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      Profits on Medicare Advantage plans are at least double what insurers earn from other kinds of policies. Gee, I wonder why? There is tons of evidence that insurers in the program have been manipulating a program that pays them extra fees for enrolling customers with more illnesses. The change took away payments for some of … Continue reading Cheaters
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Who ARE these people?

OK, let me get this straight. The guy who is Majority Leader of the Senate talks in private about another Senator like this:

Reid said Obama could fare well nationally as an African-American candidate because he was “light-skinned” and didn’t speak with a “Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.”

We know that at least this statement from the soon-to-be-released book Game Change is true, because Reid has already apologized for it.

Saturday, the majority leader said he had used “poor choice of words” and called Obama to apologize; the White House issued a statement indicating that the president had forgiven Reid.

Based on the review in The New York Times and on excerpts of the book that have been published by several news outlets, Game Change, by John Heilemann of New York Magazine and Mark Halperin of Time, apparently focuses almost exclusively on gossip and scandal about the 2008 presidential candidates and their spouses.

What I’ve mostly learned from reading excepts and quotes from the book is that many of the people who are running our country are frighteningly out of touch with modern American culture and language. No wonder they are governing as if we were living in the 19th century rather than the 21st!

Harry Reid is 70 years old–just 8 years older than I am. Yet he apparently uses the term “Negro” in private conversations. As I recall, that term began to be considered inappropriate in the late 1960s, in response to the “Black is Beautiful” movement.

Here is what Matthew Yglesias had to say about this story:

I’m slow on the uptake about this whole “negro dialect” business but it’s a reminder of how weird political apologies get to be. It’s good that Reid apologized, but at the same time you can’t really apologize for being the sort of person who’d be inclined to use the phrase “negro dialect” and it’s more the idea of Reid being that kind of person that’s creepy here than anything else. Doesn’t seem likely to help Reid’s already troubled re-election campaign.

For once I have to agree with Yglesias. Creepy is a very good word for Reid’s behavior. And I recall that this is also the guy who complained aloud about the odor of working class tourists in DC in the summer. This man is creepy as hell. So why is he in charge of the U.S. Senate?

And then we have this:

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and a group of other senators who would back Hillary Clinton’s candidacy encouraged Obama to run for the White House as early as 2006. The concern over Clinton was that she would be a weak Democratic standard-bearer while Obama could energize the party. In late summer 2007, Schumer – using an Obama ally, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), as a back channel – pushed the candidate to “take a two-by-four to Hillary,” as the authors put it.

The backstabbing part I can believe. That’s par for the course in politics, but “take a two-by-four to Hillary?” That’s almost worse than Keith Olberman’s advice to Democratic leaders to get Hillary Clinton out of the primary race by finding “Someone who can take her into a room and only he comes out.”

The language attributed to Schumer does seem in character with his recent behavior toward a female flight attendant who asked him to turn off his cell phone during a flight:

Schumer was sitting next to protege Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, gabbing away on his phone, when a flight attendant told him to shut it down.

Schumer turned off his phone, and then argued with the attendant that he was allowed to talk while the cabin door is open. He lost.

He then muttered his complaint about the flight attendant to Gillibrand.

A Republican aide on the plane, who overheard the powerful Democrat, tattled to Politico.com.

“The senator made an off-the-cuff comment under his breath that he shouldn’t have made, and he regrets it,” Schumer spokesman Brian Fallon told Anne Schroeder Mullins.

What is wrong with these people? Is it just because I live in a large urban area in the liberal Northeast and associate with relatively intelligent and sophisticated people that I find all this so shocking? I know we saw incredible misogyny from the news media during both the primary and general campaigns, but somehow it seems even more stunning to me coming from a supposedly liberal Democratic Senator.

Then there is the treatment of Elizabeth Edwards in the Heilemann-Halperin book. I have trouble buying the descriptions of Elizabeth because of the misogynistic nature of the language that the authors paraphrase and quote. For example,

In the wake of the first Enquirer story about Mr. Edwards’s affair, the authors write, Mrs. Edwards “was sobbing, out of control, incoherent,” and vented her fury on the “very aides who had kept the matter from mushrooming” further.

If “kept the matter from mushrooming” means concealing it from Elizabeth and talking about it behind her back, then her furious reaction seems understandable. Frankly, I think fury is understandable just in the context of learning your husband is cheating on you when you have cancer and that he has just flushed both of your futures down the toilet. Heileman and Halperin write that:

…while the aides had sympathy for Mrs. Edwards’s struggle with cancer, they regarded her as a badgering, often irrational presence on the campaign. “The nearly universal assessment among them,” Mr. Halperin and Mr. Heilemann write of the Edwards aides, “was that there was no one on the national stage for whom the disparity between public image and private reality was vaster or more disturbing. What the world saw in Elizabeth: a valiant, determined, heroic everywoman. What the Edwards insiders saw: an abusive, intrusive, paranoid, condescending crazywoman.”

Apparently there is more gossip about the Clintons in the book than about any of the other participants in the campaign. So what else is new?

Oh, and by the way, the authors of Game Change describe the Obama’s marriage as idyllic.

Proposal: The Confluence Run for the Working Class

Update: Please note that this is my proposal and does not necessarily reflect the ideas of other writers at The Confluence.  No other writer at The Confluence was consulted in the preparation of this post.  I am speaking for me only.

Endorphins can do funny things to your thought processes.  I began running last year and I am still not very good at it.  Just to give you an idea of my running condition, my present limit is about 2.7 miles on a treadmill.  It takes me about 35 minutes with warm up and cool down.  Running is *hard* for me like other exercise routines are not.  But one thing that I have noticed is that when I’m in the midst of a run, with my power songs blaring in my ears, I start to get visions of things that might be.  Sort of like Galadriel’s mirror but with a lot more sweat and heavy breathing.

Usually, the vision is prompted by the question, “How do we motivate the working class to fight for itself?”  I’d like to quote from Hell’s Kitchen from yesterday’s survey results thread because she summarized all that is wrong with America:

I am a 70 year old female. My parents were the swing generation from working class to middle class. I have a masters degree in computer science and am retired. I am married to a Keynesian economist, but one who is not on to POTUS and thinks I am uncharitable. My sister and I are supposedly middle class but in 1991, I consciously abandoned the middle class for my working class roots.


The corporation I worked for dumped an entire department of 75 people. However, it was not the loss of the job itself that turned me back, it was the gratuitous cruelty involved in the matter. I thought if it’s simply an economic matter for the firm, why not make it as easy as possible for every one involved?

Instead, we were told repeatedly how awful we were and how glad they would be to get rid of us, but they couldn’t fire us until we finished our projects. And that’s just the general atmosphere. That doesn’t include the individual acts of cruelty by corporate leaders against vulnerable employees.

I decided at that point that the middle class – especially the white collar middle class – was an illusion. I don’t care how professional your job is, what kind of degree you have – if you depend on a paycheck for your living and someone else has the say-so about whether you get that paycheck or not, you are not middle class, you are working class. The sooner people wake up to that reality, the quicker we’ll find political solutions to our problems.

Having been asleep during Nixon, Reagan, and Bush I, and then the 2000 election, I woke up. With the shock of the 2000 election, I thought surely the Democratic Party would wake up. In 2004, I began to realize that there were problems with my party.

Do you hear that, Chris Bowers, “Creative Class” wannabe extraordinaire?  There is no Creative Class.  If you rely on someone to pay you for your work, and not on your investments for a living, you are working class.  Your fate is no different than a auto worker or teacher or chemist or retail sales manager.  You can be replaced by the Japanese, Chinese or a call center operator in Hyderabad. We are all in this together.  Jettisoning the ‘old coalition’ from the Democratic party was quite possibly the stupidest thing that A-listers bought into last year.  They reduced their ability to fight the erosion of their way of life.  They just don’t know it yet, but they’re about to find out.

The problem remains though, how do you motivate people to fight for themselves?  How do you get people together and bring critical mass to their voices?  How do you effectively reconstitute the voices that were squelched in the past several decades?  The media is not our friend.  We know that none of the cable news channels are going to report on any serious challengers to the status quo.  And in this modern media age, there is further atomization of possible collective action.  Each person has the option to get their own sources of information, follow their own interests, find their own entertainment.  While that can be an enriching experience, it can also be isolating from common principles.  How do we herd millions of cats?

It was on one of my runs that I thought about how we can get around the media filter and increase our visibility while at the same time spread a message.  I propose The Confluence Run for the Working Class on July 4, 2010.  The run can be a 5K run or walk, nationwide.  There are online tools at Nikerunning that can help groups organize such events and challenges.  The participants can organize the runs locally and in the lead up to the run,  do practice runs together through the streets of their towns, parks, neighborhoods.  We can wear T-Shirts that say The Confluence Run for the Working Class.  The goal is to attract attention and to get as many people as possible to run on July 4, 2010.  Maybe there can be a rally at the end of the run in a prominent public place.  We have to plan and organize what message we want to deliver at those rallies.  For practice runs, we can put together iMixes for iPods with motivating music.

Now, for the message, we need to get serious about organizing.  Jangles has suggested that we form a PAC and register as a non-profit.  I know we tried this before but it’s time guys.  Before we start brainstorming on this, please hold your creative energies on the your personal beliefs.  I guarantee you that a comment thread is not the best place for such a thing.  Those statements of beliefs get way too flowery, idealistic and out of touch with average everyday people.  We need to focus our attentions up front on organizational discipline.

So, I want to open the floor to consideration of the proposal for The Confluence Run for the Working Class.  Please don’t whine about how you can’t run or haven’t exercised in forever.  See your doctor before you start any exercise program.  If you can’t run it (yet), walk it.  Or, if you’re disabled, wheel it.  Besides, if you want to change the country, you have to look like you have the energy to do it.

Please take the poll below to indicate your support of an investigation into the feasibility of the inkling of having a run of the type described in the post above, recognizing that no other writer of The Confluence was consulted before this PROPOSAL was posted.

Have at it.