Yes men vs. Chamber of Commerce

Last week, a group of political comedians, the Yes Men, hosted a seemingly genuine news conference pretending to be the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announcing that they had changed their position on global warming.  Then a real representative of the Chamber walks in, calls the press conference a fraud, and they proceed to argue about who really represents the Chamber.  Good stuff!

And, if you like that, don't miss this old stunt where they presented a new energy source made from some very interesting material:

And finally, here's a nice little article on how evil and stupid the Chamber of Commerce is.


Public Option vs. Bipartisanship

Great post from Greg Sargent.  Apparently, for pretty much the first time, a polling organization has framed the bipartisanship vs. public option choice as it actually exists in the real world.  Sargent explains:

Specifically: A majority wants a Dem-only bill rather than a bipartisan one if
the Dem-only one includes a public insurance option and the bipartisan
one doesn’t. A majority of Independents wants the same. From the internals:

Which of these would you prefer –- (a plan that includes
some form of government-sponsored health insurance for people who can’t
get affordable private insurance, but is approved without support from
Republicans in Congress); or

(a plan that is approved with support from Republicans in Congress,
but does not include any form of government-sponsored health insurance
for people who can’t get affordable private insurance)?

Prefer government-sponsored insurance: 51%

Prefer Republican support: 37%

This is the first time a major news org has asked the question this way — Research 2000 did it once — and I like to pretend it was inspired by my ranting about this. By the way, 52 percent of indys want the partisan bill with the public option.

Again: Other public polls have offered respondents a straight choice
— do they want a partisan bill or a bipartisan one — without explaining
that winning over GOP support has actual policy consequences for the final bill that they might not like.

When this is explained clearly — and the WaPo framing is a
far more accurate depiction of the choice the public and lawmakers face
— a majority wants the partisan, Dem-only bill with the public option.
Indeed, a majority wants the public option more than they want
bipartisanship for its own sake. Okay?

There does seem to be genuine momentum for the public option and this can only help.  My best guess is that there will be some sort of trigger or opt-out provision, but I'm cautiously optimistic that, oh, maybe in a decade or so, I'll be able to drop BCBS for a more efficient government plan.


Fox news

Slate's Jacob Weisberg had a really nice column recently about just what a pathetic "news" organization Fox news is.  Probably the best paragraph:

Rather than in any way maturing, Fox has in recent months become more
boisterous and demagogic in rallying the opposition against Obama. The
"fair and balanced" mask has been slipping with increasing frequency—as
when a RNC press release was regurgitated so lazily that it repeated a typo on air or when a reporter wondered why other networks weren't doing PR for "tea parties" that Fox covered
the way the Hearst press covered the Spanish-American war. On Fox,
fact-checking about the president's health care proposal is provided by
Karl Rove. For literary coverage, it features the bigot Jerome Corsi's
rants about Obama and John Kerry. Meanwhile, the crybaby Glenn Beck has begun to exhibit a Strangelovean concern about America's precious bodily fluids, charging the government with trying to invade our bloodstream
by vaccinating us for swine flu. With this latest misinformation
campaign, Fox stands to become the first network to actively try to
kill its viewers.

I was sitting in on a class of Intro to American Government the other day to observe a graduate student and it was so frustrating to listen to them "debate" Fox news as if it was some conservative counter-weight to the liberal MSNBC and CNN.  Please!  Those two are simply after the best rating however they can get them.  Fox is owned by a man who has a reputation of using his media companies world-wide to push a conservative agenda, and more on-point, actually run by a man who has spent his life as a Republican operative.  Every other news station is actually run by people in the News business. 

Bipartisanship and health care

I've been having a number of debates about health care reform on facebook again.  One last night really frustrated me because one person figured if the bill was so partisan, that must make it bad.  I would love it if Republicans actually got on and made this a bipartisan bill– the truth is it could be so much better.  Not because Republicans have such great ideas (they've long since given up being a party of serious ideas), but because having both parties on board is absolutely necessary for making the hard choices that we aren't really getting.  The person wanted to know how it could be any good if we'd bought off the insurers, doctors, Pharma, etc..  Good question.  It still is good, but the only way to pass a bill is: 1) placate those big players or 2) have both parties stand up against the big players.  Since Republicans are refusing to play ball, we're left with option 1.  Still a lot better than doing nothing, but much inferior to what could've been accomplished if the serious and thoughtful Republicans (yes, there are a few in Congress) had joined along.  Ezra Klein does a great job pointing out the specifics of how lack of bipartisanship has actually led to weaker legislation:

It's not just Bennett, though. No Republican save Olympia Snowe has
actually come forward with a concrete set of proposals that could
permit them to sign onto the final legislation. Which is a shame, as
there are actually places where conservative ideas and Republican cover
could have bettered the bill. Conservatives have long wanted to end the
preference for employer-based insurance, which would've been an
important step forward. Many Republicans have been big proponents of
moving away from fee-for-service medicine, which is a needed change.
Republicans have been big proponents of making the insurance market
more consumer-focused, which would be important in the context of the
insurance exchanges.

But all those opportunities were lost. Because Democrats had no
Republican cover, they could not sacrifice a single member of their
party. That's meant that they couldn't be courageous on taxes, and they
couldn't tell the unions to stuff it when they demanded that the
exchanges remain constricted. Republicans complain that the bill is too
liberal (though the Senate Finance Committee's bill is actually not
very liberal at all), but that's in part because no Republicans were
willing to offer their votes in return for making it more conservative.

If Republicans were truly interested in what's best for this country, they'd sign on and make this a better bill; instead they seem to have simply decided that what's bad for Obama and Democrats is good for America.  A rather circumscribed view to say the least. 

Stuff I don’t have time to blog about today

1) The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is evil and stupid.  Elliot Spitzer has a nice article about it in Slate.  Ezra Klein advances a nice explanation for why. 

2)  I was a big fan of the book Freakonomics, but in their interests of being contrarian and telling a good story, they are totally distorting the facts on climate science.  Really good takedown here

3) Charlotte Republican Sue Myrick is almost as dumb as she is racist (ethnicist?).  Anyway, apparently all Muslims are terrorists and should probably be investigated.  Check out Glenn Greenwald.

An Apple a Day

Ever heard of Oral Allergy Syndrome?  I’ve got it.  It means I have an allergic reaction to apples.  That’s right, apples.  A pretty good summary from Wikipedia:

OAS sufferers may have any of a number of allergic reactions that usually occur very rapidly, within minutes of eating a trigger food. The most common reaction is an itching or burning sensation in the lips, mouth, and/or pharynx. Sometimes other  reactions can be triggered in the eyes, nose, and skin. Swelling of the lips, tongue,  and uvula and a sensation of tightness in the throat may be observed. Seldom it can  result in anaphylaxis.

Not fun.  Especially the tightness in the throat.  I basically gave up apples for the past 15 years or so.  I love them, though, and I eat so few healthy things.  So, after a recent visit to the State Farmer’s Market, which was basically an apple-stravaganza, I realized I really wanted to be able to eat them.  I little research on OAS reveals that it is most severe when one’s immune system is already primed by pollen and as there’s no pollen out now, I’m in good shape.  Additionally, oral antihistamines should be effective.  So, with the help of Zyrtec I’ve now had an apple a day for about the past two weeks.  I really don’t like the idea of taking an antihistamine just to eat an apple, though, I suspect it would be unpleasant to skip the Zyrtec.  I’ve been taking only half a pill an hour before I eat the apple (I researched to see that Zyrtec reaches maximum plamsma concentration after an hour).  Yesterday, largely in a cost-saving effort, I went with a 1/4 Zyrtec and was successful.  Hooray for me.

I’ve also greatly been enjoying experimenting with different apple cultivars.  So far, can’t beat the Gala, in my opinion.  Honeycrisp was good and so was the Jazz, but no better than the Gala despite being more gourmet types.  I had one Pink Lady that was totally bland– people love those so I suppose I should try another.  The Cameos I got at the Farmer’s Market were excellent, but I haven’t seen them in any of my stores.

Okay, surely I’ve bored you about apples now, but it is my latest obsession.

This is nuts!!

Latest headline at the Post on-line: "Obama Urges Payments For Seniors, Disabled: President
tries to preempt bad news that Social Security checks will not
increase, saying they should receive emergency payments of $250."  This is so crazy.  The checks are not going up because they are tied to the Consumer Price Index and in this bad economy consumer prices have been flat over the past year.  Apparently, today's seniors are so damn entitled that they deserve their annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) even when there's been no change in the cost of living!.  This is just pure political expediency with no redeeming value, despite Obama's protestations about it stimulating the economy.  So wrong.


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