Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Randian Story of Thanksgiving

The REAL Story of Thanksgiving

Did you know that the first [Plymouth Colony Pilgrim's] Thanksgiving was a celebration of the triumph of private property and individual initiative?

oh, really? Tell that to the Indians who bailed out these nitwits.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving memories

and my favorite - the legendary WKRP turkey episode:

Happy Thanksgiving - WKRP Turkey Drop - kewego Happy Thanksgiving from! This is a blast from the past, WKRP in Cincinnati Famous Turkey Drop. Sharkhost does not own any copyright to this material. Web host, web design, marketing and promotion.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Uninsured Patients Twice as Likely to Die in the ER

We're often told by those who oppose health insurance reform that "everyone has access to health care." By this, they mean that everyone must be treated in the emergency room. Of course, by the time someone goes to the ER, it's an EMERGENCY, and often one that might have been prevented with routine care. It's also going to be an enormous bill for treatment.

As for the outcome, a new study shows that uninsured patients in the ER are twice as likely to die:

Uninsured patients with traumatic injuries, such as car crashes, falls and gunshot wounds, were almost twice as likely to die in the hospital as similarly injured patients with health insurance, according to a troubling new study.

The findings by Harvard University researchers surprised doctors and health experts who have believed emergency room care was equitable.

That this study shocked doctors and researchers should tell us something. People who don't have insurance do not get quality health care, even in the event of an emergency:

"I'm really surprised," said Dr. Eric Lavonas of the American College of Emergency Physicians and a doctor at Denver Health Medical Center. "It's well known that people without health insurance don't get the same quality of health care in this country, but I would have thought that this group of patients would be the least vulnerable."

The study was unable to pinpoint why the uninsured are twice as likely to die in the ER, just that this frightening discrepancy exists.

In the study, the overall death rate was 4.7 percent, so most emergency room patients survived their injuries. The commercially insured patients had a death rate of 3.3 percent. The uninsured patients' death rate was 5.7 percent.

cross posted at workingamericablog

Judd Gregg tries/fails

Judd Gregg press release

in part:
"Senator Gregg stated, “As we near the celebration of the Pilgrims who crossed the Atlantic for a new life in the Americas, tonight, the Senate Democrats have ironically put our country on a backward course towards a European-style, government-run health care system. Regardless of opinion polls, the will of their constituents, or just plain common sense, my Democratic colleagues are fully committed to the government controlling your health care and charging your children and your grandchildren trillions for it. This is not the reform Americans want, and it puts our country’s future prosperity on a leaky ship back to Europe."

As an analogy, this fails - mostly because Europeans are healthier than we are! We're the ones in the leaky boat. We're #37!

I must say though, it is interesting to see Judd Gregg defend a boat full of illegal immigrants.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Grok Fail

Since the inauguration of President Barack Obama, the voices of intolerance and bigotry have gotten increasingly louder. The Fox News sanctioned/organized Tea Party movement always seems to have a contingent carrying racist signs. There was the California mayor who sent out an email with a picture of the White House lawn covered with watermelons. In April, after the special election that turned former Congressman Jeb Bradley into a state senator, NH GOP Chairman John Sununu told the Union Leader that Bradley could be counted on to sustain a veto by the Governor of the marriage equality and transgender protection bills, “if he finds the strength to veto that garbage.” Today’s GOP seems to be pandering to the lowest common denominator within the party: the far racist and bigoted right.

The results of that were audible this past Saturday, on the “Meet the Press” radio show, which is broadcast from WEMJ in Gilford, and streamed live on the internet. Host Doug Lambert looked right into the webcam at the end of the show, and began a diatribe about NHDP Chair Raymond Buckley. He said (in part): “Yeah you Faggot. That's right I said it and I meant it. You are reprobate. How the people, the Democrats, I think of some of the gray haired ladies and older people from the old party would stand behind you is beyond me. You are a disgrace to yourself to humanity to mankind and to your party.” Meanwhile, host Skip Murphy sat beside him and giggled.

Republicans in NH don’t understand that the media has changed. Most of the traditional media in our state is still dominated by the traditional Republican mindset, but the new media, the online media is not. Bloggers are becoming increasingly powerful. Doug and Skip should have been more aware of that – their blog, granitegrok, was the leading conservative blog in the state. Doug had a column at the Laconia Daily Sun for years. They parlayed their success into the radio show – on the day of this particular show State Senator Jeb Bradley and US Senate candidate Ovide Lamontagne were guests. The tradmed in NH generally gives Republicans a pass (save for Ray Burton), and as a result they seem to think they’re invincible.

Doug and Skip certainly thought so. They’ve been getting away with all kinds of bigotry on their blog for years. After Wanda Sykes appeared at the last White House correspondent’s dinner, Doug expressed his hope that Ms. Sykes would choke on a chicken bone or a watermelon rind. Ms. Sykes is African American.

Doug and Skip learned quickly that they aren’t bulletproof. James Pindell posted about the rant on his blog, NH Political Report, and from there it spread like wildfire. Suddenly NH Republicans couldn’t put enough distance between themselves and their former pals at granitegrok. Ovide Lamontagne and Jeb Bradley were amongst the first to make statements condemning the language Lambert used. Congressional candidate Frank Guinta issued a statement as well, informing us that Lambert had resigned as a county co-captain of his campaign. Skip Murphy gets to stay on. Apparently giggling and enabling isn’t the same thing as actually verbalizing. Lambert himself issued an apology of sorts, albeit one that was rather self-serving. He wrote (in part) “To be blunt, what I said is something that never should have been said in any kind of a public setting, or, quite frankly, in a private one either. Being human, and an honest person that is used to freely speaking my mind, my passion got the best of me.”

Skip Murphy’s blog commentary also fell neatly into the self-serving-sorry we got caught –zone, “Doug is a passionate guy and sometimes often pushes the envelope - mostly on strictly political grounds. He skates to the edge - this time, he went over that edge.” Murphy then went on to blame liberals for creating an overtly politically correct society, and further to blame Democrats for not accepting Lambert’s half -hearted apology. One might wonder about all this passion, and conclude that perhaps passion doesn’t mean what they think it means. It looks like plain old bigotry to me.

The Laconia Sun announced that Lambert’s column was no longer welcome in the paper. WEMJ cancelled their radio show. On Monday, Lambert announced that he would be leaving the blog as well. He issued a second apology that ended, “Let this be a lesson to those who harbor such hatred as I have demonstrated—think about it. We must love EVERYBODY as we do ourselves. And all the world is a camera. There is no hiding anymore. I engaged in a WHOLE lot of free speech around here. With that, comes responsibility. Use it wisely.” The second apology seemed to actually be one. As regular readers are aware, I frequently lament the fact that the GOP calls itself the “party of personal responsibility” while never actually taking any. Here we see Doug Lambert taking responsibility.

On Wednesday, after the “Where’s Sununu” stories were appearing all over the blogosphere, the NH GOP Chair finally weighed in on this episode. “Mr. Lambert’s comments were disgusting, inappropriate, and offensive. That is why I, as Chairman, asked for an immediate condemnation from our State Party - and that was done. I am encouraged that so many Granite Staters of all political persuasions denounced this vicious personal attack. We are all in agreement that what Mr. Lambert said is completely reprehensible and doesn’t belong in our public dialogue.” This is the same man who called the marriage equality bill “garbage.” My, what an interesting fence these folks are straddling.

Many of the people who issued horrified statements are the same people who are already working to repeal NH’s marriage equality law. They’re the same folks who can’t wait to get their hands on all that out of state hate money. Skip Murphy was not censured for being a giggling accomplice. Their readers are giving them high fives. Mostly, they’re all just sorry that Lambert got caught, and that NH bloggers turned this into a big story.

“It always seemed to me a bit pointless to disapprove of homosexuality. It's like disapproving of rain.” Francis Maude

© sbruce 2009 This was published as an editorial in the Conway Daily Sun on November 20, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Drug Prices on the Rise

Earlier in the year, as part of the health insurance reform bill, the White House agreed to a deal with the pharmaceutical companies. According to a NY Times story in August:

Pressed by industry lobbyists, White House officials on Wednesday assured drug makers that the administration stood by a behind-the-scenes deal to block any Congressional effort to extract cost savings from them beyond an agreed-upon $80 billion.

Big Pharma agreed to go along with President Obama’s health insurance reform bill, in exchange for this deal.
As it turns out, the drug companies are going to
be just fine.

In the last year, the industry has raised the wholesale prices of brand-name prescription drugs by about 9 percent, according to industry analysts. That will add more than $10 billion to the nation’s drug bill, which is on track to exceed $300 billion this year. By at least one analysis, it is the highest annual rate of inflation for drug prices since 1992.

So much for $80 billion in savings.

A Harvard health economist, Joseph P. Newhouse, said he found a similar pattern of unusual price increases after Congress added drug benefits to Medicare a few years ago, giving tens of millions of older Americans federally subsidized drug insurance. Just as the program was taking effect in 2006, the drug industry raised prices by the widest margin in a half-dozen years.

“They try to maximize their profits,” Mr. Newhouse said.

But drug companies say they are having to raise prices to maintain the profits necessary to invest in research and development of new drugs as the patents on many of their most popular drugs are set to expire over the next few years.

Given that research and development is heavily subsidized already by US taxpayers, it’s hard to feel sorry for Big Pharma. They’d have a lot more cash available for R&D if they stopped bombarding us with ads for Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra every ten minutes.

© sbruce 2009 cross posted at Main Street/Working America blog

Saturday, November 14, 2009

NH GOP - a constant source of pride

I'm not going to link to their site, but Skip and Doug at GraniteGrok do a live radio show, where today they had special birthday wishes for NHDP Chair Ray Buckley.

NH Political Report has the story:

After his radio show "Meet the New Press" ended today, co-founder Doug Lambert looked into a live web-streaming camera, mockingly wished state Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley a Happy Birthday and then called Buckley a "faggot" before basically wishing him dead.
Buckley is the only openly gay chair of a state party in the country. He is also the first openly gay male vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Read the whole story.

I wish I thought that some of their fans would criticize them for this - but after a few visits to their site, it's apparent that it's not a place for thinking Republicans - it's a place for knee jerk reactionaries, who spout the party line as regurgitated to them by Rush Limbaugh. If I liked them at all, I'd be embarrassed for them. They look a little too old for this kind of frat boy hijinks. Adult men who are confident in their sexuality are not threatened by homosexuality.

Yet another look at today's GOP - spewing hatred for anyone not a white heterosexual (at least in public) male.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Moving Closer to Theocracy

The peculiar and secretive religious cult known as "The Family" has a number of members who are Congressmen living in a house on C Street in Washington, DC. Both Stupak and Pitts of the woman hating Stupak/Pitts amendment to the House health insurance reform bill live at this residence.

The Stupak/Pitts amendment seeks to rob women of insurance plans that cover abortion. No word on when insurance will be asked to stop covering penis pumps, penis implants, and penis pills. Of course, a silly girlie like me ought to understand that God loves penises, but wimmin are expendable.

Get out your copy of "The Handmaid's Tale. We may be living there before long.

Swine on Wall St.

The virus known as H1N1 (or swine flu) has been found in nearly every country now. President Obama declared it a national emergency on October 23. This declaration allows HHS Secretary Sebelius to waive certain requirements under Medicare and Medicaid, privacy rules and other regulations.

"The H1N1 is moving rapidly, as expected," White House spokesman Reid Cherlin said Saturday. "By the time regions or health-care systems recognize they are becoming overburdened, they need to implement disaster plans quickly."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Friday that the flu was spreading widely in at least 46 states and had already caused the hospitalization of at least 20,000 Americans. More than 1,000 deaths have been attributed to the virus and more than 2,400 additional deaths were probably associated with it, officials said.

According to the CDC website
These groups should receive H1N1 virus first:
These target groups include pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age, healthcare and emergency medical services personnel, persons between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old, and people ages of 25 through 64 years of age who are at higher risk for 2009 H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.

With those guidelines in mind, the fact that Wall St. firms (the same ones bailed out by US taxpayers, the same ones who gave themselves huge bonuses as they were failing) have been given H1N1 vaccine is creating some outrage.

"Frankly, it is astonishing that in the face of widespread shortages, the CDC has seen fit to approve distribution of the H1N1 vaccine to Wall Street firms not known to be populated by those in the highest risk categories," CREW Director Melanie Sloan wrote to Sebelius on Nov. 5.


"Although CREW has been unable to uncover the demographic makeup of Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase, surely it is safe to assume the vast majority of their employees are not pregnant women, infants and children, young adults up to 24 years old, and healthcare workers," Sloan added.

The most ethical company in the bunch appears to be:

Morgan Stanley -- which also has returned the $10 billion it got from the bailout -- received 1,000 doses of the vaccine for its New York and suburban offices, but turned over its entire supply to local hospitals when it learned it received shipments before some area hospitals, spokeswoman Jeanmarie McFadden said.

These companies already have huge PR problems, and this is certainly not going to help. You know you’re in trouble when SNL gives you the treatment:

cross posted at

Friday, November 06, 2009

teh stoopid - it bernz

This picture was taken at Michelle Bachman's (Congresswoman from Minnesota, with what could at best be described as a tenuous grip on reality) tea party rally in DC yesterday.

Yep, they're comparing health insurance reform to Dachau. Lots of people died at Dachau. People die every day in this country because they can't afford health care. Are these people so DIM that they can't make that connection?

Fox News: making people stupider, and angrier, every day.

The Sanctity of Marriage is Saved!

In May 2009, the Maine legislature passed a marriage equality bill. Governor Baldacci signed the bill - ensuring that Maine gays would have the same rights as Maine heterosexuals into law. Sadly for everyone, Maine has a process known as “the People’s Veto” which means that any Maine voter may propose a veto referendum to be placed on a statewide ballot, in order to reject a law recently passed by the Maine state legislature. The “People’s Veto” may have once seemed like a swell idea in a democracy, a way to give folks at the grassroots level a voice. In terms of social issues, a referendum question on a ballot means that tons of special interest money will pour in from out of state, to influence, and (in Maine’s case) determine the outcome.

This week, Maine voters vetoed the marriage equality law. Was it because Mainers feel differently from the very people they elect to represent them? I don’t think so. For months, Maine has been subjected to ominous TV and radio ads, telling them that if they didn’t vote yes, “Homosexual marriage would be taught in the schools.” This was a message that scared people, especially in the rural (more traditional) areas of the state. Thanks to No Child Left Behind, we all have a lot of concerns about what is and isn’t being taught in schools. These ads were a constant drone in the background of the lives of folks who ordinarily might have been inclined to live and let live. Maine school curricula were not suddenly going to feature classes in “Homosexual Indoctrination 101” – but the dishonest ads certainly gave that impression.

Where did the money come from for all this advertising? The group known as Stand for Maine Marriage raised approx. half a million dollars. Over 87% of that came from religious groups, and 72% of that was from out of state religious groups. The bulk of the money funneled to Stand for Maine Marriage came from four sources: The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the Knights of Columbus, Focus on the Family, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland. Or, to put it more succinctly: Catholics, Evangelicals, and Mormons.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland had special second collections in September, to raise money to fight marriage equality. Those collections raised $86,000. At a time when Maine has an 8.5% unemployment rate, where homelessness is on the rise, and soup kitchens and food pantries are serving record numbers of people – the Roman Catholic Diocese chose to dun their parishioners (with a second collection!) for funds to fight gay people getting married.

No one has ever been able to explain how it is that gay folks getting married will affect heterosexual marriages. If gay people can get married, will straight guys (who may have occasionally looked dreamily at pictures of gay men) suddenly abandon their wives, and run out to buy leather chaps to wear in Gay Pride parades? That seems unlikely, though there are those closet leatherboys who may long to. The reality is that nothing will change, other than more folks will be getting married. It won’t mean diddly to your heterosexual marriage. Losing jobs and homes are a lot more likely to have an impact on Maine families.

Churches all over the state had “Vote Yes” signs on their lawns – in flagrant violation of their tax-exempt status. If the Roman Catholic Diocese wants to play politics (and it seems they do), they should start paying taxes, and that goes for the evangelicals and the Mormons, too. NOM is believed to be a front for the LDS. They’re very careful to keep their donors a secret, so that no one will know where their money comes from. Maine election laws stipulate that groups raising over $5.000 have to file forms and disclose their donors. NOM is suing the state of Maine because they claim this is a violation of free speech, and all that paperwork is just too onerous. The marriage equality groups didn’t seem to have any trouble meeting the requirements. Of course, they didn’t have anything to hide.

It was an odd election. Maine voters voted down TABOR, again. The so-called taxpayer bill of rights keeps cropping up in referendum states, no matter how many times the voters kill it. TABOR has been a huge failure in Colorado, and Maine voters are wise to keep cutting that particular hydra off at the knees.

Even more interesting was the vote on medical marijuana. Less than a week after the NH legislature failed to override Governor Lynch’s veto of a medical marijuana bill that passed the House and Senate earlier in the year. Maine passed a medical marijuana bill in 1999. The sky didn’t fall, and the chronically and terminally ill were not selling pot at schoolyards. A decade later, Maine voters voted in favor of expanding their medical marijuana statute to include more heath conditions, and to set up distribution centers for medical marijuana patients. Mainers very clearly have compassion for the chronically and terminally ill people in their state, and a live and let live philosophy about the whole thing.

That kind of live and let live philosophy is part of Maine tradition, which makes the veto of the marriage equality so strange. It seems likely that once this all settles down, and the good people of our neighboring state realize how religious groups from out of state manipulated them, they will be ready. Marriage equality will be passed by the legislature again, and it will be challenged again, but next time, Maine voters will know better.

“They are preserving the sanctity of marriage so that two gay men who’ve been together for 25 years can’t get married, but a guy can still get drunk in Vegas and marry a hooker at the Elvis chapel! The sanctity of marriage is saved!"
Lea DeLaria

© sbruce 2009 This appeared as an op-ed in the November 6, 2009 Conway Daily Sun

h/t to Feministing for the picture

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

subtle, they ain't

Viagra celebrates a birthday! Viagra is, of course, covered by most health insurance plans, even though some of those same plans do not cover birth control pills.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Mainers: Vote NO on 1

Tell your Maine friends and family to vote for love and families, and against hate and bigotry.