Tort "reform" is one of the Republican's favorite health reform. But of course it's not really a health reform. Its purpose is to allow large corporations to escape financial responsibility for their actions.
You thought it was about doctors and nurses!? Don't be naive.
You thought it was about saving you money? Step away from the Kool-Aid!
Malpractice litigation costs about $20 per person per year. The cost problem that America faces relative to our economic competitors among the western democracies is more like $4000 per person per year. If we're serious about cost containment, malpractice costs - 0.5% - are waaay too low to matter. At all.
None of this $20 per year would return to consumers in the form of lower prices. Pricing of a $12,000 annual premium is just not sensitive to a $20 difference. For a buck and a half a month, you're going to shop on coverage features, right? The whole $5.4 billion per year would go right where the Republicans intend it to go: to the corporate bottom lines of medical and insurance corporations.
Furthermore, given how many preventable deaths and injuries are caused by medical errors, more litigation, not less, looks like a goad to more efficient allocation of medical resources. If we had a more effective means of preventing these errors, I'd be all for it, and sure enough computerization of records is in the current bills both for bureaucratic and medical efficiency, but meanwhile it would be bad policy to remove all punitive accountability for medical errors.
Republicans disagree. This is because they really believe in government of the corporation, by the corporation, and for the corporation.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Tort "reform" is one of the Republican's favorite health reform. But of course it's not really a health reform. Its purpose is to allow large corporations to escape financial responsibility for their actions.
Friday, October 30, 2009
The day that Russia's President, Dmitri Medvedev, cautions against amnesia of Joseph Stalin's huge crimes is a day I can agree with him.
My own caution would go further. It was the economic failures of capitalism in the first 30 years of the 20th century that gave rise to Hitler and Stalin, helped on by the social and political failures of royalism. Those failures put us in America, along with our friends in Europe and around the world, in the terrible position of having to choose to ally ourselves with Stalin.
That's why the stakes have been so high in prevention of another depression. That's why the costs in debt were bearable.
We have spent the past 30 years tearing down the bulwarks we had built to keep capitalism's dynamic energy safe. Now is time to build those guide-rails back again.
Only a raving narcissist could ever speak this way through her hero:
“We have granted you everything you demanded of us, we who had always been the givers, but have only now understood it,” Galt lectures the “looters” and “moochers” who make up the populace. “We have no demands to present you, no terms to bargain about, no compromise to reach. You have nothing to offer us. We do not need you.”Does the world Ayn Rand implies here resemble any world that has ever existed?
This review has some good bits.
Rand’s particular intellectual contribution, the thing that makes her so popular and so American, is the way she managed to mass market elitism — to convince so many people, especially young people, that they could be geniuses without being in any concrete way distinguished.And...
[I]f there is one thing Rand’s life shows, it is the power, and peril, of unjustified self-esteem.
So the DNC is attacking Sarah Palin for the bullshit she has posted on Facebook:
A few months back, Palin took to Facebook to declare that health reform would create "death panels," and drive private insurers out of business -- and nonpartisan fact-check sites and the independent Congressional Budget Office debunked those lies.Doesn't attacking Palin make her stronger with her base? Couldn't that help her win the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination?
But that hasn't stopped Sarah Palin. She's back with a new Facebook note claiming that reform will raise costs on families and drive up deficits. Unfortunately for her, even the conservative "Tax Foundation" says those claims are false.
So we're calling out Sarah Palin, and taking to Facebook to debunk her lies on the very same pages she's using to spread them.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
On CNN, the pro-Ahnuld commenters seem to be evenly divided between those who cling to the transparent lie that Schwarzenegger's "fuck you" to the legislature was a mere coincidence and those who applaud the sentiment. Republicans, a coalition of prudes and assholes! It's no wonder the party's falling apart.
Jon Corzine should go ahead and say, "You call yourself fat, Chris. Stop playing the victim. I would have said obese if that's what I was talking about. The important thing about you is not the size of your appetites. It's the size of your ego. You think that you deserve special treatment, and your choices show it."
Then Corzine should laugh and ask whether that's enough manning up for Christie.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Some results from ending my paper subscription to the Boston Globe:
- Once it's in your hand, paper has higher bandwidth than the Internet.
- I really, really can't tell when I'm finished on line.
- It's easier to read more deeply from paper than from web sites.
- It's easier to find interesting stories in paper outside your primary interests.
- I'm still not going back.
One shot dead by the FBI:
''He regularly preaches anti-government and anti-law enforcement rhetoric,'' Leone said. ''______ and his followers have trained regularly in the use of firearms, and continue to train in martial arts and sword fighting.''Except for the name that I blanked, this m.o. could have been Christian Identity, but it was in Detroit instead of Boise, so it's home-grown Muslim extremists.
Rhetorical questions: If this had been some lunatic fringe of Christianity, would there be pressure on peaceful evangelicals to distance themselves from the violent sect? Or would that just be assumed?
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
[T]he football cheerleaders at a public high school here wanted to make the Bible a bigger part of Friday night games. So, ... they painted messages like "Commit to the Lord" on giant paper banners...That's how it's supposed to work! People express their own religious views. Government institutions don't.
That eight-year-old tradition ended last month after a parent expressed concern that it could prompt a First Amendment lawsuit. ... [T]he school district agreed.
... [T]he new policy has produced an unexpected result: more biblical verses than ever at football games, displayed not by cheerleaders but by fans sitting in the stands.
In this case, an evangelical raised the issue of separation of church and state. No one's free exercise of religion was suppressed, quite the contrary in fact.
“From an atheist’s standpoint, it’s frustrating because I don’t want more religion in my face,” Caleb [Wickersham] said. “But it’s their constitutional right.”Why is it that a 17-year-old atheist can understand this, while it goes straight over the heads of adult fundies?
Monday, October 26, 2009
See! See! All of Fox Nation was absolutely right that health care reform is about killing people to save a buck:
These are “exclusion criteria,” which bar certain categories of patients from standard hospital treatments in a severe health disaster, and “minimum qualifications for survival,” which limit the resources used for each patient. Once that limit is reached, patients who are not improving would be removed from essential treatment in favor of those with better chances. [--Sheri Fink]Oh, you mean this has been going on for years?!
In recent years, officials in a host of states and localities, as well as the federal Veterans Health Administration, have been quietly addressing one of medicine’s most troubling questions: Who should get a chance to survive when the number of severely ill people far exceeds the resources needed to treat them all?Why wasn't I told?!
Of course, triage has been visibly obvious to anyone who ever thought about crisis response. It was in the 9/11 stories, for example, sadly because triage units had so few merely wounded to treat. But Fox Nation can't remember anything that gets in the way of their inchoate outrage.
Whom do you save when you can't save everyone in the middle of an acute crisis? Fox Nation is afraid we can't tell the difference between the health care problem and the acute crisis of a raging pandemic, that we might start disconnecting ventilators (from voters!) to save money, rather than to save a person more likely to survive because of treatment.
My diagnosis: delusional paranoia.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
"The only privacy that's left is the inside of your head. Maybe that's enough."
The U.S. is trailing the U.K. in achieving the surveillance state. Trailing is a good thing. But the U.K.'s lead is tenuous.
Even though FISA was extremely easy to satisfy, it was amended under the scare tactics of the Bushists to make it almost completely toothless. Sure enough, the FBI couldn't even trouble itself to obey the weak tea of FISA as amended.
Frank Rich nails it:
Richard Heene is the inevitable product of this reigning culture, where “news,” “reality” television and reality itself are hopelessly scrambled and the warp-speed imperatives of cable-Internet competition allow no time for fact checking. Norman Lear, about the only prominent American to express any empathy for little Falcon’s father, vented on The Huffington Post, calling out CNN, MSNBC, Fox, NBC, ABC and CBS alike for their role in “creating a climate that mistakes entertainment for news.”Worse, this media climate encourages us to be stupid, not just for a little innocent fun, but when deciding the future of our society.
The lone remaining Republican running for Senate in Massachusetts apparently believes that the flag is as important as American history, the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence.
He admits, "I'm a lightweight. I have no ideas to actually make America better. All I care about is window-dressing."
The flag is a symbol, a symbol of all the ideals that Massachusetts educators already teach.
Maybe, if Brown's bullshit proposal passes, we can teach our elementary students that making a fetish of the flag is not the American ideal. Maybe we can teach them to care for the flag better than all the flag-wavers whose flags grow tattered and dirty from neglect.
Or would that be too political?
Saturday, October 24, 2009
These merry pranksters should have their own weekly show. Unfortunately, the wealthy people and corporations who run the media just aren't as thrilled with this sort of infotainment as they are with Glenn Beck's weepy hysteria or Bill O'Reilly's proud belligerent ignorance or Rush Limbaugh's self-fellating smugness.
Friday, October 23, 2009
John Perr at Crooks and Liars does a great job of calling bullshit on Republican claims about tort reform.
[L]argely overlooked in the heated discussions of damage award caps, special health courts, expert panels and national compensation schedules is the inescapable truth that the medical malpractice system has only a negligible impact on overall American health care costs.Nah, I don't think Republican tort reform can be reformed. It needs to be euthanized.
We know that Dick Cheney is a vicious anti-democratic lunatic. That's a given. But is he demented?
After his administration failed in Afghanistan for seven year and almost completely ignored it in favor of their adventure in Iraq for the last five, he has the damn gall to criticize President Obama for not doing enough to bring about more war.
Robert Gibbs has it right:
“What Vice President Cheney calls dithering, President Obama calls his solemn responsibility to the men and women in uniform and to the American public. I think we’ve all seen what happens when somebody doesn’t take that responsibility seriously,’’ Gibbs said during his daily briefing.
Gibbs also blamed the Bush-Cheney team for allowing the situation to worsen in Afghanistan, asserting that the 21,000-troop increase Obama approved in March had been sitting on their desks for months. “I find it interesting that he’s blaming us for something that he didn’t see fit to do, over - best I can tell - seven years of a war in Afghanistan,’’ Gibbs said. [repunctuated for clarity]
And he's probably right about the eagerness of his base to absolve themselves of the blame they deserve.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The press uses a lot of rhetorical devices to blow the actual news out of proportion. Much as I think Michael Steele is loopy and weak - and therefore cause for celebration - he did not by any means say anything that could truthfully be construed as "Steele 'not really' concerned about declining GOP support".
What Steele actually said was that he wasn't concerned about voter registration numbers that show a precipitous falloff in self-declared Republicans, which he carefully distinguished from GOP support. CNN, which should have called bullshit on his lack of worry, instead portrayed him as a feckless idiot. Yeah, that feeds the conventional narrative back to us yet again.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Again, because they do.
[Keith] Bardwell, a Republican, has served as justice of peace for 34 years.At least, this time, Bobby Jindal is calling for Bardwell to resign.
Meanwhile, CNN won't mention Bardwell's party. Since this is about his official duties, there should be no excuse that this is a merely personal failing. Heck, he probably once was a Dixiecrat, but we pushed him out and he took refuge in the remaining national party that does harbor racists.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
... the problem must be heterosexual priests.
How did ascetic traditions become so powerful and popular in Christianity? What was their attraction in the first place? Was it that sex in pagan Rome was such a weapon of the ruling class and then it snowballed from there?
Hint: I'm not looking for a theological explanation. I'm trying to understand why free people would choose to confine their sexuality so narrowly.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Since no doubt some of their readers are still fighting the Civil War, the AP sees fit, in a story about John Brown's raid 150 years ago today, to give equal time to "the War Between the States". Am I supposed to be happy they didn't call it the War of Northern Aggression?
Now, once again, we flirt with hardened, unbridgeable division:
After decades of mistrust and recrimination over the conflict between slavery and free labor, many in the North and South now found themselves even more fundamentally at odds. As Northerners increasingly hailed Brown as a hero, panicky Southerners execrated him as the devil himself. The tempest over John Brown appeared to shatter any hope of regional reconciliation. As one South Carolina editor put it, "The day of compromise is passed [and] there is no peace for the South in the Union."
It would be too much to claim that John Brown's raid made the Civil War inevitable. But it is fair to say that it helped to create an unbridgeable gap between the free states and the slave power that could only be, as Brown himself put it, "purged away with blood." There are many lessons that can be drawn from John Brown's raid, but the experience of the Civil War ought to stand as a permanent rebuke to the irresponsible incitement of contemporary political figures who trade so easily in rage and resentment.
Fox viewers prefer to be reassured that their ignorance of reality is correct. They'd rather not know the truth about basic facts if they would then have to surrender any of their bullshit opinions.
By taking sides so brazenly, Fox has gained audience share at the expense of turning itself into a big fat political target. The establishment political press is far too timid and clubby to have made this discovery on its own.
But if the White House says something, they have to cover it.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Democrats who want health care reform without the reform - absent a toothy public option - are trying to combine bad health policy with bad politics and bad fiscal policy. Many of the very people who should love it, the Democratic Party's natural constituency in the middle class, would hate what the poseurs of bipartisanship would foist upon them.
[T]he widely publicized bill proposed by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., not only won't get Republican votes, it would also do little to restrain galloping cost increases. That's why insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists love it.
Instead, Baucus' bill would force millions of working Americans currently without coverage to spend up to 13 percent of their annual income on private health insurance policies they can't afford.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Greetings, news-and-politics junkies. It's David Westphal here from USC Annenberg. We're witnessing quite a showdown these days between the White House and Fox News, with the White House raising the stakes last Sunday on Howard Kurtz' "Reliable Sources" show on CNN. Is this just a tactical, get-tough move by the White House? Or might we be seeing the start of a longer-running trend of presidents confronting unfriendly news outlets? Let's discuss.What's wrong with this picture? David Westphal is completely unwilling to address the question of whether what the White House says is true.
Update (10/16): Another little bit of cupidity that's been bugging me:
[T]here's a lot of news reporting (especially away from the political beat) that looks like the reporting you'd get anywhere.Shorter: Fox covers car wrecks without political bias, so they can't be bad journalists.
O.K., not much shorter, but stripped of its misdirecting bullshit.
Not that anyone will care, but I have a massive keyword debt overhang. Blogger sprang a 2000-label limit on me, and evidently I was waaay over the ceiling. What! They want me to rely on Google to find sh-stuff?!
I'm trying to comply, not for sake of compliance, but so I can create new keywords, but that will be a while. I guess I ignored advice to be judicious with keywords, and now I'm paying the price. Sort of like the great recession.
I'm still going to keep some sentimental favorites such as "yankees suck", but I'm looking for broader categories now that I know there's a limit to Blogger's patience with me.
In our bullshit-drenched world, a healthy dose of skepticism is nearly always the way to the truth. Bill Maher shows unhealthy skepticism:
Facts matter, and Maher is 0 for 3.
Mr. Maher questioned letting someone stick “a disease into your arm,” wrongly implying that the flu shot contains a live virus. The flu shot is a killed vaccine.
He said he did not believe that healthy people were vulnerable to dying from the new H1N1 virus. This contradicts statements from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that young, healthy people from ages 5 to 24 appear particularly vulnerable to this flu. About a third of the 76 children who have died of H1N1 since April have had no underlying health problems.
Mr. Maher also discouraged pregnant women from getting vaccinated. Studies show pregnant women are among the most vulnerable to serious complications from H1N1.
Take your pick:
- A risk lower than one in a million that you'd die from a swine flu vaccine
- A risk conservatively of one in ten thousand that you'd die of the swine flu, though it could be one in 300 in the bad scenario
Monday, October 12, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
It sho' ain't health care reform. It's not even cost containment.
Republicans care about immunizing medical providers - and especially their insurance carriers - against the suffering they cause when they injure or kill patients. That's what so-called tort reform is about, not about doing justice or saving money.
Don't believe me?
The CBO says that a ceiling on damages would save $54 billion. Not annually, though, over ten years. That savings would accrue to over 300 million Americans. If you average the savings, it amounts to $18 per person per year. That's very roughly one part in four hundred (a quarter of a percent) of what we as a nation spend on health care.
Don't know about you, but I'm willing to part with an Andrew Jackson a year to retain the right to sue someone whose negligence might sentence me to life on a morphine pump.
Of course, the savings wouldn't be averaged, so I wouldn't even have to fork over an Andy. Ordinary Americans would see no savings whatsoever. Insurance company bottom lines, though? They would see nearly all of it.
Remember this every time you evaluate a Republican proposal. They don't care about you.
Remember also that CNN could have made this clear and once again failed utterly to be a useful media outlet.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Republicans in Florida are taking potshots at cut-outs of their sitting Democratic Representative, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and of Muslims.
Organizer Ed Napolitano defended the gathering, as well as the use of posters of what appeared to be gunmen with traditional Arab head scarves as targets. “That’s our right,’’ said Napolitano, president of the Southeast Broward Republican Club. “If we want to shoot at targets that look like that, we’re going to go ahead and do that.’’Ed, baby, everyone grants your right to be an asshole. It's a right that most Americans exercise at one time or another. Your right to be stupid, ditto - good to see you exercise it when talking to a reporter, not merely in the privacy of your own home.
But, babe, you're in politics. Politics has to be fun, and if blowing away paper tigers on your gun range (how brave!) is fun, well, whatever turns you on.
Still, you're trying to convince voters to support your candidate. You just blew that in a big way.
One more observation: This is the sort of small local controversy that Fox would fan into a large national scandal if only it helped a Republican. Since it helps a Democrat, expect it to disappear off the wire with little to no further attention.
Friday, October 9, 2009
The Republican Party has thrown in its lot with the terrorists — the Taliban and Hamas this morning — in criticizing the President for receiving the Nobel Peace prize. Republicans cheered when America failed to land the Olympics and now they are criticizing the President of the United States for receiving the Nobel Peace prize — an award he did not seek but that is nonetheless an honor in which every American can take great pride — unless of course you are the Republican Party. The 2009 version of the Republican Party has no boundaries, has no shame and has proved that they will put politics above patriotism at every turn. It’s no wonder only 20 percent of Americans admit to being Republicans anymore – it’s an embarrassing label to claim.(h/t Kos)
K Street lobbyists are irate:
Imagine the nerve of the White House to exclude these paid interest representatives from making policy without consulting them! It almost sounds like democracy.
K Street sources describe a process they say was completely opaque and undertaken without their input. Several lobbyists who sit on the panels said they were not consulted and don’t know of anyone who was. Indeed, some sources on the panels contacted just before the Sept. 23 announcement said they were either unaware of the new policy or had heard little more than rumors.
“This was done in a vacuum,” said another business lobbyist who sits on one of the panels. “The decision was made in a room of the White House without consultation.”
Tom Delay would never have treated the sort of instant conflict of interest where lobbyists make policy as something to avoid.
“Love the dude, but all he’s done on the peace side of things is make a few nice speeches and not go to war with anyone else,” agreed Ibrahim Assem, 32, who works as a portfolio manager at a London-based equity company in Cairo. “They are handing him the Nobel Peace Prize because he isn’t George Bush.”Yup.
CNN's TV coverage of Barack Obama's surprise win of the Nobel Peace Prize had three components:
- The events
- Reporter analysis - "some are calling this a gift to the right"
- The conservative reaction - "as we said, some are calling this a gift to the right"
Up next: "We'll have Ed Rollins, one of our favorite Republican analysts, to give his reaction."
One of our favorites...
Some liberal media. Now I remember how use useless TV news is, especially on the cable stations.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
You're fucked! All the roads are bad. Deal with it.
It's amazing that we as a nation spend any effort whatsoever encouraging people to make hour-plus commutes on a regular basis. I've spent more than five hours over the past two days bobbing along in traffic. Doing that on a regular basis would drive me (heh) stark raving loony.
Antonin Scalia pretends to be stupid:
Being called on his pretense of stupidity makes him angry.
Mr. Eliasberg said many Jewish war veterans would not wish to be honored by “the predominant symbol of Christianity,” one that “signifies that Jesus is the son of God and died to redeem mankind for our sins.”
Justice Scalia disagreed, saying, “The cross is the most common symbol of the resting place of the dead.”
“What would you have them erect?” Justice Scalia asked. “Some conglomerate of a cross, a Star of David and, you know, a Muslim half moon and star?”
Mr. Eliasberg said he had visited Jewish cemeteries. “There is never a cross on the tombstone of a Jew,” he said, to laughter in the courtroom.
Justice Scalia grew visibly angry. “I don’t think you can leap from that to the conclusion that the only war dead that that cross honors are the Christian war dead,” he said. “I think that’s an outrageous conclusion.”
This man should not sit on the Supreme Court.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Y'know those ichthyus stick-ons that out Christians use to recognize each other?
O.k., even people who are out as Christians (most Americans) don't have the problems their forebears had in Rome, when they had to have secret ways of showing they weren't the dominant pagans. In those days, one Christian who might have actually been persecuted would draw an arc in the dust, innocent enough, and another might finish the fish in reference to the themes of fishing that run through the New Testament, notably but not only the miracle of the fish. (My favorite: "Become fishers of men.")
Of course, you've seen the evolutionist rejoinder, a fish with feet.
What I saw today: A shark with "Linux" written in the place of "Jesus" or "Darwin". Cracked me up.
Obviously, I had a lot of time to think while commuting to off-site training. Hard to believe that people make hour-plus commutes every day. What crazy things are they seeing?
If you didn't live in the United States, would you want all your global assets denominated in dollars? Is the dollar enough safer than the euro or the yen that its role as the world's currency is more than a sixty-year habit?
I'll leave it to more knowledgeable people to explain fully how this affects our economy, but I doubt that the export benefits could possibly outweigh the debt detriments in an asset base as over-leveraged as ours is.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Gov. Deval Patrick is wrong about plodding along with federal stimulus expenditures. The key goal of the stimulus is to get money into productive uses immediately. It's bad that Massachusetts is 49th at that. Not as bad as the bankers sitting on their TARP money or making acquisitions with it, but still bad.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
As long as the conservative business elites retain power, Republicans don't care about something so trifling as democracy or due process:
A delegation of Republican members of the United States Congress visited Tegucigalpa on Friday to offer support to Mr. Micheletti. The Obama administration has called for the restoration of Mr. Zelaya and it has suspended all military and some economic aid to the de facto government. Senator Jim DeMint, a Republican from South Carolina, said that calling Mr. Zelaya’s ouster a coup was “ill informed and baseless.”Let's see. A democratically elected President was removed from office by the military and exiled, whereupon the army installed its own man as caretaker. Yep, sounds like a coup to me.
Republicans want us to be a banana republic with the generals in charge. At least if a Democrat is in the White House.
If a Republican is in the White House, he'll hide under the skirts of the generals.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Blogger limits me to 2000 keywords. Who knew! As of today, I've used 'em all.
So, since I'm out of keywords, I guess I'll have to quit. If I'd only known, I wouldn't have spent so much time conserving bits on Picasa Web, where Blogger stores images. I'm still below 1% of my allotted gigabyte.
This will have to be my last post...
Are you kidding me? Give this up? No way.
I had been thinking already that I needed to clean up my massive store of keywords, although my main concern was the scrolling length of my pages, not the length of the list. Now Blogger is forcing me. It's like the middle-aged brain my mother told me about: To remember something new, you have to forget something old. Fortunately, I will always have Google for backup.
Today, I lumped amt in with tax. What a daring radical! Fair warning to all you bullet keywords who aren't making your number - i.e. more than (1) - your days are numbered. Ha.
Update (10/5): As if anyone cares, Blogger's limit of 10 tags per post is new. I know this because Blogger refuses to allow me to remove tags from posts that don't conform!
Arnold Schwarzenegger intones that Roman Polanski should be treated like everyone else. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he means that Polanski should be accorded every privilege of convicted statutory rapists.
That is the minimum that our Constitution requires. The odd thing is that the core American principle of equal justice needs to be stated by politicians. Odd also is that it's news.
Or am I just another naive refugee from sentimental Arthurian musicals?