Monday, March 29, 2010

Blogger is not permitting me post photos today...darn.

Well, Folks, we seem to have been here before... T.R. Progressive Movement.

The Progressive Era: The Great Age of Reform
Copyright © 2010, Henry J. Sage

Overview. H.W. Brands, a widely respected historian, formerly at Texas A&M University and now at the University of Texas, wrote The Reckless Decade: America in the 1890s in 1995. The decade of the 1890s as filled with tensions and problems that cried out for resolution. In the last section we discussed the exploitation of people and resources and suggested that if actions had not been taken to alleviate the more glaring injustices in American society, the nation might have been headed for rebellion. Indeed, the conflict we described as “the war between capital and labor” was filled with bloody violence and extensive property damage, a situation that continued well into the 20th century.

By 1900 America was a tinderbox. Cities were crowded with millions of poor laborers, working conditions were appalling. From the local level to the highest institutions in the land corruption darkened politics. Something had to be done, and the progressive movement was the nation’s response. Although the progressive reformers did not fix everything, little escaped their attention. Since the political powers were unwilling or unable to address the rapid economic and social changes brought about by the industrial revolution in America, the progressive movement grew outside government and eventually forced government to take stands and deal with the growing problems.

The year 1896 marks the approximate beginning of the Progressive Era, and reform peaked during the period before America’s entry into World War I in 1917. But in a larger sense, the reform impulse in America was present even in colonial times, and it continued into the modern era. Today few Americans would claim that this country provides a level playing field for all citizens and workers, or that our political system is free from corruption of one sort or another. Thus the progressive beat goes on.


In fact, the current surge of anger — and the accompanying rise in right-wing extremism — predates the entire health care debate. The first signs were the shrieks of “traitor” and “off with his head” at Palin rallies as Obama’s election became more likely in October 2008. Those passions have spiraled ever since — from Gov. Rick Perry’s kowtowing to secessionists at a Tea Party rally in Texas to the gratuitous brandishing of assault weapons at Obama health care rallies last summer to “You lie!” piercing the president’s address to Congress last fall like an ominous shot.

If Obama’s first legislative priority had been immigration or financial reform or climate change, we would have seen the same trajectory. The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House — topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman — would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play. It’s not happenstance that Frank, Lewis and Cleaver — none of them major Democratic players in the health care push — received a major share of last weekend’s abuse. When you hear demonstrators chant the slogan “Take our country back!,” these are the people they want to take the country back from.

They can’t. Demographics are avatars of a change bigger than any bill contemplated by Obama or Congress. The week before the health care vote, The Times reported that births to Asian, black and Hispanic women accounted for 48 percent of all births in America in the 12 months ending in July 2008. By 2012, the next presidential election year, non-Hispanic white births will be in the minority. The Tea Party movement is virtually all white. The Republicans haven’t had a single African-American in the Senate or the House since 2003 and have had only three in total since 1935. Their anxieties about a rapidly changing America are well-grounded.

I put more of this on FaceBook last week: Where the fun never ends...!/profile.php?ref=profile&id=100000525504244

Saturday, March 27, 2010

It is Friday, time for another hairy dog tale... thanks Salen for this one!

A man feared his wife wasn't hearing as well as she used to and he
thought she might need a hearing aid.

Not quite sure how to approach her, he called the family doctor to
discuss the problem. The Doctor told him there is a simple informal
test the husband could perform to give the doctor a better idea about
her hearing loss.

"Here's what you do," said the Doctor, "stand about 40 feet away from
her, and innormal conversational speaking tone see if she hears you.
If not, go to 30 feet, then 20 feet, and so on until you get a

That evening, the wife is in the kitchen cooking dinner, and he was in
the den. He says to himself, "I'm about 40 feet away, let's see what
happens." Then in a normal tone he asks, 'Honey, what's for dinner?"

No response.

So the husband moves closer to the kitchen, about 30 feet from his
wife and repeats, "Honey, what's for dinner?"

Still no response.

Next he moves into the dining room where he is about 20 feet from his
wife and asks, "Honey, what's for dinner?"

Again, he gets no response.

So, he walks up to the kitchen door, about 10 feet away. "Honey,
what's for dinner?"

Again there is no response.

So he walks right up behind her.
"Honey, what's for dinner?"

(I just love this...)

"Ralph, for the FIFTH time, CHICKEN!"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Found this Executive Summary on Facebook... I have heard these points before, so I need to research them a bit... Interesting Talking Points...Truth?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Executive Summary of the Government Expansions, Vast New Taxes, Damaging Medicare Cuts, and Increased Health Costs and Premiums

Prepared by the Ranking Member staffs of the Senate Committee on Finance and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Billions in Wasteful Spending and Expanded Government
A budget gimmick that pays for 6 years of coverage spending with ten years of new taxes and massive Medicare cuts to hide the true ten-year implemented cost of $2.5 trillion.
Includes actual gross spending of $1.2 trillion on coverage (not $848 billion as advertised) which includes spending for Medicaid/CHIP($374 billion), CLASS Act Spending($15 billion), outlays for exchange subsidies($349 billion), government run plan payments($131 billion), risk adjustment payments($118 billion), other Medicare/Medicaid spending ($130 billion), small employer tax credits ($24 billion), and revenue effect of exchange premium credits($103 billion).
Bends the federal growth curve upward in the first decade: Federal outlays and the federal budget commitment for health care would INCREASE over the 2010-2019 by a net amount of about $160 billion.
Does not bend the federal growth curve downward in the long term: After 2019, the bill leaves the cost curve unchanged as CBO expects that in the decade following the 10-year budget window, the increases and decreases in the federal budgetary commitment to health care resulting from the Reid bill would "roughly balance out."

Half a Trillion in Damaging Medicare Cuts
Despite current unfunded liabilities of more than $37 trillion over 75 years, cuts Medicare by half a trillion dollars, not to strengthen Medicare but instead to fund yet another unsustainable new health care entitlement program.
Relies on savings from permanent cuts to payment updates that the Administration’s own Chief Actuary has called “unrealistic” and “unlikely to be sustainable on a permanent annual basis.” These types of cuts, which can result in negative payment updates, would “possibly jeopardize access to care for beneficiaries” as providers end their participation in Medicare.
In addition to these permanent cuts to Medicare payment updates, establishes a permanent board of unelected members that will dictate annual Medicare cuts geared toward reducing Medicare spending. Dubbed by The Wall Street Journal as the “Rationing Commission,” this board will create policies geared toward achieving arbitrarily determined spending targets and will impose a global budget in Medicare.

To meet arbitrary spending targets, the new Independent Medicare Advisory Board is required to recommend further cuts to Medicare, including raising Medicare prescription drug plan premiums on beneficiaries, and those recommendations would go into effect even if Congress does not act on the recommendations.
New bidding program that will cut $120 billion from Medicare Advantage. According to CBO, this will fall directly on the 11 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage who will see their extra benefits, like vision care, free flu shots and dental coverage, cut in half. This directly violates President Obama’s pledge that if you like what you have you can keep it. These cuts will hurt low-income enrollees the hardest, many of which cannot afford expensive supplemental polices to fill in the gaps in traditional Medicare.
Ignores the biggest payment problem in Medicare, the physician SGR, and leaves it virtually unsolvable in future years by making further Medicare cuts unrealistic as an offset to pay for a permanent solution. The CMS Actuary noted that reforms to the SGR physician payment mechanism “would increase Medicare costs by an estimated $214 billion” during the 10 year budget window in the House bill. Those provisions have been put into a separate bill so they would not be included in the cost of health reform when reforming physician payment is one of the most critical issues facing Medicare today, and one that should be at the top of the list of Medicare reforms.
A non-offset SGR bill in the House has been dubbed a “fiscal swindle” and a “$1.9 Trillion Gimmick” by The Wall Street Journal that would “increase Medicare's unfunded liabilities by $1.9 trillion over the next 75 years,” making the issue nearly impossible to address in later years. A non-offset SGR bill has already been defeated in the Senate, while offsets to fix the problem are being used to fund a new entitlement program instead.

A Half Trillion in New Taxes
Imposes almost a half a trillion dollars worth of new taxes, fees, and penalties on individuals, families, and businesses.
Based on data from the Joint Committee on Taxation – the non-partisan Congressional scorekeeper – the bill would break President Obama’s campaign promise by increasing taxes on individuals and families making less than $250,000 a year. This is even after taking into account the government subsidies provided to low- and certain middle-income individuals and families.
Lost Jobs and Lower Wages
The bill will impose $28 billion in new taxes on employers that do not provide government approved health plans. These new taxes will ultimately be paid by American workers in the form of reduced wages and lost jobs.

According to a recent study of similar proposals by the Heritage Foundation, these new job killing taxes will place approximately 5.2 million low income workers at risk of losing their jobs or having their hours reduced and an additional 10.2 million workers could see lower wages and reduced benefits.

Increased Premiums and Health Costs
Drives up premiums for young, healthy Americans by only allowing age bands to vary by 3 to 1. In an analysis of the Finance Committee’s 4 to 1 age band, nationally recognized actuarial firms found that premiums would increase by 20 to 50 percent, which means this bill will likely lead to even higher premium increases.
Empowers the Secretary of HHS to decide what benefits are covered; “the Secretary shall define the essential health benefits”; mandates that all plans must include the essential health benefits.
Eliminates choices and makes Americans buy more expensive coverage by mandating actuarial values of 60 percent for the bronze plan, 70 for silver, 80 for gold, and 90 for platinum.
Limits catastrophic plans to only those who are age 30 and under or for those who meet un-affordability criteria; prohibits small businesses from offering catastrophic plans.
The new mandated minimum benefits, restrictive age rating requirements, taxes on health insurance, taxes on drugs and medical supplies, taxes on expensive health plans and the cost shifting that will result from expanding Medicaid will all combine to significantly increase health care cost for individuals who will be required by this bill to buy health insurance as well as the 85% of Americans who already have health insurance.

Government Health Care
Government run plan; State opt out if the State enacts a law prohibiting offering of a government run plan in the exchange; the Secretary shall negotiate provider reimbursement rates, but they cannot be higher than average rates paid by health insurance issuers offering qualified health plans through the exchange. According to CBO, “A public plan…would typically have premiums that were somewhat higher than the average premiums for the private plans in the exchanges.”
Puts Washington in charge of your health care by mandating that all Americans must enroll in health insurance and dictating what kind of health insurance they have to buy. Also implements price controls on health insurance premiums and mandates burdensome reporting requirements.
Expands the government’s share of health care spending, so that more than half of all health care spending in the U.S. will be by the government.

Biggest Medicaid Expansion in History
Imposes $25 billion in an unfunded burden and hidden tax increase on state taxpayers by requiring all states to cover everyone with an income at 133% of the federal poverty level ($14,403 for an individual/ $29,326 for a family of four) or lower.
Locks every American below 133% of poverty without employer-sponsored care into the worst delivery system in America (Medicaid) while giving lawfully present aliens eligibility for tax credits in the Exchange.

Allows Federal Funds to pay for Abortions
The bill does not include the House-approved Stupak prohibition on abortion funding, and instead uses Madoff-like accounting gimmicks to hide the fact that federal funds will for the first time go to health plans that cover abortion.
The Secretary may require abortion coverage in the government option (if funds are segregated, but because money is fungible, it is not possible to honestly prevent federal funds from ever being used)
The bill says it does not preempt state law, but requires each exchange to offer at least one plan covering abortion (several states currently prohibit or restrict the coverage of abortion in their state regulated insurance markets).
The bill will require insurers and hospitals to contract with abortion providers – even Catholic and other religiously based insurers and hospitals, who object to abortion. Conscience provisions in current law are intended to protect doctors who refuse to perform abortions from discrimination based on their unwillingness to provide abortions. The Reid bill radically changes these laws, applying the protections for the first time to both willingness or unwillingness to perform abortions. This change falsely equates a doctor’s moral objections to abortion with the ability of groups like Planned Parenthood to force insurers who object to abortion to contract with and pay them. This change will mandate that abortion providers now must be included in the provider networks of insurers and hospitals. Any health reform bill must include conscience protections aimed at protecting providers who object to performing abortions, not protecting abortion providers

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Time for a joke... I need a break from Healthcare issues....

I didn't think twice about this tiny fellow on my baby boxwood until I got this email:


Snakes also known as Garter Snakes (Thamnophissirtalis) can be dangerous. Yes, grass snakes, not rattlesnakes. Here's why.

A couple in Sweetwater, Texas, had a lot of potted plants. During a recent cold spell, the wife was bringing a lot of them indoors to protect them from a possible freeze.

It turned out that a little green garden grass snake was hidden in one of the plants. When it had warmed up, it slithered out and the wife saw it go under the sofa.

She let out a very loud scream.

The husband (who was taking a shower) ran out into the living room naked to see what the problem was. She told him there was a snake under the sofa.

He got down on the floor on his hands and knees to look for it. About that time the family dog came and cold-nosed him on the behind. He thought the snake had bitten him, so he screamed and fell over on the floor.

His wife thought he had had a heart attack, so she covered him up, told him to lie still and called an ambulance.

The attendants rushed in, would not listen to his protests, loaded him on the stretcher, and started carrying him out.

About that time, the snake came out from under the sofa and the Emergency Medical Technician saw it and dropped his end of the stretcher. That's when the man broke his leg and why he is still in the hospital.

The wife still had the problem of the snake in the house, so she called on a neighbor who volunteered to capture the snake. He armed himself with a rolled-up newspaper and began poking under the couch.. Soon he decided it was gone and told the woman, who sat down on the sofa in relief.

But while relaxing, her hand dangled in between the cushions, where she felt the snake wriggling around. She screamed and fainted, the snake rushed back under the sofa.

The neighbor man, seeing her lying there passed out, tried to use CPR to revive her.

The neighbor's wife, who had just returned from shopping at the grocery store, saw her husband's mouth on the woman's mouth and slammed her husband in the back of the head with a bag of canned goods, knocking him out and cutting his scalp to a point where it needed stitches.

The noise woke the woman from her dead faint and she saw her neighbor lying on the floor with his wife bending over him, so she assumed that the snake had bitten him. She went to the kitchen and got a small bottle of whiskey, and began pouring it down the man's throat.

By now, the police had arrived.
Breathe here...

They saw the unconscious man, smelled the whiskey, and assumed that a drunken fight had occurred. They were about to arrest them all, when the women tried to explain how it all happened over a little garden snake!

The police called an ambulance, which took away the neighbor and his sobbing wife.

Now, the little snake again crawled out from under the sofa and one of the policemen drew his gun and fired at it. He missed the snake and hit the leg of the end table. The table fell over, the lamp on it shattered and, as the bulb broke, it started a fire in the drapes.

The other policeman tried to beat out the flames, and fell through the window into the yard on top of the family dog who, startled, jumped out and raced into the street, where an oncoming car swerved to avoid it and smashed into the parked police car.

Meanwhile, neighbors saw the burning drapes and called in the fire department. The firemen had started raising the fire ladder when they were halfway down the street. The rising ladder tore out the overhead wires, put out the power, and disconnected the telephones in a ten-square city block area (but they did get the house fire out).

Time passed! Both men were discharged from the hospital, the house was repaired, the dog came home, the police acquired a new car and all was right with their world.

A while later they were watching TV and the weatherman announced a cold snap for that night. The wife asked her husband if he thought they should bring in their plants for the night.

And that's when he shot her.

P.S. Its been a long time since I laughed that hard at an email...................

But was the bill constitutional? The Legal test is coming...

March 22, 2010

Last night Congress sent to the President for his approval the health care bill which the U.S. Senate passed last Christmas Eve. But the bill may accomplish one very important positive thing.
While there is much not to like in the federal health care bill, mandating that citizens purchase a consumer product—health insurance—will undoubtedly bring about a number of lawsuits over the constitutionality of the law by a combination of one or more of the following: advocacy groups, private businesses, individuals and even states. In fact, attorneys general from some states have already said they will sue to enjoin the application of the insurance purchase mandate to their citizens.

For example, the Tennessee State Senate has already passed a bill (Senate Bill 3498) that asserts that Tennesseans have the right to make their own health care decisions, including the purchase of insurance, and instructs the state Attorney General to sue to protect that right. The bill is scheduled to be heard this Wednesday in the Industrial Impact Subcommittee of the state House of Representatives.

The positive, good thing that may come from all of this is that we will find out just how broad the powers of the federal government are under the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. In a country that is increasingly constitutionally sick (ignorant of Constitutional and historical principles or, worse yet, unconcerned about constitutional principles), a “diagnosis” by the U.S. Supreme Court of the extent to which our Constitution is on life support is needed.
States Rights vs. Federal Muscle

Just as a person with an unusual physical ailment may not want to know what is wrong for fear it is really bad yet simultaneously may want to know in order to resolve the issue one way or the other, we are in need of a diagnosis of just how much power the Congress has.

The law the state House is considering this week, if ultimately passed, will set up a classic case of state vs. federal government, with the state saying its citizens have certain freedoms and the federal government saying, “No, you don’t.” It will be a “civil war” of sorts waged in the courtroom.

The issue we must confront, if the health care bill is upheld as a constitutionally permissible exercise of the commerce clause power, is what else may Washington tell us we have to buy. For example, different states have different laws about how motorists are protected financially in the event of an automobile accident. Some states have mandatory automobile insurance; others do not. But if the health care bill is constitutionally permissible, then what is to keep Congress from mandating that every citizen must purchase automobile insurance and setting up an insurance czar to make sure you do it?

In other words, if we accept that Congress can mandate the purchase of one consumer product, what other products can they mandate we buy or suffer fines and penalties?

Regardless of the conclusion the U.S. Supreme Court reaches, we will have a diagnosis of the health of our Constitution and the health of the notion of federalism and states’ rights. But like the sick patient, we need a diagnosis. The quickest route to restore constitutional health and take states’ rights off life support is to know how bad the sickness is for then we, as citizens, will know what we need to do.

Article from Family Action Council of TN by Dave Fowler

Monday, March 22, 2010

That is the BIG Question this Morning...

What Are The Immediate Effects Of Health Bill Passing?
Julie Appleby and Kate Steadman

Obama administration officials and wonks call them "early deliverables." They're the benefits of the health legislation that would kick in this election year.

The provisions, which could just as easily be called the Democrats' "Incumbents' Protection Plan," suddenly are everywhere—touted on liberal blogs, on the Rachel Maddow Show, in talking points by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

They're designed to counter Republican denunciations that the legislation is a government takeover of the health care system that will drain the federal treasury.

But the question for Democrats is whether promoting the early changes will be more persuasive with voters than the Republican arguments. The answer may determine whether the Democrats retain their congressional majority.

James Capretta, a top budget official in the George W. Bush administration, is skeptical. He says he assumes the people who would benefit by the changes before November are in the "single-digit millions," not enough to have a big impact. "There aren't enough people in those categories to say, 'Yes, the increased taxes are worth it.'"

But Chris Jennings, a consultant who was the Clinton administration's senior health policy advisor, says the legislation includes "many important, immediately available policies that people will care about." He adds: "If we can’t market them well, then we will have deserved to fail."

Changes that would occur this year include:

- Dependent children could remain on their parents' health insurance plans until age 26.

- Senior citizens would get more help paying for drugs in Medicare.

- People with health problems that left them uninsurable could qualify for coverage through a federal program.

These are among the more than a dozen features of the new health care overhaul law that would take effect in 2010 under the measure passed Sunday. (Although the Senate bill approved Sunday by the House would become law with President Barack Obama's signature, Senate action is needed on the separately-passed House measure that would amend that law.) Other first-year items include a ban on lifetime limits on medical coverage, more oversight of premium increases and tax credits for some small businesses.

The big changes in the law – the ones that could affect tens of millions of people – don't kick in until at least 2014. Those include insurance marketplaces called “exchanges"; rules requiring insurers to accept all applicants, even those with health problems, and an expansion of state Medicaid programs.

Capretta says that the legislation has big downsides for Democrats, including the sharp cuts to Medicare Advantage. Benefits in this private-plan part of Medicare likely will be pared because the bill includes payment reductions intended to make the program similar to traditional Medicare. Medicare Advantage, Capretta says, "is going to get hammered, and it's hard to see how they avoid taking the blame."

Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the The Rothenberg Political Report, a nonpartisan newsletter, has some sympathy for Capretta's argument. "The public is unhappy," he says. "The idea that suddenly after the bill passes that Democratic leaders could start talking about it and people would be happy strikes me as Pollyannaish at best."

Americans have been sharply divided over the legislation – Democrats hope attitudes toward it will swing in their favor as people focus on the details. While some of the more popular elements of the legislation go into effect quickly, some less popular items – such as the requirement that nearly all Americans carry insurance or face a fine – won’t occur until well after the election.

Meanwhile, Republicans are keeping up a steady drumbeat of their concerns, saying the legislation will harm more Americans than it helps by raising government spending in a time of record deficits. Many in the GOP want to build support for repealing the law.

Public opinion of Congress – aimed at both partie—-- and the legislative process is low. The deal-making to garner votes during the year-long health care debate, such as special payments to specific states, coupled with last-minute maneuvering after Democrats lost their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, soured voters.

Some of the items that go into effect in the first year include:

New help for some uninsured: People with a medical condition that has left them uninsurable may be able to enroll in a new federally subsidized insurance program that is to be established within 90 days. The legislation appropriates $5 billion for this, although that may not be enough to cover all who apply; it's not clear how much consumers would pay as their share of the cost. About 200,000 people are covered in similar state programs currently, at an estimated cost of $1 billion a year, says Karen Pollitz, a research professor at Georgetown University.

Discounts and free care in Medicare: The approximately 4 million Medicare beneficiaries who hit the so-called "doughnut hole" in the program’s drug plan will get a $250 rebate this year. Next year, their cost of drugs in the coverage gap will go down by 50 percent. Preventive care, such as some types of cancer screening, will be free of co-payments or deductibles starting in 2010.

Coverage of kids: Parents will be allowed to keep their children on their health insurance plan until age 26, unless the child is eligible for coverage through a job. Insurance plans cannot exclude pre-existing medical conditions from coverage for children under age 19, although insurers could still reject those children outright for coverage in the individual market until 2014.

Tax credits for businesses: Businesses with fewer than 25 employees and average wages of less than $50,000 could qualify for a tax credit of up to 35 percent of the cost of their premiums.

Changes to insurance: All existing insurance plans will be barred from imposing lifetime caps on coverage. Restrictions will also be placed on annual limits on coverage. Insurers can no longer cancel insurance retroactively for things other than outright fraud.

Government oversight: Insurers must report how much they spend on medical care versus administrative costs, a step that later will be followed by tighter government review of premium increases.

This story was produced through collaboration between NPR and Kaiser Health News (KHN), an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care policy research organization. The Kaiser Family Foundation is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lots of last minute pressure to Vote FOR and AGAINST this Healthcare Bill

This letter appeared in the Indianapolis Star (which is owned by the same people who own the Arizona Republic ) and was sent to a very popular Indiana Senator. This just goes to show everyone what pressure these Democrats are currently under, so continue to let them know how you feel about the healthcare bill. Bill Stough
Shock to NBC This morning.

An Indianapolis doctor's letter to Sen. Bayh about the Bill (Note: Dr. Stephen E. Fraser, MD practices as an anesthesiologist in Indianapolis, IN ) Here is a letter I sent to Senator Bayh.. Feel free to copy it and send it around to all other representatives. -- Stephen Fraser

Senator Bayh,

As a practicing physician I have major concerns with the health care bill before Congress. I actually have read the bill and am shocked by the brazenness of the government's proposed involvement in the patient-physician relationship. The very idea that the government will dictate and ration patient care is dangerous and certainly not helpful in designing a health care system that works for all. Every physician I work with agrees that we need to fix our health care system, but the proposed bills currently making their way through congress will be a disaster if passed.

I ask you respectfully and as a patriotic American to look at the following troubling lines that I have read in the bill. You cannot possibly believe that these proposals are in the best interests of the country and our fellow citizens.

Page 22 of the HC Bill: Mandates that the Govt will audit books of all employers that self-insure!!

Page 30 Sec 123 of HC bill: THERE WILL BE A GOVT COMMITTEE that decides what treatments/benefits you get.

Page 29 lines 4-16 in the HC bill: YOUR HEALTH CARE IS RATIONED!!!

Page 42 of HC Bill: The Health Choices Commissioner will choose your HC benefits for you. You have no choice!

Page 50 Section 152 in HC bill: HC will be provided to ALL non-US citizens, illegal or otherwise.

Page 58 HC Bill: Govt will have real-time access to individuals' finances & a 'National ID Health card' will be issued! (Papers please!)

Page 59 HC Bill lines 21-24: Govt will have direct access to your bank accounts for elective funds transfer. (Time for more cash and carry)

Page 65 Sec 164: Is a payoff subsidized plan for retirees and their families in unions & community organizations: (ACORN).

Page 84 Sec 203 HC bill: Govt mandates ALL benefit packages for private HC plans in the 'Exchange.'

Page 85 Line 7 HC Bill: Specifications of Benefit Levels for Plans -- The Govt will ration your health care!

Page 91 Lines 4-7 HC Bill: Govt mandates linguistic appropriate services. (Translation: illegal aliens.)

Page 95 HC Bill Lines 8-18: The Govt will use groups (i.e. ACORN & Americorps to sign up individuals for Govt HC plan.

Page 85 Line 7 HC Bill: Specifications of Benefit Levels for Plans. (AARP members - your health care WILL be rationed!)
Page 102 Lines 12-18 HC Bill: Medicaid eligible individuals will be automatically enrolled in Medicaid. (No choice.)

Page 12 4 lines 24-25 HC: No company can sue GOVT on price fixing. No "judicial review" against Govt monopoly.

Page 127 Lines 1-16 HC Bill: Doctors/ American Medical Association - The Govt will tell YOU what salary you can make.

Page 145 Line 15-17: An Employer MUST auto-enroll employees into public option plan. (NO choice!)

Page 126 Lines 22-25: Employers MUST pay for HC for part-time employees ANDtheir families. (Employees shouldn't get excited about this as employers will be forced to reduce its work force, benefits, and wages/salaries to cover such a huge expense.)

Page 149 Lines 16-24: ANY Employer with payroll 401k & above who does not provide public option will pay 8% tax on all payroll! (See the last comment in parenthesis.)
Page 150 Lines 9-13: A business with payroll between $251K & $401K who doesn't provide public option will pay 2-6% tax on all payroll.

Page 167 Lines 18-23: ANY individual who doesn't have acceptable HC according to Govt will be taxed 2.5% of income.

Page 170 Lines 1-3 HC Bill: Any NONRESIDENT Alien is exempt from individual taxes. (Americans will pay.) (Like always)

Page 195 HC Bill: Officers & employees of the GOVT HC Admin.. will have access to ALL Americans' finances and personal records. (I guess so they can 'deduct' their fees)

Page 203 Line 14-15 HC: "The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax." (Yes, it really says that!) ( a 'fee' instead)
Page 239 Line 14-24 HC Bill: Govt will reduce physician services for Medicaid Seniors. (Low-income and the poor are affected.)

Page 241 Line 6-8 HC Bill: Doctors: It doesn't matter what specialty you have trained yourself in -- you will all be paid the same! (Just TRY to tell me that's not Socialism!)

Page 253 Line 10-18: The Govt sets the value of a doctor's time, profession, judgment, etc. (Literally-- the value of humans.)

Page 265 Sec 1131: The Govt mandates and controls productivity for "private" HC industries.

Page 268 Sec 1141: The federal Govt regulates the rental and purchase of power driven wheelchairs.

Page 272 SEC. 1145: TREATMENT OF CERTAIN CANCER HOSPITALS - Cancer patients - welcome to rationing!

Page 280 Sec 1151: The Govt will penalize hospitals for whatever the Govt deems preventable (

Page 298 Lines 9-11: Doctors: If you treat a patient during initial admission that results in a re-admission -- the Govt will penalize you.

Page 317 L 13-20: PROHIBITION on ownership/investment. (The Govt tells doctors what and how much they can own!)

Page 317-318 lines 21-25, 1-3: PROHIBITION on expansion. (The Govt is mandating that hospitals cannot expand.)
Page 321 2-13: Hospitals have the opportunity to apply for exception BUT community input is required. (Can you say ACORN?)

Page 335 L 16-25 Pg 336-339: The Govt mandates establishment of=2 outcome-based measures. (HC the way they want -- rationing.)
Page 341 Lines 3-9: The Govt has authority to disqualify Medicare Advance Plans, HMOs, etc. (Forcing people into the Govt plan)

Page 354 Sec 1177: The Govt will RESTRICT enrollment of 'special needs people!' Unbelievable!

Page 379 Sec 1191: The Govt creates more bureaucracy via a "Tele-Health Advisory Committee." (Can you say HC by phone?)

Page 425 Lines 4-12: The Govt mandates "Advance-Care Planning Consult." (Think senior citizens end-of-life patients.)

Page 425 Lines 17-19: The Govt will instruct and consult regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney, etc. (And it's mandatory!)
Page 425 Lines 22-25, 426 Lines 1-3: The Govt provides an "approved" list of end-of-life resources; guiding you in death. (Also called 'assisted suicide.')(Sounds like Soylent Green to me.)

Page 427 Lines 15-24: The Govt mandates a program for orders on "end-of-life." (The Govt has a say in how your life ends!)

Page 429 Lines 1-9: An "advanced-care planning consultant" will be used frequently as a patient's health deteriorates.

Page 429 Lines 10-12: An "advanced care consultation" may include an ORDER for end-of-life plans.. (AN ORDER TO DIE FROM THE GOVERNMENT?!?)

Page 429 Lines 13-25: The GOVT will specify which doctors can write an end-of-life order.. (I wouldn't want to stand before God after getting paid for THAT job!)

Page 430 Lines 11-15: The Govt will decide what level of treatment you will have at end-of-life! (Again -- no choice!)

Page 469: Community-Based Home Medical Services = Non-Profit Organizations. (Hello? ACORN Medical Services here!?!)

Page 489 Sec 1308: The Govt will cover marriage and family therapy. (Which means Govt will insert itself into your marriage even.)

Page 494-498: Govt will cover Mental Health Services including defining, creating, and rationing those services.

Senator, I guarantee that I personally will do everything possible to inform patients and my fellow physicians about the dangers of the proposed bills you and your colleagues are debating.

Furthermore, if you vote for a bill that enforces socialized medicine on the country and destroys the doctor-patient relationship, I will do everything in my power to make sure you lose your job in the next election.


Stephen E. Fraser, MD
Dear Reader,
I urge you to use the power that you were born with (and the power that may soon be taken away) and circulate this email to as many people as you can reach. The Power of the People can stop this from happening to us, our parents, our grandparents, our children, and to following generations

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

You know it is an election year, when Jefferson Davis gets to replace Thomas Jefferson in the Texas History Books....

Dear Freddallas,

Tell Rick Perry it's time to stop playing political games with our kids' future.

Last week the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE), led by Rick Perry's appointee, voted to remove Thomas Jefferson from social studies textbook standards. That's right. Thomas Jefferson -- Founding Father, author of the Declaration of Independence, and a world-renowned scholar who advocated democratic, limited government -- was deleted from a list of historical figures who inspired political change.


Because Governor Rick Perry provided no leadership or voice for mainstream Texans against people who decided to substitute their political agenda for the judgment of professional historians.

If we want Texas to be a state of opportunity, we cannot let it become an object of ridicule.

Help me stop this. Please email Rick Perry today. Tell him our kids' education is not a political game to be influenced by ideologues and partisan politics.

This is a pattern for Rick Perry.

Perry's previous appointed chair of the SBOE openly bragged about allowing his extreme views to skew history textbooks. His antics as chair were so extreme that the Texas Senate refused to confirm him a second time, and he was recently defeated by Republican primary voters. Governor Perry's current appointee as chair wanted Supreme Court Justice and civil rights pioneer Thurgood Marshall removed from a section on citizenship because he is "not particularly known for [his] citizenship."

And under Perry's appointed chair's leadership, last week the board passed more than 100 amendments to Texas' social studies textbook standards, without a single classroom teacher or historian in the discussions.

Tell Rick Perry you've had enough. It's time to stop playing political games with our kids' future.

I respect the sincerity of Texans who hold different views of what our students should and should not be taught. But we should have a governor who finds common ground and moves our state forward, rather than appeasing people intent on pursuing partisan agendas in public offices.

Thank you for helping me work for you, replacing a governor who works for his own political future with one who works for the future of all Texans.


Bill White

P.S. Please forward this message to your friends, family, colleagues, and anyone you know with children in Texas' public schools who will be affected by the SBOE's new textbook standards.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

April 15 is just around the corner... this piece was written over a decade ago... still true today.

Analysis: 'Don't Tax Me,Tax The Other Guy'

By Jeff Greenfield/CNN

With the tax deadline staring us in the face, we thought about taking our cameras out to ask you, the American people, how you feel about paying taxes. And then we thought, "What a stupid idea. Maybe we should also ask how you feel about head lice."

But you know what? It turns out that we Americans are a lot more confused about our thinking than we think.

Most of us imagine the Internal Revenue Service as an ugly, dark building inhabited by souless workers, as illustrated in the movie "Joe Vs. The Volcano." In the least shocking poll result of the century, the IRS is rated lowest of any government agency.

And polls say most of us think the IRS regularlly behaves unethically, and harasses political opponents.

And speaking of politics, we know what happens to politicians who even hint at a tax hike. Presidential candidate Walter Mondale said during his acceptance speech at the 1984 Democratic convention, "Mr. Reagan will raise taxes; and so will I. He won't tell you. I just did."

Admirable candor, Mr. Mondale. You lost 49 states.

Here's how it's supposed to go: In 1988 Republican nominee George Bush said, "Read my lips -- no new taxes."

Yeah, right. That helped you win in '88, Mr. Bush; when you broke that pledge, it was "see-ya-later" in '92.

But here's the weird part. The same politicians who rail against taxes can't wait to rush back home and brag about the new post office or research center they've snagged for their hometown. The House just passed a $217 billion highway bill. Want to guess how we are going to pay for it?

We're sure the rich get away with murder on taxes, but a recent study says they're actually paying more than they used to. There are simply fewer loopholes to drive through these days.

We say we want "entitlements" trimmed, but not Social Security or Medicare. Hey, those are the big entitlements.

And a new poll says we would be much more likely to back a candidate who favors more spending for child care and education than a candidate who calls for lower taxes.

My own, completely unscientific conclusion is this: we Americans want the government to spend a lot of tax money on things we care about, and we want it to spend the other guy's money.

The late Senator Russell Long had our philosophy nailed: "Don't tax me; don't tax thee; tax that fellow behind the tree."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Father was right... Vitamins and Suppliments enrich their seller and your urine....

Americans want to believe in vitamin and mineral pills: We spent an estimated $10 billion on them in 2008, according to the Nutrition Business Journal.

But recent studies undertaken to assess their benefits have delivered a flurry of disappointing results. The supplements failed to prevent Alzheimer's disease, cancer, heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and premature death.

"We have yet to see well-conducted research that categorically supports the use of vitamin and mineral supplements," says Linda Van Horn, Ph.D., a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. "Most studies show no benefit, or actual harm."

The power of food
While some people may need supplements at certain stages of their lives, nutritional deficiencies are uncommon in the U.S. "Almost all of us get or can get the vitamins and minerals we need from our diet," says Paul M. Coates, Ph.D., director of the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Major health organizations for cancer, diabetes, and heart disease all advise against supplements in favor of a healthful diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Unlike pills, those foods contain fiber plus thousands of health-protective substances that seem to work together more powerfully than any single ingredient can work alone. "That's why it's dangerous to say, 'I know I don't eat well, but if I pop my vitamins, I'm covered,' " says Karen Collins, R.D., nutrition adviser to the American Institute for Cancer Research. "We now know that you're not covered."

Too much can harm
Another concern is that some vitamin pills can be toxic if taken in high doses for a long time. Studies show that beta-carotene pills, for example, can increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers, and a 2008 review suggests that the pills, plus supplemental doses of the vitamins A and E, may increase the risk of premature death. In addition, a government survey found that more than 11 percent of adults take at least 400 international units of vitamin E a day, a dose that has been linked to heart failure, strokes, and an increased risk of death.

People are also apt to combine vitamin tablets and fortified foods, which can cause problems. For instance, too much folic acid—added to wheat products in this country—can mask vitamin B12 deficiency. Untreated, that can lead to irreversible nerve damage. In addition, high doses of folic acid may be associated with an increased risk of precancerous colon polyps, according to a trial of some 1,000 people at risk for them. "We're getting several alarming signals that more may not be better," says Susan T. Mayne, Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health.

Yet despite the unfavorable results, vitamin and mineral pills are widely used to fend off diseases. Read on to find our review of the latest evidence on their effects.

This story first appeared in the February 2010 issue of Consumer Reports on Health

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

10 Cost Cutting Reasons to Vote for Current Healtcare Bill ...

Many people are worried that the health-care reform proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats will fail to bend the "cost curve." A number of commentators are urging no votes because of this, and Republicans have asked the president to start health reform over, focusing squarely on the issue of cost reduction.

These calls overlook the actual legislation. Over the past year of debate, 10 broad ideas have been offered for bending the health-care cost curve. The Democrats' proposed legislation incorporates virtually every one of them. Here they are:

• Form insurance exchanges. These would help curb underwriting and inefficient marketing practices that raise costs in the small-group and individual insurance markets. This is addressed in all the House and Senate bills, and the president's proposal. Grade: Full credit.

• Reduce excessive prices, including those of supplemental plans enrolling Medicare beneficiaries. The president's proposal reduces these Medicare Advantage overpayments and others to different providers, even in the face of Republican claims that reducing such overpayments is tantamount to rationing care for seniors. Grade: Full credit.

• Moving to value-based payment in Medicare. Both Democrats and Republicans have called for moving from a system where volume drives reimbursement to one where value drives reimbursement. The president's proposal includes virtually every idea offered for doing this. Grade: Full credit.

• Tax generous insurance plans. Health-insurance benefits are excluded from income taxation, providing incentives for excessively generous insurance. Many economists have proposed capping the tax exclusion to reduce these incentives. The president's proposal taxes some of the most generous policies, though it has deferred the date by which these taxes take effect. Grade: Partial credit.

• Empower an independent Medicare advisory board. Interest-group politics intrudes too deeply within the mechanics of Medicare policy, raising program costs and hindering efforts to improve care. Despite powerful opposition, the president proposes this independent board and a process for fast-tracking such recommendations through Congress. Grade: Full credit.

• Combat Medicare fraud and abuse. The administration has started an active task force to combat these problems. Other ideas to reduce fraud and abuse were presented at the recent health-care summit, and were incorporated in the president's proposal. Grade: Full credit.

• Malpractice reform. Defensive medicine is a small but important driver of medical spending. The reform proposal makes some headway, encouraging states to experiment with alternative mechanisms to reduce malpractice burdens. More could be done—for example, specialized malpractice courts and a safe harbor for physicians practicing evidence-based medicine—but the president's proposal makes a start. Grade: Partial credit.

• Invest in information technology. Many studies suggest savings in the tens of billions of dollars from IT investment. The stimulus bill passed a year ago contains funds to wire the medical system over the next few years, and the administration is supplementing this with significant funds to analyze the comparative effectiveness of different treatments—even in the face of "death panel" claims. Grade: Full credit.

• Prevention. The president's proposal includes significant public-health investments, provides new incentives for physicians to focus on preventive and chronic care, and opens Medicare to finding new ways of supporting prevention. The only area of weakness is the lack of a junk food tax or tax on sugar sweetened beverages. Grade: Partial credit.

• Create a public option. A public insurance option would provide competition for insurers in areas that are nearly a monopoly and provide a path for reforms in Medicare to expand readily in the under-65 population. The public option was eliminated because of Republican opposition, however. Grade: No credit.

So reform gets full credit on six of the 10 ideas, partial credit on three others, and no credit on one. The area of no credit (a public option) is because Republicans opposed the idea. One area receives only partial credit because of Democratic opposition (malpractice reform) and two other areas reflect general hesitancy to increase taxes (taxing Cadillac plans and taxing drivers of obesity).

Why is reform viewed so negatively? In part, it may reflect the perfect being the enemy of the good. If the only passing grade is 10 out of 10, then reform clearly fails. But given where the Republican Party is on a public option, no reform will get a passing grade. If both parties were willing to raise taxes and Republicans negotiated malpractice reform for their overall support, we could probably get a nine out of 10.

Reform is also viewed negatively because official scorekeepers do not believe anything on this list other than reducing prices will save much money. The Congressional Budget Office has consistently estimated that policies built around changing incentives and thus encouraging more efficient care will not have any effect on cost trends. My own calculations, mirrored by other observers and a host of business and provider groups, suggest that the reforms will save nearly $600 billion over the next decade and even more in the subsequent one.

Of course, no one knows precisely how much medical spending increases will moderate. But one cannot doubt the commitment to try. What is on the table is the most significant action on medical spending ever proposed in the United States. Should we really walk away from that?

Mr. Cutler is a professor of economics at Harvard University. He was senior health-care adviser to the Obama presidential campaign.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Panasonic Rolls-out a $2000 or 50% discount on 3D TVs at Best Buy...

TOKYO—Panasonic Corp. said it will partner with Best Buy Co., America's leading electronics retailer, to place special displays promoting its new 3-D televisions at the retailer's U.S. stores, and will discount the prices of those models by close to 50%, as part of the Japanese firm's push to drive adoption of the technology.
Panasonic plans to launch its 3-D TVs in the U.S. on Wednesday. Above, a TV the company unveiled in Japan earlier this year.

Panasonic's 3-D televisions are a critical part of the Japanese electronics giant's strategy to reverse losses at its television operation, which was in the red last year and is forecast to incur a loss for the current fiscal year ending March 31. The company also hopes to revive demand for its plasma displays with its 3-D models. Plasma, which is better suited for 3-D due to its faster response, has lost ground in recent years to the more popular liquid crystal displays.

Panasonic said it aims to sell 1 million 3-D televisions in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011, with half of the sales being targeted for the U.S. market. The company's president, Fumio Ohtsubo, told reporters he expects the TV business to return to profit in the next fiscal year, helped in part by 3-D television sales.

Osaka-based Panasonic said Best Buy will set up displays at several hundred of its biggest stores, where customers can try out the 3-D televisions. Best Buy will then expand the roll-out to more than 1,000 stores nationwide, according to Panasonic.

Details of the alliance between Panasonic and Best Buy first appeared in Japan's Nikkei newspaper on Sunday. Officials at Best Buy weren't immediately available for comment.

Panasonic plans to discount its 3-D models for the U.S. market. It plans to sell a 50-inch 3-D model for about $2,500. A similar set retails for about 430,000 yen, or about $4,800, in Japan.

While 3-D technology has gained popularity in theaters, electronics makers are starting to introduce new televisions and Blu-ray players to bring 3-D into the living room. Unlike past 3-D technology, which used color filters to create the 3-D effect, the latest models use battery-operated glasses that open and shutter rapidly to allow for high-definition 3-D images.

Global shipments of televisions capable of viewing 3-D video are forecast to grow to more than 1.2 million units in 2010 from about 200,000 units last year, according to research firm DisplaySearch. By 2013, shipments are forecast to rise to 15.6 million units.

This year, Samsung Electronics Co., LG Electronics Inc. and Sony Corp.—the world's three largest television brands—are also targeting the 3-D market with new televisions of their own.

Write to Daisuke Wakabayashi at

When are we going to treat this as DWI instead of DRUGS...what a waste of our tax money! The driver might not have been smoking...

A 27-year-old man convicted of dealing marijuana was arrested this morning, when police say he was smoking pot on his way home from prison.
Sir James Smith, Indianapolis, was being driven by his wife from Putnamville Correctional Facility when police pulled over their car for a license plate infraction on the 4500 block of west Washington Street at 2 a.m.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer Erik Forestal said in a report that when he approached the car it smelled of marijuana.
Sharmainique Royal, 21, Indianapolis, was driving the white Nisasan Sentra with the couple's 11-month old daughter, Sir'ir Royal, and friend, Shaneka Williams, 20, Indianapolis, in the back seat, according to the police report.
Royal told Forestal that she had bought some pot to smoke with her husband after they picked him up from prison.
Police found a small amount of marijuana in the car and preliminarily charged Smith, Royal and Williams with possession of marijuana and neglect of a dependent for smoking in the presence of the baby.
The infant was put into custody of the state department of Child Protective Services.
Smith was released from Putnamville after serving four-month sentence for dealing in marijuana, hash oil or hashish, according to Indiana Department of Corrections records.
He had been sentenced previously to two years in prison on the same charge.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Texas District Judge Kevin Fine made a ruling that innocent people have been executed in Texas and therefore the deaith penalty is unconstitutional..

A Texas judge in the county that sends more inmates to death row than any other in the nation has declared the death penalty unconstitutional.

State District Judge Kevin Fine made the ruling Thursday in a pre-trial motion in a capital murder case, saying he could assume that innocent people have been executed. He is now facing a torrent of criticism from a string of high-profile Texans including Governor Rick Perry.

Fine, a Democrat who is heavily tattooed and says he is a recovering alcoholic and former cocaine user, answered some of the criticism on Friday during a court hearing. He denied accusations that he was legislating from the bench and said there was no precedent to guide him in resolving the issues raised by defense attorneys in a case involving a man accused of fatally shooting a Houston woman and wounding her sister in June 2008.

The motion was one of many submitted by defense attorneys Bob Loper and Casey Keirnan arguing Texas' death penalty is unconstitutional for their client, John Edward Green Jr.

Fine said in his ruling Thursday that it is safe to assume innocent people have been executed.

"Are you willing to have your brother, your father, your mother be the sacrificial lamb, to be the innocent person executed so that we can have a death penalty so that we can execute those who are deserving of the death penalty?" he said. "I don't think society's mindset is that way now."

The decision is almost certain to be overturned by appellate courts in Texas, the country's most active death penalty state.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who called Fine's ruling one of "unabashed judicial activism," offered to help the district attorney appeal Fine's decision, which Abbott said ignored U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

"We regret that the court's legally baseless order unnecessarily delays justice and closure for the victim's family including her two children, who witnessed their mother's brutal murder," said Abbott, a Republican.

Fine responded from the bench on Friday.

"To say that I am ignoring precedent or legislating from the bench I think is slightly overreaching," he said.

He said the only guidance he has on the issues raised is what has been provided by the U.S. Supreme Court "that places a duty on trial courts to act as gatekeepers in interpreting the due process claim in light of evolving standards of fairness and ordered liberty."

"So I am now charged with interpreting such evolving standards and I'm called upon to assess the current state of our society's standards of fairness and ordered liberty in light of what we as a society now know. And that is that we execute innocent people. This is supported by the exoneration of individuals off of America's death rows," he said.

Gov. Rick Perry joined Abbott and Harris County District Attorney Patricia Lykos in slamming Fine's ruling.

"Like the vast majority of Texans, I support the death penalty as a fitting and constitutional punishment for the most heinous crimes," Perry said. "This is a clear violation of public trust and I fully support the Harris County District Attorney's decision to pursue all remedies."

Green's lawyers had argued the law providing for the procedures surrounding instructions to a jury in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure violate the Eighth and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment and guaranteeing the right of due process.

You can tell that the Campaign Season is in Full Swing in Texas...


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fred Dallas the Minister starts a Blog of his own...

Did God really create me in His Image and What does that mean?

To be honest I've pondered that thought many times. It's not as if I'm trying to recreate Him into something of my image or imagination. I doubt seriously that He has a beard to stroke as He contemplates another of His steps towards being a Cosmic Killjoy. For that matter I believe His Word implicitly. He is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24). His promise is not to rob us of joy but to fill our life with a sense of abundance - not in terms of monetary wealth but of significance and purpose (John 10:10).

Then what does it mean?
I can't be exhaustive but let me work on two verses:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) announced that he was stepping aside from his post as chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

Saying the American people and the American economy could not afford to wait another decade or more to pass a meaningful overhaul of the health care system, President Obama on Wednesday urged Congress to "finish its work" and get a bill to his desk, NBC's Athena Jones reports. and

Later this afternoon, President Obama hosts a reception at the White House thanking members of Congress for their efforts to pass pay-as-go (PAYGO) legislation -- something congressional Blue Dogs have championed. And as we mentioned earlier this morning, don't be surprised if the president tries to twist some arms on health care.

New York Rep. Eric Massa is not running for re-election. He cited a reoccurrence of cancer as the reason. He also denied allegations of sexual harassment of a male staffer. "Do I use salty language?" he said. "Yes." Massa's retirement gives Republicans yet another House target. He is 16th Democrat not running for re-election to their House seat this cycle.

There is now more clarity on how Congressional Democrats plan to use reconciliation (recon) to push the comprehensive health care bill across the finish line. There are three steps, NBC's Ken Strickland reports: The House must pass the Senate's version of the bill; the House must pass a reconciliation bill that makes "fixes" and any other ideas from the president's proposal; and the Senate must pass the same reconciliation bill as the House.

Democratic senators announced they plan to offer legislation to prevent Recovery Act funds from going to a create jobs outside of the U.S. -- namely in China.

Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, National Security Advisor James Jones, and House and Senate leaders and members gathered at the Capitol to remember the late Congressman John Murtha (D-PA) who died Feb. 8 at the age of 77, NBC's Kelly Paice reports. Biden opened his remarks with, "To the Murtha clan, your dad was one hell of a guy."

Earlier today in First Thoughts, we noted the role that process has played in the health-care debate -- and how the GOP has been able to use it as a weapon. But in her piece on the health debate in the latest issue of The New York Review of Books, journalist Elizabeth Drew criticizes the media's role in amplifying the process over the substance.

These haven't been the best of times for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Despite the bad news, the DSCC has enjoyed a pretty good last couple of weeks. First, about two weeks ago, Indiana Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D) entered the race to replace Bayh, giving Dems a solid chance at holding on to that seat. Then, on Monday night, Harold Ford Jr. opted not to challenge New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in a Democratic primary. And last night, wealthy publisher Mort Zuckerman said he wouldn't take on Gillibrand, either -- which likely means November will be a cakewalk for her.

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

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

Monday, March 1, 2010

VOTE TUESDAY or quit complaining...


*** Dems Pick Up Two Votes? Are Democrats having their best health-care day in quite some time? Oddly enough, maybe. Today, it appears they've picked up two votes for THEIR effort to pass health-care. First, Rep. Nathan Deal (R) announces his resignation today to concentrate on his bid for Georgia governor. And with Deal's retirement, that means there are 431 House members, so the magic number to pass health care in the House is now 216 votes, down from last week's 217. Second, in Arkansas, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D) today announced he's launching a primary challenge against Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D). While Arkansas isn't Pennsylvania -- where Joe Sestak's primary has pushed Arlen Specter to the left -- Halter's challenge probably ensures that Lincoln ends up voting for reconciliation, assuming that Lincoln wants to remain in the Senate. We have more on the Deal and Halter news below.

*** Another Busy Week: Fasten your seatbelts for another busy week in politics. Today, President Obama gives a speech in DC on education at an event hosted by Colin Powell's America's Promise Alliance (an issue that does have bipartisan support, but the question of funding is a real sticking point). On Tuesday, there's the Texas gubernatorial primary, the release of Mitt Romney's new book, Sarah Palin's appearance on "Leno," and Obama heading to Georgia to talk about the economy. On Wednesday, the president is expected to make remarks on how he hopes Congress proceeds on health care. And on Friday, we'll see new monthly job numbers from the Labor Department (which the winter storms and the days off of work for so many will make the numbers look worse than expected), while GOP Sen. Scott Brown campaigns for John McCain in Arizona.

*** Mission Accomplished? And on Sunday, Iraq's parliamentary elections will take place. Pegged to those elections, the latest issue of Newsweek runs a provocative cover story with this headline: "Victory at Last: The Emergence of a Democratic Iraq." From the story: "[George W.] Bush's rhetoric about democracy came to sound as bitterly ironic as his pumped-up appearance on an aircraft carrier a few months earlier, in front of an enormous banner that declared MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. And yet it has to be said and it should be understood-now, almost seven hellish years later-that something that looks mighty like democracy is emerging in Iraq. And while it may not be a beacon of inspiration to the region, it most certainly is a watershed event that could come to represent a whole new era in the history of the massively undemocratic Middle East." The New York Times notes, however, that Prime Minister's Nuri al-Maliki's might have a difficult time winning a majority on March 7. and

*** Shades Of 1995-1996? The Obama White House is oddly happy about stories like this one: "Two thousand federal transportation workers will be furloughed without pay on Monday, and the Obama administration said they have a Kentucky senator to blame for it. The furloughs and freeze on payments were the result of a decision last week by Republican Sen. Jim Bunning to block passage of legislation that would have extended federal highway and transit programs," as well as unemployment benefits. The more the GOP is seen as actively obstructing, the better shot the White House thinks it can make the case to the American public that the Republicans aren't interested in governing. By the way, the AP notes that last year saw a Senate record of 112 cloture votes (i.e., filibusters). And get this: "In the first two months of 2010, the number already exceeds 40." and

*** 'Cause I Gotta Have Faith: With Democrats and Republicans unable to come together on health care -- let alone on this transportation/unemployment benefits spending -- the AP runs a story noting a favorite First Read topic that we've tracked for years now: the loss of faith in ALL institutions (not just politics, but business, sports, religion, universities, etc). "What does it mean if people have lost faith in the government to solve the most pressing issues, lost faith in companies to deliver workable products -- and lost faith in the belief that either will take responsibility for failure?" the AP asks. "Short term, the public's distrust doesn't bode well for any politician up for election this fall, particularly Democrats who control Congress. It may not bode well for companies such as Toyota that are seeking to restore credibility; consumers are only loyal to a point. Long term, such a lack of confidence in the nation's biggest institutions could turn society's skepticism to debilitating cynicism. It could spread animosity throughout society, crimping America's historic optimism, fueling incivility -- if not paranoia -- among the people and encouraging disrespect of authorities of all types, at all levels."

*** Not A Good Time To Be A Member Of Congress Running For Governor: It's one day until the GOP gubernatorial primary in Texas. And over the weekend, the Washington Post's Dan Balz had a great piece explaining Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's (R) troubles against incumbent Gov. Rick Perry (R). "At a time of rising anger toward Washington, Perry has hung Hutchison's service in the nation's capital around her neck. His campaign calls her 'Kay Bailout' for her support of the financial industry rescue. He has attacked her for the earmark projects she has secured for Texas, which he describes as symptomatic of out-of-control spending in Washington. 'He definitely has made it more difficult for me,' [Hutchison] said aboard her campaign bus. 'I've protected Texas. I've brought Texas taxpayer dollars back to Texas very successfully, and I've voted for Texas values. I didn't think that anyone could turn my success in producing results for Texas into a negative.'" By the way, there are a number of sitting members of Congress trying to become governor (Brownback in KS, Hoekstra in MI, Deal in GA, etc). What will opponents and those running learn from this potentially disastrous showing by Hutchison?

*** Blanche Lincoln Gets Primary Challenge: With Arkansas' filing deadline a week from today, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D) announced that he will challenge Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) in a Democratic primary. "I'm going to spend the rest of today phoning friends, family and supporters, and making a courtesy call to Sen. Blanche Lincoln," Halter said in a press release. "I look forward to joining my wife and father tomorrow morning at the state capitol where we'll make official my campaign to put Arkansans first." Halter also has this announcement video. The question is whether Lincoln -- whose poll numbers are abysmal -- decides not to seek re-election with the filing deadline next week. Before this news, it was pretty clear she was focused on running. Assuming she does stay in, this sets up an odd primary fight between the progressive wing of the party and the White House. By the way, this also could be a test of Bill Clinton's sway, if he chooses to engage; something tells us he'd be itching for this fight.

*** More Midterm News: In Georgia, Rep. John Linder (R) announced that he won't be seeking re-election; his district is a conservative one, where McCain got 60% of the vote in 2008. Also in Georgia, Rep. Nathan Deal (R) announced he's resigning his House seat to focus on his gubernatorial bid. In Indiana, Rep. Baron Hill (D) said he wouldn't run for the Senate, which means that Rep. Brad Ellsworth is going to be the Dem nominee. In Michigan, an EPIC-MRA poll shows Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R) leading the Republican gubernatorial race with 27%, followed by 21% for Mike Cox (R) and Rick Snyder at 12%, per Taegan Goddard. And in Pennsylvania, a new Franklin and Marshall poll finds Sen. Arlen Specter (D) leading primary challenger Joe Sestak (D), 33% to 16%, while Specter trails Pat Toomey (R) by 10 points in a general election match-up.,,, and

Countdown to TX primary: 1 day
Countdown to AR filing deadline: 7 days
Countdown to OR, PA filing deadlines: 8 days
Countdown to CA, NV filing deadlines: 11 days
Countdown to IA, UT filing deadlines: 18 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 246 days

A couple of notices in the email today....

Top Technology releases of 2010

Bluetooth 3.0
Bluetooth to the max. I’m sure you, or at the very least someone you know, has owned a Bluetooth enabled device since they were first introduced on the market. While Bluetooth has come a long way, the next and most interesting step will be truly significant in defining the way we see and use Bluetooth technology. Version 3.0 is obviously faster, with expected speeds of up to 480 megabits per second, but there are some other features you will love when Bluetooth 3.0 is released in 2010.

NFC (near filed communication)
You may not agree with it, yet. It’s the wave of the future and NFC is the type of technology that won’t go away. So what is it? Basically, near field communication allows you to transfer money, and make payments using your cellphone. For example, if I made a side bet with a friend on whether he can shoot an old, moldy jelly bean across the room into an empty mug – I would have to pay right there. On the spot. It would just be a matter of holding our cells close to one another and using the application to access both bank accounts. Kinda scary, yes. Positively genius, I’ll let you be the judge.

Yes, you did read correctly. It seems we’ve reached that point. 2010 will be the start of a very long road for 3D TV technology. Sky is expected to release an all 3D channel and Panasonic a line of televisions to bring 3d into our homes. Even the World Cup will be available in stunning 3D, even if it won’t be live. Mark my words. 3D TV is here.

These are just a few of the many new technologies expected to be released in 2010. To read even more about what’s new and exciting in the tech world, visit these sites.