Proud member of the Firebagger Lefty blogosphere!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thank God - she done gone and said it-

Finally, someone in the mainstream press has put in print what has been obvious to me, a Southern Expatriate, for quite a few months. Racism is alive and well in the United States and the proof is easy to see. It ranges from the Birthers, to the Deathers, to the screams and shouts over Obama's address to school children last Tuesday reaching a crescendo with Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst last Wednesday night. Maureen Dowd has finally said it. These are the words that broke the silence of the mainstream press:
Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it.
As she rightly points out what Wilson really said wasn't just "You lie!" but rather "You lie, boy!". Certainly that's what my Southern ears actually heard. Its no coincidence that the first President to be heckled in a joint session of Congress was also the first black President and that the first heckler was a Southern Republican.

Unfortunately, Maureen hasn't made the final leap to a deeper understanding of the situation. I grew up in the 60's South and watched the old racist Southern Democrats become Republicans. They didn't loose their racism when they left the Democratic Party rather it was because of their racism that they became Republicans. Unfortunately the Republican Party greeted the racists with open arms and has never looked back. Nor has it ever challenged the racists in its midst as it slowly adopted their view as its own. Thus, in a sad historical twist the party of Lincoln has become their natural home. Racism is the reason the South moved from the Democratic to the Republican Party and while polite people do not speak of it and they work hard to hide it those views and attitudes are still there. Taken to a larger whole, racism is a defining element in the world view of a real and sizable percentage of the Republican base and it shouldn't surprise anybody that it shows its ugly face from time to time. As Dowd rightly concludes the fact that Obama is a literate, well spoken black man only tends to make matters worse. To paraphrase her, a good chunk of the racist Republican base simply can't cope with the fact that a black man is President.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Insurance Companies love mandates

Simple logic - wish Obama understood it!

Another YouTube goodie found via Jesus General

Mandates are a disaster

The DailyKos, normally blind to actions and real intent of the Obama Administration, is starting to get a clue. They seem to now understand that the individual mandates in the Baucus Health Reform bill that would force people to pay a monthly tribute to the Health Insurance Deities are a disaster for the Democratic Party. Since the insurance they will be forced to buy will most certainly be junk the mandate will be wildly unpopular with the voters and the Democratic Party will rightly be blamed for them. Here's a link to the post and the important paragraphs:
"Under the Baucus plan, nothing would force the industry to compete for these new customers. Industry would effectively hold them hostage. The only proposal that's out there to provide the competition this system needs is the public option, and without it, the public will be held hostage to the whims of the private insurance industry.

The problem here isn't the notion of a mandate. A mandate -- or something like it -- is an essential part of reform because it requires everybody to take responsibility for the risks they impose on the system. But when the mandate forces people to buy private health insurance without offering an alternative, you have a situation that is untenable, and would quickly turn into a monumental political disaster for the Democratic Party."
However, the following paragraph shows that they really don't totally understand what's happening yet:
"The upcoming days and weeks will be the biggest test so far as to whether progressives in the House and Senate will be able to stick together to achieve meaningful change -- or whether they will simply roll over and cave once again to the special interests who own senators like Max Baucus and Kent Conrad."
Now, if they could just understand that Baucus and Conrad aren't acting on their own - they are just doing the bidding of the Obama administration we will really be getting somewhere. Obama is out enemy not the two stooges - Baucus and Conrad.

Friday, September 11, 2009

UnitedHealth lobbyist does fundraiser for Pelosi

Frankly I never liked her anyway - I always though she was incompetent but now it appears she's just another Congressional Criminal on top of that. What bigger signal do we need that the public option is dead?

Go to David Sirota's article on OpenLeft for the sickening details.

Mr Abelson - obviously not from this time/space dimension

This morning while I was wolfing down an incredible breakfast burrito at Bee's #1 I just about gagged when I encountered Reed Abelson's article on page A16 of today's NY Times.

Its really hard to know where to begin. The title alone is enough to cause any sane person to upchuck - "President’s Speech Allays Some Fears in the Health Insurance Industry". It only got worse from there. The first paragraph makes me wonder which time/space dimension Abelson has occupied for the last several months:
"During the summer’s heated discussions over health care, when Democrats seemed quick to portray the health insurance companies as the system’s main villains, the industry seemed to be in policy makers’ cross hairs."
What??? They are villians - Obama never layed a glove on them (that's a big part of the problem) and the Senate that they own didn't go after them either. Then continuing on Abelson says:
"But as the specifics of Washington’s proposed overhaul have emerged in recent days — from Senator Max Baucus and in President Obama’s speech on Wednesday night — some industry analysts say insurers may not have much to fear.

“The outlook is moving away from the worst case,” said Les Funtleyder, who follows the industry for the investment firm Miller Tabak & Company in New York.

Even Mr. Obama, who had recently stepped up his criticism of the industry, seemed to soften his stance on Wednesday. He recounted a few insurance horror stories — as might be politically necessary when arguing the need for a system makeover. But as he outlined his plans for health care, which focused mainly on a revamping of the nation’s insurance system, he was careful to point out that the executives who run those companies were not “bad people.” "
Not "bad people"? Those that make millions or hundreds of millions by denying care to premium paying customers aren't really "bad people"? But there's more:
"Some industry executives on Thursday acknowledged the president’s shift in tone. “The rhetoric seemed to be much more positive,” said Ronald A. Williams, the chief executive of Aetna, one of the nation’s largest health insurers.

The reality may also be much more favorable to insurers, industry analysts said. Mr. Obama has already agreed to grant one of the industry’s dearest wishes: a requirement that everyone have coverage, which is reflected in the proposals in Congress."
You can read the rest on your own I don't have the stomach for it.

I'm confused- how could the same person that wrote this article have written this one about people who went bankrupt even while insured or this one on essentially the same topic. Just amazing how can Abelson at one moment report facts and the next write a piece like this or this which are essentially the stuff of Insurance Lobbyist wet dreams.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Obama's speech -

Hmmmmmm -------

Re: Obama's speech - well nothing that will change the dynamics of Health Care Reform debate much. A few folks that weren't listening for the last several months may have gotten some facts but besides the outburst of Rep. Joe Wilson not much news. The only thing that got a response out of me was Obama's promise to "call out lies". Well that's nice - it would have been really helpful if he had started that a couple of months ago.

For another take see David Sirota's post. He makes several good points.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A great post on Baucus' Health Care proposal (disaster) at
A 'framework' made in health insurer's workshop

Posted by Judy Dugan

The latest proposal in the Washington health reform debate protects a lot of groups. Employers get protection from cost, paying very little if they don't offer insurance. Insurers get millions of new customers and protection from effective competition. Overall medical cost reduction is vague (Can you say "pilot program?"). The middle class, the group with no free-spending Washington lobby, gets the lump of coal--less help with premiums and higher out of pocket costs than in other proposals.

Today's new plan is just a set of ideas labeled "Framework for Comprehensive Health Reform." But its author, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has become the center of power in health reform.

The plan Baucus has in mind is suited to a small-state legislator who reaps big contributions from the health industry--health-related companies and their employees gave Baucus's political committees nearly $1.5 million in 2007 and 2008 alone. My colleague Jerry Flanagan earlier described one of the worst features of the Baucus "Framework"--insurance companies can weasel out of state-level protections for consumers and patients--things like required maternity benefits and state reviews of benefit denials.

The numbers in the plan also raise consumers' costs. First, there is no direct premium subsidy for famiies making more than $66,000 a year. And the basic ("Bronze") plan would have to cover only 65% of the average cost (the "actuarial value") of all medical claims that are covered by the plan--never mind care that isn't covered. That, of course, leaves the patient on the hook for the other 35% on average, on top of the cost of the premium. That means very high copays and deductibles. And 65% is exactly the level that the insurance industry demanded of Congress.

As for the premium costs, families that don't get a subsidy could be charged up to 13% of family income for the premium alone, based on second-most-modest ("Silver") policy. That's $10,400 for a family of five with income of $80,000. On top of that, the family could end up with out of pocket costs in the high thousands. If insurers also get to dump state regulation, the family may also get much less in the way of benefits--meaning they won't really understand how worthless their coverage is until they file a claim.

What we're seeing in Congress is a health reform plan that comes down to what the insurance industry and some of its allies want. It's still a system driven by profit, not health. It's not not what American families need. It won't fundamentally reform the fragmented and wasteful way that health care is delivered. The Baucus plan may be better than nothing, but it's far from what other nations offer, and far from what Americans deserve.
The Baucus plan stinks - it really stinks. The process stinks too -

A warning from Josh Marshall

Words of caution that I don't think anybody is hearing from Josh Marshall on Talking Points Memo:
Where's This Going?
Josh Marshall | September 7, 2009, 10:31AM

Am I the only one who thinks that if the Dems pass a bill with mandates and subsidies for poor and moderate income people to purchase it but no public option or competition with the insurers, that it will be pretty much a catastrophe for the Democrats in political terms?

You 'solve' the problem of the uninsured by passing a law forcing them to buy health insurance which, by definition, most a) cannot afford or b) are gambling they won't need because they're young and healthy. Either you end up with low subsidies which still leave it onerous to buy, thus creating a lot of disgruntled people, or you get generous subsidies, which cost a lot of money.

It's sort of like reform with all the cool political downsides but none of the reform.

Of course, political terms are not the only calculus on which to evaluate these questions. And the model I'm describing sounds more or less like the system they have in Switzerland and Massachusetts, which many health care experts I have a lot of respect for still believe would be a big improvement over the current situation. But I do wonder whether, if the details are not thought through carefully, you might not end up with a system less effective at driving down costs than driving down the number of Democrats serving in Congress.

The dangers of caving

Something else from OpenLeft that needs to be seen -

Ultimately the take home lesson is that if we cave there is nothing to prevent the worst of the worst health care bills from becoming law.

A good rant by David Sirota

Earlier today David Sirota threw a good rant on the state of things at Open Left. After discussing a Wall Street Journal article that contains the memorable and unfortunately true line:
"How bitter it must be to discover that the Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck, who drove the debate about Mr. Jones, counts for more at this White House than Mr. Sirota."
Sirota goes on to say:
"Progressives don't just "believe" they deserve a seat at the table - we actually do deserve that seat, not just because we worked to elect this president, but because our stance on major issues like the public option, climate change, Wall Street reform and the war are the majoritarian positions in America. That's not speculation - polls show that's an empirical fact.

But we won't get that seat at the table unless we demand it. That means the Washington-based progressive groups have to stop kissing the White House's ass and selling out their grassroots membership. It means rank-and-file Obama supporters have to stop framing legitimate progressive pressure on Obama as some sort of disloyal desire to see Mitt Romney elected President in 2012.

It means, as I said in my last newspaper column, that we have to start thinking and acting like a real movement, and not just like sycophantic political partisans. If we do that, we'll get that seat at the table - and more importantly, we'll get the legislative results Obama originally promised, but now hesitates to champion."
This too is sadly true and I fear Sirota's pleas and observations will fall on deaf ears.

Frankly I sense that's Sirota's plea is as much about Health Care reform and the public option as anything else. I really believe we are fast approaching the "end game" in this mess and that he senses Progressives will ultimately cave.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Just love those fundamentalist -

They really can be a laugh a minute. For example I was howling earlier today when I read this:
Kristin Maguire, South Carolina's Board of Education Chairwoman, resigned on August 31 siting "family matters", but the real reason might be her secret hobby as an erotica writer under the pen name Bridget Keeney. Kristin Maguire, a professed Christian, was one of South Carolina's most respected social conservatives who had served on the board for 9 years since 2000. She has been a strong supporter of abstinence only sex education.
From a 2003 web page some of her more entertaining titles are:
Title -- Description
A Great Ride -- Taking the edge off of your appetite.
Lauren's Masturbatory Musings -- Lauren reveals her fantasies to Paul.
Locker Room Recreation -- Couple enjoys all the hotel's amenities.
Man of the Year -- Lauren gives her 'Man of the Year' what he's always wanted.
Penumbra -- Kurt & Bridget come out of shadow of mutual loss.
Tara's Thanksgiving Weekend Ch. 1 -- Tara has an appetizer on her way to dinner.
Thanksgiving Weekend Ch. 2 -- Tara gets a massage and more.
Thanksgiving Weekend Ch. 3 -- Tara gets her first taste of Sandy.
Thanksgiving Weekend Ch. 4 -- Tara is the main course for two brothers.
Wife of the Year -- Lauren proves she isn't just a trophy bride.
If South Carolina keeps it up they might start to rival Texas as as the primo right-winged loony bin of the South.

Update: Over at FITSNEWS.COM they have dredged up a couple of Bridget Keeney's literary efforts for your entertainment.

Update 2: From GAWKER because they read 'em and I just can't resist myself:
It would be hard for those groups to ignore Maguire's alleged prose, like a tale entitled "Continental Cuisine," which features a woman blowing a man while his pal wanks one off. (Sample line: "The rhythmic sway of the train car added to the bobbing of my head as I sucked deeply.")

Another tale goes by the name, "Lauren's Masturbatory Musings." You can only imagine what that one concerns. Both are available at FITSNews' site and are quite tawdry, trashy and downright raunchy, which means they're great.

H.P. Lovecraft on Republicans

A friend just sent me this excerpt from one of SciFi writer H. P. Lovecraft letters. While it was written in 1936 it's still a wonderfully perceptive and clear view of what Republicans are today. Read and be amazed:
“As for the Republicans—how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles and attitudes based on the bygone agricultural-handicraft world, and revel in (consciously or unconsciously) mendacious assumptions (such as the notion that real liberty is synonymous with the single detail of unrestricted economic license or that a rational planning of resource-distribution would contravene some vague and mystical ‘American heritage’…) utterly contrary to fact and without the slightest foundation in human experience? Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead.”