Saturday, October 31, 2009

Web Site O' Teh Day

In honor of Halloween,  possibly the most dishonorable holiday ever re-invented.

Wait for it...wait for it...

Friday, October 30, 2009


CREW — gotta love 'em, they're doing the job for you — comments on the Libby interview, released under their lawsuit today.
Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW said, “For years the American people have wondered what role Vice President Cheney played in outing former CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson. While we may never know the whole story, with the release of these documents we are one step closer.” Sloan continued, “In his closing statement at Scooter Libby’s trial, Special Counsel Fitzgerald said a cloud remained over the vice-president. Mr. Cheney’s near total amnesia regarding his role in this monumental Washington scandal – resulting in the conviction of his top aide – shows why.”

Those Were The Days, Contrariennes

I have a Facebook friend who is the mother of a four-year-old and an infant.
Today, she wrote in her status update:
"Almost enjoyed her root canal today because she got to to lie down for an hour."

It's The Story, Stupid

This is perhaps the best analysis I've seen so far of the current state and possible future of print content.
Bottom line: quality sells. Crap is dead.

I predicted this a long time ago, but I can't prove it, so you'll just have to take my word for it.
The truth is, most of what newspapers publish is crap and not worth your time.
What I "publish" is the not-crap I find and you can test the links in mere seconds to see if you agree that it's worth your time.
I'm just a little aggregator. Even the best blogs are little more than that, with some fun conversations for those so inclined (I wouldn't miss T Bone Burnett at Taplin's blog, but I don't miss any of Greenwald's commenters since I quit reading. I quit reading Greenwald because, well, I lost interest. Sorry, Glenn.)
Anyhoo, worth a read:
The real question in the months and years ahead is whether there's a business model that can support good stories. Norman Sims, journalism professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst: "The great stories will survive. But the question is who's going to pay for them. . . . This is not fast food. This is slow food. And it's expensive."

P.S. One million Web hits. The Girl In The Window.
It's the story, stupid.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

In The Year 2010

Hey, that's next year!
Anyway, Mcjoan at Daily Kos has listed the changes in the House health reform bill that will start next year. They sound pretty good to me. Wish I'd had that COBRA thingie.
She's got a link to the pdf if you want a copy.
Here's the full list of what will start happening in 2010 under the bill.
  1. BEGINS TO CLOSE THE MEDICARE PART D DONUT HOLE — Reduces the donut hole by $500 and institutes a 50% discount on brand-name drugs, effective January 1, 2010.
  1. IMMEDIATE HELP FOR THE UNINSURED UNTIL EXCHANGE IS AVAILABLE (INTERIM HIGH-RISK POOL) — Creates a temporary insurance program until the Exchange is available for individuals who have been uninsured for several months or have been denied a policy because of pre-existing conditions.
  1. BANS LIFETIME LIMITS ON COVERAGE—Prohibits health insurance companies from placing lifetime caps on coverage.  
  1. ENDS RESCISSIONS—Prohibits insurers from nullifying or rescinding a patient’s policy when they file a claim for benefits, except in the case of fraud.
  1. EXTENDS COVERAGE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE UP TO 27TH BIRTHDAY THROUGH PARENTS’ INSURANCE— Requires health plans to allow young people through age 26 to remain on their parents’ insurance policy, at the parents’ choice.  
  1. ELIMINATES COST-SHARING FOR PREVENTIVE SERVICES IN MEDICARE—Eliminates co-payments for preventive services and exempts preventive services from deductibles under the Medicare program.  
  1.  IMPROVES HELP FOR LOW-INCOME MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES—Improves the low-income protection programs in Medicare to assure more individuals are able to access this vital help.        
  1. PROVIDES NEW CONSUMER PROTECTIONS IN MEDICARE ADVANTAGE— Prohibits Medicare Advantage plans from charging enrollees higher cost-sharing for services in their private plan than what is charged in traditional Medicare.
  1. IMMEDIATE SUNSHINE ON PRICE GOUGING—Discourages excessive price increases by insurance companies through review and disclosure of insurance rate increases.  
  1. CONTINUITY FOR DISPLACED WORKERS—Allows Americans to keep their COBRA coverage until the Exchange is in place and they can access affordable coverage.        
  1. CREATES NEW, VOLUNTARY, PUBLIC LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE PROGRAM—Creates a long-term care insurance program to be financed by voluntary payroll deductions to provide benefits to adults who become functionally disabled.
  1.  HELP FOR EARLY RETIREES—Creates a $10 billon fund to finance a temporary reinsurance program to help offset the costs of expensive health claims for employers that provide health benefits for retirees age 55-64.  
  1.  COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS—Increases funding for Community Health Centers to allow for a doubling of the number of patients seen by the centers over the next 5 years.          
  1. INCREASING NUMBER OF PRIMARY CARE DOCTORS — Provides new investment in training programs to increase the number of primary care doctors, nurses, and public health professionals.

What Is She Wearing, Pantaloons?

A Political Wire reader who noted Sarah Palin's attack on Levi Johnston yesterday -- "those who would sell their body for money reflect a desperate need for attention and are likely to say and do anything for even more attention"...

Don't know how I missed this video earlier. Obviously where Tina Fey got her bit about the walk.
Anyway, I let you down. Sorry.

House Health Care Bill

I kinda like this part of it
and a mandate that insurance companies spend at least 85 percent of their premium dollars on paying for care--a regulation that will take effect immediately if it survives in conference with the Senate.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

President Snowe, V.P. Leiberman

Olympia made a "me, too" statement today although I didn't notice if it meant she'd filibuster the first cloture vote or the second.
Second vote, you say? What second vote?
Oh, God, the process defies my patience (your what? milk runs out of nose) but here it is:
Note that [Lieberman] says he would vote to proceed to the bill -- just not to move to final passage. There will be several turning points:
1. Cloture vote cutting off debate on the motion to proceed to the health care bill (60 votes);
2. Motion to proceed to the bill (50 votes, may be waived if we get cloture);
3. Amendments to modify the public option piece, e.g. to a trigger (likely requiring 60 votes);
4. Cloture vote to end debate on the bill and move to final passage (60 votes); and
5. Final passage of the bill (50 votes).
Lieberman says that he'll vote with Leadership through #1 and #2. If the other 59 Dems do so as well, that gets the Senate on to the bill. Once the Senate's on the bill, it will likely take 60 votes to water down the opt-out, #3 above. And those efforts will occur under the threat by Lieberman, and perhaps others, to deny 60 votes for #4.

Anybody want to translate Olympia?

FOX News Vs. Obama

I don't even get Fox so I haven't really paid much attention, but some of my favorite bloggers are weighing in so here's a snippet if you need it.
Fox News’ nightly audience in the third quarter of this year was 2.25 million viewers in primetime (source). For perspective this means that it has roughly the same audience as your average Dollhouse episode, which was just yanked by Fox (the broadcast network, not the cable news network), so that its ratings wouldn’t stink up November Sweeps. Even with Fox News’ ratings going through the roof because of its little war with Obama, the actual number of viewers is minuscule. Or to put it otherwise, 2.5 million Americans watch Fox News, which means that 297.5 million Americans don’t.

Which Is Worse?

McCain choosing Palin or Gore choosing Lieberman?
I remember all those admiring stories about him and his attractive wife and his devout adherence to Judaism and I though, "how cool that we are so diverse."
I was a fool. Joe is a tool.
And as for Al, can I forgive him since Joe didn't become vice president because Al chickened out in Florida?
I think I'll go lie down now.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sent This Letter Today

For publication by my former employer:

Stealth Move Political Genius?

Today, Majority Leader Harry Reid announced a game-changing plan for the Senate to consider a health care reform bill that would allow individual states to decline to participate in the so-called public option, the dreaded "government-run health care" insurance that has been such an easy and distracting target for those opposed to change.
The state opt-out wasn't Reid's idea and he came to it slowly. There is some speculation that the Obama administration may be tepid about it as well, although the White House denies it.
It looks like a stealth move and political genius to me.
 Polls show the majority of people in a majority of states favor a public option — soon to be renamed the consumer option or the competitive option or something less misleading.
It would offer those without affordable health insurance —  like that laid off 39-year-old father of two in Wisconsin who just joined the Army so his wife could continue treatment for her ovarian cancer — to choose from not only several private plans but also one government, Medicare-like plan.
 Insurance companies hate this idea. They will be forced to compete with the government, and may have to rethink the way they do business.
No state will be forced to offer the public option to its citizens, but it's hard to imagine residents of, for example, Washington, understanding when their state refuses to offer them the same choice that Oregonians are getting.
The legislation still has to surmount a cloture vote to defeat a Republican filibuster in the Senate and it needs all 60 Democratic senators to do so. It must be reconciled with whatever the House puts forth, which will definitely include a public option.
But I believe we're finally on our way to meaningful health care reform. I believe the log jam is breaking up.
So, probably, do opponents. Get ready to hear a lot more crazy.

Billions. And Billions. And...and...

This should help move things forward:
The U.S. healthcare system is just as wasteful as President Barack Obama says it is, and proposed reforms could be paid for by fixing some of the most obvious inefficiencies, preventing mistakes and fighting fraud, according to a Thomson Reuters report released on Monday.

Happy Birthday, Hillary

62 is the new 52. For Hil fashion over time, see here.

Pray For Harry Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appears poised today to announce his intent to include a public option with an opt out clause in the bill he brings to the Senate floor.
And he's having a press conference in less than an hour.
I want this. I can taste it. Go, Rocky!

Remember, too, in the Senate this is all about which Democrats will vote for cloture to prevent a filibuster, not about 60 votes for the bill. I think Snowe has already said she'd vote along party lines on the floor.
They only need 50 votes for the bill, but they need every Democrat for cloture. Pray Robert Byrd doesn't die and that Blance Lincoln, Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu can be strongarmed. Nelson and Landreau have made nice noises lately. I'd love to know what they've been promised.
So for now at least, the White House seems to be on board with Reid's plan, as Reid himself suggested in his press conference: "As we've gone through this process, I've concluded, with the support of the White House and Senators. Dodd and Baucus, that the best way to move forward is to include a public option with an opt out provision for states."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Snack O' Teh Week

1. Go to store
2. Buy some grapes
3. Freeze 'em
4. Eat 'em

My Name Is Julimac And I'm A Political Junkie

I can hardly wait to see how things settle out this week in both the Senate and the House over the public option, the opt-out and the various triggers.
And this weekend, everyone in the progressive blogosphere is pissed at Obama for his reported "cool" reception to Harry Reid's Hail Mary conversion to the PO/opt-out, which he reportedly believes could have 60 votes in the Senate to prevent a filibuster.
I've previously referred you to a few Kos diaries explaining all this and today I would like to quote one of my favorite TPMers, The Commenter Formerly Known As NCSteve:
The important thing in understanding news on a fast-moving story is to get your little heads past the notion that what's reported is reality and what's leaked is absolute truth. It's not. What's reported is a funhouse mirror version of the reality and the leakers aren't people whose main interest is the public's holy right to know. Instead, they're people trying to shape public opinion in a way that serves their own ends and they'll tell however much or however little of the truth as they know it as they think necessary to accomplish that end. And they're ends can be anything from making themselves feel important to advancing their bosses' goals.
I love politics, I really do. I dance with the Devil.


Best comment:
This is definitely better than my friend's invention of a wearable bear feeder.