Archive for healthcare reform

The Good, The Bad, and The F***ing Bizarre #3: A Frank, A Flora, A Phallic Fallacy

Posted in brilliance, media failure, politics, randoma, rant, the complete opposite of brilliance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2009 by vagabondsaint

The Good:  Barney Speaks Frankly

You know how elected officials always have to be respectful and gentle with their constituents, no matter what level of insanity or inanity is currently issuing from said constituent’s mouth like a tidal wave of crazy?  Well, that behaviour has been tested quite a bit in the recent town hall meetings on the healthcare debate.  No one wants to be seen as making light of their constituent’s concerns, no matter how baseless, derogatory, or outright ludicrous those concerns are, right?

Right!

For everyone except Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank.

For those of us that have been wishing our elected representatives would stand up to the whackos showing up and town hall meetings and loudly displaying their ignorance, Barney Frank’s recent town hall was a godsend.  Check out how he handles a woman who calls the health care reform bills “a Nazi policy” (because the Nazis were all about making sure everyone had affordable health care).

Thank you, Barney Frank!  We need people to stand up to these ridiculous claims and assertions coming from the right, someone willing to call a spade a spade and show how baseless and inane these scare tactics are!

Barney Frank is my hero right now.

The Bad: Giant Rat-Eating Plant Discovered

You read that correctly:  a plant big enough to eat rats has been discovered.  Even more frightening, it’s been named after David Attenborough!

This is bad in several ways.

One, if plants have gotten big enough to eat rodents, how long do we have before they get big enough to eat people?  Clearly the plants are on a mission to stop killing humans through allergies and pretty-looking poisonous plants and just go for outright eating us!  The plants must be stopped, now, before it’s too late!

Stop the plants before anyone other than Rick Moranis suffers!

Stop the plants before anyone other than Rick Moranis suffers!

The second thing that is really scary about this is that the plant was named after Sir David Attenborough.  While those of us who know who Attenborough is know him as the soft-voiced narrator of a bajillion nature shows and a harmless, endlessly curious naturalist, the decision to name a carnivorous plant after him makes me wonder: what do the botanists know about Attenborough that the rest of us don’t? Clearly there’s some rodent-sized skeletons in his closet!  The world needs to know the truth about Sir David Attenborough!  Is he on the side of the carnivorous plants?  Is he even now preparing England for their invasion?  Has he been seduced to the green side by Poison Ivy?

Sometimes treason is completely understandable.

Sometimes treason is completely understandable.

Whatever Attenborough’s hiding, we need to know!

The F***ing Bizarre: Professional Dick Fears For His Own

I’ve read this article several times, looking for the punchline.  Either I haven’t found it or the humour is just so subtle that I can’t see it.

Rush Limbaugh and Jay-Z having a “beef”?  President Obama is coming to cut your penis?  Rush Limbaugh being on anyone’s balls without crushing them beyond repair?

It’s just. . .I can’t make jokes about this.  It makes too many jokes about itself.  Just read the article, seriously.

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Thanks for the reading this installment!  Be here next time when things get even stranger!

VS – 8.26.09

The Good, The Bad, And The F***ing Bizarre #2: Of Groped Mice, Angry Men, Anti-Racist Geckos And Kiddy-Porn-Lovin’ Cats

Posted in evil cats, media failure, politics, randoma, the complete opposite of brilliance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2009 by vagabondsaint

Welcome to the next installment of The Good, The Bad, and The F***ing Bizarre!

The Good: Geico Saves A Bunch Of Money

Geico Insurance announced today that it would be saving itself a bunch of money by no longer advertising on Glenn Beck’s short bus to Crazytown FOX News show!

Not looking at Glenn Beck

Not looking at Glenn Beck

Mr. Beck claimed last week on long walk off a short, insane pier Fox And Friends that President Obama is a “racist,” with a “deep-seated hatred of white people, or white culture.”  He, of course, offered no evidence to back up this claim, unless one considers the deep, abiding love and respect that Obama has for his late Caucasian mother and grandparents to be indicative of a secret hatred for them.

Don’t bother re-reading that.  It won’t make any more sense the second time.

Beck later came 3 steps back down the nutjob ladder clarified his statement by saying that he never said that Obama doesn’t like white people, only that he hates them, and that Obama “has a problem.”  Somebody has a problem, and it has something to do with a lack of a dictionary.

The walk-back didn’t do enough to appease, well, any thinking person, leading to several petitions and movements calling on advertisers to stop supporting Beck’s crazy-tinged hate speech show by pulling advertising.  Geico responded to one of these, emailing ColorOfChange to notify them that they had pulled their advertising as of August 4.  Men’s Wearhouse and Sargento have likewise announced that they have pulled their advertising from the idiot parade Beck’s show.

So, let’s here it for advertisers finally taking some responsibility for the content of the shows they sponsor, eh?  I think that’s pretty good!

The Bad: Health Care Reform Town Hall Protests

I’m all for civil discourse, and we should all have the right to question our elected officials and get answers from them.  It’s a free exercise of the First Amendment, to voice our concerns.  That’s part of what America is all about, right?

So what’s my problem with the people who are protesting at town halls?

Well, aside from their being so ignorant as to not know that Medicare is socialized medicine run by the government, their stated tactics of being loud, disruptive, and shouting whenever anyone, including the elected officials, tries to speak are the complete opposite of what the First Amendment stands for.  They are denying the same rights they claim to be exercising to others, which is about as unpatriotic as one can get.  Your rights do not include to right to trample on someone else’s rights.

I’m not going to say more about than that these protests are a bad thing, for both the health care debate in particular and America in general.  If you’re wondering why I say that, just wait until one of these Astroturf protests comes to serious blows and people start getting hurt or killed.  It’s coming, I promise.

The F***ing Bizarre: Bizarre Games Of Cats And Mice

Two very strange things for this one.

The first,and a great thanks to my best friend for bringing this to my attention, is the Florida man arrested for possession of child pornography, after police found over 1,000 such images on his personal computer.  This is, so far, remarkable only for the ongoing exploitative debacle that is the stain in humanity’s underwear commonly known as child pornography.

Where it gets interesting is the man’s excuse for the pornography being on his computer:  his cat did it.

I swear, I am not making that up.

The man claims that his cat downloaded the images by “jumping on the keyboard” when he left the room.

Any time that you think your cat hates you, just remember:  it hasn’t yet tried to frame you for a crime that will get you shanked in the prison yard.

Yet.

The second item of note is again from Florida, but involves a man getting too friendly with a mouse. . .specifically, Minnie Mouse.

A 60-year-old Pennsylvania man has been convicted of misdemeanor battery for groping Minnie Mouse, or rather, a woman in a Minnie Mouse costume, at Walt Disney World in Orlando. According to the accosted woman, she “had to do everything possible” to keep his hands away from her chests.  You know, there’s just so many jokes that could be made here, but out of respect for what was no doubt a traumatizing experience for that poor lady, I’ll refrain.

I do believe I have said before that furries are harmless.  Let me amend that:  most furries are harmless.

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That’s it for this installment. . .till next time, please try to avoid watching Glenn Beck, being an idiotic ass at a town hall meeting, being framed for a serious felony by your cat, and feeling up anybody in an anthropomorphic animal costume!

I’ll see the ones of you that manage to do all of that next time!

VS – 8.11.09

Moment of Brilliance, #4: Keith Olbermann Tells The Truth

Posted in brilliance, politics with tags , , , , , , on August 11, 2009 by vagabondsaint

Keith Olbermann rocks.

Just watch and/or read.

VS – 08.11.09

Moment Of Brilliance #3: Obama’s Epic Win

Posted in brilliance, politics with tags , , , , , , , on August 8, 2009 by vagabondsaint

I am laughing today about the healthcare reform debate.  That’s right, laughing.

I am laughing because yesterday, it came out that President Obama had, in closed-door negotiations, made a deal with pharmaceutical companies to support healthcare reform and make an $80 billion reduction in medication costs over the next decade.  In exchange for their support and pledge,  the White House would not support anything in the current reform package that would affect Big Pharmaceutical, including not allowing Medicare to negotiate for cheaper prices or import cheaper Canadian medications.

Is that necessarily a good thing, that Big Pharma has bought itself from the administration? Well, yes and no.

On the Huffington Post, there were plenty of comments about how Obama had sold out the American people to Big Pharma, how he has failed to bring the change he promised, that he’s a corporate shill, he’s a fraud, et cetera, ete cetera, blah blah blah, whine whine whine, change my diaper.

On the other hand, it took me about two seconds to see the brilliance of the plan.

No matter how much money the insurance companies and lobbies have, Big Pharma has as much, if not more.  We’ve already seen the destructive results of insurance lobbying in Congressional obstructionism, Astroturf campaigns disrupting town halls, and misleading advertising.   How much worse do you think it would be if the pharmaceutical companies were throwing their weight behind the movement as well?

So Obama negotiated and got Big Pharma off the table.

But wait! say the people who feel it their job to quuestion, insult, and attack the President at every turn, their chorus strengthened by the addition of those who don’t think in long-term goal achievement and don’t know how to play chess.  Isn’t rising drug costs one of the reasons that healthcare is so expensive?  Don’t America’s pharmaceutical practices need reform as well?

Surprisingly, they’re right.  There does need to be reform there, and time will tell if the pledged $80 billion cost reduction will help much or not.  But at least it’s something, which is more than the health insurance companies have been willing to do.  Also, there’s something else:  Congress is still free to pursue drug regulation reform  any time that it wants to.  It just won’t be able to do so in this healthcare reform package.  It will also be done, if it is done in the future, without White House support, so if it’s painted as chance to hurt Obama, the Republicans will sign on and override a veto, if he were to issue one.

Meanwhile, not only is Big Pharma not opposing the current healthcare reform package, they’re spending $150 million in advertising to support it.  Just as a comparison, that’s $24 million more than John McCain spent on his entire Presidential campaign, and just a little over half of what Obama spent.  It’s more than the opponents of healthcare reform are likely to be able to raise, plus that $150 million is aided by independent groups like MoveOn, the AFL-CIO, SEIU, and others coming out in support of healthcare.

Obama not only avoided making the battle too large to win, he recruited an ally with money power comparable to his opponents and left the door open to a future solo battle with Big Pharma, as opposed to having to fight them and the healthcare insurance lobby together.

That’s just brilliant.

Call it choosing your battles wisely, call it pitting one enemy against another, steal a page from the Senryahu and call it borrowing the right of way to attack, it all boils down to a great strategic move. . .and one that stands in glorious counterpoint to the ham-handed “us vs. them” “bring it on” tactics of the previous Administration.  It’s so, so nice to have a President that thinks long-term and actually has strategies, as opposed to the “get out there and yell” whining and frustrated rabble-rousing of his enemies.

It’s brilliant, is what it is.

VS – 8.08.09

Shut The F*** Up And Talk To Me

Posted in media failure, politics, rant with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2009 by vagabondsaint

A few months ago, I read an aticle in the Huffington Post about “he said – she said” journalism.  I intended to blog about it, but got distracted with moving and various other crises.  I can’t find the article – I tried as much as my tired brain would allow – but I’ll do my best to sum it up for you.

“He said, she said” journalism is, in a nutshell, presenting both sides (usually liberal and conservative) or a particular issue without repudiation or mentioning the facts of the situation.  It is far more prevalent in modern journalism than it used to be, and there is, according to the article, a number of reasons for it:  a desire by corporate news organizations not to offend anyone by pointing out their fallacies or appearing to support one viewpoint ver another, even if the facts are in support of one position and completely invalidate the other. News divisions of a company not wanting to hinder or conflict with other departments of the same parent company.  Wanting to appear fair and give equal time to opposing viewpoints leaves little room for truth.  Restrictive news budgets don’t have the funds for investigative journalism.  Modern mainstream media journalists have no balls.  (Okay, I made that last one up.)

Think I’m wrong?  Pay close attention to the news that you read online (who reads papers anymore?) or what you hear on TV.  I promise you, you will hear more “this person says that, but this person says this” than you will any actual facts.  Though the writer of the article took some comfort in their observation that the trend appears to be waning, as near as I could tell it was still going strong, with little sign of abating.

With the recent passing of Walter Cronkite, this article came to my mind again, and still I didn’t blog about it.

What finally got my Irish up (no mean feat, considering my Caucasian ancestry is actually German) was an article in today’s New York Times.

As I said, I am still paying attention to the health care debate, still reading about it as much as my brain will allow, even though I have avoiding blogging about it.  This article on the health care debate, henceforth referred to as Exhibit A, is a fair example of what’s wrong with journalism and journalists today.

The article is about poll numbers reflecting growing unease about health care reform among Americans, due to the claims of opposed legislators and millions spent on negative advertising about reform from both the private insurance industries and the Republican National Committee.  It also includes quotes from President Obama about what the reform he seeks will and and will not do, as he travels the country trying to refute the claims of the opposition.  The article does great in presenting the facts of the poll, but what’s missing?

There are claims about the reform bills made by Obama and by people who answered some follow-up questions to the poll, an Iowa woman in particular. What’s missing here is whether or not these claims, from either side, bear any truth to them.  The quotes and concerns from those who answered the follow-up questions make it obvious to anyone who’s been following the bill that their concerns are coming from opposition advertising and Republican (and Blue Dog Democrat) talking points about the bills.

Anyone who’s put in a little research on the health care reform bill knows that the grand majority of the claims made by those in opposition to the bill are false.    Two examples:

Claim: “The advertisements present the overhaul as a risky experiment, or a government takeover of health care that would prevent people from choosing their own doctors.”

Truth: Well, that’s technically true.  The advertisements do make that claim.  But the genuine fact is that the health care reform bill would in no way dictate what doctors patients can or cannot see, much unlike, say, private insurance companies.  But did the NYT make mention of that fact in its article?  Nope.  It just repeated the propaganda with no clarification, refutation, or even a mild comparison to the objective truth.

Claim: “We will pay more taxes.”

Truth:  Health care reform will actually save us more money in the long run, because hospitals won’t have to adjust their fees for covering the uninsured and those unable to pay, thereby lowering the amount they charge us as individuals and what they charge the insurance companies.  Unless you make more than $250,000 a year, which the overwhelming majority of Americans do not, you will not have to pay any new taxes.  Those that do make that much money will face a 1% increase in their taxes.  No frilly new uniforms for the Guatemalan maid this year.

And one example of truth slipping into the article by mistake:

Claim: “If we do nothing, I can almost guarantee you your premiums will double over the next 10 years, because that’s what they did over the last 10 years,” Mr. Obama said. “It will eat into the possibility of you getting a raise on your job because your employer is going to be looking and saying, ‘I can’t afford to give you a raise because my health care costs just went up 10, 20, 30 percent.’ ”

Truth:  Yeah, that’s actually true.  If I recall correctly, insurance premiums double in the past ten years, while wages went up about 20%.  But, it’s the truth presented in a quote by Obama, without support from the NYT”s resarch department.  Basically, it’s fact being presented as propaganda.

There’s more, but it’s 4:30 in the morning and I’m tired.

Just remember, this is not the Podunk, Alabama Trailer Park Post presenting propaganda on both sides without clarification or facts, this is the New York fucking Times!  The Old Grey Lady!  “All the news that’s fit to print,” and this bullshit spin regurgitation is the fucking best that they can do?  Are you fucking serious?  Did they fire the fact checking department?  If it wasn’t for Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman, plus the occasional Bono editorial, I swear I’d cancel my (online) subscription.  When did the Grey Lady lose the ovarian fortitude required to call people on their bullshit?  And how can she get it back?

I wish Spider Jerusalem was real.  Until that happens, or until Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite are brought back from the dead (which would be the first thing I’d do as a mad scientist), Jon Stewart will have to do.

I do like journalism, and have often considered working in the field.  But I couldn’t do the “he said – she said” stuff.  I’m too honest to repeat someone else’s bullshit without fact-checking it first and calling them on it if they’re wrong.  This journalistic style, as Jon Stewart would put it, is “hurting America.” (Google his now-famous appearance on CNN’s Crossfire.  It’s journalistic gold.)

So this is my message to the mainstream media:  Shut the fuck up with the bullshit spin and propaganda, and really talk to me, give me some facts, let me make an informed decision based on the truth instead of two different angles of spin.

But hey, don’t take my word for it.  Pay attention to your news, whatever your source(s) may be; see how much of what you get is repeated spin and how much is actual fact.

(And thanks to my friend Christine for unwittingly contributing the title.)

VS – 7.30.09

Sick Leave

Posted in legal system, politics, rant with tags , , on July 26, 2009 by vagabondsaint

You may be wondering why I’ve been so quiet here lately, and, when I have spoken, I have largely avoided political discussions, venturing instead onto the topics of rape, forensics, and other societal issues.

Honestly, politics makes me sick right now.

The health care debate is a large part of that.  Obviously America’s for-profit health care system is broken.  “Reform” is too light a term for what needs to be done; it needs to be shattered and built all over again from the ground up.  But that isn’t likely to happen.

Despite the obviousness of the need for reform, politicians on both sides of the aisle are still tying to stop the legislation from passing.  Don’t get me wrong; some do have legitimate concerns to be addressed, such as those who want to make sure the disparity in Medicare payments between rural doctors and urban doctors is fixed.  I’ve no problem with that.  What irks me, what makes me ill, is those who see defeating these much-needed reforms as a way to politically “break” President Obama (looking you, Eric Cantor) and help themselves get back into power.  Never mind that they had 8 years of being in power, came into office in a prosperous nation, drove it into the ground and started digging – these people are so arrogant and self-consumed that they genuinely believe the best thing for this country is for them to be back in power, despite the mountains of evidence to the contrary.  Never mind that polls still show overwhelming public support for what the President has proposed; it’s more important to tear down the President, and by association his party,  than it is to serve the will of the people that put you in office.  Of course, our elected officials have excellent health care plans, paid for by us, so they’re not really feeling any sort of sting from the broken system.  Maybe we should stop paying for theirs?

Then again, the people that put them in office are the types who are easily swayed by predominant mythologies, can be counted on to vote from their fears, and tend to follow whoever makes them feel good about themselves as opposed to whoever will actually work to improve their situations.  They can be trusted to vote their prejudices and ignorances against their interests, every single time.

Then there’s the health care industry, fighting to kill the legislation so that they can continue their bogodish business as usual.  Do they care how many Americans go bankrupt every year from medical expenses?  What about the number of people who lose health care insurance every day (14,000, last I heard) in this country?  What about the people they shaft every year by denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, throing in hidden fees and clauses, refusing to cover the most effective treatments, or denying claims?  They don’t care about any of that; the people, to them, are just walking money machines.  Take money from them, but don’t give any back.  With the money they’ve spent on fighting health care reform, they could have covered healthcare for thousands of people.  But they’d rather take your money and use it to fight against your best interests.

Anyway.

I’m still paying attention to the debate, of course.  Politics can be a little bit addictive.  But I don’t want to talk about it and I don’t want to blog about it;  it makes me sick and I don’t have health insurance to cover the bills.

Ugh.

VS – 7.26.09

P.S.  For a good explanation of the health care reform packae and what it means to you, click here.

In Response To Callousness. . .

Posted in politics with tags , , , , on July 12, 2009 by vagabondsaint

. . .here is a prime example of why I should probably take time to think before responding.

On CNN’s State of the Union today, Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) said today, in response to a discussion of a healthcare reform package not being completed and passed before the August Congressional break, that “there really is plenty of time.”

Really.

One Google search later, I sent Senator Conrad this letter, through the form on his website:

Dear Senator Conrad,

I read your comment from today’s appearance on “State Of The Union,” to the effect that “there really is plenty of time” for healthcare reform, and was genuinely appalled.  That’s a callous and uncaring remark.  Many families are already suffering from our broken healthcare system; people are being buried under mountains of debt trying to pay their medical bills and either don’t have insurance or have to fight with insurance companies to get coverage, if they don’t get dropped from the company altogether.  Senator Conrad, these people do not have “plenty of time.”  They need help NOW.

Not knowing you at all, I do not want to believe that you are so callous towards people that need help simply because, as some have asserted, “they (meaning the members of the House and Senate) don’t care because they’ve got theirs.”  However, the uncaring, insensitive attitude that there’s no need to rush would seem to give credence to that assertion.  Please prove it wrong.

I am not one of your constituents.  I don’t even know anyone in North Dakota.  Knowing that, you may feel free to ignore me, and probably will.  Ostensibly, I have no effect on whether or not you get re-elected.  But, finding friends in far-off places is what the internet is for, and, being unemployed right now, I honestly have nothing better to do than sit around searching for, and chatting, with people from North Dakota on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Google chat, Yahoo Instant Messenger, Microsoft’s Live network, or even Playstation@Home, finding your constituents and letting them know that, from your own words, their healthcare concerns are not a priority at all to you.

The people have said again and again that healthcare reform is what they want and that it is important to us.  Do the right thing here, please, and help get a reform package together as soon as possible.

Lives literally depend on it.

I probably could have thought that through a little bit better.  But it’s sent now.

If I get a response, or send any more letters, I will certainly keep you posted. . .in the meanwhile, if you’d like to send Senator Conrad a message of your own, click here.

VS – 7.12.09