Monday, February 21, 2011

Finally saw The Social Network. I'd give it a "B" on scale of A-F. It was good, but not great. Why do I get the feeling that because Fincher and Sorkin's names were attached, it had critics extra-excited before viewing, elevating their reception from B to A....

Frankly, a better film is Mike Leigh's "Another Year," but it's British and has no big names involved.
Remember this ("Republicans Gut EPA") the next time you hear someone complain about the EPA not doing its job. Tough to do one's job when you're constantly underfunded, understaffed and overwhelmed -- just as corporations and Republicans (one and same) like it.

Mind you, these cuts don't do jack sh*t to solve the deficit, just a bug bite on an elephant's ass. More meaningful cuts would come from the nearly $1 TRILLION we spend on defense each year but we can't cut there, right? Spending on defense amounts to more/less $800 billion per year, versus the EPA's meager $10 billion budget. Yes, we spend 80 times more on defense than our environment -- and that doesn't include GW's unpaid-for wars.

Attention Tea Party folk, the deficit will be the least of our kids' problems if the planet is uninhabitable. Duh.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I recently finished Wendell Potter's book, Deadly Spin. A very good read, highly recommended. Many of the horrible things he confesses to about the industry are not shocking, but I must admit even I didn't realize the extent of the rot and evil riddled throughout the for-profit health care system. What people won't do to earn an extra buck! (OK, many bucks). Beyond shameful.

Potter makes many good points in the book, too many to list, but I felt his discussion about the medical-loss ratio (MLR) was worth posting here. He writes, "The best example of the industry's secrecy is the medical-loss ratio, which, as I mentioned previously, is the measurement of the share of premium revenue spent on actual health care." When an insurer lowers its MLR, that means its spending less on health care leaving more for "overhead" (i.e. salaries, profits, etc.). Wall Street wants to see the MLR head lower; for it to rise typically means the stock price will selloff.

The graphic below depicts what Potter discusses about the MLR. Since 1993, the MLR for insurance companies has declined from 95% to 81% in 2007, an enormous drop-off in what is actually devoted to health care services. Note that the MLR for Medicare has consistently remained at the 97%-98% level, meaning "overhead" is at a scant 3% compared to about 20% for private insurers.

Yet Republicans and others backed by the insurance lobby will try to murky the waters, demonize Medicare and deflect our attention from plain facts like this.

Continue to fall for the "socialized medicine" and "government takeover of health care" line of crap. Potter divulges in the book that these exact phrases tested very well in PR focus groups when it came to effectively frightening people. The industry is by no means dumb, spending many millions to maintain the status quo and keep the public stupid. For them, it's always been money well spent.
Drought and floods, get used to it. Why? Because of man-made global warming. Warmer air can carry more water vapor, meaning the clouds can accumulate and hold on to more water (rain) for a greater duration of time. This creates extended periods of drought until the clouds become extremely "full" with water vapor, finally releasing the water as deluging rain = massive floods. To put it in terms that Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly can understand, global warming has made the clouds bigger sponges.

And this story relates with the above. Drought and floods = worse agricultural conditions = less food = higher prices = more starvation = more unrest, outrage, protests and violence. It's not just about Twitter. Climate change has far-reaching impact and effects.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Curveball lied.

Let's see if this makes it on network news at all -- you know, the liberal MSM. Bets anyone?

Incredible. Not that this "informant" lied, fabricating BS and not long after we're in a war. Many at the time said he was lying, and much (real) intel didn't confirm, so not shocking.

No, what is incredible is no one cares anymore why or how we got into a war that is expected to cost us between $2 and $3 TRILLION (with a "T") dollars when all is said and done.

But not a peep out of the "newly awakened" Tea Bag crew. They never cite anything having to do with GW/Cheney or war when it comes to deficits. Nope, they can only focus blame on a non-white man in the White House, and all that supposed wasted $$ going to welfare abusers. Oh, and the tons of $$$ going to PBS and the arts.
From Fox Geezer Syndrome:
After the Tucson shootings, Fox chief Roger Ailes said he had told his crew to “tone it down.” I’m skeptical, but I hope he succeeds. One of the great advantages of a conservative disposition is a suspicion of emotions, and emotionalism. The dumbest decisions I’ve ever made, about politics and everything else, were executed while I was worked up about something, and trusted my emotional response. (my emphasis)
Come again?! If I had to sum up the modern conservative today, I would say he/she is all about emotion, period. Specifically anger, but throw in fear and paranoia. Unlike what this author asserts, I see no evidence whatsoever of level-headed, unemotional, objective reason. Just look at the Tea Party folks! And did we observe lots of cool, detached thinking last year during those infamous town hall meetings??

The fact this person could even type this with a straight face says it all. Complete and utter delusion.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Rush, Glenn, Sean -- these guys are hilarious. If the events in Egypt were occurring with their boy GW in office, we would be hearing emphatic words of support about the encouraging opportunity for democracy to finally take root (mind you, without requiring U.S. armed forces to invade and make it happen). But because it's Obama sitting in the White House and not their guy, we hear nothing of the sort. Rather the rightwing bloviators flame cautionary warnings of socialist uprisings, radical youth, and the ever-heinous "community organizing." Be very afraid!!

Saddam was evil enough for GW to misdirect 9/11 rage and our military into a war to free Iraqis, yet in this case, when Egyptians have been protesting for weeks in the name of democracy, the wingnut pundits do not side with the oppressed people desiring liberty. No, instead these partisan sociopaths will use any excuse, any policy issue, any world event to go against whatever Obama is for. No matter what it is, they must be against Obama, period.

That's change to believe in? That's a cohesive, sophisticated, fruitful vision for our country's future? Seems pretty simple-minded to me -- but then judging by the throngs of Tea Party followers, simpletons abound.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Reagan turned 100, another occasion to debunk and myth-bust and shatter the many fictional accounts of the man. And I didn't know he was a big fan of FDR, something I assume would greatly upset most conservatives.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

  • Gail Collins writes about Michelle Bachmann, inevitably spending some time making comparisons to Sarah Palin. How can one not compare the two -- in their own ways, they're both bat-crazy. I love this description by Gail: "If Palin and Bachmann were your co-workers, Palin would be the one sneaking out early to go bowling, while Bachmann would stay late to reorganize the office seating chart to reflect her own personal opinion of who most deserves to be near the water cooler."

  • Speaking of Palin, an interesting article on narcissism. Doesn't this sound like Sarah? "A narcissist is someone who has an unrealistic sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy, and a 'conviction of being different and special and entitled that is so profound that they feel it’s only natural people will admire them'."

  • A graphic depicting the $3 trillion (with a "T") Iraq War. Funny how the Tea Baggers never mention GW/Cheney's war when they complain about our worsening deficit. Most telling. Oh, and one reason Obama's deficit figures look worse than GW's is not just because of the Great Recession, but also because Obama decided to finally put both this war and the Afghanistan war on the books. GW made things look better thanks to accounting tricks; Obama said enough.

  • Top-brass business executives have had their feelings hurt and dislike liberals so much they are more than willing to punish the country by stock-piling cash, avoiding much-needed hiring. Really? Apparently this is what David Gergen would have us believe.

  • This is long overdue, "As the rates of learning disabilities, autism and related conditions rise, the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to release a roster of the pollutants likely to contribute to these or other neurological disorders." Theodore Slotkin, a pharmacology professor at Duke University Medical Center: "What we've been doing the past 30 years is a failure. They [industry] can produce these chemicals faster than we can test them." And a truly shocking reality: "[U]nder current law, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the EPA permits companies to put many chemicals on the market without first proving they are safe. Then, if evidence mounts that a particular chemical, such as bisphenol A, or metal, such as lead, could harm people who are exposed to the substances in varying situations, the agency has to play catch-up." Incredible. The EPA acts only after the fact. And what about the many chemicals that could be doing harm but are much more subtle when inflicting their damage, thus staying under-the-radar and escaping the attention of regulators...?

  • A group of organic food giants surrender to Monsanto. Sadly, why does this seem like it was inevitable?

  • A conservation group may sink a very promising renewable energy project. Look, at some point choices have to be made -- in this case, the future of the planet versus question marks surrounding migrating birds. If we don't look to replace coal plants with cleaner burning alternatives, and fast, then the risk to turtles and cacti will be the least of our problems!