Friday, December 12, 2003

What to watch for in 2004:

Twenty minutes into the first hour of Rush Limbaugh's program this Friday a caller was talking about how the Bush administration will make sure Haliburton won't rip off the country. Limbaugh agreed and then talked about how the ultra left wants to make a big deal about these sorts of things. Then the subject moved to the left and Dean. At which point Limbaugh said:
Bush knew that 9/11 was going to happen.

That's the rationale of the Dean campaign.
We know that political speech is protected, but are there no limits? Can Limbaugh say anything about Dean? The assertion by Limbaugh that the Dean campaign will campaign on the theme that "Bush knew" is totally false. (Yes, we're aware of Dean's comments that Bush didn't pay enough attention to warnings, but that's different from a charge that Bush knew.)

This little episode today by Limbaugh has caused us to make up our mind on a subject we've been thinking about for a while.

We've seen over the last couple of years a vicious political debate. Exhibit A is Ann Coulter's Treason. Democrats are traitors, don't you know. And then there were the ads that tied Daschle with Saddam. And so on.

It's going to get worse as the presidential race heats up. The end result will be whole bunch of people enraged at the Democrats.

So, donning our Nostradamus hat, we boldly make the following prediction:
There will be at least one major act of violence against the Democratic candidate(s) for president.
And we mean life-threatening violence. Like attempted murder.


Thursday, December 11, 2003

Slightly old news:

We missed this essay at the time, which appeared during the Thanksgiving weekend (but were reminded of it since it appears in this week's Washington Post Weekly edition). It's by Jim Hoagland, and it's about the decades-long attack on government (and bureaucracies). Called Dissing Government, it contains these observations: (excerpts)
The relentless and prolonged assault by politicians and the public on the competence and motives of their government bureaucracies is slowly but surely undermining democracy in the Americas and Europe.

That is the provocative thesis of an important new book, "Dismantling Democratic States," just published by Princeton University Press. Professor Ezra Suleiman shows that the phenomenon of bureaucracy-bashing perfected by recent U.S. presidents of both parties is rapidly spreading into European societies that once revered "neutral" civil servants as the guarantors of the nation-state's legitimacy.

Part of the value of Suleiman's book ... is to show that this is a culmination rather than a departure from trends that have been long building and that these trends follow the spread of mass media and marketing in all societies. The problem is not just Bush.

The Princeton professor also analyzes the demoralizing effect of the repeated descriptions of government ineffectiveness voiced by Bill Clinton and Al Gore to justify their campaign to overhaul the bureaucracy ...


Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Presidential ticket:

uggabugga doesn't endorse any Democratic candidate. Our position is ABB - Anybody But Bush. However, the recent attention given to Gore's endorsement of Dean and subsequent talk about a possible Dean/Clark ticket, forces us to admit:
We would love to see Clark debate Cheney.
The 2000 debate between Cheney and Lieberman was a real downer. And for so long Cheney has been given a free ride (most notably by Tim Russert of Meet the Press). We want to see Cheney grilled.


Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Compare and contrast: (excerpts from two news stories)

THEN (6 Nov 2002)
By a wide margin, voters approved movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan to spend $550 million a year on after-school programs.

Bolstered by Schwarzenegger’s fame and $1 million of his money, the measure attracted the endorsements of police chiefs, district attorneys and business leaders around the state.

The League of Women Voters and the California Federation of Teachers led the opposition, arguing that Prop. 49 would take away the Legislature’s flexibility to use taxpayer money for other needs, like health care and environmental programs.

"Of course we regret the fact that it looks like it’s winning," said Trudy Schafer, Program Director for the League of Women Voters before the final results were tallied. "But we had a goal of educating the public to the kind of danger that Prop. 49 posed for funding of certain programs."

"There is going to be a real challenge to do the budget given this mandated spending," said Schafer.

Prop. 49 is the latest in a series of state propositions to call for allocating a percentage of the state’s general fund – the budget’s largest pot of unrestricted money – for a specific purpose.
NOW (9 Dec 2003)
In what may prove a dramatic reversal of a key campaign promise, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Tuesday he is considering suspending Proposition 98, the landmark school funding guarantee.

"We're working with, you know, the education community to see how we can work together, for them to help with us this budget crisis," Schwarzenegger said during an interview on CNN that aired Tuesday.

"To maybe have a suspension or to have some relief there so we can pull out of these next two years and then pay it back, maybe," Schwarzenegger said.

Proposition 98 was passed by voters statewide in 1988. It mandates that public schools – kindergarten through 12th grade and community colleges – receive about 40 percent of the state's revenues.
What a moron.


There are no Republican criminals on NBC:

We watched NBC's Today show this morning and were stunned. In a two minute twelve second report on Bill Janklow's conviction for manslaughter - which contained almost a minute of the political past and future of Janklow and South Dakota
the word "Republican" was never used
Don't believe us? Listen to the (1 meg) .wav file here.

Is this a big deal? Not really, but it contradicts the claims by Bernie Goldberg that the mainstream media is quick to tar conservatives and Republicans.

(Due to storage limitations, the audio file will be deleted after a couple of weeks.)


Heard on the radio:

This morning on the Laura Ingraham radio show, she was discussing Howard Dean with Rich Lowrey of the National Review. They were agreeing that Al Gore is "loony left" and that Dean is also a leftist. About Dean, Rich Lowrey said: (quoting from memory, no transcript or audio available)
All those years he's been masquerading as a centrist up in Vermont.
Well, there you have it. No matter what any Democrat does, according to right-wing radio, if it looks good, it's merely a masquerade.




Or as animation:
NOTE: We're not particularly happy with some of the words in the chain (e.g. TEAT, PEST, SORE) but we did this in a hurry, and it's not easy to find words to make the transition between a consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel word (GORE) and a consonant-vowel-vowel-consonant word (DEAN) in single-letter steps.

UPDATE: We were pretty sure this post would generate some responses, and it did. A better chain was suggested by:
John (computer assisted!)
Peter (these are dictionary words)


Sunday, December 07, 2003

How much time did Russert devote to Hillary in 2004?

We watched Tim Russert interview Hillary Clinton on Meet the Press and it seemed like he was spending a fair amount of time on the Hillary-in-'04 theme. So we looked at the transcript, and here's the breakdown (by words spoken by both Russert and Clinton).

One-eighth of the interview was about Hillary in '04 - something that's not going to happen. That time could have been devoted to real issues, like the Medicare prescription drug benefit - which Sen. Clinton voted against


Spread the word!

This just in (NYTimes as reported on Yahoo):
Medicare Plan for Drug Costs Bars Insurance

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 Medicare beneficiaries will not be allowed to buy insurance to cover their share of prescription drug costs under the new Medicare bill to be signed on Monday by President Bush, the legislation says.

Millions of Medicare beneficiaries have bought private insurance to fill gaps in Medicare. But a little-noticed provision of the legislation prohibits the sale of any Medigap policy that would help pay drug costs after Jan. 1, 2006, when the new Medicare drug benefit becomes available.

This is one of many surprises awaiting beneficiaries, who will find big gaps in the drug benefit and might want private insurance to plug the holes just as they buy insurance to supplement Medicare coverage of doctors' services and hospital care.

Congress cited two reasons for banning the sale of Medigap drug policies. Lawmakers wanted to prevent duplication of the new Medicare benefit. They also wanted to be sure that beneficiaries would bear some of the cost.
And how!

  • First of all, those with medigap insurance are bearing the cost. Insurance is about redistributing risks, not evading costs (incurred by the pool of insured).

  • Second, it means it's impossible to get coverage for the no-benefit-range when drug costs are between $2,200 and $4,800. Therefore, seniors will face the possibility of paying out-of-pocket amounts up to (and occasionally beyond) $3,600.

  • Third, there are some drugs that will be classified as "non reimbursable", which means if you are unlucky to need them, you will have to pay for them yourself (and these drugs cannot be covered by secondary insurance either).

  • Finally, the Medicare drug plan does have an insurance aspect to it - since seniors will be paying $420 annually in premiums. As Gregg Easterbrook has written:
    ... the $420 premium pays for the $1,444 reimbursement that a senior otherwise wouldn't get ...
    But to compliment that, the 30% of seniors with drug costs under $830/yr will be paying more than if there were no drug plan at all.

PREDICTION: It's always risky to predict the future, but this Medicare bill is looking more and more like bad news for the Republicans.

ADDENDU M: Vox Populi (from the message thread on Yahoo associated with this story)

to Yahoo
LINK 38 Seniors Screwed
I thought this bill was supposed to help all seniors with the cost of prescription drugs. It seems it will cost seniors more money once they lose their gap coverage which several of my older relatives now buy. The big winners here are the drug manufacturers and large pharmacy chains.

I am dumbstruck by the assertion that buying gap insurance is so that seniors bear some of the cost as the insurance they buy is not free and many cannot take on this extra burden. This is your classic money grab by the rich for the rich because they think they are the only ones who deserve money besides bush is in power and now they can steal legally.
LINK 55 Re: Seniors Screwed
I agree with you 100%.That is exactly why I dropped my membership in AARP.I couldn't believe they were supporting such a horrible bill.
LINK 56 Re: Seniors Screwed
I think we need to start an association that will supplant AARP and will truly represent people over 55!! Anybody willing to help get such an organization going? My e-mail address is on my profile. Write me!
LINK 52 Hey, Thanks........................
for screwing the little guy once again congress.
Rich Congressmen have free health care & poor seniors are forced to choose between eating & taking their medications. Its sad, truly sad!
LINK   Re: Seniors Screwed
Check out , which has already trashed AARP for their double-cross of senior citizens.

As others have pointed out, AARP basically exists for selling seniors their own insurance policies, so anyone who thinks that they are a "senior advocacy" organization has already found out that they are anything-but.

We will be cancelling our AARP membership, and have already called them to complain about their behind-closed-doors endorsement of the Republican Medicare bill.

I can only hope the huge number of senior citizens votes with a vengence to throw the GOP bast*rds out of office and return them to minority party status in Congress and to defeat Dubya, who is perhaps the worst, dumbest, most partisan President in the history of the United States.
LINK   Exactly WHO did these bill benefit
....and why would a thinking person vote for it, we need smarter, pac-free politicians.
LINK   BUSH invented making grandma cry!
So grandma, you need some athritis medicine and can't afford it with the medicare changes and want to get insurance to cover the gap? Tough crap grandma, your boy Bush just shagged you rotten! Just look at the benefits grandma. You croak faster and your less of a burden on social security. Vote for Bush and its a vote for four more years of making your grandma cry!
LINK 28 Thanks for rushing the bill through, W
You've just pissed off about every voting senior and guaranteed that you won't get reelected, saving the country another four years of government by, for, and of the highest bidder. Adios, @$$hole!
in closed door sessions that excluded the Democrats in Congress.

They did it for the benefit of the pharm-HMO-insurance industries who bribed them to do so.

They did it under Bush's direct orders.

Then they bribed, threatened and strong armed the bill through Congress.

So seniors, focus that rage on Bush and the GOP in Nov. 2004 like they deserve.
Vote the bastards out of office.
Vote for Dr. Dean and a Dem Congress and you will get the medicare plan you deserve and need and already paid for.

When you are looking for someone to blame for this atrocity- blame those responsible for it Bush and the GOP Congress. They don't care about you or any other American, all they care about is paying off the bribes they got in the form of "campaign contributions" from industry.

Yes you definitely got screwed GOP/Bush style. Now get even.
LINK   Re: The way I see it
I really get tired of people slinging the word *entitlement* around as a euphemism for welfare...this is lingo that Reagan/Bush invented to start divisiveness between the older and younger generations.

The truth is Social Security, Medicare, and Disability are mandatory insurance policies that I have paid into all of my life before I became disabled..THEY ARE NOT *entitlements*! Welfare and Food Stamps are welfare and they go to about 5% of our entire population and 80% of that 5% are children.

Get off the *blame the other citizen* game that the GOP has been pushing for years to gain more and more power. And remember, a vote for anyone other than a Democrat is a vote for the GOP...they enjoyed funding Nader and the Green Party in 2000 and they'll do it everytime they can to win at any cost.
LINK   Put the bastards in washington on medic
Put the bastards in washington on the medicare and social secruity that I've paid for for fifty five years and you see a bunch of changes in the system. Instead they draw an outrages retirement and have a great medical system that I also paid for. Those worthless bastards never earned a clean dollar in their lives, but continue living on the dole of the hard working honest people like myself. I think it is time some BIG, major changes were made.
LINK   Get it Yet? Bush is screwing you
When will all the neocons realize that Bush is screwing EVERYONE except his big money special interest friends.
LINK   This is why they snuck this bill in...
in the dark of night and pushed it through with promises and threats from the repub "leadership".

You just watch, there will be more bombshells as people finally are able to read this bill and see what a load of crap it is.

This bill will kill seniors, pure and simple.

Vote Repubs out in 2004, please, please, please.

Signed by a primary care physician in California.