Following the Money in Maine

The News yesterday that Anthem Health Plans of Maine a subsidiary of WellPoint, is suing the State of Maine so they can shove a 18.5% premium increase down the throats of their individual policy holders was more bad news for the people of Maine. WellPoint has monopoly in Maine controling 78% of the health insurance market. This kind of monopoly in health insurance isn't confined to Maine. The American Medical Association reports that 94% of insurance markets in the U.S. are now highly concentrated. The Health Insurance Industry and its representatives in Congress are fighting tooth and nail to prevent a competetor from entering these monopoly markets.

According to statistics in a report by Helath Care for America Now titled Results of Market Failure in Maine (Pdf)

* Between 2000 and 2007 insurance premiums in Maine went up by 90%, (employers' costs went up by 87% and their workers costs went up by 96%) at a rate 4.5 times faster than the rise in Maine's medium income.
* Over the three years between 2004 and 2007 Anthem Health Plans of Maine's profits soared by 89%.

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Help freep ALL the Blue Dogs' Health Care polls

First I found a list of Blue Dogs on the The Blue Dog Coalition's website (they're so helpful). Then I went to the House of Representatives' web directory. I then proceeded to comb through EVERY (using dial-up ugh) Blue Dog webpage looking for polls.

I've already done all the tedious leg work, so all you need to do is go down the list and click.

Arcuri, Mike (NY-24)

Marion Berry (AK-1) Long form (asks for a county and zip).

Barrow, John (GA-12)

Cuellar, Henry (TX-28) (asks for address and phone #)

Ellsworth, Brad (IN-08) Long form (asks for a county and zip).

Gordon, Bart (TN-06)

Griffith, Parker (AL-05) (asks for e-mail address)

Michaud, Mike (ME-02)

Scott, David (GA-13)

Thank you for participating.

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Now Joe the Plumber claims he's "broke"

Yes America's zaniest plumber is at it again. Instead of being in a tax bracket high enough to see his taxes increased by Obama's proposed roll back of the Bush tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 a year, he claims he is "broke".

'Joe the Plumber' Plans Life After 2008 Election

"I got no financial offers. I am broke," Joe Wurzelbacher said Monday, explaining that he's got a few ideas on how to spread the wealth to himself and others following bogus reports of a professional management deal and potential country music career.

Which is it Joe, are you broke or do you make more than $250,000 a year?

It gets better:

"I am starting a charity up, it's called 'Secure Our Dream.' It's just about people, neighbors in the community," Wurzelbacher told

Wow! Now Joe the Plumber wants us to think he has seen the error of his ways and wants to be more like Mother Teresa? Joe the Community Organizer? I'm not buying it.

crossposted at D-Kos

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Before Obama, before Cuomo, there was Barbara Jordan's 1976 Keynote Address

In 1976, I unfortunately didn't have the chance to watch Barbara Jordan's Keynote Speech to the Democratic Convention in New York (I think I was at work). I do remember hearing and reading about her landmark speech. Jordan was the first Black Woman to give the keynote address to a national convention of a major American political party. Like the Gettysburg Address Barbara Jordan's 1976 Keynote Address will stand out in American History as one of great speeches. Barbara Jordan's visionary Keynote Address stands the test of time and sounds just as relevant today as it did in 32 years ago at the Democratic Convention that nominated Jimmy Carter.

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Hillary asked not to be vetted unless she was going to be V.P.

Another big peice of the puzzle of how Obama picked his Vice Presidential running mate just fell into place. Here is the reason why Hillary Clinton wasn't part of Obama's short list as the search process went forward, she didn't want to be a part of a short list.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, who ran so closely to Obama in the primary, was never seriously considered, said two officials involved with the search. She asked not to be vetted unless she was going to be picked, the two officials said, speaking on a condition of anonymity to describe the private discussions.

New York Times

I think this puts Hillary's statement on the Biden pick in a new light:

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The Working Poor aren't poor enough for John McCain

Last year John McCain voted to repeal the Federal Minimum Wage Law. A law millions of Americans depend on to keep their sub-poverty wages from falling even further behind the cost of living. The hardship involved in lowering the already shamefully low standard of living that America's working poor now must endure may boggle your and my mind, but not John McMaverick's. He thinks its a good idea.  


McCain voted with the Republicans in 2007 to stall a clean minimum wage increase for working families--before bowing to public pressure and voting to pass the final bill that included tax breaks for businesses. He even voted to completely repeal the minimum wage laws in 45 states and allow the other five states to opt out of any future minimum wage increases above $5.15 an hour. [H.R. 2, Vote #23, 1/24/07; Vote #24, 1/24/07; Vote #25, 1/25/07; Vote #37, 1/31/07; Vote #39, 1/31/07; Vote #42, 1/31/07; S. 2766, Vote #179, 6/21/06; S. 256, Vote #26, 3/7/05]

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Thoughts on the upcoming Strike and the Union Avoidance Industry

Like many Americans I work for a corporation. I am lucky because I belong to a Union that helps give employees some say in the decisions our employer makes that govern our working lives. Being part of a union has improved my standard of living significantly.

This has not come without having to fight for it. We had to strike in 2005, in 2002, in 1995, and in 1989. Our employer keeps trying to give workers the shit end of the stick, and we have to keep clobbering Management with the blunt interment of a strike to remind the corporate elite that they don't constitute the whole company.

This year the company seems to want another strike. The company's contract proposal if full of putrid take away provisions, like the ones that would eliminate pensions, and retiree health care for new workers.

So now I am saving my money for a strike that is looking more and more likely. This strike could go on for weeks or it could go on for months, like the Strike in 1995 did, when we had enough backbone to reject the company's paltry fall back offer after being out for more than 2 months (after that second rejection the company caved).

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Bush asks Congress to take a Giant Step Backward on Global Warming

Bush wants Congress to lift the ban on developing Oil Shale on federal lands on the Green River Plateau in Colorado and Utah.

That brought an immediate response from Colorado's Democratic Governor Bill Ritter:


"Someday the technology may exist that will allow us to responsibly extract oil from Colorado shale. But that day is years away. That day will only come when crucial questions about impacts to water, air quality, wildlife and our local communities -- are fully understood and answered. That day is not today. This was a premature and unnecessary act by the federal government that is not supported by science or technology.

Extracting oil from shale rock is an extremely dirty, insanely carbon intensive process, that will dump huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere because the shale rock has to be heated to 700 degrees to get the oil out.

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Austin American Statesman Issues an Apology for Sunday's FrontPage story about N.N. 2008

The Editor of the The Austin American-Statesman has apologized for the Front Page Story that upset me and many other attendees of Netroots Nation 2008 at how we were portrayed, and especially upset the American-Statesman's readers in Austin.

Editor's note: Netroots Nation story

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Readers expect front-page stories to speak directly and clearly about events and issues. Eliminating the possibility of misunderstanding from our work is a critical part of our daily newsroom routine. When we communicate in a way that could be misinterpreted, we fail to meet our standards.

Our front-page story Sunday about the Netroots Nation convention included doses of irony and exaggeration. It made assertions (that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might find herself at home politically in Beijing, for example) and characterizations ("marauding liberals" was one) meant to amuse. For many readers, we failed.

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The Iraq War has been very very good to Exxon

Follow the Money: Who Profits?  

In the four years leading up the Iraq War Exxon averaged a yearly net profit of $11.95 Billion. In the years since George Bush, started the Iraq War Exxon has averaged a yearly net profit of $32.6 Billion, an increase of 273% over the pre Iraq War average profit.

Year     Exxon's Profit in
            Billions of Dollars

1999           7.9

2000          10.9

2001          17.5                    

2002          11.5                  

2003          21.5                    

2004          25.3                    

2005          36.1                    

2006          39.5

2007          40.6

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