Dylan Ratigan Is A Stock Analyst, Debbie Wasserman Schultz Is Not, Updated And Updated

I think the Dems should start listening to their party members who have not been elected to anything; you know, the ones like you and me?

Obviously, Dylan is correct that the health care stocks are rising due to the feebleness of the bill to have any cost controls. I am not in favor of a bill that mandates I buy insurance from an unregulated, competition-less, monopoly of an industry. Fuck that.

h/t JM

Update: From Emptywheel:
And for those who promise we’ll go back and fix this later, once we achieve universal health care, understand what will have happened in the meantime. The idea, of course, is to establish some means to get people single payer coverage (before Lieberman, this would have been through a public option or Medicare buy-in) and, over time, expand it.

In fact, this bill will move toward single payer, too–though not the kind we want. For the large number of people who live in a place where there is limited competition, this bill will require them to get health care through the oligopoly or monopoly provider. It’ll work great for the provider: they will be able to dictate rates. But the Senate bill allows these blossoming single payer providers to keep up to 25% of the benefit in profits and marketing costs, and pass little of that benefit onto citizens. If we make private corporations our single payer, how are we going to convince them to cede control when we ask them to let the government be the single payer?

The reason this matters, though, is the power it gives the health care corporations. We can’t ditch Halliburton or Blackwater because they have become the sole primary contractor providing precisely the services they do. And so, like it or not, we’re dependent on them. And if we were to try to exercise oversight over them, we’d ultimately face the reality that we have no leverage over them, so we’d have to accept whatever they chose to provide. This bill gives the health care industry the leverage we’ve already given Halliburton and Blackwater.

It’s the 9.8% tithe that bothers me the most. But for those who think we can fix it, consider this, too. If the Senate bill passes, in its current form, it will mean that the health care industry was able to dictate–through their Senators Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson–what they wanted the US Congress to do. They will have succeeded in dictating the precise terms of legislation.

Now, that’s not the first time that has happened. It certainly happened on telecom immunity. It certainly has happened, repeatedly, on Defense contracting (see also Randy Cunningham). But none of these egregious instances of corporations dictating legislation included a tithe–the requirement that citizens pay corporations to provide their service, rather than allowing the government to contract the service.

This is a fundamentally different relationship we’re talking about–one that gives corporations vast new powers. And the fact that–with one temper tantrum from Joe Lieberman–the corporations were able to dictate the terms of this new relationship deeply troubles me.

When this passes, it will become clear that Congress is no longer the sovereign of this nation. Rather, the corporations dictating the laws will be.

I understand the temptation to offer 30 million people health care. What I don’t understand is the nonchalance with which we’re about to fundamentally shift the relationships of governance in doing so.

We’ve seen our Constitution and means of government under attack in the last 8 years. This does so in a different–but every bit as significant way. We don’t mandate tithing corporations in this country–at least not yet. And it troubles me that so many Democrats are rushing to do so, without considering the logical consequences.
Update II: Dylan apologizes...


Learning Styles: Nonsense

Cognitive Scientists Debunk Learning-Style Theories
By Debra Viadero on December 17, 2009 9:47 AM

At one time or another, we've all heard "experts" assert that children have different learning styles. Some children, for instance, may be visual learners, while others best absorb information by hearing it. Other theories categorize learners as "assimilators," "divergers," and who knows what else. A teacher's job, according to this line of thinking, is to find out what student's individual learning styles are and tailor instruction accordingly.

A study published this week points up one big problem with these kinds of theories: There's no evidence for them.

Writing in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, cognitive scientists Hal Pashler, Mark McDaniel, Doug Rohrer, and Robert Bjork argue that, of the thousands of articles published on learning styles in recent decades, few really put the theory to an adequate test.
More at the title link.

Blast From The Past

Back in the day I spent some time at Dead shows. New Year's Eve was a pretty big deal, and every year one could hear this song on the radio as Deadheads geared up for the annual ticket purchase (which required money orders, snail mail, and some good hippie art) and got ready for the show and the hours in line.

Here is that song, with some stills thrown in by?:

The Known Universe

Better late than never, I always say...

I'm With Keith

Keith Olbermann, who is rich enough to self-insure, will not buy the health insurance the Senate is destined to pass. He won't buy it, even under penalty of fine or jail. He is against it. I am with Keith.

Franken Objects To Lieberman (So Do I)

Thursday Cartoon Fun: Fat Cat Edition

The Senate vs. The Netherlands

FDL put up this comparison of the Senate bill and the Dutch health care system in response to Jonathan Cohn's TNR post. Don't let anyone tell you the Senate is headed in the right direction.

This "reform" seems pretty horrible to me.


Conflict Is Necessary

For those of you who know me personally:
Nice is overrated
Written by: Mélanie Frappier | Appears in: Issue 43

Mélanie Frappier on the necessity of conflict, as exemplified by House. M.D.

House and Socrates. Two cases, same symptoms. House’s best friends describe him as rude, arrogant, and offensive. He never misses a chance to sarcastically pick people apart. He refuses any administrative or clinic duty. His sharp mind has made him a leading expert in diagnostic medicine, yet he doesn’t write up his medical cases for journals; the “ducklings” – Foreman, Cameron, and Chase – do it for him.

The only person who sometimes manages to control House is Cuddy, the dean of medicine and hospital administrator. While she admits that he is the best doctor she has, House’s obsession with his cases is at times a costly nightmare. He hides when on compulsory clinic duty. His unorthodox, and sometimes outright unauthorised, treatments lead to billing problems and lawsuits. His refusal to endorse a new drug costs the hospital a $100 million donation. He destroys the hospital’s MRI machine, attempting to scan the bullet-riddled skull of a corpse (a scan Cuddy had, of course, forbidden).

House doesn’t show any more concern for people than for financial matters. He bursts in on other doctors when they’re with their patients, or calls them in the middle of the night to discuss his cases. Yet he doesn’t listen to their opinions but sarcastically rejects all their answers, taking a vicious pleasure in humiliating them in front of their peers and patients. An “equal opportunity offender”, House is aggressive and demeaning with his own patients.

Is House simply a “raving lunatic”, or is his obnoxious behaviour a symptom of a more serious condition? We could paraphrase House (in “The Socratic Method”) and answer: “Pick your specialist, you pick your symptoms. I’m a jerk. It’s my only symptom. I go see three doctors. The neurologist tells me it’s my pituitary gland, the endocrinologist says it’s an adrenal gland tumor, the intensivist…can’t be bothered, sends me to a witty philosopher, who tells me I push others because I think I’m Socrates.”

In Defense Of The (Nearly) Worthless Penny, By williamyard

williamyard is back, this time with a defense of the worthless penny at TNR:
And once again, the bleatings of the utilitarians must be heard!

Well, my friends, allow me to defend the humble $0.01. It occupies a far more important niche than its prosaic brethren the dime, the dollar, the mighty Jackson. It is, in fact, an artful artifact of philosophy, right there on the sidewalk next to the blackened gum and the pigeon poop where no one in their right mind will stoop to pick it up.

In our frenzied search for efficiency we kill serendipity in the public square: we leave no (wrong) turn unstoned. Forget meandering, traipsing, or taking the long way home: either lead, follow, or get out of the way. All hail GPS!

Nowhere does our fetish for boiling life down to every possible digital datum hold more sway than in finance. We must run those numbers, again and again. Why, I bet some math Ph.D. will figure out how to bundle debt obligations and make a market out of them. Won't that be a great idea? Forget the penny: derivatives are where it's at!

Standing against history's tawdry tsunami is our little copper friend. He is more trouble than he is worth--like an elderly relative in a nursing home, or a homeless vet living under a bridge. He can't survive without society's help, like a single mom raising her kids alone. He's worth more dead than alive--like millions of Americans with a life insurance policy and an underwater mortgage.

You want to see what a penny looks like? Look in the mirror.

No, my friends. The penny should not be eliminated because it is worthless; the penny should be RETAINED because it is worthless.

More On Why The Bill Should Be Killed

Healthcare: First They Came for the Banksters

by Thom Hartmann

With apologies to Pastor Niemöller:

First they came for the banksters, and showered them with money and put them in the Administration in a way that was not change we could believe in.

Then they came for the military industrial complex, and sent more and more of our children to die in faraway lands that had never attacked us in a way that was not change we could believe in.

And now they’ve sold out our hope for a national health care system not run by millionaire gangsters in suits. And who is left to speak for us?

President Obama is playing the Bill Clinton game of throwing people a bone and telling them it’s steak. Perhaps he’s doing it because he thinks it’s his only choice; perhaps it’s because he’s surrounded himself with Bill Clinton advisors (and Hillary as Secretary of State); whatever the reason, while it worked for Clinton, it won’t work for Obama.

It worked for Reagan, and for the first Bush, and even worked somewhat for George W. Bush.

But it won’t work anymore. Here’s why.

From 1929 until the 1980s, most Americans were “high information voters.” They were paying attention to politics. The Republican Great Depression of 1929-1938, World War II, the Korean War, Kennedy’s election, and the War in Vietnam were all Big Events that caused Americans to pay attention. Americans of that era needed to know what was up in Washington, DC, because they felt the consequences directly.

This is why in November of 1954, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote a letter to his John Bircher brother Edgar, “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”

The voters knew. Even as late as 1977, when George W. Bush ran for Congress from Texas on a nearly singular platform of privatizing Social Security, he lost badly. The voters knew.

Then came Reagan. He seemed so nice. He talked friendly. At the very minute – to the second – that he put his hand on the bible to be sworn in, those nasty Iranians let go the hostages they’d been holding (a kidnapping that had so humiliated the Carter administration that Carter lost the election).

America was once again a “shining city on the hill” and even though there were a few small invasions, Panama and Grenada and all, and a small recession, and a few S&L bank failures, mostly people lost interest in politics. TV was going big, home entertainment was huge, blockbuster movies were coming onto the big screen, and America was prosperous. Americans partied on cheap debt. We went to sleep. It was the beginning of the era of the “low information voter.”

Howard Dean's Own Words: "Kill The Bill"


Do You Know This Kid III? Updated And Answered

This one might be harder.

Mel Torme

He's dead. He was famous. He was multi-talented.

Update:  This is not Bing Crosby, Dean Martin or George Gershwin.

Update II: Sweet_Jane got it: Mel Torme

Support The Electronic Frontier Foundation

Senator Al Franken Schools Thune

"No Religious Test Shall Ever Be Required As A Qualification..."

Lawsuit threatened over atheist councilman in NC

RALEIGH, N.C. – Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell believes in ending the death penalty, conserving water and reforming government — but he doesn't believe in God. His political opponents say that's a sin that makes him unworthy of serving in office, and they've got the North Carolina Constitution on their side.

Bothwell's detractors are threatening to take the city to court for swearing him in, even though the state's antiquated requirement that officeholders believe in God is unenforceable because it violates the U.S. Consititution.

"The question of whether or not God exists is not particularly interesting to me and it's certainly not relevant to public office," the recently elected 59-year-old said.

Bothwell ran this fall on a platform that also included limiting the height of downtown buildings and saving trees in the city's core, views that appealed to voters in the liberal-leaning community at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains. When Bothwell was sworn into office on Monday, he used an alternative oath that doesn't require officials to swear on a Bible or reference "Almighty God."

That has riled conservative activists, who cite a little-noticed quirk in North Carolina's Constitution that disqualifies officeholders "who shall deny the being of Almighty God." The provision was included when the document was drafted in 1868 and wasn't revised when North Carolina amended its constitution in 1971. One foe, H.K. Edgerton, is threatening to file a lawsuit in state court against the city to challenge Bothwell's appointment.
Let's remember a couple of things. First, the United States Constitution Supremacy Clause:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
And now Article VI, section 6, of the Constitution of the United States:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
Obviously, the North Carolina law is unconstitutional. And disgusting. And insulting. Where are the adults?

Doctor Dean Says "Kill The Senate Bill"

I am not alone in thinking it is better to kill it than pass it:
Howard Dean: “Kill The Senate Bill”

In a blow to the bill grinding through the Senate, Howard Dean bluntly called for the bill to be killed in a pre-recorded interview set to air later this afternoon, denouncing it as “the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate,” the reporter who conducted the interview tells me.

Dean said the removal of the Medicare buy-in made the bill not worth supporting, and urged Dem leaders to start over with the process of reconciliation in the interview, which is set to air at 5:50 PM today on Vermont Public Radio, political reporter Bob Kinzel confirms to me.

The gauntlet from Dean — whose voice on health care is well respsected among liberals — will energize those on the left who are mobilizing against the bill, and make it tougher for liberals to embrace the emerging proposal. In an excerpt Kinzel gave me, Dean says:
“This is essentially the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate. Honestly the best thing to do right now is kill the Senate bill, go back to the House, start the reconciliation process, where you only need 51 votes and it would be a much simpler bill.”
Kinzel added that Dean essentially said that if Democratic leaders cave into Joe Lieberman right now they’ll be left with a bill that’s not worth supporting.

Dean had previously endorsed the Medicare buy-in compromise without a public option, saying that the key question should be whether the bill contains enough “real reform” to be worthy of progressives’ support. Dean has apparently concluded that the “real reform” has been removed at Lieberman’s behest — which won’t make it easier for liberals to swallow the emerging compromise.

"But It Damn Well Better Be Positive Change"

I think Jay has it just about right below. Unfortunately, the incremental change, which requires fines for not buying insurance, will piss off all the poor people this economy has created, put them deeper into the poorhouse, and seal the deal for Republicans.

I am leaning towards scrapping the whole thing.
I hate to keep beating this drum, but the going in objectives for health care reform were to increase coverage and control costs.  It's become increasingly clear that one requires the other, and passing a bill that mandates coverage and doesn't do enough control costs is stupid and political suicide.  At some point, Americans will realize spiraling health care costs are sapping the economy, putting American industry at a disadvantage, keeping wages depressed, impacting unemployment, and stunting small business growth.  And, at that point, Americans will go looking for someone to blame.

I'm, begrudgingly, OK with incremental change.  But it damn well better be positive change.

Tuesday Bonus Cartoon Fun: It Must Be A Cold Day In Hell Edition

Let Joe Go

Yes, I watch Countdown. I saw Sherrod Brown talking last night and he mentioned retribution and punishment. His mention was one of 'worry about it later' because we have a chance to pass massive health care reform. Well, what would we have had without this smarmy bastard?

So I post this most cogent and brief piece from Lawyers, Guns and Money:


I will concede that at the time the decision was made, we didn't know whether the decision to let Joe Lieberman keep his chairmanship was a good idea or not. Well, at this point we know it was a disaster, and surely relieving him of his perks has become a no-brainer. This isn't a question of balancing a desire for revenge against the pragmatic interests of the party. Continuing to reward people who double-cross you and continuing to trust people who have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they can't be trusted is just bad strategy.

Tuesday Cartoon Fun: North Pole Edition

Time To Take 'Em Back

National Call for March 4 Strike and Day of Action To Defend Public Education

California has recently seen a massive movement erupt in defense of public education — but layoffs, fee hikes, cuts, and the re-segregation of public education are attacks taking place throughout the country. A nationwide resistance movement is needed.

We call on all students, workers, teachers, parents, and their organizations and communities across the country to massively mobilize for a Strike and Day of Action in Defense of Public Education on March 4, 2010. Education cuts are attacks against all of us, particularly in working-class communities and communities of color.

The politicians and administrators say there is no money for education and social services. They say that “there is no alternative” to the cuts. But if there’s money for wars, bank bailouts, and prisons, why is there no money for public education?

We can beat back the cuts if we unite students, workers, and teachers across all sectors of public education — Pre K-12, adult education, community colleges, and state-funded universities. We appeal to the leaders of the trade union movement to support and organize strikes and/or mass actions on March 4. The weight of workers and students united in strikes and mobilizations would shift the balance of forces entirely against the current agenda of cuts and make victory possible.

Building a powerful movement to defend public education will, in turn, advance the struggle in defense of all public-sector workers and services and will be an inspiration to all those fighting against the wars, for immigrants rights, in defense of jobs, for single-payer health care, and other progressive causes.

Why March 4? On October 24, 2009 more than 800 students, workers, and teachers converged at UC Berkeley at the Mobilizing Conference to Save Public Education. This massive meeting brought together representatives from over 100 different schools, unions, and organizations from all across California and from all sectors of public education. After hours of open collective discussion, the participants voted democratically, as their main decision, to call for a Strike and Day of Action on March 4, 2010. All schools, unions and organizations are free to choose their specific demands and tactics — such as strikes, rallies, walkouts, occupations, sit-ins, teach-ins, etc. — as well as the duration of such actions.

Let’s make March 4 an historic turning point in the struggle against the cuts, layoffs, fee hikes, and the re-segregation of public education.

- The California Coordinating Committee

(To endorse this call and to receive more information contact march4strikeanddayofaction@gmail.com )


California's Charter School Mafia Boss: Arnold

Governor's ties to charter schools driving Race to Top goals?

SACRAMENTO — Charter school advocates were livid. The Assembly's "Race to the Top" legislation was trying to "change the DNA of charters," as one charter school leader put it, by clamping down with "stifling" oversight provisions.

They had little doubt, however, that they'd have a potent weapon to beat back the proposed changes: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger's deep ties to the charter school movement haven't been a secret. He has taken at least $1 million in contributions from charter school advocates, stacked the State Board of Education with charter school educators, overseen since taking office in 2003 more than a doubling in the number of charter schools and steered hundreds of millions of construction bond money to charter schools.

Now, with a potential $700 million in federal cash dangling before lawmakers who have seen $17 billion drained from public schools over the past two years, some critics say Schwarzenegger has used the Race to the Top competition to further his long-term goal of cutting into the powers of traditional public schools while elevating his own sacred cow — the charter movement.
h/t KL

Do You Know This Kid? Updated Again And Again, Finally, Really, I Swear

Since I got such a huge response from my last Do You Know? post I thought I would give you another.

So, do you know this kid? She was born in 1925.

Margaret Thatcher

Update:  It is not Angela Landsbury or Sandra Day O'Connor.  An email response already got it right, but I'll wait a bit more for some others to chime in.  And don't forget the other Do You Know with Yoko Ono (anonymous friend got her) and a yet to be identified dead guy.

Update II:  She is not my mother (mom is 8 years her junior), nor is she Flannery O'Connor.  And she's still alive and kicking.  And she is famous or infamous, depending on your view of, um, things.

Update III:  We have a winner winners!  Minnesotastan of TYWKIWDBI and another anonymous friend who likes to comment using Grateful Dead Song girl names pegged this young lady as the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, Margaret Thatcher.  Good job.


Hey Arne! STFU!

Praise, not scorn

Sent to the Washington Post, Dec. 13

Education Secretary Duncan thinks that Schools of Education do a "mediocre job" and need strict accountability ("Louisiana serves as model in teacher assessment," Dec. 12).

American Schools of Education deserve praise, not scorn. If international test scores are the criteria for judging performance, American children do very well, as long as the effect of poverty is taken into consideration. There is very good evidence that poverty must be considered.

American schools where less than 25 percent of the students are poor outscore nearly all other countries in math and science. American children only fall below the international average when 75 percent or more of the students in a school live in poverty. Poverty means hunger, poor diet, toxins in the environment, and a lack of reading material. All of these seriously affect academic performance. The US has the highest level of childhood poverty of all industrialized countries, 25%, compared to Denmark's 2%.

Poverty is beyond the control of Schools of Education. Low achievement is the fault of a society that allows so many children to live in poverty.

Also, if we accept Secretary Duncan's logic, we should hold schools of business accountable for the current economic crisis.

Stephen Krashen

Sunday Cartoon Fun: Public Option II Edition

Total Pageviews