Looks like they’re now allowing liberals on the teevee. Excellent news.
Our guest blogger is Adam Jentleson, the Communications and Outreach Director for the Hyde Park Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
In their new ad, Harry and Louise – older and more mature than they were in 1993 – seem to go to great pains to stay neutral and avoid favoring either candidate’s position on health care. But despite their efforts to stay neutral, their new ad reveals one of the glaring flaws in John McCain’s radical health care plan.
In the ad, Harry mentions a friend who was recently diagnosed with cancer, but doesn’t have insurance. Under McCain’s plan, this “friend” would find it extremely difficult, even impossible, to get coverage.
Because his employer doesn’t cover him, the friend Harry describes has to shop for health care on the individual market, where he is at the mercy of the insurance companies. Under McCain’s plan, he would stay there, but he would have even less leverage to negotiate a fair deal for himself than he does now – because McCain’s plan would de-regulate the individual market, and give the insurance companies even greater leeway to deny people coverage or hike up their premiums even more.
Under McCain’s plan, the only option for Harry and Louise’s friend would be a high-risk pool – but in practice, high-risk pools have proven woefully ineffective at meeting the needs of people with cancer and other Americans in desperate need of care.
The friend in this ad may be fictional, but his crisis is not. In fact, there are 56 million Americans with chronic conditions who would be at risk of losing their coverage under McCain’s plan, and finding themselves in the exact same situation. Those 56 million Americans are very real – and so is the crisis they could face under John McCain’s health care plan.
Our guest blogger is Henry Fernandez, a Senior Fellow at the Center For American Progress Action Fund working on state and municipal issues.
Henry Cejudo’s uniquely American story started with a single mother who taught him what it meant to truly fight. His mother Nelly – an undocumented immigrant — moved him and his siblings several times chasing work and opportunity, scraping by, ensuring her kids got an education. And along the way, the family found a channel for both the tough resilience she modeled and the country they loved through the sport of freestyle wrestling.
With the brothers he shared a bed with growing up cheering from the stands (as well as his sister), Cejudo repeatedly got off the mat to come back and win in a tough match against Tomohiro Matsunaga of Japan. And now America has both an unexpected gold medal and a new hero.
Today in Beijing, our nation proudly called Cejudo one of our own:
“What Henry has accomplished is an American success story,” USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel said. “This is a story of perseverance and determination. We couldn’t be more proud of Henry, not only for what he has accomplished on the mat, but for how he has represented our country.”
It has become commonplace on the right to talk about how recent immigrants, and particularly undocumented immigrants and their children, do not want to assimilate, learn English or identify themselves as truly American.
Yet this family – all of them proud to be the cheering voice of the United States in a city on the other side of the planet – did our country proud:
They all wore or waved American flags, an entire family decked in the stars and stripes. A family that started with illegal immigrants and advanced to right here, this moment, their very own gold medalist resting in their lap.
“Only in America,” Cejudo said.
David Neiwert has more.
Incidentally, for a great example of what I was talking about in the post below about choosing how to allocate space on our streets, check out Streetsblog’s photos of the makeover Broadway’s getting in New York City — fewer traffic lanes, more of everything else. That kind of treatment isn’t right for every street or for every city, but it’s the kind of thing that should be considered much more widely and at least be in the mix. It’s crazy to dedicate so many resources to car transportation that everyone goes everywhere in cars, and then throw up our hands and decide that because everyone’s driving everywhere we have no choice but to dedicate more resources to cars.
NYC is a pedestrian town. If it apportions its streets accordingly, suburban commuters will find themselves more inclined to take commuter rail into town and suburban politicians will find that agitating for better commuter rail service — rather than for more highways — is their new transportation funding priority.
An interesting Boston Globe Magazine article by Billy Baker looks at state-of-the-art information about how to design streets that are safe and inviting for pedestrians. I understand the journalistic considerations behind doing it this way, but I kind of wish Baker hadn’t led with the nutty-sounding Mondermanite prescriptions for eliminating pedestrian-vehicle separation and road striping altogether. I think those are interesting ideas that people should learn more about, but at the same time it’s worth emphasizing that the bulk of the relevant considerations here are pretty much commonsense.
But to make a long story short, a town or city needs to decide whether or not they really think that maximizing vehicle speed is the right priority for the design of their streets. If you decide to make it the priority, then you’ll wind up with a city that’s bad for pedestrians — narrow sidewalks, wider roads to cross, walk signs that only work if you press a button, intersections where walkers defer to turning traffic, etc. — and at the same time you’ll have fast-moving vehicles that tend to collide with human beings in a relatively deadly manner. If you decide not to make it the priority, then you get the reverse — wide sidewalks, narrow road crossings, adequate walk signals, and intersections where turning traffic defers to pedestrians. Cars will move slower through your city and there will be fewer car-person collisions and those that do occur will be less lethal.
There are some exotic considerations that get a bit weird, but the basic shape of things, as Baker makes clear down the road, is pretty simple. And to me it’s a pretty easy choice. Shifting resources in a pedestrian-friendly direction helps save lives directly. It’s also good for the environment and boosts public health. If you live in a city with a walkable downtown, it might be instructive to go to a block that has heavy automobile and pedestrian traffic and just look at the amount of space dedicated to cars versus what’s dedicated to people. Even in places like New York and Washington, DC where only a minority of city residents commute by car to work, more space is dedicated to the cars than to the people. And in DC, the central business district dedicates almost no space whatsoever to bikes. Not only are those choices that I think are mistaken, but most people barely even realize that the choices are being made at all — but it’s not like it would require magic for the central business district in DC to feature bike lanes on all streets, wider sidewalks, and fewer traffic lanes. And you can bet that people’s preferences about commuting methods would shift in response to a shift in space allocation.
Today, the Drum Major Institute released its first annual survey on the Middle Class and Public Policy, showing a “broad consensus” among middle class Americans in support of progressive policies like universal health care:
The poll also found that 78 percent of the middle class wants to expand SCHIP while 68 percent want to allow employees to be represented by a union when a majority of co-workers sign cards requesting representation.
As Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) sets foot on a drilling rig off the coast of Louisiana, his “drill everywhere” message is being amplified by political spending of more than two million dollars a day by the oil and coal industries. The Public Campaign Action Fund has released a major report finding that King Coal and Big Oil have united in an attempt to buy the future:
We estimate that the coal and oil industries spent an astounding $427.2 million over the first six months of 2008 to influence public opinion and public policy.
These industries are on track to spend about a billion dollars influencing energy policy this year, with their “clean coal” and “drill drill drill” messaging. They are supporting pollution-friendly candidates and spreading false doubt about the seriousness of global warming.
This total includes the $12.2 million dollars spent in six months by Newt Gingrich’s billionaire-and-coal-funded 527 corporation, American Solutions for Winning the Future (ASWF), on its “Drill Here, Drill Now” campaign, and the $40 million that coal industry front group Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (now part of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity) pledged to spend influencing the public. It also includes John McCain’s million-dollar haul from the oil and gas industry.
The Public Campaign Action Fund’s estimate of $427.2 million fails to include the expenditures of pollution-agenda front groups that are “organized under sections of the Internal Revenue Code that do not require the public disclosure of their spending.” These groups include the likes of:
- Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth
- American Council for Capital Formation
- American Energy Alliance
- American Enterprise Institute
- Americans for Prosperity
- American Future Fund
- Business & Media Institute
- Coalition for Affordable American Energy
- Competitive Enterprise Institute
- Heartland Institute
- Institute for Energy Research
- National Association of Manufacturers
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Therefore the Public Campaign’s estimate is rather conservative.
Victor Davis Hanson isn’t happy:
The theme of the movie — when George Clooney was not dodging a bankrupt media or Saddam’s poison gas mortars — was that we had left brave Shiites hanging to be butchered by Saddam’s henchmen, and apparently were unwilling to do the right thing and remove a murderous dictator and try to help the people of Iraq. The only common denominator between not doing enough in Three Kings and doing too much in Redacted, Syriana, Rendition, etc. …seems to have been that whatever the U.S. did was always wrong — whether too little or too much.
Seeing as how neither Syriana nor Rendition depict Iraq in any way, and nobody involved in the production of Three Kings was involved in Redacted I find the hypocrisy charge here a bit difficult to grasp. If it were actually the case that Syriana was a film about the US “doing too much” to remove Saddam Hussein from power, then Hanson would be on firmer ground, but it very clearly isn’t. That said, even if Syriana were about what VDH seems to think it’s about, the point would be that the common thread is a lack of genuine concern for the welfare of the Iraqi people. During the first Gulf War that lack of concern manifested itself in things like encouraging the Shiites to rise up against Saddam and then agreeing to let Saddam crush their rebellion. In the case of the second war we can see evidence of lack of concern in everything from the failure to do population security from the outset, the military’s lack of quantitative metrics of how many civilian casualties are inflicted by combat operations, our horrible handling of the refugee situation, and now our government’s apparent determination to ignore the stated views of all the major Iraqi political factions on the propriety of an open-ended American military presence.
When you think about the structure of local TV news broadcasts, it becomes clear that they regard the weather report as essentially they’re main draw — it’s endlessly teased and stashed at the end, so you have to keep staying tuned forever and ever to get what you want. And via Peter Suderman, Pew has the data to back this up. The weather is the only category of news that has broad-reaching appeal.
This is interesting to me because I have essentially no interest in weather news. Not because I’m so much more smart and substantive than everyone else, but because of technology. I have a widget that runs along the bottom of my Firefox window that tells me current conditions, the day’s forecast highs and lows, and a general prediction for the next two days. What’s more, I can look up the weather on my iPhone’s weather ap whenever I’m curious. So I have no real need for news coverage of the weather. And I suspect that in the future more and more people will express their intense interest in the weather the same way I do — with pervasive weather information that makes the weather report on the news obsolete. And when that happens, what happens to the local TV news? What happens to the radio stations with their incessant weather reports? Technology impacts the media in weird ways, with Craigslist having dealt a devastating blow to newspapers . . . could weather aps have a similar impact?
Meanwhile, you sometimes hear it said that cable news’ obsessive focus on celebrity scandals du jour reflects the genuine lowbrow preferences of the public. I’ve always been skeptical and this seems to me to bear that out. People could be lying, to be sure, but the public seems happy to fess up to not caring about international news and to being obsessed with the weather so I think maybe we should take folks at their word that they’re not that interested in celebrity gossip.
I just got an email from an advocacy group about what they rightly term “The Elephant Still Very Much in the Room” — the fact that it was one month ago today that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said he wanted the United States to negotiate a timetable for withdrawing forces from Iraq that would have its endpoint somewhere in 2010. As readers will be aware, I favored taking steps along those lines before Maliki ever said he did and still think that would be the right thing to do even if Maliki were saying he wants an open-ended American presence. But I simply do not understand how the anti-timetable argument stays viable in the face of that particular turn in Iraqi politics, especially because Maliki’s main domestic opponents tend to be even firmer on their desire for an American withdrawal.
In a sane world, Maliki’s call would have transformed the Iraq debate in U.S. politics. But in part because it’s not a sane world and in part because of, I guess, tactical failures on the part of Democratic Party politicians it doesn’t seem to have done so yet. But really it was a huge deal that got some coverage at the time but still hasn’t had the sort of profound impact it deserves.