Monday, August 31, 2009

Who Do These Congress People Think They Are? Citizens Dissed in NH

New Hampshire Rep Carol Shea-Porter, who made her name as an anti-war activist, stuck it to her constituents big time at her town hall meeting (if you could call it that), this weekend.



Then she had a retired NYC patrol officer thrown out for "challenging the presence of union enforcers" in the room:



And then she taunted the retired officer on his way out.

Nice work, lady. I wonder how much longer the citizens of New Hampshire are planning to pay for your salary and luxury health-care benefits.

Live free or die.


Hat tip: American Power.
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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Health & Tax Privacy: Gone for Good Under Gov't Health Care Takeover

Thought the Bill of Rights protected your privacy? In the Obama Nation?

You may not be aware of it, but the $838 billion so-called "stimulus" bill, rushed through Congress without a reading, mandated the publication of every American's medical records to the national "electronic health record." In practice, that means our health records will be turned over--without our consent--to more than 600,000 covered entities, plus their employees. (And we were assured that bill was about the economy.)

Now HR 3200, if passed, will mandate that the IRS give out whatever information regulators desire about every American's tax records. Thanks to Declan McCullagh at CBS for the following heads-up:
Section 431(a) of the bill says that the IRS must divulge taxpayer identity information, including the filing status, the modified adjusted gross income, the number of dependents, and "other information as is prescribed by" regulation. That information will be provided to the new Health Choices Commissioner and state health programs and used to determine who qualifies for "affordability credits."

Section 245(b)(2)(A) says the IRS must divulge tax return details -- there's no specified limit on what's available or unavailable -- to the Health Choices Commissioner. The purpose, again, is to verify "affordability credits."
Think you can protect your tax information by not signing up for Gov't Health Care? No such luck. The government wants everybody's tax information, just in case some people don't apply for Gov't Care.
Section 1801(a) says that the Social Security Administration can obtain tax return data on anyone who may be eligible for a "low-income prescription drug subsidy" but has not applied for it.
I have no idea how this mandate will apply to the people who currently don't have to file income tax forms because their incomes are too low for the IRS to bother with. Maybe they'll have to start filing, for their own good, of course.
Over at the Institute for Policy Innovation (a free-market think tank and presumably no fan of Obamacare), Tom Giovanetti argues that: "How many thousands of federal employees will have access to your records? The privacy of your health records will be only as good as the most nosy, most dishonest and most malcontented federal employee.... So say good-bye to privacy from the federal government. It was fun while it lasted for 233 years.
Question: With hundreds of thousands of government agencies and, obviously, millions of their employees and contractors' employees having access to every American's identity, medical, and tax records, how many laptops will hold big chunks of that information? How many of those laptops will be lost or stolen?

Question: If a health care entity outsources its record keeping to a firm in, say, India, does that mean our individual health and tax records (including social security numbers) will become available for international phishing expeditions, not just the domestic kind?

Question: What if community organizations like ACORN are enlisted to help people apply for or receive medical services? How deep into our general population will the information get?

Not so long ago, Democrats demanded, to a chorus of weeping and gnashing of teeth, that Americans respect the privacy of likely or known terrorists communicating with likely or known terrorists abroad. Result: the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court located in Washington, D.C. reviews any such privacy intrusions before they happen to determine their necessity.

But what about protecting the preference of mere U.S. citizens to give or withhold their consent for widespread government sharing of their most private and personal information, information that could easily end up being used for sinister non-medical reasons like, say, identity theft, not to mention political intrigue?

So far I haven't detected even one Democrat's crocodile tear. What are American Democrats thinking?
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Friday, August 28, 2009

Obamanomics: Union Handed Control of Federal Bank

Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.

- Milton Friedman

Back in December, Time asked: "Will Obama Deliver for Organized Labor?"

I'd say they should have their answer by now.

From Investors Business Daily:

The New York Fed is the primus inter pares, the first among equals, of all the Fed banks. It is the bank that executes the Fed board's will in the marketplace. It is the on-site regulator of Wall Street, playing, as its Web site says, "a leadership role in monetary policy, financial supervision and the payments system." Now it's headed by a union shill.

Surprised?

[Denis Hughes, president of the AFL-CIO in New York] has no significant finance experience. Nor does his educational background — "Brother Hughes," as the AFL-CIO's Web site calls him, has a B.S. degree from the Harry Van Arsdale School of Labor Studies at Empire State College — reassure us.

Of greater concern is his career as a bought-and-paid-for union official and political operative. The New York Fed chairmanship is hardly a place for a person whose entire career has been spent fighting and strong-arming the very people he'll now be regulating.

As American Thinker editor Ed Lasky put it, Hughes is someone "who may be more schooled in extracting concessions from corporate America than the intricacies of high finance."

[snip]

Putting this key Fed bank in the hands of a person whose experience suggests a bred-in-the-bone hostility to capitalism strikes us as bizarre at best and dangerous at worst. And it bears the unmistakable imprint of the White House. Just last week we wrote about plans to elevate former United Steelworkers adviser Ron Bloom from head of the auto task force to "industrial policy czar."

Putting so many union people in powerful positions of economic policymaking is a recipe for disaster. Since 1955, the share of the workers belonging to unions has plunged from 33% to about 11%. Still, though increasingly unpopular, unions have helped wreck two major industries: autos and steel. Not much of a track record.

But now, through politics, unions are getting rewarded with control of the economy — a very bad omen for American capitalism.


Did you pay your union dues today?

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Sick Truth V: Medical Technology Under Gov't Health Care

Congress has cloaked the proposed workings of the government takeover of health care in as much secrecy as possible.

Not that they went to a lot of trouble to do it.

Much of what Gov't Care is meant to do was hidden in plain sight in over 1,000 pages of HR 3200 text that Democrats believed would never be read by themselves or anyone, particularly if they succeeded in passing that bill within an Obama-mandated period of 2 weeks. More of the secret life of ObamaCare was hidden in the Senate's nearly 900 page committee draft.

The assumption that Americans wouldn't bother to inquire about how "rebuilt" health care would affect them was a bit premature, and more and more of us are poring over these documents as each day goes by.

These bills are difficult to digest; the more Americans learn about ObamaCare, the more questions we have.

A very important group was not consulted about "rebuilding" American health care: practicing physicians. The operative word here is practicing. I am not referring to elitist euthanasia proponents in the Obama administration who have concluded that society must be improved by various methods that will effectively shorten the lives of the elderly and the disabled of every age, even our honored disabled veterans. I am referring to doctors who do the hard work of saving and extending people's lives and helping the sick and injured recover and, if those patients cannot recover, offer them as much comfort as possible in their last months and days. In other words, doctors who respect life and people's desire to keep on living to the very end.

One by one, Americans are realizing that they are coming to a time when they need to explain that their human desire to stay alive is not only perfectly natural, but also honorable. Life is sacred, most of us believe, and the belief that life is sacred was a prime motivator for the authors of our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.

A centerpiece of American medicine has been our medical technologies and equipment. Under ObamaCare, who will be deciding which medical facilities have high-tech diagnostic and treatment equipment? Who will be deciding who gets to be treated with that life-saving equipment?

Dr. Russell L. Blaylock, M.D., writing at Labvirus.com has drawn back the curtain on what awaits those of us in need of medical technology after it becomes rationed under ObamaCare:
Let’s say I practice at a hospital that does not have a scanner. The only one allowed in town is at the medical university. My patient needs a scan rather urgently. Under the Obama plan, I would first have to apply to the regional government office for permission to see if there is really a need-and, of course, I will be speaking to a young person with no knowledge of neurosurgery. They search the long list of indications and finally agree-that is, after a number of phone calls and endless pleading.

The next step is that I have to have transportation approved from my hospital to the anointed scanning center. More haggling, searching the thousand of pages of regulations and hanging on the line waiting to be transferred to the next bureaucrat in charge of transportation ensues. Finally, all of this is approved. But then I discover that the waiting list at the university is very long and my patient will have to wait behind the university’s urgent cases. Meanwhile my patient is deteriorating steadily. No amount of pleading will move the process forward-it all falls on deaf ears. I know this because I have experience similar frustrations, even with the limited regulations in place now.

If my patient is still alive, they are finally transferred to the regional scanning center, where they spend hours waiting in the hallways to be scanned. Then I have to arrange for them to be transported back to my hospital. Now, the report for the scan will take days or even weeks to be read, since the doctor reading the scan will have a stack of scans to review from his own institution as well as all surrounding hospitals and doctor’s offices. This is how it works in Canada and England.

The only reason the Canadian system survives is because the medical system in the United States cares for many of their really sick patients. The US scanners in the boarder states work overtime scanning Canadian patients because the wait to be scanned in Canada is so long. We act as the Canadian government’s relief valve, but then what is going to happen when we are strapped with a similar system?
Not to worry, though. There will be scanners at prestigious university hospitals, like the Harvard Medical School, available for the use of Barack Obama's academic friends and supporters (if not for Cambridge cops and their families).

And, without doubt, there will be scanners dotting the landscape of Washington, D.C.
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Related:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Obama's Debt Plan: Send $1.6 Billion to China Every Week!

Yesterday, the White House told the nation that Obama's spending binge will raise the national debt by more than $9 trillion, almost doubling our nation's debt burden.

Well, they didn't exactly say "Obama's spending binge," but we know one when we see one.

Today, the national debt is about $11.7 trillion. Adding the $9.1 trillion Obama debt (that the White House
admits to) will bring our debt to $20.8 trillion in only 10 years.

That's breathtakingly fast work in only 7 months in office: Obama and his Democrat majority have already doubled the debt expenditures made by 42 previous presidents and 110 previous 2-year sessions of Congressional pork-seeking politicians!

What is the interest on our national debt? Today, according to Stuart Varney of Fox News, we pay about $50 billion interest on every trillion. Let's see, $12 trillion ($11.7 trillion rounded up) x $50 billion equals $600 billion per year.

How much of that goes to China? Again, according to Varney, a mere $800 million per week. That's just the interest on our debt to China! Somehow we'll also have to pay back the principal.

Say, for a rough calculation, that we double that $800 million figure to approximate our weekly interest payments to China in 10 years. (In the real world, with rising interest and interest rates, this figure could be expected to be higher.) That means we'll be sending China more than $1.6 billion every week. In interest only.

Can Americans really work that hard and maintain any semblance of our quality of life?

Democrats are already arguing that this huge debt creates just one more reason to pass ObamaCare, which they claim will lower health costs.

I wouldn't be too quick to believe that. After all, $2 trillion of the $9 trillion increased debt load will be a direct result of ObamaCare.

$9.1 trillion. In the Obama view, that's chump change, in a world where Americans are the chumps.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Gov't Health Care: VA Sends Death Sentence Letter to 1200 Veterans (Oops!)

I know none of us can wait to be part of a nationalized gov't health care takeover in which this can happen:
At least 1,200 veterans across the country have been mistakenly told by the Veterans Administration that they suffer from a fatal neurological disease.

The disease in question is Lou Gehrig's disease (amyotropic lateral sclerosis), named after the Yankee great who succumbed to it in 1941. In cases of ALS, the nerve cells of the brain and spine weaken and die, leading to paralysis and, eventually, death.

Denise Nichols, the vice president of the National Gulf War Resource Center, says the VA is blaming a coding error for the mistake.

Oops.

Those single-payer VA departments are notoriously difficult to contact, and I'm sure most of these veterans were on the hot seat for a good long time until they were able to ascertain that they had received the letters by mistake.

That's one kind of mistake. I'm sure we can all think of other kinds of gov't care mistakes that would be a lot more permanent.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

88% More Likely to Die? Cancer Survival in the U.K. vs. the U.S.

Here in Progressive Paradise, where I live, I'm hearing a lot of uncritical acceptance of the "far better" health care available in the U.K. than in the U.S.

Many people here believe with all their hearts that a government takeover of the U.S. health care system is the way to go, in fact, the only humane and charitable way to go.

Below are some statistics about cancer survival in the U.S. versus in the U.K, as published in the Sunday Times. These statistics are not insignificant: in the U.S., half of all men and one third of all women will develop cancer during their lifetimes, and millions of Americans are living with or have conquered the disease. I ask you to put some faces to these facts: the faces of the cancer survivors you know, and the faces of their families:

[T]his is going to be painful for the NHS’s supporters to admit, we Americans have much better cancer survival rates. A study of cancer survival rates in 31 countries published last year in The Lancet bears this out. America was consistently in the top three for both men and women in the four different kinds of cancer studied. Britain tended to rank about 20th.

For example, a woman with breast cancer is 88% more likely to die within five years of diagnosis in Britain than in America. A man with prostate cancer is six times as likely to die within five years in Britain than in America. For various types of colon and rectal cancers, both men and women are 40% more likely to die in Britain than in America within five years of diagnosis.

The reason for this difference is twofold. First, Americans are more likely to get tested, thanks to the lack of rationing, and therefore the cancers are likely to be diagnosed sooner. This naturally makes them more curable. Second, unrationed American healthcare throws a ton of money at cancer, relative to Britain. If one uses a linear programming-style health resources rationing system as the NHS does, cancer is a very poor use of resources.

To reiterate, in Britain:

  • women with breast cancer are 88% more likely to die within 5 years;
  • men with prostate cancer are 6 times more likely to die within 5 years;
  • men and women with colon or rectal cancer are 40% more likely to die within 5 years.

That's an interesting set of statistics to bring to the next conversation in which you are told how much better the British health care system is than the U.S. system.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Meditation: Will Florida Protect the Lives and Speech of Christians?

Muslims who convert from Islam to Christianity face a death sentence under Shari'ah law, and one young convert, a seventeen-year-old woman, Rifqa Bary, is pleading for her life in Florida. A Florida judge has allowed her to stay in protective custody until September 3, when a Court will hear her case.



Meanwhile, elsewhere in Florida, Santa Rosa County prevented another young woman, the Pace High School class president, from addressing her high school graduation class because officials feared she might mention her Christian faith.

In other words, the school system profiled this student as a Christian and preemptively suppressed her freedom of speech based on her religion.

It's hard to imagine that the school system would have felt comfortable providing such a public display of discrimination based on any other distinguishing characteristic. Try to imagine a school worrying that a student might discuss the influence of his Kenyan father, the grandparents who raised him, or his early years in Indonesia, for example. Yet, the possibility that a student might mention the influence on her life of exposure to Christianity is so horrifying that this was the first time any Pace student has been prevented from addressing classmates at graduation ceremonies in 30 years.

At the graduation, a number of graduating students stood in solidarity with fellow student and, in unison, recited the Lord's Prayer. The ACLU was appalled.



According to the ACLU, religious freedom is guaranteed only if your beliefs are "silently held"?

In other words, Christians, Shut up! The rest of us have important things to say.

For example, the president of the United States might want to give a speech explaining and praising some of the religious tenets of Islam.

Some of us still remember this little piece of American history called the First Amendment to the Constitution, which reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Start petitioning! Give Florida Governor Charlie Crist a call at (850) 488-7146 or send him a fax at (850) 487-0801, or an email at Charlie.Crist@MyFlorida.com

It's more than we can do for Maryam and Marzieh, two young Iranian women facing the death sentence in Iran for converting from Islam to Christianity.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Obama's Ramadan Speech



The freeing of the Lockerbie bomber a couple of days before the start of Ramadan was pure coincidence, no doubt. . .


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Foreign Policy Victory? Terrorist Mass Murderer Freed

He who is compassionate to the cruel ultimately will become cruel to the compassionate.
-- Midrash Tanhuma Metzora 1; Yalkut Shimoni I Shmuel 121



What was that again? Oh, I remember now. Don't drill offshore, and don't drill the oil reserves in ANWR, Alaska.


Note: Snark and Boobs has calculated that the prison sentence actually served by the Lockerbie Bomber works out to just a little over 11 days per murder.
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Friday, August 21, 2009

A Doctor Reports: Rationing of Drugs and Surgery for Children

This article from American Thinker, now reprinted at The Thomas More Law Center site, is one of the best reads on ObamaCare that I've come across:

"A Doctor's Viewpoint on Obama Care," originally published as "Obamacare and Me," by Zane F. Pollard, M.D.

You will thank yourself for taking the time to read it, I believe.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hemlock for Wounded Warriers: The Latest Plan?

 
I'm not likely ever to forget one of Obama's most notorious early attacks on American medical care, his March, 2009 proposal to force wounded warriors to pay for treatment of their combat related injuries, including buying their own prosthetic limbs, through private health insurance held by them or their spouses.

After a public outcry and a dressing down from leaders of veteran groups, who were forced to point out that wounded Vets might not appreciate having to pay for the treatment of injuries they received on the battlefield, Obama backed off his plan in a fit of pique. As reported by Investors Business Daily, the president "refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by [his plan]," and he rubbed salt into veterans' wounds by challenging veterans "to come up with an alternative way to raise revenues" for treatment of combat-related injuries.

My blood still boils every time I have occasion to review that little moment in American history.

Now, Pundit & Pundette have posted some appropriate words (read them all!) concerning a newly released "hurry up and die" advice publication. In July, VA primary care physicians were directed to refer to all of their patients to this publication. From an opinion piece by Jim Towey in The Wall Street Journal:
"Your Life, Your Choices" presents end-of-life choices in a way aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions, much like a political "push poll." For example, a worksheet on page 21 lists various scenarios and asks users to then decide whether their own life would be "not worth living."

The circumstances listed include ones common among the elderly and disabled: living in a nursing home, being in a wheelchair and not being able to "shake the blues." There is a section which provocatively asks, "Have you ever heard anyone say, 'If I'm a vegetable, pull the plug'?" There also are guilt-inducing scenarios such as "I can no longer contribute to my family's well being," "I am a severe financial burden on my family" and that the vet's situation "causes severe emotional burden for my family."
When the government can steer vulnerable individuals to conclude for themselves that life is not worth living, who needs a death panel?
One can only imagine a soldier surviving the war in Iraq and returning without all of his limbs only to encounter a veteran's health-care system that seems intent on his surrender.
I was not surprised to learn that the VA panel of experts that sought to update "Your Life, Your Choices" between 2007-2008 did not include any representatives of faith groups or disability rights advocates. And as you might guess, only one organization was listed in the new version as a resource on advance directives: the Hemlock Society (now euphemistically known as "Compassion and Choices").
Towey ends his piece this way:
If President Obama is sincere in stating that he is not trying to cut costs by pressuring the disabled to forgo critical care, one good way to show that commitment is to walk two blocks from the Oval Office and pull the plug on "Your Life, Your Choices." He should make sure in the future that VA decisions are guided by values that treat the lives of our veterans as gifts, not burdens.
"The lives of our veterans" are "gifts, not burdens." Who could say it better than that?
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Laughing Through Tears: Gov't Says, Ask Questions About Health Care!

In government, the left hand often has no idea what the right hand is doing, a characteristic that does not bode well for gov't care.

Today I got my laugh through tears when my favorite radio station aired a public service announcement co-sponsored by the Ad Council and non other than Kathleen Sebelius's Department of Health and Human Services.

Q. What does the Department of Health and Human Services want you to do now?

A. Get more involved with your health care by asking questions!

From the "you can't make this stuff up" department:
The ads feature people asking questions in everyday situations such as ordering food at a restaurant and buying a cell phone, but clamming up when their doctor asks if they have questions. [italics mine]
"Clamming up" about our health care? Isn't that exactly what the Secretary Sebelius, the Democrat majority in Congress, and our own president are hoping that we do?

The general impression Congressional Democrats have been making by canceling town hall meetings and lecturing questioning constituents about the "lack of quality" of their questions is that they want us to clam up and look the other way as big government:
  • controls our health care through stealth legislation,
  • makes decisions about who gets treatment via bureaucratic "death panels,"
  • and imposes special taxes on people who don't (literally) buy into gov't care.
And what was that flag@whitehouse.gov site about, if not to chill speech that might question ObamaCare?

All over the country, Americans have been attempting to find out specifics about Obama's single-player health care plan, that is, when their senators or reps aren't hiding in undisclosed locations or behind teams of uninformed telephone-answering interns or inoperable telephone systems. Here are some of the common sense questions that Kathleen Sebelius's own department thinks we should be asking, straight from her department's own Web site:

Are you choosing a health plan?

Ask:




That's good advice, and we ought to ask and keep asking until we get answers that we like and can verify.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Whole Foods CEO Says No to Socialized Health Care? Boycott. Boycott.

Let me get this straight.
Last Wednesday, John Mackey, the chief executive of Whole Foods, took to the pages of The Wall Street Journal to opine that “we clearly need health care reform,” but arguing against the solutions being put forward by the administration: “The last thing our country needs is a massive new health care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health care system.”
Gasp.

Here's a guy who sells high-end, luxury-quality organic foods and products produced mostly by small operations of independent, for-profit farmers and for-profit businesses, shipped by for-profit truckers, to the stores in his for-profit luxury grocery store chain, shares of which (WFMI) sell on the for-profit Nasdaq Stock Market to customers who carry thin credit cards attached to thick bank accounts and investment portfolios.

And he thinks they don't back socialized medicine?

Silly him.

As of this writing, 11,000 of those customers have gone to Facebook to sign onto a boycott of Whole Foods Markets in retaliation for Mackey's opinion.

I can't wait for socialized grocery stores, can you? Organic grocery customers following Dr. Ezekel Emanuel's "complete lives" plan? Twenty-one-year-olds get any food they want, forty-year-olds get the day-old stuff, and seventy-year-olds get to rummage through the dumpsters. Four-year-olds with their noses pressed against the bakery window sign up for a lottery to see who gets to taste the organic chocolate napoleons. Food for free! The rich pay.

Okay, businesses pay. All right, everybody pays. Except illegal aliens.

But not everybody eats.

In the words of presidential health care advisor and brother of Rahm Emanuel (so we know he won't be going anywhere anytime soon):
When implemented, the complete lives system produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most substantial chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuated.
After all, seventy-year-olds were twenty-one-year-olds once, right? They used to eat.


Hat tip: American Power: Whole Foods Boycott: Leftists Don't Want Discussion
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Ichthyological curiosity of the day:





Napoleon fish (
Cheilinus undulatus).

Mainly found in coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Senate Health Care Bill: My Disease Is More PC Than Your Disease

I love the opportunity to pass along great research by other bloggers.

Yukio Ngaby of Critical Narrative has read the entire 615 page Senate "health care" bill being promoted as the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions [HELP] bill. In a series of posts, he is offering some excellent insights into why this bill is, in reality, "a Trojan Horse for single payer."

The first 20 pages of the Senate bill alone will burden private insurers with a raft of "new micro-managing regulations and intrusive oversights" that will put them out of business. Here's a taste of what private insurers will be required to do:
  • offer coverage determined by a presidential council;
  • accept every applicant for life (pp. 9 & 10);
  • open their books to the administration, (p. 10);
  • pay annual rebates of premium payments, as determined by the presidential administration (p. 11);
  • pay doctors for following the government's idea of good treatment (p. 14).
As Yukio points out, not even the U.S. Postal Service, which doesn't even have to pay taxes, buy license plates for its vehicles, or pay rent on most of its facilities, can keep out of debt while operating under government micro-management.

And, of course, as Oregon's health care rationing plan (the first in the nation) demonstrates, the government's idea of health care is determined by political response to pressure groups, not by medical science. That's why abortions, smoking-cessation, and treatment for mild depression have high priority in the Oregon rationing plan, while life-threatening medical problems like advanced cancer, gangrene, and serious head and neck injuries have low (or no) priority.

Looks like Congress wants Americans to compete with each other for health care based on political correctness.

I wonder. Will that lobby group for your particular health problem be able to compete with the agenda of the SEIU and ACORN?

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Ichthyological curiosity of the day:



TankedCam, a
PC fish monitor.

Use with your aquarium and iPhone to monitor your fish.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Meditation: Maryam and Marzieh Face Death but Refuse to Renounce Christian Faith

I have written in the past to bring your attention to the imprisonment of two young Iranian women for the "crime" of being Christian. Recently, dozens more Christians, some of them former Muslims, have been arrested in Iran.

Last Sunday, Maryam and Marzieh faced trial in Tehran.

From Worthy News in Tehran:
Two young Iranian women who may face the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity have told a court that they will not abandon their faith in Christ, despite harsh treatment in one of Iran's most notorious prisons, Christian trial observers confirmed to Worthy News Monday, August 10.

Maryam Rustampoor, 27, and Marzieh Amirizadeh, 30, appeared Sunday, August 9, in front of a 'revolutionary court' in the capital Tehran where they were pressured to return to Islam, according to well-informed Christians linked to Elam Ministries, a group supporting Iran's growing church movement.

"Though great pressure was put on them, both women declared that they would not deny their faith," the Christians said.

Both women, who reportedly suffer health problems, were detained March 5 for converting to Christianity. They endured solitary confinement, interrogations "for many hours while blindfolded" and other mistreatment in Tehran's Evin prison, well-informed Christians said.

LONG ORDEAL

"During their five-month ordeal, both have been unwell and have lost much weight. Marzieh Amirizadeh is in pain due to an on-going problem with her spine, as well as an infected tooth and intense headaches," they added.

"She desperately needs medical attention. Two months ago the prison officials told her the prison had proper medical equipment and that they will attend to her, but so far no proper treatment has been given."

During Sunday's court hearing the prosecution reportedly asked the two women if they were still Christians. “We love Jesus,” and “Yes, we are Christians,” they were overheard answering repeated questions.

Asked whether they "were Muslims and now have become Christians,” the women reportedly replied: “We were born in Muslim families, but we were not Muslims.” They also said they had "no regrets,” despite their imprisonment.

"RENOUNCE FAITH"

The prosecution allegedly demanded that the women "renounce" their faith "verbally and in written form,” but they refused saying: “We will not deny our faith [in Christ].”

During one tense moment in the questioning, Rustampoor and Amirizadeh made reference to their belief that God had spoken to them through the "Holy Spirit", observers said. After a deputy prosecutor reportedly told them “It is impossible for God to speak with humans.” Amirizadeh apparently wondered: “Are you questioning whether God is Almighty?”

The prosecution was heard telling her that she is "not worthy for God to speak to you.” Amirizadeh reportedly countered: “It is God, and not you, who determines if I am worthy.”

After they were told to return to prison and think about their options, the two women were heard saying: "We have already done our thinking.”

VERDICT UNCLEAR

It was not clear if and when a judge will give a verdict in the case, which has been monitored around the world. Under Iran's strict apostasy laws, any Muslim who leaves Islam can face the death penalty.

However in what is seen as a positive development, the women have been allowed to be represented by a lawyer, for the first time since their detention earlier this year, observers said.

"Despite the concentrated effort of officials to pressure them into recanting their faith, Maryam and Marzieh love Jesus and they are determined to stand firm to the very end no matter whatever happens," Iranian Christians added. "They have demonstrated their love for Jesus and would offer their lives for Him if they were called to do so."

The women reportedly said after Sunday's hearing: “If we come out of prison we want to do so with honor.” Rights groups have pressured Iran to release the women without charges. The case has come to symbolize the pressure faced by former Muslims in the Islamic nation, which has experienced calls for more reforms and violent anti-government protests following the recent disputed presidential election.
According to the Farsi Christian News Network, leaders of the Iranian Church are urgently pleading for support in a situation that is becoming increasingly difficult and dangerous. Open Doors has issued a call for prayer for Iran and Iranian Christians.

Earlier, Worthy Christian News reported:
As [President] Ahmadinejad begins his second term as president, Open Doors asks him to guarantee religious freedom to all Farsi speaking Christians...and to free those detained for their faith [in Christ].
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Related Posts:
Meditation: Pray for the Release of Maryam and Marzieh
Maryam and Marzieh: Convicted of Being Christian


Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Senate Wants to Take Over Health Care Rationing: That Should Be Fun

Yukio Ngaby at Critical Narrative has been doing some great research on the Senate side of the attempted government takeover of America's health care, and, surprise, surprise, in the Senate bill, names have been changed to protect the guilty. Yukio reports:
I'm still slogging through the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee bill (615 pages long), but I can tell you this much. The bill retains the HBAC provision, although it's been renamed the Medical Advisory Council (Sec. 3103, pages 62 - 71) and is now subject to Congressional review, that will ration your health care, set standards (controls) for private insurers, and likely drive all non-government subsidized health insurers out of business.
And Yukio offers reassurance to anyone who feel a bit reticent to phone their senators:
I've called both of my senators, and the people I've talked to have been very polite and courteous. Don't be anxious about this. It is not just your right as an American, but your duty as an American. I quoted Theodore Roosevelt at the top of this blog and I do so again. "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
Even if you have called your senators and your reps, it won't hurt to call them again. Or you can write. Send a postcard: staffers don't even have to open an envelope, and it adds to the pile on some staff member's desk or table, making your concern that much more difficult to ignore or misconstrue.

Do it now. Get the names and contact information of your senators and representatives here.
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Ichthyological curiosity of the day:

Billfish.
Any of a number of different large, predatory fish characterized by their large size and long, sword-like bill.




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Friday, August 14, 2009

Oregon's Health Care Rationing Plan

Oregon is the first state to draw up a formal procedure for health care rationing, so it has something to teach.

Oregon's Health Plan does not cover everyone in the state as Obama's Gov't Care Plan eventually aims to do. The Oregon Health Plan covers only low-income people, and a panel ranks diseases and conditions in order of priority for treatment. Some health problems get treated, others don't. From the National Center for Policy Analysis:
The health care dollars available determine which priorities are met. As program costs have grown, the list of covered procedures has become shorter.
If you have a deformity of your upper body, arms, or legs, no treatment for you! Ditto if your vocal cords are paralyzed. Live with it! Advanced breast cancer? Go home and, you know. . . .

If you are a pathological gambler, a drug user, or want to stop smoking , you can get treatment! Want to be sterilized or get an abortion? Step right up.

Every time Oregon's priority list for health care treatment is revised, life-saving treatments for severe head injuries, Type I diabetes, peritonitis, injuries to internal organs, appendicitis, ruptured spleens, tuberculosis, and deep open wounds are re-prioritized down the priority list. Seven years ago, in 2002, treating a severe head injury had top (#1) priority; this year it ranks #101. Meanwhile, sterilization has moved from 94th place to 7th place.

Yes, indeed. Oregon now thinks it is far more important for a low-income person to be sterilized than to have a doctor take care of that person's life-threatening head injury.

Therapy for lactose intolerance, #13 from the top of the list. Surgery for a ruptured appendix, #84 on the list.

Counseling for obesity, #8; gangrene, #176.

You get the picture.
What is driving the move away from procedures to save lives from immediate danger? Oregon's prioritized list is drifting toward increasing expenditures for politically popular care. This means preventive care for the healthy and treatment of diseases with active political constituencies. This drift in rationing appears to be unavoidable when political processes are given control over medical decision making.
Hence, treatment for drug abuse, #5 on the list; something terribly wrong with your testicles or ovaries, #261 (no free Ad Council radio spots on that one).

Here's a quick look at the health care future of America, thanks to Oregon do-gooders who figured they'd do good with someone else's money:



Hat tip: There's My Two Cents and Hot Air.
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Ichthyological curiosity of the day:

The Oregon Chub (Oregonichthys crameri)



A mild-mannered minnow native to Oregon's ponds, unfortunately an endangered species.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Gov't Care: And What About That Real Time Access to Your Financial Records Thing?

Everyone in America knows that our Democrat President and Congress will do almost anything to inflict on Americans a gov't health care system that they themselves wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole. (Maybe that's why they can't read the bills circulating the House and Senate--who can read fine print at a distance of 10 feet?)

If the President and his Democrat minions in Congress get their way, people who are not members of a Congressionally defined privileged class will be forced to slog it out in a broken and broke health care system that will get poorer and more mismanaged every minute.

Meanwhile, the President, Congress, the President's 32 czars, other federal employees, community organizers, and--I'm taking a wild guess here--Harvard professors and SEIU members will receive health care for the privileged, paid for by the non-privileged, of course.

What a deal!

It is an inherently unfair deal, of course, and, if there's anything that rubs Americans the wrong way, it is unreasonable, inconsiderate, and cowardly unfairness.

Americans as a people admire individuals who take responsibility personally and who are courageous and generous, and no day passes without extraordinary examples of American bias toward courageous exercise of responsibility, whether it be bystanders rescuing a mom and her kids from a burning SUV or a group of airline passengers storming the cockpit after terrorists murdered the pilot and other crew members.

Separate-but-unequal health care mandated by Congress under intense political pressure by the President also is a violation of responsible leadership.

By long-held tradition and even law, the Captain of a sinking ship is required to be the last person aboard to abandon ship, with first dibs on the life rafts going to the weakest, not the strongest: the children and the elderly and their (traditionally female) caregivers. Nor is the Captain of the Ship of State expected to stand on the ship's bridge and proclaim (with a practiced, self-indulgent smile) that, because he's the powerful, the elevated Captain, he of course is expected to face the least danger, while the weakest of the society, that is, the elderly, the disabled, and the chronically ill, will be given the poorest chance of survival.

Yet we've witnessed our nation's President boast about his 24/7 on-call private physician as part of his nationally televised explanation of why vibrant elderly women should get pills instead of major surgery.

Separate and more-than-equal, it now is abundantly apparent, is the station of those elected to the highest positions of responsibility in government. Not only are privileged corporations too big to fail, but so are privileged senators and representatives, czars, presidents and their advisors, and federal bean counters.

And, while provisions of H.R. 3200 will give the federal bean counters real-time unlimited free access into the financial accounts of most everybody, the Health Care Privileged, because they are exempt from Gov't Care, will be spared that indignity and inconvenience. (See pp. 57-58 of H.R. 3200.)

Interesting. Uncle Sam will be in your pockets 24/7, electronically, real time, unless you work for Uncle Sam.

Very interesting.

They watch our pockets, but nobody watches their pockets.
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Ichthyological curiosity of the day:


Pocket fish.

An iPod application that makes it possible to play with animated fish.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

U.S. Treasury Soon to Default: Déjà vu x 4 (Expanded)

From the Washington Post:
Congress last night approved legislation to increase the federal debt ceiling to $3.12 trillion, averting a threatened financial default by the government and clearing the way for swift consideration of separate legislation to overhaul the new "catastrophic" health insurance program.
Oops. Notice something odd about that debt ceiling of $3.12 trillion? That was the debt ceiling in late 1989, twenty years ago this coming November, when the Washington Post published the above passage. The current debt ceiling is about 4 times as much, $12.1 trillion.

Here's reality as of Friday, August 7, 2009, via the Wall Street Journal:
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner asked Congress to increase the $12.1 trillion debt limit on Friday, saying it is "critically important" that they act in the next two months.
It is "critically important" that Congress lift the debt limit in the next two months because that's about as much time we have until the U.S. goes into financial default, in other words, our country fails to meet our financial obligations.

The only way we, as a nation, can meet pay our bills is to borrow more money.

That's a handy fact to remember when politicians like Barack Obama and Arlen Specter swear that the gov't health care takeover won't thrust our country into more debt.

It's too late to make good on that promise.

An interesting footnote is that Geithner didn't ask for a new debt ceiling. To the Obama administration, the sky's the limit.




National Debt Clock



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Note: About that $3.12 trillion national debt ceiling of 1989, the total national debt accrued from the first day of George Washington's presidency through the first year George H.W. Bush's presidency: This year Congress voted to spend more than $3.5 trillion in just one year, next year.

Ichthyological curiosity of the day:

Goldie the Mint Fish,
Mascot of the U.S. Mint

By the way, here's a little graph showing recent trends in the U.S. monetary base, that is, the sum of our country's currency in circulation held by the public, financial institutions, and the Federal Reserve System. That rising line reflects various ways the government "prints money" to pay our nation's bills. Now that's fishy! (Click on the graph for a better view.)


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Monday, August 10, 2009

Health Care Ethics: No Health Services for People with Dementia, So Sorry

I've decided that the best way to read the gov't health care takeover bills and the writings of Obama's health care advisors is the same way that Tennessee Williams and Norman Mailer wrote: stiff drink at hand.

It's about deadening the emotional pain.

Too bad I'm not much of a drinker.

And I'd prefer not to drive followers of this blog to drink either, so today I will offer you just one brief excerpt from a paper by Ezekiel J. Emanuel. He is the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and yet another reason that, I believe, Harvard degrees are rapidly losing their luster.

In his search for "the goods and goals of medicine," Dr. Emanuel concludes:
[S]ervices provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed. An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.
This is what passes for the highest order of medical ethics in U.S. medical debate, at the National Institute of Health, and, particularly, in the Obama administration, where Dr. Emanuel is "on extended detail as a special advisor for health policy to the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget."

It's not hard to deduce where this man will be cutting costs in America's health care budget.

However, if you get should happen to read Ezekiel Emanuel's papers and, in consequence, stand up and shout at a town hall meeting, you will be called a nazi, a disrupter, and un-American by this country's Democrat lawmakers, and you will be told to shut up and "get out of the way" by this country's highest officer, no less than the Democrat President of the United States.

Oh yes, and you will be told matter-of-factly that ObamaCare will be passed by your Democrat representatives (so-called) in Congress no matter what you think, say, or write; no matter how many Americans agree with you; no matter how you vote; and no matter what the Constitution of the United States has to say about it. And that once this bill is passed into law, it will be impossible to revoke it.

Never mind that someone you dearly love suffers from (or will eventually suffer from) dementia or any other malady that might prevent them from being, henceforward, "a participating citizen."

I shudder to think what the term "participating citizen" might mean to some future set of power-hungry socialist politicians and bureaucrats.

Emanuel's paper is innocently titled, "Where Civic Republicanism and Deliberative Democracy Meet" (click on the link then scroll down to find the text). It is only about two pages in length, but it's not so short that it won't cost you sleep. It was originally published in the Hastings Center Report, November-December 1996.
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Ichthyological quote of the day:
"Once, when a pollster made him angry, [Rahm] Emanuel sent him a dead fish."
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Help Commemorate Those Lost on September 11, 2001


On September 11, 2001, terrorists took the precious lives of 2,996 men, women, and children.

This September 11, Project 2,996 aims to offer tribute to each and every one of those lost. Members of the Project remember the lives of the victims, not of their murderers.

If you are a blogger or have a Web site, you can commemorate one of the victims of that horrific attack on your site.

If you don't have a Website, you can post a tribute on the Friends of Project 2,2996 Web site.

Pledge to post a tribute here.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Meditation: Grandmas with Parkinsons, Kids with Cerebral Palsy, Watch Out!

I thank Gathering of Eagles:NY for posting this:
Sarah Palin has released a statement on the current healthcare debate on her facebook page. But first she recommends that Americans view this video of Michelle Bachmann.




Defend the lives of disabled children and the elderly. Please.

Contact your Congress! Click here for contact info.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Will the Real Disrupters Put Down Their Fists . . . (UPDATED)

Click on this image (hat tip, Gateway Pundit) to get a better look at the 1,000 troublemaking paid political mobster/shills of the insurance industry waiting in line to get into a "town hall meeting" (so called) held in South Saint Louis by Missouri Congressman Russ Carnahan. Although it was 40 minutes before the meeting, these people already were locked out.

Not locked out, however, were SEIU members, who were shuffled in through the "handicapped" entrance. The SEIU is the Service Employees International Union. The "largest and fastest growing union in North America" are strong Obama supporters and have plenty of political clout: they even had voting booths moved into their workplaces in Nevada so they wouldn't have to travel to regular polling places to vote like the rest of America. You will recall that Obama won Nevada, a crucial state for him in his campaign.

Here's a video of SEIU members after the meeting, proudly wearing their SEIU tee-shirts, beating up Kenneth Gladney, who was selling and distributing yellow Gadsten flags, symbols of the original American colonies and of American patriotism. According to one of his attackers, who was a black man, Gladney, also a black man, had no business handing out symbols of American patriotism.

Next morning, Carnahan blamed the violence on the Republican party! A Jamie Allman, a radio host, managed to question Carnahan about the beating:


Take another look at the photo of the "disrupters" at the top of this post and draw your own conclusions.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius did just that, and afterwards called SEIU members, hailing them as her "brothers and sisters," and urging them to show up at town hall meetings. "Keep doing what you're doing," she said.

Like we didn't already know who counts.

I'm guessing Sebelius' statement indicates that President Obama will not be announcing at any upcoming press conferences that SEIU members acted "stupidly" in beating up an American citizen peacefully attending a town hall meeting at the invitation of his elected Congressional representative (even if said Congressman had no actual intention of allowing his conservative constituents into the meeting).

Another event following the Town Hall Meeting That Wasn't (and there are getting to be a lot of those) was the protest against the beating of Gladney outside the SEIU headquarters in Saint Louis. Several hundred attended.

Via Gathering of Eagles:NY comes this video:



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Beamers, Brooks Brothers, and Barack

I don't see too many of my fellow mobsters driving Beamers like these guys:



Hat tip: Gathering of Eagles: NY
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Ichthyological curiosity of the day:

Brooks Brothers Angel Fish Swim Trunk

DESCRIPTION: Vibrant printed nylon fabric shell from France. Mesh lining. Hidden key pocket at inside of swimsuit. Velcro back pocket for secure storage. Machine wash. Imported. [italics mine, couldn't help it]

SALE PRICE: 85.00





Shut Up!

The Orator-in-Chief likes to hear his own voice, but he likes other people to shut up and "get out of the way," except for those yes-men and yes-women who offer "testimony" from Obama's own "Amen Corner." (It is with profound sadness that I point out that those are the President's own words, not mine.)



Hard to believe. The First Amendment offers a few words on the subject of "shutting up."
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Wow. The Founders anticipated that people might have grievances?

What might those be?

The first American dictionary, compiled by Noah Webster and published in 1828, while a number of American revolutionaries still lived, defined grievance this way:
GRIE'VANCE, n. [from grief.] That which causes grief or uneasiness; that which burdens, oppresses or injures, implying a sense of wrong done, or a continued injury, and therefore applied only to the effects of human conduct; never to providential evils. The oppressed subject has the right to petition for a redress of grievances.
There is no doubt whatever that many Americans, particularly the sick, the aged, the infirm, the handicapped--together with their caregivers, doctors, nurses, attendants, families, and friends--are laboring under a huge, oppressive burden of grief and unease caused by their representatives energetic plan to deprive them of their health care.

These people's fears are not illusory as proponents of ObamaCare claim. A reading of the various health care bills being rammed through Congress reveals clearly that many will lose lifesaving treatments, access to doctors and hospitals, and the hope offered by much future medical and pharmaceutical research. Even the mathematically inept can see that no amount of money in the world could finance ObamaCare without rationing of health care and pharmaceuticals, meaning that many will not get what they need, or if they do get it, they will not get it in time. ObamaCare is health care for the healthy.

I have been reading some of the body of literature underpinning ObamaCare, and it is stunning in its open promotion of a policy of refusing health care to anyone, young or old, who is considered "unfit" to serve society. I will be blogging about my research as I am able, providing references for those, who, like myself, are never satisfied until they examine original sources.

Four months ago, Andrew Klavan talked about the Left's desire to silence aggrieved Americans. Please watch:


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Friday, August 7, 2009

No Problem! Corporate Tax Revenues Down Only 57%


Via The Strata-Sphere comes this graph of the results of a report by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Obama's bean counters have noticed that tax receipts from corporations are down a bit, a mere 57%.

That's right. As part of the Democrat-sponsored economic upturn, corporations are paying less than half of the taxes they used to pay, in fact, only 43%.

In the antique America that wasn't yet being remade by Obama, where the law of the land was still (dare I mention it?) The Constitution of the United States, corporations weren't yet subject to government takeovers or planned obsolescence. They were nasty, voracious entities that existed to make profits, which they split with the government to pay for whatever Congress wanted. America kept corporations around for some now-forgotten reason or other, probably in part because they produced goods and services and offered jobs.

That's all over. Now the Democrat-controlled Congress wants what the Democrat president wants: a complete remake of the United States of America. Obviously Congress no longer needs corporations to help supply them with money: instead, individual taxpayers are going to do it.

In the interest of fairness, it should be mentioned that there is one wrinkle in Obama's plan that he hasn't yet had time to smooth out: Many individuals, like the unemployed (about 16 million at the moment) and the underemployed, also are dropping less money into the federal tax-collection basket.

AP Writer Stephen Ohlemacher broke it down:

Individual income tax receipts are down 22 percent from a year ago. Corporate income taxes are down 57 percent. Social Security tax receipts could drop for only the second time since 1940, and Medicare taxes are on pace to drop for only the third time ever.

The last time the government's revenues were this bleak, the year was 1932 in the midst of the Depression.

But not to worry. Give Obama some time; all he needs is a little more time for his policies to kick in. I hear this all the time from my neighbors here in Progressive Paradise.

Think of it! This is a moment of opportunity! A unprecedented moment to remake American health care at the cost of a mere $1 trillion over the next ten years. And wait until the Senate okays the House vote to raise the budgets for government agencies by 11%. That will help a lot. And then there's that Cap'n Trade tax on every product that uses energy in its production, like food, clothing, shelter, and medicine, if you can get them. Plus that new trillion-dollar stimulus package bill that's being cooked up.

If you or I were as smart as the Democrat administration, we'd have been the ones to pour pork gravy over every bill in Congress, in fact, so much gravy that the bills are too massive even to read, saving Congress the trouble of pretending to read them, as they had to do in the vintage, un-remade United States. Those kooks who suspect that amendments tacked onto 1,000 page bills at 3:00 a.m. don't require tax savings for Americans? Well, what can anyone say? They must be extremists or something.

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Today's ichthyological curiosity:

The Potomac snakehead. This is an invasive predatory species of fish with "beedy little eyes" and a mouthful of dangerous teeth. Endemic to Indonesia, it was released into American waters where it is now considered a pest.

Hat tip: Washington Post via The Florida Museum of Natural History