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If you want a beautiful life, you have to fight for it in any way you can…

People United Mean Action


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Medicine and the Unfree Market

Medicine and the so-called free market are incompatible in important ways. An outstanding article in the recent New Yorker by Atul Gawande makes that point from yet another new angle. (newyorker.com has a nasty habit of putting archives behind a paywall, so I don’t know how long the link will be useful.) In all the talk of consumers, insurance, and governments, we’ve kind of lost sight of the doctors. Which is odd, considering that they’re the only ones who actually know what’s going on. Let’s begin somewhere near the beginning.

The issue of cost control in medicine is much in everyone’s mind. Krugman and Ezra Klein have been out in the forefront of the fact brigade. It’s supposed to be the central feature and purpose of health care reform. There are several approaches that boil down to a choice between free markets and regulated oversight. I’ll take the two in turn.

The free market, like anything with “free” in the name, has an appealing ring of being able to make one’s own decisions without interference. It doesn’t work in medicine. At all. I wrote a post a while back about how Profits Cost Us Cures, but it goes way beyond the pharmaceutical industry and touches every aspect of medicine.

Let’s face it, most medical expenses are in a class by themselves. People don’t go to the doctor like they go to buy a car. They don’t say, “Doc, insured patients pay $357 for this type of X-ray. If you’re gonna charge $973, I’m going to Doc B.” They don’t know enough to know a good deal from a bad one, or whether they need the deal at all. Nor should they have to. We’re paying doctors for their knowledge, so there’s something very bass-ackwards in the demand that we acquire the same knowledge before theirs is any use to us.

Even more important, nobody goes to the doctor because they no longer liked their old X-rays and wanted new ones. We’re at the doctor’s when we’re in pain, trying not to think about what it could be, and desperate to get the whole thing over with. At any price. That is also the exact opposite of a situation conducive to calm and careful comparison shopping.

The whole notion that somehow patients can control the costs of medicine is such an obvious crock that if it’s being propounded by anyone smart enough to have a public platform, they must have ulterior motives. As far as I’m concerned, those motives are obvious. Putting the powerless chickens to guard the henhouse is evidence of making sure that the fox meets no obstacles.
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Hell’s Grannies takeover NOW

Canvassing for votes
Canvassing for votes

The NOW convention in Indianapolis must have been off the hook.  You can find one version of events in the comments at Reclusive Leftist.  For another take on the events check out “Planes, Trains & Attack-Dog Feminism” at FemNation:

For example, all of those who thought the “dream team” of Latifa Lyles, etc., would win the NOW presidency and vice-presidencies…because we needed a youthful, fresh face for the aging, tired women’s movement…were wrong. Six votes – that’s all it took for Latifa, a woman of color in her early thirties, to lose to Terry O’Neill, a mid-50s white woman. (Race does matter – a lot – in the women’s movement.) Terry and her team may succeed in turning NOW around – I hope so – but I’m worried. There’s nothing fresh there. Policy ideas are stale and positions are delivered in a rote, scripted fashion. The veterans on the ticket – Terry and the Illinois NOW v-p – do not inspire me in terms of vision or practical skills or ability to deliver. The “new” faces on the ticket – two women in their late 20s, early 30s – have a lot to learn. A lot.

[…]

A few people have asked me to write more about the NOW elections. Both teams – Latifa Lyles and Terry O’Neill – had strengths and weaknesses. But it’s not about ideals or visions or even skills – it’s about who can turn out the most voters. Total numbers of voters – 404 (really). Late Saturday, people were coming in from California to vote for Terry – she was supported by a woman named Shelly Mandell of Los Angeles, who supported McCain-Palin publicly after Hillary lost the nomination. Shelly says she didn’t support McCain-Palin as a NOW person – but the press thought otherwise.

[…]

Really! The people who won were nasty. I wish I had been in the plenary when the vaunted Patricia Ireland (Terry’s treasurer) lashed out at Kim Gandy, questioning her budget figures – while supporters of the Terry team lined the back of the room, shouting at Kim to “tell the truth” – in reference to the budget situation. (I was working on credentialling so wasn’t in the plenary.) Financially, NOW is in bad shape. So we have reason to be worried. But is this feminism? Perhaps this is a new version – attack-dog feminism. How does that distinguish us from every other political group? It doesn’t.

The anger and bitterness of this crew – desperate to hang on to power, refusing to believe anyone else could run the organization – was shocking. (You’ve got to remember – these folks have a lot of history together – they’re like Chicago politicos – byzantine alliances – cross them at your peril.) There were people I like and respect on Terry’s side – people who felt she had the brains and experience to turn the membership decline around and that Latifa was just not ready for prime time. But they didn’t sway many voters (although granted, Terry was only in the race about 3-4 weeks!) – all they did was win by 6 votes. And what the hell were they doing in the past eight years to stop the hemorrhaging of members and money – or – as one Terry supporter said – the “death throes” that NOW is in? Come to think of it – what was the person who said “death throes” doing during the past eight years?

[…]

That wasn’t all – there also was the sideshow of the Hillary Clinton supporters who remain permanently (apparently) pissed off about her loss. The so-called “PUMAS” – Party Unity My Ass. Clinton seems to have gotten over it – why haven’t they. Some of these ladies are angry at NOW for not being supportive of Sarah Palin; apparently, the fact that she’s a woman is sufficient qualification. A few blame Kim Gandy for EVERYTHING they don’t like. I’d dismiss them as idiots except they are contributing to the anger within the women’s movement and the splintering of the women’s movement and they are very good at getting publicity.

Wow, where do I start?

First of all, Latifa Lyles was the establishment candidate endorsed by the outgoing Kim Gandy.  Secondly I’m increasingly disturbed by the emphasis on the “young black Latifa Lyles” vs. the “old white Terry O’Neill” meme I keep hearing from those who are unhappy with the outcome of the election.  It’s like someone is recycling Obama’s strategy from last year.  Where is the evidence that O’Neill supporters were motivated by race?

As for the allegation that “people were coming in from California to vote for Terry” here’s what Violet Socks had to say:

To attend the conference, you have to have been a NOW member for at least three months. And to vote in the conference, you have to be not only a member (naturally), but also a delegate from your chapter. There are a limited number of delegate slots, and the delegates are chosen by the chapter presidents. And once you get to the conference, you have to be credentialed, a byzantine process involving picture IDs, membership records, sign-offs, etc.

It is not possible for some alien group of infiltrators to just show up and take over the conference.

Last time I checked there were NOW chapters here in California so why shouldn’t they get to participate at the national convention? According to Violet, the Los Angeles delegation wasn’t allowed to vote anyway.

I’m gonna stop now. There is so much more “FAIL” to discuss but if I go any further I’ll want some hard liquor and it’s not even lunch time yet here in Big Smoggy.


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Tuesday: If votes are falsified but no one sees it, they still count

Sun alert!  There is a rumor that NJ will see some sun tomorrow.  Last night, just before sunset, there was a break in the clouds that allowed just enough light to cast shadows.  Then it was night.  Tomorrow for sure.  In the meantime, I am having breakfast on Capri

Pass the coffee steamed milk, please.

In Iran, the Guardian Council says, sure there were voting irregularities.  Lots of them.  But no one saw it happen, therefore, it doesn’t count.

On Press TV, the English-language state television satellite broadcaster, Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, the spokesman for the Guardian Council, declared: “If a major breach occurs in an election, the Guardian Council may annul the votes that come out of a particular affected ballot box, polling station, district, or city.”

“Fortunately, in the recent presidential election we found no witness of major fraud or breach in the election,” he said.

“Therefore, there is no possibility of an annulment taking place.” He was speaking late on Monday in Tehran and his remarks were posted early Tuesday, Tehran time.

I guess this is sort of like an accusation of rape.  If there aren’t four witnesses, it’s just adultery and YOUR fault.  How conveeeeenient.

To our Iranian readers, you are much braver than we are.  One of our revolutionary founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, once said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”  Initially, we were hesitant to take any side since even your reformers don’t look like much of an improvement.  (Who are we to talk?  Obama is no better than Bush, as it turns out.)  But there is no doubt now that your country is being run by tyrants.  Your fate is in your hands.  We are in awe of your courage even if we don’t envy your current situation.  Be assured, the whole world is watching.  Good luck.

Follow the news from Iran on:

The Lede at the NYTimes

#Iranelection at Twitter

Juan Cole at Informed Comment

There are varying reports that the opposition has called for general strikes and mourning on Thursday for the martyrs, including Neda.  Stay tuned…

I’m running out of time so I only have one more item.

According to Jezebel, the NOW election that favored Terry O’Neill over Latifa Lyles was promulgated by a bunch of anti-choice, pro-Palin PUMAs.  I would like to set the record straight for the idiots who claim to be feminists who write this drivel on Jezebel and elsewhere:

1.)The PUMA movement was created independently of Sarah Palin.  Our main mission was to hold the Democratic party accountable for disenfranchising millions of Hillary Clinton’s voters during the primaries last year, to uphold Democratic principles and to promote the election of women to public office.  We’re pro-choice and liberal, you numbskulls.   Sarah Palin came on the scene THREE MONTHS after the creation of PUMA.

2.) PUMA was a viral movement.  We are not responsible for Republicans who thought it was a cool thing to join.

3.) We didn’t support Sarah Palin here at The Confluence.  We didn’t endorse anyone.  HOWEVER, we did defend her right to run and to be treated with respect.  We do believe you can be anti-abortion and a feminist.  She apparently is.  And we don’t particularly like it when a woman is reduced to a dumb c*nt simply because she doesn’t hold our political views.  Actually, Sarah Palin is a lot smarter than people give her credit.  If you think it’s so easy to get elected as governor of a state when your family isn’t in the political business, I suggest you Palin detractors give it a try.

But that’s beside the point.  You lost, you techno savvy young lovelies who traded your credibility for a ride on the Obama Hope pony.  You got nothing for your support of him last year.  That’s what this election at NOW is all about.  You collaborated with the enemy and got nothing.  The truly liberal, feminist women of NOW have exerted their authority to take the organization back.  Don’t blame it on the Palin supporters.  They had nothing to do with it.  You brought this on yourselves.

Someone should remove the sharp objects from the rooms you’re in before you hurt yourselves.


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