Category Archives: Blog

Healthcare Reform Accomplished – Now Can We Do Something About TV News?

It’s the morning after one of the most important congressional votes in the nation’s history and television news is acting as though we should be consumed by the sex life of a golfer.  One can only hope the government’s next move will be a push to re-regulate commercial television.  At the very least, they could enforce existing law on serving the public’s “interest, convenience and necessity?”  At least think about it?

The availability of healthcare is critical to the nation’s well being.  So is good journalism.

Tiger Woods, blah, blah, blah….   “See your doctor if you experience an erection lasting for more than four hours.” 

Hasn’t the country been dumbed down enough?

Here then, is a bit of info on healthcare reform provided by what’s left of a once magnificent newspaper industry.  A shrinking world where a few brave individuals continue to try and fight the Wall Street driven trend of increasing profitability by pandering to society’s lowest common denominator.

#####

The Los Angeles Times editorializes that we are now on the path to universal health insurance-

“It may prove to be the signal accomplishment of Obama’s administration, even though the controversy surrounding it threatens to end his party’s majority in Congress. Rarely has such a good thing for Americans been perceived by so many as a threat to their livelihood and liberty.”  -LA Times

#####

The NY Times provides an overview of what the bill will and won’t do-

“The health care bill would require most Americans to have health insurance, would add 16 million people to the Medicaid rolls and would subsidize private coverage for low- and middle-income people, at a cost to the government of $938 billion over 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office said.

The bill would require many employers to offer coverage to employees or pay a penalty. Each state would set up a marketplace, or exchange, where consumers without such coverage could shop for insurance meeting federal standards.

The budget office estimates that the bill would provide coverage to 32 million uninsured people, but still leave 23 million uninsured in 2019. One-third of those remaining uninsured would be illegal immigrants.

The new costs, according to the budget office, would be more than offset by savings in Medicare and by new taxes and fees, including a tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health plans and a tax on the investment income of the most affluent Americans.

Cost estimates by the budget office, showing that the bill would reduce federal budget deficits by $143 billion in the next 10 years, persuaded some fiscally conservative Democrats to vote for the bill.”  –NY Times

#####

Overseas,  Michael Tomasky reports in the Guardian-

“It is a monumental accomplishment. The story of that century of failure is a story of multiple plots and subplots, but at its heart the story is about the tension in American society between the individual and the community – whether we are just a loose confederation of individuals who should be left alone to pursue self interest, or something more than that, a community of citizens with mutual ties and obligations.

I know that sounds awfully highfalutin and philosophical, but it’s precisely what the healthcare debate, both the current and historic versions, has been about. Your average American thinks, I have my insurance coverage, so why should I worry about the loser who hasn’t bothered to get his? For people who work hard and aren’t exactly wallowing in spare dollars, it’s a fair question to ask. But there is an answer to it, which is that in the long run, if coverage is universal and insurance companies face stricter rules, society will benefit, and your average American will benefit too, in the form of lower costs and better care.”-The Guardian 

For Sale – One Governor’s Office

 CA Statehouse

A story just out from Reuters says we’re heading for a record amount of spending in the race for governor here in California.    It’s not all that surprising really, with former ebay CEO and billionaire, Meg Whitman,  going head to head with millionaire and state Insurance Commissioner, Steve Poizner, and that’s just in the race for the Republican nomination.

Whitman says she’s prepared to spend $150 million to get elected, which would exceed the old record of $148 million spent by Republican George Pataki, in the New York gubernatorial race eight years ago.

All that money she’s been spreading around, appears to be working, despite her reputation for avoiding the press and the hard questions she might be asked.  However, newspaper readership is down and most of the tv people are clueless when it comes to politics.  So, if you have the money, you can ignore the press and buy the election.    That’s what Witman appears to be doing.

So far, she has spent $39 million.  Steve Poizner, has shelled out $19 million.  With Whitman’s tv attack ads nearly impossible to avoid if you watch any television at all, the former CEO now has a 49-point lead over Poizner and a 3 point lead over Democrat, Jerry Brown.   Before the tv campaign, she was trailing Brown by double digits.

“Holy Goldman Sachs, Batman, you mean money makes that much difference in a campaign?  Gosh, it’s almost like you can, you know…buy a political office if you’ve got the cash!”

America, where any CEO with enough money can grow up to be the Governor.  Question is, why does she want it?

No, really kids, why does she want it?  Or why does Steve Poizner want it for that matter?  You can understand Jerry Brown wanting to go back to the Statehouse.  He’s a total political wonk from a family with a deep-seated history in California political wonkism.   Politics, are what Jerry Brown is all about.  Only thing he’s ever really been about since his Linda Ronstadt – Governor Moonbeam days.

I mean, look at this-

“Brown has had a lengthy political career spanning terms on the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees (1969–1971), as California Secretary of State (1971–1975), as Governor of California (1975–1983), as chair of the California Democratic Party (1989–1991), the Mayor of Oakland (1998–2006), and the Attorney General of California (2007–present). He unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nominations for president in 1976, 1980, and 1992, and was an unsuccessful Democratic nominee for the United States Senate in 1982. Since Brown’s terms in office are not covered by the term limits that came into effect in 1990, he is not barred from running for Governor again.[1]” -Wikipedia

Jerry Brown, went away for a while, got into his mantra and sorted it all out.  As a result, he seems to know who he is, what he wants and why he wants it.  No therapy necessary.  He’s in politics, because that’s what he does.  But Meg Whitman?  Or Steve Poizner?

Poizner, might see a shot at the Governor’s Office as his only viable career move at this point?  Only Steve Poizner knows for sure.  But Meg Whitman?

Why would anyone with a reputation for being a smashing success want to take on the very likely possibility of throwing away millions of dollars along with her reputation, by assuming a massive political and personal failure as the next Governor of California?

Meg Whitman, the woman who was smart enough to build ebay, now wants to be the point person for that deadlocked mess in  Sacramento.  A situation which, any number of experts tell us, will only be fixed with a constitutional convention that will probably never happen?  At least not in this lifetime.  She actually wants that?  To go from being a big winner in business, to a big loser in politics?

Why?

The Folly Of Iraq

 

An editorial from the people at Truthout, “Vanity of Vanities: The Iraq War Seven Years Later” is well worth reading.

“Surely, the Iraq war’s only obvious “successes” – the enrichment of the military industrial complex at the expense of ordinary citizens, the implementation of an ever more pervasive and intrusive “security” regime at home and the insurance of a second Bush term – could have been achieved without dragging the long-suffering people of Iraq into it. People – it may still need to be pointed out – who had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11 and harbored no weapons of mass destruction.” -Truthout

Afghan Police – A 6 Billion Dollar Joke?

 

Pro Publica and Newsweek report that that the Afghan police are corrupt, undisciplined and that they won’t be able to fill in for U.S. troops.

 “The worst of it is that the police are central to Washington’s plans for getting out of Afghanistan. The U.S.-backed government in Kabul will never have popular support if it can’t keep people safe in their own homes and streets. Yet in a United Nations poll last fall, more than half the Afghan respondents said the police are corrupt. Police commanders have been implicated in drug trafficking, and when U.S. Marines moved into the town of Aynak last summer, villagers accused the local police force of extortion, assault, and rape.” – Newsweek/Pro Publica

All this, after an investment of $6 billion by the U.S.

Egyptian Blogger Hauled Into Military Court

Good God, look at this from William Fisher in Truthout-

“Caving to pressure from the United Nations and international human rights groups, a military court released a 20-year-old civilian university student accused of blogging false information about the army and insulting officers involved in recruitment at a military academy.

The trial of Ahmed Mostafa, an engineering student, would have marked the first time a civilian blogger had been tried in a military court under Egypt’s Emergency Law.”  -Truthout

And what was Mostafa’s horrible infraction?  What terrible thing did he write, that caused him to be arrested and threatened with a military trial?  He blogged an allegation about possible nepotism at a military academy.  Imagine that!  Nepotism!  The horror….the horror….

Boomer Icon Fess Parker, Dead At 85

 Fess Parker

Not to get maudlin about it, but for my generation Fess Parker was Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone all rolled into one.    Television is what did it.  Television and Fess Parker.   When we watched Fess play Davy and  Daniel Boone, TV was a new medium, and that gave it even more power than it has today.

Consequently, I was duly impressed when I first met Mr. Parker.  I was with  KABC-TV at the time.  We were driving up to Santa Barbara to put together a story about what was then his new Red Lion Inn hotel.

It was strawberry season here in Southern California, and we had stopped at a roadside stand to pick up a flat of berries on our drive up the coast.   My colleague Heather MacKenzie  offered a couple of baskets to Fess, and he gratefully accepted.  It was the least we could do for Davy and Daniel, and all those hours of entertainment.  It didn’t feel like anyone was giving a gift to a celebrity though.  It was more like offering a small token of affection to an old and beloved uncle you hadn’t seen in a great many years.

According to Heather, Fess never forgot, and called her the “strawberry lady” every time their paths crossed in the years that followed.

In case you’re a boomer and you were wondering, he told me he still had “old betsy.”  They let him keep it when the Davy Crockett series ended he said, and it had been hanging over his fireplace ever since.

“I think I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” Parker told a reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1994. “I’ve lived long enough and observed enough to make myself very comfortable with the realization that the Disney films and particularly Davy Crockett gave me an image that is unbelievably durable. It’s been 40 years and people are still talking about it.

“Had I played Hamlet and starred in a number of Broadway shows or motion pictures as a very versatile actor, I wouldn’t have had the identity, recognition and, most importantly, the welcome I’ve been accorded by most of the homes of viewers. It’s like we’re old friends.”‘ -LA Times

Fess Parker was 85.  He really was as easygoing and unassuming off camera as he was while playing either of the roles that turned him into an American icon.  According to the AP he passed away on his wife’s 84th birthday at their home in the Santa Ynez Valley.

RIP Davy.  You too, Dan’l.  And thank you both for serving as role models for an entire generation of young Americans.

Life Discovered Deep Beneath The Antarctic Ice

 

NASA/JPL has found small creatures frolicking 600 feet beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet.  What’s that line from “Jurassic Park?”  “Life will find a way?”

“The complex critter was identified as a Lyssianasid amphipod, about three inches in length. It was found beneath the 180-meter (590-foot) thick Ross Ice Shelf in Windless Bight, 20 miles northeast of McMurdo Station. Bindschadler and his team drilled an eight-inch diameter hole through the ice so that Alberto Behar of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., could submerge a small camera to obtain what are believed to be the first images of the underbelly of an ice shelf.” – NASA/JPL

The Great Federal Legislative Joke

It’s health care PR madness on television.  Nancy Pelosi, is touting the “massive whip operation” they have going in the House.   It’s taken you 14 months to build up a whip operation in the House?  Rock on!

John  Boehner, the new “hammer” of the right, is blasting the Democrats for trying to pull tricks.  “I don’t care what trick” they are going to try, Boehner said.  Tricks?  You’re complaining about tricks?  This, from the party of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Rice?  The party that did almost nothing in 8 years, other than going to war (s).  The party of mushroom clouds over U.S. cities?  The party of WMD’s in Iraq and “listen to what  Ahmad Chalabi is saying, because he has inside information.”   You’re talking about the other guys pulling “tricks?”

Nearly unheard in the self-serving legislative mess is the voice of a lone Democratic Congresswoman from Ohio, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, calling the Administration “out of touch” as she pleads with her colleagues to get serious as unemployment has pushed its way up to 15% in the Buckeye State.

‘”People are becoming desperate,” she said. “I am their representative. I cannot politely sit and listen to this and not feel compassion for them and expecting some from you.”

Kaptur blasted the administration’s foreclosure prevention plan, which to date has helped only 168,000 homeowners permanently modify their mortgages.”‘ -ABC News

Hey kids, I think we’re at 15% here in Los Angeles too, and while Nancy Pelosi is “whipping” the House into a health care reform package with no public option (you go girl!) which will mean no real competition for the health insurance industry, another fine Democrat, Chris Dodd, is trying to push through a new set of regulations for the financial industry, which will do little or nothing to control the runaway greed on Wall Street.    By all accounts, the new regulations have been proofed by the Wall Street “too big to fail” greed freaks that led us into this financial swamp.

We have a Treasury Secretary who was in charge of the New York Fed, when the economy crashed.  Timothy Geithner, was one of the people in the wheelhouse when the ship hit the iceberg, so we put him in charge of an even bigger ship?   Make sense to you?

The fox isn’t guarding the hen house, the wolves are.   They are our bought off and paid for Senate and House members.  Pretty much all of the Senate needs to be thrown out and replaced.   A big chunk of the House needs to be given the boot as well.   Then, something FINALLY will need to be done about campaign finance reform, provided the right wing U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t legislate against it from the bench which could make any real progress impossible.

It is time for our legislators to at least start balancing out the good of the many with the good of the few.   Or maybe the “New World Order” Bush family will sell some of its holdings and float us a loan?  Oh wait, the Washington Post reports  Dubya’s net worth dropped to around $6.5 million in 08.   Poor Dubya.   Hope he’s bouncing back some.

Poor Chris Dodd’s net worth was reported to be running somewhere between $1.5 and $3.5 million, including a cottage in Ireland.  Practically a pauper compared to some of his colleagues.  Consider Darrelll Issa’s net work of  $251 million or Jane Harmon at $244 million or Herb Kohl at $214 million or Bob Corker at $52 million.  (source: opensecrets.org)  These people are supposed to represent middle Americans living from paycheck to paycheck and some with no paycheck at all?

I’m reminded of an episode some years ago when George H.W. Bush, had to be told what a bar code is.

According to a new ABC News Poll,  40% of America’s middle class is barely hanging on while 94% no longer believe they will be able to move up the economic ladder.    ABC reports that in the last two decades incomes rose 20%, while the cost of housing was up 56% and health insurance was up 155%.

The experts tell us that every systemic failure has its winners and losers.   At this point we should all be wondering whether some of our elected representatives aren’t intentionally moving the country towards a crash.  I hate to harbor those thoughts but the situation is just that bad.

Here’s a piece from ABC on “America’s backbone.”  The people who got us through the Industrial Revolution, World War I, the Great Depression and World War II.  It truly is our nation’s backbone, and it’s not made up of the House or the Senate.  It’s not Wall Street.  It’s main street.  It’s America’s middle class.  And the question is whether we the people, living from paycheck to paycheck and threatened with the loss of our health care, will be able to fix this horrible mess Wall Street and Capitol Hill have gotten us into.

More Than 8 Million Californians Lack Health Insurance

As the President struggles with health care reform, Duke Helfand reports in the Los Angeles Times that 8.2 million Californians were without health insurance n 2009.   That’s nearly 1 in 4 Californians under the age of 65.

“The state’s uninsured population jumped to 8.2 million in 2009, up from 6.4 million in 2007, marking the highest number over the last decade, investigators from UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research said.

People who were uninsured for part or all of 2009 accounted for 24.3% of California’s population under age 65 — a dramatic increase from 2007 driven largely by Californians who lost employer-sponsored health insurance, particularly over the last year. ” – LA Times

Helfand points out in his story that many of the uninsured put off health care issues until things get so bad that they end up in an overcrowded emergency room which passes along its increased costs to the insured.   The fact that insured Americans already subsidize health care for the uninsured seems to have gotten lost in the current debate.

Sam Rubin To Receive Top Honor

 Sam Rubin

HOLLYWOOD, CA – One of the top television journalists in the nation’s entertainment capital will be honored with this year’s outstanding achievement award as the Los Angeles Press Club recognizes the winners of the 2010 National Entertainment Journalism awards at a reception and ceremony on Thursday evening April 22 at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood.

Sam Rubin, entertainment reporter for KTLA Channel 5 in Los Angeles, will be given the top honor for his smart, often tough coverage of stars, movies, glitz and glamour.

Finalists in print, radio, TV and online will be posted shortly at http://lapressclub.org.

Sam Rubin is only the second journalist to receive this honor. Last year, Wall Street Journal and KCRW film critic Joe Morgenstern accepted the award.

“Sam is one of the busiest entertainment reporters around,” says Los Angeles Press Club President Will Lewis. “His reports reflect an informed insight and carry great weight inside show business, as well as to the general public.”
In addition to his regular reports for the “KTLA Morning News,” Rubin hosts the Emmy-nominated “Live From The Academy Awards,” syndicated nationally by Tribune Entertainment, and “Sneaks,” a series of movie preview shows produced with the LA Times. He also reports for KNX-AM.- LA Press Club

##########################

Congrats Sammy!

Millions Spent To Influence Healthcare Reform

The New York Times reports $11 million this month going to 27 Democrats from groups that oppose the legislation.

“The Chamber of Commerce is leading the opposition to the health care bill with a coalition called Employers for a Healthy Economy. In two weeks, the group has bought more than $7 million in television advertising and plans to spend up to $3 million more. Americans for Prosperity, a group financed by David Koch, the oilman, is also jumping into the fray with an advertising campaign of nearly $1 million.”

The other side is writing some big checks as well-

“An alliance of groups supporting the health care plan, which works closely with the White House and Democratic leaders, had been spending far less and focusing on fewer districts. But after pharmaceutical companies made a $12 million investment for a final advertising push, spending by both sides for the first time is now nearly the same.” –NY Times