Archive for July, 2009

Rep. Anthony Weiner: Why do we need health insurers at all?

| July 31, 2009 | 3 Replies
Rep. Anthony Weiner: Why do we need health insurers at all?

New York Representative Anthony Weiner is my new hero. It’s clearly time for a single payor system and it appears that progressives are finally getting the courage to speak up for it. There is no rationality in a system that syphons health care dollars off as profits to big insurance corporations. Kudos to Rachel Maddow for prominently featuring this issue.

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Anti-abortion = anti-contraception?

| July 31, 2009 | 11 Replies
Anti-abortion = anti-contraception?

One of the first posts I wrote at this site was an in-depth look at a “pregnancy resource center” which, to my dismay excelled at spreading untruths about abortion and did its best to discourage the use of effective birth control. What a strange thing, I thought, to discourage methods that would prevent accidental pregnancy which would, in turn, lower the abortion rate. Maybe fighting effective birth control (i.e., methods that don’t exclusive rely on just say no) would be good for repeat business at the “pregnancy resource center,” but it is terrible for the unwitting clients of these highly dysfunction centers.

Along comes this Alternet post by Christina Page, “Why the Anti-Choice Movement Is on the Verge of Civil War.” This is a fascinating look at the anti-choice movement’s big schism:

The question now is: ‘are you pro-life and pro-contraception, therefore trying to reduce the need for abortions, or are you pro-life and against contraception and you hope that people’s lives improve just by hoping it, wishing it so.'”

And consider this–I think that Page’s logic is impeccable:

It may come as a shock to most pro-life Americans, but there’s not one pro-life group in the United States that supports contraception. Rather, many lead campaigns against contraception. As [anti-abortion yet pro-contraception] Congressman [Tim] Ryan explained, “I think the pro-life groups are finding themselves further and further removed from the mainstream; they’re on the fringe of this debate.” Considering that the average woman spends 23 years of her life trying not to get pregnant, the anti-contraception approach depends on a scourge of sexless marriages or a lot of wishful thinking.

Where does this lead? If you aren’t for preventing accidental pregnancies, you can’t truly be anti-abortion. Yet that is the situation with all major anti-abortion groups. For example, none of them support Ryan’s legislation that would increase funding to make birth control available, promote effective sex-ed and provide financial incentives for adoption. Yet no pro-life group supports his efforts. Many groups staunchly oppose the use of real birth control (e.g., this one). On the other hand, most pro-life individuals support his efforts. Not surprising, in that 80% of pro-life individuals (90% of Catholics!) support the availability of effective birth control. Page presents many other eye-popping stats in her article.

The bottom line?

The greatest opportunity to reduce the need for abortion is to focus the 95% of unintended pregnancies that are highly preventable. The plan is simple: address the lack of and incorrect use of contraception.

This is a solution that virtually all individuals agree on. But all we get from “pro-life” groups is defiance. Therefore, pro-life groups (such as Democrats for Life) are wholly unaccountable to their constituents.

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Where is Xu Zhiyong?

| July 31, 2009 | Reply
Where is Xu Zhiyong?

Where is Xu Zhiyong? Where, indeed?.

At around 5 A.M. on Wednesday, Chinese authorities visited the home of Xu Zhiyong, a prominent legal scholar and elected legislator in Beijing, and led him away. He has not been heard from again. Unless something changes, he is likely to stay away for a long time, with or without formal charges. Anyone with an interest in China, its economy, its place in the world, or the kind of future it will fashion, please take note: This is a big deal.

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Defusing Gatesgate

| July 30, 2009 | 2 Replies
Defusing Gatesgate

Thanks to Barack Obama’s ingenuity and his faith that human beings should always be challenged to figure out their differences with empathy, we have a wonderful resolution rather than an interminable ugliness. Bold, beautiful move.

Here’s how Henry Louis Gates now sees things:

Let me say that I thank God that I live in a country in which police officers put their lives at risk to protect us every day, and, more than ever, I’ve come to understand and appreciate their daily sacrifices on our behalf. I’m also grateful that we live in a country where freedom of speech is a sacrosanct value and I hope that one day we can get to know each other better, as we began to do at the White House this afternoon over beers with President Obama.

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Ridiculing the media’s false sense of balance and alt-med

| July 30, 2009 | 1 Reply
Ridiculing the media’s false sense of balance and alt-med

Are you tired of health care nonsense being presented by the media in the name of “balance”? So is comedian Dara O’Brian, who ridicules the gullible and their peddlers so very well:

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Sarah Palin’s goodbye poetry

| July 30, 2009 | Reply
Sarah Palin’s goodbye poetry

Goodbye, Sarah. Good riddance to the politician Sarah Palin, I hope.

Palin has been busy tweeting, though, and William Shatner gave an interpretive reading on Conan O’Brien’s show:

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Huffington quackery

| July 29, 2009 | 1 Reply
Huffington quackery

Over at Salon.com, Rahul K. Parikh, M.D. makes a strong case that the Huffington Post is not strong on vetting their health and wellness contributors:

But when it comes to health and wellness, that diverse forum [Huffpo] seems defined mostly by bloggers who are friends of Huffington or those who mirror her own advocacy of alternative medicine, described in her books and in many magazine profiles of her. Among others, the site has given a forum to Oprah Winfrey’s women’s health guru, Christiane Northrup, who believes women develop thyroid disease due to an inability to assert themselves; Deepak Chopra, who mashes up medicine and religion into self-help books and PBS infomercials; and countless others pitching cures that range from herbs to blood electrification to ozonated water to energy scans.

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Fly

| July 29, 2009 | Reply
Fly

This is another in the series of “backyard bug” photographs several of us are publishing from time to time at DI. I use a consumer grade cameras (Canon’s SD1100SI), and I simply try to have fun finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. This fly photo turned out especially nicely (I think it enjoyed the attention), thanks to a perfectly diffuse batch of sun pouring through a modest layer of clouds outdoors. For this shot, the lens was about 1 inch from the fly.

Here’s two more thoughts. This little animal is on the same phylogenetic tree as human animals. This fly is my cousin. Hello, cousin! It puts this fly in such a different light to remember that. Second, how in the hell can a fly fly? I’m reminded of the conclusion reached in 1934 by French entomologist August Magnan, who calculated [albeit thinking of bees] that their flight was aerodynamically impossible. But they somehow can fly (and eat, poop, compete for mates and–oh mymate). Utterly fantastic. OK, this is an aside: scientists have found that fruit flies compete by “displacement and incapacitation of a previous male’s sperm.” Highly sophisticated stuff.

Image by Erich Vieth

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More clarity Needed on Obama healthcare; Something, Anything Needed from Party of “NO!”

| July 29, 2009 | 2 Replies
More clarity Needed on Obama healthcare; Something, Anything Needed from Party of “NO!”

I’m concerned about some lack of clarity on health care issues from the Obama administration but, my concern is nothing compared to my disgust for the despicable declarations of “NO!” and nothing from the Republicans in Washington. Chief among the prevaricators is Republican Roy Blunt who reports there will be no GOP alternative to any Democratic plan for the reform of America’s broken healthcare system.

All we’ll hear about is “socialism” and more lies about how you won’t be able to choose your doctors or will lose your current coverage. You can see more about the President’s plan here:

First, “socialism” is government control of the means of production.

Second, no one is proposing that the entire medical “industry” be taken over by the federal government. The current legislation will allow for options to the current system. The current system is one for which I found an apropos description below [the following well-written post was published under the headline of “Still scary…” in the Letters section at the website of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reprinted with permission]:

Dear Mr. President: I am writing you today because I am outraged at the notion of involving government in healthcare decisions like they do in other countries. I believe healthcare decisions should be between myself and my doctor.

Well, that is not strictly true. I believe healthcare decisions should be between myself, my doctor, and my insurance company, which provides me a list of which doctors I can see, which specialists I can see, and has a strict policy outlining when I can and can’t see those specialists, for what symptoms, and what tests my doctors can or cannot perform for a given set of symptoms. That seems fair, because the insurance company needs to make a profit; they’re not in the business of just keeping people alive for free.

Oh, and also my employer. My employer decides what health insurance company and plans will be available to me in the first place. If I quit that job and find another, my heath insurance will be different, and I may or may not be able to see the same doctor as I had been seeing before, or receive the same treatments, or obtain the same medicines. So I believe my healthcare decisions should be between myself, the company I work for, my insurance company, and my doctor.

And the separate claims review team that will be looking over my treatment.

My health insurer might have flagged me as someone who needs a lot of healthcare, and who is therefore costing the company money. Needing to use the insurance you paid for is naturally a suspicious activity: that means that a special review team will look over my paperwork, seeing if there is any vaguely plausible reason for the company to be rid of me. They will look for loopholes in my application, irregularities in the paperwork my doctor filled out or any other situations which, like magic, mean that all the money I have paid for health insurance premiums was in fact irrelevant, null and void, and they don’t have to pay a single cent of claims because I defrauded them by neglecting to remember that I had chicken pox in sixth grade, not fifth, or that what I presumed was a bad cold in 1997 was in fact maybe-possibly-bronchitis, and I can’t possibly expect to be covered for any lung-related complaints since then. I suppose I cannot complain too much; after all, this is a crack squadron of employees whose pay is determined by how much they can reduce the healthcare costs incurred by the company. It would be irresponsible for them to not look for such loopholes.

So, Mr. President, I write to you with this demand: we are not a socialist country, one which believes the health of its citizens should come without the proper profit-loss determinations. I believe that my healthcare decisions should be between me, my insurance company plan, my insurance company’s list of approved doctors I am allowed to see and treatments I am allowed to get, my insurance company’s claims department, the insurance company doctors who have never met me, spoken to me or even personally looked at my files, my own preexisting conditions, my insurance company’s crack cost-review and retroactive cancellation and denial squads, my insurance company’s executives and board of directors, my insurance company’s profit requirements, the shareholders, my employer, and my doctor.
Anything else would be insulting.

— The Libtard
1:29 am July 26th, 2009

America needs to take better care of its citizens in critical times of need, like when we are ill. It is not any government scheme to take over the means of production to provide some basic health care for all of us. The status quo is unacceptable. If the Republicans can do no better than “NO,” it’s time for them to get out of the way. People are dying, and we can’t yet all rise from the dead.

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