Let it be borne on the flag under which we rally in every exigency, that we have one country, one constitution, one destiny. -- Daniel Webster

Friday, August 28, 2009

Being Studious

This week I have been back at school, both formally as a teacher, and as a reader examining the subject of the functioning of the human brain. In addition to cranial pursuits I have also been exercising my body. So it has been a time of renewal of both mind and body.

The economy of the U.S. remains dismal in spite of constant attempts by the media to declare the "recession" as having "bottomed out." But the person on the street knows the economy is not good. Otherwise, why do lay-offs continue?

In coming days, may we use our minds and bodies to promote a just society, one in which all persons have the dignity of work as desired, and a supportive income as needed.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Critical Condition

That is the title of a special documentary shown tonight on Bill Moyers Journal. The film is gripping, even wrenching at times. The main point of the documentary is that if the persons depicted had had health insurance, they never would have gotten so sick. These are real people with real lives and needs. The film is a virtual must-see.

At the end of the program came an announcement about next week's show which promises guests who claim our current system is a national scandal. That show also promises to be a must-see.

Please use the reference below or click on the title of this blog to go to the Bill Moyers Journal home page.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Justice Finally Coming to Karl Rove and Company

Truthout recently up-dated the situation with Karl Rove and the attorney firing scandal of 2006. It is good to see justice come to one of the sleaziest men ever to inhabit the White House. I cannot say that full justice has been done yet by any means. But it is good to see the House Judiciary Committee moving forward to assist the special prosecutor in this matter. Much more needs to be told, of course, including the lying about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and the theft of the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections. For now, at least we have an important start.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Obama's Sell-Out with Big Drug Companies

Well-known investigative reporter Greg Palast has done a little digging and come up with a surprising figure.


Obama on Drugs: 98% Cheney?

by Greg Palast
Thursday, August 13, 2009

For The Huffington Post

Eighty billion dollars of WHAT?

I searched all over the newspapers and TV transcripts and no one asked the President what is probably the most important question of what passes for debate on the issue of health care reform: $80 billion of WHAT?

On June 22, President Obama said he'd reached agreement with big drug companies to cut the price of medicine by $80 billion. He extended his gratitude to Big Pharma for the deal that would, "reduce the punishing inflation in health care costs."

Hey, in my neighborhood, people think $80 billion is a lot of money. But is it?

I checked out the government's health stats (at HHS.gov), put fresh batteries in my calculator and toted up US spending on prescription drugs projected by the government for the next ten years. It added up to $3.6 trillion.

In other words, Obama's big deal with Big Pharma saves $80 billion out of a total $3.6 trillion. That's 2%.

Hey thanks, Barack! You really stuck it to the big boys. You saved America from these drug lords robbing us blind. Two percent. Cool!

For perspective: Imagine you are in a Wal-Mart and there's a sign over a flat screen TV, "BIG SAVINGS!" So, you break every promise you made never to buy from that union-busting big box - and snatch up the $500 television. And when you're caught by your spouse, you say, "But, honey, look at the deal I got! It was TWO-PERCENT OFF! I saved us $10!"

But 2% is better than nothing, I suppose. Or is it?

The Big Pharma kingpins did not actually agree to cut their prices. Their promise with Obama is something a little oilier: they apparently promised that, over ten years, they will reduce the amount at which they would otherwise raise drug prices. Got that? In other words, the Obama deal locks in a doubling of drug costs, projected to rise over the period of "savings" from a quarter trillion dollars a year to half a trillion dollars a year. Minus that 2%.

We'll still get the shaft from Big Pharma, but Obama will have circumcised the increase.

And what did Obama give up in return for $80 billion? Chief drug lobbyist Billy Tauzin crowed that Obama agreed to dump his campaign pledge to bargain down prices for Medicare purchases. Furthermore, Obama's promise that we could buy cheap drugs from Canada simply went pffft!

What did that cost us? The New England Journal of Medicine notes that 13 European nations successfully regulate the price of drugs, reducing the average cost of name-brand prescription medicines by 35% to 55%. Obama gave that up for his 2%.

The Veterans Administration is able to push down the price it pays for patent medicine by 40% through bargaining power. George Bush stopped Medicare from bargaining for similar discounts, an insane ban that Obama said he'd overturn. But, once within Tauzin's hypnotic gaze, Obama agreed to lock in Bush's crazy and costly no-bargaining ban for the next decade.

What else went down in Obama's drug deal? To find out, I called C-SPAN to get a copy of the videotape of the meeting with the drug companies. I was surprised to find they didn't have such a tape despite the President's campaign promise, right there on CNN in January 2008, "These negotiations will be on C-SPAN."

This puzzled me. When Dick Cheney was caught having secret meetings with oil companies to discuss Bush's Energy Bill, we denounced the hugger-muggers as a case of foxes in the hen house.

Cheney's secret meetings with lobbyists and industry big shots were creepy and nasty and evil.

But the Obama crew's secret meetings with lobbyists and industry big shots were, the President assures us, in the public interest.

We know Cheney's secret confabs were shady and corrupt because Cheney scowled out the side of his mouth.

Obama grins in your face.

See the difference?

The difference is 2%.


Palast studied health care economics at the Center for Hospital Administration Studies at the University of Chicago.

Greg Palast's investigative reports can be seen on BBC Television's Newsnight and, in print, at www.GregPalast.com.


N.B. I was not able to find any copyright on this article. If someone can find one, I will gladly remove. -- TMP

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

They Sing It: 9/11 Was an Inside Job

Here you will see an interesting and entertaining video demonstrating the clash between protesters and media over the subject of the 9/11/01 attacks. I like best the quote of Mark Twain. I also like the music at the end. This is worth a look.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Countering Sarah Palin

Here is an excellent article putting Sarah Palin's recent criticisms of a proposed national health care plan in the proper light. I strongly agree the government must be watched extremely closely as it fashions a national health care system, in order to ensure all are covered and proper care is given. But we must remember that doing nothing is not an option, for health care is already rationed and even denied by the big corporatized insurance companies. The article referenced here tells more.

Click on title above or cut and paste this link:


Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel Defended

The following is an excerpt from an article by Alex Koppelman of the on-line journal Salon. This is to give a response to allegations of others which were repeated in my previous post here.

And now, the excerpt:

It's become a growing theme on the right: "Obamacare" will mean mandatory euthanasia for your grandmother in order to save money, and the person who created the ideological underpinnings for that policy is the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

There's a deep irony to that suggestion -- Ezekiel Emanuel, who's currently advising the administration on healthcare reform through a post at the White House Office of Management and Budget -- is actually one of the country's leading medical ethicists, a forceful defender of people who are approaching the end of their lives. Indeed, he opposes even voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

The charges against the doctor are "a gross distortion of Dr. Emanuel's 25 years as an oncologist and leading academic researcher," Kenneth Baer, the communications director at OMB [Office of Management and Budget at the White House], told Salon. "He has dedicated his professional life to improving the quality of care and giving more choices to terminally ill patients. He was an outspoken public opponent of euthanasia when the Supreme Court was considering the legality of physician-assisted suicide. We all wish that instead of spending time distorting one doctor's record we all could come together and do the hard work of health insurance reform. This is only a distraction from that important work." (Emanuel himself was vacationing and unavailable for comment.)

[end excerpt]

Clearly, the bill continues to be put together by Congress. And clearly, Mr. Obama can be faulted in many ways for the confusion which now reigns. It also must be seriously asked what kind of behind-the-scenes funding by corporations is being directed toward political operatives and agitators.

As time permits I plan to continue to present the facts as best as I can glean them in a very difficult media environment which has plenty of heat, but very little light.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The Fight Over Health Care

A serious health situation this week prompted me to finally apply once again for health insurance. Fortunately, I feel my economic circumstance will allow this for the first time in seven years. That it would take so long is a travesty of justice, but common in the America of now.

As I am still recovering I must keep this short. But I did want to make a few brief points about the health care debate now becoming vitriolic.

-- The Administration plan has an inherent philosophical conflict as it seeks to maintain the profit motive while at the same time promoting a non-profit motive. This seriously weakens the plan.

-- Our inept and utterly inadequate corporate media do not delve into the various legislative proposals. This leads to confusion.

-- There are those around Obama who are, in fact, enamored of the British NICE plan which seeks to place a dollar value on care, and thus on life.*

-- Because Congress is working with a plan for a hybrid profit/non-profit system, it is harder to generate enthusiasm for the millions of Americans fed up with HMO's and their ilk.

-- Back to the media: Their love of conflict as a way of selling their "product", causes them to gravitate toward the lunatic right-wing fringe who have behaved very rudely toward their Legislators.

*This information comes from quotes of those such as Ezekiel Emmanuel, from a source usually reliable.

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