Money shot quote from a compelling article by Greg Scandlen about the schizophrenic effects of High Deductible Health Plans:
I don’t expect physicians to double as financial advisers, but I agree that they should be more aware of the costs of the treatments they prescribe. In my own case, my doctor prescribed a blood pressure medication. When I went to fill the prescription I discovered it was enormously expensive. I went back to my Doc to see if there was something more affordable available. No one had ever asked him about that, but when he looked into it, by golly there was a list of 25 different meds with prices ranging 1,000 percent, all equally effective.
That is the effect of an empowered consumer. Ultimately physicians will respond to the demands of their patients and as more of us are paying cash for services, we will insist on cost considerations far beyond what any third party payer could do. Unfortunately, the ObamaCare approach is far too clumsy to be effective in empowering consumers. The great advantage of funded HSAs is they give patients the means to pay the bill, but also get them to think twice about the costs. It is a carefully balanced approach to growing educated patients. ObamaCare just throws people in the deep end of the pool without any support. It is cruel and mean spirited — just what you might expect from the government.
Once again, the Providence Zombie protest is in the national education spotlight! Also in the spotlight, however, is some very bad behavior on the part of a teacher. Totally unacceptable and terrible role modeling!
An email from the Children’s Mental Health Network about an upcoming Action:
The federal government supports many programs that benefit all Americans, including mental health and social services; public health; housing; public safety and law enforcement; medical and scientific research; and education and job training. In Washington, these programs are collectively referred to as “nondefense discretionary” or simply “NDD” programs. On January 2, 2013 these programs will face devastating, across-the-board cuts of 8.2 percent through an arcane budget tool known as “sequestration” unless Congress works together to prevent these cuts through a bipartisan, balanced approach to deficit reduction.
On September 20th please join us in a National NDD Community Call-in and Tweet Day and ask your member of Congress to support a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not include further cuts to NDD programs, including children’s mental health.
NDD programs represent a relatively small and shrinking share of the federal budget and our overall economy—already reduced to levels not seen since President Eisenhower held office. They are not the drivers of the debt. In fact, even completely eliminating all NDD programs would still not balance the budget. Yet to date NDD programs have borne the brunt of deficit reduction efforts. If sequestration is allowed to take effect, core services upon which Americans have come to rely will be greatly curtailed or even eliminated.
Email, Call, Tweet, or Facebook your Members of Congress on September 20th to let them know that NDD programs, including children’s mental health and research, have already done their part to help reduce the deficit – it’s now time for a balanced approach! We have made links on the Network website to send an email, sample Facebook posts, Tweets, and information about how to call your Members of Congress and are also included below to help you advocate to protect public health and research from further cuts! These materials are also available on the Coalition for Health Funding’s website.
Email Your Congressman
Take approximately five minutes and send an email to your Members of Congress: http://www.cmhnetwork.org/share-your-voice. You’ll simply click the “Take Action” button, scroll to the bottom of the page, enter your name, address, and contact information. Click the blue Send Message button and you’re done!
Call Your Congressman
For those not familiar with calling the offices of your Members of Congress, you can call the Capitol Switchboard and asked to be connected to your Members’ offices. The phone number is (202) 224-3121. You can also go to http://www.Congress.org to find the office’s direct line and to look up your Members of Congress.
Suggested Facebook Posts
This January, essential jobs and services will face more deep cuts through sequestration. There is bipartisan agreement that these cuts would be devastating to the nation. Only through a balanced approach can we avoid sequestration, balance the budget and restore the nation’s economic stability. Take action!
How to Tweet Your Members of Congress:
Use the Children’s Mental Health Network Tweet Your Legislator tool to get in touch with your member of Congress via Twitter. For those relatively new to Twitter, this is a great Twitter 101 Guide from the folks at Half in Ten/Center for American Progress.
Invest in public health, mental health, medical research, & infrastructure [insert Member Twitter handle]. Support balance to stop #sequestration! #NDDUnited.
Invest in public health, mental health, medical research, & infrastructure @MaxBaucus. Support balance to stop #sequestration! #NDDUnited
Template (links to NDD national sign-on letter)
Remember [insert Member Twitter handle] over 3000 groups want you to support a balanced approach to stop #sequestration! http://bit.ly/N2jgsB #NDDUnited
Remember @MaxBaucus, over 3000 groups want you to support a balanced approach to stop #sequestration!http://bit.ly/N2jgsB #NDDUnited
#Sequestration means an 8.2% cut to #mentalhealth funding in 2013. [insert Member Twitter handle] support a balanced approach! http://bit.ly/N2jgsB #NDDUnited
#Sequestration means an 8% cut to #mentalhealth funding in 2013. @MaxBaucus support a balanced approach! http://bit.ly/N2jgsB #NDDUnited
Template (links to The Hill editorial by American Federation of School Administrators)
#Sequestration devastates medical research, education, & infrastructure. [insert Member Twitter handle] find a balanced solution! http://bit.ly/OPmbSl #NDDUnited
#Sequestration devastates medical research, education, & infrastructure. @MaxBaucus find a balanced solution! http://bit.ly/OPmbSl #NDDUnited
Let us know what you need from the Network! We love feedback so let us know how we can improve the website to better meet your needs. Contact us here. As always, thank you for your continued support of the Children’s Mental Health Network, and remember to take action on September 20th!
President & CEO
The news is not good for the $75 million dollar gamble that Governor Carcieri talked the state of RI into taking. It looks like 38 Studios is already looking for a bailout. From Bob Plain at the RIFUTURE blog:
True words spoken on education and how it will be kicked around like a football in the game of politics over the next several months.
As election season nears, grandstanding Democratic and Republican politicians will discuss the importance of educators and not teaching to a test. Then, with their empty rhetoric still in the air, they will enact laws that base evaluations on test scores, weaken due process, and inject competition. Meanwhile, many news organizations, who have failed to report on why many educators are against these things, will hail their efforts. None of these efforts will work, and the thousands of teachers and principals who have criticized these ideas will then clean up the mess.
In 1991, New York released its first set of coronary-bypass mortality numbers for cardiac surgeons, and in a 2005 report by New York Magazine, an astonishing 79 percent of doctors who do angioplasty said anonymously the mortality statistics discouraged them from taking on risky patients. Now, some want to evaluate and publish – like the New York Times and LA Times recently did – teachers value added scores which have up to a 53 percent margin of error. Doing so will place the test score between the child and teacher, just like the mortality rating was between the doctor and patient. Instead of working with disabled, non-English speaking, or needy students, educators may avoid them.
Shirley Sherrod on the death of Andrew Breitbart…
Shirley Sherrod deserves high praise for speaking with such fairness and empathy about Andrew Breitbart’s unexpected death on Thursday. “The news of Mr. Breitbart’s death came as a surprise to me when I was informed of it this morning,” Sherrod said in a statement. “My prayers go out to Mr. Breitbart’s family as they cope during this very difficult time. I do not intend to make any further comments.”
Andrew Breitbart released selectively edited video of Shirley Sherrod giving a frank and honest talk about how she came to recognize the role of class in American justice, and injustice. Breitbart’s mis-representation defamed Shirley Sherrod, provoked her firing, and put her into the middle of a controversy she never asked for, all for 15 minutes of headlines…
In the full video, Sherrod related her experience in 1986 with the first white farmer to come to her for help. (On July 20 CNN received a telephone call from the farmer’s wife and learned his name was Roger Spooner.) Sherrod said that his land was being sold, and “had in fact already been rented out from under him.” At first, she felt that he had a superior attitude toward her, causing her to recall harsh aspects of her life in the South, including the murder of her father, but she went on to say that she had not let that get in the way and did not discriminate against him. They became very good friends as a result of her help. She admitted thinking at the time that white people had “all the advantages” but learned that poverty affected both races.
According to Sherrod, she did her job correctly by taking the farmer to a white lawyer who she thought could help him, and she looked for another lawyer when needed.  Sherrod rejected claims that she was racist and said she “went all out” to help the man keep his farm. She said that the incident helped her learn to move beyond race, and she told the story to audiences to make that point.
 Spooner family’s account
Roger Spooner, the farmer, said on CNN that Sherrod is not a racist, that she did everything she could for his family; more than 20 years later, he and Sherrod remain friends. The Spooners credit Sherrod with helping them save their farm: “If it hadn’t been for her, we would’ve never known who to see or what to do,” Roger Spooner said. “She led us right to our success.” His wife, Eloise Spooner, said that “after things kind of settled down, she brought Sherrod some tomatoes out of her garden, and they had a good visit.” Eloise Spooner recalled Sherrod as “nice-mannered, thoughtful, friendly; a good person.” The couple were surprised by the controversy. “I don’t know what brought up the racist mess,” Roger Spooner said. “They just want to stir up some trouble, it sounds to me in my opinion.” Eloise Spooner said that on seeing the story of Sherrod’s resignation, “I said, ‘That ain’t right. They have not treated her right.’”
 Full video
The extended unedited video of her speech released by the NAACP showed that in her full speech, Sherrod emphasized what was only touched on in the excerpt: she learned from the incident that poverty, not race, was the key factor in rural development. She said she ultimately worked hard to save the farmer’s land.
One aspect of this story that stays with me is that Shirley Sherrod was collateral damage in an ideological war, or maybe just a self-promoter’s strategy for shaping the narrative with a casual attitude to the truth and the real people affected.
Breitbart used selective editing to distort the words of a woman who had never done anything but to serve our country conscientiously. A woman whose father was murdered by a white man. A woman who did not give in to hatred, but instead fought racism, and bravely spoke about the evolution of her understanding.
He never was man enough to look her in the eye and own up to the damage he did to her career and reputation…
“This was never about Shirley Sherrod,” Breitbart interrupted.
“So apologize to her,” said Boehlert. “Post a correction. Apologize to her.”
But Breitbart ignored Boehlert and stuck to his talking points. “This was not about Shirley Sherrod. This was about the smears that have gone against the Tea Party,” he said.
They’re calling Andrew Breitbart a ‘warrior’, as if warriors are admired for ambushing the innocent. Andrew Breitbart was simply an opportunist. As is so often the case, he used the politics of white racism to advantage. He didn’t find a convenient example of institutionalized black racism, so he created one.
Shirley Sherrod will decide whether to proceed with her defamation suit, given the untimely death of the defendant.
If you listen to most politicians in Rhode Island, they will try to tell you that we can’t tax the rich because “they might leave us!” Well, if we had national legislation to tax the rich such as Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is proposing, they wouldn’t have anywhere to go. And furthermore, it’s just not true that our neighboring states are tax havens compared to us. From RI FUTURE (still one of the only sources for independent political thought in the state!):
The median state is Mississippi. The poorest 20% pay about 10.8% of their total income in taxes. The top 1%, OTOH, only pay 5.5% of their income.
In other words, the effective tax rate of the bottom 20% is about twice as high as the tax rate for the top%–despite paying no fed taxes.
And how does RI stack up? We’re worse.
Here, the bottom 20% pays about 11.9%, while the top 1% pays 5.5%.
In other words, the bottom 20% pays a rate that is more than twice the rate paid by the top 1%.
And Mass is two spots worse, CT is one spot better, so spare me the “Oh, I could just move to Mass and save all this money” lie. And founder of a certain ‘alternative’ party, I’m looking at you.
This story was picked up by Ted Nesi at WPRI Eyewitness news. You know the local mainstream media isn’t running the way it used to (yes, Projo, I’m looking at you) when we are getting some of our better news analysis from nom de plume bloggers.
Daily Kos thinks that President Obama’s release of his long-form birth certificate is a smart move because Republicans who are not tanked up on tea see the birther issue as bad for the credibility of their party.
The President’s own statement is that our country is facing urgent problems, and this issue is enough of a distraction to need putting to rest.
Of course, it will not be put to rest because it was never about place of birth or the Constitution. It’s about a man with brown skin and a funny name, whose father was from Kenya and whose mother was unconventional. It’s about race-mixing and a fixed race that didn’t come through in 2008, when McCain was supposed to win. McCain was on deck, he had the right pedigree– that’s how it’s supposed to work.
When Barack Obama was elected, it was a message to the entire world. America, for all its flaws and failures, is a democracy. Any eligible citizen can run for office, even run for president. Despite our troubled racial history, we showed the world that Americans are equal in fact as well as in law.
And now we have the loudest voices in the Republican Party demanding that the President show his papers. The Republican politicians who should have stood up to this, who should have set an example of reason and civility, have been timid and afraid to offend their fringe. They deserve to have Donald Trump win the nomination, they paved the way for him. I’m disgusted with all the politicians who tip toe around ‘what people believe’ as if the truth doesn’t matter. It’s time for the adults in the Republican Party, if they can find the courage, to show leadership.
The whole world is watching, and today we are not looking so good.
UPDATE: A smart take on why there will never be enough ‘evidence’ to appease those who want to believe. You can’t cure stupid.
PERSONAL ANECDOTE: I used to have panic attacks and experience a convincing sense that something was really wrong. If I checked and confirmed that the iron really was turned off, then I’d worry about the gas stove blowing up. You can’t fix irrational anxiety with reason. Maybe I should have got some Xanax. Whatever.
Anyway, the instant shift in focus from one crazy conspiracy theory to the next just backs up the fact that this isn’t a rational issue, it’s a hysteria afflicting a group of believers who are convinced something is wrong and are looking for a narrative to make sense of a changing world. A lot of them are waiting for the Rapture too. People are entitled to their beliefs, but when beliefs replace facts in politics we are in trouble.
UPDATE II: Convincing evidence that Barack Obama is an alien from the planet Slzrd. Wait– that might be satire… good thing I deleted it. People might think I’m credulous.