Results tagged ‘ Health Care ’

The Filibuster

Obama/Biden is hardly the Cabrera/Fielder combination it once was.  Should the president drop Joe?

Aaron T.
Woodbridge, VA

________________________

Apparently the VP’s comments about the big banks putting “y’all back in chains” under a Romney administration have set off a firestorm of criticism.  Of course the Romney campaign indignantly declared this a new low in an election that will surely reach entirely new lows over the next few months.  But if you take a step back, none of this should really come as a surprise.  It’s just Biden being Biden.

Anyone who follows politics knows that Joe Biden is a walking gaffe machine.  I mean, this is the man who famously referred to the future President as “articulate and bright and clean.”  At least this time he’s pointing his rhetorical weapons of mass destruction at the other side.  And let’s be honest here, that’s part of the reason why Obama brought him on board as VP in the first place.  It’s also one of the reasons why there’s absolutely no reason for the President to drop him now.

Honestly, Biden’s moment last week was a godsend for the Obama campaign.  It followed news of the Paul Ryan pick, a moment that was supposed to change the election debate to matters of the economy and the budget.  Instead, the press and everyone else is talking about Biden’s statement.  Add in that it fires up an important part of the Democratic base, black Americans, and I really don’t see where this is hurting the Obama campaign at all.  Biden’s “gaffes” often serve to humanize both him and the President he serves.  They also give the campaign a way to say something while still claiming plausible deniability.  “Hey, we didn’t ask him to say that.  That’s just Biden being Biden.  However, now that you mention it….”  Sounds like a winning strategy to me.

More than that, though, Obama has no desire to get rid of Biden because Biden is the guy who turns the Obama strategy into reality.  You think the Affordable Care Act gets passed without Biden making calls and twisting arms?  You think “Don’t ask, don’t tell” gets repealed without Joe putting in some face time?  Sure, sometimes he may force the President’s hand, like with his comments on gay marriage, but is that such a bad thing?  Here’s an even better analogy.  Biden is COO to Obama’s CEO.  And trust me, being CEO without an effective COO is a painful proposition.  Just ask George HW Bush about that one.

Should Obama drop Joe?  Hell no.

-A

And Upon Further Review…

In football, instant replay makes sense.  Even with a team of seven officials covering each play, sometimes you just can’t be in the right place at the right time to make the right call when 22 guys are flying around at super-human speeds.  What’s more amazing is how often they get the call right despite those circumstances.  When it’s unclear whether or not they get it right, though, instant replay is there to confirm or overturn the call.  The game goes on.

Reviewing close plays in baseball is a little more contentious.  Generally I’m in favor of the evolution of the game, especially in contrast to my friend, Mr. Lung, who would prefer that all baseball players wear wool uniforms and be issued a chaw of chewing tobacco prior to the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.  But official review is one place where I’m not so sure.

The problem is, baseball is already a slow-paced game.  If you open it up to review, even that flow gets messed up.  Even the limited official review capacity that now exists for home runs seems ridiculous.  Either you make all plays reviewable or none at all.  Honestly, although I’m all for baseball’s future facing development, review is not an area where I think that makes sense.

Review does make sense in the American Democratic system, though.  Last week’s Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act proved that.  More surprisingly, John Roberts showed himself to be a model Chief Justice in his Constitutional application and limited justification in the majority opinion.  For me, it’s telling that although most Republicans are angry that the law was upheld, they’re not angry at Justice Roberts.  In fact, he basically made it clear in his decision that although he may not agree with the policy aspects of the law, that it met the necessary threshold to be held constitutional.

That’s one of the beautiful things about our sometimes maddening and often baffling system of government.  Laws get checked at three points by three different bodies and only after that process runs it course does the law go into effect.  Granted, the application of the same system to baseball would mean that individual games could continue indefinitely but that’s why the choice of arbiter is so important.  The Supreme Court doesn’t hear every single case that comes up through the courts or face challenges to every single law passed by Congress.  It only deals with the game-changers, events that can redefine precedent or application or laws that are unclear.

Football is similar.  Coaches choose when to throw the challenge flag and generally save it for events that are unclear, that could change the complexion of the game or that seem completely erroneous to them.  They don’t always win but they at least have the option to challenge the initial ruling.

That’s one of the big areas where review in baseball fails.  Yes, it’s not awful to review homeruns to make sure they were fair or be absolutely certain that a fan didn’t interfere.  I’m sure there are quite a few Baltimore Orioles fans who wish that review had been in place in the 90′s.  But what about that phantom final out of Armando Gallaraga’s almost perfect game?  If Leyland had been able to challenge the ruling, Gallaraga would have had the mark and we wouldn’t still be talking about it.  But, if you start making plays like that reviewable, it’s not long before you have to start making called strikes, check-swings and everything else reviewable, too.  The fact of the matter is, it just isn’t feasible and if you can’t do it right, you shouldn’t be doing it all.

Here’s how I’d call it.  Review: good for football, great for government but bad for baseball.

-A

Great Scott! -or- Why I Support the Individual Mandate

The idea behind insurance is that you pay a premium and if things go pear-shaped, there’s a safety net there to catch you.  It may not pay everything but it will pay enough that you won’t be ruined.  This is true for vehicles, this is true for health care and this is true for the guy who got his crotch insured.

The thing about insurance is that it works best with larger economies of scale.  Sure, there are the one-off specialty policies for Bruce Springsteen’s voice or Tina Turner’s legs but the vast majority of insurance policies cover things like health care or vehicle damage.  The larger the pot, the lower your premium because the risk gets spread out.  That’s why Obama made the “individual mandate” the centerpiece of his health care legislation.

For me, this is the most frustrating aspect of the legal challenge to the legislation.  The main challenge lies in the interpretation of the Commerce clause of the Constitution but, like many clauses in the Constitution, this can and has been interpreted many different ways.  Pretty much it just depends on how the Court feels the day it votes. And if the court is feeling especially conservative the day it decides this portion of the case, the “individual mandate” disappears.

The problem with the mandate disappearing is that the young and the stupid who think that they are invincible no longer have any pressure to purchase insurance, shrinking the pot.  This has two effects.  Number one, the pot now contains a greater percentage of people with existing or possible health problems meaning the risk has gone up and the premiums along with it.  The second problem is that when one of these young and stupid people ends up in the hospital, the system is forced to eat the costs because they didn’t have insurance.  What that really means is that your premiums go up again because the cost of that hospital stay has to be payed by someone.

Like it or not, the law evolves.  Prohibition came and went.  The Dred Scott decision embarrassed the nation and then was rectified by the 14th Amendment.  The point is, it’s a living thing and has to be to cope with the realities of a new era.  Baseball did away with the dead ball era, expanded multiple times and even now finds ways to adapt to new conditions.  The law does the same as social mores change and our needs evolve.  Right now, we need a health insurance system that works and until you can show me a viable option, the individual mandate is the only realistic path.

The Court’s decision is still weeks away and the debate is not going to die out anytime soon.  I don’t expect the mandate to survive but as health care costs continue to spin out of control, that decision may end up coming back to haunt the Roberts’ Court like Dred Scott did Justice Taney.  Meanwhile, the rest of us might just have to check in with The Boss and see how we can go about insuring at least a body part or two.

-A

Setting the Mahmud

RSBS Special Correspondent and Podcast uber-stentor, Mr. Johanna Mahmud reports:

[Lennie] said gently, “George… I ain’t got mine. I musta lost it.” He looked down at the ground in despair.

Is Jim Hendry Lennie? Is Tom Rickketts? Or am I?

My dear little Cubs… so cute… so adorable. I just want to pet you and stroke you and love you… and pretty pretty pretty rabbits… DONT MAKE ME RIP YOUR HEAD OFF!!!!!

Pet the rabbit. Pretty rabbit. Snap the rabbit’s neck and do odd things to the stable boy while you’re at it.

This isn’t love.  This is obsession.

Why did he give out such terrible contracts? That’s a lot of money for crazy people.

This monstrosity is Hendry’s lasting legacy on a life wasted in futility. Thanks a lot, Jim.

What I would give for some stoicism on this team. There’s no leader from top to bottom of this rotting corpse of a franchise. There will be no Pujols. There will be no Prince.

AA meetings feel like a Las Vegas night club compared to the atmosphere of this dogged out team.  I’m going to water seal my deck now and then auto-erotic asphyxiate without touching myself. Too much work. SEX WITH A LAWNMOWER.

After Carlos Zambrano’s latest outburst of craptitude, it’s obvious even the manager can’t do anything about this self imploding behemoth.

And Quade is Bruce Kimm with better hair. “Well I guess they’ll figure it out, and we’ll try and win games and stuff kinda?…” After Z’s comments, Quade said he’d let his teammates deal with it. WOW. He couldn’t control the team’s play at all or improve it, but now it’s obvious he has no control over the players either.

Z is no leader*. His teammates HATE him. He’s a grandstander and a fraud.

You know what? Just say we stink. Don’t call out your fellow players for throwing the “wrong” pitch. Pitch selection is being questioned? Unbelievable.

“Theriot can’t hit a fastball well.” Except if Marmol throws a better slider, Theriot is out.

“We stinks” [sic] was the only worthwhile and (entertaining) thing Z said.

People who like what Carlos did, hey, are you out of your damn fool minds?!? Its b.s.  It might make the fans feel better, but it ain’t gonna do jack.

Z will waive his no trade clause, but it doesn’t matter.

The Cubs’ primed days are over. No farm system. Just beat me sadistically so my brain goes to sleep until the NBA season starts again in… January??? (gahhhhhhh!!!!!)

I would love to hear Z’s thoughts on other problematic issues like… Paul Revere: “What are you doing running around with that green lantern Paul?”  The Japanese nuclear plant issues? “That’s not the concrete pump I would have used.”   Health care reform bill?  “Yea? Well your death panel sucks.”

The team is in a total free fall. The best thing Tom Ricketts can do is be one of us. But he has pissed it all away by scuttling the true point that the team sucks and injuries aren’t the only problem.

Suspend Zambrano???

How about hiring a president that knows how to hire a real GM.

Good afternoon, real “Cubs” fan Colonel Ricketts. What’s you’re fricking plan?? It’s impossible to build without a farm. And no money. So… either borrow more money from Daddy Warbucks or do a little research and get a real living person who knows how to run a baseball team.

–Johanna Mahmud

*I have a screen grab of Carlos Zambrano’s face I wanted to include here as one of the photos; unfortunately I was naked and some/most of me is also in the picture.

Winning One for the Gipper

obama_cool_again.jpgThe only thing worse than supporting a team that loses all the time is supporting a team that doesn’t even put up a fight.  I’m fairly open about the fact that I’m a Lions fan and as anyone who watches football knows, that’s a painful cross to bear.  But a couple years ago, when they set a modern record for futility in losing every single game, they at least put up a fight. The seasons where they went 2-14 and, despite winning a couple games, it was obvious they just didn’t care, that was much worse.  Honestly, I’ll take 0-16 over that any day.

This is why it’s also frustrating to follow US politics.  It’s not so much seeing the democrats flounder away the high ground in all this budget mess or even seeing the republicans bully their way back into control of the House.  It’s the absolute lack of fight in the democrats.  Sure, there’s some occasional posturing but even that only serves to remind me of this:

I’m sure there are multiple reasons for this.  Ok, not so much for the Pakistani boxer but for the democrats inability to stand up for themselves.  According to one study, democrats systemically favor compromise.  Honestly, that’s all right.  That’s how government happens.  But there’s a difference between compromising to keep the government running and compromising your basic principles.

Last year democrats finally showed some cojones when they jammed through the health care overhaul.  They looked for compromise, they worked with their republican colleagues to come up with something that both sides could appreciate but at the end of the day, they finally made a stand.  For that we can thank Obama.

And that’s the one thing that gives me hope in the current mess.  Sure, the democrats lost control of the House.  Yes, the republicans claim that they won’t stop pushing until health care is repealed and the US becomes some sort of Ayn Rand themed fantasy-land.  But like the health care debate, democrats only seem to find their backbone when Obama enters the fracas.  If recent microphone “slips” can be believed, it looks like the president might getting ready to once again ride that snake.

You know, I could deal with the Lions going 0-16.  At the end of the day, football isn’t life and death.  I don’t accept the democrats going 0-16 or even 2-14, though.  I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that Obama gets his colleagues to realize it’s time to win one for the Gipper.

-A

Let’s Leave Carrie Out of It, Shall We?

sexy carrie underwood.jpgThere is no question: walk-up music is power. 

Oh, don’t pretend like you haven’t thought about what your walk-up music would be.  Me?  Depends on the mood, but right now it’d be the first few bars of Cats, Van, Bags, or anything by Slayer.

For others, it may be something more tributary.  I fondly remember getting out of my seat and dancing every time Eli Marrero came to the plate with his uptempo salsa music blasting the stadium.  And how could I forget my first Adam Dunn walk-up?  Allen was there with me.  We were both in awe by his slow Phil Collins inspired saunter!

But I just plain don’t like it when politicians try to adopt songs from pop culture.  I didn’t like Bill Clinton’s use of what was once a great Fleetwood Mac song (mostly because of how it affected Al and Tipper, which subsequently made me throw up in my mouth, a lot) and I am not very fond of the current GOP’s outlandish claim to the Carrie Underwood song “Undo It”.

Undo what?

Health care?

Um…

Hold on a sec…

* * *

Okay, I’m back.  I had to go break some s***.

Undo it!?!?!?!?  How about you undo the notion that the previous band of politicians wasn’t fairly elected to make some big @ssed decisions that we — the friggin PEOPLE — asked them to make.

This whole running a country thing… it isn’t a game.  It’s not something to be taken lightly.  So I propose that the new majority spend less time thinking about what they want their walk-up music to be, and more time finding out how to pay for health care; because I think I broke my hand a minute ago breaking some s*** and now I need to go to Urgent Care.

Also, Carrie Underwood is too damn sexy to be associated with… Glenn Beck.

Ew.

Hate me.  I don’t care.  Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

The Hand Skills Game

selig_umps_allstar.jpgFor a blog that purports to cover baseball and politics, we have been sadly remiss in following up on the great health care debate.  Sure, we paid attention as the package finally came to a vote and at least mentioned the outcome.  But what do we really think?

Well, these things take time to ponder.  And considering that this debate has been going on since at least WWII, the couple weeks we took to think it through isn’t so bad.  It’s an interesting bill especially because no one is really happy.  It’s the Congressional equivalent of the 2002 All-Star Game.  There were triumphant moments, there were awful moments and, in the end, everyone left just kind of feeling a little empty.  The left thinks it didn’t go far enough and the right thinks it’s Armageddon.  So what’s the truth?

I could try and explain the positives and negatives of the bill in my own words but Frank Rich already nailed the essence of what I could say in a column from a few weeks ago.  And since there’s not a whole lot I can add to that, let me just say this.  Whether you like the bill or not, this is a huge victory for Obama.  The Republicans can stake the 2010 midterms on their opposition to the bill and their intentions to repeal it but how are you going to explain that you want to reinstate language for pre-existing conditions into health coverage?  Because, let’s be honest, that’s what the debate is going to boil down to. 

Perhaps it would be easier if I could represent Obama’s victory to you in a more visual manner.  So, maybe this will help.  Pretend that the guy making the video is President Obama and Enton Gill is the Congressional Republicans.  Watch the video and you’ll see what I mean:

I imagine the Republicans will have a similar reaction when they finally open their eyes.

-A

RSBS Presents: Black Holes

black-hole-galaxy.jpgOne of the most peculiar realms of science is understanding what exactly goes on inside of a black hole (and no, folks, we ain’t talkin’ about the vile emitting from Milton Bradley’s mouth).  Widely understood as a “deformation of spacetime caused by a very compact mass” — an area from which nothing can escape the immense gravitational pull of its centerblack holes are like the underground club scene of the cosmos: all kinds of weird s*** can happen… and does!

To me, the most interesting aspect of a black hole lies at its very center, past the event horizon, down the rabbit hole, settling on an infinitesimal point known as the singularity.  If you were unfortunate enough to be sucked into a black hole and lucky enough to survive the trip down its core, by the time you reached the singularity you would surely be a shredded mess, the result of being filleted by the strongest forces theorized by the human mind.

But boy would it be an exciting death!

The oddest thing about the singularity is that once we start working in and around that point, we realize that the laws of physics become completely erroneous and unnecessary.  That’s right, dear readers, when you get to the singularity, Einstein’s theory of general relativity makes no sense at all.

And while black holes and their singularities may be intangible to us from our terrestrial vantage point, if you look around you today you will see all sorts of things that could cause one to think we may be close to such a singularity — a place where what we see is so shocking, so odd, so perplexing that it just doesn’t make sense…

The Good Guys Win: Joe Mauer
Twins fans were so afraid they would lose their hometown hero to the evil chops of the Yankees and the Yankees 2.0 that doomsday scenarios and flat-out decrees of apostasy had already been accepted as fact.  But in the end, the Twins had to sign Joe — for the sake of their new stadium and for the sake of their fans.  And they did, for a very reasonable price.  Oh, and by the way, the Twins are not a small-market team, so this situation is getting even more black-holish by the minute!

nancy.pelosi.jpgLiberal US Americans Actually Accomplish Something
After eight long years of maddening sound bytes, phantom wars against phantom enemies for phantom purposes and an all-out assault on reason, the liberal majority in the House got together and passed a health care bill that might actually work.  Oh yeah, sure, not everyone is happy about it and the most concerning aspect is how we’re going to pay for it; but, in my opinion, the sheer fact that you won’t be financially punished for being sick anymore indicates a huge step forward.  And besides, since when do US Americans care about national debt?  Here, in the great state of Illinois, for as long as I can remember, the political machine has been borrowing money from the FUTURE to pay for current projects.  I hear that Illinois is rich in the future, so I’m gonna see if I can get in on that too.  I need a Lamborghini.

Exciting News Out of Cincinnati Reds Camp
You have to go back quite a few years to find anything worth anticipating from the Reds in March, but this year is different.  Under the wise hand of former Cardinal front office legend Walt Jocketty, Cincinnati signed Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman during the offseason, hoping he would live up to his international hype.  And boy does he!  Thought by many to be an ace-caliber pitcher going into this season, Reds fans have a whole lot to be excited about for a change… of course, that is… until Dusty Baker blows out his arm and ruins his career.

Forever.

Hate me ‘cuz I test the limits of physics, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

Predator(s)

predator alien.jpgI didn’t think it was possible to make a better Predator film than the first, but then I saw the trailer for the latest incarnation and I got that same tingly feeling I get from watching that Smoltz-Morris World Series match-up from 1991 — a game that has a strong argument to be labeled the greatest post-season baseball game ever played.

Like Chris Hansen is the greatest on-air predator-catching person in the history of investigative television…

And Manny Ramirez is the most prolific ballplayer with Predator roots (he’s only 2/3 human) as I pointed out nearly a year ago today…

Sure.  I’ve got Predators on the mind.  But I know I’m not alone. 

And though this post doesn’t have much to do with politics (we’re getting health care I heard) nor baseball save the Manny reference, it is important that I prove to you that I am not alone, by showing you an even better version of “American Gothic” than the original “American Gothic”:

american predator gothic.jpgSee.  Now, aren’t ya glad you read this today?

Exactly.

So don’t hate me, ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

(Image courtesy of B3TA)

The Filibuster

You guys talk a lot about baseball and politics.  What do you think
will happen first, national health care or the Pirates having a winning
season?

Beth
Allentown, PA
____________________________________

dead pirate parrot.jpgEureka!  This is proof that dear readers galore are finally playing to our strengths here at RSBS, so even if your baseball team (or your government) does fail you, know that RSBS will always have your back (unless we’re busy doing something else, of course).  I, personally, love taking below-the-belt hacks at the lowly likes of Pittsburgh’s not-so-finest, so I am delighted that our friend Beth here from Allentown, PA was willing to groove one right down the middle, in my proverbial wheelhouse.

Because this one is almost too easy:

We, the people of US America, will most certainly have a nationwide public option health care system set up before we ever see the Pittsburgh Pirates finish a season with a winning record. 

Sorry, folks, but it’s just true.

Have you been paying attention to what the Bucs have been doing the last ten years?

No, of course not.  Why would you? 

I assure you, dear readers, no other team relishes in arbitrary head scratching more than the Pittsburgh Pirates — a team caught in the perennial chaos of “rebuilding” — a rebuilding that is always abandoned before any plus remnants of said rebuilding can be seen, only to be followed up with more rebuilding in moves that still don’t make sense.

Here is but a shortlist of brain-busting Bucco moves from recent memory:

  • Signing Akinori Iwamura
  • Dumping Nate McClouth (they did get McCutchen up quick because of this deal, but look for them to screw this up too)
  • The Aramis Ramirez & Kenny Lofton for Bobby Hill, Jose Hernandez and Matt Bruback trade
  • Drafting Bryan Bullington and passing on Prince Fielder, BJ Upton and Scott Kazmir
  • Signing Derek Bell
  • Paying Jason Kendall $10 million a year for SIX YEARS!
  • Signing Raul Mondesi
  • Drafting John Van Benschoten over David Wright
  • Cutting Bronson Arroyo
  • Picking up Matt Morris’ contract (worth $13 million)

This is just an abbreviated list; the full record of crimes against baseball committed by the Pirates’ front office are too many to present here.  But I can tell you this: it will take an awful long time before such atrocities are remedied with the results of a winning season.  I have no doubt about that.

But what about national health care, you ask?  House Leader Nancy Pelosi says lawmakers are on the “verge of making history” with the strong possibility of a public option becoming a reality… very soon.  Of course, they don’t say when, or how, considering the staunch stance of Republicans and soft Democrats blocking the way.  So what are we supposed to make of this?

Look, I admit, the Democratic party has certainly had its share of Pittsburgh Pirate-like moments over the years.  How else can one explain the incompetence of John Kerry and the loss of Ted Kennedy’s senate seat?  But that doesn’t mean all hope is gone.  Behind this political push to join the rest of civilized nations we do have a clear and just motive:

To stop penalizing people for getting sick.

As long as this continues to happen, I have a hard time believing in my country.  This was my main concern when I went to the polls in 2008.  The Obama Administration — while obviously not gifted with super powers like election propaganda may have led us to believe — has tackled this issue and tackled it hard. 

And it can only get better from here… I think.

So hate me ‘cuz I still tout liberal ideals, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right about the Pirates continuing to suck.

Peace,

Jeff

(Image courtesy of Rum Bunter)

***SEND US YOUR FILIBUSTERS****

Something on your mind?  Want to see Jeff and Al sweat (separately, not together, eww)?  Think you got a real stumper?  Send us your Filibuster question(s) by commenting or emailing them to us at kraulung@gmail.com. 

***Promotional materials relating to the Official Church of Pujols also welcome.


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