Tuesday, July 31, 2007

(07.31.07) Recommends:

Game On!

Sweet, I finally get to use a Wayne's World quote as a title to this blog! Even sweeter, the latest NY Times article on the Children's Health Insurance Program marks the story's official ascendancy to an issue that will shape the '08 Election. Check out some of these quotes:

Senator Mel Martinez of Florida, chairman of the Republican National Committee, acknowledged Tuesday that a vote against the bill would be portrayed as a vote against health care for children.

“If we allow that to be the end of the conversation, then we will probably have a very bad election cycle,” Mr. Martinez said. “A number of us on the Republican side really do believe that we need to insure every American, and the way to do that is to provide the tax credits necessary to allow people to obtain individual private health insurance policies.”


Before seeing details of the bills, Mr. Bush denounced them, saying they “take incremental steps down the path to government-run health care for every American.” He said the bills would cover children from middle-income families and “crowd out” private insurance.

Republicans despair of trying to make such arguments to a public vexed by soaring health costs and the erosion of employer-sponsored coverage. But they are trying. Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, said, “The Senate bill would incrementally federalize health care.”

Senator Gordon H. Smith, Republican of Oregon, rejected that. The child health program, like Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, is “a highly successful melding of government and private sector care,” Mr. Smith said.

Dr. Mark B. McClellan, former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said, “The Children’s Health Insurance Program today is delivered mostly by private insurance plans, using public money.”


In an interview, Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, a Republican who is chairman of the National Governors Association, said he did not understand how the debate had become so polarized that Mr. Bush was threatening a veto.

At a meeting of the association last week in Traverse City, Mich., Mr. Pawlenty said, “There was unanimous support for a reasonable expansion of the program.” The group has not endorsed a specific sum.

The federal government spends $5 billion a year on the program. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, a Republican, said it was “absolutely essential” that Congress increase spending on children’s coverage by $50 billion over the next five years. That is 10 times the increase sought by Mr. Bush.

This story gives me confidence in the future. In about a week's time this issue has gone from something that was completely foreign to me to something that will help define Election '08 and beyond. It's paving the way to universal health insurance; just listen to what those Republic politicians are saying above. The tide is turning. The people really do run this country, and the people are ready for a change. What they say is true: when the people start to lead the leaders will start to follow.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

(07.29.07) Recommends:

Meiko's CD Release Show, Hotel Cafe, Hollywood, Calif. July 26, 2007.

Since I was stuck in a Costco-like structure in San Mateo all of last Thursday, it was impossible for me to make it down for this show. Luckily, however, reader Alexa was in attendance and dutifully reported back! Check it:

Oh man, what a show! there had to be like 300 people there -- hot, sweaty, and wonderful! Meiko is adorable and her band is amazing -- she plays with a trumpet player, mandolin, standup bass, and on some songs piano and drums...the stories Meiko tells between songs are hysterical -- I hope she's always this down to earth -- there's no doubt this girl's gonna be famous...at the end of her set, after people begged for an encore, she played a song called "You Gotta Fuckin Tip" -- she wrote it after some guy didn't tip her (I guess she also is a bartender at the Hotel Cafe) -- SUCH a funny song and a great way to end a fabulous set. I bought her CD immediately following the show. She might have it for sale online soon, but she also mentioned that she's doing a residency at the Hotel Cafe all August long. I've got a new favorite singer and her name is Meiko!!

Sounds awesome! So awesome, in fact, that it's been decided: I must get to one of these shows. She's playing the Hotel Cafe Aug. 8, 15, 22, 29. So, heads up those of you in LA: let's meet up at a Meiko show.

Friday, July 27, 2007

(07.27.07) Recommends:

The song "Hey There Delilah" by the Plain White T's.

I'm late on this one, I know. Did this song come out in 2006? Where has it been hiding all this time? I actually heard it for the first time today on some MTV channel. MTVU? Is that a channel? I think that's what the screen said. Obviously I don't watch TV much.


This is the first time I've heard a song on MTV that has made me stop, sit down to listen, and wait until the end so I could see the name of the band. The last time that happened? The Strokes' video for Last Night. Back in the day, right?

There is something fishy about this band: on their current tour they are playing mostly Six Flags amusement parks. I don't know what that means. However, there was also something fishy about the Strokes. They sold out the Granada in Lawrence less than a month after the release of "Is This It." There were people who drove in from Iowa trying to scalp tickets.

Here's the video, enjoy:

Monday, July 23, 2007

(07.23.07) Recommends:

Another Article on the Children's Health Insurance Program.

House Democrats are now packaging the Children's Health Insurance Program with major changes in Medicare. Last time I wrote on this subject, I talked about people with no political voice. Of course, old people are about the only people who read newspapers and vote consistently, so there's now a good shot that this story is here to stay.

Here's Bush's tired position:

President Bush has threatened to veto what he sees as a huge expansion of the children’s health care program, which he describes as a step “down the path to government-run health care for every American.”

Like I've said before, I think the average reasonable person doesn't care about "socialized medicine," whatever that phrase means. People want socialized insurance. Just like we have with police departments, fire departments, schools, etc. I realize that seething blog rants that say "are side is better!" are not a productive way to convince opponents that a government insurance program is the better option.

So here is my attempt to engage and convince President Bush. Mr. Bush, if children from the lower middle class are not provided with insurance through our tax dollars, and therefore do not stay/remain/become healthy, then who will be left to fight this [stupid, delusional] war? Kids from the middle class and upper class are going to college or getting jobs. They have no interest in going to war. Why are you shitting on your biggest recruiting group? You don't want them to have insurance when they're young, and you want them to compete with rats for health care when they come home from war?

Forget it. There may be no use trying to be reasonable with the President on this one.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

(07.22.07) Recommends:

The Monsters of Accordion Tour.

It's going down on Friday Aug 24 at 12 Galaxies in the Mission. I have tickets, do you? Corn Mo is one of my heroes, no question about that. If he's not one of yours the only reasonable explanation would be that you have yet to be graced with the awesomeness that is Corn Mo. And if that's the case, I feel sorry for you. Please do us both a favor and check him out now!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

(07.19.07) Recommends:

The song "Reasons to Love You" by Meiko.

Today a friend passed along a recommendation that I check out Meiko. This is good for several reasons. First, it means that after these last three years and particularly these last two months I still have friends. And that means there's probably still hope for you, too. Secondly, it means that I got to listen to this wonderful music all afternoon. She has a record release party in Hollywood on July 26. And you better believe that if I wasn't kicking it San Mateo-stizz that day, I'd totally be there.

In the meantime, go to her myspace and check out Reasons to Love You. I think you'll be hearing a lot of this song as the summer ends and fall begins. And that's a good thing.

Meiko -- Reasons to Love You -- streaming audio.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

(07.17.07) Recommends:

Screaming and Having People Listen.

Okay, I don't actually think my last post was the motivation for Paul Krugman's latest column. Although, as an aside, I do know there is someone from the NYTimes in the audience occassionally because every once in a while a NYTimes IP address shows up in my tracker. But this is not about me! This is about Paul Krugman picking up the story about Bush vowing to veto the children's health insurance program. Some from Krugman's article that I thought fit in nicely with what I was trying to say:

This is what you might call callousness with consequences. The White House has announced that Mr. Bush will veto a bipartisan plan that would extend health insurance, and with it such essentials as regular checkups and preventive medical care, to an estimated 4.1 million currently uninsured children. After all, it’s not as if those kids really need insurance — they can just go to emergency rooms, right?

And this is how he ends it:

The bottom line is that the opponents of universal health care appear to have run out of honest arguments. All they have left are fantasies: horror fiction about health care in other countries, and fairy tales about health care here in America.

I hope this story stays in the news. Who knows what will happen. After all, we are talking about children, and while politicians love to use the phrase "it's about the children," kids obviously don't have a voice in politics.

Moreover, adults who don't have health insurance don't have a voice in politics either. They don't have a voice because either (a) they don't make enough to afford health insurance but they make too much to receive government support, or (b) they are post-college age adults freshly off of their parents' insurance who are convinced that they don't need insurance. Group (a) has no voice because it's too complicated for politicians to talk about "kinda sorta" poor people in 30 second sound bits; group (b) traditionally doesn't vote. Hence, no political voice for adults without health insurance.

But here's the thing. People who have insurance and who have a political voice are growing increasingly dissatisfied with our arbitrary and capricious -- yeah, that's right, I just said arbitrary and capricious! -- private health insurance system.

And that's why it's doomed.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

(07.15.07) Recommends:

Reading this article and saying, "WTF?"

I try not to pay much attention to politics. I mean, I am interested in policy issues and problems in the world and things like that, but I don't have much interest in politics. It seems like professional wrestling, or middle class religion. But then, every once in a while, I'll read something that really makes me to scratch my head. And makes me get angry. And makes me want to care about politics.

Today was one of those days. I was reading the Times. And came across an article titled "Bush Is Prepared to Veto Bill to Expand Child Insurance." Here's the article. Apparently at issue is the Children's Health Insurance Program. Now, I'll admit upfront that before I read this article I did not know about this program. So I went to this government website to try to learn more. And apparently the goal of this program is to offer insurance to those under the age of 19 who come from families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. And "too much" means earning more than $36,200. For a family of four.

According to the article, the program has been around for a decade, enjoys widespread support and insured nearly 8 million people last year. The program is set to expire September 30, so Congress is in the process of passing legislation to renew the program.

The program to insure children.

Who come from families of four making less than $36,200.

And our president is going to veto this bill. Why? Here's the quote from Tony Fratto, White House spokesman:

“The proposal would dramatically expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program, adding nonpoor children to the program, and more than doubling the level of spending,” Mr. Fratto said. “This will have the effect of encouraging many to drop private coverage, to go on the government-subsidized program.”

I'm sorry. I try to be optimistic and positive on this blog, but what a fucking asshole. God forbid that "nonpoor children" have insurance. Nonpoor children. We're talking about families who make up to $36,200. Asshole! And, and, and: "it will more than double the level of spending" he says. This WaPo article says that the program has a $5 billion annual budget. And this bill seeks to increase funding by $35 billion over the next five years.

Okay, so let me do some quick math. The program costs $5bn annually, $25bn over five years, but Congress is looking to increase this to $50bn over five years. Asshole White House Spokesmen says this is too much; all Congress ever wants to do is spend money. Of course it's not a problem when Congress spends $70bn in FY2007 alone to fight George W. Bush's delusional war.

Yeah, yeah you Bush defenders out there (what are there, 20 of you left in the country?) will say I'm blurring the issue by comparing the relatively small amount it would take to continue a very successful program to the huge sums it is taking to run the abject failure in Iraq.

But assholes like Tony Fratto stay relevant for only so long. George W. Bush? Uhh, he's not going be in the White House much longer. And the next president won't be a Republican. So Tony Fratto will soon find himself unemployed. And if he gets testicular cancer before he finds new employment and a new insurance policy, and cannot independently qualify for private insurance because the insurance companies call his testicular cancer a "preexisting condition" that precludes coverage, then I'll care about what he has to say about the cost of health insurance.

That we do not have universal insurance now is not a matter of economics. It's a matter of lack of political will.

But here's the thing. Eventually the people will wake up. It might not happen this election cycle. Or even this decade. But eventually this country will have universal insurance. People don't want socialized medicine, they want socialized insurance. This successful Children's Program shows that the economics can work and make sense on some level. Now it's just about us as a country optimizing the allocation of priorities and resources. The country is finally coming to after a hazy period. People are ready for a new allocation of priorities and resources. Soon there will be a new person in the White House and that person will assign a group of smart thinkers to figure out how to scale the economics of the program, and they'll make universal insurance real.

Tony Frattos of the country, your days are numbered.

Friday, July 13, 2007

(07.13.07) Recommends:

Reading Your Computer Screen, Checking Your Calender, and then Slowly Peering Out Your Window to Make Sure Nuclear Winter Hasn't Arrived.

Why did I just gets the shakes all of a sudden? Well, I just found out that Deerhoof, everybody's favorite experimental-punk-art-noise-spazrock-japanaband are playing -- wait for it, wait for it... -- Last Call With Carson Daly next Wednesday. Holy Friday the 13th, Batman! Let the culture wars begin!

I have no idea who watches Carson Daly. Actually, I have an idea: popped-collars who are just returning home from a(nother) night of playing Golden Tee at some stupid bar. Here's another idea: nobody. 2am is pretty far from TRL, regardless of your time zone.

Sarcasm aside, I don't know who actually watches the show. But, whoever they are, I hope they're ready for some Deerhoof to enter their lives.

Deerhoof -- Blue Cash -- mp3.
Deerhoof -- Milk Man -- mp3.

Deerhoof -- Assorted Songs -- website.

Deerhoof webpage.
Deerhoof Myspace.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

(07.11.07) Recommends:

The Finches.

It has been a crazy and intense past two-months here. But July is almost over. And while normally I get a little wistful when July leaves me, knowing that it just means that summer is almost over, and only the long slow march to more serious times and crappy weather remains. But not this July. It can pass and fade into oblivion and never be thought about again. But...

...But. There are many days left till I'm tearing off another page of the calendar. But you know what has really helped me get through these days? A lovely band called the Finches. They're based in San Francisco and they play music that is soft and warm and slows my brain down. Check out what I mean:

The Finches -- Tar and Cement -- mp3

See what I mean? Stressful summer? Put this song on repeat, and things'll be just fine. Lazy summer? Put this song on repeat, and things'll be just fine. You get the point. And this is your new favorite band. So, go to their myspace and listen to more songs. More goodness at their website.

And, if you're really ambitious, join me at celebrating the end of this stupid month at Hemlock Tavern. The party is going down on July 28. I'll provide the first round. Oh yeah, The Finches will be providing the music. Can't beat that, friends.