05/08/2012 archive

DocuDharma Digest



Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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Richard (RJ) Eskow: Sarkozy’s Footsteps: Will the Democrats Be Next?

And another one bites the dust.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy just became the latest politician to lose his job because he wouldn’t let economic experience — or political common sense — sway him from the path of austerity.

Will Sarkozy’s downfall help Democrats learn what he never could? Democrats should consider Sarkozy’s fate a cautionary tale — and a call to action. If they rally around the cause of growth, jobs, and optimism, the nation will benefit and they’ll rewarded at the polls.

But if they keep pushing their own brand of “austerity lite,” they — and we — will have gained nothing from the lessons of Europe. iI won’t matter how much more extreme the Republicans are. Democrats, who hold the White House and the Senate, will still be seen as the party in charge — the one that presided over a terrible economy and, if the “Grand Bargainers” have their way, the one that cut popular government programs.

They’ll also run the risk of paying the same price Nicolas Sarkozy paid.

Dean Baker: Bernie Sanders Advocates a Free Market in AIDS Drugs

Drugs are cheap. Patent monopolies are expensive. These are simple facts that everyone should know but for some reason few do.

The point here is simple; the vast majority of drugs are cheap to produce. Chain drug stores sell hundreds of generic drugs for $5-$7 per prescription. They can do this profitably because few drugs require expensive chemicals or manufacturing processes.

However, many brand drugs sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars per prescription. This is due to the fact that drug companies have patent monopolies on these drugs. The government will arrest anyone who produces these drugs without the permission of the patent holder. Since drugs can be essential for people’s health and/or life, if they can find a way to pay any price demanded by the drug companies, they will.

David Cay Johnston: Social Security Is Not Going Broke

Which federal program took in more than it spent last year, added $95 billion to its surplus and lifted 20 million Americans of all ages out of poverty?

Why, Social Security, of course, which ended 2011 with a $2.7 trillion surplus.

That surplus is almost twice the $1.4 trillion collected in personal and corporate income taxes last year. And it is projected to go on growing until 2021, the year the youngest Baby Boomers turn 67 and qualify for full old-age benefits.

So why all the talk about Social Security “going broke?” That theme filled the news after release of the latest annual report of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds, as Social Security is formally called.

The reason is that the people who want to kill Social Security have for years worked hard to persuade the young that the Social Security taxes they pay to support today’s gray hairs will do nothing for them when their own hair turns gray.

Eugene Robinson: Death to Austerity

Economic austerity is a dangerous, self-defeating intellectual fad. Perhaps I should say that’s what it was, given Sunday’s election results in Europe. Perhaps I should also say good riddance.

Voters in France, Greece and even Germany-a hotbed of the austerity cult-told their political leaders, in no uncertain terms, that boosting economic growth is more important than cutting government spending. Here in the United States, I hope that Democrats, at least, were paying attention; I fear that the addled ideologues who control the Republican Party will never get the message.

On Sunday, French voters elected Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande as president, ousting center-right incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in what amounted to a referendum on Sarkozy’s embrace of austerity.

Michelangelo Signorile: Joe Biden Was for Marriage Equality Before He Was Against It

President Obama previously had the dubious distinction among politicians of being for marriage equality before he was against it. But now he’s not alone: his own vice president shares the honor!

Of course, in the case of Obama, he was for it for perhaps 8 years, depending on when he started saying he was against it (after having said he was for it in a questionaire in 1996, which his aides have spun themselves into a frenzy trying to explain). For Joe Biden it was just about 8 minutes.

Seriously, before Obama could even spend a few days basking in the glory of the Romney campaign’s hideous gay meltdown last week, another idiotic gay panic has gripped his own campaign. And it really makes you wonder, what are these guys thinking?

Fierce Advocate

Official White House Transcript

The Obama Campaign’s Marriage Equality Conundrum

By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake

Monday May 7, 2012 12:19 pm

There’s not more than a handful of voters in America who are bigoted enough to hold a position on marriage equality against a candidate for President above all else, or at least not more than a handful who wouldn’t already be voting against Obama because they already think he endorses what he has strained not to endorse. So when I say “the only people who care about this issue,” I’m talking about those gay rights activists who have given millions to the re-election effort and who want to see a President take their side on this matter of importance to them. Moreover, the only impression you get from this word-parsing and game-playing is one of a cynical campaign operation unable to articulate a strong statement of principle. It spills over into areas other than just the gay rights sphere.

In the words of Chuck Todd (about as Villager as they come) “gay money in this election has replaced Wall Street money. It has been the gay community that has put in money in a way to this President that is a very, very important part of the fundraising operation for the President Obama campaign.”

Two points- after the consistent disrespect and lack of commitment from the White House starting with Donnie McClurkin and recently evidenced by the rejection of enforcing ENDA standards on Federal Contractors and non-existent support for the opposition to NC One, why are the institutional LGBT activism organizations even giving him the time of day?

Second point- exactly what constituency is this president pandering to?

I have my suspicions and it’s not white male Republicans.

On This Day In History May 8

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge

May 8 is the 128th day of the year (129th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 237 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1973, A 71-day standoff between federal authorities and the American Indian Movement members occupying the Pine Ridge Reservation at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, site of the infamous massacre of 300 Sioux by the U.S. 7th Cavalry in 1890, ends with the surrender of the militants.

AIM was founded in 1968 by Russell Means, Dennis Banks, and other Native-American leaders as a militant political and civil rights organization.


Their actions were acclaimed by many Native Americans, but on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Oglala Sioux Tribal President Dick Wilson had banned all AIM activities. AIM considered his government corrupt and dictatorial, and planned the occupation of Wounded Knee as a means of forcing a federal investigation of his administration. By taking Wounded Knee, The AIM leaders also hoped to force an investigation of other reservations, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and broken Indian treaties.


The Wounded Knee occupation lasted for a total of 71 days, during which time two Sioux men were shot to death by federal agents. One federal agent was paralyzed after being shot. On May 8, the AIM leaders and their supporters surrendered after White House officials promised to investigate their complaints.


In 1975, two FBI agents and a Native-American man were killed in a massive shoot-out between federal agents and AIM members and local residents. In a controversial trial, AIM member Leonard Peltier was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to two consecutive life terms.


The U.S. government took no steps to honor broken Indian treaties, but in the courts some tribes won major settlements from federal and state governments in cases involving tribal land claims.

Obesity: America’s Costliest Disease

Cross posted from Docudharma

Obesity has been on the rise in the United States for years and it has now become America’s costliest disease:

U.S. hospitals are ripping out wall-mounted toilets and replacing them with floor models to better support obese patients. The Federal Transit Administration wants buses to be tested for the impact of heavier riders on steering and braking. Cars are burning nearly a billion gallons of gasoline more a year than if passengers weighed what they did in 1960.

[..] The startling economic costs of obesity, often borne by the non-obese, could become the epidemic’s second-hand smoke. Only when scientists discovered that nonsmokers were developing lung cancer and other diseases from breathing smoke-filled air did policymakers get serious about fighting the habit, in particular by establishing nonsmoking zones. The costs that smoking added to Medicaid also spurred action. Now, as economists put a price tag on sky-high body mass indexes (BMIs), policymakers as well as the private sector are mobilizing to find solutions to the obesity epidemic.

[..] The U.S. health care reform law of 2010 allows employers to charge obese workers 30 percent to 50 percent more for health insurance if they decline to participate in a qualified wellness program. The law also includes carrots and celery sticks, so to speak, to persuade Medicare and Medicaid enrollees to see a primary care physician about losing weight, and funds community demonstration programs for weight loss.

[..] Because obesity raises the risk of a host of medical conditions, from heart disease to chronic pain, the obese are absent from work more often than people of healthy weight.

[..] The medical costs of obesity have long been the focus of health economists. A just-published analysis finds that it raises those costs more than thought.

[..] For years researchers suspected that the higher medical costs of obesity might be offset by the possibility that the obese would die young, and thus never rack up spending for nursing homes, Alzheimer’s care, and other pricey items.

There is a bright side to being obese:

An obese man is 64 percent less likely to be arrested for a crime than a healthy man. Researchers have yet to run the numbers on what that might save.

And it’s not just adults.

Today’s Kids May Be Destined for Adult Heart Disease

Solution lies in instilling healthy habits, not adding medication, experts say

An array of factors has been deemed key to a healthy heart by the American Heart Association, including maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active on a regular basis, eating a healthy diet, not smoking and keeping blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels normal.

But half of U.S. kids meet just four or fewer of these health criteria, according to a report, Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics — 2012 Update, which was published in Circulation.

And, among those in high school, 30 percent of girls and 17 percent of boys do not get the recommended 60 minutes a day of physical activity, the report noted.

In addition, a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in five children had abnormal cholesterol levels, which prompted the American Academy of Pediatrics to issue new guidelines recommending that all children 9 to 11 years old be screened for high cholesterol levels.

“I love starting my day with a breakfast burrito.”


Reena Rose Sibayan/The Jersey Journal

h/t watertiger at Dependable Renegade