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Why is single payer not being served at President Obama’s table?


Why is single payer not at the President’s table?

76% of Americans want single payer health care. President Obama, judged by his actions, is staunchly against giving this 76% what they want. He did not invite one advocate of single payer to his advisory panel. The majority of the U.S.’s elected representatives are also staunchly against representing the taxation wishes of the majority of their constituents. When elected representatives refuse to allocate tax dollars based on the wishes of the majority of their constituents, then the elected representatives are practicing a type of taxation without representation. Why are the POTUS, the Democrats, and the Republicans so strongly in favor of taxation without representation on the issue of health care? What would it take to make single payer healthcare a reality in the U.S.?

Rather than repeat or add to the mass of research that suggests U.S. citizens are systematically denied the fruits of their constitution and their nation by the corrupt relationship that exists between the Presidency, the Senate, Congress, and numerous powerful blocks of lobbyists, I will take a different tack. (This is not to say that the corruption is not a significant part of the problem or even the most significant part of the problem, however, it is merely to point towards another piece of the “why not single payer” healthcare puzzle.)

I suggest that one reason the majority of America’s elected representatives refuse to represent the wishes of their constituents on the issue of healthcare is because the U.S. does not have a left wing, it only has a right wing and a center. The Republicans are the right. The Democrats are the center. The left lacks a serious representative party.

Quibblers will rightfully point out that the left end of the center is America’s left, but that misses the point, which is to say that single payer healthcare was a policy of the European and Canadian left. It only became adopted by the center because single payer healthcare was so rational, moral, and desirable to the electorate, that going against the policy, or not going for the policy, caused the center and the right to lose electoral support to the left, and in some cases, so much that the left formed the government. The first province that got single payer healthcare in Canada did so by electing a socialist government.

President Obama did not invite one advocate of single payer healthcare to his advisory group, even though 76% of U.S. citizens want it, because neither he, nor the anti-single payer Democrats, are afraid of citizen backlash. They are not afraid of citizen backlash because, without a perceived viable party on the left, citizens do not have an effective way to punish them at the ballot box. The point to take here is that the only thing that either party respects about the citizens is the ability of the citizens to hurt them at the ballot box.

Given the history of the U.S., it’s unlikely that a viable left will materialize anytime soon, so does this mean getting single payer is dead?

Not necessarily, but it will be difficult and take hard work. Because 76% of Americans favor single payer, its wide base of support, necessarily including Republicans, makes it a potential wedge issue, which means that anti-single payer candidates can be targeted at the ballot box. This seems possible, when one considers it’s high level of support, despite the flood of anti-single payer propaganda and the willful attempts at distortion using  a “public option.” The power of single payer as a wedge issue is further enhanced by President Obama’s confidence-based betrayal of the progressive movement, which should turn them towards the Nader/Green left or independent status and make Democrats more susceptible to the wishes of their constituents.

Nothwithstanding, single payer healthcare can only become a wedge issue, if single payer supporters act as single payer advocates by letting the Republican and Democrat candidates in their area know that being anti-single payer makes them a non-starter. Many people writing two letters or making two phone calls can trump bagfulls of lobbyist donations.  Doing so is a potential good step in the direction of “A Republic, if you can keep it” and The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” After all, and as noted in “The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen“, sometimes the enemy is inside the gates.

There is no shortage of stories about politicians receiving policy revelation when their political futures are in jeopardy. Barack Obama(h/t to John at LR), for example, converted from single payer to anti-single payer when faced with losing access to the funding from the healthcare lobby. If citizens who support single payer can find a meaningful way to punish their elected representatives at the ballot box for not supporting single payer, then it might be possible to create a circumstance where President Obama will roll out the video from 2003 and read from his teleprompter, “I’ve always supported single payer healthcare.”

This is an open thread.  Have a great Friday night!

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Dana Milbank says Hillary should drink “Mad Bitch” beer

Seriously.  From Peter Daou / ConsiderThisNews:

Just like last year.  Now all we need is the Failbots:

Sexism, what sexism?  Hillary IS as mad bitch!


But what about the racism? Bill Clinton said “fairy tale!”

I’ll betcha Milbank doesn’t get fired for this, but I bet he would be unemployed if he suggested Obama should drink (racially offensive term) beer.

Why is sexism more acceptable than racism?

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The mob rules!


This could get really interesting.  From Politico:

Screaming constituents, protesters dragged out by the cops, congressmen fearful for their safety — welcome to the new town-hall-style meeting, the once-staid forum that is rapidly turning into a house of horrors for members of Congress.

On the eve of the August recess, members are reporting meetings that have gone terribly awry, marked by angry, sign-carrying mobs and disruptive behavior. In at least one case, a congressman has stopped holding town hall events because the situation has spiraled so far out of control.


The targets in most cases are House Democrats, who over the past few months have tackled controversial legislation including a $787 billion economic stimulus package, a landmark energy proposal and an overhaul of the nation’s health care system.

Democrats, acknowledging the increasing unruliness of the town-hall-style events, say the hot-button issues they are taking on have a lot to do with it.

“I think it’s just the fact that we are dealing with some of the most important public policy issues in a generation,” said Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), who was confronted by a protester angry about his position on health care reform at a town hall event several weeks ago.

The voters got fed up with the Republicans and in the last two elections gave the Democrats the White House and super-majorities in Congress.  Now “hope and change” has turned out to be “more of same” and they aren’t happy.

Maybe Obama should buy them all a beer.

We told you so

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Friday Morning News You can Use


Good Morning, Conflucians. Today I really mean it when I say TGIF! Let me tell you, teaching two classes every single day for two hours each is wiping me out. I am really going to veg out this weekend, and I can’t wait to get started. So this will be a brief, slightly ecclectic, and disorganized collection of news links. Hope you enjoy them.

Health Care “Reform”

Be still my heart!

Liberal Democrats Protest Health Care Deal, Threaten to Fight It

Fifty-three lawmakers from the Congressional Black Caucus, the Progressive Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and key committee chairmen formally opposing the deal that House leaders struck with a group of fiscally conservative Democrats known as Blue Dogs.

The letter, written to express their “opposition” to the negotiated deal, called the agreement “fundamentally unacceptable” and a “large step backwards.”

“We’re going to fight this with every effort that we have,” CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee, D-Calif., told reporters Thursday.

Liberal Democrats threaten to reject House healthcare deal

“We have compromised and we can compromise no more,” an angry Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Petaluma) said at a raucous news conference outside the Capitol.

Meanwhile in the Senate, a growing number of Democrats and Republicans were taking aim at an effort led by finance committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to develop centrist healthcare legislation that could attract GOP support — in part by eliminating a government plan entirely.

The rising tide of liberal anger sent the White House scrambling, with Obama calling at least one left-leaning lawmaker to offer reassurance before Congress leaves town for its August break.

Will they really fight for actual health care reform? I don’t want to get my hopes up. Will these reps be able to stand up to the nasty threats that will be coming their way from Rahm Emanuel? Somehow I doubt it, but hope springs eternal…


The Real Unemployment Rate Hits a 68-Year High

PhD Economist: Fed has Caused Soaring Unemployment, Millions of Foreclosures, Millions Losing Life Savings and More than $6 Trillion in Lost Output

Don’t Be Fooled

Cash for Clunkers Program Suspended after Only Four Days

‘Cash for Clunkers’ Runs Out of Gas.

Cash for Clunkers is Said to Run Out

Cash for Clunkers Going Broke

Karl Rove and U.S. Attorney Firings

[David] Iglesias: ‘Long Suspected Rove’s Fingerprints Were All Over’ Attorney Firings

E-Mails Show Larger White House Role in Prosecutor Firings


BBC: Iran police clash with mourners (with video)

State TV said police used teargas to disperse crowds from the grave of Neda Agha Soltan, whose death became a symbol of post-election unrest.

Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi tried to join the mourners but police forced him to leave, witnesses said.

Further confrontations were reported at a second gathering in central Tehran.

Several hundred people defied a heavy police presence to gather at the Grand Mossala prayer area, witnesses said.

NYT: Clashes as Iranians Gather to Mourn

Thousands of people gathered in Tehran on Thursday to commemorate those killed in Iran’s post-election crackdown, but a vast deployment of police officers used tear gas and wooden batons to disperse them, in some of the largest and most violent street clashes in weeks.

The mourners gathered at the freshly dug graves of protesters, including Neda Agha-Soltan, a young woman whose bloodied image has become an icon of the opposition movement. As the opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi arrived at the Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery, the police barred him from entering, and angry mourners chanted, “Neda lives! Ahmadinejad is dead!” referring to Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, witnesses said.

Comic Relief

‘Birthers are Just Plain Nuts’

Baby biting Al Franken

Baby biting Al Franken

Franken attacked by biting baby

One of the job requirements of any elected representative is holding babies. Yes, it’s trivial and annoying, but new parents couldn’t be more thrilled to have someone semi-famous holding their little bundle of joy. Besides the crying, smelly diapers and potential for spit-up, these poor people have another hazard in their hands: babies who attack.

More Franken photos with biting baby

Man believed pizza slice was left behind to harrass others

On Monday evening, police were called to the 1300 block of Desoto Street about a “suspicious piece of pizza.”

The 43-year-old man demanded that police write out a police report about the slice of pizza, claiming it was left near a fence with the intent to harass. Police described the pizza slice to the Pioneer Press: “The man had found a piece of pizza that was three-quarters eaten, with bite marks in it.”

When the Punch Lines Hit Home: Judd Apatow’s Latest Film Examines the Tears of a Clown

Please post links to additional stories that interested you!

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Obama’s Poll Ratings In Free Fall

Free Falling

Free Falling

Obama has only been in the White House for about seven months, yet it is no longer accurate to call him a popular President. His poll ratings are dropping fast. According to the Pew Research Center,

Barack Obama’s approval ratings have suffered major declines. The president’s overall job approval number fell from 61% in mid-June to 54% currently. His approval ratings for handling the economy and the federal budget deficit have also fallen sharply, tumbling to 38% and 32%, respectively. Majorities now say they disapprove of the way the president is handling these two issues. The new poll also finds significant declines over the last few months in the percentage of Americans giving Obama high marks for dealing with health care, foreign policy and tax policy.

Furthermore, Obama has lost ground in nearly every demographic category, including big losses among Democrats. Although 74% say they still like Obama personally, they are unhappy with most of his policies and with the way things are going in the country overall.

For the first time since Obama took office, as many say the government is on the wrong track (48%) as on the right track (46%) in handling the nation’s economic problems. In May, 53% said the government was on the right track on the economy, while 39% said it was on the wrong track.

Today’s Rasmussen presidential tracking poll has Obama’s Presidential Approval Index at -12, his lowest score yet. Only 28% of respondents strongly approve of Obama’s performance while 40% strongly disapprove. In addition,

Forty-nine percent (49%) now say that America’s best days have come and gone. Just 38% believe they are still to come. Thirty-four percent (34%) say the country is heading in the right direction. Seventy-five percent (75%) want the Federal Reserve to be audited.

Comments, reactions? This is an open thread.

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Vacation, Day 1: My love-hate relationship with travelling

Oh how I wish the “Beam me up Scotty” technology of Star Trek was a reality.  I really do love going on vacation, but the “getting there” and “getting home” stuff can be quite annoying.  Our trip into San Francisco today was no exception.

The first leg of our trip, in the wee hours of the morning, was on the smallest plane ever.  I think it must double as the touring plane for the Keebler Elves.  I’m pretty short, yet I have a few lumps from bumping my head; and my size  0 daughter was complaining about claustrophobia.  My hubby, who is 6’4″ was none-too-happy either…and the air conditioning didn’t work.  To top it off, someone near our seats had the worst case of flatulence — so bad that I actually almost lost my coffee at one point.  Oh dear heavens.  Thank goodness it was a short flight.

The connecting flight was actually much better, comfort-wise, but it was five and a half hours long.  Yoinks! That’s a long time to be on a plane!  But we arrived safe and sound at San Fran Int’l Airport and so did our baggage.  (thank the gods for that small favor!).  The rental car ritual was uneventful and we were soon on our way…or were we?  Did I mention my husband has the worst case of road rage ever?  Not the shoot-em up kind, just the cursing, complaining, grunting, groaning, stressed-out, drive me to insanity kind – but only when we’re in new territory.  As a Capricorn, he does not do well with “new.”  He went around and around the airport about seven times, unable to figure out how to get on the highway, like in a scene from Groundhog day.  I finally convinced him to pull over and let me drive to the hotel.

With me at the wheel, we arrived at our hotel in a jiffy.  Ahhhh…no worries.  Now the relaxing part!  We were staying at a beautiful, historic (read: old) hotel with lovely ambiance and comfy rooms.  We checked in and piled into the elevator and pushed the button to our floor.  It began to move, up, up, up, up, … and then it stopped.  We waited for the doors to open, but they didn’t.  “Push the ‘open door’ button” we all said in unison.  Nothing.  Looking at each other, fearing the worst, we stood there in silence.  We were all thinking the same thing.  The unthinkable.  We were stuck, shoved like sardines, luggage in tow, in an *old* elevator, between floors.  Did I mention I have claustrophobia?  “Push the ‘open door’ button again” we all said again in unison.  Nothing…except the rising temperature in the elevator.  Trying not to soil my claustrophobic shorts, I said to my daughter who was nearest the buttons… (Ok, more like screamed) “Push the alarm!!!”  —- brrrrrrrrreeeeeaaat, went the alarm.  “Push it again!!! and hold it in!!”  brrrrrrrrreeeeeeeaaaaaatttttttttttt.”  Nothing.  “brrrrrrrrreeeeeaaat”…”brrrrrrrrreeeeeaaat”…”brrrrrrrrreeeeeaaat”…”brrrrrrrrreeeeeaaat”  Nothing.

Ok, so we didn’t die in the elevator because I’m writing this post.  Several minutes later the elevator began to move – back down to the lobby. The bellhop was waiting when the door opened chuckling, and asked us if we were having problems.  Uhhh, yeah.  See that puddle on the floor?

We unloaded and took the stairs.

It’s now 7pm and we’re heading for dinner at the number one vegan restaurant in the country.  What excitement awaits?  I can hardly guess.

Tomorrow – Yosemite!  I will hopefully have pics to post.

Got any vacation horror stories?

Failure is a feature, not a bug


Ask someone why Obamacare is going down in flames and you’ll likely hear one of these answers:

It’s the Republican’s fault!

It’s the Blue Dog’s fault!

It’s the media’s fault!

I’ll tell you why Barack Obama’s health care reform “failed” – it was never supposed to succeed in the first place.  Let me clarify that:


I’ve never been optimistic about health care reform. This whole thing has been Kabuki since the DNC/RBC meeting on 5/31/08 – the day democracy and the Democratic party went their separate ways.  Hillary’s proposal wasn’t a whole lot better than Obama’s but she really intended to get it passed.

The Obamacare plan has always been to enact something they can call “reform” without actually reforming shit.  If anything, Obamacare will make things worse and ensure that health insurance organizations continue to make outrageous profits for at least another decade.

If they really intended to reform health care then these numbers from The Daily Howler would be well-known to every American with a television:

Total health expenditures per capita, 2003

United States $5711

Australia $2886

Austria $2958

Belgium $3044

Canada $2998

Denmark $2743

Finland $2104

France $3048

Germany $2983

Iceland $3159

Ireland $2466

Italy $2314

Japan $2249

Luxembourg $4611

Netherlands $2909

Norway $3769

Sweden $2745

Switzerland $3847

United Kingdom $2317

That’s right, the United States spends approximately twice as much per capita as other industrialized nations for health care and doesn’t even cover everyone. Every American who lives in the real world knows our health care system is fucked up but that’s a vague analysis. When you put the numbers up like that you can really see how fucked up the system is.

So why haven’t the Democrats done that?


Perhaps we should ask what did the Democrats do instead? The first thing they did was take single-payer “off the table.” Single-payer is the closest thing to true “socialized medicine” that we’re likely to see in this country. It’s Medicare for everyone. Koresh knows we can’t allow that!

Now we are reduced to watching Congress argue for a clusterfuck plan that they call “public option” that isn’t public option. Do you know what is in that plan? Will you be better or worse off?

The plan doesn’t kick in until 2013, after the 2012 elections so Obama can claim a policy victory when he runs for reelection. By the time people figure out they have been screwed and tattooed it will be too late.

And somewhere down the road the Democrats will be trying to retake the White House running on a campaign to reform health care.

Don’t blame the Republicans or the Blue Dogs – put the blame where it belongs – on Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership.

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Morning News Stop…All Aboard!


Well, I’m off on vacation in a few minutes…but before I go, here are a few news stories to start the conversation.

What have you found on your daily news scoop travels?


Napolitano to Unveil New Antiterror Plans

Save Swine Flu Drugs for Younger Patients, Study Urges


I wish I had time to stay and chat but the taxi is ready to roll.  Catch y’all later.  I’ll blog my vacation to San Francisco, Napa Valley, and Yosemite!

A Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

I’m liberal. I’m not ashamed to say it. In fact, I’m proud of it.

Wikipedia defines liberalism as:

Liberalism is a broad class of political philosophies that considers individual liberty and equality to be the most important political goals.[1]

Liberalism emphasizes individual rights and equality of opportunity. Within liberalism, there are various streams of thought which compete over the use of the term “liberal” and may propose very different policies, but they are generally united by their support for political liberalism, which encompasses support for: freedom of thought and speech, limitations on the power of governments, the rule of law, an individual’s right to private property,[2] and a transparent system of government.[3][4][5] All liberals, as well as some adherents of other political ideologies, support some variant of the form of government known as liberal democracy, with open and fair elections, where all citizens have equal rights by law.[6]

According to author and philosophy professor Peter Vallentyne, “Liberalism comes in two broad forms. Classical liberalism emphasizes the importance of individual liberty and contemporary (or welfare) liberalism tends to emphasize some kind of material equality.”[7] In Europe, the term “liberalism” is closer to the economic outlook of American economic conservatives. According to Harry Girvetz and Minoque Kenneth “contemporary liberalism has come to represent different things to Americans and Europeans: In the United States it is associated with the welfare-state policies of the New Deal program of Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whereas in Europe liberals are more commonly conservative in their political and economic outlook”.[8] In the United States, “liberalism” is most often used in the sense of social liberalism, which supports some regulation of business and other economic interventionism which they believe to be in the public interest. A philosophy holding a position in accordance with Scottish pioneer of political economy Adam Smith, that laissez-faire economics will bring about a spontaneous order or an invisible hand that benefits the society, is referred to as “classical liberalism.”[9], of which US-style libertarianism may be considered an extreme example.

Liberalism has its roots in the Age of Enlightenment and rejects many foundational assumptions that dominated most earlier theories of government, such as the Divine Right of Kings, hereditary status, established religion, and economic protectionism.[10][11][12] Instead, it founds itself on the assumption of the equal dignity and worth of individuals.

By that standard, this is a liberal blog. I’d say we’re pretty obsessed with equality of opportunity and a transparent system of Government around here.

Wikipedia defines Progressivism as

Progressivism is a political and social term that refers to ideologies and movements favoring or advocating changes or reform, usually in a statist or egalitarian direction for economic policies (government management) and liberal direction for social policies (personal choice). Progressivism is often viewed in opposition to conservative ideologies.

In the United States, the term progressivism emerged in the late 19th century into the 20th century in reference to a more general response to the vast changes brought by industrialization: an alternative to both the traditional conservative response to social and economic issues and to the various more radical streams of socialism and anarchism which opposed them. Political parties, such as the Progressive Party, organized at the start of the 20th century, and progressivism made great strides under American presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson.[1]

Ideologically, that makes me and this blog a Progressive blog. And ideologically, therefore, I am a Classical Liberal Progressive (or a “Moderate Liberal”), if you want to get down to the nitty gritty technical term of liberalisticims.

But I am not, in fact, a Progressive by identity. I am a liberal. Because in today’s American Political Culture, being a “Progressive” makes you a Right Wing Fundie in liberal drag. Sad, but true.

Liberals have been demonized for quite a while in this country. I’d say it probably started with the Reagan Era, when Religious zealots and Conservative Southern Democrats took over the Republican Party. Around that time, a lot of wealthy and privileged former self described College “Liberals” moved to the Republican Party, declaring themselves “Conservatives.” Publicly, they took up the cause of Militarism and Religious Fundamentalism, but privately they were hypocrites, and their activities are well-documented in one of my favorite books, Blinded By the Right, by David Brock (I quote it often).

Hillary Clinton called their politics of personal destruction political activism “A Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.” She was mocked for it in the media, but she wasn’t wrong. Ever since Nixon’s Resignation, these kooks had been using corporate sugar daddies like Richard Mellon Scaife to fund their agenda in the media and in interest groups.

Old farts like Pat Robertson and James Dobson and Newt Gingrich come to mind, but they weren’t the only tools involved in the process. Jokers like Andrew Sullivan, Ariana Huffington, and Chris Matthews cheered for some of the worse disasters of my Generation: CDS and the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the election of George W. Bush, and the War in Iraq. And they did it all under the guise of their Gung Ho “Conservatism.”

Then, around the time of the mid term elections in 2006, they had a Come-to-Jesus moment and left the Republican Party, hilariously declaring themselves icons of the “New Left,” and by extension liberalism itself. Most of them had gotten their starts by smearing the Clintons, whom they declared were Republicans in drag. Sadly, the irony was lost on them and their projection continued. And even worse, they gained an audience. They and their followers coined themselves “The Progressive Movement.”

It wasn’t long until “The Progressive Movement” began cheering for their new standard bearer, Barack Obama. Again, the irony was lost on their audience. These imbeciles had spent the past two decades decrying all things liberal and good, why would anyone vote for the candidate they were peddling on places like Politico, the Huffington Post, and Daily Kos?

Well, I’m not like a lot of people. I don’t actually think Americans are stupid. Hillary won the popular vote. But the damage is still done. We have Bush the Third as our POTUS.

Today, these “Progressives”- Right Wing Fundies in liberal drag- and their allies in the media do the same thing to Sarah Palin and her family that they did to Bill Clinton and his family. The tactics are exactly the same. They slander her, spread rumors about her, and attack her and her children in the most gratuitous and revolting ways imaginable. They accuse her and they accused Bill Clinton of doing and being exactly what they are- power hungry, morally depraved, and ruthless- capable of doing and saying anything to obtain their victories.

I don’t believe in coincidences, and neither should you. The media is neither “liberal” nor “conservative.” The media is corporate. Since the emergence of a twenty four hour news cycle, they’ve depended on their sponsors and their ratings for profit, and don’t you know? Follow the money! You just have to watch CNN for one day to understand. The graphics in Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room are eerily similar to the graphics from Obama’s campaign and the DNC and RNC. A panel of all-male, white reporters will solemnly declare that Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin are just whining- the Political coverage of them isn’t sexist and they are just trying to score political points with women. Then they go on a break and in the first commercial a woman is debating a Swiffer mop. A special about Al Gore’s Global Warming Documentary is solemnly discussed and Al Gore’s credibility is questioned with deep concern. Then they disappear and the screen explains, “This program has been sponsored by GM and Chrystler Motors.”

And again, the irony is lost on the audience.

Hillary’s famous “Right Wing Conspiracy” disguised as a Left Wing Conspiracy isn’t gone. It’s been with us this whole time, mouth breathing down our necks and leering at us like a bothersome lover.

And it’s rick rolled us once again.

Cross Posted at Age of Aquarius

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Your Breakfast Read, Served By The Confluence

Health-Care Nightmare “Waterloo” Reform

The German newsmagazine “Der Spiegel” has a lengthy article about the inadequacies of the US healthcare. Because it’s the the hard copy, I was thinking about summarizing it here or at least reproducing the compelling graph in the article. They just did me a favor and posted the whole thing in their international online edition.
An Ailing System

Will Health Care Be Obama’s Legacy or Waterloo?

Barack Obama wants to modernize the American health care system. But his ambitions come with a cost of around $1 trillion, a price tag that even some Democrats say is too high. Will he fail, as Clinton did before him?

Oh my! This is not going to end well.
Overhaul proposal would omit key Dem. provisions

After weeks of secretive talks, a bipartisan group in the Senate edged closer Monday to a health care compromise that omits a requirement for businesses to offer coverage to their workers and lacks a government insurance option that President Obama favors, according to numerous officials.

Maybe we should just say adieu to healthcare reform
Health Policy Now Carved Out at a More Centrist Table

The fate of the health care overhaul largely rests on the shoulders of six senators who since June 17 have gathered — often twice a day, and for many hours at a stretch — in a conference room with burnt sienna walls, in the office of the Senate Finance Committee chairman, Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana.

Does Health Insurance Make You Fat?

A recent economics paper may give skeptics of President Barack Obama’s push for near-universal health care new ammunition. The argument? Health insurance makes you fat.


The entire 911 call and dispatch audio of Gates’ arrest are here (h/t Cinie)

Even after 911 tape released in Gates case, questions linger

The woman who placed the call never said anything about black men breaking into Professor Gates’s house. So how did it get into Sergeant Crowley’s report?

Questions on race aspect of Henry Louis Gates case show sublety(sic) of racism

The question remains: How exactly did the word “black” get into the police report?
Other Harvard professors have demonstrated how the memory can be reworked by experience.
Maybe the word just slipped in the same way suitcases became backpacks.

What should have happened in Gates confrontation?

Police experts say Gates probably overreacted. But Sergeant Crowley appeared to let the situation spiral out of control, they add.

Cambridge Officer, Gates Said to Meet at White House July 30

The three men are set to convene about 6 p.m. at the executive mansion, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting hadn’t been officially announced.

Robin Wells (aka Mrs Krugman) also chimes in:
Hard Truths and the Teachable Moment: The Gates-Crowley Saga (via Krugman Blog)


Low bar, long horizon for U.S.-China talks

China is bringing 150 senior officials, including nearly its whole Cabinet, to the United States this week for talks whose symbolic value is likely to trump concrete achievements.

The Strategic and Economic Dialogue on Monday and Tuesday may simply produce a broad outline on the way to deal with economic, security, diplomatic and environmental issues that divide the world’s two most important economies.

US, China have pointed questions in private

The United States and China are striking a conciliatory tone in their public comments during economic talks, although that hasn’t stopped China from posing some pointed questions behind closed doors about such issues as America’s soaring budget deficit.

Around The Nation

Why does this administration let Biden go out and give speeches without a babysitter? Sigh!
Clinton moves to calm Moscow over remarks by Biden

Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, yesterday sought to head off a spat with Russia after it was angered by comments by Joe Biden, US vicepresident,
The Kremlin had demanded clarification of remarks in which Mr Biden suggested Russia would be forced to improve relations with the US because its economy was “withering”.

GOP headache: The birther issue

When lawmakers return home for recess in August, they can expect to hear tough questions from constituents on the economy, health care and government spending.
But Republicans are preparing for something else: the birthers.

Seven indicted in N.C. court for terrorism

All are charged with conspiring to provide support to terrorists and conspiring to murder, kidnap, maim and injure persons abroad.

Bunning Quits, Makes 2010 Race Harder (Not Easier) for Democrats

Before today, it was an equation that looked pretty good for Democrats: an opponent they could paint as old, ineffective and distant from his own party. Come to our party, they might say in a commercial, where at least you won’t have him.

New Jersey: Teaching the World to Steal, in Perfect Harmony

[W]hile people are busy expressing shock at the discovery that New Jersey has a corruption problem, it seems the most striking aspect of this story has been largely ignored. There is a silver lining here. This enterprise required a great deal of cooperation between an extraordinarily diverse group of people. A merry band of walking stereotypes worked together, in perfect harmony, and remains together, united by their depravity.

Economy Watch

Is Goldman Sachs Evil? Or Just Too Good?

Inside Goldman Sachs, America’s most successful, cynical, envied, despised, and (in its view, anyway) misunderstood engine of capitalism.

Bernanke Feared a Second Great Depression

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Sunday said he engineered the central bank’s controversial actions over the past year because “I was not going to be the Federal Reserve chairman who presided over the second Great Depression.”

As Cash for Clunkers Starts, Dealers Hope to Clear Lots

After many months of agonizingly slow sales, automakers and dealers are anxiously counting on the cash-for-clunkers program, getting under way officially on July 27, to help clear their lots.

Opinion Columns & Editorials

A New Strategic and Economic Dialogue with China (By Hillary Clinton and Tim Geithner)

As we move toward recovery, we must take additional steps to lay the foundation for balanced and sustainable growth in the years to come. That will involve Americans rebuilding our savings, strengthening our financial system and investing in energy, education and health care to make our nation more productive and prosperous. For China it involves continuing financial sector reform and development. It also involves spurring domestic demand growth and making the Chinese economy less reliant on exports.

Clive Crook thinks Obama’s leadership or lack thereof is the biggest problem in the healthcare debate. Give it to him, he has a point.
Obama is failing on health reform (By Clive Crook)

This failure has three separate aspects. First, though politicians and commentators talk about the president’s plan, he does not have one. Learning the lessons of “Hillarycare” far too well, Mr Obama has set out broad goals for reform and some principles to guide the design, but no more. This self-imposed distance is bad both substantively and politically. It is substantively bad because left to its own devices an unguided, disputatious, difference-splitting Congress was bound to make a hash of it. And it is politically bad because the public understands this.

Paul Krugman takes an axe to the Blue Dogs Dems
An Incoherent Truth (By Paul Krugman)

Right now the fate of health care reform seems to rest in the hands of relatively conservative Democrats — mainly members of the Blue Dog Coalition, created in 1995. And you might be tempted to say that President Obama needs to give those Democrats what they want.
But he can’t — because the Blue Dogs aren’t making sense.

What is behind this particular “11-dimensional chess”?
Why Won’t Obama Talk to Israel? (By Aluf Benn, editor at large Haaretz)

This would seem counterproductive, given the importance the president has placed on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If Israel is part of the problem, it’s also part of the solution. Yet so far, neither the president nor any senior administration official has given a speech or an interview aimed at an Israeli audience, beyond brief statements made at diplomatic photo ops.

Roberto Micheletti, the former president of the Honduran Congress, who became president of Honduras upon the removal of Manuel Zelaya writes about the way forward for his country. Some of his facts are murky but…
The Path Forward for Honduras

One of America’s most loyal Latin American allies—Honduras—has been in the midst of a constitutional crisis that threatens its democracy. Sadly, key undisputed facts regarding the crisis have often been ignored by America’s leaders, at least during the earliest days of the crisis.

Around The World

The Iranian Opposition: Willing but How Able?

Within the next week, Iran will see the 40-day anniversary of the death of protest bystander Neda Agha-Soltan — an emotionally charged religious observance that is likely to draw widespread public mourning — and the scheduled presidential inauguration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The dates will be opportunities for opposition leaders to press their case. But are they organized enough to do it amid the official repression? And do they know exactly what they are aiming for?

The Taliban’s New Mastermind

If you thought Mullah Omar, the longtime head of the Taliban was bad, you should meet his no. 2. A look at the emerging power of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

Our Man in Afghanistan

Richard Holbrooke’s particular head-knocking skills may not be perfectly cast for the job of special representative to Afghanistan. On the other hand, who else has the right mixture of grandiosity and smarts to even try?

How do you say “goomah” in Chinese?
China’s concubine culture is back

A top anti-graft official recently acknowledged in public that 95% of the corrupt officials netted in Beijing’s crackdowns kept mistresses.

China’s millennia-old culture of men keeping concubines is back, with many communist party and government officials now keeping at least one “second wife” as a status symbol or to satisfy his sexual needs.

8 killed in $7-million Baghdad bank robbery

Gunmen killed eight security guards and made off with nearly $7 million early today during a bank robbery that police say is the work of insurgents attempting to finance their operations.

Netanyahu tells Obama envoy: Israel doing all it can for peace

The premier told Mitchell that Israel was doing all it could to advance the peace process with the Palestinians. Mitchell said that there are understandings that have been reached that could aid in advancing the process

‘Obama unlikely to present peace plan’

Rather, according to these officials, the administration is aiming to create a positive dynamic that will lead to the relaunching of a Palestinian-Israeli diplomatic process, but this time with more regional players on board.

Settlers completing 11 new outposts

Settlers planned to complete the construction of 11 outposts in the West Bank ahead of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s scheduled meeting with US envoy George Mitchell early Tuesday morning, in response to American pressure to freeze settlement activity.

From The World Of Science

Could rely more on your “gut feeling”?
Brain Power: In Battle, Hunches Prove to Be Valuable Assets

Everyone has hunches — about friends’ motives, about the stock market, about when to fold a hand of poker and when to hold it. But United States troops are now at the center of a large effort to understand how it is that in a life-or-death situation, some people’s brains can sense danger and act on it well before others’ do.

Is this fair to us?
Women are getting more beautiful

FOR the female half of the population, it may bring a satisfied smile. Scientists have found that evolution is driving women to become ever more beautiful, while men remain as aesthetically unappealing as their caveman ancestors.

Unappealing? Oh Noes!

Divorce and widowhood hurt health

Divorce and widowhood have a lingering, detrimental impact on health — even among those who remarry, U.S. researchers found.

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