Daily archives: October 21st, 2009

Philadelphia Phillies One Giant Step Closer to World Series

From the New York Times:

Unsatisfied by their last championship and determined to repeat recent history, the Philadelphia Phillies took another step in their quest to win the World Series again.

The Phillies have been in existence since 1883, the longest tenure of any professional sports team in one city, with one name. But it took them until Wednesday night to earn a rare distinction. With an emphatic 10-4 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, the Phillies have now won consecutive National League pennants for the first time in their 126-year history, and their seventh over all.

It is also the second year in a row the Phillies beat the Dodgers in five games. Their next appointment is with the winner of the American League Championship Series between the Los Angeles Angels and the Yankees, who lead that series three games to one.

The Phillies relied on the long ball to win this game. Jayson Werth hit two of them, a three-run homer in the first inning and a solo shot in the seventh. Shane Victorino added a two-run shot in the sixth, and Pedro Feliz hit a solo home run for the Phillies, who needed only eight hits to score their runs against shaky Dodgers pitching. The Dodgers issued four walks and hit three batters, and four of those free passes were converted into runs. The Phillies scored their final run on a wild pitch by Ronald Belisario.

Read more here.

I favor Pittsburgh.  But they’ve been out of contention for anything for close to two decades.

Go Phillies!

Swine Flu Virus Found in Minnesota Fair Pig Sample


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) has confirmed the presence of 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza virus in a pig sample collected at the Minnesota State Fair submitted by the University of Minnesota. Additional samples are being tested.

"We have fully engaged our trading partners to remind them that several international organizations, including the World Organization for Animal Health, have advised that there is no scientific basis to restrict trade in pork and pork products," said Vilsack. "People cannot get this flu from eating pork or pork products. Pork is safe to eat."

I’m still eating pork. Enough said.

More here.

NYTimes: U.S. to Order Steep Pay Cuts at Firms That Got Most Aid; GOP: Reward Their Greed

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Responding to the furor over executive pay at companies bailed out with taxpayer money, the Obama administration will order the firms that received the most aid to slash compensation to their highest-paid employees, an official involved in the decision said on Wednesday.

The plan, for the 25 top earners at seven companies that received exceptional help, will on average cut total compensation by about 50 percent. The companies are Citigroup, Bank of AmericaAmerican International GroupGeneral Motors, Chrysler and the financing arms of the two automakers.

Some executives, like the top traders at A.I.G., will face tight limits on their pay. In addition, the top-paid employees at all the affected companies will face new limits on their perks.

The plan will also change the form of the pay to align the personal interests of the executives with the longer-term financial health of the companies. For instance, the cash portion of the executives’ salaries will be slashed on average by 90 percent, and the rest will be replaced by stock that cannot be sold for years.

But while the plan would pare compensation substantially from what the highest-paid people at the companies might have received under normal circumstances, it would still permit multimillion-dollar pay packages. And it would have no direct impact on firms that did not receive government bailouts or that have already repaid loans they received from Washington, leaving it unclear how much effect, if any, it will have on the broader issues relating to executive compensation, income inequality and the populist animosity toward Wall Street and corporate America.

The plan, which was written by Kenneth R. Feinberg, the official at the Treasury Department in charge of setting compensation for bailed-out companies, will be made public in a few days. The official who described the plan’s basic components did not disclose the particular impact on specific employees of the firms.

Three cheers!

Read more here.

Republicans have a different idea. According to Rachel Maddow, three Republican congressman have offered an ammendment to eliminate all government agencies that regulate banking.

I kid you not. Republicans want to let the banking industry — which plunged the United States economy into the Great Bush Recession, which almost became the Bush Depression — Republicans want to completely deregulate the banking industry so they can do whatever they want. Republicans want to reward the banking industry, which paid out obscene bonuses to executives after accepting bailout money.

Republicans want to reward greed.

Stop back later for details.

To Keith Olbermann: Let’s All Take Credit for “Medicare Part E” and Get It Done Already

I was listening to Countdown this evening listening to Keith Olbermann pat himself on the back for calling for a "rebranding" of the term "public option." Olbermann suggested calling the alternative to for-profit health insurance "Medicare Part E — ‘E’ for ‘Everyone.’ "

That’s a great idea, but Keith is hardly the first to name the new plan. For that, I credit Thom Hartmann, who wrote on September 9, 2009:

The President this morning admitted on national television that he lost control of the message with health care. It’s time to reboot – and use a very, very, very simple message so all Americans can understand it.

Let’s use Medicare, which nearly every American understands. Just create “Medicare Part E” where the “E” represents “everybody.” Just let any citizen in the US buy into Medicare.

It would be so easy. No need to reinvent the wheel with this so-called “public option” that’s a whole new program from the ground up. Medicare already exists. It works. Some people will like it, others won’t – just like the Post Office versus FedEx analogy the President is so comfortable with.

Just pass a simple bill – it could probably be just a few lines, like when Medicare was expanded to include disabled people – that says that any American citizen can buy into the program at a rate to be set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which reflects the actual cost for us to buy into it.

Thus, Medicare Part E would be revenue neutral!

To make it available to people of low income, Congress could raise the rates slightly for all currently non-eligible people (like me – under 65) to cover the cost of below-200%-of-poverty people. Revenue neutral again.

This blows up all the rumors about death panels and grandma and everything else: everybody knows what Medicare is. Those who scorn it can go with United Healthcare and it’s $100 million/year CEO. Those who like Medicare can buy into Part E. Simplicity itself.

And there’s more. Hartmann’s analysis also appeared in CommonDreams.org.

I don’t want to detract from Mr. Olbermann. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn thanked Keith publicly this evening on Countdown, saying he heard the term first from Mr. Olbermann, and at least one Blue Dog Democrat has thrown his support behind Medicare Part E. Medicare Part E would not be single payer. Since everyone is taking credit, I’ll pat myself on the back also for writing this on August 7, 2009. However, I only wrote that after I heard the term "Medicare Part E" first on Thom Hartmann’s radio program, at least a month before he wrote his analysis. And, to be honest, my call was for a single-payer system. “Medicare Part E” would be an opt-in insurance program, entirely optional. Do you like your for-profit health insurance company? Well, you’ll be allowed to keep it.

Olbermann’s commentary is from his special commentary on October 7, nearly a month after Thom Hartmann:

Once you said "Medicare For Everybody," there would be just as much to explain. If you were under 65 you’d be paying for it. You wouldn’t have to buy it. You wouldn’t have to change from whatever you have now. There are just as many caveats.

Still, the intent of all this would be clearer. Much of the criticism of health care reform is coming from those who have or are about to get Medicare and, in confusion, in fear, in the kind of indescribable realization that we are far closer to the end than to the beginning, they are suddenly mortally afraid that health care reform will take it away from them. "Medicare For Everybody," might not be literally true, but instead of terrifying, it would be reassuring. And the explanations and the caveats would be listened to, and not shouted down, as anger and fear — fear, remember, of death – swell up inside.

Thom Hartmann has been on Countdown before. Keith, invite him back and give him credit as well. After all, the best ideas always happen when no one cares who gets the credit.

I’m cautiously optimistic that this will actually happen.

Keith deserves credit for his incredible commentary. Thom Hartmann deserves credit as well. Let’s all take credit for the concept, the name, and make "Medicare Part E for Everyone" finally happen.