Saturday, November 30, 2013

Already The Abuse Comes in

** Note-It's Alan Grayson who recommended an extension of Medicare for all.

++You can feel the vitriol against the President. One tea bagger said,"Thanks Obama. Half the football teams playing this weekend have lost." 

++The Onion reports that 45 million died during this Black Friday weekend, making it the worst on record.

++ Covered CA is ignoring Obama's plight. They announced registering 10,000 per day en route to surpassing their 2014 goal. They have even added a custom-line for those who are in a transition from an insurance plan that was cancelled and a new one.

++Even Talking Points Memo writes how would we know the website is completely working.

++Even Alabama lost to Auburn. 

++How does President Obama sleep at night, knowing liberalism, a once great American political tradition, may die at midnight? 

++So I will sign off now and wait to read the news tomorrow morning.

The Tension Mounts as the Clock Winds Down

++The Washington Post's Zachary Goldfarb captures the moment as the Democrats feel heat from their liberal,populist wing as a critique of President Obama and a challenge to Hillary Clinton.

++Dan Balz is asking whether President Obama as a turnaround plan for his second term?

++Huffington Post headlines the effort at "Saving Obama(care)".

++The New York Times has on its front page "Inside The Race to Rescue the Health Site and Obama" by Shery Gay Solberg and Michael Shear.

++To salvage the situation, Allan Greyson is offering Medicare for all.

++Tomorrow on "Face the Nation" ,liberalism will be pronounced dead by elderly white men who knew what liberalism was.

Only a Few More Hours Left of Liberalism

++The President fiddles while an ideology burns. President Obama was at Politics and Prose this afternoon buying Christmas Gifts. Eric Holder was seen at Union station shopping before getting out of town.

++White House correspondents are downplaying the fixes to the HealthCare. gov website and don't think they will save the President.

++The New York Times admits that the error message is now down from 6% to 0.75% and that the time to load has gone from 8 seconds to a fraction of a second. 

++NewsMax reports that Democrats might flee support of ACA if the website fails.

++The tension mounts. The time of decision is at Midnight E.S.T. Liberalism might fall three hours later Pacific Time.

Liberalism Dies at Midnight Tonight

++According to Charles Krauthammer and Michelle Bachman, liberalism will collapse with the failure of the ACA. So if the HealthCare. gov website is not 100% fixed at midnight tonight,liberalism will die an agonizing death.

++The GOP is saying the website is a distraction from the problems with the law. And the Iran deal was a distraction from the website.

++Glenn Beck's "The Blaze" says that Obama rigged the last election. So I guess he pulled a Saul Alinsky or another liberal tactic.

++The Amazon Post distracting from the working conditions in the Amazon warehouses says that all of Obama's legislative initiatives are stalled or have faded away so he needs to start over.

++Wal Mart arrested Santa Claus but no one is outraged. We survived Black Friday with a  minimum of casualties.

++A new poll shows that two-thirds of Americans don't trust other Americans. The number used to be 50% of Americans thought people were good and trustworthy.

++Cardinal Dolan gave his full interview about being outmarketed on gay marriage. But the strangest thing he actually said was the Catholic Church would be fully supportive of the ACA if it didn't fund abortions. I gather contraceptives are now considered abortions since ACA specifically outlaws funding for abortions.

++I heard a computer geek speak about the website . He said the problem was that the original specs for the job didn't account for all the Republican-led states refusing to set up their own state exchanges and that alone amplified the problem.

++Remember every season is baseball season. The Hall of Fame ballot is out. The strongest candidates are Greg Maddux with 355 wins and 18 Gold Gloves for the Atlanta Braves, Tom Glavine 305 wins for the Braves,Frank Thomas with 522 hrs,1,700 rbi's for the Chicago White Sox. Other contenders are Jack Morris and Mike Piazza.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday

++President Obama hasn't resigned today as Larry Klayman demanded. A right-wing website said that President Obama has other plans--declaring martial law and putting Americans in FEMA camps. He will use foreign troops to do it.

++Politico today has an article on 50 people who have already filed papers with the FEC to run for President in 2016. Quite a crew. A fun read.

++A birther preacher claims the woman shot down after crashing the White House gates this past week was the mother of Obama's "love child". 

++Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media says that Pope Francis long papal letter on "reckless capitalism" shows the Marxist problem inside the Church.

++David Gregory interviews Cardinal Dolan tomorrow who says that the Catholic Church has been "out marketed" on same sex marriage and the Church isn't really anti-gay.

++Washington Monthly today has an analysis why the Post's warnings about a Republican wave election should be taken with a grain of salt. Democrats defended over 250 seats in 2010, many of them in Republican-leaning districts.

++Also in Washington Monthly, James Wimberley uses the various numbers on Obamacare and Medicaid expansion to write "Thanks to Obamacare,One million people now have health insurance". 

++Brian Beutler in Salon writes about "What To Expect with Obamacare's November 30 Re-launch."

++Kathleen Sebelius at Huffington Post writes how to holiday shop on Use the off-hours.

++Paul Krugman keeps on going. At first, he wasn't going to write about Obamacare but now he comes in with a blog on its Cost Savings.

++Tim Egan in today's New York Times writes" Rooting for Failure", an analysis on the GOP actually rooting for America to fail throughout the Obama Presidency. He asks the readers to try and remember when a major political party openly wished initiatives to assist Americans fail. From the auto bailout, the stimulus,the Affordable Care Act, the list goes on.

++Meanwhile, 76,000 New Yorkers have signed up for health insurance on that state's exchange. 

++The Post worries today that maybe not enough young people will sign up for health insurance to make premium costs affordable.

++Buzzfeed has a story about a website that tracks those killed or injured during Black Thursday. Protesters here in Alexandria, Virginia were arrested at Walmart's and elsewhere in the state other shoppers shot each other.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving News

++As if they want to take the PR offense against the critics of the Iran deal,Iranian authorities have invited the UN inspectors to visit the Arak plant where plutonium is supposed to be produced in the future. Both France and Israel had insisted that this plant be "de-commissioned". But it's not operative yet.

++My qualms about Iran's nuclear program is summed up in today's story that an earthquake hit near the Bashear nuclear plant. Since the beginning of the nuclear program,Iranian engineers warned of a Fukushima-tyoe accident that would destroy all marine life in the Gulf and result in thousands of deaths in the emirates. They warned about the plant being situated on an earthquake fault. 

++Hamid Karzai now is under pressure to ratify the security agreement with the United States since he already signed it. Afghans are complaining their idiosyncratic leader is blowing a chance at ensuring the country's security.

++The Washington Post warns Democrats that the political mood in the country is close to 2010, which swept the tea-party into office. 

++Roy Teixeira at Think Progress urges Democrats to focus on the economy almost exclusively for 2010. Obama's pollsters show that the economy remains the number 1 issue despite glitches in Obamacare,the NSA revelations and foreign policy. Teixeira says that moves for more stimulus,raising the minimum wage and other measures aimed at lowering unemployment would put the sail back in the winds of Democrats. He urges Democrats not to panic at the reversal in polls since the shutdown and not to be too concerned about the slow,halting roll-out of Obamacare.

++Think Progress also published a summary of a new Harvard political science paper which shows that the fate of Republicans may lie in their primaries. The paper shows that the farther right or extreme the primary challenge, the more likely the centrist candidate will win. This year almost all primary challenges are among Republicans. The counter to this is that voter suppression and gerrymandering still favor the GOP in the House.

++A year away is an eternity in politics. If the Democrats were close, according to Charles Cook, of taking back the House during the shutdown,why the glum now. It is the incessant pounding the media and not just Fox News on Obamacare and the President. But polls are fickle things. If you dig down in a policy poll, you still see majorities favoring raising the minimum wage,immigration reform,certain gun restrictions,gay rights, and a peaceful solution to Iran. But it requires Democrats not to freak out prematurely. The money situation is not as good for the GOP as it was in 2010. 

++Speaking of money, the Obama administration has announced new regulations for 501-C-4 organizations that would prohibit the CrossRoads America, Karl Rove's organization, and tea party organizations from contributing so much money in the elections. As full disclosure, I run a 501-C-4 and frankly as they are presently constituted they are confusing and subject to serious abuse. Personally, I am closing mine because it draws the same attention as a strictly political one. They are social welfare organizations and they were never meant for political campaign purposes. The IRS have never followed the original mandate for 501-C-4s and so we have the spectacle of the Issa hearings blaming the administration for having to deal with the flood of applications in 2010 for the tea party--as well as progressive groups. The new requirements would make more practical sense. But I can assure you President Obama will be criticized for it.

On Your Mark,Get Ready, and Go

++So Newsmax now is alerting the Right that the Obama Administration is worried that the website will crash on December 1.

++In a way they may be right. The administration is encouraging people who were frustrated to try and again now, while Organizing for America has been told to wait a little bit before starting their campaign to get younger Americans to sign-up.

++So let's set the starting number before this weekend. According to the website or, which was created by an enterprising individual, who tabulates all the numbers percolating up from all the states and the Medicaid expansion, we start the great race at: 
230,324 signups for private insurance.
1,384,576 for Medicaid. 
That's a grand total of 1,614,900.  
The lion's share of this is from California. So we'll see how the numbers rock in the holiday season. Remember the media will target December 23 as the success/failure date, but it's really March.

++Gallup has a poll that showed that 90% of Americans say they are unaffected by Obamacare,meaning nothing in the insurance status has changed. It's sort of true except that your insurance got better. 

Before the Turkey

++Before we hit the big shopping days,our political pundits decided to go a little nuts.

++Mark Halperin decided he was right all along about "death panels" in Obamacare.

++Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard published an issue with five articles on why the Iran deal is appeasement.

++Senator Menendez, Democrat from New Jersey, claims President Obama is "fear-mongering" on his warnings against further sanctions on Iran.

++Rush Limbaugh denounced Pope Francis as Marxist.

++Senator Ted Cruz announced that Pope Francis did not understand Christianity.

++Sister Sarah Palin went back to criticizing the Pope after she had retreated from her first criticism.

++Fox Business reporter Varney said that the Pope didn't understand capitalism.

++Jeb Bush actually went out of his way to criticize President Obama for "closing our embassy to the Vatican". This actually generated a fund-raising letter from the House Republicans, complaining that President Obama was disrespectful of the Catholic Church because they opposed "Obamacare". Actually, the Vatican Embassy is being moved inside the area of our Embassy to Italy and will be a separate building, which is actually closer to the Vatican. This is part of the movement for anti-terrorist architecture that is making our diplomatic posts eyesores. If President Obama didn't do this. It would be another Benghazi.

++President Obama postponed the on-site signup for small businesses for a year. The Hispanic website will be up by December 1. 

++The federal website should be cranking at 50,000 simultaneous hits by Monday. In California,insurance companies are opening stores in shopping malls for healthcare sign-ups. National insurance companies are ready to advertise for the federal exchange once they are confident the website is up and running at full speed.

++The Kentucky exchange is ready for the holiday surge. California Covered is up to speed. Maryland is having troubles. Rhode Island is perking along. States where they are problems are either Southern Republican-run states or states where only one insurance carrier like Wyoming.

++In North Carolina,the state insurance commissioned allowed Blue Cross a 20% rate hike in their premiums yesterday. So watch this to be featured in the Darryl Issa witch hunts.

++If you can't create a theocracy by the ballot box, create a corporation with a pseudo-religious person at the head. Hobbyland's case to the Supreme Court should be watched because it could be another assertion by the Supreme Court that corporations have rights superior to individuals. It would mean corporate control over women's reproductive rights.

++John Boehner is fighting the Farm Bill again because in this holiday season it doesn't cut food stamps enough. With poverty increasing in the country, it is interesting to note that 900,000 veterans use foodstamps to help feed their families.

++Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallon is ingenious about getting around federal benefits for same-sex veterans. All married veterans can't have rights in Oklahoma.

++Texas tried to prohibit same-sex veterans from receiving benefits but cobbled together a solution where they would be within the spirit of the law.

++The Democrats are doomed according to yesterday's Post. They say there is evidence of a "wave" election for the Republicans. The "wave" simply is that there is a chance that the Republicans could take back the Senate. 

Happy Tansgivukkah

**This the holiday where the Indians and Jews ate potato lattkes and kvetched about the settlers. This is a better,improved holiday because traditional Thanksgiving was how the Indians fed the Pilgrims and then the Pilgrims exterminated their hosts. Here at least you have a good Jewish holiday thrown in. Make sure the Turkey is kosher.

**I'm thankful this day for having a Pilgrim President, descended from those forefathers and foremothers, who has kept his promises to the native American community.

**I'm also thankful for Obamacare for both my family's health security and for poorer Americans who will benefit from Medicaid expansion in the Union states.

**I'm also thankful to all musicians who keep on keeping on. I'm particularly thankful to my son and all his friends who keep making the music of this century while struggling to make a living.

**I'm thankful that our last war is winding down and we might have a space of a nanosecond until the next one.

**I'm thankful to all those who struggle in the fight for peace, national reconciliation and upholding basic human rights.

**I'm thankful to the progress this country has made for justice in the area of the LBGT rights.

**I'm thankful to all writers,poets and scholars who keep re-imagining the world through words and discovering new things about our history and our consciousness.

**I'm thankful for the Macy's Day Parade because Senator Cruz failed in his attempt to eliminate helium.

**I'm thankful for a President who constantly shows superb judgment despite the constant barrage of provocations against him.

**I'm thankful Congress is out of session.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Not Munich

++Eugene Robinson slams the Munich analogies in this afternoon's Post. Washington Monthly also has a run-own on who of the conservatives is calling the Iranian deal "another Munich". Charles Krauthammer was first off the block and Alex Castellanos, the GOP operative, was soon tweeting the news. Hard to see how a multi-national agreement supported by Russia,China,the EU, France and the UK could be capitulating to a country which doesn't have a nuclear weapon. Time reports that the Saudis are looking for a bomb now (which they have on convenient lay-away in Pakistan) the deal is done.

++Reuters/Ipsos this afternoon that shows 44% support for the Deal and 22% oppose. God knows what the remainder believe. But if the deal fails,49% are for increased sanctions, 31% support further diplomacy and only 20% support war. 

++It seems to me that those who oppose a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear program should openly state their alternative. 

Obamacare News

++The richest man in congress, Darryl Issa hit North Carolina today in his Obamacare hearings and refused to hear from citizens who actually benefited from Obamacare because they had been denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

++Mark Halperin tried to back away from his "death panels" statement this morning via Twitter. Howard Dean caught him at it by pointing to the part of Obamcare that had a review board on appropriate treatments. Halperin stammered on.

++Thank you ,Ted Cruz ads will be on football games this Thanksgiving.

++President Obama urged everyone this afternoon to get back on because it was working better. 

++Newsmax decided not to print Pope Francis attack on capitalism but instead focused on his re-affirmation of the Catholic positions on abortion.

Obamacare A Done Deal

++Kevin Drum of Mother Jones writes an article today with the above mentioned title. He reads into Ezra Klein's Wonkblog into today's Amazon Post and concludes that, while we will hear new complaints from the GOP,basically Obamacare is here to stay since the website is pretty much fixed.

++Paul Krugman says that the "whole horrors of Obamacare " meme will be gone ,not in months but in weeks. His article is titled, "The Obamacare Worm Turns". 

++Kathleen Sebelius earlier today urged everyone to get back on line at The website now handles 800,000 applications per day. Soon we will be watching the numbers of enrollees like the monthly jobs figures.

++Greg Sargent asks "What if the GOP's Stance on Obamacare proves a liability?" He writes in the Post that this is the real uncovered news story. He writes that the Democrats' losses in the generic poll have all come from wealthy white voters. Meanwhile, Medicaid expansion is widely popular. Sargent reported that Democrats fear losing the Senate because of Obamacare. Americans fear they would lose the Senate with the GOP in its present state.

++Dinesh D'Souza, former President of King's College  and film maker of a documentary film on Obama which the Right circulated prior to the last election, says he is thankful the United States can survive "the adult Trayvon Martin in the White House". FOX News is trumpeting a new poll showing only a 39% approval rating for the President. For comparison, Ronald Reagan hit 33%, JFK 27% and FDR 36%. 

++O' by the way, Congress's approval rating is 5% in a poll with a 3.5% margin of error. I guess the 1.5% are those same 1.5% who will have their insurance rates increase. The GOP has a whooping approval rating of 24%. 

++Pope Francis launched a new papal encyclical blasting unfettered capitalism, "the idolatry of money", consumerism and decried the inequities of wealth within societies. He warned that reckless capitalism would breed "a new tyranny" and criticized supply-side economics as not being based on fact.


++Mark Halperin really did raise the issue of rationing care at the end of life and believes this will be a big issue about Obamacare.

++Paul Krugman thinks Obamacare will soon become another Benghazi as enrollments soar. Krugman and Ezra Klein both report smooth sailing on Klein now says the Administration will conduct their outreach.

++Politico reports that Obama has asked his team not to seek better national news coverage about Obamacare but focus on local stories that are positive.

++The Amazon Post actually wrote a positive story about the Kentucky exchanges after it had been covered for weeks by television stations.

++The Post now raises the question about how the IRS will be able to handle the deluge now that the website can handle 800,000 a day.

++Paul Krugman in another article wrote about how Californiacovered is doing quite well and that if Obamacare works in the largest state it can work anywhere.

++Republican governors are now faced with a dilemma of how to avoid expanding Medicaid. Apparently,Florida is in secret negotiations with the Administration to expand Medicaid. 

++The Supreme Court is actually entertaining the Hobbyland Case, where the owner pretends his business is a religious organization and should not offer birth control in his insurance plans.

++NPR did a weirdly positive story about California's efforts on Obamacare. Weird because they had that nasty interview with Jerry Brown last week.

++The corporate television still repeats the strange meme that Obamacare is like Katrina, which left thousands dead.

++Ed Schultz to his credit is the only one on television who keeps pounding away on the positive news from Obamacare.

++Polls suggest that Obama and the Democrats have taken a pasting on this news coverage and the GOP now leads the generic congressional polls. This is incredible after the Democrats were posting "wave election" numbers during the shutdown.

++Patty Murray (D.-Wash) says that the budget conference will have a small budget deal, where the Democrats and GOP split the difference. It is still dubious whether the House GOP will go along.

++Bibi Netanyahu threatened President Obama in the phone call on Sunday after the Iranian deal saying that Obama should be concerned whether he will remain the most powerful person in the world after this. 

++Think Progress wrote a piece showing how the world now looks according to Bibi's Bomb Cartoon, namely a helluva safer and Iran further away from a nuclear weapon.

++The GOP howling over the Iran deal continues, likening it to Munich, which is a reference always used on negotiated settlements.

++Rachel Maddow last night showed how deft the diplomacy was. Not only did the Iran deal get done but also it was agreed that the Syrian peace conference will be convened. The Syrian opposition has accepted.

++The one agreement that looks strangely in doubt is the Afghan security arrangement. Susan Rice met with President Karzai and he made more demands after having agreed to the last agreement negotiated with John Kerry. The United States now threatens to leave without one.

++President Obama has established parole boards for the remaining 167 prisoners in Gitmo. Today,the Amazon Post published a story that the CIA has operation "Penny Lane", which turned Gitmo prisoners into double agents and then released them. The sooner we close the base the better.

++China declared an air defense zone over the contested islands with Japan. Naturally, the US military flew through it without notifying the Chinese. There will be more bluffing as we pivot toward the Pacific.

++President Obama lobbied again in California on the immigration bill and challenged John Boehner to pass it even in a piecemeal fashion.

++Andrew Sullivan at The Dish had a fascinating article after the Iran deal on President Obama as the Liberal Reagan. I don't know about the liberal since the President said in California he doesn't have a strong ideology.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Reactions to the Iranian deal keep coming in

++Peter Beinert in The Daily Beast writes how the deal isn't a surrender.

++Josh Rogin in In The Daily Beast writes how the World now doubts Obama's Red Line.

++John Bolton in the Weekly Daily Standard says that Obama has sold us all out and that Israel must attack Iran unilaterally.

++Charles Pierce in Esquire writes that Bolton's statement is refreshing because it shows the neo-conservatives are being frank.

++David Ignatius in the Washington Post writes how the Iran deal is how smart and secret diplomacy works. It points out that a bilateral track had been used by President Obama since March and meetings in Oman brought the deal to fruition.

++Eli Lake in The Daily Beast writes how the devil is in the details of the deal.

++Steve Benen on the Rachel Maddow blog writes how neo-conservatives are exploding because of the first negotiations between Iran and the United States in years have produced results.

++Michael Tomasky in The Daily Beast writes on how Obama crushed the neo-cons.

++After yesterday's talks between President Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu, Bibi has dispatched his national security adviser to Washington to discuss the second phase of the negotiations.

++The Israeli press is laying into Bibi for his constant bragging that he is the one who could best represent Israel to the English-speaking world and how only he can influence the Americans but now it's clear no one listens to him. The domestic attacks are vicious ,recounting his political history and how his constant "boy cries wolf" has failed in recent years.

++In the morning The Telegraph reported that the Saudis have vowed to pursue an independent foreign policy and may strike unilaterally against Iran. By early afternoon they gave lukewarm support of the deal.

++Israelis have coined a phrase for Bibi "agreement anxiety disorder", noting his aversion to anyone reaching an agreement on anything.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

More Moderately Good News

++President Karzai negotiated a new security agreement with John Kerry but insisted he wouldn't sign it because Americans really didn't trust him. But the Loya Jirga of Afghanistan signed the agreement anyway. The New York Times says President Obama owes the American people an explanation of why we would be keeping 8-12,000 troops still in the country after 2014. The answer will probably be because they are needed to train Afghan troops and police. But again,the Afghan War is basically over for us, not them.

++In Warsaw,the international meeting on global climate change which looked like a wreck only two days ago with NGOs walking out and the developing countries complaining they weren't getting funds from the Developed World to fight it finally reached a modest agreement ,which would not hasten climate change like other meetings did. The new standards would be re-negotiated in 2016.

Another BFD for Obama--Iran Deal

++The interim agreement with Tehran over its nuclear program was announced late last night. In the previous months, the United States had secretly negotiated the framework for the agreement without telling either Israel or Saudi Arabia.

++Yesterday's interim agreement was incredibly substantial, not just the "first step" that both Kerry and Obama referred to it as. Today's New York Times has a front-page story on most of the details contained in the deal. The White House last night issued a press release listing in great detail all the ingredients of the deal, which entails a six-month freeze on the nuclear program,a suspension of the plutonium reactor which France raised at the last meeting, conversion of the enriched uranium into a more oxidized version,the dismantling of the most modern centrifuges and invasive inspections by the UN at every nuclear site on a daily basis. And that's just sum of it. And that's probably all you will get to know as the media coverage goes into full throttle.

++John Kerry insists there is no right to enrich contained in the agreement. Most observers agree that Iran and the world powers agreed to fudge this issue. As a matter of fact, the Non-Proliferation Treaty to which Iran adheres allows them to enrich below weapon grade levels. Iran wanted this stated in the agreement but the Western countries balked. The concession from the negotiating powers is that some of Iran's frozen assets could be accessed. The number is estimated at $6-8 billion. But the structure of the Iranian sanctions remain and could be tightened if a full agreement isn't reached.

++So the interim agreement is far more extensive than anyone has a right to expect. But that hasn't stopped Bibi Netanyahu from proclaiming that this deal made the security of the world in worse shape than before. He basically called this the greatest diplomatic triumph of Iran since the Revolution and claimed that this allowed Iran to escalate the enrichment process, when in fact it reverses it. Bibi was quick to reach out to Time magazine to warn of a "suitcase bomb" exploding in Washington or Madrid in  five years time. (Five years seems to be the magic number starting when the nuclear program was revealed in 2002. So now we are up to 2019,pretty good.) At least it isn't has bad as Tony Blair's "only hours" warning about Saddam's nuclear weapon.

++In case you have missed it, the Administration has to figure out how to dispose of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile since al their weapon sites have been destroyed. The same people who are protesting this Iranian deal are the same who criticized Obama for making a deal with Putin over the chemical weapons. They are also the same people who opposed the President on his military plans to attack the weapons' sites. Yet,they are now the people objecting to the Iranian deal.

++The Republicans were first out of the gate, claiming that the Iranian deal was a distraction from Obamacare. Thinking this was wacky, it was repeated again this morning by the House Whip Who can't count McCarthy. Eric Cantor repeated Bibi's points that the agreement countered the Security Council resolutions on the Iranian nuclear plan. Jennifer Rubin mocked that uranium enrichment pays--referring to the part of the agreement where Iran could use its own money again.

++Since President Obama's nuclear agreement with the Russians, every diplomatic agreement reached by this administration has been opposed. In this case,they had to bring out Zbig and Brent Scowcroft to urge the Senate to support it for now. Unfortunately, neither man is identified as a supporter of Israel. 

++President Obama said in his remarks last night that he would not seek any further sanctions. But there are Senators on both sides of the aisle who will. 

++Chris Dickey of the Daily Beast, who was at the negotiations,hailed the Obama Administration for backing away from war and finessing involvement in the on-going Shiite-Sunni civil war. He did say that while this agreement might lead to greater stability in the region both Israel and Saudi Arabia are miffed at the United States.

++Watch the next few weeks of vitriol against the President for making this deal. There is going to be a full-court effort by AIPAC, the Religious Right and others to either endorse increased sanctions or just proclaim that Obama sold us out once again. Ari Fleischer,the former spokesperson for George W. Bush, claimed you can spell abandonment without Obama. John Kerry miffed by this on his return retorted that if the United States had taken up Iran's offer to negotiate on this in 2003, then the Iranian program would not be as large as it is today.

++We will experience people talking in bad faith. If someone objects to parts of the agreement,they should get in the weeds to argue that. But most of those who advocated negotiations in the first place really didn't think they would bear fruit and then The Devil would make us Bomb Iran. Now that there are bearing fruit,it seems to me those people should make it clear that they really want another war in the Middle East.

++Before this agreement, the majority of Americans wanted a deal. How that holds up in the upcoming attacks on it is anyone's guess. But Juan Cole, with whom I have few agreements, is right--the deal stops the Neo-Con agenda in its tracks. If democratization through war got trashed because of the last administration,the idea of regime change and wars of adventure just got sent to the ash heap of history.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

D.C. Radiated,Wrecking Crew Leaves Town

++After Harry Reid pulled the nuclear option,the Amazon Post and the Beltway pundits tsked-tsked about its impact. The Post immediately wrote that the 240 remaining Obama nominees would face more Republican procedural delays. Democrats responded that the 3 nominees for the D.C. Circuit Court would preserve Obama's legacy on financial regulations and the environment. Also, you might have Janet Yallin take her position as the Chairwoman of the FED.

++What the Beltway pundits missed in the ruckus was that we seem to be heading to another government shutdown. The budget conference committee was supposed to nearing the completion of its negotiations but haven't gotten there. Tan Man Boehner is saying that he wants to hold at sequestration level funding but his committee chairmen, (there are no women) say they can not work with the sequestration numbers. Rumors have the GOP caving on their draconian cuts to Food Stamps but I don't believe it.

++Meanwhile the corporate media has taken a dim view of President Obama these days. Both the Post and the Times are ringing their hands over the nature of any deal with Iran and continue their diatribes on Obamacare. Toronto's mayor Rob Ford is more popular than Obama but that should not be good news for the GOP because they are less popular than either.

++Darryl Issa and his GOP staff are on the road to Texas,Georgia and Florida to take testimony on how horrible Obamacare is. Naturally, all three states are not expanding Medicaid or constructing state exchanges so it's obviously pretty bad.

++Kathleen Sebelius is going to Texas, Florida and Ohio to try a "Direct Enroll" on Obamacare. Meanwhile,you won't read it that enrollment is surging on the state exchanges that work and also on the maligned federal website. By the time we head into March,the program will be close to completion and maybe the news will turn better.

++So the tale of the tape is in on filibusters. There have been 168 filibusters of a President's nominees in our history. 82 of them have occurred in the Obama presidency. Approximately half have occurred in the last 5 years, compared to the rest of our entire political history combined.

++The President's Saturday address turned back to the economy. Job numbers improved in 38 states this past week, which economists argue show the economy post The Great Repression shows it has healed. The Post counters with job losses recorded in Maryland and Virginia showing weak job growth and unemployment at 5.6% (which looks to me close to full employment).

++The Economist pictures Obama sinking beneath the waves headlining that he doesn't walk above water. Plutocrat George Will says Obama is sinking and people question his competence and integrity. For a counterposition, you might want to consult today's post on Dailykos by "Hamtree", which lists all of Obama's accomplishments. Give yourself time to scroll down the whole list. But I guess he hasn't done anything lately.

++The most fun this past week was Politico's piece on Bobby Baker's reminisces of the Senate when booze,cigars and women fueled the legislative process.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hapless Harry Reid Wins Again

++The Senate approves the filibuster reform for executive nominees except the Supreme Court by 52 to 48. This means you only need 51 votes for the nominee to be approved.

Reid Goes Nuclear, Iran May Not

++Harry Reid has finally gone nuclear in the Senate. In a move to change filibuster rules for executive nominations, by late last night lingering Democrats signed on. The vote failed cloture this morning by three votes and Mitch McConnell moved to adjourn the Senate.

++Meanwhile in Geneva,negotiations have started on a nuclear deal with Iran, which would require them to suspend their nuclear program for six months until a comprehensive deal is negotiated. At the same time UN inspectors will be in the country examining sites. In return, Iran will get use of the funds that have been frozen and maybe a few of the UN sanctions will be eased. Israel and Senate Republicans are lobbying against the deal.

++Yesterday, legendary civil rights leader Bayard Rustin received the Presidential Medal of Freedom,along with many others. Receiving the award in his memory was his partner Walter Naegle. Unfortunately,press reports on the ceremony focused on the celebrity honorees and omitted his name. In the announcement, Bayard was honored for being an openly gay man who worked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. But there was no mention of his great organizing achievement--the March on Washington.

++The Council of Economic Advisers released a study that showed health costs rose at the lowest level in fifty years after the ACA passed. They reported that 80% of those already insured were unaffected by ACA. Only 1.5% will have to pay higher for better policies. The report triggered an OMB report that calculated that Medicare and Medicaid would cost 10% less in the future because of this information. Jonathan Gruber, who worked on Romneycare in Massachusetts and Obamacare,said that the bulk of the savings was found in Medicare after the reforms. He dismissed the Recession as the reason because the economy has picked up but healthcare costs have not.

++The New York Times published a story on the GOP's memo about their unceasing campaign against Obamacare with details of the steps they will pursue to try and stop it. One of the new litmus tests for the Right is the prevention of the expansion of Medicaid.

++We are heading to another Government shutdown as Mitch McConnell met with GOP House leaders to tell them that there would be no budget deal unless there was substantial entitlement reform. Democrats want the sequester cuts lifted but GOP leadership insist on the budget caps. 

++Luckily, Bloomberg reports that the debt ceiling will probably not be reached until May or June of next year, which would decouple the budget issue from the cataclysmic collapse of the global economy.

++While the GOP is doubling down on anything anti-President Obama, Democrats are beginning to get their sea legs on economic issues. Incredibly,ENDA, the bill against discriminating against gays and lesbians in employment, polls in the majority in every congressional district in America. But the bill will not come to the floor in the House. 29 states allow for the firing of an employee because he or she is gay or thought to be gay. Immigration reform still remains a Democratic issue and the House will not put it to a vote because it would pass. President Obama speaking to the Business Council, said he would agree to a piecemeal approach in the House as long as all the pieces were passed. On raising the minimum wage, Massachusetts just raised it to $11 per hour,New Jersey just passed it over-riding Chris Christie's veto, and Senate Democrats have taken up President Obama's call to raise the minimum wage to about $10 bucks. Instead of succumbing to the endless litany of cutting Social Security benefits,Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders are advocating an expansion of Social Security and strengthening it for a longer lifetime.If Democrats can hold tough on ACA, they re heading into the progressive direction.

++Contrary to these hopeful signs, the anti-Obama fervor continues its feverish rhetoric and pace. The new meme of the Right is that the President is a liar. I guess because of his statement on You can Keep Your Insurance if you want to. Rep. Darryl Issa is going to open an investigation of the Census Bureau's jobs report prior to the election, believing that tilted the election. Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch is calling for a Continental Congress to vote for a shadow President. He has given President Obama until Black Friday to resign. The Koch Brothers have ramped up their Anti-ACA ads against vulnerable Democratic Senators. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

We're Doomed Again

++The Washington Post says Obama's approval rating is now 42%. Of course, it's the healthcare. He must be in a free fall. He's lost all of 1.5% since the government shutdown--sort of like the real polls after his first debate with Romney.

++Healthcare itself has shown a 3% drop in polls.

++Reuters and other news outlets show the state exchanges are meeting or exceeding their expectations as the first period of stumbling has passed.

++The New York Times had an article that said the Census Bureau posted wrong unemployment data at a key period in the presidential race. So naturally the Right has been trumpeting this. I've received e-mails saying Obama's an illegitimate President. Of course, the irate--they are always irate--Right fails to mention that Mitt Romney really didn't pay taxes for ten years.

++The Amazon Post editorializes that the United States and Israel must reach a consensus on the Iranian nuclear deal. Meanwhile, Brent Scowcroft and Zbig has written Harry Reid not to move for more sanctions or else the negotiations will fail, which is the desire of many Senators. The Post editorial was written with Netanyahu's talking points in hand. They argued that the U.S. was easing sanctions and this would lead to the erosion of the sanctions regime and then Iran will reach a breakout point to develop nuclear weapons. But, dear reader, the only concession that is being made right now is that Iran can access their own money, which was frozen, nothing else.

++The New Republic says the Democrats are likely to lose more seats in the House in 2014 than gain any. That was quick. During the shutdown, they had a real chance to take the House and now all is lost.

++Liberal economist Dean Baker, writing in the Huffington Post, speaks to me when he calls Obamacare the most important piece of legislation in a generation. He said that even if it doesn't make more Americans insured--which it will--those--like me who have health insurance--have health security. The improvements in policies ensure that when I get sick,I will concentrate on getting well or preparing to die and not worry about leaving my family destitute and facing bankruptcy if I recover.

++Somehow we are supposed to be concerned about Liz Cheney's feud with her sister Mary. Liz Cheney is 56 points behind Mike Enzi in the GOP race for Senator in Wyoming. Liz needs to convince people she isn't soft on same sex marriage so she has to disagree with her sister who is in a same sex marriage. And this is news?

++Rolling Stone this morning points out that Eric Cantor's and Ted Cruz' praise of Batkid is ironic. They would take away his healthcare and doom him to die from Leukemia. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Tick-Tock--The Clock is Running

++ Darryl Issa has taken his kangaroo court on the road to four states to investigate Obamacare.

++He better act fast because in 43 days, it will be too late. Republicans will have to explain how they are going to strip millions of Americans of their healthcare,deprived millions more of Medicaid and repeal all the benefits the ACA provides for the rest of us. And they only have 12 legislative days to do it.

++Presidents since Theodore Roosevelt have sought to provide healthcare for all Americans. This President using our broken down system of insurance achieved what none of them have. 

++We will hear more outrageous complaints for the next several years. But one thing is certain the whole debate on healthcare has finally changed. President Obama controls the language. It is accepted at least publicly by Republicans that no one should be denied insurance because of a pre-existing condition,there should not be lifetime caps on health expenditures and that adult children should be covered by their parents' insurance. While the media keep manufacturing some imagined crisis,the Republicans have no alternative. 

++You can see this with Ross Douhat's musings about how catastrophic insurance might lower costs--very little. David Frum basically throws in the towel and says that ACA is here to stay with so many entrenched interests supporting it. 

++It is going to be interesting this coming year to see the Republican governors explain why 5 million of their citizens can't have access to Medicaid because they rejected the expansion. 

++Where was the media when 44,000 Americans were being tossed off insurance every month from 2008-2010? Where were the media stories of 70% of personal bankruptcies being the result of medical bills? Where were the media stories about how the majority of these bankruptcies were by individuals who had medical insurance?

++The health care situation in this country has been in a crisis for many years and unlike Bush who fled Katrina, President Obama rushed in to offer a solution.

++Robert Kuttner writes in the Huffington Post that Obama by using the insurance industry failed to provide a simpler solution--Medicare for all. Does anyone think that this would not face as stiff resistance as Obamacare?

++I just have to restrain myself on stories like I saw this afternoon about a Dallas television broadcasting a clip from Veritas of an Urban League receptionist offering advice to someone wanting to sign up for Obamacare. The whole subtext was that black people may want healthcare and that somehow the Urban League is involved in fraud. Taking the Urban League for ACORN is too much. But the reason the GOP in places like Texas don't set up state exchanges or expand Medicaid is because the state does not want minorities to receive any benefits.

++The Democrats would be crazy to walk away from the ACA now since this was a dream for so long. Political reporters here in D.C. proclaim that Democrats are fleeing the ACA,President Obama's credibility is damaged and that soon the ACA would be repealed. 

++Make my day, the clock is ticking and you don't have it in you to strip millions of Americans of their health insurance. You may do this with foodstamps in the middle of the night but you couldn't resist hooting if you actually did it.

Drudge Alarm and Terrorist Rating at Red

++Huffington Post along with Right-Wing websites proclaim that Obama is a liar. David Gregory proclaims Obamacare is Obama's Iraq. I guess it must be as bad as Saddam Hussein buying uranium from Niger.

++I get the drumbeat from the corporate media and the right-wing but I find it reprehensible that Senate Republicans are going after the "navigators" of Obamacare. Marco Rubio is going to introduce a bill aimed at mandating criminal background checks on navigators, who actually come from respected community groups. This is a riff off CBS' report that used leaked documents from Darryl Issa's hearing where IT officers inside the Administration questioned whether "security" was sufficient on the applications. The leaked portion was someone questioning this but the unleaked portion was a detailed response of why it is. That wasn't broadcast on CBS. 

++Fuel has been added to the Navigators issue by right-wing convicted criminal James O'Keefe, whose "investigative journalism" produced the phony revelations about an Department of Agriculture employee,ACORN and he can brag about illegally taping the phones of Senator Mary Landrieu. He also proved voter fraud by committing it. Now his film company "Veritas" claims that felons and ACORN are navigators for Obamacare. Not withstanding that he is on parole in New Jersey,he is being used as a reputable source by the right-wing to attack the ACA. 

++This is nothing new. House Republicans inundated Navigators with requests for massive documents even before they went to work. Several simply gave the money back to the federal government rather than submit to the massive work to comply.

++This is what it is coming down to. An on-going smear campaign against an effort for Americans to actually get healthcare. Now that the website is basically fixed, the caravan moves on. This is despicable. If you have watched on footage of the people in the various states helping citizens get healthcare, you will recognize your fellow American at their finest trying to help out. The accusations by the GOP are outrageous. You should be afraid because these people will steal your financial information and identity. Two weeks ago,we were told your health information would be compromised. Unfortunately, one Democratic congressman raised the inconvenient truth that health information was not required for the ACA. We didn't hear about that again. 

++The only issue now on ACA, despite the red herrings, is what the numbers will look like in March. has been projecting them. They came up with 6.3 million. The OBM said that the Administration expected 7 million. But no one has yet figured out whether the needed number included the Medicaid expansion number, which actually is exceeding expectations. The other question is whether the 6.3 million noted above are applications or number of persons covered. If we are talking about applications, then everything is on track. That's the only issue that matters whether the program works or not.

++Little Ricky Cantor summoned his caucus to his office and handed them a Blank piece of paper called "Agenda 2014", which basically sums up the GOP.

++But while we are on it, the Senate GOP is filibustering the Third straight Obama judicial nominee. Harry, time to go nuclear.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Week Ahead

++Today is former Vermont Governor Howard Dean's 65th birthday. Happy birthday, Howard.

++This coming Thursday, the late Bayard Rustin will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for,among other things, organizing the 1963 March on Washington. Receiving the honor will be his partner,Walter Naegle. Will Walter receive bound copies of all J. Edgar Hoover's wiretaps on Bayard? A great honor, belatedly bestowed on one of America's great civil rights and human rights champions.

++Tomorrow, despite the government shutdown, NASA will launch the MAVEN to Mars right on time.

++This week expect either a temporary nuclear deal with Iran or a collapse in the talks. President Obama talked 90 minutes with Bibi Netanyahu this past week. Bibi has revved up the engines to lobby the Hill against any deal. Bibi wants Iran not to be able to enrich any uranium at all. Iran says a pre-condition for a deal is their right--which is guaranteed by the Non-Proliferation Treaty. I expect a two fold deal, which will lead to deeper monitoring of the program and a delay in the Arak plutonium processing facility. Meanwhile,it is reported that Israel and Saudi Arabia are planning preliminary strikes on Iran.

++The healthcare. gov website is humming along now. Throughout the week, just check on Obamacaresignup. gov for the ongoing figures. The Washington Post headlines that only 80% will be able to sign-up before the January 1 deadline. Josh Marshall today at TPM goes behind the headline to find out the three different categories of people who might not sign up and finds out that the 20% may become considerably less. But don't worry the media will moan all week about that this is Obama's Masada.

++A Reminder of what's at stake:The New York Times on Saturday published a piece in The Arts section on the 0+ Festival in San Francisco where artists play for medical care. The killer figure is that 43% of all artists have no health insurance; for musicians,the number was 53%. With Obamacare, on struggling artist, my son, has health insurance. ACA will be a boon to artists and free-lancers of all sorts--in other words the only productive part of our society.

++The 0+ Festival can occur because five-year old Miles Scott aka Batkid rid the city--renamed Gotham for a day--of its villains. I agree with Rachel Maddow this was the Greatest Thing of the week. Miles, who is five years old and has been suffering from leukemia for his young life,wanted to be a superhero for one day. Make-A-Wish Foundation made it happen in an awesome way. The San Francisco Police Chief made a call for Batkid to save the city. Batkid riding in his Batmobile corralled the Joker, the Riddler and the Penguin and brought them to jail. The San Francisco office of the Department of Justice printed subpoenas out on the villains and the San Francisco Chronicle printed a supplement headlined Bat Kid Saved the City, which appeared today. His adventures made the website of Major League Baseball, when he saved the Giants' Mascot from the Penguin. Hundreds of thousands of people came out to cheer Batkid on and a tired Miles Scott made it to City Hall to receive the key to the city in front of adoring fans. By Friday night, the Make-A-Wish website was so overwhelmed by donors they apologized to users. Even the great Bayard Rustin could not organize something that diverse and successful. Amazing. President Obama sent his congratulations to Batkid via Vine and Michelle Obama,Nancy Pelosi and Ted Cruz by twitter. What will Make-A-Wish do for an encore?

++This past week was the 175th anniversary of Moby-Dick. And this week,I will be receiving Hershel Parker's account of how he sought the great White Herman Melville for his two volume biography

Friday, November 15, 2013

Republicans Back Junk Insurance

++The Upton bill passed the House with 39 votes from Democrats. The bill basically was another attempt to repeal Obamacare. That's what Boehner says "It's the first step in repealing Obamacare". Basically, the political problem with the GOP is that they have utterly no position on healthcare.

++Last night Ed Shultz came back from his afternoon rant about President Obama and listened to President Obama's Ohio speech. Ed was right that the President should have delivered it in Washington, instead of his mea culpa at the press conference.

++Rachel Maddow went into her wonky mode and explained how Romneycare was rolled out in Massachusetts and concluded the current Obamacare roll out actually has gotten five times the enrollment Massachusetts had. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney himself claims Romneycare was deliberately slow in its roll-out.

++The Hill printed today an article how the healthcare website is down to 1% errors and will probably make the end of the month deadline.

++Talkingpointsmemo and Washington Monthly spends the day analyzing whether Obama's fix is really such a thing and how it will impact on getting the right mix of young and older people into the exchanges.

++Dana Millbank speculates that the Obama presidency is done and that he only has a year to salvage his Presidency.

++The GOP is energized for 2014,saying that it will be Obamacare 24/7 and they will campaign on this as if it is his Hurricane Katrina. What happens if by March Obamacare hits the necessary figures? Would you like to start campaigning on taking away healthcare from millions of people? It's not the same thing as taking foodstamps away from poorer Americans because they have no representation.

++Rinse Penis of the RNC says the GOP will pick up more seats in the House because of the fiasco with Obamacare. But then again, would that mean anything since the House hasn't passed anything in two years?

++Kaiser Health estimates that GOP sabotage of ACA will cost about 13 million the chance at health insurance. 

++Meanwhile the Dow is heading to 16,000 . Totally ignored throughout Obama's presidency, now analysts are saying it is the Obamacare boom because of the botched roll-out. Where were they while under Obama's watch, the Dow rose by over 9,000 its?

++The President is meeting with the health insurance companies today because they aren't too happy with the one year fix. Also,the insurance commissioners of various states are resisting the change.

++Meanwhile California keeps plugging along and thinks they will have 500,000 in the exchanges by the deadline.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

President Obama--The Comeback Kid

++The Washington media smell blood in the water after the press conference and tonight more op-eds have appeared by liberal Democrats that Obamacare has been catastrophic. Some liken the rollout to Katrina aftermath. Funny,I didn't die and my son is insured.

++But off in Cleveland, the President addressed the workers of the ArceloMittal Cleveland Steel Factory and reminded everyone that the economy has created 7,800,000 jobs since the Great Recession. He also went at great length to talk about how this particular factory now produces the best steel in the world and didn't have to close because of the bailout of the Auto Industry. And he went on to talk positively about the ACA,emphasizing his continued commitment to 40 million Americans having a chance to get health insurance for the first time. He also praised Governor Kasich for making the politically wise move to expand Medicaid coverage. While his pleas for more manufacturing have fallen on deaf ears in the House,he made the pitch again that manufacturing must return to America for us to prosper. He artfully demonstrated that health insurance costs for businesses have gone down 33% since ACA was passed and that this continued trend makes the United States more attractive to foreign investors, who used to cringe at the costs of healthcare in the United States. 

++After getting battered all day by the media and the GOP in Washington, President Obama was on his game and made the positive case for the ACA, which he will have to do from here on out.

++The next phase of the Obamacare argument will be about whether allowing insurance companies to keep selling junk insurance will thwart the demographics of the market exchanges and sink the program after three years by encouraging people --all 1.5% of the population to keep the equivalent of a subprime mortgage. This debate has already gotten so in the weeds no one can understand it. 

++Just remember--No one has gotten killed because of Obamacare. True political catastrophes have resulted in thousands dead, whether it was in Iraq, Katrina or in the Iran-Contra scandal. For great scandals,laws must be broken--not some campaign promise which turns out to be 95% true.

Hotel California

++If you want to see Obamacare in action, you should look at for Covered California's news on its enrollments at the end of October. It seems the West Coast has this covered and their website is now humming. Over 360,000 people enrolled.

++Washington Monthly this afternoon says that one of the spanners in the works of the President's fix to ACA is that state insurance officers have to approve and Washington State, the third best performing exchange will not. But for all the Confederate states, it may work to pacify people.

++This past week I was disappointed in hearing an NPR interview with Governor Jerry Brown, a politician I have followed for years first as Governor Moonbeam,later as a Presidential candidate and admire him for his  different incarnations. The interviewer was nasty and shrill,basically arguing that California is now the poorest state because of Jerry Brown and that he is a Governor of a large one party state. Brown was gracious in his questions but NPR never asked him any questions about how he broke the logjam in California , which restored funding for education or how California made Obamacare work. Jerry Brown enjoys a large approval rating and has embarked with the Pacific Northwest,including British Columbia to form a pact to combat climate change. It seems to me that NPR should have treated the interview as an opportunity to explore why California seems now to be working. 

++Remember this about all the media coverage about the flaws in Obamacare. All the moderators and reporters are white, predominantly male,and wealthy.All of them already have very nice health insurance. None of the networks care about people who are poor or lower middle-class. All the networks are owned by a few corporations. None of them care about you or your family.


++So Washington pundits say the President blew his press conference today and the analogy is the first Presidential debate.

++Andrew Sullivan claims it was like Ronald Reagan on Iran-Contra.

++Ed Schultz, who about the only major media personality who defends Obamacare, says the President caved to the Republicans.

++The Health Insurance industry is up in arms saying that Obama is not making them the focus of criticism and that allowing people to keep their insurance will destabilize the market--like the independent insurance market was stable all these years. They claim rates will have to rise--naturally.

++My advice to President Obama is not to talk anymore about ACA until early next month after the website is 90% fixed. 

++Meanwhile the House GOP is readying a motion to impeach Eric Holder for not defending DOMA. Yes, the unconstitutional law. They are also throwing in his refusal to defend the Controlled Substance Act in Colorado. We haven't seen Fast and Furious come back yet.

++The good news is that Janet Yallin sailed through her confirmation hearings and bluntly told the panel that Congressional gridlock and threats to default on our loans have inhibited economic growth. She is obviously head and shoulders above those in the past. No one even commented on the fact she is the first woman nominated to head the FED. But we don't know yet whether Rand Paul or Lindsey Graham will hold up her nomination.

++By the way, can someone tell me what the GOP's plans are for healthcare in this country?

Cultural Artifacts

I've been remiss in not keeping people up to date with my reading and listening.

In honor of the anniversary of JFK's assassination, I give you Max Allen Collins trilogy. Max Allen Collins' private eye, Nathan Heller pieces together the plot to assassinate JFK in Bye Bye, Baby,his novel about the death of Marilyn Monroe,Target Lancer, which covers the real but long lost assassination attempt in Chicago just prior to the successful one, and the finale Ask Not.

Collins was supposed to close out the Heller series with the JFK assassination but he promises at the end of Ask Not to bring us more on LBJ, one of the co-conspirators, and Watergate.

I like James Ellroy on the JFK assassination best but Collins hits the mark with the triangulation of the CIA,the Mob and the Oil men around LBJ. In Ask Not,he reproduces Jack Ruby's testimony from prison and has his own solution to the identity of Lee Harvey Oswald. Heller manages to tie up all the historical loose ends without reading as a forced thesis. He supplies amble references to his narrative in the appendices and doesn't thing much of books like Posner's Case Closed. He agrees with my 13-year old self when I blurted out at the time "LBJ did it." But he had a cast of supporting characters.

In the news has been the fight over Gore Vidal's will. The New York Times this past Sunday published an account of the family fighting over Vidal's $35 million estate. After his long-term partner Howard Austen pre-deceased him, Vidal changed his will, which left Howard everything to leaving it all to Harvard University. Having never gone to Harvard, let alone college,Vidal left his step-sister and nephew perplexed. Vidal also left off his Fillipino man servant. His step sister claimed Vidal owed her $1,000,000 or half a million, depending on the interviewer, from the lawsuits with Bill Buckley. His nephew claimed Gore promised him his Hollywood house. But missing in the equation was the fact that Vidal never left them anything in the prior will and he had already left his papers and publications to Harvard. So we got an account of his late life drunkeness and dementia and the argument he was non-compis mentis. The will is in court. Harvard says they have no house in the fight and will just wait for the ruling.

But we can read Tim Teeman's In Bed With Gore Vidal:Hustlers, Hollywood, and the Private World of An American Master. Despite the blurbs, I find the book tough going when I wanted gossip. Teeman spends an inordinate time trying to define Gore's sexuality while quoting from past interviews with him where he tried to persuade people that he never had sex with Howard Austen--well, almost never. His step-sister comes off as a pistol, defending her mother whom Gore hated. There is a whole lot of discussion whether James Trimble was in fact Vidal's love of his life. His mother and sister says Trimble was never gay. But you do get to read about all the celebrities Gore had sex with and those with whom he didn't. 

If you are actually interested in Gore Vidal's sexual ambiguity,you can read Anais Nin's Mirages: the unexpurgated diary of Anais Nin 1939-1947. All her lovers are here starting with Henry Miller and ending with Rupert Pole. The extensive section on her Platonic romance with Gore Vidal exposes his sexual identity more than Teeman's book does. The suprise of the volume, to me, was that almost all Nin's life during this period was in New York City, since I always associated her with Paris. And the second aspect of the book that was interesting was the extent that Nin privately arranged small printings of her work. It was not until Sparrow Press picked up her work in 1961 that she had a regular publisher.

Lucien Freud refused to sit down for an official biographer but London journalist and editor Geordie Grieg captures Lucian in Breakfast with Lucien:The Astounding Life and Outrageous Times of Britain's Great Modern Painter.  I thought Francis Bacon took the cake but Lucien makes the previously mentioned people like Nin and Vidal look like puritans and prudes. Between all the legitimate and illegitimate children, lovers and wives,Lucien Freud had a management problem. The eruption in the prices for his paintings were not just the acceptance of his style on the art scene but necessary for paying off his amazingly large gambling debts. Grieg treats his subject with much love and respect while tracking down his private life, which he never spoke about.

If you want a guide to how America got here, ignore the new biography of Norman Mailer and go straight to Mind of an Outlaw,his Selected essays. His early hits with the Village Voice are here like his endorsement of Ernest Hemingway for President and "The White Negro". His convention coverage is in this volume starting with the Kennedy nomination in 1960 and ending with George H.W. Bush in 1996. By the time of George W., Norman has mellowed into a wise, old Jewish man from the time when he was a proclaimed "libertarian socialist". The older Mailer was still penetrating about the myths and lies America told itself about its institutions and the "noble causes" it went to war. If anything summed up Mailer's view of contemporary America, it is his review of "American Psycho", which he took as an exacting critique of the consumer and capitalist society we became by the end of the 20th Century. It really is a must read. Luckily, we now have his best essays in one place.

For Albert Camus' 100th anniversary, Robert Zaretsky had offer his marvelous A Life Worth Living--Albert Camus and the Quest for Meaning. In this short but compact book, Zaretsky not only adds to Camus' biography with new details but does a marvelous exegesis on Camus' use and insights into classical myths. One is his take on Camus' Sisyphus and what he omitted from the myth in his account. The other is the notion that The Plague is based on Thucycides account of the Plague in Athens and how it destroyed all the "democratic" structures in that ancient land. Of course, like many recent accounts of Camus, we have a fuller appreciation of his Algerian roots and the dilemma that posed later in his life when Algeria fought for it independence.

For your listening pleasure:

Jimi Hendrix at the Miami Pop Festival in 1968. 

The Band "Live at the Academy of Music 1971--the Rock of Ages Converts" with Legion of Honor winner Bob Dylan.