http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/charles-p-pierce-blog-6420453#ixzz1XlXAbAt2″>Charlie is scheduled to be my guest tomorrow night on Virtually Speaking Susie, so be sure to tune in:
The conversation is about to change. To an Internet so crowded with outlets that parrot the conventional and remember close to nothing, to the most entertaining political season of our lifetimes, Esquire is thrilled to welcome Charles P. Pierce as the lead writer on The Politics Blog. One of America’s great voices and consistently the smartest man in any room in which we get together around here, Charlie has resigned from The Boston Globe and will begin posting here on September 26. You know him from his great work as a contributing editor at Esquire over the years, including some of the most alert political thinking of our time (“The Cynic and Senator Obama,” “The Bomb That Didn’t Go Off, earlier blogging here), or maybe you just know him from NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. He also wrote a book based on an essay for this magazine, Idiot America, that continues to be one of the defining narratives of our wild times. And that’s what we hope Charlie, along with some of our regular contributors, will come to represent in posting here very often and very emphatically: a place for sane discourse and important conversation in this, perhaps the craziest time of our lives. Stay tuned.
It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.
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So it turns out the unlike the East Coast dockworkers union, the West Coast’s ILWU is a old-fashioned, left-wing union that’s fighting back against union busting. Notice the mainstream media is looking the other way:
For the very richest Americans, low tax rates on capital gains are better than any Christmas gift. As a result of a pair of rate cuts, first under President Bill Clinton and then under Bush, most of the richest Americans pay lower overall tax rates than middle-class Americans do. And this is one reason the gap between the wealthy and the rest of the country is widening dramatically.
The rates on capital gains — which include profits from the sale of stocks, bonds and real estate — should be a key point in negotiations over how to shrink the budget deficit, some lawmakers say.
“This is something that should be on the table,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), one of 12 members on the congressional “supercommittee” tasked with reducing the deficit. “There’s no strong economic rationale for the huge gap that exists now between the rate for wages and the rate for capital gains.”
Advocates for a low capital gains rate say it spurs more investment in the U.S. economy, benefiting all Americans. But some tax experts say the evidence for that theory is murky at best. What is clear is that the capital gains tax rate disproportionately benefits the ultra-wealthy.
I’m actually sympathetic to doctors — yet in some respects, not. I get into these arguments with them all the time: “There is nothing but your own expectations making you send your kids to private schools, buy an expensive house or get a new car every two years,” I say. “You’re complaining about paying for private school, yet you live in one of the best school districts in the state. What’s up with that?”
One doctor I know (and appreciate, because he keeps his fees low enough that I can actually afford them) is always crying about malpractice insurance premiums and tort reform. “I have a friend in Texas who told me they capped jury awards there, and the malpractice suits went down,” he told me.
“I really wish I had your problems,” I said. “You’re saying that because you want a certain lifestyle, including a wife who stays home with your kids, that other people should give up their legal protections to subsidize that. When you make it impossible for victims to file lawsuits, it means your profession has made a conscious decision to subsidize the really bad doctors. That doesn’t seem quite moral to me.”
Malpractice premiums are driven by other factors anyway. When insurance companies were making a huge profit and premiums were low, doctors weren’t complaining then. Now, when the industry has taken huge losses in the market, they’re trying to make up the difference. The problem? Capitalism!
“Plus, you guys do a terrible job of policing your profession,” I said. “Remember, 95 percent of malpractice cases are generated by the same 5 percent of doctors.” (I used to be a medical fraud investigator; I saw the same familiar names, over and over.)
Still, when I read about this study, the researchers didn’t mention that when doctors sign insurance company contracts, they agree they won’t offer reduced rates to the uninsured. It would probably be a less controversial and more popular approach to make those contract conditions (i.e. insurance profitability subsidies) illegal, don’t you think?
WASHINGTON — Doctors are paid higher fees in the United States than in several other countries, and this is a major factor in the nation’s higher overall cost of health care, says a new study by two Columbia University professors, one of whom is now a top health official in the Obama administration.
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Some staff members and commissioners of the Sept. 11 panel concluded that the Pentagon’s initial story of how it reacted to the 2001 terrorist attacks may have been part of a deliberate effort to mislead the commission and the public rather than a reflection of the fog of events on that day, according to sources involved in the debate.
Suspicion of wrongdoing ran so deep that the 10-member commission, in a secret meeting at the end of its tenure in summer 2004, debated referring the matter to the Justice Department for criminal investigation, according to several commission sources. Staff members and some commissioners thought that e-mails and other evidence provided enough probable cause to believe that military and aviation officials violated the law by making false statements to Congress and to the commission, hoping to hide the bungled response to the hijackings, these sources said.
(I moved this up in case you missed it.) You gotta see this!