Offer The Option of Medicare For Everyone

I’ve always thought it was a mistake to include calls for a “public option” in health care reform. I don’t mean the concept of a public option, but the name. The public has been easily mislead about what this actually means. Many even believe that it means they will have to pay for it out of their taxes, in addition to paying insurance premiums, when actually the public option will be financed by premiums from those who voluntarily choose it.

The public option is modeled after Medicare, which is an extremely popular program.  Polls have shown that Medicare beneficiaries are more satisfied than those in employer-provided health plans. An irony of the health care debate is that Republicans have conned many seniors to protest against the government messing with their Medicare. Using the example of Medicare is helpful to debunk the conservative meme that government programs never work, with Medicare providing health care to beneficiaries more efficiently than the private insurance industry does.

The public option already does well in most polls. A Washington Post-ABC poll published Tuesday showed 57 percent of the public supports the public option while 40 percent oppose it. Still, it doesn’t hurt to improve popular support even further by stressing the similarity to Medicare. House Democrats are nowtalking of rebranding the program as Medicare E–Medicare for everyone.

This might simply amount to renaming the public option, but other ideas involving Medicare have been around for a long time. Many advocates of a single payer plan have argued that the simplest way to do this would be to go to Medicare for All. Expanding Medicare has often been a part of more conservative efforts at health care reform. As it is typically those approaching Medicare age who have the hardest time purchasing insurance on the individual market, one solution (short of comprehensive health care reform) might to be to allow people at age 50 or 55 buy into Medicare. A public option modeled after Medicare would provide the same benefits without the age restrictions.

Not Only Liberals Support Changes in Drug Laws

Following yesterday’s announcement of changes in policy with regards to marijuana, Kathleen Parker argues that changing the policy on medicinal use is not enough. She also notes the changes in the types of people supporting legalization, with this no longer being limited to liberals:

By ever-greater numbers, Americans support decriminalizing at least marijuana, which millions admit to having used, including a couple of presidents and a Supreme Court justice. A recent Gallup poll found that 44 percent of Americans favor legalization for any purpose, not just medical, up from 31 percent in 2000.

The highest level of support, not surprisingly, is in the Western states and among self-described liberals, with 78 percent of liberals favoring decriminalization. But the shift toward a more sensible national policy is no longer confined to the left. Nor is the long-haired stoner the face of the pro-pot lobby. Today’s activist, more likely, doesn’t have facial hair, but she does have kids.

Lately to the smallish conservative crowd, notably once led by anti-prohibitionist William F. Buckley, is Jessica Corry of Colorado, a married, pro-life Republican mom, soon to be “freedom fighter of the month” in High Times magazine.

Recent partakers undoubtedly will have to rub their eyes for a double take when they spot Corry, who spoke last month at a NORML conference (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) in San Francisco, wearing an American flag lapel pin, a triple strand of pearls and a gold marijuana leaf pin.

Another day, another stereotype in the dust bin.

John Kerry: “De Facto Secretary of State”


John Kerry was the obvious choice to become Secretary of State when Barack Obama became president, but Obama found it politically advantageous to get Hillary Clinton out of the Senate, and prevent her from establishing an opposing power base, by offering the job to her. While Clinton officially has the title, when there are international problems, increasingly Obama has called upon John Kerry.

Joe Biden’s move to the executive branch (without Chenyesque confusion as to the role of the VP), opened the way for John Kerry to become Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and have a greater role in foreign affairs. There has always been a close relationship between Kerry and Barack Obama. Kerry gave Obama one of his earliest opportunities at national prominence in choosing him to give the keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic convention. Kerry endorsed Obama for the 2008 nomination in early January, as opposed to supporting either John Edwards, his 2004 running mate, or Hillary Clinton, who at that time had the support of the party establishment.

The Note‘s daily email writes “Sen. John Kerry serves as de facto secretary of state” and this is demonstrated in their on-line version:

Take a look at some of John Kerry recent accomplishments: saves climate bill, becomes the administration’s go-to guy on Karzai in Afghanistan. It took him nearly four years to find his rhythm following his 2004 loss, but Kerry is a player again. On two different fronts, he has stepped up and become a game-saver for his party. On climate/energy, he took a bill that was languishing in the Senate and recruited Lindsey Graham to breathe new life into it. The bill still has a long way to go, but there’s a path to passage and that’s in no small part thanks to Kerry. On Karzai, there are a few tick-tocks about the role he played (one here in the Wall Street Journal), including how the Obama administration used him to, well, super-cede Holbrooke and others. As one Dem strategist commented to us today, “Kerry finally got to show what kind of president he could have been.”

The Wall Street Journal explains why Obama called upon Kerry:

According to one Western diplomat, the Afghan president was more comfortable dealing with Sen. Kerry than with U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry or the administration’s special representative to the region, Richard Holbrooke. Mr. Holbrooke angered Mr. Karzai when he suggested shortly after the Aug. 20 election that a runoff might be needed…

U.S. and Western officials said the Obama administration latched on to Sen. Kerry as a key broker. In June, he played a similar role in the Obama administration’s efforts to build bridges to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to Syrian and U.S. officials.

Sen. Kerry was first drawn into the vote fraud crisis Friday when, at a dinner with U.S. troops from Massachusetts, Mr. Eikenberry pulled him aside and told him of fears Mr. Karzai would denounce findings by U.N.-led election investigators of widespread fraud.

That night, Sen. Kerry went to the presidential palace, where the two men, sometimes accompanied by Mr. Eikenberry and sometimes alone, hashed out Mr. Karzai’s concerns. “We had lot of hours together and talked about a lot of things, including the American experience in elections, and going back to 1864, Al Gore in 2000,” Sen. Kerry said. “I think it helped to put it into a certain framework.”

The Boston Globe notes the importance of Kerry’s diplomatic triumph:

Kerry’s successful talks, which ranged from broad issues of legitimacy to discussions of the statistical analysis used to disqualify ballots, appeared to be his most significant accomplishment since taking over the chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this year, replacing Joe Biden.

“We may have just averted a crisis of government in Afghanistan. This may be the biggest thing that Kerry has done, other than run for president,’’ said Ralph G. Carter a professor at Texas Christian University who co-authored a book on the history of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

How Fox Distorts The News To Promote The Republican Party Line

A common tactic used by the right wing media is to crop audio or video clips to make it appear Democrats are saying something totally different from what they have said and then play it for the gullible wingnuts who have no concept of fact checking. Often they even claim that people like Glenn Beck are hitting people with their own words. As this example came up in the comments to this post, I thought it would be worthwhile to show where this falsehood being circulated by the right wing came from.

A clip from Glenn Beck is above. Media Matters explained what was really said:

Continuing Fox News’ witch hunt against members of the Obama administration, both Glenn Beck and Special Report misleadingly cropped White House communications director Anita Dunn’s remarks at a high school graduation ceremony to falsely claim that she was, in Beck’s words, “proclaiming Mao [Zedong] as … the man that she turns to most.” In fact, Dunn actually said that Mao and Mother Theresa were “the two people that I turn to most to basically deliver a simple point, which is, you’re going to make choices” [emphasis added].

Media Matters also notes how Fox has been repeating this falsehood, including on their news shows. When accused of being an arm of the Republican Party as opposed to a legitimate news organization, defenders of Fox claimed that there was a difference between their opinion shows and their news shows. In reality, their “news”s shows are just opinion shows produced in the format of news shows, but they also serve to promote the Republican Party line.

This is hardly an isolated example of how Fox distorts the news to promote the Republican Party line using such dishonest tactics. Rachel Weiner has compiled  The Ten Most Egregious Fox News Distortions.

There are far more than ten. The distortion of Dunn’s statement isn’t one of the ten presented. Media Matters has also listed  a sampling from October alone:

…here’s a recent example of where the Fox News family broke from the standards of professional journalism and clearly pushed a falsehood.

Here’s another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another.