Thursday, July 30, 2009

Why is "single-payer" so threatening?

I just discovered an article entitled "Obama's Doctor Speaks Out for Single-Payer Healthcare Reform" by David L. Scheiner, M.D. Here's how it gets started:

I write today because years ago I was practicing medicine in an office on the South Side of Chicago with my partner and friend, Dr. Quentin Young, when a young community organizer came to see me as a patient. I became his personal physician for 22 years and he became president of the United States. I support and admire him and consider him to be the most promising president of my lifetime, which stretches back to 1938. But I respectfully differ with him on his approach to health care reform.

I speak to you today as an advocate for the single-payer approach to health reform, an expanded and improved Medicare for all, but I am hoping that President Obama and Congress will hear me also. As some of you may know, I was supposed to be at the recent town hall meeting at the White House where I was to ask a question of the president, but my visit was cancelled at the last minute, presumably to prevent the national airing of my views on health reform. Is the single-payer message so dangerous that it cannot even be discussed by Congress and the administration?

Yes, there are parties who stand to lose out under a single-payer program - the private, for-profit health insurance companies and their multimillionaire CEOs in the first place. The head of Aetna, for example, received $18.6 million in compensation last year. That's obscene.

Yes, it is obscene. And it disgusts me for several reasons - one of which is that Aetna happens to be my health insurance company.

Now click on through and read the rest of the article. It's short. And it's compelling.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More on the Professor Gates incident

Okay. This highlights the problem:

The fallout from the Henry Louis Gates Jr. arrest continues: the Boston Police Department has suspended an officer named Justin Barrett for using a racial slur in reference to the Harvard professor in an email, the AP reports.
The AP omits the phrase Barrett used from its article, but the Boston Globe
reports that the phrase was "jungle monkey," and that the officer used it while reacting to the media coverage of the arrest.

Just unbelievable. But I'm very glad this stuff is coming out into the open.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Last week's best quote - definitely!

I just discovered the following. It was published last Wednesday:

When the federal minimum goes up this Friday, a lot of people are going to get a raise. The economy won't crash and American small business won't become extinct. And those facts won't be news, because "House Not on Fire" isn't a headline. But "Conservatives Maintain Perfect Record of Being Wrong About Minimum Wage" should be. Seems to me that's kind of newsworthy and it seems to me that that's the story being ignored here.

Why are these people allowed to get away with being completely wrong so consistently? That should be Friday's question of the day.

It's by a guy whose moniker is Wisco and you can find it right here.

Something about immigration

Here's an important observation from an editorial in the Denver Post:

If this country is ever going to get a handle on its illegal immigration problem, more than a secure border and a workable guest-worker program is needed. Mexico's economy also needs to prosper.

People would not risk their lives to come to the United States unless they were truly desperate. I don't understand why all the mean-spirited anti-immigration Americans don't realize that. And a lot of our policies have negatively affected Mexico from an economic standpoint. For example, the fact that we flooded the market with our cheap, government subsidized corn (thereby driving down prices) made it impossible for the traditional family farmer in Mexico to survive. What are they supposed to do? Just lie down and die?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

"This is not liberty"

Below is an excerpt from a Sojourners article entitled "Health Care and Structural Violence" by Valerie Eleverton Dixon:

When health insurance is linked to employment, employees are forced to work jobs they despise. They must too often travel farther, work harder and longer for less pay and less satisfaction in order to keep the job because they cannot afford to lose health coverage. This is not liberty. Such is especially the case when a spouse or a child has a serious medical problem that requires continual treatment.

Moreover, this system of health care is burdensome to businesses that have to include the cost of health care in compensation packages in order to attract and keep good people. For people whose employers do not offer health insurance, for part-time or temporary workers, for self-employed people, buying individual health insurance is not an affordable option. So, they go without primary health care that could prevent more serious illnesses in the future.

Now that the nation is facing this problem and is taking steps to address it, some members of Congress are worried about how to pay for it. I do not recall such worried, furrowed brows over deficit spending and the national debt when the George W. Bush administration took this nation to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. I do not recall an interest in going slowly and taking our time to “get it right” before going to war.

You really would think this stuff would be obvious, wouldn't you? But I learned something by reading some of the comments to this article. Conservatives are utterly horrified at the idea that someone will get an "entitlement". Well, with that principle, I think we ought not to be "entitled" to police protection or fire protection or paved roads. Heck, let's just let society descend into chaos. God forbid that anyone get some help that they don't personally pay for 100% !!! (Sheesh.)

Hatred and religion

Oh my. Sadly, this is so true:

Take away hatred from some people, and you have men without faith.

-- Eric Hoffer (1902–83), U.S. philosopher

I well remember being very influenced by Eric Hoffer's amazing work, The True Believer, back when I was a philosophy student in the early 70s. It is about the psychology of fanaticism and, if you're unfamiliar with it, I urge you to read up on Hoffer's thought in this regard.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

New Rules

Ya gotta watch this one. Really.

Some important history

This is from an article entitled "Health Care Hypocrisy":

In 1950, when President Truman sent a universal health insurance bill to Congress, the American Medical Association (AMA) launched what was then a massive counterattack. The AMA claimed that government health insurance would lead to rationing of health care, higher prices, diminished choices and more bureaucracy. The AMA beat both Truman and the unions that were backing the legislation, using the phrase "socialized medicine" to scare the people.

Fifty-nine years later, "corporatized medicine" has produced all these consequences, along with stripping away the medical profession's independence. Today, the irony is that the corporate supremacists are accusing reformers in Washington of what they themselves have produced throughout the country. Rationing, higher prices, less choice, and mounds of paperwork and corporate red tape. Plus, fifty million people without any health insurance at all.

-- Ralph Nader

Nader is at his best when he is advocating for the best interests of the people.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday cat blogging!

Why we need single-payer

The president explained it himself:

Now, the truth is that, unless you have a -- what's called a single-payer system, in which everybody is automatically covered, then you're probably not going to reach every single individual because there's always going to be somebody out there who thinks they're indestructible and doesn't want to get health care, doesn't bother getting health care, and then, unfortunately, when they get hit by a bus, end up in the emergency room and the rest of us have to pay for it.

Come on, people. What's not to get?

Something about the so-called "birthers"

I guess it's time for me to say something about the really silly "birthers" movement. I didn't know until today that it is also utterly racist. It seems that the Southern Poverty Law Center is asking that Lou Dobbs be taken off the air because of his support of this movement. Here's part of their letter to the head of CNN, Jonathan King:

As he has in several other instances, Mr. Dobbs, in taking up the birthers' claims, is adopting an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that originated on the radical racist right. As has reported, this particular conspiracy theory was first developed by an open anti-Semite and circulated by right-wing extremists who cannot accept the fact that a black man has been elected president of the United States. Among its adherents was neo-Nazi James von Brunn, the alleged murderer of a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., this June. Von Brunn had helped spread the birthers' claims on the Internet and attacked the "dishonest & conspiratorial Media" for not taking them up.

This is not the first time Mr. Dobbs has pushed racist conspiracy theories or defamatory falsehoods about immigrants. We wrote you in 2007 to bring to your attention his utterly false claim that 7,000 new cases of leprosy had appeared in the United States in a recent three-year period, due at least in part to immigrants. (The real number, according to official statistics, was about 400. Mr. Dobbs took his spurious information from the late right-wing extremist, Madeleine Cosman.) In addition, Mr. Dobbs has reported as fact the so-called Aztlan conspiracy, which claims that undocumented Mexican immigrants are part of a plot to "reconquer" the American Southwest. He has suggested there is something to a related conspiracy theory that claims the governments of Mexico, the United States and Canada are secretly planning to merge into the "North American Union." He has falsely claimed that "illegal aliens" fill one third of American prison and jail cells. And Mr. Dobbs has routinely disparaged, on CNN's air, those who have had the integrity to point out the falsity of these and similar claims.

Respectable news organizations should not employ reporters willing to peddle racist conspiracy theories and false propaganda. It's time for CNN to remove Mr. Dobbs from the airwaves.

I read about this over on AMERICAblog.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Right wingers re-write history (or try)

Just take a look:

The Christian right is making a fresh push to force religion onto the school curriculum in Texas with the state's education board about to consider recommendations that children be taught that there would be no United States if it had not been for God.

Members of a panel of experts appointed by the board to revise the state's history curriculum, who include a Christian fundamentalist preacher who says he is fighting a war for America's moral soul, want lessons to emphasise the part played by Christianity in the founding of the US and that religion is a civic virtue.

Opponents have decried the move as an attempt to insert religious teachings in to the classroom by stealth, similar to the Christian right's partially successful attempt to limit the teaching of evolution in biology lessons in Texas.

It's from an article in the Guardian. You can read the rest of it right here.

Voice of the Day

Well, this is from Sojourners, of course. And I really think it merits a lot of reflection:

Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.

- Paulo Freire, Brazilian educator and advocate for the poor and marginalized

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The public option

You might like to go read Jim Hightower's piece entitled "Real Competition Can Stop Health Insurance Gouging".

Here's a brief excerpt:

Obama's proposed reform is not so bold as to offer you and me the same sweet deal that our congress-critters get, but it does include one provision to help us escape the untender mercies of insurance profiteers. Called the "public option," it creates a publicly run insurance plan as an alternative to the costly, mingy, inscrutable policies shoved at us by the big, monopolistic insurers.

The beauty of this option is that it gives everyone a real choice. Since the public insurance plan doesn't rake off a profit, doesn't need a massive marketing budget, won't pay multimillion-dollar executive salaries and won't have an army of backroom agents working to deny payment for treatments our doctors prescribe, it will offer better coverage at a cheaper price than the pampered private corporations presently offer.

Of course, I'm all for single-payer. But this is the next best approach. But the insurance companies really want to put a stop to it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

All right, here's a good one!

Just look:

It looks like healthcare reform really is gaining momentum and is going to happen. Now of course Republicans say the plan is too confusing, too convoluted, but you know, these are the same people who say they can make sense out of a Sarah Palin speech.

--Bill Maher

I found it over on Lisa Casey's place. Thanks, Lisa!

Quote of the day

Here's another one from Sojourners today that I think is really, really important to pass on to you:

We’re looking at a problem that could be as bad as drunk driving, and the government has covered it up.

-- Clarence Ditlow, director of the Center for Auto Safety, on a decision by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration not to release extensive research on the dangers of drivers using cell phones.

Apparently this was published in the New York Times.

I really don't understand what the advantage would be of covering this up. It's not as if people are going to quit buying cell phone plans just because they're not allowed to drive while using them.

Voice of the Day

From Sojourners:

There is no such thing as an acceptable level of unemployment, because hunger is not acceptable, poverty is not acceptable, poor health is not acceptable, and a ruined life is not acceptable.

- Hubert Humphrey

He would have made a great president. This nation was pure nuts to have elected Richard Nixon over Hubert Humphrey. Pure nuts.

Sunday, July 19, 2009



These are good:

There is no such thing as a little freedom. Either you are all free, or you are not free.
America's health care system is neither healthy, caring, nor a system.
It seems to me that instead of cutting taxes, we ought to be increasing the taxes to pay off the deficit, rather than let that thing build up to the point where our grandchildren's grandchildren are going to be paying for our period of time and our years at the helm.
It is a seldom proffered argument as to the advantages of a free press that it has a major function in keeping the government itself informed as to what the government is doing.

-- Walter Cronkite

I really like that last one a lot.

Friday, July 17, 2009

RIP Walter Cronkite 1916 - 2009

We shall not see his like again.
UPDATE: Here's what the New York Times said:

Mr. Cronkite anchored the “CBS Evening News” from 1962 to 1981, at a time when television became the dominant medium of the United States. He figuratively held the hand of the American public during the civil rights movement, the space race, the Vietnam war, and the impeachment of Richard Nixon. During his tenure, network newscasts were expanded to 30 minutes from 15.

“It is impossible to imagine CBS News, journalism or indeed America without Walter Cronkite,” Sean McManus, the president of CBS News, said in a statement. “More than just the best and most trusted anchor in history, he guided America through our crises, tragedies and also our victories and greatest moments.”

Mr. McManus added: “No matter what the news event was, Walter was always the consummate professional with an unparalleled sense of compassion, integrity, humanity, warmth, and occasionally even humor. There will never be another figure in American history who will hold the position Walter held in our minds, our hearts and on the television. We were blessed to have this man in our lives and words cannot describe how much he will be missed by those of us at CBS News and by all of America.”

How very, very true.

Absolutely GREAT quote!!!

Oh wow! Look at this:

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction.

-- Albert Einstein

Heck, we need to put this on billboards. We need to send it to every member of Congress. State legislatures, too. While we're at it, church authorities! (Any other ideas????)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Voice of the Day

Here's something Sojourners sent out today:

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

- Mother Teresa

Yesterday, a friend sent me a page full of right wing style political cartoons and bumper stickers. One of the bumper stickers said this: "Why should I pay for your health care?" (A less polite way of putting that is, "I've got mine; screw you.")

Of course, there are many appropriate responses to that question. One is the rhetorical, "Why should I pay for your police protection?" or "Why should I pay for your children's education?" But the most powerful and acurate response is, "Because we are not really separate; we belong to each other."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Quote of the day

Yeah, a lot of us could have told him this:

In the past two months, I have spent many hours accompanying a loved one to hospital emergency rooms -- all of them privately operated. The rap on what is sometimes called socialized medicine is that if the government ran the system, the wait would be interminable. Well, I am here to tell you that even when the government does not run the system, the wait can be interminable.

-- Richard Cohen

La Marseilaise

I spent a lot of time listening to various performances of the French National Anthem and finally decided to bring you this amazing scene from Casa Blanca.



The poor and the rich

Well, I'm not a huge fan of this current pope (as many of you know) but he's spot on with this:

While the poor of the world continue knocking on the doors of the rich, the world of affluence runs the risk of no longer hearing those knocks, on account of a conscience that can no longer distinguish what is human.

- Pope Benedict XVI, from his 2009 encyclical, Caritas in Veritate

And let's not forget that today is Bastille Day. That history can serve as a cautionary reminder of what happens when the rich discount and ignore the poor for long enough.

"Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!"

Monday, July 13, 2009

Something about truth

It's too late and I'm too sleepy to explain why the following quotation is important right now. Suffice it to say that it has to do with the Episcopal Church meeting in General Convention right now (and the vote of a certain bishop):

Truth is above harmony. Those who fear disorder more than injustice invariably produce more of both.

-- William Sloane Coffin

Something I just learned

and that really distressed me:

Does anyone remember a few years back when Fentanyl was being substituted as heroin in the Chicago area as well as a few other urban areas? Fentanyl is 80 times stronger than morphine and the result of this substitution was a huge increase in overdose deaths. Emergency rooms in the areas where Fentanyl overdoses were becoming problematic asked President Bu$h for emergency supplies of Narcan (naloxone), which is an antidote for opiate overdoses. Bu$h refused stating that he felt that by doing this he would be condoning drug use. In the meantime, many people died that didn't have to.

The above is part of a comment to an article about the FDA's determination to take Vicodin and Percocet off the market.

You'll just have to read about it yourself. Go here.

(So tell me again how this is the "land of the free"????)

Time for a little comic relief

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cut and run Sarah

Oh, my. Have you heard the latest?

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said she's not only staying involved in national politics, but she plans to jump back into the national scrum when she leaves office at the end of the month.
"I will go around the country on behalf of candidates who believe in the right things, regardless of their party label or affiliation," she said during an interview published Sunday in The Washington Times.
"Oh, I don't think she quit," said Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in 2008 who plucked Palin out of near-obscurity and made her a household name. "I think she changed her priorities."

Sure. Sure.

Anybody surprised? By any of this?

Very troubling

This is definitely going on my wish list.

Here's something from the product description:

[S]ome of our gravest challenges—climate change, the energy crisis, national economic competitiveness—and gravest threats--global pandemics, nuclear proliferation—have fundamentally scientific underpinnings. Yet we still live in a culture that rarely takes science seriously or has it on the radar.

For every five hours of cable news, less than a minute is devoted to science; 46 percent of Americans reject evolution and think the Earth is less than 10,000 years old; the number of newspapers with weekly science sections has shrunken by two-thirds over the past several decades. The public is polarized over climate change—an issue where political party affiliation determines one's view of reality—and in dangerous retreat from childhood vaccinations. Meanwhile, only 18 percent of Americans have even met a scientist to begin with; more than half can't name a living scientist role model.

Very disturbing.

Notice of a layoff

I just read a moving and very well written story over on ZNet about someone who just lost his job. Here's how it gets started:

My brother lost his job today. No. That is a sterile way of saying it. Today, the big, highly profitable bank my brother worked for for the greater part of his late 20s and early 30s, rendered him expendable. No. That is still yet a sterile way of putting it. Today the big bosses in their fancy suits said "you're fired. You have two hours to pack your things and go. Things are just not working out." And my brother, a defiant, proud, dignified man, had to obey. Even in the age of "socialist government," the corporation rules. Please do not let anyone convince you otherwise.

The day before today, my brother and his coworkers drank and ate together, watched a baseball game together. They laughed together about his discomfort at the changes taking place in the bank, sometimes at his expense, as a result of the changing financial times. "Oh you are just being paranoid. Things are fine here. Everywhere else they are going down the tubes, but not here. We are different," they told him. Then they canned him. Then they took away his livelihood. Then they disappeared him.

And so the global financial crisis hit my family, and I - my brother's baby sister - came to know, like so many others, the personal anguish that supposed impersonal corporate decisions wreak. I know it is not anything new.

Please go read the rest of it. The story is short. What is so touching is that this person had originally wanted to be an astronomy but he went into banking out of a sense of family duty.

It is truly horrible to lose one's job. You have no idea how horrible until it's happened to you.

I just like it, that's all!

"Carrots of many colors"

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I like this

I really do.

If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.

-- Thomas Aquinas

Some people -- those who are determined to play it safe and not even try to make things better -- really need to ponder this.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Quote of the week

In my humble opinion, that is:

Why would it drive private insurance out of business? If private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best quality health care; if they tell us that they’re offering a good deal, then why is it that the government, which they say can’t run anything, suddenly is going to drive them out of business? That’s not logical.

-- President Barack Obama

Source: here


I nicked it from over at from MadPriest's place!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Please, please read this!

Please go over to Daily Kos and read the diary posting entitled "How I lost my health insurance at the hairstylist's". It is very, very illuminating. And terrifying.

I had no idea employers were made to pay an astronomical "surcharge" to insurance companies when an employer gets a serious illness. I doubt very seriously if most people know about it either.

This posting really, really needs to go viral. Please. Do your bit to make that happen.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Oh dear

Hmm. Maybe our education system needs some attention?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Untold Truths About the American Revolution

The article I want to share with you, "Untold Truths About the American Revolution" , is by Howard Zinn.

I cannot possibly begin to do it justice with an excerpt.

Please just go read the whole piece. It is short. Very nearly perfectly written. And, oh, so very sobering.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Quote of the day

But we didn't did we? So tragic:

This is the first generation in all of recorded history that can do something about the scourge of poverty. We have the means to do it. We can banish hunger from the face of the earth.

- Hubert Humphrey

We still could, you know, if we took the Millenium Development Goals seriously.

UPDATE: Just got the news that Robert McNamara has died. Part of why we didn't end hunger is because we made waging war a priority. We could say, couldn't we, that it was McNamara's war.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Satire alert!

Okay. The article is called "Debate over government-funded police protection heats up" and here's just a little sample:

Now that the president and the Democrats in Congress have set a fall deadline for legislative action on universal police protection for all Americans, battle lines are being drawn on Capitol Hill. On the right are conservative defenders of America's system of for-profit, private mercenaries. The Democrats are divided among progressives who favor universal, publicly funded police who would protect all citizens against crime, and moderate and conservative Democrats who argue that any citizen security reform should leave America's existing system of soldiers for hire in place.

"Do we want long wait times when we call for the police, like people in countries with socialized police forces?" Sen. Russell Flack, R-Ga., asked during a floor debate yesterday. "Under our system, we can choose our own police officers, as long as we pay for protection out of our own pockets. Do we want some government bureaucrat choosing the police for us?"

Ha! Go read the rest of it.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Top 10 reasons Palin is resigning

Go on over to this page on Democratic Underground and see what they are! :-)

(My favorite is #4.)

Breaking news

Palin is quitting. Here's the quote of the moment:

This has the hallmarks of a politician slinking away before the shit hits the fan.

--Tim Dickinson

It certainly does, doesn't it?

You can read more about it right here. Seems she refused to answer questions.

UPDATE: May I suggest that you read the transcript of her statement to the press. I must say, it's a bit on the bizarre side.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Just seems appropriate today

UPDATE: Well, okay. Here's what prompted the above poster. I'm just too weary of it all to excerpt the article or comment. Just too much. (Sigh.)