Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Stuff

After reading this, well, I just felt like replaying this clip, that's all (too big a file to try and embed the whole film, as much as I'd like to)...

...and I think this is absolute genuis from Jon Stewart...

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

...and if your U.S. House rep is on the proverbial fence for the upcoming health care vote, click here to contact them and tell them to vote yes; kudos to Patrick Murphy for doing the right thing - let's reward good behavior (and here's a report on the playbook of GOP scare tactics on HCR dating back to when Medicare was passed, featuring the "fear and smear" template created by The Sainted Ronnie R)...

Update 3/20/10: On the other hand, we have this pitiable example across the river - it would almost be worth it to help this guy in response.

...and the weekend is here at last, and not a minute too soon.

Friday Mashup Part Two (3/19/10)

1) Don’t look now, kids, but here comes Joe (“You Lie!”) Wilson (here)…

As the 11th hour of the countdown to a (HCR) vote begins, we need concerned citizens across the country to channel the energy they had this summer to stop this health care takeover. We must spread the message that this job-killing health care takeover could not come at a more irresponsible time as unemployment still hovers double digits across the nation.

One wonders where this supposed instinct for employment existed in the earlier part of this decade while Wilson took up space in the U.S. House and Bushco was more concerned with creating wealth for its pals than it was for providing a decent standard of living for working men and women in this country via good jobs. But I digress.

Meanwhile, Think Progress tells us the following from here

A new report by David Cutler (of the Center for American Progress) and Neeraj Sood (of the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics) suggests that health care reform would (create anywhere from 250,000 to 400,000 jobs a year through this decade).

In Part One of the Mashup here, I note the corruption of the political-media-industrial complex, if you will, that exists in South Carolina. You may safely consider Wilson to be part of that also.

2) Also, the Moonie Times wants to “Impeach Obama” here (too funny) over the “Slaughter Solution” in the matter of voting for health care reform…

The Democrats are assaulting the very pillars of our democracy. As the debate on Obamacare reaches the long, painful end, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is confronting a political nightmare. She may not have the 216 votes necessary to pass the Senate's health care bill in the House.

Hence, Mrs. Pelosi and her congressional Democratic allies are seriously considering using a procedural ruse to circumvent the traditional constitutional process. Led by Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, New York Democrat and chairman of the House Rules Committee, the new plan - called the "Slaughter Solution" - is not to pass the Senate version on an up-or-down vote. Rather, it is to have the House "deem" that the legislation was passed and then have members vote directly on a series of "sidecar" amendments to fix the things it does not like.

(By the way, the phrase “Slaughter solution” was coined by Flush Limbore in response to a comment by Dem U.S. House Rep. Louise Slaughter – I guess the OxyContin was working overtime for this one – which, in essence, refers to the “deem and pass” process which was actually instituted about 25 years ago.)

In response, I give you this post from Media Matters, which tells us the following…

(In the Democratic U.S. House) "leaders have discussed the possibility of using the House Rules Committee to avoid an actual vote on the Senate's bill, according to leadership aides. They would do this by writing what's called a 'self-executing rule,' meaning the Senate bill would be attached to a package of fixes being negotiated between the two chambers -- without an actual vote on the Senate's legislation."

…self-executing rules may stipulate that a discrete policy proposal is deemed to have passed the House and been incorporated in the bill to be taken up.

When Republicans took power in 1995, they soon lost their aversion to self-executing rules and proceeded to set new records under Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). There were 38 and 52 self-executing rules in the 104th and 105th Congresses (1995-1998), making up 25 percent and 35 percent of all rules, respectively. Under Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) there were 40, 42 and 30 self-executing rules in the 106th, 107th and 108th Congresses (22 percent, 37 percent and 22 percent, respectively). Thus far in the 109th Congress, self-executing rules make up about 16 percent of all rules.

And what any of this has to do with President Obama is anyone’s guess.

3) Finally, I can’t let the week end without ignoring noting this little item from Ross Douthat of the New York Times about Rielle Hunter’s recent GQ interview (this is about as close as I come to the gossipy supermarket tabloid stuff, by the way – Douthat quotes the following from Hannah Rosin, and no, I don’t know who she is either)…

… I read Rielle’s interview and immediately thought of many yoga teachers I’ve met, the acolytes of Marianne Williamson and other devotees of what they call “Eastern” religion. The blossoming New Age/Buddhism lite that populates yoga classes talks about the toxic nature of the Western “ego” (you know, we work too hard, we value ourselves above others, etc.) But then it replaces this ego with something like a supreme inner deity residing in all of us whose dictates can never be ignored … you call it silly but to Rielle it’s so profound—divine, even.

This gives Douthat an opportunity to quote G.K. Chesterton, noted Catholic writer, on the matter of Hunter supposedly being preoccupied with the “inner light” of one’s own self (Douthat likes to continually remind us that he is Catholic also, though he somehow got the idea that anyone of our faith is “duty bound to oppose the tyranny of big government,” as noted here, which is a rather grotesque misrepresentation).

Well, aside from Douthat’s propensity for historical revisionism, particularly on the debacle in Mesopotamia (as noted here), I would say that he really isn’t someone qualified to render judgments on female psychology, based on this item (particularly this excerpt, during what I suppose were the author’s “salad days”)…

One successful foray ended on the guest bed of a high school friend’s parents, with a girl who resembled a chunkier Reese Witherspoon drunkenly masticating my neck and cheeks. It had taken some time to reach this point–”Do most Harvard guys take so long to get what they want?” she had asked, pushing her tongue into my mouth. I wasn’t sure what to say, but then I wasn’t sure this was what I wanted. My throat was dry from too much vodka, and her breasts, spilling out of pink pajamas, threatened my ability to. I was supposed to be excited, but I was bored and somewhat disgusted with myself, with her, with the whole business… and then whatever residual enthusiasm I felt for the venture dissipated, with shocking speed, as she nibbled at my ear and whispered–”You know, I’m on the pill…”

Gee, I wonder if G.K. Chesterton would approve?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thursday Stuff

What you are about to tell us, Billo, is simply bullshit (sorry, but no other word fits, and that goes for Fix Noise humanoid Megyn Kelly and the rest of your sorry crew - more here)...

...and here's another well deserved (and metaphorical, I hasten to add) punch in the gut for Blanche Lincoln (more here)...'s more timely comedy from Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, with the real payoff coming at the very end; I won't spoil it (the "flower named Reagan"...way too damn funny)...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Health-Con1 - The Mediscarening
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Reform

...and RIP Alex Chilton of Big Star and The Box Tops; actually, my favorite songs by the latter group were probably "Sweet Cream Ladies" and "Soul Deep," but I like this performance of probably their biggest hit because the whole band is goofing on the fact that the performance was dubbed...tough week for '60s media icons.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (3/18/10)

As reported in last Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer, here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress were recorded on major roll-call votes last week (I have to get a little more creative with these things due to technical issues - also, I posted some stuff here)...


Afghanistan withdrawal. Voting 65-356, the House defeated a measure (H Con Res 248) to bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan by Dec. 31 under the 1973 War Powers Act. That law requires presidents to end combat operations after 90 days unless Congress authorizes the deployment. Opponents of withdrawal argued that the U.S. action in Afghanistan is legal under the "use of force" resolution enacted Sept. 18, 2001.

All Philadelphia-area representatives voted no.
From a legal perspective, I suppose those opposing the withdrawal were covered. However, just because Obama is in the White House instead of Dubya now doesn’t mean that Number 44, or any president, should have carte blanche when it comes to open-ended deployments (call me naïve, but I honestly think Obama gets that).

Make no mistake, though – I oppose the Afghanistan escalation now as I always have. However, I don’t oppose Obama’s right to make what he believes is the best decision (and debate over this brought the following moment from Patrick Kennedy, by the way).

Judge's impeachment. The House approved, 423-0, an article of impeachment (H Res 1031) charging that U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous, of the Eastern District of Louisiana, lied under oath to the FBI and Senate during his confirmation process in 1994 to become a federal judge. The House unanimously approved three other articles against Porteous, including charges that as a state judge he repeatedly accepted payments from those whose cases he handled. The impeachment now moves to a Senate trial.

A yes vote was to impeach Porteous.

All Philadelphia-area representatives voted yes.
It’s a shame this guy turned out to be a bad apple; one reason why is because he overturned Louisiana’s “partial birth” abortion ban in 1999 (and he had some bad luck too, losing his home in Hurricane Katrina prior to the death of his wife).

I never thought Bill Clinton did too many things that were actually bad, but appointing this guy would have to qualify as one of them.

Rep. Massa investigation. Voting 402-1, the House ordered its ethics committee to investigate the Democratic leadership's handling of allegations against former Rep. Eric Massa (D., N.Y.). Massa resigned last Monday following reports of misconduct such as his groping of male staffers. In part, the probe will examine whether Democratic leaders were slow in responding to complaints about his behavior. This vote occurred on H Res 1164, which, as a privileged resolution, was not debatable.

A yes vote backed the investigation.

Voting yes: John Adler (D., N.J.), Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.)

Voting present: Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.).
I have to tell you that I’ve really been pondering this one. One the one hand, I give Fattah credit for, as noted here, opposing this vote because he knows Congress has more important things to do. I think Eric Massa just turned out to be an utter train-wreck-waiting-to-happen of a human being, and it’s possible that he may be completely innocent of wrongdoing (it’s not like the Beltway doesn’t go into a feeding frenzy on this stuff when it smells blood in the water, as they say).

However, it’s possible that there actually could be something to these charges of “misconduct towards male staffers.” I have a feeling there’s nothing there, but it needs to be looked at in case there is (and I think Charlie Dent’s “present” vote is pretty interesting also – can’t find an explanation on that one).

Bankruptcy judges. Voting 345-5, the House sent the Senate a bill (HR 4506) establishing 13 new bankruptcy judgeships and converting 22 temporary ones to permanent status. The expansion is designed to help courts cope with a sharp rise in the number and complexity of bankruptcy filings.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

All Philadelphia-area representatives voted yes.
Let’s see if the Senate does to this bill what they did to the cramdown legislation last year (here), which would have given those newly-minted judges the power to modify mortgages in bankruptcy. My guess would be that they won’t.


Safety-net benefits. Voting 62-36, the Senate sent the House a $140 billion bill (HR 4213) that would extend until Dec. 31 several safety-net benefits, tax breaks, and other programs for individuals and businesses. It extends employment benefits for the long-term jobless, funds COBRA health insurance for the unemployed, and eases the federal poverty definition to protect the value of benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps.

Also, the bill extends research-and-development tax breaks for businesses; renews authority for satellite TV to broadcast local stations to rural customers; funds national flood insurance; continues certain small-business loan programs; averts cuts in Medicare payments to doctors; helps states meet Medicaid obligations; eases the timetable for employers to fund pension plans; enables teachers to continue deducting the cost of buying classroom materials, and extends tuition tax credits for higher education.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

All Philadelphia-area senators voted yes.

Summer jobs, needy families. Voting 55-45, the Senate failed to reach 60 votes needed to extend two programs in last year's $787 billion stimulus law. This denied $1.3 billion to provide summer jobs for young people and several billions of dollars for renewing the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program until March 2011. Opponents said both extensions would require deficit spending.

A yes vote was to extend the two programs.

All Philadelphia-area senators voted yes.
By the way, the four Democratic traitors who helped to sink this bill were Claire McCaskill, Ben Nelson, Mark Warner and Jim Webb, as noted here (and of course, not a single Repug favored spending the relative pittance of 1.3 billion – more here – and it’s really a hoot to hear them whine about “deficit spending” when they’re about, oh, five to seven years late on showing up for the party…didn’t matter when they passed tax breaks for millionaires, had no clue about how to fund Medicare Part D and, of course, brought us war without end in Mesopotamia and war on the cheap in Afghanistan).

Maybe the bill would have failed with 59 votes anyway, but that doesn't give an excuse for the actions of the four corpocrat Dems in question.

This week, the Senate will continue debating the Federal Aviation Administration budget. The House schedule was to be announced, with health care possibly up for a vote.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday Stuff

Good catch by profmarcus here, and here is a reminder about why it matters...

...and by the time HCR is finally passed, I think it will be proven beyond any doubt that Bart Stupak is the most ridiculous politician walking on two legs - here is more evidence (some truly intelligent coverage on this as usual by Rachel Maddow)...

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

...and we Pennsylvanians mustn't forget that we'll have some senatorial business to attend to against this guy - and to do something about that, click here...

...and here's some more wonderful music to commemorate the day, which has about all of five minutes left; this song is about something I hope to do shortly.

Playing Catch-Up With Bucks County, PA's Big Mouth

I have to admit that I’ve been remiss in not paying attention to the latest idiocy from J.D. Mullane of the Bucks County Courier Times due to work/personal business and deciding to post about other stuff, but I thought I’d better do it quick or else I’ll never be able to dig my way out of it (though his column yesterday about the job seeker wearing a burqa is kind of touching…lately Mullane has been actually trying to report on the human cost of unemployment – gee, wonder if it’s because a Dem is in the White House? – as opposed to indulging in cheap characterizations and misinformation, but I’m getting ahead of myself).

Let’s begin with his column last Sunday, shall we (about those oh-so-righteous opponents of health care reform versus those left-wing miscreants who support it)…

It's odd to see suburban Republicans engage in street protest. Generally, conservatives find public displays of disaffection gauche. Besides, they have jobs.

As opposed to those lazy bum libs living off the public teat, right J.D.?

Why would (Patrick) Murphy reconsider (his support of health care reform)? According to his spokeswoman, he "won't commit to voting for this when we don't know all the details of the final package."

My guess is the polls, too, which in the 8th District show voters souring on Obama's health care plans, according to sources.

Any idea as to who those “sources” are, J.D.? The National Review? Betsy McCaughey? Crazy Glenn Beck yelling about Catholic “socialism”?

I guess it’s a secret (not that it matters, though, because, as noted in the Courier Times today here, Murphy – who really should get a mention if for no other reason than because it’s St. Patrick’s Day J – has said he will vote for the bill; based on this AP story, it may go through some kind of procedure called “deem and pass,” which of course has met with howls of outrage by Republicans even though they used the procedure themselves at least 35 times, as noted here).

Continuing with Mullane…

(Last Monday March 8th, Murphy) took a pass on a photo-op with President Obama at Arcadia University.

And the reason why he did that was noted here, as follows…

Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) was flanked by Bucks County first responders Monday as he announced federal funding for the county's public safety system.

Murphy said the $300,000 will support the county's efforts to improve its emergency services by advancing information sharing among law enforcement, EMS and firefighters.

"Every single day they put their lives on the line for us," said the Congressman, calling emergency services and issue that crosses party lines.

Murphy said he did not attend President Barack Obama's speech at Arcadia University, which was taking place at about the same time he was at the Bucks' emergency operations center, because he wanted to "honor his commitment" to the first responders. Murphy said his plans to announce the funding were made long before he knew the president would be speaking in Cheltenham. 

And get a load of this in particular, J.D….

Charley Martin, (Repug) chairman of the Bucks County Commissioners, thanked Murphy for keeping his appointment.

Oh, and returning to Mullane’s column last Sunday, he has already tried and convicted our congressman of accepting campaign donations for favors from defense contractors (no proof, of course), stating…

The last time we had a Bucks County congressman cozy up to lobbyists, he was Republican Jim Greenwood who suddenly retired to become Big Pharma's lobbyist-in-chief.

I think it’s hilarious that Mullane gives Saint Mikey Fitzpatrick a pass considering the following (here).

Also, Mullane wrote a column here dated a week ago about two ladies looking for work at a job fair which showed what I thought was a surprising bit of empathy (and by the way, J.D., it’s “Primerica”). This is a far cry from his previously-noted remark about supposedly hard-working conservatives, as well as Mullane’s previous snide reference here about a “hippie dude and straw-hat guy” who Mullane couldn’t waste time with because “unlike some people, I had a time card to punch” (and of course, J.D. also ridiculed the “stim” here – for the context on what the stim meant to PA, context J.D. is loathe to provide of course, this post from Above Average Jane provides more details).

And on the subject of work, I recently happened upon a quote by writer and management consultant Peter Drucker, who said that “there is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

Of course, if Mullane actually abided by that himself, his pundit gig would disappear.

According to sources, of course.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tueday Stuff

"Which side of history will you be on," indeed (and I don't give a damn what Chuck Todd's new poll says - this country has been split on this issue for awhile because of right-wing garbage, but after it's passed, the approval numbers will go up decisively, proving once more that conservatives are lying idiots)...

...and despite the anti-abortion garbage swirling around this bill, the words of this mother should ring in the ears of all of our politicians (more here, and the fact that Stupak sought out Fix Noise here tells you how quickly his supposed moral high ground is disappearing)...

...and I don't know whether or not James Sikes, the guy who claimed to be behind the wheel of the runaway Prius that I watched about 20 times last week on TV from a hospital waiting room, is telling the truth or not, but I do know that, after reading this New York Times column about Toyota by Bob Herbert, I will NEVER own a Toyota, and if we did, we would trade it in as soon as we could; the reliability of their cars is an open question, but the state of California hasn't seen anything as destructive to their economy as Herbert is describing since Enron)...

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

...and after today's debacle with Erick Erickson, I guess this could be CNN's new theme song.

Tuesday Mashup (3/16/10)

(And I also posted here.)

1) By the way, “left blogostan” is clearly, and quite rightly, in an uproar over CNN’s hiring of Erick Erickson of Red State as a political consultant today, yet another conservative welcomed with open arms by our corporate media.

I’m not going to expound on this any more than my A-list “betters” have already. Instead, I’ll merely link to this pretty-all-encompassing Media Matters post on the subject to give you an idea of how wretched a move this truly is.

2) John Harwood of the New York Times lamented the partisanship of Washington politics here on Sunday; he did so while opining on another initiative in which the Repugs did their “Lucy-pulling-the-football-from-Charlie-Brown” number, this time on the financial reform bill sponsored by outgoing Dem senator Chris Dodd (boo-freaking-hoo, people!)…

(Repug Senator Bob) Corker (who allegedly tried to work with Dodd on the bill), a former Chattanooga mayor, pointed to Democrats’ pursuit of health reform under special budget rules preventing a Republican filibuster, insisting that the effort poisoned the atmosphere when “we were so close” to success. Mr. Dodd saw a simpler cause. “It’s not the rules of the place,” he declared. “It’s the chemistry of the place.”

This post from Crooks and Liars tells us that Corker pretty much wanted to drag out the whole process, which isn’t surprising when you consider how hard the banking lobby worked and how much they spent to try and eviscerate the bill, as noted here (Corker most definitely is their lackey in this process – so much for Harwood’s oh-so-elegant notion of regulation “woven firms’ soundness,” or something).

As noted here, though, Ted Kaufman of Delaware seems to “get it,” but along with Dodd, he’s leaving too (and this Think Progress post tells us more about the Dodd bill).

Also, Harwood tells us the following…

Even since the younger Mr. Dodd won a House seat in 1974, bipartisan negotiating teams have produced legislative breakthroughs. Senators Bob Dole, Republican of Kansas, and George McGovern, Democrat of South Dakota, collaborated on food stamps. Representative Dan Rostenkowski, Democrat of Illinois, and Senator Bob Packwood, Republican of Oregon, overhauled the tax code; President Bill Clinton signed a welfare reform bill passed by the House under the leadership of Newt Gingrich, Republican of Georgia.

I’ve been meaning to say something about this for a little while, and I’m going to weigh in now at last. I’m sick of reading this idiocy about how Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich supposedly sat down like reasonable men and, in the true spirit of bipartisanship, forged some kind of a compromise on welfare reform. That is nothing but inside-the-beltway mythology; as noted here, Baby Newton Leroy originally proposed only two months of welfare for women and children who qualified for assistance, and he definitely used the issue to attack President Clinton, as noted here (basically, the “Big Dog” was trying to apply the brakes while Gingrich rode the crazy train full steam down the tracks).

3) And speaking of nuts, Michael Medved at recently opined as follows (here)…

On March 4th, university students across the country participated in angry protests against tuition increases and budget cuts on their campuses. The demonstrators portrayed themselves as victims of oppression—ignoring the fact that the University of California system, for instance, already subsidizes each of them to the tune of more than $10,000 a year beyond tuition!

Meanwhile, in the land of reality (here)…

California's budget cuts have crippled a higher-education system known as one of finest and most accessible in the world.

"It's really a denied dream," said Jack Scott, chancellor of the 2.9 million-student California Community Colleges.

The community college system took $520 million in cuts in the 2009-10 academic year, or 8 percent of its budget. Scott estimates the system is serving 200,000 "unfunded" students, and thousands are being turned away from oversubscribed or unavailable classes.

The Cal State system has lost one-fifth of its state funding in the past two fiscal years, a $625 million reduction, and students have absorbed a 32 percent tuition increase this year. The system's 48,000 employees took a 10 percent pay cut through furloughs -- two full days per month, across the board. The system is cutting 20,000 students this year.

And from here

(The nonpartisan California Legislative Analyst’s Office) notes that (Gov. Schwarzenegger’s) budget relies on a controversial interpretation of Proposition 98 that reopens last summer's dispute over how much California owed schools then and in future years. (Proposition 98 is the 1988 constitutional amendment that dictates the minimum level of funding for K-14 schools.) Schwarzenegger's budget reclassifies education funds from 2008-09 so as to reduce the amount the state would have to give schools in 2009-10 and 2010-11.

Education groups on Wednesday gathered at the California Teachers Association office in Sacramento to charge that the governor had reneged on his agreement in last year's budget. While education leaders said they hoped not to litigate the issue, a CTA attorney was among the participants in the press conference, and they said they believed they would prevail if they had to ask the courts to hold Schwarzenegger to last year's budget deal.

LAO states that "the Governor's proposed funding level is based on his interpretation of the constitutional provisions of Proposition 98 regarding the creation and payment of maintenance factor. If a different interpretation were to prevail, the minimum guarantee would be significantly higher." LAO says the state would owe schools $2.2 billion more in 2009-10 and $3.2 billion more in 2010-11 than the governor wants to give them.

of course it’s the fault of the students for demanding that king’s ransom of 10 grand a year for their education, which probably isn’t even a drop in the proverbial bucket when it comes to the other costs they’ll incur over the course of pursuing a degree (and I’m assuming Medved’s math is right here, which is probably generous on my part).

As noted here, though, Medved has to manufacture a “bad guy” in as dramatic a fashion as possible to earn his “right-wing” cred. Given his utter failure to communicate California’s educational budget woes in this post, though, he should probably stick to demonizing Democrats, liberals and the like in Hollywood movies, since that seems to be about his speed.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday Stuff

I'm rerunning this "Worst Persons" segment from last November because it features Minnesota governor "Pawlenty of Nothing" (who committed this shameful act) along with Glenn Beck-istan railing against health care reform, which should be all the motivation any Democrat in Congress needs to get this done AT LONG LAST...

...and yep, if it's stupid, jingoistic and quite probably historically, factually incorrect, you better gosh darn believe that it's from Texas, pardner - YEE HAAH!!!...

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

...oh, and by the way, remember GOP dirty trickster Floyd Brown? Well, he's back with this campaign ad trying to link Harry Reid to Saudi slave labor, and this tells you why the ad is every bit as dumb as it sounds (sure, just go ahead and attack a company actually providing jobs in this still-wretched economy)...

Update 3/17/10: As far as Citizens United is concerned, this sounds like "free speech for me, but not for thee" indeed.

...and happy 70th birthday to Phil Lesh of The Grateful Dead (the band actually becomes visible at 2:16 and the sounds fades in and out a bit, but Jerry and company are in fine form).

Cowen "Manages" A Health Care Connivance

(And I also posted here.)

I think I’ve made a mistake paying a lot of attention to the ramblings of N. Gregory Mankiw in the Sunday New York Times business section…not because what Mankiw said hasn’t been equal parts of free-market “ownership society” propaganda and political attacks, but because it has diverted me from paying more attention to Tyler Cowen, who is turning out to be at least as guilty of fiction writing in a newspaper that ostensibly prints factual content.

Cowen wrote the following from here yesterday (concerning managed health care)…

We may soon know whether Congress will approve some version of
President Obama’s health care plan. No matter what the outcome, there will be an unacknowledged monster lurking in the room: managed care.

The concept embodies many modes of delivering medicine, ranging from the nightmarish bureaucratic encounter to the highly professional clinic. Some forms of managed care — health maintenance organizations like Kaiser Permanente, for example — have been accepted by broad segments of the population.

By the way, concerning Kaiser Permanente, I think the following should be noted from here (particularly that 1971 conversation between President Nixon and John Ehrlichman about how “Edgar Kaiser is running that Permanente thing for profit”…think of where we could be now if that had been snuffed out way back when).


We may not like it, but third parties — the government and insurance companies — won’t be able to pay for all the care that people desire. Yet the aging of the population will ensure that medical costs will spiral. Douglas W. Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, has said that the administration’s cost-control proposals do not “reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount.”

Maybe, but as noted here, the Senate version of the health care bill is projected by the CBO to cut the deficit by $118 billion over the next ten years.

And here’s more from Cowen…

In addition to the financial burden of Medicare and Medicaid, rising insurance premiums in employer-provided plans are absorbing a large share of what might otherwise be wage increases. That makes us poorer and keeps us from buying safer cars, eating healthier food and investing as productively as we can. Health gains that accompany prosperity are largely invisible, so we tend to neglect them.

Uh, I don’t know the universe in which Cowen resides, but in mine, here’s what happens (and I have a feeling I’m not alone on this). If fortune smiles on me, I get a raise that doesn’t kick in until about the end of the first quarter of the following year. So what happens is that my pay dips after January 1st because my health insurance premium goes up, and if I’m lucky, the raise makes up for that (hell, I’m lucky to even be working at all, but that’s another story).


Conceived in its broadest form, managed care can be run by the government, as in Britain, or left in the hands of a regulated private sector. Because the United States already has substantial private-sector capacity, and because many Americans are suspicious of government controls, the private route is the most likely option. Individuals would choose among competing providers — and those providers would try to offer the most appealing bundles of services, relative to cost.

I’m not even going to dignify Cowen’s idiotic notion that our health care providers somehow don’t engage in monopolistic practices, which they clearly do. Instead, I’ll link to this post that explains what could very likely be the missed opportunity for the Dems to do something about that (and by the way, there is a link in the Common Dreams post to the White House site that tells us more about how Wellpoint, among others, makes sure there aren’t “competing providers” fighting for their health care dollar).

And finally…

On a national scale, effective managed care will require the right mix of reputation and regulation to enforce provider commitments, and will need some reframing and renaming to make it palatable. It could accurately be called “competitive, choice-based single-payer coverage.” Perhaps there will be a jazzier, less foreboding name.

After reading that paragraph, I now know that Cowen doesn’t know what he’s talking about; as noted here

Single-payer health insurance collects all medical fees and then pays for all services through a single government (or government-related) source.[1] In wealthy nations, this kind of publicly-managed health insurance is typically extended to all citizens and legal residents.

Australia's Medicare, Canada's Medicare, the United Kingdom's National Health Service, and Taiwan's National Health Insurance are examples of single-payer universal health care systems. Medicare in the United States is an example of a single-payer system for a specified, limited group of persons within a country.

So Cowen tells us that “private sector capacity” makes our current for-profit model of health care more attractive than a government-run alternative, then introduces language that would easily confuse someone into thinking just such a “public option,” if you will, is something he would recommend?

This column has given me a headache. I’m going to take two aspirin.

And Cowen had damn well better not call me in the morning.