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      From a study by his officials: In the report, “The State of Homelessness in America,” even shelters get some of the blame for increasing the number of people who are homeless.The argument: Some people would be able to find their own housing if they were turned away from shelters. “While shelters play an extremely important role […]
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wednesday: sugar, antibiotics and chemotherapy

sugar

So, the other day, there was a story from another insider about the nature of the discussions between Christine Romer and Tim Geithner on the size of the stimulus package. Romer made the case that size does matter (she’s one of the few women who will say that out loud). Geithner compared money spent by the government on stimulus projects as “sugar”, while irresponsibly helping his diabetic friends in the financial industry mainline. Romer disagreed that government money was “sugar”, she said it was more like an antibiotic to prevent infection.

I wish these two would stop acting like doctors. The correct answer is that more stimulus money could have been like a shot of vitamin B12 to a patient suffering from pernicious anemia .  The B12 is not a cure for the disease but will keep the patient functioning until a cure can be found.

But anyway, we now know that Romer was right, as is the case of many women who make a good case based on knowledge, insight, research and experience but are hobbled by idiots like Larry Summers who long ago decided he wasn’t above denigrating their expertise and so may have inadvertently sent our economy into a lost decade….
Where was I?

Oh, yes. Then I saw the partial transcript of an interview between Fareed Zakaria and Ann Coulter and immediately thought that Geithner and Ann have been sucking down pigs-in-a-blanket at the same cocktail party. Courtesy of Digby, we get this snippet:

ZAKARIA: OK, let me ask – let me ask – we’ve got to go, but I have to ask Ann this, which is there’s – there is a strong case that he has made – Obama has made, which is about Medicare. And, on that issue, I want to know whether you think it will work. Not – I know that you wish that he didn’t say it and that the Democrats’ took entitlement reform more seriously, and I happen to agree with you there.

But, when you ask the American people, should – are you willing to deal with the budget deficit by cutting Medicare, 78 percent say no. I mean, I don’t think you can get 78 percent of Americans to agree on the time of day.

COULTER: Right.

ZAKARIA: Where do (ph) –

COULTER: It’s the utter irresponsibility of former Democrats. It’s hard to take treats away from people, and that’s what we’ve done. And Democrats set up a Ponzi scheme with social security and Medicare, and it’s running out now. And, yes, it’s very hard to take the treats away once you start giving them away, which is why it was utterly irresponsible for Democrats long dead and gone to set up these systems that could never last.

But, you know, it would be very helpful –

Whoa, Ann, treats?  The government already took those treats away when it increased my payroll taxes in 1986, the year I started working full time as a chemist.  I could have used that yummy treat to buy a car that had an automatic transmission and power steering.  I could have sent my kid to a better summer daycare center.  I could have stuffed that money in a bank account and bought a CD with it.  But some Republican told me, no, *assured* me, that if I did the responsible thing and put that money away in the Social Security Surplus fund, there would be plenty of money for me to live on when I got to be too old to run around  the lab to move heavy gas tanks and sniff solvents all day.  Wasn’t that what was promised?

Ann, was your party lying to us?  Was it a “treat” back then or was it just a clever ploy to soak young workers out of thousands and millions and BILLIONS of dollars that were then given to the rich in the form of tax cuts?  Because, Ann, I call that fraud.  Do we look stupid to you?  Ok, the people who read your books look stupid to you, but the rest of us are not stupid Ann.

Tim Geithner, do you agree with what Ann, the Dishonest and Fraudulent Republican, is saying?  Is our taxpayer money only “sugar” and a “treat” to those of us who gave it to you in the first place?  It’s one thing to lose your looks, Ann, it’s quite a bit more devastating to lose your integrity.   I thought Republicans were all about “we should spend our money on the things we choose”.  So, if the majority of Americans want to spend that money on Social Security and Medicare and more stimulus, that seems pretty much in keeping with the Republican creed.  It’s OUR money because WE are the government and WE choose to spend it on fiscal stimulus and social safety net insurance programs.

I paid my premiums, I want my insurance, Ann.  It’s not a treat.  If MetLife pulled this shit, they’d be out of business.  As for Geithner, he’d better snap out of it.  People who were once employed and relatively prosperous get very angry and restless when their hard work is vanished and have to listen to some idiot who thinks having a steady paycheck is “sugar”.  FDR wanted to avoid that but Obama and Geithner are oblivious.  You guys need to get out more and meet new people.  I know a lot of very bright PhDs who are cooling their jets right now because they can’t find jobs. Why don’t you go talk to THEM?  Want their LinkedIn IDs?  They could be working on cures for schizophrenia and cancer but they’re at home, wasting their research time looking for jobs that never materialize and losing access to the scientific journals that will keep them on top of their game.

Meanwhile, Derek Lowe at In the Pipeline, points to a disturbing convergence of outsourcing, plant failures, counterintuitve GMP and FDA regulations and corporate cost-benefit analyses that are leading to a shortage of chemotherapy agents.  That problem is just getting started.  It’s only going to get worse.  And we on the left have to ask how we might have contributed to the problem.  The drug industry needs regulation, no doubt about that.  But have we regulated recklessly?  Have we not studied the consequences of regulation?  Don’t we want regulations that avoid this kind of thing where cancer patients are now hanging on for dear life hoping and praying the shortages are temporary?  That’s not to say that regulations are the only source of the problem here.  There are others.  There are fewer and fewer incentives for companies to operate in a socially responsible manner.  Profits are, well, profitable.  No one has told the shareholders what this is going to cost us as a society.

This is a shameful and sad legacy of our inability to deal with the drug industry in a rational manner.  I’m disgusted by all of us.  I’d wish a plague on all of our houses but in that eventuality, we’re all screwed.  There’s probably a shortage of tetracycline too.

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Saturday: Things that make you go “hmmm”, episode 2

I used to be an NPR junkie, that is, until TalkingPointsMemo became my gateway drug to blogging about 5 years ago.  I used to wake up to Bob Edwards and drive home to Robert Segal.  Then they started to all sound like my neighbors, moderately Republican and pro-business.  Gone were the days of Maria Hinajosa telling us about “Nine year old Ruiz sits outside the flimsy clapboard house on the outskirts of this west Texas border town.  He draws his name in the dust with rock.  It’s the only word he knows how to spell because he can’t walk to school and there is no bus provided to this bare enclave of maquilladoros and their families who live without running water or electricity.  Ruiz says he wants to be a surgeon and his greatest wish is to go to school…”  Well, you get the idea.  There I am with Ruiz, sobbing into my Cheerios over his lost childhood dreams.  During the Bush Administration, the bleeding heart liberals took a frickin’ hike and we got stuck with Juan, Cokie and Steve.  Um, no thank you.

What to do to fill up the empty space between commutes?  I listened to music for awhile, then audiobooks, but they tended to lack the immediacy of the moment that news provides.  Then I discovered podcasts and started to load up on the suckers.  My new iPhone gives me the luxury of accessing the iTunes podcast store directly and since most podcasts are free, I indulge greedily.  Yesterday, my faves didn’t have any new material to listen to and I needed to pick something in a hurry.  So, I picked the PopSci (Popular Science) podcast “Who protects the internet?”

So, there I am, driving along, listening to fascinating facts about cables and warehouses and termination points in Miami and NY from across the ocean.  There’s stuff I never new before like, did you know that there is a fleet of ships on the world’s oceans, just floating aimlessly until they get a call about a broken cable?  Then they rush to the site of the break, pull up the cable and repair it.   Those of you who are looking for new careers and don’t get seasick might want to look into this.

Then the PopSci guys start talking about how many lines crisscross the world’s oceans and how much redundancy is built into the system.  The answer is, there is redundancy but not enough to make all transmissions worry free.  Occasionally, the breaks can take whole countries offline for a couple of days.  There are several commercial lines and a government line for secure defense transactions and stuff and the finance industry put in its own internet cable just for their own business…

???

The finance industry has its own internet?

Am I the last person in America to know about this?  The finance industry has its own separate internet cable system.  It’s a parallel internet system.  What kind of access does the US government have to the finance industry’s internet?  Can the NSA tap into this cable system and record all of the transactions like it can on the regular commercial lines?  And what do they use it for, besides high speed transmissions of trades? Anyone got any info on this?  Speculation?  Tin foily hat theories about how it can be used?

In other news:

  • Ruh-Roh, Krugman has read Geithner’s detailed plan to bailout the banks and it doesn’t look good.  He writes about it in Despair over financial policy.  Let this be a lesson to you, Paul.  Never take your shrillness on vacation to Yurp and leave the Obots to their own devices.  It sounds like the finance industry is going to get everything it wants, sort of like economic terrorists who threaten to bring the world to its knees if we don’t fork over the cash.  Now, what kind of ace would they have to have up their sleeves to pull such a thing off?
  • It’s spring!  Break out the cleaning buckets.  Today is the day I purge the garage and pick up the clutter.  Let us know in the comments about your cleaning plans and what your favorite new cleaning gadget is.  I just ordered a steamer cleaner.  It should arrive on Monday, which is too late for today’s marathon but should be perfect for next week.  Also, if you have kids, what’s your trick for getting them to help out?
  • One of my pet peeves is too much sugar in just about everything from spaghetti sauce to crackers to coffee.  I love Starbucks coffee (Oh, yes I do.  So sue me.).  And I love a good vanilla latte but if you get the regular recipe vanilla latte, the damn thing makes your teeth hurt, it’s so sweet.  But if you ask for half the sugar, you also get half of the vanilla strength.  I like the vanilla taste, just not all the sweet.  I actually had an argument with the last barista.  She said, “Well, you could get the sugar free sweetener instead.”  No, I just want the vanilla not the sugar. “The sugar-free has all of the sweet taste, just none of the sugar.”.  I *know* it does.  BUT I DON’T WANT THE *SWEET* TASTE!!!.  “Well, you sound sure.” {{sniff}}”  Grumble.  If Starbucks cared as much about sugar as it does about how fat your milk is, it would cut the sugar in the syrups in half and leave the damn sugar packets out for people who just can’t start their day without a sugar buzz.  But noooooo, it looks like the sugar problem is only going to get worse.  The NYTimes reports that manufacturers are replacing high fructose corn syrup with real sugar now.  Isn’t that special?
  • Gawd, he is such an amateur.  Can someone please tell Obama that he has a well-respected, well-liked, intelligent Secretary of State to handle relations between the US and Iran.  This video was so badly handled Obama is starting to make bags of hammers look brilliant. (H/T fif)

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Obamaphiles cross the line with Sugar?

Ok, guys, you’ve gone too far. What happened to Sugar isn’t funny, it’s not a joke and one of these days, someone’s going to get hurt. Stop f^&*ing around. It’s all fun and games until someone loses a primary.

Let Sugar tell it:

I headed down South to see my family this past weekend and when I was about two hours from my parents’ house, I thought to myself, “I hope nobody bothers me about that Hillary Clinton bumper sticker on my car. I hope they just leave me alone.” Little did I know, this was a premonition.

I traveled on along 95 South when I reached a stretch that is pitch black with not much in sight when I see a car making its way down a ramp to get onto the highway. It has that cop car look, so I check my speed to make sure I’m obeying the limit and I move into the left lane. The car makes it on the highway and rolls up right next to me and travels that way, side by side, for maybe 20 or 30 seconds when it slows down and gets right behind me. Uncomfortably close. Immediately, I get angry because I was only going about 66 or so in a 70. I was driving responsibly, my tags were fine, my insurance was fine–there was no reason for what I now assumed was a cop to be tailgating me at 11pm on a darkened stretch of I-95. So, he follows me like this for about a half a mile when he turns on his blue lights. I cursed, “What the fuck?!” The lights didn’t even look like normal police blue lights. They looked almost strobe-light like and they didn’t look evenly placed in the car. I can’t even really describe it. Just, not normal.

Read the rest at Sugar’NSpice.