Harry Reid just announced that he'll include a public option (with a provision that allows individual states to opt out of it) in the version of the health care bill he brings to the floor of the senate. This is a huge (though still partial) victory for progressives.
"Deadliest bombs since '07 shatter Iraqi Complexes. Key Government Sites. Synchronized car blast kill more than 130 -- Security issue." So reads the headline in my newspaper.
According to the Associated Press, Iraq's deadliest bombing in more than two years killed at least 155 and wounded more than 500 Sunday. Two suicide car bombs blew up almost simultaneously outside the Justice Ministry in downtown Baghdad having passed through multiple check points. At least 25 staff members of the Baghdad Provincial Council, which runs the city, are among the dead.
Suppose President Obama and his aides had decided to take on the worst offender among the big insurance companies this fall.
Suppose the White House had highlighted the failure of the company to provide quality care, the abuses in which it has engaged and the behind-the-scenes campaigning by a self-interested corporation to influence the health-care debate in a manner that helps it while harming Americans.
Suppose presidential aides highlighted the initiative in broadcast and cable interviews and reinforced the message with carefully crafted talking points that said the insurance company's top officers were not helping Americans to get medical care but rather engaging in self-interested profiteering.
The Showdown in Chicago is on! The ABA's annual convention has become the scene for a series of major protests, which are set to continue through Tuesday, when a major march and rally is planned. Dubbed "the Showdown in Chicago," thousands of Americans are demonstrating against Wall Street banks and calling for real financial reform.
Groups like the National People's Action, the Service Employees International Union, Americans For Financial Reform and the AFL-CIO have turned out thousands of protesters. Sen. Richard Durbin (D - Illinois) addressed the protesters last night. Other conference speakers include Newt Gingrich, conservative columnist George Will and FDIC chairman Sheila Bair.
Read my colleague Esther Kaplan's eyewitness report from the scene of the protests for details on what the protesters are demanding.
With 14 more dead Americans today, in three helicopter crashes, it's beginning to look like President Obama will, after all, opt for a significant escalation of the war -- at least, according to the Wall Street Journal. On Saturday, the paper reported the first substantial leak about the president's plans after the weeks-long policy review:
"The Obama administration is moving toward a hybrid strategy in Afghanistan that would combine elements of both the troop-heavy approach sought by its top military commander and a narrower option backed by Vice President Joe Biden, a decision that could pave the way for thousands of new U.S. forces.
"The emerging strategy would largely rebuff proposals to maintain current troop levels and rely on unmanned drone attacks and elite special-operations troops to hunt individual militants, an idea championed by Mr. Biden. It is opposed by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Kabul, and other military officials.
In a brightly lit basement room at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago tonight, Angel Seda was leading seven hundred people in a chant. "Tell me what you want, what you really want," he called. Hundreds of voices shouted back, "Our homes back!" "Tell me what you need, what you really need." "CFPA!"
Yep, you heard right, hundreds of people were chanting for a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, a new oversight body Barack Obama has proposed that could ban such disastrous practices as no-doc mortgages, payday loans, and no-warning overdraft fees on checking accounts. (A bill to create the agency made it through the House Financial Services Committee last week). Wonky, sure, but vital, too, and it was both hilarious and inspiring to see a roomful of Iowa farmers and Kansas retirees and preachers and teachers and utility workers jumping to their feet at the sound of those magic letters. One woman from Wichita, Arnetta Jefferson, told me she herself was facing the loss of her home and described "house after house after house empty" in her community, all from foreclosures. "I'm tired of it," she said. CFPA! CFPA! CFPA!
It's been a year since the stock market crashed and Congress approved a $700 billion bailout for the very banks that made it happen, but populist anger has finally found its expression this week in Chicago.
Clarence Kailin, a son of the Midwest whose lifelong commitment to social and economic justice led him to become one of the first Americans to take up arms against the fascist forces that swept across Europe in the years before World War II, has died at age 95.
Kailin was one of the last survivors of the 2,800 American volunteers who fought from 1936 to 1939 as the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in defense of the elected Spanish government against a coup engineered by Generalissimo Francisco Franco with the backing of Germany's Adolf Hitler and Italy's Benito Mussolini. His role in "the good fight" of the international volunteers -- as it was immortalized by Ernest Hemingway and W.H. Auden -- gave Kailin, a scrawny kid from Madison, Wisconsin's multi-ethnic Greenbush neighborhood, a place in an essential chapter of 20th century history.
Yet, for Kailin, "There wasn't any choice. If you were against totalitarianism, if you were against injustice, you had to care about what happened in Spain. Spain was where the fight against fascism was focused in 1936. So Spain was where I knew I needed to be."
The far right's latest attack line on President Obama is not assubtle as they think it is. By calling his administration's war of wordswith Fox News "beneath the presidency" --conservatives hope to add fuel to the fire of a potent and potentially racist, ideological effort to delegitimize the president. They've employed this tactic earlier but less histrionically when Obama became the first sitting president to appear on The Tonight Show and again when he courted the 2016 Olympics for Chicago, but it's really taken off with regards to the Fox News fight.
Whether you believe the president is right or wrong to challenge Fox News (I happen to agree with Slate's Jacob Weisberg, I believe he's right), it's pretty petty and profoundly ironic that the very people who excused George W. Bush's frequent malapropisms, carefree warmaking and authorization of torture as bold leadership now hope to marginalize Obama for publicly rebuking Fox News. As Amanda Terkel of Think Progress points out:
When former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's autobiography, Going Rogue: An American Life, comes out on November 17th, it won't go unanswered. Two of The Nation's top editors, Richard Kim and Betsy Reed, are co-editors of Going Rouge: An American Nightmare, published by OR Books for release the same day.
Kudos to 350.org for organizing the most widespread day of political action in the planet's history. You wouldn't know it if you get your news from the New York Times, the Huffington Post or the blogosphere but yesterday there were more than 5,200 rallies and demonstrations in 181 countries making the case that climate change must be addressed immediately and forthrightly.
The number 350 comes from a NASA research team headed by American climate scientist James Hansen, which surveyed both real-time climate observations and emerging paleo-climatic data in January of 2008. They concluded that above 350ppm CO2, the earth's atmosphere couldn't support "a planet similar to the one on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted." Current global CO2 concentration is at 390 parts per million.
"Glaciers and sea ice are melting, drought is spreading, and flooding is on the increase because our planet has reached a proven unsafe level of CO2 emissions," said 350.org founder and writer Bill McKibben in New York City yesterday. "Today's action is an example of the huge worldwide momentum we need to drive political change. Our leaders have heard from major corporations and big polluters for a long time--today, finally, they are hearing from citizens and scientists. And what they are hearing is 350."