politics

death panelers' real fear: you in control of your life

Betsy McCaughey is widely regarded as the person responsible for starting the "death panel" rumors. In this press release, she disputes a recent profile piece the New York Times did about her.

Here's what's interesting: her objection to doctors being rated on whether they help patients articulate their own wishes, and whether those wishes are adhered to:

Doctors' quality ratings will be determined in part by the percentage of the doctor's patients who create a living will and the percentage who adhere to it. (And quality ratings affect a doctor's Medicare reimbursement)

The "adhere to" part is especially dangerous. Some people say "they'd rather die than be on a ventilator, but when the time comes, they choose to live. Doctors will incur penalties when families do not adhere to end of life written plans. - a horrible conflict of interest. As a patient advocate, I see these difficult situations and know that government should not be
involved.

Let's be clear: if you can decide for yourself whether to die or to remain on a ventilator, your living will is not in effect.

But putting that nonsensical part aside, if you're in a condition where you can't decide, and you've left a living will or advance directive, presumably you want that to be followed! (Else, why did you make it?) Whether it says "pull the plug" or "hook me up to every machine you've got," you want your doctor to follow your directions.

It's not your family's choice, it's your choice. If a doctor disregards a patient's wishes, of course they ought to be down-rated!

It seems what McCaughey and her ilk object to is you being able to make your own decisions about end-of-life care. That's what this is about: these folks want to give you the same treatment they gave Terri Schiavo.

Tom Tomorrow on Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst

Tom Tomorrow, author of political cartoon This Modern World, on Rep. Joe Wilson's "You lie!" outburst during Obama's speech:

You’d think that an elected representative heckling the President of the United States during a speech to Congress would be considered inappropriate, but as the summer’s town hall disruptions made clear, the right wing is operating under an entirely different set of assumptions than most, you know, sane people. Honestly, I think Wilson could have walked up to the front of the room, pulled down his pants, and taken a dump right on the podium, and he’d still be applauded by the wingnut media. Wilson may have just put himself on the short list of Republican presidential contenders for 2012.

(If you haven't seen it yet, this week's TMW, "Then and now with Goofus and Gallant", says it all about how the left and the right are treated in the supposedly "liberal" MSM.)

say no to a mandate without a public option

If Bob Cesca is right about what's in Max Baucus's version of the health care reform bill, that it contains a mandate to give your money to private insurers, then that version must not pass. Indeed, no reform at all would be preferable to this give-away to the insurance parasites that got us into this mess -- a bill authored by the industry it's supposed to reform:

The short answer is that Baucus receives around $1500 a day from the health care lobby and PACs and he needs to keep his financiers wallowing in their own filth. But a more specific answer can be defined by who wrote the Baucus Plan.

Funny story. Baucus and his staff forgot to delete the name of the author of the plan from the Acrobat version of the document. Whoops!

In the Properties dialogue box of the PDF, in the "author" slot, the name Liz Fowler appears. Fowler is a Baucus staffer who was with the senator in the early part of this decade but left to take a breather in the private sector and only returned to Capitol Hill last year. During her time in the private sector, can you guess where Fowler worked?

She was the VP for Public Policy and External Affairs at WellPoint, the health insurance parent company of Blue Cross.

Really, it wouldn't matter if Baucus had written the legislation himself, since he's wholly owned by big pharma and the insurance giants. Between 2003 and 2008, they paid him over a $1,000,000. This is the guy who, in discussing his real employer's position on health care reform, said ""Merck is not ready for single pay. I mean, America."

yet another crazy conspiracy theory: all your tweats are belong to Obama

So here's another loopy conspiracy theory: the right-wing National Legal and Policy Center found (cleverly hidden right out in plain sight at www.fbo.gov) a Request For Proposal "to conduct a massive, secret effort to harvest personal information on millions of Americans from social networking websites." The blogosphere is abuzz with how this is an attempt by Obama's secret team of socialist fascist secret Muslims to create an "enemies list"

Or, as Hot Air exposes...not.

The Presidential Records Act (PRA) essentially requires each administration to keep every pixel and keystroke ever published for later review by Congress or investigators, in case illegal activity takes place. We have seen this invoked ex post facto to the Clinton and Bush administrations, in the latter over e-mails sent and received outside the White House mail system. At that time, legal experts and investigators insisted that everything produced by an administration for anything remotely concerning official business had to be archived within the EOP. [Executive Office of the President]

A more careful reading of this RFP shows that to be the project. The contract directs the contractor to archive the “information posted on publicly-accessible web sites where the EOP maintains a presence“, including social networking sites like MySpace, Twitter, and so on. It doesn’t call for everything on those networks to be archived, but only “information posted by non-EOP persons on publicly-accessible web sites where the EOP maintains a presence[,] both comments posted on pages created by EOP and messages sent to EOP accounts on those web sites.” In other words, the archiving will include interaction on EOP websites and pages, but not anything else.

In other words, this massive spying effort is nothing more than applying the retention requirements for Presidential e-mail to Facebook and Twitter messages.

Somehow I'm sure that if the Obama administration didn't do this, these same folks would be complaining how he was using social networking sites as an attempt to get around the PRA. (Like, say, how Bush administration crooks used an e-mail server run by the Republican National Committee to circumvent the PRA.)

Rifqa Bary and the Religious Right

I don't know how I almost missed this sad tale of anti-Muslim bigotry, fundamentalist Christian craziness, and political opportunism from the Religious Right.

Rafiq Bary is a 17 year old girl from a Muslim family. About four years ago, she converted to Christianity. A few months ago, her father bought her a laptop and she started spending all of her time on Facebook; sometime around here -- I would suspect under the influence of some wacky fundamentalist Christians -- she became convinced that her father was going to do her in in an "honor killing." (Because, you know, I always spend a lot of money on an expensive gift for someone before I do them it. And I like to economically support someone, house and feed them, for several years after they've done the thing that motivates me to kill them, before I do the deed.)

She ran away, and someone -- I would suspect the same wacky fundamentalist Christians -- bought her a bus ticket from her home in Ohio to Florida. There, she lived for two weeks with wacky fundamentalist Christians Blake and Beverly Lorenz, from the Global Revolution Church, whom she had gotten to know through a Facebook prayer group.

She being a minor and all (and one suffering from delusions induced by the craziness of others), the usual course of the law would be to send her back to her parents. But, you know: those people are Muslims. And so:

Bary's case has, in recent weeks, become a huge deal for the Religious Right and has been getting lots of coverage from places like Fox News, WorldNetDaily, OneNewsNow, and Human Events and has also been championed by several Religious Right groups like Concerned Women for America, the Traditional Values Coalition and the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission.

unAmerican Americans

From a 1944 ad for war bonds. The poetic linebreaks and capitalization are as in the original.

...

Let's put an end to the foul prejudice fanned by our
Enemies...

By our obvious enemy, the goose-stepping Hun...and
Our more insidious one, the unAmerican American.

When you find anyone -- yourself included -- thinking,
Speaking, acting, with racial or religious prejudice --
STOP IT!

If Smith, Kelly, Cohen or Svoboda is good enough to die
For us, he's good enough to live with us...
As an equal.

Be American!

something to ponder

Here's a head-scratcher:

Most cultural conservatives -- not all, but most -- are opposed to multiculturalism. They believe that Western civilization is superior, that English literature should be taught in schools and not Chinese literature, that classical Roman mythology should be emphasized and that of the Native Americans given little if any mention, that French and German history is more relevant than that of India or Japan.

However, if you suggest that contemporary England, Germany, France, or Italy might have some useful examples of modern political solutions (in, say, the field of health care), if you say that these nations might have some useful ideas, many of these same people will tell you that you're un-American, that you ought to move to Europe and stop trying to change America.

So, can anyone tell me when exactly the dividing line is? When did Europe stop being the font of all that is good and civilized and an example that we should study and follow, and start becoming the embodiment of decadence?

Right-wing pundits oppose telling kids to stay in school and work hard

And the madness continues...on Tuesday, Obama will give a speech where he will "challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning," and call on students, parents and educators to see that every child receives the best education possible. The speech will take place during the school day and will be broadcast to many schools.

You might think that this is Mom and Apple Pie stuff which no one could possibly object to. In fact, Bush the First gave a similar speech, without any incident or protest that I can recall. And you might think that everyone knows that most students will doze through it.

But in the foaming vitriol of the right-wing pundits, this is Hitler Youth type stuff. Finkelstein compares Obama's "plan for our children" -- that they work hard and stay in school -- with Mao Zedong. Beck calls it "capturing your kids." Malkin says he's recruiting "junior lobbyists."

So nutcases like Bryan Fischer, Pamela Geller, and Tammy Bruce suggest having your kids skip school.

So, it seem that the conservative movement, such as it is, is now officially opposed to education.

Res ipsa loquitur.

How the State of Texas murdered an innocent man

From The New Yorker, this story of how Texas executed a man for homicide by arson, on no reliable evidence, will chill you:

As Hurst looked through the case records, a statement by Manuel Vasquez, the state deputy fire marshal, jumped out at him. Vasquez had testified that, of the roughly twelve hundred to fifteen hundred fires he had investigated, “most all of them” were arson. This was an oddly high estimate; the Texas State Fire Marshals Office typically found arson in only fifty per cent of its cases.

Hurst was also struck by Vasquez’s claim that the Willingham blaze had “burned fast and hot” because of a liquid accelerant. The notion that a flammable or combustible liquid caused flames to reach higher temperatures had been repeated in court by arson sleuths for decades. Yet the theory was nonsense: experiments have proved that wood and gasoline-fuelled fires burn at essentially the same temperature.

Verizon Wireless: supporting mountop removal, union-busting, and science-denial.

From Peter Rothberg's blog at The Nation:

Do 87 million Verizon Wireless customers know that the company is a co-sponsor of a major climate-change-denying, union-busting, pro-mountaintop removal Labor Day rally staged by Massey Energy in Logan, West Virginia?

...

Massey Energy, the largest producer of Central Appalachian coal...[in 2008] agreed to pay $20 million in fines to the EPA to resolve more than 4,500 violations of the Clean Water Act for polluting waterways in West Virginia and Kentucky with coal slurry and wastewater.

One of the country's foremost practitioners of mountaintop removal, a radical form of coal mining in which entire mountains are blown up, devastating hundreds of square miles of Appalachia and polluting the headwaters of rivers, the company has fiercely lobbied against Obama administration and EPA efforts to crack down on the practice.

These anti-environmental sensibilities will be well represented at the company's Labor Day "Friends of America" celebrations next weekend. The gala's featured speaker, Lord Christopher Monckton, a science adviser to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, is one of the world's most infamous global warming-deniers. Other "distinguished" speakers include Sean Hannity and Ted Nugent.

So why is Verizon sponsoring this pro-mountaintop removal rally on a strip mine site? Calls to the company have so far gone unanswered.

This "Friends of America" thing sounds like something from the next stage of teabagging we've previously discussed.

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