Note From a Madman

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A "Society of Life"

There are many diseases that cause people with string brains and weak bodies to stop working, thereby halting their means to earn a living and keep their health insurance. It is the main, secondary concern of people with diseases like MS, ALS and NF2. NF2 is a condition that requires expensive MRI's sometimes multiple times per year. Mostly benign tumors grow in the sheaths that surround nerves that can cause great pain or loss of that nerve's function. Loss of hearing is something that is one of the major concerns for NF2 patients. The following is a posting from a newsgroups to which I belong, the NF2Crew.

"Michael has been trying to get SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and keeps getting denied. We're hopeful that he'll get accepted soon. Meanwhile, his COBRA ran out and he can't afford to get the basic routine MRIs he needs. So we don't know if any of the tumors in his brain or spine have grown. He's 37 years old and worked for the post office for 15 years. He's had multiple brain and spinal surgeries over the years. We have no money, and we can barely afford to live. We're both students. Neither of us has a job or any health insurance. I'm 25, and live another state. We are not yet married. Both of us would be more than happy to work upon completing our degrees... meanwhile... we're stuck."

This isn't a call for everyone who receives Note from a Madman to give money to some NF2 organization, In fact, I don't even know of one. This isn't a call to march on Washington for the one-in-forty-four-thousand people who either get this awful disease due to a mutation or from a parent.

According to the top neurosurgeon at New York's Presbyterian Hospital, the hope for patients with NF2 comes in the form of Stem Cell Research, including fetal stem cells and gene therapy. The hope for those who have lost their hearing due to this disease is the affordability of expensive ear-replacement devices such as ABI's (Auditory Brainstem Implants).

Remember, fetuses created in the test tubes of fertility clinics are just thrown in the trash when their owners no longer have plans to implant them. Is anyone on the Activist Religious Right actually going to tell me that taking these fetuses out of the trash to possibly cure life's "Quality of Life" diseases is a worse idea than throwing them out? I don't think so, but they have been fooled by the rhetoric of the pharmaceutical industry and the big dollars they throw around DC.

There are two things that will help people with "Quality of Life" diseases:
1- Research and funding, including that of Fetal Stem Cell Research
2- Health Care for all

The administration of "G"lobal "W"arming Bush and the "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party pander to the Activist Religious Right (the former) and to the Health Care Insurance and Big Drug Company donors (the latter).

Fetal Stem Cell research holds the promise of curing diseases while big pharmaceutical firms want to keep Americans just sick enough to require life-long treatment. Can any of you remember the last time a disease was actually "cured?"

It wasn't that long ago when we were talking about a cure for Type One (Juvenile) Diabetes. No one is talking about it anymore. Oddly enough, however, with the "improvements" in insulin, someone with this disease can look forward to up to six separate insulin injections each and every day. That's a few bottles of insulin and hundreds of syringes a month. I ought to know.

Why is medicinal marijuana illegal? Probably because Pfizer of Eli Lily couldn't find a way to slap their labels on it.

"Quality of Life" relies on a "Society of Life." When will we realize that?

-Noah Greenberg

National Health Care

I don't think it's correct to call nationalized/universal health care a communist idea. Every industrialized nation, with the exception of the United States and Mexico, has a form of nationalized/universal health care. That certainly does not imply that the industrialized world is communist.

Let's not confuse nationalized health care with socialized medicine. The British system is socialized medicine where doctors actually work for the federal government. I do not agree with that approach! Other nations have adopted an approach called Single Payer Universal Health Care (SPUHC). The federal government, or states/provinces, becomes the insurer - the single payer. Private insurance companies provide supplement insurance above and beyond what the SPUHC plan covers. For example, typically cosmetic surgery would not be covered by a SPUHC plan but could be covered by supplemental private insurance. In addition, some people may "opt out" of the SPUHC plan in favor of private insurance.

Some countries such Canada have been purists and do not allow private insurance at all. However, that has been recently challenged in Canadian Supreme Court so even in Canada may allow private insurance in addition to their SPUHC plan.

I am definitely in favor of SPUHC. Whether it is done through extending the Medicare system or some other method does not matter to me. House Resolution 676 is one SPUHC proposal from Congressman John Conyers (D-MI). Indeed, there are additional taxes for SPUHC - no such thing as a free ticket but given the high cost of health care, I believe most Americans will do well under a SPUHC plan. The cost of the middle man is eliminated with SPUHC . In fact, this should even be good for business as their health care costs can be lowered.

-Robert Scardapane

"Good Republicans"

Having a hissy-fit tantrum like a thwarted infant is the typical Delay way. You'd think his "followers" (slaves?) would be able to see through such an embarrassing display. Well, maybe some will smarten up, but don't hold your breath. Mom used to say, with considerable scorn, "Some people would vote Republican if the candidate had horns and a tail!" She and Dad were lifelong registered Republicans who should have been Independents except that they wanted to vote in local elections and primaries. In the South, they voted in those elections for Republicans because the Dixiecrats were beneath contempt, but they almost never voted for Republicans for president. Dad used to say, "Give me a decent one, I'll cast my vote." Jimmy Carter was his favorite president, and the last GOP'r he voted for was probably Ike. He started being suspicious of Nixon after that smarmy "Checkers" speech (remember Pat's "Republican cloth coat"?), although Nixon was a haloed saint compared to Bush & his NeoCon(federate) team.

Both my Republican parents would have LOATHED Delay. Out of righteous indignation, they despised the whole lot of "Holy Rollers," as they called them. That must have gone back into their childhood since I can't remember when they didn't consider Fundamentalists the scum of the earth, but they grew a lot more vocal when the American "Taliban" started ranting on TV. Mom could get nearly nauseated by the televangelists, and when I was a senior in high school my easygoing Dad came within an inch of punching one of his fellow engineers, this born-again guy got so preachy obnoxious. He cooled down by coming home and telling us about it until we all had a big laugh.

But it was a bitter laugh. In the Miami area all their good friends were Jews, Catholics or dropout Protestants who felt the same as they did. I never felt as strongly as they, perhaps because I escaped the "Christian" phonies by becoming a Unitarian in 1955 and joining the Navy in 1957, but they lived in Florida for 15 long years, 1951-1966. After the first few Sundays in Miami, they refused to attend Sunday services. Home to Iowa after Dad's retirement, almost as soon as they arrived they were back into regular attendance & three-times-a-week church activities in their small-town church. Thanks to Dad's persuasiveness, from about 1974 that little Methodist Church in Corydon, IA has been furnishing the sanctuary to a circuit-riding Catholic priest, so the town's few Catholics could have a real house of worship (not someone's living room) for weekly mass. That's the way to be Christian. Not the Tom Delay way.

-Jenny Hanniver

Crying "WOLF!"

The mainstream media as a whole has not acted sufficiently skeptical about the timing of the latest terror alert. But on last night's Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann did his part to question the NYC subway threat. "Keith said that his staff found 13 circumstances when a brand new terror alert "just happened" to come at a time when there was trouble in the administration," an e-mailer says. Here's the transcript, with Craig Crawford as guest:

OLBERMANN: Well...I'm going to raise this question as skeptically and bluntly as I can. It's not a question that doubts the existence of terror, nor the threat of terrorism. But we've cobbled together in the last couple of hours a list of at least 13 occasions that -- on which -- whenever there has been news that significantly impacted the White House negatively, there has been some sudden credible terror threat somewhere in this country. How could the coincidence be so consistent?

CRAWFORD: It's, it is a pattern. One of the most memorable was just after the Democratic Convention in the 2004 election, when they talked about the threat to New York and even the [World Bank], and it turned out that was based on intelligence that was three years old, (INAUDIBLE) even before 9/11.

There is a pattern here. And I think it's difficult sometimes to take it at face value. But in these moments, when it looks like a crisis, it's (INAUDIBLE), those of us who bring it up get accused of treason. That's what Howard Dean was accused of when he raised that after the Democratic Convention scare alert.

As I said before, it's hard not to take any threat seriously. Yet, consider this last threat in NYC:

1) The timing was precisely after Bush made a speech that was categorized by the White House as a "major" speech on terrorism. Way too convenient.

2) There was a total disconnect between NYC and DHS on the credibility of the threat. This had the feel of an intentional leak by DHS to NYC.

3) DHS admitted that the person that originated the threat only passed parts of a lie detector test. Which parts did that person pass? The part where they asked about hating the food in prison?

I just read this report in Reuters:

NEW YORK, Oct 10 (Reuters) - New York called off a high alert for the city's subways on Monday after detainees in Iraq thought to be plotting to bomb the nation's biggest transit system indicated the threat lacked credibility.
The scaling back of security came as the attack date cited in a federal warning -- Sunday, Oct. 9 -- passed without incident.

"Since the period of the threat now seems to be passing, I think over the immediate future we'll slowly be winding down the enhanced security," Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a news conference.


Beware of "crying wolf" one time too many!

Forwarded from and commented by Robert Scardapane

Same Old Bush - Same Old Rhetoric

Bush is back to the same rhetoric. He once again is conflating Iraq with 9/11. He claims we are fighting a global war on terror. Really? So where the heck is Bin Laden who did attack us on 9/11? Why aren't we hearing about actions taken against Al Qaeda? What does Iraq have to do with any of this?

I am sick of this rhetoric. Does Bush take us all for idiots? We can not fight a conventional war against an amorphous unconventional "enemy". Sure, there are people in this world who commit extreme acts of violence. Our law enforcement and intelligence agencies must be vigilant about them. But, we must stop pretending that Iraq is all about fighting those sort of people.

Terrorists do not come out conveniently into the open to fight us. The truth about Iraq is that there is a civil war going on - mainly between Shiite and Sunni Arabs. Some foreign Sunni Arabs have joined the fight and are targeting our troops along with the Shiite. There are some Al Qaeda involved now though they weren't there at the start of the war. According to the Pentagon, they do NOT constitute the bulk of the insurgency.

-Robert Scardapane

Orwellian White House Rubbish

The Senate voted 90 to 9 for a bill, sponsored by John McCain (R-AZ), that prohibits the using torture on detainees. Given the events in Abu Ghraib and other prisons in both Iraq and Afghanistan, I think this is a reasonable reaction. But does Bush agree with it? Of course not!

Scott McClellan said President Bush would likely veto the defense spending bill if McCain's language were included, calling the amendment "unnecessary and duplicative." "If it's presented, then there would be a recommendation of a veto, I believe," McClellan said. McClellan said existing law already prohibits the mistreatment of prisoners in American custody, and the amendment "would limit the president's ability as commander-in-chief to effectively carry out the war on terrorism."


If this bill is redundant then what's the big deal, it won't cause any harm. If the law is okay right now then why are we torturing detainees? If the Senate bill does not address the issue sufficiently, what does Bush propose instead? So far, all I heard is "stay the course" rubbish from the White House and that is not acceptable.

I am glad that Republicans are finally joining Democrats on this issue. If Bush wants a fight, let's give it to him. He is not the dictator of this country - at least not yet!

Beware of Bush wanting to revoke Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. He has pushed this idea at least three times and used tragic events (or fear of tragic events) as the excuse. He pushed it right after 9/11, after Katrina and now is using fear of the Avian Flu as an excuse. Would you want a President that believes in using torture to turn the military loose in our cities?

-Robert Scardapane

Bush Changing Gears?

There are indications that Bush may be throwing in the towel on Social Security privatization. He said yesterday that there is a "diminished appetite" for changing the way Social Security is funded. Still, we should remain vigilant about attempts by Congress to privatize social security. Bush still believes in privatization ideologically.

So, why is Bush changing gears? He is "reforming" the tax code - read that as more rip offs are in store for the bulk of America. There are serious issues on the table that could hurt us all real bad:

1) Eliminating the tax deduction for home mortgages.
2) Eliminating the tax deduction for companies that provide health care.
3) Repealing the alternative minimum tax.
4) Consumption tax and/or European style value-added tax.
5) Eliminating the estate tax.
6) Making the temporary tax cuts permanent.

At a time when our country is bleeding red ink, playing with the tax code is not the answer. Adopting measures that further drain the middle class is an outrage. Bush should allow the temporary tax cuts to expire, bring the war in Iraq to an end and stop spending so much money on military projects. For example. the Congress is now debating a project for a new class of nuclear weapons. Such projects are simply wrong.

-Robert Scardapane

In response to, "MIERS UNDESERVING OF COURT POST - Does George Bush know what he's doing?" Rhian writes:

I'm an electrician with almost two decades of experience, which includes running crews of up to 30 guys on industrial jobsites. I've had my own company and have settled many disgruntled owner/builder disputes. My father is a Republican. I have hair spray and will have my beautician cut me some bangs. With these qualifications, I'm sure I can be appointed to the Supreme Court.

In response to "Glowing Utah - Whatever you want to call it, when those glowing truckloads and trainloads of radioactive materials comes barreling through and into our nation, make sure they take the southern route through the RED STATES", Sean (Mr. Blue Sky) writes:

As long as they wait until Andrea and I move to Washington state!

In response to "bunch of neoconservative coconuts", SchwartsAPN writes:

Something about this phrasing I really love!

A DeLay Quote

"I know when you stand up for what you believe in, this kind of thing is going to happen. It's part of the fight. I know Democrats hate me and they hate what I believe in and they hate the amazing things we've been able to accomplish ever since we've been in the majority."
-Tom DeLay on a Houston radio show

Don't sell yourself short, Tom. Independents and many Republicans hate you too.

-Noah Greenberg

Send your comments to: or

-Noah Greenberg