BUT ARE YOU REALLY SURPRISED? New data out of the Agency for Health Care Quality and Research shows that though the nation's largest employers -- those with over 1,000 employees -- still overwhelmingly offer access to health benefits, fewer and fewer of their employees are able to afford the options. Between 1996 and 2004, megafirm workers purchasing their employer's health insurance dropped from about 88 percent to about 81 percent -- a seven percent decrease in eight years. The most significant drops came in the retail (Wal-Mart) sector, where participation plummeted by 16 percent, but numbers were down across all industries.
WEEPIN' JOE AND BATTY BECK.This is the kind of thing that passes for wit on the rightist radio circuit. Ordinarily, it would float past us unremarked as further evidence that the primary thing wrong with the concept of Intelligent Design is the adjective, and not the noun.
SWEET, SWEET ITALY-BASHING. All last week, on IM, I've been chatting with TAPPED alum and current UN DispatcherFast Leon Goldberg, mocking the idea of an Italian-led peacekeeping mission in Lebanon. Italy, after all, has what's got to be the western world's least distinguished military record, managing to get stomped by the disintegrated Austro-Hungarian Empire on various occasions, failing to subdue Ethiopia during the high tide of imperialism, and generally proving to be more millstone than ally during the Second World War. It did, however, occur to me that this might be an unfair smear. Maybe Italy has a distinguished record in contemporary peacekeeping operations.
WHY EDUCATION IS GOOD FOR THE LADIES.Forbes.com executive editor Michael Noer's execrable and poorly reported "article," "Don't Marry Career Women," has been given the thorough mocking it deserves by now, making his name and his site the laughing stock they deserve to be for years to come. Those who are yearning for some real data on what life is like for contemporary "career women" won't have to wait for Noer's ignominy to fade, though.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: WHAT WOULD LENIN DO? Should progressives seek to shore up the employer-based healtcare system in ways that help employees of companies like Wal-Mart, or are such measures actually counterproductive to the long-term goal of replacing that system with national health insurance? Do things need to get worse before they get better? Ezra and Nathan Newman recently tussled over this question. Today, Maggie Maharweighs in on the debate. She's with Ezra.
THE PERILS OF MULTILATERALISM UNILATERALISM.Charles Krauthammer has another one in his occasional series of columns deriding the usefulness and effectiveness of multilateralism. It would seem, however, that his thinly veiled contempt for the cumbersome process of consensus-building is a bit misplaced -- he's convinced that both North Korea and Iran will finish their nuclear bombs, and nothing we or our allies can do will stop them. That is, of course, true. But it's a truth that multilateralism could have helped prevent.
WORTH SEEING? So far I have watched one-and-a-half of the recently released documentaries about the national tragedies of September 11 and Katrina. On Native Soil is the film version -- presuming a documentary can actually substitute for the National Book Award-nominatedReport -- of the findings of the 9-11 Commission. I�m also halfway through Spike Lee�s four-hour film, When the Levees Broke, about the Katrina disaster.
PURGE OF MELE BEGINS. As well it should. The New Organizing Institute (a "grassroots training and research program created by experienced online organizers...in conjunction with MoveOn.org") just announced it has "removed Nicco Mele from its Advisory Board after learning that Mele will be supporting John McCain if he should run for president." It is important that someone is taking the lead in drawing the line against progressive support for McCain, and I hope more progressive organizations follow. NOI went on to add, "Senator McCain's record is radically out-of-step with the values of most Americans�and certainly inconsistent with the values of the NOI."
BREATHLESS FOR THE APOCALYPSE, FROM SAN ANTONIO TO TOLEDO. As talk of war with Iran intensifies, it�s hard not to see the bated breath of the Armageddon brigade fogging up the windows of the White House. John Hagee, the San Antonio televangelist and leader of Christians United for Israel, has used every twist and turn of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah to promote his vision of a world-ending confrontation with Iran.
WHOA: GEORGE ALLEN IS JEWISH?So saysThe Forward, which has traced his mother's lineage back to a family of Tunisian Jews, making Allen, as we used to say in my German-Jewish family, "Jewish enough to be killed for it, if they start killing Jews again," even though he's a practicing Episcopalian: