Interesting Things Around the Internet

  • This is super cool. Transportation for America has state by state information on the percent of roads in poor condition, pedestrian fatality rates, annual hours of travel delay, public transit use, and other transit topics.
  • Meritocracy for some but not for all.
  • Ezra Klein: We Ration. We Ration. We Ration. We Ration.

    The numbers are almost mirror images of each other. Twenty-seven percent of Canadians wait more than four months for treatment, versus only four percent of Americans. Twenty-four percent of Americans can’t afford medical care at all, versus only 6 percent of Canadians. And the American numbers are understated because if you can’t afford your first appointment, you never learn you couldn’t afford the medicine or test that the doctor would have prescribed.

  • Daily Kos diarist Im nonpartisan describes how she went from having a job she loved to having a job she couldn’t stand—all while working in the same place.

    I can’t tell you how awful it feels to look at a day’s schedule and see that your store manager will be working the sales floor from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., with no scheduled meal. And because the whole staff of the store has been cut to the absolute bare minimum, the manager is the one expected to sell the books, answer the phones, explain (again and again) why the music CDs are down to a selection of a dozen or so, and push frantically the “make” books chosen by corporate. When no sales person is scheduled for upstairs, it’s the manager who goes up and down dozens of times a day fetching books for customers.

    And the word came down last week from corporate: no food or drink on the sales floor, ever. No coffee, no bottle of water, no stash of apples or carrots behind the cash register to keep hunger pains away. As if there were any other staff in the store to cover for a 10 minute break and the drinking fountain wasn’t on the second floor.

Solidarity Forever

I got the news about Toyota looking at its North American manufacturing structure. They’re thinking about when to open a plant in Mississippi (or, maybe, if?) and if they should keep a California operation running (yeah, that’s the one that is a UAW represented plant that was a joint venture with
GM). I think this is the money quote from the Detroit News:

“That put us in a very difficult position,” Inaba said. “We are carefully evaluating all the options.”

He didn’t commit to a timetable for a decision on Nummi, but said a decision would be made “quite soon.” He said Toyota hadn’t received an incentive package from California yet.

The hourly workers at Nummi are represented by the United Auto Workers, and the contract expires next month. Inaba said the UAW contract “is one consideration, but not the single deciding factor.”

Think about that for just a minute. Toyota is hurting. Sales are down 38% over a year ago, but then again, all vehicle sales are down 35%. With sales down, they’re not looking at reducing costs, being more efficient, maybe even rolling layoffs, nope, not Toyota, they are looking at closing one of the few union plants they have. That’s their bang for their buck.

But Toyota is not unusual. Even in the International labor market, they aren’t doing anything that the corporate big brothers do on a daily basis. Take Morocco, did you know there’s a pilot’s union? Or that they were on strike for 3 days last week? It’s true.

And why?
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Working Families Support a Public Option

Dan Heck — Working America Regional Director

Recent polling confirms what we are hearing in the community: there is deep and broad support for a public health care option among Americans, as long as it is explained clearly. The best polls show that at least 56 to 62% of Americans support a public option. That sounds about right, based on the consistent, positive response we are getting in all kinds of communities.

We are knocking on doors in quite conservative areas in states across the country. We’re talking to people in places like Zanesville and New Philadelphia, where Rush Limbaugh and his imitators rule the airwaves. We don’t cherry pick who we talk to. We talk to everyone we can reach. When we talk to people about health care costs and the public option, well over half actually take the time to write a personal letter in support. Even more are supportive, but are too busy changing baby diapers or making dinner to write.

Pundits love to imagine that the world is made up of liberals, conservatives and moderates. They make it sound like politics is a tug-of-war between these factions. But when you leave the world of the professional chatterers, you realize most people are too smart to think that the world reduces to a couple of stark ideological positions. In reality, we all care about what works, what makes sense, and what helps all of us keep our heads above water. Right now in America, that clearly includes a public health care option. If only the pundits spent a little time talking to real people, they’d figure that out real quick.


“The Dream Shall Never Die”

This passage is the most remembered from Ted Kennedy’s 1980 Democratic National Convention speech:

For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

On this day, though, it is worth revisiting and truly dwelling on the work, the cause, the hope, the dream he expressed throughout the speech, and throughout his career.

Let us pledge that we will never misuse unemployment, high interest rates, and human misery as false weapons against inflation.

Let us pledge that employment will be the first priority of our economic policy.

Let us pledge that there will be security for all those who are now at work, and let us pledge that there will be jobs for all who are out of work; and we will not compromise on the issues of jobs.

These are not simplistic pledges. Simply put, they are the heart of our tradition, and they have been the soul of our Party across the generations. It is the glory and the greatness of our tradition to speak for those who have no voice, to remember those who are forgotten, to respond to the frustrations and fulfill the aspirations of all Americans seeking a better life in a better land.

We dare not forsake that tradition.

We cannot let the great purposes of the Democratic Party become the bygone passages of history.

We must not permit the Republicans to seize and run on the slogans of prosperity. We heard the orators at their convention all trying to talk like Democrats. They proved that even Republican nominees can quote Franklin Roosevelt to their own purpose.


The commitment I seek is not to outworn views but to old values that will never wear out. Programs may sometimes become obsolete, but the ideal of fairness always endures. Circumstances may change, but the work of compassion must continue. It is surely correct that we cannot solve problems by throwing money at them, but it is also correct that we dare not throw out our national problems onto a scrap heap of inattention and indifference. The poor may be out of political fashion, but they are not without human needs. The middle class may be angry, but they have not lost the dream that all Americans can advance together.

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Signs from Reston

Some people are classy. Picture taken at last night’s health care town hall with Howard Dean and Rep. Jim Moran, in Reston, Virginia. This should serve as a reminder to the media what kind of people we’re dealing with when we talk about opposition to health care reform.

Going to Canada

So should this:

He Changed

And we should also remember that those are not the only voices, that supporters of health care reform are standing just feet away, and not ignore them simply because they aren’t screaming insults and threatening violence.

I Want a Public Option

Health Care Can't Wait


Honoring Sen. Ted Kennedy

There are and will be a host of tributes to Ted Kennedy, who deserves every one. Of course, the greatest tribute to him would be passing real health care reform. Of people who would say that somehow politicizes his death, I’d ask what could be more appropriate than to carry out the man’s greatest wish, what he called “the cause of my life,” the thing that he kept fighting for throughout his final illness?

That should be our focus moving forward. But the life he lived is more than worth stopping and taking some time to honor.

President Obama:

I wanted to say a few words this morning about the passing of an extraordinary leader, Senator Edward Kennedy.

Over the past several years, I’ve had the honor to call Teddy a colleague, a counselor, and a friend. And even though we have known this day was coming for some time now, we awaited it with no small amount of dread.

Since Teddy’s diagnosis last year, we’ve seen the courage with which he battled his illness. And while these months have no doubt been difficult for him, they’ve also let him hear from people in every corner of our nation and from around the world just how much he meant to all of us. His fight has given us the opportunity we were denied when his brothers John and Robert were taken from us: the blessing of time to say thank you — and goodbye.

The outpouring of love, gratitude, and fond memories to which we’ve all borne witness is a testament to the way this singular figure in American history touched so many lives. His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives — in seniors who know new dignity, in families that know new opportunity, in children who know education’s promise, and in all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just — including myself.

The Kennedy name is synonymous with the Democratic Party. And at times, Ted was the target of partisan campaign attacks. But in the United States Senate, I can think of no one who engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle. His seriousness of purpose was perpetually matched by humility, warmth, and good cheer. He could passionately battle others and do so peerlessly on the Senate floor for the causes that he held dear, and yet still maintain warm friendships across party lines.
And that’s one reason he became not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy.

His extraordinary life on this earth has come to an end. And the extraordinary good that he did lives on. For his family, he was a guardian. For America, he was the defender of a dream.

I spoke earlier this morning to Senator Kennedy’s beloved wife, Vicki, who was to the end such a wonderful source of encouragement and strength. Our thoughts and prayers are with her, his children Kara, Edward, and Patrick; his stepchildren Curran and Caroline; the entire Kennedy family; decades’ worth of his staff; the people of Massachusetts; and all Americans who, like us, loved Ted Kennedy.

Robert Scheer in The Nation.

The light has gone out, and with it that infectious warm laugh and intensely progressive commitment of the best of the Kennedys. Not, at this point, to take anything away from the memory of his siblings–Bobby, whom I also got to know, was pretty terrific in his last years–but Senator Ted Kennedy was the real deal.

Unable to move with his brothers’ intellectual alacrity, sometimes plodding in impromptu expression but smooth and skillful while reading from a script, the youngest Kennedy made up for his shortcomings early in his Senate career by resolutely working the substance of issues. His principled determination, plus his capacity to truly care about the real-world outcomes of legislation for ordinary people rather than its impact on his or anyone else’s election, became his signature qualities as a lawmaker. But for those same reasons, he also wanted legislation passed, and his ability to work with the opposition, as he did three years ago with John McCain on immigration reform, now grants him a legacy as one of the nation’s great senators.

Meteor Blades at Daily Kos.

Kennedy was a liberal fighter in the old mold. The plethora of legislation he helped pass made life better for children, for the poor, for African-Americans, for immigrants, for workers. He didn’t just give lip service to the rights of workers, he stood in their corner. He fought for access to health care and for quality education. And he opposed the likes of Robert Bork and others who wanted to trash the gains American women, workers and minorities had made over the years.


Interesting Things Around the Internet

  • Who’s paying to kill health care reform?
  • What happens when a single company buys 4,100 acres of land in a single county—then goes bust?
  • I just love Martha Rose Shulman’s Recipes for Health in the New York Times. Here’s one for fried green tomatoes that I’m going to try if I can still find green tomatoes.
  • Great comparison between the arguments against health care reform now and against Medicare in the 1960s.
  • Mercury Marine is shutting down its unionized Fond du Lac plant. This part shows the magnitude of what’s happening to America’s workers and communities:

    If the company moves ahead with its plans, it will mark the fourth closing of a Wisconsin community’s most important employer since last September.

    The private equity firm Cerberus closed the profitable Kimberly Paper mill in Kimberly in September; GM closed its century-long operation in Janesville in December, and Chrysler is ending 109 years of auto manufacturing in Kenosha and moving engine work to a new plant in Saltillo, Mexico.

Kitty Needs His Meds — DENIED

Yesterday I alerted you to the danger the lolcat community is facing if health care reform doesn’t come through, providing all of us—human and lolimal—with a strong public option.

Insurance companies do a lot of lousy things, and today we have evidence of some more. This kitty still needs medicine, but he’s exceeded his maximum lifetime benefit. That’s something else that happens all the time to people who have insurance in this country, who’ve paid their premiums and should be covered.

That’s the point, right? The people are always the point—working people, struggling to get by, who shouldn’t have to worry that if they lose their job they’ll lose their coverage, that if someone gets sick the family will go bankrupt because the insurance company puts a cap on their lifetime benefits or just plain refuses to pay. But we’ve all heard a lot of those stories, and many of us have lived it, and there are some people it’s just not getting through to. Or it’s getting partway through, but not to the point where they actually do something about it.

We probably won’t be able to do much about people like the Colliers, profiled in the New York Times yesterday.

“We’ve got to do something about those people who can’t get insurance,” he said. “There has to be a safety net there. But I don’t want that safety net to catch too many people.”

As Susie Madrak responded,

So he wants a safety net just big enough to catch him and his wife – but no one Fox News has trained him to see as expendable. And this is what passes for a “reasonable” conservative.

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I Can Has Health Care?

Oh, no! Dr. Tinycat is out of network, and pug-puppy’s claim for x-rays and a cast on his broken leg has been denied.

That’s how bad the health care crisis in this country has gotten: The lolcat community is being affected.

Even if you haven’t gotten around to taking action for health care reform yet, how can you deny these poor sad puppy eyes? And what’s next? Will Snowball become a victim of rescission for not disclosing that her groomer found a hair mat once?

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The Daily Show: Facts vs. Fear

Former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey comes to the Daily Show armed with fear and gets destroyed by Jon Stewart and his facts.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Healthcare Protests
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 2
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Healthcare Protests