– As the health care bill gets sliced and diced into a much more corporate-friendly and ineffective skeleton of its previous self in the Senate, I’m struck by how the arguments for still passing it sound like the arguments that were made (by myself and others) to pass the local roads and transit measure in 2007. Back then, I was fairly convinced that we only had a small window of opportunity on getting real transit and that window might close. It turns out that it got done – and got done in a much better way – a year later.
Although, for fear of being wrong twice, I’m still leaning towards the folks who are arguing that this is our last chance on health care for a while. The only thing that leads me to disagree with Drum’s linked post is that the condition of our health care system now is so much worse than in any of those previous years. It’s possible that the demand for reform from the public will not subside like it did in previous years.
And if anyone was on the fence about the willingness of Obama to side with the American public over the interests of the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, I think Jame Hamsher has definitively put that question to rest right here. At the beginning of Obama’s term, I considered his attempts to keep ties with Joe Lieberman his biggest mistake. But even though it’s turning out exactly as I expected – with Joe Lieberman being a hypocritical jackass and trying to derail real reforms – it doesn’t seem to be bothering Obama too much. It just adds more ammunition to those, like Matt Taibbi, who have come to believe that Obama has little interest in challenging the corporate corruption that continues to dominate our political system.
Passing a health care bill, even a half-assed one, might have one potential benefit that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere. Once it passes (if it passes), there will be a stronger interest among both Obama and the Democrats in Congress not to have it become a major boondoggle. There will be a clearer sense of ownership of the health care problem, and perhaps that might lead to a more rational discussion within the caucus of how to fix it, rather than simply worrying about the influence and power of the lobbies who are wielding a large amount of influence to simply kill the effort entirely. Or maybe we’re all just fucked, I’m not sure.
– The head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, claims that money laundered by drug gangs saved some the world’s major banks from collapsing during the recent financial crisis. Worldwide, criminal gangs from Afghanistan, Mexico, Colombia, and elsewhere make about $352 billion from the global market for illicit drugs.
– Californians will be voting on whether to legalize marijuana this November. Polls show that support for legalizing marijuana there is over 50%. The initiative that they’ll be voting on also addresses the personal growing question, something that the recently drafted bill here (HB 2401) in Washington’s State House doesn’t. The initiative there will allow for a 25 square foot growing area for personal use. HB 2401 should probably adopt something similar to that.
– I’ve been reading up on the case of Roe v TeleTech, a job discrimination case from Kitsap County where a company (TeleTech) terminated a medical marijuana patient because she failed a drug screening. The woman had actually started the job and worked for a week with no problems before the decision was made to terminate her for violating the company’s drug-free workplace policy. She was authorized by a doctor to use marijuana for her migraines and she did not use the drug at work. Her medical use didn’t affect her ability to work in any way, but the court ruled in favor of TeleTech. Since this occurred, a 2007 revision of the law made it clearer that companies like TeleTech could only terminate a person if they were in a safety-sensitive position or if they wanted to use their medicine within the workplace. The fired woman is petitioning for the State Supreme Court to review the case.
– As part of their attempt to build a downtown entertainment district around the new light rail station, Sea-Tac is using eminent domain to condemn a private surface lot (paying the owners $2 million less than what they recently paid to acquire it) and building a public parking garage in its place. The owners of the lot, James and Doris Cassan, have an uphill battle in fighting the action. The Supreme Court ruled a few years back in Kelo v. City of New London that it was legal for cities to take property like this for large-scale development projects. It also doesn’t help the Cassans that people would really love to have more public parking at the light rail stations rather than having to pay to park in a surface lot (which is why the use of eminent domain worries a lot of people in the first place, because it can become an instrument of mob rule). What I find most interesting about this is that it potentially makes the Evergreen Freedom Foundation and pro-transit groups – who don’t want lots of parking at light rail stops – temporary allies. [via Balko]
– Finally, Dominic Holden ridicules our Attorney General.