Monday, September 26, 2011

Blue Monday, Jimmie Rodgers by way of Merle Haggard edition

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Texas is sick

Rick Perry and his hatred for "Obamacare" looks inviting.

Other doctors tell of uninsured children dying from vaccine-preventable diseases such as influenza and hepatitis A, and patients being admitted into the emergency room for uncontrolled asthma and diabetes. Doctors here routinely see untreated infections of the ear, sinus, or tooth spreading to the brain, requiring surgery, and bone infections that result in permanent disability.

“This is an everyday occurrence,’’ said Dr. Claire Bocchini, another Houston pediatrician who specializes in infectious diseases and is president of Doctors for Change.

As underfunded as the state’s health safety net has been, conditions stand to worsen. In the last legislative session that ended in May, the state cut two thirds of the funding for women’s health clinics and underfunded Medicaid by almost $4 billion, in addition to cutting hospital reimbursements. This follows other health cuts in the Perry years.

Perry vetoed a bill in 2001 that would have expanded Medicaid services and added cancer screenings such as Pap smears to women’s health services. In 2003, Texas tightened the eligibility requirements for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and as a result, 237,000 children were kicked off its rolls, said Garnet Coleman, a Democratic state representative from Houston who has served in the Texas Legislature for 20 years and is a member of the House Public Health Committee.

The Perry campaign declined a request to interview the governor, saying Perry would work to free states from federal mandates and empower them to come up with their own solutions.

Catherine Frazier, a campaign spokeswoman, said that because there are so many Texas children eligible for Medicaid who are not enrolled, Perry - rather than widen eligibility to more low-income families - focused on increasing funding for public awareness campaigns to encourage the neediest parents to enroll their children.

“The governor has made considerable effort throughout his tenure to make insurance more affordable so people can afford to purchase it if they choose to,’’ Frazier said. “His goal is to create an environment of independence from the government, not dependence.’’

In a recent debate, Perry said conditions would be better in Texas if the federal government had granted the state a waiver, which would have allowed it to redirect Medicaid money into subsidies for private or employer-based insurance. The Bush administration never approved the 2008 request.

The burden of the Texas health care crisis falls largely on the working poor. Most of the state’s uninsured adults have jobs and are US citizens or legal residents, according to the nonpartisan Center for Public Policy Priorities. Working adults account for nearly two out of three uninsured Texans between ages 19 and 64, though most of them make less than $25,000 a year.

An example is Joyce Jones, a 60-year-old yoga instructor earning $20,000 a year who said she cannot afford private health insurance because she has Parkinson’s disease, a preexisting condition that would increase her premiums.

Jones has maxed out three of her credit cards paying for health care and has more than $30,000 in credit card debt. She is in the process of signing up for a high-deductible plan for people with preexisting conditions, made possible through the new federal health overhaul law - “Obamacare,’’ as Perry and other GOP candidates call it.

Which would be boo'd by audiences at Republican debates.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

One way or another

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Professor Warren, who lost China?

Mark Halperin really is a douchebag.

Elizabeth Warren is a wonderful candidate.

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Monday, September 19, 2011


From a kid in a Panamanian fishing village using a milk carton for a glove, to 602 regular season saves (42 in the post-season). Congratulations to the greatest closer of all time. And he sure didn't limp to it, going 1-2-3 in the ninth and getting the final out on three straight strikes.

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Blue Monday, Hound Dog Taylor, Little Walter edition

Friday, September 16, 2011

I live by the river

Monday, September 12, 2011

Blue Monday, Yardbirds edition

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten years after

Mostly, I remember the "Missing" flyers. Taped to seemingly every vertical surface, from Grand Central Station to Union Square, they made the sadness real to those, like me, who didn't lose a friend or loved one.


Monday, September 05, 2011

Maximalist, magical thinking

Jonathan Chait on the historical revisionism of Obama's liberal critics.

On two subsequent occasions, Obama faced this same choice. Last December, he could have refused to extend any of the Bush tax cuts on income over $250,000. Republicans vowed to let all the tax cuts expire if he did so. If Obama let this happen, it would have almost fully solved the long-term deficit problem, while at the same time setting back the recovery by raising taxes on middle-class and low-income workers. Obama decided to make a deal, extending all the Bush tax cuts and also securing a progressive payroll tax cut and an extension of unemployment benefits, both forms of stimulus that Republicans would never have allowed without an extension of upper-bracket tax cuts in return.

There is a decent argument that the president should have refused this deal. But if you make that argument, you have to accept the likelihood that nearly a million fewer jobs would have been created and that we would have been at risk of a double-dip recession back then. Yet the liberal critics most exercised about Obama’s failure to secure more stimulus were, for the most part, enraged when he did exactly that. Take Robert Reich, the former secretary of labor under President Clinton. Last November, Reich pleaded for an extension of unemployment benefits, calling the plight of the jobless our “single newest and biggest social problem.” When Obama made his bargain, Reich called it “an abomination,” complaining that “the bits and pieces the president got in return” — including the unemployment benefits previously deemed vital — amounted to “peanuts.”

And then, this summer, Obama let the G.O.P. hold the debt-ceiling vote hostage to extract spending cuts. I think he should have called the Republicans’ bluff and let them accept the risk of a financial meltdown. But the reason Obama chose to cut a deal is that calling their bluff might have resulted in catastrophe. And Obama made a point of back-loading the G.O.P.’s budget cuts so as not to contract the economy. He may have chosen wrongly, but he chose exactly the priorities liberals now insist he ignored — favoring economic recovery over long-term goals.

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Blue Monday, Pops Staples edition

Friday, September 02, 2011


Tinariwen and Carlos Santana.

Tinariwen has a new album recorded in an interesting place.

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