Monday, March 29, 2010

The Health Care Debate...Abbreviated

Courtesy of my friend Tracey, who enjoys the fine Canadian health system and wonders about all the lies told to Americans:

Democrats: "We need health care reform"
Republicans: "Liberal fascists! Give us a majority and we'll do it better"
Democrats: "Done, you have majority of both houses"

12 years later, health care is irrefutably worse in every respect for every single person in the United States

Democrats: "We need health care reform"
Republicans: "Liberal fascists! Americans are tired of partisan politics!"
Democrats: "OK, let's compromise"
Republicans: "OK, get rid of half your ideas"
Democrats: "Done"
Republicans: "Too liberal, get rid of half your ideas"
Democrats: "Done"
Republicans: "Too liberal, get rid of half your ideas"
Democrats: "Done"
Republicans: "Too liberal, get rid of half your ideas"
Democrats: "Done"
Republicans: "Too liberal, get rid of half your ideas"
Democrats: "Done. Time to end debate"
Republicans: "Too liberal, we need more debate, we will filibuster to prevent you from voting"
Democrats: "OK, we'll vote--sorry guys, debate is ended. It's time to vote on the bill"
Republicans: "Too liberal, we vote no"
Democrats: "OK, it passed anyway--sorry guys."

One month later

Republicans: "Wait--wait, OK, we have less of a minority now so we can filibuster forever."
Democrats: "Sorry, the bill already passed, we need it to pass the House now"
Republicans: "But we have enough to filibuster"
Democrats: "Sorry, the bill already passed, we need it to pass the House now"
Republicans: "Liberal fascists! You haven't listened to our ideas! You've shut us out of this whole process!"
Democrats: "Sorry, show us your proposal"
Republicans: "Smaller government"
Democrats: "That's not very specific"
Republicans: "OK, here's our detailed proposal--It's our common-sense ideas we spent 12 years not enacting"
Democrats: "OK, we'll add a bunch more of your ideas"
Republicans: "Liberal fascists! You included all these back-room deals"
Democrats: "OK, we'll get rid of the back-room deals"
Republicans: "Liberal fascists! You're using obscure procedural tricks to eliminate the back-room deals!"
Democrats: "No, we're using reconciliation, which both parties have used dozens of times for much larger bills"
Republicans: "Liberal fascists! You're pressuring Congressmen to vote for your bill! Scandal!"
Democrats: "It's called 'whipping', it's been done since 1789"
Republicans: "Liberal fascists! Can't you see the American people don't want this?"
Democrats: "This bill is mildly unpopular (40-50%), doing nothing (your proposal) is extraordinarily unpopular (4-6%)"
Republicans: "We need to start over! We need to start over!"
Democrats: "We should really consider voting--"
Republicans: "Liberal fascists! Start over! Clean slate! Common-sense! America!"

Reposted from: Shorter Health Care Debate by Nicole Belle

The Story of Bottled Water

A home water testing kit that tests for bacteria, lead, arsenic, iron, etc. will cost about $35-40 online or from your local hardware store. You might also check with your city's utilities to see if they have a general analysis that is done for your city's water supply.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Peace Coffee Review

Recently I ordered some coffee from Peace Coffee out of Minneapolis, MN.  We sampled their Tanzanian Peaberry, Guatemalan light-roast, and Ethiopian coffee.  All of these were brewed using a Hario pour-over.  All of the coffee was excellent.

Favorite Mug

Just showing off my favorite mug.  I got it at a gift shop near Snowqualmie Falls in Washington.  It is a quiet Saturday morning, and I've brewed up some organic, light-roasted Guatemalan coffee from Peace Coffee out of Minneapolis, MN.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mistaken for the Ghost Hunters

Tonight in a local sports bar while watching the NCAA tournament my friend Josh and I were told by a woman that we looked a lot like the Ghost Hunters. I don't see any resemblance.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Frightening Misinformation Reaffirmed by New Harris Poll

It really does blow my mind that Republicans think what they do. Especially things like believing he is a Muslim, though he has publicly always stated that he was a Christian. I think that it would be a 'faux pas' with Islam to claim Christ was God, wouldn't it? Additionally, wouldn't it be an irony to claim to be a Christ follower, when you are actually against him? The whole thing is crazy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Domestic Terrorism Over Health Care Reform

What is essentially domestic terrorism has been occurring in various locations where Democratic Congresspersons have been threatened and had their property damaged over this vote about health care reform. Notes left and verbal threats have pointed to this directly.

Domestic terrorism being defined as, "[involving] groups or individuals whose terrorist activities are directed at our government or people in US without foreign direction. Terrorism is the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion." In this case coercion to repeal the new health care legislation via acts of violence and threats.

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Some of the people who have opposed this health care legislation have used a quote from Thomas Jefferson to justify their actions: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants." They often follow that quote with a statement like, "She's looking very thirsty lately!" However, this type of 'revolutionary' sort of statement isn't what Thomas Jefferson was saying. Let us break this down by year to demonstrate:

  • 1766 Sons of Liberty formed, meeting under a tree when they met...e.g. liberty tree.

  • 1773 Boston Tea Party

  • 1776 Declaration of Independence from British rule

  • 1781 Articles of Confederation - our first constitution

  • 1781-1789 governing body in the United States was the Congress of the Confederation made up of delegates appointed by the legislatures of the states

  • 1786 (Aug)-1787 (Feb) Shays' Rebellion, made up of armed farmers angry about debt and taxation.  They also used the 'Liberty Tree' or a 'Liberty Pole' to symbolize their cause.

  • 1787 (Jan) Over 1000 Shaysites arrested.

  • 1787 (Feb) Those involved in Shays' Rebellion came up against the local militia of Springfield, Mass. The government militia fired warning shots from cannons.  Two of the cannons struck persons of Shays' Rebellion, killing 4 and wounding 20.  The remaining Shaysites fled.

  • 1787 (Sept) Constitution of the United States of America adopted

  • 1787 (Nov) Letter from Thomas Jefferson to William S. Smith contains the quote concerning Shays' Rebellion

  • 1789 Bill of Rights introduced and in effect by Dec 1791

  • 1789-1797 George Washington Presidency

  • 1797-1801 John Adams Presidency

  • 1801-1809 Thomas Jefferson Presidency

Thomas Jefferson was referring to the Shaysites that happened to be killed as the "tree of liberty" being "refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."  Here is the full quote:

"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ... And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."

Here is another explanation that I found recently from a blog called "The Rude Pundit":
So, like, for a long time, as a threat to people in power, protesters trot out this line from Thomas Jefferson: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants." It's been tossed back and forth between the left and right like a football at recess at the special school, although most often it's proudly displayed by the yahoos in some extreme right wing nutzoid movements, be it militias or the townhall idiots. And it'd be a poignant quote, one that gets us back to our roots as a revolutionary society. Except that Jefferson was actually talking about the blood of ignorant people who rise up in arms against the American government, too. In fact, it was mostly their blood.

The entire letter makes this clear, and, as with so many things properly understood in relation to the Founders, it is stunningly prescient. Jefferson was talking to John Adams' son-in-law about Shays' Rebellion, a truly fascinating episode in the early history of the nation, pre-Constitution, but post-Revolution, where rural Massachusetts citizens rose up against the state's government over issues of taxes and debt. They were crushed, of course, and many of the politicians of the time were all a-twitter with how this was an attack on liberty and how the rebels should be put to death.

And while he could be something of a drama queen in his rhetoric - well, really, they all could be (it's the effect of long-term wig-wearing) - Jefferson's essential message in his letter was, more or less, "Chill. Stupid people will act stupidly." Or, as he put it, "I say nothing of it's motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty."

See, Jefferson was forgiving the dumb, saying it was better to have idiots uprising than to have no civic engagement at all. But we have to understand that they're dumb and that the dumber they are, the more they will rage in their dumbness. Prior to the famous quote, Jefferson wrote, "We have had 13 states independent 11 years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & a half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two?"

Now we have people who associate themselves with the present Tea Party Movement, people vocal about opposing health care legislation or insurance reform, and often people vocal about their opposition to the Obama Presidency in general, taking up the symbol of the Tree of Liberty to symbolize their cause, using acts of violence and threats to reverse legislation passed by their democratically elected Congresspersons and President.  They are encouraging taking up arms and forming community militia to oppose enforcement of law, should whatever conflict they believe may happen comes to pass....even though no threats or conflict from the government has been in play in the first place.

All the while believing that Jefferson's words are supportive of their actions, when in reality the Tea Party of today are the new Shaysites....often misinformed, lacking a complete picture of the issues they protest, and collectively issuing little threats (whether they be real or not) concerning action against the government.  I just hope that the Tea Party followers aren't bound to repeat history.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What is in health care reform?

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The good things the new health care reform will do is pretty incredible. And a lot of them start right away, or at least sometime this year.


  • Ban on denial of children because of pre-existing conditions

  • Tax credits for small businesses to assist with employee's insurance premiums, up to 50% of the premium cost.

  • Rebates for seniors to help cover the medication coverage expenditure limitation in Medicare

  • Cutoff for young adults being on their parents' insurance policy is reset to age 27.

  • Lifetime caps on individual insurance are banned.

  • High-risk insurance pool created for adults with pre-existing conditions

  • New insurance plans must include preventative care without co-pays

  • Insurance companies are banned from cutting someone's insurance once they get sick

  • Insurance companies must reveal how much money they output on administrative costs and profits

  • There will finally be an appeals process for coverage and claims for the patient

  • New screening processes to tackle health insurance fraud

  • Medicare payment protections will be extended to small and rural hospitals.

  • Nutritional content will have to be disclosed by chain restaurants


  • Annual wellness visits and prevention care for Medicare recipients

  • Medicaid plans that would allow states to offer home and community care for the disabled

  • Payments to insurers offering Medicare Advantage frozen at 2010 level to bring costs in line with Medicare.

  • Employers must disclose the value of employees' health benefits on their W-2

  • Insurance companies required to spend 80-85 of premiums on actual health care, or they will be required to issue a rebate to the patient for the difference


  • Move in Medicare and Medicaid to track admissions to prevent readmissions because of preventable issues.


  • Medicare payroll tax increased for individuals earning > $200,000 per year, or couples earning > $250,000 per year.


  • Ban on discrimination for adults with pre-existing conditions

  • Insurance exchanges for small businesses and individuals

  • Annual limits for insurance will be banned


  • All plans must include preventative care without co-pays

There are still a number of fixes that will need to be put into law, like a lot of earmarks and fluff well as the affirmation that federal dollars will not be spent on abortion services.  I hope the Republicans will be kind in their treatment of these fixes.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Relay, Delay, and Lazy Day. Hooray!

This was a sort of lazy and productive day all wrapped into one.

This morning I changed the main relay in my car, which I believe has been the trouble all this time with it quitting randomly while driving. Yeah, fun issue, eh? Also, I got my wife's car's inside door handle fixed. After that I spent some time with my new guitar delay pedal. It is the Boss DD-20. I'm pretty impressed, honestly. It is replacing a Line6 delay I was previously using.

Outside of those thing...since I finished Mass Effect 2, which is an excellent sequel, I've moved on to playing Assassin's Creed 2. excellent sequel to the first one, just like Mass Effect. I would highly recommend all four of those games.

It snowed here last night, after having been 60 degrees F the previously day. It is just rainy now, but I've stayed in for most of the day. My wife is bring home Chipotle and a movie on her way back from the university. Nice, lazy day.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

More on the fake health care memo

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Why I have to question Tea Party followers

Perhaps it is most fair to describe Tea Party movement adherers as "Constitutionalists"...though it is certainly their own brand of interpretation of the Constitution, and often involves inclusion of additions that the Tea Party movement mistakes as being in the Constitution in the first place. Again, in fairness...additions like this are also done by progressives and people in general. But it is this myopic and aggressive fear and ignorance generated from Fox News and many Republicans that really is a strong reason to question the Tea Party follower's actions.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Microcosm of the Health Care Debate

I feel this is a microcosm of the whole health care debate. Republicans, funded by the insurance industry, create fear about the insurance and health care reform issue, while also suggesting that none of the American public wants it. They quote from studies, statistics, and memos that have no actual author or are from commercial entities actively opposing reform. Regardless of opinion of the findings, Democrats can at least site their reputable sources.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fox News Incorrectly Sites the New England Journal of Medicine for Defamatory Statistic

Fox News, on multiple programs, reported that if 'ObamaCare' passes that 45.7% of physicians would opt to stop practicing, citing a poll from the New England Journal of Medicine. This is completely erroneous.

Basic fact-checking found that the source of the statistic is a physician recruitment firm in Texas called "The Medicus Firm". They are using their statistic as promotional material. It was NOT from the New England Journal of Medicine, and Medicus polled their existing population of clients to attract their certain type of clientele with this statistic.


Monday, March 08, 2010

The Finalists latte art at the 417 Latte Art Throwdown

These are the finalists and their art at the 417 Latte Art Throwdown
hosted by Tom Billionis at The Coffee Ethic on Sunday night. Teresa
Blondo of Springfield Foodie, Taylor Baldwin, and John Vaughan of
417coffee were the judges.

David Soper of The Coffee Ethic had the winning art of the evening
with a double-heart rosetta.

Miscellaneous photos from the 417 Latte Art Throwdown

Hebrews crew at the 417 Latte Art Throwdown

The crew from Hebrews Coffee and some of their initial latte art from
the 417 Latte Art Throwdown on Sunday night hosted by Tom at The
Coffee Ethic.

Recent change of my position on health insurance reform

For those of you reading this blog recently, it has probably become apparent that in the past few months I've switched by position on the health insurance reform debate from being against what I perceived to be a not especially good bill from the Senate on the being for the passing of the reform bill with reconciliation to follow.

I've said in the past that the Senate bill contains too many concessions to Republican interests, too many concessions to the insurance and pharma industries, and too few moves to actually address all the complexities of health care in the United States (despite the ridiculous Republican argument that the bill has too many pages). Though > 70% of the American population wants health care reform, < 25% think the Senate bill is any good.

It seemed to me at the time that the Republicans were gearing up to propose good and needed changes to the Senate bill, and that they would work with the majority to hash things out. None of this occurred.

Instead, the Republicans started to be myopic in their quest to stop all progress on everything, inciting clever names for their maneuver, like "The Tarentino" because they "kill bills". All their ideas were summed up (as seen largely in the bipartisan health care summit recently) in proposals that have been rejected as counterproductive by independent analysis available to the Senate and the President, expansion of ideas that we have today already that aren't helping, supposed promotion of competition from markets that are too small to actually compete, loosening regulation of insurance though public participation in insurance is failing while insurance industry profits soar, etc. Essentially the Republicans have suggested everything that we have already tried and failed with historically, or ideas that are antithetical to reforming the problem that is occurring.

And that is the reason why I felt my position on the issue needed to take a 180, and support a not-so-good bill with the understanding that reconciliation will happen afterward. And there are a number of parts that have been established to hold insurance companies accountable as well as protect the public in general. Some of which include:

  • Review process of unreasonable increases in premiums

  • Appeals process for people denied on a claim

  • Rebates for policy holders from insurance with high administrative costs

  • Public disclosure of administrative costs

  • Sweeping requirement of preventative services

  • Deficit neutral

I think that despite the initial obvious shortcomings of the Senate bill, the benefits to the public are good compared to a doing absolutely nothing and opposition to everything.  So, thus I find myself supporting reconciliation of the bill under the current sociopolitical environment.

Hope that makes sense.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Republican Strategy #1: Block Everything

It seems pretty clear to me that President Obama has the Republican strategy figured block everything that comes from the President or the Democrats in general. But for whatever reason the media hasn't figured this out. Sure, the President has spent time listening to the minority, and chosen to use their ideas as he and his advisors have found fit. But it is all or nothing with the Republicans.

What makes me entirely frustrated with the Republican reaction is two-fold. First, armed with their own 'facts'...regardless of what professionals in the areas of question say...they pretend that they will cooperate in an attempt to save face while intending to block any idea that isn't theirs. Second, they assault the media with outright falsehoods that have long since been shown to be entirely inaccurate. The media doesn't typically call them on it, in the hope of giving airtime to both perspectives as to not be scolded themselves.

So, yeah...I'm ranting. I should give some credit to the Republicans in the House for conducting the business of the House least for the most part. Perhaps they are doing that only because they know that nothing will get through the Senate. But overall the whole of it is frustrating. Everyone, including the media, needs to wise up to the strategy of the Republicans, and just move on actually governing and representing the American public without them.

President Obama Talks about Health Care Reform

Thanks to DailyKosTV for the video feed.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Coffee Party

Perhaps a political party that represents me?

Here is their mission statement:

"The Coffee Party Movement gives voice to Americans who want to see cooperation in government. We recognize that the federal government is not the enemy of the people, but the expression of our collective will, and that we must participate in the democratic process in order to address the challenges that we face as Americans. As voters and grassroots volunteers, we will support leaders who work toward positive solutions, and hold accountable those who obstruct them."

Check out their video: