Monday, August 31, 2009

Rep. Henry Waxman Fan Club

Sign me up. As Booman says, "Waxman is a stud-hoss." Waxman's Energy and Commerce Committee has put together a website with analysis of every Congressional district in the country and exactly how screwed each community is by the current health care system, and how much reform will help...
The Committee has prepared, for each member, a district-level analysis of the impact of the legislation. This analysis includes information on the impact of the legislation on small businesses, seniors in Medicare, health care providers, and the uninsured. It also includes an estimate of the impacts of the surtax that is used to pay for the legislation.

The results summary for my district:
America’s Affordable Health Choices Act would provide significant benefits in the 11th Congressional District of North Carolina: up to 17,200 small businesses could receive tax credits to provide coverage to their employees; 12,000 seniors would avoid the donut hole in Medicare Part D; 700 families could escape bankruptcy each year due to unaffordable health care costs; health care providers would receive payment for $120 million in uncompensated care each year; and 134,000 uninsured individuals would gain access to high-quality, affordable health insurance. Congressman Heath Shuler represents the district.

It then breaks the numbers down in more detail and gives this: "The surtax would not affect 99.2% of taxpayers in the district."

George W. Bush Fan Club

Well, not exactly...but I'll say this: The one and only time I might actually "wanna have a beer" with Dubya would be right after telling Cheney to go fuck himself...
While packing boxes in the upstairs residence, according to his associates, Bush noted that he was again under pressure from Cheney to pardon Libby. He characterized Cheney as a friend and a good Vice President but said his pardon request had little internal support. If the presidential staff were polled, the result would be 100 to 1 against a pardon, Bush joked. Then he turned to Sharp. "What's the bottom line here? Did this guy lie or not?"

The lawyer, who had followed the case very closely, replied affirmatively.

Bush indicated that he had already come to that conclusion too.

"O.K., that's it," Bush said.

[The Cheney argument for Libby's pardon focused on much more than whether or not Libby was innocent of the crime in question. As Calabresi and Weisskopf recount, the Cheney argument went like this]:

The Vice President argued the case in that Oval Office session, which was attended by the President and his top aides. He made his points in a calm, lawyerly style, saying Libby was a fall guy for critics of the Iraq war, a loyal team player caught up in a political dispute that never should have turned into a legal matter. They went after Scooter, Cheney would say, because they couldn't get his boss. But Bush pushed past the political dimension. "Did the jury get it right or wrong?" he asked.

This probably had as much to do with Bush wanting to get the fuck outta Dodge, and messing with Cheney as respect for the rule of law, but I gotta give him credit on this one.

Friday, August 28, 2009

"Pinch-hitting for Jon Stewart..."

Since the Daily Show is on hiatus, this will have to do...

Is Using A Minotaur To Gore Detainees A Form Of Torture?

Via John Cole, who is right—it so accurately nails the current media discourse, you don't know whether to laugh or weep.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fed Up

James K. Galbraith has an interesting review of a book about the bailout.

Edward M. Kennedy, 1932-2009

I've defended Ted Kennedy against my ignorant political adversaries for years, but as I look back at his long career, I realize even I failed to fully grasp and appreciate his accomplishments.

I knew he was a man born into incredible wealth, yet dedicated his life to public service. And I don't mean becoming a professional politician—I mean True Public Service. I knew he dedicated his Senate career to champion the causes of the working class, to fight discrimination, for justice and equality. But I did not realize how great a hand he had in so many events that helped shape the country I take for granted. How his total contributions make him perhaps the greatest Senator to ever hold office.

The Immigration Act of 1965...The Fair Housing Act (1968)... The Bilingual Education Act (1968)...Lowering the age to vote to 18 (1970)... Occupational Health and Safety Act (1970)... Meals on Wheels (1972)... Title IX (1972)... Disabilities Education Act (1975)... Employment Opportunities for Disabled Americans Act (1986)... Americorps... Family and Medical Leave Act (1994)... Children’s Health Insurance Program (1997)... Patients' Bill of Rights... Increasing the Minimum Wage several times...

And those are just the bills he wrote and sponsored. Throw in the support for the Civil Rights Movements in the 60s , and the dozens of less-known bills and his stalwart support for other good legislation and you can make a real case that Senator Ted Kennedy did more for more people and the cause of true democracy and equality than almost any politician in the country's history.

He still wore "Liberal" like a badge of honor long after it became a term of derision and was abandoned by almost all politicians. He used the safety of his seat to do what was right without regard to the politics and electoral considerations that paralyze the rest of the Democratic party.

He took the tragedies that befell him and his family and his own flaws and failings and dedicated his life to the powerless and downtrodden—at home and abroad.

He was "The Liberal." He was a fighter. He never sold out. And he never gave up.


His long list of accomplishments here.

For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.

I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.

For me, there are two types of senators worth emulating. One is best exemplified by Paul Wellstone, an unapologetic fighter who never backs down. The other is Teddy Kennedy, who got more accomplished than any senator in history by knowing when to cut a deal. For me, this is Kennedy's most important legacy. He will be studied by every future senator. And I hope those senators learn something from the exercise.

We've just lost the best and most effective senator to ever serve in the institution. As a man, he had large flaws. As a politician, he had no peer.

Robert Reich:
America has had a few precious individuals who are both passionate about social justice and also understand deep in their bones its practical meaning. And we have had a few who possess great political shrewdness and can make the clunky machinery of democratic governance actually work. But I have known but one person who combined all these traits and abilities. His passing is an inestimable loss.

Most Americans will never know how many things Ted Kennedy did to make their lives better, how many things he prevented that would have hurt them, and how tenaciously he fought on their behalf. In 1969, for example, he introduced a bill in the Senate calling for universal health insurance, and then, for the next forty years, pushed and prodded colleagues and presidents to get on with it. If and when we ever achieve that goal it will be in no small measure due to the dedication and perseverance of this one remarkable man. We owe it to him and his memory to do it soon and do it well.

Kennedy, one of the last unabashed liberals on the political stage and a warrior for progressive causes, was 77. Rest in peace, Senator. You will be sorely missed.

It is a shame Kennedy couldn't have lived long enough to see his dream of universal healthcare coverage become a reality. Although, at this rate, it's not a sure bet any of us will. Recently, I saw someone suggest that Kennedy's demise might spur Democrats to push harder for a more progressive reform bill. Far more likely is that the business-as-usual crowd and the sad-sack "centrists" will secretly sigh in relief and whisper "Thank god that pain in the ass is out of the way."

I have some thoughts of my own, but I'm just coming off deadline, and can barely string together a post of blockquotes. More to come...

UPDATE: An excellent profile by Charlie Pierce from 2003.

UPDATE 2: PETITION TO THE SENATE: "Ted Kennedy was a courageous champion for health care reform his entire life. In his honor, name the reform bill that passed Kennedy's health committee 'The Kennedy Bill' -- then pass it, and nothing less, through the Senate." Sign it. Even though I don't think Harry Reid gives a shit, it's the least we can do. Reform opponents are willing to make public spectacles of themselves—the least we can do is sign the petition.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Profiles in Courage... a.k.a, I Now Have a Book to Sell

Former Homeland Security Secretary and George Reeves lookalike Tom Ridge is blowing the whistle on the Bush Administration:
Among the headlines promoted by publisher Thomas Dunne Books: Ridge was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings; was “blindsided” by the FBI in morning Oval Office meetings because the agency withheld critical information from him; found his urgings to block Michael Brown from being named head of the emergency agency blamed for the Hurricane Katrina disaster ignored; and was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush’s re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over.

Fuck Ridge. If that's how he felt, he should have walked out and held a press conference when it actually mattered. Instead, he wrote it in his fucking diary, stayed on the job for another month, kept his mouth shut and saved it for his book years down the road.

[h/t DougJ at Balloon Juice]

Friday, August 14, 2009


Strange fender-bender outside my office window just now... Looking down on it, for the life of me I can't figure out exactly how it happened. But that won't stop from speculatively blaming it on the guy in the Mercedes with the Bluetooth in his ear.

Total Screw-Up

Actual Conservative and noted supply-sider Bruce Bartlett pens a column ripping everything wrong with the country and the economy, from health care to the fiascos on Wall Street to the Iraq War and fixes the blame squarely where it belongs—on the Republican party and George W. Bush most of all. Very well-done, thorough, and extremely satisfying to read, Bartlett's piece, "The GOP's Misplaced Rage" should be the first thing you hand that annoying Republican uncle when you want him to STFU.

Too bad for the GOP, the party is so far gone this should-be wake-up call will go unheard or sneeringly ignored.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Cronkite's Heir

The whole thing is good, but the payoff at the end is freaking awesome.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
William Jefferson Airplane
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorSpinal Tap Performance

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

New Music: My Old, Familiar Friend

Brendon Benson has a new album coming out in two weeks, but you can hear the whole thing now on NPR. As co-frontman of the greatest band alive, obviously I'm a fan of Benson, but his solo work is different from the Raconteurs—and depending on your tastes, better. Benson is arguably a stronger songwriter/lyricist than Jack White, and it's his influence that makes the Raconteurs so great as a sum of already excellent parts.

Anyway, check My Old, Familiar Friend. I haven't listened yet...But I'm going to now.

UPDATE: It rocks.

What He Said...

I've had a best-case scenario collection of health care reform links waiting to morph into a post that tried to be optimistic, but at the end of the day, I pretty much agree with Matt Taibbi [emphasis mine]...
It’s the same with this health care bill. Who among us did not know this would happen? It’s been clear from the start that the Democrats would make a great show of doing something real, then they would fold prematurely, ram through some piece-of-shit bill with some incremental/worthless change in it, and then in the end blame everything on Max Baucus and Bill Nelson, saying, “By golly, we tried our best!”

Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with Max Baucus, Ben Nelson, or anyone else. If the Obama administration wanted to pass a real health care bill, they would do what George Bush and Tom DeLay did in the first six-odd years of this decade whenever they wanted to pass some nightmare piece of legislation (ie the Prescription Drug Bill or CAFTA): they would take the recalcitrant legislators blocking their path into a back room at the Capitol, and beat them with rubber hoses until they changed their minds.

The reason a real health-care bill is not going to get passed is simple: because nobody in Washington really wants it. There is insufficient political will to get it done. It doesn’t matter that it’s an urgent national calamity, that it is plainly obvious to anyone with an IQ over 8 that our system could not possibly be worse and needs to be fixed very soon, and that, moreover, the only people opposing a real reform bill are a pitifully small number of executives in the insurance industry who stand to lose the chance for a fifth summer house if this thing passes.

It won’t get done, because that’s not the way our government works. Our government doesn’t exist to protect voters from interests, it exists to protect interests from voters. The situation we have here is an angry and desperate population that at long last has voted in a majority that it believes should be able to pass a health care bill. It expects something to be done. The task of the lawmakers on the Hill, at least as they see things, is to create the appearance of having done something. [...] But these Democrats aren’t even pretending to give a shit, not really. I mean, they’re not even willing to give up their vacations

Yeah. Pretty much. These fuckers are worthless.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Reading Assignment

On the heels of my and Mrs. F's respite to the north and the disenchantment upon our return to the Overrated Capital of Southern Cool—Asheville... followed by this twoglasses thread comes, at just the right time, one of the best things I've read all year.

Too good to excerpt. Just read the whole thing.

The Phil Nugent Experience: Race Against Time

UPDATE: And, yes, Nugent leaps right into the blogroll on the strength of that South post, this Gates post, this Sotomayor piece and this excellent Cheney vs. Bush post.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Baseball Update

I am in favor of making big deadline trades in certain situations and the teams play over the month of July (giving up 8 games and first place to the Yankees) is certainly one of those situations. What I was never in favor of is trading away the farm for Roy Halladay. I saw no need to bring in another starter to lose a bunch of 2-1 games. The problem with this team isn't pitching—it's scoring runs.

The big hitters available (or rumored to be) were Indians 1B/C Victor Martinez and Padres 1B Adrian Gonzalez. Both were intriguing. Martinez can catch...Jason Varitek cannot hit or throw anyone out and should hang it up after this season. But he is going to be (at least) 30 and is headed into his decline years. That's a deal the Yankees make.

The guy I really wanted was Adrian Gonzalez is only 27 and is a bonafide franchise player. An excellent hitting—and fielding—first baseman. Mark Teixiera but younger and cheaper. A player about to hit his prime.

Adrian would cost more in prospects, but I don't care. The Sox farm system is deep. There are at least three starters in the minors that would be in major league rotations for almost any other team. Most Sox fans consider Clay Bucholtz off-limits. I didn't. I don't think he's as good as he seems. It might sound crazy, but with a major league no-hitter already on his resume, he is overrated. His trade value will never be higher, and I would have let him go without hesitation for the right player. No single player in the Sox system would be off-limits to bring in Gonzalez, just limiting the number of such players.

In the end, the Sox brought in Martinez, and while I think he has more downside, it IS a trade that will help. And while the Sox now have a logjam at the corners with Martinez, Lowell, Youkilis along with new addition Casey Kotchman (?!?) it should keep everyone healthy and rested down the stretch. Martinez can catch, play first and DH to keep his bat in the lineup.

Am I surprised? No. Disappointed? Somewhat. But let me be clear—I'm not the typical Sox fan that thought his team was clean. The mere fact that Canseco came through the clubhouse doors for a few years—at exactly the right/wrong time—should shatter that illusion for any fan with a semi-active brain. Nomar, Mo and other contemporaries of Canseco's tenure probably all had their brush with PEDs. Do I think they went all the way down the McGwire/Bonds/Canseco growth hormone and full-on steroid cocktail regimen? Probably not. But enough evidence exists now to show that a significant number of players at least experimented with PEDs, if not relied on them. Plenty of Sox players had otherwise inexplicable career years in the late 90s and early 00s. And Nomar had one shocking off-season body transformation—shirtless SI cover, anyone?

There was a part of me that wanted to subscribe to the Sports Guy theory that contrasted Giambi and Sheffield's complex steroid abuse with Ortiz and Manny being "a couple of goofy Dominicans who between them could hardly mix up a batch of Thera-Flu."

Seems pretty naive now.

Do I think the Sox Championships are tainted? No. They won the World Series in a League full of other teams that were also all cheating. Still a level playing field in that sense. As for the outrage and pearl-clutching by the media? I say again—shut the fuck up. They, along with the League, willfully looked the other way during the explosion of PED use and abuse.

The League needs to figure out a way to just release the whole list of over a hundred players who tested positive. Selective leaks by whoever holds this thing is totally unfair, and bad for the whole group. Just get it all out and over with.

Anybody else wonder if Rickey Henderson tested positive?

UPDATE: What the fuck is up with this story?...John McCain can STFU too. Steroid scandal makes you "sick?"