Category Archives: Health

Technology Strikes Again

Technology is dominating more and more aspects of our daily lives, but now, technology is taking it to the next level. It seeks to prevent humans from procreating in what could be the next step in a technological overthrow of our species. See the full story later at Fox News.

Anyway, read it and weep, boys.


Domestic Violence

There has been some discussion recently about a controversial video for an Eminem song featuring Rihanna that addresses the issue of domestic violence (DV).  The video features Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan (Charlie from Lost) as a volatile couple whose relationship teeters on the edge of something explosive.

I suspect some of the controversy stems from the subject matter addressed in the video, while some feel that the video does not go far enough in denouncing domestic violence.  After watching the video I wonder if the people who will most likely watch it (teenagers and young adults) understand its subtlety. I don’t mean that to be condescending, it is just that there is not the “violence” that most people associate with DV in the video, and certainly nothing that the video’s other singer, Rihanna, experienced that led to her assault at the hands of Chris Brown.

As the Salon article linked to above suggests, the video could be interpreted by some as depicting nothing more than a fiery, passionate, and sexy relationship. But make no mistake; the actions by the two characters in the video is still a form of DV and there is nothing there for young men and women to aspire to. I am not sure if the intention of the video’s creator was to show that not all DV involves physical assaults and that sometimes the fear of that happening is enough to make for an unsafe and unhealthy relationship, but I hope that message comes through.

Domestic violence is a big problem that I will not even bother trying to get statistics for because it is so underreported that any statistics would be inherently speculative.  And one reason why it is so underreported is that the legal remedies available to survivors of DV lack sufficient power.  For example, the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) issued an opinion in 2005 stating that a protective order (think restraining order against an abuser) does not need to be enforced by law enforcement.  In the case, a Colorado woman tried contacting the police to enforce the order after the father of her children had taken the kids, but the police did nothing and the man ended up killing the children.

If it seems ridiculous to you that the court could rule in this way given those facts, I feel you.  The woman sued the police department, which is what prompted the case to reach the SCOTUS, but the court ruled that there was no monetary value in a protective order so no one can sue the police for failing to enforce one. Basically, this means a protective order is meaningless unless a survivor is lucky enough to live in a jurisdiction where the police make preventing and dealing with DV a priority.

Even without this case on the books, enforcement of such orders was left to the whims of local police who may or may not care about DV.  Throw in prosecutors and judges who are reluctant to seek out and punish abusers and you can see why survivors of domestic violence would feel so afraid to come forward (not to mention the fear of retaliation from the abuser); if the entities a survivor is supposed to seek out for protection are incapable or unwilling to protect, why bother? It is a terrible tragedy that does not get nearly enough attention.

With that, I will leave you with this article about the usefulness of protective orders and with the aforementioned Eminem video for you to watch and make your own judgments about.


Organic Eggs: Bad for You!

Seriously Time magazine?! They published an article recently that discusses a study done by someone at the USDA who claims that organic eggs are not healthier than eggs produced by chickens in factories. Common sense alone dictates the rejection of this claim.  To claim that a chicken allowed to graze freely and eat worms and other things it is supposed to eat, instead of the hormone-filled, corn based feed fed to chickens who live in packed quarters that often prevent them from even learning how to walk, would produce eggs that are unhealthier than their alternative is ridiculous.

And yet, Time publishes the findings as if they are undisputed fact. Is it not the job of a serious news publication like Time to at least investigate whether there is any contrary information before publishing something like this as if Gospel?

Bad journalism and an even worse study. But do not take my word for it. Here is an article pertaining to another study (that is not the first to conclude organic is better, as the article states) that shows quite contradictory results. Read and decide for yourself.


House Votes

The House is currently voting on the Senate bill, and if the Democrats get to 216, they will then vote on the reconciliation amendments. Those amendements remove a lot of the unsavory aspects of the Senate bill, which include the favorable provisions to certain states.

The yeas are at 172 right now, with 65 Democrats still needing to vote. The members are given 15 minutes to vote but it doesn’t appear that the full 15 will be necessary. 183 yeas and 22 nays on the Democratic side. No republicans supporting thus far, and I doubt any of them will.

200 yeas with 6:30 left in the vote. Looks like I was wrong about the full 15 not being needed; there is under 3:30 left and 26 members have not yet voted.

9:45 – The 216th vote in favor of the bill has been cast. Pretty cool!

Now the bill is ready for the President’s signature and the House can vote on the reconciliation bill once this vote ends, which it will in less than a minute.

Final tally on the Senate bill: 219 yeas, 209 nays, with 34 Democrats voting nay and no Republicans voting yea.


Watch C-Span Now!

If you care about the health care debate and vote on the bill happening tonight, I would highly recommend watching C-Span today. It is incredible television and right now they are showing a taped interview with Rep. Devin Nunes from CA who is talking about the Democrats being a totalitarian regime and that it is silly to suggest the Republicans are acting in a partisan way.

In response to yesterday’s racial slurs directed at a couple of Congressman, he said this (paraphrasing): ‘Well that is what happens when you have a totalitarian government and people are free to express themselves.’ ASTOUNDING! He says these things and the interviewer does not even question his sanity. This guy epitomizes what has happened to some of our government and politics; it has become a breeding ground for ignorance and a complete lack of honesty and substance.

I honestly cannot believe we have someone in Congress who can say things like this and not even be called out for it. Come on C-Span, you should be better than CNN and all the other MSM sellouts!

UPDATE: He just said, “As much as we want insurance for everyone, it just cannot happen.” This guy is fascinating in his incoherence and insanity! This is the best reality show I have ever seen! I am just upset that I cannot call in (taped interview) and give this guy a piece of my mind.

2:08 (CT) – They are back on the floor debating and are discussing the special provisions like the “Cornhusker Kickback” and “Louisiana Purchase” (as the GOP calls them), but those provisions will not be included in the final bill.

2:30 – Loved this line from Rep. Scott (GA): ‘Opponents have said that we need to be aware of what will happen to us in November if we vote for this bill. But that is not the question: The question is what will happen to the American people if we do not vote for this bill.’

3:04 – Rep. Stupak (MI) is now holding his press conference. CNN just reported that President Obama will issue an executive order to provide “cover” for those Democrats who are leery of voting on the bill because of the Senate bill’s language on abortion. The bill does not allow federal funds to be used for abortion services as written, but because of how it is written some people are leery.

Stupak is speaking as I type and he is saying that an agreement has been reached to ensure no public funding for abortions are included in this bill. He just confirmed the executive order to “reinforce” their principle and though he has not said it explicitly, it appears he will be voting “Yay” tonight.

Rep. Kaptur (OH) is now speaking to something I wrote yesterday, which is that this bill will actually help reduce abortions by providing more quality and accessible healthcare. Thank you!

More Reps. speaking but it is clear they will be supporting the bill tonight. I think this means that the bill will pass. What a day.

8:55 – We are getting very close to the vote. Minority Leader Boehner and Speaker Pelosi will speak in the next few minutes and then the vote will commence. This is such an exciting moment and I think no matter where you stand in the debate, you cannot deny the historic nature of what we are witnessing. Pretty cool.

9:09 – Boehner is speaking now and is quite animated and pulling out all the hyperbolic stops. He and his Republican colleagues have kept a consistent theme today, which can be summarized as follows: This is the people’s house, the people do not want the bill, the bill will do all sorts of horrible things to us (playing up the fear like they always do), we are destroying our government with this bill, and we must therefore kill the bill.

It is hard for me to understand how most objective and reasonable people cannot observe not just today’s charade, but what the Republicans have pulled for the last year, and not come to the conclusion that their sole aim is to thwart the President in the hopes of bringing about his demise. That is why the attacks have been as ridiculous as they have been; that is why they’ve referred to reform as Obamacare all along, even though Obama had little to do with the bill until a few months ago; and that is why they have done everything they could to “threaten” wavering Democrats into voting against the bill. They know what it will mean for the Democrats and President Obama and how difficult it will be to campaign against a law that will benefit so many Americans.

9:15 – Pelosi is speaking now and asserts health care is an unalienable right and thanks Obama for his leadership (more political theatre). She seems to be selling the Democratic party and its policies to the American public right now; is March too early to start campaigning for this fall?

She is now selling the bill as a boon to our economy and a means to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid. I’ll be back for the final vote.


48 Hrs. – Health Care

The next two days promise to be tense, exciting, and hopefully in the end, triumphant. The reconciliation bill was released earlier in the week and it got a big boost from the CBO. Perhaps the biggest boon to the bill’s chances of passing tomorrow is that it reduces the deficit more than the House and Senate bills would have in the first 10 years, and it further reduces the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the subsequent 10 year period. In my view, deficit hawks will be hard-pressed to argue that this bill is not fiscally responsible.

Here is a handy page that compares the three bills so you can see some of the more important provisions. Spoiler alert: There is no public option and illegal immigrants are barred from participating in the exchanges with their own money. The latter is of great concern to the Hispanic Caucus and rightly so. Two very unfortunate provisions that I think will one day be corrected, but for now, I think liberals and progressives should get behind this bill.

Politically speaking, not passing the bill would be disastrous for Democrats and the President. But more importantly, the bill does do some very good things (insuring over 30 million people and prohibiting preexisting conditions as a bar to insurance, to name a couple) and I do think it would be a first step to a public option or single-payer system down the road.

Returning to the political merits, Republicans know that it would be much more damaging to them if this bill passes. Should it not be obvious given all their resistance throughout this process? Sure, they may gain some seats in Congress in November, but I would much rather campaign this fall defending voting for a bill that expands coverage, reduces costs, reduces the deficit, and creates an exchange for people to shop for insurance across state lines. The Republicans would have to campaign against the bill and all it does and that will be a hard sell if the Democrats do a good job of telling the public what they will get with the bill and what the Republicans want to take away. Basically, it MAY be good for the GOP in the short-term, but long-term their actions in this process and their votes against the bill will be very damaging.

I think Republicans know this and that is why they are doing everything they can to scare the wavering Democrats into voting against the bill manana. Any Democrat thinking of voting against the bill should not seriously think that they will not be tied to Obama, or the bill if it passes, in November and be in serious jeopardy of losing their seat anyway. If anything, they will be in greater danger because they will likely not have the support of Democrats in their districts and probably are not going to win any converts from the right either. Double whammy! This is a huge test for the Democrats, who collectively have shown very little spine throughout this process.

Let us hope that they stand up for something they have believed in for a generation and put the welfare of the American people above their political careers. A vote for this bill, if it passes, would be historic and could actually cement the legacies of those in Congress. These narcissts should jump at that opportunity! Ok, maybe I am being a bit harsh, but seriously, pass the damn bill!

UPDATE: I neglected to mention what may keep the bill from passing tomorrow: The abortion “debate”. Frankly, it is a non-issue to me in that Stupak’s opposition is unnecessary because the bill does not allow for federal funds to be used for abortion services. In addition, I have read a few studies this week that show that expanding coverage to more women and making that coverage more secure, as is the case in other industrialized nations with universal coverage or something close to it, has led to reduced abortions in those nations. In fact, those nations have lower abortion rates than we do.

But if studies in other countries are not good enough for you, then there is this article about a study done in Massachussetts that shows a decrease in abortion services since they passed health care reform similar to what is on the table in Washington now. If these people are serious about wanting to reduce the number of abortions in this country, then they should take a hard look at this study because making health care more accessible and affordable for women might do just that.

UPDATE #2: Getting closer. I meant to post this graph from the Washington Post earlier, which shows what votes are in play and just as interesting, it shows contributions from the health care industry and the percentage of uninsured constituents for each legislator. What struck me was the large number of legislators with 15% or more of their constituents being uninsured and who are still voting against the bill. I wish more than five people read this blog so they could see the graph; maybe more people would support the bill, though it should be said that support has been increasing over the last few weeks. Anyway, why doesn’t the MSM report information like that found on the graph? Infuriating but not surprising.

The NYT is keeping track of the votes, too.


Health Care Cont’d

This piece from Slate is quite sobering. According to its author, Timothy Noah, Pelosi does not have the votes to pass the health care bill.

Once again, I have mixed feelings. I am not a fan of the bill, but I think if it does not get passed, the donkeys and President Obama will not recover. I hate to favor the bill passing for mostly political reasons, but in the long-term, it will be better for the American people.

There is nothing I have seen since Obama has taken office (or for about seven years before then for that matter) to suggest that a Republican controlled Congress and/or White House is in our best interest. And forget about getting substantive health care anytime soon. If the bill fails, and the political fallout is as damaging to the Democrats as I think it will be, then we will not see comprehensive health care reform for another generation. Okay, maybe I am being melodramatic, but it could play out that way.

Update:

The AP is reporting there may be 10 “nays” in the House that could become “yays”. I stress the word “could”.