We All Live In A Flying Submarine

This idea is about as surreal as a Beatles movie:
Last spring my dog Shady and I were walking across the bridge over Pleasure House Creek when I heard a disturbance in the water. I looked down and saw a Great Blue Heron breaking the water's surface. The heron flicked the water from its wings, flapped them, and went flying down the creek about two feet above the surface.

Impressive, I thought. Boy, wouldn't the weapons procurement nimrods at the Pentagon like to get their mitts on technology that could do that?

Thus it was that I reacted with both amusement and horror to an email notice I received in October from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) offering federal grant money for "a feasibility study and experiments to prove out the possibility of making an aircraft that can maneuver underwater."

In other words, DARPA wants to pay someone to come up with a phony baloney argument that says it's possible to make a flying submarine.
And Jeff Huber over at Pen and Sword says that DARPA only wants to spend $3,000,000,000.00 to come up with the argument that it can be done...

Kind of sums up this countries priorities under the last 8 years of failed Neoconservative terrorist stewardship. They live in a drug induced fantasy world - their drug of choice is power - of reckless and senseless stupidity with ideas that are aimlessly leading to nowhere. Idiotic ideas that need to be sunk because they will never fly in the real world. Never mind that they are wasting money on a "solution to problem" that doesn't exist...


Cheney and Gonzales Indicted in Texas

VP Dick Cheney and ousted Attorney General Alberto Gonzales were indicted for prisoner abuse:

The indictment criticizes Cheney's investment in the Vanguard Group, which holds interests in the private prison companies running the federal detention centers. It accuses Cheney of a conflict of interest and "at least misdemeanor assaults" on detainees by working through the prison companies.

Gonzales is accused of using his position while in office to stop an investigation into abuses at the federal detention centers.

No word on presidential pardons from the outgoing White House turd... Yet.

[update] TPM says this could be entertaining. And they certainly may be correct there:
Also indicted are state District Judges Janet Leal, state District Judge Migdalia Lopez, The GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut Corporation), former U.S. Attorney Mervyn Mosbacher, Gus Garza and Gilberto Lozano.

They all face a stream of criminal charges including abuse of office, profiting from office, and murder.

For more information on this story, read Wednesday's The Brownsville Herald.
Murder? Abuse of power for profit and and a cover up? Dagnabit! I don't have enough popcorn to last until tomorrow...

Single Payer Health Care Would Help Auto Industry

While I originally wrote this in January of 2007, concerning the cost of health care to consumers and service provided, it is equally applicable to the savings for the auto industry. And that is not my opinion, that is the opinion of the successful auto industry management. The ones that aren't asking for a bailout. At the time I wrote this in 2007, each vehicle assembled in the United States cost GM $1,525 for health care; those made in Canada cost GM $197. Probably more savings now since this was written nearly two years ago:

In U.S., it's pay more, get less - Universal Health Care

Why is this man smiling?

"A RELATIVE BARGAIN: George Mercieca, a worker at a GM assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario, shows off his Canadian health care card. GM spends an average of $1,385 a year on medical bills for hourly workers in Canada. An American autoworker costs the company about $5,000, but studies show Americans are no healthier than their foreign counterparts."

He is smiling because he has a great job with better medical benefits than most Americans could ever hope for under our failed healthcare for profit system. The kind of job that Connecticut , and the USA as a whole, can never hope to attract under our current system. If you do not believe me than ask yourself "what does the manufacturing industry have to say about this?"

While training issues are less of a problem here in Connecticut, because we have a decent educational system, health care is cited as a major issue for Toyota's decision to choose Ontario as the location of a new factory for their Rav-4s slated to open in 2008:
"The level of the workforce in general is so high that the training program you need for people, even for people who have not worked in a Toyota plant before, is minimal compared to what you have to go through in the southeastern United States," said Gerry Fedchun, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, whose members will see increased business with the new plant.

Acknowledging it was the "worst-kept secret" throughout Ontario's automotive industry, Toyota confirmed months of speculation Thursday by announcing plans to build a 1,300-worker factory in the southwestern Ontario city.

"Welcome to Woodstock - that's something I've been waiting a long time to say," Ray Tanguay, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, told hundreds gathered at a high school gymnasium.

The plant will produce the RAV-4, dubbed by some as a "mini sport-utility vehicle" that Toyota currently makes only in Japan. It plans to build 100,000 vehicles annually.

The factory will cost $800 million to build, with the federal and provincial governments kicking in $125 million of that to help cover research, training and infrastructure costs.

Several U.S. states were reportedly prepared to offer more than double that amount of subsidy. But Fedchun said much of that extra money would have been eaten away by higher training costs than are necessary for the Woodstock project.

He said Nissan and Honda have encountered difficulties getting new plants up to full production in recent years in Mississippi and Alabama due to an untrained - and often illiterate - workforce. In Alabama, trainers had to use "pictorials" to teach some illiterate workers how to use high-tech plant equipment.

"The educational level and the skill level of the people down there is so much lower than it is in Ontario," Fedchun said.

In addition to lower training costs, Canadian workers are also $4 to $5 cheaper to employ partly thanks to the taxpayer-funded health-care system in Canada, said federal Industry Minister David Emmerson.

"Most people don't think of our health-care system as being a competitive advantage," he said.

It is clearly an advantage for any company that wants to open up a business in any industry... A 4 to 5 dollar per hour advantage. An advantage so great that any state that passes true-single-payer Universal Health Care first will be positioned to become a mecca for any company considering opening any kind of business.

We already have an educational advantage over the most of the USA, having a highly rated school system and a high rate of college graduates. Why the hold up on giving these businesses the real money savings that Universal Health Care would provide and the other best reason to set up shop in Connecticut?

Because of lobbying from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. We need to take them out of the loop in the decision making process for this issue since we know they will fight it tooth-and-nail. We need to look at what is best for the people of Connecticut and for all industries, not just those two lobbying behemoths.

And just how much more is health care costing us?
Medical bills soar

Divide the nation's medical bill evenly across the population, and each of us paid $6,102 in 2004, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That's 50 percent more than the residents of the country with the next-highest health care bill, Switzerland ($4,077), and more than double the average for industrialized nations ($2,546).


Those countries provide health care for all their residents for less money than the United State spends while it leaves an estimated 46 million without insurance.

That's contradicted by studies conducted by Gerard Anderson, director of the Center for Hospital Finance and Management at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. "We have about the same number of MRIs and CT scanners as Canada, the U.K. and France, and far fewer than Japan," Anderson said. "We have the same number of doctors, doctor visits, hospitals and inpatient days at hospitals.

"The difference is we pay two to 2 1/2 times more for virtually identical services."

The average U.S. physician earned $180,000 in 2004, Anderson said; in Canada, it was $100,000 (in U.S. dollars).

Even after adjusting for the higher income of U.S. residents, Americans pay on average $2,000 more per year for health care than the residents of the next-highest paying country, Anderson said.

One out of every seven dollars spent today in the United States goes for health care -- a record 15.3 percent of the gross domestic product in 2004, the latest year for which statistics are available. By comparison, Canada spends 9.9 percent of its GDP; Japan spends 8.0 percent.

By 2015, one out of every five dollars spent in the United States will go for health care, according to projections by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. If those projections hold, the average American's share for medical needs alone will be a staggering $12,320.

For all that money, you would expect Americans to be healthier than their foreign friends. The opposite is true.

Whoa! They are healthier than us, and they pay less? And it is not just a monetary cost:
# If you're born in the United States, chances are that you'll die younger than people born in other industrialized nations. The United States has the lowest life expectancy of 14 nations measured by the World Health Organization. U.S. life expectancy in 2001 was 77.1; Canada, 79.7; Italy, 79.8; Japan, 81.5

# The infant mortality rate is higher in the United States than in other industrialized nations. In 2003, seven infants died for every 1,000 live births in the United States -- the worst rate of 19 countries measured by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

I am thinking that anyone that is really PRO-LIFE, and not just talking about it for political reasons, would have to be shocked by those infant mortality rates. Why aren't they screaming about this issue? If they are really honest about being pro-life than they should be our allies on true Universal Heathcare.

A s for manufacturers, just how much profit margin can health care open up for them?
Those vehicles, often parked on the same dealer lot as identical vehicles produced in U.S. plants, have one notable difference: Each vehicle assembled in the United States cost GM $1,525 for health care; those made in Canada cost GM $197.

The higher salaries of Canadian autoworkers offset much of the health care savings for the company, said Jim Cameron, labor relations director for GM Canada. But at the cash-strapped automaker, such a huge health care cost differential is hard to ignore. The difference is primarily a result of Canada's national health care system, in which most medical bills are paid by the government. Most countries have similar systems.

WHAT THE FUCK!!! They get higher wages up there too? And GM still racks up more profits from production up north in Canada then they can down here? How much more of this are you Nutmeggers willing to take?

Can you imagine the shock wave across the nation if a car manufacturer or some other large industry chose to locate in Connecticut over other states or countries... And it could happen.

Do you want to continue to pay more just to get less? Less healthy workers, less money, less jobs, less profit for industry as a whole.

Why not get more? More people that actually have coverage? More healthy workers that are more productive? More savings in health care for us and for industry? More manufacturers picking Connecticut as their destination of choice? More smiles on Nutmeggers' faces.

Universal Health Care is the answer to everyone getting more.


It might be the answer to save US industry.

There is an off the shelf answer sitting there getting dusty. Ask Rep. John Conyers, Rep. Dennis Kucinich and the other cosigners about H.R. 676. It would be a huge step towards helping every industry in this nation become competitive.

If you need to know about a health care plan that can fix many of the problems with our privatized ripoff:

The United States National Health Insurance Act

H.R. 676

"Expanded & Improved Medicare For All"

*introduced by Reps. John Conyers, Dennis Kucinich, Jim McDermott and Donna Christensen

"National health insurance is not only the best answer,

it is the only answer to eliminating health disparities.

If you live in CT-05 you may want to know that Rep. Chris Murphy has yet to sign up as a co-sponsor to this bill. Ya think it is time to remind him how important H.R. 676 is to all Americans?

Rep. Chris Murphy's contact info

Chris Murphy
(202) 225-4476,
1 Grove Street, New Britain CT 06053


The Begining of the End of the Iraq Occupation

The NY Times and CNN are reporting that the Iraqi Cabinet has approved a timeline for withdrawal:
The agreement sets June 30, 2009, as the deadline for U.S. troops to withdraw from all Iraqi cities and towns, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

The date for all troops to leave Iraq will be December 31, 2011, he said.

These dates are "set and fixed" and are "not subject to the circumstances on the ground," he said.

It has yet to be voted on in the Iraqi Parliament:
The decision of the 37-member cabinet, essentially a microcosm of the Parliament, is expected to be a good indicator of whether the agreement will pass. The assembly has not yet announced the date of its vote, but it is scheduled to go into recess on Nov. 24.

The draft approved Sunday requires coalition forces to withdraw from Iraqi cities and towns by the summer of 2009 and from the country by the end of 2011. An earlier version had language giving some flexibility to that deadline, with both sides discussing timetables and timelines for withdrawal, but the Iraqis managed to have the deadline set in stone, a significant negotiating victory. The United States has around 150,000 troops in Iraq.

This timeline pretty much mirrors Barack Obama's statements concerning the direction he had hoped to take the occupation during the presidential campaign. Though, Obama had stated that his policy would have been contingent to conditions on the ground - something that the Iraqis, obviously, disagree with.

The reality is that as we get closer to pulling out there is a huge potential for all hell to break loose. But it would be the same problem five, ten or even fifteen years from now. No matter when the power vacuum presents itself there will be, very likely, a power struggle to fill that vacuum by the Iraqis. We can only hope that they struggle for that power through political means and not with bullets and bombs.

Most of the people of Iraq that are still standing after the illegal invasion and occupation have already seen enough of the bullets and bombs through no fault of their own.