Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Snowe and Pingree on a Horse in the Desert

Maine's leading ladies on healthcare, Senator Snowe and Congresswoman Pingree, are both right. We can't have a public option and we must have a public option.

The public option Senator Snowe voted against and will continue to vote against would create a government bureaucracy to produce a taxpayer-subsidized insurance product. This big, brand new entitlement program would unfairly compete with private companies and therefore stifle innovation and market driven efficiencies. This behemoth would be invincible and forever defended by a Congress that hopes to be re-elected.

The public option that Congresswoman Pingree wants to vote for is a government entity that can provide some level of competition in Maine to drive down costs and pull more people under the insurance tent. This new entity would not be powered by the corporate profit motive that denies people with pre-existing conditions coverage, and puts caps on benefits. There would be no marketing campaigns, excessive administrative costs, or fat cat CEO's sucking up all the money so costs would be reduced.

Many people have drawn their line in the sand. Public option! No public option!

In my view, the words are getting in the way of a solution.

Let's pretend for a moment the phrase "public option" is extracted from our minds and linguistics. Poof!

The problem, simplistically stated, is we are a capitalistic, democratic, wealthy society with sky-rocketing healthcare costs, mediocre healthcare, and lack of affordable insurance. The causes are, among other things, a pay-for-service medical system with patchwork, state-by-state insurance regulation. The solution is a national policy that will regulate the insurance market, and fundamentally change the way doctors and hospitals are reimbursed for their services.

Let's look at Maine for example. One could argue that with great intentions Maine adopted policies to mandate minimum standards in the insurance market. Insurance companies were forbidden to deny coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions, for example, or discriminate on the basis of gender. These laws to help consumers made making a profit harder in Maine so many companies left the state.

Maine designed a public-private insurance partnership to offer coverage to uninsured’s, and also to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of care. Problem is it costs too much and therefore covers too few people. The program lacks the purchase power needed to bring down costs or change behavior.

Republicans in Maine routinely offer as a solution intra-state insurance markets. "We need competition in Maine! Why can't I buy my health insurance plan from New Hampshire where everything is cheaper?"

For starters, no states allow consumers to buy and sell insurance across state lines. Insurance is regulated in every state, so the states with the least restrictive regulations can attract many companies. Some might call this a race to the bottom. Some might argue having a "choice" in other states among several very poor plans doesn't address the problem.

If instead of state regulated insurance markets there was a national policy that made it illegal to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, to have caps on benefits, and to cancel coverage because the consumer has the audacity to actually invoke it, people would benefit. If this national policy created a non-profit regulatory board that changed the reimbursement model to incentivize preventative care, and could oversee a competitive national market, businesses would benefit.

Who cares what we call it!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rush Limbaugh is a Loser

Remember during the 2008 presidential election when Rush Limbaugh asked whether the people of America really wanted to watch a woman age daily in the Oval Office?

The visual for some, I guess, was a withering on the vine of Hillary Clinton. A rotten-apple face of a president tacked back at the ears by plastic surgery mixed with big jewelry and bleeding lipstick.

These people rushed out and caucused for anything with an X and Y chromosome.

The question today is do the people of America really want to listen to an angry, narcissistic, swollen orca of a man talk about his diet?

El Rushbo, as he likes to call himself, is on a diet. He and his side-kick Snerdley broke the story in April and drone about it on the Rush Limbaugh show. Apparently his BMI is broadcast excellence.

Broad, maybe, but anyone out there with an active imagination? What do you think of when you picture Rush weighing in every day before he hits the airwaves?

Is he in size 75 briefs with a gut the size of a Ford Pinto hanging over the waistband? Does he wear boxers that could be used as tarps to shelter the homeless?

Rush allegedly has lost 90 pounds and jogged, amazingly, one fifth of a mile yesterday. This is impressive. But how, where and what, exactly, is all that extra pink skin doing these days?

The visual might be a mix of a Sharpei and a pig.

A Sharpiggie.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

In Your Facebook: Fifth Grade All Over Again

My husband refuses to be my friend. It's certainly no surprise, then, that we are celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary Tuesday. Ever since 5th grade I have liked guys who present a challenge.

Facebook is like 5th grade. Numbers, rejection, and obsession are major themes.

For starters, let's face it - the sheer quantity of friends when you are a Middle School kid, and when you play Facebook as an adult, is what counts. Especially if you are in politics. The idea is to rack up a couple hundred "friends" and then bombard them relentlessly with self-serving messages about what you would like them to think you are doing every day. For them.

"Helping to train the next generation of grassroots leaders today!"

"Exhausted after meeting with hundreds of community organizers to help stop global warming!"

"Just voted to send millions of dollars to my pathetic, forlorn district before I head out for martinis and sushi!"

Okay that last quote I made up. The others I didn't. The only thing worse than a politician on Facebook is a blogger.

Then there is the dicey game of requesting friends, and agreeing (or not) to be someone's friend. A trusted 9th grade Facebook consultant told me to accept all friend requests. It's hard to do. There are people who post every God darn thing.

"Just turned on the dishwasher."

Another stressor is that lingering friend suggestion. You know the one. You apparently have a lot of "friends" in common so the FB software thinks you would hit it off. Except you know you hate that person. What's a friend to do?

If you are shy like me you hesitate to ask people who aren't your friends to be friends. But you don't hesitate for long.

And then, what about when that certain person you barely know (or don't know at all) asks you to be friends with him? Sort of pushy, don't you think?

But what the heck. Friends are hard to come by. And besides, chances are there will come a time when somebody you request to be your friend refuses. I know. It sucks. It happened to me once:-(

And how about the games people play? Mafia Wars? Like I feel SO LEFT OUT!!

Finally, admit it. Facebook is addictive and you are obsessed.

"Why hasn't anybody commented on my witty status?"

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Good Boy, Glenn

If a real Mom says the President of the United States is a Man-Child and comes from the Banana Republic, is it true?

If so, Glenn Beck is really on to something. Beck and His staff at Fox News dug up 50 women (that's right - 50!) who were willing to be chauffeured to New York, made up, fed wraps and diet soda, and appear on the Glenn Beck variety show to talk about how much they hate President Obama.

These 9-12 Project Moms (real American Moms!) wane nostalgic for the good old days of 2001, specifically September 12, 2001 when everything was wholesome and good in the United States. You remember, right? Fundamental American virtue was oozing out of every crack of our social fabric. Civic discourse was polite. People were tolerant of diversity. Americans cared for each other and there weren't any scary czars.

Not today, boy, and these Moms are not gonna take it any more! They are going to tea parties to blame liberal, Marxist, fascist socialists for the war we are losing and our country's debt! They are marching on Washington to protest that the Middle Class has eluded them and their children! They are writing nasty things on blogs. They interrupt meetings and spread false information about healthcare reform and climate change.

And thank God for Glenn. He brings us these truths on Fox News and 185 radio stations and in 3 best selling novels because we all know that darn fringe media won't cover him or these Moms.

These are authentic, right-wing, angry female Moms! Why isn't anyone listening to them except Glenn Beck?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hamburger Howie

The Great and General Court of Massachusetts, aka the Massachusetts Legislature, is made up of 160 Representatives and 40 Senators. Right now there are a whopping 16 Republicans in the House and 5 members of the GOP in the Senate.

You might think right-wing radio work would be hard to get. Not so.

The Howie Carr Show ("drive home with Howie") is a hit here, and in the Bay State.

Born in Maine, Howie Carr is a firecracker. He wrote a book or two about the Boston mob, and hates Mike Barnicle. Howie's alleged pet name for his wife for many years was "Submit."

No kidding.

This week Howie is broadcasting live from The Big E Fair in West Springfield and relentlessly heckling Governor Patrick because of the Kirk appointment to the U.S. Senate. The political maneuvers and good ol'boy Democrats make him sick!

Yesterday afternoon's broadcast was about Howie Carr exercising great discipline. He apparently was able to hold back on fried dough and milk shakes in order to save room for a double cheeseburger with bacon, in between two glazed doughnuts.

No kidding.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Axis Mundi

Guess how many registered voters there are in Glenwood Plantation, Maine?


Guess how many ACORN offices here in Vacationland?


Nevertheless, "Maine is the center of our political universe," according to Jonah Goldman, Vice President of GPG, and national expert on voting and elections.

Goldman, who has testified before Congress and regularly appears on CNN, NBC, MSNBC, Fox, CBS, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post as a national expert on voting and elections was in Augusta today for a discussion about the modernization of voter registration, and more importantly a bill brewing in Congress that really is aimed at California, Ohio and ACORN.

Maine doesn't really need voter registration modernization or another federal mandate. We come in first or second place nationally for voter turnout. We have election-day registration, an electronic central voter registration, easy-vote absentee ballots and progressive challenge voting. This means that all ballots are counted (Mickey Mouse's included) and only challenged if there is a recount and the legality of the ballot could affect the outcome of the election. In other words, disenfranchisement is a chore.

So why is Goldman pressing flesh in Maine? Seems our two senators can make or break just about any bill these days.

Let's hope they keep their powder dry, our kids in mind and egos in check.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Since the Denver convention last year, Barack Obama has been elected President, the world went down in economic flames, my son went to high school as a giant football player, I started teaching American Government, and took a gig occasionally filling in as a radio host on a conservative news show.

Oh, and Dawn Johnsen is my new bff.

So I now listen to conservative talk-radio in order to provide balanced teaching and defensive radio hosting. Think cod liver oil. Or a smelly gym. No pain, no gain. That sort of thing.

Glenn Beck is a trip. He has a formula that is really working for him. First, he says things to scare people. Then he reminds everyone that he had predicted the very thing that is so scary. Then he invokes the constitution. Then he tells listeners they are very patriotic and good. Then he exhales.

There is then a pregnant pause.

Then he blames liberals and ACORN for all human suffering and breaks for a commercial. Usually its about his sleep number bed, or Carbonite Online Backup, but today the-sky-is-falling-because-of-liberals Glenn Beck had a plaintiff's law firm invite "victims" of mesothelioma to call a 1-800 number to sign up for a socialist, liberal, ACORN-ish, feminsist, Marxist, Democrat lawsuit.