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August Journalism Standards

New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt explains why a Times piece on Cronkite contained seven errors. The article was written in July, and seven errors is certainly too much for that time of year. But I think seven would have been perfectly reasonable for August. In fact, I'd consider it something to shoot for. Keep those August errors in the single digits! (Though you'd think a television critic wouldn't make mistakes when writing about someone as beloved as Wilbur Cronkite.)

--

Your taxes are going to go up. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday, and for the rest of your life. (Why does that line sound familiar?) There's no way to extend health-insurance benefits to 47 million people for free, and Botox Taxes alone won't be enough to pay for universal coverage. The issue is, of course, timing: If you raise taxes in the near term, you're being counter-stimulative. Even talking about raising taxes can be counter-stimulative. Call it anticipatory counter-stimulation. But there's no way Obama will be able to sell health reform if he can't persuade the public that he is going to be fiscally responsible. And my guess is that the numbers right now don't add up, unless the upper middle class pays a bit more. (I might actually research this -- or would that violate August Journalism Standards?)

From the AP:

If we want an economy that's going to grow in the future, people have to understand we have to bring those deficits down. And it's going to be difficult, hard for us to do. And the path to that is through health care reform," [Treasury Secretary Timothy] Geithner said. "We're not at the point yet where we're going to make a judgment about what it's going to take."

[Update: It may be that I have conflated the tax issue with the health care reform issue. I think CBO has "scored" early versions of health care as adding to the deficit but that's not really the key issue. The bigger issue is that the deficits are so huge now that, even if health care becomes a wash (because of what ScienceTim says in the Boodle -- you bend the cost curve etc.), you still will have giant deficits that have to be dealt with somehow. Here's a more complete version of what Geithner said on This Week:

STEPHANOPOULOS: So to bring the deficits down there's not enough money in the discretionary budget. We all know that. That means more revenues. The president has said that taxes won't go up for any Americans earning under $250,000.

But it doesn't appear he's going to be able to keep that promise if you're going to bring the deficits down.

GEITHNER: George, again, we can't make these judgments yet about exactly what it's going to take and how we're going to get there. But the very important thing, and no one is going to care about this more than the president of the United States, is for people to understand that we do not have a choice as a country.

That if we want an economy that's going to grow in the future, people have to understand we have to bring those deficits down. And it's going to be difficult, hard for us to do. And the path to that is through health care reform.

But that's necessary but not sufficient. We're going to do some other things as well.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So revenues are on the table as well?

GEITHNER: Again, we're not at the point yet where we're going to make a judgment about what it's going to take. But the important thing...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you're not ruling it out. You can't rule it out.

GEITHNER: Well, I think that what the country needs to do is understand we're going to have to do what it takes. We're going to do what's necessary.]

--

Dan Morgan's Outlook piece could easily have run on the front page. It explains why it's hard to push through a liberal agenda -- many Democrats these days aren't exactly San Francisco liberals (don't tell Rush Limbaugh!).

--

When reporting on the Hill, I spend a lot of time looking at statues and paintings. The Rotunda is jammed with people much of the day, but by 4:30 it clears out, and last week I often found myself alone amid all that grandeur. It's a museum, of sorts -- a 19th Century view of American history. I'm going to start working on a redesign. Get some abstract art in there. Fewer generals on horseback, more incomprehensible non-representational post-postmodern obscurantism.

By the way, there's a new (old) Henry Clay painting in the U.S. Capitol.

By Joel Achenbach  |  August 3, 2009; 8:49 AM ET
 
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Next: What Things Cost

Comments

Are we boycotting this entry?

Posted by: bobsewell | August 3, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

My standards apparently are lower this month: I just sent out an email announcing a special event in "Augsut."

Posted by: -TBG- | August 3, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like you were using the old Egyptian calendar, TBG.

Posted by: Yoki | August 3, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I thought he meant august-as in noble and venerable.

Reposted from tail end of last boodle:


What's for lunch? Someone have some 'maters to go with a little fresh lettuce and bacon of unknown (but probably factory farm) origin. I have some good swirled rye.

Two teen employees were no call/no show this morning so I'm home taking care of my own priorities and trying to calm down enough to be the grown up when they finally do surface. Take all the news of how the current economic prospects are affecting those just entering the workforce with a grain of salt-they are totally without a clue!

Good luck dbG!!

DotC- Have I mentioned tropical garden frenvy lately? I never quite got good at selecting and caring for plants in your clime. Your assessment of the FL real estate market would be appreciated. A look at our neighborhood in Tampa reveals inventory is down, but foreclosures and short sales need to clear out before there can be any appreciation. I'd settle for some sign we're at the bottom-but don't want to get irrationally exuberant about it. Mr. F is going to move back into the house anyway when our renters' lease is up in the spring.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | August 3, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

As Clark Hoyt freely admits, Allesandra Stanley is a one-woman corrections machine. Her error rate when not fully vetted is so astronomical as to be a running gag on Gawker. Most of her errors are groaners by the standards of even the most casual couch potato.

As such, once blood is in the water, she gets even more scrutiny since her reputation for inaccuracy precedes her.

That she is close pals with Maureen Dowd and they have done joint speaking engagements does nothing to enhance Stanley's reputation for factual correctness.

Posted by: Mo_MoDo | August 3, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I got a whole passle o' ginormous 'maters, Frosty. How many ya want?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 3, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I've got plenty of tomatoes for sandwiches, frosti! Got good mayo and mustard? There's cantelope and cherries in the fridge, and a couple of nice yellow squashes if you want me to fix squash casserole.

Posted by: slyness | August 3, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

*sticking fingers in ears and ululating lalalalalalala*

Posted by: Yoki | August 3, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

The last government in Taiwan did some creative re-imagining of the megalomaniacal monument that had been hurriedly thrown up after the death of Chiang Kai-shek.

Fortunately for the Capitol, it's considerably more popular than Chiang.

Unfortunately for the Capitol, the Visitor Center ought to have been designed by Foster or Rogers. Foster (Hong Kong Airport) did the glass roof for the Smithsonian museums in the Old Patent Office. Rogers (Heathrow) has redone a group of office buildings on New Jersey Ave. near the Capitol, not without interference from the Architect of the Capitol. Having Brit architects for the visitors centre would have been a fitting closure to an earlier event, which after all allowed Latrobe (a Brit) give the original section of the Capitol its sophisticated (not grandiose) interiors.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | August 3, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

frostbitten,
The real estate market in my town seems to have become unstuck. It's a bit hard to tell since we have two distinct markets, one for normal people and the other for exclusive enclaves and oceanfront.

On the normal-people market, houses are selling, but at distressed prices. The massive new developments are mostly hibernating or abandoned--lots of streets with all the utilities and drainage installed, but no houses.

On the luxury market, people are building houses, though the rate of construction has dropped quite a bit.

Unemployment remains high. Local retailers are nervous. I suspect there will be lots of closures after Christmas.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | August 3, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

But as my taxes go up to pay for this health care, isn't much of the idea that my private insurance costs must go down, or at least go below inflation-rate increases, because the pace of health-care increases is supposed to be reined in by the reform process? Isn't that the idea of reforming health care now, before it gets even worse and more critical?

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 3, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

And Gawker puts up its rebuttal to Ian Shapira:

http://gawker.com/5328840/the-time-gawker-put-the-washington-post-out-of-business

Posted by: yellojkt | August 3, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

SciTim,
If you sincerely believe (and I suspect you have your tongue at least in the vicinity of your cheek) your health care costs are going to go down by putting another 47 million people in the system either on private or public plans, I have a bridge priced cheap for you.

The 'savings' are essentially unknowable since the rate in health care cost increases has been unsustainably exponential to this point. A paradigm shift has to occur and I don't see anything in this batch of sausage looking like that.

All they are doing now is resorting the allotment of deck chairs between employers, insurers, and pharmaceutical companies. Nobody is closing any bulkhead doors, let alone fixing the gashes in the hull.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 3, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Ooops, how thoughtless of me. Sorry, Yoki.

Frosty, I don't have any tomatoes after all. But we've...um...received a large shipment of red bowling balls. Yeah, that's it, Red bowling balls. And I'd be glad to share them with you. How many bowlers in your party?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 3, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Also got a whole bunch of red marbles that good good on salads.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 3, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I don't doubt that if we start paying for those 47M people, taxes will go up. However, we already pay for a good fraction of those 47M by providing them with the most expensive possible health services through acute care provided in emergency rooms. Those people are not living and dying without ever seeing a hospital or doctor; they are living and dying without seeing a doctor or a hospital at a stage at which $1 of prevention could have avoided $100 in acute-care costs. And, of course, there is the point that under the current system, there is effectively no market force acting to restrain price growth, which is one of the ideas in planned health-care reform in order for it to be worth doing. I agree that the savings are largely unknowable at this stage, but a goal should be to design the system so that savings are, at least positive (saving money) rather than negative (spending even more). If we can even manage break-even, then at least we will have insured 47M more people without increasing net social cost.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 3, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Short version -- right now, I pay taxes and, through my employer, I pay private health insurance bills. I really only care about the sum of those two numbers, not the distribution between them. Decrease the sum, and I'll be happy enough.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 3, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

OK, boodle... I need your help. My co-worker is blaming the skyrocketing costs of healthcare mainly on illegal aliens. If you can, please point me toward the facts and figures that show approximately how much of that is the cause.

Posted by: -TBG- | August 3, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

ScienceTim, I want to see the footnotes on that. Sure, preventive medicine should hold down E-Room visits and mitigate some of those costs, but do you honestly think the whole thing will be a wash? I'm not saying it's a bad idea or that there's not a moral dimension to this. But show me the numbers.

Posted by: joelache | August 3, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

More free clinic, more education and change in habits are also necessary in the poorest neighborhoods. People have to know they CAN see a doctor without going to the ER.

TBG-- that "Mom, he's looking out my window" line is priceless.

I'd have said,
"DAUGHTER, somebody's yelling in my ear!!!"

Then hopefully somebody else says "DAUGHTER, _he's_ driving my car!"

And then every grownup does a whinefest.

Or is that too mean to little kids?


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 3, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

My co-worker is blaming the skyrocketing costs of healthcare mainly on illegal aliens. If you can, please point me toward the facts and figures that show approximately how much of that is the cause.

Posted by: -TBG

*****

Your coworker is beyond the reach of mere "facts."

Posted by: byoolin1 | August 3, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

tbg, looking into the costs for the machines, new drugs, staff for hospitals etc.

Our systems are different but our costs are skyrocketing as well, nothing to due with illegals and everything to do with modern technology and new drugs, MRI do not come cheaply - nor do those trained to use/read the results of the machines.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 3, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I guess I need to read through the CBO pdf on HR 3200.

See summary here:

http://cboblog.cbo.gov/?p=332

Posted by: joelache | August 3, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I think it's fair to point out that most of Europe has lower per capita health care costs and higher standard of health. But of course, they sold their souls to Socialized Medicine.

Posted by: Southwester | August 3, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Where I live they are currently running commercials trying to explain to people when to go to the ER and when a call to a doctor, a visit to a walk-in clinic, or urgent care facility would suffice.

I might add that malpractise costs in the US contribute significantly to your costs, huge difference in what a doctor would pay in the US for insurance versus here. Depsite common misconceptions there is only a slight brain drain of Canadian doctors south of the border, approx. 10% I think but it is offset by those returning home or coming here from the US to practise. At least in Ontario the incentive to go to the US has been greatly reduced.

Posted by: dmd3 | August 3, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

The pdf is here:

http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/104xx/doc10464/hr3200.pdf

Posted by: joelache | August 3, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

@TBG: You should point out to your co-worker that most undocumented immigrants avoid all services, medicine included, out of fear of being deported. He or she might want to consider the fact that health care as it exists is a for-profit institution and his bills could be a lot lower if the executives didn't need to receive gigantic salaries and bonuses.

Posted by: Southwester | August 3, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I agree with byoo that the coworker is probably beyond reasoning.

But that aside, there is a fairly easy way to suss it out without having to resort to intensive fact-findings. There are about 300 million people in the country, and there are said to be about 12 million illegal aliens. So without quibbling too much about those numbers, lets just accept them, for argument's sake. That 12million represents about 4 percent of the population. One can therefore reasonably postulate that IAs account for no more than about 4 percent of health care costs, whatever they may be. Those costs have been steadily rising WAY beyond any 4 percent, so it ought to be clear IAs are NOT a significant factor.

You can erode the question even further: IAs, being generally suspicious of the the system, the immigration people, and general just being poor, almost certainly get and use LESS health care resources than the average, so that 4 percent is almost certainly significantly less, maybe only 3 percent or even 2 percent. Further, it isn't like all 12 million suddenly arrived here just this past year; many of them have been here quite a while. So the any perceived "increase" in IAs involved only a certain proportion of them anyway. If we arbitrarily say "half" are recent, then we have to cut that 4 percent (or 3 or 2 percent) in half as well.

So whether one wants to haggle over exact numbers or not, it's clear the answer lies down close to the "noise" level, and IAs have virtually nothing to do with the costs and the crisis.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 3, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

In other health news, the CDC has reported, at various times, on:

Fatalities caused by Cattle;
Public Health Response to Rabid Kitten;
Salmonella Infections associated with Live Poultry.

Animals hate us.

Posted by: Yoki | August 3, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Share food with me, ma'am
And I shall never hate thee
Nor thy cooking-- more?

-Wilbrodog-

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 3, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

The first episode of 30 Days (Morgan Spurlock) covered living on minimum wage. As it turned out, at the end of the month, they would have been in the red had his fiance not gotten a UTI...her getting medical care (which took a couple of days, if I recall correctly) sent them will into the red. And for something that's pretty minor. Long video, but worth the watch if you've got the time.

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&VideoID=21064080

Posted by: LostInThought | August 3, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Sorry. They would have been in the black.

Posted by: LostInThought | August 3, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

You ain't kidding, Yoki. When I was on vacation last week and went swimming, I happened to reach down into shallow water and felt a shell that seemed worth picking up. It was a clam shell, and the halves were about 1/4-inch apart. I assumed it was empty. But it suddenly snapped shut, pinching my finger in the process. Some time later I reported this to my wife and friends, whereupon my friend Nick said, "Oh, great, Now we have be on the alert for Mad Clam Disease."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 3, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

*Snort*

Posted by: Yoki | August 3, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Which reminds me: while I was away apparently Milbank and Cillzza said something foolish about Hillary. (Kurtz reports the site was taken down, so it's no longer viewable.) Can somebody tell me what they said/did?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 3, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, you aren't kidding about the animals. Read this. The truth about cows!

http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/31/dangerous-cows/

Posted by: rickoshea0 | August 3, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I love the conclusion in the MMWR that elderly people with impaired hearing and limited mobility are most vulnerable to cow attacks, presumably because they fail to hear the animal coming and are not sprightly enough to get out of the way when they do notice.

This reminds me of a Canadian study on child poverty some years ago. Their conclusion was that the majority of children living in poverty had low-income parents.

Posted by: Yoki | August 3, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad Joel verifies my unschooled musings that even talking about raising taxes is bad for the economy. But we are so short sighted they could probably vow to raise them incrementally over 8 years. The only problem with that is they'd dismantle the process at year 2. The legislature is even more short-sighted than the average person it seems. Oh, snap! (slaps forehead) I forgot, infinite unsustainable growth will get us out of any problem!

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 3, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Just for mudge because he was on vacation and missed my sluething down the Milbank video that disappeared into the Ministry of Information memory hole for calling Secretary Clinton a b1tch:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/31/dana-milbank-suggests-hil_n_248889.html

Posted by: yellojkt | August 3, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Does any of the health care legislation being bandied about do anything about the shortage of primary care physicians? By my reckoning, increasing the pool of patients by 47 million without increasing the number of providers is going to end up increasing prices (that pesky law of supply and demand, yanno).

Not saying there shouldn't be health care reform, but the solutions being proposed seem like little more than medical Wackamole.

Posted by: Raysmom | August 3, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

'mudge-bowling balls for 30 please, I promise to share with poor children and the elderly.

Turns out one teen employee thought she was in labor and her doc wanted to see her. She's now at work and ready to cover for the other no show tomorrow. His neck I will wring. Here's hoping she hangs on until her due date (Aug. 12) because that we can work around. This is too busy a week to be birthing babies in Our Fair City.

Thanks for the real estate report DotC. Tampa/St. Pete is probably pretty similar, perhaps with fewer condos and a higher % of "normal people" houses. (quotations because your fine self notwithstanding there are darn few normal people in FL)

Animals not only hate us, they mock us. After finally giving in on the squirrels vs. bird feeder war by feeding the squirrels their own grub, the raccoons have bent the bird feeder pole. At first just a stern look from the kitchen window and a rattled pan or two in the dishwater would send them on their way. Now they just look and loiter from an ever decreasing stand off distance until I turn my back or give up on keeping them away. Surely it won't be long until they learn to use their middle digit for a retort to my shouts.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | August 3, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Front page alert. But it's been so quiet today I think I'd welcome a couple of drive-by fruitcakes to liven things up.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 3, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

TBG,
Sounds like your co-worker is on the same e-mail list my father is on. Over the past three years he has gotten increasingly xenophobic. My wife is glad his e-mails now go just to me instead of the family account.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 3, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Raysmom, I suspect that primary care phsyicians are about the same average height as any other kinds of doctors.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 3, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm not really making a claim for how the numbers work out, I am raising a concern that we need a complete view. If we have a "public option" or something like it, or private options that are taxpayer-funded, then our taxes will go up. Indubitably. Because we will be paying for something that we do not currently pay for through taxes. My concern is to make sure that we understand that the balloon is popping out in one place (taxes) because we are squeezing it somewhere else. Someone (and it won't be me) needs to do the hard work of acquiring the complete picture. What we call a synoptic view, in my biz. Without the synoptic view, we will be making foolish decisions because we will be making deductions from bad data.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 3, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Bu frosti -- think of the value in the teachable moment!

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 3, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Here is but one 'fact' in a recent e-mail about how the financial insolvency of California is a result of illegal immigrants:

"Over 2/3 of all births in Los Angeles County are to illegal alien Mexicans on Medi-Cal, whose births were paid for by taxpayers."

Snopes counters:

http://www.snopes.com/politics/immigration/taxes.asp

Expect a lot more of this as the economy stays depressed. Scapegoats are good to have around.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 3, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Q: What kind of cheese do you get from the milk of scapegoats?

A: Feh-ta.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 3, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Unfortuantely, yello, I got the same email from my uncle.

Sounds like they are on the same lists.

Posted by: Moose13 | August 3, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

NPR interviewed Donna Shalala, and the lack of primary care physicians was one of her points:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111447841
She suggests that nurses (RN's, nurse practitioners) could fill in. And there are all of us unemployed folks who could be retrained, no? Too bad I faint at the sight of blood. But seriously, when I went to a worker retraining class, they said the slots for nursing were quite competitive.

I think too, that none of this will happen overnight. It will be years till everyone is covered, if ever.

Posted by: seasea1 | August 3, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

frosti, when I visited my sister last year and tried to shoo the raccoon away from her birdfeeder, she cautioned me against doing anything lest it attack. Come to think of it, I haven't seen our raccoons lately...

I heard a story about deaths from cows in Great Britain on NPR, but I can't find the story now. It had to do with people walking their dogs in fields, the cow coming after the dog, and the people getting injured/killed trying to protect the dog. Their advice was to let the dog fend for itself, that the dog would outrun the cow.

Posted by: seasea1 | August 3, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

It may be that I have wrongly conflated the tax issue with the health care reform issue. I think CBO has "scored" early versions of health care as adding to the deficit but that's not really the key issue. The bigger issue is that the deficits are so huge now that, even if health care becomes a wash (because of what ScienceTim said -- you bend the cost curve etc.), you still have giant deficits that have to be dealt with somehow and you can't deal with it simply by soaking the rich. See this:

STEPHANOPOULOS: So to bring the deficits down there's not enough money in the discretionary budget. We all know that. That means more revenues. The president has said that taxes won't go up for any Americans earning under $250,000.

But it doesn't appear he's going to be able to keep that promise if you're going to bring the deficits down.

GEITHNER: George, again, we can't make these judgments yet about exactly what it's going to take and how we're going to get there. But the very important thing, and no one is going to care about this more than the president of the United States, is for people to understand that we do not have a choice as a country.

That if we want an economy that's going to grow in the future, people have to understand we have to bring those deficits down. And it's going to be difficult, hard for us to do. And the path to that is through health care reform.

But that's necessary but not sufficient. We're going to do some other things as well.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So revenues are on the table as well?

GEITHNER: Again, we're not at the point yet where we're going to make a judgment about what it's going to take. But the important thing...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you're not ruling it out. You can't rule it out.

GEITHNER: Well, I think that what the country needs to do is understand we're going to have to do what it takes. We're going to do what's necessary.

Posted by: joelache | August 3, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Link to story about cow attacks:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1200964/Pensioner-trampled-death-herd-cows-walking-dog-farmers-field.html

Posted by: seasea1 | August 3, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Increasing the national supply of indecision and ambiguity. Carrying on the legacy of Schrödinger. That's my goal.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 3, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Cattle dog by lust;
Will watch gnome's back anytime
--just fence that cow, please!

-Wilbrodog-

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 3, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Joel was paying attention to the part of This Week With George Snuffleupagus that I fast-forwarded through. I was too eager to get to laughing at Michelle Malkin yammer about something or another.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 3, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm getting sick of all this talk about Health Care.

I'd ask for a prescription to treat it, but I suspect someone would just say, "More cowbell!"

bc

Posted by: -bc- | August 3, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

What makes me sick is that the Republicans a few years ago said deficits didn't matter, when they were running them up. Bah.

Posted by: seasea1 | August 3, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

This is why I am so frustrated that single payer, with doctors on salary, is not on the table. It could cost us taxes up to wazoo (sp?) to pay for it, but by God we'd know what it cost-and personally I'd rather have the person at the DMV deciding on whether or not something is covered than some bean counter at an insurance company who is trying to maximize profit (by minimizing treatment pay outs). Also, I'm perfectly satisfied with the Post Office, another much maligned government program in this debate.

Off to an economic development meeting. This is where I channel Richard Florida-technology, talent, tolerance. I might just come out and say we won't have a decent place to eat or any thriving non-forestry/alcohol related businesses until we have some foreigners and gay folks living next door.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | August 3, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I remember reading recently that almost half of the costs of care in the US are in the public side already. That's because the largest expenditures generally occur in the last 18 months of a person's life. For many of us, those last months, when we are sickest, are when we are on Medicare.

My brother sent me one of those emails, but I deleted without reading it. I got enough blood pressure problems as it is.

Posted by: slyness | August 3, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

See? http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Bison+fatally+gores+Calgary+senior+morning+walk/1855472/story.html

Those ungulates really are out to get us.

Posted by: Yoki | August 3, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if there's a good recipe for Ungulate Tartare.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 3, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I personally recommend the buffalo hanger steak here-

http://www.delmereigrille.com/images/summermenu.pdf

Posted by: kguy1 | August 3, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Oh, dear. They spelled it hangar steak. That's usually what we serve out on the flightline on steak-and-egg mornings when the weather's nice.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 3, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Hanger steak comes from cattle. When it comes from bison it's spelled with an "a". :-)

Posted by: kguy1 | August 3, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Because they hanged the poor beast, I guess.

Well, well, look at the old clock on the wall.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 3, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

You're satisfied with the post office, but the post office is losing billions each year, and all they do is deliver bills that can be replaced with online transactions, junk mail, and Christmas cards. I'd just as soon do away with them entirely, and if someone wants to send me an offer for a credit card, they can pay FedEx's rates. (Unfortunately, I'm sure they'd get a bulk discount, which limits - but may not eliminate - the ability of my nefarious plan to put direct mail out of business.)

Mudge, I don't disagree with your conclusion that illegal immigrants use less total medical dollars than your average citizen, but I would make one change. As SciTim pointed out, at some point some of the folks are going to need acute care. Whether they denied themselves access to preventative care or government/society did it for/to them, the cost of the acute care will be higher. So it's not a matter of, illegal immigrants only go to the doctor 10% of the time, so they only use 10% of the services of an average person. It will be somewhat higher, because it will all be acute care.

All in all, still probably a small number, but not quite as small as you suggest.

Posted by: tomsing | August 3, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

And then there's this:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/03/tax-revenues-post-biggest_n_250108.html

No wonder they call it a depression - I'm really depressed. Think I'll go watch more of The Wire (which is depressing but really well written).

Posted by: seasea1 | August 3, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I've just returned from a trip to Pluto after having been gone since 1994.

What's all this about a Federal Budget deficit, Health Care reform, the economy and stock market rebounding from a recession, soldiers coming back from Iraq, and tax reform?

Heck, it's 2009, people!

I've been gone 15 years, and expected it all this stuff to be done by the time I got back. I expected the Government to be be running at a profit, everyone to have adequate health care, and everything to be rosy. That's what I thought I was leaving back then...

What's everyone been doing all this time?

AetherNaut bc

PS - And where's the flying car that's supposed to be in my driveway?

Posted by: -bc- | August 3, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Look up.

Posted by: ScienceTim | August 3, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

'bye!

Posted by: Yoki | August 3, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

So long, Yoki, we'll miss you. Come back soon!

Posted by: bobsewell | August 3, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

No no. Not me. *Tim.

Posted by: Yoki | August 3, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Hey Badsneakers... just wondering how your first day of unemployment went. Kind of nice for now, isn't it? :-)

Posted by: -TBG- | August 3, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Well, at least it's not AetherNaut bc leaving for mini-planetoid Pluto again. That's a LONG trip.

Posted by: bobsewell | August 3, 2009 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Have a good trip, *Tim.

Perpetuate the Schrödinger all you want -- me, I'm a Wigner kinda guy with a side of Heisenberg. I may be a man of many Worlds and completely Focked up, but at least I have Friends.

Don't forget to bring some nuts back.

And take some good pics with your high-zoot Kodak Brownie, eh?

bc

Posted by: -bc- | August 3, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Not really TBG. I was surprised this morning by how awful I felt, sort of like someone had died. It’s harder when you’ve been laid off I guess, never having been in that position before. Thankfully, I had somewhere I had to be this morning so that got me moving and away from the emotions. But I couldn’t face going to the unemployment office this afternoon, so that will probably be Wednesday’s chore as I also have somewhere I have to be tomorrow. I know I’ll get used to it and will find it nice to have more time outside and more time to read all the books I’ve started and then ignored.
Three years ago I was unemployed but that time was by choice, so I could work on this house. At least I don’t have all that grunt work to do here this time!

Posted by: badsneakers | August 3, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Do you really have to visit the unemployment office Sneaks? In Virginia you do it ALL online... register and do the weekly filing. It was easy as pie.

Sorry I made light of your situation. I was laid off last October, but it was almost a relief; I didn't realize that I hadn't been happy in that job for a couple of years, and although I'll never find a job that pays me that well for that enjoyable work, I was OK with being let go.

And if you keep feeling depressed about it, please don't be afraid to seek some medical attention for that. It can work wonders toward finding a new job, too.

Posted by: -TBG- | August 3, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Don’t feel bad TBG, I’m okay, or I will be given a bit more time. The UE office is about a mile from here, so I can just go, read a book and wait. I liked my job when it was busy, which is wasn’t lately, and I really liked all the people. When you can work in an office of about a dozen people and every one of them is pleasant and there are no egos or attitudes, it’s a rare and wonderful thing. If business doesn’t improve enough for them to call me back, I’ll be very disappointed.

But, I will be okay. I’ll find something eventually, and even if it isn’t what I want, I’ll do whatever I have to do to earn a living (except work for Wal-Mart - a girl has to have some principles!). And I am looking forward to seeing some friends I don’t get to see often and getting some projects done around here. I do know to watch myself for depression so I won’t let that get out of hand. And “S” is very good at both emotional support and making me laugh. I am blessed.

Posted by: badsneakers | August 3, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

BobS, WTF?

Pluto's not a *planet* anymore?

Have I just wasted the last 15 years?

Sheesh. *%$&#@ing Bloody %$*!@#!

[AetherNaut bc catches his breath and comes back across the Male emotional Visible spectrum from Ultra-Violent purple rage to Angry red fury to Pink Embarassment. With a deep sigh at the end.]

All right, if I run back out to Neptune this time, I better not come back to the Effing Planet of the Apes.

AetherNaught bc

PS. Or France.

Posted by: -bc- | August 3, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Oh my, it's the President's birthday and we haven't sung to him! I do hope Sasha and Malia made up for our thoughtlessness.

Posted by: slyness | August 3, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

http://www.riversideamusements.com/elmo1.jpg

Oops, fury, not furry. Never mind.

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 3, 2009 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Pres Obama's birthday is Aug 4 (if you believe his birth certificate):
http://msgboard.snopes.com/politics/graphics/birth.jpg
So we still have time!

Posted by: seasea1 | August 3, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

I was going to say that I thought President Obama's Birthday is tomorrow, August 4th.

Singing is encouraged - but I wonder if he'll be playing pin the tail on the Elephant?

bc

Posted by: -bc- | August 3, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Got an explanation of services from the hospital for sewing up my lacerated thumb. One stitch to close the artery and ten to sew up the meat. $1332.00
Emergency room services-$603.00
Professional fee emergence-$729.00
note; physicians, etc and other specialists may bill separately.

I took the stitches out myself today. Saved the $279 the outpatient clinic charges to walk through the front door.
Now to see what my $65/mo medicare premium gets me.

Posted by: bh72 | August 3, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

The prez has invited dem senators, and dem leaning independents, to his birthday luncheon tomorrow. I'm sure they'll talk about important stuff, but it is surely time to lighten the mood a bit. I suggest he mark the occasion by unveiling a gigantic framed replica of his birth certificate. Each guest could get a wallet sized laminated version. He could make the rounds of the faux news shows and casually reach for his wallet saying "hey, would you like to see my birth certificate?"

Posted by: frostbitten1 | August 3, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

If you trade in a clunker employee and hire me, how come you don't get $4500? I think I'll call my Congregate and ask.

Posted by: roblimo | August 3, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

It's already August 4th in Kenya. Happy Birthday, Obama!

Posted by: yellojkt | August 3, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

I think the new purchase has to substantially better and more efficient than the Clunker in order to qualify for the Cash rebate.

bc

Posted by: -bc- | August 3, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Good one frosty

Posted by: bh72 | August 3, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

All of the little thorns I picked up while doing yard work yesterday are working their way to the surface of my skin. I feel like I've been in stinging nettles. Where's the jewel weed when you need it? Nearly finished reinstalling all of the siding and trim pieces that were disposed of during the rot repairs. Caulk and paint are on the horizon. I need to fabricate a storey board. It would make the process of installing siding soooooo much easier.

Posted by: -jack- | August 3, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVOFRZsdKeo

Posted by: Yoki | August 4, 2009 12:08 AM | Report abuse

Nice. But my hands and wrists still sting. Thank you and thanks to all of the boodlers that cast a vote. You guys are the best.

Posted by: -jack- | August 4, 2009 12:28 AM | Report abuse

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMyaTJF_pLg

Posted by: -jack- | August 4, 2009 12:36 AM | Report abuse

Joel, to answer your question to Tim, yes, the whole thing can be a wash. Rainforest pointed out what doctors expect to be paid for unplanned visits in other countries, even in a "for profit" mode. To spend 1,000 dollars for a 20 minute visit is way beyond reality. Unfortunately, that's about what some bills work out to.

Certainly, we pay for a bunch of technicians and support staff, but seriously, we have lost all relationship to reality.

Let us assume that a visit for a normal preventative measure costs about $400 per hour for the Doc, most visits are 1/2 hour. At most, we should expect to spend $200. In fact, if you don't have insurance, the Docs charge you less. Just right a check. BUT, if you have insurance, they take you to the cleaners.

WHY?

paperwork??? expected declinations? all of the above and many more.

The other angle is that we need more GPs. Those folks shouldn't have to hire a large army of accountants and bookkeepers to go into practice. Unfortunately, that's the case today.

It isn't that I find a problem hiring 1,000s of folks to do Insurance forms, but it isn't necessary. Go into any medical office today and there is a highly paid staffer running the billing and accounting and a team, larger than the treatment group doing the paperwork.

The economic term for a situation where much of the money is siphoned off for profits is "inefficient." We are way beyond inefficient.

Further, what folks don't realize is that the Federal Government has mechanisms to re-pay hospitals and larger practices for uncompensated services. This IS KEY.

Hospitals are rewarded for their efforts in these cases. WE ARE ALREADY PAYING these wildly inflated fees. When a Republican (to generalize) asserts that we already pay for health care for the poor, he/she is saying the truth. What they are also "agreeing to" is that we have found to most inefficient method to do so.

They are dopes.

As they say, a stitch in time saves nine.

Posted by: russianthistle | August 4, 2009 12:39 AM | Report abuse

bh... I am reading in reverse polish notation. YEs. you were the other side of the rainforest discussion. Be safe!

Posted by: russianthistle | August 4, 2009 12:44 AM | Report abuse

Finally, (and I mean it, sorry)... the argument isn't whether or not our taxes are going to go up, it is whether or not our total value to cost for healthcare goes up.

Right now, we are having 1,000s of folks die each month because of substandard care. That has a cost to society.

Premiums for private coverage are going up... that is a current cost.

So what is the big deal?

If we were to suggest that, Medicare is the most efficient health provider and Medicare will just payout on all plans and collect existing premiums for private service? Those premiums were to become a "tax," then taxes would go up but service would improve.

What's the big deal?

I know you are thinking ... what a dope! but, actually, if you fill in the blanks... who has coverage, who doesn't have coverage and gets services at hospitals which are then reimbursed, and who isn't getting services now and then causes a problem in the future that results in a big uncompensated healthcare bill... where is the concern.

It's right there.

The Joke is, and I have to point out that I have probably worked in this area more than most and played golf with "the experts" ... the question is, everyone fears that, if healthcare were "free" then folks would just "flock" to see the doctor.

There is nothing further from the truth.

All we are doing is managing the payment of professionals when we as a large population needs to avail ourselves of their services. If folks just visited the doctor on a regular basis, that's it.

OK, I said finally, but here is a final tidbit to think about. In longitudinal studies, you will find that we spend about 1/2 of all our healthcare dollars on the last two weeks o everyone's lives.

Ask yourself why can theis be? I'm not suggesting that we should do that "republican" kill our old folks thing, but why are we going so crazy when that is what we are currently doing?

That is how hospitals get paid. If you have a dieing patient and they have Medicare, then you are golden. In fact, you can't get enough of them. It isn't unusual for a death to run to $200K in bills.

Until you've analyzed all of the US Medicare bills for a decade, you don't know. You have no clue.

At the same time, be an innocent bystander to a shooting and go to a hospital with a bullet wound without healthcare coverage and see how quickly you get released once you are stabilized.

Posted by: russianthistle | August 4, 2009 1:08 AM | Report abuse

So, what do you think the most efficient system would be, if it's not medicare, russianthistle?

And I agree with you that Medicare is already the moneymaker for most hospitals.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 4, 2009 3:04 AM | Report abuse

Bush fire. Forest fire. The smog is bad enough that it has been quite hazy for a few days now. My car is covered with ashes. Good thing my car is dirty to begin with.

Posted by: rainforest1 | August 4, 2009 3:33 AM | Report abuse

Few years back, a labourer got his hand tore by a nail while moving used timber. Three stitches and probably an anti-tetanus shot cost B$53 in a private clinic. This amount includes some pain medications. A week later, taking out stitches and a new bandage cost B$5. All paid in cash.

People in my country don’t buy insurance coverage for out patient services. We pay cash (or credit card if the bill is big) when we visit a GP or a specialist in a private clinic. A lot of people have insurance for big “things” like when you need to be cut up, have things taken out of you and need to stay in the hospital for a couple of days. We buy insurance when we think a procedure would cost RM5,000 or more. Dollar for dollar it's US$5,000 or more.

Posted by: rainforest1 | August 4, 2009 4:12 AM | Report abuse

Good morning to you all and a happy birthday to our dear president Obama. I wonder if the world will let him sleep in for his birthday, and the girls and puppy will tiptoe about as he has his first cup of coffee this morning.

Maybe a fudge cake by the White House pastry chef? Hope so......

Posted by: VintageLady | August 4, 2009 6:18 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, VintageLady! I would spring for a red velvet cake myself, but then that's me. I do hope the President has a very happy birthday.

Weed, you make good points. I think about my mother's death: two weeks in the hospital, including several days in cardiac intensive care, before she went back to the health care unit at the nursing home for three days. I never saw a bill, but I would be surprised if it didn't run into six figures. It's insane.

Meeting at church last night ran late, therefore I had problems settling down to sleep, therefore I'm going to be tired today. Oh well, it's important stuff. I'll survive.

Cassandra, are you up yet? Hope it won't be too hot in your neck of the woods today.

Posted by: slyness | August 4, 2009 7:04 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all.

RT, you make some good points. In my experience, though, insurance has a different on-the-ground effect. If I have a mammogram, what the insurance company says and my practitioner accepts as "payment in full" is a far lower number than if I don't have insurance. Same with well-baby care...shots cost $20 each if you have insurance, into the hundreds if you don't. Yes, a private physician will lower his bill if you don't have insurance, toss sample prescriptions at ya. But s/he's not running one more test. It seems to me that it's not the doctor's visit per se that costs so much, it's the accoutrements of that visit.

Gotta get my act together and get out of here. Back on the road for a couple of days...Have a happy day all.

Posted by: LostInThought | August 4, 2009 7:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure many of the Birthers were holding mock "parties" yesterday (or will do so tomorrow), just to be obstinate. But Robinson really shouldn't be making fun of the mentally ill:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/03/AR2009080302219.html

*raised unibrow*

Sneaks, hopefully the weather and all will enable a nice leisurely walk on the beach -- that seems to be a pretty universal euphoriant. :-)

Bill Clinton...

In N. Korea...

To rescue the imprisoned journalists...

What could POSSIBLY go wrong?

*still-looking-for-some-wood-to-knock-on-before-mentioning-my-physical-state Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 4, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

egg sandwiches and a plate of homegrown tomatoes are in the ready room, along with strong coffee. Hope your back is getting somewhere near 100%, Scotty.

Posted by: -jack- | August 4, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

bc, time to grab the duct tape...

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/04/science/earth/04collide.html

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 4, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Yes, I thought Robinson's column was great. And he sure didn't pull any punches: he described the birthers as "berserk" and "clinically insane." Don't get much plainer than that.

That figure is bothering me: that half of all health care costs are spent on the last two weeks of life. Is there a source for that?

*********
Today in Nautical and Aviation History

Aug. 4, 1916: Perfidious Albion, Part II: British minesweepers pretend to clear a minefield laid by a German submarine off the coast of England. After observing this activity, German minelaying sub UC-44 (Lt. Kurt Tebbenjohanns) enters the area to lay new mines, and instead is struck and sunk by one of the mines those tricky Brits left behind. When he is fished from the drink, Tebbenjohanns is furious at what he calls a “practical joke.”
1964: Gulf of Tonkin Incident, Part II: Destroyer USS Maddox (DD 731) returns to the Gulf of Tonkin with destroyer USS Turner Joy (DD951); the two detect what they think is another incoming PT Boat attack, and an intense firefight ensues. Pres. Lyndon Johnson uses the incidents to rapidly escalate the Vietnam War. It took several decades to establish firmly that in fact there were no PT Boats, and that the ships fired wildly at phantoms. Congress passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (416 to 0 in the House, 88-2 in the Senate) authorizing the escalation, which effectively marks the start of the Vietnam War.
******

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 4, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

No, no, Mudge, the figure I read is that most of the cost of care is in the last eighteen months of life. If I wrote differently, I was wrong. Unfortunately, I don't remember where I read that, but it does make sense to me.

Posted by: slyness | August 4, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. We just had a little dash of rain to start the day. *sigh*
I nonetheless got a couple of cukes and a nice serving of snap peas from the garden last night to go with the lamb kebabs.

I watched a bit of the news on the French (like, from France) channel last night and they had a serious piece on the Birthers, complete with a hysterical harpie shouting "Show me the Certificate!" Unfrikkingbelievable.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 4, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Great quote from the Robinson piece, and I think a very important statistic...

"That only 42 percent of Republicans are similarly convinced [that Obama WAS born in the USA] is a fascinating indicator of just how far the Republican Party has drifted from the mainstream."

If this poll can be believed, and duplicated by another pollster, I think the Dems should glom onto this and show mainstream Americans what has happened to the GOP.

Posted by: -TBG- | August 4, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Cool... according to the "breaking news" headline on the front page, Bill Clinton is now meeting with Kim Jong Il.

I just hope he doesn't call him "Kim Jong The Second."

Posted by: -TBG- | August 4, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Kim Jong, Jr.

Posted by: Yoki | August 4, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Kay-J

Or maybe K-Jay. Very "street."

Also: "Deuce, The Deuce," etc.

In baseball, he would be "Two's" or "the Two's."

The Mafia would call him Johnny Sick.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 4, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

"Jong, buddy, how ARE you?"

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 4, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

SCC: In baseball, he would be "One's" or "the One's."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 4, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Boy... if August means lower journalism standards (and my worst/favorite headline we ever wrote is a testament to that: August Advice That Will Make You Think Twice), our boodling has really taken a plunge.

Aren't there some fighter jets or doilies we can discuss?

Posted by: -TBG- | August 4, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Um, wait. . . It isn't Kim Jong II, it's Kim Jong Il (as in "ill").

*brushing away the cobwebs before I enter into yet another piece of work so that I can take some stuff over to the Post Office (if it hasn't been closed yet) and try to stay cool (or, indeed, "ever so cool") during the heat wave*

Or sumpin' like that.

We're still on for Thursday, right? Same time, same place?

Posted by: -ftb- | August 4, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Morning Boodle,
On NPR this morning I heard a sound bite of McCain saying Sotomayor's record demonstrated consistent "judicial activism" and that he plans to vote against her confirmation. While McCain certainly seems to be gambling that this stance will help him win the primary campaign and he'll be able win over enough Hispanics to win the general in spite of this stance, how can he claim to be an honest legislator saying things like this? Sotomayor's record shows that she consistently upholds laws other evidence about her might suggest she does not agree with. She is clearly concerned with following precedent and settled law. Not that I'm surprised by McCain's behavior, but you'd figure he could still vote against her by sticking to the line that her speeches are inconsistent with her record, like the other wingnuts are saying.

Posted by: Southwester | August 4, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if the end-of-life costs stats are skewed by perhaps the large amount of money spent on the final 24-hours of life care which would include trauma?

Scotty that link went to a large hadron collider story for some reason.

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 4, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Fighter planes? Ya wanna talk aircraft?

No, no. I'm not falling for that trick. I didn't just fall off the turnip truck, yanno.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 4, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

@Mudge: Was it a pumpkin truck, then?

Posted by: Southwester | August 4, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

It was a rusty Radio Flyer wagon full of radishes. We were too poor to have trucks.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 4, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

If you want some crazy rumors here's another. Snopes is great:
http://www.snopes.com/politics/satire/b2sale.asp

Just returned from my doctor where I asked him some general questions about the ongoing health care debate. I asked what percent of health care costs he thought went into "frivolous" (my word) health care. He came out with 20% quickly. Then I asked him how he rated himself on resisting patients' requets for drugs they have seen on TV commercials. He said he thought he was pretty good at resisting at which point I deadpanned "I expected you to rate yourself highly." He laughed and went on to note that such pressures he got from patients that way were significant.

Posted by: Jumper1 | August 4, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Well, if it's going to be a while before the LHC can destroy the planet with dark matter or black holes, maybe the National Ignition Facility can burn a whole to the core of the earth or something, just to keep things interesting.

Posted by: bobsewell | August 4, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

a whole "hole", I mean!

Posted by: bobsewell | August 4, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

'zactly, Jumper. bc is a proud proponent of the "duct tape when possible" field of maintenance.

You had Radio Flyers? We had to make do with a donkey cart...

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 4, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Radio flyers? Donkey carts? Such a shame that root vegetable farmers can't earn a living wage.

Posted by: Southwester | August 4, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, did you have a donkey, or did you have to yoke your baby brother to it?

Posted by: slyness | August 4, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

"maybe the National Ignition Facility can burn a hole to the core of the earth..."

You're referring to the infamous Helotes Mulch Fire, Bob?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | August 4, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

You had donkeys? We had a travois pulled by a mangy old mutt.

Posted by: bobsewell | August 4, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

*glancing in the mirror at those old yoke scars* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 4, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, there's just something flammable about that state!

"3 Alarm Fire Burns 200 booths Austin Country Flea Market"
-
"Pup dies in apartment fire"
-
"Lake Travis fire station catches fire"

more at:

http://www.texas-fire.com/

Posted by: bobsewell | August 4, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

And speaking of the Post Office...

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32273314/ns/business-us_business/?GT1=43001

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 4, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I had to chuckle when I saw the pic on the WaPo home page of WJ Clinton and Kim Jong Il standing side by side. Clinton is 6'2" and Kim's height is 5'2"- 5'5" in lifts, and yet somehow his eyes are level with Clinton's mouth. Hmmm, their feet are out of the frame. Could there be a footstool under the mini-mogul? Does an ursine mammal defecate in the vegetative biomass?

Posted by: kguy1 | August 4, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

May we invite ourselves to lunch @ shrieking's?

Called the place, explained that I'd spoken with my accountant and offered to split the difference. They're going to see what they can do. That board meeting is preliminary, and it seems the potential increase from that would be less than splitting anyway. She had to be pretty startled to tell me that! :-)

Posted by: -dbG- | August 4, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

kguy!

I was surprised a) that Kim was that low in the pic, and b) that the shot was that wide. *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 4, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Good for you, dbG... I'm sure it will all work out!

You mention lunch... makes me think I can't believe that until this job, I never had someone come by my desk every day at 11:30 to take my lunch order. What was I thinking all those years?

It also reminds me that all benefits of a job are not monetary. But you know that!

Posted by: -TBG- | August 4, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Never hurts to ask, dbG! *faxin' crossed fingers, horseshoes and such* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | August 4, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I think it is inevitable that middle-class taxes will go up. And I am really kinda okay with that, assuming, of course, that the taxes are equitable and the services so funded are rendered honestly.

And then I will watch the magical glowing airborne swine drift by my window in the evening breeze.

But seriously, here's the thing about taxes. Even though, as a middle class person, I would be willing to pay more, it must be recognized that as more and more wealth is concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people, it is ludicrous not to allow the tax code to aggressively reflect this. When something like 1% of the population controls 20% of the wealth (which I think is pretty much the case) concentrating more taxes on that 1% doesn't exactly fill me with guilt.

As to August in general, I know it is traditional for the Washington region to slow down and get in touch with its inner sloth. Alas, I am not given that luxury this year. Here at work more than the weather is heating up. (That there's a clever play on words in case anyone missed it.) I am spending a much larger amount of my day Tending The Machines. (Think about that dude in Metropolis who has to move those big clock hands around. But with more plasma screens.)

And, of course, with my son heading off to college in a few weeks, there are many preparations to be done. Sadly, gone is the day when you can just stick a kid on the bus with a plate of cookies and a manly handshake. They seem to need so much more stuff then when I was a lad. Really, I managed to survive just fine without a wireless printer. In fact, I think my old Olivetti typewriter would still actually work. I suggested that he just use this instead. It would be, you know, Retro.

This idea was not well received.

Finally, of course, as part of a Grand Bargain made many years ago, my daughter is moving from her smaller room to my son's larger one mere minutes after it is vacated. This requires shiny new paint (turquoise) a new carpet, and new furniture.

And a real effort by me not to backslide on my enlightened position on taxes.


Posted by: RD_Padouk | August 4, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Morning, friends.

I wrote a very long comment this morning, but I kind of figured it wouldn't go through because of the nature of the content.

It basically stated that we as a people need to grow up. And it is because of all the talk about health care, and the things that are going on with our economy that this ran through my mind.

We know that we need to pay taxes in order for the country to be strong and in order for America to be a leader of the free world. We cannot get wealth and keep it all to ourselves, and the place we live becomes a third world country. Yet we have those that preach this propaganda and the masses eat it up, not knowing that they do hurt to themselves. When did it become a dirty deed to pay taxes? No one likes to pay taxes, it's not something we want to do, but we know it is something that has to be done. We want the benefit, but not with my dollar.

Healthcare is everyone's business. Why? Because at some point in your life, and my life, we're going to need it. Do any of you know why we're suppose to help one another? Because we never know when the our situations may reverse. In other words, perhaps you don't need healthcare now, but keep breathing, that may very well change. And your circumstances could also change. Nothing is sure in this world but the fact that we're all going to die.

Everybody seems to have forgotten about the swine flu. I mean it's not on everyone's radar at the moment. It's a sly fox, and we need to be on guard. We may not want to hear this, but it needs saying. All the more reason for a change in healthcare. We can all go down without a shot being fired.

We didn't arrive at this place where we are now in our country in a singluar manner, we're in this together. It will take a unified America, everyone sharing in the pain, in order to get out of this mess. The same folks that decided on the path of the last years are the same ones fighting to the death to keep those same policies in place. We have a young President that is working hard to give us success where there has been failure. We should help him.

Lets try being adults, and not children. Who knows, we might succeed.

Posted by: cmyth4u | August 4, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

New kit!

Posted by: -dbG- | August 4, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

You are welcome dbG. It will be an avocado and Northern shrimp salad, served with crusty bread. Those ok with wine at lunch can sip a cold Orvieto.
We can have it poolside. There's just about enough blue in the sky to cut the fabric for a pair of pants for baby Cheeses but it is NOT raining.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | August 4, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I think that there are relatively few people who actually resent paying taxes, even fairly substantial taxes. What can make a fair number of folks a little exasperated (or even downright belligerent) is the idea that their taxes are being spent unwisely.

And there's a pretty broad array of opinions about what constitutes "unwisely". To suggest that we arrived at the place our country is in by broad consensus is a lovely thought, but not especially realistic. Nah... We got here kicking & screaming & complaining all the way. Probably not gonna change anytime soon.

Posted by: bobsewell | August 4, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

RD, with the volume he'll print, he'll find it the better bargain to use lab printers.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | August 4, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Bob

I realize that not everyone agreed with the polices of the last administration, but nonetheless, hey, we're all in this together regardless. Kicking, screaming, whatever, that doesn't change the fact that this lousy economy affects all. Perhaps not the richest of the country, but I'll lay my neck on the railroad track that even they feel a throb, if not a punch. And to surmise that it's not realistic to say so, in my book, speaks of fairytales.

And as for taxes, some don't want to pay taxes, and they want someone to tell them that they don't have to. It's a dream. And as to how taxes are spent, once it leaves your hand, is the next move, the Boston Tea Party? How tax dollars are spent will always be a contentious subject, that goes without saying. As I said, we could very well succeed at being adults if we put some effort into it.

Good to talk to you, bob.

Posted by: cmyth4u | August 4, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

"Writing to the president is a great way to learn more about an issue you care about." Kids Post

Grandmother gave me books, so reading always seemed a better way to learn about what you care about. Learning to write is now writing to learn. Seems sort of wardsback, but with the president it's like Special Olympics or something. Roll the pins at the balls kids.

Posted by: Dermitt | August 5, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

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