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Archive for February, 2009

Universal Health Care Now

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Cross posted at Daily Kos.

I was directed to this useful Ezra Klein post irt health care and entitlement reform by Bill Poorman (who btw does not seem all that poor but is definitely an example of male homo sapiens sapiens).

I am really pleased that health care reform is coming this year (apparently). Remember, though, that while the flat earth party is down, they are not out, and they can always count on the corporate media to propagate their distorted message. It is not currently doing the GOP much good politically at the moment, but they will still try to control the debate with lies.

We (those who see the necessity for sweeping reform) need to be aware of some pertinent facts when the bs starts flying.

For starters, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks the United States health care regime as 37th in the world, just two slots above Cuba (see? Sicko was right).

Here is more from the WHO:

The United States spends more money on health care than any other country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD consists of 30 democracies, most of which are considered the most economically advanced countries in the world. According to OECD data, the United States spent $6,102 per capita on health care in 2004 — more than double the OECD average and 19.9% more than Luxembourg, the second-highest spending country. In 2004, 15.3% of the U.S. economy was devoted to health care, compared with 8.9% in the average OECD country and 11.6% in second-placed Switzerland.

And what do we get for such profligacy?

The average life expectancy for a person in the United
States is 77 ½ years — slightly below the OECD average, and 4½ years less than top rated Japan (Figure 24). Life expectancy is nearly 2½ years longer in Canada than in the United States. The United States is ranked 22nd out of 30 countries on life expectancy at birth, but once people reach the age of 65, U.S. life expectancy improves to a rank of 11th for men and 13th for women out of 30 countries reporting.

What about infant mortality?

The United States has the third-highest infant mortality rate in the OECD, after Turkey and Mexico…However, this statistic is likely somewhat overstated because of differences in methodology. The United States is one of eight countries that counts very premature babies with low chances of survival as “live births,” which has the effect of increasing infant mortality rates over what they otherwise would be. Nevertheless, among the eight countries that report live births using the same methodology, the United States has the highest rate of infant mortality. Even with more consistent methodology, the U.S. ranking — which has been slipping over time — would probably not significantly improve.

These are the sorts of facts that Republicans and their friend in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries are most afraid of. Yet, according to a NY Times/CBS poll, the American public has made up it’s mind in favor of universal heath care in the face of a monstrous disinformation campaign that began during the Truman administration.

Looks like change is finally here.

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February 27th, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Will Rogers, Meet Louis C.K.

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We’ll hold the distinction of being the only Nation in the history of the world that ever went to the poor house in an automobile.

-Will Rogers (1879-1935)

And then there’s today’s version stolen from bluegal at Crooks and Liars

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February 26th, 2009 at 11:09 am

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Jindal’s Doppelganger

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This is freaky:

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February 26th, 2009 at 8:29 am

Posted in Republican Party

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Does it Play Near Peoria?

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The title above is actually the name of the latest addition to the slothropia blog roll.

Does it Play Near Peoria? is a pretty good read if you like that thoughtful and informative (wonky maybe?) stuff.

Or maybe you’d rather look at pictures of puppies all day.

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February 23rd, 2009 at 11:27 pm

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Good News that’s Fit to Print: Obama Nixes SS Task Force

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Cross posted at Daily Kos.

The New York Times (paper of record that never gets a story wrong) reports that Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate are resisting any possible ripoff of Social Security.

Mr. Obama considered announcing the formation of a Social Security task force at a White House “fiscal responsibility summit” that he will convene on Monday. But several Democrats said that idea had been shelved, partly because of objections from House and Senate leaders.

Not to mention the explosion of anger and opposition that would come from Democratic Party grassroots and the net roots if the administration ever makes any moves toward weakening Social Security.

Sadly, within this story the Grey Lady (specifically reporter Jackie Calmes) contradicts herself and confuses the reader with vague and contradictory journalism. On the one hand, Calmes reports that

Liberal Democrats are already serving notice that they will be equally vehement in opposing any reductions in scheduled benefits for future retirees. But any solution, budget analysts said, must include a mix of both approaches, though current beneficiaries would see no change.

First note the absence of a definition of the “looming crisis”. Also note that the budget analysts referred to are anonymous and no consideration is given to the possibility that there are other budget analysts and Social Security experts with any alternative analysis of the issue.

Yet later in the same story, the reporter gets it right

Social Security still runs a surplus, and its reserves will not be exhausted until 2041, after which enough payroll taxes will come in to cover 78 percent of benefits, according to the 2008 annual report of the program trustees.

So in 32 years, we might have a problem if we don’t raise payroll taxes, or raise the income level of those who are subject to them.

Medicare and Medicaid are of more immediate concern, and as Calmes reports

Those who oppose action said Mr. Obama must focus on his bigger priority — health care legislation to expand access to insurance and reduce the costs of care. They argue that success there would help control the unsustainable growth of Medicare and Medicaid, the government’s other major benefit programs, which together pose a far greater fiscal problem.

The good news in all of this is that the White House has received a very clear message that it attacks Social Security at its political peril. Obama is more than smart enough to know that one clear path to a one term presidency is to alienate his base.

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February 23rd, 2009 at 9:27 am

Posted in POTUS

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Emerge Peoria

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I recently discovered a pretty good Peoria blog, namely Emerge Peoria.

Emerge Peoria is now on the blogroll here and I look forward to visiting there regularly and discussing their posts from time to time.

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February 22nd, 2009 at 1:45 pm

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It’s Not Paranoia If they’re Really Out to Getcha

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Don’t read this Robert Parry piece at bedtime or you’ll have nightmares all night long.

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February 20th, 2009 at 5:26 pm

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Has Obama Slain Satire?

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Good news. The U.S. is not the only country with a corporate media that misinforms and provides a home for brain dead pundits and critics.

Take yer Globe and Mail for example. Here’s a column by G&M teevee critic Andrew Ryan in which we learn that Bill Maher will have nothing to say when Real Time returns tonight. You see, Maher, like all late night teevee comedians hates Republicans and loves Democrats, especially POTUS Obama. Ergo, no more jokes about politics.

Yup, satire is dead. Nothing left to ridicule on either side of the aisle. What a relief. Now I’ll have more time to watch reality shows.

I can declare, without irony or sarcasm, that satire will always find targets as long as humans remain humans. Said targets are not necessarily political but many political targets remain. Michael Steele, for example, or Joe Biden when he is in gaffe mode.

Then there’s an apparently inexhaustible supply of material like this:

Apparently Brother Ryan does not like Maher, perhaps because like my far, far better half he finds the Real Time host too snarky. He (sometimes) makes me laugh out loud, but the best part of Real time is of course the panel discussion segment. I for one am looking forward to Maher’s return.

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February 20th, 2009 at 11:44 am

Apres Stimpy

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Cross posted at Daily Kos.

This is about right.

Ackroyd does look a lot like Boehner doesn’t he? Maybe a little heavier but close enough for satire.

Further to this point, today’s Frank Rich column in the NY Times is worth reading. Check out the whole column and the polling data Rich provides:

But, as he (Obama) said in Fort Myers last week, he will ultimately be judged by his results. If the economy isn’t turned around, he told the crowd, then “you’ll have a new president.” The stimulus bill is only a first step on that arduous path. The biggest mistake he can make now is to be too timid. This country wants a New Deal, including on energy and health care, not a New Deal lite. Far from depleting Obama’s clout, the stimulus battle instead reaffirmed that he has the political capital to pursue the agenda of change he campaigned on.

Republicans will also be judged by the voters. If they want to obstruct and filibuster while the economy is in free fall, the president should call their bluff and let them go at it. In the first four years after F.D.R. took over from Hoover, the already decimated ranks of Republicans in Congress fell from 36 to 16 in the Senate and from 117 to 88 in the House. The G.O.P. is so insistent that the New Deal was a mirage it may well have convinced itself that its own sorry record back then didn’t happen either.

Don’t just take Frank’s word for it. Check out this polling data from Research 2K, posted at Daily Kos.

So this week, the Republicans are receiving a failing grade from the American electorate. But a week is a long time in politics. Six months is even longer. In six months time we may have a clearer view of the efficacy of STIMPY (the stimulus bill). Right now though, the polling tells us that most Americans are glad it was passed and glad that Obama is President and in a position to sign the bill into law tomorrow.

If I were an ambitious freshman Congressman from a traditionally red district in a heavily blue state I would be worried about the politics of STIMPY. If it works (and it will boost the GDP) the congressional Democrats and the President get the glory. Republicans will become more marginalized than they already are.

Consider these Research 2000 numbers

In the Midwest, which includes Illinois, Republicans have a favorable/unfavorable deficit of 33 percentage points. The Obama party is up by 23. I guess the GOP has the Dems where they want them now, eh?

Unless Obama destroys the U.S. economy, our hypothetical young congress critter will have much difficulty running for statewide office anytime soon.

To refocus on the bigger picture, Obama and the Democrats have momentum, a strong wind behind them. To paraphrase Frank Rich, Obama has a huge pile of political capital and a pretty good idea of what he needs to do with it.

And if he fails? If the economy collapses? The Republican id, neo confederate, laissez faire, theocratic, violent, racist, sadistic, elitist, will be at last freed to slouch toward Bethlehem for its long awaited birth.

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February 16th, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Lucinda Williams: Hot Blood

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For Valentine’s Day, some hot blooded music.

And a sad song, Drunken Angel.

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February 13th, 2009 at 11:37 pm

Posted in Music

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