Sunday, February 15, 2009

Detox, the Video Vault, Revelations, and a Big AOTW

Ah, V-day is over. I can stop hating every minute of every day and smell the roses (if it wasn't cold and shitty outside again). As I had a little energy, here's a small playlist to detox from the vitriol and deceit of the day of darkness:

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Okay, on to the rest of the post.

The Video Vault - I added some videos to my collection this past week, as I always buy more than I should to qualify for's super saver (cheap bastard) shipping. Here's what just arrived in the mail:

John Adams - This is the HBO miniseries based on the book which has given me fuel for quite a few posts. I had been thinking about picking this one up for a while, although circumstances (and cash) did not cooperate. But I've got it and just watched the first part prior to finishing this post. My only reservation is that it stars Pig Vomit, AKA Paul Giamatti, who played that infamous role in Howard Stern's movie. Seriously, it put a dent in my desire for the vid. But everybody seems to think it was good, and more importantly, accurate to the book. And I almost got Pig Vomit out of my mind through what I have seen.

From the Earth to the Moon - This one was down to $25!!! Twelve hours on the varous facets of NASA's Apollo program. To tell you how good, they first land on the Moon in part six. And the remaining six parts are certainly prime viewing. Tom Hanks had his hands on it, and many of the crew from Apollo 13 (also in the collection) reprised their roles for the miniseries. It's like crack for a NASA junkie (me)). And it (and my new bass) is the reason the blog has slacked for most of the week.

The Right Stuff - More feeding of my NASA addiction. This one covers the original seven Mercury astronauts. I finished this one last night, and about burned out on manned spaceflight. It's a little more about storytelling than accuracy. But it's good, and it popped up when I was searching out From the Earth to the Moon so I said sure.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno - It's a fucking Kevin Smith movie ('nuff said). I've had it for a few days. And as it has a love story in it, it was unacceptable during the dark times. But I should be able to watch it tonight, and quote liberally (oops) from it.

Update: For those of you who didn't see Howard Stern's movie, here's Pig Vomit:

The Revelations - It was in From the Earth to the Moon that I found my revelation. it came in the realization that we are driven too much by popular opinion. In the series, there's a period where NASA is reeling from the tragedy of Apollo 1, and there is a danger Congress will shut the missions down (courtesy of an asshat named Walter Mondale). I'll assume you know the history enough to know that public opinon eventually carried the day.

But out of it I got a somewhat sickening revelation:

Conservatives are, due to the shifts of culture, doomed to be a minority in this country.

I know what you're thinking (if you're me and you're thinking "shitpissfucksticks" that is). However, a short explanation is due.

The majority in this country has always not really given a shit about politics and has ridden the popular sentiment. And that sentiment, for better or worse, has been leaning toward liberalism and bigger government for almost 50 years. This is a lot of momentum. And conservatism has, except for brief periods, generally lost ground, or sacrificed shrinking government to some other goal. And now we're at a period where government is growing unabated. More on that in a minute.

But, having begun the video journey with Mr Adams, I am reminded of a quote from the book (which I subsequently looked up): We were about one third Tories, and [one] third timid, and one third true blue. To be honest, I wish we had those numbers.

We can begin to turn this though, but it will be a long fight of decades. The key, of course is education. But those we elect must also embrace these principles, even when the poular sentimet says otherwise. Because it's going to take a whole lot of work to begin winning ground again, especially since Porkulus will be signed into law Tuesday.

Porkulus and the Asshat - With passage of this "stimulus bill" in the books and President Obama's pen being arranged to sign the abomination, someone gets asshat status for this. But I'm not giving it to the President, because he either knows what the bill will do or honestly (HA) thinks it will work. And I won't give it to the Democrats, because it's their bill. Now when chaos ensues, then I might find some asshats to name, but not on their infernal victory.

The GOP? No, the asshats that usually disappoint and buckle like a belt actually grew spines and said no. Except for Senators Specter, Collins, and Snowe. But I have a feeling they bough some big-time favors, although they'll probably get screwed over. So I'm not going to give them the "honor" until they get screwed.

Then it occurred to me. When government grows, freedom is diminished. And Porkulus is about growing government. When one person is enslaved, we all bear the stain. And Porkulus is about enslavement. And those who forget their past are doomed to repeat it. Again, that's Porkulus.

And that's all of us.

So, for those of you who have been waiting to be declared an asshat, here it is:

The citizens of the United States of America are, collectively, Asshat of the Week!


Shaw Kenawe said...


Why do you forget that government grew under Conservative Republican George W. Bush?

That he never vetoed a spending bill (until almost the end of his 2nd term--and then maybe only 2 or 3?) That he was responsible for the largest government agency in the history of this country--Homeland Security, and the first and ONLY president in the history of the US to give tax cuts during a time of war.

Those alone should make you STFU about liberal spending and expansion of government.

Do you and your friends willfully pretend those things didn't happen under Bush? Do you deliberately refuse to own up to the big spending and tax cutting that delivered this country into oceans of debt?

Are you all truly that delusional?

And George W. Bush absolutely IS/WAS a conservative acting like a conservative.

Arthurstone said...

Hmmmmmm. The sun is shining. Business is lousy. I think I'll spend a few hours on my bike. Have lunch. Read the Sunday NYTimes. Listen to music. Dinner with friends tonight.

Making the best of my enslavement.


dmarks said...

To me the scariest part of the stimulus is the setting up of some sort of authority that can limit or take away health care. There's just no call for this.

Shaw: Bush vetoed just a few spending bills, and the Democrats complained bitterly about it each time. But you are right, it was only a few. And Bush was correct not to clobber the US citizens and economy with a tax hike.

With revenues going up during the period of tax cuts, it is clear that the tax cuts has a positive effect on alleviating the budget problems. The cuts were not the problem: the spending was. And yet the Democrats complained that Bush was not spending enough.

Arthur: Enjoy the sun!

Gordon said...

I don't think Patrick's forgotten any of that, although he might characterize it differently in some cases. As would I.

Conservatives (as opposed to Republicans) weren't too happy about how much government grew under GWB. I wasn't blogging then, but I made my feelings known to politicians local and national.

But even if we conceede your argument and say that yes, the neocons started the war to increase the numbers of babies for their rituals; Dick Cheney invented the WMD evidence to enrich Halliburton, and BushyMcHitlerChimp was so stupid (or such an evil genius--depends on which day) that he knew Obama was coming, so he ran up spending just to make it hard for BO...even if we grant you those points:

It doesn't make what President Obama is doing a good idea. It doesn't make the tactics they used to shove it down our throats right. It doesn't justify cranking up non-DOD discretionary spending 80 percent permanently-- without debate or amendment allowed. It doesn't justify hundreds of billions in pork slipped in at midnight behind closed doors. It doesn't justify forcing the vote only 12 hours after the bill was complete--before most members had even seen, let alone read its 1200 pages--so Nancy Pelosi could skip off to Rome.

TAO said...

OMG...Gordon, where have you been?

Now, everything Shaw says is correct....and all of your points are well taken BUT, lets be realistic, what other outcome could conservatives have expected?

Could we have really expected sanity and responsibilty (you know what us conservatives believe are our platform and birthright) after the last eight years of conservative support for insanity and irresponsibility?

My throat really has gotten quite accustomed to having things shoved down it after the last eight years....I am still trying to figure out the logic behind the Wall Street Bailout of the last administration....

This conservatives believes Washington is absolutely insane and totally irresponsible...

Once we hit the ground lets just start over

Arthurstone said...

Paul Giamatti is terrific.


'American Splendor'

I recommend the second particularly Patrick. You might find Harvey Pekar a kindred spirit.


Beth said...

Once we hit the ground lets just start over

Tao, we don't need to reinvent the wheel here, if we could just get back to what our founding fathers established, we'd be just fine. And GW Bush was not doing that, therefore he was no conservative, no matter how many time anyone tries to say he was. Republican does not equal conservative.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

..the realization that we are driven too much by popular opinion...

Isn't that democracy? Rule of the majority?

..But those we elect must also embrace these principles, even when the poular sentimet says otherwise...

So in other words, do what they think is right regardless? Uh.. doesn't that sound a bit fascist?

the setting up of some sort of authority that can limit or take away health care. There's just no call for this.

Take away or limit? For who? 43 million Americans have NO health care. A great many of them will get coverage under the new system. Where have you been? Or maybe you just don't know because it's never been something you've had to worry about.

to what our founding fathers established, we'd be just fine

Ah, yes.. rule of the white Protestant male. Where women were slightly more valuable than slaves, who were only 3/5ths of a human and counted as taxable income and anti-Catholicism and anti-Semitism were hallmarks of society's illuminati.. yes, the good old days.

People forget that the founding fathers didn't have to deal with a country of 165 million + people, nor were they dealing in a global economy, nor did they have the technological advances, the infrastructure, or many of the problems that now face nations.

You cannot go back, only forward.

dmarks said...

SDD: "Take away or limit? For who? 43 million Americans have NO health care"

Oops! That's 43 million without insurance. Not 43 million without health care. There's a big difference.

What I am objecting to is the idea of the authority that will be able to outlaw certain treatments that might be too costly. Regardless of who gets hurt. That is taking away health care from people.

Yes, take aware or limit. As you said at the end "You cannot go back, only forward." The quality of health care should be improved for all, without the government making attempts to ration or limit health care. Make improvements, without going out of your way to make things worse.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

For the vast majority of people without 'insurance', healthcare is out of the question.

Preventative healthcare is out of the question.

Routine medications for chronic illnesses are out of the question.

These are the steps that can prevent catastrophic conditions like stroke, aneurysm, MI and cancer.

Sure, people can go to public emergency rooms if they must and cannot be turned away. This does not mean the hospital will not pursue them like rabid dogs to get paid. It also does not provide them with routine medications or supplies for healthcare.

And as far as 'outlawing' treatments; insurance companies routinely refuse to cover medications and treatments they deem unnecessary or too expensive. I recently had to change a medication that worked very well to one that doesn't work nearly as well because my insurance refuses to cover it and it's far too expensive to pay for myself. Is this 'limiting treatment'? The option is always there, if you really want those Botox shots and don't have a crippling neurological condition that requires them, to pay cash out of pocket and get your wrinkles paralyzed.

The ability to buy whatever treatment you want will always remain.

However, given that insurance companies routinely and daily deny procedures, treatments and medications, I'm not sure I'm seeing your point.

Shaw Kenawe said...

I second Arthurstone.

Paul Giamatti IS terrific.

American Splendor may be his best film to date.

Shaw Kenawe said...

I second Arthurstone.

Paul Giamatti IS terrific.

American Splendor may be his best film to date.

Shaw Kenawe said...

I hit the "publish" button just once.


dmarks said...

Giamatti saves the "Planet of the Apes" remake.

Patrick M said...

First of all, on Paul Giamatti, I've watched three parts so far, and I stand converted. I just hadn't seen him in anything else I could remember.

Shaw: What Gordon said.

Also, I'd have cleared the dup comment if you hadn't highlighted your mistake. So now we're all going to laugh at you. :)

Arthur: Enjoy that sun. And I added a song to the playlist just for you.

Tao: Once we hit the ground lets just start over

Does that mean we can toss out the whole government and start from scratch? Please?

Saty: Isn't that democracy? Rule of the majority?

Except we're not (supposed to be) a democracy. We're a a republic (less and less) ruled by laws, not the will of the people.

The ability to buy whatever treatment you want will always remain.

Ask the Canadians how they get procedures they need done done (They come to us). And we're moving to a system like theirs. Oh well, the "rich" will still be able to get the health care they want. In the Bahamas.

rockync said...

Patrick -
A Republic:
A political order whose head of state is not a monarch and in modern times is usually a president.

A Democratic Republic:
A political order in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who are entitled to vote for officers and representatives responsible to them.

Like most conservatives, you are trying to cloud an issue that does not exist.

We are a DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and always have been.

Arthurstone said...

Thanks Patrick.

Another sunny day in paradise here in Seattle.

Checked in at the forced labor camp and they encouraged me to take the rest of the day off.


Patrick M said...

Rocky: Not trying to cloud the issue. In fact, you are technically correct. But it's the idea of mob rule (pure democracy) with fewer of the limitations imposed by the system of a republic (which is where we've been going for the last century) that has been the cause of many of our problems. More to come.

Arthur: Keep enjoying the days off. You're sure to have more of them.

rockync said...

Technically, I'm correct? As opposed to...?
Gee, I didn't realize when I exercised my right as an American to vote that I was actually participating in "mob" rule. There were a lot of people at my polling place but nothing that resembled a mob.
Fewer limitations,regulations - so which is it? Do conservatives want fewer regulations or more regulations or is it that the amount of regulations aren't the REAL issue, just whose in charge.
And now that the majority of Americans have voted their opinion, you want new rules that disallow majority rule?
Come on Patrick, you're on pretty shaky ground with this one - looks like just more smoke and mirrors to me.

dmarks said...

I'm not sure what Patrick means either. But in a system of mob rule, there is nothing like a Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights and other such protections for the people are of course limitations on democracy.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Jeebus, Patrick. Did Gordon send you candies for V-day, like I did?

Hint. Hint. Sally Kupkakes...

That's the thanks I get?

Nice guy. See if I give you any more of my goodies.

*walks off indignantly with hands on hips*

Arthurstone said...

Patrick typed:

'Arthur: Keep enjoying the days off. You're sure to have more of them.'

You may be right Patrick. I'm afraid decades of deregulation, maintenance of empire and support for corporate incompetence is going to be the gift that keeps on giving.

Glad I bought a new bike.

Summers in my part of the the world are terrific.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

Oh well, the "rich" will still be able to get the health care they want. In the Bahamas.

And the rest of us, a vast majority compared to the "rich", will finally be able to get the health care they NEED. Right here at home.

dmarks said...

We need health care. We do not need a health care monopoly.

Patrick M said...

And the rest of us, a vast majority compared to the "rich", will finally be able to get the health care they NEED.

What do you mean by "will?"

We've been able to get health care for centuries, as it has grown from guesswork and bleeding to efficient treatment. It's only as someone else has taken responsibility for paying for health care that it's become harder to get.

Arthurstone said...

Patrick typed:

'It's only as someone else has taken responsibility for paying for health care that it's become harder to get.'

Good one Patrick.

You never cease to surprise.

When you visit NYC I heartily recommend a visit the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side.

And there's a terrific gelato place across the street.

Patrick M said...

Arthur: You never cease to fail in refuting me.

So let me clarify: Access and quality has continued to improve over the years until someone else began paying for it.

Arthurstone said...

'So let me clarify: Access and quality has continued to improve over the years until someone else began paying for it.'

Actually not. 'Access and quality' hit previously unimagined heights in the halcyon days after WWII when employer funded health insurance made it possible for an unprecedented number of Americans to receive high quality medical care.

Today there is indeed a problem with private health insurance. It fails to cover a huge segment of the population and being attached to employers as benefits makes our products less competitive in the world market.

Guess it's time for a govenment sponsored single payer system.


Oh. And fewer Happy Meals and a little more walking.

dmarks said...

"Guess it's time for a govenment sponsored single payer system."

Because there's no problem with health care that turning the system into a massive "our way or emmigrate" unaccountable monopoly won't solve, right?

Patrick M said...

Arthur: ...govenment sponsored single payer system.

What Gordon said.

And fewer Happy Meals and a little more walking.

Amen to that. That's why it's a once a week thing for the kids. Can't wait until their tastes change for the better.

Arthurstone said...

dmarks wondered:

'Because there's no problem with health care that turning the system into a massive "our way or emmigrate" unaccountable monopoly won't solve, right?'


Western European democracies use a single payer system. As do the, Chinese, Indians, and most of industrialized Asia & and it works fine. Japan has an insurance with active gov't participation to expand coverage and keep costs low.

Then there's us and the good old 'free market'.

Remember the GOP wet dream of a few years back?

"Let 'markets' do for Social Security what the 'markets' have done for healthcare.


Patrick M said...

"Let 'markets' do for Social Security what the 'markets' have done for healthcare.

I'd love to see the markets do something for either. As it is, I don't expect to see that happen in my lifetime.

Don't expect to see Social Security either.

dmarks said...

Arthur said: ""Let 'markets' do for Social Security what the 'markets' have done for healthcare."

That was a great idea when Al Gore proposed it, when G W Bush proposed it, and it is a great idea now. Let SS investors have a little choice in where their money goes.

And thanks for listing the countries where the goverment-controlled health care system does not "work fine". Monopolies are not the best way to go.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

oh for chrissake

are you aware that following ww2, every single person in Japan who was injured or had any health condition due to Nagasaki and Hiroshima was treated entirely 100% free for the rest of their lives?

are you aware that the Japanese have a higher quality of wellness and a longer life expectancy?

are you aware that the French enjoy the best healthcare in the world?

Jesus, do you live in a paper bag?

dmarks said...

No, I live in the real world, where monopolies are unaccountable and have major problems.

The French healthcare system is already in a budget hole. Of course healthcare in France is free: since it runs at a huge deficit, future generations pay for it instead of the current one.

Transferring control of healthcare in the US from the people to the state (a nationalized system) would have a similar result: now more than ever, there is less and less connection between government spending and ability or intent to pay.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

Control of healthcare in the United States is not in control of the 'people' because a vast number of the 'people' have no way to afford it.

I realise that you believe that this is somehow their own fault due to some sort of character defect or shortcoming that they could entirely prevent and that is no one's responsibility but their own.

I also understand that you have never had to deal with having to choose between your health and your mortgage payment or your groceries or your utility bill.

Healthcare costs are hugely inflated. Insurance companies buy these services at a massive discount; for example, they contract a $100 procedure for $40. This is the 'network rate' that your doctor accepts. You make your copayment and that's the end of that. This creates an artificially high cost; on paper the procedure is $100, but in reality it is being sold for $40.

When a person without insurance has to have that $100 procedure, it costs $100. Thus, those who cannot afford insurance to start with are forced to pay a price that is double or more what the procedure is otherwise sold for.

For a person without insurance, labwork can run as high as $400 and $500 (and even more) EACH. Taking $175 as an average cost of a test, in the course of a routine physical on a generally healthy person, a physician would probably order a CBC, a liver panel, a lipid panel, a UA and a chem 7. Add to this an EKG (figure $100), a chest X ray ($200 plus $500 for the radiologist to look at it) and $150 just to sit in the room and have a doctor see you for five minutes, and you run a total of around $1850. This is a conservative estimate based on a generally healthy person. I have seen with my own eyes people leave a doctor's office from a 'routine physical' with tests and referrals for procedures that would run over $10K. It also doesn't take into consideration things like a pap, further testing based on specific symptoms, medication and follow-ups.

$1850 is considerably more than the mortgage payment on our 4 year old, 1800+sf, on-six-acres house.

If this person had insurance, the total cost to the insurance company after 'network discounts' and 'customary fees' would probably run in the area of 40-60% of this total; approximately $1110.

Oh, you say, but my insurance covers me at 80% or 100%; doesn't that mean that they're being billed the $1850? No. It means they pay 80% of whatever their negotiated price with the provider is. You're responsible for whatever remains of that negotiated price.

This is the reason you have to go to 'network doctors' and why you pay more for 'out of network'. The insurance company doesn't have negotiated prices and contracts with people outside their network.

The chemotherapy my mother was prescribed was said to be $900 a week. Were she obligated to pay for that herself, it would have cost $32,400. It was covered at 100%. I can guarantee you that the insurance company did not pay $32,400 for that medication. Writeoffs for these hugely overpriced medicines come originally for pharmaceutical companies, reducing their tax burden while maintaining their profit, and are further reduced through negotiations with insurance companies. And for those who argue that pharmaceutical companies are recouping their r&d costs: a patent on a medication runs for 20 years. The medication that cost me $440 a month while branded costs now $22 as a generic since the patent's expired. They've made their money back many times over.

In the end, people without insurance are being sold the same procedures and services for a much higher rate than those people who do have coverage. It's a double screw.

Oh, but I pay a premium for my insurance in every paycheck! Yes, you do. This is the insurance company's part of hedging their bet; if you're healthy, that's essentially free money for them. That's why so many insurance companies won't accept people who have chronic conditions or certain diagnoses (regardless of overall health condition); it infringes on their odds. The system designs itself to be least available to those (among those who could otherwise afford insurance) who need it most. Not only that, most people have their insurance deducted pre-tax, so it benefits them in reducing their taxable income.

This entire 'free market' system that people cling to so tightly is entirely designed to keep a whole group of people in the hole. By charging them more for the same procedures they otherwise pay a reduced rate for, the uninsured are further pushed into debt and further unable to pay for their healthcare. Although some who have no option but hospitalisation fall, in a public hospital system, onto the 'writeoff' list, private hospitals and nursing homes can and do refuse care to people. Specialty hospitals such as the one I work in do cost analysis prior to accepting patients, do not accept patients without insurance or other financial guarantee and discharge patients the minute the insurance runs out.

The end result is a vast number of people are unable to access healthcare, neglect routine care, and often end up with catastrophic, chronic, debilitating diseases that do require hospital admissions and end up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the preventative care they were unable to receive. Again, this works out to a calculated gamble on the part of the system; figuring out what percentage of the population will succumb to X disease and what the burden will be. Why do you think everyone's so suddenly worried that the kids are fat, and low-income kids more so? Because they run higher risks of early onset chronic disease, thereby fucking up their odds.

This is reality.

rockync said...

My husband and I are self employed and being over 50 even though we are both in good health means high premiums each month that we can't afford.
We've tried to find just catastrophic insurance since we rarely need a doctor so all that other tack on crap we really don't need. I'd rather pay all my routine expenses out of pocket. But even the cost of this type of insurance is prohibitive and then I start researching the companies and come across all sorts of abuses. Since this is for individuals and not for a large company, the insurance providers run fast and loose and usually get away with it.
Find me reasonable insurance by an honest company that will live up to its end of the agreement - I dare you!

Arthurstone said...

dmarks typed:

'That was a great idea when Al Gore proposed it, when G W Bush proposed it, and it is a great idea now. Let SS investors have a little choice in where their money goes.'

It wasn't a great idea then and it's a worse idea now. Unless of course we allow SS 'investors' to play the horses.

As for the list of countries where 'monoplies don't work fine', most have longer average life spans and lower child mortality rates while spending less per capita than the US,

Bummer huh?

Satyavati devi dasi said...

It's significant to remember that in a study of 19 industrialised nations, the United States ranked last in preventable deaths.

The big issue with "socialised" medicine in this country is the word "socialised". People have no idea what it means and have no idea what it would do for them apart from the bullshit propaganda thrown into the media by the right wing and insurance companies, who work long and hard in WDC to prevent such a thing from happening.

Our 'free market' healthcare, on an objective, rational basis, provides much less, with much worse outcomes, than we are led to believe it does.