Saturday, August 22, 2009

Politics, Pushback & Piling On

Health Care Choices

Equal treatment and pricing for all. It's fantasy.

Until his uninsured constituents are able to have access to something similar, Wisconsin representative Steve Kagen, a Democrat and a doctor, has chosen to be uninsured.

He explains why he opted out of a generous health insurance package offered to lawmakers. And how health care pricing is not like a straightforward restaurant menu, but more like airline ticket prices... All passengers arrive at the same place at the same time, but not at the same price.

Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now. Host: Deborah Becker.

As promised, a second opinion.

Rather than embrace proposals that build collective buying power, Texas Republican Congressman Michael Burgess believes in "decentralized decisions." He'd accomplish that through health savings accounts... "Putting health care spending decisions in the hands of patients."

Burgess is chairman of the House GOP’s healthcare caucus and practiced medicine for 30 years before his election.

Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now. Host: Deborah Becker.

"Death Panel" Wingnut Dismantled, Dimissed

Death Sentence?

  • All three participants in the discussion are lawyer-advocates, not reporters with first hand access to the participants.
  • Host Megyn Kelly's legal experience was as a corporate litigator, not in criminal law.
  • Guilfoyle's background in the Los Angeles does include experience with crimes by and against juveniles. Spilbor is a practicing attorney near Poughkeepsie NY, newspaper columnist and well-traveled cable news guest.
  • Charges of religious extremism have also been leveled against the parents' mosque.
  • Islamic "honor killings" are a real phenomenon.
  • Florida law permits "emancipated minors." Ohio law does not.
  • The hearing in Orlando, to determine jurisdiction, drew lots of protesters.
  • While inviting you to decide via Internet poll, the Fox video captioned "Death Sentence" was aired and posted online before the hearing began.
  • WDBO Orlando radio reporter Joe Rubie blogged from inside the courtroom while attending the hearing.

Week vs Weak


Jaime JaraJaime Pressly

No contest.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ultimate Outsourcing

More details emerge on outsourcing assassinations to mercenary "contractors."

Domestic Terrorism

Eight years into the military campaign, "the graveyard of empires" voted amidst real acts of terror designed to repress turnout... Americans increasingly question the enterprise.

Meanwhile, back in the states... Former Homeland Insecurity Secretary Tom Ridge's forthcoming memoir seems to support accusations the Bush Administration manipulated "terror threat alert levels" for political advantage in 2004's re-election campaign.


Victor Harbor Causeway, South Australia
Flickr is a site to post photos... And the folks who run their labs have been hard at work creating a way to showcase some of the content, based on interestingness.

Explore Filckr
Jump to source.

Half-baked, Nearly Done

Code Monkey's Dream

Jump to source
Well formed XML, that is.

Jump to source.

Stunt Driving

It's elligible for "Cash for Clunkers"... But only if they can sweep up the rubble by Monday, August 24.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Taped Delay

It's Hammer Time:

No wonder his own caucus was afraid of him.

It's election day in Afghanistan, and The Ministry of Information is so concerned about the Taliban's threats of violence against voters they've banned internal news reports of it during polling hours.

Presumably today's carnage will be shown on tape delay.

Public Optional

The Washinton Post reports Rpresentative Barney Frank's appearance in Dartmouth MA was targeted by supporters of perennial independent political candidate Lyndon LaRouche, who are particularly upset about a 7/22/09 Obama quote about the need for "an independent group of doctors and medical experts who are empowered to eliminate waste and inefficiency in Medicare." Somehow LaRouche's group has interpreted that statement as ordering euthanasia.

"LaRouche PAC members are giving leadership to these town hall meetings all around the country so we are being at any one that we possibly can," LaRouche PAC spokeswoman Nancy Spannaus told The Post of the group's presence in Massachusetts.

"Our Obama mustache poster symbolizes that the president is attempting to implement a Hitler (-like) health care policy," she said. "At any town hall, you'll know LaRouche people are there if you just look for the mustache."

Know Your Sports

Jump to source
Jump to source.

He's Baaaaack!

This time as a Minnesota Viking:

Brett... Yet again. (ESPN Photo)
More sports writers seem to favor letting Michael Vick back in.

Song: How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away
By: Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks
From: The Most Of Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks
Digital Release: 2001
From: (1970 - 1972)

Armed & Dangerous

Balloon Love



Jump to source

Father of TV News

He made "60 Minutes" tick, and so much more:

Easily Confused

Jump to source.

Jump to source.

Nomney Spears?

Hope Floats

Jump in. Splash around. Climb out. Repeat as needed.

It was all Rosemary needed as a recipe. She seemed perfectly happy... Oblivious to summer ending, an impending return to school, or even getting picked up by Mom pretty soon.

But her "tattoo" beneath the floatie was starting to smear.

"Maybe it's starting to wash off because you keep dunking yourself like a teabag, Rosie," I suggested.

Her dad, Levi, told me it was a rub on. His own tattoos weren't.

I'd stopped to ask how he was doing, attracted by the walking cast he'd been wearing for several months. The news wasn't good... nerve damage, arthritis and an irregular growth of bone in his "good" leg had brought a surgeon and neurologist into his life involuntarily.

"I know it's easy to get discouraged with that kind of diagnosis," I said. "But it's good to have them on your team. When I went into the hospital with my first stroke, it was my neurologist who first offered me the hope of anything better than dying within a week. Six and a half years later I'm still here and walking around."

Levi asked where I was going now.

I was headed to a nearby casino... I needed quarters for laundry.

He smiled a little, and said he never went in anymore.

"You know, a couple of years ago, I saw this sign inside Sam's Town. It had this big arrow pointing the way to 'Change and Redemption.' Turns out if you follow the path through the casino, all you find at the other end is a cashier."

Levi laughed.

Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

1st + 2nd Ammendments = ?

Gun-toting protesters at Presidential events...
Anger plus firearms doesn't always end well.

NRA executive vs. the son of a President who was shot:


Rep. Amthony Weiner (D-NY) takes to the air & takes a stand...
First appearing with "Morning Joe" Scarborough:

Next it's Dylan Ratigan's turn to hear about "Medicare for More":

And the same afternoon, he took on Hardball's Chris Matthews:

You might have to listen to that third one again to make up for the NY/Philly speed factor.

Comic Relief

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (August 17)Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Heal or No Heal - Medicine Brawl
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

The Religious Left

Leaders Weigh In on Health Care Reform

The U.S. religious left is wading into the health care debate and teaming up with President Obama to help promote his plan that would provide health insurance to roughly 46 million Americans.

Rev. Jennifer Butler of Faith in Public Life and Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism share their thoughts on service, faith, and the public option.

Audio: PRI & WNYC's program The Takeaway, August 12.


I'm told it's more common in the movies...

Illustration: Scientic AmericanHere's one take from the Pousette-Dart Band's 1977 second album. And another by some guy who invited me to "see him on the radio" far more recently, although I can't remember when.

Oh yeah... It came back to me.

Audio: CBS Radio's Osgood File, August 13.

Coffee Dark

The man crossed the intersection slowly, leaning heavily on his cane. First south, then east. He paid attention some attention to near nonexistent traffic, and a little more to the texture of the street. It was the 40th Anniversary of Woodstock... During intervening years "tripping" had taken on a different dangerous context.

She was waiting by the traffic light opposite his starting point, and said hello as he arrived.

"Good morning, sister," he replied. Partly leftover Woodstock... Mostly because her skin looked "coffee dark" under the night's light.

"Do you want to spend some time with me?"

Plaintive eyes. Too thick to be a cop.

"I need food. I'll do whatever you want for $20."

The asking price was low. Definitely not a cop.

"I live right over here," she said, pointing to a nearby apartment.

Rookie... Pros would never do business where they lived.

"I've got to go," he protested.

"Come on," she said. It was more plea than invitation.

The man reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a fiver he'd gotten as change a few blocks ago, and a world away.

"No, I really need $20."

"I'm not haggling," he explained, pressing the bill into her hand. "It's not what you want, but it gets you closer to where you need to be."

She looked down in silence.

He turned to leave... Not getting off, but getting away cheap.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Welcome to the Working Poor

Roughly 1,500 people with little or no health insurance are lined up daily to receive free medical care from professionals and volunteers at the L.A. Forum. Bill Whitaker reported (August 13):

What began as a program to serve the "Third World" now provides 65% of its services within the United States... The "Third World" didn't just come flooding across the borders, it's what we're becoming as the result of boardroom decisions that further enrich the oligarchy at the expense of the working class.

Doctors Weigh In

The Real Target

Photo: Downing/Reuters -- The President is the focus for participants inside, and protestors outside, August 16 in Grand Junction, COPresident Obama is the real target of health care protesters, not any policy

from the New York Daily News, Monday August 17

The woman went to an airplane hangar in Belgrade, Mont., the other day, prepared to actually listen to President Obama talk about health care reform in America.

She has watched, the way the rest of us have watched, as the debate about health care has turned into a sideshow and in some cases even more of a freak show than Glenn Beck's. Now she wanted to see for herself, along with more than 1,000 others, if it would happen this way in Montana.

This is what she said about the event when it was over:

"Yes, there were a few protesters en route. But the Montanans who were excited to hear the President far outnumbered the fringe groups."

Then she said this about Obama: "He was smart, fair, funny."

So this wasn't an occasion when people with legitimate concerns and legitimate points to make were overwhelmed by the wing nuts and screamers who take their marching orders from right-wing radio and television and the Internet.

Those idiots come to these town hall meetings more to be seen than heard, and think creating chaos makes them great Americans.

Those people have been convinced by the current culture that we are dying to hear from them, and the louder the better. People who think that all they need to star in their own reality series is a couple of TV crews. But then this is Twitter America now, where no thought is supposed to go unspoken.

We hear that all of this is democracy in action. It's not. It's boom-box democracy, people thinking that if they somehow make enough noise on this subject, they can make Obama into a one-term President.

The most violent opposition isn't directed at his ideas about health care reform. It is directed at him. It is about him. They couldn't make enough of a majority to beat the Harvard-educated black guy out of the White House, so they will beat him on an issue where they see him as being most vulnerable.

In the process, they'll come after him on health care the way Kenneth Starr went after Bill Clinton on oral sex in the Oval Office.

With that kind of zealotry, screaming about government programs as if Medicare isn't one. It is why so many of them, all these wild-eyed red faces in the crowd, look completely certifiable, screaming about how Obama wants to kill Grandma, as if he's suddenly turned into Jack Kevorkian.

And by the way, if Sarah Palin is involved - Palin as uninformed as ever about these so-called "death panels" - the debate just got dumber, if that's possible. No kidding. If foreign policy was a brain-buster for Palin, something as truly complex as health care will make her feel as dizzy as if she just rolled down a hill.

So much of this comes from people who get all their information from right-wing media, or their cheerleading from political has-beens like Betsy McCaughey, people who don't see this as a fight for better and more inclusive health care, but who now see it as something grander and more noble, a fight to reclaim America from Obama.

They couldn't win the fight last November, when he laid out John McCain and Palin and a whole party with one election, so they try to do it now, with lies and rather amazing distortions. They want everybody to believe that if Obama gets his way, he'll eventually be in charge of insurance and doctors and whether you use CVS or Duane Reade. He's a Socialist selling socialized medicine. He'll kill Grandma. Come on. The notion that this is all honest dissent is just one more lie.

Even in Montana, the Swift Boaters who would line up against any health care plan endorsed by Barack Obama ran one television ad 115 times over a day and a half before the President arrived.

"Every time we are in sight of health insurance reform, the special interests fight back with everything they've got," the President said outside Bozeman. "They use their influence and run their ads. They use their political allies to scare the American people."

He is right about that. But the special interests aren't fighting the reform, in a system that cries out for reform, as much as they are fighting him. They see their first real good opening and they go for it.

They don't just want to hijack this debate, they want to hijack his presidency. The rest of it, about your coverage and everything else, is just the cover story.

Back to Life (& Death)

Back to Reality

See the Research 2000 poll on the three cable news alternatives. And commentary at Salon dot com.

"You have to harass them to death. You have to keep asking the questions about what they're doing and why. Because if you don't, they'll steal all the money." -- MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan

No We Can't

Cover Couple

Going Back - Lisa & Pilar

Going Back - Patrick & Maria

Going Back - Greg

Goin' Back - The Byrds

A little bit of courage is all we lack...

Song: Goin' Back written by Jerry Goffin & Carole King 2 years before Woodstock
By: The Byrds from the LP The Notorious Byrd Brothers Released: January 3, 1968
Video: The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour/CBS

Where was I?

1969 - NY State Thruway traveling from Bloomington, IN to Boston
1979 - Negotiating move from New York City to KGB-FM San Diego
1989 - created all animal "Livestock" parody, stage announcer: Mr. Ed
1999 - created "Avocado Stock" ad for Carpinteria, CA festival
2009 - All I got left are my dreams, and a sense that my generation probably sacrificed too many other values for property values.