Friday, September 25, 2009

Leahy: Stop Health Insurance Monopoly

Senator Leahy email:
"America’s health insurance companies have had a pretty sweet deal for decades.

They can pick and choose their customers and deny coverage to anyone with any sort of pre-existing condition -- even acne. They can get away with dropping your coverage when you get sick.

And since 1945 they have been exempt from the antitrust regulations that apply to nearly every other industry, rules that protect consumers from anti-competitive business practices like price-fixing.

That’s why, as part of our broader health care reform effort, I just introduced legislation in the Senate to eliminate the outdated insurance industry antitrust exemption and force health insurance companies to compete fairly -- like virtually every other business in America.

Please e-mail your members of Congress today, urging them to support the Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act, S. 1681 and H.R. 3596.

Passing health care reform with an effective public option is one key way to promote competition in the health insurance marketplace, but we must also eliminate the unjustified and unnecessary antitrust exemption currently enjoyed by insurance companies.

A recent study found that one or two insurance giants dominate 94 percent of American health insurance markets, meaning every year consumers end up paying more money for less coverage.

When insurance companies know they don’t have to compete, they don’t. When they know they can get away with raising your premiums every year, they do. And when they know they can deny you coverage without consequence, they'll leave you high and dry.

The Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act, which I introduced in the Senate last week, is not the be all and end all of necessary reform, but it is a key way we can give consumers more choice in the health insurance marketplace.

Please e-mail your members of Congress today, urging them to support the Health Insurance Industry Antitrust Enforcement Act, S. 1681 and H.R. 3596.

It's time for the insurance industry to play by the same good-competition rules as nearly every other industry in America.

I’ve proposed similar legislation in the past, and Congress failed to pass it. So we must redouble our efforts this time around and urge Congress to support it as part of our broader health care reform efforts.

Thank you for emailing Congress today to support this important legislation.


Patrick Leahy
U.S. Senator

P.S. The insurance industry is actively lobbying Congress to maintain the status quo -- but the status quo is unacceptable. Let's make sure your Members of Congress know where their constituents stand on the matter: Please email Congress today."
Well said Senator. One wonders how they got away with this plunder for so many years.

Banksters Shamed By Street People

While banksters clamour for millions more in bonuses and the government treasury is plundered on behalf of the warsters and banksters, people on the street are losing homes and jobs.

The elite selfishness stinks and is a national shame, but meanwhile down on main street one individual is showing what Americans used to be known for.

He went to work when his tenants lost their jobs and could not pay rent any longer.

Shame on the killers and shame on the plunder barons.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Textbooks Take Another Hit

If you own stock in textbook companies you will like this.

But if you are a student who has put in countless hours memorizing scientific textbooks to enhance your knowledge and to pass those gruelling tests, you may not like this latest discovery.

Such students are not alone, because Dredd Blog puts out a lot of posts about how textbooks have to be thrown away far too often because of lax scientific methods, or because scientific methods are supplanted by propaganda.

This scientific propaganda happens in government and in private educational systems as well. Notice one of the latest textbook shredding episodes:
In a discovery that promises to reinvigorate studies of the moon and potentially upend thinking of how it originated, scientists at Brown University and other research institutions have found evidence of water molecules on the surface of the moon.
(Science Daily, emphasis added). Water on the moon? What do you have water on the brain?

An Indian rocket put a craft in orbit around the Moon which had instruments on board that have now detected water molecules on the surface of the Moon, most prominently at the poles where no sunlight ever shines.

The Evolution of Money

The banksters and their "rescuers" are quite evolved, just ask them.

The highly educated and highly paid of that realm are staunch evolutionists when it comes to money; your money evolves into their money and the survival of the fittest takes place.

Social Darwinism of the lucre type.

This blog has pointed out many aspects of this evolution under the label robber baron, which contains several posts with links to many places.

The fundamental essence of plunder is that your money evolves into "their" money:
The controversial $700 billion bailout program has helped avert the collapse of the financial system, but the chances of taxpayers recouping the money are "extremely unlikely," a government watchdog believes.
(ABC News). The operative phrase "helped avert the collapse of the financial system" is a non-sequitur like "toxic asset", and is meaningless. The collapse had happened already and your dollars were taken without just compensation to prop them back up.

But "evolution happens" these daze, without any purpose. It just happens.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Will Copenhagen Be Snuffed Out?

The photo is of a continent of garbage where there are plenty of Copenhagen snuff cans floating around, but that is not the Copenhagen where a meeting of world leaders will take place soon, even though that would be an excellent place to have the meeting.

Gordon Brown, who will be among the participants, is concerned that the Copenhagen Convention under the auspices of The United Nations may fail:
It is a historic moment: the ultimate test of global cooperation. Yet the negotiations are proceeding so slowly that a deal is in grave danger.

If we miss this opportunity, there will be no second chance sometime in the future, no later way to undo the catastrophic damage to the environment we will cause. So when world leaders gather this week, first at the United Nations in New York and then at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, it is essential that we move toward resolving the issues that still divide our nations. As scientists spell out the mounting evidence both of the climate change already occurring and of the threat it poses in the future, we cannot allow the negotiations to run out of time simply for lack of attention. Failure would be unforgivable.
(Newsweek). We can be sure that elements in the U.S. Government, such as Senator Inhofe, will fight this "communist fascist socialist lefty liberal conspiracy" called global warming and global climate change.

But if President Obama's speech to the United Nations today is any indication, the United States is committed Mr. Brown.

As we most certainly should be.

We share a common destiny as members of the human species, which is to survive together or to become extinct together in this cosmos.

Brain Damage of the Torture Lovers

U.S. Soldiers Waterboarding a captive
The premise of this post is that those who torture people are going to suffer damage and that they are going to become less humane as a result of their egregious harm to others and a prolonged defense of that unthinkable ghoulishness.

It is obvious to many that V.P. Dick Cheney has suffered some sort of brain damage which is manifesting itself at this stage of his life in several forms of dementia.

Denial, loss of the grasp of reality, and a willingness to fabricate a false reality are all quite obvious in his thinking and behavior, and that is not a normal condition.

Is his habitual and self proclaimed cruelty any part of his drifting off from the harbor of human decency into the stormy seas of hatred?

What is surprising in some ways is that V.P. Dick Cheney's brain damage is mirroring the damage done to those he tortured:
Memos released by the US Department of Justice in April of 2009 detailing coercive interrogation techniques suggest that prolonged periods of shock, stress, anxiety, disorientation and lack of control are more effective than standard interrogatory techniques in making subjects reveal truthful information from memory. "This is based on the assumption that subjects will be motivated to reveal veridical information to end interrogation, and that extreme stress, shock and anxiety do not impact memory," says review author, Professor Shane O'Mara from the Institute of Neuroscience at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. "However, this model of the impact of extreme stress on memory and the brain is utterly unsupported by scientific evidence."

... it is difficult or impossible to determine during the interrogation whether the captive is revealing truthful information or just talking to escape the torture. Research has also shown that extreme stress has a deleterious effect on the frontal lobe and is associated with the production of false memories.
(You Can't Trust A Tortured Brain, emphasis added). And you certainly cannot trust the brain of V.P. Dick Cheney who loves to be cruel contrary to conditions of humane treatment of war prisoners or other detainees.

It is sure to trigger more fanatical fantasies when Dick Cheney and his cadre of ghouls hear that science disagrees with him. He will grasp at some fanatical religious belief while rejecting the humane religious notions of common decency, and while rejecting the scientific evidence.

It comes from the same cognitive place that says "God made the earth so humankind can't hurt it and therefore there is no global climate change".

The sane people of the earth shudder to think of that madman in power again.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Decline of GOP Reputation - Why?

We have all seen and heard from the steady stream of bushies who have left the collective or the hive, to change their tune from "Terd Blossom's Propagander Anthem" into "I Fought The Facts But The Truth Won", sung to the tune of I Fought The Law But The Law Won.

Scotty McClellan was the last of many to sing a song of six pence, but now along comes a fellow named Matt Latimer with the new twist called What I Saw At Rove's 'Revolution'. One thing Matt points out:
Every administration politicizes hiring to a degree, but some in the Bush administration went beyond the pale. Much is known about the political firings of U.S. attorneys and the party-line enforcers who removed or intimidated qualified personnel at the Justice Department. Less well known is what happened outside Justice.

For nearly three years at the Defense Department, I saw young, inexperienced political operatives enjoy nearly unrestrained power. Like schoolyard bullies who picked on people because they could, these operatives pursued personal vendettas, blocked hirings, delayed promotions and pressured high-ranking officials.

Backed by the White House political shop, some operatives refused to hire experienced communicators to help the president and the defense secretary work effectively on Afghanistan and Iraq. They insisted on hiring friends or mediocre candidates from a White House-approved list.

One loyal conservative with sterling credentials was refused even an interview because a personnel official was fighting with the conservative senator the candidate worked for. Another credentialed applicant was rejected for allegedly failing to vote in 2004. When it was proved that she had voted, the personnel office raised another objection. There were also reports that the Pentagon personnel system raised frivolous political objections to hiring experts on biological and chemical weapons.

And these are just things I knew about.
(Wash. Post). I guess my question is how does the Pillsbury Duh Boy come to be called a political genius by the GOP and called "Terd Blossom" by Bush II, even as he gave Terd the keys to the kingdom?

The ignorant abuse of power became synonymous with "genious" until the GOP destroyed itself, destroyed the American reputation, destroyed the world economy, destroyed the jobs and homes of millions of Americas, let decay the levies of protection of a Senior American City, let it then remain destroyed even as bushies built billion dollar buildings in Baghdad, destroyed free press concepts, and destroyed a couple of weak nations of the world during the nightmare, all the while claiming to be great warriors of ultimate prowess.

And now these bushies want to bring to the Faux Snooze Show and Tell Circus such "luminaries" as Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and the whole cage full of mini Rove wannabees.

It is becoming a national epidemic of dementia proportions.

Jabber The Whut?

This post was moved to make room for next year's posts.

Decline of U.S. Reputation - Why?

On June 11, 2008, the United States House of Representatives, Committee On Foreign Affairs, issued a report titled: The Decline in America's Reputation: Why? It will be referred to in this post as "The Decline Report". Now that folks have had time to digest the report, perhaps revisiting it will remind us of the uphill battle to regain our reputation, which we may never do, or if we do it could take a generation.

The subcommittee chairman said this within The Decline Report, in an overall statement that summed it up:
The data presented at these hearings make it clear that people in other nations don’t “hate us because of our values”— but rather that they are disappointed with us because we aren’t always true to those values.
(The Decline Report, Preface, bold in original). Shortly after 9/11 The Decline Report points out that we attained the height of our popularity and reputation in the world:
In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attack there was world-wide sympathy and support for the United States. This was best summed up in the headline in the French newspaper Le Monde — Nous sommes tous Americains. (“We are all Americans now.”)
(The Decline Report, page 1). Imagine the shock of the world, shortly after that, when they were told officially by Bush II, after they had publicly supported us to the maximum en masse:
Americans are asking, "Why do they hate us?" They hate what we see right here in this chamber—a democratically-elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms—our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.
(Bush II Address To Congress, The Decline Report, page 1). Things have generally gone downhill for the reputation of the United States since then according to The Decline Report:
Since then, polls conducted by the U.S. Government and respected private firms have revealed a precipitous decline in favorability toward the United States and its foreign policy. The generally positive ratings from the 1950’s to 2000 moved to generally negative after 2002. As the very first witness in a 10-hearing series with pollsters and regional analysts told the Subcommittee — “We have never seen numbers this low.”

The reversal is unprecedented and widespread:

• A 45-percentage point drop in favorability in Indonesia; 41 in Morocco; 40 in Turkey; and 27 in the United Kingdom;

• Among Muslims in Nigeria, favorable opinion fell 33 points, from 71 percent to 38 percent, within an eight-month period;

• A 26-point increase in Europe of the view that U.S. leadership in world affairs is undesirable;

• Unfavorability rose to 82 percent in Arab countries and 86 percent of Latin American elites now rate U.S. relations negatively; and

• 83 percent of countries in 2002 had a plurality of citizens judging the United States favorably; by 2006 only 23 percent of countries had a plurality saying that U.S. influence is positive.
(The Decline Report, page 1). In other words, the Bush II ignorant mouthiness era resulted in an unmitigated disaster in foreign policy which destroyed a good name that had taken years of sweat and trillions of taxpayer dollars in treasure to attain.

The committee made eight specific findings which it discusses in detail, but will only briefly be mentioned here:
1. It’s true: U.S. approval ratings have fallen to record lows in nearly every region of the world. Generally positive ratings from the 1950’s to 2000 have moved to generally negative ratings since 2002. Approval ratings are highest in non-Muslim Africa and lowest in Latin America and in Muslim countries.

2. It’s the policies: Opposition to specific U.S. policies, rather than to American values or people, has driven this decline. The key policies are: The invasion and occupation of Iraq; support for repressive governments worldwide; a perceived lack of even-handedness in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute; and torture and abuse of prisoners in violation of treaty obligations.

3. It’s the perception of hypocrisy: Disappointment and bitterness arise from the perception that the proclaimed American values of democracy, human rights, tolerance, and the rule of law have been selectively ignored by successive administrations when American security or economic considerations are in play.

4. It’s the unilateralism: A recent pattern of ignoring international consensus, particularly in the application of military power, has led to a great deal of anger and fear of attack. This in turn is transforming disagreement with U.S. policies into a broadening and deepening anti-Americanism, a trend noted by the Government Accountability Office.

5. It’s the historical memory: U.S. domination remains a potent image for long periods — and that image is used to discredit current U.S. policies.

6. It’s the lack of contact: Contact with America and Americans reduces anti-Americanism, but not opposition to specific policies. Visitors to America—particularly students—and even their families and friends, have more positive views about America than non-visitors by 10 percentage points.

7. It’s the visas: Interaction with the U.S. immigration and the visa process is a significant source of frustration with America. Particularly among Muslim applicants, the experience with customs and border officials creates a perception that they are not welcome. This perception spreads across their communities through their “horror stories” about travel to the United States.

8. It’s the perceived war on Islam: The combination of all of the previous findings has created a growing belief in the Muslim world that the United States is using the “war on terror” as a cover for its attempts to destroy Islam.
(The Decline Report, pages 5, 6). This blog has many posts under the label "foreign relations" if you care to focus on them.

Read this post as an example of one that gives the general gist of The Decline Report in Dredd Blog fashion.