On the healthcare debate

Since currently there are some discussion on the healthcare plan of the two democratic candidates on this site, I thought of posting the following that I came upon while doing some research on the subject.

It comes from MedPage Today:

On their Web sites, the candidates offer lengthy tomes on how they envision medicine of the post-November world, and in debates they have squabbled, for instance, over mandates for all or some. But specifics are hard to come by.

Ironically, Hillary Clinton has spent years trying to live down the humbling defeat of the Clinton administration health plan of the 1990s, which was criticized as too complex and, indeed, threatened to micromanage one-seventh of the nation's economy. The present-day Clinton campaign says many of the details of the senator's plan will have to be worked out in congressional committees.

That's true of any health plan. Congress will insist on a major role in deciding the future of American healthcare. Lobbying groups representing the major players in the industry -- health professionals, pharmaceutical companies, and health plans -- will try to exert their influence before any legislation passes.

Still, the lack of information about how the plans will directly affect physicians is frustrating. Repeated requests to the campaigns are rebuffed, for example, on details about how they might reform the Medicare pay formula, where physicians face annual cuts and Congress rides to the rescue to restore them at the last minute. So far, no campaign has responded with any specifics.

Neither have they gotten specific about how they would try to fulfill promises of improved efficiency and reduction of fraud and waste in the healthcare system.

One Clinton healthcare adviser is Jonathan Gruber, Ph.D., a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A member of the Institute of Medicine and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the Treasury Department, he's written extensively about healthcare policy.

Austan Goolsbee, Ph.D., a professor of economics at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, has been a top economics adviser to Obama since he ran for the Senate. A member of the Panel of Economic Advisers to the Congressional Budget Office, he helped formulate Obama's healthcare plan.

For McCain, his top domestic adviser is Dan Crippen, Ph.D., who headed the Congressional Budget Office for four years, retiring in 2003. Dr. Crippen was a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan.

Democrats: Mandates for all or just some?

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have health plans with only subtle differences. But those positions are disguised by the fierce accusations they and their supporters hurl at each other.

Both promise affordable universal coverage through a mix of private and public insurance. However, both insist they don't want a government-run scheme and they dismiss non-specific Republican accusations of "socialist medicine." They favor "shared responsibility" among patients, insurers, pharmaceutical companies, employers, health plans, health providers, and government.

Clinton and Obama both would require large employers to provide insurance coverage or contribute to the cost of employees' coverage. Both would prevent plans from denying coverage to patients with pre-existing conditions or charging them higher rates.

Just how would all this work, and what would it cost? Where would physicians fit in? Don't ask.

Clinton and Obama each would create public plans that would compete with private ones. They'd expand government programs such as Medicaid and the State Children's Health Program. Tax credits or subsidies would be provided to those who can't afford insurance. Both candidates describe health plans and pharmaceutical companies as the "powerful special interests" they'll battle to achieve reform.

They'd insist that Medicare negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices. Both say they'd pay for their plans by rolling back President Bush's tax cuts on the wealthy and through greater efficiency by promoting prevention, electronic health records, and other reforms. Neither favors caps on malpractice awards for pain and suffering promoted by the American Medical Association.

So what's the big fight about?

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Congress in Israel


Iran was at the center of talks held between members of a Joint Parliamentary Committee for the US and Israel, Knesset Member Yuval Steinitz told Ynetnews on Monday evening.

Steinitz is hosting a delegation of Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-California), Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona) and Congressman Steve Pearce (R-New Mexico), and Arizona Senator John Kyl who arrived on a military flight to Israel on Sunday night to meet with fellow Israeli committee members. On Monday evening, the delegation met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem, and later Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

"The Iranian subject was the first topic in all of the discussions," Steinitz told Ynet, adding, "It was the central issue."

"Everyone expressed an unequivocal stance that Iran must not be allowed to be a nuclear country, and to have nuclear weapons," Steinitz said. "There is some hope that if Europe works with the US to achieve economic sanctions, and a blockade on Tehran, then Iran may agree to halt its program, like North Korea," he said. "If not, it's pretty clear that the military solution is on table," he added.

"In all of the years that I have been coming to Israel, one thing stands out to me above all others as crucial to the security of this country, and that is the need to deal with Iran," Kyl told The Jerusalem Post. - Link

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Falling in love with Iran

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.com

Shariati Park, Tehran

No more talk of war!

Let's suspend "Bush's Reality" for half an hour or so, close our eyes and just listen! May I suggest you minimize that window and open a new one at MyDD to read the rest of this diary and look at the images. Quite a treat I assure you!

In Amazing Iran, Iason Athanasiadis writes:

At a time when talk of a military strike against Iran looms ever larger, it's often easy to lose sight of the fact that Iran is one of the most visually stunning countries in the world. [...]

For those of you who are non-Iranian, this may serve as an introduction into what is a varied and uniquely beautiful country. For  the Iranians (mostly the expats), it is a reminder of the Iran that remains unseen during intense, family-dominated two-week visits back to the motherland.

I like these many images of Iran. The visual tours are simply breathtaking!

The artist featured in the above link is Benyamin whom I discovered through this post by Naja. She writes beautifully about her Iran and about Benyamin, a religious singer turned pop artist. She says:

I tend to draw a lot of meaning from transmogrification of a "religious singer" to a pop singer. Listen to track 9 of his album to see what I mean! And if anyone called Iranians fundamentalist, just play the music that's coming out of (not underground) Islamic Republic of Iran.

My favorite tracks are 1, 6 and 9! No they are not great works of art; but they resonate with the beat of the youth in Iran.

There are some very thorough and interesting takes on events at Payvand News and additional images here.

Cross-posted @ Daily Kos

From the Joint Committee of Knesset and US Congress

Did you know that there was a "Joint Committee of the Knesset and the US Congress"? I did not.

Anyway, a guy named Steinitz, who serves as head of this "Joint committee of the Knesset and the US Congress" is expressing "his great hope" that "the US will attack Iran".

Steinitz, who serves as head of a joint committee of the Knesset and the US Congress, expressed his great hope that the US will attack Iran, saying he believes that "the US will attack Iran and hit it in order to thwart its nuclear ability, as the diplomatic activity has failed."

"Bush and Blair have a historical role" - Steinitz claims that the US is technically capable of bombing the nuclear reactor in Iran. He stressed that his estimation is based on his deep acquaintance with senior US Congress members and senators.

"I believe that the US will use a military operation to save the world," Steinitz added. "Bush and Blair have a historical role in dealing with the Iranian threat." - Full text
[Alternative link]

And poor Mr. Abbas who has just been declaring that new elections will be run soon in the Occupied Territories and who may even issue a decree to dismiss the democratically elected Haniyeh government, if he only knew! Whereas he may have thought that by calling for new elections, he was doing his masters' bidding, Mr. Steinitz from the "Joint Committee of the Knesset and the US Congress" thinks otherwise. Steinitz declared: "No elections will change the nature of the Palestinian Authority as a terrorist entity and a systematic agreement violator. Israel must disband the PA, at least in Judea and Samaria, as a preliminary move ahead of the future need to deal with the Iranian threat." There you have it!

And that is not the only curious thing happening over there. Neocon woodworms have come out of the woodwork and are not being very nice. One of them is going as far as to chastise Israel for having waged the WRONG war last summer. See, it should have bombed the beejesus out of Syria instead of Lebanon!

Anyway, here is the full report. Enjoy ... Scream ... or Cry!

[All emphases are mine.]

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Censorship at Amazon.com?

Has Amazon censored Norman Finkelstein's Beyond Chutzpah?

So it would seem! Finkelstein comments on the current situation thus:

I have received many emails wondering why Amazon no longer lists my book Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history (University of California Press: 2005). I do not have a ready answer. Experts I've consulted tell me it's unlikely to be a random program glitch. At this point the more sinister explanations seem also to be the more plausible ones. - Source

I first learned about this from the UK-based Media Lens Message Board,

Supporters and people genuinely inconvenienced by this "censorship" have sent emails to Mr. Finkelstein and those can be accessed at the above link to his website.

Hopefully Amazon will soon issue an explanation as to why Beyond Chutzpah is no longer available on its main US site.

In the meantime, those who want to purchase the book can do so on the Canadian site of Amazon where it was still listed last time I checked. Beyond Chutzpah is also available at Barnes and Noble.

[Comments although welcome are not required. This diary is simply an alert regarding a very political issue, especially in these times.]

November 29: International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

Indeed today is that special day when we are meant to stop albeit for a few minutes and reflect on this immense human tragedy:

In 1977, the General Assembly called for the annual observance of 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (resolution 32/40 B). On that day, in 1947, the Assembly adopted the resolution on the partition of Palestine (resolution 181 (II)). Full text

More here

Related Activities (that I know of)

On this day, in Great Britain, activists will be lobbying Parliament to "Stop Starving the Palestinians - Stop Arming Israel".

A senior PLO aide is in New York to participate in the event at the UN.

And as my contribution to this day's event, I offer this article: Peace through equality for all and this video: Visit Palestine.

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21st century witchhunt

A leading voice of the pro-Israel lobby is pushing for an old-style "witchhunt"--under the guise of "homeland security"--to identify (and expel) individuals in the U.S. government and our military who are suspected of being hostile to Israel.

The call for a witch-hunt is based on the outlandish thesis that "Islamo-fascists" and Muslim "jihadist" operatives and, perhaps more particularly, their "sympathizers" -- however loosely defined--have infested America's defense, national security and federal law enforcement community.

The witch-hunt was proposed in the fall 2006 issue of the small-circulation--but highly influential--Journal of International Security Affairs published by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). JINSA has been one of the frontline forces in the fanatically pro-Israel "neo-conservative" circles directing foreign policy under George W. Bush. - Link

[Caution: I do not have access to the Journal of International Security Affairs and so cannot verify the veracity of the above quote. I am for the moment taking that information at face value and am obviously worried. I look forward to receiving any a contrario comment.]

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Democrats, Carter and AIPAC

Democrats Ignore Subjugation of Palestinians in Vilifying Carter's Book

A commentary.

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The terror plot that didn't fit

Last week, in a Lancashire town, two men appeared in court after police found Britain's largest ever haul of chemical explosives.


[Click at the bottom of the blue square to read ALL 3 pages]

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The Great Iraq Massacre

What the media is not telling you.

New study says US war has killed 655,000 Iraqis

Spread the word. THIS is Bush's Legacy!

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