Thursday, December 31, 2009
The Afghan Plan
Cheney Is Still An Idiot
It looks like Dick Cheney was not content with being part of the worst presidential administration this country has ever had. He wants us to remember that he is still as big an idiot as ever. I can think of no other reason for his latest tirade against President Obama.
Decade Of Fear
Limbaugh Rushed To Hospital
Ultra right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh is spending the holidays in Hawaii at the Kahala Hotel and Resort. He has been seen on the golf course next to the resort in the last few days, but it now looks like his vacation has taken a turn for the worst.
Not Much Left
Court Limits Police Use Of Tasers
I would like to think that most police departments only use Tasers as a last resort for an obviously violent person, but that has not always been the case. Some officers have used the Taser on people who are just refusing to obey an order (like a demonstrator showing passive resistance). Fortunately, a federal court has stepped in to hopefully prevent the misuse of Tasers.
New Opportunity For Greed
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Child Abuse ?
Six Cowboys Chosen For Pro Bowl
The Dallas Cowboys have have a pretty good season. They are assured of a play-off spot, and if they beat Philadelphia next Sunday they will win the NFC's East Division. Even so, I kind of expected the Cowboys to get short shrift when it came to players being chosen for the NFL Pro Bowl.
Everything Went Smoothly
Political Winners And Losers
The Gallup Poll just conducted an interesting survey. They wanted to know who the American people viewed as the winners and losers in politics for 2009. To find out, they questioned 1,025 Americans (aged 18 and older) during the days December 11th through 13th. The poll has a sampling error of 4%.
It's Nearly Over !
Swinford Says No To Re-Election Bid
The Insurance Industry's Senator
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Can The "House 64" Stand Firm ?
It's coming down to the "nitty-gritty" on health care reform. The House of Representatives passed a fairly decent bill that included a public option for insurance. The Senate bill was a complete mess that tossed out the public option and rewarded private insurance companies with a mandatory buy provision. Now the two arms of Congress must reconcile their bills.
For Rent Only
Americans Mix Religion And Occult Beliefs
I consider myself to be a realist. As an atheist, I tend not to believe in things that cannot be seen, heard, touched, or proven in a scientific way. I can understand why religion, the occult and other strange beliefs came into being many centuries ago. People were just trying to explain the world they saw around them, and the science they had was rudimentary at best.
Monday, December 28, 2009
A Little Respect
One-Woman Show Honors Molly Ivins
If you're planning a trip to the East Coast this Spring, you might want to consider going to Philadelphia around the last part of March or the first part of April. That's when the Philadelphia Theater Company will be featuring the new "one-woman" play entitled Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins.
Could Farming Help Revive Detroit ?
Detroit is a city in trouble. At the height of the auto industry years ago, Detroit was a thriving metropolis. But downsizing, off-shoring and the current economic recession have hit the city hard. Official government statistics put unemployment in the city at nearly 18%, but the city's Mayor says the actual situation is much worse than that. He believes that nearly half of the city's workers are either unemployed or underemployed.
Time For Him To Go
Sunday, December 27, 2009
A Trial I'd Like To See
Grading The President
President Obama has been in office for nearly a year now. I had not thought about grading him on his performance in that first year until I heard on the news the other day that he had graded himself. It seems that he thinks he deserves a B+. That got me thinking -- what grade do I think he's earned?
The Truth About Health Reform
Those Who Left Us In 2009
As is always the case, the past year saw the deaths of many remarkable people -- people who affected our history, our culture and our lives. Here is a list of some of those who left us in 2009.
Only A Decade ?
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Pedophiles And The Irish Church
A few years ago, the American Catholic church went through a scandalous period in which it was discovered that the church covered up numerous incidents of child sexual abuse, and even protected the pedophile priests. Instead of turning these vile child abusers over to legal authorities, they just transferred them to another diocese (where many of them continued to commit their crimes).
Friday, December 25, 2009
Happy Holidays !
Only The House Can Deliver Reform Now
The Senate actually did it. They took our broken health care system, put a few band aids on it, passed that fraud on a 60-39 vote, and are now trying to convince Americans that it is real reform. Evidently, they think the American people are stupid enough to believe that.
Obstructing - It's What They Do
Running A Campaign On Tamales
I have to give Jaime O. Perez credit for creativity, even if his idea is more than a bit ridiculous. He says he's going to enter the Republican primary in El Paso to try and win the right to oppose Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas). He has at least one opponent in the primary.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Quoting The Great Lenny Bruce
Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Swedish magazine-writer Stieg Larsson wrote three amazing novels, now called his Millenium Trilogy, and delivered them to his publisher. Sadly he died before the novels were published, beginning in 2005. He never got to see the international success that the three books have enjoyed (so far, 22 million copies have been sold and the third book has yet to be released in the United States).
A Good Suggestion
Texas AG To Sue Over Senate Health Bill
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (pictured) has gone a few weeks without making a complete ass of himself, so I guess he felt the need to do something stupid. He, along with about half a dozen other state AGs, is threatening to file suit against the Senate's health care reform bill.
He Just Wanted A Package !
10 Reasons To Kill Senate Health Care Bill
- Forces you to pay up to 8% of your income to private insurance corporations — whether you want to or not.
- If you refuse to buy the insurance, you’ll have to pay penalties of up to 2% of your annual income to the IRS.
- Many will be forced to buy poor-quality insurance they can’t afford to use, with $11,900 in annual out-of-pocket expenses over and above their annual premiums.
- Massive restriction on a woman’s right to choose, designed to trigger a challenge to Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court.
- Paid for by taxes on the middle class insurance plan you have right now through your employer, causing them to cut back benefits and increase co-pays.
- Many of the taxes to pay for the bill start now, but most Americans won’t see any benefits — like an end to discrimination against those with preexisting conditions — until 2014 when the program begins.
- Allows insurance companies to charge people who are older 300% more than others.
- Grants monopolies to drug companies that will keep generic versions of expensive biotech drugs from ever coming to market.
- No re-importation of prescription drugs, which would save consumers $100 billion over 10 years.
- The cost of medical care will continue to rise, and insurance premiums for a family of four will rise an average of $1,000 a year — meaning in 10 years, your family’s insurance premium will be $10,000 more annually than it is right now.
Cooking Up A Mess
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Bachmann Accepts Socialist Payments
The picture above is of teabagger heroine Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota). She has made a name for herself by appearing at teabagger rallies and trying to label President Obama and other Democrats as socialists, who are taking America further down the road to socialism with every law they pass. She has especially been vocal in opposing any kind of health care reform and in labeling that reform as socialism.
Physicians Want Medicare-For-All Program
It is with great sadness that we urge you to vote against the health care reform legislation now before you. As physicians, we are acutely aware of the unnecessary suffering that our nation’s broken health care financing system inflicts on our patients. We make no common cause with the Republicans’ obstructionist tactics or alarmist rhetoric. However, we have concluded that the Senate bill’s passage would bring more harm than good.
We are fully cognizant of the salutary provisions included in the legislation, notably an expansion of Medicaid coverage, increased funds for community clinics and regulations to curtail some of private insurers’ most egregious practices. Yet these are outweighed by its central provisions – particularly the individual mandate – that would reinforce private insurers’ stranglehold on care. Those who dislike their current employer-sponsored coverage would be forced to keep it. Those without insurance would be forced to pay private insurers’ inflated premiums, often for coverage so skimpy that serious illness would bankrupt them. And the $476 billion in new public funds for premium subsidies would all go to insurance firms, buttressing their financial and political power, and rendering future reform all the more difficult.
Some paint the Senate bill as a flawed first step to reform that will be improved over time, citing historical examples such as Social Security. But where Social Security established the nidus of a public institution that grew over time, the Senate bill proscribes any such new public institution. Instead, it channels vast new resources – including funds diverted from Medicare – into the very private insurers who caused today’s health care crisis. Social Security’s first step was not a mandate that payroll taxes which fund pensions be turned over to Goldman Sachs!
While the fortification of private insurers is the most malignant aspect of the bill, several other provisions threaten harm to vulnerable patients, including:
* The bill’s anti-abortion provisions would restrict reproductive choice, compromising the health of women and adolescent girls.
* The new 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans – deceptively labeled a “Cadillac tax” – would hit many middle-income families. The costs of group insurance are driven largely by regional health costs and the demography of the covered group. Hence, the tax targets workers in firms that employ more women (whose costs of care are higher than men’s), and older and sicker employees, particularly those in high-cost regions such as Maine and New York.
* The bill would drain $43 billion from Medicare payments to safety-net hospitals, threatening the care of the 23 million who will remain uninsured even if the bill works as planned. These threatened hospitals are also a key resource for emergency care, mental health care and other services that are unprofitable for hospitals under current payment regimes. In many communities, severely ill patients will be left with no place to go – a human rights abuse.
* The bill would leave hundreds of millions of Americans with inadequate insurance – an “actuarial value” as low as 60 percent of actual health costs. Predictably, as health costs continue to grow, more families will face co-payments and deductibles so high that they preclude adequate access to care. Such coverage is more akin to a hospital gown than to a warm winter coat.
Congress’ capitulation to insurers – along with concessions to the pharmaceutical industry – fatally undermines the economic viability of reform. The bill would inflate the already crushing burden of insurance-related paperwork that currently siphons $400 billion from care annually. According to CMS’ own projections, the bill will cause U.S. health costs to increase even more rapidly than presently, and budget neutrality is to be achieved by draining funds from Medicare and an accounting trick – front-loading the new revenues while delaying most new coverage until 2014. As homeowners seduced into balloon mortgages have learned, pushing costs off to the future is neither prudent nor sustainable.
We ask that you defeat the bill currently under debate, and immediately move to consider the single-payer approach – an expanded and improved Medicare-for-All program – which prioritizes the advancement of our nation’s health over the enhancement of private, profit-seeking interests.
Oliver Fein, M.D., President
David U. Himmelstein, M.D., Co-founder
Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H., Co-founder
Physicians for a National Health Program