“So how does a group of billionaire businessmen and corporations get a bunch of broke Middle American white people to lobby for lower taxes for the rich and deregulation of Wall Street? That turns out to be easy. Beneath the surface, the Tea Party is little more than a weird and disorderly mob, a federation of distinct and often competing strains of conservatism that have been unable to coalesce around a leader of their own choosing. Its rallies include not only hardcore libertarians left over from the original Ron Paul “Tea Parties,” but gun-rights advocates, fundamentalist Christians, pseudomilitia types like the Oath Keepers (a group of law- enforcement and military professionals who have vowed to disobey “unconstitutional” orders) and mainstream Republicans who have simply lost faith in their party. It’s a mistake to cast the Tea Party as anything like a unified, cohesive movement — which makes them easy prey for the very people they should be aiming their pitchforks at. A loose definition of the Tea Party might be millions of pissed-off white people sent chasing after Mexicans on Medicaid by the handful of banks and investment firms who advertise on Fox and CNBC.”—(Matt Taibbi via kateoplis)
Today is the 14th anniversary of the first time I saw my favorite band, Pearl Jam. September 29th, 1996. I’m 28 years old now and have been an active fan for more than half of my life.
I loved them for a while before I finally got to see them live due to conflicts with IAC/Ticketmaster that prevented them from touring. As the NYTimes put it 14 years ago tomorrow, “while Pearl Jam flaunts its principles, its fans suffer for them.” We had to trek out to Yankees Stadium to pick up the tickets, and then to Downing Stadium on Randall’s Island to see the show and, as the paper famously said, we got two Jams for the price of one: Pearl and Traffic.
The traffic the first night was so bad that the band decided to play an unprecedentedly long set, assuming people would leave gradually, easing the traffic jams on the second night. It ended up being the longest show they ever played at 165 minutes. This record would later be broken a few times, most recently at the closing show at the Philadelphia Spectrum last Halloween 10/31/09 (I was there, of course).
But eventually they started touring like a normal band, letting Ticketmaster gouge fans with high convenience charges while selling to mega fans commission-free tickets directly through their fan club. I’ve seen them almost 50 times since, very rarely from farther than 20 rows back on the floor. My fan club membership (c1994) is the gift that keeps on giving.
At age 14 I didn’t have any friends that both wanted to and had parents that would let them, so my dad came with me. He really liked the band that opened for Pearl Jam, then a group no one had heard of: Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals. He’s come with me to a few shows since then: 9/8/98 and 6/3/06 at the meadowlands, and 5/20/10 at madison square garden.
I’m pretty sure I can recite every date and venue I’ve seen the band play.
Major health care changes take effect today. Here’s a rundown:
1. Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children due to pre-existing health conditions.
2. Sick and “expensive” patients can not be dropped due to technical mistakes on their applications.
3. Young adults under 26 can be covered on their parents’ policies.
4. Preventative procedures like colonoscopies, mammograms and immunizations are covered with co-payments.
5. Patients who join a new plan are allowed to keep their own doctors.
6. Patients can appeal insurance company reimbursement decisions to a third party.
7. Insurers are prohibited from imposing lifetime limits on benefits, which means that families like Bill and Victoria Strong won’t have to worry about providing quality care to their 3-year-old daughter Gwendolyn, who has a degenerative condition the requires enormously expensive care.
It will be a few years until we’re able to determine how these changes will affect our health in the long-term, and if it will actually reduce the deficit by $143 billion over 10 years as the Obama administration intends, but the benefits coming out today are going to make a huge difference.
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