Sunday, July 26, 2009

Economic indicators suggest an Obama recovery; yet GOP & FOX-type media give no credit

By the latest economic indicators, the economy is moving in the direction of recovery.

ABC News reported today that several indicators are pointing to an economic recovery. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose to surpass 9,000 last week (to 9,069.29). This was the first time that it exceeded that level. And all the large stock indexes rose by more than two percent, TIm Paradis and Sara Lepro in "The Minneapolis Star-Tribune" reported Thursday. The NASDAQ had its most impressive rally since 1992: a 12th straight advance, i.e., the composite index rising by 47.22, or 2.5 percent.

Home sales (of previously lived-in homes) were at 4.89 milion in June, compared with the anticipated 4.84 milion.

Legg Mason trust fund manager Bill Miller, who is renowned for "beating the S&P 500" says that the worst is over.
Jeff Kearns and Sree Vidya Bhaktavatsalam report in "The Washington Post" this weekend that Miller said of the stock market that "the worst has passed."
"Bull markets typically begin when the following four conditions are present: the economy is bottoming, profits are bottoming, the Fed is stimulating and valuations are low. That's where we are now."

Miller, famed for beating the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index for a record 15 years through 2005, trailed the U.S. benchmark for the past three, partly because of investments in home builders, banks and mortgage companies. Those bets caused a record 55 percent loss in 2008. Legg Mason Value Trust has returned 19.8 percent this year, ahead of the index by 12.6 percentage points when dividends are included.

Banks and other financial institutions have rallied the most among 10 industries since the S&P 500 tumbled to a 12-year low March 9, surging 96 percent. Technology shares had the second-best gain, climbing 55 percent.

There are several problems, enduring, however. Consumer confidence remains low.

Well, no wonder. Psychology is at play for lots of this. Consumers don't want to spend if they have reason to fear that their jobs are not secure.

Credit cards as a boon to economic vitality
Let's face it: credit cards are the crack of consumer spending. They provide(d) an illusory high of easy, immediate satisfying of buying impulses. And more seriously, they provided an important trigger that stimulated spending. It is no wonder that with the two factors of tighter credit and fears of job stability or security there is a decrease in consumer confidence. This made it particularly easy to splurge frequently or on big ticket items like plasma televisions.

Unemployment still troubling
Unemployment presently stands at 9.5 percent, the highest level since the first administration of President Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s.

This recovery, or at least positive turn-around on a number of fronts, is here after six months of the Barack Obama administration. The Republicans, the right in general, and the media need to be honest and give the administration credit where it is due.

These delusional pontificators were booming about how Obama was a socialist, a Marxist, a Stalinist. Just listen to Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh or Monica Crowley. Yet, where are they now, with the multiple positive signs suggesting a turn towards a recovery. They have now shifted their demagogic rhetorical flourish to Obama on health care policy, bandying about these -ism labels on Obama's public option.
Is it any wonder that one of the latest "Washington Post" polls has the public trusting President Obama over the Republicans on health care by a 54 to 34 margin.

Look in the news search engines and listen to the Republicans on the Sunday morning talk shows you cannot find Republicans acknowledging the loud hints of a recovery, let alone credit Obama with the recovery.

Just two weeks ago Obama was asking for more time for the stimulus to kick in. It seems as though this is happening.

As to whether this is a jobless recovery, that remains an open question. I believe that much of this question lies in the de-industrializing spiral that economic policy-makers have placed us in.

Friday, July 24, 2009

United Health had 155% profit in 2nd Q report; Blue Cross Democrat Mike Ross (Ark) on the take

On the "Ed Schultz Show" it was announced that United Health got profits of 155% in the second quarter
-a major detail that you will never hear from Fox News and similar right-wing, pro-Republican biased media. Here is the link, to hear audio archive of Schultz's first occasion to announce these outrageous profits.
And the MSNBC transcript page, of Ed's announcement there, 6 PM, Wednesday night.

MIKE ROSS, Blue Dog Democrat, ooh, make that "Blue Cross Democrat," has made millions from prescription drugs.
Scroll below the following story for Mike Ross' work to oppose public health reform.
From Blue Dog Lake, the Blue Texan's blog, Wednesday, July 22, 2009. Read the story. Ross has some gall to profit from drugs and also stall the health bill, THEN CALL HIS OFFICE, AND TELL HIM TO LET PUBLIC OPTION pass.

Every Blue Dog who claims to be "concerned about the costs" of health care reform is really just concerned about preserving their gravy train.

Rep. Mike Ross was at the White House Tuesday demanding Democrats produce a health-care bill that keeps costs under control. Mr. Ross is himself a Democrat -- and a powerful one. He is bringing together fellow party members on the crucial House Energy and Commerce Committee in rebellion against the health bill backed by House Democratic leaders.

There are 51 Blue Dogs in the full House, Mr. Ross pointed out, more than enough to kill the health bill if they join the Republicans.

Thanks, Mike! Your commitment to the financial well-being of our country is admirable.

This is probably just a coincidence.

A pharmacist, Ross founded Ross Pharmacy Inc. He sold the business in 2007, but according to his 2008 financial disclosure form, he and wife Holly still "own 100% of stock" in the company, which pays dividends over $100,000 a year. Holly Ross is also listed as employed by Super D Drug Acquisition Co.

And while Ross rakes it in, nearly 1 in 5 residents of Arkansas are without health insurance.

Guess who's his biggest sugar daddy?

The health industry was the #1 sector contributing to Ross last year. lists $261,000 in contributions from individuals and PAC's from health care businesses.


Tell Mike Ross to stop putting his personal interests before his country's.



202 225-3772

(202) 225-1314 Fax


"Mike Ross and the Blue Dogs Sell Their Souls"

. . . Yes, Ross seemed to take particular pleasure in letting real Democrats and Americans who desperately need real reform know that he plans on selling them out in every sense of the word:

Arkansas Rep. Mike Ross, a key negotiator on health care for moderate Blue Dog Democrats, has warned that "there's no way they can pass the current bill on the House floor. Not even close."

"I suspect we'll have all the time we need, given they don't have the votes to get it out of committee," Ross said

Well, I am so glad you have so much time Mr. Ross. Your healthcare is a sweet deal and is provided by us. Unfortunately for many of us who you hold in such low regard we do not have that luxury. We cannot afford to see a doctor to get stitches to sew up the wound from your stab in the back.

And of course when it comes to raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans Mike Ross by his own words might as well be Rush Limbaugh:

The conservative Arkansas Democrat also objects to the surtaxes included in the bill, saying, "I don't like the idea of raising taxes in the worst economic crisis since World War II."
. . . .
A leader of the Blue Dog Coalition of conservative House Democrats said Thursday that he and six others in the group would vote together to block the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee unless changes were made to slow the growth rate of federal health care spending and to ensure that rural hospitals are adequately reimbursed for treating new patients under the legislation.

"We simply are demanding a bill that contains costs so that health care can grow at the normal rate of inflation and that addresses many of the rural health care concerns that (hospitals be adequately reimbursed) and that we don't put small businesses out of business through an employer mandate," Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., said in an interview.

In response to the Blue Dogs' demands, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said that there would be opportunity for members to make additional "structural changes" to the bill to address cost concerns.

"Can there be more (savings)? I think so," she said. "And that is what the legislative process is about. You don't write the whole bill, introduce it, and then go to the floor. This is the time now for an open process of bipartisan review of the bill in the committees. So, I am hopeful and optimistic that there will be more savings."

Ross, chairman of the Blue Dogs' health care task force, said the six other Democrats who'd vote to block the bill are Reps. Zack Space of Ohio, Baron Hill of Indiana, Charlie Melancon of Louisiana, John Barrow of Georgia, Jim Matheson of Utah, and Bart Gordon of Tennessee . . . .

* * *
as the Sunlight Foundation's reported this week:
Blue Dogs party as planned

The Huffington Post’s Arthur Delaney reports that canceled health care hearings this week cleared the calendar for Blue Dogs to fundraise as planned:

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce was supposed to be the third leg supporting health care reform legislation already approved by two other House committees. Instead, this week it’s become more of a fifth wheel. The committee’s markup sessions for Tuesday and Wednesday have been canceled in the face of opposition to the bill from the panel’s conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats.

So Monday’s markup may have lasted past midnight, but on Tuesday evening the committee’s Blue Dogs were free to party, and party they did! Reps. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah) feted fellow Blue Dog Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Northwest Washington from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Ross is the lead Blue Dog on health care reform.

Read more here [in Huffington Post].

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Meghan McCain Republican ... the Millennial Makeover:

You cannot often give a thumbs up to someone that coins a term with their own name in it. But you can with Meghan McCain.

Huffington Post reports that she has identified herself as a pro-sex, pro-life, pro-gay Republican. If there is any hope for the GOP beyond the Deep South and a few Plains States, it's in the libertarian crowd that wants their individual liberty and their profits. The mid-20s blogger with a famous last name has created the right sound byte for the party.

* * *
Two fellows at the New Democratic Network have aptly identified the new force behind the changes happening in electoral politics in America. Their term, the title of Morley Winograd and Michael Hais' book says it: "Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics."
They laid out their view of technology and the political heft of this new generation, expressing this on the immediate eve of last November's election of Barack Obama:
"...realignments like these are predictable events, with clear causes and clear outcomes in electoral results, voting behavior, and public policy. They occur every two generations when a large, outgoing, and politically active generation comes of age and a new, dominant communications medium emerges to mobilize that generation. America's last realignment came from the emergence of the idealistic, but highly divided, Baby Boom Generation in the late 1960s, and its fondness for television. The one before that was produced by the coming of age of the achievement-oriented GI Generation in the 1930s and FDR’s use of radio to unify its support for his New Deal.

This year’s realignment will result from the emergence of the Millennial Generation (Americans born between 1982 and 2003) and the Internet-based, social networking media on which Millennials rely. There are now nearly one hundred million Americans in this generational cohort according to the United States census. That makes them larger than America’s previous generational record holder, Baby Boomers who were born between 1946 and 1964. There are at least twice as many Millennials as there are members of Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1981. Almost forty percent of the Millennial Generation will be eligible to vote in 2008. Their political energy and the sharp increases in voter turnout among young people in states across the country have already transformed the Democratic nominating contest and will continue to be the single biggest force for change in American politics for decades to come."

Clean the kitchen: eject these dangerous substances!!! alerts us today to "Dangerous Household Products You Should Never Use Again"

You would never cross the street without looking both ways, walk alone down a dark alley alone at three a.m., or tell your child to accept rides from strangers. So why let hazardous, toxic, and even carcinogenic chemicals into your home everyday?

The message driven home for millions of Americans each day via TV and internet commercials is this: No need to scrub or scour. With just one squeeze of the spray bottle, you can wipe away dirt, grime, and bacteria.

Alas, there’s that dark alley again. Air fresheners, disinfectants, and cleaners found under your sink are more dangerous than you think. Mix bleach with ammonia, for example, and you’ve got a toxic fume cloud used by the military in WWI. And they weren’t cleaning kitchens.
Here is a list of the ten products you should ban from your home -- forever -- along with suggested alternatives.

1. Non-Stick Cookware

When non-stick pans were first introduced into American households in the 1960s, they were thought to be a godsend. Gone were the days of soaking pans for hours and scouring pots with steel wool. In the forty years since then, however, we’ve learned that the ease of cleaning comes at a steep price: the coating that makes Teflon pans non-stick is polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE for short. When PTFE heats up, it releases toxic gasses that have been linked to cancer, organ failure, reproductive damage, and other harmful health effects.
The problems with PTFE-coated pans seem to occur at high temperatures, so if you must use Teflon, cook foods on medium heat or less. Avoiding non-stick pans altogether is the safest option. If you’re able to do so, try anodized aluminum, stainless steel, or cast iron pans with a little cooking oil. SustainLane reviewers like LeCreuset cast iron pans and more cost-effective ones like Lodge Logic. Using a lower setting on the stove will reduce the chances that your food will burn, which is how it usually gets stuck to pans the first place. If you’re worried about the extra calories cooking oil adds, try baking or steaming your food.

2. Plastic Bottles

By now you’ve heard of dangers of BPA in those ubiquitous neon water bottles. BPA mimics the effects of hormones that harm your endocrine system. While the company at the heart of the controversy has switched to BPA-free plastic, those aren’t the only toxic bottles. Single-use plastic bottles are even worse for leaching chemicals, especially when you add the heat of the sun (think about bottles left in your trunk) or the microwave. Aside from the fact that bottled water sold across state lines is not as regulated as tap water, the bottles themselves are spawning grounds for bacteria and are a source of needless waste. Each year, more than one million barrels of oil are used to manufacture the more than 25 billion single-use plastic water bottles sold in the U.S. Choose a reusable, stainless steel or glass bottle instead. SustainLane users have reviewed several water bottle alternatives.

3. Conventional Cleaning Supplies

These routinely make the top ten lists of worst household offenders. They contain toxic chemicals that negatively affect every system in your body. All purpose cleaners often contain ammonia, a strong irritant that has been linked to liver and kidney damage. Bleach is a powerful oxidizer, which can burn the skin and eyes. Another danger lies in oven cleaners, which can cause chemical burns and emit toxic fumes that harm the respiratory system. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports that more than 120,000 children under the age of five were involved in incidents involving household cleaners in 2006, the most recent year for which data is available.
To protect you and your family from the hazards conventional cleaners pose, choose non-toxic, or natural cleaners. SustainLane reviewers have particularly enjoyed Method and Seventh Generation, which are commonly found on supermarket shelves. Bon Ami is a safe alternative to Comet and Ajax. If you have the time and want to go the extra mile, you can even mix your own using common household items like vinegar and baking soda. Check out these easy-to-make recipes household cleaners.

4. Chemical Insecticides and Herbicides

Since the purpose of these products is to kill pests, you can bet that many of them have ingredients in them that are also harmful to humans. For example, the active ingredient in Round-Up -- a weed-killer popular with gardeners -- is known to cause kidney damage and reproductive harm in mice. And cypermethrin, one of the active ingredients in the popular ant and roach-killer Raid, is a known eye, skin and respiratory irritant and has negative effects on the central nervous system.
There are several companies that sell natural and organic weed- and pest-control products. Buhach makes a natural insecticide from ground chrysanthemum flowers that controls ants, flies, fleas, lice, gnats, mosquitoes, spiders, and deer ticks, among other pests. Boric acid is an effective, natural solution for cockroaches as well; sprinkle it around baseboards, cracks and other places likely to harbor roaches. You can use this boric acid recipe to control ants. For weeds, check out E.B. Stone Weed-N-Grass or try spot-spraying with household vinegar.

5. Antibacterial Products

The widespread use of antibacterials has been shown to contribute to new strains of antibiotic-resistant “super-bugs.” The Center for Disease Control says that antibacterials may also interfere with immune system development in children. Triclosan -- the most common antibacterial additive found in more than 100 household products ranging from soaps and toothpaste to children’s toys and even undergarments -- accumulates in the body. In a study conducted by the Environmental Working Group, 97 percent of breast feeding mothers had triclosan in their milk, and 75 percent had trace amounts of the chemical in their urine.
Make it your goal to be to be clean, not germ-free. People who are exposed to household germs typically develop strong immune systems and are healthier overall. Avoid buying antibacterial products or soaps containing triclosan. Soap and water is really all you need to clean most things. There are plenty of eco-friendly hand washes and other cleansers that are safe for you and easy on the planet.

6. Chemical Fertilizers

These are notorious for causing damage to our water supply and are a known major contributor to algal blooms. Whenever it rains or a lawn is watered, the runoff goes straight into storm-drains, and untreated water is dumped into rivers, streams, and the ocean. This causes an imbalance in delicate water ecosystems, killing fish and degrading water quality.
If you have a lawn, choose organic fertilizers rather than chemical ones.
As another alternative to harsh chemicals, consider starting a compost pile to create nutrient-rich soil for your flower beds and vegetable gardens. You’ll be creating your own inexpensive fertilizer just by letting food scraps and yard trimmings sit. An added benefit: it’ll also help divert waste from landfills. SustainLane users have reviewed several compost bins here.

7. More Bulb for Your Buck

A Compact Fluorescent (CFL) bulb uses just a fraction of the energy regular light bulb uses. When your current bulbs burn out, swap them with CFLs, and start calculating your savings. General Electric has an online calculator that shows you just how much money you can save by making the switch.
One caveat of the low-energy bulb is that it contains mercury. Even so, CFLs are still your best bet, according to EPA Energy Star program director Wendy Reed. Coal-fired plants are the biggest emitters of mercury. Using CFL bulbs means you draw less power from the grid, which means less coal is burned for electricity. Because of the mercury, take precautions when disposing of these CFL bulbs. Rather than throwing them in your household trash or curbside recycling bin, take them to a hazardous waste collection or other special facility. This story from National Public Radio has a more through discussion of this topic.

8. Air fresheners

Just like cleaning supplies, these are incredibly toxic and can aggravate respiratory problems like asthma. Even those labeled “pure” and “natural” have been found to contain phthalates, chemicals that cause hormonal abnormalities, reproductive problems and birth defects. Try simmering cinnamon and cloves to give your home an “I’ve-spent-the-whole-day-baking” scent, and leave a few windows open to let in fresh air. You might also boil a pot of water on the stove with a few drops of your favorite essential oil, or use an essential oil burner.

9. Flame Retardants

A common flame retardant that was used in mattresses -- polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) -- is known to accumulate in blood, breast milk and fatty tissues. This chemical is linked to liver, thyroid, and neuro-developmental toxicity. According to the Environmental Working Group, new foam items often do not contain PBDEs, but foam items purchased before 2005 (like mattresses, mattress pads, couches, easy chairs, pillows, carpet padding), are likely to contain them. Household furniture often contains flame retardants and stain repellents that use PBDE’s as well as formaldehyde and PFOA (the same chemical used in non-stick cookware).
If you are in the market for a new mattress or sofa, ask manufacturers what type of flame retardants they use. Look for products that don’t use brominated fire retardants. Organic Abode sells natural and organic furniture. If you’re looking to keep your existing mattress, but make it safer, use a cover made of organic wool to reduce PBDE exposure. You can find organic furniture and interior décor here.

10. Plastic Shopping Bags

Remember: Like diamonds, plastics are forever. Ever heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It’s a giant mass of plastic twice the size of Texas that’s floating 1,000 miles off the coast of California. In the United States, only two percent of plastic bags are recycled, which means that the remaining 98 percent is dumped into landfills or blown out to sea. According to Californians Against Waste, the City of San Francisco, which recently banned plastic shopping bags, spends 8.5 million dollars annually on plastic bag litter.
The good news is, we can easily decrease our plastic bags use. Bring in your own reusable cloth bags when you go shopping. If you have kids, ask them to remind you to bring them. Or keep them in a place by the door where you’re most likely to remember them on your way out.
Share this sustainability video with your children.

Lead GOP Sotomayor opponent Jeff Sessions rejected in 1986 for federal judgeship, due to racial bias

On July 14, 2009, Sarah Wildman, appearing on Amy Goodman's "DemocracyNow!" television news program, reminded viewers that Jeff Sessions, the Alabama (Republican) senator that is leading the opposition against Judge Sonia Sotomayor, was rejected by the U.S. Senate in 1986 for a federal judiciary position. Then President Ronald Reagan nominated Sessions for a federal judgeship. The Senate Judiciary Committee rejected Sessions by a nine to nine vote, because of noteworthy instances of racial insensitivity that many of us would call racism.

During the preliminary inquiry on Sessions' nomination, the Committee found that Sessions demonstrated "gross insensitivity" on racial issues. He had said that he did not think that the Ku Klux Klan was not so bad until he realized that some of the members smoked marijuana. As summarized in wikipedia, Sessions "allegedly referred to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as "un-American" and "Communist-inspired" because they 'forced civil rights down the throats of people.'"
Click on this address to link to the "DemocracyNow!" interview that more fully exposes Sessions' past. The segment includes 1986 CBS archival footage on the case, and a then-Senator Joe Biden's (today, vice-president) citing Sessions' racial insensitivity. Paradoxically, with Senator Arlen Spector's defection to the Democrats, Sessions became the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee; thus Sessions is in line to lead the Committee, should the Republicans retake the Senate.

GOP's ethnic fallout over Judge Sotomayor confirmation hearings

Let's face it, the confirmation hearings of Circuit Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor are a delicious dish of Schadenfraude for liberal opponents of the Republican Party. The Grand Old Party senators will likely feel the whiplash of Hispanic voters in 2010 and 2012.
How and why will this happen? Several Republican senators apparently are finding little in her judicial record to assail her on, are carping endlessly on her "wise Latina" remark.
I find the comment a little arrogant, but ultimately, I believe that she has a point. When one lives in a community beset by prejudice (actually two communities, women and Latinos/as) one will glean some perspectives on life that white males will have much less likely a chance to experience. This experience will add some useful knowledge and insight on the Supreme Court during occasions of questioning and discussion. But I digress, back to the larger political ramifications.

So, the attack (by the GOP senators) goes on... Once is enough for their point about her controversial speech. Can't they give it a rest? In an office or at a party, anyone beating a dead horse as these senators do would experience people getting up and abandoning them. Give it up already.

Their droning attacks cannot help the Grand Old Party too well among sensitive Latinos. Yet some of the senators droning on with nothing but the same "wise Latina" criticisms represent western states in which the Republicans are vulnerable. The western United States used to be solidly Republican. Look at the presidential elections of 1976 and 1980. The Republicans have lost the Pacific Coast states of California, Oregon and Washington. With the growth of Hispanic population in Nevada and Arizona the Republicans' hold there is shaky. The Republicans' stand on immigration, particularly prior to 2006, will not be remembered favorably by Hispanics. And now, the latest assault in the hearings will add further alienation.
Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, up for reelection in 2012 is figuring prominently in the suicidal attacks on Sotomayor. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Sessions of Alabama are also steadfast in their tenacious, gnawing criticism of Sotomayor, but they have much safer seats.
One thing that comes across is the arrogant, patronizing tone of speeches from senators that graduated from state law schools with far less prestigious reputations (Graham from University of South Carolina and Sessions of University of Alabama.) Is there some jealousy or inferiority complex here???? hmmm....

How is all of this being handled on the Spanish-language networks, Telemundo, Univision and Telefutura? Well, they are giving hardly any attention to it; and of course, they are not joining with PS or CNN in the gavel-to-gavel converage of the confirmation hearings. Michel Martin's terrific NPR radio show, "Tell Me More," yesterday had a debate between three journalists at Spanish language media outlets over the Spanish language networks' negligence of coverage, Gerson Borrero, of New York's "El Diario/La Prensa," Lori Montenegro, a correspondent for the Telemundo TV network and Maria Elena Salinas, a news anchor for the Univision network. Click here for the 13 minute 45 second audio segment, "Critics: Hispanic Media Lack Coverage Of Sotomayor."

**Note this, Republicans**
Some GOP strategists around two months ago already voice great trepidations of the repercussion of Republican attacks on Sotomayor. From a late May, 2009 blog posting:
One prominent Hispanic GOP strategist, who asked not to be identified discussing the topic, said the blistering attacks on Sotomayor were “suicidal” for the party, especially as it attempts to counter the broad support for Obama among Hispanics.
“What’s this going to look like on Telemundo? What’s it going to look like on Univision?” asked this strategist, referring to the nation’s two largest Spanish-language networks. “If we want to compete as a national party in the near future, we cannot be seen taking these kind of cheap shots. We simply cannot actively work to alienate the fastest-growing bloc in the electorate.”

John Ullyot, a GOP strategist who worked on judicial nominations as a Capitol Hill staffer, said that “any comments politically on race or gender are fraught with peril for Republicans.”

Quoted July 9 in USA Today, a GOP strategist said that Spanish-language television poses a danger for Republicans:
All of that creates "a big problem" for Republicans who want to oppose Sotomayor, says Lionel Sosa, a marketing executive whose GOP clients have included former president George W. Bush and John McCain.
Sosa cautions Republicans against opposing a wave of ethnic pride for the nominee: "If you are Latino, you are for Sotomayor."
Hispanic voters have determined the winner in Florida elections since 2000 and in Nevada since 2004, says Luis Fraga, director of the University of Washington's Diversity Research Institute. He credits divisive debates over immigration with turning Hispanics — who helped elect Bush — away from the GOP.

Republicans need to remember that some of these states do not include those represented by notable critics this week (e.g., Arizona), but they include competitive with high percentages of Latinos and competitive senate races in 2010 and 2012: Nevada, Colorado, Florida.

Have the Republicans read this article? (I doubt it, based on today's and yesterday's Republican senator statements.)
From Connecticut's "Norwich Bulletin," July 10, 2009, "Sotomayor hearings raise fears of racism among Hispanics in Eastern Connecticut":
The local Hispanic community is expected to pay close attention to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings next week.
Elizabeth Garcia-Gonzalez is executive director of Centro de la Communidad, a nonprofit agency that provides social services for Hispanics in southeastern Connecticut.
She said the local Hispanic community is closely following the Sotomayor nomination, especially because of a certain issue.
“I know a lot of individuals who feel she is being discriminated against because she is Hispanic,” Garcia-Gonzalez said. “They are hoping things go well with Sotomayor.”

. . . .
Sotomayor would be the nation’s first Hispanic justice on the court. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s proceedings, which begin Monday, will be closely followed by the nation’s major Spanish-language television networks, Univision and Telemundo.

Garcia-Gonzalez said if Sotomayor is nominated, it will boost the self-esteem of all Hispanics, including the younger generation, who will see that true opportunities of success exist for them.
. . . .
Melendez-Cooper said Sotomayor serves as a role model to Hispanics.
“It’s a great opportunity for a larger presence of the Hispanic community (in the nation) to have Sotomayor in that position,” he said.

Monday, July 13, 2009

NY Times poll: Americans DO WANT government-run health care program; overview of national health care programs

A front page June 21, 2009 "New York Times" story by Kevin Sack and Marjorie Connelly, "Poll Finds Wide Support for Idea Of Government-Run Health Plan" reports that "The poll found that most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have health insurance and that they said the government could do a better job of holding down health-care costs than the private sector."
"85 percent of respondents said the health care system needed to be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt."
Inside this "Times" issue, on page 20, appears a chart with more results from the survey. 72 percent of respondents, said "favor" to this question: "Would you favor or oppose the government's offering everyone a government administered health insurance plan like Medicare that would compete with private health insurance plans?"

65 percent of respondents answered, "Providing for the uninsured," to the question, "Which is a more serious problem right now: keeping health care costs down or providing health insurance for Americans who do not have any?" 26 percent answered, "Keeping costs down."

The leading source of family bankruptcy in the United States is out-of-pocket costs for health emergencies. Every 30 seconds in the United States someone files for bankruptcy in the aftermath of a serious health problem. Increasing percentages of Americans are uninsured --despite being employed. Employers often devise schemes, such as hiring people only part-time, so as to prevent employees from qualifying for health care. The United States spends six times more per capita on the administration of the health care system than its peer Western European nations.

Some thing is wrong with this system.

* * *

The media and far too many politicians invoke the same argument against health care, often citing only the British health care program. Yet, they ignore the fact that every other industrialized country (European or comparable Asian country, e.g., Japan or South Korea) has a national health care plan.
Indeed, some developing countries have national health care systems, see this wikipedia article citing the systems in Colombia and Ghana.
The British system is unique in that the doctors are employees of the national government. This is not the only possible path to a national health care system.

See the wikipedia article, "Health care system," at the section on "health care by country." In particular, see the section on France. France has a mix of public and private health care. Most doctors are in private practices; there are public and private hospitals. The nation's social security system has organizations that fund public and private health care providers. As the article states, "It generally refunds patients 70% of most health care costs, and 100% in case of costly or long-term ailments." The World Health Organization in a 2000 study of health care internationally, rated France's national health system as being the best system. (See this WHO report, "World Health Organization Assesses the World's Health Systems.")
"The World Health Organization has carried out the first ever analysis of the world's health systems. Using five performance indicators to measure health systems in 191 member states, it finds that France provides the best overall health care followed among major countries by Italy, Spain, Oman, Austria and Japan. . . . . In Europe, health systems in Mediterranean countries such as France, Italy and Spain are rated higher than others in the continent."

The American system is a failure by the financial fairness measure. The WHO report described the issue thusly,
Fairness of financial contribution: When WHO measured the fairness of financial contribution to health systems, countries lined up differently. The measurement is based on the fraction of a household's capacity to spend (income minus food expenditure) that goes on health care (including tax payments, social insurance, private insurance and out of pocket payments). Colombia was the top-rated country in this category, followed by Luxembourg, Belgium, Djibouti, Denmark, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Japan and Finland.

And note the following WHO comparison of a few North American systems, and the United States' place in this comparison:
In North America, Canada rates as the country with the fairest mechanism for health system finance – ranked at 17-19, while the United States is at 54-55. Cuba is the highest among Latin American and Caribbean nations at 23-25

Interested in greater detail from the WHO health care system study?:
"Copies of the Report can be ordered from"

We cannot afford national health care? Looks like we already cannot afford the system we currently have. Compare the health care costs; and note the costs for the United States.
"In 2005, France spent 11.2% of GDP on health care, or US$3,926 per capita. Of that, approximately 80% was government expenditure."
"In 2005, Italy spent 8.9% of GDP on health care, or US$2,714 per capita. Of that, approximately 76% was government expenditure."
"In 2005, the Netherlands spent 9.2% of GDP on health care, or US$3,560 per capita. Of that, approximately 65% was government expenditure."
"In 2005, Sweden spent 9.2% of GDP on health care, or US$3,727 per capita. Of that, approximately 82% was government expenditure."
"In 2005, the United States spent 15.2% of GDP on health care, or US$6,347 per capita. Of that, approximately 45% was government expenditure."
(These data are from the wikipedia article, "Health care system," retrieved July 13, 2009.)

Live blogging at Senate Sotomayor hearings, and 2 hot-heads removed already

What is it with these un-civil conservatives? three and a half hours into the hearings and already two disruptors had to be removed from the Senate confirmation hearing for Sonia Sotomayor.
Hears the link for the news on the removal of the first heckler, this one on abortion and the "unborn." This fellow MSNBC and others described as being bearded and in his 30s. Second one, with no web coverage yet, looking 30, max, in a ponytail.

Plenty of hot air from the Republicans, Arizona's Kyl, and Oklahoma' Coburn. I can't wait until voters dump more Republican senators in 2010 (" '10 ") or 2012 (" '12 "), to keep the Democratic majority.
Looks like it's going to be a long week for Vermont's senior senator, Pat Leahy.

"The Wall Street Journal" blog posted a notice about the second heckler / protestor.
Naftali Bendavid identified the protestor as another anti-abortion protestor. Murdering abortion provider, disrupting senate hearings .... Don't anti-abortion people have more civil representatives?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Alternet: majority of East Germans nostalgic for old regime

Recent alternet story gives survey results and stories of East Germans' preferring the old "DDR" or German Democratic Republic, to the new unified Germany.
"Homesick For Dictatorship: East Germans Liked It Better Under Communism," Julia Bonstein in alternet, July 10, 2009
Today, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, 57 percent, or an absolute majority, of eastern Germans defend the former East Germany. "The GDR had more good sides than bad sides. There were some problems, but life was good there," say 49 percent of those polled. Eight percent of eastern Germans flatly oppose all criticism of their former home and agree with the statement: "The GDR had, for the most part, good sides. Life there was happier and better than in reunified Germany today."


"I don't know if I can support Obama in the next election if he caves in on public option."

"I cannot support President Obama if he does not play Chicago politics."
{{{Call the White House, say no to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's trigger option. No to giving the health insurance industry seven to ten years to clean up their act. Go back to President Barack Obama's original public option idea. 202-456-1111 --as Jack and Jill politics says and Daily Kos says}}}


Ed Schultz, the Rush Limbaugh-sound-alike on Air America Radio drew the line in the sand on public option, Friday, July 10, 2009. (Also on MSNBC .)

A snippet from a recent Huffington Post piece on Big Ed last month (June 24, 2009), Bill Mann, " 'Big Ed' Schultz Is Keeping Dem Senators' Feet to The Fire":

Big Ed's moved from being a publicity-hungry blowhard (remember "John McCain is a warmonger" last fall?) to expressing daily the kind of much-needed real passion for this critical legislation far too many Democrats (and, some might argue, the President) are lacking. Ed's gone on the attack. Someone has to do it.

The one-time pro football player is running interference for the Democrats who are actually doing something to move the ball toward the goal of meaningful national health care by calling out those playing footsie with HMO's and big pharma.


Last December from Paul Waldman of Media Matters, writing in American Prospect:
The basics:
Although the public option wasn't the topic of a great deal of discussion during the campaign, for many progressives it amounts to a beautiful jewel hidden amidst a pile of compromise and disappointment. Ask average progressives what they think ought to be done about health care, and many will reply, "Well, a single-payer system would obviously be the best thing. But since that's politically impossible…" At the end of 2008, some things seem a little more possible than they used to.

That isn't to say a public option is just a modified single-payer system. It would be one option among many for individuals and businesses, and would leave the private insurance system in place (you can read more on the benefits of the public option here). But it does crack the door open for expanding the number of Americans who get their health insurance through the government. And this is what terrifies the insurance companies and conservatives. Their fear is that it will actually work. If the program operates well, more and more people will make the rational decision to choose it over private insurance (what we're supposed to do in a market, after all) and the insurance companies will lose customers.

For all their paeans to the power of private enterprise, we know that private insurers simply can't compete with the government, because they offer an inferior service at higher prices. We know this because of the example of Medicare, which operates more efficiently than private insurance (Medicare spends only around 2 percent of its costs on overhead, a fraction of what private plans do) and gets higher satisfaction ratings. We also know this because the government set up a program to allow private companies to compete directly with Medicare.

It's called Medicare Advantage, and the "advantage" was supposed to be that by allowing private companies to handle insurance for Medicare enrollees, costs could be reduced. Using their free-market mojo, the private firms would naturally bring in the coverage at a lower cost than having the big, bureaucratic government do it.

From: "Health-Care Market Characterized By Consolidation, Not Competition"
By Zachary Roth - June 29, 2009:
Key excerpt:
But the notion that most American consumers enjoy anything like a competitive marketplace for health care is flatly false. And a study issued last month by a pro-reform group makes that strikingly clear.

The report, released by Health Care for America Now (HCAN), uses data compiled by the American Medical Association to show that 94 percent of the country's insurance markets are defined as "highly concentrated," according to Justice Department guidelines. Predictably, that's led to skyrocketing costs for patients, and monster profits for the big health insurers. Premiums have gone up over the past six years by more than 87 percent, on average, while profits at ten of the largest publicly traded health insurance companies rose 428 percent from 2000 to 2007.

Far from healthy market competition, HCAN describes the situation as "a market failure where a small number of large companies use their concentrated power to control premium levels, benefit packages, and provider payments in the markets they dominate."

So extreme is the level of consolidation, in fact, that one former top Federal Trade Commission official working with HCAN has sent a letter to the Justice Department's Antitrust Division, asking for an investigation into the health insurance marketplace.

The problem is most acute in small rural states, according to the report. In Shelby's own state of Alabama, the biggest insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, controls 83 percent of the statewide market. There, and in nine other states -- Hawaii, Rhode Island, Alaska, Vermont, Maine, Montana, Wyoming, Arkansas and Iowa -- the two largest health insurers control at least 80 percent of the market. So much for Shelby's "marketplace for health care."

The report doesn't consider how this reality stands to affect the forthcoming congressional battle for reform. But extreme consolidation may actually be making it harder, not easier, to win support from lawmakers for a public option.

That's because insurers who control large swathes of a given market stand to see their bottom lines particularly threatened by the introduction of a lower-cost public option. So, in turn, they'll be particularly aggressive in pulling out all the stops to pressure lawmakers to oppose the plan. Given the healthy amount of campaign dollars that some wavering members take in from the major insurers, that's hardly encouraging.

Note that the right wing buzz via Hannity, O'Reilly, Limbaugh feeds into voters/listeners; and that IT COMES FROM THE INSURANCE COMPANIES that fear loss of profits.
Josh Marshall, "Bottom Line on Public Option" in TalkingPoints Memo noted this, June 29, 2009:
This won't come as the slightest surprise to those versed in health care policy issues. But I fear it's only barely permeated the health care reform debate in the country, certainly in Washington. And that's this: the opposition to a so-called 'public option' comes almost entirely from insurance companies who have developed monopolies or near monopolies in particular geographic areas. And they don't want competition.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Jackson's 2002 will cuts out Joe Jackson & Deborah Rowe; dermatologist the donor for Jackson's children?

The Michael Jackson controversies just keep on going.

First, his parents are hard-set that he died intestate.

But, then, a lawyer associate appeared, and said that the actual will is in the safe of attorney John Branca. The buzz is from today's "Daily Mail" (London), that the will cut out Joe Jackson, because the father beat and otherwise abused Michael Jackson during Michael's childhood years. ("Entertainment Weekly" reports that John Branca and John McClain --no, not Janet Jackson-- will be the estate's executors.)

Remember, as the Chicago Tribune reminded us, June 28, 2009, Michael publicly said that he'd have to vomit when he saw his father.
And Deborah Jeanne Rowe has been cut out of the will also, the Associated Press reports today.