Mar 28

A Not So Modest Proposal

Whatever

In listening to the questions directed at Solicitor General Verrilli yesterday with regard to the Affordable Care Act and its individual mandate I was shocked by a comment made by Justice Scalia. He essentially intimated that the governmental mandate upon emergency rooms to provide basic care to individuals regardless of their ability to pay has itself created the very problem of those with insurance subsidizing those who do not. I could not help but take his view as entirely fundamental. Of course, I exclaimed loudly! If we do not require any medical facility to offer free care, nor force insurance companies to offer policies to those with pre-existing conditions, unhealthy lifestyles, or genetic propensity for disease, the insurance market would be clear and fair. Obviously one must set aside the long-standing principle of the medical professions to treat those suffering pain, regardless of socioeconomic status in order to reach this conclusion, but who really believes that physicians take this principle all that seriously anymore? I mean really, the new BMW 7-Series just hit showrooms after all.

Each one of us should sit down today and write Justice Scalia a sincere thank you note for his clarity on this matter. If you do not have any money, you do not get any care. It really is that simple after all. Health care, like Coca-Cola, automobiles, boysenberries, or playing cards is no different from any other commercial product, and we do not as a society go around expecting free Coke and cars. My only hope is that somehow Justice Scalia can somehow bring about the disbanding of Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Administration facilities. Most notably the free health care for veterans. I mean really, we as a society actually pay them! They pay nothing at all. Why are they getting free health care? No one should ever be forced to pay for anyone else’s products or services. If you are shot, mosey on down to the Walgreen’s and pick up a sewing kit. If you get old, find a nice warm place to rest while you slowly die of some degenerative disease otherwise easily arrested by modern treatments. We will all be better off.

JUSTICE SCALIA: It’s a self-created problem.

GENERAL VERRILLI: — to say that Congress cannot solve the problem through standard economic  regulation, and that — and I do not think that can be  the premise of our understanding of the Commerce Clause.

JUSTICE SCALIA: Whatever -­

Here here Justice Scalia, whatever indeed.

Mar 15

Iran: Not Happening

With all the news reporting about Iran and its heretofore-primitive nuclear program, you would think the entire world population is on the verge of donning hunting gear, fleeing their homes, and heading out to live in the woods in some sort of Red Dawn reenactment.

The fact of the matter is that Iran is obviously attempting to build a nuclear device. It is also a fact that the leadership of the once secular nation does not intend to ever use such a device. In an interview some years ago, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked an obvious question in response to a rather condescending inquiry as to why Iran should be “permitted” to develop nuclear capabilities: “Why should we be prevented from doing so?” He reasoned that there is no sound basis to prevent Iran from obtaining not only nuclear energy, but a nuclear weapon. It is a sovereign nation and has every right to defend itself.  It is truly difficult to argue against this premise without reverting to hyperbolic dictum concerning religious crazies and unstable leadership. Honestly, who does the western world think it is, Iran’s mommy?

That being said, Mr. Ahmadinejad has most assuredly made some outlandish statements regarding the United States and Israel, as well as directed threats at those dependent upon the shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz. The Imams that wield almost absolute power in Iran are hardly perceived as stable by much of the civilized world. I would however hazard a guess that much of the inflammatory language coming from the religious and elected leaders in Iran is meant strictly for the Iranian public to consume. It is bluster, it is overconfidence. In other words, it is politics. Fomenting the perception of a unified enemy, national identity, and nationalist fervor is necessary to maintain stability amid the recent social and economic restrictions placed upon Iran’s people. Insane language concerning racism, sexism and anti-Semitism is nothing more than red meat for “Tea-Party Iran.” Certainly, the world does have some sound basis for skepticism of Iran, but it is not a threat to Israel or the world in any real way. Continue reading

Mar 14

Screw You . . .

. . . is precisely what the executives at Goldman Sachs screamed loudly and directly at anyone and everyone in response to Greg Smith’s scathing resignation-termination op-ed in the NY Times today. While a refreshing read, it is of no significance to the “culture” at Goldman Sachs. The company has operated in much the same fashion for decades and has no intention nor foresees any regulatory impediment in continuing to do so. It will continue to set the needs of its customers tangential to firm profits and infiltrate the highest positions of government to ensure things stay that way. It has profited in good times and bad, often from crises of its own making.

The reason that Goldman Sachs can continue to operate this business model is simple–there is no reason not to. It remains one of the most attractive investment firms for the world’s wealthy to park their money, and it ostensibly writes its own regulations. Whether it cares for its customers is not material–it makes them money even as it reaps larger profits for its shareholders and executives.

Perhaps Mr. Smith’s recent bonus failed to meet his expectations. Perhaps he was on the cusp of being let go for some as of yet undisclosed reason. Whatever the case, Goldman Sach’s reputation had been well documented the first day he stepped foot in its intern’s break-room and was cemented by the time he first held the hot towel handed to him by some untouchable in the executive washroom. His op-ed is not news or even newsworthy. It is an entertaining read at best.

I do know what would be newsworthy however: an executive at Goldman Sachs being indicted for fraud or securities crimes before I’m dead and buried. So, raise a glass tonight with the executives at Goldman Sachs and join them in shouting a loud fuck you to anyone who will listen, because they hold no solicitude toward Greg Smith or anyone else.

Mar 13

Some of My Best Friends Are . . .

From the unexpected department, a new study out of Oxford University has found that certain beta blockers, normally taken to treat heart disease, drastically decrease an individuals likelihood to present racist beliefs on a subconscious level.

We at TPT strongly encourage the departments of water and power in several states, most notably Kansas and Oklahoma, to immediately replace fluoride with propranolol in their municipal drinking water supplies.  Moreover, whatever doctors are prescribing for heart disease in the deep south — where obesity runs rampant – should also be changed to propranolol. Come on ladies and gentlemen, where are all the former LSU Tigers cheerleaders and wanna be male models now selling drugs for AstraZeneca in between teeth whitening appointments and shooting Survivor audition videos? Get down there!

“Specifically, the drug blocks activation in the peripheral ‘autonomic’ nervous system as well as in the area of the brain responsible for fear and emotional responses. The researchers suggest that propranolol was able to minimize unspoken racial basis because such bias is based on automatic, non-conscious fear responses, which propranolol blocks.”

A poll found that in Mississippi and Alabama, the white vote for Obama in 2008 was barely above 10%. I would not accept any free coffee offered to you from Obama campaign headquarters in those states come election day if you’ve been planning on voting for Mitt Romney.

Mar 01

Choking on Koch

On February 24th 2012, Philip Ellender, President, Government & Public Affairs of Koch Companies Public Sector sent a letter on behalf of David and Charles Koch to President Obama’s campaign director Jim Messina accusing the campaign of distorting its position on a number of issues in a letter sent to Obama campaign supporters.  The Koch brothers make an outlandish claim in response to the Obama campaign’s position that the Koch brothers “….business model is to make millions by jacking up prices at the pump….”

“For example, it is false that our “business model is to make millions by jacking up prices at the pump.” Our business vision begins and ends with value creation — real, long-term value for customers and for society. We own no gasoline stations and the part of our business you allude to, oil and gas refining, actually lowers the price of gasoline by increasing supply. Either you simply misunderstand the way commodities markets work or you are misleading your supporters and the rest of the American people.” Continue reading

Feb 28

Deal with it

So, NY Times readers, not only does the paper continue to employ Thomas Friedman and his opinion column for dummies wherein trite platitudes and unchecked claims of fact rule the day, we now have a columnist who declares that people with flammable drinking water should just stop stamping their feet and get over it.

Joe Nocera, a business columnist for the Times, writes today from his lofty perch that hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” isn’t going away and we should just deal with it. He claims that notwithstanding the already copiously documented environmental consequences and irresponsible behavior of the oil and gas companies extracting the buoyant blight from the shale rock deep below the earth’s surface, we should roll over and take it because “ that gas is too important to leave it in the ground.” Continue reading