Friday, July 31, 2009

VP Biden was drinking Buckler, Non-Alcoholic Beer ... that covers all the bases. Lemonade would have been a good touch, too.

Buckler ?

Buckler is a low alcohol (0.5% abv) pale lager. It was launched in the summer of 1988, and is distributed worldwide. There was a recall in 2004 due to a fault in the pasteurising process.[4] Buckler is no longer available in the Netherlands (Heinekens' home market) after the brand's image declined following Dutch cabaret performer Youp van 't Hek mocking the brand (and its consumers) in a show in 1989.[5]

Buckler was the choice of beverage by US Vice President Joe Biden for the "White House Rose Garden beer-drinking session" or "Beer Summit" with Henry Louis Gates, Joe Crowley and President Obama, one result of the Arrest of Henry Louis Gates controversy.[6]

Beer Summit Begins: Obama (Bud Lite) Sits Down With Crowley (Blue Moon), Gates (Red Stripe)

Beer Summit Begins: Obama Sits Down With Crowley, Gates: "With mugs of beer and calming words, President Barack Obama and the professor and policeman engulfed in a national uproar over race pledged Thursday to move on and try to pull the country with them.
There was no acrimony – nor apology – from any of the three: black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., white Cambridge, Mass., police Sgt. James Crowley, who had arrested him for disorderly conduct, and Obama, who declared on national TV that the police had 'acted stupidly.' But neither Gates nor Crowley backtracked either, agreeing they still had differences.
Said Obama after the highly anticipated, 40-minute chat on the Rose Garden patio: 'I have always believed that what brings us together is stronger than what pulls us apart.'
'I am confident that has happened here tonight, and I am hopeful that all of us are able to draw this positive lesson from this episode,' said the nation's first black president.
Under the canopy of a magnolia tree in the early evening, Obama joined the other players in a story that had knocked the White House off stride. Vice President Joe Biden joined them for drinks and snacks."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Abner Doubleday - "Father of Baseball"? Alexander Cartwright - First Sports Writer and Father of Baseball?

Abner Doubleday - "Father of Baseball"?: "Setting the record straight
As part of Great American Folklore for more than 100 years, Abner Doubleday has taken his place alongside such heroes as Paul Bunyon and Johnny Appleseed, rather than such real-life heroes as Audie Murphy and John F. Kennedy.
Doubleday has been long taken for granted as the 'Father of Baseball,' but the truth of the matter is that there probably is not just one 'Father,' but rather the game has evolved from such other 'stick-and-ball' games as the Irish's rounders and England's cricket.
Doubleday was said to have created the game in 1839, in a rural Cooperstown, New York cow pasture, but records show he was enrolled at West Point at the time. He never claimed to have any major influence over the sport, which is supported by the fact that among his possessions at the time of his death were a goodly number of personal letters and documents, none of which mentioned the game.
The persona of the 'Father of Baseball' was largely created by Al Spalding, one of the premier pitchers in the game in the fledgling years of the first professional baseball league, and a successful sporting goods manufacturer after he left the game.
After much discussion, speculations, and arguments, Spalding formed a panel of baseball experts in 1907, including himself, two U.S. Senators, two former stars of the game, and two former presidents of the National League.
Spalding apparently did not want the whole truth to get out, but rather a 'fairy tale' version where a future war hero from a quaint small town, would slow down long enough to invent 'America's Pastime.'
According to historians, Alexander Cartwright was the first to codify the rules of the game in 1845 for a Manhattan team called the 'Knickerbockers.'"

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

NBC has a commentary that I have not watched before, a Friend dropped this in my email box today... Rachel Maddow on healthcare in Texas...

Rachel Maddow Official Website:

"Rachel has a doctorate in political science (she was a Rhodes Scholar) and a background in HIV/AIDS activism and prison reform. She shakes a mean cocktail, drives a bright red pickup, hates Coldplay, loves arguing with conservatives, spends a lot of money on AMTRAK tickets, and dresses like a first-grader.
Rachel’s work with MSNBC began in 2005 when she was a regular contributor to “The Situation with Tucker Carlson.” She was also a regular commentator and occasional guest host on “Race for the White House with David Gregory,” and a frequent guest and sometime guest host on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” before taking the helm of her own MSNBC TV show in September of 2008. She's also been on the air with Air America Radio since its inception in Spring 2004, first on “Unfiltered” with Lizz Winstead and Chuck D, and then with her own eponymous show. Before AAR she worked for WRNX in Holyoke, Massachusetts, and WRSI in Northampton, Massachusetts. There was also an early stint with a jungle-themed company called Expresso Bongo, but she doesn't want to talk about it. Rachel is 36 years old and lives in New York City and rural Western Massachusetts with her partner, artist Susan Mikula."

I will have to put Freddie down this month... Maybe it is Right that we out grow our dogs, who depend so much on us for their care. It still hunts ...

For example Shepard Fairey... looks like my Waco.

Pet Art – PawFun: "Shephard Fairey, who created the iconic Barack Obama 'Hope' image, has adapted that image to feature a mutt who'll serve as the centerpiece of Adopt-a-Pet's 'Mutts Like Me' awareness campaign encouraging the adoption of shelter animals as pets"

Kids are color blind. Adults see the differences....boy, does this mess with early learning concept designs...but it makes for great artists! Fewer..

Why children paint trees blue - life - 29 July 2009 - New Scientist: "YOUNG children may colour trees blue or grass red because their memories can't 'bind' together the colour and shape of an object.
Because the brain stores colour and shape in different groups of neurons, Vanessa Simmering at the University of Wisconsin in Madison suspected that young children have not yet developed the ability to link the information stored in each.
To test her hypothesis, she asked 28 four-year-olds and 28 five-year-olds to view images of up to three shapes on a computer screen for a short time. Immediately afterwards, the children were shown a new image, and asked whether it was the same as the previous image or had subtly changed.
Although the four-year-olds could detect when a new colour had been introduced, they did not seem to notice if two of the shapes had just swapped their original colours, performing no better than chance on those trials. The five-year-olds had no such problem, suggesting that the ability to combine the different types of visual information develops after the child's fifth year.
That might explain why children often use inappropriate colours in their drawings, says Simmering, who will present her results at the annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society in Amsterdam at the end of July."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

White Mice have given US major improvements in healthcare and disease and injury care... Let's give it up for all the Blue Mice in this Study!

Same blue dye in M&Ms linked to reducing spine injury - "The same blue food dye found in M&Ms and Gatorade could be used to reduce damage caused by spine injuries, offering a better chance of recovery, according to new research."

Rats injected with BBG not only regained their mobility but temporarily turned blue.

1 of 2 Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center found that when they injected the compound Brilliant Blue G (BBG) into rats suffering spinal cord injuries, the rodents were able to walk again, albeit with a limp.

The only side effect was that the treated mice temporarily turned blue.

The results of the study, published in the 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,' build on research conducted by the same center five years ago. In August 2004, scientists revealed how Adenosine triphosphate, which is known as ATP and described as the 'energy currency of life,' surges to the spinal cord soon after injury occurs. Researchers found that the sudden influx of ATP killed off healthy cells, making the initial injury far worse. But when they injected oxidized ATP into the injury, it was found to block the effect of ATP, allowing the injured rats to recover and walk again."

Back in 2004, Nedergaard's team discovered that the spinal cord was rich in a molecule called P2X7, which is also known as "the death receptor" for its ability to allow ATP to latch onto motor neurons and send the signals which eventually kill them.

Nedergaard knew that BBG could thwart the function of P2X7, and its similarity to a blue food dye approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1982 gave her the confidence to test it intravenously.

It worked. The rats given BBG immediately after their injury could walk again with a limp. Those that didn't receive a dose never regained their mobility.

Nedergaard told CNN that there is currently no standard treatment for patients with spinal injury when they reach the hospital emergency room.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Blue Dog Democrats Bit Healthcare Reform...

WASHINGTON -- So-called Blue Dog Democrats continued to resist key aspects of their party's health-care overhaul Sunday, despite pressure from party leaders who fear they will endanger President Barack Obama's most ambitious legislative effort.

A leader of the fiscally conservative group of representatives said he expects any vote on the House's health proposal would have to wait, likely until after Labor Day. "I think the American people want to take a closer look at this legislation. They want to feel more comfortable with it," Rep. Jim Cooper, a Blue Dog from Tennessee, said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi disputed any suggestion that the Blue Dogs' protests threatened the bill's passage. "Absolutely, positively not," she said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." "When I take this bill to the floor, it will win...We will move forward. This will happen."

Blue Dogs have emerged as pivotal players in the national health-care debate, a swing group that the White House is wooing more intensely to keep its initiative on track. The group, which accounts for about one-fifth of House Democrats, wants to make sure the health-care plan isn't too expensive for small businesses and hopes to keep the government's costs down. They don't want private health insurers to compete with a federally funded plan, and seek to reduce the share of lower-income Americans who would receive health-care subsidies.

Following a week in which the Blue Dogs challenged several key planks of the Democratic plan, most lawmakers agree a delay in the House legislation is likely. The House is set to adjourn next week, and unless lawmakers decide to stay in Washington for a few extra days, a decision would be put off until after Labor Day.

The Blue Dogs' clout arises from simple math -- they account for 52 seats in the House, enough to topple any law in cooperation with Republicans -- and some irony. Hungry to retake Congress, Democrats actively recruited moderate candidates in conservative districts. The strategy was strikingly successful in recapturing the majority. But now the Democrats are learning the price as they try to enact their agenda.

The power of the Blue Dogs was on full display Friday, when they humiliated California Rep. Henry Waxman, one of the most liberal Democrats on Capitol Hill. Late last year, Rep. Waxman had shown his power by gaining control of the Energy and Commerce Committee, wresting the chairman's seat from Congress's most senior Democrat. On Friday morning, Rep. Waxman went before cameras and fired a blast at seven Blue Dogs on his committee who have blocked the health legislation from proceeding to the House floor for vote.

The chairman said he was done negotiating with them. "We're not going to let them empower the Republicans to control the committee," he said.

Hours later, the Beverly Hills Democrat was back in front of reporters with one of the seven, Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas. "Our colleagues have pulled us both back and said let's all take a deep breath, that nothing is irreconcilable," the chairman said.

The Blue Dog Coalition came together after the Democrats' loss of Congress in 1994. Some representatives, mainly Southerners, believed the party's losses stemmed from a drift to the left. They decided to take a name that played on the old term "yellow dog," Southern Democrats who were ostensibly so loyal they would vote for a yellow dog if it ran on the party's ticket.

One of the founding members, former Rep. Billy Tauzin of Louisiana, had paintings of blue dogs in his office by artist George Rodrigue, prompting some of the roughly 20 lawmakers to joke that they were yellow dogs who'd been "choked blue" by the party's liberals. Rep. Tauzin later switched to the Republican Party.

.The Blue Dogs' numbers expanded with the election of lawmakers such as North Carolina Rep. Heath Shuler, an ex-Washington Redskins quarterback who opposes abortion, gun control and gay marriage. Democrats begged him to run for Congress in 2006, believing he could win his rural, religious district. The coalition retains a Southern sensibility but many of its members now come from other areas. Nineteen members, called "Blue Pups," won seats in the past two elections.

Beyond health care, the Blue Dogs have helped delay a climate-change bill and block legislation that would make it easier for unions to organize.

That frustrates liberals, who say the Democratic Party's victory last November, including a 256-178 majority in the House, gives it a once-in-a-generation chance to enact a liberal agenda.

"Since they can vote with the Republicans in order to get their way around here, that doesn't sit well with progressives -- who don't want to vote with Republicans ever," said Rep. Lynn Woolsey, a California Democrat and co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus.

Rep. Shuler, for his part, said that before agreeing to run, he spoke to Rep. Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to make sure he'd have the freedom he needed.

"One conversation I had with both of them before coming to Congress was, 'I'm going to vote my district,'" Rep. Shuler said. "It's one of those swing districts that can go either way...They're aware of that."

As long ago as May, the Blue Dogs complained of being shut out of the health-care debate. In a sharp letter to Democratic leaders, they wrote they were "increasingly troubled" by their exclusion.

Rep. Pelosi and others set up a flurry of meetings with them, but the Blue Dogs were not satisfied -- especially their point man on health care, Rep. Ross of Arkansas, a former drugstore owner.

"We want to be the brokers of this health-care debate," said Rep. Ross, who leads a bloc of seven Blue Dogs on the Energy and Commerce Committee. "Not a roadblock."

Overall, House Blue Dogs are not always in alliance. But the bloc of seven on the Energy and Commerce Committee -- an eighth Blue Dog there, Rep. Jane Harman of California, is a liberal on health-care issues -- has shown every sign of remaining unified.

The question now is whether Democratic leaders could bypass the committee and take the bill directly to the House floor. Rep. Ross and others say that without the Blue Dogs, Democratic leaders do not have the votes to pass the bill on the floor. So far, Democratic leaders have not wanted to test that proposition.

If Democratic leaders ultimately satisfy the Blue Dogs, the health bill will likely clear the House this week, marking a significant victory for President Obama. A version of the bill is still mired in the Senate, where Democrats and Republicans are engaged in tough negotiations to produce bipartisan legislation.

Mr. Obama met with the Blue Dogs for an hour at the White House last week. Rep. Pelosi recently spent 90 minutes listening to their concerns.

Tennessee Blue Dog Rep. Cooper, who clashed with then-first lady Hillary Clinton over her failed health-care revamp in 1993, is considered by many Democrats a key player to win over this time. He says his group has spent "endless hours" with White House aides seeking common ground.

The Blue Dogs' resistance has angered other Democrats. At a heated closed-door meeting of House Democrats last week, Rep. Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat and member of the Congressional Black Caucus, complained about the Blue Dogs holding up the health bill in Energy and Commerce Committee, noting pointedly that all are white men.

Blue Dog lawmakers Jim Marshall of Georgia, left, Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania, foreground, and John Tanner of Tennessee, right.
.Some critics also point out that while the Blue Dogs proclaim their desire to cut the health bill's costs, they are also demanding that rural doctors -- who serve their districts -- get more money, which could drive up those same costs. The Blue Dogs say they are asking for a redistribution of funds among care providers, not an overall increase.

Emotions have run high among Blue Dogs as well. When the health-care talks nearly broke down Friday, Rep. Ross said Rep. Waxman had reneged on agreements he'd reached with the Blue Dogs. Rep. Charlie Melancon of Louisiana said he'd been "lied to."

"We've always been in the middle," said Rep. John Tanner, a Tennessee Blue Dog. "If you're going to get some of these really tough issues done, it has to be done somewhere in the middle."

When Mr. Obama took office in January, with Democrats sweeping to dominant majorities, many in the party were giddy at the prospect of an agenda that would mark a third great wave of progressive Democratic legislation, after the New Deal and the Great Society.

It didn't take long for the Blue Dogs to play their cards. When Mr. Obama unveiled his $787 billion economic-stimulus plan, a crucial priority of his early presidency, the Blue Dogs said they would not go along unless Democratic leaders agreed to pay-as-you go budget rules. Those rules require new spending and tax cuts to be offset so the deficit doesn't grow.

The White House had little choice but to agree. That deal bore fruit Wednesday, when the House voted 265-166 to impose a "paygo" system. Rep. Baron Hill of Indiana, a leading Blue Dog, exulted that this had been one of the group's signature issues for a decade. Republican critics said the legislation still doesn't go far enough because it exempts all discretionary spending, and applies only to nonroutine increases in entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Write to Naftali Bendavid at

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A1

Sunday, July 26, 2009

If you have not had a Good Fit lately... click below for a nice one.....

A Good Fit: "Friday, July 24, 2009
Gates's real offense

'contempt of cop'
That's the explanation I heard from a commentator on NPR. The offense is offending a cop. Hurting his or her feelings by not being nice. But since that one's not on the books as a real crime, the cops have to arrest the perp for something else, like disorderly conduct.

Here it is from the police blotter:

Disorderly Conduct
On 7/16/09 at 12:44 PM, 58-year-old Henry Gates of 17 Ware St. Cambridge, MA was arrested for Disorderly conduct after exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior.
I guess it's good to know that the police these days are so sensitive that things like talking back to them in Massachusetts and oooops, maybe even making gestures, scary scary gestures like at the Rainbow Lounge incident, yes, that things like that are so hurtful to the big tough cops, they just have to arrest somebody."

Friday, July 24, 2009

My cousin sums it up well in Crowley vs Gates....

OK I am gonna get up on the soap box………………………..
In the altercation between Officer James Crowley and Henry Gates.

I am for the officer, James Crowley---------I am glad to see him not back down in the face of media ‘s hysterical reporting and jumping to conclusions when he had done nothing wrong and also has a history of exemplary performance. I agree it is the media’s duty to report news, but there is a difference in reporting what happened (who, what , when & where) and going over the line just to excite the public with yellow journalism. It is the media’s place to report the news in an unbiased way. If they want to voice their opinion, or take sides, an editorial is the place for that.
But then that does not get the press and attention of the tv news cast.
If this country has a problem with racism it is my opinion that the media has to shoulder a good bit of the blame. Making a mountain out of a mole hill is just as detrimental as turning a deaf ear and making too little of an incident.
If anyone needs to make an apology it is Henry Gates with the chip on his shoulder.
The officer was doing his job in response to a call from a neighbor of the professor.
There was no way for officer Crowley to magically know who Gates was.
Just because Gates knew who he himself was is no reason to expect the officer to know this. If the officer had not asked for ID and “Gates” had in reality not been authorized to be in the house then officer Crowley would have been accused of being incompetent. Which is pretty much what he is being accused of anyway. Kind of a no win situation.

I am well aware that this country has a history of some depicabl behavior toward other races. I have seen documentaries of such and read about such. The fact that these incidents happened is of course wrong; but no matter how wrong they were going over board the other way does not make for good race relations either. It is too bad in this we just can’t be fair. I know how ideal in an a world that isn’t. But that is all it would take.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

First Read: The day in politics by NBC News for NBC News


*** A Snoozer Conference: Last night's primetime news conference, President Obama's fourth since taking office, was as much a dry health-care symposium as it was a give-and-take with reporters. Honest question: Is there a point when the president knows too much about an issue? He got into the weeds a number of times on a number of different aspects of health care, which is what his diehard supporters love, but might not grab the attention of the average viewer. Still, in his opening statements and then in his answers, Obama made a direct appeal to those WITH health insurance. "This is not just about the 47 million Americans who have no health insurance," he said. "Reform is about every American who has ever feared that they may lose their coverage if they become too sick, or lose their job, or change their job. It's about every small business that has been forced to lay off employees or cut back on their coverage because it became too expensive." Still, he's selling the unknown to folks with health insurance, and that's no easy task.

*** No Game-Changers: There were no game-changers on the politics of the debate -- or even the specifics -- although Obama seemed open the idea of the millionaire surtax (do notice the number he brought up; so that means he doesn't want the lower threshold, which was a subtle signal to Congress). Also, he used the word "mandate" and promised at least 97% of Americans covered, which would leave 9-10 million without insurance or 20% of the current 47 million uninsured (but a big chunk of those people are illegal immigrants). In addition, he signaled more flexibility on the August deadline, saying he won't sign a bill that isn't the right bill. And he bristled at the suggestion he was trying to blame Republicans for the current congressional roadblocks and instead claimed the Democratic disunity (so far) might be more regional than anything else. But let's not forget that he portrayed Republicans as roadblocks in his opening statement. One other thing: Obama hinted which stakeholder might be his chief opposition in August: the insurance industry. Obama had nice words for the pharmaceutical companies, but not insurers. And if it is the insurance industry that feels it's the most under siege when bills finally are passed in the House and Senate, they'll spend a LOT of money and this will be an even higher-stakes campaign.

*** Did Obama Jump The Gun? But beyond those things, Obama didn't seem he had anything new to sell. There was no new ground about what's acceptable and what isn't when it comes the public/government insurance option. (What happens if he has to start explaining the idea of a co-op?) There also was no new ground on his promise to reduce Medicare costs. (The White House had already rolled out its MedPac plan, but he did sell it more passionately than ever.) All of this raises the question: Did this press conference come too soon? No doubt, the White House probably thought they'd have the Senate Finance Committee bill to tout and explain by last night. Then again, he might have wanted to have a final conversation with the American public before it tunes out for the rest of the summer. (Still, maybe this presser should have happened NEXT week?) As the New Republic's Jonathan Cohn puts it, "All I know is that Obama wanted to speak to America like adults tonight--and make the case for the reforms he (quite rightly) believes are necessary. Time will tell whether that faith in the public's patience and judgment is well-placed."

First Read with NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd, every weekday on MSNBC-TV at 9 a.m. ET.

For more: The latest edition of First Read is available now at

Healthcare Reform in the News

Obama Pitches Health Reform
By Daniel Politi
Posted Thursday, July 23, 2009, at 6:42 AM ET
The Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox lead with President Obama's prime-time news conference, which was almost entirely devoted to health care reform. Confronting an increasingly skeptical public, the president tried to reassure Americans that the overhaul would improve their quality of care while decreasing costs. "This has to get done," he said. Obama said this effort wouldn't help just the uninsured but rather "every American who has ever feared that they may lose their coverage." For the first time, Obama said he would be open to a proposal in the House that would help pay for the legislation by increasing taxes on families earning more than $1 million a year. "To me, that meets my principle" that the cost is "not being shouldered by families who are already having a tough time." The president's public relations push continues today with a town hall-style meeting in Cleveland.

The Los Angeles Times off-leads the news conference and leads with news that a 26-year-old American who pleaded guilty earlier this year to providing material support to al-Qaida is now cooperating with authorities. He spent time with al-Qaida militants in Pakistan and is now able to provide valuable information. Bryant Neal Vinas from Long Island converted to Islam and traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he attempted to fire rockets at a U.S. military base. Vinas, who was known as Bashir el Ameriki (Bashir the American), said he gave al-Qaida chiefs information about New York commuter trains for a possible attack. A statement he provided will be used in a case against accused militants in Belgium, and he has been questioned by French investigators. The paper notes that an indictment was unsealed yesterday in Brooklyn after the LAT had made "repeated queries about Vinas." Until yesterday, "the case had been a closely guarded secret at the heart of investigations in at least seven countries."

To continue reading, click here.

Daniel Politi writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at

The next total solar eclipse will be on July 11 next year, this one was the longest at over 6 minutes for the next 30 years....

The village is said to be where Aryabhatta, the most renowned Indian astronomer of antiquity, observed the heavens. Some believe that he invented the concept of “zero” here. He also made some of the earliest accurate predictions of when eclipses would occur.

Across the country millions had gathered. For the most part predictions of disaster did not come true, although a woman aged 65 was killed in a stampede at Varanasi, a city on the banks of the Ganges, where devout Hindus had gathered to bathe.

Thousands had also gathered at the ancient Altar of the Sun in Beijing, while hundreds of millions poured into streets across China to gaze as the sky darkened from the west of the country and along a track that followed the Yangtze River before slipping out to sea from Shanghai.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Where does the number $15,000 come from, when talking about the Average Cost per household of Heathcare in USa...

I wrote that “health care will cost the typical household roughly $15,000 this year.” As the word “roughly” suggests, that is an estimate. It’s an estimate of the median cost of health care for households in this country, including all insurance premiums, employer contributions, co-payments, Medicare and Medicaid taxes and everything else.

I started by calculating the average cost of health care for each household. The United States economy produced more than $14 trillion worth of goods and services last year. About one-sixth of this output went to health care. One-sixth of $14 trillion or so is about $2.4 trillion.

This country had 117 million households last year. $2.4 trillion divided by 117 million is about $20,000. That is the average cost of health care for each household. It’s surprisingly high, isn’t it?

Now, averages are tricky. They can be disproportionately affected by outliers. (The average net worth of me and Bill Gates: in the billions!)

There isn’t good data — at least that I could find — on the distribution of health costs across the population. This is different from the distribution of health spending, which is driven by illnesses — and is highly, highly variable. I’m talking here about the distribution of insurance premiums and the like. But we know that people with higher incomes bear more health costs. They have more generous insurance plans. They pay more out of pocket for various services. And they pay more taxes.

So I used the ratio of median income to average income and applied it to average cost of health care. This ratio is about .75, which is how an average cost of $20,000 became a cost of $15,000 for the typical family.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The 12 Moonwalkers: Where Are They Now? Apollo 11 Anniversary - ABC News

The 12 Moonwalkers: Where Are They Now? Apollo 11 Anniversary - ABC News: "The 12 Moonwalkers: Where Are They Now?
On 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11's Launch, Looking Back at the Lunar Astronauts"

American Economics Association Video off their blog... recessions bring out the best in them...

The Economy: Yes, A Laughing Matter

I know everyone is dragging around right now, even though it’s only Tuesday, but with so many folks on vacation already, and the sun shining brightly (at least here in Virginia), I thought it a good time to pass along 5 minutes of humor for your day. Yes, it has an association hook, and it’s even about the economy, so you can tell your boss you’re “doing an environmental scan.”

However, I guarantee you haven’t heard economics explained in these kinds of concepts, even though this hilarious YouTube video is by Yoram Bauman, a self-named “stand-up economist” at the American Economic Association conference in January.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A great leap for mankind... for all peoples of the world in peace.

Apollo 11 Extravehicular Activity (EVA)

Source: KSC
On July 20, 1969, man landed on the Moon and took steps that would inspire future gener ations and open the heavens to exploration. After spending four days in a spacecraft on the w ay to the lunar surface, astronaut Neil Armstrong famously announced, ≴The Eagle has landed.” Shortly afterwards, Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin descended from the Lunar Module and began humankind’s exploration of the Moon’s surface.

Armstrong and Aldrin landed in a dark patch of the lunar surface called the Sea of Tranquility, one of the Moon’s maria. These dark regions, which can be seen with the naked eye from Earth, were named maria by early explorers after the Latin word for seas. (The singular form is mare, pronounced “ma-rei.”) The relatively smooth surface of the maria allowed for good radio communication with the Earth and provided a nice, flat site for the first lunar landing.

40 years later, and the toilet does not work... at least we have a toilet.

One of the two bathrooms on the International Space Station is broken. Engineers at the Johnson Space Center are working around the clock to troubleshoot the problem, but it could take days to fix.

Astronaut Hal Getzelman radioed up the bad news to the crew on the space station. "When you get a second, if you could put an out-of-service note on the WHC [NASA's term for a toilet] and advise the crew members that station crew members will have to use the Russian toilet and shuttle crew members on the shuttle until further notice."

Glenn Beck mentioned Sicko... you can see it here...

Sicko: The Micheal Moore Movie about Healthcare in Amerika

This is only a long preview... but it gets the point across.

For the full movie online:


Who is Glenn Beck? Why is he yelling? Oh... he is a conservative talk show host....

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," July 17, 2009.

This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: Now, I thought to myself, who would be the best guest to just savor this moment with me. You know what, if we could get anybody — but I think syndicated columnist and author of the best-selling book "Guilty as Sin," Ann Coulter would be the one.

Hi, Ann.


BECK: How are you?

COULTER: Thank you.

That was — that was like the...

BECK: Pudding?

COULTER: No, I'm holding out for cookie dough this time.


BECK: She doesn't eat anything.

• Video: Watch Beck's interview

COULTER: I'm holding out... this is the video representation of the "Liberal Victims and Their Assault on America."

BECK: Hold on just a second. You won't have pudding with me? You didn't have a cookie the last time.

COULTER: Can we please talk about the beautiful episode you just showed?

BECK: It was. It was erotic. To me, it was like pudding. Maybe some people would say it was erotic. Cigarette?

COULTER: Now, that I'll take!

BECK: OK, here you go. Go ahead. Anybody have a match? Go ahead.

All right. So, let's talk about it.

COULTER: OK. This is the thing about — I'm becoming your go-to gal on Barbara Boxer, by the way. I talked about that last time, too.

COULTER: And I wonder, she also mentioned this in part of her defense, because if you're a liberal, you have to cite, you know, which victims are related to you. When the official victim category that her husband is a veteran, too. I wonder if she makes him call her senator.

BECK: I don't — I don't want to know that.

COULTER: Do not call me ma'am!

BECK: That's really — that's probably too much information for me.

COULTER: But this is — this is the liberal world view: To have an opinion, you must be part of an officially certified victim group. And so, Barbara Boxer sees a black testifying before her and she thinks it's appropriate to cite other blacks.

BECK: Right.


BECK: I just want to say this — America, I want you to know, if I may just speak to you just directly, Barbara Boxer may be watching right now, but I may have Ann Coulter on, but Barbara is proud that Ann is on. I think she's proud.

COULTER: That was one of her best moments when she told Alford that the head of, what was it, the head of 100 Black Men of Atlanta, would be proud that you, sir, are testifying here today.


BECK: I understand he drove himself here, too! That's good. Look at that. That is fantastic.

COULTER: And he was fan fantastic. And, by the way, he like the Hispanic plaintiff in Ricci. And yesterday — I must say — Senator Lindsey Graham did a similar thing with Sonia Sotomayor. He pointed out that the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund had taken very left-wing positions on abortion, how women's abortion forums, abortion be subsidized, very left-wing positions on death penalties, how it was to be abolished because applied unfairly to minorities.

And he said to her — now, do you know any Hispanics who oppose abortion? And do you know any Puerto Ricans...


COULTER: ...who support the death penalty? So, you're not really defending Puerto Ricans there. It's just — we call ourselves Puerto Ricans to promote left-wing positions, which is the theme of this book: "Liberal Victims and Their Assault on America."

They claim victim status to create real victims as Sotomayor did with Ricci.

BECK: Let me ask you this — let me ask you this: the NAACP, because I happen to agree with, watch his face, that was there from the Black Chamber of Commerce.

COULTER: Alford.

BECK: Yes. And when he said, "What is the NAACP have to — this is energy."


BECK: "What does it have to do?"


BECK: Do you know — do you know, NAACP, "colored people" the C.P., colored.


BECK: Are green people because we're talking green energy.


BECK: Did Barbara Boxer...

COULTER: Now you see.

BECK: ...misunderstanding, she's like, I thought green was a color?

COULTER: No, you have to come to the correct person on this.

BECK: Yes.

COULTER: Because I will give you the official ranking of liberal victimology.


COULTER: The (INAUDIBLE) or whatever vermin the greens are trying to protect with this energy bill would rank below a black person who are — and blacks are the original uncertified victims, because unlike the rest of them, they really were victims. They haven't really been helped by liberals. But they, at least, you know, there was slavery, there was Jim Crow.

Don't tell me gays, women, immigrants — they have suffered at the hands of America the way blacks did. That's why everybody wants to be black as Larry King said about his son — as if being Larry King's son isn't being victim enough.

BECK: Does everybody want to be black?

COULTER: That's just — liberals do, because that's the official, the top victim status. So that being black trumps being an insect.

BECK: I think this is spiraling out of control. I really do.

COULTER: I am explaining how liberals and now you understand that entire exchange. It is incomprehensible otherwise.

BECK: That was from Mars. The whole damn thing was from Mars. That's not from a country that.

COULTER: And once you have the liberal victimology playbook, it all makes sense. Why does she cite that her husband is a veteran?

BECK: America, nothing in America surprises me.

All right. Ann, thanks a lot.

GOP Flow Chart of Proposed Democratic Healthcare Reform Bill...

On July 15, the Drudge Report, Fox News, and CNBC's The Kudlow Report provided a forum for a chart released by congressional Republicans that day -- a day after House Democrats introduced their health care reform bill -- that purported to show "the complex health care reform proposal by Democratic congressional leaders." The release from Rep. Kevin Brady (TX) about the chart, titled "BAFFLING FLOW CHART; Public Gets Peek at Complicated Bureaucracy in Democratic Health Care Plan," stated that the chart "depicts how the health care system would be organized at the national level if the Democrats' plan became law. These new levels of bureaucracy, agencies, organization and programs will all be put directly between the patient and their health care."

The conservative media's promotion of the House Republican chart recalls the media attention devoted in 1994 to a misleading chart -- distributed by the office of Sen. Arlen Specter -- that then-Senate Republican leader Bob Dole claimed illustrated "what the health care bureaucracy would look like under" President Clinton's health care reform plan.

By 8:08 a.m. ET, the Drudge Report featured the GOP's 2009 graphic with the headline: "House Republicans unveil chart depicting bureaucratic nightmare of Dem government-run health care... Developing..." As of 8:25 p.m. ET, Drudge still featured the graphic and the headline "Republicans unveil chart depicting bureaucratic nightmare of Dem government-run health care... Developing..." From the Drudge Report at 8:08 a.m. ET:

Free Advertising for Tiny Texas Homes

They had the land and the plan ready for a 3,000-square-foot retirement home.
But sticker shock and a sour economy spurred Lee and Donna McCollough to downsize their dream into a 336-square-foot "country cabin."

"It was mostly an economic move. But it’s serving our lifestyle very well," said Lee McCollough of their home near Schulenburg in South Texas.

Built from vintage salvage materials by Tiny Texas Houses of Luling, McCollough said the "turnkey package" cost $70,000. "It’s great," said the 62-year-old retired electrical technician. "People are impressed with the construction and coziness of it. It’s built like an Igloo ice chest."

Tiny home proponents call it "super downsizing," but that’s just the extreme edge of a growing movement away from suburban castles and into "right-sized" homes that require less energy, upkeep and money, experts say.

"The era of the 'McMansion’ could well be over as home sizes have been trending downward recently, with a significantly higher number of architects reporting demand for smaller homes this year," Kermit Baker, chief economist for the American Institute of Architects, said in a news release.

In a June survey by the National Association of Home Builders, 59 percent of respondents said they are building smaller homes, said Stephen Melman, the group’s director of economic services.

As the economy sank in 2008, new homes started shrinking, Melman said. Census data showed the average new home declined from 2,600 square feet in the second quarter of 2008 to 2,373 square feet in the third quarter, he said.

"This isn’t the worst thing in the world," Melman said. "People are buying the home they need.  . . . Energy costs are up and people are interested in cutting costs."

Tiny Texas Houses

Brad Kittel of Tiny Texas Houses is addressing those needs.

In 2006, he started the company to use materials from his salvage business. Using wood from old homes and barns, he built a 160-square-foot cottage to make a point.

"I wanted people to understand that salvage antiques aren’t just for decoration. Once I built the first one, everybody liked it. It got a better response than I thought it would," said Kittel, 53.

"I figured a 12-by-20-foot would be the biggest when I started, and now we are all the way up to a 12-by-33," he said. "That might be too big."

One couple is considering a frontier-style "dog trot" cabin that combines two small boxes with an open breezeway under a shared roof, he said.

Kittel’s homes, which are built in Luling and trucked to home sites, drew initial interest as artists studios and weekend retreats.

Now, the economy has people viewing them as full-time dwellings. Kittel has built about 30 of the petite abodes, and six more are in the works. They range in price from $38,000 to $90,000.

Kay Love was the first to call one home.

Love, 62, who owns a cattle company, has a 1,300-square-foot home in Austwell but she wanted a second place near her family in Stockdale. Now she lives half the time in a 300-square-foot "Victorianish" home.

"I planned to build a big house and then decided I didn’t need a big house," she said. "I am real happy with it. I’m not environmentally correct, it just works for me. I had lived on a boat, so small things don’t really bother me. The house is comfortable; it sits in a pasture on the top of a hill with a nice view. It just fits."

A tiny niche

Kittel’s not the only builder squeezing into this tiny niche.

Jay Shafer, who has lived in a 100-square-foot home since 1999, has become a Pied Piper of the micro movement.

Four years ago, the 44-year-old former art teacher and health food store clerk started Tumbleweed Tiny House Co. in Graton, Calif., which sells plans for small homes and builds tiny portable ones on wheels. He’s written The Small House Book and teaches courses on building small.

Interest in his homes is driven in equal measure by the economy and the environment, Shafer said. His home plans start at $995 and the houses on wheels run from $35,000 to $60,000.

For such Spartan spaces, those prices sound steep but Shafer says building small is akin to "tailoring a suit."

Kittel says it’s like "boat building considering the time and effort it takes." The small houses take four to six months to build, he said. "It’s more labor-intensive because you are not using a 4-by-8-foot sheet of Sheetrock to cover the wall. Our cabinets are built into the house the old-fashioned way."

And it’s not just small operators tapping into downsizing.

Lowe’s, the big-box home improvement retailer, sells kits and plans for Katrina Cottages, first designed as alternatives to the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s trailers.

"The program continues to draw interest from a variety of customers across the United States," spokeswoman Maureen Rich wrote in an e-mail.

A house that fits

Minuscule homes aren’t for the material minded.

"A guy came in and was talking about downsizing and he said what I’m doing is super downsizing," Kittel said. "And admittedly, for most people it is that. If you are coming out of a conventional lifestyle with a 2,000-square-foot house and two people and you are moving into one of my houses, you are super downsizing."

Shafer says getting rid of possessions takes an adjustment. "You look at what makes you happy and get rid of everything else," he said.

Besides, all that stuff is just an encumbrance, he says.

"Living in a small house, I’m a lot more free to do what I want to do," Shafer said. "Some people live in a very large debtor’s prison."

Melman, of the home builders association, thinks downsizing is here to stay. "There’s a huge baby boom bulge coming out, and most of them are going to be empty nesters. They don’t need five bedrooms, they need two bedrooms," he said.

The economy, energy prices and demographics are changing conceptions about housing, he said. "It’s becoming more of what you need. People are seriously considering a better fit." That’s what Cheri and Scott Carpenter of Fort Worth are doing. They have one child and live in a 2,700-square-foot home but think that a house one-third smaller would simplify their life.

"We talked about it and decided we had too much house. We like to take vacations and we would like to have less maintenance," said Cheri, 40, a literacy coach for the Fort Worth school district.

For now, they’re just hunting. "I’m picky," she said.

Even a claw-foot tub

The McColloughs have moved in, but they still own a home in Dickinson so there’s some "super downsizing" to come.

They do have a built-in fudge factor — a barn that serves as Lee’s shop and "man cave." He admits that consolidating will be challenging.

But so far, they aren’t feeling cramped. "The only problem is if we have six to eight people over it’s kind of small," he said. "The impressive thing is that it will sleep six very comfortably. It has a separate bedroom, a kitchen and a full bath with a claw-foot tub."

The kitchen features a double refrigerator and a four-burner gas range. "They have those little refrigerators but we needed a beer fridge," Lee said with a laugh.

With a covered front porch and a small "breakfast" porch, the couple spends as much time as they can outdoors.

"It’s not for a person that wants the great indoor space, it can cramp your style there," he said. "We could live here forever."

And when it’s too hot for that, they can crank up the air conditioning without flinching — it cost about $50 to cool the cabin in June.

today's papers
Governors Wary of Health Care Tab
By Daniel Politi
Posted Monday, July 20, 2009, at 6:42 AM ET
The New York Times leads with governors across the country worrying that health care reform will ultimately cost states too much in Medicaid obligations at a time when many are facing budget crises. The bipartisan worries became the focal point at the summer meeting of the National Governors Association. The Wall Street Journal also leads its world-wide newsbox with health care, noting that President Obama will have to convince the public that the overhaul wouldn't increase the national debt after the Congressional Budget Office said it would. The White House is countering that the CBO shouldn't include the cost of a provision that would get rid of a planned cut in payments to doctors for Medicare because lawmakers have always postponed implementing the cuts. The Washington Post leads with a new poll that shows Obama's approval rating on health care has dropped to 49 percent from 57 percent in April while the disapproval rating increased from 29 percent to 44 percent. This decrease is particularly stark among independents. Even though more than 50 percent of Americans approve of how he's handling the economy, it's the first time that more strongly disapprove than strongly approve. A slim majority of Americans approve of the general outline of the health care legislation being discussed in Congress, but there are sharp divisions based on income and party affiliation. Obama's overall approval rating is at 59 percent, six percentage points lower than it was a month ago.

The Los Angeles Times leads with news that dozens of Drug Enforcement Administration agents are being sent to Afghanistan in order to help break up expansive trafficking networks that are providing lots of cash for militants. The number of DEA agents and analysts in Afghanistan will increase from 13 to 68 by September and 81 in 2010. U.S. officials say that the ties between drug traffickers and insurgents are increasing, and the Afghan government appears to be powerless to stop it, partly due to the hefty bribes that traffickers pay government officials and security forces. During the Bush administration, counter-narcotics efforts in Afghanistan focused on destroying poppy fields, a move that many now believe merely pushed farmers into the Taliban's arms. USA Today leads with federal statistics showing that the number of Hispanic workers who die on the job has risen 76 percent since 1992. In 2007, 937 Hispanic workers died. This increase came at a time when total worker deaths have been on the decline. While a rise in the number of Hispanics in the workforce can account for some of the increase, language barriers, a lack of training, and a tendency not to speak up when working conditions seem dangerous are also to blame.

To continue reading, click here.
Daniel Politi writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at

SIX Months of President Obama, 44

*** Six months ago today, Barack Obama was sworn in as the nation's 44th president. But it seems much longer ago than that, doesn't it? Since that cold day in January, so much has happened: the legislative fight over the stimulus, the rescue from those Somali pirates, the budget battle, the president's first European trip, the Obama vs. Cheney duel over national security, the Sotomayor nomination, the Cairo speech, the aftermath of the Iranian election, the Russia-Italy-Ghana trip, and the current fight over health care. In his article in the Sunday New York Times Magazine, Matt Bai likened Obama to an iPod shuffle. "Obama is the nation's first shuffle president. He's telling lots of stories at once, and in no particular order. His agenda is fully downloadable. If what you care most about is health care, then you can jump right to that. If global warming gets you going, then click over there." But there's a danger to this, Bai adds. "Random play may popularize your music in the aggregate, but it doesn't foster the same kind of investment in the songs themselves. U2 may have more fans than ever, but that doesn't mean these listeners can name half the tracks on the band's latest release."

*** Still Personally Popular, But Less So On The Issues: Six months in and one piece of conventional wisdom appears to be holding: Obama is personally more popular than his proposals. According to a new Washington Post/ABC poll, the president's overall approval rating stands at a still-strong 59%. But his ratings on the issues have declined: 49% approve of handling of health care (down eight points since April), 43% approve of his handling of the deficit, and 52% approve of his handling of the economy.

*** All Obama, All The Time: On the first day of his seventh month in office, the Washington Post also front-pages that Obama is launching an all-out media blitz on health care. "With skepticism about the president's health-care reform effort mounting on Capitol Hill -- even within his own party -- the White House has launched a new phase of its strategy designed to dramatically increase public pressure on Congress: all Obama, all the time." More: "'Our strategy has been to allow this process to advance to the point where it made sense for the president to take the baton. Now's that time,' said senior adviser David Axelrod. 'I don't know whether he will Twitter or tweet. But he's going to be very, very visible.'" Indeed. Today, from the Children's National Medical Center in DC, Obama will once again deliver remarks on health care. On Wednesday, he's holding a primetime news conference. And the following day, he heads to Cleveland, OH.

First Read with NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd, every weekday on MSNBC-TV at 9 a.m. ET.

For more: The latest edition of First Read is available now at !

Friday, July 17, 2009

Back to the meat grinder of Congress! More lean and less fat!

today's papers
The New Titans of Wall Street
By Daniel Politi

Posted Friday, July 17, 2009, at 6:48 AM ET
The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox lead with the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office creating a huge uproar among lawmakers yesterday when he declared that none of the health care plans being discussed in Congress would slow down the growth of government spending on medical care. In fact, Douglas Elmendorf suggested that the bills could make the problem worse. Republicans and fiscally conservative Democrats, who had been pushing for more savings, immediately seized on the comments to explain why they're not ready to support the plans that are emerging from congressional committees. The New York Times leads with a look at how JPMorgan Chase's quarterly earnings of $2.7 billion, coming days after Goldman Sachs also reported huge numbers, reveals how new titans of Wall Street are emerging after the financial crisis. The government's efforts to prevent a financial meltdown have "also set the stage for a narrowing concentration of financial power," declares the paper.

USA Today goes high with a look at the uncertain future of NASA as it nears the 40th anniversary of Neil Amstrong's "giant leap for makind" but devotes its top news story to the tax increases currently being proposed in Washington that could lead to the highest tax rates for the richest Americans "in a quarter-century." Some analysts worry that relying on the richest Americans for such important priorities could mean that the money might disappear if Republicans return to power. The Los Angeles Times leads locally but goes high with an overview of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. After three days of questioning, her confirmation seems almost assured, but Americans don't really know anything more about her legal views than before the whole process got started, and that has angered plenty of legal experts, who were quick to call the hearings nothing short of useless. One Yale Law School professor said Sotomayor's testimony "drained the life out of the law" and made judging seem like a "witless, mechanical exercise."

To continue reading, click here.
Daniel Politi writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Democrats want it. Gop does not. Wonder why?

"*** The Great American Health-Care Fight: Here's a look at all the moving parts on health care:
Obama meets at the White House with conservative Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson (at 11:30 am) and moderate GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe (11:45 am ) to discuss the issue.
Families USA and PhRMA say they have hired the actors who played Harry and Louise in that iconic '90s TV ad against health-care reform to appear in a multimillion ad campaign SUPPORTING reform this time.
In his remarks from the Rose Garden yesterday, Obama said that the White House would be focusing on health care until Congress' August recess. 'We're going to be continually talking about this for the next two or three weeks, until we've got a bill [out of] the Senate.'.

And with the Senate HELP bill passing the committee yesterday by a party-line vote, Republicans are complaining that the Democratic push for health-care reform isn't bipartisan.

First Read with NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd, every weekday on MSNBC-TV at 9 a.m. ET.

For more: The latest edition of First Read is available now at !"

Healthcare Reform? National Healthcare? After 9 years of low taxes on the richest individuals in USa, loss of our manufacturing base, and the cost of

Bush's Wars... we need to expand wellness care or healthcare or basic medical care to the rest of working citizens, like me that can not afford medical insurance at the cost that we have today.


today's papers
Health Care Battle Heats Up
By Daniel Politi
Posted Thursday, July 16, 2009, at 6:44 AM ET
The New York Times leads with a look at how the party-line vote on health care legislation in the Senate's health committee shows how Democrats may end up implementing "what would be the biggest changes in social policy in more than 40 years" without Republican support. In approving the bill 13 to 10, the Senate committee was the first in Congress to approve the legislation. The measure includes a public insurance option, which Republicans have vehemently opposed. The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox lead with the third day of Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings. The woman who will almost certainly become the first Hispanic on the nation's highest court was a bit more relaxed yesterday, but took pains to avoid answering any questions about a number of specific legal issues that lawmakers threw her way, including abortion and gun rights.

USA Today leads with the Federal Reserve predicting that the unemployment rate will get worse than expected, but the economy will grow more robustly than previously thought. In other words, a jobless recovery is on the way. Minutes from the Fed's policy meeting in June reveal that most officials believe the jobless rate would reach 9.8 percent to 10.1 percent in the fourth quarter and will only fall to 9.5 percent to 9.8 percent late next year. But the Fed also expects the economy to grow 2.1 percent to 3.3 percent in 2010. The Los Angeles Times leads with new data that suggest home prices in Southern California may have reached bottom as June saw the first significant increase in prices in two years. In addition, for the first time in nine months, less than half of the sales were foreclosures.

To continue reading, click here.
Daniel Politi writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

GOP IS ATTACKING THE REFORM MOVEMENT, using the same ole, tripe...

President Obama stepped up public pressure on Congress to vote on a bill to overhaul health care before the August recess at an event meant to highlight nurses' support for comprehensive reform, NBC's Athena Jones reports. "We're going to be continually talking about this for the next two or three weeks, until we've got a bill [out of] the Senate," he said, "we've got a bill out of the House, then we'll deserve a few weeks' rest before we come back and finally get a bill done, so we can sign it right here in the Rose Garden."

The Senate HELP Committee passed its version of health care reform 13-10. But there's still a long slog ahead.

Senate Finance Committee Democrats met today behind closed doors to make progress on their version of the health-care reform bill. But by the end of the two-hour meeting, no deals were cut, NBC's Blayne Alexander reports.

The major Republicans on the Senate Health committee, as well as other notables senators like John McCain, held a press conference today to lambaste the Senate Democrats' health-care bill, which passed out of committee today on a party-line vote, NBC's Doug Adams reports. All were pretty critical of the plan. Lamar Alexander said the bill would bankrupt states because it would "dump 15-20 million Americans into a failed Medicaid system, and then after five years, shift the cost to the states."

Prominent House Republicans unveiled a multi-colored, complicated-to-follow flow chart meant to symbolize the House Democratic health-care reform plan. Remember that in 1994, on the Senate floor, Republicans unveiled a flow chart they created, which derided the White House's health-care plan. The chart played a role, certainly, in derailing health reform then.

NBC's Andrea Mitchell and Libby Leist preview Hillary Clinton's foreign policy address.

John Kerry is responding to Sarah Palin's opinion piece in the Washington Post on energy. In a piece, published on Huffington Post, Kerry says Palin doesn't understand cap and trade. This is part of an ongoing back and forth between Kerry and Palin. It started with John Kerry trying to make the joke during the Mark Sanford disappearance that the wrong governor went missing. Palin shot back that Kerry "looked quite frustrated" and "sad." "I just wanted to reach out to the TV and say 'John Kerry, why the long face?'," she said.

First Read with NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd, every weekday on MSNBC-TV at 9 a.m. ET.

For more: The latest edition of First Read is available now at !

House Leadership on Healthcare... looks like we will have to win this one in the Senate....

Let's NOT get distracted by history. Let's turn the page....

Today's papers - Sotomayor does well. Healthcare Fight Begins.

today's papers
Sotomayor: I'm Just a Judge
By Daniel Politi
Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2009, at 6:30 AM ET
Most of the papers lead with Sonia Sotomayor's second day in the hot seat at the Senate Judiciary Committee, where the Supreme Court nominee calmly answered hours of questions and assured skeptical Republicans that she doesn't let who she is and where she comes from affect her judicial decisions. She bowed to the power of the precedent and even distanced herself from President Obama's claim that a judge needs to have empathy. "I wouldn't approach the issue of judging in the way the president does," Sotomayor said. As expected, she avoided answering directly about controversial issues. Overall, "the day produced few of the anticipated fireworks," says the New York Times. "At times, it had more the feel of a law school seminar about statutes of limitation and strict scrutiny standards."

Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, House Democratic leaders unveiled a sweeping health-care bill that takes the lead spot in the Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox. The bill would cost more than $1 trillion over 10 years and create a new public insurance option. The measure would raise more than $500 billion by increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and penalize businesses that don't provide health insurance. The WSJ focuses heavily on this penalty, noting that it would "hit all but the smallest businesses."

To continue reading, click here.
Daniel Politi writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at

Healtcare Reform is the BIG ONE for this YEAR!

*** And We're Off: The unveiling of the House Democrats' $1 trillion-plus health-care bill, paid for in part by a tax surcharge on the wealthiest Americas, truly begins the Great American Health-Care Fight, which could last well into October.
At 1:05 pm ET, from the White House Rose Garden, President Obama will deliver remarks on the House bill, and he'll also conduct a round of TV interviews with health reporters, including NBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman. All of this is just more evidence of "clear the decks" time for the White House on health care. Also, at 2:15 pm, Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer, Robert Menendez, and Debbie Stabenow will hold a news conference demanding that private health insurers submit to tighter regulations and increased competition. On the GOP side, Republican Rep. Kevin Brady will give a presentation to party leaders about how the House Democratic bill is a "bureaucratic nightmare," and then GOP leaders -- including John Boehner and Eric Cantor -- will hold their own press conference afterward.

*** The Tax War: The House Dem bill, of course, is providing the GOP with plenty of fodder. After all, there's a lot of taxing going on there, and the past 30 years have wired American politics and Washington to treat any hike as anathema. And some Senate Democrats, as well as the Washington Post editorial page, aren't big fans of the tax increase. On the other hand, our June NBC/WSJ poll showed that a very solid majority -- 62% -- support taxing those who make more than $250,000 to pay for health-care reform (perhaps that's why GOP talking points are focusing on taxing "small businesses"). And, even as the Post editorial page notes, the wealthy in this country are paying a historically smaller share in taxes (perhaps sparking critics to wonder: Where has that gotten the economy?) But there is a breaking point on taxing the wealthy, and class-warfare politics hasn't been successful in quite some time. Over to you, Senate Democrats and the White House.

*** The Senate Battleground: A new DNC/Organizing for America TV ad -- which begins running today on national cable, DC cable, and in some key states -- gives us a pretty good idea where the DNC (and the White House, by extension), believes the battle for health-care reform is going to be fought in the Senate. Here are the states where it will run: FL (Democrat Bill Nelson), NE (Democrat Ben Nelson), IN (Democrat Evan Bayh, Republican Dick Lugar), ME (Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe), LA (Democrat Mary Landrieu), ND (Democrat Kent Conrad), and AR (Democrats Blanche Lincoln and Mary Pryor). Meanwhile, the liberal-leaning group Health Care for America Now is running TV ads thanking Democratic Sens. Harry Reid and Chris Dodd (both up for re-election next year) for their work on health care.

First Read with NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd, every weekday on MSNBC-TV at 9 a.m. ET.

For more: The latest edition of First Read is available now at !

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Best News Story of the Day and we have the cell phone footage, too!

A passenger on Southwest Flight 737 from Baltimore to Nashville, which was forced to make an emergency landing after a football-sized hole developed in the fuselage, captured the scene with his cellphone.

Here's the video by John Benson:

The English National Health Service publishs a leaflet for school pupils... An Orgasm a Day Keeps the Doctor Away... Do you think that someone would?

The National Health Service of Britain has sparked controversy with their controversial sex education campaign promoting an orgasm a day:

A National Health Service leaflet is advising school pupils that they have a "right" to an enjoyable sex life and that regular intercourse can be good for their cardiovascular health...

...Alongside the slogan "an orgasm a day keeps the doctor away", it says: "Health promotion experts advocate five portions of fruit and veg a day and 30 minutes' physical activity three times a week. What about sex or masturbation twice a week?"

However, there are fears that this could just encourage underage sex without increasing the use of protection:

But family groups condemned the guidance last night, saying it would encourage children to have underage sex and could lead to rising rates of sexually-transmitted diseases

July 17th is the 40th Anniversity - HERE is a dedication to the 30th Anniversity

On July 20, 1969, the human race accomplished its single greatest technological achievement of all time when a human first set foot on another celestial body.

Six hours after landing at 4:17 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (with less than 30 seconds of fuel remaining), Neil A. Armstrong took the “Small Step” into our greater future when he stepped off the Lunar Module, named “Eagle,” onto the surface of the Moon, from which he could look up and see Earth in the heavens as no one had done before him.

He was shortly joined by “Buzz” Aldrin, and the two astronauts spent 21 hours on the lunar surface and returned 46 pounds of lunar rocks.

After their historic walks on the Moon, they successfully docked with the Command Module “Columbia,” in which Michael Collins was patiently orbiting the cold but no longer lifeless Moon.

Fox News, my sister's news source, reported this incident, but if you notice it was Not A Big Deal to the President ....

Raw Video: Obama Loses His Words, Literally

As Pres. Barack Obama delivered a speech Monday, one of his teleprompters fell off its stand and broke. Obama, who relies frequently on the device, apologized and continued on using the remaining prompter and a paper copy of his remarks. (July 13)

The Percentages are similiar in this from K

The National Debt

Interest on the debt claims about 10 percent of the budget. When President Bush took office, the national debt was $5.6 trillion, but deficits have pushed that number closer to $9 trillion today.

Where's the red ink coming from? Depends on who you ask: Democrats blame Bush's tax cuts and wasted defense spending. Republicans say that's not so, claiming that Bush's tax cuts boosted the economy and increased revenue. They blame increased deficits on wasteful social programs and spending necessary to fight the war on terrorism.

The Military's Slice of the Pie

The military gets the biggest piece of what's left -- the 30 percent of the budget called discretionary spending because it's the part of the budget that Congress and the White House can control from year to year.

About two-thirds of this spending (20 percent of the total budget) pays for the tanks, jets, ships, missiles, rifles and other paraphernalia of defense, not to mention the salaries of our country's soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. In the next fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1, this will amount to nearly $600 billion, possibly more if costs in Iraq and Afghanistan climb higher than expected.

Some big-ticket Defense Department projects, such as purchase of new combat fighter jets, Navy shipbuilding and space weapons research, may be trimmed in light of the war costs. But that would barely dent the Pentagon's share of the overall budget, especially with more funds sure to be added to support medical and other needs of Iraq war veterans.

You might think a fifth of the federal government's total spending is a lot to put into defense. But in comparison to some earlier periods in our country's history, it's actually a smaller share. During President Ronald Reagan's defense buildup, the military claimed 26 percent of the budget. And at the height of the Vietnam War in 1968, 46 cents of every tax dollar Americans paid was for defense.

Of the remaining discretionary spending, the Department of Homeland Security claims about 1.5 percent of the budget, or $43 billion. Foreign aid spending, though it raises the ire of many taxpayers, accounts for just half of one percent and is likely to be reduced by Congress even further.

The Federal Pie Chart - USa Military Spending vs the World in 2009

FD: Please keep in mind that I pulling this from

The Federal Pie Chart: "U.S. Military Spending vs. The World
U.S. military spending – Dept. of Defense plus nuclear weapons (in $billions) – is equal to the military spending of the next 15 countries combined.
These numbers show military expenditures for each country. Some say that U.S. military spending will naturally be higher because it has the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of any country. The United States accounts for 47 percent of the world’s total military spending, however the U.S.’s share of the world's GDP is about 21 percent. Also note that of the top 15 countries shown, at least 12 are considered allies of the U.S. The U.S. outspends Iran and North Korea by a ratio of 72 to one.
Source: Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation,; our graph uses a more comparable figure of $515 from actual 2006 U.S. military spending"

The Federal Pie Chart - How is your Tax Dollar Spent?

The Federal Pie Chart: "The pie chart below is the government view of the budget. This is a distortion of how our income tax dollars are spent because it includes Trust Funds (e.g., Social Security), and the expenses of past military spending are not distinguished from nonmilitary spending. For a more accurate representation of how your Federal income tax dollar is really spent, see the large chart (top)."

Facts about National Healthcare TODAY


Health care costs have been rising for several years. Expenditures in the United States on health care surpassed $2.2 trillion in 2007, more than three times the $714 billion spent in 1990, and over eight times the $253 billion spent in 1980. Stemming this growth has become a major policy priority, as the government, employers, and consumers increasingly struggle to keep up with health care costs. [1]

In 2007, U.S. health care spending was about $7,421 per resident and accounted for 16.2% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP); this is among the highest of all industrialized countries. Total health care expenditures grew at an annual rate of 6.1 percent in 2007, a slower rate than recent years, yet still outpacing inflation and the growth in national income. Absent reform, there is general agreement that health costs are likely to continue to rise in the foreseeable future. Many analysts have cited controlling health care costs as a key tenet for broader economic stability and growth, and President Obama has made cost control a focus of health reform efforts under way.

Although Americans benefit from many of the investments in health care, the recent rapid cost growth, coupled with an overall economic slowdown and rising federal deficit, is placing great strains on the systems used to finance health care, including private employer-sponsored health insurance coverage and public insurance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Since 1999, employer-sponsored health coverage premiums have increased by 119 percent, placing increasing cost burdens on employers and workers. [2] With workers’ wages growing at a much slower pace than health care costs, many face difficulty in affording out-of-pocket spending.

Government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, account for a significant share of health care spending. Public health expenditures made up about 46% of the health care dollar in 2007, with the remainder split between private and out-of-pocket spending (42% and 12%, respectively). Medicare spending has grown at a slightly lower rate, on average, than private health insurance spending, at about 9.0 vs. 10.1% annually respectively between 1970 and 2003. [3] Medicaid expenditures, similarly, have grown at slower rate than private spending, though the current economic recession is likely to increase the number of enrollees in Medicaid and therefore increase Medicaid spending. [4]

How is the U.S. health care dollar spent?

As shown in the figure below, hospital care accounts for the largest share (31%) of health expenditures. Physician services are the next largest item, comprising one-fifth of the national health spending. Prescription drugs, while accounting for only 10% of total expenditures, have been one of the fastest-growing segments.

National Health Expenditures, 2007

Background Brief

Total = $2.241 Trillion

Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Office of the Actuary, National Health Statistics Group.

What is driving health care costs?

Controlling health care expenditures requires a solid understanding of the factors that are driving the growth in spending. While there is disagreement on exactly what those are, some of the major factors to consider are:

Prescription drugs and technology – Spending on prescription drugs and new medical technologies has been cited as the primary contributor to the increase in overall health spending. Some analysts state that the availability of more expensive, state-of-the-art drugs and technological services fuels health care spending not only because the development costs of these products must be recouped by industry but also because they generate consumer demand for more intense, costly services even if they are not necessarily cost-effective. [5]

Chronic disease – The nature of health care in the U.S. has changed dramatically over the past century with longer life spans and greater prevalence of chronic illnesses. This has placed tremendous demands on the health care system, particularly an increased need for treatment of ongoing illnesses and long-term care services such as nursing homes; it is estimated that health care costs for chronic disease treatment account for over 75% of national health expenditures. [6]

Aging of the population – Health expenses rise with age and as the baby boomers are now in their middle years, some say that caring for this growing population has raised costs. This trend will continue as the baby boomers will begin qualifying for Medicare in 2011 and many of the costs are shifted to the public sector. However, experts agree that aging of the population contributes minimally to the high growth rate of health care spending. [7]

Administrative costs – It is estimated that at least 7% of health care expenditures are for administrative costs (e.g. marketing, billing) and this portion is much lower in the Medicare program (<2%),>

Gor. Arnold Schwarzenegger spanks the Nursing Board... CIA and Sotomayor. Where is the Healthcare Reform News?

today's papers
CIA's Assassination Squad Plans
By Daniel Politi
Posted Tuesday, July 14, 2009, at 6:45 AM ET
The New York Times leads with more details about the secret CIA program that was kept from Congress since 2001 until the agency's director, Leon Panetta, canceled it last month. The program involved plans to send paramilitary teams around the world to assassinate top al-Qaida leaders. The Bush administration was determined to find an alternative to using missiles to kill suspected terrorists but the program faced a number of obstacles and was never implemented.

The Washington Post, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox all lead with the first day of hearings featuring Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. The senators did most of the talking yesterday and Republicans were quick to try to portray her as someone who would allow her personal feelings to affect her rulings. When it was her turn to speak, Sotomayor read a seven-minute statement in which she said her judicial philosophy centers around "fidelity to the law" and she believes a judge's job "is not to make law" but "to apply the law."

The Los Angeles Times leads with news that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fired three of the six members of the state Board of Registered Nursing. The move came a day after the paper reported that the board often takes years to discipline nurses accused of wrongdoing. Another board member had already resigned Sunday.

To continue reading, click here.

Daniel Politi writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at

What do you want your taxes spent on? Why NOT your health insurance?

$18,000 is the annual cost of healthcare for a family of four in this country with insurance, with NO major health issues that year. Insurance is approximately $12,000 with most company paying and additional cost of $24,000 or 2/3 of the total cost, for a tax write off if they are for profit. Most small businesses can not afford the cost even with the tax benefit.


Healthcare Reform Legislation process in the Senate Hearing... watching them make the sausage...

IF you like to watch government in action,
watch the Healthcare Reform process in the Senate on
C-SPAN videos. Yesterday, was fascinating to me.

Monday, July 13, 2009

UPDATE: Bacteria Communication Code Breaking

The Rosetta Stone of bacterial
communication may have been found.

Although they have no sensory organs, bacteria can get a good idea about what's going on in their neighborhood and communicate with each other, mainly by secreting and taking in chemicals from their surrounding environment. Even though there are millions of different kinds of bacteria with their own ways of sensing the world around them, Duke University bioengineers believe they have found a principle common to all of them.
The researchers said that a more complete understanding of communication between cells and bacteria is essential to the advancement of the new field of synthetic biology, where populations of genetically altered bacteria are "programmed" to do certain things. Such re-programmed bacterial gene circuits could see a wide variety of applications in medicine, environmental cleanup and biocomputing.
It is already known that a process known as "quorum sensing" underlies communication between bacteria. However, each type of bacteria seems to have its own quorum-sensing abilities, with tremendous variations, the researchers said.
"Quorum sensing is a cell-to-cell communication mechanism that enables bacteria to sense and respond to changes in the density of the bacteria in a given environment," said Anand Pai, graduate student in bioengineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. "It regulates a wide variety of biological functions such as bioluminescence, virulence, nutrient foraging and cellular suicide."
The researchers found that the total volume of bacteria in relation to the volume of their environment is a key to quorum sensing, no matter what kind of microbe is involved.
"If there are only a few cells in an area, nothing will happen," Pai said. "If there are a lot of cells, the secreted chemicals are high in concentration, causing the cells to perform a specific action. We wanted to find out how these cells know when they have reached a quorum."
Pai and scientist Lingchong You, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and a member of Duke's Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy and Center for Systems Biology, have discovered what they believe is a common root among the different forms of quorum sensing. In an article in the July 2009 issue of the journal Molecular Systems Biology, they term this process "sensing potential."
"Sensing potential is essentially the linking of an action to the number of cells and the size of their environment," You said. "For example, a small number of cells would act differently than the same number of cells in a much larger space. No matter what type of cell or their own quorum sensing abilities, the relationship between the size of a cell and the size of its environment is the common thread we see in all quorum sensing systems.
"This analysis provides novel insights into the fundamental design of quorum sensing systems," You said. "Also, the overall framework we defined can serve as a foundation for studying the dynamics and the evolution of quorum sensing, as well as for engineering synthetic gene circuits based on cell-to-cell communications."
Synthetic gene circuits are carefully designed combinations of genes that can be "loaded" into bacteria or other cells to direct their actions in much the same way that a basic computer program directs a computer. Such re-programmed bacteria would exist as a synthetic ecosystem.
"Each population will synthesize a subset of enzymes that are required for the population as a whole to produce desired proteins or chemicals in a coordinated way," You said. "We may even be able to re-engineer bacteria to deliver different types of drugs or selectively kill cancer cells"
For example, You has already gained insights into the relationship between predators and prey by creating a synthetic circuit involving two genetically altered lines of bacteria. The findings from that work helped define the effects of relative changes in populations.
The research was supported by National Institutes of Health, a David and Lucile Packard Fellowship, and a DuPont Young Professor Award.