Your Virtual Front Page, Monday, Nov. 14, 2011

Been in a meeting all day and am now at a Starbucks in Charleston. Here’s a quick look at the headlines:

  1. Supreme Court to Hear Case Challenging Health Law (NYT) — So I guess we’re gonna settle this, huh?
  2. Jordan calls on Assad to resign (BBC) — How do you say “pariah” in Arabic?
  3. Troops feel more pity than respect (WashPost) — I was glad to see this story documenting something that has been bugging me: America has forgotten how to relate to its warriors, and treats them — absurdly — as some sort of victims. We need to have long talk about this.
  4. Merkel: toughest times since WWII (The Guardian) — And when the Germans say this, you should snap to Achtung!
  5. The Citadel addresses allegations against ReVille (WCIV) — You know who hipped me to this going on this afternoon? Nancy Mace, the first female cadet to graduate from the Citadel. Good to have sources.
  6. NBA players reject league’s latest offer (WashPost) — For those of you who were in suspense.

41 thoughts on “Your Virtual Front Page, Monday, Nov. 14, 2011

  1. bud

    In a sense our troops are victims. When we send them into harms way under circumstances that don’t warrant the risk they are being victimized. It’s probably not good policy to stress the victimhood nature of it but in reality a badly injured soldier is a victim of bad policy the same as a person shot by a burglar.

  2. Phillip

    #3 has some simple explanations: one has to do with the fact that the military who face deadly situations in places like Afghanistan or Iraq are not drawn from the broadest socio-economic cross-section of our society. Many enlist for an appealing path away from otherwise bleak prospects. Some bear a heavy price for that. So many are seen as “victims” even at the beginning of their enlistment.

    Secondly is the equally obvious point that our military has been used for dubious purposes (or at least missions that do not have unified national support behind them). We’ve learned as a civilian society since Vietnam that it is very wrong to blame the veterans or the active military for the sins of their government, but the natural opposite of that is to view the troops as victims, in a sense.

  3. bud

    I was reading Fitsnews earlier today and naturally they were arguing for repeal of what they considered the monstrocity of Obamacare. And of course he went on and on about the infringement on freedom, the horrors of the entitlement state and all the other standard conservative arguments against it. But what struck me the most about this screed was the utter lack of any sort of alternative way of providing health care to tens of millions of people who lack it. What’s more there is no acknowledgement of why this was passed in the first place. Ever since the failure to pass Hillarycare we saw the erosion of healthcare outcomes to the point where the average American is now only living about as long as the average Cuban and far shorter than folks in Japan, Sweden, France and yes Canada. Indeed the utter and complete failure of what I refer to as Republican Healthcare in the years 1993-2008 is so astonishing that is cannot be regarded as anything but a crime against the American people.

    And now we have this attempt at repeal through judicial fiat. Before this is all over we may have a life expectancy in this rich nation on the order of an average Latin American nation. Heck why stop there. Let’s give Bangladesh a run for their money. In the meantime the Plutocrats continue to gouge Americans with their failed private healthcare world that makes every attempt to deny healthcare payments to folks who continue to pay more and more. But folks like Will Folks continue to look the other way at the overwhelming evidence that demonstrates a need to move away from a fully private system. Plutocracy here we come.

  4. Doug Ross


    There is free healthcare for everyone over the age of 65 (Medicare). There is free healthcare for the poor (Medicaid). What you want is free healthcare for everyone in the middle. And by free, you want it paid for by someone else on top of what they (we) are already paying.

    Healthcare is as much about lifestyle and genetics as it is about access to doctors. It’s about people who will gladly pay $100 a month for cable and $75 a month for a cellphone but balk at paying for high deductible health insurance.

    There is no plutocracy. Look around you. Do you think all those hospitals in the Midlands are full of caviar eating, champagne swilling people? Every doctor my family uses has a full waiting room when we go there. I went to dinner the other night with a friend who is an ortho surgeon in Columbua. He does 400 hip replacements a year! on top of all his regular patient visits. Do you really think those 400 patients are just the elite members of society?

    Stop the class warfare. There will always be rich people, poor people, and the largest group somewhere in the range in the middle.

  5. Steven Davis

    I didn’t think bud read Fitsnews, I thought it was a waste of his time. Just goes to prove my point, even those who say they don’t read it, read it.

  6. bud

    There is no plutocracy. Look around you. Do you think all those hospitals in the Midlands are full of caviar eating, champagne swilling people.

    No, just the people who run it.

    Yet again we have an advocate of the failed Republican healthcare system that just doesn’t get it. It’s astounding the lengths people go to to ignore, marginalize and reject the overwhelming amount of evidence that a purely private healthcare system doesn’t work to achieve good medical outcomes. And afterall isn’t that what we want? It doesn’t keep costs down and it doesn’t help provide good care to millions. The result is the highest BY A WIDE MARGIN expenditure per capita of any nation on earth for healthcare and a life expectancy about the same as Cuba. Dodge the evidence all you want by slamming those who don’t purchase overpriced health insurance but don’t tell me the private sector does a good job providing healthcare. That is a bunch of conservative BS.

  7. Mab

    Steven — Fitsnews should come with the warning: “O Be Careful Little Eyes What You See.”

    The site seems to be more about pre-reporting news and other extortions. It’s like a pre-emptive strike on your mind, pre-forming opinions on pre-meditated news. My nerves were shot after reading it for 3 years, but I now turn a blind eye and…

    Behold, I am healed!

  8. Brad

    I guess Doug is putting thoughts into Bud’s mind when he says: “What you want is free healthcare for everyone in the middle. And by free, you want it paid for by someone else on top of what they (we) are already paying.”

    That’s not what I want, and never has been. I want to pay for my coverage. I just want it to go with me wherever I go, and not be dependent on where I work. I want to be free. That’s the irony, that all these alleged freedom-lovers want Americans to stay enslaved to employers for their healthcare.

    And so it is that we prevent millions of potential entrepreneurs from striking out on their own and starting new businesses — because they can only get (somewhat) affordable health insurance by sticking to their status-quo jobs.

  9. bud

    No I don’t think I’ve ever advocated for free health care except maybe for the poor, certainly not for me. I pay plenty for a pretty good plan. Even so it can get expensive dealing with stuff that’s not covered, like a multitude of preventive treatments, eye glasses, dental and other stuff. But Doug and others miss this important point – WE PAY THE MOST OF ANYONE. So how does the current system we’ve had for so long keep costs down? A recent article by Paul Krugman articulated just how effective VA treatment has become and at a reasonable cost. Nothing free mind you but at least relatively affordable for our veterans. What’s wrong with just doing what works? I’ll never understand the mindset that wants to keep us paying THE MOST with relatively poor results. Pragmatism should rule, not a dogmatic adherence to some ideal libertarian nirvana that is nothing but a pipe dream.

  10. Doug Ross

    I don’t have any problem with Brad and bud paying for their own healthcare. But if you want me to pay for it based on a percentage of my income as compared to yours, no dice. I already pay for Medicare and Medicaid. If you want to create a national plan with a single price per person or family, I’m all for it. But when we start down the path of “you have more, you need to pay more for the same thing”, nope, not gonna do it. And that’s not greed. That’s common sense. Next you’ll be telling me I need to pay more for groceries so that others who don’t make as much can pay less.

    Anyway, Obamacare didn’t give either of you anything close to what you are seeking yet you’ll champion it as some kind of improvement. When will we see the reduced healthcare costs?

    I just finished reading Lawrence Lessig’s book about the role business has in government. He was a major Obama supporter/fundraiser. He has a couple pages in his book quoting Obama during the campaign over the oourse of many months where Obama said repeatedly he would not accept anything but a single payer option. And then he signed a 2000 page monstrosity that didn’t have single payer and only serves to make the system even more complex and costly.

  11. Doug Ross


    And we pay more because we have more access to providers covering all sorts of specialties.

    You ignored my statements about the hospitals and the people who use them. Who is filling all those beds? Rich people? Who is filling all the waiting rooms? Rich people? Who is buying all those prescriptions at the CVS, Walgreen, Wal-Mart, Target, Publix, etc.? You can’t go a quarter mile without finding a thriving pharmacy… many right across the street from each other. How is that happening in our horrible system? Every prescription requires a doctor visit…

    You want to cut costs? Deal with malpractice reform. Deal with government regulations. Deal with drug patents. Deal with insurance rules that prevent open markets. Deal with legislators who SHOULD provide a way for citizens to purchase the same insurance they have. Do all those things and costs will drop dramatically.

  12. SusanG

    Exactly, Brad. I don’t care how it’s done, and I don’t care who gets the credit for doing it — I just want the ability to buy healthcare for some reasonable amount of money and take it with me. I don’t want to live in fear that no job means no health insurance because of cost and pre-existing condition exclusions. And as an employer, I don’t want to spend my time dealing with my employee’s healthcare, either.

  13. `Kathryn Fenner

    Brad–you can’t afford your coverage, given your family’s medical history. You need a group to spread the cost around. So far, I probably would have been cheaper if I had just paid out of pocket, but as I age, I’m becoming a member of the frequent user club. People with expensive diseases can’t afford to pay their own costs; that’s why there’s group coverage–you spread it out over everyone. The biggest group would be all Americans. I vote for that one.

    I believe our health care costs are so high because of the ridiculous administrative overhead exacted by insurance companies and by defensive medicine. You wouldn’t need to sue for future medical expenses in the event of malpractice if health care were included in our citizenship package, like going to school and driving on highways is.

  14. bud

    Doug wants to deal with everything but the real culprit – profiteering by big pharma, big insurance, big hospital. Too much profit for too little return.

    As for Brad’s portability problem, that seems pretty sensible. I thought there was something in Obamacare to address that.

  15. Doug Ross


    Do you think big pharma works in a vacuum? Seriously? Big pharma works hand-in-hand with politicians from both parties to ensure those profits. They couldn’t do what they do without the assistance of the government.

    Buying drugs from outside the U.S. ? Denied by the government. Patents on drugs? Established by the government. Defining all the Medicare drug plans, donut holes, gap coverages, etc.? Established by the government. Allowing drug makers to advertise on television? Rules set by the government. Those TV ads cost money that must be passed on to the consumer. I’d be all for a ban on all advertising on prescription medicine.

    What do you think Big Pharma spends all its lobbying dollars on?

  16. Doug Ross


    And, bud, you need to understand what profit is. It is the return on investment of capital. Those returns when held by a public company, go to the shareholders in the form of dividends or increased share price. I know you like to think there is some CEO (who makes about the same amount of money as Steve Spurrier) reaping all the benefit, but the shareholders are the ones who benefit more. And those shareholders include all the mutual funds held by people who look to those companies to be profitable.

    Profit isn’t a four letter word. It’s what makes the world go ’round.

  17. Doug Ross

    I just wish someone like Brad with access to politicians like Vincent Sheheen and Lindsey Graham would ask them two simple questions: “Why can’t I buy the same insurance you have?” and “What would it take for you to make that happen?”

  18. Brad

    … but as any editor who had to write headlines back in the OLD days, before computers, can tell you, “fit” are not full-count letters. In old-school journalism terms, “profit” only counts as four-and-a-half standard-width letters. So it’s ALMOST a four-letter word…

  19. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ bud– Portability was part of the Teddy Kennedy reforms that predated “Obamacare” if I am not mistaken.

  20. Doug Ross

    From the latest Bloomberg Iowa poll that shows essentially a four way tie between Cain, Paul, Perry, Gingrich in that order.

    “Bloomberg asked those polled about whether various issues would make them inclined to rule out supporting a candidate. Fifty-eight percent viewed support of an individual health-care mandate as disqualifying”.

    How does 58% equal a plutocracy of elite snobs? Those high falutin’ Iowans are at it again.

  21. Bart

    Healthcare reform was badly needed. What I objected to mostly was that there was over 2,000 pages of the legislation, cobbled together in a few short weeks, no vetting, no connecting the dots, no one reading the damn thing, being told to “pass it then find out what is in it” by Pelosi, and a litany of other ill-advised moves by Democrats and Republicans alike. We were told we would have an opportunity to read and review it in full before passage. Now, with the exception of a few wonks, who actually took time to read the entire package? I tried but after trying to tie existing legislation into the new and Doug will appreciate this, understanding the so-called documentation used, finally, I gave up. Gordian’s Knot is less confusing. No wonder the “death panel” cry caught on. Who could actually dispute the claim with any certainty? (FWIW – my sister-in-law recently experienced a version of a “death panel” decision by her doctor. True story.)

    Overall, we still have the best health care available in the world, no matter how damn long people in Cuba live. Hell, if you live a very Spartan lifestyle and aren’t exposed to the stress the rest of us are, the Cubans should live longer – that is unless they piss Castro off.

    Health insurance should be the first issue addressed. We should be able to carry our insurance with us when or if we move from job to job or place to place. There is not logical reason for the industry to have different regulations in every state. There should be competition across state lines, nationwide.

    Next, the absolute assault on Medicare by unscrupulous vendors who inflate the cost of supplies by a multiplier of 50 or higher. The “after market” of a diagnosed illness is where the real money is spent and where the most fraud is found. If the money was spent enforcing the laws in that area, we might find our medical costs going down, not up.

    Instead of a not-for-profit hospital system continuing to build and expand facilities but using their money instead to provide low cost or free health care clinics, we might find some relief. McLeod in Florence is always building something new and there are empty beds galore at any given time. They are building a new parking deck and empty office spaces today but the cost of treatment is not going down.

    Address the problem, don’t attack the messengers.

  22. Pat

    @ doug re: Your comments about “free” Medicare; I found answers at the .gov website (below). This does not mention every working American and his/her employer each pay 1.45% toward the cost for Medicare. In addition, my mother pays nearly $300 monthly for the supplement and a Part D premium. Medicaid is another story altogether. This not to say Medicare is ideal, but it is not free.
    Part A: (Hospital Insurance) Premium – •Most people do not pay a monthly Part A premium because they or a spouse has 40 or more quarters of Medicare-covered employment. •The Part A premium is $248.00 per month for people having 30-39 quarters of Medicare-covered employment. •The Part A premium is $450.00 per month for people who are not otherwise eligible for premium-free hospital insurance and have less than 30 quarters of Medicare-covered employment.
    Part B: (Medical Insurance) Premium
    Most beneficiaries will continue to pay the same $96.40 or $110.50 premium amount in 2011.

  23. bud

    Overall, we still have the best health care available in the world, no matter how damn long people in Cuba live.

    Huh! Seriously how can you even begin to quantify that claim? This just proves once and for all that people will believe what they want to believe regardless of facts or evidence. Sadly it’s costing us dearly as a nation.

  24. Doug Ross


    Agreed. Part A is covered for most people (only have to work 10 years between the age of 18 and 65). But it is covered by payments made by current workers. That model won’t work as the baby boomers retire. Just like Social Security, the number of workers contributing to pay the benefits of the retirees has shrunk from about 20:1 to 3:1. It’s an unsustainable model.

    Also, isn’t it clear that the Part D and supplemental insurance exist because of the cozy relationship between insurance/drug companies and the politicians? I’d be much more in favor of a Medicare system that raised the rate and eliminated all the extra stuff. But that won’t happen because the politicians have been bought off to provide those options. This is why a government run healthcare system will be no better (and likely worse) than private insurance. As long as politicians can profit from establishing rules that favor companies in return for donations, the system will be broken.

  25. Doug Ross


    Would you prefer to live 80 years in Cuba or 75 in the U.S.?

    We can have Cuba’s healthcare system if you want to have communism. I heard Cubans are just now getting the right to sell their own home. What a country!

  26. bud

    Just read about the battle of Savo Island in WW II. The Americans arrogantly believed they were superior to the Japanese in their fighting ability. They felt than in an even fight the “inferior” Japanese could not defeat the Americans. Though slightly outnumbered, the Japanese went on to achieve a stunning victory at Savo Island. The lesson was learned and American commanders finally gave the Japanese the respect they deserved.

    The same type of arrogance can be seen today in how we deal with healthcare. Bart suggests, with no evidence whatsover, that the American healthcare system is the best in the world. The implication is clear – there is nothing to learn from other, inferior nations. This can only lead to an ignorance of what the rest of the world has already learned. Simply put, in order to achieve quality healthcare the government has to be involved so that everyone is covered. Otherwise we are doomed to a slow and awkward decline as a nation. So let’s acknowledge our greatness but be vigiliant for lessons that can be learned from others.

  27. Phillip

    Yep, Bart, I have to join Bud in taking issue with that “best health care available in the world” claim. Yes, definitely true for many Americans. (For example, see the incredible story about the surgery and subsequent care and rehabilitation of Gabby Giffords). But for citizens of poorer means? I think many other countries do a better job of providing health care across-the-board to their citizenry regardless of economic status. The statistics bear this out. The US is by no means a world leader, except maybe for those on the north side of the income median.

  28. Brad

    Doug: I’d rather live the 80 years in the U.S. (although I’d very much like to visit Cuba sometime).

    That’s why I want single-payer.

  29. Bart

    @bud & Phillip,

    What part of the word “available” did you not understand. I never once made reference to affordability, did I? If you can point to any other country whose “available” health care is better, do so. Availability does not equate to affordability and affordability was not my point.

    Is that clear enough for either of you?

    I have never disagreed that every citizen should have access to the very best healthcare possible. How to achieve it is the issue, not the quality available.

    “..The same type of arrogance can be seen today in how we deal with healthcare. Bart suggests, with no evidence whatsover, that the American healthcare system is the best in the world. The implication is clear – there is nothing to learn from other, inferior nations. This can only lead to an ignorance of what the rest of the world has already learned. Simply put, in order to achieve quality healthcare the government has to be involved so that everyone is covered. Otherwise we are doomed to a slow and awkward decline as a nation. So let’s acknowledge our greatness but be vigiliant for lessons that can be learned from others….” bud

    O.K. bud, now, point out to me the evidence that is contrary to my comment. What other country in the world offers a better healthcare system than we do?

    And, I resent the hell out of your implications and planting of words that were never mentioned or referenced that I consider other nations contributions inferior. That comes from your own creative imagination and out of whole cloth.

    If you want to quote me, then do so in real context, not from your fervered imagination of what I didn’t say. If you want to provide proof to dispute what I post, then by damn, do it. Otherwise, all you succeeded in doing is posting your personal opinion about the government taking over the healthcare system.

  30. `Kathryn Fenner

    For what it’s worth, after German reunification, many former East Germans lamented the change. The materialism of the former West Germany and the loss of community in the former East Germany were cited as a few of the reasons. Maybe Cuba isn’t so bad.

  31. bud

    Bart, quantify how American healthcare is the best GIVEN the poor outcome based on life expectancy? The burden of proof is not on me to find a nation with better healthcare. I can find many that have longer life expectancies. The burden of proof is on those to show why that’s not the proper metric to use.

  32. Bart


    This is a direct quote from a TLC (The Learning Channel) article about life expectancy. “….Researchers examine death certificates to calculate life expectancy statistics. From these, they cull age, race, gender, reason for death and other data related to a person’s death. When combined with census numbers, these data help calculate an average life expectancy for a national population. Life expectancy data can also be broken down by criteria such as gender, and divided even further into more specific groups as needed.
    Life expectancy is a raw statistic, but what factors influence these statistics? A wide array of characteristics — some unique, others universal — make a population and its life expectancy what they are…”

    Healthcare availability is only ONE of many factors entering into life expectancy statistics, not the single determining factor. Genetics, exercise, diet, smoking, drinking, obesity, stress, education, sanitation, prevalent diseases, gender, race, income, driving habits, weather, geographical location, and other lifestyle choices enters into the equation.

    Life expectancy in America averages 78.2 years, Cuba 77.6, UK 79.9. Life expectancy in many older cultures is slightly higher than America’s but there are factors critics of “available” healthcare do not consider when spouting life expectancy “metrics” as a basis for their never-ending trashing of our system.

    The life expectancy for the average American has risen by approximately 30 years since 1900, which is an amazing increase when you consider the fact that in a little over 100 years, American ingenuity is responsible for most of the modern developments and advances in medicine, diagnostics, and treatment. Yes, other nations have contributed but none have been able to increase life expectancy anywhere near 30 years in the same time period.

    I have travelled enough to see for myself that “available” healthcare is not the main factor in our ranking. We are by far, the fattest and most out of shape country of all I have ever visited. If we were to reduce the obesity rate by 25%, no telling where we would be on the “metric” scale of comparison. After visiting Germany, Belgium, England, France, the Middle East, to name a few, none, I repeat none, have the number of huge, fat asses walking the streets as we do in America – and it is getting worse by the day.

    So, don’t try to use the “metric” strawman in your argument, it won’t wash. The point still remains that America does have the best healthcare available – period. Whether we take advantage of it or not or if it is affordable or not is another matter altogether. If we took better care of our bodies, diets, and emotional health, and other important factors, our need for a CVS or Walgreens on every street corner would disappear.

    Quantify that!

  33. bud

    Can’t do it can you Bart. Strawman or not it is simply not supportable to say we have the best healthcare system in the world. Heck, if we did maybe we wouldn’t be so fat.

  34. Bart

    “Can’t do it can you Bart. Strawman or not it is simply not supportable to say we have the best healthcare system in the world. Heck, if we did maybe we wouldn’t be so fat.” bud

    I suppose this is your attempt to refute, not rebut my comments. Rather poor one considering you were a member of your high school debate club.

    Maybe if we did take advantage of the best healthcare system in the world, then yes, maybe we wouldn’t be so fat. But, then again, participation is still a choice for most, isn’t it? To not take advantage of the best does not change the fact that it is still the best, it just means it is not utililized to the fullest extent possible. Again, that is a totally different issue addressing another aspect of the healthcare system.

  35. Bart

    Sorry bud, meant to say “chess club”. Just remembered the comment about the photo of you and your fellow club members from a couple of years ago.

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