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Wednesday Morning: The first Jewish President?

Hi guys, I have a bit of time this morning to add to SOD’s quicky.  So, let’s get to it.

I found this clip of Al Franken at Susie’s place.  He makes an excellent case for sticking to your principles especially when it comes to supporting American working families.  At the same time, he tears apart the Republican and Tea Party rationale for denying needy Americans the money to work, pay their COBRA bills and feed their kids in order to spare the deficit.   He talks about how we gave away trillions in taxpayer money to the banking industry to bail them out after they took the world over the cliff.  That was OUR money and now we’re supposed to take a haircut in order to keep the deficit from expanding?  American working families should have been the first people helped out, not merely an afterthought.  Many of the unemployed would still have jobs if it weren’t for those crooks.  But I digress.  Enjoy the clip.

Correct me if I’m wrong but does it feel like Al is picking up the burden of FDR Democrats everywhere?  He’s really matured (but not too much, I hope).  What would it be like to have the first Jewish president and have a White House Hannukah special on HGTV every year?

Some Health Care Industries are more equal than others

Also found at Susie’s place, here’s a piece from Miles Mogulescu at Huffpo about the deal that Obama cut with hospitals. Check out this little sample:

This is one of the great under-reported stories of the health reform saga. Much has been written about the Obama administration’s deal with big Pharma to continue to block Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices or to allow consumers to buy cheaper drugs from Canada, in exchange for Pharma running pro-Democratic ads and giving campaign contributions to Democratic candidates. That’s the reason, under pressure from the White House, that Senate Democrats voted down an amendment that would have allowed consumers to buy cheaper drugs from overseas.

But Obama’s deal with the for-profit hospital lobby to insure there would be no public option has, as best I can tell, only been reported in two articles in The New York Times. On August 13, The Timesreported that while President Obama had presented himself as “aloof from the legislative fray,” particularly in connection with the public option, “Behind the scenes, however, Mr. Obama and advisors have been…negotiating deals with a degree of cold-eyed political realism potentially at odds with the president’s rhetoric.” One of the deals reported in The Times article was the Pharma deal. The other was a deal with the for-profit hospital lobby to limit its cost reductions to $155 billion over 10 years in exchange for a White House promise that there would be no meaningful public option.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that one of the advisors that Obama has been listening to has been Michelle Obama who used to be an administrator in the hospital industry.  And now, here’s a story I heard from a friend of mine who is an expat from a country where health insurance is a government priority: A couple of years ago, her husband had to have hernia surgery here in NJ.  It was an outpatient affair.  He was in and out in four hours.  Wanna know how much it cost?  Go on, guess.  Give up?

$73,000.

Yup, that didn’t include the anesthesiologist or the surgeon.  It was just the hospital.  My friend was shocked so she called the insurance company to find out what gives.  It must have been a mistake.  The insurance company said, yes, that does seem excessive.  So, it renegotiated with the hospital.  The final bill came to $40,000 or roughly $10,000 an hour.  She’s still trying to figure out what they got for that money.  I’d like people to at least think about that when they are so quick to condemn what they see as the outrageous cost of drugs.  Those drugs can keep you out of the hospital.  And while I think the pharma CEOs made a strategic error lobbying the way they did, especially since it did absolutely nothing to resolve the underlying issues plaguing the industry, I have to wonder how it is we always focus our laser beam intensity on Big Pharma while the hospital industry comes up smelling like a rose.  I suspect it has something to do with the Democratic party’s reliance on class action lawyers for campaign contributions but I’ll save that for another post.  Let’s just say that both parties are responsible for the pathetic approach to health care reform.

Curing cancer one molecular target at a time

Target Cancer is a series  featured last week in the New York Times that’s right up my alley.   It’s about new drugs for the treatment of cancer, specifically melanoma, and the process by which medicine and the pharmaceutical industry carry out clinical trials.  It’s particularly interesting because it delves into how our evolving understanding of the molecular biology of the cell can be harnessed to tailor our treatment of disease to the individual.  Very encouraging.

Are these people for real??

Digby watches the Sunday morning talking heads so we don’t have to.  This week, Versailles gets it’s panties in a bunch trying to justify why they took down Desiree Rogers, the White House Social Secretary.  Sam Donaldson says she was violating some sumptuary law. Cokie Roberts tries to put a less embarrassing spin on the whole affair.  Krugman just shakes his head in disbelief.

These people should be humiliated, the sooner, the better.

Save the BBC webservices!

As most of you know, I am a podcast junky.  But what you might not know is some of the best podcasts on the web come from the BBC.  That’s why I was concerned to see that the BBC is planning to make cuts in their radio and web services.  The BBC does top quality work.  They have a rich variety of programs on history, the ascent of man, philosophy, radio drama, etc.  It’s hard to find American podcasts of this quality that are as consistently good and well funded.  (There are exceptions like This American Life and Backstory but they don’t have the commitment from our government that the BBC has so I always get the feeling that the best American cultural programming we have is ephemeral, dependent and desperate for donors to pony up five bucks every so often to pay for bandwidth.  Sort of like Lambert soliciting donations to keep the hamsters going.  Is this any way to run a public broadcasting service?  I’d pay for the privilege of supporting something like BBC Radio 4.

To give you a taste of what you might be missing, check out the BBC’s latest hit series, A History of the World in 100 Objects.  This podcast is on break right now so it’s a perfect opportunity to catch up on the first 25 episodes.  Start with the one on a stone cutting tool from the Oldevai Gorge.  Each episode is about 15 minutes long and includes pictures and video of each object being discussed.  If you like quiet afternoons at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you will love this series.

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91 Responses

  1. I am glad that you like the BBC. The TV license in the UK (which funds the BBC) is currently £ 142.5 a year which is around $ 210 a year. This is topped by the generous funding for the German public TV – annually just south of $300.

    • hi, i’m trying to figure out why spammy’s developed a test for you recently … frankly I have no idea why, but I’ll have katiebird look into it, she’s the resident blog techie goddess

      • Thanks – the only explanation I have is that I got recently a netbook ie I might be posting from 2 different computers otherwise nothing has changed…still waiting for spring!!

  2. Michelle Obama who used to be an administrator in the hospital industry.
    *************
    I doubt if Michelle learned much about Hospital administration as a VP for community “out reach”. The position was eliminated after she resigned.

    • Does it matter? Michelle is the hospital industry’s ‘in’ at the WH. Gardening my ass. I’m betting she’s up to her neck in HCR and lots of CEOs are delighted to have a friend so close to Obama.
      Eventually, we’ll know what she’s really been up to while she plays Republican style, traditional, stay-at-home mom.

      • Nancy-Ann Min DeParle is Obama’s “minder” for “Big Health”. I think she was part of the deal for the $20+ million in campaign bribes. Larry and Timmy have got Goldman and the banksters covered, Nancy-Ann is protecting The AHA and Wellpoint,etc.

  3. I could vote for Al, he’s smart and brave!

  4. I love Al. Thanks for the clip.

    • I, too, love Franken. I really hope that someday, after a few terms in the Senate, he runs for POTUS. I would be a campaigning machine for that man.

      He’s the comedian, and yet one of the most sincere politicians out there.

  5. Way to go Al. Benefits have been extended for another month. The larger jobs bill will still have to be debated.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Putting a lone senator’s cantankerous challenge behind it, the Senate is back to work on a $100 billion-plus bill reviving popular tax breaks and extending longer and more generous jobless benefits through the end of the year.

    Kentucky Republican Jim Bunning relented on Tuesday evening, freeing the Senate to approve stopgap legislation extending for another month a host of programs, including highway funding, health insurance subsidies for the unemployed and benefits for the long-term jobless. That gives Congress time to consider the far larger measure covering most of the same programs.

    But the daunting price tag on the longer-term measure guarantees more complications and an even rougher path through the Senate than experienced by the bill passed Tuesday.

  6. Please explain to me what specifically are the qualities you find that would make Franken a good president?

    And as I didn’t care if Obama was black, I don’t care that Franken is Jewish. If you wanted one who was Jewish, you could consider Joe Lieberman. And I know you have no interest in him. So let’s skip the religion, race and whatever and deal with ISSUES. So again, what issues enamors Franken to you?

    • They are numerous. Search by keyword. I’m at work and don’t have time to go into it now. But I’ve written posts about him before. I love the guy and think he’s got more integrity in his little pinky than Obama has in his whole lanky frame.
      BTW, the Jewish angle is meant to be lighthearted and frivolous. For all I know, Franken is a secular Jew.
      Chill.

      • If by “secular” Jew, you mean non-observant, then, yes, that’s what Franken is. And, btw, his wife is not Jewish (not that that matter either).

        I took your reference in the lighthearted vein it was intended. Those bagels and lox look seriously delicious!

        • Our nation is in a mood for firsts, so first Jewish president would fit that theme nicely. Besides, according to the tea & fruitcake crowd, we already have a Muslim president, so what the heck.

          • How many historic firsts does the first woman have to wait in line behind?

            Also, does anyone else find it depressing that every time someone says anything even a little bit FDR-ish, we start bruiting that person for President? In times like these, we should have FDRs up the wazoo. Nothing against Al — good for him. But where’s the friggen courage?!

            *****A

    • Here’s a quality or two. Franken can talk to voters about public policy and disarm the opposition by stating the facts and putting forward competing ideas:

      • Wonk — “How do we do reform?” ….could we say that Franken is “wonky”? 😉

        HE has a much greater grasp on the issues than Obama ever did! And he even LISTENED to them and gave real examples, go figure.

    • Why does it matter? We haven’t had a qualified president in 10 years.

      Unlike the bozos the masses have elected recently, Al has integrity. The “qualifications” will come.

    • At the moment, he doesn’t ooze Washington privilege. I was glad to see him stand up for defunding contractors (Halliburton, specifically) that created an work environment that allowed a woman to be gang raped and then covered it up.

      I believe the Franken amendment–which got strong bipartisan support–was a step in the right direct of holding contractors responsible for what they did with government funds. In this case,covering up a crime and stopping the woman from being able to report it to the proper authorities and get her day in court.

    • If we are pitching Jews for Prez, I like Russ Feingold. He is Jewish right? If he’s not then that will change the order of my top ten favorite Jews.

  7. CNN’s prime-time lineup of Campbell Brown, Larry King, Anderson Cooper hits new lows in viewers. Cheerleading not going so well.

    CNN’s prime-time audience fell 54% to 534,000 viewers, and the number of adults 25-54 was off 57% to 147,000 people compared with February 2009, according to Nielsen. All three of the hosts hit new lows in viewers. CNN finished well behind Fox News and also trailed MSNBC in the ratings race.

    Prime time wasn’t the only headache for the Time Warner-owned cable network. Its total day audience of 469,000 was off 36%, and its 134,000 average in adults 25-54 was a 40% decline from the same month a year ago.

  8. Those bagels look good. Think I’ll have some of that nova with goat cheese, capers and onion. Oh and tomatoes. Mmm.

  9. I, too, am concerned at the likely cuts to the BBC in light of conservative and corporate pressure to limit its funding. Besides being one of the best news sources in the world, the BBC has given me hope that after losing its empire, a nation can still have something great to offer the world.

  10. OT: Does anyone know what the heck is going on at Cannonfire?

  11. Re: Public option deal: it’s what Obama was installed for – to scuttle any chance of it. A lot of duplicity went in doing this. Funny as mcCain was talking about deals behind closed doors, Obama responded: “who cares about the process. let’s see what we can do now”. Same way in 2004 he said in Senate: “Who cares how we got in Iraq, let’s see what we do now. Answer on both: more of the same.

  12. Re: Al Franken Of course I’d love him as POTUS. But if you want a clue as to the realism of such hope – just think how long it took for him to be seated in the senate – how helpful his own party was. Compare that with say, Scott Brown seating for contrast.

    • I hear ya and yet, he was put on some pretty high profile committees. I think the reason for that is that he can clearly articulate liberal thinking and he does his homework. He seems to really understand the issues and nuance and unlike people like Dennis Kucinich, Al doesn’t appear to be a knee jerk lefty. Sorry Kucinich fans but he’s not my favorite liberal.
      Weird. I never thought the guy who gave us the Al Franken decade would be presidential material. But now, I see him as one of the few Democrats that I could actually vote for president. The other is Hillary.

      • I like him, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to trust him after he helps put the Health Insurance Bailout/Stupac/Nelson bill into law. He’d have to do a lot to make up for that.

        • I’m with you, dk. My big beef with Franken relates to the health insurance bill. He, along with all the other so-called “pro-choice” Democrats in the Senate, had no problem stabbing women in the back. I’m still livid about it. If not for Mass., that bill would now be law.

          • I’m not happy about Franken’s support of the current HCR/Stupak/Neslon farce, but I’d still support him over the creeps that pass for Democrats these days. At least Franken actually is a Democrat! And, he does his homework.

          • Is voting to bail out health insurance companies and against women’s rights being a Democrat these days? I guess so…

            Like I said, I like Al, but helping pass the Obama/Stupak/Nelson bill is pretty awful, and, imo, he’d have a lot of explaining to do.

          • I’m wary of him too for the same reason, as I have said here in the past. But on balance, he’s not like the NuDems wasting time trying to win over the votes of GOP hacks. He’s actually pushing back on GOP nonsense and pushing his party to do more.

      • I gotta say, Al knows how to chose a tie. Compare his to the ostentatious one worn the other day by our national nightmare.

  13. Another reason I like the BBC: “New York airport jets ‘directed by child’ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8547875.stm

    I like to know what is happening in my own country.

  14. RD—thanks for this post. I don’t comment often, but this one is interesting to me

    My brother has had stage four melanoma for years now–been through interferon, rituxin, and taxal (which helped). He developed Hairy Cell Lukemia in addition to the melanoma, tried to get into a clinical trial at MD Anderson, but couldn’t because of the additional cancer. I’m sure I’m spelling these drugs wrong, but in a hurry. Two years ago, his oncologist tried a combo of clabradine, timadar, and nexafar-almost killed him, but he’s been in remission ever since. He also takes alot of vitamins and tumeric every day. I’m sending him the NYT links–so, thank you.

  15. Only the checked-out liberal mindset would claim that unless you give people nearly TWO YEARS of paid leave on the taxpayer’s dime you are being meanspirited and unfair. I guess the working slugs who are subsidizing this parasitic behavior should just shut up and hand over their wallets.

    • Blah blah blah.

      • Yea, what he said!

        This so reminds me of the Raygun years when he wouldn’t help the unemployed and made it seem as if they were out vacationing and sunbathing. I remember Raygun saying that before accessing Unemployment Benefits they should first rely on their family and friends.

        Lord and Behold, if the press didn’t find Ronny Jr. in line for Unemployment Benefits…his family was WEALTHY and had WEALTHY FRIENDS. See, they take, but try and make working folks out to be bums, which is just plain wrong.

    • People work to pay for unemployment INSURANCE. They pay taxes for the benefit. Most unemployment checks in the nation don’t even cover folks expenses. This is the worst economy and employment situation in over 20 years. There aren’t jobs to be had. Your lack of information is appalling.

    • Only a selfish Ayn Randian would call it parasitic.

    • IOW: let them eat cake.

    • Yes, Ed, count me among the working slugs who would much rather give my taxpayer dollars to one of my unemployed former colleagues who will never find a job in their field for the rest of their lives. I’m talking about PhD chemists and biologists whose jobs have gone to China while fatcat bankers cash in on our largesse for their bonuses.
      And I give a monthly donation to foodbanks to feed the poor working class shlubs whose meager paychecks don’t go far enough in the month to feed their families.
      You want to improve America? Why don’t you starve a banker for a change instead of some preschooler whose parents can’t find work.
      Go Cheney yourself.

      • thank you, RD. Couldn’t have said it better

      • RD – so glad to see your fire hasn’t gone out!

        Ed doesn’t get that many of those new unemployed receiving checks and living in the newly developed homeless shelters live in the SUBURBS!

    • As someone that has never been in the unemployment benefit I don’t resent people receiving benefits…especially with families. Some families have all the family members doing little part-time jobs (that is all that is available) to keep the family afloat and the mortgage paid.

      We are in hard economic times and what the government should do is FREE the CREDIT to SMALL BUSINESSES (the engine of the economy…as most people are employed by small business) to get the economy going instead of giving BONUSES and TARPS to the Wall Street Greedos.

      • it’s like calling social security recipients leeches, you pay for that with your FICA taxes … sheesh! It’s something you pay a premium for on every paycheck and the deductions far outstrip the benefits for most folks depending on the state they randomly are born into

        • Exactly! Imagine if their house had burned down and this BUNNING AND KYL refused to let the insurance cover the damage….they would pick up pitch forks and brooms and head to Washington.

          They think it is a give away and it’s the Raygun approach for the working folks.

        • I have worked and lived in five states. I have never had unemployment taxes taken from my paycheck. It is completely employer funded. Also, the federal unemployment taxes are not taken from employees but are paid directly by the employer.

          On the other hand, one can make an argument that through work product and reduced wages due to the employer being required to send money to the state and federal government – the worker is funding unemployment coffers.

          • Dee, yes I’ve even heard that the amount absorbed by small businesses has DOUBLED or even TRIPLED in some states.

            BUT this just brings the point home that it’s the SMALL BUSINESSES who need help, not the greedy bastards who got TARP money because they are too big to fail. {as woman voter said}… Shoot, the main prob was that the Dems didn’t ban bonus pay-outs immediately and redirect that $ to main street. Instead, you got the assinine ‘help a teenager get an adult’s job’ program!

    • Why is it you folks can never figure out who the real parasites are? The parasites are the folks getting six and seven figure bonuses off our tax dollars. I don’t know about you but I’ve never received a seven figure bonus, much less a single figure bonus, for losing my company money. I’d much rather my tax dollars go to the working class folks who are suffering during this economic crisis instead of the true parasite class who are making money they don’t need (or deserve!) while the rest of the nation suffers.

  16. Love Al! He’s my fav. He’s not perfect by any means as he’ll back some stupid Obama things for the new Dem party like the senate HCR bill, but the vast majority of things he’s doing seem on track to me. Run Al, Run.

  17. BUNNING AND KYL SHOULD APOLOGIZE
    http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-415578?hpt=C2

    Tea Party folks should either say they support these two and the GOP or ‘State THEIR PLATFORM’…demand answers and see if they are for the working folks or if the organizers are working for ‘The Wall Street Greedos’.

  18. His Oneness is going to give a speech soon about his latest cut at the HCR bill. Apparently this time he’s bending over even more to appease the Republicans. Vs. what they’ve done up to this point I suppose.

    Did we all fall down the hole and enter wonderland because everything seems backwards and upside down. Maybe I drank the wrong potion.

    • Yesterday Kaine said the Dems will be using reconciliation, today Harkin has confirmed it, and tomorrow’s Obama speech will tell us for a third time.

      Once upon a time the koolaid refrain was, “don’t worry, Obama will save the public option.” But, the public option was already dead then. What’s left to save is for profit health insurance. And, the bending over that’s being done won’t appease any Repubs. It’s being done to get the votes of so-called Democrats. We really have gone down the rabbit hole.

    • It’s talking in front of the famed Lab Coats for Obama group.

  19. OT: there’s another after shock and tsunami warning from the area around Chile

  20. I have to say that Al Franken has been an unexpected and pleasant phenom. I’m saying this as a disillusioned Dem because somewhere along the line, the bigwig Dems decided ordinary working men and women weren’t worth fighting for, that the monied interests was where their hearts really belonged.

    But here comes Franken, a comic, an entertainer who I originally thought was an absolute joke of a candidate [though we have plenty of jesters in Congress] taking the traditional and sorely missed Democratic stand.

    This isn’t radical or off the wall, despite what the Glenn Beck’s of the world are spewing. The American taxpayer, workers, ordinary citizens paid and will pay for years for what a bunch of immoral financiers and their Republican love mates did and are still doing to this country. And now the Dems are cooing their song, too.

    Bunning and his supporters have the gall to talk about principled stands that rest squarely on the bowed necks of unemployed Americans. They expect applause.

    Cute trick.

    I’m also glad Franken didn’t let the Dems off the hook either–these junk unemployment numbers that we keep getting. We’re turning the corner, we’re headed into the stretch, we’re knocking on the door of Recovery. The Dems can’t even be honest with their own. Every week, as Franken mentions, more and more people lose their employment. What he didn’t mention is at the same time, others fall off the official balance sheet. Their benefits run out or they take part time work or they go and live under a bridge.

    Poof! They disappear and conveniently, don’t screw up the public tally.

    So, yes. It’s refreshing that an Al Franken stands up and we have a moment of truth. The tragedy is that these moments are so rare, almost extinct.

    As a lifelong Dem, it makes me want to weep.

  21. http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/

    Rep. Eric Massa is poised to announce this afternoon that he will not seek re-election in the 29th Congressional District this fall as planned, a Democratic source confirms. — The freshman congressman is going to make his announcement at 3 p.m., according to the source.

  22. Michael Moore: ‘Democrats are a bunch of wusses…It’s disgusting… I’m sick of them’

    http://rawstory.com/2010/03/michael-moore-democrats-bunch-wusses/

    Thx, Michael, you elected HIM … you OWN HIM

    • Michael, the faux Dems you rammed through over better candidates are a bunch of wusses. If you and others like you didn’t ram them through, then we wouldn’t be in this situation. And if you can’t see that and can’t come to terms with what you did, then you and others like you will likely just keep doing it.

    • yeah so just take him and go far away..

    • I loathe Moore.

    • Michael Moore is a POS!!!!!!!!!!

      Until he actually comes out and screams ‘OBAMA IS A WUSS & I WAS A MAJOR FACTOR IN GETTING THAT WUSS ELECTED’ then he isn’t really criticizing him or owning up to his part. I don’t know how finally maybe kinda stating the obvious that Obama’s escalation of the war HAS made the transformation complete, from Bush’s war to OBAMA’S WAR, is considered criticism.

    • Hey Mikey, guess what? You’re a wuss, you’re disgusting and I’m sick of you. Take a long walk off a short pier you ugly f#$%!

      • Still haven’t forgiven him for his role in cheerleading for votes in Florida to go to Nader in 2000.

  23. Nope.

    Al has had plenty of time to maaaaybe breach the “wall of silence” and speak up for Single Payer/Medicare For All.

    He’s not going to rock the boat.

    http://www.minnpost.com/dailyglean/2010/02/22/16119/franken_rallies_for_health_care

    “Franken as telling the assembled that passing the health-care bill, even in its disappointing current form, would be better than starting from scratch.”

    Said like a true blue dem, huh?

    • Depends on the context. Starting from scratch in the Republican sense if that is your only option? Nope. Franken would be right that the bill in it’s present form is better than anything from scratch that the Republicans could concoct.
      But starting from scratch from a core Democratic principles POV *should* result in a much better bill than what we have. That’s what should be tried. I doubt he has any disagreements with that idea.
      So, I’m going to guess he is referring to the first scenario because it was a recent Republican suggestion.

      • Sadly, it’s already a Republican bill.

        I don’t agree with where Franken stands on healthcare, but the Obama Party has put genuine liberals in a BAD position, especially a freshman senator.

        • Yep, insisting on party unity for a bill with really egregious anti-Democratic crap in it is only going to hurt the party and anyone forced by his leadership to support this bill. If it passes, it will be an albatross around the neck of anyone who voted for it to the base. It will be like the Iraq War Resolution for Hillary.
          I hate it too. I want him to fight harder to get the crap removed. I don’t think anyone is truly happy with the situation but Democrats will suffer no matter how much they hate some of the provisions.

  24. Will people ever start thinking for themselves?

    • This is just an Obama tactic. He pulls this “done deal” crap in an effort to intimidate people and get everybody in line. He did the same thing with Hillary after Super Tuesday in the primaries.

      I’ll believe the Senate bill will pass the House when I see it. House members aren’t morons. They have to know that the chances of the Senate passing any fixes are between slim and nil. And every last one of them will have to answer to voters in November.

  25. Last chance on Health bill
    The White House: (202) 456-1414

    The Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121

    Contact Your Elected Officials: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

    Fax Free Website: http://faxzero.com

    Write Your Representative: https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

    TweetCongress.org: http://tweetcongress.org/ and

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