Today's Note From a Madman

Tuesday, April 5, 2005


"Whether you call them ideals or moral values, there are a number of basic principles that I believe the Democratic Party should stand up and fight for. Here are a few: a livable wage is a moral value. Affordable health care is a moral value. A decent education is a moral value. A common sense foreign policy is a moral value. A healthy environment is a moral value. The feeling of community that comes from full participation in our democracy is a moral value. It is a moral value to make sure that we do not saddle our children and grandchildren with our debt." - Howard Dean, 2005

-Thanks to Eddie Konczal

Medicare Expenses going up yet again

The Bush Administration has announced that the premium patients pay for Medicare will be going up to $89 per month, an $11 per month increase over present levels.

Unless Congress steps in to make changes, Medicare payments to physicians will be reduced by 4.3 percent next year. Federal officials warn that any move to prevent the cuts in payments will result in a larger increase in premiums.

Doctors expressed worries that if the government did cut payments for Medicare, that fewer doctors would be willing to take patients who receive it. Most of those patients are disabled and elderly.

The proposed increase means that Medicare premiums will have risen 34 percent in the last two years under President Bush from $66.60 in 2004 to the proposed $89.20 in 2006.

Dr. J. James Rohack, chairman of the American Medical Association, told the New York Times that better care and new technology is part of the reason for increased health care costs. 'It's not surprising that the volume of physician services has gone up,' Dr. Rohack said. 'We're providing better care. For a patient with heart failure, I often prescribe a powerful medication known as carvedilol, or Coreg. But I may need to see the patient every three weeks for six months to set the proper dosage. I see the patients more often to keep them out of the hospital.'

Regardless of the reason, it seems inevitable in this day and age that Medicare premiums will continue to rise.

Brad Kurtzberg

So, what's the Lipper's solution? Keep raising premiums and reduce benefits (?). Eventually, Medicare will become a meaningless cost. The Republicans have failed on this issue. Their prescription drug bill bloated Medicare and provided no meaningful cost relief - in fact, it makes drugs more expensive by prohibiting negotiation for bulk purchases.

It's time for SPUHC. I hope the Dems get behind SPUHC in a big way. Let's make fair trade policy and SPUHC our "banner" issues.

-Robert Scardapane

Attacking a Free Judiciary

"The founders established a system of government in which the three branches - legislative, executive and judicial - act as checks and balances for one another. Republicans in Congress and the Bush administration, unhappy with some rulings of the judiciary, are trying to write it out of its constitutional role. The courts will not always be popular; they will not even always be right. But if Congress succeeds in curtailing the judiciary's ability to act as a check on the other two branches, the nation will be far less free."
-Editorial, The New York Times, April 5, 2005, Thanks to Casey Sweet


For everyone who doesn’t have the pleasure or patience to watch c-span there was an appalling and fabricated concept made in a public Senate statement on April 4th by Sen. John Cornyn, Republican from that big-britches state of Texas. Thanks to the April 5th Washington Post they published his exact words. Could it be said that his words illustrate a level of personal bias and disrespect that provokes him to suggest false premises (cause and effect between what judges do and violence towards them) and that his suggestion is intended to create a climate of fear to gain support? Judge his outrageous claims for yourself:

"It causes a lot of people, including me, great distress to see judges use the authority that they have been given to make raw political or ideological decisions," he said. Sometimes, he said, "the Supreme Court has taken on this role as a policymaker rather than an enforcer of political decisions made by elected representatives of the people."

Cornyn continued: "I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection, but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. . . . And I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters, on some occasions, where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in, engage in violence. Certainly without any justification, but a concern that I have."

Cornyn, who spoke in a nearly empty chamber, did not specify cases of violence against judges. Two fatal episodes made headlines this year, although authorities said the motives appeared to be personal, not political. In Chicago, a man fatally shot the husband and mother of a federal judge who had ruled against him in a medical malpractice suit. And in Atlanta last month, a man broke away from a deputy and fatally shot four people, including the judge presiding over his rape trial.


-Casey Sweet


The Florida legislature passed a bill (4-5-05) that gives people in public the right to meet “force with force” without any legal punishment. That is, if someone is threatening, you have the absolute right to threaten back and meet “force with force”. Previously, the law was that a person should try to de-escalate or retreat from a problem before taking action. The NRA has supported this bill and must want everyone armed and ready to fight.

In this great and civilized (I think) United States are we up to legislating the meeting of force with force? Is that what the right to life means in Florida? Does that mean for those of us who visit Florida we should purchase guns while there to be able to survive under this “force with force” law? Oh, methinks it will generate more gun sales $$$$…surprise, surprise!

Apparently, Jeb has not indicated if he will sign it or not. HUH, as if there was some question? Would you bet a nickel on him not signing – I wouldn’t!

-Progressively yours, Casey Sweet

In response to the Life and Death of Pope John Paul II, Dr. Mary Anne Whelan, M.D. writes:
Gratified as you may be about the Pope's recognition of wrongs done to Jews, I don't think we should be blind to the immense suffering he brought to his beloved poor by opposing birth control.

It would have been an incredible, and obviously stunning thing had Pope John Paul II come out in favor of birth control. But we can't fault a man for keeping with his beliefs and his faith. The Pope hadn't spent the Church's money with misleading ad campaigns, like the Bush administration has, in order to get the Catholic Church's agenda across; he didn't look for people to throw out of the Church in order to make a point. I believe that this man always had the best intentions for all of God's children in his mind, whatever he did. Could he have done more? Perhaps. But we know that others had done less... much less.

-Noah Greenberg

Florida, as Civil War

I've heard this from a number of sources, including an article that appeared in the Washington Post by Carol Marbin Miller (forwarded to me by Chris Tennant, a UN Consultant, among other things) and Air America Radio: What would have amounted to a mini-civil war was averted when Governor Jeb Bush decided NOT to send the "troops" in the "rescue" Terri Schiavo and re-insert her feeding tube.

The thing that bothers me is what makes others see hope: That Jeb DIDN'T send the "troops" in. The mere fact that he was even entertaining the idea is something that must warn of us the next "Bush-to-be-King". What would have happened if the coin had landed on tails instead of heads?

-Noah Greenberg

An Attorney General with Guts

Connecticut is taking a big step. They realize how bad the No Child Left Behind Act its attorney general, Richard Blumenthal is thinking about taking President Bush to court over it. Some municipalities and cities have already filed legal challenges to the failed act, but Connecticut would be the first state to do so.

Blumental, a Democrat with guts is looking for attorney generals in other states to join the suit. Let's hope that this doesn't become a Red-State Blue-State thing and states like Utah and Texas, both of whom have expressed their displeasure with No Child Left Behind, have the sense to stand up and be counted.

"The federal government's approach with this law is illegal and unconstitutional... There is burgeoning unhappiness among both Republicans and Democrats... The dissatisfaction is felt across the country and is across the board, politically. So I can pretty much call any of my colleagues and get an earful."
-Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal

Now all we need is another 49 states and the District of Columbia to speak up and join in. It's time for a bad idea to be set aside.

-Noah Greenberg

Stupid Quotes


"There is no reason to believe that imports of these products (textile) from China are causing market disruption,"
-Laura E. Jones, executive director of the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel

Gee... I wonder if Ms. Jones has a stake in Chinese imports?


You know what might be nice? It might be nice to be able to go into Sears and find just one jacket out of the 300 or so models on the floor that is made in the USA. It might be nice to find a pair of shoes that don't say "Italian Leather, Made in Viet Nam." It might be good to see one fashion company that used to produce their products here in the USA give it another try, just for old times sake.

-Noah Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg