Friday, July 31, 2009


I've been talking about health care for a while now, mostly bitching and moaning about the roadblocks that the health care industry and republican members of congress have been putting up. Also, don't forget the half-truths, distortions, and outright falsehoods being put out there about a public health care option.

So, it is time for a solution, and I have one. I can solve the health care problem with a one page bill. It doesn't even have to be that long. All it needs to say it that every American from the day they are born to the day the die are eligible for Medicare.

Medicare is already set up. Our seniors have been using it for years. It is a voluntary program. You don't have to join it. You can get private insurance if you want to. If it is such a bad program why do most seniors belong? Supplemental private insurance would still be available for those that want and can afford it.

Congress -- all you have to do is pass a bill that says everyone gets Medicare. If you have no other insurance, Medicare will cover you.

It seems like a very simple solution to me. Problem over.

Now I can get on with other things happening in my life, like my eyes, more dogs this weekend, and another Hollywood Bowl tonight.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

US Media

Don't think your message is being distributed by the mainstream media? Maybe the reason is shown in the figure below from George Washington.

From 50 in 1983 to 5 in 2004. Whatever happened to the Sherman Anti-Trust Act?

Corporate Devils

I have wonder for a while why corporations are not in favor of a single payer, or at least a strong public plan, for health care. It would remove a large burden from them. They would no longer have to provide health care.

I heard an answer to this question to day from Thom Hartmann.

Many, if not most, of the large corporations are self-insured. This means that they collect the premiums and hire an insurance company to manage the system. The corporation keeps the premiums and uses it to pay the insurance claims of their employees. The employees' premiums pays their health care costs.

And guess what? At the end of the year, if it is done right, there is money left over, just like an insurance company. That money left over is call PROFIT. That's right. Corporations are making money off of their employees' health care, just like an insurance company.

They don't want a strong government program because it will reduce the profits of the corporation. And we all know that the primary purpose of a corporation is to make a profit.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


If government run health care is such a disaster, if it means the destruction of good health care in the US, why aren't the republicans pushing to eliminate medicare (government program), medicaid (government program) and the Veterans Administration (socialist government program)? The best they have been able to come up with so far are attempts to limit, reduce, or eliminate SCHIP, a government program designed with the intent to cover uninsured children in families with incomes that are modest but too high to qualify for Medicaid.

They are going after poor children, helpless individuals that cannot vote.

What bastards!

The fact is that people prefer government run programs over private insurance. Let me repeat that again, with emphasis.


( from Bob Cesca)

Remember, Congress: while you are on vacation, 150,000 Americans will lose their insurance, many of them will file for bankruptcy because of mounting medical bills, and at least 1,500 will die because they don't have coverage that gives them access to care they need.

From Wendell Potter,

Why Are These Guys Going On Vacation?

Note from Bob Cesca:

Dear Congress,

Another 14,000 Americans lost their health insurance today.

Zero members of Congress lost their health insurance today.

And Max Baucus made another $1500 in bribes from the healthcare industry today.

Good job, Congress.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

First Class Government Health Care

Why are comedians better interviewers than news people? Check out the video below. Jon Stewart exposes Bill Kristol's ridiculous stand on health care. Kristol opposes a public option, yet he admits on camera that the government can run a first class health care system. It is the system that the military uses. It is the VA, the Veterans Administration.

Oh, by the way, it is not only run by the government, but it is a socialistic government program. The government runs it, owns the medical facilities, and employs the doctors. For the people in it, our veterans, it is a single payer system. Another little item to consider. The veterans "rate the care they receive through the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system higher than other Americans rate private-sector health care...".

View the video here.


Monday, July 27, 2009

What Is A Trillion Dollars

This is copied from an email that I received this morning. It helps put one trillion dollars in perspective.

What does one TRILLION dollars look like?

All this talk about "stimulus packages" and "bailouts"...

A billion dollars...

A hundred billion dollars...

Eight hundred billion dollars...

One TRILLION dollars...

What does that look like? I mean, these various numbers are tossed around like so many doggie treats, so I thought I'd take Google Sketchup out for a test drive and try to get a sense of what exactly a trillion dollars looks like.

We'll start with a $100 dollar bill. Currently the largest U.S. denomination in general circulation. Most everyone has seen them, slightly fewer have owned them. Guaranteed to make friends wherever they go.

A packet of one hundred $100 bills is less than 1/2" thick and contains $10,000. Fits in your pocket easily and is more than enough for week or two of shamefully decadent fun.

Believe it or not, this next little pile is $1 million dollars (100 packets of $10,000). You could stuff that into a grocery bag and walk around with it.

While a measly $1 million looked a little unimpressive, $100 million is a little more respectable. It fits neatly on a standard pallet...

And $1 BILLION dollars... now we're really getting somewhere...

Next we'll look at ONE TRILLION dollars. This is that number we've been hearing about so much. What is a trillion dollars? Well, it's a million million. It's a thousand billion. It's a one followed by 12 zeros.

You ready for this?

It's pretty surprising.

Go ahead...

Scroll down...

... I give you $1 trillion dollars...

(And notice those pallets are double stacked.)

So the next time you hear someone toss around the phrase "trillion dollars"... that's what they're talking about

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Healthcare Capitalists -- Where Are You?

OK all you healthcare capitalists, wherever you are. Elizabeth at The Middle Of Nowhere tells me, in a rather humorous way, why profit and healthcare don't mix. She tells me why we need to take the profit out of healthcare insurance. A for-profit healthcare insurance company's primary purpose is to make money. Our purpose in buying healthcare insurance is to pay for injury and illnesses so that we can continue to live and not suffer. They more coverage they deny, the more money they make and the more people die and suffer.

So, what is the argument for keeping profit in healthcare insurance? What is the benefit to me to keep my private health insurance with it high monthly premium and high deductible? I wish someone could explain it to me without all the fear mongering of "another big government program taking over our lives". I want to hear some concrete benefits that I will get that I will not get from a public program at a lower price.

Come on health care capitalists. Let's see something else beside all your money, money you are spending not on providing me with better healthcare, but money you are spending on maintaining the status quo by buying off politicians, building great edifices in your honor, and paying your executives obscene wages and bonuses.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fun Times At The Kennel

My home has been turned into a dog kennel for the weekend. We are watching our son's three dogs for the weekend. Add these three to my two and that gives me a big bunch of dogs -- all females. The breakdown is:

2 German Shepherds
1 Yellow Lab
1 Golden Retriever
1 Chiweenie (mix of chihuahua and dachshund

That's right, 4 bigs and 1 tiny. The chiweenie has grown up with the large dogs so she thinks she is a big dog also. It is fun watching them run around the yard. They all get along very well. They eat together without problems and have a great time barking at people as they walk by the house. Also, I have never seen poop accumulate so fast in the backyard.

I am building up my nerve to walk all five at one time. Right now, I take them two at a time and then walk the chiweene by herself. They walk pretty good on a leash, not perfect, but not too bad. I can usually control their pulling with a jerk on the leash -- as long as there are not cats around. Cats, or squirrels, and all bets are off.

I will have them all again next weekend, so I may wait until then to try to group walk.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Conflict Of Interest

The Washington Post reports today that on May 26 Bax Baucus sat down at a dinner with "about 20 donors willing to fork over $10,000 or more to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, including executives of major insurance companies, hospitals and other health-care firms." Furthermore, "Health-related companies and their employees gave Baucus's political committees nearly $1.5 million in 2007 and 2008, when he began holding hearings and making preparations for this year's reform debate. "

This is the man heading the Senate Finance Committee, the committee tasked with writing a healthcare bill for the senate. Is there any wonder why he is opposed to a public option? When he held senate hearings, he did not even allow advocates of a public healthcare option to testify.

Our system is broken!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Season Begins

Last night was our first show at the Hollywood Bowl for this year. We have had season tickets for the Friday night 5 show series for over 30 years. We also have valet parking so we pull up next to the bandshell, get out of the car, grab the food, and walk right in. They park the car close by and bring the keys to our box. Nothing could be easier.

Thirty years ago each show was classical music performed by the LA Philharmonic. Over the years the shows have changed to the point where now the "Phil" performs two or three of the shows (the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra plays the other times) and they always have a "talent" perform.

Last night was Faith Hill. Now, I am not a country music fan, but I know who she is. I was pleasantly surprised with her performance. One, she did a mix of music. It was not all country. Secondly, she does have an amazing voice and was backed by a great bunch of musicians. It was a very enjoyable performance, but I was surprised that she did not come out for an encore.

The Hollywood Bowl is a fun place. We get there about 2 hours before the performance. We have a 4 seat box so we almost always bring along two other people. And we bring lots of food and booze, so it is like having a picnic before the performance. The evenings are usually very mild. The heat of the day has passed and the bowl is situated such that we are in the shade. There is usually a nice breeze also. So we eat, drink, talk and just enjoy ourselves until the show starts. We see many of the same people around us each year, and that's kind of fun also. We have watched the kids of the people behind us grow up and the gay guys across the aisle are always entertaining.

Our last show is in the first part of September. That kind of signifies the end of summer for us.

I hope your summer is pleasant.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

From Dennis Kucinich

Dear Friends,

In mid-May, in an effort to reach consensus, President Obama secured a deal with the health insurance companies to trim 1.5% of their costs each year for ten years saving a total of $2 trillion dollars, which would be reprogrammed into healthcare. Just two days after the announcement at the White House the insurance companies reneged on the deal which was designed to protect and increase their revenue at least 35%

The insurance companies reneged on the deal because they refuse any restraint on increasing premiums, copays and deductibles - core to their profits. No wonder a recent USA Today poll found that only four percent of Americans trust insurance companies. This is within the margin of error, which means it is possible that NO ONE TRUSTS insurance companies.

Then why does Congress trust the insurance companies? Yesterday HR 3200 "America's Affordable Health Choices Act," a 1000 page bill was delivered to members. The title of the bill raises a question: "Affordable" for whom?.

Of $2.4 trillion spent annually for health care in America, fully $800 billion goes for the activities of the for-profit insurer-based system. This means one of every three health care dollars is siphoned off for corporate profits, stock options, executive salaries, advertising, marketing and the cost of paper work, (which can be anywhere between 15 - 35% in the private sector as compared to Medicare, the single payer plan which has only 3% administrative costs).

50 million Americans are uninsured and another 50 million are under insured while for-profit insurance companies divert precious health care dollars to non-health care purposes. Eliminate the for-profit health care system and its extraordinary overhead, put the money into healthcare and everyone will be covered, everyone will be able to afford health care.

Today three committees will begin marking up and amending HR3200. In this, one of the most momentous public policy debates in the past 70 years, single payer, the only viable "public option," the one that makes sound business sense, controls costs and covers everyone was taken off the table.

In contrast to HR3200 ... HR676 calls for a universal single-payer health care system in the United States, Medicare for All. It has over 85 co-sponsors in Congress with the support of millions of Americans and countless physicians and nurses. How does HR-676 control costs and cover everyone? It cuts out the for-profit middle men and delivers care directly to consumers and Medicare acts as the single payer of bills. It also recognizes that under the current system for-profit insurance companies make money NOT providing health care.

This week is the time to break the hold which the insurance companies have on our political process. Tell Congress to stand up to the insurance companies. Ask members to sign on to the only real public option, HR 676, a single-payer healthcare system.

Hundreds of local labor unions, thousands of physicians and millions of Americans are standing behind us. With a draft of HR3200 now circulating, It is up to each and every one of us to organize and rally for the cause of single-payer healthcare. Change the debate. Now is the time.

The time to act is now!

Sincerely Yours,

PS - Over the next several months, I will be engaging all of you with frequent updates and will ask you to continue a movement to fight for what needs to be done now; ending this war in Iraq and stopping the escalation in Afghanistan, attaining true single-payer healthcare for all Americans, standing up for my brothers and sisters of organized labor.

After you have contacted your member of Congress, please tell us your thoughts and ideas on how you are organizing your friends and neighbors towards a single-payer movement and all of the other issues that are important to us.

Contact us at

Monday, July 13, 2009

One Down, One To Go

I had cataract surgery on my right eye today. It was a very quick and easy procedure. In fact, I think I even fell asleep during it, if it is possible to sleep with one eye open. Number two will be taken care of in two weeks.

First observation, I didn't realize how yellowish I was seeing white. Now the right eye sees a bright white and the left eye sees a much duller and yellowish white.

First problem - reading the computer screen. I suspect that it will get better with a little more time as the dilation medication wears off, but now my glasses don't work and there is no point in getting new ones, even if they are just for reading, until they do my left eye. I can already see much better at distance without glasses, but reading may be a bit of a problem. I think I will be able to muddle by, though.

Thanks for everyone good wishes.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

An Interesting Poll

According to a recent Pew poll reported on here says that just 6% of scientists are republicans. Why am I not surprised? Maybe because educated people who can think for themselves don't believe the republican talking points -- or the republican talking heads?

Monday, July 6, 2009

How Scared Are They?

How scared is the health care industry about health insurance reform?

As reported by, "...insurers, pharmaceutical companies, medical associations and hospitals have hired more than 350 former government staff members and retired members of Congress as part of a $1.4 million-a-day lobbying campaign">

$1,400,000 per DAY!

350 former government staff member and RETIRED MEMBERS OF CONGRESS.

They are scared shitless!

GOOD! Maybe that means we will get some meaningful reform, maybe even a (heaven forbid) public option.

Friday, July 3, 2009

How Times Have Changed

Happy 4th of July eve.

The fourth of July use to be a very exciting time for me -- back when I was about 10 years old. We could get real fireworks and fire crackers, like these.

And they were legal! They went on sale about two weeks before the 4th. I saved up my money to buy mostly firecrackers. My parents got the bigger stuff to let off on the 4th, like my favorite -- buzz bombs.

But us kids got the firecrackers. They were great fun. We would light them and throw them. We would put them in cans and blow the cans in the air. After a rain, we would put them under slugs and blow them up. (In Seattle, we had lots of slugs and they always came out after a rain.) Did we hurt ourselves. Occasionally. There was usually a burned finger or two, but it was not big deal and our parents just reminded us to be careful. There was never any thought of taking the firecrackers away for us.

Fast forward 50 years. The "real" fireworks are illegal. I do live in one of the few communities in Southern California the still permit "safe and sane" fireworks, but they are really not the same. The two granddaughters that we sit for (I am not going to say babysit, because they constantly remind me that they are not babies) don't like fireworks. They have gone to firework celebrations in the past and the noise scares them. How times have changed. I liked to loud explosions. Still do. The loud bangs were the fun thing about firecrackers. Well, second to being able to blow things up with them.

I don't remember the animals being scared by the noises either. Now, one of our dogs is terrified by the noise. She tries to find a dark quiet spot in the house when the fireworks start going off, curls up in a ball, and shakes. We have to sedate her so that she will sleep through it.

So enjoy your holiday weekend. I will be tending a scared dog and remembering what the 4th of July was really like, back in the olden days.