KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Monday, July 25, 2005

T'anks to Mr. Bush

T'anks to Mr. Bush Stephen Pearcy may never exhibit in the Guggenheim or the Louvre, but he sure does know how to make a point. The California lawyer created his eloquent work, T'anks to Mr. Bush," in reponse to a call for lawyers to submit paintings to be displayed at the California State Department of Justice (story here).

The state's Republican Party is insisting that Pearcy's painting should be removed. The painting, says a state party spokeswoman, is "blatantly offensive to people who think that America does not belong in the toilet."

The delicious part is that Pearcy himself is a Republican.

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer is refusing to remove the painting.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Proof That the U.S. Health Care System Is a Rip-Off

If you live in the United States, you know how incredibly expensive health care is here. If you're extremely healthy or lucky, you don't know that health care costs are not just high—they're obscene. Here's a cheerful snippet from a story on Medscape. (Read the rest here; I believe free registration is required.)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Jul 12 – Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery is nearly twice as costly in the United States as in Canada, although the clinical outcomes are no different and average length of stay is shorter in the U.S., a new study shows.

"I think that adds some fuel to the fire for a single payer system in the U.S., which would substantially reduce costs," the study's lead author, Dr. Mark J. Eisenberg of Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, told Reuters Health.

The researchers compared the cost and outcomes for 12,017 consecutive CABG patients treated at five U.S. and four Canadian hospitals. The group included 4,698 U.S. patients and 7,319 Canadian patients, and all of the hospitals were using the same cost accounting system.

Mean U.S. in-hospital costs were $20,673, compared to $10,373 for Canadian patients, Dr. Eisenberg and his team report in the July 11 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. Length of stay was 16.8% longer for the Canadian patients. After the researchers controlled for clinical and demographic factors, they found U.S. CABG treatment was 82.5% more expensive. . . ." [emphasis mine]

Did the Canadians in the study have to wait longer than the Americans to have the surgery? (All of you USians have heard of Canadian waiting lists for expensive procedures, haven't you?)

In the original research article in Archives of Internal Medicine* on which the news story is based, the researchers do mention waiting lists. To control for the chance that having waiting lists reduces health care costs, the researchers gathered data for patients in both Canada and the United States for whom bypass was elective (had to wait) and those for whom it was an emergency. Canada still came out with much lower surgery costs. After all confounding factors were controlled for, the procedure still cost 74.8% more in the United States than in Canada. This was because, the researchers said, the costs of the procedure and all supplies are spread throughout Canada, which is not the case in the United States. Quality of patient care during the procedure and hospitalization was pretty much equivalent, they said.

So when is this conversion from our train wreck of a health care system to a single-payer system going to happen, and why doesn't it seem to be on any politician's agenda?

It will happen sometime in the nebulous future after Bush is no longer president, and it's not on politicians' agenda because (1) they're all covered by a cushy government-sponsored insurance policy (check out your senators' and representatives' premiums here) and (2) they're given high enough salaries that they experience out-of-pocket health care expenses as chump change.

If the spousal unit and I didn't have to pay just over $900 a month in health care policy premiums (family rate, whether 2 people or 9), we could

  • Afford to make payments on two brand-new cars (not that we want them) or

  • Stop requiring my in-laws (who live in a small apartment within our home) to pay us rent or

  • Afford to do a home remodel that includes replacing the 35-plus-year-old upstairs bathroom (nothing fancy, mind you—we just need to replace what's falling apart, which is everything), build a small addition that would allow me to have my very own office (I'm working editing miracles at a tiny kitchen table, dammit!), and replace the 35-plus-year-old rough-hewn cedar shingles and asbestos (!) shingles on the outside of the entire house with vinyl siding.

I suppose I shouldn't gripe; at least we already have a home, even if it does need a lot of expensive work. But damn! I should've been a CEO of a health care plan.

Then again, maybe not. I wouldn't want to be one of America's most hated.

*Eisenberg MJ, Filion KB, Azoulay A, et al: Outcomes and cost of coronary artery bypass graft surgery in the United States and Canada. Arch Intern Med 2005;165;1506–1513. [The article was published July 11, 2005.]

Monday, July 11, 2005

Rove-ing Toward Impeachment?

The lies and the coverups just may get George Bush impeached. And who'll bring him down? His good buddy Karl Rove.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Going to Hell in a Handbasket

It is maddening, frightening, shocking, and abysmally stupid what Bush is doing to America and to the world—and being allowed to do by Americans. He is heading down Hitler's path in the name of his twisted version of religion, and not enough people will allow themselves to see it. It depresses me, but as long as I'm still breathing, I'll continue to speak out. I am compelled to do so in the face of dishonesty of any kind, and what is Bush's administration but a tangled skein of dishonesty? Maybe it's an incredibly strong mothering instinct: I want to make the world safe for my children and for everyone else's.

Please . . . mother the world with me. Stop the madness. Impeach Bush now!

A Graphic War

The deaths in the Iraq war happen right before your eyes here, day by day, fast-forwarded. You can set the presentation to show the body count by one country or multiple countries.

Stop the madness: impeach Bush now!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London Bombings

My profound sympathies to Londoners regarding today's horrific bombings.

I am quite afraid that Bush and Blair, who wanted to invade Iraq and molded intelligence to "prove" the need to do so, will see the London bombings as "proof" that they were right and will up the ante in Iraq and take on other nations they deem part of the "axis of evil."

Before Bush stole office the first time, I predicted to my spousal unit that the man would end up starting World War III before he left the White House. I'd hate to be proven right.

9:40 p.m. update: Read Dr. Peter Fallon's excellent analysis of how the U.S. got into the mess it's in.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Freedom to Love

While U.S. lawmakers are busy spouting as much antigay bigotry as they can, Spain's lawmakers will now allow same-sex marriages, and so will Canada's. Spain's new law legalizing gay marriage took effect July 2. Canada's House of Commons passed a bill on June 29.

Meanwhile, the United Church of Christ has dared to do something that no other entity, religious or secular, in the United States has dared to do: say that all love is created equal. The General Synod, the UCC rule-making body, overwhelmingly approved a resolution endorsing same-sex marriage. The UCC knows what most other U.S. Christian denominations do not—that God does not discriminate.

As we celebrate freedom today in the United States, let us take heart that one day, that freedom will extend to every person in the country, regardless of sexual preferencesexual orientation, gender identity, race, income, or ethnic background. And all of us, working together, will make it happen.

July 8 update, 8:05 p.m.: A reader I greatly respect made this comment: "Thanks for this column. I would, however, like to see sexual orientation or even gender orientation instead of sexual preference. I don't just 'prefer' to love Janice, as in choosing to love her instead of a man. Too many folks say it's a choice and we could choose otherwise if we wanted to. I don't agree. I don't think you do either, but words are powerful."

She's right, and I thank her for cogent point. I have corrected my terminology above.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Legislators Actually Do Something About
the Liar-in-Chief

I was greatly cheered to read this from Raw Story:

Conyers and 51 Members File FOIA Request on Downing Street Minutes; Members Formally Seek Hearings in House

Representative John Conyers, Jr., (D-MI) House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member, along with 51 other Members today, submitted a broad and comprehensive FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request to the White House, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State seeking any and all documents and materials concerning the Downing Street Minutes and the lead up to the Iraq war, RAW STORY has learned.

In addition, the Members also formally requested that the House Committees on Judiciary, Armed Services, International Relations, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence commence hearings on the Downing Street Minutes.

"This is the next stage of the Downing Street investigation and brings the investigation to a new more and more aggressive stage," one Democratic Judiciary aide said.

You can see a copy of the FOIA request at Raw Story. Can I have Rep. Conyers move from Michigan to New York State? We could really use his talents here. If he were ever to run for president, I think I'd back him.

And So It Begins . . .

How frightening to hear that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is retiring. Her leaving gives Bush his first chance to begin the theocratization of the court system. God help us all . . .

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