Tom Hayden on Hanoi Jane: Must Read

You Gotta Love Her

In fact, Fonda was neither wrong nor unconscionable in what she said and did in North Vietnam. She told the New York Times in 1973, "I'm quite sure that there were incidents of torture...but the pilots who were saying it was the policy of the Vietnamese and that it was systematic, I believe that's a lie." Research by John Hubbell, as well as 1973 interviews with POWs, shows that Vietnamese behavior meeting any recognized definition of torture had ceased by 1969, three years before the Fonda visit. James Stockdale, the POW who emerged as Ross Perot's running mate in 1992, wrote that no more than 10 percent of the US pilots received at least 90 percent of the Vietnamese punishment, often for deliberate acts of resistance. Yet the legends of widespread, sinister Oriental torture have been accepted as fact by millions of Americans.

Erased from public memory is the fact that Fonda's purpose was to use her celebrity to put a spotlight on the possible bombing of Vietnam's system of dikes. Her charges were dismissed at the time by George H.W. Bush, then America's ambassador to the United Nations, who complained of a "carefully planned campaign by the North Vietnamese and their supporters to give worldwide circulation to this falsehood." But Fonda was right and Bush was lying, as revealed by the April-May 1972 White House transcripts of Richard Nixon talking to Henry Kissinger about "this shit-ass little country":

NIXON: We've got to be thinking in terms of an all-out bombing attack.... I'm thinking of the dikes.

KISSINGER: I agree with you.

NIXON: ...Will that drown people?

KISSINGER: About two hundred thousand people.

It was in order to try to avert this catastrophe that Fonda, whose popular "FTA" road show (either "Fun, Travel, Adventure" or "Fuck the Army") was blocked from access to military bases, gave interviews on Hanoi radio describing the human consequences of all-out bombing by B-52 pilots five miles above her. After her visit, the US bombing of the dike areas slowed down, "allowing the Vietnamese at last to repair damage and avert massive flooding," according to Mary Hershberger. : Martha Stewart Convicted of All Counts (Except...)

...the one that was dropped earlier in the week. Never let facts stand in the way of a gnarly headline, right? This should be the Daily Howler's lead tomorrow...

Hey, check out the Center for American Progress. It's new on the blogroll.

Also, just saw an uggabugga take on the new Bush ad campaign. Be sure you're sitting down before you click over.

The Perfect Storm: Memogate, Plamegate, Adgate, and The IRI in Haiti

Let's see, where to start?

Memogate is zeroing in on the target.

Plamegate is expanding.

Bush's first ads are facing a lot of criticism.

Fingerprints are appearing all over Haiti. Is now the time to mention that the International Republican Institute has been using USAID money to finance a private Haiti chatroom and information website to combat the effect of "rumor" in Haitian politics?

Since 1986, the Haitian people have been challenging authoritarian rule in Haiti. Despite their efforts to build a viable democracy, officials, some of whom are elected, have often betrayed public trust and undermined the chances for transparent governance. Over three decades of dictatorship followed by military rule ended in 1990 when Jean-Bertrand ARISTIDE was elected president. After a coup in 1991 Aristide was returned to office in 1994 by the international community. Rene Preval was handpicked by Aristide to succeed him at the presidency in 1996. ARISTIDE won a second term as president in 2000, and took office early in 2001. However, a political crisis stemming from fraudulent legislative elections in 2000 has not yet been resolved.

...IRI is now adding to its programs an emphasis on information technology and a focus on the Haitian Diaspora. IRI is developing a website that has specific political, economic and social information relevant to Haiti. It includes various links to allow Haitians abroad and in Haiti access to timely and accurate data and analyses.

Rumors are a key factor driving Haitian politics, and they lead to a tense political environment. This undermines efforts toward good governance. To address this challenge, Haitians need access to accurate information. IRI will create and maintain a website, This site will allow political parties, civil society, the Haitian Diaspora, Caribbean constituencies and representatives of the international community to explore solutions to Haiti's democracy and governance obstacles.

Those who connect to the website will be able to post their opinions and ideas in a chat room. IRI will selectively incorporate unsolicited remarks and create a link so that these remarks can be made available to the public.
No love for Aristide and all the rumor-fighting power of an Internet chatroom. What will those wacky Republicans think of next?

I'm beginning to wonder, not if we can win in November, but will a single Republican be left in office?

Healthcare: GAO Health Care System Crisis

Growing Challenges Point to Need for Fundamental Reform

This Powerpoint presentation was a part of the GAO Health Care Forum, held on January 13, 2004. I don't want to reproduce the slides here at the blog, but it's a very good explanation of the severe healthcare crunch that we are facing in this country.

Health Care System Challenges

With respect to health care, both the private and public sectors are losing ground in their efforts to balance competing goals of sustainable cost, broad access, and good quality.

Slide 9
"Broad access" and "good quality" are both clear enough - but what does the GAO mean by sustainable costs? That's the idea of keeping costs low enough to maintain access levels but not endanger quality. This is pretty easy to understand - in the normal course of events, the higher the costs, the higher the quality of service provided, and therefore the more narrow the access. Not everyone can afford the highest level of healthcare. It's the law of supply and demand.

But as we've seen from the Kangas page, costs are skyrocketing in this country in a way that isn't being reflected in a higher level of quality. The GAO report agrees with this: they show that a high level of spending doesn't translate into a higher level of healthcare resources. Other industrialized nations enjoy a better healthcare system with broader access and lower costs than the United States. What is going on? What are we buying with our healthcare money?

For that I turn back to the CDC report, Table 115 on page 309 (pdf 314). Their latest numbers are from 2001, and they tell us that we spent over $1.4 trillion dollars on healthcare that year. Professional services accounts for 32.5% of health spending. That includes physician and clinical services, dental services, other professional care, and other personal health care.

Hospital care runs a close second at 31.7%.

Retail sales of drugs and other medical products are 13.4% of the national total, and nursing home/home health costs are 9.3%.

This is the bulk of the spending on healthcare in the United States. Prescription drugs purchased retail are 9.9% of the total amount, around $140 billion. That doesn't include prescription drugs taken in the hospital or in nursing homes, though. I'm going to be conservative and say that between 15% and 18% of the $1.4 trillion we spend on healthcare goes toward prescription drugs. The retail sales alone has the highest annual percent change from year to year. From 1997 to 1998, the increase was 12.8%. From 1998 to 1999, 19.7%. From 1999 to 2000, 16.4%, and from 2000 to 2001, there was a 15.7% increase in spending on retail sales of drugs. Room-a-zoom-zoom.

That's the first place the money is going. Pharmaceuticals are vacuuming up healthcare money in this country.

The second biggest expense, hospital care, is another area of concern. This article compares Canadian hospitals to American hospitals:
Canadian acute care hospitals have more admissions, more outpatient visits, and more inpatient days per capita than hospitals in the United States, but they spend appreciably less. The reasons include higher administrative costs in the United States and more use of centralized equipment and personnel in Canada.
The Canadian system is a nationwide healthcare plan, of course, which allows for greater centralization of equipment and personnel, and lower administrative costs. This lets them spend less while offering broader access and maintaining high quality of care.

These two problems aren't the only challenges that our healthcare system faces. The GAO report stresses the role of the coming baby boomer retirees in forcing costs to unsustainable levels in programs like Medicaid and Medicare. Also, since 43 million people go without health insurance in this country, they go without preventative health care as well. Other countries focus on preventative measures, to help keep costs down. But those of us without health insurance simply put off doctor visits until absolutely necessary. This helps skew the numbers like life expectancy down and push death rates higher.

And there's plenty more in the GAO report. I expect to be referring to this site for quite some time in this series, so go ahead and leaf through the slides. It's not a pretty picture, and all Americans are going to be facing some tough questions and answers on the subject.

But for now, I think that we've identified two large problems in the numbers right now: a decentralized healthcare system and runaway drug prices. Both deserve some more examination, and that will be coming up.

uggabugga reprints his forecast of the Democratic primary race: he only missed a couple of points. He, like Liberal Oasis, is looking at Evan Bayh for the veep.

Calpundit and TBogg link us to things to say in Aramaic while watching The Passion of the Christ. Ktaabaa taab hwass meneyh.

Healthcare: Updated Liberal Healthcare FAQ (Part Two)

Infant Mortality Rates

The next chart shows the average number of infant deaths for every 1000 births. The 1991 figures are from the Kangas FAQ, the 1999 figures are from the CDC report (page 130, pdf 135):

Infant Deaths Per 1000 Births

United States10.411
United Kingdom9.4n/a*
*CDC data breaks United Kingdom into England/Wales, Ireland, and Scotland.

The United States is the only country on this list whose number went up. The CDC lists 37 countries and the US ranks 28th there. Cuba and Northern Ireland are tied for 26th. Slovakia is 28th.

This is as far as I can get with the information that's free. I found the source for most of the data Kangas uses, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and was able to get data from the year 2000 to update the Life Expectancy Tables even further:

United Kingdom72.7875.47
United States71.61174.111

United States78.61079.510
United Kingdom78.21180.29
*2000 data for Germany not available

In these three indicators, the United States is consistently rated lower than other industrialized nations, even though we spend far more money per person in healthcare than any other nation out there.

Now we can still claim that we have one of the best healthcare systems in the world, when you throw places like Afghanistan and Zambia into the mix. But why isn't it the best? Why isn't it even in the top ten of these indicators?

Survey For People Who've Seen The Passion

The Passion of the Christ Movie Survey

It's a very brief survey, and asks some intelligent questions. Go take it.

I'm participating in a small forum on The Passion of The Christ at The sparks are already flying. It should be a good discussion.

Sorry that I didn't blog more today. I'll get on the stick tonight after the show.

John Kerry is The Nominee

Just got an email from his campaign this afternoon:

Dear Bolo,

I believe that in November, with one united Democratic Party, we can and will win this election. Last night, we saw the power of millions of people across the country, united behind a desire to change America.

With your help, we have reached a defining moment. But just this morning, George W. Bush launched his $150 million campaign to try to set the terms of the debate for the general election. The ads he runs will attempt to distract from the miserable record he has built, and the hardships his one-sided, misguided policies have caused the American people. We must act quickly to respond to Bush's distortions.

Will we let the Bush campaign define this election, distorting his record and mine in the process? Or will we carry the momentum of yesterday's enormous victory forward with energy and enthusiasm? You and I both know the answer. We've come this far by fighting for every vote and answering every challenge.

Let's roll up our sleeves and go to work on the biggest challenge -- and most important opportunity -- of all. Thank you so much for standing with me. We have accomplished a great deal and I am confident that, together, we can take on any challenge and win.

Let's get it done.

John Kerry
The race is on.

I'm thinking about yet another blogroll section: PDF Bolo. The Passion top ten list would be there, and probably the Liberal Healthcare Update, too. No promises, but more than likely, it will happen.

The Valley of the Kings Online

Theban Mapping Project

This may be the best website I've ever seen. If you've any interest in ancient Egypt, you should take an hour or two and start exploring. You can pick any of the tombs and walk around a 3-D representation. You can zoom into actual photographs of walls. The level of detail is incredible.

It's the next best thing to actually travelling to Thebes. Why are you still reading this? Go, go!

Healthcare: Updating Liberal Healthcare FAQ (Part One)

I found something to focus these posts.

The Opposing Viewpoints book (see below) is really sharp. They reprint an article by Steve Kangas, which is a virtual reprint of his FAQ page on healthcare (the book cites an old URL, but Google took care of that). His argument is very cogent, and one quote alone is worth the price of admission:

Part of the problem is that there is more profit in a pound of cure than an ounce of prevention.
However, his stats comparing America to other industrialized nations are from 1991. Is there a way to update these figures?

Looking around, I found the Center for Disease Control (CDC) site with a .pdf download available for Health, America, 2003. This book must be the inspiration for the Health Nashville report that I've yet to acquire. It's Viagra for a healthcare policy wonk. Charts, statistics, trends...the sliderule factor is very high. But with Kangas' article as a guide, I can poke around and get the figures for today (or as close as possible). Please alert me in the comments if I'm going too deep into the numbers.

Kangas first compares health care spending in ten countries to their gross domestic product (GDP). His figures are first, and the latest figures from the CDC are second (page 305 in the report, 310 in the pdf).

United States13.413.3
United Kingdom6.67.3
*Sweden's last available figure was from 1998, when healthcare spending was 7.8% of Sweden's GDP.

Some countries dropped in nine years, and others increased. But the United States still dwarfs them all.

But wait, there's more. On the next page of the CDC report, a similar report gives American information up to the year 2001. Our healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP went up to an incredible 14.1%.

There's two reasons for this. GDP did take a hit that year because of the 9/11 attacks. It only went up 2.6% from the year before, when a gain of at least 5.6% was the norm in the previous three years. But health costs were steadily accelerating in these years. In 1998, healthcare spending was up 5.1%, and in 1999, it was up 6.1%. The following year, costs went up 7.4%, and in 2001, the jump was 8.7% over the costs in 2000. Room-a-zoom-zoom.

In the year 2001, we spent over $5000 for every person in the United States on healthcare. I'll have to be honest with you - I didn't see a dime of it.

No, wait - full disclosure. That year I went fulltime and received health insurance from my employer. In December 2001, I had a physical. So I did spend some healthcare money that year. It couldn't have cost $5000, could it? Nah.

For the kind of money we spend, we should have a healthcare system that produces incredible results, right? Well, they're incredible, all right.

Life expectancy

The chart Kangas provides can be confusing. He ranks twelve different countries by life expectancy of women, but includes a column for men as well. The US doesn't fare very well in either one - we're ranked 10th in the female list, and 11th in the male. To update this table with CDC info (page 131, pdf 136), I'm breaking it into charts for men and women:

United Kingdom72.78n/a*?
United States71.61173.810
*The CDC divided the UK into England/Wales, Ireland, and Scotland.

United States78.61079.510
United Kingdom78.211n/a*?
*See note for male table above.

For men, the rankings remained about the same. There was a big shakeup for women, but in the end, the United States held onto the bottom of the list.

The CDC table here gives a worse picture. It lists 37 countries, from the dizzying heights of Hong Kong and Japan to the depths of the Russian Federation. Among these countries we rank 21st in life expectancy for women, and 24th for men. Guys, take heart - we managed to get on top of Hungary.

To be continued...

Wow. Major computer problems today. Sorry for updating so late.

To the left, the brand new healthcare blogroll. Those links are initial and have not been checked for any Republican bias. In fact, I have seen that the Kaiser Foundation is the largest HMO on the planet, and it funds the Alliance for Health Reform. So, caveat empeor.

Lazarus pointed me via email to another great review of the Passion. His favorite part is my favorite part.

For one brief shining weekend, I was a Flappy Bird in the TLB Ecosystem. Now I'm back down to Slithering Reptile. That's what I get for knocking Mel.

Spring of Healthcare: Beginning the Research (Local Library)

I took a trip to my local library today. Nashville has recently constructed a huge new library downtown, and it's spectacular, but I couldn't get there. I went to the local branch here in Bellevue.

Here are the resources my local library has on healthcare policy:

Health Care Choices For Today's Consumer, edited by Marc S. Miller, Ph. D.

Published in 1997 by Families USA Foundation and John Wiley & Sons, this book is step above Health Care Choices for Dummies. At first glance, it's written in simple language, but appears to be very informative. It's recommended by the Library Journal as "essential for every consumer." It might be dated now.

The U.S. Health Care Crisis by Victoria Sherrow

Published in 1994 by Millbrook Press, as a part of their Issue and Debate series. It's aimed at high school readers, and was written during the Clinton health care wars. Sherrow has made a career of the high school summary market, so I'd say the book is quality.

Health Care: Opposing Viewpoints, edited by James D. Torr

Published in 2000 by Greenhaven Press, part of their Opposing Viewpoints series. It's a collection of essays from all sides of the debate, with dialogue questions at the beginning of each article. It's clearly intended for the high school range, like the Sherrow book.
Those books are on my desk right now. Two other books are in the Bellevue Library's reference section:
Health Nashville and Davidson County, 2002

A huge report from Nashville's Metro Public Health Department, covering all manner of health statistics from the Nashville area. I only glanced through it, because the report promised that I can download it from the website. So far, I'm having trouble accessing the Nashville government ftp site.

What To Do When You Can't Afford Healthcare, by Matthew Lesko

This is the same guy in a yellow suit with green question marks who hawks his government giveaway book on TV. This is a monstrous compendium of institutes and government offices dedicated to every conceivable permutation of good and bad health out there.
Now that's not all that are in the Metro system. I hit the online card catalog and have several more books working their way toward the Bellevue hold shelf.

(Never underestimate the power of your local library, my friends. In my online searches (to be reported on later), I discovered a fantastic book called Understanding Health Policy. It's a college level textbook, and I do hope to get my grubbies on a copy this spring. Though the Metro system didn't have the book, they took my request that they purchase one right then and there. You can do the same at your local branch. Librarians respond to the needs their patrons express, and as John Ashcroft has learned, you don't mess with librarians. They're hella serious about both the freedom of public information and the barrier against private information, and they don't suffer fools gladly.)

So the local selection is small but compact. I'll tackle the two high school books tonight. They should be informative enough to formulate a gameplan for research into the major issues.

By The Way, Ophelia Is Pregnant

Crafty Screenwriting

After you read that post, it's as clear as a sign falling from the sky saying, "Duh!" I disagree that Ophelia should be showing though - I think that the consummation happened when Hamlet came back for the funeral. Ophelia's only beginning to be aware of her pregnancy. That can be communicated easily enough.

In fact, only three people ever know that she's pregnant, as I see it: Ophelia herself, Hamlet (at the Mousetrap, he finally figures it out), and Queen Gertrude (when Ophelia splits a crop of rue with her). Could Laertes and Claudius get it in that scene as well? Maybe. This gives so much for the actress playing Ophelia to work with.

Man, Hamlet is da bomb.

Sabbath Memories and Justice for the Stranger

Mark A. R. Kleiman: Avodim hayyinu l'Pharoh b'Mitzrayim

A gem of a post from Mark Kleiman. He points out that the Deuteronomic imperative to see justice done for the stranger is rooted in the memory of corporate slavehood, the commanded meditation of the Sabbath.

I'd like to point out how Jewish this makes Jesus and the body of teaching which sprung from his influence.

So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go: first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.

Matthew 5:23-24, NRSV
The Right Christians quotes from the judgment of the nations in Matthew 25, where acts of social justice are said to be done to Christ. Even the Lord's Supper becomes a child of this Sabbath memory - the Supper proclaims the death of Christ, which provided an exodus from God's wrath into God's grace.

As Dale at the Right Christians says:
We should, with a million times more justification, honor and praise the Jewish tradition for creating Christianity rather than blame the Jewish people for the death of Jesus.

Bolo Boffin's Spring Obsession: Healthcare

I've decided to educate myself on one of the biggest issues facing America today: healthcare. I'm an utter novice on this issue - I am one of the 40 million Americans who don't have health insurance. This is a great reason of its own to look into the issue, but there's more than that. According to this .pdf file from, six of the ten largest investor-owned hospital chains are headquartered in Nashville and her suburbs. The Republican nominee for president in the year 2008 may very well be Nashville's senior Senator and the Senate Majority Leader, Dr. Bill Frist. His family owns HCA, the largest of the investor-owned hospital chains.

And I live in Nashville.

Tennessee also has one of the few statewide health insurance systems, Tenncare. Under the recently elected Democratic governor, Phil Bredesen, Tenncare is undergoing a serious restructuring in order to rein in growing costs and salvage the ten year old program. This provides an excellent test case to examine, and it's right here in Tennessee.

And then there's all the resources available on the Internet. I even have a few secret sources of information, whose names I cannot divulge (mainly because they have no idea I'm about to hit them up for information).

Healthcare will be a huge issue of the current 2004 election, because it will be a primary battleground in both the 109th and 110th Congresses. It will do us good to get some intelligence on where the major battles will be fought. So for the next three months (longer if necessary, shorter if possible), this blog will be obsessed with healthcare.

My best case scenario is this: my journey to understand the healthcare debate being an excellent introduction to the problems. It's a long road, but hobbits have been known to undertake these kind of hopeless quests before. We even boast a high rate of success. Since this is an election year, I promise to stoop to partisanship at times, but my main focus will be examining the issues, knocking holes in the various solutions, and maybe, just maybe, finding some real answers to the problems.

More Fun With Gay Marriage

The best way to deal with this issue is humor and warmth. My own bumper sticker idea:

If You Don't Like Gay Marriage, Don't Apply For One

It's based on a couple of old preacher jokes that aren't worth repeating here.

Please remember that just like God Hates Fags, God Hates Shrimp.

Also, here's twelve ways that gay marriage will destroy America. The first three:
1. Homosexuality is not natural, much like eyeglasses, polyester, and birth control are not natural.

2. Heterosexual marriages are valid because they produce children. Infertile couples and old people cannot get legally married because the world needs more children.

3. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children because straight parents only raise straight children.
Okay, let's get serious. Frank Rich has an op-ed at the New York Times this morning:
Here's the denouement of the epic drama over gay marriage. It's going to happen, it's going to happen within a generation, and it's going to happen even though George W. Bush teed off his re-election campaign this week by calling for a constitutional amendment to outlaw it. As the country has now had weeks to digest, it has already happened in bulk in San Francisco, where images of couples waiting all night in the rain to be wed finally wiped Janet Jackson off our TV screens. The first of those couples, Phyllis Lyon, 79, and Del Martin, 83, were celebrating a partnership of 51 years. Take that, heterosexual marriage! The most famous practitioner of mixed-sex nuptials this year, Britney Spears, partook of a Vegas marriage that clocked in at 55 hours.

Whatever their short-term legal fate, the San Francisco weddings mark a new high-water mark in one of the most fast-paced cultural tsunamis America has seen. As Evan Wolfson, the civil rights lawyer who founded Freedom to Marry, says, "An act as unremarkable as getting a wedding license" has been transformed by the people embracing it, much as the unremarkable act of sitting at a Formica lunch counter was transformed by an act of civil disobedience at a Woolworth's in North Carolina 44 years ago this month. Gavin Newsom, the heterosexual, Irish Catholic mayor of San Francisco, described his proactive strategy for advancing same-sex marriage to Time magazine: "Put a human face on it. Let's not talk about it in theory. Give me a story. Give me lives." And so now there have been thousands of gay wedding stories, many of them with the couples' parents and children in the supporting cast, at the same City Hall where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio famously got hitched to no good end a half-century ago.
I thought that my next big obsession was going to be this issue, but Mr. Rich has put a ribbon on it for me.

Marriage, at its heart, is about intimate companionship. If two people are willing to throw their resources together and aim for the long term, the state has an interest in seeing that they can make it. The most powerful bond to ensure such a relationship works is love and mutual attraction. That's why marriage is built on the relationship between lovers. The rush of sexual attraction provides the initial momentum for the marriage. It's the motive for building a life together - for sharing the ups and downs, the bills, the laughter, the heartache, the boredom. It gives a greater degree of stability to these lives, and that stability is the state's true interest in the matter. That's the shelter that can raise a healthy family, or build a better community.

Marriage is going to be abused by gay people, the same way it's abused by straight people. But there will be those couples that do the institution credit. These people deserve the mantle of public recognition that marriage provides. We'll all be better for it.

Gigli Grabs Six Razzies

24th Annual Raspberry Awards

GIGLI (Sony-Columbia/Revolution) Produced by Casey Silver & Martin Brest


Jennifer Lopez / GIGLI

Sylvester Stallone (Playing 5 Roles, All Badly!) SPY KIDS 3-D: GAME OVER


Ben Affleck & Jennifer Lopez / GIGLI

WORST EXCUSE for an ACTUAL MOVIE (All Concept/No Content!) (New Category)


Martin Brest / GIGLI

GIGLI, Written by Martin Brest

Travis Payne for His Work on FROM JUSTIN TO KELLY
I'm happy to say that I missed every one of the winners this year. I'm sure the honors were well deserved.