Friday, December 21, 2007

Humbug, as in Bah!

This is truly a must-read story

No matter if you are left, right, center, or from Mars, if you can read this amazing (and indubitably true) first-person story and not be shocked--and I do not use the word lightly--you urgently need to see a mental-health specialist.

A seriously Broken Reid

The more I think about Harry Reid, the angrier I become. Glenn Greenwald at Salon has been keeping the fires stoked, and I strongly recommend his latest comments on Broken Reid (when will others pick up that nickname?) and his gang (including notably Jay Rockefeller) of Republicans-masquerading-as-Democrats.

Where does it stop?

Another continuing story: the EPA's amazing decision about California's attempt to regulate automobile emissions within that State. The phrase "there seems no limit to their arrogance" has been used so many times over the last seven years that it has lost some its bite, but we really need to consider its sense. There truly does seem to be no limit to this administration's willingness to openly and contemptuously spit in the public's face, and why should there be? They have been doing it with swaggering arrogance from Day One and what has it cost them? With our lapdog mainstream press and a public more interested in who's getting voted off the island than who's being jailed or tortured, that flamboyant "screw you all" attitude has, in fact, been nothing less than a raging success. We have all tasted sin here.

Is it possible, though, that this is starting to change? After all, on this EPA matter the fertilizer is starting to really hit the wind generator. The New York Times opined on its Op-Ed page:

The Bush administration’s decision to deny California permission to regulate and reduce global warming emissions from cars and trucks is an indefensible act of executive arrogance that can only be explained as the product of ideological blindness and as a political payoff to the automobile industry. . . .

It has been hard enough to trust Mr. Bush’s recent assertions that he has finally gotten religion on climate change. It all seems like posturing now.
To refresh ourselves on just why this particular decision by the EPA has gotten so many people's knickers in a twist, you have to realize how utterly political and anti-fact and anti-law it was: it was one man, the Bush-appointed head of the EPA, who over-rode everything his own staff told him (not to speak of common sense and decency). From the Los Angeles Times article on the matter:
"California met every criteria . . . on the merits. The same criteria we have used for the last 40 years on all the other waivers," said an EPA staffer. "We told him that. All the briefings we have given him laid out the facts."

Technical and legal staff also concluded that if the waiver were denied, EPA would very likely lose in court to the state, the sources said.

But if Johnson granted California the waiver and the auto industry sued, "EPA is almost certain to win," said two sources quoting the briefing document. They advised him to either grant the waiver outright or give California a temporary one for three years.

Instead, three sources said, Johnson cut off any consultation with his technical staff for the last month and made his decision before having them write the formal, legal justification for it.

"It's very highly unusual," said one source with close ties to the agency.

Normally the technical staff would be part of the final decision-making process, including briefing the administrator and writing the formal legal document before his decision. In this case, the briefings were done, but the formal finding has yet to be drafted.
But we've seen media hand-wringing before. Now let's see some Congressional action--then, maybe, we could say things have changed.

And why is that?

Patients in hospital emergency rooms across the nation are suffering pain and often injury owing to specialist physicians' not making themselves available for ER calls on them. As MSNBC reports,
Crucial minutes, hours and even days can go by as patients suffering from trauma, strokes, broken bones and other maladies await evaluations by neurologists, orthopedic surgeons and other specialists because hospitals are having difficulty getting them to serve 24-hour emergency "on-call" shifts.

"It can mean death," said Linda Lawrence, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians and a practicing emergency department doctor in California. "Patients have died in transport, or waiting to find a neurosurgeon, or getting to a heart center for a cardiologist."

The shortage of specialists is the result of a fear of malpractice lawsuits, a reluctance to go without pay when seeing uninsured patients, and a growing intolerance for the disruption in their personal lives and private practices, the experts say. Many specialists are also decreasing their work for general hospitals.

Traditionally, many specialists agreed to pull on-call duty in exchange for admitting privileges and use of a general hospital's facilities to perform operations and other procedures as part of their regular practice . . . But the rise of physician-owned specialty hospitals and outpatient surgical centers over the past 15 years has reduced doctors' reliance on the general hospital.

"It's our responsibility to take care of these patients, because that's what we do. That's part of our inherent fiber of being an orthopedic surgeon," said Leon S. Benson, . . . who is active in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, a professional association. "But there's no question that as the inconvenience and fatigue and poor compensation and difficulty in having appropriate resources to take care of patients build up, you get this perfect-storm effect where more and more people are thinking, 'Gee, I don't know if I want to do that anymore.' "
Considering that the core cause, by far, of the outlandish costs of the American health-care system compared to the systems of all the rest of the industrialized nations is physician compensation, the gall of those who take the attitudes expressed here--which are simply "What's in it for me?"--are to make one's blood boil, which, fortunately, is not actually a medical condition needing emergency treatment.

How many beans make a life?

Speaking of our health-care system: a family is accusing its health insurer of murder, claiming that the bean counters let their daughter die needlessly. Based on available information, they sure look like they have a valid claim morally, and--I urgently hope--legally.

Nothing succeeds like failure

Baseball's team owners are unanimous and effusive in their praise of Commissioner Bud Selig's performance: "Bud Selig could be baseball commissioner for life if he wanted" says a USA Today article. Can you spell B-R-A-I-N-D-E-A-D? I think y'can.

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