Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"PALAST INVESTIGATES" (video), with video (01:32):
On the Trail: From 8-Mile to the Amazon with Investigative Reporter Greg Palast.

From Greg Palast's ass-kicking BBC Newsnight Television exposes, as seen on Democracy Now!

Featuring Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Mike Papantonio.

Music by Willie Nelson and Foo Fighter's guitarist Chris Shiflett with Jackson United.

Rep. Alan Grayson on CNN: "44,000 die every year for lack of insurance."

CNN, video (10:59).

Howie P.S.: Grayson is a gust of fresh air blowing into the "Situation Room."

Neiwert: "Did Clinton have it worse than Obama?" (with video)

David Neiwert (Orcinus), with video (07:11):
I went on Countdown last night to chat with Lawrence O'Donnell -- who was filling in for Keith Olbermann -- about Bill Clinton's remarks the other day about the never-ending bloodlust of the "vast right-wing conspiracy".
O'Donnell was critical of Clinton for suggesting that the power of the conspiracy was less today than what he faced -- and regarding that aspect of Clinton's remarks, I agree with him. The reality, as I explained in the segment, is that the spread and reach of the really virulent wingnuttery that plagued Clinton -- the black-helicopter conspiracy theories like Mena, or the Vince Foster suicide, or the Clinton Body Count -- was largely relegated, until later in his tenure, to the fringes of the militia movement.

Obama, by contrast, is not even through his first year as president and he's already being plagued by Birthers and Tenthers and Teabaggers and Death Panels (along with, of course, the obligatory "He's Going To Grab Our Guns" conspiracies).

And it's true, moreover, the Clinton is right that the country has changed demographically since he was president, which means they do not possess the actual political power they held during much of his tenure. But they've made up for the lack of power with a much deeper reach into the mainstream. I dunno about you, but it sure looks to me like the Teabaggers are the new Patriots -- and there's a hell of a lot more of them.

Perhaps more to the point, they've already demonstrated -- by at least temporarily derailing the debate over health-care reform with wingnutty distractions like the "death panels" and the gun-brandishing nutcases showing up at health-care town hall forums -- that they continue to have an outsize influence on the national discourse. Especially because of Fox News and the rest of the mainstream media's willingness to be bullied by them -- led, as always, by the wise media poobahs of the Beltway Village.

That is -- and you can file this under the L'esprit de l'escalier Dept., since I meant to say it in this segment -- what they lack in power they've more than made up for by continuing to pull the media reins and shape the national discourse. They're able to move the media needles still -- which is, of course, the problem. The Village gives movement conservatives far more respect than they deserve, especially at this juncture, with the movement fully in the hands of nutty populist demagogues.

Glenn Beck is as popular as he is because everyone in the "mainstream" is too busy running fawning puff pieces to point out his actual extremism. No one has the guts to explain that these people are driving the Republicans over a cliff into political oblivion.

In The Eliminationists, I do talk a lot about how vicious the campaign against Clinton got to be -- and how many bridges and alliances were built between the far right and mainstream conservatives during those years as a result, particularly in the way right-wing talkers started picking up and transmitting memes from the far right.
Finally, I should add that, while I disagree with Clinton on this point, I generally agreed with the overall thrust of his recent comments, particularly his warning that the "conspiracy" (as it were) remains a potent force, capable of undermining Obama's presidency in unexpected ways. One can't help but suspect that Obama has been naive on this front -- how many times does he have to reach out to Republicans and come back with a chewed-up hand to get it? -- and I suspect Clinton intended to point out the cold reality. To which I can only add: Hear! Hear!

"Rep. Alan Grayson apologizes" (video)

DarcyBurner, video (01:50):
Congressman Alan Grayson (FL-08) offers up an apology after being called on by Republicans to do so for his previous remarks. I don't think it was precisely the apology they were expecting.

Maria Cantwell on what Costco can tell us about reforming health care

Josh Feit (Publicola):
In her remarks in support of Sen. Charles Schmer’s (D-NY) public option amendment today, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)—the co-sponsor on the losing amendment—boiled the wisdom of the public option down to an analogy about Washington state’s top Fortune 500 company, Costco:

I know many people my colleagues here love to tell me about how they go to Costco. Well they go to Costco because somebody has bought that product in bulk and has driven down the price for them and they have driven down the price because they were able to buy in large volume.

That’s what the American people want. They want us to stand on their side, drive down the price by buying in bulk and compete with this unrelenting increase in rates that they have seen.

"Meet Mike McGinn- The Anti-Tunnel Dude" (with audio)

The Sable Verity, with audio:
It’s safe to say hell hath frozen over- Mike McGinn sat down with me last week for a 1 on 1 interview. Known for being the guy against the tunnel (to replace the AWV) McGinn is neck and neck with his opponent Joe Mallahan as they race to the election finish line- hoping to grab your vote along the way. McGinn asked to meet at a downtown coffee shop, which at times makes the interview more challenging to hear, so, apologies for that.
Here we go…

Who is Mike McGinn?

Change, “new politics” and the decision to run for Mayor (and not city council)

Future Seattle- and a look back at the Welfare Queen (hey gurl!)… and Van Jones, too

That darn tunnel option- and all the semantics that come along with it

Seattle Schools- Mike has been running with Education as one of his main pillars- so what is he really prepared to do?

I also asked him about the same levy program scenario that I asked Mallahan in his interview.


Pt 2

Pt 3

McGinn discusses the pros and cons of the current Youth Violence Prevention Initiative

McGinn on his [former] non-profit “Great City”

Pt. 1

Pt. 2

McGinn on Equity

There you have it. Mike McGinn [finally] in his own words.

My impression? As I said after the Mallahan interview, you don’t need me to tell you who to vote for, so I’m not going to do that here.

I’m planning on comparing/contrasting my experiences is a later post, so I’m not going to get into too much detail here, but I will say that I was very surprised at McGinn’s reaction and answer to my question of what his personal working definition of “equity” is. As you no doubt notice throughout the interview, we were discussing topics where equity is an issue in Seattle.

The first thing he said was “whoa”. What I asked for was a definition but his answer was more of a vision of a perfect society, and not a personal belief system or one that he can extend to the management and leadership of a city. Equity is an issue. Yes, everyone should have a nice car, yes, everyone should have a great school to go to- but they don’t.

Mallahan’s answer wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but it has substance- he too thought about it when in the moment and gave an answer that had to do with how to ensure equity.

I mean, if you can’t define equity can you define inequities?

It’s clear that McGinn has a lot of pride in what he has accomplished personally and professionally, and in his community, which is north Seattle. It’s why I asked him about the organization he started, “Great City”, and he mentioned it more than once in our discussion.

What has great cities done in south Seattle?

It sounded to me as if he was saying that they wanted to outreach south and they wanted to be utilized by neighborhoods with great needs…but I never got a list or an example of one, which is just more of an observation and not a condemnation.

"Colbert Rips Congress' Love Affair with Lobbyists" (video) (Updated)

UPDATE: "Schumer: Progressive Ads "Hurting Us" On Public Option" (HuffPo) has video from 'Hardball' and advice from Schumer on strategy:
"What we have to do is show Max Baucus that we have the votes. Today he said he likes the public option. If he thought there were 60 votes on the floor of the Senate he'd be for it.
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Out of the Closet
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMichael Moore
Comedy Central, video (05:04).

Howie P.S.: Laugh to keep from crying. On a more serious note, "Insurance Industry Whistleblower Wendell Potter Blasts Senate Panel Rejection of Public Insurance Option," Democracy Now!, video (26:46).

"King County executive endorsement interview" (video)

Seattle Times, video (73:58):
The candidates for King County executive, Dow Constantine and Susan Hutchison, met with The Seattle Times editorial board.

"Poll: Mallahan, McGinn tied in mayor's race" (Updated)

UPDATE: Joel Connelly manages to connect the Seattle mayor's race to health care reform: "Reform health care and replace the viaduct."

Chris Grygiel, Strange
The latest KING5/SurveyUSA poll shows that Seattle mayoral candidates Joe Mallahan and Mike McGinn are tied.
The survey has Mallahan at 38 percent, McGinn at 38 percent and a whopping 24 percent undecided.

Two weeks ago the same poll showed T-Mobile executive Mallahan slightly ahead of McGinn, an attorney and environmentalist.

The most recent sampling shows momentum for McGinn.

The former Sierra Club leader does very well with young people, taking the 18-34 demographic by a 47 percent to 28 percent margin. He has extended his lead among young people by 13 points from the last poll.

Mallahan does better with older people. He wins among people 50 and above 45-31. That's good news for Mallahan as older people tend to be more reliable voters than younger people.

McGinn wins among Democrats 42-35 (Mallahan had led before) while Mallahan takes Republicans 49-36. He had previously been ahead by 21 points among GOPers. Mallahan is favored by Independents 41-30.

The survey of 611 likely voters was taken Sept. 26-28 and has a margin of error of 4 percent.

Since the poll two weeks ago McGinn has released a series of position papers on subjects ranging from public safety to nightlife and the environment. Mallahan, too, has been articulating his views on subjects but McGinn seems to be directing the conversation more than his opponent, which may account for some of the movement in the polling.

The upcoming televised debates will be key for both candidates.

"Rep. Alan Grayson on the GOP Health Care Plan" (video)

RepAlanGrayson, video (02:27).
This is Rep. Alan Grayson discussing the GOP plan for health care. Part one, don't get sick. Part two, if you do get sick... Part three, die quickly.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Public Option: RIP? (video) (Updated)

MSNBC-Hardball, video (07:57).

Howie P.S.: Did "violent rhetoric" help bury Obamacare? Charles M. Blow and Melinda Henneberger join Tweety to discuss the prospects for health care reform after today's votes on the Senate Finance Committee. For some reason, Tweety ends the segment with a conversation about the Roman Polanski case. For another take on today's vote, see "Public Option, still an option?," video (03:08) from The ED Show. Following today's vote, "Senate Dems Look to Obama to Move Health-Care Votes" (Dan Balz-WaPo).

WA Initiative 1033: "this is the biggest vote on the ballot"
Initiative 1033 means death for Main Street

We're all looking for a way forward out of these difficult economic times. Unfortunately, there's a measure on our ballots this November which would trap us and all of Washington State in a permanent recession: Initiative 1033, the latest ill-conceived free lunch scheme from Tim Eyman.

Initiative 1033 takes direct aim at our quality of life by freezing all public services at their current reduced levels, which would mean job losses in every city and every county across our great state.

At a time when we can barely afford to keep our first responders out on the streets and teachers in the classroom, Tim Eyman is proposing a massive freeze on services that would rob billions of dollars from our public treasury over the next five years. Public services would be eviscerated and small businesses dealt a horrible, perhaps catastrophic blow. The sad truth is that Initiative 1033 is a recipe for death on Main Street.

There's only one way to protect our communities from the harm that Initiative 1033 would cause: Vote NO.

Howie P.S.: The quote in this post's title comes from Geov Parrish.

"Lessons on Health Reform From Latin America"

Nurses at a Nicaraguan hospital. (Photo: interplast / flickr)
El PaĆ­s:
One of the most contentious elements of the American health care debate right now is the proposal to create a public agency that would offer the uninsured - especially poor and low-income citizens - a nonprofit alternative to private insurance companies. President Obama has made it clear to the American people that those who already get their insurance through the private system can keep their coverage, and that their freedom of choice will be maintained in all cases at all times. But opponents of the proposed reforms - those who are fighting to defeat the president and don't care if (or actively desire that) the system remains as it is - have raised the specter of "socialized medicine": the "grave threat" of a giant state apparatus supported by intergovernmental fiscal transfers and placed in a position of competitive advantage against private insurers.
In his September 9 address before Congress, Obama asserted that a public health agency would be self-sufficient (it would not receive taxpayer subsidies), and he projected that while less than 5 percent of the insured population would enroll in the government plan, a public option would provide a critical means to stimulate competition and keep the private insurance companies "honest."

The intensity of this debate, and the degree of anxiety provoked by the alleged threat of a government takeover, is surprising to Spaniards, other Europeans, Canadians and Latin Americans, many of whom are covered by public health care or social insurance programs in which the government plays a predominant role in the administration of health care provisions and regulation of the increasingly marginal private sector. What's more, the much-feared public option under discussion in the United States would not even provide "direct" care to its members (i.e. government-owned equipment, staff and facilities), but rather would function as an intermediary between private providers who would be contracted under certain conditions.

The private industry and an unregulated free market bear a large brunt of the responsibility for the serious problems that now confront the American healthcare system: 45 million uninsured, frequent abuse of the insured, the highest - and increasing at a perilous pace - expenditures in the world, an extravagantly wasteful bureaucracy and massive fraud, all combined with health indicators that lag behind those of other developed nations. Not only do 15 percent of the American people find themselves without protection, but a large portion of those who already have insurance have very poor insurance: everyone is required to make copayments, many people are denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions, and many are discriminated against by insurance companies who practice risk selection. The insurance companies try to recruit the healthiest - often young and male - candidates to join their plans, while turning away or charging higher premiums for the chronically ill, the elderly and women of childbearing age, all so that the private providers can reduce their costs and increase their profits. For this reason, the health insurance industry is among the fastest-growing in the United States, and it has been among the least-affected by the global financial crisis.

In the context of this debate, it would benefit the United States to consider the example of Latin America, where all of the countries have enacted some form of health care reform, beginning with Chile under the reign of Pinochet in 1980 and spreading throughout the region in the following two decades. These initial reforms all shared certain core objectives: to dismantle state monopolies in the provision of health care, to create a favorable climate for the expansion of private insurers and to stimulate competition, all with the aim of increasing efficiency, reducing expenses, improving the quality of services and expanding coverage.

After nearly three decades of these corporate-friendly reforms, what have been the results? In most of the countries, coverage has not expanded. There are several notable exceptions: Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, but the experiences of each of these countries is instructive. In Colombia, the official goal of reaching universal coverage by the year 2000 has yet to be realized. In Costa Rica, the government established a single-payer system before the wave of reforms swept the continent, and the private sector plays a very small role. In Chile, coverage under the private system, which reached a high of 26 percent in 1997, has steadily declined since, estimated at 16 percent in 2008, while coverage under their public system has climbed to 73 percent. In Mexico, the extension of health care has been achieved primarily through Popular Health Insurance, a public insurance program funded mainly by state and federal governments. And in the Dominican Republic, the increase in coverage was largely subsidized by the Treasury Department through an efficient, national public insurance program. The country with the largest private coverage in the region is Brazil, with 25 percent of the population insured, but 75 percent are covered through the Unified Health System, which is public.

Competition among private insurance companies does not function effectively or does not exist at all in several Latin American countries. There are only two private insurers in Peru, and the three largest companies in Chile account for 61 percent of the total coverage. Obama, incidentally, noted in his address before Congress that in Alabama one particular insurance company covers 90 percent of the total population in that state. Because of this, administrative costs are very high throughout the state. As demonstrated by statistics from three different countries, the administrative costs of private systems are consistently higher than those of public systems (18 percent versus one percent in Chile, for example), because the fragmentation of private insurers prevents them from taking advantage of economies of scale, and a large chunk of their corporate budgets goes toward profits and advertising, which are non-issues for a public program.

The example of Chile is particularly relevant, not only because it was a pioneer in reform efforts, but also because it established a paradigm that was followed by governments and private insurers (known as "ISAPRE's" in Chile), throughout the region. After the aforementioned privatization reforms were implemented by Pinochet in the 1980's, the Chilean system lacked regulation and supervision, and until the first ConcertaciĆ³n (democratic governing coalition) established the Superintendence of ISAPRE's in 1991, the industry was plagued with abuses. Even after this reform effort, however, the ISAPRE's continued with their discriminatory practices: they charged higher premiums for women of childbearing age compared to men of the same age, they increased premiums as people got older, they refused to cover chronic or catastrophic illnesses, and they revised their contracts each year to jack up the price of premiums. The private system also focused on treating illnesses, and placed little or no emphasis on preventing them.

The ISAPREs attracted only a small group of wealthy business professionals and self-employed workers to their programs. As a result, Chile's public system (FONASA) was loaded with women, rural laborers, the poor, the elderly, the chronically ill, and even those who already had ISAPRE plans but decided to take advantage of the public system for costly and complex surgeries in order to avoid expensive copayments. In this manner, the public system essentially subsidized the private system and fed it its high profits.

Under the presidency of Ricardo Lagos, a set of reform laws were passed in 2004 and 2005 that made substantial improvements in the system, infusing it with greater equity and social solidarity. Thanks to the increase in government involvement, Chilean health-care programs - both the public program and the ISAPREs - now guarantee that people will receive coverage for all major illnesses. There will be a mandate for self-employed workers to find coverage by 2016, but those who cannot afford to buy into the system will be exempt from payment. The public program now offers free care to the poor and subsidies to low-income citizens. Age and gender discrimination have been reduced through the establishment of the Solidarity Compensation Fund, which transfers resources from young men to the elderly and women of childbearing age. The rise in cost of ISAPRE premiums is kept in check with government-imposed price caps. More and better attention has been given to primary care. The transfer of subsidies from the public system to the private system has been limited. And the Chilean government, in order to efficiently enact these policies, has strengthened its ability to regulate the system through the creation of a unified Superintendence of Health. With these regulations in place, the Chilean public health program has become more attractive to the populace than the private system, as evidenced by the gradual increase in coverage.
The lesson from Chile and Latin America is unambiguous: the United States should support, not fear, a public option and increased government regulation of the private corporations. This will help to expand coverage, reduce abuse and keep the insurers in check, leading to lower costs and better health and well-being for the American people.

Meet Suzan Delbene, Democratic candidate for WA-8 (with video)

Dwight Pelz (email), with video (03:41).
During these tough economic times, Suzan's exactly the kind of leader we need in the 8th Congressional District. And it is time that we send Reichert into retirement.
Suzan's background as a leader in the technology industry and her record as a community activist prove that she has the experience in creating jobs and new opportunities that we need in Congress.

Suzan also has a deep understanding of the challenges facing our families. At a young age, Suzan's father lost his job, and her family struggled for years to pay the bills. That's why, after a successful career, Suzan's made the commitment to build a stronger community through a more progressive Congress.

For too long the 8th Congressional District has been represented by someone who votes
AGAINST equal pay for women, AGAINST a woman's right to choose and AGAINST legislation that would prevent insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

I'm confident that when Suzan is elected to Congress, she'll deliver the kind of solutions that the 8th District needs.

Suzan will support health care reform, instead of standing in the way of reform, like incumbent Congressman Reichert.

Suzan has a fresh voice, and she has answers to the many problems we face.

I'm thrilled to endorse Suzan DelBene's candidacy, and I know she will build a stronger, more robust 8th Congressional District.

Finally, the earlier we can support Suzan with our financial support, the stronger her campaign will be going into 2010. We all need to do our part in fighting for new leadership in the 8th Congressional District. I urge you to join me in donating to the Suzan DelBene for Congress campaign today:


Dwight Pelz
Washington State Democrats Chair

Bill Maher on Jay Leno (video)

Jay Leno Show-NBC, video, Pt. 1 (07:15) and Pt. 2 (05:14):
Bill Maher and Jay discuss new rules, healthcare and Obama.

Ad: "Hold Max Baucus Accountable" (video)

BoldProgressives, video (01:00).

"Senate panel rejects gov't-run insurance option"

Senate Finance Committee members, from left, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.
In a long-anticipated showdown, liberal Democrats twice failed on Tuesday to inject a government-run insurance option into sweeping health care legislation taking shape in the Senate, despite bipartisan agreement that private insurers must change their ways.
The two votes marked a victory for Montana Democrat Max Baucus, the Senate Finance Committee chairman, who is hoping to push his middle-of-the-road measure through the panel by week's end. It also kept alive the possibility that at least one Republican may yet swing behind the overhaul, a key goal of both Baucus and the White House.

"My job is to put together a bill that gets to 60 votes" in the full Senate, Baucus said shortly before he joined a majority on the committee in defeating efforts to rewrite a key portion of his draft legislation. "No one shows me how to get to 60 votes with a public option," he said, using the term used to describe a new government role in health care. It would take 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to overcome any filibuster Republicans might attempt.

Supporters of a new role for government repeatedly accused private insurers of placing profits over coverage, and said they would try for a federal option again when the full Senate votes.

"With some work and some compromise, we can get the 60 votes on the floor of the Senate that will make our system better by providing for a strong, fair and viable public option," said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who backed one of the proposals rejected Tuesday.

A combination of Baucus, moderate Democratic allies and all committee Republicans combined to defeat both amendments.

The maneuvering occurred as the committee plunged into a second week of public debate on legislation that generally adheres to conditions that President Barack Obama has called for. The bill includes numerous new consumer protections, including a ban on companies denying insurance on the basis of pre-existing conditions. At the same time it provides government subsidies to help lower-income Americans afford insurance that is currently beyond their means. It also includes steps that supporters say will begin to slow the growth in health care costs nationwide.

Obama has urged lawmakers to hold the cost of legislation to about $900 billion over a decade. That's significantly more than House committees originally envisioned in measures cleared earlier in the year, and the leadership has been working in recent days to find ways to cut costs. "It's hard work but we're determined to get it down," Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said of the price tag after a marathon closed-door meeting.

The health care debate is intensely political, and lawmakers in both parties used Tuesday's debate to seek campaign funds as they near the close of the third quarter of the year.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., issued a recent appeal for funds for his re-election bid, saying, "Delaying reform to protect insurance companies' profits is completely unacceptable to Nevadans, the American people and me."

Similarly, Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., who drew national notice for yelling "You Lie" at Obama during this month's health care speech to Congress, has emerged as a newly featured fundraiser for the National Republican Campaign Committee.

After weeks of delay, both the House and Senate now appear on track to vote on different versions of health care legislation this fall. Passage in both houses would set the stage for a compromise to be voted on by year's end.

Inside the Senate Finance Committee, the first effort to remake a key portion of the bill came from Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., who said his proposal was far from the government takeover that critics portray. "It's not. It's optional," he said, adding it was designed to offer competition and a lower-priced, reliable choice for consumers shopping for coverage.

Rockefeller, whose measure was rejected, 15-8, assailed the insurance industry in withering terms. "I hate to use the word 'rapacious,'" he said — but quickly added it was warranted. He said omission of a government option from the measure was a virtual invitation to insurance companies to continue placing profits over people, and he predicted they would raise their premiums substantially once the legislation went into effect.

Republicans countered that the proposals would lead to the demise of the private insurance industry and result in a system that is completely run by the government.

"Washington is not the answer," declared Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, cited private studies — one by the conservative Heritage Foundation, the other by the Lewin Group, owned by United HealthCare — saying millions would be pushed out of private insurance as the government held fees to doctors at artificially low levels. He said the result would be a violation of Obama's pledge that consumers would be able to keep their current insurance if they wanted once the legislation went into effect.

While Baucus voted against the proposal, he was at pains to counter Rockefeller's charge that the legislation increased subsidies that would go to insurance companies without dictating changes in past practices.

He said the legislation would raise taxes on insurers, ban denial of coverage because of pre-existing conditions and limit the extra premiums that could be charged on the basis of age.

There was little appetite on the panel for a full-throated defense of the insurance industry, even among Republicans who voted against an expanded government role.

"The private sector is not doing exactly what it should do with medical services. but it can,' said Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., one of the committee's most conservative members. He said most Democrats "don't want to help the insurance company" improve, preferring to have the government step in.

Schumer responded promptly.

"If the state insurance commissioners are doing such a good job, then why are costs going through the roof?" he asked.

All 10 Republicans on the committee voted against the Rockefeller proposal to allow the government to compete directly with insurance companies, Sen. Olympia Snowe among them. Democrats are hoping the Maine lawmaker will eventually break ranks with her party and support the legislation.

Also opposed were Baucus and fellow Democrats Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Bill Nelson of Florida and Tom Carper of Delaware.

Schumer backed an alternative approach that he said would introduce more competition into the insurance market nationwide. His version differed from Rockefeller's chiefly in that it would have allowed for the government to negotiate payments with doctors, hospitals and other health care providers for an initial two-year period rather than pay them at the same rates as under Medicare.
Baucus, Conrad and Lincoln joined all Republicans to defeat the proposal on a vote of 13-10.

LIVE VIDEO: "Senators Debate Public Option In Health Care Reform"

MSNBC, video.

Fmr. UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter Warns Against “Politically Motivated Hype” on Iran Nuke Program (with video)

Democracy Now, with video:
Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter joins us to discuss what he calls “politically motivated hype” over Iran’s nuclear program. The Obama administration has warned of sanctions unless Iran allows inspections of a newly disclosed nuclear site. Iran insists the site has been used for peaceful purposes. The row comes just after Iran’s test-firing of medium- and long-range missiles and before Iranian officials are due to hold talks with the US and five other nations in Geneva.
Iran test-fired two long-range missiles Monday just days before Iranian officials are due to meet with the five permanent members of the security council and Germany to discuss a range of issues, including its nuclear program. Western powers condemned the Iranian test as ‘provocative’ and “deeply destabilizing.” Iranian officials said the missiles were tested as part of an annual military drill and bore “no connection whatsoever with the nuclear program.”

Monday’s missile tests follow Iran’s disclosure last week of a second uranium enrichment plant. On Friday morning President Obama, along with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicholas Sarkozy accused Iran of building a secret nuclear fuel plant.

French President Sarkozy warned that Europe and the United States would tighten sanctions against Iran unless it halted its nuclear program.

Iran however refuted Western fears and said its nuclear activities are purely peaceful. This is Iranian delegate Mansour Salsabili addressing the UN general assembly Saturday.

Well, my next guest was a former United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq in the 1990s. Scott Ritter is the author of “Iraq Confidential” and “Target Iran” and his forthcoming book is called “Dangerous Ground: America’s Failed Arms Control Policy From FDR to Obama.” His latest article in the UK Guardian newspaper is “Keeping Iran Honest” where he warns against “politically motivated hype.” Scott Ritter joins us from Albany, New York.
Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991-1998. He is author of Iraq Confidential and Target Iran and the forthcoming Dangerous Ground: America’s Failed Arms Control Policy from FDR to Obama. His latest article in the UK Guardian newspaper is Keeping Iran Honest.

Monday, September 28, 2009

"Public option under the knife" (video)

MSNBC-Countdown, video (09:00).

Howie P.S.:
Howard Dean joins Lawrence O'Donnell to discuss the prospects for a public option in the health care reform legislation.

Mallahan: "Make Seattle greener"

Chris Grygiel (Strange Bedfellows):
Joe Mallahan, running against former Sierra Club leader Mike McGinn for Seattle mayor, on Monday released his environmental goals.

"I am committed to continue leading Seattle forward so we can be the premier city for environmental protection and innovation in North America. That means enacting creative, outcome-based strategies to protect Puget Sound, to create an open and accessible waterfront, to achieve and exceed the Kyoto climate goals, to improve transit options, to enlarge Seattle's forest canopy, and to generate family-wage, green-energy jobs," Mallahan said in a statement.

Among Mallahan's ideas: Retrofitting 10,000 homes in the city to make them more energy efficient and restoring tree canopy to 30 percent of city land area by 2037.

To read Mallahan's entire plan, continue reading.
I am committed to continue leading Seattle forward so we can be the premier city for environmental protection and innovation in North America. That means enacting creative, outcome-based strategies to protect Puget Sound, to create an open and accessible waterfront, to achieve and exceed the Kyoto climate goals, to improve transit options, to enlarge Seattle's forest canopy, and to generate family-wage, green-energy jobs.

Seattle is known throughout the country as a city that leads on environmental issues. As mayor, I will build on that legacy so we can do even better. We should strive to do better as a city to be responsible stewards of the environment, not just because it is our responsibility, but because it also helps us become leaders in growing jobs and our economy. Many of these issues are interdependent: Seattle can't be a climate leader without improved transit. Seattle can't ensure a healthy Puget Sound without managing storm-water diversion, street sweeping and bringing to scale natural drainage solutions. And Seattle can't make whole our vision for a healthy environment without a leader with a proven track record of working across multiple sectors and getting things done. Together, we can keep Seattle moving forward toward a better, greener environment and economy.

The issue of how we move forward to protect our environment is a values issue. I grew up in Everett and spent my youth exploring the beaches and tide pools of Puget Sound. Many of our cultural and spiritual values flow from our natural and wild places. I also believe that the environment is a social justice issue as well as a public health issue. We have a moral obligation to future generations to plan ten, fifty, and one hundred years ahead.

I have the benefit of having guidance from both grassroots and elected environmental leaders including Rep. Dave Upthegrove, Ross Macfarlane, Tom Byers and Maureen Judge. I look forward to working with many others to develop a united vision to keep Seattle moving forward for a Green Seattle and a vibrant, healthy Puget Sound.

Here's the beginning of my Environmental Agenda for a Green Seattle:

Protecting Puget Sound

Puget Sound is our region's greatest natural gem. However, despite what most citizens assume based on its surface appearance, the Sound is in serious trouble. The city must adopt an outcome-based strategy that limits sewer overflow and the discharge of heavy metals from vehicles. We need to bring Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) street-sweeping pilot project to scale to reduce non-point source pollution. We also must work in concert with SPU to reduce impervious runoff through the use of green roofs and natural-drainage swales. Over the long-term, Seattle must enhance its infrastructure to manage the city's maxed-out sewer-overflow basins.

Building Efficiency

Retrofitting 10,000 Seattle homes could save enough energy to power 20,000 electric vehicles saving citizens $26 million in fuel costs, while reducing carbon emissions by 100,000 metric tons and creating 700 jobs. Common sense efficiencies and conservation are critical. In addition, we should consider requiring all new homes placed on the market have a home-energy audit.

Urban Forests

I am committed to Seattle's Urban Forest management goal of restoring our tree canopy to 30 percent of city land area by 2037. I will look seriously at the incentives and regulations under consideration by the Council's recently established Urban Forestry Commission to ensure that our city meets this goal.

Electric Vehicles

I am a supporter of the city's electric vehicle "Plug-In Ready" project that falls under Seattle's Climate Protection Initiative. Seattle will be an electric-vehicle leader by helping install electric charging stations, permit streamlining, and city-fleet purchases.

Working with Businesses to Be National Leaders

Seattle has a real opportunity to become a global leader in green-building standards. We can be a model for urban centers looking to invest and build in green buildings and similar technologies. In addition, providing incentives offered for businesses or private owners who undertake ambitious green building projects can help us achieve a 25 percent efficiency increase goal by 2020. Increasing density, while maintaining the unique character of Seattle's neighborhoods, is essential for smart growth and development.

Just as the old "politics of no" won't help us build a clean energy economy, I understand that we need to find ways to streamline and encourage appropriate development and cutting-edge green building practices. Too often, green builders facing endless delays and process hoops as they try to incorporate innovative features that reduce energy use and increase sustainability, but don't meet "code" or fit within bureaucrats' ideas of what is always done. I pledge to streamline these requirements and allow builders to focus on meeting high performance standards, not antiquated rules.

The City of Seattle doesn't just make policy and provide services; it is a major employer and can profoundly affect the region's ability to address climate change. The transportation, housing, economic development, and parks initiatives in which Seattle is involved should reflect our desire to dramatically reduce our impact on the environment. As mayor, I will be a strong advocate on global warming, but will ensure that as an employer, purchaser, tenant, and builder we are doing everything we can to reduce our carbon impact.

I will advocate for more bus service, continue green recycling practices, and find innovative ways to reduce our most significant sources of pollution and waste.
Citizens of Seattle share a common vision of a sustainable future with growing companies that help lead the world to a cleaner future. What we need now is the management experience and the ability to create strong partnerships to make that vision a reality.

"Beck's Big Day" (with video)



(photo: he almost cried)

We sat eating a soggy turkey sandwich and sweating like pigs at a table near home plate on Safeco Field waiting for Glenn Beck.

It took a while.

We were graciously invited to lunch at the Beck event by the famous former conservative blogger, Piper Scott, who's leveraged his bloggerdom into a paying job with the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, the venerable right-wing cabal for whom the event was a fundraiser. (They invited Beck in February when his presence was expected to draw but 1800 souls. Beck's success in making himself the most controversial man in America, worked well for them, with over 7000 reportedly in attendence. "There is a God," Piper Scott told us with spiritual intensity).

Behind us in the stands were the hoi polloi, the t-shirted tea-baggers, the blue-jeaned conservative nihilists, the razor-cut kids, and the aged "I'd-rather be-pissed" boomers of the populist right to whom the needy, screedy homespun Glenn Beck is hope and change. They and they paid $25-35 each for the wearing silly shirts for for freedom. Dino Rossi was there.

(The Gadsden flag is the Stars & Stripes, "Right-wing Protesters' Model." Hawked at every conservative event these days, ($5) and featured on one of Beck's book covers, the yellow "Don't tread on me" flags with the rattlesnake are far more versatile for tea parties, town halls and demonstrations. One protester told us: "I can shove this flag up your liberal ass, whereas, I couldn't be that disrespectful with Old Glory."


After a some spirited "ask$,"by EFF suits; which included for boo inspiration. a clip of Governor Gregoire on the Jumbotron snarling like Margaret Hamilton. Also the inevitable, requisite, pro forma tributes to veterans and Dave Boze (KTTH m-f, 3-6p) in a white shirt and tie ingratiating himself to the elderly crowd with his respectful introduction, Beck finally bounded out. (Boze's shirt and tie choice has rightie-world buzzing that he, in deference to his Bonneville/LDS bosses, and admiration of Glenn Beck is converting to Mormonism. Stay tuned).

(Boze in his good boy shirt)

Beck came out in shirt sleeves, and delivered a Beckish speech full of platitudes and exhortations of patriotically correct do-gooding and glad-hands for everyone in sight. He got that catch in his voice a couple of times making us think he was going to cry, but he motored on, (see photo above) and we didn't get the pathetic sob we were all praying for.

He's an effective speaker, and knows his audience. Mysterious was his badmouthing of Theodore Roosevelt, a hero to most Republicans. Beck (and his political inspiration, the long dead Mormon crank, W. Cleon Skousen blame him for the income tax, and hold the national parks against him as a sort of socialist scheme. He was a scary "progressive," he said.

It didn't make much sense, but it didn't matter, the crowd cheered with the rise his voice, and the timing of his punch-lines.

We scooted out fast in order to scoot up the freeway to Mount Vernon where the protest action was heavy.

Washington Outsiders (with video):
Skagit County Young Democrats organized the protest. Some folks from Whatcom County went down to add their voices... I recognize several familiar faces in the video's.

KOMO4 - W. Washington greets Glenn Beck with huzzahs, hisses

Mt .Vernon says NO to Mad Hater Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck Recieves The Key To Mt. Vernon, Washington

Mount Vernon City Council Rejects "Glenn Beck Day"

"Watada discharged"

Honolulu Star-Bulletin:
The Army grants the officer's resignation under "other than honorable conditions"---First Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned military officer to refuse deployment to Iraq because he believed it was an illegal war, has won his three-year legal battle with the Army.
With little fanfare the Army at Fort Lewis, Wash., accepted the resignation of the 1996 Kalani High School graduate, and he will be discharged the first week in October.

Rather than seek a second court-martial against the artillery officer, the Army will grant Watada a discharge under "other than honorable conditions."

Joseph J. Piek, Fort Lewis spokesman, said, "This is an administrative discharge, and the characterization of Lt. Watada's discharge is not releasable under the privacy act."

Watada, 31, told the Star-Bulletin in a phone interview yesterday that he was "glad to finally bring this chapter to a close and to move on."

"The actual outcome is different from the outcome that I envisioned in the first place, but I am grateful of the outcome."

Watada said he was "thankful to the people from all walks of life that supported me and agreed with my stand."

In May, Watada won a significant legal victory when the U.S. Department of Justice dropped efforts to retry him. The Army had wanted to appeal U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle's decision last October that a second court-martial would violate Watada's constitutional protection against double jeopardy.

Following the Justice Department's decision, the Army made it clear the only course available to Watada is what the Army calls "resignation for the good of the service in lieu of general court-martial," Watada said yesterday.

Watada could either voluntarily resign or be forced out with a discharge "under other than honorable conditions."

Watada said the result would be the same, except it would take longer if he was forced out.

Ken Kagan, one of Watada's Seattle attorneys, said last night, "Lt. Watada had previously tendered his resignation on more than one occasion, and each time, it was rejected. This time, however, it was accepted, apparently only when the Army realized it could not defeat Lt. Watada in a courtroom."

Kagan described Watada as "a hero and a patriot. Lt. Watada took a lonely stand as a matter of conscience, never attempted to spread discord within the ranks and never sought to evangelize about his ethical convictions. More importantly, he never disparaged the service and the sacrifices made by countless other soldiers and officers who obeyed their orders. He realized that each member of the armed forces must make her or his own decision, according to the dictates of conscience, just as he did. He always understood it to be an intensely personal decision.

"It is our belief that history will treat Lt. Watada far more favorably than the United States Army sees fit to regard him now."

Watada said he turned in his resignation papers in July, and they were approved by the commanding general at Fort Lewis and sent to his higher headquarters. Watada learned of the Army's final approval on Sept. 16.

Watada said that he does not know whether he will stay in the Pacific Northwest, where he attended Whitworth College, or return to the islands.

Before he was charged, Watada, an artillery officer, had requested to be assigned to Afghanistan instead of Iraq and even offered to resign from the Army. Both requests were denied.

Initially, Watada was charged with missing the 2nd Infantry Division's 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team's deployment on June 22, 2006, considered by the Army as the most serious charge, and conduct unbec- oming an officer.

Watada participated in anti-war rallies here and on the mainland and held numerous interviews denouncing Bush. Two of those activities were the basis of the charges of conduct unbecoming an officer. Conviction on all counts would have meant six years in prison and a dishonorable discharge.

One of his biggest supporters was his father, Bob Watada, who retired to farm in Eugene, Ore.

"I am very happy he is getting out," the elder Watada said, "and getting on with his life.

"I firmly believe he did the right thing. I supported him all the way, and I continue to support him."

Watada's first court-martial ended in a mistrial in February 2007 when military judge Lt. Col. John Head believed that Watada did not understand the terms of a plea agreement. He had been charged with denouncing President George W. Bush and the Iraq war and refusing to join his Stryker brigade unit when it deployed.

The mistrial occurred before Watada's attorney could put on a defense.

To block a second court-martial, Watada's attorneys sued in U.S. District Court.

The Army had been contemplating prosecuting Watada for his anti-war sentiments, citing statements against the war and Bush that were not part of the original court-martial. Watada could have been court-martialed for conduct unbecoming an officer for making those statements.

However, Piek said yesterday, the last two remaining specifications under Article 133, conduct unbecoming an officer, have been dismissed.
Watada, who has been working a desk job since the mistrial, was supposed to have been discharged on December 2006, but his legal proceedings have kept him at Fort Lewis' I Corps.

The 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team served three combat tours in Iraq.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

"The Real Face of Americans Who Want a Public Option" (video)

publicoptionvideo, video (02:54):
This video was created from still photos of people for all over the United States who took photos of themselves holding signs they created telling their own stories in their own word. These photos were sent to Slinkerwink of the DailyKos community, who then worked to make the video you are now watching. None of these folks was paid, or stage managed, or in any way manipulated to make these pictures or tell their stories.

"Glenn Beck event in Seattle" (with video)

Seattle Times, with video (01:38):
Beck came to Seattle amid a torrent of anger over his proclamation on July 28 that President Obama was a racist and that he believed the president has a "deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture."
Howie P.S.: The complete Seattle Times story is here. The Seattle PI has a story and a photo gallery. Darryl has a "Video Tribute for Glenn Beck Day."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

KING5 Candidate profile: Mike McGinn (video)

KING5, video (03:23).

Red State Update: Is it racist to hate Obama?" (video)

Red State Update, video (03:52).

H/t to Darryl.

NY Times: Public option still possible

NY Times:
Over four days and three late nights of meetings, Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee have largely stood up to Republicans’ attacks on a proposal to overhaul the health care system.

But behind the scenes and away from the C-Span cameras, their united front has given way to intraparty tensions, not just in the committee but in Congress generally.
Those cracks will become more evident next week when the Finance Committee tries to finish its work and liberals press to change a bill that is too conservative for their liking. In the main event, they will propose a public option to compete against private insurers in new exchanges where uninsured individuals and small businesses would be able to shop for coverage.

The liberals do not expect to win in the moderate-to-conservative-leaning committee. But Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said, “That’s just the first battle of a war, and the least friendly battlefield.”

The Senate floor, and certainly a conference with the more liberal House, will be more receptive arenas, Mr. Schumer and others predict. Ultimately, the liberals in Congress, as well as their allies in organized labor, expect to be able to shape the final product more than they had hoped just weeks ago.

That unnerves the more conservative Democrats, many of them from Republican-leaning districts and states.

Liberals have been emboldened by two factors. One is the failure of Senator Max Baucus of Montana, a more conservative Democrat who heads the Finance Committee, to get any Republicans to support his draft legislation, after months of trying. That doomed President Obama’s goal of bipartisan backing for a health care overhaul, and now leaves party liberals arguing for a distinctly Democratic health plan.

“One of the strongest arguments against a public option has been that the Republicans will never go for it,” Mr. Schumer said. “Well, the Baucus bill doesn’t have a public option, and they’re still not for it in any way, with the possible exception of Olympia Snowe,” a moderate Republican senator from Maine, who has not ruled out supporting the overhaul that Mr. Obama is seeking.

The second development that has encouraged liberals is recent polling, including some done for The New York Times and CBS News in the last week, that gives Democrats a clear edge over Republicans as the party favored to deal with health care issues. The same polls show significant support for a public option despite months of criticism from Republicans, who describe it as a government takeover of health insurance.

Congressional Democrats of all stripes have become more upbeat since returning to work after the August recess, when they were thrown on the defensive by conservative opponents’ disruptions at public forums on health care. While the mood could just as quickly shift again, liberal and moderate Democrats seem to agree that they will pass a health care measure, if only because failure could be politically devastating given Mr. Obama’s stake, and theirs, in the outcome.

The sense that something will become law has only strengthened the resolve of liberals, inside the Congress and out, to fight with intensity as Democrats write the legislation this fall.

In the Finance Committee this week, some of the liberal members privately said they were feeling squeezed between pressure from the White House to be good party soldiers — that is, to stifle their differences with Mr. Baucus’s legislation and quickly push a bill to the full Senate — and pressure from major unions to fight in the committee for the public option and other changes.

The Obama administration’s argument to liberals has been that they should hold their fire now, knowing that their leverage will be greater in the final negotiations between the House and the Senate. Four other committees, three of them in the House, have approved more liberal bills.

But to the chagrin of many Democrats, the Finance Committee’s product has been considered the most important, since only a relatively moderate package is deemed capable of passing in the Senate.

Senate Democrats have a filibuster-proof majority of 60 lawmakers. But a number of them are centrists, and the party cannot afford many defections, given Republicans’ nearly unanimous opposition. Further, seeking a semblance of bipartisanship, the White House still wants Ms. Snowe’s vote.

Yet unions, whose efforts were vital to the election of Mr. Obama and many Congressional Democrats, counter by saying the Baucus bill is too objectionable to let it slide. Not only does it lack a public option, it would not mandate that employers provide insurance to their workers or else contribute toward subsidies that would help the uninsured buy coverage.

But labor’s main complaint is Mr. Baucus’s proposal to tax insurance companies for their most generous policies, as a way to raise revenue and to discourage wasteful health care spending. Labor says insurers would pass on their tax costs in higher premiums, not just for corporate executives but also for unionized workers with rich health benefits.

Under Mr. Baucus’s plan, the tax would apply to family policies worth more than $21,000 a year. The typical employer-provided family plan costs roughly $13,000, but packages for some unionized workers can run much higher. Democrats are discussing raising the threshold, and the White House has privately assured labor that union benefits will not be affected.
This week, with the president occupied by global issues at the United Nations and the G-20 conference, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was enlisted to intercede with some liberals and keep them on board. In coming weeks, Democrats say, Mr. Obama will have to be much more involved.

"So I Was Riding In My Car, Talking on The Phone With Dr. Dean..."

Susie Madrak (Crooks and Liars):
So there I was, driving to my friends' house for dinner and babysitting last night when Howard Dean called me.
I'd been scheduled to talk to him after his appearance at the Philadelphia Free Library yesterday, but there was some kind of miscommunication and it didn't happen.

Anyway, he apologized for the mix-up and we had an interesting discussion. (Remember, none of this is verbatim. I was driving while we talked, and I've reconstructed as best I can.)


The first thing I said was, "Every single problem you described at today's talk, logistical and financial, could be solved with single payer."

His response was along the lines of "And your point is?" As in, let's deal with what we have in front of us, I suppose.

So then I asked him what he thought the strategy was behind the administration starting the debate with the public option instead of single payer. "I think it was a terrible mistake," he said. "I think they were worried it would be called socialism." (Naturally, I agreed.)

Let's see. What else? He said the reason the focus of the campaign is on the finances of health care is because Obama was actually put in the White House by the under-35 voters, and while they're socially liberal, they're very conservative on the deficit and are convinced they won't be able to count on things like Social Security.

"You don't have to tell me," I said. "My kids are Ron Paul fans." He laughed and said, "Then you understand."

"Tell them if this bill doesn't pass, their sick parents will have to move in with them. That ought to do it," I advised.

(And I said that while the under-35 votes may have put Obama in the White House, I suspected the bulk of individual contributions came from baby boomers and he might want to look into that.)

I said the real problem with the current health care system was was a matter of human dignity. I told him about a friend who's struggling with brain injury and has been turned down three times for Social Security disability. "They keep telling her she can work, but who's going to hire someone who doesn't know ahead of time if she'll be too sick to work?" I said.

He said yes, there's no question that the present system was a nightmare for the chronically ill or handicapped.

I told him I was really hoping the bill's final version included lowering the Medicare age to 55, "since I turn 55 next week."

"I'd like to see it lowered to 50, that would make a lot of sense," he replied. We talked about how it would lessen the cost burden on employers and increase the chances of the over-50s getting rehired.

We also discussed the positive ripple effects we could expect from the public option - that it would lower the costs of auto insurance, and take work-related injuries out of the worker's comp system.

I talked about the strange Beltway bubble and asked if people working there really understood what was at stake out here.

He said no, it wasn't my imagination, the people in the Beltway really do live in a different universe - "especially the Senate. It really is like a club," he said. He corrected himself: "No, it is a club. And they're most concerned about their personal relationships with the other Senators, and then everything else. It's very strange."

Don't they understand how angry everyone is out here? I said. "If they put us in a position where we're paying more money for less coverage, it's going to be war." He said no, they really don't - although he keeps trying to tell them. He said we're looking at a real political disaster if they screw this up. "Because I'm on the outside, I get to say those things," he said.

Dean says not to worry about the Baucus bill, that the final version won't look anything like it "but everyone's sort of tiptoeing around, no one wants to say it out loud. They have to pass a bill out of Finance first, and then they'll change it."

I told him the perception from here is that the Baucus bill was the one that had the White House approval, and he said, "I can understand why you have that perception, but I don't think so at all."

I told him many of us despaired of any real change, and he reacted immediately. "You absolutely shouldn't be thinking that way," he said. He believes there's a "95 percent chance" of a real public option, and if there isn't one, the bill shouldn't pass.

No point to throwing billions of dollars to the insurance industry if we don't get the public option, he said.

"Do you think the people working on this bill actually understand that?" I said. "Maybe I'm being cynical here."

"Yes, they do," he said. "The bill was basically written by the insurance industry. I do think they know [it's a giveaway]." He said it was written by two former insurance industry lobbyists, they knew what they were doing.

But the good news is, he really does believe there's going to be an affordable public option, and all this will be a moot point.

I told him a lot of us were counting on him, and if he told us to support the final bill, I'd feel okay about supporting it.

Here's hoping.

Krugman: "I Was Kind Of Hoping Obama Might Be FDR, But Maybe Not" (with video)

HuffPo with video (03:02):
On "Real Time with Bill Maher" Friday night, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said that while the American dream is not totally dead, it is "dying pretty fast," particularly when it comes to social mobility. Krugman made this statement during a lengthy discussion with former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and host Bill Maher about the troubled state of the American economy and where we are in terms of reforming the system.

Both Krugman and Spitzer expressed optimism that America could right itself in the coming years if the correct steps were taken, but they were also highly critical of the degree of inequality that has become a part of American life and the lack of reform that has so far taken place.

"On bad mornings I wake up and think that we are turning into a Latin American country," Krugman said. "But on good mornings I think, well this is America, we have always in the past managed to turn ourselves around, and there is an FDR just around the corner if we could only find him. I was kind of hoping Obama might be FDR, but maybe not.

KING5 Candidate profile: Joe Mallahan (video)

KING5, video (03:50).

Howard Dean: "a better bill if it's through reconciliation" (with video)

Lindsay Beyerstein (Media Consortium) with video (02:40):

Last night Dr. Howard Dean, former chair of the DNC and 2004 presidential hopeful, appeared in conversation with journalist Joe Conason at the 92nd Street YMCA in New York. Dean discussed his new book, Howard Dean's Prescription for Real Health Care Reform.

Later on, I had a chance to ask Dean about the prospects for passing health care reform in the Senate through budget reconciliation, a parliamentary tactic that would allow the bill to pass by majority vote and thwart a filibuster. Many Democratic strategists consider reconciliation to be extremely politically risky, but Dean is unconvinced. He argues that passing a bill through budget reconciliation is not only doable, but also likely to result in a stronger bill.

"I'm not worried about doing this through reconciliation," he said, "I think we'll probably have a better bill if it's through reconciliation because the people who are involved in the passage of the bill will only be Democrats and a very high proportion of Democrats want a public option."