Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
"We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicated violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations - acting individually or in concert - will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified."
"...But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince Al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms..."
Thursday, December 10, 2009
"As commander-in-chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home," Obama said.
In a flurry of coordinated television interviews, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other top administration officials said that any troop pullout beginning in July 2011 would be slow and that Americans would only then be starting to transfer security responsibilities to Afghan forces under Mr. Obama's new plan......"We have strategic interests in South Asia that should not be measured in terms of finite times," said Gen. James L. Jones, the president's national security adviser, speaking on CNN's "State of the Union." "We're going to be in the region for a long time."
"The absence of a timeframe for a transition would deny us any sense of urgency in working with the Afghan government."
"This effort must be based on performance. The days of providing a blank check are over."
During his recent inaugural address, Mr. Karzai said that Afghan forces would be able to take charge of securing Afghan cities within three years, and could take responsibility for the rest of the country within five years.
"Whether that is 15 or 20 years, we'll hope for accelerated economic development in Afghanistan."
Friday, November 27, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you your 2012 Republican nominee for President of the United States:
When Ms. Winfrey pressed Ms. Palin about why she would not mention the names of newspapers or magazines she read when Ms Couric asked her to, Ms. Palin said she found the CBS anchor's persistence "annoying." Still looking annoyed, she recalled how she left a rally "pumped up" and aglow only to pull back the curtain and discover Mr. Couric waiting with the camera and crew, or as she put it sourly, "There's the perky one again."
Andrew Jackson was instrumental in the systematic eradication of Native Americans; Harry S. Truman presided over the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Presidents Johnson and Nixon were both responsible for sending thousands of young men into the senseless meat grinder of Vietnam.
The first two C.I.A. air strikes of the Obama Administration took place on the morning of January 23rd - the President's third day in office. Within hours, it was clear that the morning's bombings, in Pakistan, had killed an estimated twenty people. In one strike, four Arabs, all likely affiliated with Al Qaeda, died. But in the second strike, a drone targeted the wrong house, hitting the residence of a pro-government tribal leader six miles outside the town of Wana, in South Waziristan. The blast killed the tribal leader's entire family , including three children, one of them five years old.
...because of the C.I.A. program's secrecy, there is no visible system of accountability in place, despite the fact that the agency has killed many civilians inside a politically fragile, nuclear-armed country with which the U.S. is not at war. Should something go wrong in the C.I.A.'s program - last month, the Air Force lost control of a drone and had to shoot it down over Afghanistan - it's unclear what the consequences would be.
Using joysticks that resemble video-game controls, the reachback operators - who don't need conventional flight training - sit next to intelligence officers and watch, on large flat-screen monitors, a live video feed from the drone's camera. From their suburban redoubt, they can turn the plane, zoom in on the landscape below, and decide whether to lock onto a target.
Blackwater approved the cash payments in December 2001, the officials said, as protests over the deadly shootings in Nosour Square stoked long-simmgering anger inside Iraq about reckless practices by the security company's employees. Americans and Iraqi investigators had already concluded that the shootings were unjustified, top Iraqi officials were calling for Blackwater's ouster from the country, and company officials feared that Blackwater might be refused an operating license it would need to retain its contracts with the State Department and private clients woth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Click here to read about how Mullah Mullah sets Iranian youth on the path toward American contempt.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Behavioral economists have established that we feel pain of losses more than we enjoy the pleasure of gains. So when we think about change we focus more on what we might lose rather than on what we might get. Even people who aren't all that happy with the current (health care) system, then, are still likely to feel anxious about whatever will replace it......After all, although people tend to feel that they own their health insurance, their entitlement is distinctly tenuous.
- 750,000 homeless
- 131,000 homeless veterans
- 37 million people living below the poverty line (larger than the entire population of California)
- Approximately 45 million people without health insurance
- 20 percent of all of its children currently receiving welfare
- The top 1 percent of households owning 57 percent of all corporate wealth
- An infant mortality rate that holds at 6.7 per 1,000 births (45th in the world)
- An average life expectancy that ranks 50th in the world
- Approximately 700,000 of its citizens file for medical bankruptcy each year. (In France, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada and Japan combined the number is zero.)
Whenever the French talk about health care, they invoke the concept of solidarite, the notion that all French citizens must stick solidly together to help one another in time of need. "The solidarity principle," explains Professor Rodwin, "requires mutual aid and cooperation among the sick and the well, the inactive and the active, the poor and the wealthy, and insists on financing health insurance on the basis of ability to pay, not actuarial risk."
With the truly poor, the free-riders turn up at emergency rooms. This is hugely inefficient, because pricey late interventions and operations could very often have been avoided with a much smaller investment in preventive care. Insured people and taxpayers are forced to cross-subsidies such "uncompensated" and wasteful treatments to the tune of tens of billions of dollars per year.
People without insurance tend to delay seeking medical care until their diseases, like diabetes and incipient cancer, become so severe that they require emergency attention and often cannot be treated effectively. The rest of us pay for their charitable care through taxes or higher premiums on private insurance.
It's revealing that, in the lingo of the U.S. health insurance industry, the money paid to doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies for treatment of insured patients is referred to as "medical loss." That is, when health insurance actually pays for somebody's health care, the industry considers it a loss.
In the real world, nothing except a single-payer system makes any sense. There are currently more than 1,300 private insurers in this country, forcing doctors to fill out different forms and follow different reimbursement procedures for each and every one. This drowns medical facilities in idiotic paperwork and jacks up prices: Nearly a third of all health care costs in America are associated with wasteful administration. Fully $35o billion a year could be saved on paperwork alone if the U.S. went to a single-payer system - more than enough to pay for the whole goddamned thing, if anyone had the balls to stand up and say so.
But Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the committee, said a government insurance plan would have inherent advantages over private insurers "Government is not a fair competitor," Mr. Grassley said. "It's a predator." He predicted that "a government plan will ultimately force private insurers out of business," reducing choices for consumers.
To compete, private insurance companies would be forced to change the way they do business. They would have to end all of those practices that American consumers have grown to hate, cut administrative costs - maybe even cut CEO pay. Of course since the CEO of Cigna makes $26 million -- 65 times the salary of the President of the United States -- he could afford several million dollars in belt-tightening.They could compete - but they would have to change the way they compete. That's what they are fighting tooth and nail to avoid - and that's also the whole point of health care reform: to change the incentives that determine how the players in the health insurance market do business day to day.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Most of us have seen the poster.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Say what you will about the Republicans, but they sure as hell know how to stay on message, irrespective of whether that message is quasi-rational or bordering on the maniacally insane. You see, West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller had a proposal this week that would've offered a fiscally responsible public option to compete with health insurance companies, which would inevitably temper their current stranglehold on the health care system.
Mr. Rockefeller said the Congressional Budget Office had estimated that a government insurance plan could slice $50 billion from the cost of Mr. Baucus's bill, originally put at $774 billion over 10 years......"The public plan will be optional, "Mr. Rockefeller insisted. "It will be voluntary. It will be affordable to people who are now helpless before their insurance companies."
Mr. Schumer said the public option would hold down costs because it would not have to generate profits, answer to shareholders or incur marketing expenses.
Locally dominant insurers often pay providers excessive reimbursement rates to discourage them from participating in rival insurance plans. That dissuades other insurers from entering the market, which, in turn, frees the leading insurer to raise its premiums to cover the inflated reimbursements."The only people who lose in that," Nichols says dryly, "are the patients."
But Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the committee, said a government insurance plan would have inherent advantages over private insurers. "Government is not a fair competitor," Mr. Grassley said. "It's a predator." He predicted that "a government plan will ultimately force private insurers out of business," reducing choices for consumers.
Getting movement on a public option - or any other meaningful reform - will now require the support of one of the three Republicans in the group: Grassley (who has received $2,034,000 from the health sector), [Olympia] Snowe ($756,000) or [Mike] Enzi ($627,000).This is what the prospects for real health care reform come down to - whether one of three Republicans from tiny states with no major urban populations decides, out of the goodness of his or her cash-fattened heart, to forsake forever any contributions from the health-insurance industry.