Sunday, May 10, 2009

Last Call

The health care industry just bought a pretty big chunk of Obamacare this weekend to the tune of $2 trillion. The reality is that Obamacare will become reality, but the speed at which the health care industry has embraced it does worry me.
President Barack Obama's plan to provide medical insurance for all Americans took a big step toward becoming reality Sunday after leaders of the health care industry offered $2 trillion in spending reductions over 10 years to help pay for the program.

Hospitals, insurance companies, drug makers and doctors planned to tell Obama on Monday they'll voluntarily slow their rate increases in coming years in a move that government economists say would create breathing room to help provide health insurance to an estimated 50 million Americans who now go without it.

With this move, Obama picks up key private-sector allies that fought former President Bill Clinton's effort to overhaul health care.

Although the offer from the industry groups doesn't resolve thorny details of a new health care system, it does offer the prospect of freeing a large chunk of money to help pay for coverage.

And it puts the private-sector groups in a good position to influence the bill Congress is writing.

It's that last sentence that of course is the caveat. It assures some sort of universal health care legislation will pass now.

But what has big pharma bought for its two trillion dollars? After all, this is a mere drop in the bucket for the health care industry, literally a matter of shaving a couple of percentage points off of the rate of increase in health care costs in an industry where yearly increases in the double digit percentage range are the norm.

Clearly they've had something in mind all along. It has to be better than no health insurance for 1 in 6 Americans...but there's going to be a cost down the road. A big one.

More on this tomorrow.

Another Look At Mother's Day

This story here is for Zandarmom.
My daughter is a preschooler but I have only known her for a while. She is adopted.

After years of wanting to be parents, my husband and I were given 14 hours notice ... then a little girl walked into our house.

Trying to adopt had been a long and frustrating process. But, when we connected with an American Foster Family Agency, it happened very quickly. One night, the phone rang – the social worker told me we'd been "matched" with a 3-year-old girl.

I hung up the phone and stood still for a second. Then, I had to sit down. Within a minute, I was lying on the floor. Yeah, this was real: A little girl was coming to our home. Tomorrow.

There wasn't a baby shower, there wasn't time to discuss with family and friends, there was no way to really prepare for her arrival.

She arrived without an instruction manual. I didn't know if she had a sleep schedule, food allergies – there wasn't even a note pinned to her shirt. She just walked in and looked up at me, like "got lunch?"

There isn't a word for the elation I felt. I grinned like a maniac and jumped into parenthood.

We got to know each other: we blew bubbles in the backyard, drew with sidewalk chalk, threw the ball for our dog, (who looked up at her, like "dibs on the big bed.")

Together, we decorated her new bedroom – arranging white furniture, laying out a pink rug, messily peeling and sticking purple flower decals on the walls.

I was delighted by her: Every facial expression, every tantrum, every small thing she did was fascinating and fantastic. Mornings were now a flurry of juice spilling, tiny clothes washing and frenzied kid-chasing. It was thrilling chaos.
And my mother not only adopted one kid, but three...and still gave birth to a fourth. Thrilling chaos definitely describes my household growing up.

My mother loved us so much, she went out and got more.

Thanks, Mom. More than you know. More than I ever say, actually. And to everyone else out there, adoption is one of those things that you really should consider...on either end of the equation.

The Good Son

Dick Cheney thinks Rush Limbaugh is a better Republican than Colin Powell. My question is simple: Why is a man with an approval rating in the low 20's deciding who is and who is not a "good Republican" anyway?

Answer that for me and I'll tell you why the Democrats will continue to run the country.

Your Lips Say No, But Your Eyes Say No

You really do have to admire Fred Barnes for the consistency and depth of his level of reality denial.
Improving the party's image is a worthy cause, but it isn't what Republicans ought to be emphasizing right now. They have a more important mission: to be the party of no. And not just a party that bucks Obama and Democrats on easy issues like releasing Gitmo terrorists in this country, but one committed to aggressive, attention-grabbing opposition to the entire Obama agenda.

Many Republicans recoil from being combative adversaries of a popular president. They shouldn't. Opposing Obama across-the-board on his sweeping domestic initiatives makes sense on substance and politics. His policies--on spending, taxes, health care, energy, intervention in the economy, etc.--would change the country in ways most Americans don't believe in. That's the substance. And a year or 18 months from now, after those policies have been picked apart and exposed and possibly defeated, the political momentum is likely to have shifted away from Obama and Democrats.

This scenario has occurred time and again. Why do you think Democrats won the House and Senate in 2006 and bolstered their majorities in 2008? It wasn't because they were more thoughtful, offered compelling alternatives, or had improved their brand. They won because they opposed unpopular policies of President Bush and exploited Republican scandals in Congress. They were highly partisan and not very nice about it.

If Republicans scan their history, they'll discover unbridled opposition to bad Democratic policies pays off. Those two factors, unattractive policies plus strong opposition, were responsible for the Republican landslides in 1938, 1946, 1966, 1980, and 1994. A similar blowout may be beyond the reach of Republicans in 2010, but stranger things have happened in electoral politics. They'll lose nothing by trying.

Ahh, Freddy Freddy Freddy. Come. Walk with me, talk with me.

There are so many things wrong with this, it's difficult to measure them all. Once again Fred is convinced Americans don't want a government solution to America's problems...but nearly thirty years of letting the "free markets" work has failed. Dubya made a point of deregulating everything he possibly could, and the result has been absolutely disastrous for the country. From the environment to food and drugs to toys and building materials, from levees and schools and mines to plants and factories, and industry after industry, where regulation and oversight -- or "government interference" as you call it -- was curtailed or eliminated, we got in return disaster after disaster.

At every turn, accountability was eliminated and those who failed were rewarded by the Bush administration as Americans suffered and were hurt and sometimes killed by lack of protections dismantled by an administration beholden to corporate interests.

Americans want government working for them again. You guys had your shot. You blew it. Now it's the other side's turn. Once again Fred Barnes is trapped in an alternate reality where liberals and Democrats cannot accomplish anything, all that ever happens is an occasional backlash against conservatism that liberals misinterpret and 1994 happens again and again.

Keep telling yourself that this is only a phase. Keep telling yourselves that the GOP has nothing to lose by opposing every facet of the Obama agenda as an obstructionist party. Keep telling yourselves that the Republicans have nothing to lose.

Trouble In Sri Lanka

Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka have been fighting a deadly civil war against the government in Colombo for 25 years now and the war zone is a dangerous, deadly place for anyone caught in the crossfire.
An all-night artillery barrage in Sri Lanka's war zone killed at least 378 civilians and forced thousands to flee to makeshift shelters along the beach, a government doctor said Sunday.

At least 1,100 people were wounded in what the physician said was the bloodiest day he had seen in months of fighting between the army and Tamil Tiger rebels.

Dr. V. Shanmugarajah said many more were likely killed in the barrage, but they were buried where they fell instead of being taken to the makeshift hospital where he works in the war zone. He described the situation at the understaffed hospital as ''overwhelming.''

''Nothing is within our control,'' he said. Most doctors and nurses have long since fled, he said, and even volunteers to dig graves were in short supply.
Not every war involves Americans, and we don't often hear about the ones that don't. Something to keep in mind out there in this wide world of ours.

Happy Mother's Day

Needless to say, Happy Mother's Day to Zandarmom. I know she is missing her own mother this year.

This blog wouldn't be here without my mother encouraging me to write, to learn, to ask questions, and to use that lump above my shoulders to try to make sense of it all.

Call your Mom. She misses you.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Republicans may have better lawyers, but Democrats have better writers.
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