October 30, 2009

Why the hell does the Insurance Industry support reform?

Democrat Led Health Insurance "Reform" might make things WORSE

by The Punk Patriot
So if you're a loyal Democrat, you're probably all riled up about the health insurance reform going on in congress. You're probably anxious for Congress to get something, ANYTHING passed. Not so fast there buddy. Health insurance reform, even if it's done by Democrats could end up making things WORSE, not better.

"What? How could this possibly be?" you might ask. Well...

It's old news by now that insurance giant Wellpoint, owner of Maine's Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, is suing the State of Maine, to increase their profits. But you may not know the entire backstory: Anthem Blue Cross, in anticipation of the individual mandate for health insurance, has jacked up their rates 18% from what they were previously, jacking many people's premiums through the roof.

What may surprise you if you're not paying close attention, is that the Health Insurance industry is actually in favor of health insurance "reform." How could this be? Did they suddenly grow a concience, and decide that letting people die to increase their profit margin was wrong? Are they crying out to Big Government to regulate them like Sinners calling out to Jesus? "Please, Government! Save us from our own wicked nature!"

Not a chance in Hell.

It's no surprise that Wellpoint has run television ads in favor of the health insurance "reform" being pushed by Democrats in Congress. If the individual mandate becomes a final part of the bill, whether you can afford to or not, we will all end up having to pay these new increased rates, or face federal fines of up to three thousand dollars, depending on which version of the individual mandate ends up in the final bill.

Maine's state government has the power to regulate insurance rates. In light of this 18% increase, the State of Maine stepped in, and reduced the increase from 18% to 11%. So people's rate are still going up, and health insurance is still becoming less affordable. But that wasn't enough for the private insurance giant.

Last year Wellpoint made $2 billion in profits. In Maine alone, they've paid out over one million dollars in CEO bonuses. Rather than cut CEO bonuses to reduce their overhead, they are increasing their rates. Let's call a spade a spade. Wellpoint is essentially suing to ensure not their profit margin, but their CEO bonus margin.

So what's the deal here? Why are Congressional Democrats so willing to pass a bill that will essentially screw us over to benefit of the Insurance Industry? Easy. Follow the money. The health insurance is a powerful lobby, and one can accurately predict the level of a politician's support for the mandate, and for the Public Option, based on how much money was contributed to their campaign from the health insurance industry.

"But the Democrats are supposed to be on our side! It's the Republicans who are corrupt corporate sleazebags!" You might say. And yes, while the Republicans are generally corrupt, with lots of corporate donors, the corporate lobbyists who really run the show don't care about party affiliation. They care about who is in power at the moment. Right now, that's the Democrats.

That's why you find the Democrats in the predicament they're in. They have to satisfy the Private Health Insurance industry while making it look like they're achieving meaningful reform. They're playing a balancing act, giving the insurance industry exactly what they want, while still trying to fool their constituents into thinking that they're doing what's right.

Well, have they done their job?

Who owns your congressperson? Find Out: OpenSecrets.org

October 29, 2009

Mr Anti-Regulation, Alan Greenspan, calls for Trust-Busting

U.S. regulators should consider breaking up large financial institutions considered “too big to fail,” former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said.

Those banks have an implicit subsidy allowing them to borrow at lower cost because lenders believe the government will always step in to guarantee their obligations. That squeezes out competition and creates a danger to the financial system, Greenspan told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

“If they’re too big to fail, they’re too big,” Greenspan said today. “In 1911 we broke up Standard Oil -- so what happened? The individual parts became more valuable than the whole. Maybe that’s what we need to do.”

[Read the Full Article After The Jump]

Scholars Reject Obama's Warrantless Wiretaps as illegal

From Wired.com

The Obama administration’s position that the government can force mobile carriers to hand over cellphone tower location information on their customers without a warrant is wrong, two legal scholars say.

"Because CSLI acquisition is hidden, indiscriminate and intrusive, and because it reveals information over a period of time, it should be subject to the highest level of Fourth Amendment oversight (the same procedures used for wiretapping and video surveillance)," the scholars wrote late Friday.

The scholars are Susan Freiwald, of the USF School of Law, and Peter Swire, of Ohio State University.

Their words, published by the American Constitution Society, came a month after the Justice Department made its claim in a little-noticed case that the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures did not apply.

Most Americans have or will carry a mobile phone in their lifespan, so the outcome could have wide-ranging privacy ramifications. Smartphones, like the iPhone, use cell-tower information to power geo-location applications like Google Maps.

In a case pending before the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the government maintains it can require federal judges to order mobile phone companies to release historical cell-tower information of a phone number without probable cause — the standard required for a search warrant.

While judges have differed on the issue, the resulting evidence can be used in a criminal prosecution. The case on appeal concerns a Pennsylvania judge who rejected the government’s position in a drug prosecution that the new administration inherited.

Mobile-phone providers keep cell-site information for up to 18 months. Historical cell-site location information includes the tower connected at the beginning of a call and at the end of the call. The government does not claim a warrantless right to cell-site information for future calls, only for calls already dialed.

[more after the jump]

October 25, 2009

12 arrested in LA at Blue Cross

Los Angeles 10/15/09 – 12 arrested at the L.A. Anthem Blue Cross offices sit-in at as Maureen Cruise RN, public health care nurse, explains why single payer is not off the table. Along with a contingent of doctors at this recent sit-in, Cruise believes universal health care (a.k.a. single payer or medicare for all) is the only option. As Dr. Jo Olson told me, single payer is the only fiscal and moral solution. She has been working for a single payer system for the past five years. Nurse Cruise was an L.A. public health care nurse at numerous clinics until they all closed with the recent economic downturn. As she explains, 122 people die every day for lack of health care in the U.S. More die every day because they are denied health care from insurance companies despite paying their high premiums. People are forced into medical debt and foreclosure to pay for health care, unlike any other country. “What kind of country does this to it’s people?” she asks.

Nurse Cruise goes on to say that Pelosi’s announcement to the world that single payer is off the table was a ploy to make everyone forget about it and go for a public option instead, a public option written by and for the insurance industry, which spends over a million dollars per day lobbying Congress. The public option, as she says, is an insurance industry bailout, because with our economic downturn and the insurance industry’s annal retentive (my words) policy of raising rates to make up for losses, they are losing customers and so they look to the deep pockets of our government in the corporate welfare state we call America. But as long as we don’t have a viable health care system without the for profit insurance factor, and as long as we don’t have universal health care, people will continue to rally.

Rape in the Ranks

"Rape in the Ranks" a documentary film about the routine rape of women in the military has been effectively banned from screening in the US. It cannot get distribution here. However, it is showing at the New York Independent Film festival this week.

Franken Anti-Rape Amendment may be Stripped from Final Bill by Democratic Leadership

From TPM

The anti-rape amendment introduced by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) may be stripped from the defense appropriations bill by Appropriations chairman Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI), the Huffington Post reports.

Multiple sources told reporter Sam Stein that the provision -- which would prohibit the Pentagon from hiring contractors whose employment contracts prevent employees from taking work-related allegations of rape and discrimination to court -- is being targeted by defense contractors. Their lobbyists have reportedly flooded Inouye's office, worried they may lose contracts or open themselves up to lawsuits.

One source said it "looks increasingly likely" that Inouye will remove the amendment.

Stein points out that Inouye has received $294,900 from the defense industry over the course of his career. His top two contributors are defense contractors Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and he also receives money from General Dynamics and Boeing.

[>more after the jump]

KBR Gang-Rape victim in her own words

The young Turks also have great coverage of this issue:

For more on this story, head on over to Republicans for Rape.org who have been following this issue very closely.

October 24, 2009

Defense Dept Officially Takes Pro-Rape position: I wish this was a joke

Defense Department Opposed Franken's Anti-Rape Amendment

From Huffington Post

When thirty Republicans lined up against an amendment that would have required defense contractors to allow their employees access to U.S. courts in cases of rape or sexual assault, Jon Stewart ripped them to pieces.

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"I understand we're a divided country, some disagreements on health care. How is ANYONE against this?" he wondered.

It's a question, it turns out, best addressed to the White House.

The vote against the amendment has sparked outrage at the all-male, all-white bloc of thirty Republican senators. HuffPost readers have been particularly infuriated by the GOP opposition and have regularly posted the names of the offending thirty in the comment section of even unrelated stories. A mock website - www.republicansforrape.org -- has sprung up.

The men had an ally in opposition that has so far gone unreported: the Department of Defense.

"The DoD opposes the proposed amendment," reads a message sent from the Obama administration to the Senate on October 6, the day the amendment passed by a 68-30 vote.

"The Department of Defense, the prime contractor, and higher tier subcontractors may not be in a position to know about such things. Enforcement would be problematic, especially in cases where privity of contract does not exist between parties within the supply chain that supports a contract," reads the DoD note. "It may be more effective to seek a statutory prohibition of all such arrangements in any business transaction entered into within the jurisdiction of the United States, if these arrangements are deemed to pose an unacceptable method of recourse."

The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), is intended to address the type of Kafka-esque treatment Jamie Leigh Jones received from the U.S. justice system after she was gang-raped by fellow KBR workers. The defense contractor argued that her employment contract required that her claim be heard in private arbitration rather than in open court.

Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/19/defense-department-oppose_n_326569.html

October 23, 2009

Alan Grayson is a F**ING FIRESTARTER!

I'll be donating to this guy's re-election campaign. Here he is on Hardball with Chris Matthews, calling the Republicans murderers, and accusing Dick Cheney of being a vampire.

I think "Firestarter" is officially this dude's themesong:

Sen. Al Franken Lays the Smackdown on Health Insurance Lobbyist LIES

In a repeat performance of Dennis Kucinich's smackdown in the house, Sen Al Franken lay the smackdown on the bullshit of the private health insurance industry lobbyists. Watch the video here.

October 21, 2009

Health Insurance Company: Sorry, But Rape is a Pre-Existing Condition

A Florida woman, who is a victim of sexual abuse, claims that rape was called a "pre-existing condition" by several health insurance companies, which would have disqualified her for care.

In 2002, Chris Turner, a health insurance agent from Tampa, Florida, was drugged and raped during a business trip. When she conferred with a doctor after her assault, Turner was prescribed preventative anti-HIV drugs, and she later entered counseling to help deal with the residual psychological effects of her rape.

[more after the jump]

That's your beloved Free-Market at work...

Legalize Gay





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October 18, 2009


FUCK THE RICH! But wait! The Rich create all the prosperity in the USA right?

No. They don't.

Labor does. The rich survive off of our labor. Labor creates all wealth in society. Labor lays bricks. Labor builds buildings. Labor paves roads. Labor build vehicles. Labor farms food. Labor transports food. Labor repairs roofing. Labor fixes cars. Labor makes clothes. Labor makes everything in the economy that has value. Labor makes everything in our infrastructure, which enables the larger exchange of goods and services. The rich, or the investment class, on the other hand, are parasites. They make their money off our labor-- many times over.

Let's say that you work in a factory and you make widgets. The labor that you put into making that widget is worth MORE than the wages that you are compensated with. So you are paid LESS than what your labor is actually worth.

Why? Because the widget is sold back to you at a "profit." The management class makes money off your labor twice-- once in creating wealth (the widget) and a second time, by profiting from the sale of the widget. So when you purchase your labor back from yourself, you are paying more than you were compensated. But then the Management class needs all that profit to pay back the investment class.

Now the investment class. They contribute nothing in creating anything, and yet they have all the money. Why? Because they had enough money TO START WITH that they were able to put money into the Wall Street investment game. Their money does their work for them. They might say, invest in a company, but then that company is expected to pay them back-- with interest. So the rich make money off the money they already have. You only need to get rich once, and then you can profit infinitely by simply "investing" in the labor of others.

The investment class also profits in abstract ways off of the this process, and then again in even more abstract ways that profit from the profit of profit-- and even the profit of loss. These are things you might have heard about during the financial meltdown, things like short-selling, hedge funds, futures selling (essentially betting on labor or resources that doesn't even exist), etc.

Without the labor class making and buying all the shit that makes the economy go 'round, the whole system collapses. That's what you're seeing right now. People in the labor class are losing their jobs by the hundreds of thousands, we are losing all our money, and nobody has any money to put into the system to keep this crazy carnival ride going. Except the rich. They could stimulate the economy by paying for health care and paying unemployment insurance, and creating jobs. But they don't do that. They just play with their money on Wall Street, which creates no value, creates no material wealth, and provides no public services and does almost nothing to facilitate the flow of goods and services.

Fuck them. We don't need them. Do they really all want to go live on an island with John Galt? I hope they do, and I hope they leave the rest of us alone. We've been lied to and told that we need them. We don't. We really don't at all. We are the ones who create wealth. We are the ones who drive the economy. We are the ones who run the place. But we've been told we don't, to shut up, to sit down, to get in line. We are a nation of dogs that have been raised by ticks. The rich are parasites on society. They contribute absolutely nothing towards the greater good of society, yet they take everything in terms of monetary wealth.


October 10, 2009

Keith Olberman Dedicates entire episode of Countdown to Health Care Reform

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

The Coming Collapse of the Middle-Class

Distinguished law scholar Elizabeth Warren teaches contract law, bankruptcy, and commercial law at Harvard Law School. She is an outspoken critic of America's credit economy, which she has linked to the continuing rise in bankruptcy among the middle-class.

October 9, 2009


White House Declares victory against Space Terrorism

WASHINGTON DC-- Press secretary Robert Gibbs announced today that the pre-emptive strike on the moon was successful in completely destroying the terrorist splinter cell known as "Al Quida in Space" and says that the administration is calling the entire mission a complete success.

"The White House wants to thank NASA's JPL, and the NASA press team for being so cooperative in working with the Department of Homeland Security and White House on this issue," Secretary Gibbs said. "No longer will Al Quida in Space be a threat to United States Security."

Gibbs went on to say that NASA has reported that all members of Al Quida in Space have been killed, including their much sought after ring leader, Osama Bin Laden.

When questioned about the deception leading up to the moon bombing, Gibbs declined to comment, other than to say that it was important that the terrorists not be allowed to know vital information about US strategies.

Meanwhile, anti-War protesters gathered outside accusing the government of bombing the moon for its natural resources.

"They're just bombing the moon for its water," said Andrea Goldsworthy of Code Pink. "They kept changing their story, first it was for science, then it was to eliminate terrorists, but it's clear what the motives have been all along. Water is a scarce resource, our sons and daughters and the people of the Moon don't deserve to be killed for the profits of Big Water," citing the campaign contributions by Nestle and other bottled water companies to Obama's election campaign.

President Obama is expected to make comments himself on the success of the mission later today. It's not known at present if there are plans to begin bringing troops stationed on the Moon back to Earth.

Artists rendering of the previously classified remote drone used to kill members of Al Quida in Space

October 6, 2009

Ed Shultz: Anthem Sues the State of Maine

Matt Taibbi: Wall Street Is Now Gambling on Grandma's Death

Full Article at TrueSlant.com

"Goldman Sachs has developed a tradable index of life settlements, enabling investors to bet on whether people will live longer than expected or die sooner than planned. The index is similar to tradable stock market indices that allow investors to bet on the overall direction of the market without buying stocks.

Spokesmen for Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs declined to comment."

via Back to Business – Wall Street Pursues Profit in Bundles of Life Insurance – Series – NYTimes.com.

I’m sort of surprised that this didn’t get more attention. It looks like Wall Street is developing a new use for the securitization process — bundling life insurance policies and selling them as bonds to investors who would be betting, in essence, on when the policyholders will die.

The mechanism here is basically the same as the one used for mortgage-backed securities. Wall Street buys up life policies from elderly or ill people, who sell them for up-front cash that can be enjoyed before actual death (similar to those brokered arrangements with terminally ill HIV patients that received so much attention in the late eighties). They then take those policies and dump them into a securitized pool, where they can then be packaged as bonds and sold to investors who would get paid off when the policyholders die.

The mechanism works exactly the same as it did for MBS; in both cases the bank issuing the bond receives regular income in exchange for a promise to pay a lump sum when there is a “reference event,” which with mortgages is a default, but in this case would mean death.

What’s very amusing about this New York Times article is that, while describing this, there is no passage that reads anything like, “This utterly insane plan, which will condemn all those involved with it to an eternity of elaborate torment in the afterlife, is ironically being promoted by the very institutions that only just recently tried to destroy the world by creating similar casino-like gambits based on home ownership.”

The article does discuss the probable negative consequence that will come with a severe drop in the number of lapsed policies (until now, there were always a certain number of people who would let their insurance lapse either because they outlived their beneficiaries or could no longer afford the premiums; now, they will simply sell their policies instead of letting them lapse). The likely result here is higher premiums across the board for the ordinary person, which I suppose is an important point to consider.

But even beyond that… what the fuck??? This feels like financial innovation as practiced by Josef Mengele meets the Zucker Brothers; not just evil, but wacky evil. I don’t even want to think about what happens when Goldman Sachs suddenly has a large financial stake in the premature deaths of a bunch of old people. Where are the crazy police? Where is the crack federal crazy squad with the big butterfly net? I don’t know about betting on anyone’s life expectancy, but I think I’d like to bet on whether or not this idea ends well.

Full Article at TrueSlant.com

Anthem Is Sueing MAINE To Increase PROFITS

Netting $2.5 billion in profits last year wasn't enough for WellPoint, the nation's largest insurance company.

Now, WellPoint's affiliate, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, is suing the state of Maine for refusing to guarantee it a profit margin in the midst of a painful recession.

Forward this video to a friend in Maine!

October 5, 2009

Study Shows: Same-Sex Couples raise kids just fine

New Study shows that Same-Sex marriage raises healthy stable kids just as often as "opposite marriage!"

The sexual orientation of adoptive parents does not play a significant role in the well being of their children, a new study contends.

More at link

October 3, 2009

Are you a 'Dead Peasant' ??

Dead Peasant Insurance-- a life insurance policy your employer takes out on you, naming themselves as the beneficiary. Meaning, your company profits when you die.

That's right. It's legal, and it happens all the time.

Read up:
Link 1
Link 2
Link 3
Link 4
Link 5

And here's a clip from Capitalism: A Love Story:

And even though this story broke a long time ago, ABC is surprised to learn about it from Michael Moore:

October 1, 2009

When Did You Stop Dreaming?

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Gore Vidal: ‘We’ll have a dictatorship soon in the US’

Gore Vidal predicts a Military Dictatorship in the USA soon.

The grand old man of letters Gore Vidal claims America is ‘rotting away’ — and don’t expect Barack Obama to save it.

America should leave Afghanistan, he says. “We’ve failed in every other aspect of our effort of conquering the Middle East or whatever you want to call it.” The “War on Terror” was “made up”, Vidal says. “The whole thing was PR, just like ‘weapons of mass destruction’. It has wrecked the airline business, which my father founded in the 1930s. He’d be cutting his wrists. Now when you fly you’re both scared to death and bored to death, a most disagreeable combination.”

His voice strengthens. “One thing I have hated all my life are LIARS [he says that with bristling anger] and I live in a nation of them. It was not always the case. I don’t demand honour, that can be lies too. I don’t say there was a golden age, but there was an age of general intelligence. We had a watchdog, the media.” The media is too supine? “Would that it was. They’re busy preparing us for an Iranian war.” He retains some optimism about Obama “because he doesn’t lie. We know the fool from Arizona [as he calls John McCain] is a liar. We never got the real story of how McCain crashed his plane [in 1967 near Hanoi, North Vietnam] and was held captive.”

Vidal originally became pro-Obama because he grew up in “a black city” (meaning Washington), as well as being impressed by Obama’s intelligence. “But he believes the generals. Even Bush knew the way to win a general was to give him another star. Obama believes the Republican Party is a party when in fact it’s a mindset, like Hitler Youth, based on hatred — religious hatred, racial hatred. When you foreigners hear the word ‘conservative’ you think of kindly old men hunting foxes. They’re not, they’re fascists.”

Another notable Obama mis-step has been on healthcare reform. “He f***ed it up. I don’t know how because the country wanted it. We’ll never see it happen.” As for his wider vision: “Maybe he doesn’t have one, not to imply he is a fraud. He loves quoting Lincoln and there’s a great Lincoln quote from a letter he wrote to one of his generals in the South after the Civil War. ‘I am President of the United States. I have full overall power and never forget it, because I will exercise it’. That’s what Obama needs — a bit of Lincoln’s chill.” Has he met Obama? “No,” he says quietly, “I’ve had my time with presidents.” Vidal raises his fingers to signify a gun and mutters: “Bang bang.” He is referring to the possibility of Obama being assassinated. “Just a mysterious lone gunman lurking in the shadows of the capital,” he says in a wry, dreamy way.

[more after the jump]