“Don’t Hold The Trials In NY” Really Means Keep Our Criminal Secrets And Protect The Asses Of/In The Bush Administration.
There is going to be a lot of verbal babble over the decision to hold trials in New York, and some of it may even seem logical and reasonable. When all is said and done the fact will remain that it is as much a political decision as it would be to commence these trials in a court of military justice. If you listen carefully and clear your eyes of the smoke screen; that which troubles the right the most is not that justice will not be done, but it will be done in the open and some very ugly facts and solid condemnations of the Bush Administration will be revealed in such manner as the media cannot ignore them and that subsequent actions against several administration officials will become necessary…at last.
Face The Nation 11.15.09
t r u t h o u t | Afghanistan and the "Other" Vietnam War
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Remember the days of travel agencies, with brightly decorated offices and exotic posters of far off places? It was the only way to book a trip. Yet, in a few short years, the entire field has been replaced by Expedia, Orbitz and other sites for individuals to find the best price, and book it themselves. A total paradigm change that is here to stay.
Guess what: health care is going in the same direction, and just in time -- with or without government backed plans, or insurance companies who deny care, and rip off doctors. Almost 46 million Americans, from our youth to elders and veterans, don't have health insurance, and millions more carry high deductibles. No one knows the true cost of health care services, and the public certainly does not have a way to find a doctor who offers services at a reduced fee, right?
Wrong. Not as of this week. A brand new company, PriceDoc, is hitting the national market, and is sure to transform everyday health care with the same momentum that brought us Google, Facebook or Priceline. Move over William Shatner! PriceDoc's website gives patients greater power as healthcare consumers by identifying local providers, reviewing credentials and patient referrals, and finding competitive pricing for high-quality healthcare.
By advertising their services and prices on PriceDoc, healthcare providers gain access to "cash-paying" patients who optimize their office scheduling, secure fees for service and offer cash payments that reduce paperwork and overhead costs. Services include dental, vision, chiropractic, and general care. PriceDoc has stringent guidelines to attract high quality doctors and health providers who are willing to offer reduced fees for the same level of care.
George Halvorson, Chairman and CEO of Kaiser wrote a blog for Huff Po this week called We Need an Orbitz for Health," and while he may have been referring to the government, his concept is right on. He said,
Real competition between the best caregivers can happen if those exchanges are set up appropriately and if the real goal is for the provider participants in the exchanges to compete in meaningful ways.
I had a chance to personally interview a few folks who have used PriceDoc during the preliminary launch in Seattle. Katie Kyser is a new mom who left her job, and the health insurance that came with it, because she wanted to stay home with her baby. "We felt, as a family, that it was more important for me to be home to raise our baby at this time, than for me to be gone - just to have insurance coverage."
Kyser needed an OB/GYN, so she called around, and the price for a general visit was $200-400; including Planned Parenthood. After seeing an ad for PriceDoc, she logged in, punched in her zip code, and instantly was able to research a variety of doctors. She selected a well respected women's clinic that would see her for $75.
At first I was skeptical that such a low price meant low quality. However, the clinic was immaculate, the staff was amazing and the quality was much better than the super expensive health care group I used to use.
Medina Blanchette, the nurse practitioner at Woodinville Women's Clinic, said their practice listed their top services, at a significant discount. This concept is wonderful and really is a win-win," she said. "We have found it builds a very positive relationship with our new patients right from the start."
After a positive experience at the women's clinic, life moved on, and Kyser lost a crown in her tooth. She went to a local dentist, who said the tooth would have to be removed, and it would cost over $1000. Panicked, she went to PriceDoc, conducted a thorough search, and found a reputable dentist who would remove it for $175. "I have found there is absolutely no difference in quality, and I am so confident I am willing to use their services on my own child."
Shane Harris is a craftsman for traveling Renaissance Fairs, has not had health insurance in decades, and is not computer savvy. He has experienced severe dental pain for over five years, and could not afford to have it addressed.
Normally, my only option to find a doc is to open the yellow pages, throw a dart, and that's it. But, I saw an ad for PriceDoc, and was surprised I could get on the site easily. I needed a dentist who specializes in tooth implants - because not having any teeth may look good in a medieval show, but not in real life!
Harris found a well qualified dentist, Dr. Swanlund, with specialty training, good credentials and positive endorsements. During his appointment, the dentist found a deep abscess, extracted four teeth and replaced a root canal- for a mere $1086. "All I can say is being out of pain for the first time in five years is euphoric."
Check out both Dr. Swanlund and Shane Harris in this news clip from October:
A few weeks later, Harris found himself battling an excruciating ear infection - and returned to PriceDoc for help. "When I get sick like that, normally I have no choice but to go to a 'doc in the box' or the ER. And with all this flu going around that is the last place I wanted to go."
He found a solo practice physician within ten miles of his home.
This doc was amazing. He could have easily just given me a prescription for antibiotics and thrown me out the door, but instead he spent over an hour clearing my ears to get me out of pain before the meds -- and only charged me $113.
What a refreshing change of pace to hear positive stories from 'Main Street' about health care. Doctors aren't the bad guys -- they really want to help people far more than they want to run complicated businesses. Patients want to find someone they can trust, and are happy to pay a price they believe is fair.
PriceDoc is opening up to cities across the country, and the site includes a blog and Facebook page with interesting health related stories, and regular updates on Twitter. Check it out and encourage your health care providers to participate. Maybe they need to run a contest for the best celebrity spokesperson?
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At first, it seemed like a joke. Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto opined on Monday that -- if the 2012 election were to turn to national security -- "it's hard to think of a better candidate... than Richard B. Cheney."
But while his headline -- "Cheney for President" -- provoked guffaws in some quarters, several of the party's most well-regarded strategists and pollsters are actually taking the idea deadly seriously.
"The Republican Party needs to move forward and build on its past, not return to it," Alex Castellanos, a frequent CNN analyst and GOP messaging guru, told the Huffington Post via email. "But if the agenda turns to security, Obama is mired in a no-win mess in Afghanistan, and the Obama administration hasn't created a single job in four years after indebting the nation for generations, maybe Dick Cheney could run on a theme of 'Change'."
Asked whether it would be "rich" for a former vice president with four decades of service in D.C. to run on a change platform, Castellanos replied. "Republicans running on a change platform, after Obama, would not be rich. Change might mean 'responsibility and real growth'."
Longtime pollster and GOP operative John McLaughlin also said he sees an opening for a Cheney candidacy premised on a hypothetical national security failure from the current White House.
A Cheney nomination "would be a serious consideration because he really has been a defender of policies that the majority of people now think are successful," McLaughlin told the Huffington Post. "Although right now a lot of people are focused on the economy, if there ever was some sort of foreign policy crisis people will look to Dick Cheney and say he had it right."
Pointing to Cheney's strong favorability rating among Republicans (66 percent in a May 2009 poll compared to Colin Powell's 64 percent), McLaughlin also noted that the former vice president has a strong political platform from which to test the electoral waters.
"Right now he is writing a book, and I'm sure it will be very interesting to see how that book positions him," McLaughlin said. "I always thought that Senator [Hillary] Clinton's book positioned her for a run for the White House and I think it could be the same way with Dick Cheney.
Craig Shirley, a longtime Republican strategist who often has his finger on the pulse of the party's base, concurred while also noting that Cheney can galvanize conservatives in ways few other current figures can.
"In 2009, there are few absurdities left in American politics," he told the Huffington Post, via email. "Anything is possible and the mere fact that Cheney's name is being floated accomplishes several things including striking fear in the heart of President Obama, especially in light of the crumbing American position in Afghanistan, which could become Obama's Vietnam.
"It also gives aid and comfort to a still battered Republican Party as he is the only GOP leader besides [Newt] Gingrich uncowed by the dominate liberal elites manning the batteries in the nation's capital," Shirley wrote. "They are about the only two politicians on the right who are willing to make a fight of it."
Indeed one reason to take the Cheney-for-president idea seriously is that there is simply no one else to whom the GOP can turn. "He's got bite behind his bark which can't be said of all GOP contenders," said a former Republican leadership staffer. "He's certainly more effective at this point than [RNC Chairman] Michael Steele."
Of course, speculating about a Cheney presidency is ludicrous for many reasons. For starters, it's three years and several months until the general election. Moreover, the former vice president's age and health remain a major issue (as they did when he was picked to be VP nine years ago). And then there's the matter of his resume.
Obama won in large part by running against the Bush/Cheney record, which includes taking the country into a widely unpopular war based on nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, sinking the economy, and diminishing the country's moral stature. Cheney can't exactly distance himself from these things. If anything, he is widely considered to have been the power behind the throne. And his current cause celebre -- the use of torture on terrorist suspects -- makes him a lightning rod among independents and Democrats, even if it polls surprisingly well among Republicans.
For the record, Cheney has expressed no interest in being president, repeatedly ruling out another run for office.
Nevertheless, it's "not absurd" to consider him running for the White House, said David Frum, a former Bush adviser and current fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. "He was vice president after all and if he were seriously interested he could be a candidate for sure. But seriously interested people build organizations, and it does not look as if he's doing that."
Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and a serious critic of Cheney's foreign policy ventures, agreed with Frum.
"Right now there is a zone that is free to play in and that is discussing who should run in 2012," he told the Huffington Post. "Because the only thing that matters for Republicans politically is 2010. Anything Cheney does other than raising money for congressional and senate candidates is a way of time and money or self-absorbed silliness."
And yet, the mere fact that Cheney's name is being mentioned for 2012 by a wide range of highly reputed conservatives provides a window into the current mindset of the Republican Party - so wedded to the posture of national security strength that it would consider turning to someone with such obvious political flaws, not to mention another aging white male.
"The Republican Party today consists of people who are conservative, religious, white and predominantly male," said Stephen Wayne, a political science professor at Georgetown University. "And, you know, if those are the only people who participate and you don't have a lot of other very conservative candidates it is conceivable Cheney could win the Republican nomination. But I don't think it is likely."