Friday, December 18, 2009

Health-care bill wouldn't bring real reform

By Howard Dean
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Washington Post

If I were a senator, I would not vote for the current health-care bill. Any measure that expands private insurers' monopoly over health care and transfers millions of taxpayer dollars to private corporations is not real health-care reform. Real reform would insert competition into insurance markets, force insurers to cut unnecessary administrative expenses and spend health-care dollars caring for people. Real reform would significantly lower costs, improve the delivery of health care and give all Americans a meaningful choice of coverage. The current Senate bill accomplishes none of these.

Real health-care reform is supposed to eliminate discrimination based on preexisting conditions. But the legislation allows insurance companies to charge older Americans up to three times as much as younger Americans, pricing them out of coverage. The bill was supposed to give Americans choices about what kind of system they wanted to enroll in. Instead, it fines Americans if they do not sign up with an insurance company, which may take up to 30 percent of your premium dollars and spend it on CEO salaries -- in the range of $20 million a year -- and on return on equity for the company's shareholders. Few Americans will see any benefit until 2014, by which time premiums are likely to have doubled. In short, the winners in this bill are insurance companies; the American taxpayer is about to be fleeced with a bailout in a situation that dwarfs even what happened at AIG.

From the very beginning of this debate, progressives have argued that a public option or a Medicare buy-in would restore competition and hold the private health insurance industry accountable. Progressives understood that a public plan would give Americans real choices about what kind of system they wanted to be in and how they wanted to spend their money. Yet Washington has decided, once again, that the American people cannot be trusted to choose for themselves. Your money goes to insurers, whether or not you want it to.

To be clear, I'm not giving up on health-care reform. The legislation does have some good points, such as expanding Medicaid and permanently increasing the federal government's contribution to it. It invests critical dollars in public health, wellness and prevention programs; extends the life of the Medicare trust fund; and allows young Americans to stay on their parents' health-care plans until they turn 27. Small businesses struggling with rising health-care costs will receive a tax credit, and primary-care physicians will see increases in their Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates.

Improvements can still be made in the Senate, and I hope that Senate Democrats will work on this bill as it moves to conference. If lawmakers are interested in ensuring that government affordability credits are spent on health-care benefits rather than insurers' salaries, they need to require state-based exchanges, which act as prudent purchasers and select only the most efficient insurers. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) offered this amendment during the Finance Committee markup, and Democrats should include it in the final legislation. A stripped-down version of the current bill that included these provisions would be worth passing.

In Washington, when major bills near final passage, an inside-the-Beltway mentality takes hold. Any bill becomes a victory. Clear thinking is thrown out the window for political calculus. In the heat of battle, decisions are being made that set an irreversible course for how future health reform is done. The result is legislation that has been crafted to get votes, not to reform health care.

I have worked for health-care reform all my political life. In my home state of Vermont, we have accomplished universal health care for children younger than 18 and real insurance reform -- which not only bans discrimination against preexisting conditions but also prevents insurers from charging outrageous sums for policies as a way of keeping out high-risk people. I know health reform when I see it, and there isn't much left in the Senate bill. I reluctantly conclude that, as it stands, this bill would do more harm than good to the future of America.

The writer is a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and was governor of Vermont from 1991 to 2002.

Religion 101: Final Exam (I'd love comments on this one!)

by Terrence Kaye

The author gratefully acknowledges the inspiration provided by E.T. Babinski, Dan Barker, George Carlin, Richard Dawkins,, Sam Harris, Judith Hayes, James Haught, Robert Ingersoll, Adam Lee, John Stuart Mill, Pablo Neruda, Blaise Pascal, Seneca, Julia Sweeney, Jethro Tull, Mark Twain, and Mark Vuletic.

  1. Which of the following is the most compelling evidence for the existence of an intelligent and loving Designer?

    1. The little girl born in Egypt with two functioning heads

    2. The screams of a baby seal as it is torn apart by a shark

    3. The superiority of the octopus eyeball to the human

    4. A Caribbean sunset

  2. A Christian couple has just returned from their fiftieth anniversary celebration, when suddenly the husband falls to the ground, clutching his chest. Assuming the morally proper action is to try to save his life, what is the most morally proper action the wife could take?

    1. Call 911

    2. Put him in the car and race to the hospital herself

    3. Administer CPR

    4. Fall on her knees and pray to the Lord to spare his life

  3. You are a product tester and frequently bring your work home. Yesterday, while dressed in a flame-resistant suit (up to 3,000 degrees) and carrying the latest model fire extinguisher, you discovered your neighbor's house on fire. As the flames quickly spread, you stood by and watched the family perish. Which of the following best describes your behavior?

    1. All-powerful

    2. All-knowing

    3. All-loving

    4. Mysterious

  4. One day while jogging in the park, you see a maniac with a butcher knife about to attack a six-year old girl. What should you do?

    1. Grab the nearest rock and club the attacker

    2. Call the police on your cell phone

    3. Yell "POLICE!" and run toward the attacker in a threatening manner

    4. Calmly walk away, because God works in mysterious ways, and what appears "evil" to our finite human mind, may in fact be part of a vaster plan in God's infinite mind, so it's best not to interfere

  5. You are a loving family man who volunteers as a Big Brother and also at the local hospice when not working as the director of the community food bank. You awaken this morning to discover the global news media ablaze with the first-ever, easily understood, irrefutable scientific proof that there is no God. What will you probably do?

    1. Quit your job and become a full-time rapist

    2. Abandon your family and go on a murder rampage

    3. Become a professional burglar

    4. Continue your life pretty much as usual

  6. Since we can never "know" whether or not a God exists - it is fundamentally a matter of "faith" - it's best to be a believer since you have nothing to lose, but everything to lose if your disbelief is incorrect. Keeping in mind that the fate of your soul depends on the right choice, in which God should you place your belief? For extra credit, include a brief essay justifying your choice, along with the reasons why you reject the other three.

    1. Zeus

    2. Odin

    3. Vishnu

    4. The Holy Trinity

  7. You are the Creator of the universe. Your chosen people are a tribe of nomadic herdsmen, presently in bondage on one of the millions of your planets. Their ruler is being quite obstinate. Keeping in mind that you possess not only infinite power but also infinite love, your best course of action would be to:

    1. Cause the ruler to drop dead of a heart attack

    2. Cause the ruler to fall off a cliff

    3. Visit the ruler in a dream and persuade him to let your people go

    4. Slaughter a great number of innocent babies who had nothing to do with the ruler's policies

  8. You are a Starfleet Federation explorer in the process of cataloging two newly discovered planets. The majority of the inhabitants of each planet believe in a deity, but they are two different deities. Deity "X" is said to be not only all-powerful, all-loving, and all-knowing, but the designer of a marvelously complex and ordered world. Deity "Y" is said to be indifferent, absent, unconcerned with the affairs of his planet, and some even say evil. Which god rules over which planet?

    Planet A: Has apparently achieved a state of advanced benign equilibrium in which there are no viruses or diseases, and only a very small number of natural disasters, which, when they do strike, always eliminate only the sinful and evil. The inhabitants, both plant and animal, have learned to maintain their existence through photosynthesis, and thus do not have to kill and eat each other in order to survive. There are no "birth defects"; every inhabitant comes into existence perfectly formed and equipped for a long and productive life.

    Deity X_____

    Deity Y_____

    Planet B: Adorned with many examples of beauty and order, it is also constantly beset by hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, volcanoes, lightning bolts, viruses, disfiguring diseases, parasites, leeches, flies, crop-destroying pests and many other phenomena which afflict both the innocent and the evil. Every life form on the planet can only sustain its existence through the destruction and consumption of other life forms. Some of the inhabitants are born with a crippling condition called a "birth defect" which condemns them to living extremely limited, short or painful lives.

    Deity X_____

    Deity Y_____

  9. What is the number of children born without arms or legs that have been miraculously restored by a visit to the shrine at Lourdes, France?

    1. Too many to count

    2. Over 1,000

    3. Several dozen

    4. Zero, but only because their faith was not strong enough

  10. As we all know, there is only one true religion. What is the one true religion in each of the following circumstances?

    1. You are born in Karnak in 3000 B.C.

    2. You are born in Bombay in 300 B.C.

    3. You are born in Baghdad in 900 A.D.

    4. You are born in Mexico City in 1956 A.D.

  11. Although you are new at golf, you have just hit a beautiful 200-yard drive and your ball has landed on a blade of grass near the cup at Hole 3. The green contains ten million blades of grass. The odds of your ball landing on that blade of grass are 9,999,999 to one against, too improbable to have happened by mere chance. What's the explanation?

    1. The wind guided it

    2. Your muscles guided it

    3. There is no need for an explanation

    4. You consciously designed your shot to land on that particular blade

  12. Which of the following is most likely to be true, and why?

    1. Romulus was the son of God, born to a mortal human virgin

    2. Dionysus turned water into wine

    3. Apollonius of Tyana raised a girl from the dead

    4. Jesus Christ was the son of God, born to a mortal virgin, turned water into wine, and raised a man from the dead

  13. Conceding that torture is permissible under certain conditions, which of the following would be the best justification?

    1. Your prisoner is the only one who knows the date and time of an assassination attempt on the Pope

    2. Your prisoner is the only one who knows where a nuclear device has been planted in Washington, D.C.

    3. Your prisoner is the only one who knows where a vial of nerve gas has been placed in the London water supply system

    4. Your prisoner has announced that the earth revolves around the sun

  14. We know that Christianity is true because the Gospel writers, inspired by God who can make no error, recorded the founding events. For example, on the first Easter morning, the visitors to the tomb were greeted by which of the following:

    1. A young man (Mark 16:5)

    2. No, no, it was no man, it was an angel (Matthew 28:2-5)

    3. You're both wrong, it was two men (Luke 24:4)

    4. Damn it, there was nobody there (John 20:1-2)

  15. Only human beings have souls, and thus only human beings can go to heaven. What is the cutoff point for entry into paradise?

    1. Homo habilis

    2. Homo erectus

    3. Homo Neanderthalensis

    4. Homo sapiens

  16. According to at least one sainted church father, one of the pleasures of the saved in paradise will be to behold the agony of the damned in hell. What would be the best time of day in heaven for a mother to behold the agony of her only son who didn't make it?

    1. Early in the morning before it gets too crowded

    2. Mid-day when she can compare notes and share the celebration with other mothers

    3. Late at night when she can enjoy the flames in starker contrast

  17. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, we always look to the Bible as a guide. In this example, your teenage son has returned home from the prom intoxicated. If you want to follow the Bible, you should:

    1. Sit him down for a heart to heart talk

    2. Enroll him in AA

    3. Take away his driving privilege for one month

    4. Smash his head in with rocks

  18. In this example, your son-in-law, returned from his honeymoon, has just told you he suspects your daughter was not a virgin on their wedding night. Wishing to abide by God's holy rules as laid out in the Bible, you should:

    1. Ask him if he was a virgin before you do anything

    2. Advise him to forgive her

    3. Talk to your daughter

    4. Go find those rocks

  19. You are eating lunch at a crowded fast food restaurant, occupied mostly by children, when suddenly a gunman bursts in, screams "Do not question or test me," and sprays the room with bullets. Ten people are killed instantly, many more grievously wounded, but somehow you escape unharmed. His ammunition expended, the gunman heads for the door. What should you do?

    1. Call the police and wait for them to arrive

    2. Call the police and leave

    3. Risk death by asking the gunman why he did it, even though he told you not to

    4. Fall on your knees and give thanks and praise to the gunman for sparing your life

  20. Why did God show his backside to Moses, as described in Holy Scripture, Ex.33:23?

    1. He invented everything, and this was simply the first mooning

    2. He was really ticked off when Moses dropped the tablets

    3. He was piqued, having just discovered His almighty powers were useless against chariots of iron (Judges 1:19)

    4. Moses was too serious and needed to lighten up a little

  21. Jesus was God, and God knows all things, including all the medical knowledge that will ever be known. Why did Jesus blame demons for the case of epilepsy he cured?

    1. He was suffering from a temporary case of "brain freeze"

    2. The Aramaic word for "demon" is the same as the word for "cranial malfunction"

    3. Neurology was not his specialty

    4. In first-century Palestine, demons really did cause epilepsy. This affliction only began to be caused by electrochemical brain activity after about 1850 A.D.

  22. Today's paper carries a story about a suburban father who became so enraged with his disobedient children that he carried all nine of them to the backyard pool where he drowned them, along with their puppies, their kittens, and their hamsters. How should this father be treated?

    1. He should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law

    2. He should be banished from the town

    3. He should be lynched to save the taxpayers' money

    4. The townspeople should gather together to sing hymns of praise to him

  23. This morning I started my day by insulting my mother in public, then punched out my father, my brother, and my sister. Then I gathered up all my clothes, sold them to a second-hand store, and with the proceeds bought a used assault rifle and 50 rounds of ammunition. Next, I went down to the animal shelter and injected all the dogs with a drug that caused them to go insane and dive into the nearby canal where they all drowned. By this time I was hungry, so I went over to my neighbor's apple orchard and burned it down, because I wanted an orange and there weren't any. On the way home, I stopped at the local steel mill to discuss my philosophy of life with some of the guys. They laughed at me and said to stow it, so I tossed them all into the blast furnace. That night I discovered my son looking at a copy of Playboy. Concerned for his future welfare, I cut off his right hand. What historical character did my activities today most resemble?

    1. Genghis Khan

    2. Charles Manson

    3. Adolph Hitler

    4. Jesus Christ

  24. Down through the ages, who has been most responsible for the medical discoveries that have relieved untold amounts of suffering and pain, and extended the length of that most sacred of creations, the only species made in the divine image, human life?

    1. Medical doctors

    2. Research biologists

    3. Chemists

    4. The Catholic Church

  25. A great sadness has come into your life which you feel you cannot bear. A friend informs you of a free counseling service which has never failed to aid and comfort many others. You call the counselor; the phone rings and rings with no answer; you finally hang up. What is the most likely explanation?

    1. The counselor is sitting by the phone but not answering in order to test your faith in him

    2. The counselor is fully qualified and able to help you, but just doesn't feel like it right now

    3. The counselor will not answer because he wants you to profit by the spiritual strength that only comes through suffering

    4. The counselor is not home


    While it is true that there have been and still are many different gods and many different religions, they are really just different names by which various cultures approach the same God. Explain how and why each of the following is the same God:

    • Quetzalcoatl, who wants you to skin a young virgin alive, then put on the skin and dance;

    • Shiva, who wants you to pray over his penis;

    • Allah, who wants you to fly airliners into buildings;

    • Catholic God, who speaks directly through the Pope;

    • Hebrew God, who most definitely does not;

    • Jesus, who wants you to castrate yourself to ensure arrival in heaven

    • Jehovah, who any day now, is going to kill everyone on the earth except for his Witnesses

Make my dreams come true . . .

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Japanese blogs are starting to write about The Whistleblower / 製薬業界の闇

Here's one example:

きのう買った本がベラボーに面白い。 Bella Bo interesting books I bought yesterday.
『製薬業界の闇』というタイトルで、副題は「世界最大の製薬会社ファイザーの正体」とある。 』By『 darkness of the pharmaceutical industry titled subtitle is "the identity of the world's largest pharmaceutical company Pfizer," the term. 著者はファイザー社の元マーケティング部長のピーター・ロスト氏。 The author's former marketing chief Peter Lost Pfizer.
この本、よく出来た推理小説を読んでるかのごとく面白くて、 This book, as if I'm reading an interesting and well constructed thriller, きのう読み始めたんだけど、途中で止められなくて困っている。 I started reading yesterday, are in trouble because I could not stop in the middle.

著者が本の中で素晴らしい! Author in the book great!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sales success in Japan for The Whistleblower, Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman!

The Whistleblower, Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman appears to be doing great in Japan.

The book is right now #153 among hardcover books, and 382 overall!


Or, as it is called in Japan:
製薬業界の闇 (単行本)
ピーター・ ロスト (著), 斉尾 武郎 (監修)

This literally translates into "Pharmaceutical Industry Darkness."

Go to Amazon Japan to buy! The book was released December 11.

Here's a Google translation from the publisher's web site:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Drug reimportation redux: Now the dems don't want to offend Big Pharma.

WASHINGTON — Debating an overhaul of the health care system, the Senate found itself tied in knots on Thursday over a bipartisan proposal to allow people to import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada and certain other countries.

The chief sponsor of the proposal, Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, said: “People are walking on eggshells. If we pass legislation allowing people freedom to import drugs, the pharmaceutical industry might not support the health care bill.”

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, a leading proponent of drug imports, said, “There’s great dissension in the Democrat caucus over Senator Dorgan’s amendment concerning importation of drugs from Canada and other countries.”

“If it passes, as it should, it breaks the agreement that the White House made with PhRMA,” Mr. McCain said. “So the White House, as well as PhRMA, has been over here lobbying furiously.”

In a letter to the Senate, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, the commissioner of food and drugs, expressed concern that imported drugs might be contaminated or counterfeit because the Food and Drug Administration “does not have clear authority over foreign supply chains.”

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that Mr. Dorgan’s amendment would save the federal government $19.4 billion over the next decade, because federal programs would spend less on medications.

“U.S. consumers are charged the highest prices in the world for drugs that sell for a fraction of the price in most other countries,” Mr. Dorgan said. “My amendment includes strong safeguards to prohibit drug counterfeiting and other practices that would put the consumer at risk. It applies only to F.D.A.-approved prescription drugs produced in F.D.A.-approved plants from countries with comparable safety standards.”

New York Times

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I loved this video. Find out why.

The Whistleblower, Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman now available in Japan!

Or, as it is called in Japan:
製薬業界の闇 (単行本)
ピーター・ ロスト (著), 斉尾 武郎 (監修)

This literally translates into "Pharmaceutical Industry Darkness."

Go to Amazon Japan to buy! The book will be released December 11.

Here's a Google translation from the publisher's web site:

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

"I'm great in bed, I make great money, I'm a complete catch, but if you don't call me by 3 Thursday afternoon you can erase my number"

One more reason women don't call men back?

One night at a San Francisco Marina a woman named Olga spoke to a man who called himself Dimitri for about 2 minutes, then she gave him her business card with her phone number on it and said "call me." Dimitri then left the follow two crazy messages:

Monday, December 07, 2009

Girls with cigarettes.

Candy Cigarette by Sally Mann (Conscientious)