Category Archives: Politics

The Americans’ “Fifth” of November

In the UK, they have Guy Fawkes Night with a famous song/poem of which most will recognize at least this portion.

Remember, remember! The fifth of November

As I headed back into the office after lunch today, the following line of thought occurred to me.

With tonight being the election, there’s really only three outcomes I can see happening:

  • Your candidate wins and you drink to celebrate with others of your political party.
  • Your candidate loses and you drink to commiserate with others of your political party.
  • There are legal challenges to whoever wins, drawing the election out further, and you drink to mourn.

In any of those scenarios, everybody has an excellent reason to have a stiff drink tonight. So as we all watch the election results pour in over the course of the night; let’s be sure to pour ourselves a “fifth” of our favorite beverage and maybe tomorrow we can forget this night ever happened. 😀

Going Dark Tomorrow

Tomorrow from 8AM till 8PM (GMT-6), CoffeeBear.net will be joining many others in going dark in protest of SOPA/PIPA.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

Michael More in Wisconsin

I don’t always agree with Mr. Moore, but I appreciate his willingness & ability to go after alternative sides to important issues. Today he sent out an email regarding a speech he gave in Wisconsin that I thought worth sharing. I found his descriptions, of what it was really like in Wisconsin when he went there to deliver his speech, particularly interesting because of difference in viewpoint it gave versus what the mainstream media has been telling us (when they bother to cover the events in Wisconsin at all).

The scene in Madison is nothing like what they are showing you on TV or in the newspaper. First, you notice that the whole town is behind this. Yard signs and signs in store windows are everywhere supporting public workers. There are thousands of people out just randomly lining the streets for the six blocks leading to the Capitol building carrying signs, shouting and cheering and cajoling. Then there are stages and friendly competing demos on all sides of the building (yesterday’s total estimate of people was 50,000-70,000, the smallest one yet)! A big semi truck has been sent by James Hoffa of the Teamsters and is parked like a don’t-even-think-of-effing-with-us Sherman tank on the street in front of the Capitol. There is a long line — separate from these other demonstrations — of 4,000 people, waiting their turn to get through the only open door to the Capitol so they can join the occupation inside.

And inside the Rotunda is … well, it will bring tears to your eyes if you go there. It’s like a shrine to working people — to what America is and should be about — packed with families and kids and so many senior citizens that it made me happy for science and its impact on life expectancy over the past century. There were grandmas and great-grandpas who remember FDR and Wisconsin’s La Follette and the long view of this struggle. Standing in that Rotunda was like a religious experience. There had been nothing like it, for me, in decades.

If you’re interested in his speech you can watch the video below or read the text on his website.

H.B. 3200

A relative of mine recently  forwarded the following email to me:

Here are some specifics  on the proposed “health care bill.”  If anyone is “okay” with any of this crap, they are insane.  It’s time to call our congressman’s.  offices and tell them we do not want them to support this health bill. No matter what party you belong to, this is bul-#@@ of the highest order.

Here is a very clear view about the problems our congress is having with the so called “healthcare reform” bill!

IF YOU  DON’T READ THEM ALL…. BE SURE TO LOOK AT  58-59.

Subject:    Judge  David Kithil on the healthcare reform bill:

The article is in the Marble Falls, Texas newspaper.  It  was written by a former county judge, David Kithil.  He  voiced his opposition to HB 3200, and gave EXACT SPECIFICS, to  include page and paragraph in the bill on why this Health Bill  is BAD.

Here are excerpts from the article, giving EXACT pages  and paragraphs in the bill and why it is so bad.  You can  forward this to all of your addressees.  I think he hits  everything  right on the head and the opposition you may  encounter cannot argue over these points:

JUDGE  KITHIL:  “I have reviewed selected sections of the bill  and find it unbelievable that our Congress, led by Speaker  Nancy  Pelosi, could come up with a bill loaded with so  many wrong-headed elements.  We do need to reform the  health insurance system in America in  order  to make coverage affordable and available to everyone.   But, how many of us believe our federal government can  manage a new program any  better than the bankrupt  Medicare program or the  underfunded Social Security  program?
Both Republicans and Democrats are equally  responsible for the financial mess of those two programs.
I  am opposed to HB 3200 for a number of reasons.
To start  with, it is estimated that a federal bureaucracy of  more  than 150,000 new employees will be required to administer HB3200.  That  is an unacceptable expansion of a  government that is already too intrusive in our lives.
If we are going to hire 150,000 new employees, let’s put  them to work protecting our borders, fighting the massive drug problem and putting more law enforcement/firefighters out  there.”

NOW,  here comes the good stuff:  “Other problems I have with  this bill include:

Page  50/section  152:  The bill will provide insurance to  all non-U.S. residents, even if they are here illegally.

Page  58 and 59: The government will have real-time access to an  individual’s bank account and will have the authority to make  electronic fund transfers from those accounts.

Page  65/section 164:  The plan will be subsidized (by the  government) for all union members, union retirees and for   community organizations (such as  the Association  of Community Organizations for Reform Now – ACORN).

Page  203/line 14-15:  The tax imposed under this section will  not be treated as a tax.  (How could anybody in their  right mind come up with that?)

Page  241 and  253:  Doctors will all be paid the same  regardless of specialty, and the government will set all  doctors’ fees.

Page  272. section 1145: Cancer hospital will ration care according  to the patient’s age.

Page  317 and 321: The government will impose a prohibition on  hospital expansion; however, communities may petition for an  exception.

Page  425, line 4-12: The government mandates advance-care planning  consultations.  Those on Social Security will be required  to attend an “end-of-life planning” seminar every five years.

Page  429,  line 13-25:  The government will specify which  doctors can write an end-of-life order.”

HAD  ENOUGH????  Judge Kithil then goes on:  ” Finally,  it  is specifically stated this bill will not apply  to members of  Congress. Members of Congress are  already  exempt from the Social Security system and have a well-funded  private plan that covers their retirement needs.  If they  were on our Social Security plan, I believe they would find a  very quick “fix” to make the plan financially sound for the  future.”

Honorable David Kithil, Marble Falls, Texas.

I decided to seek out an online copy of the bill to get an idea of how accurate Mr. Kithil’s claims might be, as his claims sounded like a load of hogwash to me. A quick google search turned up a copy of the bill over at OpenCongress.org which I’ve used to make my comparison of the bill to Mr. Kithil’s claims.

  1. “EXACT SPECIFICS, to include page and paragraph in the bill on why this Health Bill is BAD”.
    • Page/paragraph numbers are useless for comparison without having an identical print copy. If Mr. Kithil had legitimate complaints with specific parts of the bill, why didn’t he reference them all by their Sections/Sub-section headings or perhaps even by including quotes from the bill so other people could see exactly what part of the bill he was talking about?
    • I also find it interesting that Mr Kithil apparently wrote such an amazing article against H.B. 3200 that people are feel the need to forward it to everybody they know, and yet they don’t forward the entire article that he wrote.
      • I attempted to do some digging into whether any such article was written by a David Kithil of Marble Falls, TX but have not been able to find anything except references to this email chain-letter.
  2. “it is estimated that a federal bureaucracy of  more  than 150,000 new employees will be required to administer HB3200”
    • If the Far Right was interested in backing this bill; this comment would instead be about how the bill will help out our struggling economy by creating jobs. But since they don’t like the bill, it’s about waste. Also, where is Mr. Kithil getting this estimate from? By failing to quote a source, it makes one wonder if he didn’t just pull a high out of thin air to try and make people panic over the bill.
  3. “Page  50/section  152:  The bill will provide insurance to  all non-U.S. residents, even if they are here illegally.”
  4. Page  58 and 59: The government will have real-time access to an  individual’s bank account and will have the authority to make  electronic fund transfers from those accounts.”
  5. “Page  65/section 164:  The plan will be subsidized (by the  government) for all union members, union retirees and for  community organizations (such as  the Association  of Community Organizations for Reform Now – ACORN).”
    • I will note that section 164 is SEC. 164. ADMINISTRATIVE SIMPLIFICATION and everything I see under it appears to be talking about how the plan is to be run. But there is nothing I can find in the bill which seems to support Mr. Kithil’s claim that the plan will be subsidized for union members, union retirees and for community organizations. If Mr. Kithil or another opponent of this bill can find me the relevant portion of the bill which makes up the basis of this claim, I’ll be happy to revisit it.
  6. “Page  203/line 14-15:  The tax imposed under this section will  not be treated as a tax.  (How could anybody in their  right mind come up with that?)”
  7. “Page  241 and  253:  Doctors will all be paid the same  regardless of specialty, and the government will set all  doctors’ fees.”
    • Again the lack of proper documentation of Mr. Kithil’s argument, but my best guess is he’s referring to some language in the bill that the Secretary must negotiate rates for health-care items/services such that the government will not pay less than the rates already set in the Social Security Act and not more than the average of other QHBP. Again, this is fear-mongering on the part of the Far Right and if they were supporting the bill; they’d point out this bit as being fiscally responsible on their part.
  8. “Page  272. section 1145: Cancer hospital will ration care according  to the patient’s age.”
    • (18) AUTHORIZATION OF ADJUSTMENT FOR CANCER HOSPITALS–  What this portion of the bill really does is give the Secretary the ability to study the costs of payments to cancer hospitals and if it is determined that these specialty hospitals are charging more for the same services as general hospitals, then the Secretary has the authority to adjust payments to these cancer hospitals to reflect those costs.  Which sounds more like this bill would have the government picking up more of the expense for patients going to a cancer hospital, and that sounds good to me.
  9. “Page  317 and 321: The government will impose a prohibition on  hospital expansion; however, communities may petition for an  exception.”
      • I’m shocked as for the first time since I started reviewing Mr. Kithil’s claims, this one appears to be entirely accurate. It appears he is making a reference to (C) PROHIBITION ON EXPANSION OF FACILITY CAPACITY. But where he sees a problem, I see a necessary step towards reform. When you’re trying to restructure something as complicated as the US health-care system, you’re much better off minimizing the number of variables you have to deal with. Hence, the prohibition on expanding health-care facilites. However since having those facilities can mean life or death to patients; the creators of this bill have included provisions for health-care providers to ask for an exemption. Why exactly Mr Kithil finds this to be a problem is not made clear in the email, and I would be happy to discuss his complaints on this point if he cares to make them.
      • An alternate theory as to the reasonin behind this section of the bill, was proposed by James in a comment:
  10. the pro­hi­bi­tion on expan­sion of facil­i­ties is only on physi­cian owned hos­pi­tals. I think the idea being one thing that dri­ves up costs is some less eth­i­cal doc­tors refer­ring patients for unneeded tests and diag­nos­tics at facil­i­ties they owned to get more insur­ance money.
  11. “Page  425, line 4-12: The government mandates advance-care planning  consultations.  Those on Social Security will be required  to attend an “end-of-life planning” seminar every five years.”
    • While there is language in this bill for advance-care planning which includes mention of end-of-life planning; the way it’s written, it’s clear the intention is to make the patient aware of what palliative, hospice and other care services the health-care provider offers which would naturally be of importance for a person reaching the end of their lifetime. Are those consultations going to be filled with happiness & joy? Probably not. Is it a good idea to put information in the hands of people who will need? Definitely.
    • It’s also good to point out that under SEC. 138. INFORMATION ON END-OF-LIFE PLANNING, (b)“Nothing in this section shall be construed-”
      • “to require an individual to complete an advanced directive or a physician’s order for life sustaining treatment or other end-of-life planning document;”
      • “to require an individual to consent to restrictions on the amount, duration, or scope of medical benefits otherwise covered under a qualified health benefits plan; or”
      • “to encourage the hastening of death or the promotion of assisted suicide.”
  12. “Page  429,  line 13-25:  The government will specify which  doctors can write an end-of-life order.”
    • The phrase “end-of-life order” never appears in this bill and after searching through the bill, I cannot find any similar phrase to indicate the government can have doctors write such a thing.
    • On the other hand, there is language throughout the bill specifically detailing how assisted suicide it completely forbidden.

So hopefully now that you have links to not only the bill itself, but all the relevant portions of the bill, you will take the time to actually read the bill and see if it something you should support or not (rather than blindly forwarding on something without researching it).

Update 2011-01-06: For those of you finding this old post of mine while searching for info about this GOP’s upcoming attempt to repeal this bill 1; I suggest you take a look at President Obama Threatens Veto Of GOP Health Care Repeal, pay particular attention to this quote from the Congressional Budget Office:

In a preliminary analysis of H.R. 2, the Congressional Budget Office found that repealing the law would increase the deficit by $230 billion in the first decade and roughly one-half of one percent of GDP, or over a trillion dollars, in the second decade; increase the number of uninsured Americans by 32 million; impose higher premiums on large firms; and cause consumers who buy coverage in the individual market to pay more out of pocket for fewer benefits.  Medicare’s insolvency would be accelerated by repeal – the Medicare actuaries previously stated that the Affordable Care Act extended solvency by 12 years.  Repealing the Affordable Care Act would not only increase deficits in the coming decade, but would also significantly worsen the long-term fiscal burdens on American businesses and families.

OBAMA FOR THE WIN!

Barack Hussein Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday, sweeping away the last racial barrier in American politics with ease as the country chose him as its first black chief executive.

Mr. Obama’s election amounted to a national catharsis — a repudiation of a historically unpopular Republican president and his economic and foreign policies, and an embrace of Mr. Obama’s call for a change in the direction and the tone of the country. But it was just as much a strikingly symbolic moment in the evolution of the nation’s fraught racial history, a breakthrough that would have seemed unthinkable just two years ago.

via the New York Times

As I started to type up this great news here, I was watching McCain’s concession speech.  A couple of things about the speech caught my attention…

  • McCain still comes across as a really creepy guy.  Seriously, is he human or an alien wearing a human-suit?
  • While physically a creepy guy, McCain’s words tonight (mostly) seemed reasonable and intelligent.  If he’d gone with a campaign based more on that rather than the campaign of fear, he might have had a chance at winning.
  • Lastly, I swear he must of have been paraphrasing Galaxy Quest in one spot.  He said something like “… never quits, never surrender…” while in Galaxy Quest they said “Never give up. Never surrender.”

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