Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Maybe, we have missed the opportunity to REFORM anything in terms of Healthcare costs in USA....

Why Obama Bombed on Health Care
The public wasn't dumb enough to believe

the public option would save money.

Someday this country will have a health-care debate that's not abject in its idiocy.

It will involve a term used by Congressional Budge Office chief Doug Elmendorf, who has become a notoriety for harping on the word "incentives." The same word was used the other day by Warren Buffett, about what's missing from the health-care plan on Capitol Hill.

We actually prefer the formulation of Duke University's Clark Havighurst, who speaks of restoring the "price tags" to health care.

Now that's a concept that the public could actually make sense of.

President Barack Obama made a "public option" his centerpiece not because it's the answer to what's broken in the U.S. system, but because it's a halfway house to a single-payer setup that liberal Democrats have always wanted. Team Obama also knew the public is concerned about rising costs, so they jammed together a hooey-filled argument that the public option was somehow the solution to rising costs.

The public is not as dumb as it's made out to be, and Mr. Obama's public option died a bipartisan death yesterday in the Senate Finance Committee. What's left is a package of "reforms" that are mere trite extensions of what we've been doing for decades. That is, piling up mandates on private insurers and then lying that this somehow isn't driving up the cost of health insurance; piling up subsidies for health consumption and then lying that this somehow isn't responsible for runaway health-care spending.

Yes, the politics are difficult when it comes to restoring price tags. Voters would have to understand how a tax code that allowed them to choose for themselves how much of their incomes to devote to health care would serve their interests.

They would have to be persuaded of the benefits of a marketplace where insurers are free to design policies to appeal to different budgets and needs.

They might have to decide for themselves whether they have better uses for their income and savings than extending life at all cost.

In that sense, the jabbering on Capitol Hill is irrelevant to the central problem, wherein consumers see larger and larger chunks of their income mysteriously and involuntarily sucked into health care for questionable benefit.

A few brave legislators, including Democrat Ron Wyden, are willing to say as much. But as Max Baucus put it in an unguarded comment to the Washington Post: "Basically the president is not helping."

Mr. Obama may be "not helping" because he doesn't understand or believe in the role of absent price tags in creating our current woes. He may genuinely favor a system in which government decides who will receive what care.

However, he's certainly also "not helping" because his base in organized labor doesn't want real reform.

Union members not only like the tax-free, open-ended health -care benefits they're used to getting. More important and often overlooked, organized labor itself is increasingly made up of health-care workers who benefit from an incentive system that artificially force-feeds great gobs of GDP into the industry's maw.

Their long retreat elsewhere in the economy may continue unabated, but unions are steadily growing their clout in government and health care, two sectors that increasingly overlap and would become even more overlapped under the bills in Congress. Consider a scheme being test-driven in Missouri, where Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, AFSCME and SEIU last year backed a ballot proposition to create a "Missouri Quality Homecare Council."

As the A.P. matter-of-factly reported: "The ballot summary shown to voters said nothing about making it easier for in-home care providers to unionize." But that was precisely the function. Now some 13,000 home health workers hired by patients but paid for by Medicaid are on the verge of being recognized as a union.

But won't collective bargaining inevitably mean higher Medicaid costs for Missouri taxpayer? Gov. Nixon, whose campaign reportedly received $650,000 from SEIU and AFCSME, obviously has other priorities.

In Canada, where health care is largely government controlled, 61% of health-care workers are unionized. In the U.S., it's only 11%. Democrats are bent on changing that and the bills floating around Capitol Hill are rife with provisions to replicate the Missouri scheme nationally.

Mr. Obama's health-care thinking always lacked the bite of real "reform." He never claimed he was a wonk. He claimed he was a political mobilizer. He meant it.

He might have honestly sold the Democratic dream of a single-payer system, forthrightly explaining how resources would be allocated. He might have spoken of putting the price tags back on health care so consumers could decide instead. He did neither—and has botched an opportunity for real progress.

What is the "government option" for healthcare and health insurance reform?

Ask any employer that provides their workers with health insurance what they will do if the government offers every American a "government option" for their health care.

FD: I pulled this out of the Internet as a typical GOP, non-progressive position statement against the "government opinion" position....

Whether the employees want it or not, if the feds offer every American the option of buying a health insurance policy from the federal government, employers will be immediately begin sending out notices that health care is no longer a company-provided benefit and directing their workers to the 1-800 number for the new federal plan. The boss may even include a slight pay hike with the notice as a nod to the enormous savings he or she will be achieving by off-loading the cost of employee health care, but that bump --if it comes at all-- will be a short term analgesic that will mask the onset of long-term pain. The "government option" will quickly become the single payer nightmare that is Canadian health care, and Americans will look back at the summer of 2009 and wonder when this became the American way of medicine.

This is the great head-fake of the health "reform" debate taking place behind closed doors in D.C. Veterans of the 1993 Hillarycare debate know that "single payer" scares most Americans and with good reason. The vast majority of Americans are used to picking their doctors and getting great care in relatively rapid fashion. We don't like the idea of waiting months or even years for "elective" surgeries, and we abhor the idea of having only a handful of doctors available from which to chose our provider.

If the "government option" emerges from the high-stakes negotiations under way right now, it will be the "reform" that swallows the entire system. It is no secret that large companies want to dump the responsibility for providing health insurance to their employees. The costs are high and going higher because American workers want the best health care available. Unions demand it in negotiations, and businesses competing for top drawer talent must offer health plans that appeal to the cream of the workforce, plans which are then available to all levels of the employee network.

But if the mirage of a government-backed plan suddenly appears (complete with a vast new bureaucracy to enforce the rules and calculate the discounts for those at or near the poverty line) embattled employers will see the opportunity to escape en masse from their expensive obligations to their workforce. The big insurance companies may survive a while, but competing against the government dooms most of them to an obviously uncompetitive position vis-a-vis any federal plan.

The rhetoric of "competition" that single payer fans are using to spruce up the "government option" is deeply deceptive. Many if not most private sector plans will face extinction as they are pushed into a ruinous race to the bottom of the benefits pool by employers studying the bottom line advantage of shifting health care costs to the government. Think about "competing" with Amtrak for passenger rail service and you get the picture of the future of the health care system.

Doctors will quickly have to decide whether to refuse the government plan's rate and rules. Some will, but those with the sunk costs of education and equipment purchased under the old rules will have to try the option of going off the government grid, forcing an immediate fracturing of American medicine into two systems, one for the wealthy and one for everyone else. Right now most of the waiting rooms of America's health care professionals are as diverse as the workforce that is covered by employer-provided health care. Within months of the adoption of a government option, expect many of your doctors to greet your next request for an appointment with the news that he or she isn't accepting the government option.

Beyond that immediate series of dislocations, look for a sharp decrease in the number of talented young people heading towards medical school. Of course many thousands of young doctors will pursue their dreams of being healers regardless of the economics of the out-years of their practices, but only fools will deny that thousands of other would-be doctors will simply refuse to go to work for the government, which is what the government option means for health care providers.

It keeps being repeated again and again : The country is on the verge of an enormous, culture-changing shift when it comes to the most basic of its expectations with regards to medicine, and yet this potential radical shift is almost wholly unreported on in the MSM in the sort of detail that would allow for an informed debate. Thus is the old media working hand-in-hand with the Congressional left to completely rewrite the rules of healthcare.

Democrats in the House are surely going to face retribution for their breach of faith with their constituents once they experience the reality of single-payer, but that payback is 18 months away. The "government option," by contrast, is on the fast track for passage by early autumn.

The GOP has to take up the cause of patient choice and genuine reform, and it has to do so soon.

But you have to ask the question again:

An estimated 47 million Americans have no health insurance, and those who are covered face spiraling costs. Employers can not afford to provide healthcare for employees as the cost rise.

At Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center, McCain praised the doctors and researchers, saying they're a reminder of all that's good in American health care. The challenge, he noted, is making that kind of life-saving care available to all Americans, no matter where they work or how much money they have.

"We want a system of health care in which everyone can afford and acquire the treatment and preventative care they need, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing they are covered," the Arizona senator said.

"Rising health care costs hurt employers and the self-employed alike. And in the end, they threaten serious and lasting harm to the entire American economy," McCain said.

McCain differs sharply from Democratic rival Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on how to fix the problem. He criticized them for pushing a combination of tax subsidies and regulation in an effort to provide universal health care coverage.

"We will replace the inefficiency, irrationality and uncontrolled costs of the current system with the inefficiency, irrationality and uncontrolled costs of a government monopoly," McCain said.

the art of creating a paper butterfly to feed the paper mantis

Origami master Sipho Mabona and the art creating a paper butterfly Mail Online: "At first glance it looks like a praying mantis. However closer exmination reveals it to be a work of origami and only the leaf and stem are real"

Monday, September 28, 2009

After almost a year, ammo shortage starting to ease in Dallas-Fort Worth | Fort Worth | Star-Te...

Left to right are: .22, .25, .32, .380, 9mm, .357 SIG, .38, .357, .40, .45, & .223 caliber rounds.

Copied from:

After almost a year, ammo shortage starting to ease in Dallas-Fort Worth Fort Worth Star-Te...: "David Foster of Bedford has had a hard time all year finding ammunition for his guns.
After finding mostly empty shelves at gun stores, he finally went to a gun show a few months ago to stock up.
'I couldn’t find it anywhere except the gun show, and even there I had a hard time,' said Foster, 31. 'And it cost a lot.'
But workers in the weapons industry point to signs that a nearly yearlong nationwide ammunition shortage may be winding down. More ammo is making it to store shelves now, and the price is slowly coming down.
'We’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,' said DeWayne Irwin, owner of Cheaper Than Dirt, a Fort Worth store and online retailer. 'I’ve been doing this business since 1988, and I’ve never seen something like this happen with ammunition. But it’s not going to be like this forever.'"

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fried butter a hit at State Fair of Texas... future cardiac patients at the Fair this week.

Go for the churn: Fried butter a hit at State Fair of Texa News for Dallas, Texas Dallas Morning News Breaking News for Dallas-Fort Worth Dallas Morning News: "Indeed, butter makes everything better.

Robin Lacy (left) and Nicole Whittington were among the first to sample Abel Gonzales Jr.'s Deep Fried Butter on Friday, the opening day of the 2009 State Fair of Texas. That was the consensus Friday at the State Fair of Texas, as scores of fairgoers eagerly devoured Deep Fried Butter, the new food generating globs of buzz across the country.
Shortly before 10 a.m., as the fair began its 24-day run, LuAnn Bergman of Dallas was the first customer to Butter up. She bit into a crispy, golden ball of garlic-flavored butter goodness."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

40 year old Black Pacu in Queens, New York.... I always thought they look a lot like piranha.

Big fish eat little fish," says the wisdom of the city. Meet Buttkiss, the black pacu who has eaten more than 175,000 fish during his residence in Queens. “We feed him twenty-five goldfish every other day,” says Steve Gruebel, the owner of Cameo Pet Shop in Richmond Hill. You do the math. He’s been in the shop continuously since 1970, becoming a Richmond Hill landmark in that time.

Why hasn’t he been sold already? “We actually sold him in 1968 to a Holocaust survivor named Kurt Emerick. The fish was about two inches long at that time. But he got so big he was knocking things over in Kurt’s fishtank. Kurt didn’t like that. He was a perfectionist. So he brought him back here in a bucket. Later Kurt got hit by a bus on Metropolitan Avenue and died. But the fish is still here. I had just gotten back from Nam and I decided to keep him.”

The fish has some personality too. Named after the famed linebacker Dick Butkus (though Steve corrected my spelling to "Buttkiss"), he will come to Steve's hand because he knows that's where the food comes from. “You can see the marks on the top of his head. He’ll bang on the top of the tank when he’s hungry.” Pacus are in the piranha family. The New York Aquarium did not get back to us when we asked whether or not the fish could possibly be that old, but residents of Richmond Hill swear the fish has been there the whole time, in the same 75-gallon tank. When I walked around the block to go to the (excellent) Alfie’s Pizzeria, Louie, Alfie’s son, said, “That fish! That fuckin’ fish! Is that fuckin’ fish unbelievable or what? When we’re all dead and gone that fish will still be there.”

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I got this in the mailbox and realized that lots of my family and friends use this technology...

This gives us something to think about with all our new electronic technology.

A couple of weeks ago a friend told me that someone she knew had
their car broken into while they were at a football game. Their car was
parked on the green which was adjacent to the football stadium and
specially allotted to football fans. Things stolen from the car included
a garage door remote control, some money and a GPS which had been
prominently mounted on the dashboard.

When the victims got home, they found that their house had been
ransacked and just about everything worth anything had been stolen.

The thieves had used the GPS to guide them to the house. They then
used the garage remote control to open the garage door and gain
entry to the house. The thieves knew the owners were at the football
game, they knew what time the game was scheduled to finish and so
they knew how much time they had to clean out the house.. It would
appear that they had brought a truck to empty the house of its contents.

Something to consider if you have a GPS - don't put your home
address in it. Put a nearby address (like a store or gas station) so you
can still find your way home if you need to, but no one else would know
where you live if your GPS were stolen.

I never thought of this.......

This lady has now changed her habit of how she lists her names on
her mobile phone after her handbag was stolen. Her handbag, which
contained her cell phone, credit card, wallet... Etc...was stolen.

20 minutes later when she called her hubby, from a pay phone telling
him what had happened, hubby says 'I received your text asking
about our Pin number and I've replied a little while ago.'

When they rushed down to the bank, the bank staff told them all the
money was already withdrawn. The thief had actually used the stolen
cell phone to text 'hubby' in the contact list and got hold of the pin
number. Within 20 minutes he had withdrawn all the money from their
bank account.

Moral of the lesson
Do not disclose the relationship between you and the people in
your contact list.

Avoid using names like Home, Honey, Hubby, Sweetheart, Dad,
Mom, etc....

And very importantly, when sensitive info is being asked through texts,
CONFIRM by calling back.

Also, when you're being text by friends or family to meet them
somewhere, be sure to call back to confirm that the message came
from them.

If you don't reach them, be very careful about going places
to meet 'family and friends' who text you.

Friday, September 18, 2009

How about a Flat Rate Solution for Healthcare

First Draft - Friday, September 18, 2009

I am getting tired of the stalemate in Congress and the Senate over healthcare or health insurance reform. To me it so simple.

When I was buying a car last month, the salesman told me to budget 13% of my gross income, no more, no less.

We want to argue over what healthcare should cost. Why not just agree that we budget 13% of a working person’s gross income goes to making the car payment, which is a reasonable amount for budgeting for healthcare or health insurance. Thirteen percent for a car. Thirteen percent for healthcare.

Who should collect it?
Who do we have collecting taxes in this country?
Who will take it out of your pay check every month? That person should make the deductions and send it to the U.S. Treasury.

If you make $13 a hour, you should be paying $1.70 for healthcare ($304 per month). If you are making $7 a hour, you should be paying 91 cents for healthcare per hour ($168 per month) If you make $50 a hour, you should be paying $6.50 for healthcare per hour ($1,170 per month).

If that does not sound fare to you then, we play with tax credits.

Go back to the car payment analogy. Let’s decide that to provide for reasonable healthcare we need to max out the amount each month.
One person, making $33,000 a year, could make a car payment of $4290 a year or $357 a month. Same amount as a car payment. What that will pay for needs to be determined, but I am going to set that as the budget amount.

If you are single, that is what you pay for health insurance.

If you are a couple of people, both earning an income, the amount goes up by double - $715.

If you have a child or a dependent, or just a partner that is NOT working, it gets tricky. Healthcare services for ONE person are the same regardless of the age or size of the person. One person is one person, and they are going to use the minimum $357 of services for healthcare. Solution? Ask the taxman.

If you are a couple, married, not married, working or not working, does not matter. The government matches the working person’s income for ONE healthcare payment of $357 per month. If there is one person work, that is TWO units.

Where does that money for the EXTRA unit come from?
TAXES, that other thing that comes out of your paycheck each month. That guy making $33,000 a month still pays taxes to the tune of 23% a month, or $7590 a year or $632.50 a month. The existing tax pocket pays for the missing amount each month, if needed, if not needed, you get a tax credit at the end of the year.

You are a couple with only one person working in the household. No problem. Your existing taxes pay for that person. Your aging parent is living with you: their social security pays $357 for their medical needs.
You have one or two children, with just one income earner. No problem, we hit the tax pocket for the extra health units. More than two? Ask the taxman.

Someone needs to go to work, maybe. Don’t expect a tax refund.

That guy is making $33,000 and paying in for healthcare and taxes ($4290 plus $7790) or $12,080 a year or $1,006 per month for medical coverage of himself/herself and his/her partner and their two dependents. Might not be paying for the national defense or the interstate highway system, but at least that person is paying for healthcare for the whole family.

What does that buy?
That needs to be determined yet, but that car payment of $357 is the SAME amount he pays for every person in the family to a maximum of $1,006 per month.

Who collects this money?
The same person that collects your taxes will collect your healthcare payment (lets not call it a tax…).

Who pays for the healthcare insurance package?
The same person that pays your grandmother each month: Social Security.
Social Security will now collect for your so called retirement benefit and for your healthcare benefit.

Who pays the insurance company?
Social Security pays them for the standard U.S. Healthcare Policy the amount of $357 a month per person per month.

What does the working citizen or working non-citizen get for that amount per month?
That minimum package of care is yet to be determined by a bill in Congress.

Non-citizen worker?
IF you are paying into the Social Security fund, you get health benefits from Social Security. If not you have to go some where else, but if you show up at a county hospital, they are going to sell you the U.S. Healthcare Policy and contact your employer. We might need to ADD a group of IRS collection agents to enforce the collection of Social Security and Tax funds.

How does this affect my employer ?
They don’t have to offer health insurance. They get out of the health insurance business and leave it to the government and insurance companies. They simply do what they are doing now: collect the revenue for the IRS to pay social security. If they are NOT doing that much now, then the IRS will investigate why they are not collecting wage taxes and healthcare and Social Security funds.

Who pays my medical bills at the doctor’s office?
That remains to be determined by a bill in Congress.
Doctors seem to work it to be a single payer so they can eliminate all those staffers working the insurance paperwork (43% administrative cost by some estimates) and that would be Social Security.

What about Medicare and Medicaid?
They would not exist anymore. Might save some tax money there. Might not. It would roll into Social Security and not fall on the States and Counties. You would not be taxes locally for healthcare benefits for the elderly , retired, infirmed, disable or kids without health insurance.

Won’t this destroy our healthcare system as we know it today?
Your employer will save money and do nothing new with existing staff.
Your employer will not be paying you in health care benefits, they could pay you MORE money or hire MORE people or INVEST more. Your employer will stop trying to eliminate older workers, because it increases their health insurance rates. Your employer will be MORE COMPETITIVE in the world market, with healthier, more productive workers.

Your doctor will save money and do nothing new with reduced staff.
Your hospital will save money and do nothing new with reduced staff.

You will still be REQUIRED to pay for healthcare, social security, and taxes.
You might get paid more. You might not. IF you did not have healthcare before the bill in Congress passes, you will have it now. You will have to pay for it, so you might see that come out of your paycheck each month. You will have to work harder to pay for it. There is no free lunch.

Why will I be required to pay for it?
At one level, it is the same reason you are supposed to be paying taxes and social security benefit payments now.
At another level, it broads the base of insured people for insurance companies to get paid by and to spread out the benefits and risks over.
As a group of people, there is only one percent ( fact check) chance that someone will die of cancer and heart disease. It goes up or down for a specific person. If everyone is insured, the total costs of healthcare for a single individual goes down.

And, your health insurance companies will still be around getting rich.
It is still to be determined by a bill in Congress, but why wouldn’t they.
They will still be getting $357 per month per working person.
NOW, they will be paid for ALL working persons.
The payment will be guaranteed by the U.S. Treasury through the Social Security Service. The market for insurance will be bigger. The risks of payment will be reduced.
The risk of insuring an individual will be spread over the entire working population.

Using that car payment analogy once again, my Rich Uncle never pays for a NEW car.
Why? you ask.
He told me the other day that if I were to SAVE and INVEST that car payment of $357 per month in something that earned a compounded, interest rate of 5% (good luck with that one!) for 30 years, I would have $1.2 million dollars. Your health insurance company is going to make money and still pay all the medical bills, that is their job and role in life. God bless America.

Ranch Security and Gove-mint Authority

An Iowa State Trooper stops at a farm in rural Iowa and talks with an old
Farmer. He tells the Farmer, "I need to inspect your farm for illegally grown drugs."

The old Farmer says, "Okay, but don't go in that field over there".
The Trooper turns red and verbally explodes saying, "Mister, I have the
authority of the State of Iowa with me."

Reaching into his rear pocket and removing his badge, the Officer proudly displays it to the Farmer. "See this badge?!!

"This badge means I am allowed to go wherever I wish, ON ANY LAND, no questions asked, or answers given!! Have I made myself clear?? Do YOU understand?!!?"

The old Farmer nods politely and goes about his chores. Later, the old
Farmer hears loud screams, and sees the Trooper running for his life and
close behind is the Farmer's bull. With every step, the bull is gaining
on the Trooper. The Trooper is clearly terrified.

The old Farmer immediately throws down his tool's and runs to the fence, yelling at the top of his lungs..... "YOUR BADGE !! SHOW HIM YOUR BADGE!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The issue of how much Healthcare or Health Insurance Costs in USa

Healthcare or Health Insurance Costs are rising in the USA.

How about a Flat Rate Solution for Healthcare Costs and Payment?

1) The current average for health insurance is $13,000 per year for a family of four.

That is 1,083 per month. That is a house payment!

2) The current median family income makes $50,000 per year.

That is 4,117 per month. That is one 1/4 of the monthly income!


The average USA car payment is $378 over 63 months. The average family car payment is about $560 per month. The advice for buying cars is NOT TO DO MORE THAN 13% of your income in car payments per year... for $30,000 that is $325 per month or $3,900 per year ... for $50,000 that is $542 per month or $6,500 per year.

Why 13% of your income: Let’s say that you invested $378 every month, instead of making car payments from age 30 to age 65 (35 years). If you average a rate of return of 12 percent (which was doable), your money will grow to $2.4 million. Do you still want that car?

However that tells you that the Health Insurance company is making money!

4) Hey look at my Doctor's bill for last week: I was charge $488 for a doctor's visit and a complete set of lab work... AFTER THE 30% DISCOUNT for paying with CREDIT CARD OR CASH. $400 a month is what I should be paying in health insurance/health care or $4,800 a year. I just need a job paying $39, 923 a year to pay for it and the car.

Healthcare or Health Insurance should cost USa 13% of their income per month per person, with your taxes making up the difference to equal $400 per month person to a public or private healthcare insurer.

If you make $13 a hour, you should be paying $1.70 for heathcare ($304 per month). If you are making $7 a hour, you should be paying 91 cents for heathcare per hour ($168 per month) If you make $50 a hour, you should be paying $6.50 for healthcare per hour ($1,170 per month).

At the current rate the average cost of healthcare will increase by 300% if we DON'T DO ANYTHING.

WASHINGTON - A national advocacy group says health insurance premiums rose five times faster than earnings in Illinois from 2000 to 2009.

The report released Thursday says, on average, the annual insurance premium for a family paid by employers and workers rose from $7,220 to $13,397. That's an increase of nearly 86 percent.

The workers' portion rose at an even steeper pace.

Meanwhile, the median earnings of Illinois workers rose just 17 percent, from $26,806 to $31,414.

The report comes from Families USA, a group working to expand health care coverage. The group based its findings on federal data.

Congress is considering several bills that aim to restrain costs. But benefits consultants have said if any reform is passed this year, it won't have a major effect for a few years.


On the Net:


Facts on the Cost of Health Insurance and Health Care

Health care spending continues to rise at a rapid rate forcing businesses to cut back on health insurance coverage and forcing many families to cut back on basic necessities such as food and electricity and, in some cases, shelters and homes.

Experts agree that our health care system is riddled with inefficiencies, excessive administrative expenses, inflated prices, poor management and inappropriate care, waste and fraud. These problems increase the cost of medical care associated with government health programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and health insurance for employers and workers and affect the security of families.

National Health Care Spending

National health spending is expected to reach $2.5 trillion in 2009, accounting for 17.6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). By 2018, national health care expenditures are expected to reach $4.4 trillion—more than double 2007 spending.1

National health expenditures are expected to increase faster than the growth in GDP: between 2008 and 2018, the average increase in national health expenditures is expected to be 6.2 percent per year, while the GDP is expected to increase only 4.1 percent per year. 1

In just three years, the Medicare and Medicaid programs will account for 50 percent of all national health spending. 1

Medicare's Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund is expected to pay out more in hospital benefits and other expenditures this year than it receives in taxes and other dedicated revenues. In addition, the Medicare Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI) Trust Fund that pays for physician services and the prescription drug benefit will continue to require general revenue financing and charges on beneficiaries that will grow substantially faster than the economy and beneficiary incomes over time. 2

According to one study, of the $2.1 trillion the U.S. spent on health care in 2006, nearly $650 billion was above what we would expect to spend based on the level of U.S. wealth versus other nations. These additional costs are attributable to $436 billion outpatient care and another $186 billion of spending related to high administrative costs. 3

Employer and Employee Health Insurance Costs

Over the last decade, employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have increased 119 percent. 4

Employees have seen their share of job-based coverage increase at nearly the same rate during this period jumping from $1,543 to $3,354.4

The cumulative increase in employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have raised at four times the rate of inflation and wage increases during last decade. This increase has made it much more difficult for businesses to continue to provide coverage to their employees and for those workers to afford coverage themselves.4

The average employer-sponsored premium for a family of four costs close to $13,000 a year, and the employee foots about 30 percent of this cost.4

Health insurance costs are the fastest growing expense for employers. Employer health insurance costs overtook profits in 2008, and the gap grows steadily. 5

Total health insurance costs for employers could reach nearly $850 billion by 2019. Individual and family spending will jump considerably from $326 billion in 2009 to $550 billion in 2019.6

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that job-based health insurance could increase 100 percent over the next decade.7 Employer-based family insurance costs for a family of four will reach nearly $25,000 per year by 2018 absent health care reform.7

The Impact of Rising Health Care Costs

Economists have found that rising health care costs correlate with significant drops in health insurance coverage, and national surveys also show that the primary reason people are uninsured is due to the high and escalating cost of health insurance coverage.8

A recent study found that 62 percent of all bankruptcies filed in 2007 were linked to medical expenses. Of those who filed for bankruptcy, nearly 80 percent had health insurance.9

According to another published article, about 1.5 million families lose their homes to foreclosure every year due to unaffordable medical costs.10

Without health care reform, small businesses will pay nearly $2.4 trillion dollars over the next ten years in health care costs for their workers, 178,000 small business jobs will be lost by 2018 as a result of health care costs, $834 billion in small business wages will be lost due to high health care costs over the next ten years, small businesses will lose $52.1 billion in profits to high health care costs and 1.6 million small business workers will suffer “job lock“— roughly one in 16 people currently insured by their employers.11


1. Siska, A, et al, Health Spending Projections Through 2018: Recession Effects Add Uncertainty to The Outlook Health Affairs, March/April 2009; 28(2): w346-w357.
2. A Summary of the 2009 Annual Reports, Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees, 2009.
3. McKinsey & Company, Accounting for the Cost of U.S. Health Care – A New Look on Why Americans Spend More. McKinsey & Company, 2007
4. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Employee Health Benefits: 2008 Annual Survey. September 2008.
5. McKinsey and Company. The McKinsey Quarterly Chart Focus Newsletter, “Will Health Benefit Costs Eclipse Profits,” September, 2004 and updated by Eric Jensen, Senior Fellow, McKinsey and Company at National Coalition on Health Care Forum on National Health Care Reform and Its Potential Impacts on New York, May 27, 2009.
6.Health Reform: The Cost of Failure. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, May 2009.
7. Congressional Budget Office, “Taxes and Health Insurance,” February 29, 2008.
8. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. The Uninsured: A Primer, Key Facts About Americans without Health Insurance. 2009. April 2009.
9. Himmelstein, D, E., et al, “Medical Bankruptcy in the United States, 2007: Results of a National Study, American Journal of Medicine, May 2009.
10. Robertson, C.T., et al. “Get Sick, Get Out: The Medical Causes of Home Mortgage Foreclosures,” Health Matrix, 2008.
11. The Economic Impact of Healthcare Reform on Small Business, Small Business Majority, June 2009.


Cancer, health insurance, bankruptcy

17:31 GMT +00:00

Cancer, health insurance, bankruptcy
Posted :
Categories:Health care
COMPLAINTS have been made around the blogosphere of late, including, quite astutely, by my colleague here, that too much bandwidth is being devoted to ridiculing the rantings of crazy people, and not enough to saying useful things about important stuff. Point taken. So, apropos of not very much, let's talk about cancer, and its relationship to health-insurance systems. What country's health system does the best job of treating people who get cancer? And if we change America's health insurance system, how might that affect things?

The best international comparison we have, published in the British Medical Journal in 2008, shows that in the 1990s, America had the best survival rates for breast and prostate cancers, while France and Japan had the best survival rates for colon and rectal cancers. The overall cancer survival rate was highest in America. Note that the data reflect cancers that were diagnosed between 1990 and 1994, when far fewer European women received regular mammograms; today, women in France, the Netherlands, and Sweden are more likely to have had a mammogram in the last two years than American women. (And beware of professional propagandists like Betsy McCaughey who say cancer survival rates are far better in America than in "Europe": she is using a 47-country definition of Europe that includes Poland, Hungary, and other poor Eastern European countries. In comparisons with countries like the Netherlands, France and Sweden, with incomes and health systems closer to America's, the differences shrink radically, and in some cases the European countries come out on top.)

So, what about how this treatment gets paid for in American and Europe? Well, in France, there's a modest co-pay for most health services and products. But not for cancer. If you get cancer, treatment is free. Insurance covers it. That's why they call it "insurance".

In America, on the other hand, it depends. A 2006 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health found that 25% of cancer patients and their families had used up "all or most" of their savings paying for treatment; 11% said they had been unable to get health insurance again afterwards; 6% said they had actually lost their insurance because of having cancer. In all, 12.5% had been uninsured for at least some of the time since they were diagnosed. Better hope that doesn't happen to you: 46% of them reported they had at some point been unable to pay for necessities like food, housing, or heating. Overall, 10% of cancer patients said they had maxed out their insurer's cap on total reimbursements, meaning they had to start paying for everything themselves.

This is the system that explains America's high level of medical bankruptcies. Another Harvard study released in May found that in 2007, 65% of personal bankruptcies had involved high medical bills. Most of those people had insurance. But even with insurance, their annual out-of-pocket medical bills averaged over $17,000. Yup, that'll do it.

So, where would you rather get cancer? In America, you have a modestly better chance of surviving most cancers for 5 years. But there's a 1 in 4 chance you will lose your life savings and a 1 in 10 chance you will have to beg for food or rent, while in France, the whole thing will cost you nothing. What'll it be? But wait: why are we even asking this question? Why don't we just change our insurance system to fix the payment problem, but keep our great treatment system? We could eliminate rescission and lifetime caps on coverage, mandate that insurers have to ignore pre-existing conditions so that a cancer diagnosis doesn't mean you can never get insurance again even if you're cured, and use government subsidies so people who are too rich for Medicaid can still afford insurance, and nobody has to blow their kids' college fund on chemotherapy. In other words, we could do what the House health-insurance reform bill does! How is insuring everyone, and making sure that "insurance" actually means insurance, going to make cancer treatment in America worse? Are cancer-treatment centres all eager to preserve a situation in which their patients may abruptly lose insurance coverage and have to mortgage their house to afford drugs? Is someone really going to argue that in order to have the world's best cancer-treatment system, we need to arbitrarily bankrupt a million or so unsuspecting saps every year? That our treatment outcomes are so great because of our fine insurance system? Surely no one could take that claim seriously.

Two weeks of illness (mine and my dogs) and too much of America's Got Talent series, got me to thinking about Cancer and Healthcare Reform...

Padilla and Zohn represent the problems we have in USa Healthcare: Padilla did not pay for her cancer treatment, Zohn is paying for his treatments.

Mexico and the State of Texas paid for Padilla. Zohn has private insurance.

However, ALL insurance policies have loopholes for cancer. You survive cancer with treatment. You get treatment if you are RICH or INSURED... or very poor with connections. If you are insured you have a 50:50 chance that bankruptcy comes NEXT.

Cancer treatment is one of the most expensive examples of what private health insurance DOES NOT FULLY COVER.

Cancer Survivors are frequently Medical Bankruptcies


Top contender on America’s Got Talent Barbara Padilla is an inspiration for moms across America.

Not only is this amazing opera singer blessed with incredible talent, she also has the heart and soul, and determination of a true champion. Diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, Barbara battled for her life through agonizing rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. She was told that she may never sing again, and faced death on more than one occasion. The sweet songbird of opera and mother of 3-year-old daughter Elizabeth not only stared adversity in the face; she battled it to the bitter end and was ultimately victorious.

Barbara was born in Guadalajara, Mexico where she studied music, acting, and dance. She graduated from the Universidad de Guadalajara as a music instructor and studied voice. She was the section leader and soloist for the State choir of Jalisco. Barbara was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma and underwent several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. During this time Barbara was told that she may never be able to sing again as the radiation could harm her vocal chords. She was in treatment for several years and was near death on more than one occasion, but her faith, family and friends helped her through those difficult times.

After traveling to Houston for a consultation with doctors at MD Anderson, Barbara had a chance to audition for the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. She was awarded a full scholarship where she pleted the Masters Degree program. Her acplishments while at UofH include first place winner in NATS peion in 2001 in the advanced sinemas category. Barbara was a participant in the summer program IIVArts held in Chiari, Italy. She was invited to sing the American and Mexican National Anthems for the sold out, historic soccer game at Reliant Stadium. Barbara has been part of numerous important events with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico. Barbara now makes her home in Texas where she is married and has a beautiful 3 year old daughter. She hopes to continue her singing and acting career.

The most humbling thing about Barbara Padilla is her introspective look at the disease that nearly defeated her. On tonight’s episode of America’s Got Talent, she looked into the camera and bravely said, “My illness has been one of the biggest blessings of my life because it carved a path that led me to America, led me to meet my husband and to have my daughter.” Barbara’s husband said that he realized what kind of woman his wife was when she said the cancer gave her so much more than it took away.

Barbara Padillo remains the favorite on America’s Got Talent, and earned rave reviews and a standing ovation from all three judges tonight. Pierce Morgan best expressed the feelings of moms across America when he said, “Tonight there are millions of Americans at home watching you, thinking she’s one of us and she’s living our dreams.”

From Moms across America, we wish you the best of luck, Barbara. You are a true inspiration to all.

Voting results from tonight's performances will air tomorrow on WXIA in Atlanta at 9:00 PM. Britain's Got Talent sensation Susan Boyle is scheduled to perform


One of most talented contestants of this year's America's Got Talent is Texas native, singer Barbara Padilla. She has said on the show that she is a cancer survivor, but did not say what kind of cancer she had. According to her website (

"Barbara was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma and underwent several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. During this time Barbara was told that she may never be able to sing again as the radiation could harm her vocalchords. She was in treatment for several years and was near death onmore than one occasion, but her faith, family and friends helped her through those difficult times."

Hodgkin's Disease (Hodgkin's Lymphoma) is named for the physician who first described the disease- Dr. Thomas Hodgkin. It is a cancer of the immune system, specifically of infection-fighting lymph cells (lymphocytes) found in lymph nodes, spleen, liver and bone marrow. It is most common in two different age groups- 15-40 year-olds,and those over 55 years old. In Hodgkin's Disease, lymphocytes are transformed into much larger cells called Reed-Sternberg cells, which have the ability to divide in an uncontrolled manner, thus spreading throughout the body.
Symptoms of Hodgkin's Disease include:

painless swelling of the lymph nodes, especially in the neck, armpits, or groin
fever and chills
night sweats
weight loss
loss of appetite
itchy skin

Lymph nodes in Hodgkin's Lymphoma Dr. Thomas Hodgkin

As in most other kinds of cancer,treatment and prognosis are related to "staging" of the disease. What this means is how far along is the cancer? Is it localized to one area?Has it spread to local lymph nodes? Can it be found in other, more distant organs? For lymphoma in particular- are there tumor cells in the bone marrow. Treatment usually consists of chemotherapy, radiation therapy or both. Fortunately for patients with Hodgkin's Disease, the prognosis has improved dramatically over the years. Today the survival rate for Hodgkin's lymphoma is generally 90% or higher when the disease is detected during early stages, making it one of the more curable forms of cancer.

Back in May, we reported on another celebrity affected by Hodgkin's Disease, Ethan Zohn, who said that the most frightening aspects of his disease are the medical bills, even though he had what he considered "decent" health insurance:

With his usual good humor, Ethan Zohn addresses what he considers the scariest part of being treated for cancer: Dealing with the avalanche of bills that come with modern healthcare.

In this week's video update, the 2002 Survivor winner explains that two of his chemotherapy treatments add up to nearly $23,000 – and he requires six of them.

"These bills are insane," he says, noting that this financial burden arrives even with the "decent" insurance coverage that he carries.

On April 30, Zohn, 35, was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin's disease. His chemo treatments began in May.


Ethan Zohn, the million dollar grand prize winner of Survivor: Africa, has disclosed that after three months of intensive chemotherapy, his cancer has returned.

"I was running up to seven miles [training for the New York Marathon]," the 35-year-old told People. "I was happy, I was going out."

Everything was going well until Aug. 26, when he learned the bad news.

"It was a complete punch in the face," said Zohn, who has shaved off his trademark locks after losing much of his mane during chemo. "I have never been so scared in my life, for my life."

Zohn will now undergo a new treatment, including a stem-cell transplant, to battle the rare form of Hodgkin's disease.

"Then I'm cured," he said, adding, "Whatever things are thrown at you, you've got to battle through with a smile on your face...and the important people in your life around you."

Originally posted Monday September 14, 2009 07:55 AM EDT
Ethan Zohn

Just last month, for the first time since being diagnosed with a rare form of Hodgkin's disease in April – followed by three months of intense chemotherapy – Ethan Zohn was finally feeling good.

"I was off chemo," he says. "I was running up to seven miles" in preparation for November's New York City Marathon. "I was happy, I was going out. I went up to Boston to see the family and was feeling great."

Then, on Aug. 26, his doctor called with post-chemo test results – and they were not good. "My cancer is back," Zohn, 35, tells PEOPLE. "I have never been so scared in my life, for my life."

"It was a complete punch in the face," says the Survivor: Africa winner, who had been making regular video diaries for (Stay tuned for the latest chapter.) When the bad news hit, Zohn decided to wait until doctors started him on a new course of treatment before sharing the news with family, friends and now the rest of the world.

Family Reaction
"My mom was obviously upset," Zohn says. "My brothers – everyone's upset. They can't believe it's what's happening. But on the flip side, everyone's positive and supportive."

He adds, "You have to think positive. And you have to find the strength, which I will. And you have to rely on other people, which I will."

The chemotherapy Zohn had endured since May left him hairless and plagued by nausea. But it did have some positive effect: The mango-sized tumor in his chest shrunk significantly. "The original mass is pretty well contained," Zohn says.

That's the good news. The bad news showed up on PET and CAT scans: "There was re-growth," Zohn explains. "Two little nodules in a different location … It's quite rare that not only is there re-growth, but that there's re-growth so quickly. I was obviously resistant to the first form of chemotherapy."

Now, doctors have ordered a stem cell transplant aimed, as he puts it, at "hitting the reset button" on his body.

New Treatment
The new treatment – officially called risk-adapted high dose chemoradiotherapy and autologous stem cell transplantation for patients with relapsed and primary Hodgkin's lymphoma – will take place in three stages.

The once-shaggy-haired soccer player just emerged from the first part of stage one: He spent three days in a hospital last week, where he received a combination of chemotherapy drugs referred to as ICE. Since Zohn's immune system was in such a fragile state, his girlfriend, Survivor: The Amazon winner Jenna Morasca, slept in a chair at his bedside each night dressed in a hospital gown, protective mask and rubber gloves.

After three weeks of rest, he'll return to the hospital for a second in-patient ICE treatment that will last four days. Doctors will then harvest healthy stem cells from Zohn's body and freeze them for later use.

"In stage two I will get blasted twice a day for 14 days with a high dose of radiation," Zohn told friends via e-mail last week. "In the final and most difficult stage, I will be admitted to the hospital for 30 days (yes a whole f'ing month), to get my final chemotherapy session to start my stem cell transplant."

Remaining Positive
Zohn says that both his red and white blood cell count will be brought down to zero during the month-long hospital stay – most likely in December – at which time his frozen, healthy stem cells will be reintroduced with the aim of replenishing his body entirely with non-cancerous cells.

"Then I'm cured," he said in his e-mail to friends, showing his usual air of hope and humor. "Easy as 1, 2, 3 … 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 … 1000 … 1,000,000."

As he has since beginning his battle, Zohn is vowing to remain positive. "Whatever things are thrown at you, you've got to battle through with a smile on your face," he says, "and the important people in your life around you."

Drive Clean Across Texas... learn how to save gasoline and enter to win a NEW Ford Escape Hybrid

Why so few posts lately... honestly, I have not had the heart...

Lose Weight to Save Your Heart: "If there is heart disease in your family, or you're on prescriptions for blood pressure, or your doctor warns you about extra heart risks, you may feel a bit like disease is your destiny. But take heart. In its Guidelines for the Treatment of Overweight and Obesity, The National Institutes of Health report that a 5 percent to 10 percent weight loss can make a huge difference, and February — American Heart Month — is a great time to pick up the pace toward your weight goal. But first, find out what losing weight can do for you. "

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - Researchers: Mythical, Bloodsucking Chupacabra Found in Texas Just a Coyote - Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News - Researchers: Mythical, Bloodsucking Chupacabra Found in Texas Just a Coyote - Science News Science & Technology Technology News: "SAN MARCOS, Texas — The results are in: The ugly, big-eared animal found this summer in southern Texas is not the mythical, bloodsucking chupacabra. It's just a plain old coyote. Biologists at Texas State University announced Thursday night they had identified the hairless doglike creature using DNA testing of tissue sample -- it is a hairless coyote."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ever wonder what we are spending on TWO WARS? Wonder no more... click on this link and see what it is costing USa and what you paid as a taxpayer.

COSTOFWAR.COM - The Cost of War

Posted using ShareThis

A Good Fit: We broke the 4-minute Million on our War Spending....

A Good Fit: $ for war, $ for health . . . high dollars:
We broke the 4-minute million. As in dollars. I clocked it twice.
About every 3:56 minutes we waste $1,000,000 on war.
At 4pm CDT today we'd squandered $908,653,700,000 in 8 years of war
Stop the killing, start the healing!"

Claudia has an interesting point of view at A Good Fit:

Adventures in Peru - August 2009

Adventures in Peru - August 2009: "These 'mines' were really fascinating. They even precede the Incas to earlier indigenous people. There is a saline volcanic spring coming out of the side of the mountain at this point and running down the valley. Natives hundreds of years ago saw the advantages of that and began constructing pits for the water to collect in and then, through evaporation, produce salt that they could harvest. Over the years, more and more individuals built their own pits with the overflow water of one being channeled to the next. It is, to this day, an actively worked source of salt harvested on a regular basis by individuals."

Scott's Adventures in Peru continue to be an interesting read:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hate Email in my inbox today... why does it always seem to reflect religion these days... Reminds me of Robert A. Heinlein's The Crazy Years just...

I am getting too many of these to respond to, so I have stopped.

I don't report them to the "Obama Police" and I don't post many of them here...
adds to the pollution level. But this one struck a note of rememberance with me.
Today, October 9, 9-11 which is now a day of rememberance like the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor for December 7, 1941. President Franklin Roosevelt called December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, for at least one generation of Americans.

If you read Robert A. Heinlein's books, you will find his "Future History 1951-2600 A.D." timeline inserted into the older editions. He sat down in 1946 and mapped out what he thought would be the Future History of the United States of America and the surrounding countries and universe. He foresaw the rise of a Religious Dictatorship in 2020 A.D. following a period of time called the Crazy Years.

We seem to be in the Crazy Years of Heinlien... the dates are just a bit off. WE seem to be bit off our rockers these days as well...

Robert A. Heinlein's Future History series developed systematically as never before the key vision of the future as complex, evolving, and filled with real people possessing concerns we can recognize and empathize with. Whatever comes will be our future and we will live in it every day.

In the thirty years between the first story's publication and Americans walking on the Moon, many of Heinlein's futuristic concepts became part of the everyday mental furniture of forward-looking people, including the teenagers and scientists and engineers and politicians and military men and voters and taxpayers who made happen the American space program.

The heart of the Future History series appeared in Astounding Science Fiction from 1939 through 1942, with another clutch of stories mostly in the slick magazines after World War II, 1946 through 1950. A couple of short stories appeared later. The 1941 novel Methuselah's Children was revised and expanded for book publication in 1958, and the longer novel Time Enough for Love appeared in 1973.

The annotated list at the link above shows only stories actually written, in chronological order within the series. For the time-lines of the characters, and Heinlein's fascinating notes for cultural background, turn to a copy of his full Future History chart. Some titles originally charted by Heinlein but never written are set during a period of religious dictatorship; he likely found these plots too negative to enjoy developing.


Dead On!

And it came to pass in the Age of Insanity that the people of the land
called America , having lost their morals, their initiative, and their
will to defend their liberties, chose as their Supreme Leader that
person known as "The One."

He emerged from the vapors with a message that had no meaning; but He
hypnotized the people telling them, "I am sent to save you." My lack
of experience, my questionable ethics, my monstrous ego, and my
association with evil doers are of no consequence. I shall save you
with hope and Change. Go, therefore, and proclaim throughout the
land that he who proceeded me is evil, that he has defiled the nation,
and that all he has built must be destroyed. And the people rejoiced,
for even though they knew not what "The One" would do, he had promised
that it was good; and they believed. And "The One" said " We live in
the greatest country in the world. Help me change everything about it!"

And the people said, "Hallelujah! Change is good!"

Then He said, "We are going to tax the rich fat-cats." And the
people said "Sock it to them!" "And redistribute their wealth." And
the people said, "Show us the money!" And the he said, "
redistribution of wealth is good for everybody."

And Joe the plumber asked, " Are you kidding me? You're going to
steal my money and give it to the deadbeats??" And "The One"
ridiculed and taunted him, and Joe's personal records were hacked and publicized.
One lone reporter asked, "Isn't that Marxist policy?" And she was
banished from the kingdom!

Then a citizen asked, "With no foreign relations experience and
having zero military experience or knowledge, how will deal with
radical terrorists?" And "The One" said, "Simple. I shall sit with
them and talk with them and show them how nice we really are; and they
will forget that they ever wanted to kill us all!" And the people
said, "Hallelujah!! We are safe at last, and we can beat our weapons
into free cars for the people!"

Then "The One" said "I shall give 95% of you lower taxes." And one,
lone voice said, "But 40% of us don't pay ANY taxes." So "The One"
said, "Then I shall give you some of the taxes the fat-cats pay!"
And the people said, "Hallelujah! Show us the money!"

Then "The One" said, "I shall tax your Capital Gains when you sell
your homes!" And the people yawned and the slumping housing market
collapsed. And He said.. "I shall mandate employer-funded health care
for every worker and raise the minimum wage. And I shall give every
person unlimited healthcare and medicine and transportation to the
clinics." And the people said, "Give me some of that!"
Then he said, "I shall penalize employers who ship jobs overseas."
And the people said, "Where's my rebate check?"

Then "The One" said, "I shall bankrupt the coal industry and
electricity rates will skyrocket!" And the people said, "Coal is
dirty, coal is evil, no more coal! But we don't care for that part
about higher electric rates." So "The One" said, Not to worry. If
your rebate isn't enough to cover your expenses, we shall bail you out.

Just sign up with the ACORN and you troubles are over!"

Then He said, "Illegal immigrants feel scorned and slighted. Let's
grant them amnesty, Social Security, free education, free lunches,
free medical care, bi-lingual signs and guaranteed housing..." And
the people said, "Hallelujah!" and they made him king!

And so it came to pass that employers, facing spiraling costs and
ever-higher taxes, raised their prices and laid off workers. Others
simply gave up and went out of business and the economy sank like unto
a rock dropped from a cliff.

The banking industry was destroyed. Manufacturing slowed to a
crawl. And more of the people were without a means of support.

Then "The One" said, "I am the "the One"- The Messiah - and I'm here
to save you! We shall just print more money so everyone will have
enough!" But our foreign trading partners said unto Him. "Wait a
minute. Your dollar is not worth a pile of camel dung! You will have
to pay more... And "The One" said, "Wait a minute. That is
unfair!!" And the world said, "Neither are these other idiotic
programs you have embraced. Lo, you have become a Socialist state and
a second-rate power. Now you shall play by our rules!"

And the people cried out, "Alas, alas!! What have we done?" But yea
verily, it was too late. The people set upon The One and spat upon
him and stoned him, and his name was dung. And the once mighty nation
was no more; and the once proud people were without sustenance or
shelter or hope. And the Change "The One" had given them was as like
unto a poison that had destroyed then and like a whirlwind that
consumed all that they had built.

And the people beat their chests in despair and cried out in anguish,
"give us back our nation and our pride and our hope!!" But it was too
late, and their homeland was no more.

You may think this a fairy tale, but it's not.
It's happening RIGHT NOW

THIS really tells it like it is. After reading it -- and before you go into the bathroom to throw-up -- forward it to your friends and those you know who care about our country and what is happening to it under the rule of Commissar Obamanation.

Notice: This e-mail may contain privileged and/or confidential information and is intended only for the addressee. If you are not the addressee or the person responsible for delivering it to the addressee, you may not copy or distribute this communication to anyone else. If you received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by telephone or return e-mail and promptly delete the original message from your system.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

47 or 307 or 15% of USa are not insured...since I don't have health insurance at the moment, it just seems like there are more of us uninsured...

News Alert from The Wall Street Journal

The number of people lacking health insurance in the U.S. rose to 46.3 million in 2008, the Census Bureau reported. The figure is up from 45.7 million in 2007, amid erosion of employer-provided insurance. Still, the level remained below the peak of 47 million who were uninsured in 2006, because of the growth of government insurance programs.

The nation's poverty rate increased to 13.2%, up from 12.5% in 2007.

President Makes His Pitch

Health Plan Cut to $900 Billion With Tax on Premium Coverage; GOP Unconvinced.
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama gave an emotional, sometimes contentious address to Congress on Wednesday, combining tough talk to opponents with olive branches on policy in a bid to break the impasse on revamping the health-care system.

Calling the initiative "my plan," Mr. Obama set the size of a health-insurance plan at $900 billion over 10 years, a figure smaller than versions approved in the House and fully paid for, he said, by spending cuts and tax increases. Most individuals would be required to purchase health insurance, but the costs would be mitigated by generous tax credits. Large employers would also face a requirement to offer health coverage to employees or pay a fine, while most small businesses would be exempt.

The president pledged to tackle medical-malpractice lawsuits in an overture to Republicans. He singled out his former presidential rival, Sen. John McCain, in embracing one of the Arizona Republican's health-care proposals. And he promised new cost controls that could scale back his plan if health-care inflation isn't brought under control.

But Mr. Obama chastised Republican leaders who talked of death panels. The president called it "a lie, plain and simple." He warned, "I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it's better politics to kill this plan than improve it....If you misrepresent what's in the plan, we will call you out. And I will not accept the status quo as a solution, not this time, not now."

Republicans in turn held aloft copies of health-care bills they have drafted in a quiet rebuke to a president who has said they have offered nothing constructive. One, Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, shouted "lie" when Mr. Obama said his plan wouldn't cover illegal immigrants, though the Democratic bills circulating in Congress do exclude illegal immigrants from eligibility for subsidies. Mr. Wilson late Wednesday issued a statement apologizing to Mr. Obama for "this lack of civility."

Overall, Mr. Obama tried to make the case to consumers that his plan would provide more stability for those who already have insurance, and coverage for those who don't. Republicans said the plan is too expensive and will lead to excessive government control.

Obama Speech 'Robust, Uncompromising'2:05Amid speculation he would present a less contentious health-care plan, WSJ's Jonathan Weisman and Janet Adamy say President Obama delivered a mostly uncompromising speech peppered with a few olive branches.

Mr. Obama embraced for the first time a proposal to impose a fee on insurers that sell high-end plans -- a concession that could hit not only lawyers and bankers but also unions that bargained for premium health plans.

And in an effort aimed at key Republican negotiators in the Senate, the White House outlined a new pilot program to move medical-malpractice cases out of the court system and put them before expert panels and arbitrators. White House officials say the program, first floated by President George W. Bush, would be instituted by executive order and wouldn't be included in the health-care legislation.

"I don't believe malpractice reform is a silver bullet," Mr. Obama said, "but I have talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs."

It was one of the few areas of the plan that Republicans praised, and it won strong endorsement from doctors, who say the threat of lawsuits drives up medical costs by encouraging defensive medicine.

"We think this is just an excellent first step," said Rebecca Patchin, board chairman for the American Medical Association, the influential doctors' group.

The McCain initiative endorsed by Mr. Obama would allow high-risk individuals to join insurance pools that couldn't deny them coverage for pre-existing conditions. That would be in effect until 2013, when a broader, federally controlled insurance exchange would go into force.

That exchange should carry a government-run "public option" that would be self-sufficient and maintained by premiums, Mr. Obama said. He acknowledged alternative ideas by opponents of the public plan, such as nonprofit cooperatives, or a trigger mechanism that would start up the public plan only in states where health costs are not going down.

"But," he added to Democratic applause and Republican silence, "I will not back down on the basic principle that if Americans can't find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice."

In an interview, Mr. McCain said he was glad to get a nod from the president, but said Mr. Obama must do more to win over Republicans. "I think the cost is still the key issue and how you pay for it," Mr. McCain said.

"I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last."

In one of the speech's more emotional moments, Mr. Obama read excerpts from a letter that the late Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts asked to be delivered to the president upon his death.

Senior White House officials acknowledged the stakes for the speech were high, after heated town-hall meetings and other signs of public unease emerged this summer. Months ago, the president, who has long used his oratorical skills to get him out of political trouble, planned a speech to Congress or to the nation this fall to give health care a final push, but officials said the bruising summer had nudged that address forward.

Mr. Obama decried what he called a "partisan spectacle" that hardened "the disdain many Americans have toward their own government." He added that "the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action."

Most of the proposals the president outlined in his speech were the same changes he has championed since he launched his effort to fix the health system in March. He proposed several steps similar to what congressional committees have already approved.

These include doing away with lifetime caps on coverage and "recissions," a practice used by insurers to drop customers once they get sick. Out-of-pocket expenses also would be capped. People who don't have insurance through their employer would be encouraged to buy plans on a federally operated policy exchange, and, if under a certain income, would be given tax credits to help them afford it.

Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican the White House has hopes of winning over, complained the president didn't do enough to reach across party lines. "I understand his frustration with what had been some misrepresentations by both sides, but I thought that he could have been more conciliatory in his tone," she said.

Rank-and-file Republicans acknowledged the health-care system needs work. "It's clear the American people want health-care reform, but they want their elected leaders to get it right," Louisiana Rep. Charles Boustany, a cardiothoracic surgeon, said in his party's response to the president.

In an interview, Mr. Boustany acknowledged Republicans had done little to address the looming problems of health care when they controlled Washington. But the Democratic approach is too big, unfocused and fraught with potential dangers, Mr. Boustany said, and he predicted Mr. Obama's speech wouldn't change many minds.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said he intends to bring a health-overhaul bill before his influential panel the week of Sept. 21. The Montana Democrat said he will continue to work toward winning Republican votes, but he made clear he intends to move forward with or without GOP backing. "This is our moment," he said.

Under the Obama malpractice initiative, states will be eligible for grants for experiments aimed at reducing lawsuits and promoting patient safety. One idea would encourage early disclosure of medical errors, rewarded by mediating claims rather than litigating. Another effort states could pursue would require individuals to obtain an affidavit issued by experts or panels of doctors stating that the case has merit before proceeding in court.

In endorsing a tax on generous health plans, Mr. Obama risks alienating organized labor, a key ally in the debate. While that tax would be levied on insurers, "our concern is that the costs would get passed onto people who aren't the Goldman Sachs executives," said Gerald Shea of the AFL-CIO

The two potential compromises on the public plan didn't alleviate the concerns of insurers, who have been its fiercest opponents. They fear health-care cooperatives -- which would offer coverage to compete with private insurers and receive federal backing to get started, but wouldn't be run by the government -- would be exempt from the fines and regulations facing private plans.

"Government controls a lot of the spending today" in health care, said Alissa Fox, a senior vice president at the BlueCross BlueShield Association, which represents 39 independent insurers. "We don't think the solution is more government spending."

But Democrats were happy Mr. Obama was starting to lead. "I think tonight is the opening salvo of the Democrats' counterattack," said Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.). "We have been on defensive in August; today, in September, we go on offensive."

—Greg Hitt and Naftali Bendavid contributed to this article.
Write to Jonathan Weisman at and Janet Adamy at

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A1

Republicans Respond to Obama in Real Time

On the House floor yesterday, Americans could witness how the "nation's rapidly deteriorating discourse hit yet another low," writes Dana Milbank, of the Washington Post. The most egregious case took place when Obama was emphasizing that illegal immigrants wouldn't get benefits under his health care proposals. Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted out: "You lie!"

Soon, the chamber turned into a version of High School Musical as several people could be heard murmuring "ooh," though, sadly, no one said "snap!" Wilson, who later apologized, may have stolen the show, but he was hardly the only Republican who felt the need to respond in real time with something other than clapping. House Republicans booed, hissed, and grumbled. While some Democrats may have acted a bit inappropriatedly, "the insolence by House Republicans" certainly took the cake. And it wasn't just because of their taunts, but also for their incredible callousness when Obama gave a tribute to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, arguably the most emotional part of the evening, and they decided to take out their smartphones.

Some individual members were animated throughout. When Obama said that slowing the growth of health care costs by one-tenth of 1 percent would reduce the deficit by $4 trillion, deficit hawk Paul Ryan rolled his eyes and grimaced, as if doing the calculation in his head. Republicans were also quick to laugh—a little too hard, perhaps—when Obama understated that "there remain some significant details to be ironed out."

But the guy who stole the show, of course, was Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina. When Obama said that health care reform will not cover illegal immigrants, Wilson shouted, "You lie!" Heads snapped, and the member next to him gestured for him to quiet down. Obama paused slightly and pointed, but seemed unfazed. (When the speech was over, Wilson vanished.)

So, Anything New in President's Health Care Speech?

In his much-hyped address before a joint session of Congress, President Obama didn't have many surprises up his sleeve, but he did explicitly incorporate a few new outside ideas to his plan in a clear bid to get support for his signature issue.

For the first time, the president said the legislation shouldn't cost more than $900 billion over 10 years, making it clear he has taken seriously all the warnings that Americans are particularly fearful of crossing the $1 trillion mark. After much back-and-forth over the past few months, Obama seemed to express support for the idea of taxing the most expensive health insurance policies, a move opposed by both insurers and labor unions. He also tried to reassure a skeptical public that he was serious about not increasing the federal deficit by vowing to include a measure that would require more spending cuts if the promised savings failed to materialize.

In what was seen as a particularly strong bid to gain support from Republicans and doctors, Obama also said his administration would begin pilot projects to test potential ways to decrease the number of medical malpractice cases. In addition, Obama mentioned Sen. John McCain by name when expressing support for his proposal to create a mechanism where people with pre-existing conditions could get coverage until the broader insurance exchange would be implemented. These two initiatives seem to make it clear that the administration is ready to make a familiar argument that "the final bill would be bipartisan not because it garners Republican votes but because it contains Republican ideas," notes the NYT.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Student Debt Grows Dramatically -

Student Debt Grows Dramatically - CLICK TO READ THE ARTICLE

"Students are borrowing dramatically more to pay for college, accelerating a trend that has wide-ranging implications for a generation of young people.
New numbers from the U.S. Education Department show that federal student-loan disbursements—the total amount borrowed by students and received by schools—in the 2008-09 academic year grew about 25% over the previous year, to $75.1 billion. The amount of money students borrow has long been on the rise. But last year far surpassed past increases, which ranged from as low as 1.7% in the 1998-99 school year to almost 17% in 1994-95, according to figures used in President Barack Obama's proposed 2010 budget.
The sharp growth is 'definitely above expectations,' says Robert Shireman, deputy undersecretary of the Education Department. 'But we're also in an economic situation that nobody predicted.' The eye-opening increase in borrowing is largely due to the dire economic environment, which is causing more people to seek federal loans, he says.
The new numbers highlight how debt has become commonplace in paying for higher education. Today, two-thirds of college students borrow to pay for college, and their average debt load is $23,186 by the time they graduate, according to an analysis of the government's National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, conducted by financial-aid expert Mark Kantrowitz. Only a dozen years earlier, according to the study, 58% of students borrowed to pay for college, and the average amount borrowed was $13,172."

The Importance of Willingham’s Story

The Importance of Willingham’s Story
posted on September 7, 2009 at 2:49 PM

Business was slow last week for the Contrarian -- and by slow, I mean nonexistent. I was on vacation all week. But, alas, that's over, and I'll be posting regularly again this week.

While I was away, the Cameron Todd Willingham case became national news. Willingham, as most of you probably know by now, was executed in 2004 for allegedly killing his three children in a 1991 house fire in North Texas. Most arson experts believe he was innocent. I've been following the Willingham case while working on an investigative series about people wrongly convicted of arson.

This week's New Yorker features a 16,000 word story on Willingham by David Grann. Lots of fascinating detail in the piece.
Grann hits on many of the problems with Texas' criminal justice system. (He also has a wonderful and spot on description of Gerald Hurst, an Austin-based arson expert I've been working with for my own stories.)

Grann was interviewed about the story on NPR's All Things Considered last week. You can read the transcript or listen to the audio here.

(During the interview, host Robert Siegel was kind of enough to give a shout out to my arson series in the Observer.)

The Willingham case is certainly important, especially for those campaigning against capital punishment. Texas -- of all places -- may become the first state to admit executing an innocent man.

But the Willingham case is closed. It's too late, I'm sad to say, to save him. There are other wrongly convicted people sitting in prison at this very moment whose cases need public attention. In that sense, I hope the national publicity over the Willingam case will inform people about the flaws in the criminal justice system and especially the problems with forensic arson cases.

Hurst believes that faulty arson forensics may have sent hundreds of innocent people to prison. There are nearly 800 Texans serving sentences for arson related crimes.

Those include Curtis Severns -- the Plano gun shop owner serving a 27 year sentence in federal prison for a crime he almost certainly didn't commit. Read his story here.
And Ed Graf -- a case Hurst describes as perhaps even more flawed than the one against Willingham. (The third story in the series will be out in our October 3 issue.)

It's too late for Willingham. But perhaps the power of his story can help save many others.

Todd Willingham Execution Background: text of the article that Claudia referenced in her comment...


No doubts: Those closest to case shed no tears for Willingham

By Janet Jacobs

The undeniable facts of the Cameron Todd Willingham case are these:

• On Dec. 23, 1991, 2-year-old Amber Louise Kuykendall, and 1-year-old twins Karmon Diane Willingham and Kameron Marie Willingham died in a mid-morning house fire at 1213 W. 11th Ave. in Corsicana.

• Willingham, 23, the children’s father, and the only adult home at the time of the fire, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death on Aug. 21, 1992.

• After five appeals and 12 years on death row, he was put to death by lethal injection on Feb. 17, 2004.

Everything else is controversial.

To people opposed to the death penalty under any circumstances, the holy grail is an innocent man who was executed, preferably in Texas, home of the nation’s busiest death row. Some argue Todd Willingham is that innocent man.

The latest argument for Willingham’s innocence comes from a report by Craig Beyler, of Hughes Associates in Baltimore, Md., and submitted Aug. 17 to the Texas Forensic Science Commission, a panel formed in 2005 to deal with forensic errors.

Beyler was contracted to review the case following a complaint by the Innocence Project. The Innocence Project is best known for using DNA analysis to exonerate wrongly convicted men.

The report claims the Texas investigators didn’t understand fire science, and didn’t use modern methods in the Willingham case. Because one of the investigators was with the Texas fire marshal’s office, the marshal’s office will have a chance to respond to Beyler’s findings, and the commission should deliver a verdict next spring.

This week, the New Yorker published an article by David Grann which condemns the science and the system which sent a seemingly innocent man to his death. Part of the article is based on Willingham’s relationship with a woman who visited him on death row, and became an amateur sleuth on his behalf. Previous articles questioning the Willingham verdict have also appeared in the Dallas Morning News and the Chicago Tribune.

Leaders of the Innocence Project say this is proof of a failed death-penalty system.

“There can no longer be any doubt that an innocent person has been executed,” said Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, in a release. “The question now turns to how we can stop it from happening again.

“As long as our system of justice makes mistakes — including the ultimate mistake — we cannot continue executing people,” Scheck stated.

In Corsicana, the attempts to make Todd Willingham into a martyr aren’t well-received.

“He’s not a poster child for anybody,” said Sgt. Jimmie Hensley of the Corsicana Police Department.

First impressions

Doug Fogg, a Corsicana firefighter for 31 years, was the first responder to arrive at 1213 W. 11th Ave. in Corsicana that Monday morning. He conducted the local arson investigation.

Fogg calls Beyler an “armchair quarterback” and riles at the accusation that Corsicana and state detectives used nothing more than folklore to come to their conclusions.

“A lot of this stuff (in Beyler’s report) is misspoken or misinterpreted,” Fogg said.

The report accuses state arson investigator Manuel Vasquez, now deceased, of not securing the scene, of missing or mishandling crucial evidence that might have exonerated Willingham, and not using scientific fire analysis.

Willingham had a lot of excuses for the fire, Fogg recalled, including that a stranger entered the house and set the fire, that the 2-year-old started it, that a ceiling fan or squirrels in the attic caused an electrical short, or the gas space heaters in the children’s bedroom sparked it.

The investigators searched for electrical shorts, but found none; the gas-powered space heaters were off because the family’s gas supply had been cut off at the meter; and “we didn’t find a ceiling fan. Willingham said there was one, but we didn’t find any signs of one,” Fogg said.

The other explanations just didn’t add up, Fogg said, adding: “We eliminated all accidental causes.”

Evidence of accelerants was found, but Willingham had an excuse for that, too. Willingham told investigators he poured cologne on the children’s floor “because the babies liked the smell,” he blamed a kerosene lamp for any accelerant in the hallway, and said spilled charcoal-lighter fluid happened while he was grilling, Fogg recalled.

Fogg agreed that there was a damaged bottle of charcoal lighter fluid on the other end of the porch away from the door, but the grill was in the side yard not on the porch when firefighters arrived. Fogg remembered four empty bottles of charcoal lighter were found just outside the front door.

Beyler acknowledges that one sample did have accelerant in it, but said it was unidentified, a claim Fogg disputes.

Local investigators didn’t leave the house until midnight, spending over 12 hours sifting through the debris by hand, taking videotape and more than 80 photographs of the scene, cutting up flooring for the lab, bagging and dating each sample and recording where it came from in the house, Fogg said. Samples were contaminated by melted plastic toys, fire-damaged carpet and floor tiles, but it wasn’t because of investigator’s incompetence, Fogg said.

Beyler theorized it was a flashover, and said investigators didn’t see the difference between the intense heat of a flashover and an accelerant-driven fire. Fogg laughed at the notion.

If it had been a flashover, it would have taken out the thin layer of sheetrock on the walls, he argued.

“That house was box construction,” Fogg said. “The only sheetrock that came down was what was hit with water. The paper backing wasn’t even scorched.”

As well, the fire damage was worse at the floor level than at the ceilings, which is the opposite of typical fire, Fogg said.

“(Beyler) thought we were total idiots,” Fogg said.

Beyond the fire

Sgt. Jimmie Hensley of the Corsicana Police Department was the lead investigator on the Willingham murder case back in 1992.

For Hensley, the most damning evidence came from Willingham, who told officers that 2-year-old Amber woke him up. Firefighters later found her in his bed, with burns on the soles of her feet. Yet, Willingham didn’t take the girl with him when he fled, nor did he receive burns walking down that same hallway, Hensley pointed out.

Willingham was taken to the hospital where doctors did a blood-gas analysis on him, a standard test for someone who’s been inside a burning house.

“He had no more (carbon monoxide) than somebody who had just smoked a cigarette,” Hensley said.

Hensley has since become a certified arson investigator. In hindsight, he insists they took the right steps with the evidence in the Willingham case.

“We did everything we were supposed to do,” he said.

Hensley also dismisses Beyler’s report, pointing out that Beyler didn’t talk to the investigators, and reading the testimony can’t replace first-person observations.

“You can find expert witnesses everywhere, and if you pay them enough they’ll testify to anything,” Hensley said. “They’re to be bought.”

Willingham was tried for murder, not arson, and the guilty verdict was based on the whole picture, not just part of it, he said.

“You can’t just look at a little part. Look at the whole picture, and that’s what the jury did,” Hensley said. “If a 2-year-old wakes you up and there’s smoke and fire everywhere, aren’t you going to at least get that one out? It couldn’t possibly have happened the way (Willingham) said.”

Willingham’s behavior afterwards did not help his case. Todd Morris was the first police officer on the scene and he found Willingham trying to push his car away from the house to save it from the fire, while his children were inside burning up, Hensley said.

Dr. Grady Shaw and his team spent an hour at the emergency room trying to resuscitate Amber while next door Willingham complained about his own suffering, Shaw said.

“I remember this case very clearly,” Shaw said. “She was in Trauma Room 1, and her father was placed in Trauma Room 2, and only a curtain separated those. He was whining and complaining and crying out for a nurse to help him because of the pain from his extremely minor burns while we were trying to resuscitate this child.”

Willingham’s first-degree burns on the backs of his hands and on the back of his neck were the kind that might come from accidentally touching an oven rack, or having a small ember pop up from a campfire, Shaw said.

“He was not hurting that bad from these minor burns,” Shaw said. “It was clearly audible what was going on next door, but to hear him doing all that complaining and asking for attention when everybody was trying to save the little girl’s life was grossly inappropriate.”

Friends of the family testified that Willingham had beaten his wife in an attempt to abort the pregnancy of the twins, and many people assumed the murder of the children was more of the same, said John Jackson, former district judge and the lead prosecutor of the Willingham case.

“We really just believed the children inhibited his lifestyle,” Jackson said.


Hensley came away deeply disturbed by the case, and he’s angry that anti-death penalty proponents ignore the children’s deaths in trying to make Willingham into a martyr.

“In my opinion, justice was served,” Hensley said. “And it’s a shame he couldn’t have died three times, one for each of the little girls.”

Alan Bristol, who helped prosecute the case for the district attorney’s office, said Willingham was “one of the most evil people I’ve ever come in contact with in my life.”

“The guy was a sociopath,” he said. Willingham refused a polygraph, tortured and killed animals as a child, abused his wife repeatedly, thought more about losing his car than his children, and clearly lied about what happened in the deadly fire, Bristol said.

“None of the stories he told us panned out,” Bristol said. “He tried to make himself out to be a big hero, that he tried to go in and save the children, but there was no smoke in his lungs and he had only minor injuries.”

Bristol said the science for investigating fires may have changed over the last two decades, but the accelerant was there, and that evidence remains valid.

“I don’t have any doubt he did it, or was guilty,” Bristol said. “I think he would have been convicted whether we had the arson evidence or not.”

Willingham appealed his case, but the verdict was upheld. In the end, he asked for clemency that never materialized.

"The only statement I want to make is that I am an innocent man convicted of a crime I did not commit,” Willingham said in his final moments. “I have been persecuted for 12 years for something I did not do.”

The article in the New Yorker quoted Willingham’s protest of innocence as his final words, but Loyd Cook of the Daily Sun was one of three media witnesses at the execution. Willingham’s actual final words were a venom-filled curse at his ex-wife as he attempted an obscene gesture, Cook reported. “I hope you rot in hell, b—,” Willingham said before dying.

Stacy Kuykendall, who still lives in Navarro County, said she doesn’t talk about the case anymore. However, she did talk to Cook shortly before Willingham’s execution.

She refuted her ex-husband’s attempts to blame Amber, and came to her own conclusions that he killed their daughters. Kuykendall divorced Willingham while he was in prison, and married again. She did not have more children.

“Maybe some of the fear of him will leave me, but I’ll never get over what he did to my kids,” she said in 2004.

From his seat at the defense table, attorney David Martin’s job was to fight tooth and nail for Willingham. Once it was over, though, Martin became convinced his client was guilty. He dismisses the Beyler report as propaganda from anti-death penalty supporters.

“The Innocence Project is an absolute farce,” Martin said. “It’s a bunch of hype, in my opinion.”

The defense team couldn’t locate an arson expert back then willing to say the house fire was accidental.

“We never could find anybody that contradicted Vasquez,” Martin said.

As for motive, Martin agreed with investigators about Willingham’s character.

“He had no conscience,” Martin said. “Why do monsters kill? They like killing.”

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