A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Friday, July 31, 2009

No Gods


A great license plate on an Ohio car, via The Friendly Atheist.

Obama's Illinois Doctor About Health Care Plan

I guess I should say Obama's ex-doctor, since I'm sure he has a new doctor since taking up residence in Washington, D.C.. His name is Dr. David Scheiner and he practices in Chicago, Illinois. He was President Obama's personal physician for 22 years, and says he voted for Obama in the 2008 election.

What does he think of the health care reform proposed by Democrats so far? He doesn't like it. Dr. Scheiner says the worst part of the proposal is that "private insurers continue to be a part of the health scheme." He thinks America should go to a government-run single-payer system, like we see in other industrialized countries.

Dr. Scheiner says, "Everybody keeps saying we don't want the government involved in health care. But the government is involved in Medicare, and it works." He goes on to say, "I just hope that the Congress, the American public and the president will hear some of my words. We've got to do something better."

Dr. Scheiner was in Washington with a group of doctors on Thursday. They were making the congressional rounds trying to push a single payer system.

It's so nice to see some doctors stepping up and talking sense. Doctors that are at least as worried about their patients as their pocketbooks. These doctors know the private insurance companies are one of the major causes of our broken health care system.

Damn Blue Dogs !


Political Cartoon is by Ed Stein at edsteinink.com.

Outlawing Texting Is Not Enough


It looks like Congress finally wants to do something about dangerous cell phone use by drivers. Senators Charles Schumer (D-New York), Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) and Kay Hagan (D-North Carolina) have just unveiled legislation they are introducing in the Senate.

The legislation would force states to outlaw cell phone texting and e-mailing while a person is driving a motor vehicle. Any state that does not outlaw this activity will lose 25% of their annual highway funding until they do.

Schumer said, "When drivers have their eyes on their cellphones instead of the road, the results can be dangerous and even deadly." Of course, he is right. The only flaw I see in the law proposed by these senators is that it doesn't go far enough.

The law needs to ban ALL cell phone use while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has shown that talking on a cell phone while driving is equally as dangerous as driving witha blood-alcohol content of 0.08 (which is labeled as drunk driving in most states). It is three times more dangerous than that when dialing.

Some people think the hands-free units solve that problem. According to the NHTSA, the danger is not in holding the phone, but in the conversation itself. People get so involved in the conversation that they lose their focus on driving. How can we justify outlawing drunk driving, when we continue to allow this activity which is just as dangerous.

The fact is that all cell phone use (talking, texting, e-mailing, cruising internet, etc.) is too dangerous to allow drivers to do. Why then, does Congress want to only half-do the ban that is needed? Would doing the job right cost them some phone company lobbying dollar?

(Cartoon is by Jeff Stahler in The Columbus Dispatch)

Modern Pirates


Political Cartoon is by John Cole in The Scranton Times.

The Product Of Fear-Mongering


There was a bit of excitement in Fort Worth Wednesday afternoon. Hundreds of people evacuated the Bank of America building, and the Fire Department was called to help along with several ambulances. The Fire Department had been told there was a carbon monoxide leak in the building -- an invisible and odorless gas that can be fatal.

It all started when two ladies became dizzy, and reported that to their supervisor. The supervisor then made an announcement " over the building’s PA system saying that anyone feeling these symptoms should exit the building to an outside location." Many of the approximately 2,000 employees went to the parking lot, and emergency personnel were notified.

Twelve people were taken to the hospital by ambulance, while another twenty-two went to the hospital on a city bus. About 110 people were evaluated and released at the scene. The Fire Department used their detection equipment to find any dangerous gases or chemicals in the building, and what they found was -- perfume.

That's right, it seems the first two women had gotten dizzy because they were close to someone spraying a very liberal amount of perfume (brand unknown). After that, Fire Department officials said "psychosomatic behavior" took over and a lot of people convinced themselves they were sick.

According to psychologist Hap Klinefelter, "Emotions are real contagious. A lot of times people will reason from their feelings. It introduces the power of suggestion and it makes them real susceptible to misinterpreting physical cues or it will distort their perceptions."

Psychologist Mary Lynn Crow agreed, saying, "Your thinking can actually cause you to feel pain or discomfort. Fear is one of the most contagious emotions there is. When you say to people, 'Hey, there is a contaminant in the building and it is making people sick,’ then it easy for them to feel accordingly."

I can't help but think this kind of hysteria is a product of the fear-mongering Bush administration. Bush and Cheney wanted Americans to be afraid, because that allowed them to seize more and more power -- power our Founding Fathers never meant for government to have. Bush and his cohorts had people thinking terrorists were hiding under every bed, and no one in America is safe.

The result of that kind of fear-mongering is 34 people going to the hospital and emergency personnel being called because someone used a bit too much perfume. I think we need to get a grip on ourselves.

Vick's Back ?


Political Cartoon is by Gary Brookins in The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Just A Theory


Just a theory, like evolution. Found at web site Atheist Comics.

Seniors Won't Get Swine Flu Vaccine

Health experts expect the swine flu virus (H1N1) to come back in the late Fall and Winter. To prepare for that, the United States is preparing to vaccinate around 160 million people. The vaccination will require two doses, and it will start around the middle of October.

If there is not enough of the vaccine to do the full 160 million people, then it will be pared back by risk groups. The first groups to be vaccinated will be health workers. That makes sense. We may need those health workers to take care of the rest of us.

Then comes people who work with babies, and children between six months and four years. They will be followed by young people with high-risk medical conditions, and finally other young people and young adults.

The pleasant surprise for me is that older people are not scheduled to receive the vaccination at all. Normally, us old codgers are one of the at-risk groups that must get a flu vaccination. The last couple of years, my doctor hasn't even asked. She just stuck the needle in my arm.

Why is this year different? Well, it seems that us oldies have more immunity to this virus than younger people do. That's because we were alive in 1957 and exposed to the virus that year. That exposure gives us a pretty good immunity to this year's swine flu virus.

There aren't too many advantages to being old, but I guess this is one.

Talking Race


Political Cartoon is by David Fitzsimmons in the Arizona Daily Star.

Is Public Insurance Option Disappearing ?


Republicans and "Blue Dog" Democrats keep telling us there is no need for a public health insurance option. They want us to believe the private insurance companies can solve all our health care problems (even though these are the very people who have caused those problems).

It's gotten so bad that even Democratic leaders like Harry Reid (Senate Majority Leader) is now saying a bill could be passed without a public health insurance option. Some are even saying a co-op of private insurance companies could work just as well (even though they can't tell us how these co-ops could work as well as a public option).

It's becoming obvious that these Repubs and Blue Dogs have been bought off by the millions of dollars the lobbyists are throwing at them. To them, getting re-elected is far more important than providing health care for ordinary Americans. Otherwise, they would not be proposing as ridiculous a concept as co-ops for private insurance. A concept that amounts to little more than a gigantic payday for private insurance companies.

Let's review just what private insurance companies have done for America's citizens:

* Left 55 million Americans without any health insurance at all, and this number keeps growing larger as more jobs disappear each month. Would a co-op system cover everyone? Doubtful.

* Instituted a "recission" system, where the insurance company drops your policy when your health care becomes too expensive (and cuts into their profits).

* Priced businesses out of the health insurance market when their employee's medical claims get too high.

* "Cherry-pick" only healthy people to cover with affordable insurance. Everyone else is either denied or the policy is priced so high they can't afford it.

* Rationed health care by refusing to pay for expensive treatments. Whether a person gets treatment is determined not by a doctor, but by an insurance company employee (whose bonus depends on how many medical claims he/she can deny).

* Restricted the choice of a patient's doctor or hospital to only those approved by the insurance company.

* Make only partial payments for doctors, hospital care and medical tests and procedures. This leaves huge medical bills for the patient (who thought he/she had coverage).

* Frustrating doctors, hospitals and labs by consistently making their payments months late.

* Deny treatment because a procedure is not on their approved list of procedures (which usually means it costs too much).

* Developed a system where profits are more important than patient care. (In a public option, there would be no profit -- making the insurance cheaper).

* Developed a system where there is 15-40% overhead costs that have nothing to do with medical care. (By comparison, the government program known as Medicare has only a 2% overhead).

* Caused over 67% of the bankruptcies in America by leaving patients with huge medical bills.

I would like for the Repubs and Blue Dogs to explain to me how these for-profit private companies with huge overheads are going to solve all the problems they themselves created. The truth is they can't explain it. That's why they are resorting only to lies and scare tactics about public health insurance.

In the modern industrialized world, the United States is the only government that does not have a government-run single-payer health insurance system. Did you ever wonder why none of these countries have returned to a system of private insurance coverage? After all, the Repubs and Blue Dogs tell us government can't do it as well as private business can.

The reason they haven't gone back to a private plan is because, regardless of what the right-wing says, there are some things the government does better than private companies (such as military defense, fire and rescue protection, police protection, road and bridge building and maintenance, etc.). Whether the Repubs and Blue Dogs like it or not, health care insurance is one of those things.

Don't let them lie to you. They are far more interested in protecting the pocketbooks of their corporate masters, than in seeing you get the best health care available. A "reform" package without a public insurance option is nothing more than a continuace of the current broken system.

But it's beginning to look like that might happen. Listen to what Majority Leader Harry Reid has to say, "It's really premature for me to lay out what should be in this bill." That's not strong leadership. In fact, that's no leadership at all. The Majority Leader should be putting his foot down right now and demanding the reform be real and actually fix our broken system. He should be demanding a public insurance option.

Tell your congressmen that any reform must include a public insurance option. If it doesn't, it is not worthy of support.

Profiling


Political Cartoon is by John Trever in The Albuquerque Journal.

Hutchison Cranking Up Her Campaign


After months of some wondering if Kay Bailey Hutchison was really serious about running for governor, and a new poll that shows her trailing current governor Rick Perry, it now looks like Hutchison is beginning to crank up her campaign.

Appearing on the Mark Davis radio show in Dallas, Senator Hutchison told the conservative talk show host that she will be announcing in August that she is officially running for the govenorship of Texas. In addition, she told Chapman she would soon be resigning her senate seat. She said, "Then the actual leaving of the Senate will be sometime -- October, November - that, in that time frame."

Meanwhile, Hutchison has started attacking Perry. Her first broadside regarded Perry refusing to take the federal stimulus funds to help pay unemployment benefits. She said, "This is yet another Rick Perry disaster. Higher business taxes. Unnecessary debt. And an unemployment mess. Nothing better encapsulates our leadership problems in Austin than Gov. Rick Perry’s refusal to accept (the stimulus money)."

In an effort to appeal to his right wing base, Gov. Perry turned down $555 million in federal funds for the unemployed. Now Texas has a crises because its unemployment keeps rising and there aren't enough funds to pay unemployment benefits. Texas now has at least 383,700 drawing benefits -- more than double a year ago, and unemployment keeps rising.

Now Perry is asking the federal government for a loan of a little more than $600 million. He refused the money that didn't have to be paid back, but is willing to accept the money that must be paid back and puts Texas over $600 million in debt. That doesn't make any sense at all.

But Senator Hutchison doesn't really possess the high ground on the issue of stimulus funds. She voted against providing the same funds that Perry turned down. So we have two right-wing Republicans who are more interested in protecting their corporate masters than in helping ordinary out-of-work Texans buy food and pay rent.

That sounds like a good reason to vote Democratic in 2010.

Brewskis At The White House


Political Cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"Birther" Dobbs


Found at the blog What Would Jack Do?

Divorce Is Unhealthy


As our country goes through an important debate on health care, it looks like there may be an unexpected player in that debate -- divorce. That's not good news for the United States, where about 50% of all marriages end in divorce.

The Journal of Health and Social Behavior has published an article that says divorce can negatively affect a person's health. The authors were Linda Waite, a University of Chicago sociologist, and Mary Elizabeth Hughes, of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and they looked at the marital history and health indicators of 8,652 middle-aged people. Their research was funded by the National Institute of Health.

They found that divorced or widowed people have 20% more chronic health problems (such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.) than people who have stayed married. And getting remarried only helps a little. Those who have remarried have 12% more chronic health problems than those who stay in a first marriage. There is only one group who were as healthy as once-married people -- those who never got married at all.

Ms. Waite said, "People who lose a marriage take such damage to their health....Losing a marriage or becoming widowed or divorced is extremely stressful. It's financially, sometimes, ruinous. It's socially extremely difficult. What's interesting is if people have done this and remarried, we still see, in their health, the scars or marks -- the damage that was done by this event.

Mark Hayward, a sociology professor at the University of Texas, agreed, saying he got similar results in an earlier study. He says, "There's no erasure of the effects of divorce. There is intense stress leading up to divorce, stresses during divorce proceedings. Think of divorce as one of the most intense stressors. It leads to what we call dysregulation [impairment] in key cardiovascular process that may be permanently altered. You're not going back to your original set point."

I don't doubt the conclusions of the study. There are few things as stressful as the loss of a spouse through divorce or death. But it does make me wonder about marriages with a high stress level, constant fighting and financial strain. Would this type of marriage also have some effect on the health of the couple? Is it better healthwise to stay in that type of marriage?

GOP Coverage Plan


Political Cartoon is by David Fitzsimmons in the Arizona Daily Star.

Judiciary Committee Approves Sotomayor


Judge Sonia Sotomayor has passed another hurdle on her way to becoming the first Hispanic justice on the United States Supreme Court. A couple of weeks ago, she easily handled the right wing attacks as she testified before the the Senate Judiciary Committee. She showed herself to be reasonable and experienced, and very qualified to sit on the court.

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Ms. Sotomayor's nomination and sent it to the full Senate. The vote for approval was 13-6, with all the committee's Democrats and one Republican voting for the nomination.

The lone Republican was Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. This was sort of a surprise, since he was one of her toughest questioners during the hearing. Graham said, "I would not have chosen her, but I understand why President Obama did. I gladly give her my vote, because I think she meets the qualifications test. America has changed for the better with her selection." Looks like Graham has realized there are a lot of Hispanic voters in his state.

It looks like her confirmation is virtually assured now. She has the votes of all 58 Democrats, two independents (Sanders and Lieberman), and five Republicans (Graham, Martinez, Lugar, Snowe and Collins). It looks like the Supreme Court will have a new member when it starts its new session -- Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

This is another step forward for the United States.

Equal Treatment ?


Political Cartoon is by Mike Keefe in The Denver Post.

Football Is Back !


I admit it. I love football, especially Dallas Cowboys football. For me, this is the official start of the football season. Yesterday, the Dallas Cowboys players reported to training camp in San Antonio. Today, they will actually start working out.

How good will the Cowboys be this year? At this point that's anybody's guess. It seems like most of the "prognosticators" are picking them between 13th and 19th in their ranking of NFL teams this year. I know I'm a "homer", but I think they're better than that.

The defense should be the best they've had in years. They have excellent talent there, including a better selection of defensive-backs, and Coach Wade Phillips is going to personally take charge of coaching the defense this year. That should help, because he's shown himself to be an excellent defensive co-ordinator in the past.

On offense, the line is should be pretty good and they have three excellent running backs. The only problem there will be getting all of them enough playing time. Romo is returning, and I still think he's one of the best quarterbacks in the league. His backup is also improved this year, with the addition of Kitna.

The only question mark is with the wide receivers. Roy Williams needs to step up and accept a leadership role as the number one receiver. The other young receivers also need to step up -- the time for learning is over and it's now time to produce.

There is a bit of bad news. Draftee Robert Brewster, a tackle, tore a muscle lifting weights in training camp and has just had surgery. It looks like he will miss most or all of the season. The Cowboys still need to sign him and add him to the roster, then they can list him as "unable to perform". He is an excellent prospect, who was never hurt in four years at college, and I'm sure the Cowboys will want to keep him.

I won't be giving daily reports on the Cowboys camp, but I may do a few posts when something happens that I find interesting.

Cloud Watching


Political Cartoon is by R.J. Matson in The New York Observer.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pancakes


Found at the excellent blog of Yellowdog Granny.

A Few Questions About Christianity


Since the fundamentalist christians have inserted themselves into the politics of our nation recently and want everyone to believe that there is a god and only one god, and that christianity is his chosen religion, and that our government should recognize these things as fact, I wondered if I could ask a few pertinent questions. These are not all the questions I have, but they are some of the most troubling.

If there is only one true religion, christianity, then why is it divided into over 38,000 denominations?

Since Jesus said he came to fulfill the law and not to replace it and only had two rules (love your neighbor and love god), why did Paul (who never met Jesus) start a new religion with a ton of new rules?

Since women were leaders in the first century church, why have many modern christian churches relegated them to a second-class status?

Why did god all of a sudden start worrying about the non-jewish people of the world, when before 33AD he was very brutal and vicious to those same people -- even to the point of genocide (wiping out whole peoples to let the Jews take their land)?

If god is all-powerful and created everything in existence, why does he require a blood sacrifice (jesus on the cross) to save mankind? Why did he make such a gory choice?

If the Bible is the inspired word of god, why does it contain myths from other peoples and times such as the great flood (including both Mesopotamian and Hindu myths)?

Where is the proof that Jesus even existed? And if he did, was resurrected?

Why do christians believe quoting the Bible proves anything at all?

I think I'll stop there. I have many more questions, but if these eight can't be answered what is the point in asking them?

Birthers


Political cartoon is by David Fitzsimmons in the Arizona Daily Star.

Will "Birther" Repubs Vote On Hawaii Resolution ?


One of the most idiotic claims by the right-wing lunatic fringe is that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and is therefore not eligible to be the president. Of course this has been disproved many times. His birth certificate (above) is on the internet (but of course these "birthers" claim that is not the "real" certificate).

Hawaii politicians from the governor on down have vouched for the certificate and the fact that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. The state agency in charge of birth certificates has verified that Obama was born in Hawaii. The Honolulu newspaper even printed the announcement of his birth many years ago (long before anyone thought he might run for president).

But proof means nothing to the "birthers". They have made up their minds and don't want to be confused with facts. The most humorous part of this whole thing is how scared most Republican congressmen are of these nutjobs. One blogger decided to find out just how many Republicans on Capitol Hill are "birthers" by asking them. Only a couple of them have admitted that Obama was born in the United States.

Most have deflected the question by saying something like "We'll see" or refused to answer it at all. One even ran from the questioner, and another hid in a bookstore. I don't blame them. They either show themselves to be complete idiots or piss off their nutty base, if they answer the question.

But they may have to make a decision soon. Hawaii Rep. Neil Abercrombie has introduced a resolution (HR 593) “recognizing and celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the entry of Hawaii into the Union as the 50th State." But the fly in the ointment is a sentence in the resolution that says “Whereas the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, was born in Hawaii”.

Most resolutions like this are passed on a unanimous voice vote, but if that happens, then all the Republicans will be on record as having voted that President Obama was born in Hawaii. That won't set well with the base of their party.

Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minnesota), reigning queen of the lunatic fringe, has stopped the resolution for now. She lodged an objection to the unanimous voice vote, and further proceedings were postponed. But the resolution has not gone away.

I expect the legislators from Hawaii are not going to let the matter die, and will bring the matter back up for a vote. But this time it will be a recorded vote. What will the Republicans do? I expect a lot of them will be missing, and they'll try to convince their constituents they had very pressing business elsewhere.

I almost feel sorry for the Republicans who have to answer to the "birthers".

Unsafe Driving


Political Cartoon is by Mike Keefe in The Denver Post.

Connecticut Police Raid Animal-Fighting Ring


Last Sunday, the Shelton Police Department raided a Connecticut home where animals were being pitted against each other in fights, while spectators placed wagers on which would win the fight. The police arrested 19 people and charged them with animal cruelty and illegal gambling. The police and Connecticut Department of Agriculture also confiscated 150 animals.

Normally when a raid of this kind occurs, the animals in question are either fighting cocks (roosters) or a fighting breed of dogs. But this raid didn't involve either of those. The vicious animals involved in these fights are pictured above. That's right. They are saffron finches (pictured) and canaries.

I have to admit, I didn't even know finches and canaries could be trained to fight. And that anyone would be interested in betting on them even if they could be taught. But, the older I get, the more I learn. Police Sgt. Robert Kozlowsky said they'd never seen or heard of this before. He went on to say, "This is new to us. Finches are much easier to keep under the radar than roosters because they make less noise and they wouldn't arouse suspicions if someone had a lot of them."

All of those arrested were from Brazil. Evidently finch-fighting is bigger in that country. Kozlowsky said the police were tipped off about the illegal gambling, and conducted a month-long investigation before conducting the raid.

So I guess it would behoove us to be careful the next time we go bird-watching or hiking or camping. We might run across some of these "fighting birds".

GOP Health Care


Political Cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Unemployment


From the great blog What Would Jack Do?

Bush Tried To Hide Cell Phone Dangers


I'm beginning to wonder if there's anything the Bush administration didn't screw up. Now we learn from the New York Times that Bush asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to cover up the bloody facts about cell phone use while driving.

The NHTSA had information that cell phone use in 2002 caused about 240,000 accidents, resulting in nearly a thousand deaths (actually 955). The agency said driving while talking on a cell phone was as dangerous as driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 (which is illegal in most states). They wanted to do a larger study and release the information. The Bush administration killed the larger study and asked them to not release the information.

NHTSA said they were asked not to release the information because the Bush administration didn't want to anger Congress. I suspect it was the phone companies they didn't want to anger. At the time, they were asking these same companies to violate the law and spy on American citizens. It wouldn't do to piss them off -- they might stop co-operating and spill the beans about the illegal spying.

Of course by hiding the information, the administration was ignoring the preventable deaths of a thousand Americans each year. I guess they figured it was just the cost of covering up their hideous crimes.

NHTSA's current policy is that cell phones should not be used at all while driving. And the "hands-free" phones don't actually help at all. It's not holding the phone that creates the danger -- it's the conversation being held that creates the distraction and the danger.

None of this is rocket science. Everyone knows that a person can become so engaged in a conversation on the phone that they take their mind off their driving. Isn't it time to outlaw cell phone use while driving?

Driving & Texting


Political Cartoon is by Jimmy Margulies in The Record (New Jersey).

Gov. Goodhair Would Deny Texans Health Care


Texas has a higher percentage of its citizens without health insurance than any other state in the United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau in a report last August, about 25% (or one of every four) of all Texans do not have any kind of health insurance. A Families USA report puts the figure even higher -- somewhere between 7 and 9 million people (that would be between 30-40% of the population).

Making the situation even more ridiculous, more than 82% of these people are in working families. They have jobs and work hard, but still have no health insurance. A reasonable person would think a state with this many people having no health insurance would be happy to see federal health care reform -- reform that would cover all of those who currently have no coverage.

But reason doesn't matter in Texas. Texas has a governor named Rick Perry (elected by only 39% of the vote in a sparse election turnout). This Republican governor long ago sold out to his corporate masters and the lunatic right-wing fringe of his party. These elements don't want any health care reform. They have their insurance -- to hell with everyone else!

Now the governor has gone even further. He not only opposes any health care reform, but now says if health care reform is enacted by the federal government, he would invoke the 10th amendment to keep that reform out of Texas.

Perry told conservative radio host Mark Davis of Dallas, "I think you’ll hear states and governors standing up and saying 'no’ to this type of encroachment on the states with their healthcare. So my hope is that we never have to have that stand-up. But I’m certainly willing and ready for the fight if this administration continues to try to force their very expansive government philosophy down our collective throats."

He went on to say, "It really is a state issue, and if there was ever an argument for the 10th Amendment and for letting the states find a solution to their problems, this may be at the top of the class. A government-run healthcare system is financially unstable. It’s not the solution."

How dare he say such a ridiculous thing! Especially since he has done absolutely NOTHING on the state level to try and provide health insurance or decent health care to the millions of Texans who need it. The only thing he has done regarding health insurance is try to deny health insurance to many poor children through the CHIPS program.

It was bad enough that the governor refused about 160 million in stimulus money to help the unemployed of Texas, but to deny health insurance and care to sick and dying people for a cause of "states rights" is beyond bad -- it is downright evil.

If this fool follows through on his awful promise, he will be denying preventive care to more than a quarter of Texas' population. They will only get care when they are seriously ill (and in many cases too late to be cured) and are willing to wait for 12 to 20 hours in a hospital emergency room. He is willing to let many die that could have been saved if they had health insurance.

Perry simply doesn't care about the people of Texas.

No Economic Indicator


Political Cartoon is by John Darkow in The Columbia Daily Tribune.

Contador Wins - Armstrong Is Third


Stage 21 is over now, and that means the 96th Tour de France is also over. This final stage was a 100 mile ride into Paris and then a few laps of the Champs Elysees. The leg was won in a sprint by Columbia's Mark Cavendish, but it was not enough to give him the green jersey. It was his sixth win of this year's Tour, and that puts him among the great sprinters. I wouldn't bet against hime taking green in next year's Tour. Here are the winners for this year:

OVERALL WINNERS
1st Place..........Alberto Contador (Astana)
2nd Place..........Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank)
3rd Place..........Lance Armstrong (Astana)

GREEN JERSEY (BEST SPRINTER)
Thor Hushovd (Cervelo)

POLKA DOT JERSEY (BEST CLIMBER)
Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas)

TEAM WINNER
Astana

The Hard Way


Political Cartoon is by John Trever in The Albuquerque Journal.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Health Care


From the excellent blog Salon.com.

Parents Shun 8 Year-Old Rape Victim


If I lived to be a thousand years old, there are some things I will never understand. Take for example this horrible story -- horrible both for what happened and certain people's reaction to it later.

On July 16 in Phoenix, Arizona, an 8 year-old Liberian-immigrant girl was raped by four Liberian-immigrant boys (ages 9, 10, 13 and 14). She was lured into a shed with promises of chewing gum. Once in the shed, they held her down and took turns assaulting her. Fortunately, her screams were finally heard by nearby officers, who stopped the assault and arrested the boys.

Now the rape was bad enough, but at least the legal system is taking care of that. The 14 year-old is being tried in adult court for kidnapping and sexual assault (and I have no problem with him being tried as an adult). The others have been charged with the same counts in the juvenile system. They all deserve whatever they get.

But perhaps even more horrible is the way the poor 8 year-old's parents reacted to the terrible crime. They are shunning their daughter. The Liberian immigrant family says she has shamed them and they do not want her back. The girl is now in the custody of Arizona CPS.

What the hell kind of reaction is that? How can any parent turn their backs on their 8 year-old child, especially after such a traumatic event? And I don't want to hear anything about social customs. Just listen to what the leader of Liberia has to say about this situation.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said, "I think that family is wrong. They should help that child who has been traumatised. They too need serious counselling because clearly they are doing something, something that is no longer acceptable in our society here."

This terrible parental behavior is not acceptable in their home country, and it certainly is not acceptable here in America. But there are not going to be any charges against the parents. The Phoenix police said, "They committed no crime. They just didn't support the child, which led to CPS coming over there." Right. They just shunned an 8 YEAR-OLD CHILD!

Right-wingers have been yelling recently about how we should deport immigrants. I don't think I would mind if they started with these parents.

Our Sick Health System


Political Cartoon is by Jeff Parker in Florida Today.

Another Right-Wing Lie About Health Care


The other day on television, I saw an ad attacking the Canadian health care system and accusing President Obama of trying to institute a similar system in the United States. A woman named Shona Holmes says in the ad that she had a life-threatening brain tumor and was told by Canadian doctors that they could not do her surgery for six months. She goes on to tell us that she would have been dead by then.

She then tells us that she came to America (Mayo Clinic), where doctors operated immediately and saved her life. Could this possibly be true? This goes against everything I've heard from Canadians, who would never trade their system for ours (even the Canadian conservatives). By the way, not a single bill proposed in Congress has suggested we impose the Canadian system.

I decided to look into it. I went to the website of patientsunitednow.com, who paid for the TV ad. I learned there that this was no grassroots patients movement at all. This organization was created and funded by an ultra-right-wing group called the Americans for Prospeity Foundation. They created this "group" to try and trick Americans into thinking that patients nationwide were opposed to President Obama's health care reform.

But what about the claims of Shona Holmes? Well, we now learn that those claims were lies also. She did not have a brain tumor, and her life was not in danger. She had a cyst, which could have been removed after a six-month wait (if it was really that long a wait). It was starting to affect her eyesight because it was pressing on an optical nerve, but removing the cyst fixed that (and would have even if she had waited).

The people of Canada have seen Ms Holmes' lies, and they are very angry. They do not appreciate her slanderous statements about their health care system being spread all over stateside television.

Ms. Holmes has now created a huge medical bill for herself by coming stateside for the operation. She is now trying to sue the Canadian health care system to make them pay the bills. I doubt she'll be successful though. The free Canadian health care she was offered would have fixed her medical problem. It was her choice to go stateside for the operation, and she should have to pay for it (just like a resident of the United States would have to do).

It also turns out that if she had been a resident of the United States with private insurance, she would still have that huge medical bill to pay. That's because the cyst was caused by an "embryological remnant" -- in other words, she was born with it. Is there any doubt a private insurance company would have called it a "pre-existing condition" and cancelled her insurance?

As the health care reform slowly makes it's way through Congress, we are going to see a lot more of these kinds of ads. Don't accept them at face value. The right-wing don't feel any remorse for their many lies, as long as they get what they want. And what they want is to keep the current badly-broken system.

American Economics


Political Cartoon is by Larry Wright in The Detroit News.

Contador Holds Lead Thru Stage 20 Mountains


If anyone was going to dislodge Alberto Contador from His lead in the Tour de France, stage 20 was the place to do it. The stage passed over several catagorey 3 climbs and finished atop a mountain so tall and steep it was not even catagorized (see picture above). And once again the Schleck brothers of Saxo Bank tried to break the strong Astana team.

Andy Schleck attacked many times on the final climb, trying to break away from Astana's leaders and gain some time. But each time he tried, Contador and Lance Armstrong would stay on his back whell like they were glued there. At the finish line, he had gained no time over either, and it now looks like Contador will win this year's tour and Armstrong will join him on the podium in third place. The Astana team will also win the team championship.

A couple of breakaway riders were able to finish ahead of Contador, Schleck and Armstrong, but they were so far behind the leaders in time that they were allowed to stay away. The stage 20 winner was won by Spanish rider Manuel Garate of Rabobank. German rider Tony Martin of Columbia finished second.

On Sunday's stage 21, the riders will ride into Paris for the final leg of this year's Tour. It is a fairly flat course, and should finish up as the last time for the sprinters to shine. Here are the current standings:

YELLOW JERSEY (OVERALL LEADERS)
1. Alberto Contador (Astana)
2. Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank)..........4.11
3. Lance Armstrong (Astana)..........5.24
4. Bradley Wiggins (Garmin)..........6.01
5. Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank)..........6.04
6. Andreas Kloden (Astana)..........6.42
7. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas)..........7.35
8. Christian Vande Velde (Garmin)..........12.04
9. Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas)..........14.16
10. Christophe Le Mevel (Francaise)..........14.25

GREEN JERSEY (SPRINTERS)
1. Thor Hushovd (Cervelo)..........260 pts
2. Mark Cavendish (Columbia)..........235 pts
3. Gerald Ciolek (Milram)..........148 pts
4. Jose Rojas (Caisse)..........126 pts
5. Nicolas Roche (AG2R)..........122 pts

POLKA DOT JERSEY (CLIMBERS)
1. Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas)..........210 pts
2. Egoi Martinez (Euskadi)..........135 pts
3. Alberto Contador (Astana)..........126 pts
4. Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank)..........111 pts
5. Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouyges)..........99 pts

TEAM LEADERS
1. Astana
2. Garmin-Slipstream..........22.35
3. Saxo Bank..........28.34
4. AG2R La Mondiale..........31.47
5. Liquigas..........43.31

Freedom Agenda ?


Political Cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Why Is This So Hard To Believe ?


This statement on a New York City bus is undoubtably true, but many christians seem to have a hard time accepting it. Why? Do they really think they have an exclusive claim on morality and ethics? (Found at the blog of The Friendly Atheist).

Obama Apologizes - But Shouldn't Have


One of the most recent furors on the internet is the arrest of African-American Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. A neighbor saw him trying to force open his own front door (it had become stuck) and called police. Police arrived to investigate, and even after being shown proof that the home belonged to Gates, they arrested him for "disruptive behavior".

Now Gates was angry at being made to prove he was not burgling his own home, but he did show the police that proof. At that moment, the police could have apologized for bothering him and left (as they probably would have done with a white person), but they did not do that. They continued to feed in to the situationby demanding Gates calm down. I have to wonder why he had to do that in his own home when he wasn't hurting anyone or anything (except the policeman's feelings).

Instead of leaving (as he should have done), Police Sgt. Crowley arrested Professor Gates. It was a stupid reaction and a blatant mishandling of situation by the police. Sgt. Crowley should be disciplined for the poor way he handled this delicate situation.

During a Wednesday press conference, President Obama addressed the incident by saying, "The Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home. There is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by police disproportionately. That’s just a fact.”

But the right-wing acted as though the president had snatched the Cheetos from their orange fingers and called their mamas "fat". They were incensed, and have done their best to create a furor over the president's remarks.

Sadly, President Obama has now apologized. The president said, "Because this has been ratcheting up and I obviously helped to contribute ratcheting it up, I wanted to make clear in my choice of words I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sgt Crowley specifically. I could have calibrated those words differently."

He went on to say that Sgt. Crowley was an "outstanding police officer and a good man", and that both the police and Gates had "overreacted". I don't think the president should have apologized. He didn't say anything that wasn't true.

Police are trained to calm volatile situations and use their arrest powers only as a last resort, especially when no real crime has been committed. Arguing with Prof. Gates in his own home, and then arresting him was indeed a stupid way to handle the incident. Whether racist or not, this was an egregious violation of police powers and a blatant display of incompetence.

"Acting stupidly" is actually a nice way to phrase it.

Where's The Glamour ?


Political Cartoon is by Steve Sack in The Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

NFL Draft Goes "Prime Time"


This move wasn't totally unexpected. After the last NFL draft, there was talk about moving the next one to prime time television viewing hours. But now it's official, and it starts with next year's draft.

Since 1995, the NFL draft has been a two-day affair held on Saturday and Sunday. But it's popularityhad both the NFL and ESPN eyeing prime time. This year the draft attracted 39 million viewers. Moving to prime time should create an even larger audience.

The first round of the draft will be held on Thursday night, April 22. It will start at 6:30pm CST. The second and third rounds will start at 5:30pm CST on Friday, April 23. Rounds four through seven will then start at 9:00am CST on Saturday, April 24.

Both ESPN and the NFL network will televise all seven rounds.


NOTE - It's less than a week until the Dallas Cowboys open their pre-season camp in San Antonio. Camp will open on July 29th. Football is back!

A Congressional Design


Political Cartoon is by Mike Keefe in The Denver Post.

Stage 19 Goes To The Sprinters

Most people, including myself, expected stage 19 of the Tour de France to be won by a breakaway or by an attack from one of the leading climbers, but that was not to be. The peloton caught up to the breakaway a couple of kilometers from the finish line, and the race leaders decided to wait until tomorrow's huge climb to make their final attacks. That left stage 19 to the sprinters.

In a very exciting sprint, Brit Mark Cavendish of Columbia won his fifth race of this year's tour and picked up five points on the green jersey. But that five points probably won't mean much, because the current green jersey holder, Norway's Thor Hushovd of Cervelo, finished second. If he just finishes sort of close to Cavendish in Sunday's sprint, the green jersey is his. The third place finisher in stage 19 was German Gerald Ciolek of Milram. (Cavendish and Hushovd are pictured).

Stage 20 will be for the best climbers. It features a finish on top of the biggest and hardest mountain of this year's Tour. If a rider still dreams of finishing on the podium in Paris, this is the stage and the mountain where he must earn it. Here are the current standings:

YELLOW JERSEY (OVERALL LEADERS)
1. Alberto Contador (Astana)
2. Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank)..........4.11
3. Lance Armstrong (Astana)..........5.21
4. Bradley Wiggins (Garmin)..........5.36
5. Andreas Kloden (Astana)..........5.38
6. Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank)..........5.59
7. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas)..........7.15
8. Christian Vande Velde (Garmin)..........10.08
9. Christophe Le Mevel (Francaise)..........12.37
10. Mikel Astarloza (Euskadi)..........12.38

GREEN JERSEY (SPRINTERS)
1. Thor Hushovd (Cervelo)..........260 pts
2. Mark Cavendish (Columbia)..........235 pts
3. Gerald Ciolek (Milram)..........148 pts
4. Jose Rojas (Caisse)..........126 pts
5. Nicolas Roche (AG2R)..........122 pts

POLKA DOT JERSEY (CLIMBERS)
1. Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas)..........196 pts
2. Egoi Martinez (Euskadi)..........135 pts
3. Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouyges)..........99 pts
4. Alberto Contador (Astana)..........98 pts
5. Christophe Kern (Cofidis)..........89 pts

TEAM LEADERS
1. Astana
2. Garmin-Slipstream..........16.14
3. AG2R La Mondiale..........23.45
4. Saxo Bank..........24.32
5. Liquigas..........43.52

Time To Tax The Rich


Political Cartoon is by Nate Beeler in The Washington Examiner.