Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Last Call

Once again we spend twice as much on health care per capita than any other country, and we still have one of the most inefficient systems on Earth.
The United States ranked last when compared to six other countries -- Britain, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand, the Commonwealth Fund report found.

"As an American it just bothers me that with all of our know-how, all of our wealth, that we are not assuring that people who need healthcare can get it," Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis told reporters in a telephone briefing.

Previous reports by the nonprofit fund, which conducts research into healthcare performance and promotes changes in the U.S. system, have been heavily used by policymakers and politicians pressing for healthcare reform.

Davis said she hoped health reform legislation passed in March would lead to improvements.

The current report uses data from nationally representative patient and physician surveys in seven countries in 2007, 2008, and 2009. It is available here.

In 2007, health spending was $7,290 per person in the United States, more than double that of any other country in the survey.

Australians spent $3,357, Canadians $3,895, Germans $3,588, the Netherlands $3,837 and Britons spent $2,992 per capita on health in 2007. New Zealand spent the least at $2,454.

This is a big rise from the Fund's last similar survey, in 2007, which found Americans spent $6,697 per capita on healthcare in 2005, or 16 percent of gross domestic product.

"We rank last on safety and do poorly on several dimensions of quality," Schoen told reporters. "We do particularly poorly on going without care because of cost. And we also do surprisingly poorly on access to primary care and after-hours care."
 Health care reform will help with this, but we still have decades of improvements to make.  Meanwhile, let's look at what's gone on just 3 years ago:
And over the last 30 years.


Remember, the Republicans want to go back to this system, because they think it's the best on Earth.

Just Because You Say It, Doesn't Make It True

Minnesota GOP nutbar Tom Emmert showcases some pretty impressive levels of ignorance on the laws he's supposed to be crafting as a state representative.
Under Emmer's proposal, no federal mandate upon the state would be honored by Minnesota unless the governor, Speaker of the state House and state Senate Majority Leader were to issue determinations that the federal government has the power to legislate in that area. If any of those three officials were to determine that the federal government does not have the relevant power, the mandate could not take effect unless the legislature passed a law specifically applying it.

MinnPost pointed out to Emmer that this idea runs afoul of the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, which established that federal laws are the "supreme Law of the Land" to which states are bound. It was only noted that Emmer's method skips the traditionally accepted manner for states to challenge a federal law, to file a lawsuit and adjudicate the matter in the courts. Emmer responded that this is the "preferred mechanism by some. That is usually federal-leaning constitutionalists." But he said the states shouldn't wait for courts to determine the scope of the federal government's authority.

"So while I appreciate that some might say that is the mechanism, well, that is one of the mechanisms," said Emmer. "I think if you're going to talk about a constitutional legal question. I'm taking about taking it from whether or not the authority is there in the first place. [Meaning the constitutional authority for the federal government to legislate in a particular area]. The state certainly does have the right to determine that at the state level, I believe, under our existing constitution."

It should be noted that theories of nullification were often floated during the first several decades of the United States, by individual states having disputes with the federal government over issues ranging from slavery to tariffs -- but the Civil War and the Northern victory over Southern secession firmly established the supremacy of the federal government. Nullification was later invoked by Southern segregationists during the Civil Rights movement, and was consistently rejected in federal courts.
So basically, Emmert has taken it upon itself to have the states determine the constitutionality of laws, not the courts.  This jackass by the way is Gov. Tim Pawlenty's replacement on the GOP side.  I'm not sure what Emmert hopes to accomplish by trying to wipe out a hundred and fifty plus years of established federal supremacy precedent by simply saying he can do that, but the last group of guys that thought it would be really great for the states to tell the federal government to screw off started one of those civil war things.

Yet another leading light of the Republican party, folks.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day


Should you happen to be placed in charge of the US war effort in another country, don't get smashed on a case of Bud Light Lime on a bus and talk to a reporter.

Bad things happen when you do.

World Cupdate

Group C's early games meant do or die time for the United States taking on Algeria, and for England taking on Slovenia.  The winners advance, the losers go home, and the tension was on.  Algeria haven't scored a goal yet in this tournament, something that weighs quite heavily on them.  On the other hand, the US have never won a Round 3 match in their World Cup history, in fact they've lost their 3rd match in every World Cup they've ever been in, a fact that wasn't lost on manager Bob Bradley.  Bradley went with a 2-4-4 setup with Jozy Altidore and Hercules Gomez in the front, while Algeria countered with an aggressive 3-4-3 attack with Djebbour, Matmour, and Ziani as the triple threat.  Early the Desert Foxes outfoxed the Yanks as their assault seemed to knock the US into a defensive crouch and left the US team vulnerable as they have been to getting behind in the match.  A draw here would send both teams home, but so would a loss.  In the last 15 minutes of the first half, the US started to finally get a few opportunities as they adjusted to the Algerian attack but they were simply unable to convert.  The US needed a goal or they were going home.  Benny Feilhaber came in for Hercules Gomez at the half, and the second stanza began much as the first: the Algerians on the attack and the US unable to convert on the counters despite multiple chances.  Running out of time, the US threw everything they had at Algeria.  Into stoppage time, the US needed a miracle...and that miracle's name was Landon Donovan, as he finally connects with the back of the net, saving the Stars and Stripes.  Algeria's Anthar Yahia collects a blatant red card in sheer frustration, but it's the Yanks that prevail 1-0 and Algeria's scoreless streak lasts another four years...

The other match for all the marbles had England and Slovenia facing off, the Three Lions, looking shaky so far like the rest of the European favorites, wanted to win to advance.  Both teams went with a nearly identical 2-4-4 format, the Lions with Jermain Dafoe and the always deadly Wayne Rooney up front, the Dragons with goal scoring heroes Novakovic and Ljubijankic leading the attack.  Early on the Three Lions roared to life, pressing the attack and earning a number of corner kicks that rattled the Slovenian defense.  That resulted in a counter cross to Dafoe that was blistered in at 23'.  With that confidence booster, the Brits tried to hammer home an early winner but the Dragons held out for the first half only down one.  The second half was all England as they hammered again and again at the Slovenian defense, but the Dragons were just too stiff-necked to give anything else up, and the English decide to skive off the rest of the match and take the win, as both teams saw the US and Algeria heading to the draw and both would advance with the 1-0 England win...but that last second US goal ripped the floor out from under Slovenia and it's the Yanks who win the Group, followed by the Brits.  The Slovenians came in leading the group...and now they are going home with nothing.

The late games in Group D would determine who the USA and England would face this weekend.  Group leader Ghana was set to tilt against Germany, and Australia was looking for a miracle of their own against Serbia, who threw the entire Group into shambles by shocking the Germans.  Everyone needed wins, and everyone was certainly aiming for the three points.  Ghana's Black Stars started out with a strong 3-3-4 offense, with Ayew and Tagoe at the wings and Ghana's star Asamoah Gyan at center.  The Germans formulated a precision counter 1-3-2-4 battle plan with Cacau at point after Miroslav's Klose's suspension last game.  As expected, Ghana immediately went on the attack, and Germany lay in wait to take advantage.  Both sides got some solid chances around the 20' mark as a result.  That fired up both sides and the game was on in the rest of the half, but neither side could capitalize. Half number two was much the same in a match that should have been 2-2 or even 3-3, but it was Germany's Ozil who actually connected at 60'.  The Black Stars were in danger of blacking out of the Cup.  Germany, sensing the win, pushed forward but Ghana's dangerous offense kept the Europeans on the defensive and Ghana went all out to try to even the score, but it wasn't meant to be.  They had to settle for the loss and hoped that Australia would win...

Meanwhile, Australia rolled out against Serbia, the Socceroos with Tim Cahill returning from his first match red card backing up striker Joshua Kennedy in their 1-3-2-4 formation, while the White Eagles were looking to soar with Nikola Zigic leading a powerfully defensive minded 1-5-4 blockade.  Both sides were evenly matched in the first half, the Socceroos making a couple of probes into White Eagles territory before being booted out by their strong defense, but the Serbs, despite playing much better ball, were still unable to counterattack early either.  Later on they even found the back of the net only to have it called back for offsides, and the Socceroos proved being lucky is sometimes just as important as being good.  The second half has Serbia piling on but the laconic Socceroos absorbed all the White Eagles' fury and then started finding their own legs as the Serbs started drooping midway through the half, and Tim Cahill headed it in at 69'.  Then Holman knocked one in just four minutes later.  All of a sudden Australia was trying to make up that 5 goal differential to earn that #2 spot.  That ended when Serbia's Pantelic finally knocked one home at 84'.  Serbia wasn't done yet and a draw here would get them in past Ghana, but it wasn't enough.  Australia won their pride, but both the Socceroos and the Serbs are going home, with Germany winning the group to face England in the Round of 16 on Sunday, and Ghana going to face the USA on Saturday...winner take all.

Epic Houston, We Have A Problem Fail that riser pipe containment cap thing BP stuck on the end of the geyser in order to collect oil and prevent that whole worst-case scenario?  Not preventing the worst-case scenario anymore.
The Coast Guard says BP has been forced to remove a cap that was containing some of the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.

Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen says an underwater robot bumped into the venting system. That sent gas rising through vent that carries warm water down to prevent ice-like crystals from forming in the cap.

Allen says the cap has been removed and crews are checking to see if crystals have formed before putting it back on. In the meantime, a different system is still burning oil on the surface.

Before the problem with the containment cap, it had collected about 700,000 gallons of oil in the previous 24 hours. Another 438,000 gallons was burned.

The current worst-case estimate of what's spewing into the Gulf is about 2.5 million gallons a day. 
Please fix that and replace it.  Thanks. Now.  Immediately.  If not sooner.

EPIC FAILing at, oh, a couple million gallons a day now?

Playing The Paranoia Angle, Part 3

Sharon Angle is the gift that keeps on giving.  Harry Reid must be smiling like it's Christmas and his birthday rolled into one.

Adding to her troubles, Angle said in an interview with a local Nevada affiliate that the country’s unemployed are “spoiled“:
ANGLE: You can make more money on unemployment then you can going down and getting one of those jobs that is an honest job, but [] doesn’t pay as much. And so that’s what’s happened to us is that we have put in so much entitlement into our government that we really have spoiled our citizenry and said “you don’t want the jobs that are available.”
And in a campaign appearance last month, the GOP Senate nominee said she has no interest in bringing jobs to her state:
ANGLE: As your U.S. Senator, I’m not in the business of creating jobs. … People ask me, “What are you gonna do to develop jobs in your state?” Well that’s not my job as a U.S. Senator — to bring industry to this state. That’s the lieutenant governor’s job, that’s your state senator’s and assemblymen’s job, that’s your secretary of state’s job to make a climate here in the state that says, “Y’all come.”
OK, so Sharon Angle's official position as Senator is "not in charge of job development".  That's bad enough, given Nevada's 14% unemployment rate.  It of course gets worse:
Yet despite her claim that a senator’s job is not to bring jobs to the state, Angle attacked Reid specifically for not bringing jobs to Nevada. From an interview interview with Human Events this week:
HUMAN EVENTS: What are the three reasons why Harry Reid needs to go come November?
ANGLE: Fourteen percent unemployment in the state of Nevada, the highest foreclosure rate in the nation in Nevada, and the highest rate of bankruptcy in Nevada. That is where people have really held Harry Reid accountable because Harry Reid doesn’t care about their jobs. He doesn’t care that they are having trouble staying in their homes and that’s why Harry Reid needs to be fired.
Apparently, Angle's angle is to have it both ways.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Leave it to the Washington Examiner to concoct the dumbest Obama attack yet:  our President is in shape, and we need one built like Peter Griffin from Family Guy, dammit!
Last week, President Obama strolled the beaches for a photo op with Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a self-described "fat redneck." Our beanpole president made quite a contrast to the chubby gov, who, as the New York Times noted Sunday, resembles "an adult version of Spanky from the Little Rascals."

Newsweek calls Barbour "the anti-Obama," but the Times downplayed his presidential prospects. Apparently, Haley needs to slim down if he's serious.

Is corpulence really a disqualification for the presidency in the land of supersized fries? If so, that's a shame.

America might do better with a fat president. After all, some of our best have been big fellows, and lately the trim and ambitious types haven't served us so well.

"Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look; he thinks too much. Such men are dangerous," Shakespeare's Julius Caesar comments to Marc Antony. "Let me have men about me that are fat ... such as sleep o' nights."
Point of order, wasn't Clinton savaged for being the President that at at McDonald's?  Isn't "Al Gore is fat" a running joke with the right even now?  And now they're going after Obama because he's not fat enough?  What, does being in shape now mean you're not a Real American?  I'm sure that's new to Dubya, who actually was one of the most physically fit Presidents we ever had, the guy worked out all the damn time, rode his bike, cleared brush, etc.  Bush may have been a lot of things, but out of shape wasn't one of them.

Apparently Obama on the other hand is just  And yet, given the right wing attacks on Michelle Obama's anti-obesity initiative for Americans and the White House garden, this is the logical next step in the Obama Derangement progression:  Obama (and his wife, and his soccer-playing children) are too much in shape to be Real Americans.

Man, it never ends with these guys, does it?  If Obama was a big guy like myself, we'd never hear the end about how he was too fat.  But since he and his family are in shape, he's being attacked for being in shape.  Doesn't matter...Obama Derangement Syndrome always finds a way.

Before Zee Germans Get Here, Part 5

George Soros doesn't mince words in a newspaper interview with Germany's Die Zeit.
Germany's budget savings policy risks destroying the European project and a collapse of the euro cannot be ruled out, billionaire investor George Soros said in a newspaper interview released on Wednesday.

"German policy is a danger for Europe, it could destroy the European project," he told German weekly Die Zeit.

Soros, who earned $1 billion in 1992 by betting against the British pound, added that he "could not rule out a collapse of the euro." 

"If the Germans don't change their policy, their exit from the currency union would be helpful for the rest of Europe," he said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel unveiled plans earlier this month for 80 billion euros ($107 billion) in budget cuts over the next four years—a package she hopes will bring Germany's structural deficit within European Union limits by 2013.

Thousands in Germany protested the measures, which union leaders said were "economically damaging."
"Right now the Germans are dragging their neighbours into deflation, which threatens a long phase of stagnation. And that leads to nationalism, social unrest and xenophobia. Democracy itself could be at risk," Soros said.

"Germany is globally isolated ... Why don't they let their salaries rise? That would help other EU states to pick up." 
Soros echoes what others have said, that cutting social spending and raising taxes right now will stagger the economy and could drop the planet back into a recession.  To be honest, we never really left the recession in the first place, it just got more manageable.  It's going to get a whole hell of a lot less manageable in 2011 if this keeps up.

I'm not sure if the Euro will collapse as a result, but a lot of countries with foreign reserves are spreading out their portfolios as of late, and that's only going to hurt the Euro's chances even more.  Furthermore, when Spain or italy snaps and goes the way of Greece, who's going to bail them out?  Not Germany:  they're bunkering up.

Not Speaking Inglis

While Republican voters in primary runoffs in South Carolina yesterday rewarded Nikki Haley and Tim Scott, they also massively punished GOP Rep. Bob Inglis for not being ideologically pure enough.  Inglis was crushed by Tea Partier Trey Gowdy.  Steve Benen:
It wasn't close -- despite having represented the area for 12 years, Inglis lost by a ridiculous 42-point margin, 71% to 29%.

Given the one-sided nature of the results, it's tempting to think Inglis must have been caught up in some devastating scandal, since incumbents in good standing just don't get humiliated like this often. But Inglis' only crime was taking on a moderate, pragmatic tone, which led Republicans to revolt.

I emphasize "tone" because Inglis had a very conservative voting record, and scored well among the far-right organizations that grade lawmakers on their positions.

But Inglis expressed a willingness to work with Democrats on energy policy; he urged his constituents not to take Glenn Beck too seriously; he thought Joe Wilson was wrong to heckle the president during a national address; and he said his main focus as a lawmaker was to find "solutions" to problems. Last year, Inglis said the Republican Party has a chance to "lose the stinking rot of self-righteousness" and "to understand we are all in need of some grace."

And as a result, Republicans turned on Inglis and he lost by 42 points. He was a conservative Republican in a conservative Republican district, but the GOP base decided he simply wasn't right-wing enough for their voracious appetites.
Republicans don't like opposing viewpoints, do they?  They absolutely ended Inglis's political career because he dared to work with the hated, enemy, evil Democrats.  He dared to criticize Glenn Beck.  Despite his solidly conservative voting record, he was politically flogged for his lack of "purity".  He didn't just lose narrowly, he was completely annihilated.

That's what Republicans do to their own who don't toe the party line.  Bob Inglis, the latest victim of the Hoffman Effect.  There's no room for conservatives, much less moderates.

Texas Hold 'Em

The latest PPP poll has Texas GOP Gov. Rick Perry and former Houston Dem Mayor Bill White tied for TX-Gov.
The poll has Perry and White at 43% each. The survey of registered voters has a ±4.4% margin of error. A key indicator of Perry's vulnerability is that his approval rating is only 36%, with 49% disapproval, while White has a favorable rating of 37%-25%. In the horserace cross-tabs, Perry leads among Republicans by 74%-15%, White leads among Democrats by 76%-10%, and White leads with independents by 42%-36%.

The TPM Poll Average has Perry ahead of White by 46.1%-40.8%.

Another important number, which should concern Perry in light of his growing national profile as a leader among Tea Party-style Republicans, is this question: "Do you think that Rick Perry should run for President in 2012?" The answer is only Yes 10%, No 69%.

"Things look promising for White but Texas is still a conservative state where Barack Obama is exceedingly unpopular and that could end up proving to be too much for him to overcome," writes PPP communications director Tom Jensen. "It may end up that White is the right candidate just running in the wrong cycle. But for now this looks like a surprisingly strong opportunity for Democrats and a race that could certainly end up as one of the most closely watched in the country."
The fact that White is even close should be scaring the hell out of Perry.   Even going by the averages, White's only down by 5 points.

I wonder how much of the Texas GOP platform Rick Perry supports?  The criminalization of sodomy, the rounding up of illegal immigrants, the rejection of evolution...that can't put him in a good situation should White press Perry on that.  It's not like Perry can denounce's his own party's state platform, and he's the Governor.

Should be interesting going forward.

Blue Dogs Bite The Hand That Feeds Them

Some Blue Dog Dems are going all in on running as Republicans this year, including Idaho freshman Walt Minnick, who apparently is entertaining the idea that he and his fellow Blue Dogs can oust Nancy Pelosi as Speaker in January.
Freshman Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick won't discuss a conversation he had with Idaho GOP colleague Mike Simpson about the role Minnick might play in removing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Simpson says he told Minnick that members of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition of Democrats will hold the balance of power if Democrats retain control in the November election and could deny Pelosi re-election in January 2011.

Simpson said he counseled Minnick during a May 29 flight from Washington, D.C., to Salt Lake City about how the Blue Dogs could make history.

"It's premature until one sees the lineup of the next House of Representatives," Minnick told the Idaho Statesman. "If there are multiplecandidates - and there were not last time - I will vote for whoever best represents my views and whoever I think best represents the thinking of Idahoans."

Minnick declined to say whether he's discussed that scenario with fellow Blue Dogs. "There is a casual conversation on almost every topic from time to time," he said. "I don't have a response to your question."
Minnick did echo part of what Simpson says they discussed: "The speaker is elected by a majority of the House, not a majority of the (controlling party) caucus. People ignore that. And I have been a voice for sensible leadership."

Said Simpson: "Who do you think told him that?"
So, let me see if I've got this straight.

A Republican is telling a Democrat that the Democrat needs to get rid of the most effective Speaker the Democrats have had in decades, the first female Speaker, and one that has gotten some tough legislation passed, because the Tea Party doesn't like her at all.  The Republican is telling the Democrat this because the Republican has the best interests of the Democrat in mind.

Sure, and I have some beautiful beachfront property in Idaho to sell Minnick too.  Good luck with that, Walt.  Because the Republican plan is totally to get Steny Hoyer as Speaker and not Orange Julius.



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