Lying Media Bastards

February 22, 2008

Committment to Democracy

Pakistan holds elections.

Pakistani people vote overwhelmingly against current president/thug Pervez Musharraf and his political party.

Bush administration asks Pakistan to keep Musharraf in power anyway.

Posted by Jake on February 22, 2008 7:12 am

February 20, 2008

Rigged for Justice

Stolen from Atrios:

When asked if he thought the men at Guantánamo could receive a fair trial, [former chief prosecutor for Guantánamo’s military commissions Col. Morris Davis] provided the following account of an August 2005 meeting he had with Pentagon general counsel William Haynes–the man who now oversees the tribunal process for the Defense Department. “[Haynes] said these trials will be the Nuremberg of our time,” recalled Davis, referring to the Nazi tribunals in 1945, considered the model of procedural rights in the prosecution of war crimes. In response, Davis said he noted that at Nuremberg there had been some acquittals, something that had lent great credibility to the proceedings.

“I said to him that if we come up short and there are some acquittals in our cases, it will at least validate the process,” Davis continued. “At which point, [Haynes’s] eyes got wide and he said, ‘Wait a minute, we can’t have acquittals. If we’ve been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can’t have acquittals, we’ve got to have convictions.’”

We must have fair trials, but no one can be found innocent. Good to know.

Posted by Jake on February 20, 2008 7:43 am

The High Price of Caffiene

“What do you want me to do? LEAVE? Then they’ll keep being wrong!”

From xkcd, of course.

Posted by Jake on February 20, 2008 7:33 am

February 14, 2008

Socialized Medicine: Demonic, or Just Evil?

Related to my earlier post about American health care, we have this nice 2-part series by Canadian blogger Sara Robinson, debunking myths about the horrors and deviltry of the Canadian health care system. Granted, her very first point refutes the claim that Canada has “socialized medicine”, which makes the title of this post wrong, but, well, I already typed it and it’s kinda funny.


Mythbusting Canadian Health Care — Part I

Mythbusting Canadian Healthcare, Part II: Debunking the Free Marketeers

Very informative, and the author is willing to point out flaws and problems with the Canadian system where she sees them.

Posted by Jake on February 14, 2008 10:50 am

Cupidity

Today is Valentine’s Day, when we all celebrate the way that St. Valentine drove all the snakes out of Ireland and into the Promised Land, where they were eaten by hungry lepers.

The sole reason I am writing this is to post this link. Option 1 is still one of the funniest things I have ever seen. You might want to be a little careful if you’re watching at work…

Posted by Jake on February 14, 2008 1:19 am

February 13, 2008

Cherry-Picking for Fun and Profit

Back in the mid-90s, as the internet was beginning to take off, I took a college class about information technology and its impact on modern society. The moment that stays with me most from that class is a bit about the medical insurance industry. Some documentary we watched showed people very concerned about their personal health information, because if certain details of their medical conditions got out to insurance companies, it was possible that a) they would not be able to get affordable health insurance, b) they might lose health insurance they already had, and c) they might not be able to get health insurance, period, leaving their health at the mercy of what they could afford.

In other words, for some people, doctor-patient confidentiality can be literally a matter life or death.

What makes my blood boil is that the insurance industry is cheating. In a way, all insurance is a gamble. You are “betting” that paying a substantial fee every month will, in the long run, will be cheaper than the cost of medical treatments you may need now or in the future. And insurance companies are betting the opposite, that the cost of your medical bills will be less than the sum total of your monthly premiums. Of course, you rarely “win”, even if the odds pay off in your favor: an insurance company payout means your body is in trouble. “Woo hoo! I get a free medical treatment, and all I needed to do was get heart disease! (and spend 40 hours on the phone, jumping through insurance company hoops!)”

But rather than accept this wager and risk the odds, the insurance companies rig the game. First of all, they do their best to not pay for your medical treatments. Just as a casino would save money by boarding up the winings tray at the bottom of their slot machines, insurance companies use loopholes and technicalities to keep their cash from paying your bills. I haven’t seen “Sicko” yet, but I’m told there are scenes of people who are paying good money for their health insurance, only to find out that it doesn’t actually cover them if they get sick! Secondly, insurance companies try not to issue policies to people who may actually need medical treatment. And lastly (well, they probably have a much larger bag of tricks than this), they try to rid themselves of existing customers who are costing them money. They cheat at gambling by trying to eliminate risk altogether and abdicate all responsibilities, as if they were not a business providing a service in exchange for money. If they had their way, customers would simply mail in their checks, receive nothing in return, and die quietly when they could no longer afford it.

Which is what makes this so sleazy. Blue Cross (whose corporate parent Wellpoint made over $3 billion in profit in 2006), sent letters to doctors in California, encouraging them to violate doctor-patient confidentiality and snitch on their patients, in attempt to give Blue Cross grounds to cancel coverage for patients with certain health conditions (interestingly, one of the “health conditions” mentioned by Blue Cross is “pregnancy”).

But we do have a happy ending to this particularly scumbaggery: the California Medical Association publicly blasted Blue Cross, Arnold Schwarzenegger blasted Blue Cross, Hillary Clinton blasted Blue Cross, the media picked up the story, and Blue Cross has announced it will stop sending the letters. Not because of the morality or criticism, of course, but because they have “determined this letter is no longer necessary”. Right.

Of course, this leaves every other problem with America’s health industry intact.

In the past decade, a number of the labor struggles in the US have been tied explicitly to the matter of health insurance. Employees demand it because they can’t afford medical treatment otherwise, and employers try to jettison it to keep costs down and profits high. I keep wondering if one of these days we’ll see a coalition of businesses form to push for nationalized health care, to do away with this issue altogether. Maybe we’ll see a battle between auto companies, grocery stores, retail chains, and white collar corporations, doing battle with insurance companies for legislative change. Probably not, but it makes me scratch my head a little why all non-insurance businesses aren’t following this path.

Posted by Jake on February 13, 2008 8:26 am

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