Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Surrey meets his benefactor.

Surrey meets his benefactor to discuss the interview with Amber Milgram.

original here.

Amber gets her bonus

Amber learns from Felicia that Progressive Reports Now will have a big influx of cash thanks to her interview with Surrey.

original here

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

No, thank you.

Don't rush Randall. Don't ask him about Amber's interview of Surrey.

original here

Surrey's 5 predictions for American Politics in 2010

Amber Milgram of Progressive Reports Now interviews Suresh "Surrey" Prabhupada of America Needs Progress Today regarding his Top 5 Predictions for 2010 in American Politics --

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Introducing the 2009 American National Champion

These are a sort of inside joke with some people I know, regarding the 2009 US National Men's DH Champion in one of of the over-40 categories...

1) The Champ talks about his new carbon 29er singlespeed project --



2) The Champ gets interviewed post-race by Betty Bumpdog of Poseurvision Sports --

No Bell

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Reform flim-flam

As long as we use anything less than a fully socialized network of government services, the "reform" of impossibly un-affordable health care in America will never be possible until we accept the reasons why it is over-priced, and repair the causes of that excessive cost.

I'm assuming here that America is going to remain a capitalist country, because that seems to be what most Americans want -- or at least will continue to tolerate. So I'm going to look at a classic cost-benefit analysis of the costs of health care, at a very tree-tops level. Hopefully the meritocratic "good government" liberal/progressive folks will understand this analysis, since it closely follows their meritocratic urges. To confirm my relative "expert" status, I can say that I have spent over a decade as a lawyer helping insurance companies keep their money, and a lot of that experience involved observing and assisting in insurance company corporate structure and operation. I am intimately familiar with how insurance companies work.

The germ of most people's arguments I've encountered in favor of supporting the "reforms" underway at the federal level is that something similar to Medicare-for-all will be the kind "reform" that will help everyone. This argument seems assumed to be relatively irrefutable, if my experience reading people's thoughts, blog posts, pundit essays is any indication.

Medicare does not impose a sufficient ceiling on the upward-spiraling of health care costs. It merely underwrites a chunk of those costs. One might even argue that by so doing, Medicare essentially helps the costs continue spiraling upward -- by not containing them aggressively enough.

I offered in a prior post some of my thoughts on how extensive are the causes of over-priced health care. I see the causes being organized around a philosophy of care that relies heavily on expensive diagnostic tests and/or expensive equipment, along with a lot of pharmaceuticals, being used in a palliative rather than informative & preventive scheme. This type of scheme is rewarding to those billing for the health care, because it encourages people to continue living in unhealthy ways, which generates more need for health care. The underlying message makes health care delivery people akin to saviors, while the truth is that by living in a healthy manner people can take more control and authority over their own well-being.

Medical care has become like a religion, with MDs being the priest caste.

As long as MDs and health care delivery people & businesses are given such artificially high regard and deference, it will be difficult to contain their fees.

And as long as the system generates rewards for keeping our population in ill health, it should not be considered "reformed" in a humane manner.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Health insurance is another problematic vector in the problem of ever-increasing health care costs. The primary driving force in this vector is the way in which the presence of a third-party payer (a health insurer or quasi-insurance benefit plan) amplifies the likelihood of the health care service/person charging a too-high fee for the service provided. If the health care provider has to directly charge the patient/customer, the fee must reflect the ability to pay. If I have to pay directly for my health care, I want to be sure that the money I spend is actually improving my health.

If someone else is paying the bill, I will not be as critical, and will not scrutinize the quality of care as closely, nor will I be so diligent about ensuring I got my money's worth. It's not my money, after all.

And that's where health insurance increases the costs.

The health insurer has not added anything to the value of the service provided. Yet it inflates the cost of that service. Who is the beneficiary of that inflated cost? The patient? The insured/covered party?

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Medicare-for-all is not a wise path to follow. A re-made system is what we need. We need real reform, with the end product being a system of health care provided by people whose first interest is in medical care as a basic right, not as a way for the provider to get wealthy. We need to eliminate middle-men like health insurers, third-party administrators, and payment-spreading financiers. We need to emphasize how to live in a healthy manner, and the ability to take control over one's own health.

All these needs are swept under the rug with the current "reforms" being considered at the federal level.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's a regular daisy-chain of corporate greed!

The Copenhagen climate summit is turning into a bad satire of the Kyoto Summit. The players that tossed a spanner into Kyoto's protocols have now taken that prior tactic and amplified it so that not only are the present discussions being derailed, but they're being rewritten to make it possible for Big Oil and other multinational industrial interests to keep polluting and essentially get paid to do so.

But don't take my word for it. Read these:

Boiling Point: Hijacking the Planet for Power and Privilege


Hopenhagen's Dirty Secret


Copenhagen climate summit in disarray after "Danish text" leak

Big Greens Criticized for Climate Compromise


You might be able to do a bit at the personal level to offset these rapacious greedheads' actions.

Getting Some Green for Your Green: Giving to Reverse Climate Change


Personally speaking, I am presently helping Climate Ground Zero with some legal defense, and I've helped the Native Forest Network in the past on some logging-related lawsuits. Give a little, won't ya?

Monday, December 7, 2009

NO to Obamacare. NO NO NO.

The plan is nothing but a giveaway to private insurance companies, who presently battle for customers with fairly competitive tactics.

Any plan that provides a guaranteed clientele by mandating citizen purchase of coverage is a massive windfall to insurance companies. Their biggest expenses are sales related. With a guaranteed clientele, not only do they have no fear of clients switching carriers, they have no sales budget needs.

HUGE windfall.

So don't go thinking WE should be paying THEM for this coverage. It's the other way around, people.

WE should get the best, broadest, most generous coverage available because we are letting them eliminate their biggest overhead -- the sales department.

This Obama plan is a racket. Don't get gulled by the "public" label it's been given.

..............

oh, by the way - if my thumbnail sketch above isn't substantive enough for you, Arthur Silber goes into much more detail:

How Bad is the Fuck You Act?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dropping to their level. But only for a moment.

A keen way to become a popular blogger is to offer a namby-pamby, middling message that offends nobody. Pick easy enemies, excoriate them with a blog post. Pick easy saints, praise them with a blog post. Never tackle anything controversial. Surely, never offer a potentially abrasive or confusing remark. Above all, know your audience -- and coddle, placate, soothe and tranquilize them. They will love you. You will confirm all their preconceived notions about life, society, political machinations. They will love you. You will assure them that they've never been mistaken. They will love you.

Until reality hits them squarely in the face. Then they will want you to explain reality for them. And they'll accept your explanation, because you've become one of the "experts" and/or "authorities" that they have trusted all their lives to explain the mysteries of existence.

The blogger thus becomes a micro-pundit. And, I'd imagine, this is what many are aiming toward -- celebrity. Not truth-sharing, or information. Celebrity. Cultish following.

One of the leading "progressive" / "liberal" bloggers is a woman who calls herself "Digby" and has a blog called "Hullaballoo." In a hipster-esque nod to "irony," Digby's blog has a picture of Peter Finch's character from the movie Network. And of course the irony, the true irony here, is that while Digby fancies herself a Howard Beale who is "mad as hell, and not gonna take it any more," her coprolitically inspired blogging renders her much closer to Joseph Goebbels than to the character Paddy Chayevsky imagined as Howard Beale.

*************************

Digby's got a post where she's praising AIPAC Al Franken for criticizing a hated Rethuglican who had the temerity to question AIPAC Al's bill that would "prevent rapes in the Military." Now, I don't want to bludgeon dead equines, but I have to ask whether Digby's being as incisive an analyst as her loyal following imagines her.

AIPAC Al has supported Our Obamessiah wherever He has gone. That includes Our Obamessiah's increases in America's militarism abroad. Did AIPAC Al criticize His Hopeyness's speech Tuesday announcing another 30,000 US Military being sent to Afghanistan? No. What has APIAC Al to say about Afghanistan, anyway?
Sen. Al Franken: “I am glad that the President has deliberated carefully and I will be closely examining the new strategy in the days and weeks ahead, starting with the testimony of Secretaries Gates and Clinton and Admiral Mullen this week. I go into that examination, quite frankly, skeptical about a strategy that involves a significant increase in the number of American troops. That is in no small part because I am deeply skeptical of the Afghan government.

“I need to be convinced that we have reliable partners in both Pakistan and Afghanistan; that the mission as outlined is achievable; that we are not making an open-ended commitment; and that there is a sensible way to pay for the war.”
See? The war is okay, it just needs to be affordable. That's AIPAC Al's view. Pseudo-critical, meritocratically rational in its fiscal focus. Pwog heaven, baby.

AIPAC Al and the rest of the Congresscritters are willing accomplices in this murderous occupation of Afghanistan that Our Obamessiah is now escalating beyond the levels conducted by Bush/Cheney.

But hey, AIPAC Al says we have to stop rapes within the US Military. That's more important than stopping the misuse and slaughter of our US Military as a whole, and the resultant slaughter, torture, displacement of native Afghanis that result from such misuse and slaughter.

The issue of rapes conducted by or within the US Military and/or its contractors would not be an issue if they weren't even in Afghanistan in the first place.

And the bill's focus on rapes doesn't even get to the question of why US Military contractors are being used in the first place, or whether it's wise to send them to places where they may run unchecked. So instead of questioning that -- which would be far more patriotic and noble, from a holistic perspective -- AIPAC Al sidesteps that crucial question and goes after an obvious enemy... rape. Like any of us supports rape, when asked about it.

Way to spot and analyze those issues, Digby!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Beating the house when in Las Vegas

Chris Floyd's latest contains all the passionate writing that his regular readers probably have come to expect.

Savvy to a Fault: Coming to Terms with Imperial Power


What Mr Floyd is saying there reminds me of a movie starring Wm H Macy, called The Cooler, in which Macy is a sort of sink for good luck, a virtual human onslaught of bad luck and losing. Macy is hired by casinos to put the kibosh on any gambler with a hot hand who looks likely to make a dent in the house winnings.

I'd say that most of the popularFN lib/prog blogs are a bit like Macy's character in The Cooler. Their purpose is to water-down and dis-aggregate any chance of tampering with the house winnings (Democrat or Republican power retention).

____________________

FN - "Popular" here refers to the term reflecting a personality-cult form of tribalism used in jr high and high schools across America.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

...and now, the Ugly Reality.

The other day I pointed out some unintentional satire in a glowing essay on Obama's first year as POTUS.

Today I bring the satirical circle to a close with an honest essay observing the ugly reality of Barack Obama's presidency and the role of the USA in global affairs. Sires and dams, bulls and cows, ladies and gentlemen... I give you Arthur Silber:

A Deadly Liar and Manipulator


and Chris Floyd:

A Death Warrant for the Future