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3351  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / For further evidence of the distortion of what America is about on: August 03, 2009, 09:20:27 AM
Remember how I point out the multitude of left articles published in the New England Journal.  This one is only surprising because it is written by a guy from S. Carolina.

This guy who I presume got his history lessons while residing in Russia states he has no clue what is being talked about when we speak of "American Values".

Folks, the America I knew growing up is gone.   
 
******HEALTH CARE 2009

Previous Volume 361:440-441  July 30, 2009  Number 5
 Next
 


"American Values" — A Smoke Screen in the Debate on Health Care Reform

Allan S. Brett, M.D.
 

 
 
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Amid all the rhetoric about health care reform, one claim has emerged as a trump card designed to preserve the current patchwork of private and public insurance and to stop discussion of a government-sponsored single-payer system in its tracks: the claim that single-payer health care — a Canadian-style Medicare-for-all system — is antithetical to "American values." The idea that American values dictate a particular approach to health care reform is often stated explicitly, and it is implicit in the generalization that "Americans want" a particular system. The underlying premise is that an identifiable set of American values point incontrovertibly to a health care system anchored by the private insurance industry. Remarkably, this premise has received very little scrutiny.

Two related assumptions are buried in the language of "American values." The first is that there are archetypical Americans — that if we know someone fits the category "American," it should be possible to predict his or her general worldview accurately. However, we have good reason to doubt that assumption. In nearly all respects — ethnically, culturally, religiously, politically, and socioeconomically — Americans are increasingly diverse. The recent presidential campaign provides evidence that a monolithic conception of what it means to be "American" is problematic and outdated: those who championed the idea of "real" Americans (as distinct from Americans who are somehow less representative of American ideals) were precisely those whose candidate lost the election.

The second assumption is that Americans' personal values predictably translate into certain organizational structures for the financing and provision of health care — and that a single-payer system is not among them. Exactly what might those values be? Are they self-regarding values directed toward maximizing individual well-being and potential? Or other-regarding values such as altruism or concern for community? Clearly, most people — regardless of political, ethnic, or cultural identity — regard both sets of values as important in varying proportions; nothing precludes a single-payer system as one possible means of realizing a blend of these values.

The notion that American values militate against a single-payer system is advanced not only by advocates of preserving the status quo or making incremental changes but also by some who propose major reforms that nibble around the edges of a single-payer system. For example, Ezekiel Emanuel — now a special adviser on the Obama administration's health care team — has proposed universal health insurance funded by a value-added tax on sold goods and services; all citizens would receive government-issued vouchers to purchase health insurance from private insurance companies. According to Emanuel, such a plan "coheres with core American values: individualism and equality of opportunity." He argues that equality of opportunity dictates universal coverage and government funding, but individualism dictates preservation of the private insurance system: "Americans clamor . . . for the chance to choose. . . . We want to choose our insurance plans, our hospitals, our doctors."1

The theme of "choice" also surfaces in the writing of Tom Daschle, President Barack Obama's initial pick for secretary of health and human services. In his book Critical, Daschle proposes universal coverage delivered through a private–public hybrid plan. He all but admits that a single-payer system is the best solution but abandons the idea because it is "politically problematic" and because "compared to residents of [European countries], Americans are more supportive of choice and suspicious of government."2

Suppose that "freedom to choose" is indeed the paramount American value relevant to health care. For many people, it would surely imply choice of physician, hospital, or clinic. For such choice, a single-payer system beats the competition hands down. Incremental reforms preserving the private insurance industry and employer-based insurance would probably perpetuate the restricted choice of health care providers that many Americans already encounter: private plans typically limit access to certain physicians or hospitals, and physicians often refuse to accept certain plans. In contrast, single-payer proposals eliminate those restrictions.

Another possible meaning of "choice" is the freedom to choose from an array of private insurance companies. Here it is important to acknowledge that insurance is only a means for collecting and disbursing health care funds — not an end in itself. The key question is therefore whether private insurance is superior to single-payer insurance in achieving the desired end of efficient, cost-effective health care. Here, too, the single-payer system would probably prevail. Because administrative costs are consistently lower in single-payer systems than in private-based systems, more of the health care budget goes directly to patient care (and less to administration) in single-payer systems. Thus, Americans have been misled by the rhetoric about choice. In contrast with the single-payer option, a system with multiple private insurers would continue to restrict one dimension of choice (selection of physicians) and perpetuate a choice most people would consider irrational (wasteful spending on administrative overhead).

A third dimension of choice is the freedom to choose whatever test or treatment a patient wants. This choice is system-neutral, pointing to neither single-payer nor alternative systems. Any reform initiative must control spending; unproven or unnecessary medical interventions should not be available in any system.

A closely related rhetorical device — the idea that Americans or American values are "unique" — also deserves attention. For example, Emanuel describes individualism and equality of opportunity as "uniquely American."1 Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, asserts that a public–private hybrid is essential because it is a "uniquely American solution."3 Others describe rugged individualism as a "uniquely American" value that makes us "reluctant to provide our tax dollars to support someone else's health care."4 Such defiant-sounding assertions imply that "uniqueness" is a matter of pride and an end in itself. But these generalizations are impossible to prove, a distraction in the debate, and ultimately irrelevant. What is relevant is whether a solution works, not whether it is unique. Indeed, the aspect of the current U.S. system that is truly unique among developed countries is its failure to cover everyone — hardly something to brag about.

In their book Benchmarks of Fairness for Health Care Reform, Norman Daniels and colleagues reject these "ungenerous" views of our values, arguing that past failures to reform health care are better explained by the influence of interest groups whose wealth and power are threatened by reform.5 The authors propose that fair equality of opportunity is a more promising and relevant American value. Opinion polls support this proposal: in multiple surveys of randomly selected Americans during the past decade, more than 60% of respondents have favored government-guaranteed health care for all. Although these responses don't necessarily specify a single-payer system as the only model for government-guaranteed insurance, they surely do not exclude it.

Policymakers debating health care reform should stop hiding behind the smoke screen of "American values." Discussions dominated by references to uniquely American individualism, uniquely American solutions, or narrowly defined conceptions of choice tell us more about the political and economic interests of the discussants than about the interests of the Americans they claim to represent. In an increasingly diverse country that has a widening gap between rich and poor, a more promising approach is to start with the questions that matter to everyone: Will the system care for us when we're sick and help prevent illness when we're well? Will we have access to medical care throughout our lives without risking financial ruin? Will we be able to navigate the system easily, without jumping through unnecessary hoops or encountering excessive red tape? Will health care spending be managed wisely? Health care reformers owe Americans a system that best addresses these questions — not one that merely pays lip service to ill-defined "American values."

No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.


Source Information

From the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Columbia.

References


Emanuel EJ. Healthcare, guaranteed: a simple, secure solution for America. New York: PublicAffairs, 2008:12-6.
Daschle T. Critical: what we can do about the health-care crisis. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2008:144, 204.
Medical News Today. Sen. Baucus hopes to introduce comprehensive health reform legislation this summer. March 5, 2009. (Accessed July 10, 2009, at http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/141193.php.)
Garson A Jr, Engelhard CL. Health care half-truths: too many myths, not enough reality. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007:131-2.
DanielsComments and questions? Please contact us.

The New England Journal of Medicine is owned, published, and copyrighted © 2009 Massachusetts Medical Society. All rights reserved.
 
3352  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / I don't know *big* government can be defeated on: August 03, 2009, 09:14:16 AM
"The wild success" raves we are hearing all over the air waves about the cash for clunkers situation just goes to show how tax payers have no say in anything.
One guy is on cable this am saying he bought his car some years ago for $4K and traded it in with 220K miles for $4500.
I don't get it.  This is not monopoly money.  This is tax money going to give this guy a huge discount - more than the value of his car.

Why is there not outrage?

Why is there this glee in the media that this plan is great?

Am I missing something?

Of course people willl  rush for these deals if they can qualify for free funny money.

The greatness of the US is over folks.
3353  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 31, 2009, 10:04:26 AM
"And providers could be paid an annual fixed fee for the primary care of an individual and a separate fixed fee for the treatment of a specific condition"
Hospitals are already paid by Medicare this way. It is called the diagnostic related groups.
As for providers our reimbursements have continually gone down for years.
The incentive for doctors is to see more patients if you are a thinking type doctor and do more procedures if that is how you get paid.
I am not sure how up front or say yearly payments to treat overall conditions would work.
Certainly the incentive is then to do less.
Is that good?  I don't know.
3354  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / correction on: July 29, 2009, 10:44:32 AM
I owe Friedman an apology.
Katherine tells me I mixed up Kelly Clarkson with Carrie Underwood who was the one who was "inducted" into the Gran Ole Opry.
My correction noted.  As for Clarkson, Katherine believes her lyrics were oddly like words she wrote and disappeared from her possesion (the same is believed for Underwood).  Perhaps that was the whole modus oper. behind Clarkson's suddenly deciding to "write her own songs".  Someone simply got her the songs and a deal was made.  It is possible Davis knew they stunk and after they proved to be bombs then said more or less, "I told you so".

Many of the lyrics are not that great.  It appears that when the crooks run low on material they start using the less good lyrics.
It only takes one really good set of lyrics out of ten songs to get one over the top.
And one never knows.  Songs thought to not be likely to sell sometimes do.

 
3355  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Roger Friedman has no clue what he is talking about on: July 28, 2009, 04:39:57 PM
Friedman talks like he has the inside scoop.  This guy has no clue.  The reason Clarkson went to country is that is where the songs were.  Now there are none left so she goes back to pop.
He claims she can't write yet she was let into the Grand Ole Opry.  She was one of the biggest stars while she did her songs that I allege the lyrics were Katherine's.  Friedman, the dupe doesn't even mention this.  He just says she learned her lesson and is running back home to grand daddy Clive.  Is this what Clive has told him from the "inside".

Friedman are you that stupid or are you part of the scam:

By Roger Friedman

Kelly Will Go Back to Pop for Next Album

Kelly Clarkson gets the picture, finally.

There was no bucking the system, and no going against Clive Davis. Sources tell me that Clarkson has agreed, through her wise new manager Narvel Blackstock, to make a pop album for release in 2008 with songs selected by Davis and his team.

Clarkson's acquiescence comes at the end of a long melodrama concerning her current, turgid album "My December," which features a lot of ragged self-penned songs by Clarkson about a relationship gone sour.

Davis didn't like the album, considering it was the follow up to Clarkson's multimillion selling "Breakaway." But he released it, and Clarkson responded by dissing him and then apologizing earlier this week.

In the meantime, "My December" is sort of free-floating away now, and will probably sell a respectable 850,000 copies in the U.S. and maybe the same worldwide.

Clarkson gets points for trying out her chops as a songwriter, but demerits for not following anyone's advice, trying to take on the record industry's most astute executive maybe of all time and acting like a 25-year-old (which is, in fact, her age.)

The news about Clarkson's next move came Thursday during the annual UJA Federation lunch at which Davis was honored. Everyone in the biz was there — the room was so packed that there was little space between the tables for waiters to maneuver or for good schmoozing.
3356  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Music on: July 28, 2009, 04:32:51 PM
Clarkson has the lead name as writer of this song.  I allege she didn't write it.  My wife did.  Clarkson moved to the country scene because that WAS where the songs were.  Now they can't get songs she is going back to pop.
Despite her name on it she of course blames another writer whose name is on it.
I allege she is lying.  She didn't write the lyrics to the song, she can't wirte hit songs.
She is a bs artist.
That is my belief.  Now that we stopped them from stealing (for now) Katherine's lyrics by keeping her mother away you will see country songs drop off a cliff.  the country stations are keeping the radio/cable stations going by releasing new videos from songs that were not lead songs from previous albums from at least 6 months to even years ago.  Most people would not necessarily notice these are videos to songs that came out from older albums.  They make it look like they are brand new songs.
Where are all the songs from the dozens of writers out of Texas and Nashville???

****Kelly Clarkson says she isn't a rip-off artist despite having the same song as Beyonce
BY Nicole Carter
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Tuesday, July 28th 2009, 1:57 PM

 
Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty; Winter/Getty
 
Kelly Clarkson is doing everything she can to explain she isn't ripping off of Beyonce.

Related News
Articles
VH1 annoints new 'Divas,' but have they earned the title?
Beyonce video for 'Sweet Dreams' set to debut
Beyonce shows 'Fierce' and softer sides in tour kickoff at the Garden
Beyonce, nominated for 5 BET Awards, will perform on show
It's true: Kelly Clarkson's new single "Already Gone" sounds a lot like Beyonce's "Halo."

But Clarkson is doing everything she can to explain she isn't a rip-off artist.

After speculation that the "American Idol" winner had copied the R&B diva's power ballad, Clarkson claimed it's actually her co-writer Ryan Tedder- who consequently wrote Beyonce's tune- that's to blame.

"We wrote about six songs together, four or five of them made the album," Clarkson said on Canada's CBC radio earlier this week. "I"d never heard of a song called ‘Halo.' Her album came out when my album was already being printed."

And the 27-year-old doesn't hold back her feelings about getting, well, screwed.

"It sucks, but it"s one of those things I have no control over. I already made my album. At this point, the record company can do whatever they want with it," she added.

Clarkson has also said she "fought and fought" to prevent the song from ever going public.

The pop star knew what her fans would think.

"No-one"s gonna be sittin" at home, thinking ‘Man, Ryan Tedder gave Beyonce and Kelly the same track to write to." No, they"re just gonna be saying I ripped someone off."

Beyonce has yet to comment on the situation.****
3357  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Gretchen Wislon reported Genius dumped on: July 28, 2009, 04:23:28 PM
Now we finally stopped them from stealing songs (I allege) she can't write her own - like she fasely claimed she ever did.
In any case she's got nothing left but cover songs:

Gretchen Wilson, Sony Music Nashville part waysThe Associated Press
Posted: 07/28/2009 02:33:15 PM MDT


NASHVILLE, Tenn.—"Redneck Woman" Gretchen Wilson and her longtime record label, Sony Music Nashville, have parted.
Sony announced the split Tuesday, describing it as a mutual decision.

Wilson shot to fame with her 2004 smash "Redneck Woman." Her debut album, "Here For the Party," sold 5 million copies.

Her next two albums for Sony—2005's "All Jacked Up" and 2007's "One of the Boys"—reached No. 1 but didn't sell nearly as well as her debut and produced only one Top 10 single between them.

Sony says in a statement that while Wilson will no longer record for the label as a solo artist, both parties look forward to working together on catalog projects.

Wilson was not immediately available for comment.


3358  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / California on: July 28, 2009, 11:31:49 AM
Solution is simple.  A 95% tax on all those in the entertainment industry - music, cinema, TV, networks, actors, sports, etc.
It's time they start doing their "fair share" instead of bossing the rest of us to cough it up.


****Schwarzenegger likely to veto social programs
 
Jul 28, 3:41 AM (ET)

By JUDY LIN
 
(AP) Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger talks with his staff about potential line-item vetos while going over...
Full Image
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday is expected to use his line-item veto power to make additional cuts to the California's latest spending plan - a move advocates fear could hurt the poor.

Social service advocates worry the Republican governor has little choice but to go after money counties receive to administer welfare and social service benefits. Likely targets include welfare-to-work assistance, in-home support, foster care and health insurance for poor families.

With much of state spending tied up by federal and constitutional requirements, the Schwarzenegger administration believes more cuts are necessary to provide a cash cushion for the state in case of emergencies such as earthquakes and wild fires.

"I just want to assure everyone that we will build up our reserve. We will make the necessary cuts," the governor said Friday in announcing he'll sign the budget passed by the Legislature.

 
(AP) Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger talks with his staff about potential line-item veto's while going over...
Full Image
 
 
The governor and lawmakers had planned for a reserve in the revised budget, but the Assembly rejected two measures - raiding local transportation funds and authorizing additional oil drilling - that would have brought $1.1 billion to the state.

The governor's spokesman, Aaron McLear, said Schwarzenegger will try to fill that $1.1 billion but isn't expected to cut by that much. He declined to release details.

"We will always be in a position to aggressively respond to disasters," McLear said.

Advocates view additional cuts to social programs as another blow since the Schwarzenegger administration has reduced benefits in response to the recession.

California's economy has been hit by the housing market slump and high unemployment, and the latest efforts to close a $26 billion shortfall, just five months after lawmakers and the governor ended months of negotiations to close a previous $42 billion deficit.

Under the budget the governor will sign Tuesday, the state will impose tougher sanctions on CalWORKS recipients who don't meet work requirements. And in-home support workers will have to undergo background checks and have their fingerprints taken.

In earlier rounds of cuts, California lowered Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for health care providers and eliminated optional benefits such as dental and eye care for adult recipients.

"Why further punish children, low-income families, and the aged and disabled because the Legislature did not approve borrowing gas tax revenue?" said Frank Mecca, executive director of the County Welfare Directors Association of California.

Once Schwarzenegger signs the budget, his finance team is expected to begin briefing the state treasurer and controller, creditors and analysts on how the latest spending plan will impact day-to-day cash flow.

The governor and lawmakers are hoping their latest plan provides the assurance lenders need for the state to take out loans and stop issuing IOUs to thousands of vendors. Representatives for the treasurer and controller said it would take a few more days after that to assess the state's borrowing needs and decide whether California can stop issuing IOUs.

Matt Fabian, a bond analyst at Municipal Market Advisors, based in Concord, Mass., said the plan was filled with accounting tricks and will likely do little to improve the state's poor credit rating.

Fitch Ratings placed at California's general obligation bond debt at BBB. Most states have a AAA or AA rating.***
3359  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Clinton prepares to jump from the SS Obamatanic on: July 27, 2009, 06:18:05 PM
"We are going to do everything we can to prevent you (Iran) from getting a nuclear weapon. Your pursuit is futile"
Perhaps the guy from N Korea is right.  Not only does she look like a clown she sounds like one.

3360  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / backroom deals on: July 27, 2009, 05:51:24 PM
We always hear about the back room deal making among our legislators.

Maybe there should be some transparancy about the stuff behind the scenes.

Why should not a congressman not be able to vote his beliefs or conscience and not have his arm twisted, his pocket lined, or threatened, or cojoled, or paid off in some way to vote the party line?

Or is that an oxymoron?
3361  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 27, 2009, 09:54:42 AM
So why is the original BC kept from pulbic viewing?

And as for the birth announcement does anyone know how they get into the paper in 1947.  From hospital records or does simply the mother send a note to the paper annoucing birth in which case this is not there fore proof but circumstantial evidence?

Say he was born before his mother returned to the US.  Would it not be reasonable for her to call the paper after they get here and make an annoucement?

I am not yet convinced.
3362  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Philli police on: July 25, 2009, 11:44:06 AM
Interesting you say Phila.
I remember going to a wedding with a friend and driving through Phila sometime around 1979 or so.
I didn't even notice but I guess I drove through a light that was turning red and didn't get to the other side of the intersection in time.
We were stopped by a Black policeman.

My friend warned me to be polite and not to mess with the Phila police.  He was very clear about this.
They had a reputation of being tough.

The officer was polite and did the usual ID check.
My white friend and I were dressed up and had gift boxes in the back seat on the way to the wedding and we explained that, and I apologized.

And that was it.  Happy ending and otherwise boring story.

The officer was actually OK.  He accepted my apology, could plainly see the gifts in the back seat and we were in suits and ties and let us off with a warning.
I never thought much of it and still don't, but could this have been reverse profiling?



3363  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pompous hypocracy is rampant. on: July 25, 2009, 09:37:22 AM
Just for argument sakes.

Chuck Schumer made a statement that doctors should make no more than 80K a year.
Sure that is of course because we should be all about caring for our fellow men.
If that is his argument lawyers who require far less schooling should make no more than 40K per year.
Everyone knows they should be *in* law profession to protect the legal rights of all.
Afterall they are there to uphold justice, and our "legal rights".

Additionally the media should stop corrupting our politicians who have to raise obscene amounts of money to pay for obscene costs of advertising.
The politicians who are in "public service" to better the lives of all Americans and our way of life should stop cashing in by writing or at least profiting from books, speeches, working as pundits, getting jobs at hedge funds, lobbyists the minute they leave office.

Working in pulbic office has now become a roadmap to "richdom".

Teachers, police officers, firemen, and other government employees should stop accepting pensions, and other benefits after they stop working since of course they are doing what they do to better and protect mankind.

Can I go on.

My message is clear.

3364  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 24, 2009, 01:28:23 PM
Kind of interesting isn't it that BO's comments over the Gates Crowley flap stirred up the emotions of so many.
It was OK for him to circumvent the globe insulting the United States and the previous President without hardly a peep except from rightest radio and Fox. 

But offend a policeman and suddenly we have a whole new ballgame.

Here we go again with the races taking sides like they did with OJ.


3365  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: July 24, 2009, 08:50:57 AM
Does this seem stupid or what?  Federal money to help people buy cars, and of course stimulate Governement Motors.
Hopefully the majority of non Dem diehard Americans are waking up to how we are being screwed over by the radicals in government.
The joke is on us:

Friday, July 24, 2009
$1 billion 'Cash for clunkers' program to kick off Monday
David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau
Washington -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will release a final regulation today, clearing the way for the launch of the $1 billion federal "Cash for Clunkers" program.

The program gives buyers of new, more fuel-efficient vehicles up to $4,500 in government rebates to turn in cars and trucks up to 25 years old that in most instances get less than a combined highway/city fuel efficiency of 18 miles per gallon.

NHTSA's final rule will explain the process for registering dealers, the manner in which dealers will be reimbursed for eligible transactions, the requirements and procedures for disposing of trade-in vehicles, and the means for enforcing the program's requirements. NHTSA is working to guard against fraud, but also to ensure prompt payment.

Advertisement

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will kick off the program on Monday with an event at the department's headquarters that will include fuel-efficient vehicles from major manufacturers and some members of Congress.

Charles Territo, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the trade group representing General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group LLC, Toyota Motor Corp. and six other automakers, said the program should help customers with the purchase of about 250,000 vehicles. But once the money runs out, there is no guarantee that Congress will approve more funds.

Similar programs -- though typically less restrictive -- in other countries have dramatically boosted auto sales.

Chrysler Group LLC has offered to match the $4,500 government rebate with its own $4,500 rebate on new vehicles. Chrysler's rebate also applies to people buying new cars who don't qualify for the government rebate.

The federal program ends Nov. 1 even if consumers haven't exhausted the rebates. The vouchers apply only to new vehicles that cost $45,000 or less, and consumers must have owned the driveable clunkers for the past year.

3366  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: July 22, 2009, 12:16:55 PM
Well today's headlines are a final "explanation point" to BO's policies all along.
Remember when McCain said he would be Hamas and Hezbollah's worst nightmare and BO said we need to meet, hug and kiss them more or less.
I keep reading how politicians, military personel state how it would be a "disaster" or catastrophe" if we, or Israel were to use military force against Iran to slow or halt their nuclear weapons persuit.  Not one ioda that if Isreal were laid to waste by a nuclear attack that that would be a disaster. 
It is clear to me that those in power today have decided it is more in the US interest to risk annhilation of Israel than use war with Iran.  People who are not Jewish who otherwise don't care about Jews, do have an argument that Israel is not enough of a major player that it would be worth it to the US.  I can't rationally deny that. 
As a Jew I hate the thought.  As a Jew I will feel sorry for the 80% of Jews who gave up their fellow Jews to vote for a liberal who made his intentions know throughout his life.  For them to say now they are surprised that Bo is siding more with the Jew haters than the Jews is hypocricy.  It is and was obvious.

We can only hope for some sort of political change in Iran before it is too late.
If only we allowed our oil companies to drill for off shore oil off the continental US 5 or 10 years ago we wouldn't be as much at the mercy of foreign oil.  All the darn windmills, corn, solar panels covering the entire midwest won't solve our problems any time soon.
The environementalist have won.  And we have lost.  And indirectly it hurt the Jews in Israel.  The risk of flow of oil throught the Persain gulf is obviously one factor that is being considered in siding against military force against Iran.

Just my arm chair thoughts on today's Drudge headlines:

  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday stirred Israeli fears that Washington would accept a nuclear armed Iran when she raised the idea of a US "defence umbrella" for Gulf allies.
However, Clinton, during a visit to Thailand for an Asian security conference, said later that she was not announcing a new policy and simply wanted to turn Iran away from pursuing a nuclear weapon.

Clinton told Thai television in Bangkok that President Barack Obama's administration was still open to engage Iran in talks about its nuclear programme but warned that Tehran would not be safer if it obtains a bomb.

"We will still hold the door open" to talks over its nuclear program Clinton said.

"But we also have made it clear that we will take action, as I've said time and time again, crippling action, working to upgrade the defence of our partners in the region," she said.

Her previous references to "crippling action" have referred to sanctions.

"We want Iran to calculate what I think is a fair assessment: that if the US extends a defence umbrella over the region, if we do even more to support the military capacity of those in the Gulf, it is unlikely Iran will be any stronger or safer," Clinton said.

"They won't be able to intimidate and dominate as they apparently believe they can once they have a nuclear weapon."

In Jerusalem, Israeli Intelligence Services Minister Dan Meridor criticised her remarks.

"I heard without enthusiasm the American declarations according to which the United States will defend their allies in the event that Iran uses nuclear weapons, as if they were already resigned to such a possibility," he said.

"This is a mistake," Meridor said. "We cannot act now by assuming that Iran will be able to arm itself with a nuclear weapon, but to prevent such a possibility."

Clinton made her initial comments during a recording for a Thai television show before heading to Asia's largest security forum in the Thai resort island of Phuket, where talks were expected to focus on possible nuclear links between North Korea and Myanmar.

Speaking at a press conference in Phuket later, Clinton suggested her remarks were misunderstood.

"I'm not suggesting a new policy. In fact we all believe that Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is unacceptable, and I've said that many times," she said.

"I'm simply pointing out that Iran needs to understand that it's pursuit of nuclear weapons will not advance its security or achieve its goals of enhancing its power regionally and globally," she said.

"The focus that Iran must have is that it faces the prospect -- if it pursues nuclear weapons -- of sparking an arms race in the region," she said.

"That should affect a calculation of what Iran intends to do and what it believes is in its national security interest because it may render Iran less secure, not more secure," she said.

US lawmakers on Monday stepped up pressure on Obama to ready tough new economic sanctions on Iran in the event Tehran fails to freeze its uranium enrichment programme by late 2009.

Iran, labouring under UN sanctions for its defiance, has rejected the West's charges that it seeks nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian atomic energy program.

Obama has said he wants a diplomatic solution to the standoff but has repeatedly warned that he has not ruled out the use of force.



 
3367  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 21, 2009, 04:15:51 PM
The implication is that this is some sort of scandal.
600 million doses at a cost of 2.6 billion.  Isn't that cheap - ~$4 a dose.
What does it cost to drive the tunnel from NJ to NYC - 10 dollars for the port authority tax?  Ten dollars to drive into NYC???!!!
What is the tax on a single pack of cigarettes?
So why are the pharmaceutical companies not entitled to ~4 bucks for a squirt of influenza vaccine?


****Drug groups to reap swine-flu billions
By Andrew Jack in London

Published: July 20 2009 19:40 | Last updated: July 20 2009 23:43

Some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies are reaping billions of dollars in extra revenue amid global concern about the spread of swine flu.

Analysts expect to see a boost in sales from GlaxoSmithKline, Roche and Sanofi-Aventis when the companies report first-half earnings lifted by government contracts for flu vaccines and antiviral medicines.

EDITOR’S CHOICE
In depth: Swine flu - Apr-28Health Blog: The advice about swine flu - Jul-21Date put on school swine flu decision - Jul-20WHO backlog hampers swine flu battle - Jul-21Swine flu warning to pregnant women - Jul-19UK braces for 100,000 swine flu cases a day - Jul-03The fresh sales – on top of strong results from Novartis of Switzerland and Baxter of the US, which both also produce vaccines – come as the latest tallies show that more than 740 people have died from the H1N1 virus, and millions have been affected around the world.

GlaxoSmithKline of the UK confirmed it had sold 150m doses of a pandemic flu vaccine – equivalent to its normal sales of seasonal flu vaccine – to countries including the UK, the US, France and Belgium, and was gearing up to boost production.

GSK also produces Relenza, an antiviral medicine that reduces the length and severity of the infection, and is preparing to increase manufacturing towards 60m annual doses. The UK placed an order for 10m treatments this year.

One beneficiary of the fears about the pandemic has been Roche of Switzerland, which sells Tamiflu, the leading antiviral drug, and has seen a sharp rise in orders from private companies as well as governments.

A report last week from JPMorgan, the investment bank, estimated that governments had ordered nearly 600m doses of pandemic vaccine and adjuvant – a chemical that boosts its efficacy – worth $4.3bn (€3bn, £2.6bn) in sales, and there was potential for 342m more doses worth $2.6bn.

It forecast that fresh antiviral sales could boost sales for GSK and Roche by another $1.8bn in the developed world, and potentially up to $1.2bn from the developing world.

But there were also uncertainties for the pharmaceutical manufacturers. With demand likely to outstrip supply, and initial production suggesting that the yield for the pandemic vaccine is relatively low, they may face difficult choices in determining how much to supply to the countries seeking orders.

They are also under pressure to provide more drugs and vaccines for free, or extremely cheaply, to the developing world.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

3368  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 20, 2009, 02:07:38 PM
I can't wait till he crashes in the polls.
I can't wait to see that strut and pompous grin wane.
I can't wait to see the crats go after Cheney, the CIA.
I do hope we get a huge repudiation of their socialistic idealogy.
I can only hope.

That said the repubs still need better and clearer application of conservative values to todays problems in my view.
 
3369  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wow on: July 20, 2009, 09:32:20 AM
RASMUSSEN 2012 poll released at 10:30AM ET

Obama 45% Romney 45%
Obama 48% Palin 42%

3370  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: July 18, 2009, 08:36:49 AM
Just for argument sake:
If W was still president and Goldman execs were giving themselves and their employees 12 billion in bonuses after all this would you think the msm would be almost completely silent about this?

I don't hear the left protesting us now that we have the Bama.
I don't hear the right speaking out about this since of course this is just an example capitilism.
Now that's said and out of the way it is obvious to me the rest of the country was robbed.
We were robbed EOM.
3371  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Rules of the Road/Fire Hydrant on: July 17, 2009, 12:06:30 PM
I don't know if I irritated him but I appreciated his opinions.
The diversity of opinions is better.
Hopefully he will reconsider and return.
3372  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Contrarian:Bama.is Rebublicans best hope on: July 17, 2009, 09:12:23 AM
Maybe Republicans should be grateful for BO.
I was speaking to someone who thinks BO's plan may be to spend the economy into a total trash then he could rebuild it from the ground up as a socialist state.

On the other hand Republicans like me may actually be grateful for him.  suppose precisely because of him that the trend towards socialism dies on the spot and reverses.

Wouldn't that be something.  The "pompous know-everything" who thinks he will mold America into his socialist vision actually causes a backlash so large the opposite happens.  That is what this Buchanan piece causes me to wonder:

Socialist America Sinking
by  Patrick J. Buchanan

07/17/2009

After half a century of fighting encroachments upon freedom in America, journalist Garet Garrett published "The People's Pottage." A year later, in 1954, he died. "The People's Pottage" opens thus:

"There are those who still think they are holding the pass against a revolution that may be coming up the road. But they are gazing in the wrong direction. The revolution is behind them. It went by in the Night of Depression, singing songs to freedom."

Garrett wrote of a revolution within the form. While outwardly America appeared the same, a revolution within had taken place that was now irreversible. One need only glance at where we were before the New Deal, where we are and where we are headed to see how far we are off the course the Founding Fathers set for our republic.

Taxes drove the American Revolution, for we were a taxaphobic, liberty-loving people. That government is best that governs least is an Americanism. When "Silent Cal" Coolidge went home in 1929, the U.S. government was spending 3 percent of gross domestic product.

And today? Obama's first budget will consume 28 percent of the entire GDP; state and local governments another 15 percent. While there is some overlap, in 2009, government will consume 40 percent of GDP, approaching the peak of World War II.

The deficit for 2009 is $1.8 trillion, 13 percent of the whole economy. Obama is pushing a cap-and-trade bill to cut carbon emissions that will impose huge costs on energy production, spike consumer prices and drive production offshore to China, which is opting out of Kyoto II. The Chinese are not fools.

Obama plans to repeal the Bush tax cuts and take the income tax rate to near 40 percent. Combined state and local income tax rates can run to 10 percent. For the self-employed, payroll taxes add up to 15.2 percent on the first $106,800 for all wages of all workers. Medicare takes 2.9 percent of all wages above that. Then there are the state sales taxes that can run to 8 percent, property taxes, gas taxes, excise taxes, and "sin taxes" on booze, cigarettes and, soon, hot dogs and soft drinks.

Comes now national health insurance from Nancy Pelosi's House. A surtax that runs to 5.4 percent of all earnings of the top 1 percent of Americans, who already pay 40 percent of all federal income taxes, has been sent to the Senate. Included also is an 8 percent tax on the entire payroll of small businesses that fail to provide health insurance for employees.

Other ideas on the table include taxing the health benefits that businesses provide their employees.

The D.C.-based Tax Foundation says New Yorkers could face a combined income tax rate of near 60 percent.

In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson called George III a tyrant for having "erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance."

What did George III do with his Stamp Act, Townshend Acts or tea tax to compare with what is being done to this generation of Americans by their own government?

While the hardest working and most productive are bled, a third of all wage-earners pay no U.S. income tax, and Obama plans to free almost half of all wage-earners of all income taxes. Yet, tens of millions get Medicaid, rent supplements, free education, food stamps, welfare and an annual check from Uncle Sam called an Earned Income Tax Credit, though they never paid a nickel in income taxes.

Oh, yes. Obama also promises everybody a college education.

Coming to America to feast on this cornucopia of freebies is the world. One million to 2 million immigrants, legal and illegal, arrive every year. They come with fewer skills and less education than Americans, and consume more tax dollars than they contribute by three to one.

Wise Latina women have more babies north of the border than they do in Mexico and twice as many here as American women.

As almost all immigrants are now Third World people of color, they qualify for ethnic preferences in hiring and promotions and admissions to college over the children of Americans

All of this would have astounded and appalled the Founding Fathers, who after all, created America -- as they declared loud and clear in the Constitution -- "for ourselves and our posterity."

China saves, invests and grows at 8 percent. America, awash in debt, has a shrinking economy, a huge trade deficit, a gutted industrial base, an unemployment rate surging toward 10 percent and a money supply that's swollen to double its size in a year. The 20th century may have been the American Century. The 21st shows another pattern.

"The United States is declining as a nation and a world power with mostly sighs and shrugs to mark this seismic event," writes Les Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, in CFR's Foreign Affairs magazine. "Astonishingly, some people do not appear to realize that the situation is all that serious."

Even the establishment is starting to get the message.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mr. Buchanan is a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, "The Death of the West,", "The Great Betrayal," "A Republic, Not an Empire" and "Where the Right Went Wrong."

3373  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Slavery exists on: July 15, 2009, 11:11:53 AM
Here is another one from the NEJM.  This one makes more sense and I agree with it in part that the answer is very complicated.
I agree we need to do something as costs will continue escalate.  Adding "47" million (if that is the number or all BS, I don't know) new people to the rolls (including nearly 10 million illegals - if the number is accurate - I suspect it may be even more) will only intensify costs, drive the economy into the gutter, result in rationed care, and make the rest of us pay for it all.
I am not sure by any means if a "value based system" is the answer but I do agree that many of the supposed answers being thrown around like electronic medical records, single payer system, government run health care, more preventative care, following guidelines (rationing) often sold as better value care, and all the other buzz phrases are just that.

I think this guy is right that it would take revolutionary new steps toward different delivery systems to even begin to control costs.

In the meantime, guaranteeing care as a right to everyone in the US, citizen or not, is also guaranteeing a collapse in quality care for the rest of us.  Specialists will be forced to accept even less payments, hospitals will be rationing services, and primary doctors will be replaced by nurses.  I don't see it any other way.

Somehow I feel like the majority are being made to be the slave labor for the minority who get entitlements.  The concept of a "safety net" has morphed into permanent slave-entitlement classes.  Bama is accelerating this and making it permanent.

****A Strategy for Health Care Reform — Toward a Value-Based System

Michael E. Porter, Ph.D.

Despite many waves of debate and piecemeal reforms, the U.S. health care system remains largely the same as it was decades ago. We have seen no convincing approach to changing the unsustainable trajectory of the system, much less to offsetting the rising costs of an aging population and new medical advances.

Today there is a new openness to changing a system that all agree is broken. What we need now is a clear national strategy that sets forth a comprehensive vision for the kind of health care system we want to achieve and a path for getting there. The central focus must be on increasing value for patients — the health outcomes achieved per dollar spent.1 Good outcomes that are achieved efficiently are the goal, not the false "savings" from cost shifting and restricted services. Indeed, the only way to truly contain costs in health care is to improve outcomes: in a value-based system, achieving and maintaining good health is inherently less costly than dealing with poor health.

True reform will require both moving toward universal insurance coverage and restructuring the care delivery system. These two components are profoundly interrelated, and both are essential. Achieving universal coverage is crucial not only for fairness but also to enable a high-value delivery system. When many people lack access to primary and preventive care and cross-subsidies among patients create major inefficiencies, high-value care is difficult to achieve. This is a principal reason why countries with universal insurance have lower health care spending than the United States. However, expanded access without improved value is unsustainable and sure to fail. Even countries with universal coverage are facing rapidly rising costs and serious quality problems; they, too, have a pressing need to restructure delivery.2,3,4

How can we achieve universal coverage in a way that will support, rather than impede, a fundamental reorientation of the delivery system around value for patients? There are several critical steps.

First, we must change the nature of health insurance competition. Insurers, whether private or public, should prosper only if they improve their subscribers' health. Today, health plans compete by selecting healthier subscribers, denying services, negotiating deeper discounts, and shifting more costs to subscribers. This zero-sum approach has given competition — and health insurers — a bad name. Instead, health plans must compete on value. We must introduce regulations to end coverage and price discrimination based on health risks or existing health problems. In addition, health plans should be required to measure and report their subscribers' health outcomes, starting with a group of important medical conditions. Such reporting will help consumers choose health plans on the basis of value and discourage insurers from skimping on high-value services, such as preventive care. Health insurers that compete this way will drive value in the system far more effectively than government monopolies can.

Second, we must keep employers in the insurance system. Employers have a vested interest in their employees' health. Daily interactions with their workforce enable employers to create value by developing a culture of wellness, enabling effective prevention and screening, and directing employees to high-value providers. Employers can also foster competition and drive broader system improvement in ways that are difficult for government entities to replicate. To motivate employers to stay in the system, we must reduce the extra amount they now pay through higher insurance costs to cover the uninsured and subsidize government programs. We must also create a level playing field for employers that offer coverage by penalizing employers that are free riders.

Third, we need to address the unfair burden on people who have no access to employer-based coverage, who therefore face higher premiums and greater difficulty securing coverage. This means first equalizing the tax deductibility of insurance purchased by individuals and through employers.

Fourth, to make individual insurance affordable, we need large statewide or multistate insurance pools, like the Massachusetts Health Insurance Connector, to spread risk and enable contracting for coverage and premiums equivalent to or better than those of the largest employer-based plans. Regional pools, instead of a national pool, will result in greater accountability to subscribers and closer interaction with regional provider networks, fostering value-based competition. We also need a reinsurance system that equitably spreads the cost of insuring Americans with very expensive health problems across both regional pools and employers.

Fifth, income-based subsidies will be needed to help lower-income people buy insurance. These subsidies can be partially offset through payments from employers that do not provide coverage but whose employees require public assistance.

Finally, once a value-based insurance market has been established, everyone must be required to purchase health insurance so that younger and healthier people cannot opt out. This will bring substantial new revenues into the system, lowering premiums for everyone and reducing the need for subsidies.

Although most U.S. health care reform efforts have focused on coverage, the far bigger long-term driver of success will come from restructuring the delivery system. That is where most of the value is created and most of the costs are incurred.

The current delivery system is not organized around value for patients, which is why incremental reforms have not lived up to expectations. Our system rewards those who shift costs, bargain away or capture someone else's revenues, and bill for more services, not those who deliver the most value. The focus is on minimizing the cost of each intervention and limiting services rather than on maximizing value over the entire care cycle. Moreover, without comprehensive outcome measurement, it is hard to know what improves value and what does not.

To achieve a value-based delivery system, we need to follow a series of mutually reinforcing steps. First, measurement and dissemination of health outcomes should become mandatory for every provider and every medical condition. Results data not only will drive providers and health plans to improve outcomes and efficiency but also will help patients and health plans choose the best provider teams for their medical circumstances.

Outcomes must be measured over the full cycle of care for a medical condition, not separately for each intervention. Outcomes of care are inherently multidimensional, including not only survival but also the degree of health or recovery achieved, the time needed for recovery, the discomfort of care, and the sustainability of recovery.5 Outcomes must be adjusted for patients' initial conditions to eliminate bias against patients with complex cases.

We need to measure true health outcomes rather than relying solely on process measures, such as compliance with practice guidelines, which are incomplete and slow to change. We must also stop using one or a few measures as a proxy for a provider's overall quality of care. Performance on a measure such as mortality within 30 days after acute myocardial infarction, for example, says little about a provider's care for patients with cancer. Active involvement of the federal government will be needed to ensure universal, consistent, and fair measurement throughout the country, like that already achieved in areas such as organ transplantation.

Since implementing outcome measurement will take time, an interim step should be to require every provider team to report its experience or the volume of patients treated for each medical condition, along with the procedure or treatment approach used. Experience reporting by providers will help patients and their doctors find the providers with the expertise that meets their needs.

Second, we need to radically reexamine how to organize the delivery of prevention, wellness, screening, and routine health maintenance services. The problem is not only that the system underinvests in these services relative to the value they can create but also that primary care providers are asked to deliver disparate services with limited staff to excessively broad patient populations. As a result, delivery of such care is fragmented and often ineffective and inefficient. We need structures for the delivery of specified prevention and wellness service bundles to defined patient populations with unified reimbursement. Employers with on-site health clinics are achieving extraordinary success in providing such services, highlighting the need for new delivery channels beyond conventional settings.

Third, we need to reorganize care delivery around medical conditions. Our system of uncoordinated, sequential visits to multiple providers, physicians, departments, and specialties works against value. Instead, we need to move to integrated practice units that encompass all the skills and services required over the full cycle of care for each medical condition, including common coexisting conditions and complications. Such units should include outpatient and inpatient care, testing, education and coaching, and rehabilitation within the same actual or virtual organization. This structure, organized around the patient's needs, will result in care with much higher value and a far better experience for patients. Government policies creating artificial obstacles to integrated, multidisciplinary care (e.g., the Stark laws) should be modified or eliminated. In a value-based system, the abuses that gave rise to such legislation will decline substantially.

Fourth, we need a reimbursement system that aligns everyone's interests around improving value for patients. Reimbursement must move to single bundled payments covering the entire cycle of care for a medical condition, including all providers and services. Bundled payments will shift the focus to restoring and maintaining health, providing a mix of services that optimizes outcomes, and reorganizing care into integrated practice structures. For chronic conditions, bundled payments should cover extended periods of care and include responsibility for evaluating and addressing complications.

Fifth, we must expect and require providers to compete for patients, based on value at the medical-condition level, both within and across state borders. This will allow excellent providers to grow and serve more patients while reducing hyperfragmentation and duplication of services. In order to achieve high value, providers need a sufficient volume of cases of a given medical condition to allow for the development of deep expertise, integrated teams, and tailored facilities. We may need to institute minimum-volume thresholds for complex medical conditions in order to jump-start consolidation and spur geographic expansion of qualified providers. At the same time, strict antitrust scrutiny must be applied to avoid excessive concentration among a small number of providers or health plans in a region.

Sixth, electronic medical records will enable value improvement, but only if they support integrated care and outcome measurement. Simply automating current delivery practices will be a hugely expensive exercise in futility. Among our highest near-term priorities is to finalize and then continuously update health information technology (HIT) standards that include precise data definitions (for diagnoses and treatments, for example), an architecture for aggregating data for each patient over time and across providers, and protocols for seamless communication among systems.

Finally, consumers must become much more involved in their health and health care. Unless patients comply with care and take responsibility for their health, even the best doctor or team will fail. Simply forcing consumers to pay more for their care is not the answer. New integrated care delivery structures, together with bundled reimbursement for full care cycles, will enable vast improvements in patient engagement, as will the availability of good outcome data.

Comprehensive reform will require simultaneous progress in all these areas because they are mutually reinforcing. For example, outcome measurement not only will improve insurance-market competition but also will drive the restructuring of care delivery. Delivery restructuring will be accelerated by bundled reimbursement. Electronic medical records will facilitate both delivery restructuring and outcome measurement.

Moving ahead now on all these fronts is also important in order to align every stakeholder's interest with value, or reform will once again fail. However, a health care strategy, like any good strategy, involves a sequence of steps over time rather than an attempt to change everything at once. Road maps will be needed for rolling out changes in each area while giving the actors time to adjust.

Some new organizations (or combinations of existing ones) will be needed: a new independent body to oversee outcome measurement and reporting, a single entity to review and set HIT standards, and possibly a third body to establish rules for bundled reimbursement. Medicare may be able to take the lead in some areas; for example, Medicare could require experience reporting by providers or combine Parts A and B into one payment.

The big question is whether we can move beyond a reactive and piecemeal approach to a true national health care strategy centered on value. This undertaking is complex, but the only real solution is to align everyone in the system around a common goal: doing what's right for patients.

Dr. Porter reports receiving lecture fees from the American Surgical Association, the American Medical Group Association, the World Health Care Congress, Hoag Hospital, and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, receiving director's fees from Thermo Fisher Scientific, and having an equity interest in Thermo Fisher Scientific, Genzyme, Zoll Medical, Merck, and Pfizer. No other potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.****

3374  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Corruption on: July 15, 2009, 10:45:25 AM
I keep trying to post here the news of the revokation of the deployment of the soldier who refused to go to overseas because Bama was not born here and it will not post.

I don't know why it won't post (curiously) but I think it quite obvious why this issue keeps getting swept under the rug.

Why can't the public have all the evidence about this guy's birth place?

Any rational person could only come up with one conclusion here.  This guy was not born in the US.

Why cannot Judicial Watch or somebody else investigate this issue and get to the truth? 




 
3375  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 14, 2009, 11:47:49 AM
Don't think for a second that because it is in the New england Journal of Massechussetts liberal propaganda that it is not politically biased.
Folks Health care policy self proclaimed experts like this are at the forefront of the liberal think tanks that advise Democrats.
Notice the guy is a phD who has never taken care of a patient in his life.  I don't get how taxing employer provision of health care is a good idea.  I just don't see it.   I agree with Milton Friedman who thinks the whole concept of empolyer buying health care IS the problem.  But then, what do I know compared to another self proclaimed great one from the halls of IVy league gospel.
His written piece is written like OBama speaks.  Because he says it, it must be so:


*****HEALTH CARE 2009

Previous Volume 361:4-5  July 2, 2009  Number 1
 Next
 
A Win–Win Approach to Financing Health Care Reform

Jonathan Gruber, Ph.D.

No hurdle facing health care reform in the United States today is more daunting than the problem of financing universal coverage. There is an inescapable logic of reform that lies behind the search for financing sources. First, moving to universal coverage is now widely acknowledged to require a mandate that individuals carry insurance coverage. Second, such a requirement is unacceptable without subsidies to make health insurance affordable for lower-income people. Third, these subsidies will require new financing on the order of $1 trillion or more over the next decade. How can the government finance such a sizeable new expenditure?

There are a number of possible sources. One is reductions in existing government spending on health care through cost controls. President Barack Obama proposed more than $300 billion of such cost controls in his budget, but it is not clear that either politicians or providers have the appetite to go further. Another is increased taxation of "sin goods" — cigarettes, alcohol, and high-sugar or high-fat foods that cause obesity — whose use raises the cost of health care for all Americans. These taxes make sense, yet it is difficult to raise sufficient revenues from them. The government can also look outside the health care system to increased revenues from taxes on carbon emissions or on other goods and services. But this approach would involve expanding the fight over health care into other realms, compounding the difficulty of passing any legislation.

There is one final potential source: the elimination or limiting of the income-tax exclusion for expenditures on employer-sponsored insurance. Ending the massive tax subsidy for such insurance would result in both the most natural source of financing for health care reform and one of the few that is clearly large enough to finance the necessary subsidies.

The $250 billion per year in foregone revenues attributable to the tax exclusion of employers' health insurance expenditures represents the federal government's second-largest health insurance expenditure (after Medicare). When my employer pays me in cash wages, I am taxed on those wages. But the roughly $10,000 per year that my employer spends on my health insurance is not taxed, and it translates into a tax break for me of about $4,000. To be clear, this exclusion represents a tax break for individuals, not for firms; firms are largely indifferent about whether they pay employees in wages or in health insurance. But employees are not indifferent: they pay taxes on the former but not on the latter.

This tax exclusion has three flaws. First, the forgone tax revenue is an enormous sum of money that could be more effectively deployed elsewhere, especially through new approaches to increasing insurance coverage. Just taxing health benefits through the income tax as we do wages would raise $2.3 trillion in federal revenues over the next decade. Second, the exclusion is a regressive entitlement, since higher-income families with higher tax rates get a bigger tax break; about three quarters of these dollars go to Americans in the top half of the income distribution. Third, this tax subsidy makes health insurance, which is bought with tax-sheltered dollars, artificially cheap relative to goods bought with taxed dollars — a phenomenon that leads to overinsurance for most Americans and overspending on medical care.

Given these limitations, no health care expert today would ever set up a health care system with such an enormous tax subsidy for a particular form of insurance coverage. So why don't we just remove it? There are four counterarguments to using limits on the exclusion to create a financing source, but each can be effectively addressed.

First, some argue that it would be administratively infeasible to reduce this tax subsidy. But the process of including spending on employer-sponsored insurance in individual income taxation is actually quite straightforward. Employers would simply report the amount they paid for each employee's insurance coverage on the employee's W-2 form. If the employer is self-insured, it would simply use the premium amount it is already required to calculate in providing continuation coverage (or Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act [COBRA] coverage) to displaced workers.

The second argument is that since the current predominance of employer-sponsored insurance is predicated on this tax exclusion, policymakers must be wary about removing it: many employers offer health insurance only because of this "tax bribe," and sicker and older persons are treated much more fairly in employer groups than they will be in today's nongroup insurance market. As the provision of employer-sponsored insurance declines, we could end up with a large new uninsured population that either cannot afford nongroup insurance or cannot obtain it at any price. This possibility would certainly be cause for concern if we were reducing the tax exclusion in a vacuum — but not when the policy would be financing a universal coverage plan in which all individuals would get group rates and would be subsidized as necessary. Thus, any displacement from employer-sponsored insurance will lead not to uninsurance but merely to a shift to a new insurance exchange.

The third concern is that removing the exclusion would mean an across-the-board tax increase. I prefer to view this as a progressive tax increase, with 62% of the revenues raised from families with annual incomes of more than $100,000. Yet there would still be a sizeable increase in taxation for middle-income families, with 10% of revenues coming from families with annual incomes below $50,000 and 28% from those with annual incomes of $50,000 to $100,000. For this reason, and because not all the revenues to be gained by removing the exclusion would be needed to finance reform, we should reduce, rather than remove, the exclusion.

The exclusion can be reduced, for example, by capping the amount of employer-sponsored premiums that is excluded from taxation, so that individuals are not taxed on premiums below some level (say, the average value of premiums for employer-sponsored insurance) and pay tax only on premiums in excess of that level. This approach has the advantage of addressing the bias toward excessively generous insurance without raising the taxes of people who have basic insurance. Moreover, it would be more progressive than an across-the-board removal of the exclusion, since higher-income people tend to have more expensive insurance than lower-income people. Alternatively, we could scale back the exclusion only for those in higher income groups; such a strategy could be designed to protect middle-income taxpayers from any tax increase.

Either way, the dollars involved are substantial. For example, suppose the government capped the exclusion at the level of the typical employer-sponsored–insurance premium (currently $4,700 for an individual and $12,800 for a family), starting in 2012, and indexed that cap at the rate of growth of the consumer price index (so that the cap rose, but more slowly than the premiums). Such a policy would raise $500 billion by 2019. Considerable revenues would be raised even with a higher cap. A cap set at the 75th percentile of the premium distribution, so that only insurance plans in the top quarter of the price range were subject to taxation, would raise $330 billion between 2012 and 2019. Or, more progressively, capping the tax exclusion at the level of the typical premium but only for families with annual incomes above $125,000 would raise $340 billion between 2012 and 2019.

A final criticism of reducing the tax exclusion is that it would be unfair to high-cost groups — for example, people living in states where insurance is particularly expensive or those working for employers with an older workforce. But this problem can be readily addressed by adjusting the cap to account for differences among firms in underlying cost factors. Employers, for example, could easily compute an adjustment factor, based on their firm's location or their workers' ages, that could be used to set the cap.

Despite the resistance to changing the status quo, I believe that the most sensible source of financing for universal coverage would come from reducing the expensive, regressive, and inefficient subsidization of employer-sponsored insurance. Scaling back the exclusion would be highly progressive and would have the added benefit of reducing the incentives for overinsurance and excessive health care spending. This win–win solution would ameliorate a fundamental flaw in our current system while raising the revenues required to cover the uninsured.

No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.


Source Information

From the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. *****
3376  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: July 10, 2009, 01:04:09 PM
this is all well and good but I don't believe for one second Pelosi did not know about the waterboarding and did not lie and cover up her knowedge so crats could gain political advantage.

****Lawmaker says CIA director ended secret program
PAMELA HESS, Associated Press Writer Pamela Hess, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 32 mins ago
WASHINGTON – CIA Director Leon Panetta has terminated a "very serious" covert program the spy agency kept secret from Congress for eight years, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a House Intelligence subcommittee chairwoman, said Friday.

Schakowsky is pressing for an immediate committee investigation of the classified program, which has not been described publicly. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has said he is considering an investigation.

"The program is a very, very serious program and certainly deserved a serious debate at the time and through the years," Schakowsky told The Associated Press in an interview. "But now it's over."

Democrats revealed late Tuesday that CIA Director Leon Panetta had informed members of the House Intelligence Committee on June 24 that the spy agency had been withholding important information about a secret intelligence program begun after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Schakowsky described Panetta as "stunned" that he had not been informed of the program until nearly five months into his tenure as director.

Panetta had learned of the program only the day before informing the lawmakers, according to a U.S. intelligence official. The official spoke on condition of anonymity Friday because he was not authorized to discuss the program publicly.

Panetta has launched an internal probe at the CIA to determine why Congress was not told about the program. Exactly what the classified program entailed is still unclear.

The intelligence official said the program was "on-again/off-again" and that it was never fully operational, but he would not provide details.

Schakowsky, D-Ill., said Friday that the CIA and Bush administration consciously decided not to tell Congress.

"It's not as if this was an oversight and over the years it just got buried. There was a decision under several directors of the CIA and administration not to tell the Congress," she said.

Schakowsky, who chairs the Intelligence subcommittee on oversight and investigations, said in a Thursday letter to Reyes that the CIA's lying was systematic and inexcusable. The letter was obtained by The Associated Press on Friday.

She said Reyes indicated to her the committee would conduct a probe into whether the CIA violated the National Security Act, which requires, with rare exceptions, that Congress be informed of covert activities. She told AP she hopes to conduct at least part of the investigation for the committee.

She said this is the fourth time that she knows of that the CIA has misled Congress or not informed it in a timely manner since she began serving on the Intelligence Committee two and half years ago.

In 2008, the CIA inspector general revealed that the CIA had lied to Congress about the accidental shoot down of American missionaries over Peru in 2001. In 2007, news reports disclosed that the CIA had secretly destroyed videotapes of interrogations of a terrorist suspect.

She would not describe the other incident.

Schakowsky said she thinks Panetta is changing the CIA for the better, adding that the failure to inform Congress was indicative of "contempt" the Bush administration and intelligence agencies under him held for Congress.

"Many times I felt it was an annoyance to them to have to come to us and answer our questions," she said. "There was an impatience and a contempt for the Congress."

The House is expected to take up the 2010 intelligence authorization bill next week. It includes a provision that would require the White House to inform the entire committee about upcoming covert operations rather than just the "Gang of Eight"_ the senior members from both parties on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and the Democratic and Republican leaders in both houses.

The White House this week threatened to veto the final version of the bill if it includes that provision.

Democratic aides said the language may be softened in negotiations with the Senate to address the White House's concern.

But Schakowsky said the wider briefings are the best remedy to avoiding future notification abuses.

Republicans charge that Democratic outrage about the Panetta revelation is just an attempt to provide political cover to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who in May accused the CIA of lying to her in 2002 about its use of waterboarding.

What Pelosi knew about the CIA's interrogation program and when she knew it — and why she did not object to it sooner — is expected to be emphasized by Republicans during debate over the intelligence bill.****


3377  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 10, 2009, 10:38:26 AM
Interesting take.  I don't know if he is correct or not but I haven't thought of it from this angle.
As for the AARP, now I am over 50 I get solicitations from them every two days.
I joined for one year but I don't see any great benefits from it.
I wonder how much the people who run it get.

Anyway Dick Morris article:

OBAMA WILL REPEAL MEDICARE
By Dick Morris And Eileen McGann 07.9.2009 Obama’s health care proposal is, in effect, the repeal of the Medicare program as we know it. The elderly will go from being the group with the most access to free medical care to the one with the least access. Indeed, the principal impact of the Obama health care program will be to reduce sharply the medical services the elderly can use. No longer will their every medical need be met, their every medication prescribed, their every need to improve their quality of life answered.

It is so ironic that the elderly - who were so vigilant when Bush proposed to change Social Security - are so relaxed about the Obama health care proposals. Bush’s Social Security plan, which did not cut their benefits at all, aroused the strongest opposition among the elderly. But Obama’s plan, which will totally gut Medicare and replace it with government-managed care and rationing, has elicited little more than a yawn from most senior citizens.

It’s time for the elderly to wake up before it is too late!

In our new book, Catastrophe, we explain - in detail and in depth - the consequences the elderly of Canada are feeling from just this kind of program. Limited colonoscopies have led to a 25% higher rate of colon cancer and a ban on the use of the two best chemotherapies are part of the reason why 42% of Canadians with colon cancer die while 31% of Americans, who have access to these two medications, survive the disease.

Overall, the death rate from cancer in Canada is 16% higher than in the United States and the heart disease mortality rate is 6% above ours’.

Under Obama’s program, there will be a government health insurance company that gets huge subsidies of tax money. It will compete with private insurance plans. But the subsidies will let it undercut the private plans and drive them out of business, leaving only the government plan - a single payer - in effect.

Today, 800,000 doctors struggle to treat adequately the 250 million Americans who have insurance. Obama will add 50 million more to their caseload with no expansion in the number of doctors or nurses. Indeed, his plan will likely reduce their number by lowering reimbursement rates and imposing bureaucrats above them who will force medical decisions down their throats. Fewer doctors will have to treat more patients. The inevitable result will be rationing.

And it is the elderly who rationing will most effect. Who should get a knee replacement a 40 year old or a 70 year old? Who should get a new hip, a young person or an old person? Who should have priority in the operating room a seventy year old diabetic who needs bypass surgery or a younger person? Obviously, it is the elderly who will get short shrift under his proposal.

But the interest groups that usually speak up for the elderly, particularly AARP, are in Obama’s pocket, hoping to profit from his program by becoming one of its vendors. Just as they backed Bush’s prescription drug plan because they anticipating profiting from it, so they are now helping Obama gut the medical care of their constituents.

It is high time that the elderly of America realized what the stakes are in this vital fight to preserve Medicare as we know it and keep medical care open, accessible, and free to those over 65. It is truly a battle for their very lives.

3378  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: July 09, 2009, 03:24:12 PM
"It sure seems like Obama has an ideological problem with democracy"

as does the msm and academia.
3379  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / eavesdropping in the media on: July 09, 2009, 03:18:49 PM
I would be shocked if this does not go on all the time.
Many things Katherine and I have said, ryhmes, comments and ideas has shown up in all places media,  Commercials, cartoons, sitcoms, CNBC, talk shows and anywhere the media can make a buck.
Katherine who used to buff cars for some extra dollars many years ago said to her psychopathic mother that they ought to come up with a shammy for the kitchen and she responded "wow" what a grat idea.  Next comes out the shamwow!
Also snuggies after Katherine told her the idea of a blanket that places for ones arms came out.  they get people on CNBC to read phrases obviously from telepromters that are made in our house.   These people even appear to be smirking as though they hav no idea why they are supposed to be reading what they are reading - which I am sure they don't.
commercials, cartoons, sitcoms, anything that supposedly can be used to sell.
Some of these times are undoubtedly coincindents which do occur, but of these are not.
Eavesdropping is assuredly rampant.  No law enforcement agency investigates this so unless one has a fortune to pay private investigators and lawyers so well that they cannot be bribed to help cover it up - that's it.

If one doubts what I am saying - and it would be understandebly so - remember - where are all the songs from the musical geniouses who claim they have vast libraries of music?

If they can't steal it at some point in the next few years - maybe sooner - remember it here - something will happen to Katherine and or me.  They will not wait forever.  Not with what could be hundreds of millions at stake.

In any case this is no surprise to me and is certainly only the tip of the iceberg.  And as eavesdropping devices get smaller, cheaper and more ubiquitis this will only get worse.  And governement - they don't give a shit.  Theft is not a real crime in this country unless one is high profile like Berie Madoff and/or one rips off the well connected.


*****Guardian exclusive: News of the World phone-hackingMurdoch papers paid £1m to gag phone-hacking victims• News of the World bugging led to £700,000 payout to PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor
• Sun editor Rebekah Wade and Conservative communications chief Andy Coulson – both ex-NoW editors – involved
• News International chairman Les Hinton told MPs reporter jailed for phone-hacking was one-off case
Rupert Murdoch's News Group News­papers has paid out more than £1m to settle legal cases that threatened to reveal evidence of his journalists' repeated involvement in the use of criminal methods to get stories.

The payments secured secrecy over out-of-court settlements in three cases that threatened to expose evidence of Murdoch journalists using private investigators who illegally hacked into the mobile phone messages of numerous public ­figures to gain unlawful access to confidential personal data, including tax records, social security files, bank statements and itemised phone bills. Cabinet ministers, MPs, actors and sports stars were all targets of the private investigators.

Today, the Guardian reveals details of the suppressed evidence, which may open the door to hundreds more legal actions by victims of News Group, the Murdoch company that publishes the News of the World and the Sun, as well as provoking police inquiries into reporters who were involved and the senior executives responsible for them. The evidence also poses difficult questions for:

• Conservative leader David Cameron's director of communications, Andy Coulson, who was deputy editor and then editor of the News of the World when, the suppressed evidence shows, journalists for whom he was responsible were engaging in hundreds of apparently illegal acts.

• Murdoch executives who, albeit in good faith, misled a parliamentary select committee, the Press Complaints Commission and the public.

• The Metropolitan police, which did not alert all those whose phones were targeted, and the Crown Prosecution Service, which did not pursue all possible charges against News Group personnel.

• The Press Complaints Commission, which claimed to have conducted an investigation, but failed to uncover any evidence of illegal activity.

The suppressed legal cases are linked to the jailing in January 2007 of a News of the World reporter, Clive Goodman, for hacking into the mobile phones of three royal staff, an offence under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. At the time, News International said it knew of no other journalist who was involved in hacking phones and that Goodman had acted without their knowledge.

But one senior source at the Met told the Guardian that during the Goodman inquiry, officers found evidence of News Group staff using private investigators who hacked into "thousands" of mobile phones. Another source with direct knowledge of the police findings put the figure at "two or three thousand" mobiles. They suggest that MPs from all three parties and cabinet ministers, including former deputy prime minister John Prescott and former culture secretary Tessa Jowell, were among the targets.

Last night, Prescott said: "I think Mr Cameron should be thinking of getting rid of Coulson."

However, a spokeswoman for Cameron said the Tory leader was "very relaxed about the story".

 
Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes, one of many victims of mobile phone hacking by Rupert Murdoch's News Group Newspapers, comments on the huge out-of-court settlements Link to this video News International has always maintained it had no knowledge of phone hacking by anybody acting on its behalf.

Murdoch told Bloomberg news last night that he knew nothing about the payments. "If that had happened I would know about it," he said.

A private investigator who had worked for News Group, Glenn Mulcaire, was also jailed in January 2007. He admitted hacking into the phones of five other targets, including the chief ­executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, Gordon Taylor. Among the phones he hacked were those of the Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes, celebrity PR Max Clifford, model Elle MacPherson and football agent Sky Andrew. News Group denied all knowledge of the hacking, but Taylor last year sued them on the basis that they must have known about it.

In documents initially submitted to the high court, News Group executives said the company had not been involved in any way in Mulcaire's hacking of Taylor's phone. They denied keeping any recording or notes of intercepted messages. But, at the request of Taylor's lawyers, the court ordered the production of detailed evidence from Scotland Yard's inquiry in the Goodman case, and from an inquiry by the Information Commissioner's office into journalists who dishonestly obtain confidential personal records.

The Scotland Yard files included paperwork which revealed that, contrary to News Group's denial, Mulcaire had provided a recording of the messages on Taylor's phone to a News of the World journalist who had transcribed them and emailed them to a senior reporter, and that a News of the World executive had offered Mulcaire a substantial bonus for a story specifically related to the intercepted messages.

Several famous figures in football are among those whose messages were intercepted. Coulson was editing the paper at this time. He said last night: "This story relates to an alleged payment made after I left the News of the World two and half years ago. I have no knowledge whatsoever of any settlement with Gordon Taylor.

"The Mulcaire case was investigated thoroughly by the police and by the Press Complaints Commission. I took full responsibility at the time for what happened on my watch but without my knowledge and resigned."

The paperwork from the Information Commission revealed the names of 31 journalists working for the News of the World and the Sun, together with the details of government agencies, banks, phone companies and others who were conned into handing over confidential information. This is an offence under the Data Protection Act unless it is justified by public interest.

Senior editors are among those implicated. This activity occurred before the mobile phone hacking, at a time when Coulson was deputy and the editor was Rebekah Wade, now due to become chief executive of News International. The extent of their personal knowledge, if any, is not clear: the News of the World has always insisted that it would not break the law and would use subterfuge only if essential in the public interest.

Faced with this evidence, News International changed their position, started offering huge cash payments to settle the case out of court, and finally paid out £700,000 in legal costs and damages on the condition that Taylor signed a gagging clause to prevent him speaking about the case. The payment is believed to have included more than £400,000 in damages. News Group then persuaded the court to seal the file on Taylor's case to prevent all public access, even though it contained prima facie evidence of criminal activity.

The Scotland Yard paperwork also provided evidence that the News of the World had been involved with Mulcaire in his hacking of the mobile phones of at least two other football figures. They filed complaints, which were settled this year when News International paid more than £300,000 in damages and costs on condition that they signed gagging clauses.

Taylor declined to make any comment. Goodman, now out of jail, said: "My comment is not even 'no comment'." A spokesman for News International said: "News International feels it is inappropriate to comment at this time."

Last night, John Whittingdale, the Conservative MP who chairs the culture, media and sport select committee, said the revelation "raises a number of questions that we would want to put to News International".

He added: "The fact that other people beyond the royal family had their calls intercepted was well known. But we were absolutely assured by News International that none of their journalists were aware of that, that Goodman was acting alone and that Mulcaire was a rogue agent".

Asked if the committee would reopen the issue, he said: "The committee will want to discuss it very urgently. I think we will do so tomorrow morning, and if we decide that there are further questions to ask, then certainly we would summon back witnesses and ask those questions."

Former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil described the story last night as "one of the most significant media stories of modern times". "It suggests that rather than being a one-off journalist or rogue private investigator, it was systemic throughout the News of the World, and to a lesser extent the Sun," he said. "Particularly in the News of the World, this was a newsroom out of control.

• To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email editor@mediaguardian.co.uk or phone 020 3353 3857.*****
3380  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Plain and simple though not politically correct. on: July 07, 2009, 09:33:31 AM
I really don't want to pay for medical care for 40 million.
Frankly my dear, I don't care.
Why others can't or just won't say this I dont' know.  Lets stop beating about the Bush.  Anyone think the people who are going to get covered are going to be grateful to those of us who pay for it?
Not a chance.

I have enough trouble paying for my own.
I already work 5 months a year for money that is confiscated.
I said enough.
3381  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: July 06, 2009, 09:41:29 AM
"A competing Democrat operative once said of the Clintons that they lie with such ease.  Now it is the Obamas"

Clinton proved that the truth doesn't matter when one is pushing agendas that are popular in the polls.
BO is just taking the ball and running with it.

It is really frustrating that he is so personally popular in the polls.

I just don't get it that lying/honesty is not important with most people.

Especially with our leaders who seem more like scam artists.  When BO was *reading* his scripted 4th of July speech I really felt he was just reading lines he doesn't believe and certainly has no heart in.
He doesn't believe all those good things he says about America.  He is just reading it because as Alinsky wrote, "pretend you are one of them and then you can change them".

Honesty meant something in my family when I was growing up. 
At least to strive to be honest/straight and fair.
Now it is mocked for all to see.

And the Dems don't even pretend the facade of honesty.
The repubs perhaps are not much better and put on the facade.



 
3382  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: July 03, 2009, 11:48:43 AM
"supposed to maintain at least a public facade of neutrality"
That's out the window.
The glee with which the msm goes after Sanford.
Remember they ingored the John Edwards thing as long as they could get away with it until, one of the tabloids broke the story.
(nat Inq?)

Notice the difference in motivations btw investigating crat vs. the can?
Clear as a bell to me.
3383  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North Korea on: July 03, 2009, 09:38:18 AM
Ironic that the Obama led military is now pointing out how we should be able to shoot down any ICBM from N. Korea that threatens US soil.

Remember how the left did and still does lambast Reagan's antiballistic defence strategy and mocks it as starwars?

Why if BO was President this strategy would never have been undertaken, we would have no defense against this threat and now this guy is acting tough by taking advantage of Reagan's wisdom.

All the while he and his socialist cohorts consider Reagan a destroyer of worlds.

I hope Dick Morris is right before this coutnry gets sold out and BO crashes and burns in the poll ratings.

We got to get him kicked out of office before its too late.
3384  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: July 02, 2009, 07:21:00 PM
Well, I guess it was long feared the next use of nuclear weapons would be the middle east.
How sad the world has sat back and let Israel be in the position of having to do this.
I can think it through countless ways but the conclusion is always the same - not to do it risks annihilation for Jews in Israel.
It always comes down to this.

3385  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: June 30, 2009, 08:40:53 AM
One question.
We keep hearing from the talking heads that we all agree that *everyone* should have health care.
To do so means rationing from the 90% that do.

Arguments from the Bama would state that the 10% can be covered with cost savings and more efficient care.
Electronic records, more preventative care, "keeping people well", paying providers for keeping people well not for each service provided.

There is one truth.  That of all these so called fixes -
No one knows if they would work.
Odds are very good they would reduce escalation of costs for a short period of time before the costs than star to go back up.
Just like the managed care of the 1990's.  It only works so much before people start yelping that they are not getting what they want.  Remember the Jack Nicholson movie with the criticism of HMOs?
HMO's did keep costs down, but only for a couple of years.
And their reputations plummeted.  There was this constant battle between patients wanting more tests, coverage and the insurers denying them.
The insurers even put doctors in the middle by giving them bonuses to limit and deny care.  Thus they were always off the hook blaming the docotr if something would go wrong.

Yet HMOs continued because they were the most affordable.  Especially with extra coverage for Medicare patients.

In any case we are looking at rationed care from 90% to pay for the 10%, apparantly a quarter of whom don't even belong in the US.


3386  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: June 28, 2009, 02:24:25 PM
fascinating.
I never heard the theory that Ayers may have written the
Bama books.
Certainly there is No doubt they think alike.
Certainly there is No doubt that BO governs from the premise that he has to get even for his perceived injustices done on the world by the white man.
He does this not only with regard to domestic policy but his foriegn policy also reflects this.
It is really obvious and thus

I don't understand how so many people feint surprise by his lefist leanings.

Indeed he would take us much farther left immediately if he could keep power.

Thus he cons us while he makes the changes.
Unfortunately media is on his side.  That coupled with a lack of reasonable alternative keeps his plans alive. (I guess)

What BO is better at is not only pushing his arguments but discussing both sides of the arguments (including the right's) and then dispelling his opponent's position with ridicule, lies, distortions, "we can dispense with that" [it is wrong], "that it is obivous the rights policies of the last eight years do not work" [we need change] and even saying he agrees with the opposition, while he does the opposite.  For example stating ouright lie, like "big government is over" etc [while he expands it at a faster and greater rate then anyone in history].

What I still don't hear from the rights' politicians is this laying out of the arguments from BOTH sides and convincing the listeners that their's is the best way vs simply throwing out "less government", "lower taxes" etc.

The only one forceful is Gingrich.  But the MSM has done a good job of blunting him since he went after Sottomyer for her racist comments.  Her repeated comments were racist as he said of course but our politically correct media apparantly were successful in making him look bad for saying so.

Hannity and Limbaugh still don't quite get it.
Marc Levin is closer IMO but not quite there either.

Anyway Crafty is right, we are all screwed unless as Dick Morris points out BO's policies can be held at bay till he falls in the polls coming August or the fall on his calculations.  I agree.  It is only a matter of time before the independents finally see how much they are going to suffer from this guys policies.  He is giving it all away to his favorite constuents which include the rest of the non European world. 
3387  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / another library of songs - here we go again. on: June 27, 2009, 08:57:58 AM
Well John Rich has "400" songs according to Gretchen Wilson, Dolly Parton claims three thousand, other claim hundreds, shania Twain was coming out with an album until her divorce supposedly put a stop to it.  Now Jackson had a "secret" stash of 100 songs.

Yet if anyone listened to the Coutnry Music Awards recently they would have noticed there were almost no songs that have not been out for well over a year.  Yet supposedly all these people are sitting there with songs on the books.  Jackson's people are now claiming that this guy, who was hundreds of millions in debt, was saving songs for his children.  Folks, as a victim witness in the sewer hole the music industry is, I can tell you this is bullcrap.  That would be like someone sitting on a winning lottery ticket, being in huge debt, and saying, "well I'll save it for my kids".  The reality is, no one in the music business could possilby have 100 songs that are "secret" and no one would sit on them for years and especially so if, they owed hundreds of millions of dollars.

Even if they wanted to, the scum bag leeches around them wouldn't let them.

Unless, of course these 100 songs were so crappy they thought they wouldn't sell or be good enough to put together an album.

The new music has finally dried up since Katherine finally realized it was her own mother who was the last one still close enough to rip her off.  She has not been allowed back into our house for close to one and a half to two years now.

We still have evidence.  So even though the thieves (including several neighbors who moved in to stalk us and sit and wait to get into the house) put the "stars" on hold saying to them you can't do these songs yet. 

They have copies of everything Katherine wrote.  They just can't do it till they steal all the evidence.  They are that patient, that careful, that planning, and cunning, and scheming.

Since there last inside connection (my mother in law - who is pure evil - ruined her own daughters life for some cash) and Katherine has not left the house for *two years* they cannot get all the evidence.  They still hack into our computers, have listening devices in the house and monitor us (try finding them - I wouldn't even know what to look for) (Try hiring someone who does - everyone and I mean everyone can be bribed or threatened).

So this lastest news, MJ has one hundred "secret" songs which may or may not get released sounds to me like the latest scam.
If they can get the evidence from us - or perhaps someone else they are robbing - then the go ahead to release these songs will be given.  That is my take.  Or else he really did have 100 songs that were throw aways that they are trying to push as being good enough to release.
 


*******secret library of over a hundred songs recorded by Michael Jackson could be released following his death.

One of the singer's biographers, Ian Halperin, claimed that the unheard songs had been made for his children.

Mr Halperin, author of Unmasked, The Michael Jackson Story, said before his death: “He wants to leave them for his kids, a very personal legacy to them. I was told he will not let them come out now.”

Jackson leaves three children: Prince, 12, Paris Katherine, 11, and Prince Michael II aged seven.

 
Times Archive, 1972: The Jackson Five live at Wembley
Michael Jackson's twinkling feet scarcely seemed to touch the stage

Related Links
Web struggles to cope as Jackson news spreads
Michael Jackson: in his own words
The dysfunctional Jackson family
Multimedia
IN PICTURES: the passing of a legend
PICTURES: decline and fall
PICTURES: highlights of Michael Jackson's career
It is rumoured, given the parlous financial situation of his estate, that any such recordings will not be kept private for long. It is understood that Jackson may have gone to the grave under debts of about $400 million (£240 million) – though some believe the true figure may be much higher.

Sales of Michael Jackson’s music and memorabilia have already begun to soar. In America, the Thriller album is number one on iTunes, while his Number Ones album has now reached the top spot on the UK iTunes chart.

Online retailers Amazon say that Jackson’s albums had taken 14 of the top 20 places on the Amazon.co.uk sales chart. The Amazon chart was topped by his first solo album, Off The Wall, which features tracks such as "Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough" and "She’s Out Of My Life".

Already, Jackson’s death is beginning to producing a new industry. Outside the Los Angeles hospital where he was pronounced dead, a group of men appeared selling $10 T-shirts with a silhouette of Jackson and reading: “In loving memory of Michael Jackson.” Memorial T-shirts were also being sold at the Glastonbury music festival.

On eBay, bidding grew on a number of Jackson memorabilia items. Limited edition records, musical instruments used by the star and even a movie contract with his signature were being sold for thousands of pounds.

The Neverland ranch and Jackson’s final resting place, if made accessible to the public, could also become lucrative tourist attractions.

Graceland, the mansion owned by Elvis Presley and where he was buried, has become a much-visited landmark. Opening its doors to the paying members of the public is thought to have made the trust that operates Graceland in the region of $100 million.*****

3388  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: June 26, 2009, 05:19:56 PM
Doug,
Well the idea of doctors being able to go on strike is always a topic that brings out screams and hollers.
The idea of public employees being able to unionize though for some reason does not seem to bother anyone except me and you.
I have questioned this before in my posts.  There is some irony in the goernment hiring people, taxing all of us to pay for it, then allowing them to unionize to hit the taxpayers for more.
It appears it is from my googling that it is a state and local issue for most.

This is a bit out dated but I assume it applies to today:

Who Gets To Unionize?
Matt Alsdorf
Posted Tuesday, Dec. 7, 1999, at 7:14 PM ET
Last week, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that medical interns and residents at private hospitals were employees--not students--and could therefore form unions. What other types of employees can unionize?

The large majority of them. In 1935, Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act, which gives virtually every private sector employee the right to unionize and bargain collectively. (This is why last week's decision of the NLRB, which administers the act, affects only private hospitals.) Since 1935, most government employees--whether federal, state, or local--have gained the same rights through other national or state laws. So, only those workers specifically exempted from the NLRA are not guaranteed the ability to unionize. (However, this does not mean that they are prohibited from unionizing--rather, that they cannot seek federal protection if their employer refuses to recognize a union.) They include:

Small business employees: The definition of "small business" has not changed since the 1950s. As a result, there are very few companies that still qualify. (For example, a wholesale store would have to have annual sales below $50,000; a retail store, below $500,000; and a law firm, below $200,000.)
Managers and supervisors: This group includes anyone with hiring, firing, disciplinary, or compensatory authority over other workers. They are viewed as employers, not employees.
Independent contractors: These are people who are hired on an individual, project-by-project basis. They are a growing segment of the workforce, particularly in computer-related fields.
Agricultural workers: Because they are seasonal laborers and have a high turnover rate, they were excluded from the law. Only California has granted them unionization privileges.
Domestic employees: This group includes maids, butlers, and other live-in household help.
Although most American workers can join unions, a decreasing percentage are doing so. In 1998, only 13.9 percent of the workforce was unionized--down from 20.1 percent in 1983 (the first year comparable statistics were collected). And when government employees are excluded, the percentages are even lower: While 37.5 percent of public workers are unionized, only 9.5 percent of the private sector is.

3389  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / W and history on: June 26, 2009, 02:09:56 PM
Thomas Friedman said this?
The Friedman who usually ridicules W?

NYTs too?   Wow.....
I would assume this was on page 500.

I was wondering too if these events in Iran would be happening if Saddam was still there oppressing his people.
*History may yet judge W. (and the neocons) as being correct all along.*

Although as Morris, or was it Bernie Goldberg (I think) said to Hannity on this exact point,
The problem is all the historians are liberal so they will NEVER give credit to W.
Hannity's response, "checkmate!".

3390  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran from an Israeli point of view on: June 24, 2009, 06:47:49 PM
This could have been under the Iran thread but this is probably the best spot.


****Unrest in Iran Poses Dilemma For Israel
By Nathan Guttman
Published June 24, 2009, issue of July 03, 2009.
Print Email Share Author Archive News
Washington — Iran’s descent into instability has confronted Israel and its American supporters with a dilemma in choosing between two competing approaches: one based on human rights, and the other on realpolitik.

Israeli officials might personally be rooting for the fall of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whom they view as a tyrant. But at the same time, some fear that his defeat would set back their fight against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

As a result, Israelis in official positions have avoided, for the most part, publicly taking sides between presidential candidates as the disorder in Iran has intensified over Ahmadinejad’s disputed June 12 election victory. Still, some public and private remarks have slipped through the cracks, shedding light on the debate in Jerusalem.

“Israel would have had a more serious problem” had Ahmadinejad’s main challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi, emerged victorious in the recent election, said Meir Dagan, chief of the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency.

In testimony before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on June 16, Dagan said that a Mousavi victory would have required Israel to “explain to the world the danger of the Iranian threat, since Mousavi is perceived in the international arena as a moderate element.”

Dagan went on to argue that on the nuclear issue, there is no difference between Mousavi and Ahmadinejad, the latter of whom has voiced doubt about the historical existence of the Holocaust and expressed his wish to see Israel liquidated.

Last May, speaking at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel Washington lobby, Ilan Berman, a hawkish Iran scholar at the American Foreign Policy Council, called Ahmadinejad “the gift that keeps on giving,” since his harsh rhetoric compels the world to take him seriously.

In the long term, Iran’s rapidly changing profile could mean a difficult challenge for Israel. If Iran is indeed in the process of change, as most analysts agree, Israel could end up the lone voice advocating a tough stance toward it, while Washington and the world seek ways to reach out and embrace the change.

“Already, in Washington policy circles, the Israelis’ mantra, let’s bomb them, has gone off the table,” said Marshall Breger, a former Reagan and Bush senior White House aide and Orthodox Jew who has been engaged in interfaith dialogue with senior Iranian clerics. “It’s not considered serious.”

For now, Israeli leaders, including Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, have tried to maintain an approach similar to that of the Obama administration as events unfold, condemning the brutal suppression of demonstrators without publicly supporting the reformists’ claims of electoral fraud.

But Dagan’s harsh and more candid analysis did draw detractors in what is clearly an ongoing internal debate. Ephraim Halevy, a former head of the Mossad, termed it “simplistic” to say there is no difference between Mousavi and Ahmadinejad on the nuclear issue. “No one can predict what Mousavi would do” if he emerges as the winner of this standoff, Halevy said in a June 21 speech in Jerusalem. Halevy believes there will be “a new ballgame in Iran” if that happens.

For Israel and pro-Israel activists, the crucial question that remains is how events in Iran will affect Tehran’s foreign policy. The Israelis’ goal is to stop Iran from enriching uranium it claims it needs to develop civilian nuclear power but that could potentially be used for nuclear weapons.

No one knows how Mousavi would approach this issue if he gained influence in the end — an eventuality most analysts still consider unlikely.

The only clue thus far comes from an interview that Mousavi gave the Al-Jazeera news network a day before the June 12 elections. He said the West should not expect Iran to abandon its quest for nuclear technology, but he stressed, “What we can talk about, in the international level, is whether we deviate toward the development of nuclear arms.”

This may hint at possibilities for an approach long advocated by Ray Takeyh, a prominent Iran analyst recently appointed to a senior State Department Iran policy post.

Takeyh and others advocate a U.S. “détente” with Iran that would include a negotiated agreement to enforce much stricter control and monitoring of Iran’s enriched uranium. Takeyh argues that this could prevent its diversion to any military use and yet allow Iran to enrich it, as permitted under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Breger agreed that this was likely the direction developments will take if there is eventual progress with any government in Tehran.

“All Iranians believe they have a right to nuclear technology,” he said. “But many moderates are more interested in economic development than in exercising that right.

“As one told me, ‘We want nuclear technology for Iran, we don’t want to sacrifice Iran for nuclear technology.’”

Breger, who served as Reagan’s liaison to the Jewish community, added: “This is a problem for Israel, since as long as there is an Islamic republic, Israel doesn’t want strict inspections, they want regime change.”

The real problem for Israel, he explained, was not the prospect of Iran dropping a nuclear bomb on it — a prospect he viewed as unlikely because of Israel’s own nuclear deterrent — but that “an Iran with nuclear capability, even with no weapons, will constrain Israel’s freedom of action. Israel’s first military principle has always been, they must have total regional military hegemony, or as has been more politely stated, a qualitative military edge.”

“Solutions [to the nuclear issue] that can satisfy the U.S. security needs might not satisfy Israel’s sense of security,” Breger said.

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com****
3391  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / the great conciliator LOL on: June 23, 2009, 09:01:18 AM
Gee, the great one who was going bring us all together and change poiitcs as we know it.  So what's his plan?  steal and conficscate everything he and hsi party can get away with from the producers to buy votes from those that are not producing and rely on the former group.  Expand entitlements, government ownership, control, ranks, taxes (as soon as thye think they can get away with it), demoralize the nation domesticaly at home and abroad to the delight of his minority supporters and our enemies and competitors and then claim he is going to bring us together.  He will crash and burn sooner or later in the polls.  His core 40% of die hards will defend him to the death.  As will the new 9.7 million illegals he will grant amnesty to leading to another 10 mill Democrat voters.
The inceasingly smaller group of producers that for now, still make up a majority will catch on and he will plummet in the polls.
Hopefully it will be before it is too late.  And it will not happen easily if we have not viable alternative from the Republicans.

LOL:

***Daily Presidential Tracking Poll
Tuesday, June 23, 2009 Email to a Friend ShareThisAdvertisementThe Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Tuesday shows that 33% of the nation's voters now Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Thirty-three percent (33%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of 0 (see trends).

Seven percent (7%) rate the economy as good or excellent while 59% say it’s poor. A Rasmussen video report notes that 55% believe business leaders will do more than government officials to get the economy moving again.

Sixty-nine percent (69%) say that volunteer activity is more important that political action. But, people are evenly divided as to whether or not volunteerism or government policies are the best way to bring about the change that America needs.

The Presidential Approval Index is calculated by subtracting the number who Strongly Disapprove from the number who Strongly Approve. It is updated daily at 9:30 a.m. Eastern (sign up for free daily e-mail update). Updates also available on Twitter.

Overall, 55% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President's performance so far. Forty-four percent (44%) disapprove. For more Presidential barometers, see Obama By the Numbers and recent demographic highlights.

Most oppose the “Cash for Clunkers” plan that’s been approved by Congress and 50% believe that hate is on the rise in America.

(More Below)

 

Most voters still place the blame for our nation’s economic woes on the Bush Administration, but a growing number say it’s Obama’s economy now. The number blaming Bush has fallen to 54%. That’s down eight points from a month ago.

Americans remain evenly divided as to whether or not health care reform should wait until the economy is better.

Check out our weekly review of key polls from last week to see “What They Told Us.” You might also try our Daily Prediction Challenge to predict the results of upcoming polls.

When comparing Job Approval data from different firms, it’s important to keep in mind that polls of likely voters and polls of all adults will typically and consistently yield different results. In the case of President Obama, polls by all firms measuring all adults typically show significantly higher approval ratings than polls of likely voters. Polls of registered voters typically fall in the middle. Other factors are also important to consider when comparing Job Approval ratings from different polling firms.

If you’d like Scott Rasmussen to speak at your meeting, retreat, or conference, contact Premiere Speakers Bureau. You can also learn about Scott’s favorite place on earth or his time working with hockey legend Gordie Howe.

A Fordham University professor has rated the national pollsters on their record in Election 2008. We also have provided a summary of our results for your review.

Daily tracking results are collected via telephone surveys of 500 likely voters per night and reported on a three-day rolling average basis. The margin of sampling error—for the full sample of 1,500 Likely Voters--is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Results are also compiled on a full-week basis and crosstabs for full-week results are available for Premium Members.

Like all polling firms, Rasmussen Reports weights its data to reflect the population at large (see methodology). Among other targets, Rasmussen Reports weights data by political party affiliation using a dynamic weighting process. While partisan affiliation is generally quite stable over time, there are a fair number of people who waver between allegiance to a particular party or independent status. Over the past four years, the number of Democrats in the country has increased while the number of Republicans has decreased.

Our baseline targets are established based upon separate survey interviews with a sample of adults nationwide completed during the preceding three months (a total of 45,000 interviews) and targets are updated monthly. Currently, the baseline targets for the adult population are 40.1% Democrats, 33.1% Republicans, and 26.7% unaffiliated. Likely voter samples typically show a slightly smaller advantage for the Democrats.

A review of last week’s key polls is posted each Saturday morning. Other stats on Obama are updated daily on the Rasmussen Reports Obama By the Numbers page. We also invite you to review other recent demographic highlights from the tracking polls.***

3392  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Corruption on: June 16, 2009, 08:56:32 AM
Krauthammer was right in noting that Fox news is a fantastic outlet that is the only major source of news that is not corrupted with the MSM bias.  A few city newspapers, and talk radio and that is it.
That God (or Murdoch) for Fox.  I don't know how I could stand watching all the propaganda from the other outlets.  CNN is at least reeanable but the rest are all NYT style propaganda.
3393  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: June 16, 2009, 08:33:27 AM
If you haven't seen drudge yet today check this ou
We essentially are seeing government controlled media:

Folks, I don't know if health care costs can be controlled withoug some form of controls on delivery.  But make no mistake about it.  Those of us who are now paying for it will have are care rationed to pay for those who are not.  End of story.
The Republicans need make this clear.  We want all Americans to understand that they can decide if they want to spurge for universal care but theirw WILL be rationed.  Don't let BO deny this.  The cost controls they are talking about are only the beginning.
But this as far as I know is a seminal event in our history is it not?   Unless we had something like this during wartime (WW2) before I was born:

ABC TURNS PROGRAMMING OVER TO OBAMA; NEWS TO BE ANCHORED FROM INSIDE WHITE HOUSE
Tue Jun 16 2009 08:45:10 ET

On the night of June 24, the media and government become one, when ABC turns its programming over to President Obama and White House officials to push government run health care -- a move that has ignited an ethical firestorm!

Highlights on the agenda:

ABCNEWS anchor Charlie Gibson will deliver WORLD NEWS from the Blue Room of the White House.

The network plans a primetime special -- 'Prescription for America' -- originating from the East Room, exclude opposing voices on the debate.

MORE

Late Monday night, Republican National Committee Chief of Staff Ken McKay fired off a complaint to the head of ABCNEWS:

Dear Mr. Westin:

As the national debate on health care reform intensifies, I am deeply concerned and disappointed with ABC's astonishing decision to exclude opposing voices on this critical issue on June 24, 2009. Next Wednesday, ABC News will air a primetime health care reform “town hall” at the White House with President Barack Obama. In addition, according to an ABC News report, GOOD MORNING AMERICA, WORLD NEWS, NIGHTLINE and ABC’s web news “will all feature special programming on the president’s health care agenda.” This does not include the promotion, over the next 9 days, the president’s health care agenda will receive on ABC News programming.

Today, the Republican National Committee requested an opportunity to add our Party's views to those of the President's to ensure that all sides of the health care reform debate are presented. Our request was rejected. I believe that the President should have the ability to speak directly to the America people. However, I find it outrageous that ABC would prohibit our Party's opposing thoughts and ideas from this national debate, which affects millions of ABC viewers.

In the absence of opposition, I am concerned this event will become a glorified infomercial to promote the Democrat agenda. If that is the case, this primetime infomercial should be paid for out of the DNC coffers. President Obama does not hold a monopoly on health care reform ideas or on free airtime. The President has stated time and time again that he wants a bipartisan debate. Therefore, the Republican Party should be included in this primetime event, or the DNC should pay for your airtime.

Respectfully,
Ken McKay
Republican National Committee
Chief of Staff



Developing...

3394  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: June 15, 2009, 12:49:41 PM
June 15, 2009
Naive, Hypocritical and Dishonest
By Robert Samuelson

WASHINGTON -- It's hard to know whether President Obama's health care "reform" is naive, hypocritical or simply dishonest. Probably all three. The president keeps saying it's imperative to control runaway health spending. He's right. The trouble is that what's being promoted as health care "reform" almost certainly won't suppress spending and, quite probably, will do the opposite.

A new report from Obama's own Council of Economic Advisers shows why controlling health costs is so important. Since 1975, annual health spending per person, adjusted for inflation, has grown 2.1 percentage points faster than overall economic growth per person. Should this trend continue, the CEA projects that:

-- Health spending, which was 5 percent of the economy (gross domestic product, GDP) in 1960 and is reckoned at almost 18 percent today, would grow to 34 percent of GDP by 2040 -- a third of the economy.

-- Medicare and Medicaid, the government insurance programs for the elderly and poor, would increase from 6 percent of GDP now to 15 percent in 2040 -- roughly equal to three-quarters of present federal spending.

-- Employer-paid insurance premiums for family coverage, which grew 85 percent in inflation-adjusted terms from 1996 to $11,941 in 2006, would increase to $25,200 by 2025 and $45,000 in 2040 (all figures in "constant 2008 dollars"). The huge costs would force employers to reduce take-home pay.

The message in these dismal figures is that uncontrolled health spending is almost single-handedly determining national priorities. It's reducing discretionary income, raising taxes, widening budget deficits and squeezing other government programs. Worse, much medical spending is wasted, the CEA report says. It doesn't improve Americans' health; some care is unneeded or ineffective.

The Obama administration's response is to talk endlessly about restraining health spending -- "bending the curve'' is the buzz -- as if talk would suffice. The president summoned the heads of major health care trade groups representing doctors, hospitals, drug companies and medical device firms to the White House. All pledged to bend the curve. This is mostly public relations. Does anyone believe that the American Medical Association can control the nation's 800,000 doctors or that the American Hospital Association can command the 5,700 hospitals?

The central cause of runaway health spending is clear. Hospitals and doctors are paid mostly on a fee-for-service basis and reimbursed by insurance, either private or governmental. The open-ended payment system encourages doctors and hospitals to provide more services -- and patients to expect them. It also favors new medical technologies, which are made profitable by heavy use. Unfortunately, what pleases providers and patients individually hurts the nation as a whole.

That's the crux of the health care dilemma, and Obama hasn't confronted it. His emphasis on controlling costs is cosmetic. The main aim of health care "reform" now being fashioned in Congress is to provide insurance to most of the 46 million uncovered Americans. This is popular and seems the moral thing to do. After all, hardly anyone wants to be without insurance. But the extra coverage might actually worsen the spending problem.

How much healthier today's uninsured would be with that coverage is unclear. They already receive health care -- $116 billion worth in 2008, estimates Families USA, an advocacy group. Some is paid by the uninsured themselves (37 percent), some by government and charities (26 percent). The remaining "uncompensated care" is either absorbed by doctors and hospitals or shifted to higher private insurance premiums. Some uninsured would benefit from coverage, but others wouldn't. Either they're healthy (40 percent are between ages 18 and 34) or would receive ineffective care.

The one certain consequence of expanding insurance coverage is that it would raise spending. When people have insurance, they use more health services. That's one reason why Obama's campaign proposal was estimated to cost $1.2 trillion over a decade (the other reason is that the federal government would pick up some costs now paid by others). Indeed, the higher demand for health care might raise costs across the board, increasing both government spending and private premiums.

No doubt the health program that Congress fashions will counter this reality by including some provisions intended to cut costs ("bundled payments" to hospitals, "evidence-based guidelines," electronic record keeping). In the past, scattershot measures have barely affected health spending. What's needed is a fundamental remaking of the health care sector -- a sweeping "restructuring"-- that would overhaul fee-for-service payment and reduce the fragmentation of care.

The place to start would be costly Medicare, the nation's largest insurance program serving 45 million elderly and disabled. Of course, this would be unpopular, because it would disrupt delivery patterns and reimbursement practices. It's easier to pretend to be curbing health spending while expanding coverage and spending. Presidents have done that for decades, and it's why most health industries see "reform" as a good deal.

Copyright 2009, Washington Post Writers Group
3395  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: June 13, 2009, 12:06:53 PM
*The cost-shift dynamic plays a prominent role in the health care sector. A study by the actuarial firm Milliman calculated that public programs currently shift $88.8 billion in costs onto private payers per year, increasing the typical American family's annual private health insurance premium by $1,512, or 10.6 percent.[15] Moreover, Lewin speculates that a new public plan could increase the annual cost-shift per privately insured by as much as $526, which will only serve to further perpetuate the crowd-out of private insurance.[16]*

Milliman again (see my previous post).

This makes sense.  Someone has to pay for all the medicaid that doesn't cover a providers costs.  I doubt doctors lose money on medicare.  I am not sure about whether or not hospitals do.

One can only imagine the cost shifts to the rest of the country when we start subsidizing another 40 million.

How many of those are illegals I wonder?
I wonder how many of these are people with pre existing conditions who want insurance but cannot get?
I assume the rest simply can't afford it.

3396  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Prediction:When the eventual fall comes BO will blame his fellow Dems on: June 13, 2009, 11:55:24 AM
Dick Morris predictions, I think, have been fairly acurrate.  Dick thinks the outcome of the gigantic spending of BO, and his associate Dems will be one or a combination of:

1)  massive inflation
2)  the policies will fail and the economy will continue tanking
3)  or taxes will sky rocket.

All the outcomes in his opinion will cause the ruin of BO - it is only a matter of time.

My guess he is right about the first three predictions.   But I have a prediction that he may be wrong about the ruin of BO:

BO (despite another one of his deceptions stating he doesn't look much at polls) is of course studying them with a fine tooth comb.

When he sees his poll numbers start to drop because more and more people will start worrying about the gigantic spending BO is not going to just sit there.

I predict he will start throwing his democrat colleagues in both houses to the wolves, with an all out triangulation attack blaming THEM for the massive spending. 

We will start seeing more and more subtle calls and claims from him and his subordinates that HE is working diligently to hold DOWN spending.  If it doesn't come down (and it won't because Democrats are clueless without being able to steal money and buy votes), and things go wrong as Morris predicts they MUST then watch for BO start publically  blaming his own party mates for the malfeasance.  He won't accept the responsibility.

Right now he continues and is getting away with blaming the "previous administration".  But when that no longer works he will blame his fellow Dems. 

Would he succeed in getting away with this?  I am not sure.  The adoring MSM will do their best to help him.
We shall see.
3397  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: June 13, 2009, 11:40:33 AM
"So much for President Obama’s Jan. 21 committment to unprecedented openness in government"

Exactly.

My guess as to the reasons he gets away with this con:

1) He has conned a majority of Americans that they will get something for nothing. Although poll data that suggest that a majority now feel Republicans can handle the economy better suggest they are starting to see past his BS.

2) An adoring media.  Though it is interesting your article appears to be from the NYT though probably page 2,567 in small print.  If it was W it would have been page 1.

3) Who yet is the alternative to BO?

4) People are still rightly frightened by the economy and the sense of calm the gigantic spending bills have restored have lulled them into a sense of complacency.




3398  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Savings in health plan from BO equals HMO medicine for all. on: June 13, 2009, 11:20:03 AM
Notice that other than prescription savings he doesn't tell us the truth about where the savings are coming from.
It is going to come from limiting access to specialists, tests, and other services the "experts" will deem are "inappropriate".  It will be based on population based studies and essentially be like HMO medicine.  Care will be monitored (medicare already is anyway), and restricted in ways akin to Millman and Robinson flow charts that private risk managers use to determine what they will and what they won't pay for.

My understanding of this (though I am by no means an expert)  is that outcomes data is used to determine if doing things more cheaply or restricting care increases hospitalization, rehospitalization, death or morbidity rates.  I am not clear that the data is proof the care is as safe or as good.  It depends what one is measuring when determining the "outcomes".  On the other hand I am not clear there is any data that suggests health care is worse though it is certainly less convenient. For harder to measure outcomes itmay be worse.

As for the prescription savings I do agree that many patients are on more expensive non generic drugs that are no better of more effective than cheaper generic older drugs.

This is what the EMR is for.  To collect all the data and then come out with dictates that will instruct providers on how we must deliver care.  It will be mandated.  Whether private insurers can survive I am not sure.  I don't necessarily jump to the conclusion that some from the right are trying to scare us all into believing that "there is absolutely no way private health insurance will be doomed but that could very well be the case.  Certainly BO despite whatever he says he is certainly working with the goal in mind of a national health care system.  There is really no other rational conclusion.   BO's people have been looking at these things for years.  It ain't new.  It ain't BOs ideas though he obviously embraces them wholeheartedly.

In any case, there is no question BO isn't leveling with us about his real intentions:

Obama calls for new health care spending cuts AP  Reuters – President Barack Obama speaks about reforming America's health care system at a Wisconsin Town Hall … Josh Gerstein Josh Gerstein – Sat Jun 13, 7:06 am ET
President Barack Obama says he's now found savings that will pay almost all the costs of a massive overhaul of America's health care system.

Obama on Saturday is announcing an additional $313 billion in new proposed savings that he says would bring the total funding available for his top-priority health insurance reform to nearly $950 billion over 10 years.

White House officials insisted the new savings were rock-solid, but also acknowledged they had yet to settle on a specific mechanism to achieve lower prescription drug costs that make up nearly one-quarter of the new savings.

“Any honest accounting must prepare for the fact that health care reform will require additional costs in the short term in order to reduce spending in the long term,” Obama says in his weekly radio and Internet address. “Today, I am announcing an additional $313 billion in savings that will rein in unnecessary spending, and increase efficiency and the quality of care.”

The new proposals from Obama came as the drive for health care reform reaches a pivotal juncture in Congress. On Monday, the Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to receive Congressional Budget Office estimates on a slew of health-care options. On Wednesday, the committee is expected to unveil proposed legislation.

In advance of those milestones, the White House was moving aggressively to counter public criticism that funding plans for the health reform effort are unrealistic, particularly in the face of an expected 10-year pricetag of $1 trillion or more. Some analysts have faulted the White House for being overly optimistic about savings and tone-deaf to which tax-raising proposals are likely to fly in Congress.

In his address Saturday, Obama refers to a 10-year total of more than $600 billion in “savings” for health care. However, he does not explain in his latest comments that, under his revised budget released last month, $326 billion of that amount would come from tax hikes on Americans making over $250,000 a year, “loophole closers,” and higher fees for some government services.

In a conference call with reporters Friday, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag said the latest announcement signaled that the White House had met its obligation to identify funding sources for a broad-based effort to make health insurance more affordable and more widely available.

“We are making good on this promise to fully finance health care reform over the next decade,” Orszag declared.

//
The bulk of the new $313 billion in savings would come from cutting or reducing the growth of payments to hospitals, medical equipment manufacturers and laboratories — though the major cuts don't target doctors, Orszag said.

Over the next decade, $110 billion is slated to come from reducing reimbursements to take account of what Orszag described as the ability of providers to improve their efficiency. “Health care services should be able to achieve and do achieve productivity improvements over time,” he said. According to a fact sheet released by the White House, future increases in such Medicare payments would be reduced based on an assumption that health care providers achieve half the productivity increases seen elsewhere in the economy. The budget official said the reductions would take place even if providers failed to garner the projected efficiencies.

Another $106 billion would come from cuts in so-called disproportionate share payments the federal government makes to hospitals with large numbers of uninsured patients. “As the ranks of uninsured decline under health reform, those payments become less necessary,” Orszag said.

 

About $75 billion is slated to come from lower payments for prescription drugs. However, Orszag said the White House was “in discussions with stakeholders over the best way of achieving that $75 billion.”

Notwithstanding that ambiguity, Orszag asserted that the White House had put forward $950 billion in budgetary offsets that could be use to fund health reform. He called the proposals "hard" and "scoreable," meaning that they were sufficiently certain and specific to pass muster with CBO officials who formally tally the cost of budget items.

Asked about the discrepancy, Orszag said, “There’s been continuous skepticism that we will come forward with detail….The detail on the $75 billion for prescription drugs will be forthcoming in the very near future and I will rest my reputation as a former CBO director on the fact that there are multiple ways in which those savings can be achieved and we are committed to achieving that level of savings in this package.”

There were signs that the announcement of the additional $313 billion of savings may have been rushed. In addition to the vagueness about the $75 billion in lower drug costs, the White House’s health care reform coordinator, Nancy-Ann DeParle, did not join a conference call with reporters to announce the new proposals. Her presence had been advertised in advance, but a spokesman said she was in another meeting and could not participate.

The cuts and savings are likely to engender warnings from providers that de-facto rationing will occur as patients in some areas find themselves unable to find providers willing to perform lab tests, X-rays and the like, due to the lower reimbursement rates.

Hospitals are also likely to protest that the disproportionate share payments, which are targeted for cuts of 75 percent, are vital to maintaining hospitals in costly urban centers, and to keeping teaching hospitals viable.

“It is unlikely to be an exact match on a hospital-by-hospital basis but what we believe will occur is that the remaining DSH payments that will still exist can be better targeted to the hospitals most in need,” Orszag said.

 

3399  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Music on: June 12, 2009, 05:52:17 PM
I suspect the Beatles may have actually been one of the few groups that actually did write their songs as they claim:

"Turner said his research, including interviews with Vodden and Julian Lennon, confirm that she is the Lucy in the song. He said it was common for John Lennon to "snatch songs out of thin air" based on a simple phrase he heard on TV or an item he read in the newspapers"

That is how Katherine writes her songs.  Except not from the newspaper which she doesn't read.  She gets them from TV, thngs she hears, during conversation or spontaneous thoughts.

The songs then just come into her head.

Of course a lot of dirtball liars in the music "industry", if that is what you call a criminal organization from top to bottom, claim this now.  After stealing hundreds of her lyrics the phrase "singer-songwriter" became ubiquitis as the assholes are all running around taking credit for coming up with lyrics - that they didn't write.

****Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' gravely ill
AP, Jun 12, 2009 9:23 am PDT
 
They were childhood chums. Then they drifted apart, lost touch completely, and only renewed their friendship decades later, when illness struck.Not so unusual, really.
Except she is Lucy Vodden — the girl who was the inspiration for the Beatles' 1967 psychedelic classic "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" — and he is Julian Lennon, the musician son of John Lennon.
They are linked together by something that happened more than 40 years ago when Julian brought home a drawing from school and told his father, "That's Lucy in the sky with diamonds."
Just the sort of cute phrase lots of 3- or 4-year-olds produce — but not many have a father like John Lennon, who used it as a springboard for a legendary song that became a centerpiece on the landmark album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."
"Julian got in touch with me out of the blue, when he heard how ill I was, and he said he wanted to do something for me," said the 46-year-old Vodden, who has lupus, a chronic disease where the immune system attacks the body's own tissue.
Lennon, who lives in France, sent his old friend flowers and vouchers she could use to buy plants at a local gardening center, since working in her garden is one of the few activities she is still occasionally well enough to enjoy. More importantly, he has offered her friendship and a connection to more carefree days. They communicate mostly by text message.
"I wasn't sure at first how to approach her. I wanted at least to get a note to her," Julian Lennon told The Associated Press. "Then I heard she had a great love of gardening, and I thought I'd help with something she's passionate about, and I love gardening too. I wanted to do something to put a smile on her face."
Vodden admits she enjoys her association with the song, but doesn't particularly care for it. Perhaps that's not surprising. It was thought by many at the time, including BBC executives who banned the song, that the classic was a paean to LSD because of the initials in the title. Plus, she and Julian were 4 years old in 1967, the "Summer of Love" when "Sgt. Pepper" was released to worldwide acclaim. She missed the psychedelic era to which the song is indelibly linked.
"I don't relate to the song, to that type of song," said Vodden, described as "the girl with kaleidoscope eyes" in the lyrics. "As a teenager, I made the mistake of telling a couple of friends at school that I was the Lucy in the song and they said, 'No, it's not you, my parents said it's about drugs.' And I didn't know what LSD was at the time, so I just kept it quiet, to myself."
There's no doubt the fanciful lyrics and swirling musical effects draw heavily on the LSD experiences that were shaping Lennon's artistic output at the time — although many of the musical flourishes were provided by producer George Martin, who was not a drug user.
"The imagery in the song is partly a reflection of John's drug experiences, and partly his love of `Alice in Wonderland,'" said Steve Turner, author of "A Hard Day's Write," a book that details the origins of every Beatles song. "At the time it came out, it seemed overtly psychedelic, it sounded like some kind of trip. It was completely new at the time. To me it is very evocative of the period."
Turner said his research, including interviews with Vodden and Julian Lennon, confirm that she is the Lucy in the song. He said it was common for John Lennon to "snatch songs out of thin air" based on a simple phrase he heard on TV or an item he read in the newspapers. In this case, Turner said, it was the phrase from Julian that triggered John's imagination.
Veteran music critic Fred Schruers said Julian Lennon's reaching out to help Vodden as she fights the disease is particularly moving because of the childlike nature of the song.
"It's enormously evocative but with a tinge of poignancy," he said. "It's the lost childhood Julian had with that little Lucy and the lost innocence we had with the psychedelic era, an innocence we really cherished until it was snatched away."
Vodden was diagnosed with lupus about five years ago after suffering other serious health problems. She has been struggling extreme fatigue, joint pain, and other ailments.
"She's not given up, she's a fighter, and she has her family backing her, that's a good thing," said Angie Davidson, campaign director for St. Thomas' Lupus Trust, which funds research. "We need more people like her, more Lucys."
Davidson, who also has the disease, said it affects each person differently, typically causing exhaustion and depression. When the disease kills, she said, it does so by attacking the body's internal organs.
It has become difficult for Vodden to go out — most of her trips are to the hospital — but recently she and her husband went to a bookstore and heard the song playing over the store's music system. When they went to another shop, the song was on there as well.
"That made me giggle," she said.****
3400  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: June 12, 2009, 02:32:26 PM
Hi Doug,

Fascinating point about Aristotle here.  Let's apply the philosophy, or let me try:

BO has the ethos and pathos but not the best logos.

So he and the other Dems provide logos with falsehoods, lies and other deceptive manipulations that people will fall for in their wanting to believe that he is some sort of savior.

And he bribes large numbers with his class warfare rhetoric and to confiscate wealth and give it away to his favorite constituents and supporters.

They wrongly beleive he is helping them.  In the process he is selling America down the river.
This is where Dick Morris comes in.  He points out that BO's positions are not supported by a majority of Americans though her remains favorable.  When more and more Americans begin to feel the pain he is inflicting on this country then his personal numbers will fall.




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