Healthcare: Let the Quibbling Begin

March 31, 2010

By Yul

The health insurance industry went very quiet when Obama signed the new reform bill — because they were busy looking for loopholes. Not surprisingly, they immediately found one.

To end the heinous practice of denying children coverage for “pre-existing” conditions such as being chubby babies, Congress thought their bill required insurers to accept, beginning on September 23, all children for coverage under their parents’ plan.

The insurers took that to mean they could deny whole families coverage if they have a child with medical conditions. Or, if they do cover the family, they could THEN deny claims for anything related to the child’s conditions.

See where this is going, folks? And this is just the beginning. That bill is 2,400 pages long.

Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to that lobbyist snake, Karen Ignani, head of America’s Health Insurance Plans, basically telling insurers to cut the crap. I think it’s the beginning of a long correspondence as insurers leave no page of the bill unturned, seeking ways to bilk consumers and make Congress look even more inept.

Ironically, the Richmond Times-Dispatch placed right beside this news item an advertisement by Anthem (WellPoint), inviting people with a history of health problems who can’t get insurance anywhere else to apply for theirs through an “open enrollment program.”

The next sentence says, “Waiting periods for past or present health conditions may apply.”

Yeah, right. They’ll wait until you die before they pay a penny for whatever care you need health insurance to cover.

And Obama and Congress are giving the insurers until 2014 to keep this up.

On another front, the city of Houston has a budget shortfall, so the mayor decided to raise health insurance premiums on city retirees who are under age 65 by about 50% on May 1. It puts a new spin on Obama’s assurance that “you can keep the insurance you have,” doesn’t it?

Without a public option, he’s left these people no choice. They’re screwed.

Does Sarah Palin Incite Violence?

March 30, 2010

By Adele

In a word, YES. Palin claims to deplore violence, but packs her speeches and writings with it. On Facebook, she wrapped her invective in basketball so she can claim she’s being quoted out of context. (Italics and caps are all hers.)…

“March Madness battles rage… In the battle, set your sights on next season’s targetsshot across the bow… your leaders will be in the enemy’s crosshairs, so you must execute strong defensive tactics… crossfire is intense… penetrate through enemy territory by bombing… use your strong weapons — your Big Guns… shoot with accuracy… it takes blood, sweat and tears to win… Every possession is a battle; you’ll only win the war if you’ve picked your battles wisely… No matter how tough it gets, never retreat, instead RELOAD!”

Nope, no violence there. Is she KIDDING?

I think Palin’s unintentionally metaphoric — “shot across the bow” is nonsensical in her ground combat scenario — expressing her true thoughts in her colorful, garbled way.

Remember, she thinks Rush Limbaugh’s daily heartfelt hate speech is satire, then got all bent when Family Guy satirized her.

Unfortunately, Palin grossly underestimates her base’s ignorance. When she tells them to take out their Big Guns and RELOAD, many may take those words as marching orders.

Palin’s book sold 2.2 million copies, but I’d bet my treats only a fraction ever got cracked open because her supporters’ lips got tired just trying to decipher the jacket blurb. And now HarperCollins has signed her to write ANOTHER one.

Palin’s rhetoric is incendiary, and she’s too dumb to see it. Sooner or later that ditz will whip a big crowd into a frenzy and find herself caught in a bloody riot where everybody but she is packing heat.

Or she’ll inspire some crazy redneck to plot an assassination. All it’s going to take is one serious murder attempt for Palin’s days as the unofficial leader of the Tea Party or any other party to be over.

Sarah, you better pray that one of those bullets you keep calling for doesn’t ricochet. Payback is hell.

Bourdain & Vietnam: Together Again

March 29, 2010

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain travels to Vietnam — is this the 3rd or 4th time? — in a new episode of No Reservations tonight. Wendy at Room 214 didn’t mention any house-hunting in her preview e-mail, but did say that Tony noted 70% of Hanoi’s population is under age 30.

I have a sneaking suspicion he’s quietly abandoned his dream of living there, especially now that Ariane is getting older and undoubtedly growing some roots in New York.

This episode seems heavy on bugs, and Tony channels Andrew Zimmern in the promo. He’s also apparently tricked into eating Java-Mouse deer.

Hey, I just realized we haven’t seen Tony whip out his Chase Sapphire card in quite a while. Could widespread fan derision have delivered him from that silliness?

Tony and Eric Ripert have wrapped up their Sirius radio program, Turn & Burn, but bits of it are hitting YouTube. Hear what happens after Tony reads Ruth Reichl’s tweets in what was apparently a regular feature called “The Tao of Ruth.” Eric reads a few tweets by the mysterious “Ruth Bourdain.”

Here’s a video clip of Bourdain and Ripert talking about Ruth Reichl’s tweets with Mario Batali.

Bourdain’s getting closer to Richmond with an appearance at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA, on September 23. That’s only about 90 minutes north of here.

Entertainment Daily found out a bit about what Tony’s been up to in India. He’s got to be back in the States sometime this week because he has a speaking gig in Austin, Texas, on April 1.

My OctoMom Career Idea Backfired

March 26, 2010

By Adele

PETA has pounced on an idea I presented back in February 2009, shortly after Nadya Suleman gave birth to octuplets and earned worldwide scorn when everyone learned she already had 6 kids at home, no job, and no husband.

But I never said anybody should exploit cats.

When Nadya’s litter was ready to come home, she moved her whole mob into a $450,000 house her father was supposed to pay for. But the expense of maintaining Nadya’s birthing fetish has forced her family to default on several homes before, and this one is no different. She and her brood are once again facing eviction.

Never one to hold down some regular 9-5 schmuck job like a normal person, Nadya’s been leaving no stone unturned looking for quick, highly lucrative gigs suitable for a woman with no skills or talent. But she reportedly turned down an offer to appear in a porn flick that would have paid off the house.

I guess simulating sex with nothing to look forward to 9 months later just didn’t appeal to her.

So when PETA came knocking and offered her $5,000 and a month’s supply of vegan burgers and hotdogs to put this sign in her front yard for a month, she seized it:

(Photo - PETA)

Words can’t express how much I resent the implication that felines are crazy, irresponsible breeding machines. No cat in the history of the world has ever asked a vet for in vitro.

On behalf of momcats everywhere, I demand that PETA immediately replace that sign with puppies.

Who Do Democrats Think They’re Kidding?

March 24, 2010

By Yul

Obama managed to get his health insurance reform bill passed, and here’s what I think it means…

For everyone but children, it’s going to get a LOT worse before (if ever) it gets better.

Insurers have until 2014 to keep their underwriters and claims staff in overdrive finding ways to deny or cancel coverage and raise premiums for adults. Before anything substantive kicks in (if Republicans don’t manage to repeal it because they believe everyone who’s not rich deserves to die rather than see a doctor), I wouldn’t be surprised if 100+ million Americans have no insurance — that is, the ones who survive.

Once again, Obama has grossly underestimated man’s capacity for inhumanity to man. The law says insurers can’t charge sick people more. Does Obama really think they’re going to lower premiums across the board, or use the next 4 years to make everybody pay what they’d extort out of someone with a chronic, life-threatening condition they were forced to insure?

I’m just a cat, but gimme a break. It takes a total moron not to see that coming.

So far, 13 states, led by Virginia, are suing the feds over the constitutionality of making everyone buy insurance. For once, I’m proud to be a Virginian.

How DARE Obama decree that every American citizen finance private insurers’ profits and perpetuate their ridiculous bureaucracy that now costs over $350 BILLION a year.

In essence, he’s painted everyone into a corner, forcing them to buy private insurance with no other choice, since he rolled over and played dead on the public option and refused to even consider single-payer.

And where does it end? Now that he’s snugly in bed with WellPoint, Aetna, et al, somewhere in those 2,400-2,700 pages (I hear differing counts), does it say everyone has to buy and eat Wheaties for breakfast? Nobody seems to know.

I did just hear they tucked in a mandate for calorie counts on restaurant menus.

Republicans are dead wrong when they call this a government takeover of healthcare.

No, the government has handed solid-gold keys to the hen house to the foxes.

The fallout from this bill has the potential to make Bush’s decision to invade Iraq look like a little boo-boo.

Bonus: Michael Moore wrote a great letter that should make Republicans feel a lot better about getting steam-rolled on this one.

Bonus #2: Just found this column and it’s too funny to keep to myself.

More Bits of Bourdain

March 22, 2010

By Karen

This week, No Reservations visits Provence. I love watching Anthony Bourdain in beautiful locales with clean sheets. There’s a dinner scene that sounds like the meal he cooked in Tuscany, where we unwittingly got our first look at Ottavia. She told me she was directed to say his cooking was “disgusting,” but it was actually quite tasty.

Apparently, Tony doesn’t fare much better in Provence, but blogger Miss Expatria defends him against his cruel hosts at the villa.

Ottavia just tweeted that Tony is in India again.

Thanks to another DVD recorder glitch, I missed NR in Harbin, China, last week, but I’m set to catch the rerun today. My recorder also trashed “Obsessed,” so I’ll need to recapture that to keep my collection complete.

Speaking of “Obsessed,” Bourdain must be learning you mess with food bloggers at your own peril. They will always have the last word. Tony allegedly dissed Steven Plotnicki of Opinionated About Dining in the special, who struck back via, DUH, a lengthy blog post I couldn’t get through. But then, I’m not a foodie.

In the Things to Do Department…

Take Travel Channel’s NR Knowledge Quiz. I’m embarrassed to say I scored poorly.

And watch the last episode of Alternate Universe,Duel Over Russia.”

Tony told why Ottavia flew to Chicago alone.

SlashFood got him to answer 5 questions.

Cats Working reader Cindy provided this link to a preview of Bourdain’s new book, Medium Raw. I wonder if they’ve made the cover photo more menacing?

Village Voice got a bit about “Ruth Bourdain,” who’s tweeting as a cross between Ruth Reichl and Tony.

Tony discussed exercise and many other things with Anne Berry at in New Orleans in January, but her interview just appeared. Here are links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4, not readily found on the site.

PS: In December, a new book is being released, containing 15 years of Julia Child’s correspondence with Avia DeVoto, who helped her find a publisher for Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Julia in her own words. Yum!

Does CEO Stand for “Carrion-Eating Opportunist?”

March 18, 2010

By Yul

Remember Circuit City, the national consumer electronics retailer whose management kept making bad decisions until they destroyed the company?

Their CEO, James Marcum, joined the organization less than 2 months before it filed for bankruptcy. Either he’s incredibly bad at doing his homework before accepting a job, or he smelled death and took the reins intending all along to rob the grave.

Last year, when U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Huennekens approved $4 million in bonuses for the employees who stayed to bury the company, Marcum gallantly removed his name from the list of recipients.

For his selflessness, Huennekens just awarded Marcum $350,000 in bonuses, AND he can charge $700 per hour as a consultant until there’s nothing left of Circuit City.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Huennekens wrote, “The full experience, expertise, unique skills and enthusiastic involvement of Mr. Marcum has been beneficial to the [Circuit City’s] efforts to maximize value for their estate.”

If Marcum had been as brilliant and “enthusiastic” about saving the company as he is in obliterating it, it seems 34,000 Circuit City employees might still have jobs.

Sadly, for his expertise now, the court limited Marcum to billing only $62,500 a month, which works out to about 89 ½ hours.

But don’t cry for him, Argentina. Marcum’s not exactly living under a bridge these days. In February, he became president and CEO of Central Parking Corporation, so this Circuit City money is all gravy.

Meanwhile, people like the trusting schmucks who kept the stores stocked with products will be lucky to get 13.5 cents on the dollar for what they’re owed because they’re considered “unsecured” creditors.

“Secured” creditors — like banks who loaned CC money based on collateral — stand to recover 100%.

And we thought banks were stupid when they needed government bailouts.

Marcum’s 11th-hour grab for money that rightfully belongs to vendors who, in good faith, tried long-term to keep Circuit City afloat, exemplifies what’s rotten in too many corner offices of Corporate America.

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