Tarheeltalker

Depends on why you are Famous

Conventional wisdom has often said that it doesn’t matter why one is famous, only that one is famous. Sad to say, I believe that Rep Anthony Weiner(D, NY) would hasten to disagree. Until his lewd and salacious actions were made public, the majority of Americans would have been unable to identify him by name or picture. Now, he probably holds the title of our most well-known congressman.

But my interest is not so much with what he did but rather the reactions, both pro and con, that have ensued. Part of my reasoning is that I am not  very surprised with what he did. The internet has greatly facilitated these types  of behavior in and secondly, he is  not the first politician to be caught.in some type of compromising position.

On to  the reactions. Some are almost funny, some surprising (considering the sources) and some  are inconsistent. However, I have tried to avoid comments that are lewd or suggestive in. This mess has even  divided prominent Democrats with Reps Rangel and Clyburn offering support; Rangel even saying that after all he did not go out with little boys. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has urged him to resign, probably the first commonsense statement she has made since taking the job. And former speaker Pelosi  gravely concurred.

New York’s top elected Democrat Chuck Schumer is appalled and disappointed. Besides Weiner is taking over his spotlight. The Clintons are furious and probably for the best reasons of anyone other Weiner’s wife, the former Huma Abedin. You will remember that Bill officiated at their July 11, 2010 wedding. Besides Huma has worked for Hilary for  quite sometime and that the entire fiasco conjures up memories of Bill’s escapade(s). So far there has been no  public comment by the Clintons but one can only imagine what they are thinking.

And then we have the celebrity comments which for me fall under the class of what were they thinking and don’t they have people to forestall these  public comments. Television journalist Rachel Maddow said that Weiner exhibited “bad manners.” Barbara Walters said that the pictures she had seen were “flattering.” Joy Behar opined that the pictures were not the congressman, implying a frame, even after he confessed that they were. And that paragon of virtue Alec Baldwin said that works in a very highly stressful environment and was just letting off steam.

Finally, some comments that alone. They originate with MSNBC host, Chris( Tingles) Matthews. He has made frequent comments about Weiner that express his disgust, wonder at what he was thinking,etc. And then he proceeds to hold Mrs Weiner partly responsible. And finally ne bemoans the political consequences. If Weiner does not go away the Democrats will “never” again control of the House. And see if you recognize yourself in the last  statement.

” Because the people in the rural areas of this country who are Christian, conservative, culturally-you can say” backward” if you want-they don’t like this stuff.”

Thank goodness I didn’t hear  Bill Maher and Jane Lynch give a dramatic? comedic? reading of Weiner’s text messages. Wonder what Paul Harvey would have thought?

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June 12, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get Your ” Free ” Colonoscopy

About 2 years ago, I had a  colonoscopy done  at the urging of my physician. It was done at the hospital on an outpatient basis. To ensure that things went as they should, there was  an anesthesiologist, a gastroenterologist, a radiologist and a nurse or two. All of those folks did their job well, for which I was very thankful. Funny thing about those medical professionals , they expect to get paid for doing their jobs, as well they should.

But, now as the specifics of Obamacare begin to surface there may be a complicating factor in their getting paid. I will repeat for emphasis and will probably repeat it multiple times, Speaker Pelosi said that the bill had to be passed to know what was in it. Funny, that’s about what Sen Chris Dodd, D, CT just said about the much ballyhooed financial  reform bill. He added that we really won’t know if it works until there’s  another financial crisis. Comforting words, those. That statement doesn;t square up very well with what I heard the President say at the signing ceremony today. No more, he said, bailing out the big financial firms , no more crises. Really?

Anyway, back to our ” free”medical test. I believe it was Mrs Obama, could have been the President though who was talking about free medical tests. Come 2014, when many of the bill’s provisions kick in, no longer will people have to forego many of the preventative medical tests that they need. Why, because they will be free. That’s what she said. One of the tests mentioned was the above referenced colonoscopy. I started thinking about that the other day. One of the random thoughts that crossed my mind was that it may be  free but somebody’s going to pay for it.(As we all know there is no free lunch.) The medical people  involved do not work for free remember. So who is going to pay for  the test?  The government you may say. But how will they do that ? Take a wild guess and say taxes and more taxes.

It sounds quite appealing to promote these tests as being free, but eventually, the piper is paid.

July 21, 2010 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | 6 Comments

What is your BMI?

…and should you care? Perhaps you have no answer to either of those questions and until today neither did I. I still cannot answer the title question but I have a tentative answer for the second. But, between now and the year 2014 we shall in all likelihood become very familiar with said acronym.

A bit of an explanation.BMI stands for Body Mass Index which one can actually calculate for themselves  at the website for the  National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (nhlbisupport.com/bmi) which is an affiliate of the National Institutes  of Health. When one provides the appropriate figures the site calculates one’s body mass index on a numerical scale. The numbers are categorized on four levels which are underweight, normal, overweight and obese.

As  another feature of the economic stimulus plan sees the light of  day, we are learning that one’s BMI is going to become a very important number indeed. By the way, both of the above mentioned agencies belong to the Department of Health and Human Services. That brings us to an announcement made a few days  ago by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The secretary announced new regs this week  stipulating that the electronic health records that we are supposed to have by 2014 ( thanks to Obama’s  2009 economic stimulus bill)  must  record the BMI as well as height and weight,etc. The law also requires that these electronic records be  available on a  national exchange, with the proper security measures of course. Health care providers must, by 2014, establish meaningful  use of these electronic health records or face cuts in their  Medicare/Medicaid payments.

Ok, no what might be the reason mandating that BMI be maintained ? How exactly is it used? Well, the CDC uses the figure as its primary method for measuring obesity.

Ok, what is the first lady’s big mission, childhood obesity. Various and sundry legislators continue to float proposals to heavily tax soft drinks and the fast food industry is  a prime target of  Science in the Public Interest. Perhaps none of this means anything but I believe that it does. Added together it is rather strong effort at dictating what you can eat or perhaps even what you can weigh ( admittedly taken to te extreme) and if you do not comply, perhaps there could be a health insurance surcharge as  a penalty. Shucks, maybe one of the unknown provisions in Obamacare, as Speaker Pelosi termed it, already does this.

Don’t you just love the concept of greater government control?

July 16, 2010 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Congressman Unleashed

Anonymity is like a warm blanket. So said  Vanessa Redgrave,aka Job to Tom Cruise in the 1996 movie Mission Impossible. Betcha that Rep Bob Etheridge  from North Carolina’s second district would pay dearly for a measure of that sort of invisibility  about now.

The 7 term Democrat has been caught  in the full glare of the media spotlight due to an event  that occurred just last week. Here’s a guess that it is his first appearance on Drudge and  he hopes his last. What did the  still part-time farmer and former  Superintendent of  Public Instruction for North Carolina do to garner such attention?

Seem sthat last week he was on his way to a Nancy Pelosi fundraiser when he encountered a couple of college students  with  a video camera  who asked him if he supported  the Obama agenda. He demanded to know who they were and when they declined , he grabbed the camera from one person and grabbed the other by the wrist. He persisted in asking for identification and when they did not resond he grabbed one by the  neck and shoulders, refusing to let go. The individual finaly slipped away.

Today, a  few days later, Etheridge finally released  a statement. ( WTVD, the ABC  affiliate in Raleigh had previously left 11 messages requesting comment.)  He acknowledges having seen the video and expresses his regret for his reaction and apologizes to all involved.

Now what? The aforementioned tv station confirmed with DC metropolitan police that no charges had been filed,  which is quite fortunate for Rep. Etheridge. Was it an a ssault ? Follow the link on Drudge and watch the 1: 11  for yourself.  I watched and was disturbed by Etheridge’s reaction, regardless of whether he was provoked. He had a rather tight grip on the wrist of one individual and refused to let go when asked. This is the same congressman who has encouraged college students to get involved in politics.

Granted, there may have been an element of entrapament, emphasis on maybe. That in no way justifies a physical confrontation. Very curious as to what the  reaction will be inside the Beltway. Any doubt that it will be partisan in nature? Good thing Rush will  return tomorrow. This is right up his alley!

June 14, 2010 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tag Team of Blame

When I was a kid, I often watched professional wrestling with my dad. At that age, I was convinced that everything I saw was reality. So, I  would get really agitated during tag team matches when one wrestler would slap hands with his/her partner indicating it was time to leave the ring and yet remain  in the ring to double team their opponent.

Now, being so much more mature than during those early years, i no longer watch pro wrestling. But I remember the concept of a tag team and in the last couple of days, I have observed exactly that. Only this tag team is of a political persuasion. I am noy quite sure if these two are ” good guys” or not. But I have my suspicions.

The individuals in question are Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ( Speaker since January, 2007 an important fact to remember) and television personality Joy Behar, formerly of The View. I guess tv personality is the term for Ms Behar. I’m unsure if there is a better term, such as  one who promulgates wacky opinions and theories, but that doesn’t matter.

This week, both individuals have reached the same conclusions about the Gulf oil spill. Both are convinced that the Bush administration or Bush/Cheney in Ms Behar’s words are at fault. Me Pelosi maintains that it is the lax regulatory atmosphere fostered by Bush and still being implemented by Bush appointed who are burrowed deep  within numerous unnamed federal agencies. A request to her office to identify these individuals has received no response at this time. Appointees which a Congress controlled by Democrats would have had to approve, at least to some degree.

As for Ms Behar, she is quite disturbed that Obama is being blamed when he is just trying to clean up a mess caused by the Bush people. She refers, by the way, to Obama’s firing of Minerals Management Service head Elizabeth Birnbaum. At his Gulf coast press conference, when asked about that, the president asserted that he knew nothing of the firing. Again, a minor point, though a bit Clintonesque, I think.

Ms Behar, the Obama people gave this particular oil rig an  award, provided  BP waivers 10 days before the explosion and oh yes received significant campaign money from BP. Got to blame Bush though which  is interesting since the president said that he was tired of the finger-pointing and blaming. Better let your supporters know, or maybe they are just  doing the blaming on your behalf. Good political move, huh?

May 30, 2010 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I Want My Obamacare

Years ago, before it became so ubiquitous, MTV  had a commercial campaign that war either annoying  to the nth degree or an inspired bit of genius, depending on  your age group, I guess. In an effort to get their “product” on cable systems, we were treated to repeated commercials screaming from the telly, “I want my MTV.” Apparently, enough of the younger generation took it to heart because MTV became must see and must listen to for lots of people.

Now, some  27 years after the fabled ad campaign, people see to be asking for something entirely different. They are wondering where is their Obamacare? Not 2014, but now! There was such an intense campaign to get the bill passed and the Democrats euphoria  and celebration over the passage ( cue Joe Biden here) that one can hardly blame folks for wondering where all these great benefits are and when will they see  them? Supposedly, on the HHS website, information is forthcoming. You would think  it would have long ago been there. Perhaps  the reality of being the “health czar” has not quite sunk in for Secretary Sebelius  or maybe it has and she is just enjoying the afterglow.

The President doesn’t seem to  helping matters with some of his thinly veiled barbs at those  lawmakers who opposed the plan or the one comparing the criticism to people  expecting seeds  to sprout overnight. I  just keep remembering a comment he made to John McCain. I won, you lost, so get over it.

But with insurers  being flooded with calls about the plan’s  provisions and being surprised with the answers, perhaps Pelosi and company over sold the deal. Wait, it had to pass so we all would know what was in  it. Maybe that even applied to those who rammed the bill through?

April 8, 2010 Posted by | Health, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Now?

Obamacare is now the law of the land. Democrats are seen on the House floor cheering and shouting “yes, we can.” Speaker Pelosi and others have expressions of joy heretofore reserved for World Series winners, Super Bowl champs and children who get their perfect Christmas present. Some probably think that is exactly what has happened. A gentleman in Durham,NC is online saying that very thing. “It’s like Christmas.”

As a child I never wondered how my textile worker parents paid for the presents. I was just thrilled to get them. Fast forward 15 years or so and I was the one paying for the presents. Bottom line, someone has to pay for the goodies. The numbers are bandied about that 30+ million uninsured Americans will finally have health care. Well, maybe they will, but not just yet-maybe by 2014. And, as for those who don’t want health care? Guess what, you lose. Get it or pay a fine, courtesy of our newest health care cops- the IRS. As far as the revenue boys are concerned this bill is  a bonanza. Estimates of  5 billion dollars or more in new agents and enforcement tools are being mentioned.

I thought a lot today about all those uninsured who are somehow  seen as a monolithic group. I thought about all the reasons they might be without insurance. Have no clue about percentages but I daresay that many cannot afford coverage. How will they all of a sudden be able to afford it? They won’t of course. There is this thing of a tax credit to enable them to purchase coverage. Wonder how many in their euphoria realize this ain’t happening overnight? Just wondering.

I feel a bit qualified to speak about the uninsured since for several years, my wife and I were in that group. During that time, I had surgery, she had an accident, along with the normal prescriptions and doctor visits. Were we concerned at times? Sure. And we were quite blessed to have no life threatening situations. Neither of us recall thinking that someone owed us health coverage, much less, Uncle Sam.

You see, contrary to what the President said a day or so ago and what many signs and doubtless many politicians have said, I  firmly believe that health insurance is not a right. Perhaps one can make a much better case that it is right. I fear that we as a nation have manufactured yet another right and still another reason to look to and depend on Washington for anything we need.

March 23, 2010 Posted by | Culture, Life and Death, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Health Care Perspective

It is appearing increasingly likely that a health care bill will be passed by the Democrat controlled Congress. The wrangling over abortion restrictions that is only the latest issue will alas probably be overcome. ( Kudos on the efforts of Bart Stupak.) I say this with no enthusiasm since I fear that we will rue the day this bill was passed and rue even more when its provisions take effect. As Speaker Pelosi said, it must be passed so everyone will know what is in it. That one statement should cause every American of whatever political persuasion to wonder just what is happening.

Plus, two new terms have entered the political lexicon that I venture to say will also return to haunt us. One is the “deem it passed”  concept and the  other the “Slaughter Rule.” The deem it passed idea is one of the more convoluted things that one can imagine. The more I read about it, the more confusing it gets. In this process, that seems to be the norm. Can you  imagine James Madison, who developed the copncept  of “checks and balances” being faced with such a concept. And, don’t look just yet, but tis approach may be already under consideration for dealing with the thorny problem of immigration reform. If  I were a Democrat, I would tread very lightly here since their majority status is not  a perpetual things(as it is in the North Carolina legislature) and the old goes around comes around – process is always lurking behind the next election.

Then there is the Slaughter Solution. Named for powerful Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, Chair of the House Rules Committee, and one of Congress’ most powerful women. In fact, the deem it passed approach came from her. The irony of this concept is the fact that the Republicans( shame on you) used a similar approach in 2006 when they ruled the roost, albeit on  a bill of far, far less import than one that  will takeover 1/6 of the U S economy. Anyway, there was a suit filed against the Republican action. It was led by Waxman, Slaughter and Pelosi. How ’bout that? The name Slaughter Solution itself carries all sorts of inferences and connotations which are far more  intriguing than had it been the Smith or Jones Solution.

So, as we stand on the brink or precipice, one has to wonder what the verdict of  history will be. One final thought. I daresay that few bills have had more claimed for them than this one. One has to know that like exaggerated claims for anything, it will never accomplish all that its supporters claim for it. Let us hope that the fears of damage are also overstated.

March 20, 2010 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Gift or Gaffe that keeps on giving

Sometimes I think that I should feel quite indebted to those people who  provide leadership for the Democrats in this country. For your reading pleasure today, we have  examples of some of our favs in action. We have Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and an intersting combination of Rahm ( next senator from Illinois) Emanuel and departing congressman Eric Massa.

As you may know, Senator Reid is facing a strong challenge in his bid for re-election. He officially filed the necessary papers to just a day or two ago. In his statement, he mentioned working to get jobs for the good people of Nevada. Good, sure. But juxtapose that with the statement he made in the Senate a few days ago. It’s a good day today, only 36,000 people lost their jobs. Bet none of those folks saw it that way.

Example #2 comes from Madame Speaker, who incidentally claimed today that she has the votes to pass health care reform or Obamacare or the great takeover of 1/6 of the economy. Take your pick. Anyway, she was  quoted as saying the bill needs to pass because- long pause for effect- people could then see what was actually in it. Sounds like buying the old pig in a poke to me; but in a very  big way.

Last but by no means least is the Massa vs Emanuel  confrontation. First, I need to introduce Rep Massa, D, NY. He is serving his first and last term from the  29th district of New York. He  won a very close election over then incumbent Randy Kuhl, Jr. Seems that the Congressman is under fire for some alledged bad personal behavior, which I will not repeat. In sort of his swan song, he shared some interesting comments on Mr Emanuel, who needs no intro. Seems that the two had a confrontation not long ago in the Congressional gym. What was Rahm doing there? Why, he is the Chief of Staff, he goes where he wants. So the story goes, Emanuel  berated Massa in extraordinarily colorful language ( probably words with  4 letters I’m  guessing) for not toeing the line on a health care vote. I won’t paint the entire picture, but remember they were in a men’s locker room and the guess is they were not wearing coats and ties. Betcha Emanuel did not think  a mere freshman congressman would ever have the audacity to breathe a word of what happened. The mental pictures near boggle the mind. Guess the Dems need  a new candidate for the 29th district. Reckon Randy Kuhl,Jr wants his ld job back? Just found out that he doesn;t want the job and is urging support  for Republican Tom Reed. New York Governor Paterson will announce  a  special  election shortly. Lot of those in New York, huh?

So, just another day in As the Democrats Turn.

March 10, 2010 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What about Charles Rangel?

Rep Charles Rangel, D, NY is the Chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. He is serving his second term as chair and his 20th term in the House  from New York’s 15th District. The committee among other duties has responsibility for writing the  tax laws that we all love  so much.

Unfortunately, Rep Rangel has  had a bit of trouble with those tax laws, as in not paying taxes that he should have paid to the tune of about $500,000. So, the House Ethics Committee launched an investigation into the  matter. And, alas, it found that he had violated House rules.

Now this when it gets really good and a bit complicated. we have appearances from Speaker Pelosi, Senator Dick Durbin and the President as well as unnamed staffers who are really the ones at fault here.

First, the President has a say. In days gone by, he had called Rangel untouchable. Now, according to Robert Gibbs, Obama says that the House has rules for a reason, they must apply to everyone and that members of Congress “ought to be accountable.” The New York Daily News account, written by Michael Mcauliff and Richard Sisk, has this headline. President Barack Obama abandons  Rep. Charles Rangel against ethics  charges. Ok, so it isn’t great grammar but their point is clear.

Next we have Speaker Pelosi  and Senator Dick Durbin. First, the Speaker. She is asked a question by ABC’S  Elizabeth Vargas about the Rangel charges and how it appears to back up the feeling among many that Congress is corrupt. First, Pelosi refers to her 7 years on the Ethics Committee and then says something that just flat out amazes me. ” What Mr Rangel has been admonished for is not good… it was not something that jeopardized our country in any way.” Is that amazing or what? So, I wonder what would fall under the category of jeopardy in her view? Say, a Republican doing something similar. Paging Tom Delay. Good freakin grief.

Next is Illinois Senator Dick Durbin. Remember, he’s a senator commenting. He refers to Rangel’s military service in the Korean conflict. Because of that service , Durbin elects to give him a pass.

And, this last group is almost funny, if it were not sad. It seems to be   a coordinated media defense, based on Pelosi’s comments. Messrs Joe Scarborough, Paul Krugman, Zbigniew Brezinski and  Andy Serwer. Can’t be sure about Scarborough the host but the other folks seem to say, eh, no big deal.

Stay tuned, there will be more.

March 2, 2010 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment