Trigger

The Obama white house is backing Sen. Olympia Snowe’s trigger proposal for the public option in the health care debate. If insurance coverage becomes too expensive in a given region, the trigger kicks in and the public option is created.

I think the idea is pure fantasy. The idea that some future congress will enact the public option when health care is no longer in the spotlight is pretty daft. They’ll just kick the can down the road every year, like they’ve done for hears with the Alternative Minimum Tax and Medicare reimbursement rates.

Besides, isn’t an article like this enough to convince anyone that it’s well past time to pull said trigger?

In August, when Walter Rowen, who owns Susquehanna Glass in Columbia, Pa., sought to renew his company’s coverage for two dozen employees, he said his insurer demanded a 160 percent rate increase. Mr. Rowen said he was told his work force was “getting too old and very expensive.”

Mr. Rowen said his insurance broker found that any other health plan was likely to charge 30 to 50 percent more than he paid last year. He chose a less generous plan from a different carrier for 44 percent more.

160 percent!! But apparently Obama/Snowe think the best idea is to wait until 2013 (when health care reform kicks in) and then wait a few more years to see if it hasn’t held down costs, and then maybe, just maybe, see if we need the public option

Just nuts.

The City Of Philadelphia Deserves Better Than All You All

Last night’s epic Phillies-Rockies NLDS game which Philadelphia won 6-5 began way, way too late for east coast viewers. The 10:07 p.m. Eastern start time meant that the game didn’t end until nearly quarter after two in the morning — criminally unfair for Phillies fans. The mostly explicit reason: TBS wanting to air the Yankees-Twins game in prime time. Screw the Yankees. The Angels-Red Sox game started at noon, so it was absurd to delay the Yankees start time until 7:07 p.m.

Philadelphia, that scrappy red-headed stepchild of a town between navel-gazing New York and bureaucratically dull D.C., was beaten down again. But this is nothing new. The nation’s disdain of Philadelphia, and the evolution of “Philly” into a near-epithet adjective along the lines of “ghetto” or “rough,” is a wrong that deserves to be remedied (probably like the word “gay”).

Who is to blame here? Let’s start with the makers of the 1993 film Philadelphia. Their clumsy sort of parallel symbol — the juxtaposition of a struggling post-1970s milieu of urban decay with a man slowly dying of AIDS — demeans the city. Director Jonathan Demme and stars Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington all have a lot of blood on their hands. The main problem, one of several, is that the real-life subject of the film had no connection with Philly — so for Oscar-whoring Hollywood types, Philadelphia’s pre-Rendell city setting served as an appropriate milieu for Tom Hanks to suffer from a terminal illness and eventually die. Low-hanging fruit. Total assholes.

Speaking of artists mining real-life trauma for their namby-pamby “storytelling,” Bruce Springsteen is another slum-porn asshole. His “Streets of Philadelphia” takes the film’s lame symbolic co-optation of Philadelphia even further, using “wasting away on the streets of Philadelphia” as a facile image standing in for “the end of the line.” Go ahead — say it, jackass: Philadelphia is where all the total down-and-out hobos go to die.

Bruce is disgusting, and doesn’t deserve Philadelphia. Should Bruce actually play that horrible song next week at the Spectrum, I hope Philadelphia partisans fight back with a giant vat of Cheez Whiz. My fear, however, is that the well-intentioned locals may believe that Bruce is actually praising their city — which would be unsurprising, seeing how good Bruce is at misleading people — he may be the most imprecise songwriter around, a smoke-and-mirrors charlatan.

If Bruce does play “Philadelphia,” it may set back Philadelphia’s redemption from the Springsteen-Demme Cabal and everyone else who “Phillied” Philly. This redemption, by the way, in my view, came when Brad Lidge struck out Tampa Bay’s Eric Hinske last October and Lidge fell to his knees in religious exultation not to Jesus but rather generation upon generation of beleaguered Philly fans. Don’t let Bruce undo that. Get the vat of Whiz ready.

As for me, I vow from here on out not to “Philly” Philly . . . until I hear about another case of vigilante justice, that is . . .

Olympics, My Arse

I used to love the Olympics. Really I did. Even the patriotic schmaltz-fest that was the ’96 Games in Atlanta holds a special place in my heart (watching the Men’s Gymnastics finals, some friends and I put together our own version of a mixed-media relay … I’ll save that story for another time).

So it saddens me to have learned what a corrupt money-grab the modern Olympics have become. As one of my favorite sports bloggers notes, the IOC may be even more corrupt than notoriously corrupt FIFA:

The IOC’s politics are way more unpredictable and opaque than FIFA’s. The IOC has all kinds of influences and stakeholders that might not be as obvious to observers as those within FIFA. Here are some examples.

FIFA’s Confederations make for more bloc voting, which both corrupts and simplifies the process. Meaning when Jack Warner or Issa Hayatou promises their confederations’ support, they not only mean it, but can get it done too. Have no doubts that CONCACAF will vote as a block (even Mexico) in favor of the US hosting a World Cup. The IOC and any alliances/blocs within it, tend to be harder to read. It’s well known for example that FIFA chief Sepp Blatter’s powerbase consists of CONCACAF, Asia and the Persian Gulf states especially. If Blatter says he favors “X,” it’s safer to assume that thus CONCACAF, AFC, and the Gulf States will go with him. Also, look and see where FIFA Goal Program funding is going. You can almost guarantee these countries will side with Blatter. This sounds paradoxical, but FIFA is so obviously corrupt it almost makes it more transparent.

Within the IOC, it’s less clear and involves more figures “outside” the formal process.

I think Anne Marie Cox (aka the original “Wonkette”), says it best when she notes that Chicago dodged a bullet:

Critics can try to pinpoint the reason that Barack Obama’s charm offensive failed him in Copenhagen. But as a former Chicago resident and patriotic American, I’m glad the city lost the bid to host the Summer Olympics in 2016. The Olympics, while rooted in grand traditions of fair play and noble amateurism, have become a corrupted and corrupting institution. The bid to be host city is an opportunity for untrammeled graft and favor-trading; the bid for the medals themselves is increasingly a contest of bank accounts, not bodies.

It’s a sad truth. And as a true fan of sports — and of what the Olympic idea might represent — it’s one of the reasons that I frankly don’t care if the Games are in Chicago, or Rio, or Timbuktu. For my part, I’d rather watch Michael Phelps smoke a bowl than go for the gold. At least that’s honest, and not overburdened and corrupted by the greed of big corporations and small men.