Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dick Cheney: dumber than Bush

At least Bush has the common sense to STFU*. The recent terrorist attempt by the briefs bomber has brought out all the whackos--- with Dick Cheney leading the way. Of course, Michigan's very own Pete Hoekstra has been in rare form as well.

Personally I kinda like that Barack Obama didn't go off on a tirade about the flub up by the State Dept, or the CIA or whoever screwed up. The nature of law enforcement is that it entails a bureaucracy, and these large bureaucracies, while necessary, are inherently inefficient and problematic.

As has been said multiple times over the last eight years, the terrorists only have to be right once, but we have to be right every single time. What is lost in the current discussion is that several attempts have been thwarted the past few months. It's a scary world, and leave it to the Republicans to wet their pants at every provocation.

Anyway, Maddow has a terrific review of the insanity:

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(*Altho I still maintain that the former president is suffering from a medical form of dementia that will be announced within the next couple years.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tiger Woods: Person of the Year?

From Frank Rich:

What makes the golfing superstar’s tale compelling, after all, is not that he’s another celebrity in trouble or another fallen athletic “role model” in a decade lousy with them. His scandal has nothing to tell us about race, and nothing new to say about hypocrisy. The conflict between Tiger’s picture-perfect family life and his marathon womanizing is the oldest of morality tales.

What’s striking instead is the exceptional, Enron-sized gap between this golfer’s public image as a paragon of businesslike discipline and focus and the maniacally reckless life we now know he led. What’s equally striking, if not shocking, is that the American establishment and news media — all of it, not just golf writers or celebrity tabloids — fell for the Woods myth as hard as any fan and actively helped sustain and enhance it.

For what it's worth, when given the choice, I've always rooted for Mickelson... and if he's using steroids it could only be Premarin.

Friday, December 18, 2009

"Have you heard of the Heidelberg Appeal?"

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I don't expect Pat Buchanan to understand environmental science, but I would expect him to understand a document written in English. He invoked the Heidelberg Appeal as evidence that "4000 scientists including 72 Nobel Prize winners" do not believe that climate change is a problem. Buchanan then went on to call climate change the "biggest hoax" perpetrated on mankind.

What is the
Heidelberg Appeal? It's a document written in 1992 with signatories who call for the advance of science and warn against pseudo-science in the public sphere especially when drafting policy. If asked, I would feel very comfortable signing this document myself:

Text of the Heidelberg Appeal

Addressed to the chiefs of state and governments

Heidelberg, April 14, 1992

"We want to make our full contribution to the preservation of our common heritage, the Earth.

"We are, however, worried at the dawn of the twenty-first century, at the emergence of an irrational ideology which is opposed to scientific and industrial progress and impedes economic and social development.

"We contend that a Natural State, sometimes idealized by movements with a tendency to look towards the past, does not exist and has probably never existed since man's first appearance in the biosphere, insofar as humanity has always progressed by increasingly harnessing Nature to its needs and not the reverse.

"We fully subscribe to the objectives of a scientific ecology for a universe whose resources must be taken stock of, monitored and preserved. But we herewith demand that this stock-taking, monitoring and preservation be founded on scientific criteria and not on irrational pre-conceptions.

"We stress that many essential human activities are carried out either by manipulating hazardous substances or in their proximity, and that progress and development have always involved increasing control over hostile forces, to the benefit of mankind. We therefore consider that scientific ecology is no more than an extension of this continual progress toward the improved life of future generations. We intend to assert science's responsibility and duty towards society as a whole. We do however forewarn the authorities in charge of our planet's destiny against decisions which are supported by pseudo-scientific arguments or false and non-relevant data.

"We draw everybody's attention to the absolute necessity of helping poor countries attain a level of sustainable development which matches that of the rest of the planet, protecting them from troubles and dangers stemming from developed nations, and avoiding their entanglement in a web of unrealistic obligations which would compromise both their independence and their dignity.

"The greatest evils which stalk our Earth are ignorance and oppression, and not Science, Technology and Industry whose instruments, when adequately managed, are indispensable tools of a future shaped by Humanity, by itself and for itself, overcoming major problems like overpopulation, starvation and worldwide diseases."[1]

What the Heidelberg does NOT say is even more important: it says nothing about climate change, polar ice caps, greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, or any other specific item germane to any current debate. Heidelberg is merely a general invocation of the value of true science for solving the world's problems.

And Buchanan is scientifically proven to be an ass-hat.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Leaked Tiger Woods Sex Tape

Leaked Tiger Woods Mistress Sex Tape - Watch more Funny Videos

Before Climategate, there was...

... the Oregon petition, among a multitude of other organized scams to make global climate change appear controversial. New Scientist outlines a number of purposeful deceits put out by global warming skeptics over the years, some hatched by carbon industry operatives and others by unknown folks.

So why are scientists held to a different standard? My brief time in academia showed me that the competition is fierce for grant money, publication and prestige within the scientific community. Likewise with industry and the fear that must be rampant concerning a change in the status quo. If one is going to rale on about the east Anglia emails, then they should also recognize the skeptics' lies.

On a related theme, Jared Diamond, author of Collapse, has an op-ed in the NYT recently that praises large corporations for their "green" technologies and policies. Sure, these policies are mainly cost-saving, such as using less gasoline and recycling materials, but Diamond's point is well-made: that conservation can be business-friendly and the government may have a role in promoting such tactics.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Climate and vested interests

New Scientist has an excellent article that goes point-by-point over the East Anglia emails and explains why they do not indicate a "conspiracy" about climate change.

I'm not a climate scientist and the only way I could possibly know if the planet were warming and by what cause would be to review data collected by scientists and consider their interpretation. I would have to weigh the evidence for and against the hypothesis as best I could and would also have to factor in any motivations by the proponents of the thesis as well as the skeptics.

We have a friend in town who is an environmental professor at the local university. About 10 years ago we had a conversation about global warming (this was before the term climate change, before Al Gore's movie, before all the latest controversy) when I broached the subject. This professor is level-headed with no axe to grind and has no affiliation with corporations or movements related to climate change. He has never published climate related research. He unequivocally stated that he had no doubt, after having reviewed the peer-reviewed articles, that climate change was occurring and it was due to man-made greenhouse gases.

Can it be possible that nefarious influences are promoting a hoax upon the world community about the dangers of climate change? Sure. But it certainly could also be true that opposing
nefarious forces, with much more at stake financially, could be influencing the debate from other camp. Oil, gas and coal interests have an immense amount to lose if carbon emissions become taboo and I would think that they would have a huge motivation to do everything in their considerable power to distort the debate.

Of course, motivation alone does not equate to wrong doing. The fact is that we will know for sure in time if the planet is warming, and we will likely continue to gather data and research about it's causes. Scientists in the field are already convinced about the change and the cause, and slowly the rest of us will gain insight as well.

I would also be quick to add that even George W. Bush, the oilman-turned-president, eventually came to the opinion that not only was the planet warming, but it was via man-made factors. In other words, on this issue there is hardly a photon of difference between his view of anthropogenic climate change and the man who beat him at the polls in 2000.

If indeed anthropogenic climate change is a reality, who is likely to be the last to be convinced? If the data were presented to everyone, which population would be the most likely to deny it? Answer: those whose lifestyle would the most negatively impacted. It's tough to realize that your very way of life runs counter to your long-standing world view.

Jared Diamond in his book Collapse relates story after story of civilizations that denied the step-wise relentless preventable destruction of their habitat which eventually led to their respective demise. What thoughts went through the Easter Island inhabitant's head as he was cutting down the last visible tree for firewood? Did he think some miracle would replenish their forest? Or some new technology would make trees unnecessary? We'll never know because that civilization became extinct shortly after that tree was cut down.

Recently, I joined a discussion on Facebook about the merits (or lack thereof) of the theory of evolution. It all started with a disparaging remark by Christian minister Rick Warren: "It takes a greater leap of faith to believe that nothing created everything." Of course, I took issue with this idiotic swipe at biology's greatest thinker, especially on 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's opus, The Origin of Species. I got the usual evangelical push back, testaments of their faith in their sky wizard, an outpouring of prayers to save my heathen atheist soul and, finally, this masterpiece from a commenter named Pete:

We believe in creation not because of scientific evidence, but because of our faith in Jesus Christ and in His Word the Bible. The Lord Jesus is revealed in the Bible to be the Creator of all things (John 1:3, Hebrews 1:1-3), and He is for Christians the Lord of all and the Head over all things, including science (Acts 10:36, Ephesians 1:22). Jesus said something about science in John 5:45-47, namely this: If we believe in Jesus Christ, then we must believe Moses' writings. What did Moses write about first of all? He wrote about the creation of all things by God. So we judge science by the Bible and not the other way around. "We walk by faith, not by sight." ([2] Corinthians 5:7)

And it hit me. There will always be Petes in the world and no amount of rationality will ever change them. The investment in their world view is unshakable. After 150 years of geologic evidence, fossils, paleontology, genetics, chemistry, etc, that all corroborate the great thesis of Darwin, we still have 45% of the US population who don't accept the science of evolution... that's a big steaming pile of stupid. You could exchange the term "internal combustion engine" for Jesus Christ and "gasoline" for Word of God and pretty much sum up the debate on climate change today. Just as light bulbs went on above the heads of serious scientists in 1859, the fundamentalist Christians and other irrationalists dug in their heels for the fight against evolution; their goal was not to understand the science, but rather to defend their embattled world view. The irrationalists were seasoned in the fight because they had been to battle many times before against the astronomers, the physicists, the navigators, who dared to developed hypotheses that ran counter to their entrenched religious dogma.

Now we are at it again. This time the irrationalists are not necessarily Christian, but the motivations are the same. The leadership-- carbon-based fuel producers, oil, gas and coal industry-- has a vested interest in the status quo just as the Church leaders of yore had a vested interest that was threatened by Galileo's solar system or Darwin's natural selection. The lemmings merely follow.

Our political process is never completely discernible, but to me it's fairly clear that the public will not support any sweeping changes to our lifestyle until there is visible and palpable evidence that our way of life is in danger. That's how we roll. That's why we have been so successful at denying other inevitabilities: the harm of slavery, the idiocy of racial discrimination, the counter-productivity of unnecessary wars, the ongoing foolishness of ignoring the health care crisis, prohibiting gay rights., etc, etc.

Maybe scientists are wrong and climate change is no big deal, but I doubt it. Unlike Darwinism, however, the denial of climate change has the potential of threatening our habitat. Denying evolution merely makes you ignorant; denying climate change could be devastating.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Perino: "No terrorist attack during Bush's term."

Yes, the history books will show that 9-11 and the anthrax attacks happened under Bill Clinton.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Stafford: "I can throw the ball..."

"...if you need me to throw the ball." (at 4:30 on the video).

Remember this kid is 21 years old. I think Detroit has found their Hula Blue Jesus.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sarah Palin Whines to Oprah

Boo- fucking -hoo. Palin's kids are off limits!! Except when she purposely inserts them into controversial political and social discussions.

Bristol tells Greta Vansusteren all about abstinence and birth control.

Piper is a Superstar of the anti-abortion movement.

Whether you like Obama or not, his kids are not used as tools to promote his political aspirations or social agenda.

And can someone tell Ms. Palin that, ever since Nixon, whiners don't become president.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ayn Rand: The bitch is back

Barry Ritholtz discusses the GQ story.

Sarah Palin "Going Rogue"

She's such a bad-ass. (Isn't it a bit weird that she named her book after the line written and popularized by comedienne Tina Fey?)

The remarkable thing about the pre-publication buzz is the willingness of McCain operatives to go on record with their disdain. If these folks regarded her as politically viable, I don't think they'd be distancing themselves from her. These are not anonymous statements; they are on record.

Former McCain strategist John Weaver slammed Palin for using the book for “petty and pathetic” score-settling.

“Sarah Palin reminds me of Jimmy Stewart in the movie 'Harvey,' complete with imaginary conversations. All books like these are revisionist and self-serving, by definition,” Weaver wrote in an email to POLITICO. “But the score-settling by someone who wants to be considered a serious national player is petty and pathetic.”

“The problem wasn't who her interview was with, the problem was her interview,” he added. “Couric asked no trick questions."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Monday, November 09, 2009

Feldstein and the Loophole in Healthcare

Martin Feldstein has a long history of being full of shit, so I have little doubt his recent op-ed in the Washington Post is riddled with inaccuracies. Frankly, I've been a bit busy lately and have not read through the entire 1990 pages of the current House bill, but Feldstein claims that forgoing health insurance would be cost effective for most Americans because the House bill contains a provision whereby the uninsured can purchase a policy after-the-fact of becoming ill or injured. On it's face this sounds preposterous, but that's what he said and the Washington Post published.

The debate about health care has contained so much bullshit from its opponents that my reaction is to disbelieve everything that is said by them. Obviously, financial interests by the health insurers and pharmaceutical companies have spent lavishly to lobby against this bill, but I could certainly envision the possibility that a gaping loophole was left. If Feldstein, "an independent outside director for Eli Lilly", is lying on this-- as he was in July-- then he and the editorial board WaPo should all be castrated and the bill sent to their respective insurance companies.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Ritholtz lays into Buffett

Barry Ritholtz seems a little annoyed at the folksy Oracle of Omaha. I gagged after the third of fourth time I heard Buffett's narrative of his recent railroad purchase. "I had my assistant take me over to the office and the purchase took about 15 minutes." Aw shucks. (Some of the comments on Ritholtz' site are priceless.)

Stewart channels Beck

Perfect! Jon Stewart in a tour de force performance captures the essence of Glenn Beck's cognitive dissonance and narcissism. The nations's court jester has been knocking on the door of perfection for quite a while, and now he has made it through. Unless you watch the Beckmeister the value of this skit may be lost, but the only thing missing was the red phone. Whoever said that comedic material would be lacking after Bush left the White House never watched Fox News.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Is the US' infant mortality really that bad?

Short answer: No, actually we have probably the best perinatal health care in the world.

This story in the New York Times is just about the most misleading item I've read in a long time. The Skeptical OB has an excellent detailed review, but I'll list the salient points.

When comparing infant mortality in the US vs Europe:

1. The US has a higher population of women of African descent which is an independent risk factor for pre-term birth.

2. Other countries often do not count extremely premature infants in their mortality statisitics.

3. The numbers do not correct for multiple births (twins, triplets, etc.) due to assisted reproductive technologies, which are used more widely in the US.

These are fatal flaws when comparing the US infant mortality to other developed nations. One odd comment by the statistician conducting the survey, Dr. Marian MacDormand, who said that "the strong role prematurity played came as a surprise to her." Huh? Prematurity has been recognized as by far the number one cause of infant mortality for, oh I don't know, the last 10,000 years.

Another oddity is the willingness of the medical director of the March of Dimes, Dr. Alan Fleischman, to throw the "US health system" under the bus, calling these findings an "indictment" of the poor way in which we care for women and children. I'm the first to say that the US health care system needs an overhaul, but not because of any incompetence of our perinatal services.

In fact, the issues of limited access that have adverse effects on overall US health care are almost nonexistent in regards to prenatal care and perinatal services. State-run, federally-funded Medicaid sets the income requirement very leniently for pregnant women thus allowing all pregnant women access to timely care.

If one were to correct for the larger numbers of multiple gestations and premature births in the US and the higher percentage of women of African descent, in fact the highest in the developed world, the US may still have higher infant mortality, but I doubt it and it certainly isn't shown in this study.

One modifiable risk factor is the liberal use of artificial reproductive technologies in the United States, and perhaps governing bodies should emphasize the importance of reducing multiple gestations.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Cheney's Memory Deficiency

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Every time I see Dick Cheney I wonder why he isn't in jail, but then I understand the rule of law and the 5th Amendment, yada, yada, yada. Of course, the hundreds of detainees in Gitmo and other illegal centers have likely done far less damage to our republic than Mr. Cheney, yet were imprisoned with far less evidence against them.

The real question is why sociopaths like Cheney are accepted by the electorate composed of supposedly rational human beings... and I cannot help but think that this basic flaw in human nature, this allowance for truly criminal and destructive behavior in our leaders, will someday lead to the end of our species. I just hope it's more than forty years hence.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

SPY: Wolfe Wave?

This is what keeps bears up at night: the appearance of a suspicious Wolfe Wave bullish pattern. I still remain net short, but this warrants close observation.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


Nobody did it better than the great Walter Payton.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Glenn Beck fixes healthcare!

If anyone can find a more annoying person anywhere, please let me know so I can be sure to avoid him/her. I saw the headline so I figured, what the hell, maybe Beck has some good idea about health care reform. Wrong. Just the usual sarcastic bullshit.

This is the guy in high school who sat in front of me in trigonometry class, had the latest TI-30 calculator, wore a Tiger print nylon disco shirt with pocket protector, blew dry his hair straight back, bragged incessantly about his reel-to-reel tape player, gossiped about the student council president, worked on weekends as a wedding DJ... and he never ever shut his fucking mouth. I always wondered what on earth he'd do for a living and it turns out that Fox News has hired a whole bunch of these narcissistic trolls. Who knew?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Why I love Fox News...

Here's one reason:

They're shameless in their silliness.

A few years ago when they promoted illegal war and torture I pulled my hair out, now I just laugh.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Links to Drink By

Grab a beer... here's what I've been reading and watching:

If you see a dollar in the street, kill it.

All the lovely medical experts amongst us.

Look who says the Oath Keepers are *right*

Alan Grayson is the new star of the progressive left. Here's why. (discussion regards ACORN).

I suppose any job can put you to sleep.

The biggest f*&king reason to watch the World Series.

Frontline episode on the "dark market" (when you have an hour to spare)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Michael Jordan at Wrigley: Video

I've never seen this video, and it's one for the archive... let's hope it doesn't get deleted from You Tube. (hat tip Jon Bois)

It's got it all, a Sox-Cubs Exhibition Game matchup before interleague play in Major League Baseball. We have the legendary Sox and Cubs announcer Harry Carey interviewing Michael Jordan and later singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

Also, note at the 4:30 mark: the White Sox line-up contains current Manager Ozzie Guillen and bench coach Joey Cora. The color commentator is none other than Cy Young Award winner Steve Stone who now does the same job for the White Sox. Jordan goes 2 for 5 with two RBI's.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Why we need health care reform NOW

Usually I eschew the dramatic and seek a more reasoned approach to any discussion. The passions of any theme will almost always lead away from a rational discussion... but this story is emblematic of the lunacy of our current health care "system", which really has no resemblance to a system at all. And as the Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats scream to "slow down" health care reform, this story is even more poignant.

Kimberly "Kimi" Young (at left), a healthy 22-year-old recent college graduate, got the flu. She was sick with fever and upper respiratory symptoms but delayed treatment because she lacked health insurance and was concerned about the cost. After two weeks her condition worsened to the point her roommate took her to the hospital, where she subsequently died. Died of suspected swine flu.

Okay this is one tragic case and no conclusion about any large population can be drawn from one tiny example in a society of 300 million people.

A recent federally funded Harvard study estimates 45,000 Americans die each year from lack of health insurance. Yes, detractors will say these numbers are spurious even by the most objective analysts, and sure many of those deaths may be people who are already infirm, and yes there are probably many other problems with such a study, but the number is out there.

Even if this number of deaths is inaccurate, the costs of caring for people who live is higher when treatment is delayed. Even if Kimi were to have lived, her delayed treatment was certainly more expensive than the week's worth of oral antiviral Tamiflu that may have mitigated the criticality of her illness had it been administered early.

Americans who have comprehensive insurance or who never get sick just have no idea the insanity of the current US health care "system." Even people with high deductible insurance will ponder what to do when they feel ill. Whenever someone gets sick they sit down and think about whether to get treatment. Why?

No matter how much time an individual takes to think about it, they will never acquire the expertise to triage their medical condition and render the proper care. One 10-minute visit with a doctor or nurse practitioner, or even a phone call to the office nurse, can allay fears and frustrations, or may save thousands of dollars-- and in Kimi's case, maybe even save a life. By constructing hurdles based on financing, we are adding to the extant hurdles we all struggle with in pursuing medical care. Nobody "wants" to go to the doctor: to sit in the waiting room, to talk about their personal issues, to get undressed, maybe get poked with a needle, etc. So why add yet another burden like payment to the mix?

Kimi is gone, and while I hesitate to get all dramatic over this one case, it is a tragedy which was avoidable. A waste... not only for this young woman and her family and friends, but for all of us. Thinking selfishly, we must consider that we will never benefit from the expertise of this college graduate, a seemingly wonderful and productive member of our society. She is gone forever, and all because of the relatively tiny cost of health insurance.

So when you hear Congress debating issues that have long been debated, and calling to table the current health care reform bills, think of the 4,000 people who die needlessly every month, think of Kimi.

Why this week still matters for the White Sox [Update]

Usually with the White Sox mathematically eliminated I would be rifling through my bottom drawer for the old Bears shirts and hats, especially with a promising new QB and an honest chance to achieve something in Soldier Field this year. But I cannot turn away from the Sox just yet. Spoiling the Tigers in the final week would be a moral victory, especially if they were eliminated from the post-season now after leading the division from the very first day. The reasons this week matters:

White Sox Redemption

This year held a lot of promise with an highly touted bullpen, big bats, great young prospects, but from the very beginning of the season the team has sustained one disappointment after another. Quite a few players are on the bubble and their performance this final week may actually have significance. Aside from Thornton and Carrasco, nobody's bullpen job is safe. Bad performances from Dotel, Linebrink, Nunez, or Pena could find them on the trading block, or in a couple cases out of baseball altogether.

Peavey, after being absent during the crucial meltdown just when we needed him, could redeem himself in the fans' hearts with a couple strong outings such as last night's outstanding shutout. Buehrle would validate his perfect game by winning at least game since that stellar performance.

The quiet bats from Quentin, Rios and Dye have been disturbing. Only Beckham, Pierzynski and Podsednik have been playing up ton their potential and a few victories without Thome's power would do a lot for the confidence going into the off-season.

Playing a week without the appalling errors we have seen this year in the field would go a long way to instill some pride. A flawless week out of Ramirez could be significant in showing that he does not belong at second base for the Padres.

Tiger Punishment

Despite their huge payroll ( 3rd highest in baseball), the Tigers are only barely hanging onto the lead in the worst division. Sure, the White Sox have no room to gloat, but handing the Tigers a hugely ironic ticket home before the post-season after leading since April 10th would be quite comforting.

In recent history the Sox have owned the Tigers, and especially Tiger pitching, and continuing this dominance would be a nice boost going into next year. The Twins winning ways over the Sox should end when they move outside of the Baggy Dome next year, so proving that we still can beat the Tigers is important for our sentiment next year.

Andrew Reilly outlines other reasons to point our animosity at Detroit, including their over-hyped septuagenarian manager, their empty city and their unemployed fans... none of which will find any argument from me.

Baseball season will be mercifully over this weekend and I can still have plenty of time to don the Blue and Orange for Sunday's big game against the Seahawks, one of the worst passing defenses in the league-- prediction Cutler throws for 400 yds and Knox scores two TD's. And then, the following week: the Lions come to Soldier!

UPDATE 11:30 pm, 9-26-09

The Sox are terrible. After going ahead 5-0, Garcia and the bullpen gave up 11 runs before I turned it off. Stop. The. Pain.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Is Kent Conrad for real?

The Democratic Senator from North Dakota has read a book! Go read it here.

Conrad, a consistent opponent of the public option, wanted liberals to know "government-run programs" aren't necessary to lower costs and expand access. He explained that he'd finished reading T.R. Reid's "The Healing of America" over the weekend, and learned Germany, Japan, Switzerland, France, and Belgium are doing just fine. "[A]ll of them contain costs, have universal coverage, have very high quality care and yet are not government-run systems."

What? After 22 years in the Senate this is the great paradigm-changing insight you give us? The upshot of this discussion seems to be that the "government option" will be an expansion of low reimbursement Medicaid to the lower working class while allowing private insurance companies will continue to cherry pick the health and wealthy

>> A boon to the insurance industry and the Senators and Congressmen who they own, and a disaster for medical practice, taxpayers, physicians and patients.... just my cynical hunch.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Links to Drink By: Sports edition

With MB gone, there will be some mighty big shoes to fill at Wrigley.

An act of nobility on the gridiron.

Bears' Johnny "Fort" Knox is SI impact player.

Chicago sports fan with w-a-a-a-y too much time on his hands.

Kalamazoo man makes the news! Oops.

The Great Gretzky, version 2.0?

No Links to drink By would be complete without Ozzie:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rep Eric Cantor Sugar-Coats Libertarianism

This is what lame libertarian ideology sounds like these days. Rep Eric Cantor never read his Ayn Rand back in college, or at least he won't reiterate here for the unwashed masses. Let's go to the video and I'll discuss afterward.

First of all, I'm going to take a couple Democratic sites to task.
Think Progress dramatically summarized the exchange thusly: " Churchill told Cantor that her relative was dying of stomach tumors and needs an operation as soon as possible." Um, no. Ms. Churchill never said anyone was "dying." Similarly, over at Dissenting Justice, the headline reads "Eric Cantor says cancer patient should get help from "government program" or "charity."" Um, no again. Ms. Churchill never said anyone had "cancer." [emphasis mine].

Theatrics aside, what Ms. Churchill did say is that her relative was told that the "tumors" needed to be operated on "quickly." For the record, my presumptive diagnosis: uterine fibroids with dysfunctional uterine bleeding. This is a condition common among middle-aged African-American women, and is universally described as "tumors." While usually not life-threatening and rarely malignant, fibroids can lead to pain, heavy vaginal bleeding, anemia and other medical problems, and the treatment is usually surgical.

Regardless, let's presume the physician is accurate and the fibroids need to be operated upon "quickly", either for medical or lifestyle reasons. Rep. Cantor's answer is ridiculous. He recommends that this woman sign up for a government program (Medicaid) and if she does not qualify based on her income or wealth, then she must beg for charity care. And I have to ask, why would any citizen or physician need to be asked to give her charity? She is professed to be middle class and just down on her luck, so why didn't she prepare for the 'rainy day' prior to the storm clouds? Besides this one relative at the town hall, where is the unfortunate woman's family?

Let's pull this thread a bit further. Instances exactly like this woman's occur every single day in every single city. It's not a matter of if someone loses their insurance and needs surgery, it's when. There but for the grace of God goes every person in this country, and nobody seems to be saving for the rainy day. This unfortunate woman is guilty.... guilty of lacking independent wealth and in Ayn Rand's libertarian world, that is a damnable offense. And Eric Cantor, as GOP representative and small govt advocate, should speak up and, instead of advocating for government programs, tell her to nut-up and ask her relatives for some donations.

Eric Cantor needs to unravel this thought process and keep pursuing the "what ifs". Eventually you get to the point where you realize that a lot of otherwise healthy productive people are dying or becoming disabled by very treatable conditions, all because--either by circumstances out of their control or simple lack of personal responsibility-- they lack the immediate resources for treatment. Rep Cantor needs to be truthful and tell Ms Churchill, well, there's a good chance your relative may not get that surgery.

Frankly, I don't give a damn what health reform, if any, gets passed. The whole conversation has devolved into absurdity on both sides. I happen to know how health care works and I can see the debate is fatally flawed... so I can only assume that this happens with every debate of which I am ignorant, too. If this is how health care gets mangled, I can only just imagine how missile defense, terrorism, war financing, Israeli relations, banking reform, etc get twisted as well.

The Republicans seem to be behind most (but obviously not all) of the obfuscation in the current health care debate. The GOP rails against big government "because it doesn't work", and then the incompetence becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when they take control and fuck everything up with Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage. And then Eric Cantor recommends that an uninsured woman run to sign up for a government program for which she does not qualify. Silly.

Be truthful, Rep Cantor. Tell her she just has to live with bleeding fibroids or find her own damn way: sell her plasma TV or move to a smaller house. What's so freakin' hard about that? Are you afraid the town hallers will get violent?

The fact is that the predicament of Ms Churchill's relative is a common occurrence: someone who probably has paid tens of thousands of dollars in health insurance premiums in her life, tens of thousands of dollars in Medicare payroll taxes... and just when she needs health insurance most, it lapses. Aw, snap. Ms Churchill's relative has supported, with her payroll taxes, millionaires on Medicare, but now she is left to fend for herself.

The right answer, and one Eric Cantor will never support, is to provide every citizen with a health care card when they are born and finance the system with consumption taxes. If you can afford to have two kids, a new car, a steak dinner or tickets to a baseball game, then you should be paying for your health care, and if you won't save, then we'll have to tax all those consumables in order to pay for your care. Americans need to learn from our European and Canadian friends that personal responsibility needs to be mandated because we ain't doing it on our own.... and ass-hats like Eric Cantor are too chicken to tell people that they may have to do without.