Friday, October 02, 2009

Memo to the Unpatriotic Wingnuts

Your gleeful celebration of the failure of Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games, representing the United States, is incomprehensible and quite literally unpatriotic.

I can understand those who weren't filled with enthusiasm for the prospect of Chicago winning its bid, but wild cheering? 86% of the American people (ironically a larger margin than the 72% of Chicagoans) who supported Chicago's bid, understood the intangible benefits of international prestige and good will toward the United States, as well as the tangible benefits in thousands of jobs created and a substantial boost to the American economy.

Being from Chicago, the President and First Lady gave it their best shot. But it was a longshot. Chicago's loss wasn't a rejection of President Obama and the United States. The U.S. was host to the summer and winter games a total of eight times, more than any other country, most recently in Salt Lake City, 2002. South America never hosted the Olympics. Rio made a strong presentation, and won. On the merits. It's high time South America hosted the Olympics, and Rio is its crown jewel. It's that simple.

That the Pigman, the lunatic Beck, the Drudge Report, Newsmax, and the entire panoply of bottom-feeding denizens of our political sewers on the right should celebrate the moment with anti-Obama rhetoric such as "death of Obamalympics" and "the Ego has landed," is disgusting.

You wingnuts are really, really, I mean REALLY. SICK.

Rio had its own Star Power ...

No offense to the Obamas, but with ...


LULA, too! ... How could we lose?

Rio will be ready to shine. Unlike Chicago, 85% of Rio's residents wanted the Games.

Also, as Lula noted, Brasil is the only country among the top ten world economies not to have hosted an Olympics. Indeed, the record is pretty lopsided: North America - 6 Olympics; South America - 0.

It's about time. Check out Maracanã Stadium and the projected expansion of a volleyball venue on the right. Maracanã, the Temple of Football (soccer), and hands down the world's most majestic stadium, was built in 1950, when Brasil hosted the World Cup. Brasil steamrolled its opposition only to lose the final to Uruguay, 2-1. Hopefully, we can erase that traumatic history in 2014, when the Cup returns to Brasil.

It's a great boost for a great and beautiful city!

Chicago Loses Olympic Bid

Chicago was the first bidding city to be eliminated from consideration for the 2016 summer Olympic games.

In other news, the 2012 Taste of Chicago has been awarded to Brussels.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

A nice corner moment

On, Jack Cafferty asks the question "What if more than half of Chicagoans don't want the Olympics?" The answer, of course, is that as long as His Hereditary Dweebness wants it, that's all that matters. In the comments on the post, however, one Stephen Fox, of Panama City, FL, opines: "Should it matter that half of Chicagoans don’t want the Olympics in their city? Jack, probably about as much as it should matter that Obama wants to force health care upon those who don’t want it. :-)"

Oh, Mr. Fox? Are there really lots of people out there who don't want health care? If you're in that category, just don't go to the doctor when you're sick. I do believe, crazy as I am, is that the question is who pays for it, and whether anyone's willing to pick up the tab for those who don't have the ability to pay. Now, we already pay for them in myriad ways, and will almost certainly save money in the long run, but even if we don't, I'm pretty sure that you're just an idiot.

Olympics? We don't need no stinkin' Olympics!

[Editor's note: This post represents my personal views and does not necessarily reflect the position of any other contributor to this page. Any other use of this post or any pictures, descriptions or accounts of the post without the NFL’s consent is prohibited.]

To: The International Olympic Committee
From: Me

Re: 2016 Games Selection

PICK RIO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Give 'Em Hell, Michael!

Michael Moore vents against the whiny Democrats who have capitulated to the Republicans on universal healthcare, promising to back it up with his considerable clout. If you're one of the spineless jellyfish DINOS who are in the pockets of the (W)ealth insurance industry opposing the public option, you should be more than a little concerned.

We've got your number and we're coming after you. We, the people, elected you to work for us. This means, first and foremost, responding to our overwhelming support for universal healthcare with choice and competition which includes a public option. Poll after poll demonstrates this.

As Michael said, "who the hell do you think you are?" If you do not stand up for what the people want, a strong public option, we'll find someone who will. That's a promise.

So let's get specific here. President Obama may "like" Olympia Snowe, but we don't. Senator Snowe has totally ignored the wishes of her constituents by opposing the public option. One day after her two NO votes against the public option, Democracy Corps conducted a survey of Maine residents with some harsh results for Snowe's position:

* By 50%-39% Maine voters say Republicans want Obama to fail;

* By 62%-29% Maine voters say Obama has made an effort to reach out to Republicans;

* By 64%-28% Maine voters say Snowe should vote for a good healthcare bill even if ALL Republicans oppose it, rather than only support a bipartisan bill; and, most significantly,

* By 62%-27% Maine voters prefer a public option over Snowe's proposed bait-and-switch "trigger" (52%-34%).

Olympia Snowe is becoming more obnoxious by the day. Not only has she stomped on her constituents' expressed desires, but she's really getting into her self-important role as the anointed Queen Bee of healthcare reform. Today she introduced an amendment to "assist" economically strapped states by stripping their most vulnerable Medicaid populations of life-sustaining benefits. Only the good Senator Rockefeller had the guts to rip into her; then, in keeping with weird Senate comity rules, said he wasn't impugning her motives. The day before, she had twice voted against the public option.

To hell with Olympia Snowe.

If Democrats cave to the false narrative that Senator Snowe is essential to a sucker's "bipartisan" bill, there will be hell to pay with their own constituents. We're not in a forgiving mood, and we're already lining up candidates who will challenge them in the primaries as real Democrats. When Michael Moore says he's joining the cause, they'd better listen.

Then there's Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, a true profile in cowardice. In a state that supports the public option by better than 3-2, Sen. Lincoln shifted from support of the public option to opposition in the space of one month: August. Polls show her running behind four Republican opponents. Lincoln's miscalculation is that no matter how many sweeteners the insurance industry has dealt her, she cannot out-Republican Republicans. Her only winning strategy is to stand her ground and run as a Democrat. If she does, we'll support her and she'll win. If she doesn't, we'll oppose her and she'll lose.

Sen. Lincoln, you know what to do. We'll be watching.

Senator Max Baucus's obssessive-compulsive BPD (Bipartisan Disorder) is getting to be tiresome as well. The result has been an execrable (W)ealth insurance giveaway bill. His sole virtue is that he's beaten back Republican filibuster attempts and seems determined to put this monstrosity out of its misery by reporting it out of Committee next week. Then it can hopefully be submerged by the Kennedy Democratic bill from Sen. Harkin's Health Committee.

Let's not forget Sen. Kent Conrad, who has shown himself increasingly to lean right on the fence he's been straddling. This is one DINO with a pronounced identity crisis who really needs to decide whose side he's on. His heartless support for the Snowe slam of easing states' financial burdens on the backs of their Medicaid populations was disgusting.

These are the most prominent villains of the healthcare debate currently unfolding in the Senate Finance Committee. The Republicans aren't mentioned because we know what they are -- they've introduced one outrageous amendment after another -- they're window dressing, a sinister peanut gallery of hideous mutants. It's these others, who for parochial and personal political calculations have joined the dark side, that we should target for political defeat. Ben Nelson, too. This guy's the dean of the DINOS, given his latest statements opposing the 50 + 1 reconciliation strategy.

Hell, the newest Democrat, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, a supporter of the public option, is better than this crowd.


This is priceless! I’m sure I’m not the only one to have entertained the fantasy of going to Congress and ripping the hell out of those Republican bastards for their immoral policies, taking no prisoners. At last we have one fearless model of how the Democrats should conduct themselves, not only in Congress, but also on the Senate Finance Committee.

The Republicans are bastards; they’re scum; they’re liars; they have no interest in the public good or enacting meaningful healthcare reform. It’s that simple.

Bravo, Congressman Alan Grayson, of Florida, for not just talking the talk of “calling them out,” but actually doing it.

And here’s the icing on the cake. When Republicans demanded an apology (see above), this is what Congressman Grayson had to say to them:

"Let's remember that we should care about people, even after they're born." I love it! WOOT!

Editor's Note: Last night on the Rachel Maddow show, Congressman Grayson struck a more conciliatory tone toward his Republican colleagues. He said:

These people are uttelry unscrupulous. They’re foot-dragging, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who know nothing but NO. One way or another we have to overcome it for the sake of the nation.

Then he said to Democrats:

People want a Democrat with guts. People want to see a Democratic Party with guts.


Thanks for the help, but--no thanks

IF you are Roman Polanski (and be very glad you are not), do you want Woody Allen coming to your defense?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

If not now, when?

Well, it looks like never.

Oh my God, was Will Rogers right. I indeed belong to no organized political party.

Mr. President, Madame Speaker, Sen. Reid, et al., how did you screw this up so badly?

Mr. President, you were the pitcher who walked onto the mound after his team had just given him a huge lead in the first. All you have to do is throw strikes. Oh wait, I forgot--you're from Chicago, not the best place for baseball analogies.

To the leaders of Congress, I have but one question. WHAT [other than yes, I know, losing insurance company money] THE HELL WERE YOU AFRAID OF??? The Republicans came out of the 2008 electoral cycle at their weakest in decades. The unholy alliance of Wall Street and the mouthbreathers who want Jesus to stop boys from kissing had shattered, with the former exposed as larcenous criminals and the latter as a nativist, racist, xenophobic band of Glenn Beck-following sheeple. Their party stood in ruins and you let THEM define the debate. How do you do that?

As a historian, what fascinates me most is not Democratic incompetence (Lord knows there is nothing remarkable about THAT. Sunrise, sunset, Democratic incompetence). Rather it is the elevation of a fringe miniority from the depths of obscurity to a position of power not only in their own, albeit crippled, party, but in the national arena as a whole.

Note that this phenomenon--the tea baggers, the town hall protesters, Sarah Palin supporters, etc.--is nothing new. Throughout American history we have had the fringe elements of the nativists, the anti-intellectuals, the xenophobes, etc. Now to this old mix we add the accelerant of race to the fire, and something remarkable happens. Historians for generations to come will puzzle over the question of how a marginalized minority of nutcases, IMMEDIATELY after an electoral thrashing, comes to dominate the political landscape.

I don't have an answer. Maybe Will Rogers does.

Target DINOS: Finance Committee Corporatist Dems Vote Down Public Option

And then there were three.

The following Democrats on the Finance Committee showed their true colors as members of the corporatist 'Democrats in Name Only' club:

Max 'Hamlet' Baucus
- In keeping with his ethereal rationalizations, Chairman Baucus justified his NO vote stating that his primary responsibility was to report out a bill that would get 60 votes. He also made the 'Rome wasn't built in a day' argument. Fair enough. Baucus is feeling the heat and basically signalled his malleability on this issue as long as he gets political cover. I think he's gone as far as he's willing to go in defending the narrow (and craven) interests of the private insurers that pay his bills. He can read the numbers just like everybody else, including those from his own state.

This debate was more illuminating than all the town halls wrapped in one. In the days ahead, I predict the public option will get a public preference 'bounce' with even more lopsided numbers.

Two numbers jumped out from Senator Rockefeller's impassioned presentation: First, The total taxpayer-funded subsidies to the insurance companies, in the absence of a public option, would be a whopping one-half trillion dollars. That's obscene, and Baucus had no retort except to offer a sputtering halfhearted defense. Second, according to conservative CBO estimates, the public option would save taxpayers more than $50 billion over ten years, and begin to reduce the costs of healthcare.

Senator Rockefeller declared "the public option is on the march!" I loved his use of language here, reminiscent of the great rallying cries for fundamental reform in the history of progressive transformative legislation. Senator Schumer took up Chairman Baucus's challenge. By the time supporters of the public option are done he predicted it would get 60 votes on the floor.

Kent Conrad
- Senator Conrad has his own positive agenda, essentially to revive his pet alternative, the so-called medical co-ops. He made an excellent presentation comparing health outcomes in other countries against poor outcomes in the U.S. Conrad's point was that a private nonprofit model, as exists in Japan, France, Switzerland, Belgium, and other countries, is the best fit for the U.S. He also conceded that Britain, which has a government-run single payer system, had some of the best outcomes. It was a sober, intelligent, nonideological systems comparison, and as such, Senator Conrad deserves a tremendous amount of credit for educating the public. So, with these caveats, his NO vote should be taken in context. Senator Conrad is not an opponent of the public option as much as he is a proponent of his own co-op alternative. If it comes to a choice and his co-op goes down, Sen. Conrad will be one of those 60 votes.

Blanche Lincoln
- MIA.

Senator Lincoln is personable and also one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate, from the red state of Arkansas. She was basically hiding from the debate and projected negative body language vibes. I get the feeling that she'd really like to vote for a public option, but is constrained. During the lunch break she was seen huddling with Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon. Senator Wyden, a bit of a maverick, has his own nebulous proposal that would shift federal responsibility for healthcare to the states. If Senator Lincoln was angling for a little political cover for her NO vote, she didn't get it. Wyden voted YES for both public option amendments.

The public option is alive and well and support for it will continue to grow.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Public Option Showdown at the Finance Corral

Big “D” Democrats aren’t sitting on their hands. Tomorrow, Max ‘Hamlet’ Baucus’s Finance Committee resumes its markup with a showdown: Senators Rockefeller and Schumer will be introducing separate amendments to incorporate a strong public option.

In simple terms, the public option is a nonprofit public plan to compete with the private insurance companies, keep them honest by providing choice, and bring healthcare costs down. It makes eminently good sense. Unlike the untested Co-Op plan favored by conservaDems (DINOS) like Kent Conrad and Ben Nelson, the public option has a 44-year model to draw from: Medicare.

The biggest knock against the idea of Co-Ops is that they won’t have the collective strength to compete effectively against the private insurers. There’s also a regional component. They’re most favored by legislators representing small midwest and western states where co-ops have been most popular; Medicare has national outreach.

This is the first test of the DINOS's commitment to the people over the special interests. Max Baucus, Kent Conrad, Blanche Lincoln, and every other Democrat taking orders from the insurance industry to oppose the public option will be forced to go on record with their opposition. Of course, we are hoping they do the right thing, but if they don't they'll be feeling heat-heAT-HEAT from their constituents, Big Time. This is only the opening salvo of the battle to assure that a public option is part of the final healthcare bill signed by President Obama.

The public wants it. The latest NYT/CBS poll rates nationwide public support for the public option at 65%.

Doctors want it.
They overwhelmingly favor the public option by nearly 75%. One reason: Many doctors say they've had “largely good experiences with Medicare.”

Meanwhile, even the Mayo Clinic favors a public option, although it has hedged its bets by taking the Baucus-Conrad approach of favoring a “Co-Op public option,” a play on words if you will. It’s described as member-run, non-profit insurance plans which “will be truly public plans because they will be owned and run by the consumers who use them.” Mayo opposes a real public plan modeled on Medicare because they claim it will not control costs and will “punish” doctors. Sounds like an anti-public option Republican soundbite. The only missing element is the Frank Luntz (the Repug with the bad complexion – rosacea or lupus) talking point: the evil “government-run” plan.

Pure politics. Mayo’s playing the Republican game, hoping to pivot to the Baucus-Conrad Co-Op. First of all, their claims are false. The CBO has scored the House (most robust version) of the public option will save taxpayers $110 billion over ten years.

Progressives are turning up the heat by running ads against public option opponents Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Olympia Snowe of Maine, and Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee, threatening to recruit primary challenge candidates. Both Democratic politicians have already backed down.

Now it’s Max Baucus’s turn to feel the people’s pressure. This ad targets Baucus for standing with the insurance companies –- from which he received $3.4 million in contributions -- against the wishes of a majority of Montanans who favor the public option, 47%-43%, and Democrats, 55%-34%. The ad campaign has already raised $50,000, half of what it needs to run in Montana and D.C., and has caught the attention of Baucus's staff:

As Governor Dean said, every Democrat will “sink or swim” on this bill, from President Obama on down. “We’ve got to do the right thing.”

When 65% of your constituents are clamoring for a public option, what is your problem, Democrats!

From the "Don't Know Much About History" Collection

(A sub-folder of the "We Live in a Stupid Country" file)

Take a peek at this

I was checking out some Flickr photos of New York to compare to the ones I just took. Some genius called "Lolalaptop" thought they would be cute and snap a bad picture of Hamilton on the 10-spot in front of his grave in the Trinity Church yard in the financial district. She made a little oopsie in her photo entitled "Hamilton x 2" though...