Last night, on ?Left Jab? on Sirius Left talk radio, the hosts interviewed activist lawyer Kevin Zeese. Zeese was at an action against the Chamber of Commerce sponsored by stopthechamber.com, but he has also been very active in the health care reform[...]
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"This is It", chronicling Michael Jackson from April to June, 2009 as he rehearsed for his upcoming London concerts, opens Wednesday in theatres for a two week run. Elizabeth Taylor, who has seen it, says it is "the single most brilliant piece of filmmaking" she has ever seen. More clips below: Movie Trailers - Movies Blog
One more trailer:
This is an open thread, all topics welcome (entertainment related or not.)
?Pharmacy of the Brazilian People? (above)
buys or manufactures in bulk and sells at cost.
From the History Channel, Just Before Halloween
Nature Valley Granola Bars
In recent days, while discussing the Obama administration's "attacks on biz," Fox News has repeatedly touted the bogus "fact" that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce "represents 3 million businesses." However, as Mother Jones has reported, "most of the businesses aren't direct members of the US Chamber, nor do local chambers have any effective oversight of the national group"; further, the chamber's own spokesman admitted the group's "direct members" are closer to 360,000.
From the October 26 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
Wallace: White House attacking chamber, "which represents 3 million businesses." During the October 25 edition of Fox News' America's News HQ, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace said that the White House is attacking the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, "which represents 3 million businesses."
Beck: Obama is attacking chamber, which "represents 3 million businesses." During the October 23 edition of his Fox News program, Glenn Beck claimed that "Obama and his cronies don't like the free-market system" and stated that the Obama administration is attacking the Chamber of Commerce, which Beck repeatedly said "represents 3 million businesses."
CJR: Businesses chamber claims to " 'represent' ... are not direct members of the national group," report using 3 million figure "is misleading." From an October 23 Columbia Journalism Review article:
The question has been pushed by Mother Jones staff reporter Josh Harkinson, who reported last week that while news accounts typically refer to the Chamber's three million members, the organization's roster of direct, dues-paying member businesses is about one-tenth that size. The larger number is derived from counting businesses that belong to state and local chambers, many of which belong to the national organization. But while the U.S. Chamber does claim to "represent" businesses that belong to the smaller chambers, those companies are not direct members of the national group.
The distinction matters, Harkinson argues, because the larger figure makes it appear that support for the Chamber's positions -- many of which Mother Jones opposes -- is more broad-based than it really is. "The Chamber claims to speak for the U.S. business community," he says, and the widespread use of the three million figure "certainly adds to" the impression that it does. But if many of those three million aren't sustaining the Chamber financially or playing a role in setting its policies, how meaningful is the number? On Wednesday, Harkinson published an open letter to several reporters who had recently used the "three million" figure (sometimes with caveats or qualifiers), asking them to publish a correction.
On the issue of the size of the Chamber's membership, there's not actually much dispute. On Friday, [chamber spokesman Eric] Wohlschlegel said the organization has about 360,000 direct members (a number, he emphasized, that has been growing since executive director Tom Donohue took over); in addition, it counts about 1,200 state and local chambers and about 900 trade associations as members. And the Chamber does cite this figure publicly.
Whatever the value of the representation the national group provides to members of local chambers, there are clear, qualitative differences between direct, dues-paying members and companies that are part of the "federation." There may be plausible arguments for including both figures, but a story that reports on the group's size and uses only the larger number is misleading. A story that cites the smaller membership number, on the other hand, is accurate -- as the Chamber agrees.
Harkinson added on October 26 that the "Chamber often purports to 'represent 3 million businesses' based on the fact that they're enrolled in local chambers of commerce. But most of the businesses aren't direct members of the US Chamber, nor do local chambers have any effective oversight of the national group." Harkinson also wrote of the chamber's claims that it "represents" 3 million businesses:
At the same time, the Chamber has resisted doing anything more to explain its true size on its website or press releases. Neither source cites the Chamber's true membership number or explains what the group means when it says it "represents" 3 million businesses. Maybe the Chamber thinks the media is lazy or gullible enough to continue exponentially inflating its size.
Wash. Post's Pearlstein: Chamber "does not represent anything close to the 3 million businesses it has always claimed." In an October 16 Washington Post column, business columnist Steven Pearlstein wrote that the "first truth is that the Chamber, in fact, does not represent anything close to the 3 million businesses it has always claimed. In response to an inquiry from Mother Jones, the chamber acknowledged that its actual paid membership is only 300,000, including several thousand local chambers of commerce whose own membership was used in calculating the inflated 3 million figure. Moreover, when Josh Harkinson of Mother Jones contacted some of those local chambers, their leaders took pains to distance themselves from the national organization, whose policies, they said, they had no hand in shaping and with which they frequently disagree. 'They don't represent me,' said Mark Jaffe, chief executive of the Greater New York Chamber."
Today continued a string of poor days for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds. It was a day that not only saw his opponent's campaign, Republican Bob McDonnell, hand over $25,000 to the Republican running for attorney general in the state, but also saw a continuation of the back and forth between national Democrats and the Deeds campaign over President Obama's involvement in the race. And if that wasn't enough, the Washington Post late in the day released another poll in the race showing basically no change in a 53-44 lead McDonnell held over the Democrat two and a half weeks ago. And it doesn't look like tomorrow's news is going to be any brighter for Deeds.
What the news, well the numbers behind the news at least, mean is that McDonnell is looking like a pretty good bet in next Tuesday's vote. And that's a good pick up for the Republicans given how Virginia has trended at the national level in the last two cycles (two Democratic senators in 2006 and 2008 and 13 electoral votes for Obama last year). Given that it looks like Democratic turnout is going to be low, it seems a near certainty that Republicans will make gains in the other down-ballot races as well. That's especially significant in the year ahead of the Census and a potential redraw of the districts in the Commonwealth. The Democrats narrow lead in the Virginia Senate seems vulnerable and that would mean complete Republican control of the redistricting apparatus in the Old Dominion.
That won't have direct implications for next year (Democratic turnout could be down again, though.), but in 2012? Well, that's a different story.
Meanwhile, in FHQ's averages in this race, Bob McDonnell is approaching a double digit lead, and it doesn't appear as if he's going to look back.
Cross-posted at Frontloading HQ.
In spite of the best efforts of the insurance industry and their followers in Congress and the media, it is still very possible that the health reform bill passed by Congress will include a robust public plan. This is a case where the simple facts and persistent grassroots pressure may overcome the political power of a major industry.
If the bill passes with a serious public plan, it could make an enormous difference for the future of health care in the United States. However, the fact that the public option is even on the table at this point, after all the political experts had counted it out, shows the enormous potential for popular pressure to influence policy debates in this country.
The basic story is that President Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress had always been lukewarm in their support of a public plan. President Obama had included it in his original proposal, but has made it clear on numerous occasions that he did not view it as an essential part of his health care plan.
Of course, that is not the way that presidents get measures passed that they really want. President Clinton never said that he didn't view NAFTA as being a big part of his trade policy. President Bush didn't say that Congressional authorization of the Iraq war was a relatively small matter in his larger foreign policy agenda. President Obama's statements, that a public option was not essential, were an invitation to Congress to give him a bill that did not include a public plan.
This could have been the end of the story for a public plan, except for the determined efforts of progressive activists to insist that Congress include a public plan. While the plan's opponents argued that the leadership did not have the 60 votes needed in the Senate to end a filibuster, public plan supporters pointed out that public plan opponents did not have the 218 votes needed in the House to get a health care plan approved without a public option. The logic was simple, if progressive members in the House refused to back a health care bill without a public plan, then any health care bill that passes Congress would have to include a public option. A large coalition of progressive groups kept up the pressure, insisting that Democrats in the House insist that any bill include a public option. They bombarded members with phone calls, faxes, emails and staged protests and organized petitions. This coalition was helped by polls that consistently show a large majority of the public support giving people the option to join a Medicare-type public plan. In fact, a recent New York Times poll showed people supporting a public option by a margin of 65 to 26 percent. The same poll showed that overall health care reform package losing by a small margin.
Supporters of a public plan have also been helped by the facts. The Congressional Budget Office's analysis shows that a robust public plan, with rates tied to Medicare rates, can save $100 billion over the next decade. This is a substantial portion of the money needed to cover the cost of the health care bill. Given the popular support for a public plan and the evidence that it could save substantial amounts of money, it is clear that opponents of a public option are not responding to constituents or concerns over costs.
The sustained pressure from progressives seems to have firmed support for a public plan in the House, but there is still the issue of getting 60 votes in the Senate. Here, it is important to make a distinction that the media and political pundits have tried to hide. It is not necessary to get 60 senators who will support a public plan. It is necessary to get 60 senators who will allow the Senate to vote on a public plan. This is very different.
Until recently, filibusters were unusual. It was standard practice for a senator to support cloture - allowing a piece of legislation to come up for a vote - but then to vote against the bill itself. Filibusters were reserved for extraordinary issues that members of the Senate felt were especially important.
Currently, Democrats have 60 seats in the Senate. This means that the party just needs its members to allow the central piece of its president's legislative agenda to come to a vote. That should not require too much party discipline; after all, the senators could still vote against the bill itself.
It's too early to know if this "no filibuster" path will succeed, but the fact that a public plan is still in the mix is a testament to the ability of grassroots activists to move the national political agenda. The political insiders will do their best to deny it, but political pressure from the masses can and does make a difference. It has made a difference in the debate over health care and it can make a difference in other areas. Let's see what a little grassroots activism can do for the Wall Street banks.
Unfortunately, there's still one big elephant in the reform room: There are no restrictions on increases based on age. Unless something changes drastically in the final version of the bill (and if you don't call your congress critter, it definitely won't), this is a giant shell game in which health insurers will get their profits from one new underwriting emphasis rather than another.
WASHINGTON -- Top Senate Democrats are close to finalizing their health bill and could unveil a measure as soon as early this week that would include stiffer penalties on employers who fail to provide health coverage.
Senate leaders plan to submit the bill to the Congressional Budget Office for a cost estimate as soon as Monday, and make the legislation public as soon as Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.
Details of the legislation could change, but its broad outlines are becoming clear. Employers with more than 50 workers wouldn't be required to provide health insurance, but they would face fines of up to $750 per employee if even part of their work force received a government subsidy to buy health insurance, this person said. A bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee had a lower fine of up to $400 per employee.
The bill to be brought to the Senate floor would create a new public health-insurance plan, but would give states the choice of opting out of participating in it, a proposal that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada backed last week.
The bill is expected to expand health coverage to tens of millions of Americans by giving low- and middle-income Americans subsidies to offset the cost of insurance, and expanding the Medicaid federal-state insurance program to cover a broader swath of the poor. Most people would be required to buy insurance or pay a fine, though exceptions would be made for those deemed unable to afford it.
Also expected are new rules on insurers to prevent them from denying coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions and from dropping customers' insurance once they become ill.
Actually, not so much a response as an attempt to re-empt, since they released it before he started his press conference, but the Republicans' response is entirely predictable.
"A primary reason Harry Reid is one of the most endangered incumbents facing re-election in either party next year is due to the fact that he is viewed by many of his constituents as a partisan bully. His decision to write a health care bill behind closed doors, bow to pressure from the far left, and ram this bill through the Senate will only further cement that negative image.
"It also reaffirms the importance of restoring checks-and-balances in Washington next year. As Democrats prepare to run up the national credit card even higher, it's clear they didn't learn a thing from the failed stimulus boondoggle. They are attempting to spend their way out of our nation's economic crisis with little thought or regard to the debt being passed on to future generations.
"One thing is clear though - Harry Reid and his Democrat colleagues who decide to bow to pressure from the left and continue to rubber-stamp this liberal, partisan agenda of Washington-run health care and reckless government spending will be held accountable by voters next November."
Those mean Democrats, trying to force a bill on those Republicans, who've been totally willing partners just waiting to participate in reform, if only Democrats would just let them.
I don't know if even Republicans are going to buy that. Not only is healthcare reform with a public option supported by the majority of the mainstream of Americans, Nevada is solidly pro-public option.
There's going to be a major effort by Republicans, and the cable chatterers who like to parrot their talking points, that Reid is being highly partisan and caving to the left. It's not going to fly, not with the polling we've seen on reform and the public option. And when even a Washington insider like Howard Fineman calls bullshit on the myth of bipartisanship, it won't work with the American people.
Interesting read in the Times today by a number of people who are discussing the environmental and practical issues related to clothes drying. Obviously not everyone is going to find this one a thriller but it's interesting to see how different people view clothes drying. Like many (most, probably) Americans I grew up with a dryer. I bought one when I moved to Paris and wondered how the heck those nutty French did without one. Even though I observed plenty of people who could buy one (at least) but didn't, I still swore by my dryer.
Paris is miserably humid which means clothes can take a day, sometimes more to dry. And besides, who really wants one of those fold out dryers clogging up a room? During our own financial crisis a few years back our trusted dryer stopped being trustworthy. As much as I wanted to buy another it was going the way of the TV that died and would never be replaced. We simply didn't have the spare cash to buy another so we bought a used fold out drying rack and never looked back.
It's still ugly in the room and yes, it can take time but we notice the lower energy costs. We also notice our clothes last a lot longer since they're not being trashed by the dryer. It took a while but now I finally see why few people bother to buy the energy sucking beasts. Where it could easily get more challenging though is in a larger household with more than two people. People do it, but it has to be a bit more tricky keeping the process moving.