Monday, September 14, 2009

Last Call

Actor Patrick Swayze has succumbed to pancreatic cancer at age 57.
"Patrick Swayze passed away peacefully today with family at his side after facing the challenges of his illness for the last 20 months," his publicist, Annett Wolf, said in a statement Monday evening. Swayze died in Los Angeles, Wolf said, but she declined to give further details.

Fans of the actor were saddened to learn in March 2008 that Swayze was suffering from a particularly deadly form of cancer. He kept working despite the diagnosis, putting together a memoir with his wife and shooting "The Beast," an A&E drama series for which he had already made the pilot.

Swayze said he opted not to use painkilling drugs while making "The Beast" because they would have taken the edge off his performance. The show drew a respectable 1.3 million viewers when the 13 episodes ran in 2009, but A&E said it had reluctantly decided not to renew it for a second season.

When he first went public with the illness, some reports gave him only weeks to live, but his doctor said his situation was "considerably more optimistic" than that. Swayze acknowledged that time might be running out given the grim nature of the disease.

Here's to you, Patrick. Yet another name from my childhood passes on.

Prescription For Success

Via John Cole, turns out doctors overwhelmingly support the public option too.

A RWJF survey summarized in the September 14, 2009 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine shows that 62.9 percent of physicians nationwide support proposals to expand health care coverage that include both public and private insurance options—where people under the age of 65 would have the choice of enrolling in a new public health insurance plan (like Medicare) or in private plans. The survey shows that just 27.3 percent of physicians support a new program that does not include a public option and instead provides subsidies for low-income people to purchase private insurance. Only 9.6 percent of doctors nationwide support a system where a Medicare-like public program is created in lieu of any private insurance. A majority of physicians (58%) also support expanding Medicare eligibility to those between the ages of 55 and 64.

In every region of the country, a majority of physicians supported a combination of public and private options, as did physicians who identified themselves as primary care providers, surgeons, or other medical subspecialists. Among those who identified themselves as members of the American Medical Association, 62.2 percent favored both the public and private options.

So, America's doctors are dirty hippie socialists, yes?

When the Republican misinformation in the messaging chain is removed, Americans support the public option. But Republicans are doing everything they can to convince you that anyone who does is secretly trying to kill you so they can have all the health care to themselves.

Demand the public option.

Cuomo's Time

New York AG Andrew Cuomo reportedly has his sights set on Bank of America.
The New York Attorney General's office is preparing charges against several high-ranking Bank of America executives over the bank's alleged failure to disclose details about its acquisition of Merrill Lynch, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office is likely to file civil charges against the executives over their role in failing to alert shareholders to mounting losses as well as accelerated bonus payments at Merrill, said the person, who requested anonymity because no charges have been filed yet.
At least somebody's doing something about the Too Big To Fail folks, but in the end we're going to have to break up these banks before the inevitable happens. Perhaps civil charges on behalf of shareholders are the way to go here.

Your Seminal Teabaggerstock Moment

Courtesy TPM:

image content

Because really, what America needs with an African-American president is more mobs implying lynchings.

[UPDATE 3:16 PM] McCain's presidential campaign spokesman Michael Goldfarb sums up the entire teabagger movement in today's LA Times:

"Do we look crackpot? Yes," Goldfarb said. "But that's how the left looked to me in 2004, and in 2006 they took back Congress. Then they started marginalizing the lunatics."
Republicans only lost because Democrats "embraced the lunatic fringe" that wanted us out of Iraq and Afghanistan (which turned out to be a majority of Americans) and then threw them aside once they got control. The Republicans figure the same thing will work, because Code Pink wanting to get out of war is exactly like wanting to lynch Obama, right?

[UPDATE 3:50 PM] The Double G weighs in on the teabaggers and who controls them:
What's really happening with these protests is that the genuine rage and not unreasonable economic insecurity of these citizens is being stoked, exploited, distorted and manipulated by movement leaders for entirely different ends. The people who are leading them -- Rush Limbaugh, the Murdoch-owned Fox News, Glenn Beck, business-dominated organizations of the type led by Dick Armey -- are cultural warriors above everything else. They're all in a far different socioeconomic position than the "middle-income Americans" whose anger they're ostensibly representing. Their principal preoccupation is their cultural contempt for various groups (illegal immigrants, the "undeserving" poor, liberals) and their desire to preserve the status quo whereby the prime beneficiaries of government policies remain themselves: the super rich and the interests that control Washington. It's certainly true that many of these protesters are driven by the standard right-wing cultural issues which have long shaped that movement -- social issues, religious fears, cultural and racial divisions, and hatred for "liberals" as Communist-Muslim-Terrorist-lovers. For many, all of that is intensified by the humiliation of being completely thrown out of power, at the hands of the first black President. But much of it is fueled by the pillaging of the corporations and Wall St. interests which own their government.

Familiar Territory

President Obama went to Wall Street today to call for strict financial reforms, giving a speech on the anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
President Obama traveled to lower Manhattan today a year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers to argue that the administration's response to the financial crisis has been successful and to pitch his plan to change the regulatory system.

"Although I will never be satisfied while people are out of work and our financial system is weakened, we can be confident that the storms of the past two years are beginning to break," said Obama, speaking in Federal Hall on Wall St. "The growing stability resulting from these interventions means we are beginning to return to normalcy. But what I want to emphasize is this: normalcy cannot lead to complacency," he added. (Read his prepared remarks here.)

If this sounds familiar, it's basically what he said five months ago in Georgetown at a speech on the same subject. It's been five months and Congress and the President have basically done nothing on reform. On an issue that really would be a bipartisan no-brainer with broad public support, Obama has done nothing.

Then again, nobody's really surprised by this.

Rumors Of The Death Of Public Option May Have Been Exaggerated

Not only is Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin saying that the final health care bill the President will sign have the public option in it, he's saying Republicans will be on board for it as well.
Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat who recently filled the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's seat as chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said Sunday that a Senate health-care reform bill would include a "strong" public option and that it would get through by the holiday recess.

He also said it will have support from "some" Republicans, although he said he isn't sure how many.

"I'm ready to carry on [Kennedy's] work, and I'm ready to get a health reform bill passed and to President Obama before Christmas comes this December," Harkin said in a fiery push for health reform during a speech at his annual Steak Fry, a fundraiser for Iowa Democrats.

"That bill — mark my word, I'm the chairman — is going to have a strong public option," he added to thunderous applause.

In a media availability held just prior to his speech, Harkin said he believed the legislation would be able to garner enough support from both sides of the aisle — potentially enough to label it bipartisan when all is said and done.

"We will have some Republicans on our bill," Harkin said.

Really. Glad to hear Sen. Harkin knows his Senate colleagues that well, because everything I've seen and heard is strongly pointing towards a neutered, worthless bill that will put an undue financial burden on millions of middle class Americans as they are forced to buy mandated insurance that their employers will no longer carry.

But that's just my opinion. Still, more power to Harkin.

Two Faces Of Jim DeMint

As Steve Benen points out, GOP hypocrisy continues to astound, especially that of SC Republican Sen. Jim DeMint.
It's hardly a surprise that Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has fully embraced "Tenther" attitudes -- rejecting the federal government's authority to do much of anything based on a long-discredited, right-wing interpretation of the 10th Amendment.

So, when DeMint told Aaron Wiener over the weekend that he thinks Congress lacks the "constitutional authority" to intervene on health care policy, it was fairly predictable. Of far greater interest was DeMint's response when asked about Medicare. This matters, of course, because if there's even a shred of intellectual consistency to the Tenther approach, everything from Medicare to Social Security, the G.I. Bill to the interstate highway system, should be deemed unconstitutional.

DeMint expressed doubts as to the legality of Medicare under the Constitution, but said, "Regardless of constitutionality, it is a promise that we have to keep.... I think Medicare and Social Security have to be protected."

"Regardless of constitutionality" strikes me as an instant classic. Indeed, it's the worst of both worlds -- DeMint's ideology is so far gone that he actually believes Medicare and Social Security are unconstitutional, but DeMint's principles are so weak that he supports the illegal programs anyway.

For the American mainstream, DeMint's legal analysis makes him a nut. For the Tenther fringe, DeMint's willingness to deliberately endorse policies he considers unconstitutional makes him a sell-out.

Got that? A government run health care program and a social safety net like Medicare and Social Security are untenable and unconstitutional, but they have to remain untouched because we made a promise to our seniors.

"Regardless of constitutionality" indeed. It's just a piece of paper to them, and it means whatever they say it means.

Huey, Dewey and Louie Want More War

Sens. McCain, Graham and Lieberman have a collective op-ed piece in the WSJ (natch) this morning extolling the virtues of applying more expensive hardware to explosively rearrange chunks of rubble in Afghanistan.
Their doubts are natural and understandable, and we must respond to them directly and clearly. Our problems in Afghanistan are not because the Taliban are invincible or popular. They are neither. Rather, our problems result from what was, for years, a mismanaged and underresourced war.

Our mistakes are infuriating, but they are also reversible. We traveled to Afghanistan nine months ago and again last month. In the intervening time, a significant shift in our strategic leadership and focus has taken place there.

We have an exceptional new commander on the ground, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who has begun a top-to-bottom overhaul of all aspects of our war policy and put forward a dramatically new civil-military strategy that clearly identifies failed policies and prioritizes the proven principles of counterinsurgency, including protecting civilians, creating legitimate and effective governance, and boosting economic development. With Gen. McChrystal, together with a new ambassador and a new deputy commander, we believe we now have the team on the ground that can win this war.

However, we need more than the right team and the right strategy. This team must also have the resources it needs to succeed—including a significant increase in U.S. forces.

The Surge is back, baby! We can't afford health care for Americans, but we have no choice but to pour billions more down the Afghanistan rathole. That's fiscal responsibility we can believe in!

Meet The Bungles

In answer to the question I posed Friday, the answer was "The bigger disaster was the Bengals themselves" as they managed to find a way to lose their home opener to Denver in the final seconds of the game.
For a team that has lost games by almost every conceivable scenario over the past 19 years, the Bengals 12-7 loss to the Denver Broncos in Sunday’s opener at Paul Brown Stadium came on the unthinkable – a fluke tipped pass.

After a Cedric Benson 1-yard dive play with 41 seconds remaining, Denver got the ball on their own 13 needing a miracle to get even in field goal range. After Brandon Marshall was unable to haul in a Brandon Marshall pass on first down, they got the miracle and much more.

On a play the Broncos fittingly call “All Go”, Orton once again tried to find Marshall, but Leon Hall tipped the ball up at the Denver 38 while Chris Crocker and Roy Williams tackled Marshall. The problem was that Hall tipped the ball backwards, where Brandon Stokley made the grab at the 45 and raced 65 yards up the left sideline, outracing Dhani Jones in the process.

Stokley then took some time off the clock by running parallel to the end zone along the 1-yard line.

“It was the wrong play, he caught it and he scored. The right play would be to knock it on the ground or pick it off,” Hall said.
Who Dey, indeed.

Diss Them, But Don't Dismiss Them

Pandagon's Jesse Taylor brings up a good point this morning:
It’s often said that we shouldn’t dismiss the opposition to Obama as racists, or crazy, or potentially violent. And the thing is, we aren’t dismissing them. We’re accurately describing them, and taking their threat very seriously. There’s an assumption in our discourse that by describing someone as a paranoid bigot, we’re marginalizing them and saying they don’t have influence. This is largely because of a mainstream-media driven assumption that anyone who appeals to large numbers of people or makes their voice influential on the national stage must ergo be rational. I, for one, am totally willing to admit that crazy people such as Baron Weephausen can have a huge, even outsized effect on the political debate while still potentially needing a steady supply of adult diapers for what we call “rage leaks”.

The fact that a movement gains momentum does not make it rational or worthy of driving public discourse; it just means that far too many people are gullible enough to believe that Barack Obama is hunting down grandparents and harvesting their worn-out organs to mulch his organic garden with. They’re dangerous, they’re stupid, they’re angry, but what they are not is “dismissed”.

I agree, and as I've said, if anything these guys are stone cold dead serious in their beliefs that Obama must be stopped by any means necessary. And those means include the possibility of violence.

To dismiss them as harmless cranks would be a grave error.

Dollar Dollar Bill, Y'all

Investment guru Jim Rogers says a dollar currency crisis is on the way as the next leg of the continuing financial disaster.
"How can the solution for debt and consumption be more debt and more consumption? How can that be the solution to our problems?," he said.

"I would expect there to be a currency crisis or a semi-crisis this fall or next year. It's crony capitalism, Bernanke and Greenspan have brought crony capitalism to America … but that's not going to solve the world's problems," Rogers added.

There are still "gigantic amounts of horrible, horrible debt that hasn't been dealt with" in Central Europe, while hopes that China will pull the world out of recession are overblown, according to Rogers.

"China saved up a lot of money for a rainy day, it's raining and it's spending it," he said. "But China cannot pull out America or India or Europe from all this. Their economy is a 10th of the US. Hallelujah, let them do good things but they're not going to save the world."

The Federal Reserve has tripled its balance sheet and the US government's debt skyrocketed, which may cause currency problems next year, while protectionist tendencies have already started, he warned.

On Monday, China has requested World Trade Organization talks over US-imposed duties on Chinese-made tires, which China has branded protectionist.

"We're going to have some serious problems in currency markets, we're going to have serious problems in the world markets if we see protectionism rising and rising again," he said.

Rogers has two good points: bailing out the financial industry had added trillions to our national debt, and protectionism is already on the rise, witness the growing trade rift between the U.S and China that has gotten a lot more serious this month. China has responded to U.S. tariffs on Chinese tires by threatening to do the same to U.S. chicken and auto parts imports to China.

And it's only going to get worse. The U.S-China trade imbalance simply can't survive this recession. Something's going to have to give on a permanent basis, and the results may change the entire global economy for decades.

Keep an eye on this trade war. The first shots have been fired, and the whole world will soon be reacting to it.


Related Posts with Thumbnails