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Saturday, August 28, 2004

Make Love, Fuck War

"Don't anoint me, anoint yourself," rapper Chuck D. says in a recent interview for Mother Jones. In the interview, the former Public Enemy frontman discusses their new single "MKLVFKWR" (a.k.a. "Make Love, Fuck War") and concludes by saying, "[T]he minute that we see seven or eight women get in a circle and start a war, I’ll be shocked like a motherfucker." Word.

From the Vanity Fair writer

In a characteristically sanctimonious column for Slate, Christopher Hitchens manages to make an insightful observation:
"The Democrats have made a rod for their own backs in uncritically applauding their candidate's ramrod-and-salute posture. They have also implicitly subverted one of the most important principles of the republic, which is civilian control over military decisions. And more than that, they have done something eye-rubbingly unprincipled, doing what Reagan and Kissinger could not do: rehabilitating the notion of the Vietnam horror as 'a noble cause.'"

Friday, August 27, 2004

Bush Country

The Census Bureau announced this week poverty rates are up for a third year in a row. This should lay to rest any claims that George W. Bush's tax cuts are beneficial to a broad sector of the public. Close to 13 million children are now living in poverty. The number of uninsured (as opposed to marginally insured) has risen to 45 million. The number of people receiving health insurance fell to the lowest level in a decade, the Washington Post reported. An additional 1.3 million Americans fell below the poverty line, the Post said. By contrast, the national poverty rate fell during the years Bill Clinton was in office (1993-2000).

Monday, August 23, 2004

Concerts in Central Park, but no protesters

A federal judge ruled today that protesters cannot gather in Central Park (the most obvious gathering spot in the city) during the Republican National Convention next week.

The Associated Press reported, "Gail Donoghue, special assistant to the city's corporation counsel, had argued [before the judge] that the lawn would be ruined if 75,000 people gathered there for a rally on Saturday."

U.S. District Court Judge William H. Pauley III was also concerned about safety, according to the AP report.

But can there be safety without democracy? What happened to the right to peaceful assembly? Do judges no longer read the Constitution?

Bob Dole joins Swift Veterans for (Mis)Truth

Cranky Bob Dole needs to hire a fact-checker.

Speaking to Wolf Blitzer on CNN, Dole said, "John Kerry's a hero. But what I will always quarrel about are the Purple Hearts. I mean, the first one, whether he ought to have a Purple Heart - he got two in one day, I think. And he was out of there in less than four months, because three Purple Hearts and you're out."

One problem with Dole's assertions? Kerry did not receive any Purple Hearts on the same day. He received them for events on Dec. 2, 1968, Feb. 20, 1969, and March 13, 1969.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Health insurers find new profits in higher premiums

As everyone knows, health care costs to individuals, families and businesses are continuing to rise at a record rate. In an article today, Leslie Berestein does an excellent job of analyzing some of the causes.

One impetus for the price hikes is particularly jarring:

"Net income for the nation's health insurers was $10.2 billion last year, according to Weiss Ratings Inc., which rates the strength of financial institutions. That's almost twice the profits earned in 2002, and almost 14 times the $736 million earned in 1999... Weiss analyst Donna O'Rourke said the industry is thriving for two main reasons: ongoing premium increases and 'expense reduction,' which includes reconfiguring health plans to shift more of the cost of services to consumers...

[In 1988] an average insurance policy for a family of four cost $179 a month, or $286 in today's inflation-adjusted dollars, according to the Chicago-based Health Research and Educational Trust.

This is roughly a third of the $829 a month it took to insure the same family last year. And for that higher price, today's policy typically comes with higher office-visit co-payments, additional hospital deductibles, extra fees for brand-name prescription drugs and other out-of-pocket expenses."