June 25th, 2009


Contacts over Justice

In America today, who you know is far more important than what you do. Example:

Jason Leopold | Supreme Court Protects Cheney, Rove, Snubs Plame
Jason Leopold, Truthout: "The US Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a civil lawsuit filed by Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, against Bush administration officials who were responsible for leaking her covert CIA status to the media and attacking her husband for accusing the White House of twisting prewar Iraq intelligence. The Supreme Court's rejection effectively brings the three-year-old case to a close."

I believe that blowing a CIA agent's cover and endangering their life counts as treason, and should be prosecuted as such. I'm also relatively certain that if a Democrat had leaked such sensitive information, the Republicans would be screaming blue murder.

This is a disgraceful example of letting some people behave as if they are above the law. It also demonstrates that, no matter what lies come out of their dirty little mouths, their actions demonstrate that they do not really care about the safety of America as a nation or the citizens in it. Plus the obvious misogyny, of course, but that's hardly news.

More on Health Care

These news articles are related to the ongoing health care discussion...

Robert Parry | Serving the Medical-Industrial Complex
Robert Parry, Consortium News: "The usual knock on government programs is that they're not as efficient as the private sector, which we're told can provide the same product for less money and with higher quality. Thus, it should be no big deal when the public and private collide because the private sector should prevail."

Another person points out the obvious "have your cake and eat it too" flaw in the insurance industry's complaints.

Nursing Homes Get Old for Many With Disabilities
Jennifer LaFleur, ProPublica: "Melody Ping never thought she would be trying to move out of a nursing home. She lived in a St. Louis apartment for 19 years and worked as an accountant until two years ago, when she lost her job. Ping, who has multiple sclerosis, couldn't find new work. When her unemployment [benefits] ran out, she ended up on Medicaid in a nursing home."

Every once in a while, there is a happy synchronicity where doing what people want is cheaper and better. This is one. We should therefore do as much of this as possible. Everyone who wants to be cared for at home, and reasonably can be, should be. Save the institutions as a last resort.

Obama: Health Reform Needs Public Insurer Option
David Alexander and Donna Smith, Reuters: "President Barack Obama said on Tuesday his healthcare overhaul needed a public insurance option to enforce market 'discipline' on private insurers, but stopped short of saying he would veto legislation without one."

While I am pleased to see the president trying to secure people's right to health insurance, I think that ditching the insurance and securing rights to health care would be much cheaper and more effective. But even public insurance would be more thorough than what we have now.

Public Health Plan Could Save Nearly $800 Billion: Policy Group
Susan Heavey, Reuters: "A nationwide health insurance exchange that includes a Medicare-like government option could save $1.8 trillion more than if only private plans are offered, a prominent private U.S. health policy group said on Wednesday."

That would be great if it pans out. (I'm always dubious of claims to deliver more benefit for less cost.) One plausible point is that insurance works better the bigger the pool is. A public option should turn into a nice big pool, which grants bargaining power and many other cost-saving benefits.

Helen Thomas | Obama Running Scared
Helen Thomas, The Times Union: "A universal health care system based on the single-payer model appears to be a bridge too far for President Barack Obama. A single-payer system, such as Medicare for everyone, would provide health care for all."U.S. health policy group said on Wednesday."

I am pleased to see more noise and news about options that the politicians want "off the table." We REALLY need to examine all options and assemble a system from the best parts we can find. I am pretty sure that a hack-and-patch of private and public insurance is not the best option, although it is better than the nothing that many people have now.

Environmental News Collage

Here are some articles about the environment and efforts to protect it ...

Jeff Biggers | Reckoning at Coal River
Jeff Biggers, CommonDreams.org: "A historic reckoning is taking place on Coal River in West Virginia this week - and in Washington, DC, on Thursday. On June 25, Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Maryland), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, will hold the first bipartisan hearing in a generation to address the impact of mountaintop removal mining operations."

Ripping the tops off of mountains is not good for America nor for Americans. Let us hope that someone manages to see over the wall of cash to that clue.

House Democrats Reach Deal on Climate Change Bill
Richard Cowan, Reuters: "Democrats in the House of Representatives on Tuesday said they had reached a deal on difficult agriculture issues in a climate change bill, clearing the way for a vote and probable passage in the chamber this week."

*sigh* It sounds like this bill has been watered down to the point where it will do little good for the environment, delay other things that might do better, and hand money to people who don't need more of it. I will not be surprised if it also raises energy prices as Republicans claim.

Boy Discovers Microbe that Eats Plastic
It's not your average science fair when the 16-year-old winner manages to solve a global waste crisis. But such was the case at last month's May's Canadian Science Fair in Waterloo, Ontario, where Daniel Burd, a high school student at Waterloo Collegiate Institute, presented his research on microorganisms that can rapidly biodegrade plastic.

Microbes adapt fast; breeding them to eat our garbage faster is smart. Geeks may yet save the world. It certainly won't be politicians.

Food Inc.

This is a very disturbing article about a very disturbing movie about a thoroughly mangled part of America: our food supply. It confirms much that I have heard elsewhere. While our budget won't stretch to an all-natural diet, we're trying to move in that direction. I just don't trust the food supply anymore. Too much of it makes my body scream "Not Food!" Okay, it's probably still safer than food in places like Mexico or China. That does not make it safe by my standards.