Today's Note From a Madman

Tuesday, April 12, 2005



In response to Robert Scardapane, The Doctor writes:

Physicians who still believe that branded drugs are superior to generics despite all the evidence to the contrary are likely being influenced by industry reps bearing gifts. My plan is not a government takeover...far from it. Credentialing and claims adjudication will be all private sector. as for guns...visit any inner city ED on a Saturday night. The local gun club meets there. There are only two questions an ED doc needs to ask in those many times have you been shot and how long since the last time you shot up? We cannot control health spending so long as we allow drugs and guns to dominate the inner city culture. That's what's tying up inner city ED's and ICU's. drive bys... that's where your tax dollars are going. I didn't say outlaw guns...I said outlaw guns without mandatory background checks and photo reg. Unless you are comfortable with 15-20% annual premium inflation you had better be willing to take some strong medicine.

The following is a reprint of an earlier Madman:

A Health Insurance Idea

There has to be a way to cover those who are at most risk of not seeing a doctor when they are sick. One might think that those most at risk are the very poor, and they are at risk. But what is more alarming is the middle classí risk factor. There are 45 million Americans without health insurance, and over the last four years some 83 million Americans did without health care coverage. No one should have to go bankrupt to see a doctor.

Below is a simple plan. Itís an opt-in plan, with a backup. If you have good health insurance now, then keep it. If not, then this is a plan for you:


Since this is an opt-on plan, no one would be forced to join. If a person becomes sick, they would have to pay 10 percent of their salary to pay for their health care. No one should go bankrupt to pay for catastrophic health coverage, even if they donít take advantage of this plan.

Imagine, if you will, the main wage-earner of a family loses his job, and as a result, the whole familyís health insurance. If there were some sort of national health care plan:

That person might be able to look for a better job rather than just settling in order to keep active his health care

That person might start his own, home-based business

Imagine that home-based business picking up, and that person hiring other people

Imagine the feelings of self-confidence if we were to truly make this an ownership society

-Noah Greenberg

A Personal Note on Health Care
by Robert Scardapane

This is an issue that grates on my nerves (Health care - prescription drugs and generics). I wonder how many people are in my situation or worst. My current insurance won't pay for the brand name drug because there is a generic but the doctor recommends against the using the generic because of research on it's effectiveness! It's an unfair catch-22 as no one is pursuing why a supposed generic is not effective. In my case, the drug is not very expensive, at least for me, so I live with paying full price on the brand name instead of taking a risk on the generic.

It's like John Kerry said, some people get everything they could possibly want while the majority are left with taking the crumbs. Yet, who is constantly targeted as the "cause" of the problem - the majority of health care users. Suggesting that we should live with getting poor quality to no health care because our consumption is driving prices up isn't a position that I'll ever support.

I think we must get the middle men, the insurance companies, out of health care and regulate prices Single Payer Universal Health Care is the only fair solution.

Halliburton's Gets an "F"

KBR, that's Kellogg, Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, has been given a "poor" rating by the US State Department. The $1.2 billion contract KBR was "awarded" to repair oil fields in Iraq's southern region was not enough to for the crooks from Texas, formerly run by VP Dick "Go F*ck Yourself" Cheney. The report says that KBR has been plagued by "cost overruns" and "poor performance."

The American Embassy in Iraq sent KBR a "Cure Notice," a threat to terminate their contract, but the Halliburton baby is still screwing up. he Parsons Corporation was asked "to execute some of the remaining work" in Southern Iraq. OUCH!

What is so hard to figure out here? Halliburton, like most companies, is in business to make the most money that they possibly can. This, in itself, is not a bad thing. But, unlike when other companies screw up, Halliburton, Kellogg, Brown & Root and other FOW's and FOC's (that's Friends of "W" and Friends of Cheney), they don't have to pay the piper. When they claim "cost overruns", they just up the price. And when they are given a "poor performance" rating, they just call up Dick Cheney and ask him to call off the dogs.

-Noah Greenberg

Free Trade and Common Sense

"Even in places like Montana, the issue is red hot. By a 95-5 vote, the state House yesterday passed a strongly worded resolution demanding U.S. trade negotiators stop selling out America's sovereignty, and to start paying attention to the interests of average Americans."
-The Portland Oregonian

To my amazement, Frank Gaffney, a leading neocon, was on Lou Dobbs tonight advocating an energy policy that frees our nation from foreign imports. Mr. Gaffney is working with environmental groups! Whoa, what's going on! First, the multinational corporations top guru Bergston is calling for a 27.5% tariff on Chinese goods. Now, a top neocon is turning Green?

Perhaps, the think tankers are waking up to the reality that we are in big trouble. The trade/budget deficit are not just huge numbers on a chalkboard. They represent a nation that is in economic decay. Basic and knowledge based industries are being destroyed. In the short term, there won't be sufficient taxes to cover our social and security commitments.

-Robert Scardapane

No Robert, a top neocon is NOT turning green. Like all neocons, he is looking out for his own self interests. In this particular case, his self interests include the need to keep America as a consumer nation. Mr. Gaffney realizes that if there aren't enough Americans able to buy goods, there will be lees need for goods in America. I'm sure that if you were to ask Mr. Gaffney what he would prefer, he would tell you, "a perfect balance where Americans buy goods from all over the world." This, of course requires that Americans have the means to afford these goods.

Mr. Gaffney might even realize that it is better to bring the rest of the world up to America's standards than to bring Americans down to a third world status, where there is a real divided between the "haves" and the "have-nots" and there is very little need for a middle class. You are either the owner of the machine or merely a cog.

Or maybe Mr. Gaffney doesn't care, as long as he gets his.

-Noah Greenberg

In response to "94% of the people in Canada polled say they love the Canadian Health Care plan," Robert Scardapane writes:

Okay so if 94% of the people love the Canadian plan, it must be meeting their needs. That is a much higher percentage of people than in America. If the plan was resulting in too much rationing, they wouldn't love their plan.

It appears that we are all in agreement. Canada's health care plan is 94% better than ours. -NG

In response to, "All one has to do is close their eyes and picture a loved one lying in a pool of blood. As a deterrent, I agree that the death penalty doesn't work. As punishment, I believe that it does," Robert Scardapane writes:

The death penalty is an irreversible punishment. I also wonder about the cases where it was decided incorrectly - there are many examples. If the punishment is life imprisonment, there are opportunities to reverse an unjust decision. You are advocating applying the death penalty only when tougher legal criteria apply - namely, no doubt at all. But, I wonder if that is a legally plausible.

This is a tough issue because it pulls at emotional heart strings. I question myself whether I would be anti-death penalty if it became personal. Perhaps, that is a good argument not to allow personal emotions to enter into matters of justice. -RS

AHA! Robert fell into my trap. Whereas I do believe in the death penalty as a punishment, I do believe it needs to be applied in a "perfect situation." For example, let's take Gary Gilmore, a confessed serial killer who asked to be executed. I see no reason to not have granted his wish. Now, let's take Scott Peterson, another convicted killer sentenced to death. His case might fall under the category of "hold on, just in case." Although he was convicted "beyond a reasonable doubt" does that mean it was beyond a "shadow of a doubt?"

Believe me, I know this is a very unpopular stance to take in a progressive community, and I could live within a society without a death penalty than most of you could live within a society with one.

If someone was convicted of killing a person close to me, and I had the choice of whether than person lives or dies, I don't know which I would choose. But I do know that I would choose to spare their life if there was even a shred of doubt in my mind.

The death penalty used "sparingly" and "with certainty" is the appropriate punishment, in my opinion. -NG

In response to, "President Bush, must everything you do piss someone off? There must have been someone better than John Bolton," Robert Scardapane writes:

Bush has been bellicose from the start of his second term. His first action was to launch a media campaign to declare that the 2004 election gave him a mandate. I believe it's bad statesmen-ship to exclude the Democrats from government. The "nuclear-option" is yet another dangerous example of an "in-your-face" power grab. The Republicans have the majority in the Congress and Presidency. They should be reaching out to the Democratic minority, especially as it is barely a minority, to heal the division in the country and accomplish useful objectives.

We also need to repair our broken relationships in the world. On one hand, I am annoyed at the dysfunctional United Nations. The oil for food scandal was bad and their human rights record isn't great. For example, why doesn't the U.N. declare the events in Darfur, Sudan to be genocide? However, I don't see how an openly antagonistic person such as Bolton is going to repair our international relationships or reform the U.N.

I have no doubt there are hundreds of better choices than Bolton.



"Life on our lonely planet is truly a miracle, whose diversity and beauty is simply stunning to behold. Whether or not life exists elsewhere in the universe, all we know now is that here on Earth, life is both utterly amazing -- and utterly endangered. That is why I believe that nobody is really more pro-life than an environmentalist."
- T. A. Barron, April 4, 2005

Thanks to Eddie Konczal

John Bolton was a "kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy" who "abuses his authority with little people" and an ill-suited nominee to become ambassador to the United Nations.
-Carl W. Ford Jr., The State Department's former director of intelligence and research

An analyst at the State Department, Christian P. Westermann, a subordinate of John Bolton's, had the temerity to disagree with the soon-to-be US ambassador to the UN. When Bolton didn't get his way, he ranted at the analyst and tried to get him fired. We now know what kind of boss Mr. Bolton was, and probably will be in the future. We also know what he thinks of the UN (as evidenced by his, "There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is only the international community, which can only be led by the only remaining superpower, which is the United States," remarks), as well.

As an owner of my own business for more than ten years with as many as 26 employees, I can attest to the fact that the more, distinct voices I heard, the better boss I became. John Bolton is obviously another one of those rich-kids-who-always-got-what-he-wanted types. Judging from his college choice of Yale, and then Yale Law, it's a pretty good bet that Mr. Bolton didn't want for much as a kid.

Does that ring a bell with anyone, President Bush?


-Noah Greenberg

Send your comments to: or

-Noah Greenberg