Monthly Archives: February 2010

The Health Care Summit


Courtesy The Huffington Post

Here’s a look at yesterday’s Health Care Summit (kudo’s to The Huffington Post for publishing a full transcript of the summit) I’ve highlighted Republican talking points and constructive dialogue in Red, Democrats in Blue:

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. Welcome. Thank you so much for participating today. I am very grateful to all of you because I know how busy you are.

THE PRESIDENT: …it’s for that reason that last year, around this time, actually, I hosted in the White House a health care summit and indicated to Congress that it was absolutely critical for us to begin now moving on what is one of the biggest drags on our economy and represents one of the biggest hardships that families face.

SEN ALEXANDER: …clean sheet of paper

SEN ALEXANDER: …start over

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Lamar.

SPEAKER PELOSI: It was almost a year ago, March 5th of last year, when you brought us together in a bipartisan way to set us on a path to lower cost, improved quality — expand access to quality health care for all Americans. In the course of that time in our committees in the House and the Senate, we’ve had lively discussions. Here we are today.

SENATOR REID: Mr. President, my friends in the House and in the Senate, I want to spend a few minutes talking about Nevada, about our country, and not what’s going on here in Washington. I want to start by talking about a young man by the name of Jesus Gutierrez. He works hard. He has a restaurant in Reno, Nevada. He had everything that he wanted, except a baby. He had health insurance. He had employees that liked him. But he was fortunate — they were going to have a baby and it was going to be a little girl. And the baby was born, and in just a few minutes after the birth of that baby, he was told that the baby had a cleft pallet. “But that’s okay,” he was told. “We can take care of that.” And they did. They did some surgery on the baby; he was happy — that is, Jesus was happy — until he got his mail four months later, opened the envelope, and the insurance company said, “We didn’t realize that your baby had a preexisting disability. We’re not covering the $90,000 in hospital and doctor bills you’ve already run up.” So he’s trying to pay that off. The baby needs a couple more surgeries. This shouldn’t happen to anyone in America. He had health insurance. He paid his premiums. 

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, Harry…  just want to address very quickly, Lamar, the issue of process that you raised at the beginning and then we’ll move on and start talking about the specifics. As I listened to your description of the House/Senate bill, as well as the proposal that I put on our Web site, obviously there were some disagreements about how you would characterize the legislation.

On the other hand, when I listened to some of the steps that you thought Republicans would be open to, I thought, well, a bunch of these things are things that we’d like to do, and in fact are in the legislative proposals.

SEN ALEXANDER: Well, may I — may I — You’ve made some interesting points…

SENATOR McCONNELL: …some liberties have been taken here…

SENATOR COBURN: …with young kids going to the ER, whether they have meningitis or asthma, they’re going to get treated in this country…

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Tom, I appreciate what you said. I think we’re going to have Steny Hoyer go next. I just want to make this quick point. Every good idea that we’ve heard about reducing fraud and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid system, we’ve adopted in our legislation. So that’s an example of where we agree — we want to eliminate fraud and abuse within the government systems.

You mentioned the idea of buying across state lines, insurance. That’s something that I’ve put in my proposal that’s actually in the Senate proposal.

CONGRESSMAN HOYER: Mr. President, thank you very much. A quote I will use is, we should have available and affordable health care to every American citizen, to every family. I suppose there are a whole lot of every Americans and American families listening to us today and watching us, and they’re hoping that we’re all sitting around here talking about them, not about us.

THE PRESIDENT: Before you go, Max, I just want to ask, whether it’s you, Tom, or anybody else on the Republican side, and maybe some of the House members might be interested — Senator Coburn mentioned some cost containment issues where it sounds like we agree: fraud and abuse. We agree. It sounds like you have maybe one other idea that you don’t think is in our proposal, but the idea of undercover patients, but that’s something that I’d be very interested in exploring. I don’t think conceptually that would be a problem.

CONGRESSMAN KLINE: …we’re looking at thousands of pages of legislation…

SENATOR BAUCUS: Sure. Absolutely, though I’d first like to say something that just strikes me just in spades. Frankly, we all have studied this issue a lot — health care reform. We basically know what the problems are, all of us. We basically know that the current system is unsustainable. We are actually quite close.

CONGRESSMAN CAMP: …maybe you shouldn’t be spending a trillion dollars on health care…

THE PRESIDENT: Dave, I don’t mean to interrupt. But the — we’re going to have the whole section talking about deficits. And we can talk about the changes in Medicare. We were trying to focus on costs related to lowering families’. And the only concern I’ve got is — look, if every speaker at least on one side is going through every provision and saying what they don’t like, it’s going to be hard for us to see if we can arrive at some agreements on things that we all agree on.

CONGRESSMAN CAMP: …mandates…

CONGRESSMAN ANDREWS: Thank you, Mr. President. I want to thank my friend Tom Coburn, and John Kline, for the spirit of conversation which they offered and try to carry that forward a little bit. The President asked at the beginning of this what ideas do we share about cutting costs. And Tom, I think you had some very good ones. Fraud, that the President has a proposal that says we should have a database, if you’ve committed fraud against Medicare once, you can’t make a contract again. Wellness, there’s a lot of good ideas in the bills. Junk lawsuits, I think that there’s — what Secretary Sebelius is doing is very important in curtailing that.

CONGRESSMAN KLINE:…I don’t hear people complaining about the insurance policies that they’re getting from their big companies.

CONGRESSMAN ANDREWS: But, John, would you favor a standard that says they have to do something like that or would you just leave it up to the insurance company?

SENATOR McCONNELL: Mr. President, could I just interject one quick point here very quick, just in terms of trying to keep everything fair, which I know you want to do. To this point, the Republicans have used 24 minutes, the Democrats 52 minutes.

THE PRESIDENT: I’m the President and so I made — (laughter) — I didn’t count my time in terms of dividing it evenly. In this section, Mitch, we’ve gone back and forth pretty well.

THE PRESIDENT: But I just wanted to point out that when we start talking about how much government involvement is at issue here, it’s not because the House or the Senate bills are a government takeover of health care; it is that the House and the Senate bills put in place some regulations that restrict how insurance companies operate, and if there’s an exchange or a pool that’s set up, that there’s a baseline sort of minimum requirements that were expected. And I understand that there may be some philosophical differences on the other side of the aisle about that issue.

SENATOR KYL: federal government would mandate it under your legislation

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, Jon. I’m going to go to you, Jim, but I — since as has tended to happen here, we end up talking about criticisms of the existing bill as opposed to where we might find agreement

THE PRESIDENT: Okay. I think this has actually been a very useful conversation. What I’m going to do is move on to the next topic, but maybe after we break for lunch and come back, I want to go through some areas where we decided we agreed and I know that abuse is a good example; some areas where we still disagree.

SENATOR KYL: …employers would drop you from their coverage…

REPRESENTATIVE BOUSTANY: …take a step back, and go step by step…

THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Thanks, Charles. We’re going to go to George Miller — and if you want to respond to some specific things that Charles raised or make some more general points. We’ll then go back to a Republican. At some point in this discussion — and we’re going to have to be a little more disciplined in our time in order to stay on schedule on this section — at some point I’d like Secretary Sebelius, who is not only a former governor but also an insurance commissioner, to address some of the issues that have been coming up around insurance and minimum payment.

SENATOR McCAIN: …the 2,400 pages…unsavory…deal-making…people are angry…special interests…PhRMA

THE PRESIDENT: John, can I just say —

SENATOR McCAIN: Can I just finish, please?

…back to the beginning

THE PRESIDENT: Let me just make this point, John, because we’re not campaigning anymore. The election is over.

SENATOR McCAIN: I’m reminded of that every day. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. So we can spend the remainder of the time with our respective talking points going back and forth. We were supposed to be talking about insurance.

SENATOR McCAIN: Could I just say, Mr. President, the American people care about what we did and how we did it. And I think it’s a subject that we should discuss. And I thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: They absolutely do care about it, John. And I think that the way you characterized it obviously would get some strong objections from the other side. We can have a debate about process, or we can have a debate about how we’re actually going to help the American people at this point. And I think that’s — the latter debate is the one that they care about a little bit more.

REPRESENTATIVE CANTOR: Mr. President, thank you again very much for having us and for staying with us for the six hours. I appreciate that. I don’t know if you will after the six hours or not. But I want to — (Places stack of papers on table…)

THE PRESIDENT: Let me just guess — that that’s the 2,400-page health care bill. Is that right?

REPRESENTATIVE CANTOR: We don’t care for this billthere are plenty of taxes additional taxes mandate…

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me — since you asked me a question, let me respond. The 8 to 9 million people that you refer to that might have to change their coverage — keep in mind out of the 300 million Americans that we’re talking about — would be folks who the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, estimates would find the deal in the exchange better. It would be a better deal. So, yes, they would change coverage, because they’ve got more choice and competition. So let’s just be clear about that, point number one.

Point number two, when we do props like this — stack it up and you repeat 2,400 pages, et cetera — you know, the truth of the matter is that health care is very complicated.

And we can try to pretend that it’s not, but it is. Every single item that we’ve talked about on the Republican side, if we wanted to exhaustively deal with fraud and abuse, would generate a bunch of pages. So I point that out, just because these are the kind of political things we do that prevent us from actually having a conversation.

Now, let me respond to your question. We could set up a system where food was probably cheaper than it is right now if we just eliminated meat inspectors and we eliminated any regulations in terms of how food is distributed and how it’s stored. I’ll bet in terms of drug prices, we would definitely reduce prescription drug prices if we didn’t have a drug administration that makes sure that we test the drugs so that they don’t kill us.

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Health Care: The President’s Plan


A short while ago The White House released the President’s plan for health care. An extensive and comprehensive plan, it’s an excellent compromise of  the House and Senate legislation.

The Wonk Room has an excellent overview of the President’s proposal and a comparison between it, the Senate version and the House version. From The White House:

Overview of the President’s Proposal

The President’s Proposal puts American families and small business owners in control of their own health care.

  • It makes insurance more affordable by providing the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history, reducing premium costs for tens of millions of families and small business owners who are priced out of coverage today.  This helps over 31 million Americans afford health care who do not get it today – and makes coverage more affordable for many more.
  • It sets up a new competitive health insurance market giving tens of millions of Americans the exact same insurance choices that members of Congress will have.
  • It brings greater accountability to health care by laying out commonsense rules of the road to keep premiums down and prevent insurance industry abuses and denial of care.
  • It will end discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions.
  • It puts our budget and economy on a more stable path by reducing the deficit by $100 billion over the next ten years – and about $1 trillion over the second decade – by cutting government overspending and reining in waste, fraud and abuse.

Although the plan does not include a Public Option, it would be safe to say that such an option will be within the bill when it is passed through reconciliation, hopefully within the next two months.

Where does this leave the Republicans? After more than a year of record-breaking obstructionism, it’s time for them to get on the bus and work with the President and Congress on this issue, or continue their non-productive agenda.

We’ll know in three days

The President should be commended for his actions and the obvious action right now is to do what Steve Benen of The Washington Monthly said last month:

Pass the damn bill.

An Interview with Jessica “Sugar” Kiper


Following her impressive debut on Survivor: Gabon, Jessica “Sugar” Kiper was an obvious choice to join Survivor: Heroes vs. Villians, which premiered last week on CBS. After multiple trips to Exile Island, a sound alliance, and a strategy that made us realize she was far more than just a pretty pin-up model, Sugar made it to the Top 3 of that competition with hopes of going even further this time around. 
That didn’t happen, but she did provide us with one of the most memorable scenes in Survivor history. 
After a grueling post-premiere schedule of interviews and auditions, Sugar was able to answer a few compelling questions submitted by her fans here and from the SpoilerTV forum: 
H: How long did it take you to decide to do the show again when you got the invite to come back? 

S: I thought about it for about a second… 

H: Do you have a lot of interaction with Jeff or is it as little as what we see on the show? 

S: We see Jeff before the challenges, he walks us through… 

H: Is Jeff really that much of a stud? 

S: I don’t really think so. He’s not my type. 

H: Who is the most villainous hero? 

S: J.T. 

H: Who is the most heroic villian? 

S: Boston Rob. 

H: Did you guys get any heads up about Russell? 

S: No. 

H: Is Russell really that obnoxious? 

S: Yes. 

H: Where did those damn chickens come from? 

S: The “all seeing eye”? It’s a mystery! 

H: Why do you think you were voted out first? 

S: I can only say…that this edit is just fine with me… 

The Colby thing. Was it real or “selective” editing? 

S: Selective. 

H: You’ve mentioned the “real story”. What is it? 

S: shhhhhhhhhhh….. 

 

Courtesy: CBS

H: Your “topless two finger salute” was a historical Survivor moment 

. Were there others we didn’t see?

S: Probably, but not from me. 

H: Who do you think would be a good host for Survivor if Jeff left? 

S: Steve Carell. 

H: Who are you rooting for to win the game at this point and why? 

S: I’ve been saying Tom, but honestly, I don’t care that much. I know who I DON’T want to win… 

H: Who DOESN’T deserve to win?

S: Who’s to say really? My views have changed in the last year.

H: Would you do it again? 

S: No, hahahaha…hell no. 

H: What are your current projects? 

S: I have a band “She Luvs Betty White”. We just got together and should be playing out soon in Los Angeles. I just got cast as Magenta in Rocky Horror Picture Show – coming in May/June. I just filmed a part in a video game, have a Coke Light commercial running overseas…other than that there’s reruns! You can see the UN-blurred version of “Sex and Death 101” on Blockbuster. And follow me on Twitter: sugarkiper

 You can also visit Sugar’s website, check out her pics, buy cool stuff and donate to her charities HERE.

Review: Survivor: Heroes vs. Villians Ep 1


Take my word…this will be the best season of Survivor evah!

Here’s my take.

Watch for the Heroes to become flat out Villians. Led by JT, Stephanie (when did she turn out to be such a jerk!) and Colby (when did he turn out to be such a jerk! How dare diss my siss!), and prodded on by Cirie and Amanda, these NeoVillians will make Boston Rob, Russell, and Coach look like smitten school girls!

Oops. After what went on between Coach and Jerri, he already does look smitten! :)

Anyhow…Mark my words here: What we’re seeing is the Ultimate Survivor Blindside. You’ll see what I mean as the season progresses.

I’ve always admired Rob…he’s so honest (to a fault) and he really loves Amber. But that farmer’s tan from the wife beater had me lol’ing!

I’ve made no secret of my dislike for Russell. In fact, Samoa was (imo) the least effective of all seasons. Only because it was All Russell All The Time! Now with Russell intermingled with the other (for now) Villians, he’s a lot more palatable. And…once again I giggled at him being starstruck by his fellow meanies.

James. James. James! Definitely has the physical ability to smack down Russell. Let’s hope he’s got the mental ability.

Parvati, Amanda, Sandra, Colleen, Tom, Randy, and yes…Rupert…bit players

And who was it that said the biggest threat was those who “talk, talk, talk”? So true…

Finally…poor Sugar. Of course, I knew the outcome, but it was still upsetting. She’s so sweet and wears her heart on her shoulders you just want to hug her (IASHW)*

*In a strictly homosexual way

Cheat Sheet?


Did you hear it?

The howl of thousands and thousands, or as I’m sure Fox News will report it, hundreds of thousands and thousands, of crazy right wing Republican (and other) kooks in Nashville yesterday honoring the Heiress Apparent of the Republican Party at the National Tea Party Convention?

Actually, the number was estimated at around 600.

Not quite thousands or hundreds of thousands, is it?

What did they hear at said Convention? Well, the Patriot of all Patriots, Sarah Palin, declaring:

“America is ready for another revolution”

Yeah. Hasn’t she (and her husband) been advocating this for a long time?

You betcha!

But, let’s leave that topic for another day.

Today, I’d like to discuss Sarah’s criticism of President Obama’s use of teleprompters during her speech. Within minutes of crawling up to the podium Palin said, referring to President Obama:

“that charismatic guy with a teleprompter.”

The horror!

Dear Sarah: Before making such comments, perhaps you should wash your hands? I mean…why were you looking at your palms so much?

What the hell? All the money these Teabaggers brought in, they couldn’t afford your very own teleprompter? You had to use a cheat sheet for your talking points?

Here’s Sarah’s hand:

“that charismatic gal with a cheat sheet…”

You Betcha!

UPDATE: Fox News, in all of it’s infinite wisdom has explained this brilliant move by Palin for us all:

On Fox & Friends this morning, the hosts defended their colleague’s Telepalmer notes. Carlson suggested that it was a brilliantly clever plot to draw attention to Obama’s use of a teleprompter:

CARLSON: I think she did it on purpose. I think she did it on purpose, yeah. Because it’s an exact opposite of reading off the teleprompter with a script written for you with every word in a sentence and here’s she’s just taking crib notes on her hand. It makes her look like she can just talk off the cuff and she just jotted down a few couple notes before she went out to give a big long speech.

 

 

Stupid Is As Stupid Does


From the “Duh Department”….

For those of you who don’t know, I live in the beautiful state of Florida. Home of our Governor, Charlie Crist, a career politician lacking a political agenda for the State…unless it involves furthering his political career.

For several years now, he’s been flipping back and forth from being a Liberal Republican to a Moderate Republican to a Center-Right Republican to a Right-Wing Republican in his quest to please the Republican hierarchy in our state and nation.

Today, he’s given up on running Florida so he can run for U.S. Senator in a seat (formerly held by Mel Martinez) in what he thought a few months ago was a cakewalk. Hell, he even managed to appoint a Do-Nothing Lackey, one George LeMieux, as a temporary caretaker to the seat in the Senate he so desires in his quest for personal satisfaction, the Presidency.

Yet, Gov. Lisp, as I affectionally call him, has somewhat of a shady past. After a quickie marriage and divorce to a lesbian in the eighties, he’s spent the better part of his career as a “confirmed bachelor”.

Over the years, rumors of his sexuality spread through the Florida government and populace. When I first met Charlie thirteen or so years ago, I was impressed with the fact that one of his “aides” never left his side at functions. A well-dressed, handsome young man. Reports of his dalliances littered the political landscape for years, and his sexuality became “The Worst Kept Secret in Florida”.

Until the day, almost two years ago, when Charlie decided he wanted to be Vice-President. A few overtures to John McCain later, the name of Florida Governor Charlie Crist started showing up on short lists of possible VP nominees.

Unfortunately, Charlie had baggage. A past. So he concocted a whirlwind romance with a handsome divorcee and a quick engagement to her. Then paraded her in front of McCain during a visit to McCain’s compound in July, 2008.

I guess even that didn’t convince McCain or his people, as the chosen VP nominee turned out to be Sarah Palin. But that’s a whole other story!

Which brings us to today…

Charlie’s in a losing battle for the Senate seat he so desperately needs. Losing to an extreme right wing state legislator from South Florida, Marco Rubio. Now Charlie’s in the process of reconfiguring his political stance once again.

So…What does he do? In an astonishing announcement (and another flip flop on a previous stance) regarding the repeal of DADT, the St. Petersburg Times reports:

“We are a nation at war. The governor believes the current policy has worked, and there is no need to make changes,” Crist campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said.

Yup. Gov. Lisp is telling gays in the military to stay in the closet.

Go figure.

DUH!

LOST – LA X – Thoughts and Theories, Part 1


If you’d like to join a new forum to discuss the final season of LOST, visit us at

Howey’s Lost Tribe

 (You must be a member to view the LOST threads!)

 It’s over. The Season 6 Premiere of LOST. LA X, parts 1 & 2.

Did you see that? 

LA X

Something’s missing. There’s a space between “LA” and “X”. 

Let’s call it a Variable… 

The first hour clearly established two (for lack of a better word) realities. 

The island 2007 Post-Jughead and 2004 Post-Jughead. 

Both with subtle, yet significant, differences between what we saw in the Pilot episode of LOST and what we saw in Seasons 1 through 5 of LOST. 

Here’s some of my thoughts and theories: 

In 2004, Rose and Bernard are happy. Content. As if their trip to Uluru in Australia cured Rose’s cancer. 

Boone, returning without Shannon, unable to convince her to leave an unhealthy relationship but happy to have finally left the unhealthy relationship he had with her. 

Hurley is lucky. He never has bad luck. His Mr. Clucks franchise is successful. Kate is still in custody. Except not for what we thought. Remember the videos from ComicCon last summer? 

Jin and Sun haven’t changed much. Except Sun didn’t have an affair. Or, if she did, the guy didn’t teach her English. 

John Locke claims to have gone on a Walkabout. 

Jack is no longer a Man of Science…he’s not a Man of Faith, either. He is, however, confident…and relieved. 

Who, or what, is The Candidate? 

In the Season 5 finale, The Incident, Bram asks if Frank is “A Candidate”. 

Theory: There are six candidates. Each with a separate purpose, represented by a quality. Each with a Destiny

Jack – The Healer. 

Kate – Passion. 

Sawyer – Revenge. 

Hurley – Integrity. 

Sayid – The redeemed warrior. 

Sun and Jin – Love. 

The same people Jacob made sure to “touch” in his visits to them during various, formulative stages of their lives. Why? 

Jacob knew the Man in Black would someday find a loophole allowing his death. So he chose these people – one of whom, through their actions on and off the island – would be A Candidate. To fight the war between Good and Evil. 

One Candidate, would die, the first step allowing Jacob a body to take over to fight the War. 

Sayid.

In later episodes, I’m sure we’ll discover the role of each Candidate. 

But let’s go back to The Variable. What is the variable? The variable is that point – in time – where two separate incidents, on the island in 2007 and off the island in 2004, merge the two timelines into one. Represented by LA X

One of those is the successful spinal surgery Jack performs on Locke in 2004. 

The second is Jacob, as Sayid, once again banishing the Man in Black. 

In the foot of Tawaret deep, deep down on the ocean floor. Surrounded by a circle of volcanic ash – the remains of the island.

 

  

  

  

Here’s another fearless prediction: The final scene of LOST? The same scene we saw last night…with one, important change: Oceanic Flight 815 landing at LAX.

  

To Be Continued…