Saturday, March 27, 2010

Is it really 2010?

Can we please stop calling The Tea Party a "movement"?

The Tea Party is a "movement" the same way masturbation is a "movement": a self-fulfillment of an utter fantasy.

Check out their core values. Their ultimate goal is a return to a "constitutionally-limited government", as laid out by the founding fathers of this country.

While there may be some sense behind their core values, the timing of this "movement" is questionable. The Bush presidency ran up huge federal deficits (after beginning with a budget surplus), ran two expensive (and possibly illegal) wars, and implemented an even larger stimulus bill than the one passed by the Obama administration, all on top of a series of irresponsible tax cuts. If anything, the Tea Party indignation should have began many years ago; instead, it looks largely like sour grapes, and rings of a prejudiced outlook.

In the aftermath of the health care reform bill, there may eventually come a point when the Supreme Court is faced with questions regarding the constitutionality of the so-called "individual mandate" as possibly a tax on "economic inactivity". Rather, we need to look at this as a piece of legislation that demands social responsibility: it ensures someone does not end up in the emergency room without insurance and without a means to pay for it, which will result in a bill for the taxpayers to pick up, anyway.

Folks, this is a democracy, which doesn't mean the individual desires of every single idiot in this country should be protected; rather, it means we put into place policies that benefit the majority of people. That is what our elected representatives our sent to Washington to do, and this legislation is simply the first step in a process that should eventually benefit the majority of Americans.

By the way, Tea Party, here's what the guys you're voting for in November are up to with your campaign donations.

Meanwhile, sexual abuse scandals by Catholic church leaders continue to pop up.

Stunningly, the Pope has not directly addressed these, and referred to the scandals as "the gossip of dominant opinion".

Whatever eventually comes of these cases, I find it stunning that in this century there are those who would still attempt to sweep under the rug crimes against the innocent. Even worse, they are defending themselves for these cover-ups.

Stated differently, if you were hanging out with a buddy, and he told you he was having some legal problems, like a speeding ticket, issues with his tax return, or getting busted for possession of marijuana, you'd probably say, "hey, everyone makes mistakes".

On the other hand, if your buddy told you he had been watching over a friends' sons, and had decided to engage in sexual conduct with them, what would your reaction be? If it is anything but utter revulsion, then you're probably a cardinal in the Catholic church. Even in prisons, child molesters are viewed with the utmost scorn, and are often treated as the worst of the lot.

I don't mean to single out the Catholic church for such a scandal, but they're certainly in the news. Many religions have long-standing traditions of abusing the innocent. Don't take my word for it; check out Christopher Hitchens' "God is not Great".

And I haven't even gotten to the Christian militias...

Is it really 2010?

Well, maybe we ARE making progess, slowly...

Post-HCR links

Maybe this is why John Boehner was so upset last week...

Of course, it did lead to this brilliant video.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Here's something worth donating for

My email inbox was filled today with requests from donations for all of the Democratic congressmen I've mailed in the past few months as encouragement to pass the health care reform bill (albeit with a public option, but we can't get everything we ask for all at once).

Not sure I'll be contributing to all of their campaigns, but I did find something today that is worth donating money to:

A Ticket for Rush

I encourage all of you to do the same!

Just a little levity from Indiana...

A Big F******* Deal

Just paraphrasing Joe Biden...

Time to End the Sweeping Rhetoric

We all know how great an orator President Obama is.

And I'm sure he'll kick off the signing ceremony today with some pretty sweeping rhetoric, including some stuff about how this has been 100 years in the making (Theodore Roosevelt initially introduced the idea about universal health care).

I think the time for all that is over. There's quite a bit of reform in this bill, including prescription drug savings for seniors, and we need Professor Obama to communicate all of those changes today. Americans will benefit greatly from this bill, even though it doesn't have a public option, and they need to know about exactly how.

We also need the Senate to pass the Reconciliation Bill, and hopefully the Senate Parliamentarian doesn't find anything to strike down the fixes provided in that. Otherwise, we'll see these past few days repeat itself this weekend, and we'll get a slightly lesser quality bill - the original Senate version - instead.

Anyway, President Obama: save the prose, give us the policy!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Reform May Have Passed the House...

...but the work is not yet over.

The Reconciliation Bill still has to pass the Senate; otherwise this process will repeat itself starting this weekend.

Inexorably, the bill will move forward, but the revised Reconciliation Bill contains several improvements and liberal sweeteners that the original Senate Bill does not. In either event, swift passage is in most people's best interest.

Call or email your Senators (mainly, the Democratic ones) and remind them to vote yes on this bill.

For cynics who do not believe in this process, I direct you here.

By the way, don't buy any of the "repeal" drivel you're hearing from the GOP. It is an impossibility even if they achieve huge gains this November in both houses of Congress.

Now let the momentum for a public option and Title X begin!

Yes, we did!

After all the silly political grand-standing and delay tactics, the US House of Representatives finally voted to pass a significant piece of health care reform legislation last night.

Ultimately, some semblance of common sense won out, and while the bill does not do nearly enough to combat the damage done by for-profit insurance companies, it is a small step in the right direction.

To those on the left, who lament at how Democrats sold out to conservatives and centrists regarding the public option, relax; this is how politics is played in the current political climate here. Eventually, as this program succeeds, the majority will see the benefits of a single-payer system.

My only concern is that many of this program's initiatives do not come into action until 2014, and it may be until 2019 when the additional 32 million Americans covered in this bill finally get coverage. However, all such bills are subject to improvement, and the Dems having taken one step, hopefully additional ones will follow soon.

To those on the right, thank you - for fear-mongering and turning a popular initiative into one widely feared and increasingly disapproved of; and for contributing nothing of substance and continuing to ignore the reality of health insurance in this country.

And to all of you who put stock in these polls, there is only one poll that matters: the 2008 general election. Since when does a Rasmussen poll gain precedence over voting? Barack Obama and the Democrats were elected into office with a significant majority and controls of both houses of Congress, running on a platform that included comprehensive health care reform. America, you wanted this, and like any major social legislation, it will eventually come to be popular and widely-supported.

By the way, the legislation also includes an incredibly significant bill regarding student loans, one that is not getting nearly enough publicity.

UPDATE: Ezra Klein's smart breakdown of the health care reform bill.
UPDATE #2: NYTimes' breakdown of the bill.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

For-profit insurance: A crime against humans

InterGlobal insurance, based in London, defines any "chronic" condition, for which their policies have lower limits, as follows.

“Chronic means a medical condition which has at least one of the following characteristics: has no known cure; is likely to recur; requires palliative treatment; needs prolonged monitoring/ treatment; is permanent; requires specialist training/rehabilitation; is caused by changes to the body that cannot be reversed.”

As Nic Kristof astutely argues, is any illness covered under this umbrella? By this rigorous definition, aging could be established as a "chronic" condition; it certainly has no reverse, and payment for treatment of conditions like arthritis, diabetes, and cancer (as discussed in the article) could be capped far before a patient needs.

Don't let anyone tell you that the current health insurance system needs no reform (and, yes, I went double-negative there). It's a joke, and hopefully today's vote is the first small step towards more comprehensive reform.

Monday, March 15, 2010