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Saturday, July 02, 2005

Sharks and Chum

From a CNN article in 2003:
McClellan said that if anyone at the White House leaked Plame's identity, he should be fired, and pursued to the "fullest extent."

"No one was authorized to do this. That is simply not the way this White House operates and if someone leaked classified information it is a very serious matter," he said.
And from the same article, Novakula:
"Nobody in the Bush administration called me to leak this," Novak said Monday CNN's "Crossfire," which he co-hosts. "There is no great crime here."
Right. Anything you say, Bob. Because you, my man, are the soul of integrity. Such a leak would be completely unprecedented.

Well, not exactly. According to, who seem to have a stronger desire than most to see Novak throwing gang signs in Joliette, though from my own perspective that hardly seems possible, Karl Rove was fired from Bush Sr.'s 92 campaign for leaking information to...Robert Novak (also recounted in Bush's Brain):
Karl Rove was fired from the 1992 re-election campaign of Bush Sr. for allegedly leaking a negative story about Bush loyalist/fundraiser Robert Mosbacher to Novak. Novak's piece described a meeting organized by then-Senator Phil Gramm at which Mosbacher was relieved of his duties as state campaign manager because "the president's re-election effort in Texas has been a bust." Rove was fired after Mosbacher fingered him as Novak's source.
Screw Dancing with the Stars. The tapdancing event of the week should be Scott McClellan's performance at the Tuedsday gaggle with those two left feet of his.


Karma is a Bitch Fucking Bitch

When last we left our villain, Karl Rove, he was facing public exposure at the hands of Lawrence O'Donnell for being the source behind the outing of Valerie Plame. Meanwhile, conservative wonks in the Wall Street Journal were attempting to grind prosecutor Fitzgerald's ass into raw meat:
It may be that he too has concluded that talking to the press is no crime, in which case he may by now only be pursuing a perjury rap against the leaker. If that's true, Mr. Fitzgerald will have earned a place in the Overzealous Hall of Fame.
Well, let's say they're right, and it's not absolutely clear according to the 1982 statute that the outing of Plame was, in fact, a crime.

Lying under oath most certainly is. And it looks like Fitzgerald may be preparing a case against Rove for perjury before the grand jury.


I want to fall to my knees and weep, weep for the pure Shakespearean symmetry of it all...

...The vault of heaven, full of soft, shining stars, stretched vast and fathomless above him. The Milky Way ran in two palestreams from the zenith to the horizon. The fresh, motionless, still night enfolded the earth. The white towers and golden domes of the cathedral gleamed out against the sapphire sky. The gorgeous autumn flowers, in the beds round the house, were slumbering till morning. The silence of earth seemed to melt into the silence of the heavens. The mystery of earth was one with the mystery of the stars....

I would like to take the opportunity to travel back to that OTHER case in recent history where no crime was, in fact, found to have been committed, that little incident called Whitewater, past the steaming pile of hypocritical human offal named Bob Barr, and right to the comments by several members of Congress who remain who collectively concluded that lying to a grand jury rose to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors and demanded both swift and draconian action:
Bill Frist (R-TN): To not remove President Clinton for grand jury perjury lowers uniquely the Constitution's removal standard, and thus requires less of the man who appoints all federal judges than we require of those judges themselves.

I will have no part in the creation of a constitutional double-standard to benefit the President. He is not above the law. If an ordinary citizen committed these crimes, he would go to jail.

Lindsey Graham: Should he be impeached? Very quickly; the hardest decision I think I will ever make. Learning that the president lied to the grand jury about sex, I still believe that every president of the United States, regardless of the matter they called to testify about before a grand jury should testify truthfully and if they don't they should be subject to losing their job.

I believe that about Bill Clinton and I'll believe that about the next president. If it had been a Republican, I would have still believed that and I would hope that if a Republican person had done all this that some of us would've went (sic) over and told him, You need to leave office.

Henry Hyde (R-ILL, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee): But when circumstances require you to participate in a formal court proceeding and under oath mislead the parties and the court by lying, that is a public act and deserves public sanction. Perjury is a crime with a five-year penalty.

James Sensenbrenner: (R-WI): What is on trial here is the truth and the rule of law. Our failure to bring President Clinton to account for his lying under oath and preventing the courts from administering equal justice under law, will cause a cancer to be present in our society for generations. I want those parents who ask me the questions, to be able to tell their children that even if you are president of the United States, if you lie when sworn "to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," you will face the consequences of that action, even when you don't accept the responsibility for them.

Chuck Hagel (R-NB): There can be no shading of right and wrong. The complicated currents that have coursed through this impeachment process are many. But after stripping away the underbrush of legal technicalities and nuance, I find that the President abused his sacred power by lying and obstructing justice. How can parents instill values and morality in their children? How can educators teach our children? How can the rule of law for every American be applied equally if we have two standards of justice in America--one for the powerful and the other for the rest of us?

Mitch McConnell (R-KY): Perjury and obstruction hammer away at the twin pillars of our legal system: truth and justice. Every witness in every deposition is required to raise his or her right hand and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help them God. Every witness in every grand jury proceeding and in every trial is required to raise his or her right hand and swear to tell the truth. Every official declaration filed with the court is stamped with the express affirmation that the declaration is true. In the words of our nation's first Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Jay: `if oaths should cease to be held sacred, our dearest and most valuable rights would become insecure.'

(emphasis mine)
As someone who is still choking on the bile that came up over a bunch of sanctimonious old hacks hijacking the constitution and sitting in judgment of Bill Clinton, I would personally like to invite every one of them to dine on a delightful repast of their own words.

If revenge is a dish best served cold, you better eat fast, you bastards. This one's heating up.

P.S. Oh, NYT, WaPo? You got scooped by the fucking McLaughlin Group. You should all be disembowling yourselves in shame.

(photo via Alternate Brain)

(passage above from The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky)


Barbarians at the Gates

Brooke Sheilds, in yesterday's New York Times:
I WAS hoping it wouldn't come to this, but after Tom Cruise's interview with Matt Lauer on the NBC show "Today" last week, I feel compelled to speak not just for myself but also for the hundreds of thousands of women who have suffered from postpartum depression. While Mr. Cruise says that Mr. Lauer and I do not "understand the history of psychiatry," I'm going to take a wild guess and say that Mr. Cruise has never suffered from postpartum depression.


I never thought I would have postpartum depression. After two years of trying to conceive and several attempts at in vitro fertilization, I thought I would be overjoyed when my daughter, Rowan Francis, was born in the spring of 2003. But instead I felt completely overwhelmed. This baby was a stranger to me. I didn't know what to do with her. I didn't feel at all joyful. I attributed feelings of doom to simple fatigue and figured that they would eventually go away. But they didn't; in fact, they got worse.

I couldn't bear the sound of Rowan crying, and I dreaded the moments my husband would bring her to me. I wanted her to disappear. I wanted to disappear. At my lowest points, I thought of swallowing a bottle of pills or jumping out the window of my apartment.


Since writing about my experiences with the disease, I have been approached by many women who have told me their stories and thanked me for opening up about a topic that is often not discussed because of fear, shame or lack of support and information. Experts estimate that one in 10 women suffer, usually in silence, with this treatable disease. We are living in an era of so-called family values, yet because almost all of the postnatal focus is on the baby, mothers are overlooked and left behind to endure what can be very dark times.

And comments like those made by Tom Cruise are a disservice to mothers everywhere. To suggest that I was wrong to take drugs to deal with my depression, and that instead I should have taken vitamins and exercised shows an utter lack of understanding about postpartum depression and childbirth in general.
Tom Cruise's comments were, as Joel Sax points out, just another example of a religious extremist's contempt for science. To say that more and more I attribute to Christian fundamentalism the same amount of respect I grant to Scientology or Astrology is not a stretch -- while individuals may find some truth in these things, it all just sounds like so much superstitious hogwash when you start trying to use it to determine public policy. The Ten Commandments is no more appropriate to a courthouse lawn than Roy Moore out there swinging a chicken over his head.

Bully for Brooke Sheilds. Talking about post-partum depression and admitting that she wasn't an instant Jiffy Pop mother risked bringing down on her head exactly what it did -- the wrath of religious extremists who would judge her decision to admit she almost wound up in Andrea Yates land. Brooke Sheilds' courage may have saved some lives and eased a lot of suffering.

My Roman history teacher Anne Sherrill once said that the Romans defined a barbarian as "he who destroys what he does not understand." Maybe Tom should spare us all the next Mission: Impossible remake and go straight for Atilla the Hun, a role he might actually have some passion for.


Friday, July 01, 2005

Karma is a Bitch

I've only been back in LA a short while, and after having been peaceful coffee-sipping artsy hippie girl on the Oregon beach for months, I'm already in sensory overload. I wake up this morning and find that the battle with the Empire is ON, by mid-afternoon I'm killing time at the Virgin Megastore zoning out with a set of headphones on watching a T-Rex DVD of Marc Bolan singing "Bang a Gong (Get it On)," shortly thereafter for random reasons I wind up at Fairfax High School and remember that the last time I was there I was drunk with "Bitch" scrawled across my back in black Sharpie and it wound up in Spin magazine (don't ask), and I come home tonight to my poor neglected dogs to find out that Karl Rove is probably the muthafucka who outed Valerie Plame.

It's not like we found proof positive that Rove was being back-doored by Jeff Gannon, but almost. If it's true, I expect a Medal of Honor or a SCOTUS nomination by Monday.

I am gonna take the dogs on the biggest, gnarliest hike I can find tomorrow. We are just not accustomed to this kind of over-stimulation any more.


What Would Toshiro Mifune Do?

It's on.

Right now, corporate America and the knuckle draggers are breathing hard and praising Baby Jesus that their opportunity has finally arrived to convert the republic into the theocratic kleptocracy they've always dreamed of. The retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor, a moderate conservative who has cast critical votes in decisions to uphold pro-choice and retain separation of church and state, has decided to blow the SCOTUS pop stand. Rehnquist will probably not be far behind her.

If there was any validity in the decision let seething reptiles like Owen and Brown on the bench in order to preserve the filibuster, we'll find out now. It's going to be grand political theater guaranteed to quicken the pulse and jangle the nerves of news junkies everywhere.

So I'm having a contest. The top ten (count 'em, TEN!) letters written to the editors or members of Congress over the upcoming SCOTUS battle, and posted in the comments below, will win copies of James Wolcott's Attack Poodles and Other Media Mutants, an absolutely indispensable addition to any good library (I just finished it and it's brilliant -- he gives glowing shout-outs to "satirical cut-ups" TBogg and Roger Ailes, so you know it must be good).

As a group, the liberal netroots community can make a bunch of articulate noise and reshape the political terrain in far greater proportion than our numbers would indicate, so this is your chance to shine. The contest is open until the end of Friday, July 8, so there will probably be lots of drama to inspire you to Shakespearean brilliance. Please include the snail mail or email addresses of the representatives or newspapers your missives are sent to in the comments (although you need not include your name, I'll email the winners later). The contest will be decided over the weekend, judged by me with some help from Loren and Pam, and the winning letters will be posted to the front page on Sunday, July 10.

Remember there are ten (count 'em, TEN!) books being given away, so your chances of winning are good. And if only 5 people enter, well, Mom, you know what you're getting for Christmas.

Update:: Digby suggests bombarding the Gang of 14, the 7 Republican and 7 Democratic Senators who are probably going to wind up deciding this whole mess. As he says, "there can be no compromise on this seat."


Thursday, June 30, 2005

Hit Me Baby One More Time

I don't normally like the Iraq/Vietnam comparison because I think it too easily erases the subtleties of the situation (although the argument could be made that we're talking about war here and not the perfect recipe for creme brulee), but I think Alterman pretty much nails it with his VIETNAM 2 PREFLIGHT CHECK:
Cabal of oldsters who won’t listen to outside advice? Check.
No understanding of ethnicities of the many locals? Check.
Imposing country boundaries drawn in Europe, not by the locals? Check.
Unshakeable faith in our superior technology? Check.
France secretly hoping we fall on our asses? Check.
Russia secretly hoping we fall on our asses? Check.
China secretly hoping we fall on our asses? Check.
SecDef pushing a conflict the JCS never wanted? Check.
Fear we’ll look bad if we back down now? Check.
Corrupt Texan in the WH? Check.
Land war in Asia? Check.
Right unhappy with outcome of previous war? Check.
Enemy easily moves in/out of neighboring countries? Check.
Soldiers about to be dosed with *our own* chemicals? Check.
Friendly fire problem ignored instead of solved? Check.
Anti-Americanism up sharply in Europe? Check.
B-52 bombers? Check.
Helicopters that clog up on the local dust? Check.
In-fighting among the branches of the military? Check.
Locals that cheer us by day, hate us by night? Check.
Local experts ignored? Check.
Local politicians ignored? Check.
Locals used to conflicts lasting longer than the USA has been a country? Check.
Against advice, Prez won’t raise taxes to pay for war? Check.
Blue water navy ships operating in brown water? Check.
Use of nukes hinted at if things don’t go our way? Check.
Unpopular war? Check.
Or, we could just be like Britney when she breezily suggests that "we should just trust our president in every decision that he makes and we should just support that."

Which is just where her fellow backwater jug juice bunch seems to be heading -- according to Chris Bowers, even as the war in Iraq grows more unpopular in the blue states, support for BushCo. and Their War is growing in places where Fearless Leader was already popular. As Chris notes, "it seems entirely possible that the so called red-blue divide is actually growing even greater than it was before."

Well dropping your kid in a body bag has always been a status symbol in the Bible Belt, I don't know why I thought that would've changed.

(via Best of the Blogs)


What Would God Say?

Next time the Preznit has his little chit chat with God (you know, the one where George tells the Big Man what he ought to be busying himself with), God may want to let him know that the National Council of Churches (of which George's church is a member) is circulating a petition protesting the war in Iraq as immoral.

Of course, as George has mentioned, these conversations are pretty one-way and God ain't the one doing the talking, so George will be more likely to get the message if you actually go sign the petition and it's hand delivered to him by someone a little less plastic than the Big G.

I imagine George has other things on his mind these days, like how to make sure Fitzgerald doesn't do a Ken Starr and extend the Plame investigation and start looking into the Downing Street Memo, fixing of intelligence and WMDs. I guess I'm just old fashioned, but sex and real estate seem much more of a stretch than WMDs and the other deceptions of war.

(from RJ Escow via The Fixer)


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Return of Max (Teen Blog Redux)

Max Temkin of Maxestentialism has graduated from high school and is off to college this fall (and no, that's not him in the photo). He's also started up a new blog with some friends called Mankind Minus One, taking their title from a John Stuart Mill quote:
"If mankind minus one were of one opinion, then mankind is no more justified in silencing the one than the one — if he had the power — would be justified in silencing mankind."
Max is off to a fine start, and is preparing his mind this summer for higher education:
I'm reading about “the other side, or heaven from this book by Sylvia Browne. She has some interesting commentaries:
There are countless places of worship, like churches and synagogues.
Really? No Mosques? Let me ask a question here. Once you get into heaven, where you get anything you want, experience no suffering (how boring!) and live in total harmony with your environment next to god, what, exactly, is the point of prayer?

Then she writes:
[All animals] exist on the Other side… animals that have existed throughout the history of the world are there as well, such as dinosaurs, unicorns, griffins, and other species.
…And you realize, Ohhh. She'crazy!
Personally I think she drinks.

Also check out Mollie at Behind These Hazel Eyes, who will be a senior in high school this year and on whose blog the above photo of DJ G-Dubya was found, and Beg Regenspan from Catalyst Blog, who this week accuses Jonah Goldberg of taking "monstrous digital shits." He has a way with words, our Ben.

Since the left doesn't have expensive think-tanks where fine young minds can be lavishly paid to develop their political acumen and communication skills and must needs blog pro-bono, I really applaud Max and other teen bloggers who DIY and hope everyone will check out their sites, blogroll them, and in general do our own no-budget version of the Richard Mellon Scaife thing. Without the one way post-mortem trip to hell.


GM vs. Honda

From the new issue of Newsweek, an interview with Honda's chief US engineer, Charles Baker:
Newsweek: How difficult was it to engineer the MDX to meet Honda's stringent mileage standards?

Baker: I'll never forget it. I was a rookie leading this MDX team. We'd done the research and we had an efficient package. But when we pitched our business plan to the board of directors, Mr. [Koichi] Amemiya, who was in charge of North America, his No. 1 comment was: "It should be more green." I made the mistake of saying, "But sir, nobody cares about the green issues." And he just smiled and said "I know."
From the WaPo, on GM's development of the GM Aztek:
The Aztek represented all that is wrong with GM's design process, that official said. The concept car actually did something few GM designs do: arrive before a trend -- this time, the crossover SUV that combines the attributes of a truck and a passenger car. And GM had high hopes to sell 50,000 to 70,000 Azteks a year, establishing Pontiac on the cutting edge.

Then came production, the executive said. The penny-pinchers demanded that costs be kept low by putting the concept car on an existing minivan platform. That destroyed the original proportions and produced the vehicle's bizarre, pushed-up back end. But the designers kept telling themselves it was good enough.

"By the time it was done, it came out as this horrible, least-common-denominator vehicle where everyone said, 'How could you put that on the road?' " the official said.

Sales never reached the 30,000 level needed to make money on the Aztek, so it abruptly went out of production last year. The tongue-in-cheek hosts of National Public Radio's "Car Talk" named it the ugliest car of 2005. "It looks the way Montezuma's revenge feels," one listener quipped.
It's called L-E-A-D-E-R-S-H-I-P.

Of the top 10 most fuel efficient cars on the road today, Honda has 7 of them. As the chart above shows, over the course of the past five years, Honda's share price has increased 50%, while GM's has decreased 50%.

Of course fuel efficiency isn't the only factor that comes into play in determining the relative success and failure of the two companies, but of all the US manufacturers GM most slavisly reflects Bushian economic philosophy: spend your money lobbying Congress not to legislate fuel efficiency rather than voluntarily adopting it yourself, reward yourself and other top level employees lavishly, pin the blame for your poor decision making on the unions and expect the working class to pick up the tab while you wrestle Oprah for $6,000 handbags at Hermes.

A friend just pre-ordered a Lexus RX 400h and I'm dying to drive it. As someone who makes a solid effort to buy American-made products whenever possible, I'm probably a couple of cars away from being interested in anything that US automakers have to offer, and that is just a plain tragedy.

Update: John Pearley Huffman has a review of the new Lexus in The Car He also says Roger L. Simon has been sniffing around the new Lexus. John attributes it to geography-related curiosity.


Posts I Wish I'd Written

Dennis Roddy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a good column on Swift Boat Bigot Jerome Corsi, co-author of the novel Unfit for Command. The disgraced freeper is attempting to portray himself as a champion of an Iranian freedom movement, presumably one populated by Iranians who don't mind being called murderous, child-raping ragheads.

We encourage Mr. Corsi to travel to Iran, so he can share his views with the Iranian people.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Why I Won't Play Poker with Harry Reid

The latest issue of the Rovian Tablets of Stone have featured a preemptive strike against Democratic opposition to any upcoming SCOTUS nominees, should Rehnquist or his Creator decide it is time for him (or any of the others) to retire. The airwaves have been rank with wingnut pundits parroting their talking points about Democrats who are sure to oppose ANY of Bush's certain-to-be-morally-bankrupt nominations out of sheer, mean-spirited partisanship.

Enter Harry Reid, stage left, who today recommends four Republican senators as possible nominees for the Supreme Court -- Lindsey Graham, Mel Martinez, Mike DeWine and Mike Crapo. In one masterful stroke he:

1) Established that the Democrats are not being out-of-hand obstructionist; there are Republicans that they would, in fact, support;

2) Forced Bush to piss all over four Republican Senators he needs in his corner if he wants to feed the gaping maw of the hungry Fundies; and

3) Should any of them ultimately wind up with the SCOTUS nod, put a Senate seat in play.

Of course, Harry Reid recommending Supreme Court nominees is kind of like your mom offering to set you up on a blind date -- it's pretty much the kiss of death right there. But in his head you just KNOW Lindsey Graham is already sporting wood underneath those Chief Justice robes and there will be no way for the supremely un-tactful GWB to let him down easy.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm still not down with the whole Mormon anti-abortion thing - but in these dark times you take allies where you can find them. And Harry Reid just made Frist's job of holding the Rethuglicans together a little tougher. Tee hee.


Monday, June 27, 2005

Jailhouse Rock

I'm torn over the whole Judith Miller/Matthew Cooper SCOTUS decision today. On the one hand, it's hard to watch the press being bullied by the government, and I fear that an already timid fourth estate will grow even more docile and non-confrontational as a result. On the other hand, it's hard to listen to sanctimonious journalists who have spent the past four years abrogating any sense of responsibility as they curry favor with the Sith lords defending their sense of entitlement.

I thought Joe Wilson brought it around nicely, reminding us where the blame should lie:
That two reporters may now have to go to jail is a direct consequence of President Bush's refusal to hold his administration accountable for the compromise of the identity of a CIA officer, Valerie Wilson.

Had he enforced his edict that all members of his administration cooperate fully with the Justice Department investigation, we would not be where we are today.

Equally, some senior administration officials who spoke to Matt Cooper and Judy Miller today cravenly stand by while the two journalists face jail time because of a conversation they had with them.  It is an act of extraordinary cowardice that those officials not step forward to accept responsibility for their actions.
Well in the end, I take solace in the purely emotionally appealing thought of Judith Fucking Queen of Iraq Miller doing hard time. It's spoiled only by the fact that she isn't sharing a cell with Robert Novak's renegade hip.


Sunday, June 26, 2005

I'll Have the Red Pill

Well I still don't have gas and my high-speed internet won't be installed until tomorrow, but my hair looks great, thanks for asking. The dogs are doing well -- carsick-prone Katie staged a bloodless coup for the front seat while we were on the road. She's only 40 lbs. but she managed to terrorize the other two much bigger dogs into ceding that prime piece of auto real estate. She was all hopped up on Dramamine and never quite went to sleep, just sat there drooling with heavy eyelids while her head bobbed up and down, kind of like you'd imagine Peggy Noonan looks like when she's writing. And probably when she's not, come to think of it.

Boy, you're out of the loop for a couple of days and it seems like years. I see Dick Cheney and Karl Rove are still evil, and nobody has yet burned them at the stake, tragedies both. The Power Tools are taking umbrage at Liberal Hate Speech. Well chew on that, you chickenhawk bastards.

I'm going to try to spend some time on health care over the coming weeks -- I always say stuff like that and then things start happening and my best intentions get hijacked. But I thought I'd start off by pointing to Hale Stewart's excellent article on the healthcare crisis, and what the spiraling costs mean to middle class Amercians:
In a recent CBS news survey, 28% of the respondents stated health care was the most important domestic issue, making it the number one main concern of Americans. Clearly, this is on the public's mind. However, no one is addressing their concerns.

To explain why Americans are so concerned about health issues, it's important to see the effect of health costs on the average American. To do this, I will use two hypothetical families and trace their financial condition for the last 5 years.

Family 1 is a single person who made $36,000/year in 2000. He takes two prescriptions daily and his family has a history of heart disease, although these have not manifested in this particular person.

Family 2 have a husband, wife and 2 children. Their combined income was
$50,000/year in 2000. Everyone is in good health.

For the last 5 years, their wages have barely grown. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average earnings increase from 2000-2004 was 3.86%, 3.22%, 3.12%, 1.71% and 2.39% respectively. However wages have to be compared to inflation to determine the real rate of wage growth. For the same years, annual inflation was 3.4%, 2.8%, 1.6%, 2.3% and 2.7% respectively. When inflation is subtracted from wages, overall wage growth becomes .46%, .42%, 1.52%, -.59% and-.31% respectively for 2000-2004.

Therefore, family 1 who started in 2000 with $36,000 now makes $36,538.37 and family 2 makes $50,747.73.

According to the Kaiser Foundation, the average annual cost of medical insurance for a single person in 2004 is $3627/year and $9813 for a family. Therefore, for our single person, his average annual premium is 9.92% of his annual income. For the family, the premium is 19.33% of annual income.

Think about those figures for a moment. Before any other expense is taken into account, medical insurance is already a hefty expense for both families. However, their respective problems don't end there. According to a USA Today article
(Medical costs prove a burden even for some with insurance): "Some employers are embracing high-deductible policies -- requiring workers to pay $1,000 or more a year in expenses before insurance kicks in. Such policies are also common for the self-employed, who buy their own insurance, because premiums are generally lower."

In other words, their respective annual or monthly insurance payments don't represent either family's total out-of-pocket medical expenses. Suppose both families have a higher deductible policy to lower their costs. If that deductible is $1000, then health costs increase to 12% for the single person and 21% for the family.

Compounding these problems are the higher than average wage growth increase in insurance premiums. According to the Kaiser Foundation, the average annual inflation adjusted increases for insurance premiums for 2000-2004 were 5.9%, 8.5%, 9.1%, 6.1% and 5.5% respectively. Compare this increase with the after-inflation increase in wages for each of those years of .46%, .42%, 1.52%, -.59% and-.31% respectively.

Up until now, I have focused on premiums. Another important component of health care is prescription drugs. As with premiums, escalating costs are deleteriously affecting the average American. According to a Health System Change study titled
Tracking Health Care Costs: Declining Growth Trend Pauses In 2004, spending on prescription drugs increased 14.2%, 13.5%, 13.1%, 8.9% and 7.2%. Finally, According to a Health System Change study titled An Update on American's Access to Prescription Drugs: "In an effort to control rising prescription drug spending, health plans started using formularies more aggressively and increasing patients' out-of pocket payment requirements."

Putting all the above facts together, we get this picture: Assuming a health plan has a prescription drug component, people are increasing spending on prescriptions at a rate that is growing faster than their annual inflation-adjusted wage increases. This is on top of the increases in their premiums and total out-of-pocket expenses caused by higher-deductibles.

So where does all of this information lead? To bankruptcy. According to a recent study by Harvard University:

"To investigate medical contributors to bankruptcy, we surveyed 1,771 personal bankruptcy filers in five federal courts and subsequently completed in-depth interviews with 931 of them. About half cited medical causes, which indicates that 1.9-2.2 million Americans (filers plus dependents) experienced medical bankruptcy. Among those whose illnesses led to bankruptcy, out-of-pocket costs averaged $11,854 since the start of illness; 75.7 percent had insurance at the onset of illness. Medical debtors were 42 percent more likely than other debtors to experience lapses in coverage. Even middle-class insured families often fall prey to financial catastrophe when sick."

Having insurance is no help in preventing bankruptcy. So the heavy increases in premiums, prescription drugs and overall medical spending lead to half of the people declaring bankruptcy to do so for medical reasons.
As I've said before, I believe the best chance for booting the kleptocrats from office will happen when people start wising up to the fact the bill they are being handed is just too high, both personally and financially. Yet the entrenched lobbying muscle of the health care industry makes it incredibly difficult to maneuver around -- one of the reasons the Clinton health care plan went down in flames is because in trying to accommodate all these special interests, it became unwieldy and extremely difficult to explain to anyone.

It still amazes me that for all the burden health care costs place on working class people, they are not even tax deductible in any meaningful way. And one of the ways BushCo. hoped to pay for the war in Iraq was by eliminating the business tax deduction for employee-sponsored health insurance, as well as eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes, which it estimates would raise nearly $926 billion over five years, according to the WaPo. If Newsweek should've known its story on the Koran would provoke riots in the Middle East, any idiot should be able to predict armed insurrection at that kind of insultingly regressive taxation.

Don't forget, George. Thanks to your beloved NRA, those fuckers are armed.