Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sometimes, I simply don't know what to do

Like now, fer instance.

I actually kind of like Jim Amann.

There, I said it!

I often disagree with his stances on certain issues, and I still haven't completely forgiven him for his bull-headed, hard-knuckled support of Joe Lieberman (in complete disagreement with his Democratic party after the 2006 primary), but I tend to personally like him when we're simply talking like a couple of guys; like a couple of goombahs. And I know people from his family. They're good people, no question.

Which is why I'm a bit conflicted about this thing that he sent me recently.

Hey, I like football. And beer. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

But the glaringly obvious mistakes basically jumped off of the page and onto my blog. What the hell else am I supposed to do, but post it here? (Click it to enlarge)

Anyway, I'm gonna try to attend this little party... soon as I can figure out where in the hell "Milfort" is!

Back from vacation

Joyce and I just got home after our week of exploring the wine region on the North Fork of Long Island. We experienced great weather for the most part, and we toured the area by bike, train, and ferry.

Whomever was responsible for having a cigar shop adjacent to this winery is a frickin' genius!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Myths and Facts About Healthcare Reform

I love Media Matters as much as the next blogger, but their detail can sometimes cause MEGO. They have a terrific analysis of myths and facts about health care reform -- here's the Cliffs Notes version.
1. There is no healthcare crisis. No, as long as you have insurance and stay healthy. Ask anyone who can't afford insurance or to pay co-pays or deductibles -- it's a disaster.
2. Reform will cause rationing. See number 1. I tore up three ligaments in my knee 2 summers ago and had to wait 3 days for the MRI to get approved. And that's with "good" insurance!
3. Reform creates death panels. Maybe in Sarah Palin's fantasy world, but not here on planet earth.
4. Reform will cover illegal immigrants. Horrors! It doesn't -- but since undocumented children attend public schools, do you want to deny care that includes the Swine flu vaccine or other health care that would protect all children?
5. Reform will raise taxes. Which would you prefer? A small increase in taxes, or unrestrained increases in premiums for your health insurance? I would much prefer a small, controlled increase in taxes versus the 35% increase in premiums many are facing.
6. Reform will add more than a trillion dollars to the deficit. The numbers are all over the place, and predicting health care costs is like predicting lottery numbers. I'll admit, this is the part that troubles me most, but after all the deficit spending the Bush administration supported for projects that did not benefit all Americans, I am not nearly as troubled.
7. Co-ops are a good substitute for a public option.
8. Obama really wants a single-payer plan.
9. This is socialized medicine.
No, no, and no. Obama said if he were starting a health care system from scratch, single payer would be attractive, but it ain't happening here. A public option is essential for genuine competition to private insurers to get their administrative costs down.

Many of the challenges to health reform proposals are simply made up, and in the right wing ech0 chamber, they are repeated often enough that they "become fact." Visit Media Matters for the detailed rebuttals and links.

Friday, August 28, 2009

WTF? 9/11 Day of Service is Wrong?

Help me, here. FoxNation is reporting that President Obama is disgracing the memory of September 11 by making it a national day of service and remembrance. This hysteria comes from an article in the American Spectator

The Obama White House is behind a cynical, coldly calculated political effort to erase the meaning of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks from the American psyche and convert Sept. 11 into a day of leftist celebration and statist idolatry.

This effort to reshape the American psyche has nothing to do with healing the nation and everything to do with easing the nation along in the ongoing radical transformation of America that President Obama promised during last year's election campaign. The president signed into law a measure in April that designated Sept. 11 as a National Day of Service, but it's not likely many lawmakers thought this meant that day was going to be turned into a celebration of ethanol, carbon emission controls, and radical community organizing.

Huh? Here is the mission statement from the 9/11 Day of Service:
Our mission is to honor the victims of 9/11 and those who rose to service in response to the attacks by encouraging all Americans and others throughout the world to pledge to voluntarily perform at least one good deed, or another service activity on 9/11 each year. In this way we hope to create a lasting and forward-looking legacy -- annually rekindling the spirit of service, tolerance, and compassion that unified America and the world in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
How is this a day of "leftist celebration and statist idolatry"? Do I need a tinfoil hat to understand?

I do understand a true desecration of the memory of September 11 -- the tea party express tour will be in Hartford and Bridgeport that day.
At each stop the tour will highlight some of the worst offenders in Congress who have voted for higher spending, higher taxes, and government intervention in the lives of American families and businesses. These Members of Congress have infringed upon the freedom of the individual in this great nation, and its time for us to say: "Enough is Enough!"
I think these events could be characterized this way:
The plan is to turn a "day of fear" that helps Republicans into a day of activism called the National Day of Service that helps the left. In other words, nihilistic liberals are planning to drain 9/11 of all meaning.
Or, is it only an inappropriate day of activism that drains 9/11 of all meaning when the right doesn't agree?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Doctor with Ice in His Veins

Tom Coburn creeps me out on so many levels...but I was stunned when I saw this clip on CNN. It needs to be exposed. Read about it and watch the clip here

What if Where You Live Determines Your Health Care?'s a trick question. Your care is already determined by where you live and by which hospital you choose for your care. Anyone who wants to discuss health care policy intelligently should be familiar with the Dartmouth Atlas. The Atlas started more than 10 years ago, and became famous for discovering that geography determined rates of procedures such as heart bypass surgery and mastectomy for cancer.

Their most recent report (PDF) looks at Medicare spending and care provided to patients with severe chronic illnesses in the final two years of life. This is particularly important, given the debates about rationing and "death panels." New Jersey, California and New York spend more than 20% more than the national average. On the other hand, North Dakota, Iowa and South Dakota spend more than 25% less than the national average.

Further analysis shows it is the volume of services, not the cost per service that kicks the price up. So, it's not explained away because New York and California are expensive places to do business. UCLA Medical Center spent an average of $93.8K, had 18.5 days of hospitalization, and 38% of deaths associated with intensive care. Massachusetts General spent $78.7K on 17.3 days and 22.5% associated deaths and the Mayo Clinic $53.4K with 12 hospital days and 23% associated deaths. If you don't want to spend your final days as a senior connected to machines, don't go to California. Are people running away from the Mayo Clinic? Not that I've heard.
The single most important factor determining whether a community or a given care system and its associated physicians overtreats the chronically ill is the size of its acute care sector relative to the number of chronically ill patients who need treatment. In high-cost regions and health systems, providers have overbuilt their acute care sectors [hospital beds].
Remember, we are looking at the Medicare population where patients have the same reimbursement rules wherever they live. Comparing high spending regions to lower spending regions, the high-spenders have:
  • 32% more hospital beds
  • 31% more physicians
  • Lower quality measures
  • Little difference in major elective surgery
  • Slightly higher death rate after heart attack, hip fracture and colorectal cancer diagnosis
  • More likely to report poor communication among physicians
  • Worse access to care and greater waiting times
The Dartmouth Atlas is important because it uses existing Medicare data to demonstrate where the opportunities are for savings in the system. Clearly, spending more does not mean better care.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

We remember....

As Bob is on his sailboat this week, we remember another who so loved the sea.
For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy - August 12, 1980
Hear it here

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Entrepreneurial Spirit?

Thanks for the lively discussion in the comments of my last post. I must say, I do not want doctors with the "entrepreneurial spirit" in charge of my healthcare. If you believe the profit motive is a good, healthy one for our health care system, you must read this article by Atul Gawande and his response to challenges to his data here.

In short, he examined McAllen, TX -- one of the most expensive health care markets in the U.S. In 2006, the last year for which data are available, Medicare spent $14,946 per enrollee in McAllen and $7,504 in ElPaso, TX. By comparison, Hartford is $8,241 and New Haven $9,713. U.S. data here.

Gawande examined two approaches to health care payment structures for physicians -- the entrepreneurial -- do more, raise your income model and the team model -- in which physicians are salaried, so there is no financial reward for more procedures. In the team model, in different parts of the country, quality is better and costs are less.
We are witnessing a battle for the soul of American medicine...we pay doctors for quantity, not quality...we also pay them as individuals rather than as members of a team working together for their patients.
Providing health care is like building a house. The task requires experts, expensive equipment and materials, and a huge amount of coordination. Imagine that, instead of paying a contractor to pull a team together and keep them on track, you paid an electrician for every outlet he recommends, a plumber for every faucet and a carpenter for every cabinet. Would you be surprised if you got a house with a thousand outlets, faucets, and cabinets at three times the cost you expected?
No wonder GI docs laugh about "scoping for dollars."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Has He Got This One?

It was just a year ago, just after McCain and Palin had their convention bounce that this picture came out. When we were freaking out because Obama wasn't combative enough, and didn't respond to attacks...he had it.

I thought he was crazy to bring Hillary into the administration, but he had it.

Boy, do I hope he keeps up his record and that he has it for health care. I think that after Labor Day, it's time for him to tell Rs -- the train is leaving the station -- you can climb on, or wave goodbye.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The all-too-soon waning days of summer

(Photo from my boat during a race earlier this month)

There's a few subtle hints that summer is on its way out...

The days are getting noticeably shorter. Sunset is nearly an hour earlier than it was during the longest early summer days just two months ago.

I'm noticing a lot of "Back To School Sale" flyers in the Sunday papers.

And lastly, I'm starting to feel desperate to get away for a few days on my sailboat while the weather is still awesome!

So I'll be away for a short trip, but Kirby will be here; and there is, of course, a nice selection of top-notch blogs for you to visit, conveniently listed on the right sidebar.

In the meantime, have fun, and be sure to enjoy summer while it's here!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Jim Amann discusses the budget issues

Earlier this week at a fundraiser for Milford mayoral candidate Genevieve Salvatore, I had a chance to talk to former Speaker Jim Amann about the ongoing budget crisis at the State Capitol.

And yes, I'm now fully aware that "gubernatorial" is missing a few letters in my opening title of the video. The day Pinnacle Studio finally includes a spell checker in the titles editor will truly be a day for me to celebrate!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Salvatore addresses issues in Milford

Democratic Milford mayoral candidate Genevieve Salvatore discusses the issues in a speech to her supporters at the Bridge House restaurant in Devon (Milford).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"PO or No!"

Probably the best suggestion I've heard for a rallying cry in favor of the public option in the current health insurance reform debate.

"PO or No!"

Teddy Partridge over at has more:
Can't get a much simpler slogan than six letters, three words: PO or No! (h/t TimO). Either health reform contains a public option or there's no health reform. This is the "now go make me do it" chapter of Barack Obama's presidency.

No public option? No health care bill in the House.
No public option in the conference report? No passage of the conference report.
No public option? No walking back from Progressive Caucus promises: no bill.

Andrea Mitchell can say "they won't do that" all she wants about the Democratic United States Senators with an identifiable conflict of interest, either familial or campaign-finance based. But in the House, there are 60 progressives (others say 100) who say: "PO or No!"

I don't think we've had a simpler. more succinct lefty slogan since "No Blood For Oil." Let's hope "PO or No!" turns out better than that one did.
Speaking of Andrea Mitchell, she may need to either finally retire or at least get a decent pair of reading glasses. Watch how she mangles the blog's name when she begins and ends her interview with Jane Hamsher yesterday.

And Jane did a terrific job (as usual) with Mrs. Greenspan's lame beltway-opined interview. The current public option plan IS the compromise, the middle ground, considering the Democrats originally wanted single-payer health insurance, This point seems to get lost in the raucous din of the conservative insurance shills:

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Squirrel is Everywhere!

For more squirrel bombing, check here and here.

Put your favorites in the comments.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Where Are the Pastors?

I just love Ed Schultz. He is taking no prisoners on health care. I listen to him on XM or live stream (the Chicago affiliate has a very reliable stream, 12-3 Eastern). On Thursday's show, he started off by asking where Rick Warren, Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson, and James Dobson are on health care. Isn't it the Christian thing to want to take care of those less fortunate?

There is one religious man who is stepping up -- Jim Wallis of Sojourners. This is his latest message sums it up nicely -- it's about justice and fairness and the Golden Rule ('member that?):

As a nation, we are engaged in making decisions about our health care that will impact our families and communities for generations to come.

And I must personally share with you that I’ve had enough of the misinformation and, frankly, misleading statements coming from those who oppose the transformation of a health system that currently renders the best health care to the wealthiest, depletes the savings of solidly middle-class Americans, and leaves 46 million people with no health-care coverage at all.

We don’t have to fall victim to the naysayers – those seeking to prop up the status quo and sustain the profits of the massive insurance corporations.

Business as usual is not what we’re about. It’s not what change is about. It’s certainly not what people of good will from all faiths, who embrace the Golden Rule and seek the common ground of justice and fairness, are about.

During the last big national debate on health-care reform in the early 1990s, the religious community mostly stayed out of the discussion. Not this time.

A friend of mine recently traveled across several states in the U.S. visiting friends on summer vacation. He told me that, everywhere he went, people asked him to read e-mails they’d received. These e-mails had no author and no citations to support the misleading statements about health-care reform they contained – including the false claim that, if health-care reform passed, it would force families to see doctors and receive care dictated by a government panel. This is not true.

At a recent meeting of leading faith groups in Washington, D.C., a leader of a large, national organization said they were receiving calls asking if the elderly would be simply left to die if health-care reform passed. The answer is NO.

These egregious and false accusations are being created for only one purpose: to manipulate and instill fear in American citizens.

This must stop. We are the ones who can stop it.

Together, speaking out, acting out, and joining as one on a mission, we can push back the clouds of misinformation and fear-mongering, and allow the light of truth shine through.

Today, right now, let’s join together making the health-care debate factual, worthy of our families and communities. Let’s put the special interests on notice that we want real health-care reform, not misinformation and fear-mongering.

Sojourners has created a rapid response Web site where you will find what you need to fight for the truth: Sojourners' Health Care Reform Resources...

USE the messages and talking points that Sojourners has created in your discussions with others.

CALL your Members of Congress today, toll-free, at #1-866-279-5474 and ask them to vote for health-care reform.

We must act.

We must speak out in our communities, schools, and workplaces. If we all take part, then our voices will join thousands of others across the nation. Other things you can do include writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper supporting health-care reform.

I pledge to you that I will do my part by keeping you updated on what’s happening here in Washington, D.C. Be prepared to receive action requests and notifications of conference calls that you should join.

Together, imagine the thousands of faithful voices speaking out, in unison – with all joining in.

Together, we can bring about the most sweeping change to our health-care system in history.

Together, passing health-care reform for our families is what people of good will from all faiths, who embrace the Golden Rule and seek the common ground of justice and fairness, can do. Join me.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I Just Want to Scream!

OK, I've controlled my rage all week -- now I am so totally pissed off that I just want to scream.

1. For more than 15 years, the federal government has required that we ask anyone admitted to the hospital if they have prepared "advanced directives" -- that is, a living will or health care proxy (someone who can express your wishes if you can't). Here are the Connecticut forms -- everyone should have these documents -- you never know when you may need them. These questions are required for any healthcare organization that accepts payment from Medicare or Medicaid. It doesn't mean you have to have them or have them filled out in a particular way, but we have to ask.

And, as a nurse, I am ethically obligated to follow my patient's wishes -- whether I agree or not. Have there been times that a patient or their family wanted everything done and the health care team disagreed? You bet. Did we stop any care? Not a chance. Have there been times when a patient has said, "No -- no ventilator!" and I disagreed? Yes, again. Did I fight for that patient's right to refuse? You bet -- in fact, for one patient, I physically got between the patient and the doctor who wanted her tied down so he could put that tube in her throat.

There are no death panels, there's no one who's going to pull the plug to save money. It just doesn't happen that way.

2. I am so sick and tired of listening to people saying they don't want to pay for others to have health care. Of course, most people, including a nurse I used to work with, specify -- "illegal immigrants," "welfare queens," and other "unacceptable" folks. Well, let me tell you -- I don't have kids in public school, so why should I pay taxes that support schools? I don't believe in the death penalty, so I don't want to pay taxes that support the state killing in my name.

Here's a newsflash -- you ARE paying for everyone, whether you realize it or not. That's why health insurance premiums are going up and up -- it's called cost shifting, and it's been done for decades.

3. Public plan = government run healthcare. I have not met a single senior who would give up their public plan, commonly known as Medicare. Is Medicare perfect? No. Does anybody want to give it up? Again, no. A public plan is essential to provide true competition to for-profit insurance companies whose executives are raking in obscenely high salaries. It doesn't mean the government owns the doctors or the hospitals -- it simply means that's who pays. People on Medicare can choose where they get care and who gives it to them.

4. But there will be rationing! Bullshit again. My health insurance has a list of drugs that they will pay for. I want a drug not on the list? I have to pay full price for it. Isn't that rationing? I'd love to have a house on the beach in Maine, but I can't afford it. Is that rationing housing? Give me a break.

The Genius of Les Paul

This week marks the passing of yet another musical luminary. The man who literally made rock'n'roll possible, Les Paul, has died at the age of 94.

Les Paul not only perfected the solid body electric guitar that launched rock'n'roll, but he invented the multitrack recording process, an innovation that revolutionized the entire music industry.

What Alexander Graham Bell was to modern communications, Les Paul was to modern music. He was THAT important to recording. Basically every song we hear today was recorded using the process he invented. He quite literally changed the world.

Thank you, Les Paul.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Best Health Care in the World? It Depends.

The next time a tea bagger tells you we have the best health care system in the world, share this with him:

There is a concept called "amenable mortality" -- it uses public health data to develop analysis that determine deaths that could and should have been prevented such as:
  • Adults who die from breast or colon cancer before age 75, indicating lack of timely mammograms or colon screens or care.
  • Children who die before age 14 from vaccine-preventable or easily treatable illnesses such as coughs, measles, asthma, and other respiratory problems.
  • Diabetics who die before age 50 from complications that could easily have been prevented with proper medical management.
  • People who die from infections or hypertension before age 75, a symptom of lack of preventative and appropriate care, including blood pressure control.
In the mid-1990s, the U.S. ranked 15th out of 19 industrialized countries. France, Japan and Spain were the top 3. Last year? The U.S. is dead last -- France, Japan and Australia are now the top 3.
If the U.S. could improve and reach the average of 18 other countries, much 75,000 deaths a year would be saved. If the U.S. could reach the rate of the top three countries, there would be 101,000 fewer deaths per year.
And that terrifying Canadian system? Sixth place. Read it and weep.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More Health Care Choices

In my last post, I asked readers to prioritize candidates for an organ transplant. In the comments was the suggestion that the "first in line" get the organ -- that's the only fair way.

OK, what's "first"? Can you buy your way to the top? Will that mean that doctors put people on the list the minute they have organ failure so in case they need the transplant, they will have moved up the list? Should the organ from a 25-year-old be put in an 80-year-old?

UNOS is working on this ethical dilemma that requires the wisdom of Solomon. Here is what they are considering for kidney transplants. These factors would work together to come up with a score:
  1. Life years from transplant: estimated survival for the recipient versus dialysis -- that is, how well and for how long will the donor organ be used?
  2. Dialysis time: time spent on dialysis already -- that is, who has been waiting longer, and how do we make a just decision?
  3. Donor profile index: measures the quality of the donated organ; that is, which organ is best for which candidate?
Currently, there is a huge computer database that crunches all the numbers and uses a number of factors to score patient characteristics and come up with a priority list. Hospitals agree to send any donated organs to the highest person on the list (for each organ), considering the travel time -- so the organ is not at risk by a long travel time. Sicker people move up the list, until they are so sick that they would likely not survive surgery. Then there is also body size, blood type and tissue typing to consider -- the patients that match are listed in priority order, the recipient's medical team is notified, and has one hour to accept the organ or pass it to the next person in line.

There are so many factors that go into the formula, it is very difficult to game the system.

Does anybody have a better idea? I think this is a good start at allocating resources when there is simply not enough of everything to go around. No death panels.

Must reads:
Colin McEnroe about end-of-life care for his mother
Don't talk to me about death panels
Alliance for Health Care Reform
Comparison of proposals

Monday, August 10, 2009

Health Care Choices: First in a Series

There is such debate about health care today, and lots of misleading and just plain wrong information out there. So, here is the first in a series of posts I'll be doing to bring a little reality check to the matter.

Anyone who says we can't have health care reform because it could lead to rationing has no idea how the current system works. People who do not have health insurance have care rationed. People who cannot afford to pay $4 per pill for the latest blood pressure or heart or diabetes medicine face rationing. As Dr. Howard Dean said of his experience practicing medicine -- he never talked to anyone from the government who wanted to limit the tests he could order or the treatments he could prescribe for Medicare patients, but he fought with insurance companies' limits on care daily.

Let's look at organ transplants as an example. There are not enough donated organs for all the people who could use one. Thus, there needs to be a system to determine who should receive donated organs. What criteria should be used?
Concepts are under review by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR). The OCR is assessing whether the concepts are consistent with applicable federal laws, including the Age Discrimination Act. a lot of people don't know that the Department of Health and Human Services already has an Office of Civil Rights that exists to protect Americans' fundamental right of nondiscrimination; that is "from unfair treatment or discrimination, because of your race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex (gender), or religion."

So, we have an otherwise healthy 25-year old man who has a catastrophic brain injury from an automobile crash. His family wants to donate his organs. But, to whom should they go?
  1. A 35 year old woman, married with three children
  2. A 39 year old man, married with no children
  3. A 32 year old single woman who works as a legal secretary
  4. A 38 year old single man who works as a research scientist at the National Cancer Institute
In the comments, post your choice and the criteria you believe should be used to determine who should get organs. Then, I'll tell you what the research says and see what you think.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sunday Night Music Club VII

So, I was toolin' around the internets tonight, looking at Youtube videos. I think I started with AndersonScooper's phenomenal video of the crazed protesters at Rep. Chris Murphy's appearance last week, and I ended up watching the "Have You Had Enough?" music video by Rickie Lee Jones and the Squirrel Nut Zippers from the 2006 campaign.

I got to thinking about how amazing and expressive Rickie's voice is, and I remembered a version of the classic "Makin' Whoopee" that she and the inimitable Dr. John (whom I was lucky enough to see play at a New York club) had recorded many years ago. And so, considering it's been a couple of months since I last posted an installment of my extremely intermittent "Sunday Night Music Club", here's the 7th video in this grindingly slow series:

The $1200 Haircut

(image from

In an Associated Press news story today, South Carolina governor Mark Sanford has been accused of possibly using state aircraft for personal and political trips, in violation of state guidelines.

As the AP has become such dicks about people quoting from their precious stories (wishing to sue if someone quotes as little as FIVE words from one of their stories, in direct conflict with Fair Use specifications), I'm not going to do so here.

Plus, I'm not going to link to their shitty news service, either. Reuters rules! Go to for news that doesn't come with extreme suckitude attached to it!

Sanford, who recently generated headlines when his purported Appalachian hiking trip ended somewhere off the map and between the thighs of an Argentinian floozy, has made much of his penny-pinching ways, even demanding that state employees use both sides of Post-It notes.

Well, it appears that the governor used a state airplane to pick him up from a personal trip in Myrtle Beach to deliver him to his favorite cut-rate barber. At an estimated cost of $ 1,265.

When you consider how much was made of another philanderer's pricey haircut (the very disappointing John Edwards and his $400 haircut), well I expect we'll be hearing nothing but haircut stories from Fox News for the next, oh, week or so. Right? Eh, maybe not.

Look, I'm all for fiscal responsibility. Can we maybe buy John Edwards' barber a ticket to come to Columbia S.C. for Sanford? Because I'd guess the good people of South Carolina will save at least $500 per haircut for as long as Sanford remains governor.

Five hundred bucks can buy a shitload of Post-It notes.

Rob Simmons: Ultra liberal?

Republican candidate for Senate Rob Simmons proudly flies his liberal flag during this TV interview from July, 2009. "Ideas at Work and Beyond" hosted by Al Robinson.

Gee, he's so liberal, he almost sounds like a Democrat! Good luck with selling that on Fox News, Rob!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

August 8th

In my mind, and in my heart, the Eighth of August will always remain "Ned Lamont Day".

Since that day, our nation has seen many significant changes. Huge, dynamic, encompassing changes to the course of American history.

It's hard to believe everything that's happened in the last three years. We went from a nation being subjected to a Republican President, a Republican Senate, and a Republican House, and we now have a Democratic President, Senate, and House.

All of that can be indirectly traced back to an amazing, and seemingly quixotic run for Senate by some guy from Greenwich that nobody ever heard of:

Ned Lamont.

Ned spoke of "change" long before Barack Obama adopted it for his campaign's theme. The very night he beat the oddsmakers and astounded the establishment by defeating a three-term Democratic senator in his own party's primary, Ned Lamont had this to say:
"They call Connecticut the land of steady habits...tonight we voted for a big change."
And Ned helped immensely in bringing about that change. Because of Ned's courage and selfless audacity, he influenced many people who became involved in the democratic process. He showed that it's possible to win against overwhelming odds, and that by sticking to your values, people will respect and support you.

It doesn't matter so much that he didn't eventually win that seat in the Senate. Ned has done so much to show that a person with a good understanding of the character of our nation and a recognition of our true potential can move mountains. It's likely that Ned's influence on the American psyche has paid off in many different ways.

At least in part, because of Ned we gained huge majorities in both houses of Congress. And likely because of Ned, we have a president who will actually lead our nation!

Because of Ned, we now know that anything is possible; and we thank him for doing everything he did. He was the "Yes We Can" guy well before Barack Obama.

Thanks, Ned!

UPDATE: A minute or so of pure joy, requested by Spazeboy!

Friday, August 07, 2009

John Hughes RIP

I'm a little bit older than his target audience from the 80s, but his films still managed to resonate with my memories of high school. He originated many unique buzzwords and parlance into the cultural jargon.

Here's our nod to a much-used Hughes concept, shamelessly stolen from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (1986), where we addressed Joe Lieberman's hundreds of missed Senate votes in the 2006 election.

Starring Jon K, with additional voice-work by Kirby!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Anthem Blue Cross protests Health Insurance Reform

The brilliant CT Blogger (the undisputed Godfather of Connecticut Video Blogging) has a real gift for not overlooking the little details that help tell the whole story.

Golly, the insurance companies don't want health insurance reform! Who'da thunk it?!?

For more on this event, including video, please see his article at My Left Nutmeg.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

GOP and Teabaggers to disrupt Murphy today

I just got a tip that Republican extremists plan to disrupt Rep. Chris Murphy's "Congress on Your Corner" event today in Simsbury. These people will be using the guise of "free speech" to shout down the congressman and attempt to put an end to the free speech of anyone else who doesn't share their rabid hatred of anything Democratic.

They aren't interested in sharing ideas or engaging in an informative dialog. All they want to do is use thuggish hooliganism and fascist tactics to eliminate free speech (except their own).
Citizens should try to attend this event to let Murhpy (sic) understand the damage being wrought on our nation by the irresponsible actions of Congress. I hope as many of us citizens that can make it will attend. Please consider taking time off from work if necessary.
Yeah, that's going to help the economy!

Their activities are endorsed and actively encouraged by Connecticut GOP Party Chairman, Chris Healy.

Please show up today to support Rep. Murphy, especially if you have a video camera. Don't worry about editing the video. If you get anything noteworthy on tape, we'll arrange to get it to me and I'll post it on the internet for you; with or without attribution, your choice.

We need to shine a national spotlight on these deranged and dangerous individuals, who will stop at nothing to destroy your rights!

Here's the 411:
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Stop & Shop
498 Bushy Hill Rd
If you attend, do not confront the extremists directly. Simply observe and report. Get clear views of who is doing what, especially if they break any laws. But protect your own safety and avoid direct confrontation with those lunatics. Use your judgment. Good luck!

Democratic Fundraiser for Milford Mayoral Candidate

(Genevieve with Rep. Rosa DeLauro)

Wednesday, August 19th! Mark your calendars!

The first big fundraiser for Milford Democratic mayoral candidate Genevieve Salvatore will be held at the awesome Bridge House Restaurant in the borough of Devon in just two short weeks:

Save the Date!

You are Invited to Join

Genevieve Salvatore

Democrat for Mayor of Milford

For a FUNDRAISER for our campaign
in support of smart growth and
effective management in Milford.
Learn how Genevieve's reform plan
can affect you and your neighbors!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009
6:00-8:00 PM

The Bridge House Restaurant
49 Bridgeport Avenue
Milford, CT 06460
(website with Directions/Map)

$75 suggested donation at door or online.
Cannot attend? Please also donate online!

Questions? Please contact Ashley Pandya at

The Howling Insanity of the Right

Apparently, whenever Republicans lose an election these days, they screech and rave like lunatics until nobody else can get a word in edgewise.

The new GOP is heartily behind these fascist tactics employed by the Teabaggers, where they go to town hall meetings and informational forums hosted by their elected representatives, and under the guise of "free speech", they shout down any attempt at a reasonable exchange of ideas.

Of course, while indulging in their contemptible display of brutish hatred, they are effectively obstructing the rights of many other voters who showed up to learn what their representatives think and to attempt to express their opinions. Because in a fascist movement, only those who belong to that particular movement are heard. Everyone else is crushed.

GOP Party Chairman Chris Healy endorses and encourages this behavior. Over at My Left Nutmeg yesterday, tparty (which is an internet handle that has suddenly become fraught with irony) discusses Healy's response to a Hartford Courant blog article:
In a comment in response to a post today on the Courant's Capitol Watch blog, Connecticut Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy defended the right of crazed right-wing activists to attempt to shut down debate at town hall meetings with members of Congress across the state:
When everyday citizens, most of them who have never been politically active, indicate that they are going to take to streets and shout "enough!" It is somehow un-Democratic. Well, it's un-Democratic because we don't agree with the Democratic Party model - larger government, out-of-control spending and demonizing those who disagree.

Give it a rest. Let the people be heard. If leaders can't stand in front of those who sent them there and defend their positions, too bad. Maybe they should go back to Washington and realize that we are paying attention.
Chairman Healy and the Connecticut Republican Party are apparently now officially sanctioning the organized and potentially violent right-wing disruptions of town hall meetings in the coming days by the use of widely distributed anti-democratic tactics such as "yelling," "disrupting," and avoiding "intelligent debate".
With such counter-productive tactics being actively encouraged by the Republican Party, and repeatedly advocated by right-wing news organizations and talk radio, it's doubtful those citizens who want to actually engage in a constructive dialog with their representatives will even bother to show up. Nobody in their right mind wants to be subjected to a howling mob scene.

This type of thing has happened before in Connecticut. Back in 2006, Sen. Joe Lieberman's campaign indulged in very similar activities. When Ned Lamont appeared at Ted's Diner in Meriden for a campaign stop, he was confronted by shouting Lieberman volunteers, led by lobbyist thug Richard Goodstein

It happened again, this time at a senior citizen housing project in Hartford. When Ned Lamont showed up to speak to the seniors, he was confronted by a huge mob of screeching Lieberman employees and paid hooligans, who were instructed to "yell", "disrupt", and put a stop to "intelligent debate". They succeeded not only in doing just that, but they terrorized many of the senior citizens living there, many of whom didn't know what was going on and locked themselves inside their rooms.

Fortunately, the GOP's tactics are starting to backfire on them. Public opinion, expressed in editorials and blogs, is turning against their terrorist methods. People aren't stupid. They recognize fascist tactics and they're starting to object. The Republicans have lost so much in the last few years that they're pulling out all the stops in a desperate last-ditch effort to claim any sort of victory.

The Democratic National Committee has released a sixty-second spot, which exposes quite clearly the thuggish tactics encouraged by the Rabid Right:

ConnecticutMan1's footage of a Hartford rally was featured on MSNBC last night (well done, Stephen!):

Clearly, the Republican Party has lost all semblance of logic and restraint, and they've adopted the tactics used by another group of misguided people in the 1920s and 30s. It all started with a so-called "populist" movement that encouraged thug tactics and repression of any dissent from their own hard line.

"The Beer Hall Putsch" - Munich 1923

(don't worry, I'm not accusing them of being Nazis...not yet, anyway!)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Chris Healy: "Hack"

Hack! That's his word, not mine. Read on...

For the most part I've dismissed the colorful rants by State Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy as typically conservative, Limbaugh-influenced rhetoric, peppered with occasional lame attempts at humor. For the most part, he's resided well under my political radar. There's just too much going on these days to focus on such an insignificant player.

But as ATalbot pointed out yesterday on CT Local Politics, Healy has just crossed a line of decency that even many Republicans would recognize and condemn.

Three days after Sen. Chris Dodd announced that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, Healy took the personal health crisis as an invitation to launch a political attack:
And then there will be rationing – lots of it. It is not cruel to say that if Sen. Chris Dodd were enrolled in a Canadian or English plan, he would probably not survive his diagnosis. Treatment would be delayed. Sen. Dodd certainly would not be able to schedule his surgery on his time table under the single-payer plan.
The unrestrained magnitude of offense contained in this paragraph has momentarily stunned me into a state of creative inertia! Fortunately for me, ATalbot has done an admirable job in countering Healy's callous remarks, thereby saving me the effort of writing something less effective. (Plus, I'm kind of lazy):
There is so much fundamentally wrong with this paragraph that it’s difficult to know where to start. Let’s look beyond the disgusting shot at Senator Dodd. First and most basically, there is not a debate on a single-payer plan. Perhaps Healy should address the bill that’s actually being debated. Second, Dodd is receiving health care through a public plan–that is, the plan that is offered to federal employees. Third, under the plan being debated particularly, the wait for emergency and medical treatment will be unchanged due to the same necessity-based triage system that already exists. Indeed, over time these wait times may in fact decrease due to widespread implementation of preventative care.

Healy’s words are more than tawdry, they’re absolutely wrong. And they reveal something fundamentally bankrupt about the Republican party on this issue. It’s about time for players in the Republican party to get serious on health care reform. It’s an issue that matters to an ever-growing number of American, including myself...
And not to pile on or anything, but obviously Blogger doesn't include a grammar- or spell-checker in the title line, because Healy named his screed "The Democrat's Parrallel Universe". But that's somewhat petty and mean-spirited of me to point out those deficiencies, when the fact remains that he's got so much more of execrable substance to go after!

I think it's better to let Chris Healy use his own words to describe himself. Specifically, one word: he uses the word "hack" as his "Occupation" in his Blogger profile, viewable here (until he changes it).

However, you know shouldn't surprise anyone that I made a screen cap of his profile page for your viewing pleasure.

Sometimes the indisputable truth about a person can be summed up with a single word. And that word carries much more weight if the person in question uses it to describe himself.