We now know what did in actor Heath Ledger: an accidental overdose of prescription medications, according to MSNBC.  The combination of drugs in his system took their toll on the physically and mentally exhausted young man, and killed him.

John McCain — again, according to MSNBC, has pulled into a clear lead over his rivals on Super Tuesday.

WASHINGTON – Sen. John McCain seized command of the race for the Republican presidential nomination early Wednesday, winning delegate-rich primaries from the East Coast to California. Democratic rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama traded victories in an epic struggle with no end in sight.


McCain’s own victory in the Republican race in the Golden State dealt a crushing blow to his closest pursuer, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

I guess given their options, Republican voters decided that Romney — like Rudy Giuliani — is just too creepy a motherfucker to want in the White House.  McCain’s a motherfucker too; all the Republican candidates are.  But he’s a known quantity, predictable, semi-sane.  None of the other jerks can boast such a perception.

And how did Clinton and Obama fare yesterday?  As the New York Times reports:

Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama carved up the nation in the 22-state nominating contest on Tuesday, leaving the Democratic presidential nomination more elusive than ever. Mrs. Clinton won California, Massachusetts, New Jersey and her home state, New York, while Mr. Obama took Connecticut, Georgia, Minnesota and his base in Illinois.


Mrs. Clinton won 584 delegates in Tuesday’s vote, bringing her total to 845, according to a count by The Associated Press. Mr. Obama won 569 delegates for a total of 765, The A.P. reported. A candidate needs 2,025 votes to win the nomination.

So Clinton is ahead on the delegate front, but Obama still has enough to remain in contention and make it a brokered convention in August.  Super Tuesday may have come and gone, but there are still a lot of states to go before the primary season has finished.  And both Clinton and Obama have demonstrated their willingness to go for the jugular — against each other.  As Paul Krugman blogged yesterday:

I really, really wish he would stop this:

Obama likened Clinton’s health care mandate proposal to eliminating homelessness by requiring everyone buy a house.

The Clinton plan does every bit as much to ensure affordability as the Obama plan. This is just grotesque.

Add: There are no excuses this time. You can’t say that it’s the work of some staffer. This is unscrupulous demagoguery from the candidate himself.

Speaking of Paul Krugman, I’ve seen a lot of attacks on him from Obama supporters that range from unfair and ignorant to unfair and blatantly dishonest.  So let me, dear reader, point out a few things.

1.) Krugman is a self-proclaimed liberal, writing about his beliefs and stating his opinions.

2.) He is a very knowledgeable economist who has done extensive research on the Long Gilded Age, the Great Depression, the New Deal and its effects, its decline and collapse, the Republican counterrevolution and rise to power.  He has also maintained his position as an observer of recent history and current events.  So he knows what he’s writing about.

3.) Krugman’s biggest and most personal issue is health care.  He has stated that he wants single-payer, not for profit health care (Medicare for all, in short).  But he thinks that is politically impossible at this point in time, and not without reason; the GOP is unified in its opposition to it, and the Democratic Party doesn’t have the political will to push for it.  So yes, with only three health care plans to analyze that stand any chance of making it to the general election, he has focused primarily on those three.  And after analyzing the Edwards, Clinton, and Obama plans, he has found flaws in each of them but obviously has his opinion on which would be better if implemented.  Again, health care is Krugman’s biggest personal issue.  And he is going to carry out his analysis based on which of the major candidates’ health care plans most closely matches his preference.  And the result is this:

Kucinich (Who has actually helped draft legislation, HR 676.)




Now does this mean Krugman has a preferred candidate?  Not at all.  If we were to go based on Krugman’s stated preference, then by the standards of his more extreme critics one may assume he is a Kucinich supporter.  But logic tells us another story.  What, other than criticizing policy proposals and candidate actions, leads any reasonable person to conclude that Krugman has a favorite in this race?  When Edwards was still in, he obviously preferred that health care plan to those of the other two.  And when it was whittled down to Clinton and Obama, he obviously prefers the Clinton plan to the other one.  But that is not the same as an endorsement of one candidate over another.  If you disagree with Paul Krugman’s assessment of candidates and their policy proposals, fine.  By all means, do so.  But please try to keep a cool head about it.  Criticizing one candidate does not mean one endorses another.

Finally, I saw this posted (I forget where, but I can’t claim credit for discovering it), and it’s worth repeating for those who think either Clinton or Obama can be trusted to look out for us on the health care front.


Hillary Clinton $349,270

Barack Obama $337,525

According to the Boston Globe, Obama came down on the side of the health insurance industry in the Illinois state senate.

When Barack Obama and fellow state lawmakers in Illinois tried to expand healthcare coverage in 2003 with the “Health Care Justice Act,” they drew fierce opposition from the insurance industry, which saw it as a back-handed attempt to impose a government-run system.

Over the next 15 months, insurers and their lobbyists found a sympathetic ear in Obama, who amended the bill more to their liking partly because of concerns they raised with him and his aides, according to lobbyists, Senate staff, and Obama’s remarks on the Senate floor.

The wrangling over the healthcare measure, which narrowly passed and became law in 2004, illustrates how Obama, during his eight years in the Illinois Senate, was able to shepherd major legislation by negotiating competing interests in Springfield, the state capital. But it also shows how Obama’s own experience in lawmaking involved dealings with the kinds of lobbyists and special interests he now demonizes on the campaign trail.


By the time the legislation passed the Senate, in May 2004, Obama had written three successful amendments, at least one of which made key changes favorable to insurers.

Most significant, universal healthcare became merely a policy goal instead of state policy – the proposed commission, renamed the Adequate Health Care Task Force, was charged only with studying how to expand healthcare access. In the same amendment, Obama also sought to give insurers a voice in how the task force developed its plan.

Lobbyists praised Obama for taking the insurance industry’s concerns into consideration.


Obama later watered down the bill after hearing from insurers and after a legal precedent surfaced during the debate indicating that it would be unconstitutional for one legislative assembly to pass a law requiring a future legislative assembly to craft a healthcare plan.

So for those of you who think Obama is the second coming of JFK and that Paul Krugman is somehow doing wrong to criticize his corporate-friendly health care garbage, think again.  Not that this lets Clinton off the hook.  As John Nichols in a recent Nation column writes:

The Clinton plan maintains the current system of for-profit, insurance-industry defined health care delivery. The only real change is that, in return for minimal requirements regarding coverage of those with preexisting conditions, the government would pump hundreds of billions in federal dollars into the accounts of some of the country’s wealthiest corporations. The plan’s tax credit scheme would buy some more coverage for low-income families, which is good, but it would do so at a cost so immense that, ultimately, Clinton’s plan will be as tough a sell as the failed 1993 “Hillarycare” proposal.

Let’s take a look at the bribe numbers again (yes, I know we’re no longer supposed to call it that, but that’s what it is):

Hillary Clinton $349,270

Barack Obama $337,525

Given all this, does anyone seriously believe we shall see true health care reform in this country now that Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards are no longer in the race pushing the two prima donnas on the issue?

By the way, here’s some more health care food for thought:

The mainstream Democratic candidates for President — John Edwards, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton — have each put forward their proposals for “affordable quality health coverage for all.” The three Democrats’ proposals, while purporting to provide “universal health care”, will not actually achieve this goal:

None of these plans offers a realistic way of containing the rising cost of health care. All will add additional funds to an already too-costly system. None will truly provide universal access to care.

Only a single payer national health insurance program can actually achieve affordable, workable universal access to health care.


The three proposals share a set of common elements:

The private insurance system would remain in place, with no fundamental change in the way it operates. Those who currently have insurance would not experience any change in how they are insured or the coverage they have.


What is missing from these plans?

Since multiple payers would remain (even if one of them might be a public payer), few of the savings and simplifications that are possible with a singe payer can be achieved.

Consumers must purchase insurance, but no limits are proposed on what insurers can charge them.

No regulations are proposed that would assure the adequacy of benefits or that would affect either the restrictions that insurers now impose on the choice of doctor and hospital or the way they handle, and deny, claims.

There is no simplification of the complex and wasteful private insurance system with its copays, deductibles, exclusions, and claim denials.

There is no assurance of a “level playing field” between the public insurance plan and the private ones. Insurance company advertising and targeted marketing will still be used to promote private plans over public and to avoid the poor and the sick. At the same time, the private insurers will surely insist on the additional subsidies they already enjoy in the Medicare Advantage program.

Nothing is proposed that would control the rising cost of health care. (The measures they suggest to achieve savings may well increase costs rather than reduce them. In any case, the possibility for savings is speculative at this point.)

Given all this information, and I know it’s a lot to digest the Morning After Super Tuesday, we see that the two corporate candidates’ health care “plans” are awful, but to different degrees.  So cut Paul Krugman some slack when he writes about the candidates’ health care plans.

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