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Your Breakfast Read, Saturday Edition

Here are a couple of stories to keep you busy. As always, make us aware of any nice story you come across.

Health Care Clusterf*@k

I’ve lost the overview. Does ANY bill seriously address this issue?
Acne, Pregnancy Among Disqualifying Conditions

A proposal to make preexisting health conditions irrelevant in the sale of insurance policies could help not just the seriously ill but also people who might consider themselves healthy, documents released Friday by a California-based advocacy group illustrate.

Health insurers have issued guidelines saying they could deny coverage to people suffering from such conditions as acne, hemorrhoids and bunions.

One big insurer refused to issue individual policies to police officers and firefighters, along with people in other hazardous occupations.

I’m among those who think we absolutely need a bill. But how much crap do we need in the sandwich before it becomes puke inducing?
Bill Clinton Says Obama Will Prevail on Health-Care Overhaul

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton predicted that Barack Obama would prevail in his bid to win passage of his health-care initiative and that some Republican senators likely would support the legislation.

Clinton, the last president to attempt a broad overhaul of health care, said the Obama administration could win over Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both Republicans from Maine. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus introduced an $856 billion plan yesterday that would require just about all U.S. citizens to have insurance or pay a penalty.

“It would be good if he could get some Republican support,” Clinton, 63, said in an interview yesterday in New York, speaking of the Baucus bill. “I believe he’ll get Snowe and he could get Collins and he might get three or four others.”

Uwe E. Reinhardt, Paul Krugman’s colleague at the NY Times and at Princeton thinks there’s a catch for insurance companies in the Baucus Plan: The Winner’s Curse.
The Baucus Plan: A Winner’s Curse for Insurance Companies

On Wednesday, Senator Max Baucus of Montana, chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, released his health care proposal, known as the chairman’s “mark.”

At first glance, the mark comes across as a victory for the private insurance industry, which is why it was promptly attacked as a sell-out by liberal pundits (see, for example, this).

But the health insurance industry may yet come to see it as a variant of winner’s curse — a term economists use to describe situations in which a winner regrets getting what he wished for.


Politics

A Team Player Who Stands Apart

Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

By all accounts, she is the consummate team player and is often the best-briefed, most prepared person in the room. President Obama’s aides say he values her advice and appreciates her dedication, dampening speculation that he and his erstwhile rival would not work well together.

But after eight months in office, Clinton, 61, sometimes seems torn between her inclination to lead and her need to function effectively within the administration, creating a certain tension between her aspirations and her status.

2 former DOJ officials under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. weigh in on the “czar controversy”
Presidents Have a Right to Their ‘Czars’

The White House czars are presidential assistants charged with responsibility for given policy areas. As such, they are among the president’s closest advisers. In many respects, they are equivalent to the personal staff of a member of Congress. To subject the qualifications of such assistants to congressional scrutiny — the regular confirmation process — would trench upon the president’s inherent right, as the head of an independent and equal branch of the federal government, to seek advice and counsel where he sees fit.

Former CIA Heads Seek End to Interrogations Probe

Seven former CIA directors who served both Republican and Democratic presidents have asked President Barack Obama to end the Justice Department’s criminal probe into the harsh interrogations of terror suspects during the Bush administration.

Three of the men who made the request in a letter Friday to the White House worked under President George W. Bush.

Attorney General Eric Holder said last month he was appointing an independent counsel to investigate possible incidents of abuse by CIA personnel during interrogations that went beyond guidelines imposed by the Bush administration.

Inquiry Into CIA Practices Narrows

The Justice Department’s review of detainee abuse by the CIA will focus on a very small number of cases, including at least one in which an Afghan prisoner died at a secret facility, according to two sources briefed on the matter.


National Affairs: Racism Edition

Obama Rejects Race as Lead Cause of Criticism

President Obama said Friday that he did not believe his race was the cause of fierce criticism aimed at his administration in the contentious national debate over health care, but rather that the cause was a sense of suspicion and distrust many Americans have in their government.

There’s no denying Obama’s race plays a role in protests

Because racism is so personal and subjective, it’s difficult to quantify and doesn’t show up neatly in surveys and polling data. Much like pornography, racism is difficult to define, but most people think they know it when they see it or hear it. The problem is that everyone sees it differently based on experiences, biases and personal beliefs.

Former President Jimmy Carter, however, reopened Pandora’s box this week by asserting that racism was a major factor behind the hostility that Obama has faced. Carter gave a respected, white and Southern voice to concerns that many had dismissed as the baseless whining of overprotective blacks.

This Anger Isn’t Just In Black And White

Jimmy Carter is a southerner who grew up witnessing Jim Crow segregation in all its forms, so when he told NBC News that he believes “an overwhelming portion” of the public animosity directed at President Obama recently is “based on the fact that he is a black man,” many Americans listened. But pointing at racism as the chief source of rage is a trap into which liberals have fallen too often, for reasons we’d better face quickly.

Why is so much hatred directed at President Obama?


War On Terror 2.0

Military growing impatient with Obama on Afghanistan

Six months after it announced its strategy for Afghanistan, the Obama administration is sending mixed signals about its objectives there and how many troops are needed to achieve them.

The conflicting messages are drawing increasing ire from U.S. commanders in Afghanistan and frustrating military leaders, who’re trying to figure out how to demonstrate that they’re making progress in the 12-18 months that the administration has given them.

Lack of Progress in Mideast Defies Obama’s Hopes

President Obama had hoped to go to his first United Nations meeting next week with at least one diplomatic coup: a plan to restart the long-stalled Middle East peace talks, to be announced in a three-way meeting with the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.


Economy Watch

“History teaches that history teaches us nothing” – Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
One Year after Lehman: It’s Business as Usual Again for Wall Street’s Casino Capitalists

One year after the bankruptcy of US investment bank Lehman Brothers, governments are divided over what lessons should be learned from the crisis. But the more the economy recovers, the less desire there is to implement radical reforms — and many bankers have already returned to their old casino capitalism ways.

Recovery Picks Up in China as U.S. Still Ails

In China, even the hardest-hit factories — those depending on exports to the United States and Europe — are starting to rehire workers. No one here is talking about a jobless recovery.

Even the real estate market is picking up. In this industrial town 90 miles northwest of Shanghai, prospective investors lined up one recent Saturday to buy apartments in the still-unfinished Rose Avenue complex. Many of them slept outside the sales office all night.

“The whole country’s economy is back on track,” said Shi Yingyi, a 34-year-old housewife who joined the throng. “I feel more confident now.”

How the Wall Street Journal fudges the facts on economic inequality

For anyone with even a passing familiarity with issues associated with economic inequality, The Wall Street Journal front page story last week was shocking. Its use of bad data was a misuse of this important forum. In effect, the article says that economic inequality was never really a problem, and even if it is we no longer have to worry about it. These conclusions are just plain wrong.

The Journal article effectively leads the reader to two conclusions: First, any issues that may exist around economic inequality are disappearing because of the likely decline in the outsize incomes of the top 1% of Americans, those with a minimum income of $400,000. Second, the problem was never really that bad in the first place.

Fed Considers Sweeping Rules on Bank Pay

The rules depart from the hands-off approach that dominated bank regulation for the last three decades, but are not as strict as proposals from some European leaders and suggestions from some members of Congress angered by the financial troubles of the last year.
Fed officials would give banks wide leeway in how they structure their rewards. They would not prohibit million-dollar pay packages or address issues of fairness. Rather, the rules are intended to restrict pay plans that encourage reckless behavior by rewarding only short-term gains.

War of Words on Banker Pay May Melt Into Accord at G-20 Talks

Europe’s leaders have been assailing bankers and their pay while President Barack Obama says setting a specific limit is impractical. Sarkozy, who vowed last month to block banks from state business unless pay is capped, may be open to compromise, a French official said yesterday. European Union leaders Sept. 17 agreed to tie bonuses to bank performance and said guaranteed pay should be avoided. French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde in July called such bonuses an “absolute disgrace.”

Obama, Sarkozy, U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Chinese President Hu Jintao, meeting in Pittsburgh Sept. 24-25, will discuss proposals for banks to retain more assets in economic expansions and satisfy a leverage ratio, which measures equity as a proportion of total assets. They will consider how to sustain the recovery, avoid protectionism and improve accounting rules.


Around The Nation

Ray Clark, Alleged Killer of Annie Le, Could Spend Life Behind Bars If Convicted

The grim shadow of death row and the company of some of the nation’s toughest criminals is hardly something that Clark, who before he was charged with killing Yale grad student Annie Le had barely a spot on his record, could have ever considered.

But his arraignment on murder charges has changed Clark’s life forever. Instead of caring for lab mice at Yale and playing softball in games after work, he sits in a cell at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution.

And one day if he’s found guilty, he could be transferred to a cellblock at the Northern Correctional Institution, the home of Connecticut’s death row.

Jaycee Dugard Questioned About Other Kidnappings

Investigators from several agencies are now several days into their search, which they hope will yield clues in the 1988 abduction of 9-year-old Michaela Garecht and the 1989 disappearance of 13-year-old Ilene Misheloff. Both cases, they have said, bear similarities to the 1991 kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard.

Ex Kentucky Gov. Nunn accused murder-suspect son of abuse

Former Republican Gov. Louie B. Nunn alleged in a 1994 letter that his son Steve, now charged with the murder of a Lexington woman, had physically attacked him and abused other family members.

Louie Nunn, who died in 2004, told his son he was too old and disabled to fight with him physically, and that the mental anguish caused by the attack “is more than I need.”

Irving Kristol, Former Liberal and Godfather Of Neoconservativism Dead at 89


Around The World

Taliban put their heads together

In a significant development, rival Taliban commanders – including some of the most powerful in Afghanistan and Pakistan – have agreed to cooperate in the fight against coalition forces. They have also resolved to bury their differences in the Pakistani tribal areas, where security forces and United States drones have been exacting a heavy toll

Spit for money: South Africa’s illegal trade in TB-infected saliva

South Africans in an impoverished township are profiting from an illegal trade in a precious new currency ‑ saliva.

Tuberculosis sufferers in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, were found to be selling samples of their sputum to healthy people to pass off as their own in a scam to gain medical grants.

Interview with Former Polish President: ‘What Will America Expect in Return for Sacrificing Their Missile Shield?’

Some Poles are claiming their country has been sold out to Russia after plans for the American missile defense shield in Eastern Europe were scrapped. Former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski talks to SPIEGEL about what the decision means for his country and why the US should pay more attention to the region.


From The World of Science

Phys Ed: What Sort of Exercise Can Make You Smarter?

Allow a laboratory mouse to run as much as it likes, and its brainpower improves. Force it to run harder than it otherwise might, and its thinking improves even more. This is the finding of an experiment led by researchers at National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan and placed online in May.

Smoking, high blood pressure and cholesterol cut men’s life expectancy by 10 years

Men with high blood pressure who smoke and have raised cholesterol levels are likely to die 10 to 15 years early, according to a study of men’s lifestyle and health over the last 40 years.


From The entertainment World

Yup! She does have it.


HAVE A NICE WEEKEND!!!

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22 Responses

  1. Yup:

    The mistake of crying racism is especially tempting to upscale, influential liberals who, no less than protesters on the right, are ducking the true causes of dispossession, fear and rage: the premises and practices of financial capital, predatory consumer marketing and a national-security state boondoggling.

    Liberals who’ve done well by those practices aren’t always serious about redressing their inequities and disruptions. But they can’t bring themselves to defend them very wholeheartedly, either. So they grasp at symbolic gestures against racism that short-circuit political currents for necessary change as surely as Rush does.

    “We don’t have any answers to the problems we’re facing, but THEY’RE RACISTS!”

    • i agree wen ever they truobel . play the race card that just the way some of these people think …. as far as wgar carter said i think he should apologies to the american people for that statement .

    • Yup!

      Those are the people who usually try to explain to me why I’m being a victim of racism even though I don’t see it.

  2. CNN moons Fox News:

  3. Why is so much hatred directed at President Obama?

    Let me guess …because he’s Bush 3? Because people desperately wanted a clean break from Bush 2, but what they got is Bush3 ?

    Because Bush 2 ‘s initiatives have not even been slowed down, much less reversed? Because Bush 2’ Inc’s ” work ” has been been expanded and excellerated without a speed bump and therefore solidified ?

    That’s my guess .

    Great round up!

  4. Lack of Progress in Mideast Defies Obama’s Hopes

    Let me just say that this approach of being pretty and then hoping others are nice to you, and do what you want, might work within the Dem party, but imo, it won’t be that successful else where.

    In Obama’s world, others” do” stuff. He gives speeches , hopes and expects, but others do the work . So it’s a problem when he’s made somewhat clear what he wants and then they don’t jump to do it … Everything is dependant on other’s doing….so stalemates happen even easier in a place famous for its stalemates . oi

    • It would be nice if O let Hill be the SOS instead of putting all those “high powered” guys in between her and her job.

      Hillary – walk away – he’s not worth it.

      • On the other hand, maybe we are lucky he does not “do” anything except speechify and pontificate.

        Amen to HRC and SOS unfettered.

        He is such a spoiled rotten brat.

  5. I believe we need healthcare reform too. But reform is not going to happen this year.

    Not because of the Kabuki going on now, however. Because the “strongest” bill possible at this point, the one that passed the house committees, is so inadequate that at best it will not change the status quo, and at worst will actually make things even more dire by insalling a public option that is designed to fail by being so small that it cannot compete in the marketplace.

    Oh, and Obama will not allow even that bill to pass because he is so bought and paid for by insurance companies.

    So, let’s start again with single payer as a serious negotiating tool.

  6. The article about Hillary is mostly complimentary, but contradicts itself. It says she’s the consummate team player, but then talks about her going rogue. I also winced when she said at the end that she can’t imagine being in the job for 8 years, because she’ll “be so old.” That’s not the job I was thinking about in 8 years…

    Subo is so endearing. I’m glad she made her way through the post-talent show hell and has come out looking and sounding great. There is something so sweet and authentic about her in this jaded, artificially marketed world.

  7. Were there any clowns there?:

    A criminally insane killer from eastern Washington is on the run after escaping during a field trip to the county fair that his mental hospital organized.

  8. BTW — great pic of Hillary! To think!…

  9. http://www.noquarterusa.net/blog/2009/09/19/thems-fightin-words/#more-33026

    This is one of the best letters disputing being called racist I have ever read.

    WOMEN WITH INTELLIGENCE AND EXPERIENCE,MEN WHO SUPPORT THEM AND COUNTRY BEFORE PARTY ALWAYS

    PUMAS,BUBBAS,EQUALISTS AND THOSE PEOPLE RULE

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