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While we wait . . . (an Open Thread)

You might have heard about Anthem Blue Cross’s planned 39% health insurance rate increase for some policy holders. We should probably breath a sigh of relief that the plan is (possibly permanently) postponed but, Ezra Klein might have a point::

The Anthem Blue Cross saga appears to have a happy ending: After criticism from the administration, the insurer has delayed the planned 40 percent rate hike. That will give the company time to reevaluate whether it’s worth the blow-back, and I’d guess there’s a good chance it never takes effect at all.

But if this is a good outcome, it’s a not a good policy. The insured can’t depend on someone in the White House’s communications shop noticing when an insurer tries to screw its customers.

And Ezra goes on to point out the wonderful ways both the Senate and House bills will (eventually) keep future threats from happening. Right.

A friend of mine says, this situation is likely to be a feature not a bug:

Top Five Health Insurers Posted 56 Percent Profit Gains in 2009

If no health care overhaul passes Congress, health insurers may be in for a windfall — and one far larger that most Americans probably realize.

According to a study by a pro-health reform group published Thursday, the nation’s largest five health insurance companies posted a 56 percent gain in 2009 profits over 2008. The insurers including Wellpoint, UnitedHealth, Cigna, Aetna and Humana, which cover the majority of Americans with insurance.

The insurers’ hefty profit gains came even as 2.7 million more Americans lost their insurance coverage due to the declining economy.

At the end of his post Ezra claims that:

In this case, Anthem has an insurance plan with sicker people that is not proving profitable. They’re increasing the costs to either drive those people out or force them to pay a lot more.

But, according to the Alternet Story,

Wellpoint’s Anthem Blue Cross California created a stir earlier this week by announcing that it will raise premiums on individuals by 39 percent in 2010.

(snip)

Yet, the company posted a profit of $4.7 billion for the year. That put it at a higher profit margin (7.3 percent) than any of the other top five American insurers.

Who knows how this is going to end for us — any predictions based on press releases out of the White House or the Capitol are probably as valid as reading tea leaves.

But, it’s painfully obvious that while WE wait, a lot of people are making a lot of money.

. . . What else are you waiting for?

Cheerleaders or lynch mob?

Which one should I choose?


Lately we have had a few self-appointed guardians of liberalism and feminism declare we should have our credentials revoked because we are cheerleaders for Sarah Palin. I guess they’re correct, but only if you define “cheerleading” as “speaking out against the lynch mob.”

This is a liberal blog and the front-pagers here range from “left” to “far left” in our politics. Most or all of us are or were Democrats. Some of our commenters are more centrist, and we have a small group of self-identified conservatives who visit occasionally.

We do not support conservative policies or candidates, nor do we support the Republican party or the Tea Party movement. We do not tolerate racism, racists, sexism, sexists, misogyny, birthers, truthers or Kool-aid drinking.

Sarah Palin is a mainstream conservative Republican politician. We don’t agree with her nor do we support her. When I say “we” I am referring to the front-pagers here at The Confluence – some of our commenters have indicated that they support her. That is their right to do so.

But just because we don’t support Sarah Palin doesn’t mean we have to demonize her or join in the attacks against her. Nor does it obligate us to sit silently while others launch unfair, dishonest and/or sexist attacks on her. Sarah Palin is not a stupid bimbo, nor is she really a liberal feminist posing as a conservative.

If you haven’t seen it yet please go read The Unresolvable Paradox by Violet Socks at Reclusive Leftist. Here’s a taste:

I see this almost irresistible urge to resolve the paradox from both sides. People who detest Palin’s politics seem to feel compelled to conclude that she’s also a bust in terms of representation — she’s no good for women in any way at all, not a feminist, certainly not a role model, that her election wouldn’t represent anything special, that her running for office isn’t anything special, etc., etc.

On the other side, people who acknowledge Palin’s role as a representative and pathbreaker seem to feel compelled to conclude that her politics are also good — or at least okay, or at least not too bad.

In both cases, I think what’s really going on is that people are trying to resolve the paradox.

My personal view of Sarah Palin is that she is one of the “not-crazy” Republicans but she is still a loyal member of the GOP. I’m not going to be shocked and dismayed when she engages in partisan politics or says conservative things. That’s what politicians do.

The election in 2012 will be a referendum on Barack Obama. Whether he is elected to a second term or not will depend primarily on his approval rating with the voters, not on who runs against him. But I guarantee you this: the winner of the election will be either a Republican or a Democrat.

If the winner is a Democrat it will almost certainly be Obama. But is the winner is a Republican it could be Sarah Palin or it could be someone like Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich or even Bobby Jindal.

There are far worse possibilities than a “President Palin.”


UPPDATE:

This is an example of why I think Sarah Palin has an excellent chance of winning the GOP nomination. NASCAR is huge in the red states, and this kind of celebrity attention is worth millions in advertising.


A History of Violence

Something is very wrong with Amy Bishop, and there has been something wrong with her for a very long time. But just what is her problem, and how did she manage to keep it at least somewhat under control for so long? As a psychologist, I have found this story so fascinating that I have barely been able to focus on anything else for the past few days.

Amy Bishop is a professor at the University of Alabama at Huntville who shot six of her colleagues at a Biology Department meeting on Friday, February 12. She had taken a 9-millimeter pistol with her to the meeting, loaded with 16 bullets. She did not have a permit for the weapon. She has been charged with one count of capital murder and three counts of attempted murder so far. From The New York Times:

Those killed were Gopi Podila, 52, the chairman of the biology department; Maria Ragland Davis, 50, a professor who studied plant pathogens; and Adriel Johnson, 52, a cell biologist who also taught Boy Scouts about science.

Two of the wounded were Joseph Leahy, 50, a microbiologist, and Stephanie Monticciolo, 62, a staff assistant, both of whom were in critical condition. The third was Luis Cruz-Vera, 40, a molecular biologist, who was released from the hospital on Saturday.

A neuroscientist with a PhD from Harvard University, Bishop was working on a start-up company to market a portable cell incubator that she had invented with her husband. The couple had won the $25,000 seed money in an Alabama business competition. Bishop and Anderson have four children, the oldest of whom is 18.

Bishop had been denied tenure twice by her department, and her appeal had been denied in April of 2009. At the end of the Spring semester she would have had to leave UAH. She felt she had been unfairly treated because of personality issues, and had apparently retained a lawyer to help her fight the decision. However, with her qualifications, Bishop should have been able to find another teaching job easily. On the other hand, why did she end up at UAH in the first place when she had such outstanding qualifications?

My excuse for writing about this at TC is that, according to the Boston Herald, quoting “a family source,” Bishop

was a far-left political extremist who was “obsessed” with President Obama to the point of being off-putting.

In addition, many right-wing blogs are trying to turn this tragic story into a political issue, claiming that Amy Bishop is a radical socialist, and supposedly that should explain her losing control and going on a shooting rampage.

At least one blog is suggesting the shootings were based on race, because most of the people Bishop shot were people of color. I also saw this suggestion made on Twitter several time yesterday.

…Bishop shot almost every non-white faculty member in the department. (She also shot and wounded two white victims, a professor and a staff member.) She killed both African-American professors in the department (one of whom was too junior to have had anything to do with Bishop’s tenure decision). She killed the department chair, who was ethnically South Asian. A Latino faculty member was wounded. There may only be two non-white faculty left in the department. Whether she intended it or not, Amy Bishop effected a racial purge of the Alabama Huntsville biology department.

The following is a summary of what I have learned about Amy Bishop so far. Continue reading