right-wingers would have soon been begging for a token public option as a compromise.

Healthcare is only one issue. There are dozens of stories like the one above, with different issues but the same characters and plot. When dozens of congress members commit to opposing war funding, Kucinich commits and then follows through. When it comes to ending the wars or impeaching the war criminals, Kucinich leads, in opposition to his political party but in support of his constituents, the American people, the rule of law, and the stated goals of progressives.

I hope self-loathing partisan sycophants realize that the corporate media will equally depict either passage or nonpassage of a “health insurance reform” bill as a defeat for Democrats. And, in this case, rightly so. But the long-term impact of a reform that doesn’t reform, one that rather compels Americans to pay their hard-earned money to institutions even more hated than Congress, namely health insurance companies — THAT would be the real political loser, with or without a privately run program for 3 percent of us called “the public option.” And, again, rightly so. Kucinich is saving the Democrats from themselves by helping to block their health insurance bill, but they can’t see what’s in front of them through the fog of their constant dreaming about mountains of money and a naked Rahm Emanuel poking them in the chests.

Tags: Dennis Kucinich, healthcare, progressives, public option, single payer


Americans to Lose One Hour to Daylight Saving and the Rest to Facebook, Twitter

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 15th, 2010 4:50 am by HL

Americans to Lose One Hour to Daylight Saving and the Rest to Facebook, Twitter
Satire by Andy Borowitz Due to the extraordinary amount of time the average American spends on the two popular social networking sites, he or she is expected to waste 48 hours this weekend out of a possible 47. Satire by Andy Borowitz By Andy Borowitz

Due to the extraordinary amount of time the average American spends on the two popular social networking sites, he or she is expected to waste 48 hours this weekend out of a possible 47.


Related Entries



MoveOn Fundraising Against Anti-Health Care Dems

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 15th, 2010 4:49 am by HL

MoveOn Fundraising Against Anti-Health Care Dems
In a warning shot to wavering Democrats, the progressive action group MoveOn.org is making a major push to raise money on behalf of primary challengers…

Michael Kieschnick: How to Bribe a Supreme Court Justice
The Los Angeles Times performed a serious act of journalism by covering the interesting conflict of interest facing Justice Clarence Thomas. Mr. Thomas is married…

Jeff Danziger: Texas School Board


Will, Brooks mislead on deficit reduction in health care reform

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 15th, 2010 4:48 am by HL

Will, Brooks mislead on deficit reduction in health care reform

Columnists George Will and David Brooks both claimed that the deficit reduction provisions of the Senate health care bill are, in Brooks’ words, “totally bogus” because “it has 10 years of taxes and six years of benefits.” In fact, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that the Senate bill will not only reduce budget deficits through 2019, but will continue to reduce deficits in the following decade.

Will, Brooks claim deficit reduction is “bogus” and due to “10 years of taxes and six years of benefits”

Brooks: “[A] lot of the deficit control is totally bogus.” Appearing on the March 14 edition of NBC’s Meet the Press, Brooks said he “lean[s] against” health care reform, in part because “a lot of the deficit control is totally bogus.” Brooks added: “We’re [going to] have 10 years of revenue to pay for six years of costs.”

Will: Legislation’s deficit reduction is due to “accounting gimmicks.” On the March 14 edition of ABC’s This Week, host Jake Tapper said to Will, “[F]ormer Congressman Ray LaHood … has an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune today talking about why, as a member of the House, he would have voted for this bill, because this bill reduces the deficit, and it also brings down health care costs and it will make insurance more affordable. Do you believe that he would have voted for it as a Republican congressman?” Will replied: “Not a bit. It reduces the deficit because you have 10 years of taxes and six years of benefits and other accounting gimmicks.”

In fact, CBO has estimated Senate and House bills will continue to reduce deficits after 2019

CBO expects Senate bill to continue deficit reduction during decade after 2019. From the March 11 CBO estimate of the Senate health care bill:

CBO expects that the legislation, if enacted, would reduce federal budget deficits over the decade after 2019 relative to those projected under current law — with a total effect during that decade that is in a broad range between one-quarter percent and one-half percent of GDP. That judgment is unchanged from CBO’s previous assessment, and the imprecision of that calculation reflects the even greater degree of uncertainty that attends to it, compared with CBO’s 10-year budget estimates.

CBO estimated the House bill will also result in deficit reductions in the decade after 2019. From the November 6 CBO estimate:

According to CBO and JCT’s assessment, enacting H.R. 3962 would result in a net reduction in federal budget deficits of $109 billion over the 2010-2019 period (see Table 1) [this estimate was later updated to $138 billion over the same period]. In the subsequent decade, the collective effect of its provisions would probably be slight reductions in federal budget deficits. Those estimates are all subject to substantial uncertainty.


Timeline: What Were Dem Leaders Told About Massa?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 15th, 2010 4:47 am by HL

Timeline: What Were Dem Leaders Told About Massa?
After the House vote today to refer to the ethics committee the question of what Democratic leaders knew about former Rep. Eric Massa before news of harassment allegations broke publicly, it’s worth looking at the timeline of what we know so far.

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The Real Republican Plan for Our Future

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 15th, 2010 4:43 am by HL

The Real Republican Plan for Our Future


Poll Shows Thompson Leading Feingold

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 15th, 2010 4:42 am by HL

Poll Shows Thompson Leading Feingold
A new Wisconsin Policy Research Institute poll shows Tommy Thompson (R) leading Sen. Russ Feingold (D) in a possible U.S. Senate match up, 51% to 39%.

A Feingold spokesman criticized WPRI as a group with strong Republican ties.

Mark Blumenthal has a good piece on a controversy with WPRI data and notes that if nothing else, it “demonstrates the increasing difficulty consumers of polling data have in identifying potential conflicts in the sponsorship and funding of public polling.”

Another Strange Ad from Fiorina
Swampland has the latest attack ad from U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina (R) — infamous for the “Demon Sheep” attack on primary opponent Tom Campbell (R) — this time aimed at Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

Ben Smith notes the ad, titled “Hot Air,” describes Fiorina as “a 5-foot-6-inch fireball” and attacks Boxer’s record with special ferocity, saying she “spent 18 years in the Senate and only passed three tiny bills.”

Obama Losing Chance to Reshape Judiciary
“An early chance for the Obama administration to reshape the nation’s judiciary — and counter gains made in the federal courts by conservatives — appears close to slipping away, due to a combination of White House inattention and Republican opposition,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“During President Obama’s first year, judicial nominations trickled out of the White House at a far slower pace than in President George W. Bush’s first year. Bush announced 11 nominees for federal appeals courts in the fourth month of his tenure. Obama didn’t nominate his 11th appeals court judge until November, his 10th month in office.”

“Moreover, Obama nominees are being confirmed at a much slower rate than those of his predecessor, largely because of the gridlocked Senate.”

Quote of the Day
“[Sunday talk shows] will be talking about healthcare not as a presidential proposal but I think as the law of the land.”

— White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, quoted by The Hill, predicting the passage of health care reform this week.


Do Women on the Pill Live Longer? One Study Says Yes?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 15th, 2010 4:41 am by HL

Do Women on the Pill Live Longer? One Study Says Yes?

The birth control pill has been around for fifty years, and in that time, a lot of women have taken a lot of hormones. Indeed, the United Nations Population Division estimates that more than 100 million women around the world are currently taking hormonal contraception. That’s a huge number to be sure, but it’s […]

The Precious Debates: Stanley Crouch, Sheril Antonio, and Howard Stern Debate if the Oscar Winning Film is ?Pathology Porn?

I am confounded as I try to make sense of film scholar Sheril Antonio and noted Black public intellectual Stanley Crouch’s debating the merit of what I see as the pseudo-monster movie Precious. And yes, I called that “cultural” document a monster movie because what is Precious, if anything, but monstrous? First random thought: did Stanley […]

The Woman Who Just Might Save the Planet and Our Pocketbooks
What if our economy was not built on competition? Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom talks about her work on cooperation in economics.

What if our economy was not built on competition? Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom talks about her work on cooperation in economics.

Stop the Deportation of Immigrant Military Veterans
They put their lives on the line in the service of the United States of America, and ended up being booted out of the country they fought for.

They put their lives on the line in the service of the United States of America, and ended up being booted out of the country they fought for.

Will Pro-Choice Catholic Groups Help Thwart Stupak?s Plan to Sink Reform?

The following post was originally published on Washington Monthly. In order for Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) to succeed in helping kill health care reform over abortion, he needs to convince a bloc of his fellow pro-life Democrats that the already-tough restrictions in the Senate bill just aren’t strong enough. But for those pro-life Dems, mostly Roman […]


Bail out our schools

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 15th, 2010 4:40 am by HL

Bail out our schools
Any day now, the Obama administration will announce $4.35 billion in extra federal funds for under-performing public schools. That’s fine, but relative to the financial squeeze all the nation’s public schools now face it’s a cruel joke. The recession has…


Public schoolEducationUnited StatesPresidency of Barack ObamaWall Street

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