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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Comics and cartoons | - Houston Chronicle

Comics and cartoons - Houston Chronicle
Trying to figure out how to post this. Reminded me of Cooley Pasley when I read it; don't know why.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Health Care "Summit" at White House

I watched as much of today's spectacle as I could stomach. And in recent days I've read several Op-Ed columns on various aspects of the topic. It kinda all runs together in my pea-brain.
One pundit had mentioned that to date the Republicans have prevailed in their strategies over Obama and the Democrats. To wit: They have found that if they refuse to compromise one bit, one iota, on any point, that the Democrats will move toward them and say, "OK, your turn". And in this way the Democrats have moved or given in four or five times and the Republicans not once.
The primary two "ideas" offered by Republicans, if I may simplify and summarize, are as follows:
  1. One change that would be beneficial would be to allow health insurance to be sold "across state lines".
  2. The other big ticket item would be to address medical malpractice tort reform, thereby supposedly eliminating expensive "preventive" medicine in the form of unnecessary tests that are performed only to indemnify the physicians from liability.

I have questions about these two notions that that is all that is needed to take large portions of cost out of health care. If these questions were answered today it was after I had tuned out in disgust or was not one of the soundbites covered by the media. The questions are as follows:

  1. Doing #1 above would involve a federal mandate overruling states' control of "their" insurance industries. This sounds to me the opposite of the kinds of trends states righters (Republicans) normally advocate. How do conservatives square proposing this with their normal preference for allowing states to control as much as they wish to control?
  2. The poster child for how #2 above would be wonderful for the nation is the state of Texas, which enacted medical malpractice tort reform some 4 yr. ago. John McCain trumpeted it today in some of his televised remarks. He offered impressive sounding statistics about how the outflow of physicians from the state had been reversed and that Texas was supposedly attracting all the doctors it needs now. But if all that is true, then why does Texas rank something like 48th in #s of uncovered children and very high in numbers of Texas residents who have no health insurance coverage?? If medical tort reform is the silver bullet, why isn't Texas a state where medical care is excellent and cheap?

I would welcome the opportunity to be enlightened as to how I am so far off the reservation on all this.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reform rules in US Senate_Revisited_Compromise

The announcement by "moderate" Dem. Evan Bayh that he's leaving the Senate cause the mainstream and 24hr cable news channels to wonder what it all meant. Without consuming myself with that controversy, I did arrive at something of an epiphany with regard to finding "a way out" of the wilderness. And it harkens back to my prior post advocating a Senate rules reform lowering the threshhold to 55 votes for blocking filibusters. How? and why?, you wonder. I shall attempt to explain.
I believe, and given a burst of energy and time I'm sure I could find polls that back this up, that the nation is basically more moderate than either of the major political parties and certainly than the Congressional delegations representing each state. The Republicans in Congress are much more conservative than the average American voter or citizen. And the Democrats in Congress are more liberal than the average American. What's worse, the "moderates" in the House and Senate are a vanishing species. Each party is tending to elect only ideologues rather than moderates. This means, among other things, that any chance for meaningful compromise between the two parties in Congress grows less likely each successive session. And this would help explain the explosion in the use of filibusters in the Senate the last two presidential administrations.
So now for my soloution. If the Senate backed off of the 60 vote mandate for cloture, dropped it to 55, then the "no man's land" between the two parties would be a much smaller chasm. Particularly in competitive states the voters would find it in their interest to select more moderate Senators, who would be in position to cast "winning" votes more often. This could produce a resurgence of moderates and more accurately reflect the national electorate.
Who knows, then maybe even a moderate leaning news network might rise from the ashes of the failed prior networks. Or maybe somebody can find a way to make NPR and CSPAN interesting to Nascar fans.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

On Language

With William Safire being gone and James J Kilpatrick no longer opining about the proper use of the English language, my meager blog occasionally addresses the issue. This is closely related to my previous rants about cliches and the media.

Topic for today: Pronunciation errors by sports broadcasters. One of the most glaring would have to be the word lackadaisical. The Olympics commentators butchered this several imes the past few days. By my estimation at least 80% of the time people who voice this word insert an "s" after the "k" when using this word. And to me, folks, that's not rigorous reporting and broadcasting. That, instead, is pretty lackadaisical.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Longing for a personable time

Is there a large organization, be it a private business or governmental organization or NGO, that currently employes enough "Customer Service" representatives to handle the volume of telephone business that gets directed their way? I doubt it.
How many times have you called a company or gov't office only to encounter a voice mail answering device that has you jump through hoops categorizing the reason for your call and THEN directs you to stay on the line until a real person can "help you"? This wouldn't be so bad if they meant it, if they intended to come on the line within a reasonable amount of time. But after three or loops of Musak and recorded messages extolling their desire to get to you soon, then comes the dreaded different announcement "We are having an unusual high volume of calls today. For faster service why don't you try to get our computer choices to satisfy you.?" or something to that effect.
I'll bet that as much as half the time we, the poor caller, give up, hang up and decide either to try again at some "less busy" time or to resolve our issue some other way, such as writing them a letter. I for one don't buy their "today there's an unusual high volume of calls" excuse. It happens too often to be that unusual. What they mean but don't want to admit is that they refuse to employ sufficient phone answerers to handle their normal volume of phone traffic. This was probably one of the ways they got "leaner" back when they "right-sized" in order to drive up their profit margin. Profits for them; costs for us. They never calculate the lost time suffered by their customers, clients, patrons, parishoners, whatever.
I am not anti-technology. I often use the self-service checkout lines at the local supermarket. But on those occasions when I need to talk to a real live person, sure would be nice if companies and organizations would make it possible.

Another Annoying Overused Cliche

We're going to tell you what the banks (or insurance companies or government or THEY) "don't want you to know".

How many different come-ons or scams are currently using this same tired cliche?

I've noticed, though, that the advertisers or promoters who employ this never get around to 'splaining why and how the nefarious bad guys intended to keep helpful information from us. They just offer their premise up as a truism and move on.

What I DON'T want to know is why so many people want to pull my chain.