Monday, August 31, 2009

Free advice (worth every penny!)

If you choose to believe in good, evil, and luck, life will make a lot more sense!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I lied ...

... when I said I'd resume posting Wed or Thurs.

Turns out the show and related activities (I believe I've mentioned that I prepare opening-night souvenir booklets for cast & crew) got in the way... with only the show to blame today.

In the best of all possible worlds, I'll start paying attention to the wider world - and providing brilliant analyses and commentary - on Monday, 31 Aug.

Till then.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In memoriam

U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy dies

Sigh.

Can't say I was a huge fan of Sen. Kennedy - but he was a loyal & liberal Dem!

... moral: "In the long run, we are all dead."
[John Maynard Keynes]

Monday, August 24, 2009

very light posting next few days...

Sometime ago I signed up to complete some more analyses of NM1 election results, 2006 & 2008.
The due date is fast approaching, so time otherwise spent posting brilliant, biting political analysis for Private Buffoon is now devoted to playing with numbers.

Expect my return Wed or Thurs.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Stealing from loyal reader...

... in a comment below, from loyal reader fpm:
… Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.
(Juvenal, Satire 10.77–81)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

again: Republicans believe the U.S. is a small, weak country

GOP Rep. Herger: ‘Our democracy has never been threatened as much as it is today.’
Herger [R-CA] did not hold back on his opinion of the health care plan and the administration’s appointment of “czars” to head various departments and task forces. “Our democracy has never been threatened as much as it is today,” Herger said to a loud standing ovation.

We survived W's rape of the Constitution, but a black President and the suggestion of universal health coverage are just too much!
My bet is that Rep. Herger also believes Iran is an existential threat to the U.S.

Please, folks: next election, remember this!
Republicans believe the U.S. is a small, weak country!
Call 'em on it!

a relief...

As long-time readers know, I sing in a church choir.
St. Timothy's Lutheran Church, a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA).

I've sung with the choir for a while - 5 or 6 years, anyway.

I've always been curious about , but have never had the nerve to ask, St. Tim's position on gays - either as communicants or as clergy.

Today's headline seems to answer my question:
Conservatives mull future after ELCA lifts gay ban
The article goes on to explain:
The change to gay clergy policy passed with the support of 68 percent of about 1,000 delegates at the ELCA's national assembly. It makes the group, with about 4.7 million members in the U.S., one of the largest U.S. Christian denominations yet to take a more gay-friendly stance.
I assume that the vote to accept gay clergy means that, heretofore, ELCA had been okay with gay communicants. I don't know this - it's just a reasonable inference.

Anyway - I'm happy to learn this.

It means the church's proclamation that:
St. Timothy's is a warm and welcoming congregation that is open to you.
is honest.

And that they are not hypocrites to declare that
Everyone is welcome and needed
I apologize for my cowardice in not determining this sooner.
(I just like singing in the choir!)

Double standard?

Not all that long ago...
Enron goes belly up. Lay & Skilling convicted of fraud.
WorldComm goes belly up. Bernie Ebbers convicted of fraud.
Tyco didn't quite go belly up. Dennis Kozlowski convited of fraud.

At the time, each of these seemed like massive failures; the WorldComm failure - an $11Bn loss to investors - was the worst.

Today?
AIG, Citi, GoldmanSachs, MorganStanley... massive failures.
... and the $$$ are staggering. $11Bn looks like nothing.

BUT: the CEOs and others who masterminded this collapse?
They're still getting bonuses - bailed out by TAX-PAYERS!

What's wrong with this picture?

Is anyone now talking about reform of financial markets?
No - that's page 11 news... if it makes the news at all.

Are the rescued financial institutions now at least doing the job we expect 'em to do?
No - they're not lending money to promote capitalist growth! - they're simply continuing to 'manufacture' financial instruments that'll get 'em all bonuses! - Even credit card rates are going up!
You're a business that needs cash flow?
Sorry.

One of the financial instruments employed by Enron was 'parking'.
Getting someone else to temporarily assume the risk of an asset, with the explicit guarantee that Enron would take that asset back at face-value as soon as the reporting period had ended.
Are the financial giants of Wall Street engaged in this fraudulent activity?
Just asking.
(We'll never know. Geithner is happy to let his Wall Street buds skate - no matter that we tax-payers get screwed!)

Those gun-toting folks at healthcare townhalls?
Me - I'd just as soon enlist 'em!
With income-inequality at an all-time high, I'm not all that unsympathetic to the idea that, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
... tho' I don't believe the tyrants reside in the government, but in our financial system.

The last time I was a proponent of revolution was in high school.
You'd think age & experience would have tamed me.

any bets on prosecutions???

Report Reveals CIA Conducted Mock Executions

In the past 2 days we've had Ridge revealing that [shock!] terror alerts were used for political purposes, and the CIA tortured prisoners.

Obama seems happy with, "That's water under the bridge."

Moral: our government - that's "We the People of the United States" - are happy to forgive and forget... and let the next despot destroy us.

Canada's looking better and better... if it weren't for the winters.

Less strident, more reasoned... with a call to action

2. In any health care proposal, how important do you feel it is to give people a choice of both a public plan administered by the federal government and a private plan for their health insurance--extremely important, quite important, not that important, or not at all important?
[Question from SurveyUSA’s recent poll. (Results of SurveyUSA News Poll #15699)]

The results?
58% of respondents replied, “Extremely Important.”
19% of respondents replied, “Quite Important.”

58% of Americans believe giving “people a choice of both a public plan administered by the federal government and a private plan for their health insurance” is “Extremely Important”!
77% believe this choice to be at least “quite important”.
Seventy-seven percent!!!

Yep – Americans really DO want a “public option”! – They’ve not been fooled by the corporate-funded scare-tactics. They know there’s nothing in the current House bill that would euthanize grandma! They know the current system is broken, and that without a public option, the health insurance companies will continue to screw ‘em!

Meanwhile, back on Capitol Hill, the so-called “Gang of Six” – six members of the Senate Finance Committee, three Democrats and three Republicans – continue to insist on a “bipartisan” solution – a solution guaranteed to include NO provision for a public plan! Every Republican leader in the House and Senate has already stated, explicitly, that Republicans will NEVER vote for the public option. Heck, they won’t vote for ANY reform of the current system!

Our Senator, Jeff Bingaman, is one of the three Democrats in the “Gang of Six.” As a senior United States Senator, Bingaman has the clout to twist some arms. If you are one of the 77% of Americans who want a public option in any health insurance reform bill, call Senator Bingaman. It only takes a minute! His toll-free number is (800) 443-8658. Let him know that you support the public option, and that you expect him to twist some arms to get it!

Just in case you’re not comfortable making this call without knowing a little more, read on!

What is the so-called ‘public option’?
It’s a federally-sponsored alternative to private insurance. If you selected this option, you’d still pay premiums – just like to a private insurance company. BUT – the public plan could NOT deny you coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
It could NOT cancel your coverage when you got sick.
(Private health insurance companies do both! – They deny you coverage for pre-existing conditions, and they can – and do! – cancel your coverage when you get sick!)

Basically, the so-called ‘public option’ extends the benefits of Medicare to all citizens.
I can speak with experience regarding Medicare. My wife was forced to retire due to breast cancer three years ago. As soon as she retired, Medicare became her primary medical insurance. She has stage 4 – metastatic – breast cancer; it’s in her bones and in her liver. She’s on very expensive chemotherapy, and gets full diagnostic scans about once every three months. She came into Medicare with this disease – it was a “pre-existing condition”.
Medicare continues to pay her medical bills. It pays for her chemotherapy, and for her diagnostic scans. It pays for her monthly visits with her oncologist.
It’s great coverage – that she paid for with premiums paid over 30 years of her working life!

Does Medicare tell her what doctor she has to use? No!
Does Medicare require that she complete a living will, or participate in any other “end of life” planning? No!
In fact, she shopped around for an oncologist she likes!

Medicare is an evil single-payer system. Senator Max Baucus, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, took single-payer alternatives off the table even before the debate on health care reform began. (Canada has a fully nationalized single-payer system. Call your friends in Canada – they all love their health care system!)

Okay – so what about the 23% of folks who don’t want a public option?
Well – these are the same folks who think there’s a NAFTA highway coming through their backyards next week. They’re the same folks who believe that reimbursement for end-of-life planning is equivalent to mandatory “death panels” – in short, they’re the extreme right-wing fringe. Let’s not worry about ‘em. They’re the rugged individualists who believe that the federal government has no place in their lives – but they sure like mailing letters with a 43-cent stamp, and I bet they like the idea that their employers won’t maim ‘em on the job! (Oh, yeah – the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – OSHA – is a federal agency that protects YOU at work!)

More to the point – let’s tell Senator Bingaman not to worry about ‘em!
The right-wing fringe and their Republican enablers in the House and Senate will never support true reform!

If you’re one of the 77% of real Americans who believe the public option is essential to real reform, call Senator Bingaman today!
That number again is (800) 443-8658.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

possibly a pointless anecdote

I've got a backyard pond with about a dozen koi & goldfish & who knows how many mosquito fish (they are prolific breeders!) - water lilies, and a couple of 'stand up' aquatic plants.

I buy my pond supplies at a place called Quality Bait (4257 Isleta Blvd SW). It's a fascinating store on a couple of acres.
I'm not a fisherman, but I'd wager they have just about everything the angler might want.
They also sell feed, chickens, ducks, turkeys...
... and pond supplies - all sorts of aquatic plants, myriad variety of fish, turtles, crawdads.
It'd be a fun place to take the kids! (Duck ponds, geese wandering the premises... )

Anyway, the proprietor is a hard-core Fundie - lots and lots of signage regarding bringing Jesus into your life.

During a recent visit, I paid by credit card.
He complained about the new law that had forced him to spend a few hundred bucks on a new electronic card-reading machine.
I asked what the law was for.
Well - so's the electronic credit-card machine only printed out the last 4 digits of your credit card.

Then he conceded: "I'm not much for all these laws, but I guess we need 'em... and I like this one!"

Yep - even the wingers acknowledge that there really are some good laws! (So much for "Government is not the solution...")

"Government is not the solution..."

"Government is not the solution, it's the problem."
[Ronald Reagan, Inaugual Address, 20 Jan 1981]

This is still the mantra repeated over and over by conservatives.
After all, St. Reagan said it - it must be true!

Okay - let's see how this plays out.

Imagine you wake up tomorrow and on your drive to work discover:
There are no traffic lights.

There are no stop-signs.

That person in the car ahead - he doesn't have a driver's license!
... Then again, nobody else on the road does, either!
(in fact, he's only 13 years old! - hey, it's a family matter, between him & his parents!)

There's someone driving straight for you in your lane.
Well - no: it's not your lane. There are no lanes.
Anyone can drive anywhere he wants to, in any direction.
You want to drive on the sidewalk? No problem!

Someone just passed you doing 90 in a 30 mph zone!
No, wait: there are no speed zones.
Sorry 'bout that.

That fella comin' head-on for you seems to be weaving a lot?
Is he drunk? Maybe.
Who cares - he's a strong, rugged, patriotic American individualist - no stinkin' government's gonna tell him he can't down a fifth and then take the wheel!
Look on the bright side: we can cut the budget for police by at least half!
(Come to think of it, why the hell do we need police?
I'm a rugged, patriotic American - I don't need no stinkin' police!
That's why I got this fully-automatic AK-47.
Just try f**kin' with me!)
Speed limits? - SOCIALISM!!!

Stop lights? - SOCIALISM!!!

Lanes? - SOCIALISM!!!

Driver's licenses? - SOCIALISM!!!
(the worst kind: a government-issued ID!!!)

DUI laws? -SOCIALISM!!!
Yeah - Government is NEVER the solution!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Socialized Medicine," they scream.

"Socialized Medicine!
The public option is Socialized Medicine!!
Run for your lives!!!"

Well - yeah, the public option is a form of socialized medicine.
So what?

As I've explained before, every other developed country in the world has some form of government-subsidized universal healthcare system - some of 'em truly "socialized medicine" (e.g., the U.K.), some of 'em "single payer" systems (e.g., Canada), some of 'em mandatory, well-regulated private systems (e.g., Switzerland).
All of 'em provide better access and better outcomes at less cost than the U.S.! - ALL OF 'EM!!!

From the late 19th century on, conservative politicians have been screaming,
"Socialism! - Bad, EVIL!!!"
at every turn on the road to progress.
Child-labor laws? - Socialism!
The Pure Food and Drug Act? - Socialism!
Labor Unions? - Socialism!
Workplace safety and OSHA? - Socialism!
Social Security? - Socialism!
Medicare? - Socialism!
What's wrong with socialism?
Me? I'm all for my government protecting me from the excesses of pure, unbridled capitalism.

Pure, unbridled capitalism in the 19th century gave us child laborers losing fingers and arms working at industrial looms.

Pure, unbridled capitalism in the early 20th century gave us tinctures of opium and 25% alcohol nostrums for our 'health'.

Pure, unbridled capitalism in 1911 gave us the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire - the largest industrial accident in the history of New York City, causing the death of 146 garment workers who either died from the fire or jumped to their deaths.
(No - OSHA was still 60 years in the future. You know, OSHA - that Socialist plot to protect the health and safety of American workers, signed into law in 1970 by that ultra-leftist, commie, pinko fellow-traveler, Richard M. Nixon!)

Pure, unbridled capitalism brought us the Great Depression.
And today, pure, unbridled capitalism brings us the collapse of our financial system and the greatest wealth inequality since 1929.

Again: What's wrong with socialism? What's wrong with my government protecting me from the predatory rampages of pure, unbridled capitalism?

Visit a modern Chinese city. You can't see the tops of the buildings - they're shrouded in dense, brown smog. You don't even have to go as far as China.
Mexico City has some of the worst air on the planet.
OUR government protects our air from industrial and automobile pollution, imposing socialist restrictions on industrial and automobile emissions.

When you make your cup of coffee in the morning, with ordinary tap water, do you worry about water-borne diseases like cholera and dysentery?
No?
Why not?
Because our federal government has imposed strict (socialist) water-quality standards on your local community.

Do you worry about the food you buy at your local supermarket?
Well - maybe a little, recently. Because W and his Republican enablers in Congress chose to underfund the FDA inspection program - allowing salmonella and other diseases to infect our food supply. But this was a Republican decision.
The system - the FDA (a socialist agency) is designed to protect our food supply. Republicans hate it. They'd rather you get sick rather than impose any evil, socialist, government regulation on Big Agriculture. After all, the unregulated free market is perfect!

So, yes: the public option (and Medicare, and the Veterans' Health Service, and the Medical branches of all our Armed Services) is a form of socialized medicine.

Know what? This is what the Framers of our Constitution wanted:
We the People of the United States, in order to...
promote the general Welfare
... do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The general welfare. Not the welfare of Big Argriculture, or Big Finance, or Big Pharma, or Big Health - the GENERAL welfare!

The Framers went further, providing in Article I, Section 8 that:
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States...
If access to affordable, timely, high-quality healthcare doesn't count as "the general welfare", what does???

Yes, the right-wing is correct: the public option does represent 'socialism'.
So what?
Socialism is good for us!

blatant self-promotion

Landmark Musicals, The Albuquerque Philharmonic Orchestra, The West Side Community Chorale, and the Summit Quartet present a concert-version of The Music Man.
One weekend only: 28 - 30 August
Kimo Theater.
Tickets: 768-3544

I play Charlie Cowell - anvil salesman.

I'm sure glad 'the surge' worked!

Wave of blasts in Iraqi capital kills at least 95

On the bright side, we are disengaging from Iraq - even if too late and too slowly.
And even the hawks now seem to view the Iraq mess as Iraq's problem, not ours! (Thanks, W!)

a few days late on this...

The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare
[John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market Inc., in WSJ Op-Ed, 11 Aug 2009]

For those in ABQ area: if you think it might help, here are a few local alternatives to Whole Foods:
Keller's Farm Stores
local, family-owned business
2912 Eubank NE (Eubank & Candelaria

6100H Coors Blvd (Montano Plaza)
La Montanita Co-op
3500 Central SE (Nob Hill)

2400 Rio Grande Blvd NW
There are also a number of local Farmers' Markets around.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A fun book title (pointless post)

Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing

in memoriam... plus a confession

Political columnist Robert Novak dies at 78

My confession: Back when "The Captital Gang" was being aired, I enjoyed watching Novak huff and puff and get indignantly pontifical!

... just out of curiosity

During the second Presidential Debate of 2008, Senator McCain declared:
"I'll get Osama bin Laden, my friends. I'll get him. I know how to get him.

I'll get him no matter what and I know how to do it."

[emphasis added]
At the time he was hesitant to say just exactly how he would get bin Laden, stating that
"I'm not going to telegraph my punches..."
Okay - so now that he's not the president, has Senator McCain shared with President Obama his secret for getting bin Laden?

And if not, why not?
Wouldn't withholding this information be, well, treasonous???

Meanwhile, over there...

Attacks rock Afghan capital ahead of vote, 8 die

W's other war... another one that was lost before it began, thanks to the "Rumsfeld Doctrine": "Just enough troops to lose."
Even senior Republican senators are now admitting this:
"Let’s not Rumsfeld Afghanistan. Let’s don’t do this thing on the cheap. Let’s have enough combat power and engagement across the board to make sure we’re successful. And quite frankly, we all have got a lot of ground to make up."
[Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) -member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee - on Face the Nation, 9 Aug 2009]
Yep - even senior Republican senators now admit that W & Rummy screwed up Afghanistan - and warn against continuing to "Rumsfeld" Afghanistan.

Only problem is, Humpty Dumpty has already fallen off that wall.
I'm not sure what "victory" in Afghanistan means just now - but whatever it is, I don't see it being attained at anything approaching a reasonable, "worth it" cost starting today.

Why not declare victory and go home?

Stop the madness!

My email to Senator Bingaman

Senator Bingaman:
First, thank you for your prompt and relevant reply to my previous email!
I enjoyed reading your Op-Ed!

Second, you write:
"Finally, I believe it is important that reform includes a real competition between public and private insurance plans. The only way to do this is to make sure there is at least one plan whose focus is providing care - not simply making a profit. Such a plan could take many forms, ranging from a federal cooperative patterned on rural electric companies to a nonprofit insurance plan."
[emphasis added]
A recently published article in The Huffington Post (Compromise Co-Op Proposal Won't Lower Costs, Government Study Showed) suggests that the GAO has in the past concluded that a Government-sponsored cooperative of private insurance companies comes up well short of the goal of reducing the cost of health insurance.

I continue to believe that a Medicare-like public-option is the only real reform that will curb predatory insurance practices and provide lower-cost, affordable health health insurance for Americans.

I note that we are the only developed country in the world without some form of universal health insurance, that we pay the most for healthcare, and get health outcomes that are simply embarrassing compared with other developed countries (we surpass only Turkey & Mexico with respect to infant mortality!).
[CRS Report for Congress, U.S. Healthcare Spending: Comparison with Other OECDCountries, September 17, 2007]

Again, I view the 'public-option' as a litmus test, and I look to you as a senior Senator to help President Obama twist some arms.
[I note that if LBJ had appeased his opponents, we'd likely not have the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Voting Rights Act of 1965 - and that Obama would likely NOT be our current President!
LBJ is the model President Obama ought imitate. I expect you to tell him this, and to help him twist some arms!]

I cannot tell you how upset I am to continue reading headlines along the lines of, "Dems cave on Public Option".
I'd hoped that with a solid Democratic House majority, a respectable Democratic Senate majority, and a Democratic president elected at least in part based on his perceived progressive principles that I'd not be reading these headlines today!

Sincerely,

Whistlin' in the wind

As the past couple of posts have illustrated, I'm getting a bit tired of simply commenting on the absurdity around me, and have tried to address my frustration with the 'debate' by taking action - however ineffectual that action might be.

I suspect I know most of my loyal readers personally - I don't have many loyal readers. The folks I know
1) generally share my political views

BUT

2) are generally disdainful of my ineffectual attempts at influence
Most of 'em regard letter-writing and emailing as futile, foolish gestures. Can't say I can argue with 'em, BUT - writing letters & sending emails makes me feel better... and I can't help but believe that if more of us wrote letters, we just might get heard.

So: a challenge to my more cynical colleagues.
Even if you don't think it does any good, WRITE A LETTER to President Obama today! (You can copy/paste mine - below!)
... and: ask three of your friends to do the same.

Again - in my heart of hearts, I know this is foolish futility... BUT what if it isn't?
("Always say your prayers at night, because it might turn out that there IS a God!")

Monday, August 17, 2009

My email to President Obama

Dear President Obama:
If you want to serve a second term - or even if you just want to have a successful first term - you may want to reconsider your willingness to 'compromise' with the loyal opposition. Such willingness so early in your first term will only be construed by the loyal opposition as weakness.

Simple advice to help your pursuit of bipartisanship: stand firm today. Let the loyal opposition know that they cannot cow you. Later on, they will realize that it is THEY who must compromise.

Let your role-model be LBJ - he who knew how to twist a few arms!

Again, if you stand firm today, you'll be much more likely to gain the bipartisan support you desire next year and the year after. If you cave today - so early in your first term - you only signal weakness. House & Senate Republicans and Blue Dogs will eat you alive!

Sincerely,

My letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama:
In 2008, disillusioned by eight years of W's misrule, we fell under your spell. You gave us hope, and we responded with enthusiasm and energy. You promised "Change We Can Believe In" and "Change We Need". We believed you.

While your quest for bipartisan solutions is noble, it is not realistic in the current political climate. Your Republican opponents - the so-called "loyal opposition" - in the House and Senate have no interest in supporting any legislation you propose. Their votes on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Stimulus Bill) proved that; even though you'd made an effort to water down the bill to bring Republicans into the fold.

Don't now abandon the centerpiece of health reform legislation - the "public option" - in a futile search for a bipartisan solution. Again - such a quest is futile. Like the unicorn and the Holy Grail, bipartisan solutions are mythical in today's political environment.

Instead, it's time for you to do your very best LBJ impersonation: take recalcitrant Democratic Senators aside and twist their arms. Face it, if LBJ had attempted to appease his Congressional opponents regarding the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, you would likely NOT be President today!

Another historical analogy comes to mind: Neville Chamberlain declaring "peace in our time" following the Munich Conference with Hitler. As Paul Krugman recently noted, your opponents cannot be appeased! They will never vote for meaningful reform of healthcare coverage, no matter what concessions you offer. Don't come before the cameras waving a neutered healthcare reform bill and declaring, "Bipartisanship in our time!"

Now is the time to stand firm and twist Democratic arms to achieve meaningful, historical reform of our national healthcare so-called 'system'. It is NOT the time to cave to Republican demands in the pursuit of a mythical beast.

If you do not stand firm and twist a few arms, you may discover that we who enthusiastically supported your candidacy in 2008 are no longer with you in 2012.

Sincerely,

They lie. (Does is matter if they're caught?)

Stolen in its entirety from AMERICAblog:
Monday, August 17, 2009
Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) just makes things up about health care
by Joe Sudbay (DC) on 8/17/2009 12:51:00 PM

It's so easy to be a Republican in the health care debate. All you have to do is lie. But, sometimes you'll get caught in the lies, like GOP Congressman/GOP Senate candidate Roy Blunt did:
As chairman of the House Republican Health Care Solutions Group, Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Springfield, knows a thing or two about health care. But some of what he knows just isn’t true.

“I’m 59,” Mr. Blunt said last week during a meeting with Post-Dispatch reporters and editors. “In either Canada or Great Britain, if I broke my hip, I couldn’t get it replaced.”

We fact-checked that. At least 63 percent of hip replacements performed in Canada last year and two-thirds of those done in England were on patients age 65 or older. More than 1,200 in Canada were done on people older than 85.

“I didn’t just pull that number out of thin air,” Mr. Blunt said in a subsequent interview. It came, he said, from testimony before the House Subcommittee on Health by “some people who are supposed to be experts on Canadian health care.”
Republicans are just pulling fake numbers and other falsehoods out of thin air. That's what they do. They lie. But, unfortunately, not everyone one fact checks. So, it seems to be working.
I'm betting that the LIE will be repeated endlessly by the folks on Fox, while the truth will be conveniently forgotten.

Stop the madness!

When we small-time progressives start to notice...

... well, it's not a happy realization.

From One Fly:
All BS From The Beginning

You all know by now that it appears any type of health insurance that was going to compete against the big boys is off the table at the White House.

No use going on even a little bit except to say-from the very beginning this was never fucking ever going to happen. It just was not going to be allowed.

The powerful have more or less complete control over our elected officials in DC. Our vote means squat. We are so screwed!

The picture at the top spends another day in respect for this lovely young lady and her message that is ever so very true but is for naught.
Not exactly sure what to do. My only semi-constructive idea is to scream louder & more frequently - tho' for me 'screaming' is metaphorical: I write letters & send emails.

The big story that isn't

With all the hoopla surrounding health care reform and teabaggers, economic/financial news seems to have slipped under MSM's radar.

There've been at least a few what would otherwise be big stories slip by in the past few months. The two that come to mind immediately are:
Income inequality at all-time high

Wall Street back on bonus binge
Neither one of these is getting the attention it deserves.

Fellow blogger Woody notes the same in comments:
Although it seems to me there a lot of heat and not much light around this issue [healthcare reform], which leads me to b elieve it's mostly a distraction, to focus on things NOT including the continued wholesale looting of the treasury by bernanke and Goldman Sachs...
Yep - does seem that way.

... and again:
Stop the madness!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I just got a Facebook invite...

... to join the group "I SUPPORT OBAMA ON HEALTH CARE!!!"

I sent a note to the person who invited me, explaining that I'll NOT join such a group so long as I keep seeing headlines like this one:
OBAMA ADMIN READY TO ABANDON PUBLIC HEALTH CARE OPTION
If the final bill does NOT include public option, then I'll urge my Congressman and Senators to vote AGAINST it!

During W's final two years, I got really tired of seeing headlines like, "Dems cave to W". There were lots of 'em - even tho' Dems controlled Congress.

Now that Dems are a solid majority in the House, a decent majority in the Senate, and our Dem President was elected based at least in part on his progressive promises, I'm REALLY TICKED to keep seeing, "Dems cave to Republicans" headlines.

Folks, the Republicans are NOT going to vote for the health care reform bill NO MATTER WHAT CONCESSIONS you make!!!
Give it up!
Push through a GOOD BILL! - not one watered down to appease Republicans who WILL NOT BE APPEASED!

Been a long time since I've used this line, but it seems appropriate under current circumstances:

Stop the madness!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Q: How can you tell when a Republican is lying?

A: His lips are moving.

Yeah - old joke.
Some of my favorites:
Saddam has operational ties with al Qaeda.

Iraq has WMD.
My favorite from this era:
President Bush pledged anew Friday that Osama bin Laden will be taken "dead or alive" ...
W pledged! - Guess we know what W's word is worth!!!

Today?
Obama's "death panels".
Why do they lie... all the time... about everything???

I suspect the simplest answer is the best: They lie because nobody would support 'em based on the truth!

Their lies all have something in common: all their lies are designed to scare us! - that's how Republicans want to rule, by keeping us afraid of everything all the time!
If we're afraid, then they can pretend to protect us.

One of the best brief descriptions of this strategy is from a fictional speech, delivered by President Andrew Shepherd in The American President" [1995]:
We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things, and two things only: making you afraid of it, and telling you who's to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections.
That about sums up the Republican world-view: make us afraid & tell us who to blame.

For everything.

The sad thing is, this strategy works!!!

When will we stop drinking the Republican Kool-Aid?

A really long post + a story

The story:
I'm told frequently, by folks who don't know me, that I have a really great voice.
So - for about a year-and-a-half, I'm been "working" on taking advantage of this asset: consulting with folks on what it takes to develop a 'voice-over' career, crafting audition scripts, etc.
Yeah - I've been at it for 1.5 years. ("As the ancient Romans said, festina lente." - quote from G&S's Iolanthe.)

Anyway: I've recently (today) crafted an audition script for what I propose as a 10-minute radio harangue for a 15-minute early morning (2:35 a.m.) timeslot on local AM radio station ("Hi! I'm auditioning for a position you didn't know you had!").
The basic idea is to be rancorously, not-at-all genteel response to right-wing talk-radio.

I'll let you know how it turns out.
Anyway, here's my unedited script:
Private Buffoon here.

Tonight we’re gonna talk about health coverage.
Limbaugh, Beck, and the other right-wing talking heads would have you believe that universal health coverage is the first step on the way to totalitarianism – give the Government a say in health coverage and next thing you know we’ll be euthanizing Grandma and killing your kids… well, only the ones who don’t get A’s in the “All Praise Our Glorious Leader” class that will soon be required from 1st thru 12th grades in every public school in America.

Let’s start with a few facts.
I know – facts aren’t a good place to start if you’re on the radio, but let’s give it a try.

Pay attention.

The United States of America is a member of a group called the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development – OECD for short. This group consists of 30 developed countries…
committed to democracy and the market economy from around the world to:
Support sustainable economic growth
Boost employment
Raise living standards
Maintain financial stability
Assist other countries' economic development
Contribute to growth in world trade
It includes Australia, Austria, Denmark, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the U.K., and New Zealand, just to name a few.

Not exactly a bunch of third-world, developing countries under totalitarian despots.

Among these countries, the U.S. is the ONLY country without some form of universal health coverage. The only one.

Not every country has the same system. England – the U.K. – has truly ‘socialized’ medicine: doctors are government employees. Everyone can go to the doctor for whatever medical problems they have. The Government foots the bill and employs the doctors.

Canada has a ‘single payer’ system. Doctors are independent agents – just like in the U.S…. BUT – the Canadian government is the sole insurer. You go to the doctor of your choice, pay a nominal co-pay, and the doctor – he or she – submits the insurance paper-work to a single insurer: the Canadian government.

Other countries do other things… BUT – they all guarantee affordable, high-quality, timely health care to all their citizens…
… Well – all except the U.S.!!!

A comparison of U.S. healthcare to other OECD countries is enlightening.
I’m not making this stuff up – the numbers are from the Congressional Research Service:
A Report on
U.S. Health Care Spending:
Comparison with Other OECD Countries
Prepared for Congress in September 2007.
How ‘bout we talk healthcare spending?
The United States spends more money on health care than any other country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD consists of 30 democracies, most of which are considered the most economically advanced countries in the world. According to OECD data, the United States spent $6,102 per capita on health care in 2004 — more than double the OECD average and 19.9% more than Luxembourg, the second-highest spending country. In 2004, 15.3% of the U.S. economy was devoted to health care, compared with 8.9% in the average OECD country and 11.6% in second-placed Switzerland.


We spend more than DOUBLE the average of OECD countries on healthcare.

So, we have better health than everybody else, right?
Wrong!

What does the United States get for the money it spends? Said slightly differently, does the United States get corresponding value from the money it spends on health care? … among OECD countries in 2004, the United States had shorter-than-average life expectancy and higher-than-average mortality rates. …

… research comparing the quality of care has not found the United States to be superior overall. Nor does the U.S. population have substantially better access to health care resources, even putting aside the issue of the uninsured. Although the United States does not have long wait times for non-emergency surgeries, unlike some OECD countries, Americans found it more difficult to make same-day doctor’s appointments when sick and had the most difficulty getting care on nights and weekends. They were also most likely to delay or forgo treatment because of cost.
The report quantifies these findings.
Life Expectancy. The average life expectancy for a person in the United States is 77 ½ years — slightly below the OECD average, and 4½ years less than toprated Japan. Life expectancy is nearly 2½ years longer in Canada than in the United States. The United States is ranked 22nd out of 30 countries on life expectancy at birth …
Mortality Rates. The United States has a higher rate of deaths from natural causes than 17 OECD countries.
That’s right – of the 30 OECD countries – all except the U.S. with some form of universal health coverage, and all paying LESS than the U.S. for healthcare – the U.S. ranks 18th in mortality – in the bottom half!
Infant Mortality Rates. The United States has the third-highest infant mortality rate in the OECD, after Turkey and Mexico!
Hey – we beat out TURKEY and MEXICO on infant mortality!!!
30 countries in the OECD.
The U.S. ranks 28th in infant mortality!

These are the facts. Not MY facts, but FACTS reported by the Congressional Research Service, for members of Congress.
We spend more on healthcare than any other country in the world, no matter how you measure it.
We spend more per capita on healthcare than any other country in the world.
We spend more as a percent of GDP than any other country in the world.

BUT: We are in the bottom half when it comes to basic health outcomes: life-expectancy, mortality rates, infant mortality… and we’re better than only TURKEY and MEXICO when it comes to infant mortality!!!

Sarah Palin worries about Government-sponsored healthcare killing her kids?
She should worry about private insurance killing her kids!!!

Congressional Republicans and conservative talking heads would have you believe that so-called ‘socialized’ medicine would result in healthcare rationing, Grandma being euthanized, and the rest of us subject to arbitrary decisions of government bureaucrats.

Guess what?
We all are ALREADY subject to the not-so-arbitrary decisions of healthcare bureaucrats! They’re called INSURANCE COMPANIES.
Private insurance companies devote tons of money every year to DENYING claims! – I don’t know how much insurance companies spend DENYING claims – if I had the numbers I’d tell you – but my bet is around 20 cents of every premium dollar goes to pay for BUREAUCRATS whose only job is to DENY YOUR CLAIM!

A recent government report, “Coverage Denied: How the Current Health Insurance System Leaves Millions Behind”, explains how this works: - this is a lengthy quotation from the report -
A pre-existing condition is a medical condition that existed before someone applies for or enrolls in a new health insurance policy. It can be something as prevalent as heart disease – which affects one in three adults – or something as life-changing as cancer, which affects 11 million Americans.
But a pre-existing condition does not have to be a serious disease like cancer or heart disease. Even relatively minor conditions like hay fever, asthma, or previous sports injuries can trigger high premiums or denials of coverage.

In 45 states across the country, insurance companies can discriminate against people based on their pre-existing conditions when they try to purchase health insurance directly from insurance companies in the individual insurance market. Insurers can deny them coverage, charge higher premiums, and/or refuse to cover that particular medical condition.

A recent national survey estimated that 12.6 million non-elderly adult – 36 percent of those who tried to purchase health insurance directly from an insurance company in the individual insurance market – were in fact discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition in the previous three years
In another survey, one in 10 people with cancer said they could not obtain health coverage, and six percent said they lost their coverage, because of being diagnosed with the disease.
It is still legal in nine states for insurers to reject applicants who are survivors of domestic violence, citing the history of domestic violence as a pre-existing condition.
Even when offering coverage, insurers can exclude whole categories of illnesses related to a pre-existing condition. For example, someone with a pre-existing condition of hay fever could have any respiratory system disease – such as bronchitis or pneumonia – excluded from coverage.
Okay – I’m done reading from the report.

This isn’t my opinion. This is a Government Report!

Even if the pre-existing condition has NOTHING to do with your current ailment – say, you had hay-fever and now have prostate cancer – and EVEN IF you DID NOT KNOW about the pre-existing condition, your insurance company can STILL deny coverage!

You wanna talk about ‘rationed care’???
Sure – let’s talk about ‘rationed care’… UNDER THE CURRENT PRIVATE SYSTEM!!!

Now – I can understand why private health insurance companies want to maintain the status quo: they’re making a mint off of you! – you pay premiums, they get to decide if they’ll pay up when you file a claim.
Maybe they will.
Maybe they won’t.

If they don’t, you’re screwed!

You don’t have a pre-existing condition?
Sorry – you’re still screwed!
A recent Harvard University study found that 62% of personal bankruptcies resulted in part from medical costs and some 78% of those people who filed for bankruptcy had health insurance, in most cases private coverage.
The fine print in insurance contracts frequently precludes the very coverage you THINK you’re paying for!

As I stated earlier – I can understand why private health insurance companies want to maintain the status quo. They’re making a mint off you & me!!!

BUT: why are YOU - presumably sane, ordinary citizens - opposed to reforming this predatory, expensive, non-productive system?

Well… as best I can tell, there is no REASON! – there’s just a lot of corporate-sponsored, ideological fear-mongering going on… and these poor slobs – you, my listeners – are drinking the Kool-Aid!

“Drinking the Kool-Aid” is a metaphor deriving from the Jonestown mass suicide of 1978. Hundreds of perfectly sane, perfectly healthy individuals somehow were convinced by Jim Jones to commit suicide by drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. These folks were no different than you and me – honest, hard-working, conscientious citizens who fell under the mesmerizing spell of a charlatan
You – my fellow citizens – have come under a similar spell, of another charlatan.
Not a charismatic individual, but a charlatan nonetheless – Big Insurance and Big Health.

These are the folks you need to fear, not the government!

Just like the residents of Jonestown, you are being convinced, against your better, rational judgment, to “drink the Kool-Aid” – in this case, to oppose what every other developed country in the world has already adopted! – with less cost and better outcomes than the broken system we have inherited – a government-sponsored program to assure affordable, timely access to high-quality health care!
Just as Jim Jones’s followers committed suicide by “drinking the Kool-Aid”, so are YOU being asked to commit financial suicide by “drinking the Kool-Aid” of Big Insurance and Big Health.

Why?

Why have you bought into the irrational propaganda?

Again: Every other developed country in the world has some form of national health insurance, guaranteeing their citizens access to affordable, timely, high-quality health care. Not the U.S.

You folks on Medicare: you’re already GETTING U.S. Government-sponsored access to affordable, timely, high-quality medical care.
Do you hate it??? – No, I didn’t think so!
Has anyone threatened to take it away… well, except for the right-wing, who thinks Medicare is an evil Socialist conspiracy?
There’s NOTHING in the current health-coverage reform bill that threatens Medicare! NOTHING!!! – you’ll still get your United States Government-subsidized health insurance, aka MEDICARE!

There are two (2! – count ‘em!) things on the table:
1. Regulation of private insurance companies so they can’t deny the rest of us coverage based on so-called ‘pre-existing’ conditions.
2. Offer the rest of us – those of us under retirement age – a program similar to Medicare.
You’re happy with Medicare – why can’t we have something similar???

“Rationed care”???
You’re getting it now – with private insurance companies!!!

When Sarah Palin and Senator Grassley talk about “death panels”, they’re lying to you - to put it bluntly.
This should not be too surprising – conservatives lie to you all the time.
(More on this in another installment!)

That’s what the word means – “conservative” – “conserve the status quo.”
Keep things just the way they are.
(Note: I’m okay using the word “conservative” to describe the folks who are lying to you. BUT – I would prefer to use the term “conservative Republicans” – I choose not to use this term because I really do NOT want to alienate any self-identified Republicans among my listening audience.)

A couple of observations.

When the idea of Medicare was first proposed in the late ‘50s, early ‘60s of the last century, who rose up to oppose it?
Conservatives.
Conservative Republicans, to be exact.

If Medicare were enacted, all sorts of horrible things would result!!!
You wouldn’t be able to choose your own doctor.
Medical care would be rationed.
The United States would descend into a godless Communist hell.
(For what it’s worth, Saint Reagan – the patron saint of conservative Republicans – was one of the mouthpieces for this propaganda.
Guess what? – he was wrong!)

Under LBJ, Medicare was created!!! – Yes – a “socialized medicine” program was created under an ultra-liberal Democratic President!

Know what else?

Medicare is one of the most popular, most successful Government programs in history!

Sort of takes you back to 1935 when Social Security was made law.
Social Security is close to the most popular, the most successful social insurance programs ever enacted.
Guess who did it?
Liberal Democrats under a liberal Democratic President – FDR!
Guess who hated it? – conservative Republicans.

Even as recently as 2005, President George W. Bush and his Congressional Republican enablers tried to kill Social Security!
These are the folks you think will lead you into the Promised Land???

Again, when Sarah Palin and Senator Charles Grassley talk about “Death Squads”, they’re lying to you.
They just want you to be afraid.
Afraid of everything, all the time.
They don’t care about you – they just want you to be afraid.

I suppose I ought to dispose of the “Nazi” scare tactics at some point.
How ‘bout now?

Let’s start with obvious.
Yes, “Nazi” is a shortened form of National Socialism. – BUT – words aren’t reality.

Somehow, at the mere mention of “Socialism” we’re all now supposed to run to our caves and cow… shuddering at the word!

Glenn Beck looks forward to Nazi eugenics based on “end-of-life” planning.
That’s a good place to start.
Here’s the exact wording of HR 3200, section 1233 – and, yes, I’m going to read it in full:
SEC. 1233. ADVANCE CARE PLANNING CONSULTATION.

(a) Medicare-

(1) IN GENERAL- Section 1861 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395x) is amended--

(A) in subsection (s)(2)--

(i) by striking `and' at the end of subparagraph (DD);

(ii) by adding `and' at the end of subparagraph (EE); and

(iii) by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

`(FF) advance care planning consultation (as defined in subsection (hhh)(1));'; and

(B) by adding at the end the following new subsection:
Okay – pay attention! – here’s the definition of “Advance Care Planning”!
`Advance Care Planning Consultation
`(hhh)(1) Subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), the term `advance care planning consultation' means a consultation between the individual and a practitioner described in paragraph (2) regarding advance care planning, if, subject to paragraph (3), the individual involved has not had such a consultation within the last 5 years. Such consultation shall include the following:

`(A) An explanation by the practitioner of advance care planning, including key questions and considerations, important steps, and suggested people to talk to.

`(B) An explanation by the practitioner of advance directives, including living wills and durable powers of attorney, and their uses.

`(C) An explanation by the practitioner of the role and responsibilities of a health care proxy.

`(D) The provision by the practitioner of a list of national and State-specific resources to assist consumers and their families with advance care planning, including the national toll-free hotline, the advance care planning clearinghouses, and State legal service organizations (including those funded through the Older Americans Act of 1965).

`(E) An explanation by the practitioner of the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice, and benefits for such services and supports that are available under this title.

`(F)(i) Subject to clause (ii), an explanation of orders regarding life sustaining treatment or similar orders, which shall include—


`(I) the reasons why the development of such an order is beneficial to the individual and the individual's family and the reasons why such an order should be updated periodically as the health of the individual changes;

`(II) the information needed for an individual or legal surrogate to make informed decisions regarding the completion of such an order; and

`(III) the identification of resources that an individual may use to determine the requirements of the State in which such individual resides so that the treatment wishes of that individual will be carried out if the individual is unable to communicate those wishes, including requirements regarding the designation of a surrogate decisionmaker (also known as a health care proxy).


`(ii) The Secretary shall limit the requirement for explanations under clause (i) to consultations furnished in a State—

`(I) in which all legal barriers have been addressed for enabling orders for life sustaining treatment to constitute a set of medical orders respected across all care settings; and

`(II) that has in effect a program for orders for life sustaining treatment described in clause (iii).

`(iii) A program for orders for life sustaining treatment for a States described in this clause is a program that—


`(I) ensures such orders are standardized and uniquely identifiable throughout the State;

`(II) distributes or makes accessible such orders to physicians and other health professionals that (acting within the scope of the professional's authority under State law) may sign orders for life sustaining treatment;

`(III) provides training for health care professionals across the continuum of care about the goals and use of orders for life sustaining treatment; and

`(IV) is guided by a coalition of stakeholders includes representatives from emergency medical services, emergency department physicians or nurses, state long-term care association, state medical association, state surveyors, agency responsible for senior services, state department of health, state hospital association, home health association, state bar association, and state hospice association.


`(2) A practitioner described in this paragraph is—


`(A) a physician (as defined in subsection (r)(1)); and

`(B) a nurse practitioner or physician's assistant who has the authority under State law to sign orders for life sustaining treatments.


`(3)(A) An initial preventive physical examination under subsection (WW), including any related discussion during such examination, shall not be considered an advance care planning consultation for purposes of applying the 5-year limitation under paragraph (1).


`(B) An advance care planning consultation with respect to an individual may be conducted more frequently than provided under paragraph (1) if there is a significant change in the health condition of the individual, including diagnosis of a chronic, progressive, life-limiting disease, a life-threatening or terminal diagnosis or life-threatening injury, or upon admission to a skilled nursing facility, a long-term care facility (as defined by the Secretary), or a hospice program.


`(4) A consultation under this subsection may include the formulation of an order regarding life sustaining treatment or a similar order.

`(5)(A) For purposes of this section, the term `order regarding life sustaining treatment' means, with respect to an individual, an actionable medical order relating to the treatment of that individual that—


`(i) is signed and dated by a physician (as defined in subsection (r)(1)) or another health care professional (as specified by the Secretary and who is acting within the scope of the professional's authority under State law in signing such an order, including a nurse practitioner or physician assistant) and is in a form that permits it to stay with the individual and be followed by health care professionals and providers across the continuum of care;

`(ii) effectively communicates the individual's preferences regarding life sustaining treatment, including an indication of the treatment and care desired by the individual;

`(iii) is uniquely identifiable and standardized within a given locality, region, or State (as identified by the Secretary); and

`(iv) may incorporate any advance directive (as defined in section 1866(f)(3)) if executed by the individual.


`(B) The level of treatment indicated under subparagraph (A)(ii) may range from an indication for full treatment to an indication to limit some or all or specified interventions. Such indicated levels of treatment may include indications respecting, among other items—


`(i) the intensity of medical intervention if the patient is pulse less, apneic, or has serious cardiac or pulmonary problems;

`(ii) the individual's desire regarding transfer to a hospital or remaining at the current care setting;

`(iii) the use of antibiotics; and

`(iv) the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration.'.


(2) PAYMENT- Section 1848(j)(3) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 1395w-4(j)(3)) is amended by inserting `(2)(FF),' after `(2)(EE),'.

(3) FREQUENCY LIMITATION- Section 1862(a) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 1395y(a)) is amended—


(A) in paragraph (1)—


(i) in subparagraph (N), by striking `and' at the end;

(ii) in subparagraph (O) by striking the semicolon at the end and inserting `, and'; and

(iii) by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

`(P) in the case of advance care planning consultations (as defined in section 1861(hhh)(1)), which are performed more frequently than is covered under such section;'; and


(B) in paragraph (7), by striking `or (K)' and inserting `(K), or (P)'.


(4) EFFECTIVE DATE- The amendments made by this subsection shall apply to consultations furnished on or after January 1, 2011.


(b) Expansion of Physician Quality Reporting Initiative for End of Life Care-


(1) Physician'S QUALITY REPORTING INITIATIVE- Section 1848(k)
(2) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395w-4(k)(2)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraphs:

`(3) Physician'S QUALITY REPORTING INITIATIVE-


`(A) IN GENERAL- For purposes of reporting data on quality measures for covered professional services furnished during 2011 and any subsequent year, to the extent that measures are available, the Secretary shall include quality measures on end of life care and advanced care planning that have been adopted or endorsed by a consensus-based organization, if appropriate. Such measures shall measure both the creation of and adherence to orders for life-sustaining treatment.

`(B) PROPOSED SET OF MEASURES- The Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register proposed quality measures on end of life care and advanced care planning that the Secretary determines are described in subparagraph (A) and would be appropriate for eligible professionals to use to submit data to the Secretary. The Secretary shall provide for a period of public comment on such set of measures before finalizing such proposed measures.'.

(c) Inclusion of Information in Medicare & You Handbook-


(1) MEDICARE & YOU HANDBOOK-

(A) IN GENERAL- Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall update the online version of the Medicare & You Handbook to include the following:

(i) An explanation of advance care planning and advance directives, including--

(I) living wills;

(II) durable power of attorney;

(III) orders of life-sustaining treatment; and

(IV) health care proxies.

(ii) A description of Federal and State resources available to assist individuals and their families with advance care planning and advance directives, including—


(I) available State legal service organizations to assist individuals with advance care planning, including those organizations that receive funding pursuant to the Older Americans Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 93001 et seq.);

(II) website links or addresses for State-specific advance directive forms; and

(III) any additional information, as determined by the Secretary.


(B) UPDATE OF PAPER AND SUBSEQUENT VERSIONS- The Secretary shall include the information described in subparagraph (A) in all paper and electronic versions of the Medicare & You Handbook that are published on or after the date that is 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act.
(note: i tried to indent this bit appropriately but gave up!)

Okay – so what does all this legalistic jargon mean?

It means – if you don’t want to be the next nationally televised Terry Schiavo, you can decide for yourself, now, today, what to do if you’re deemed to be in a “permanently vegetative state” – and not have your husband or wife or parents agonize over what you may or may not have wanted…

… AND: you’ll be reimbursed for the Doctor’s time helping you to make this decision.

Does it mandate “Death Panels”???
NO!
Does it REQUIRE that you plan ahead???
NO!

BUT: conservative Republicans – and the Health Insurance Industry – would really like it if you could be convinced that this simple promise that you’ll be covered for end-of-life decisions meant that YOU’LL BE PUT TO DEATH!

That’s what THEY want you to believe.
That’s NOT what the legislations says!

As it so happens, I agree with Sarah Palin that a system that required a
“death panel” … to decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.
You know what, Sarah?
Such a system would be downright evil.

You know what else?
NOTHING like that is being proposed!

You’re just saying this stuff to SCARE US!!!

It’s what conservatives do – you’re just like the rest of ‘em:
You want us to be SCARED – all the time, of everything!

So – next time one of your conservative Republican friends wants to SCARE THE BEJEESUS out of you with tales of euthanasia and Nazis –
LAUGH OUT LOUD!!!

It’s about time we joined the crowd, adopted some form of universal health coverage, and maybe actually got the “health” we’re paying for!!!

We’re long overdue for reform.

We voted for Democrats because we were sick of Republicans!

It’s time to STOP BEING AFRAID, ALL THE TIME, OF EVERYTHING!!!

Write your Congressman and Senators today!
Tell ‘em that you don’t want to drink the Kool-Aid!!
Tell ‘em that you’re sick and tired of being ruled by Big Corporations!!!

Tell ‘em that you believe in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution:
“… to promote the general welfare”
Not the welfare of big business and the heartless plutocrats who now rule our country, but the GENERAL welfare – YOUR welfare!!!
Yeah - I'm pissed!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Someone else has noticed...

A few posts back I cited the "war on drugs" as an example of good intentions gone awry.

Someone else has noticed:
The war on drugs needs a timeout
[Christian Science Monitor, 11 Aug 09]
... not that anything'll change...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I just don't get it...

What's so terrifying about govt-sponsored health coverage for all?

Where were Beck & Limbaugh when John Yoo concluded that the President's "commander-in-chief" powers were effectively those of a dictator?
Where were they when we were becoming a police state, with the government happily spying on ordinary citizens, and those same citizens encouraged to spy on each other (anyone recall TIPS?)?
- These represented real threats to the Constitution and to our democracy.

Universal health coverage???

Again - I just don't get it.

Someone says it better than I do

Thom Hartmann: Day in the Life of Joe Middle-Class Republican

... and here's a link to the original:
Day in the Life of Joe Middle-Class Republican
[John Gray, July 2004]

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My bet is...

... Beck will interpret this as an infringement of his First Amendment right to Free Speech:
GEICO Pulls Its Ads from Glenn Beck Show
But he'll be wrong (what a surprise!).

The First Amendment guarantees (among other things):
Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press
The Amendment - the first of our Bill of Rights - prohibits the government from restricting our speech.

It doesn't promise that the free market must pay for our speech.
If nothing else, I'd willing to bet that Beck is a big believer in the free market!

Conservative minds at work (2 of 'em!)

Last Friday we had:
Glenn Beck jokes about putting poison in Nancy Pelosi's wine
Yesterday it was:
Dobbs on Howard Dean: "[H]e's a bloodsucking leftist -- I mean, you gotta put a stake through his heart to stop this guy"
Ah, yes - reasoned discourse, intelligent discussion. Just kill 'em all!!!

[I've noted this perhaps disturbing conservative tendency before.]

(I think it sounds better than it reads...)

(... but it's still not very good)

The NAFTA Highway euthanized my Grandma:
The NAFTA Highway euthanized my Grandma.
Hussein Obama’s a-comin’ after me!
Sharia law was good enough for Hitler –
But my AK-47 will keep me free!

Pelosi wears a brooch shaped like a swastika –
Glenn Beck showed me the photo on TV!
Yes – the NAFTA Highway euthanized my Grandma.
But my AK-47’ll keep me free!

I think I’m a-comin’ down with the swine flu -
My wetback yardman passed it on to me!
I’ve asked, and he says he doesn’t have his green-card –
(Claims he was born in Cayce, Kentuck-ee.)

Hussein Obama’s mullah got me fatwahed.
(He used to be a colonel in the KGB!)
Yes – the NAFTA Highway euthanized my Grandma.
But my AK-47’ll keep me free!
(This is only one tiny example of "Why I don't make a living in country-western music"!)

What we need...

... is a catchy country-western song.

I've got a title:
The NAFTA Highway Euthanized My Grandma
If I get any further I'll let you know.
(suggestions welcome!)

If I were in charge of advertising...

... for the DNC, I'd run a spot a long these lines:
Do you like Social Security?
- So do we! We're the Democrats who brought you Social Security in 1935 under FDR... over the strenuous objections of Senate & House Republicans!
Oh - and for what it's worth:
Social Security is run by the United States Government!
George Bush and Congressional Republicans wanted to kill Social Security in 2005!

Do you like Medicare?
- So do we! We're the Democrats who brought you Medicare in 1965 under LBJ... over the strenuous objections of the Senate and House Republicans!
Oh - and, for what it's worth:
Medicare is a social insurance program administered by the United States government
Today, Senate and House Republicans are again up in arms against Democrats for suggesting that it is the right of every American citizen to have access to affordable, high-quality, timely healthcare.

You like Social Security and Medicare.
You'll like the Democratic Health Care bill!
Of course, I'm not in charge of the DNC's advertising.

You can't make up this stuff!

"People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless."
[How House Bill Runs Over Grandma, INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, July 31, 2009]
Uh... Stephen Hawking DOES live in the U.K. - he holds Newton's old chair at Cambridge (Lucasian Professor of Mathematics)!

As it turns out, he's lived his entire life in the U.K.:
Born: 8 January 1942; Oxford, England.

After Stephen was born, the family moved back to London, where his father headed the division of parasitology at the National Institute for Medical Research.
...
In 1950, Hawking and his family moved to St Albans in Hertfordshire where he attended St Albans School from 1950 to 1953. ...
He enrolled at University College, Oxford with the intent of studying mathematics... After receiving his B.A. degree at Oxford University in 1962, he stayed to study astronomy.
He left Oxford for Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he engaged in the study of theoretical astronomy and cosmology...
...
After gaining his Ph.D., Stephen became first a Research Fellow, and later on a Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College.

Hawking was elected as one of the youngest Fellows of the Royal Society in 1974, was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1982, and became a Companion of Honour in 1989.
[Wikepedia entry, Stephen Hawking]
Tell me again how the U.K. healthcare system would've killed him???

Sunday, August 9, 2009

... another exercise in futility

My letter to Sarah Palin:
Mrs. Palin:

If you intend to be taken seriously on the national political stage, you might want to start by taking yourself seriously.

Your recent, now well-publicized Facebook posting regarding the various healthcare bills now under debate in Congress is a case in point:
The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.
You're right! - Such a system would be downright evil!!!

Can you identify the sections/paragraphs of ANY version of the current health-care bill in Congress that implies the creation of a “death panel”, or that individual end-of-life decisions will be determined by ANYONE other than the individual and his/her family based on “level of productivity in society”?

No, you can’t. You can’t because THERE ARE NO SUCH PROVISIONS!

Please, if you must speak on issues of national policy, speak with knowledge!
Otherwise, though your ill-informed rantings may appeal to 20% of the electorate, 20% has never won an election.

Sincerely,
I'm not sure why I'm offering sound political advice to Palin, but it was fun to write the letter.

FYI: her address is
1140 W Parks Hwy
Wasilla, AK 99654

An exercise in futility

Rush Limbaugh sees a distinct and sinister similarity.

I just sent him an email with this image:

This is the patch adopted by the U.S. Army Medical Corps in 1902.

I suggested that Rush probably sees the caduceus in the U.S. Army Medical Corps patch surrounded by a big "Obama O" - a clear indication that even in 1902 - before Obama's parents were born - the Illuminati had determined to elect Obama the anti-Christ.

Yes, I know this email was futile... but it was fun!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The sub-text: Republicans believe the USA is a small, weak country

[Congressman (R-VA)] Cantor said that instead of focusing on issues such as Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, Obama should concentrate on “the primary issue of import … and that is the existential threat that Iran poses not only to the state of Israel but to the United States.”
[Cantor-led GOP delegation to Israel undermines U.S. policy on settlements. ; emphasis added]
Congressman Cantor believes Iran poses an existential threat to the United States.
Iran!

This is reminiscent of W-era rhetoric that Iraq posed an existential threat to the U.S.
Two small countries on the other side of the globe, posing an existential threat to America!

America must be a pretty weak nation!

Is this what Congressman Cantor believes, that America is a weak nation???

Come to think of it, I should have seen this before.
Psychologists assure us that bullying, bravado behavior covers up deep insecurity.
The only plausible conclusion?
Republicans really do believe that the USA is a weak, threatened nation.
This is quite different from their rhetoric of "American exceptionalism".

The next time you hear a Republican politician citing Iran as an "existential threat" to America, call him on it!
(note: I just wrote a snailmail letter to Congressman Cantor.)

update: here's my letter
Dear Congressman Cantor:

You were recently quoted as saying that President Obama should not focus on settlements, but on:
“... the primary issue of import [regarding Israel and the MidEast]… and that is the existential threat that Iran poses not only to the state of Israel but to the United States.”
Do you really believe that Iran poses an “existential threat” to America?
Do you really believe that the USA is a weak country – so weak that Iran could be a true “existential threat” to it?

If so, you don’t believe in the same America as I do.
Iran may be an annoying fly, buzzing around my face – but an “existential threat”???

Me? I’ll do my best to let the world – and your constituents – know what a poor opinion you have of my country!

Sincerely,

Pragmatism

Many (most?) of my posts betray a liberal/"progressive" ideological bent.
Nevetheless, I consider myself a pragmatist: do what works.
(... with a clear notion of exactly what it is the policy is supposed to achieve. Careful readers will note that I'm big on "strategic objectives": what is it we want the world to look like next year? In two years? In five years? - whether in Iraq or in our economy.)

As a liberal 'pragmatist', I'm generally willing to give just about anything a shot. Does it work? Great! Let's keep doing it.
If it doesn't work, let's honestly admit defeat and try something else.

My conservative colleagues don't see it this way.
They prefer ideology above all else - who cares if it doesn't work?

Stated goal: prevent teen preganancy and reduce incidence of sexually-transmitted diseases.
Solution #1: "abstinence only" education.
Result: Teen pregnancy and syphilis up sharply during Bush years.

Stated goal: reduce Americans' use of bad drugs & reduce the illegal drug trade.
Solution #1: "War on Drugs". (The term was first used by President Richard Nixon in 1969)
Result: Drug use in America unchanged; Mexican & Colombian drug cartels run rampant.
[aside: Prohibition had a similar effect - Americans kept drinking while Organized Crime flourished.]

I'll concede: maybe it's best that teens abstain from sex.
Maybe it's best that no one snorts coke.
BUT: teens WILL have sex and folks WILL snort coke!

Let's find policies that accomplish the stated goals.
You want to reduce teen pregancy & control STDs?
Getting teens to stop having sex is not realistic.
How 'bout we teach 'em about contraception & prophylactics to reduce STDs?
[Even our esteemed Republican opposition seems to concede - by their actions - that prohibiting sex is not a realistic goal!]

Drug use? With absolutely NO corroborating data I assert that the cost to society of unconstrained drug use would be far less than the cost of interdiction, prosecution, and incarceration is today.
... AND: legalizing the trade would put drug cartels out of business! - automatically curtailing the trade in automatic weapons as a beneficial side-effect!
I have a more-or-less relevant analogy to hand: Prohibition.
Yes, alcoholism is bad - but the cost to society of lost productivity & treatment is FAR LESS than the cost incurred by interdiction, prosecution, and incarceration... AND - organized crime was crippled by Repeal! (till they discovered heroin...)

Conservatives oughta love this! - the Evil Government can't dictate what the proud, resourceful individual can or cannot ingest! - It's the proud, resourceful individual's body - let him use it as he pleases!

The neocon 'pre-emptive war' in Iraq? Maybe it was a great idea.
It didn't accomplish the stated goal of keeping us safer!
- If anything, it made us less safe - now we're truly despised by the Muslim world! (... as opposed to simply loathed... )

So, yeah - let's give policies a fair chance to succeed...
BUT: when they clearly fail, let's try something different!

Food for thought

Fellow curmudgeon & ABQ blogger Woody (The Well-Armed Lamb) notes in comments that (slightly paraphrased):
If two female Iranian "journalists"--there are such, of course--were apprehended entering the US through Mexico, where they were ginning up resentment toward the USA...

I don't think it would be an exaggeration to imagine they'd have been sliced, diced, and incarcerated faster than you could shake a stick at. And no visiting Islamic potentate could have EVER arranged for their release.
If we as a county want to continue to assert our moral superiority, it's time for more than a little self-examination, confession, and penance.

Friday, August 7, 2009

this doesn't sound good...

WASHINGTON – On at least a dozen recent flights by U.S. jetliners, malfunctioning equipment made it impossible for pilots to know how fast they were flying,federal investigators have discovered.
[AP Enterprise: Airspeed systems failed on US jets, By JOAN LOWY, Associated Press Writer, 7 Aug 2009]
Good thing I'm not planning to fly anywhere anytime soon!

Where's H.L. Mencken when you need him?

"Puritanism is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."
[H.L. Mencken]
Mencken also noted that:
The Puritan's utter lack of aesthetic sense, his distrust of all romantic emotion, his unmatchable intolerance of opposition, his unbreakable belief in his own bleak and narrow views, his savage cruelty of attack, his lust for relentless and barbarous persecution-- these things have put an almost unbearable burden up on the exchange of ideas in the United States."
[A Book of Prefaces, H.L. Mencken, 1917]

This is probably not an accurate description of 'Puritans', but it does describe today's conservatives:
anti-abortion, anti-contraception (sex for pleasure is bad!)

anti-welfare (lest the undeserving poor benefit!)

anti-drugs (way too cheap a good time!... and you shouldn't be getting high at any price!)
Pointless aside: I'm reminded of an anecdote - source now long-forgotten - regarding St. Paul:
He would've recommended married couples give up sex for Lent,
... but feared folks would then look forward to Easter for the wrong reason!
Among the arguments against universal health-coverage is that illegal aliens would benefit. Again, conservatives would prefer to deny benefits to 99.99% of the population, just to ensure that the "undeserving" .01% don't get a free ride!
Back in the day this was known as "cutting off your nose to spite your face."

The 'puritans' Mencken attacked are still with us, pretty much unchanged.
And they are still putting "an almost unbearable burden up on the exchange of ideas in the United States."
We need a Mencken to combat 'em!!!

Digression: A friend recently noted that on her trip to Greece she broke her foot. Her total bill to take care of this was something less than $20 - thanks to Greece's evil socialized medicine.
... and - as she noted - she was a TOURIST, not a Greek citizen!

Again I ask: what's wrong with socialism?

Just for fun: St. Reagan & Medicare

The doctor begins to lose freedom. . . . First you decide that the doctor can have so many patients. They are equally divided among the various doctors by the government. But then doctors aren’t equally di­vided geographically. So a doctor decides he wants to practice in one town and the government has to say to him, you can't live in that town. They already have enough doctors. You have to go someplace else. And from here it's only a short step to dictating where he will go. . . . All of us can see what happens once you establish the precedent that the government can determine a man's working place and his working methods, determine his employment. From here it's a short step to all the rest of socialism, to determining his pay. And pretty soon your son won't decide, when he's in school, where he will go or what he will do for a living. He will wait for the government to tell him where he will go to work and what he will do.
...
And if you don't do this
[write your Representative opposing Medicare] and if I don't do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free.
This is St. Reagan in 1961, opposing Congressional passage of Medicare.

Why does this sound so familiar TODAY?

One of the most successful, most popular Government programs was opposed in 1961 using exactly the same scare tactics being employed today!
Well, the opposition are "conservatives"! - Might as well 'conserve' the arguments, too - makes thinking unnecessary!

Would Boehner & McConnell advocate abolishing laws governing child labor, workplace safety, the 40-hr-workweek, and the minimum wage?
- Just go back to the pure, unbridled capitalism of the 1800s?
... Maybe they would.
Let's find out.

Willful ignorance: pride in and propagation thereof

From a purely etymological perspective, I understand that "conservatives" want to maintain the health-insurance status quo. Yeah - if I were reaping big bucks from the current system, I wouldn't want to change it either.
So, yes: I fully comprehend Big Health's and Big Insurance's desire to kill reform.

But why do average citizens accept this point of view? What's in it for them? They're getting screwed by Big Health & Big Insurance. They'd benefit from the 'public option'. Lots of 'em are benefitting NOW from govt-provided health-insurance in the form of Medicare and Medicaid.

The conservative 'average citizen' seems to take an unfathomable pride in willful, deliberate ignorance.
-Earth?
6000 years old.
(Q: 'Were you there at the creation?'
A: "No! - but I know somebody who was, and He wrote it down!")

-Global-warming?
"Scientific" mumbo-jumbo - and we all know scientists are evil - just watch "Them!" (giant ants created by A-bomb fallout)

-Govt-sponsored health insurance?
Just another liberal trick to euthanize grandma!
(... and force your daughter to get an abortion!!!)

-Socialism? AUGGHHH!!!!! - evil, bad, dastardly, diabolical.
'But what about Medicare?' - "Medicare isn't a govt program!"
... one of Reagan's economic advisers - Laffer [he of the 'Laffer curve'... labeled by George H.W. Bush as 'voodoo ecomonics'] - actually implied this!... recently!)

Why are these folks so willing to believe that Obama is the Anti-Christ, determined to euthanize all non-productive citizens?

Why is government protection from the ravages of unchecked, unbridled capitalism evil?

Again: I can understand Big Health & Big Insurance wanting folks to believe these things... but why are conservative citizens so willing to suspend disbelief and swallow the propaganda???
["Drinking the Kool-Aid" is the expression that comes to mind... and more than just a bit apt: in swallowing the pill, "drinking the Kool-Aid", these just plain average folks are committing suicide - and they don't even know it!]

It baffles me.

From a loyal reader (a long-postponed post)

One of the recent developments in the 'screaming mobs at townhalls' story is the observation that the Dems were completely blind-sided by this Republican strategy.

Back in June, fellow ABQ blogger and loyal reader of PrivateBuffoon, PM Prescott (formerly Captain's Log, now at Family & Friends) directed my attention to an article on AlterNet:
The Far Right's First 100 Days: Getting More Extreme by the Day
By Sara Robinson, Campaign for America's Future. Posted May 6, 2009
Sometime back in February, about three weeks into Barack Obama's administration, everybody on the left suddenly noticed that there was something different going on with the conservatives.

The outrageous screeds and paranoid delusions sounded pretty much as they always had -- but there was a new fury behind them, a strident urgency that hadn't been there before, and a very audible shift of the gears in right-wing behavior and rhetoric.
...
The far right wing has been laying the groundwork for violent action for decades. Long before they turn dangerous, political and religious groups take their first steps down that road by adopting a worldview that justifies eventual violent action.

The particulars of the narrative vary, but the basic themes are always the same:

First: Their story is apocalyptic, insisting that the end of the world as we've known it is near.

Second: It divides the world into a Good-versus-Evil/Us-versus-Them dualism that encourages the group to interpret even small personal, social or political events as major battles in a Great Cosmic Struggle -- a habit of mind that leads the group to demonize anyone who disagrees with them.
...
Third: This split allows for a major retreat from consensus reality and the mainstream culture.
...
Fourth: Insiders feel like they're a persecuted, prophetic elite who are being opposed by wicked, tyrannical forces.
...
Fifth: Communities following this logic will also advocate the elimination of their enemies by any means necessary in order to purify the world for their ideology.
The article (which runs to five [5] pages) goes on to note that:
There's been a quantum leap in the sheer down-the-rabbit-hole surreality of their beliefs about the world.
Since this was written, the so-called "Birthers" have become prominent (at least as measured by the amount of attention paid them by cable news channels), and the rhetoric being generated by anti-health-insurance reform folks is simply loony:
- The Dem's plan mandates euthanasia
- The Dem's plan eliminates private insurance
- Medicare is NOT a govt program
- Obama/Dems are Hitler/Nazis.

[note: the article gets scarier! Read it!!!]

If - as seems the case - our Dem representatives were surprised by the screaming mobs, they simply weren't paying attention.

The question remains: how to counteract the malignant lies and the thuggish 'political' discourse that spreads 'em?

Now here's an idea I could support!

"Maybe we need a netroots lobbying firm."
[We Already Know We Can Win Elections. Now How Do We Keep The Democrats' Attention After They Win?, Susie Madrak Friday Aug 07, 2009, C&L]
The article goes on to note:
"According to the candidates, they don't owe us a damned thing. (We're not alone in getting this kind of treatment, by the way. Women's and LGBT PACs are also invisible - once the candidates have won with the help of their all-important early money.)

We, on the other hand, thought we were supporting transformational candidates, people who would at least give us equal standing with the voters back home, and feel free to ignore the corporate lobbyists, knowing we had their backs. It hasn't worked that way."
Yes - the assumption that the 'netroots' candidates would feel some obligation to pursue 'transformational' policies was naive.
Particularly for House members, the campaign's the thing: the every-two-year cycle of elections pretty much necessitates raising campaign $$$ ALL THE TIME. If the $$$ come from well-heeled, industry-supported lobbyists, well - that's the way the game is played.

If the 'progressive' movement hopes to succeed - 'succeed' as in 'getting what we want' - we need to have a very large bank-account - not just during formal campaign seasons, but ALL THE TIME. It's not impossible, but it'll take some extraordinary organizational skills... just exactly the kind of skills that the diffuse, progressive netroots lack - we're in it for ideas & policies, not for politics!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

eBay currency index

That 499.99 GBP item?
Today at $848.21!

The dollar dropping like a stone oughta improve our balance of trade - making U.S. goods cheaper abroad.
Are we still producing any goods for sale abroad???

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

makes ya miss W

Clinton, 2 journalists depart NKorea for US

What a fiasco! - Private Citizen Bill Clinton frees American journalists from North Korea.

What's the world coming to?
Rumor has it he actually MET with Kim Jong Il - talk about appeasement!

John Bolton is correctly outraged.
"It comes perilously close to negotiating with terrorists," Bolton told AFP when asked about Bill Clinton's trip to secure the release of journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee."
I'm pretty sure Bolton would have preferred we launch a nuclear attack on Pyongyang.

A digression: in the area of domestic policy, conservatives have a very good grasp of argument & rhetoric - the object of arguing is to win, and 'winning' means getting what you want. They're quite good at this.
Why can't they generalize this to foreign policy? The object is to get what you want. In this case, the U.S. wanted North Korea to release the two journalists. North Korea released 'em. We won!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Needed: strategy & tactics.

How does one combat a well-funded, well-coordinated campaign based on lies, loud shouting, and media complicity?

With Dobbs, Matthews, and all of Fox willing to repeat GOP talking points as facts, with big $$$ insurance lobbyists and right-wing 'think tanks' willing to spend millions of $$$ to sponsor astro-turf mobs, and with no one paying any attention to the simple reality that we spend the most on health care but have close to the worst healthcare outcomes... well, in the face of this, what is the best strategy to adopt to win the war?... and what are the most effective tactics to win the battles??

If I knew the answers, I wouldn't be asking the questions.

... and if I'd produced the ad...

... I'd have focused more on "the party of NO!".

The bits of video coverage I've seen of Dem 'town-halls' being overtaken by screaming mobs have almost all ended with a chant:
Just say NO!
I'd take these "Just say NO!" video clips & segue into brief litany:
The U.S. faces its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Every Republican Congressman said "NO" to the economic stimulus package.

Every day, Americans are losing their homes and going into bankruptcy as a result of crippling medical bills.
Republican Senators are poised to vote "NO" on health insurance reform.

Judge Sotomayor is the most experienced nominee to the Supreme Court in more than a quarter century. She was named to the Federal Appeals Court by Republican President George H.W. Bush. She will be the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice.
Again, Republican Senators are poised to vote "NO" on her confirmation.
The Republican Party has NO ideas. Republicans are the party of "NO!"

DNC almost gets it right

DNC Goes All In: Takes On Birthers, Conservative "Mob" In New Web Ad.

The link includes embedded video of web ad, together with this commentary:
It includes a veritable greatest hits list of conservative attacks on Obama, looping it all together to make the case that "the right wing extremist Republican base" has overrun the GOP.
The bit in quotes is directly from the web ad.

They almost got it right... almost.
"The right wing extremist Republican base" hasn't overrun the GOP.
"The right wing extremist Republican base" IS the GOP!