Friday, March 28, 2008

Obama's Pastor

Well for those of you have been living in a cave, Obama's Pastor of 20 years was filmed saying a lot of "controversial" things. In my opinion, I would classify his statements as complete racism towards white people, but apparently racism towards white people is never recognized in America. Obama was on The View yesterday and claimed, "I never heard him say some of the things that have people upset."

You're telling me that you've been listening to this guy's sermon's for 20 years, he wed you to your wife and he baptized 2 of your kids and this is the first time you've heard him say this kind of crap? What did you just happen to miss "God Damn America" Tuesdays?


From Crude to Screwed

Why do gas prices skyrocket immediately when the cost of crude goes up? This shouldn't happen because there is always a 2-3 month supply that is already in the US that must be run through and used up. Right now the supply is at a 15 year high, and demand is in a "free fall." It's like these companies have a trader on the trading floor who phones into corporate when the price of crude increases. "Jack the price up $0.20 per gallon right now, crude just topped $104!"

It occurs to me that some blatant swindling of consumers is going on here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Irony of Medical Malpractice Limits

When the issue of placing limits on medical malpractice comes up, I always cringe. Bush proposed it for the nation in 2005 and some doctors proposed it for Nevada in 2002 under the biased title: Keep Our Doctors in Nevada. I cringe because I have patients interests in mind and not negligent businesses, who Republicans seem to be so eager to support.

Here are the main points of the law that passed in Nevada:
(a) "non-economic damages," aka pain and suffering or punitive damages, are capped at $350,000.
(b) the defendant can make payments over time for the amount awarded.
(c) the patient has to sue within 1 year instead of two.
(d) new limits on lawyer's contingency fees.

Supporters of medical malpractice caps would want you to believe that the costs of medical malpractice insurance are increasing because frivolous lawsuits are skyrocketing and awarding sinister patients millions of dollars.

First of all, if a lawsuit is really that frivolous, don't you think that a judge with 7 years of education and 10 years of legal experience would see right through it? I mean come on, give a judge some credit, any "frivolous" lawsuit would be tossed right out of court. Second, as stated in a New York times article, "The recent jump in premiums shows little correlation to the rise in claims." In fact, the rise in premiums is tied to their declining investments. Insurance companies lost billions of dollars in the Enron company alone. Legal costs account for less than 1% of health care costs. The study conducted by the prestigious RAND corporation also found that baseless lawsuits were "efficiently thrown out."

Their main argument is to reduce malpractice insurance premiums by placing caps on awards, but this doesn't actually work, so there goes that argument.

And what really is the value of medical malpractice? If a doctor chops off the wrong arm or infects you with HIV, is $350,000 really going to compensate you for your troubles? I doubt it. It's something that will still permanently screw your life up, so can you really even place a number on it? There are probably a few numbers with at least 6 zeros that would at least make you feel better about living with your new found misfortune.

Plus the whole point of not having a limit is that it is a deterrent effect for a negligent corporation. If a company can run a cost-benefit analysis of the risk of getting sued and of giving you crappy care, they will put profits over patient health. This is what a huge clinic in Nevada decided to do recently.

Syringes, needles and/or vials were re-used at the Endoscopy center of Nevada. The center is comprised of about 6 or so clinics, each of which has been shut down as of late. The city is estimating that 40,000 people are at risk for Hepatitis C or HIV. This is a lot of people to be at risk! A brand new needle costs about $1, so a place that uses a thousand needles a day can save a few hundred thousand dollars a year. This adds up as years pass by. Of course the cost of needles was already factored into the price that patients and insurance companies were paying for, so "invisible costs" were passed on. It took 4 years for the medical board to catch onto the Endoscopy center murderers/doctors.

Under the old law, one patient's successful lawsuit would have wiped out their entire net profit from doing this kind of practice. Punitive damages would probably be in the millions to prevent this from ever happening again. But "Keeping our doctors in Nevada" allowed cost-benefit analysis for a company to choose between patient care and profits to become a reality. Dr. Dipak Desai, the leader of the Endoscopy center, was one of the main supporters for this law. Gee, why did he support this law change so much?

So then we come to other wonderful aspects of the new law that all end up screwing the patient. If a patient successfully sues, the guilty malpractice doctor and insurance company is allowed to make payments over time. What is this, the freakin' lotto? Another change is that patients now have to sue within 1 year instead of two. The problem with this is that Hepatitis or HIV takes a long time to show symptoms. It could even take up to 6 months for antibodies to register on a HIV test. The proponents of the law want to close the window for people eligible to file a claim against them. And one of the final changes is limiting contingency fees for lawyers. This sounds nice up front, but all it does is prevent patients from having lawyers take their cases. This just limits the pool of patients that will be able to sue. I'm no fan of lawyers, but I understand that if they take on a contingency case, they risk a lot of time and effort that could take years. If a case doesn't even have the opportunity to net a decent return for their time and risk, then they won't even bother with the case.

So what can we do?

Instead of insurance payments, I propose that every doctor should post a $1 million interest paying bond and have his or her license tied to that bond. This way, instead of passing the burden onto insurance companies, the doctor will be responsible for his or her actions. Plus, it will weed out the bad doctors and allow good doctors to keep their money. When a doctor retires from medicine, they get to redeem their bond. For doctors starting out, there could be a payment plan, with a percentage of the payment going to an insurance company in case a claim is made before the full bond value is reached.

The unfortunate fact is that voters are sheep. I've mentioned this point several times on my blog, if you haven't noticed. They will believe the propaganda and lies that gets spewed, that in the end, put their health at risk. It's easy to buy into the bull the way politicians spin law changes and if you don't stop and think for a minute what their real reason for promoting a change is, it could end up affecting you.

Well Nevada, you got what you asked for! Now 40,000 or more of you are at risk for deadly diseases that were spread by ruthless doctors who only cared about saving a few dollars. As of March, 71 or so have turned up positive. Maybe it is time to rethink this law?

In closing, who in their right mind in today's age would re-use a syringe?? Fifth graders even know that this is deadly. Everybody involved, including nurses, doctors or the people who pick up bio-hazard waste that never noticed needles in the sharpy box should be imprisoned for LIFE and have all their assets donated to the families that are affected by this tragedy. If this were China, they would be publicly EXECUTED. I hope one of these poor patients gets their revenge and murders these bastards - I know I would if they infected me.

Monday, March 24, 2008

RFID enabled e-Passports

The future of America scares me. Why? Because technology is allowing "Big Brother" to become more of a reality as each day passes. Governments are power and money hungry conglomerates. What government wouldn't want complete control over its people (or the world for that matter with America)? And even if the collective governmental society "has your best interests in mind," there will still be those who will be willing to abuse power for their own nefarious gain. Enemy of the State could one day be your reality.

Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) chips are leading the revolution for personal spying. They are now really cheap to produce and can be easily hidden anywhere. These chips can be used for tracking people or items, as Wal-Mart does for all of their inventory.

For a government to have complete power, the second-to-last step would be knowing where you are at all times (being able to control you would be the absolute last step). When RFID enabled National Real ID cards come into existence, that step will be complete. Usually changes come in small waves, however. Governments want to make changes slowly so that you barely notice the taking away of your privacy, rights and liberties. This is known as the Foot-in-the-Door Technique. Also, here in America, the people acquiesce when the word "terrorist" is used somewhere in the propaganda literature, so one can expect more of those citations.

So here comes the new e-Passport. The new e-Passport, issued since Jan 2007, includes a RFID chip that essentially broadcasts your personal information up to 200 feet, given the proper equipment. The government claims that it added RFID in order to make it harder for one to make counterfeit passports, but then why not replace the broadcasting RFID chip with a smart-chip that requires a contact plate to physically touch a machine reader? Or they could have used a 2D optical bar code for extra verification.

As an American, you should be concerned about having a RFID chip in your passport. It is just not safe to run around broadcasting information especially in foreign lands. Someone can pinpoint you out of a crowd as an American. This makes you a target for kidnapping or an explosive device. It is not difficult to build a skimmer as some have done it for under $50. The government originally wasn't even going to include "security features," such as encryption, on the original design until some security groups raised concerns. I put that in quotes because those security features aren't even that that secure, as hackers have already cracked them.

Take the radio shield for instance. It must be completely closed for it to be effective, but have you ever even seen a passport that closed all the way? When mine arrived brand new, it would open about an inch. Unless the average American deliberately takes steps to keep it closed all the time, the "shield" is effectively nullified as shown in numerous YouTube videos. Most Americans probably aren't even aware that the microchip is embedded in their passport and will probably just throw it into their backpack or pocket where it will be exposed in its vulnerable state. And anyway, does it really make sense to include a transmitter and then add "protection" against transmitting? This is like adding bricks to the trunk of a corvette. "Earth to [the] State Department: if you're going to manually scan our passports, why bother using RFID?", says the author of I think he raises a good point.

I'm a huge privacy activist. I don't want people knowing who I am, where I am, or even what I am. I could be a giant meat popsicle and I wouldn't want you to know. I don't even like the fact that the government will scan my passport through their system and inquire as to what I was doing there. As far as I'm concerned, what I do and where I go is none of your business! If I don't have a block of C4 in my luggage, f*** off!

Let's face it, governments and private corporations alike are very bad with security of personal information (e.g lots of laptops containing this sensitive material get lost or stolen). And since the government is so concerned about the security of your information, apparently all it takes is a low level contractor to dig up your business. That's cute.

The good news is that if the RFID chip suddenly stops working, the passport is still a valid worldwide travel document.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Voting Sheep Go "Baaaah"

You ever get the feeling that voters don't know what they are talking about or why they are supporting their candidate? Plenty often the reason boils down some emotional concept such as the personal association of race or gender. It is so stupid to vote for a candidate because with the voter they share the same race, gender, religion, hair color, name, alma mater, organization, or whatever, but people do it all the time. It should come down to the issues that one agrees with.

A man armed with a video camera decided to go to a crowded area in LA where Obama, Hillary, and McCain supporters were in excess supply. He approached people carrying political signs and put them on the spot with direct and pointed questions. Some people are able to answer, but others fold, give up and then walk away.

One woman claims to be voting for Hillary because she is a woman. That is about all she is able to give for a reason.

Another Hillary supporter bases his decision to support Hillary because his union does. Translation: "Baaaah."

Obama supporters are in a class all by themselves. Do you ever get the feeling that Obama supporters are reading from the same script? You constantly hear the same vacuous statements, such as:

Obama is going to lead to change in America.
Obama is going to unite the people.
Obama is less partisan than Hillary.

Baaaah Baaaah Baaaah.

Or they constantly make flat out inaccurate statements, such as claiming Obama has more political experience than Hillary or McCain. Uh, yeah right.

In one of these LA videos, some guy starts talking about how Obama will liberate the people and end slavery. When the camera man presses him, he just walks away. Which country is this guy talking about? Darfur?

Obama supporters so attached to the "change" slogan keep repeating the same "arguments" without premises to back them up. I don't think Hillary has the same kind of following with an emotional keyword leading to the same statements, but if you can think of some empty phrases that you keep hearing, please add a comment.

Friday, March 14, 2008

No Checks and No Balances

Bush and Co.: "What, warrants? Why would we want those? Those are just going to slow us down in the War-Against-Terror."
Typical American: "Rights? We don't need rights if it stops the terrorists! Freedom's not free!"

W wants an immunity provision in a bill that will protect telecommunication companies against being sued for freely giving up information to authorities without warrants. This should not be allowed! If you decide to break the current law, then you should reap the consequences of breaking that law. If you change the law later, you still broke the law when it was a law!

Of course everyday it would seem as if America is getting farther and farther away from what the Founding Fathers had intended for this country. The Bill Of Rights and other laws protecting you and me were implemented for good reason. But after the terrorist attack of Sept 11, 2001, Americans will freely give up their rights without question in the name of national security. National spying is okay now. Rendition is okay. Torture is okay, even though the "United States does not commit torture." Searching your house without you even knowing about it is acceptable (Hey, they don't leave a mess, right?).

The government thinks their own laws do not apply to them. This is a very dangerous thing to have happen in a supposedly free country. The FBI has abused and probably still does abuse national security request letters. Sometimes they would try to get a warrant, but other times why bother? If their request was denied by a judge, they thought, "Let's do it anyway." You can't just sideswipe civil liberties whenever you feel like it. But Americans are okay with this if the T-bomb (yes, I did) is thrown around. If you don't see something inherently wrong with governmental abuse of power, then you are a typical dumb American sheep. This kind of abuse of power leads to very bad things. I'll let your imagination run wild.

Now usually when polarized issues like this get discussed, the George Orwellian counter-argument shows up: "Well if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear." Whenever I hear this neo-con crap, it makes me want to puke. Tell you what, give me a key to your house, because I will gladly poke around and invade your privacy. I don't care how clean you are, I will find something you wouldn't want me to see after going through your financial records, phone calls, and computer files. Care to take this challenge?

More arguments against the "nothing to hide or fear" statement can be found here and here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Obama Again

Sorry about all the Obama posts going on, but this is a big issue right now. I checked his website again today and I noticed a stark difference from when I checked it a few months ago. Has anyone else noticed that Obama has trimmed down references to uplifting minorities and "expanding diversity?" I must have counted at least 30 references the last time I checked, but now I can only find about 5.

Obama's Black Success

I strongly agree with those who claim that Barack Obama would not have even gotten this far if he were white. However, it is not politically correct to make a statement like that and the 'racist' label gets thrown around as Ferraro found out. Granted, Obama is a great speaker. I do agree with that. But let's look at the facts:

-Most blacks are voting for Obama, just because he is black. Because of this he can easily secure votes for large percentages of the populous without even having to sell them! You can guess who will win the southern states. Millions of black people, who have never had a care in the world about their political leaders and have never voted ever before in their lives, are signing up in droves to vote for him. If he were white, this would not be happening.

-He is running on this campaign of "change." It sounds like a nice idea, but what is going to change? The skin color of the president and more affirmative action (an objective of his according to his website)? Yeah, I agree, change sounds great. The very word invokes thoughts of newness, curbing of corruption, ending political earmarks that cost taxpayers billions, national healthcare, lower taxes and other fancifully ideas. But has he explicitly even said what is going to be so different from the other candidates? I urge you to analyze his speeches and debates and watch him give vacuous responses to questions. He is using the word to invoke favorable feelings for voters and having a different skin color gives his statement of change 'credibility' because having the first black president is a big change! If a white candidate tried to pull the "change campaign," people would scoff and say, "Yeah right."

-Because he is black and running on a campaign of "change", voters will overlook a lot of important points. He has only been a senator for 3 years. Hillary has been for 7, was the first lady for 8, and was a consumer lobbyist for more than a decade. Hillary has the most political experience! If this guy were white, people would be flag-waving his lack of experience like Kerry did to Edwards in 2004. Republicans, like the President, will be silent about this until he wins the nomination, then they will smash and bash. Wouldn't you want the weaker candidate to win the nomination of your competition?

Obama Mania

I have been noticing over this political season that the media completely slams Hillary, but barely says anything negative about Obama. I thought it was just me, but I have heard the same viewpoint from others. This seems especially evident on CNN. It is like some politically correct way of reporting on the candidates because Obama is "black" and it is racist to say anything bad about a black man, or something. While reading an article by a black commentator about throwing away Florida's and Michigan's votes, I came across an interesting comment by Steve Dumford that raises some points:

Of course CNN would decide to highlight a commentary that is essentially pro-Obama. Obama is not interested in the people of Michigan and Florida being heard because both states were won by Hillary. Obamas name was on the Michigan ballot and he decided to take it off....probably thinking that if this question about seating their delegates came up he could cry foul and say his name wasn't even on the ballot. He did run a campaign ad in Florida but said he didn't campaign there. Media bias in this primary is absolutely astounding. CNN can't run a story about Hillary without putting it in a negative context and can't run a story about Obama without slobbering all over the place. So they decide to highlight a commentary by a black commentator that essentially takes the position that, in the end , would benefit Obama. Two major commentators on MSNBC made outrageous sexist statements about Hillary and one had to apologize and the other was suspended. Why isn't thaere any attention being paid to the fact that in state after state a huge majority of black voters go for Obama just because he is black. If the situation were reversed you wouldn't ever hear the end od the cries of racism. Bill and Hillary Clinton have championed black minority issues all their elected lives. Seat the delegates from Florida and Michigan. Why were really ever discounted in the first place?

The truth of the matter is, that if Obama had won both of those states, the same commentator would have taken a polar opposite position and would be up in arms about how the voters have been silenced!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Who ya Gonna Believe?

Everyone has an opinion. Here's two articles about health care reform that stroke the cat in opposite directions.

Article 1

Article 2

Friday, March 7, 2008

Florida and Michigan

As you may know, Florida and Michigan were stripped of their delegates for holding their primaries earlier than they were supposed to. It seemed that every damn state wanted to be first in line. So what's a voter to do? The state announces that the primary is on day X. First off, considering that delegates and super-delegates are only now beginning to be understood by the general public, the majority of voters probably didn't even know that the primary was too early and violated party rules. And even if a voter did, what is he or she going to say, "No, I'm not going to vote on day X because it violates party rules?" The state said that the primary was on day X, and so voters showed up to vote - it's as simple as that.

So, my question is, why punish the voters? The voters were not the ones who made the decision to hold the primaries early, the state's political leaders were. Why are you going to silence 2 million voters for something that is not even their fault? And for that matter, why punish the candidates (namely Hillary in this case)? Was it Hillary's decision to hold the Florida and Michigan primaries early? No.

You hear all this talk about how Obama is in the lead with total votes and delegates, but they aren't factoring in that additional 600,000 who voted for Hillary in those two states and the majority of the 366 delegates who would have been awarded to her.

Anyway, is anything fundamentally changed if the date of the primary is different than what is 'allowed'? I mean come on. The voters have spoken.