Category Archives: Politics

Would you want this woman as your doctor?

A doctor called into the show during a segment on defensive medicine and how much it contributes to health care costs.

“I think, you know, any data that you have, I completely – I can’t possibly think applies to my practice or my husband’s practice or what I’m seeing. Every doctor, every day, practices defensive medicine. There’s no doubt about it.”

via Op-Ed: ‘I’m A Doctor. So Sue Me. No, Really.’ : NPR.

Nevermind whether the data is correct or not. Would you want your doctor to rely on anecdotal evidence (her own experience) over data? to refuse to consider data that conflicts with her pre-conceived notions?

Was Joe Wilson motivated by racism?

I guess we’ll see a lot more of this over the next 3 years, but I’m a little surprised that some people have been so quick to claim that Joe Wilson shouted “You lie!” during Obama’s speech because Obama is black. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that Maureen Dowd thinks so:

New York Times: Boy, Oh, Boy by Maureen Dowd

The congressman, we learned, belonged to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, led a 2000 campaign to keep the Confederate flag waving above South Carolina’s state Capitol and denounced as a “smear” the true claim of a black woman that she was the daughter of Strom Thurmond, the ’48 segregationist candidate for president. Wilson clearly did not like being lectured and even rebuked by the brainy black president presiding over the majestic chamber.

I’ve been loath to admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer — the frantic efforts to paint our first black president as the Other, a foreigner, socialist, fascist, Marxist, racist, Commie, Nazi; a cad who would snuff old people; a snake who would indoctrinate kids — had much to do with race.

I tended to agree with some Obama advisers that Democratic presidents typically have provoked a frothing response from paranoids — from Father Coughlin against F.D.R. to Joe McCarthy against Truman to the John Birchers against J.F.K. and the vast right-wing conspiracy against Bill Clinton.

But Wilson’s shocking disrespect for the office of the president — no Democrat ever shouted “liar” at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq — convinced me: Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it.


Other people have come out with columns, statements, and comments along these lines, but I think they’re missing the point. Joe Wilson might be a racist, he might not like black people, but I think it’s more likely that he just couldn’t contain himself during the address because he hates Mexicans.

Dianne Feinstein is stupid

This was the form letter I received in response to my email about legalizing online poker.

Thank you for writing to me regarding Internet gambling. I appreciate you taking the time to contact me on this important topic, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.

There is no doubt that the Internet and related technologies have had a remarkable effect on the U.S. economy in recent years. The flow of commerce on the Internet has enhanced American industry’s ability to distribute goods economically and efficiently. The continuing development of this technology in California has provided hundreds of thousands of new, well-paying jobs, and I am committed to strengthening online commerce and preserving and expanding this vital job base.

While the advent of the Internet has its benefits, I believe the same cannot be said for Internet-based gambling. Internet gambling has become too easily accessible to minors, subject to fraud and criminal misuse, and too easily used as a tool to evade state gambling laws.

I understand your thoughts on internet gambling, and as you may be aware, I have supported legislation aimed at curbing Internet gambling during my tenure in the Senate. For example, I supported the SAFE Port Act, passed into law as Public Law 109-347, which included the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.

Please know that I have read your letter with interest and value your thoughts. While we do not necessarily agree on this particular topic, be assured that I will certainly keep your thoughts in mind should this issue come before me during the 111th Congress.

Again, thank you for your letter. I hope you will continue to keep me informed on issues of importance to you. If you should have any additional comments or questions, please feel free to contact my Washington, D.C. staff at (202) 224-3841. Best regards.

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

I’m pretty sure I’ve never actually voted for her. Instead I’d skip the Senate race and fill out the rest of the ballot. Unfortunately, her position on this issue isn’t likely to lose her enough votes among the indifferent majority in this State.

Short-term memory

One day, perhaps in the near future, gay people will have the rights and responsibilities that come along with marriage. They’ll be recognized by society as committed couples just as straight people are, heart-broken widows and widowers will have inheritance rights over their homophobic in-laws, and gay celebrities will fight their divorce and custody battles in the pages of the tabloids and the courts.

It won’t take too long for society to forget that we voted in favor of ballot initiatives like Proposition 8; there won’t be any collective sense of shame because we are not only shameless, but brazen in our shamelessness. Jim Crow? That’s old news. Ditto Executive Order 9066, which put over 100,000 Japanese-Americans in internment camps, because they were trusted less than Americans of Italian or German descent. Women’s Suffrage and Alien Land Law? That’s really old shit. The Trail of Tears, Chinese Exclusion Act, and slavery? What century are you living in?

It’s really unfortunate. We keep patting ourselves on the back about how we are the most-free, the most-tolerant, the hands-down pinnacle of human civilization–which in many ways we are–but we forget about the decades and centuries of struggle and death that got us where we are, we like to think that every generation gets a fresh-start without the baggage of the previous generation, and we don’t recognize the disconnect between what we say we are and what we actually do.

It’s easy when you’re a straight, married man with some education and a decent job to file this away under “Abstract thing that I’ll voice an opinion about in polite conversation but doesn’t affect me” (along with single mothers, homelessness, and at-risk kids). But maybe when your life’s biggest problems are whether you could have saved more money buying from or whether you want to buy a BMW or lease a Porsche you should take advantage of that human gift of looking outside yourself and fucking do it.

Korean Internet FTW

TJ posted a bulletin on MySpace featuring this news tidbit:

Far East Gizmos: While in Korea download a 120-minute film in just 12 seconds!

Korea is to acquire the world’s fastest wired and wireless Internet service at 10 times the speed of the current service by 2012. The government and the communications industry plan to invest some W34 trillion over the next five years in the project. The Korea Communications Commission finalized plans for Internet services at an average speed of 1 Gbps through fixed lines and 10 Mbps through wireless. One Gbps allows users to download a 120-minute film in just 12 seconds. The aim is to give users seamless access to large-capacity, high-quality convergence services such as IPTV.

Although the super-speed internet will be available mainly in large cities, fixed-line subscribers in smaller towns in Korea will also have access to 50 to 100 Mbps Internet service allowing them to watch IPTV programs without a hitch.

TJ asks: “Why the hell is the US so far behin​d?​”

I think the primary reason for this is density:

Korea has 49 million people living in a 38,622 sq mi country. By contrast, California has 37 million people in a 163,696 sq mi state.

Korea’s ten largest cities hold 29 million people (60% of the population). The United States’ ten largest cities hold 25 million people (8% of the population). The #10 city, San Jose, doesn’t even break the 1 million mark.

When you can reach most of the population by wiring up your biggest cities, the task is not only achievable, but you’ll also be able to find the political will to take it on.

The Koreans’ willingness to let the government do and mandate big things (e.g., giant international airport, high speed rail system) gets stuff done:

The Koreans are willing to spend $24.4 billion ($498 per person) to get awesome Internet for everyone (100Mbps – 1 Gbps).

By contrast, we Americans are considering $9 billion ($29 per person) to kinda sorta catch up to what Korea already has for many of its citizens (5Mbps – 100Mbps). On the sidelines, some people criticize the incentive as a giveaway for Verizon.

NY Times: Verizon Could Get $1.6 Billion in Senate Stimulus Plan

Jessica Zufolo, an analyst with Medley Global Advisors, said that last phrase–”or any residential subscriber” — means that a company could receive the tax credit for service to any home, whether or not it is in a rural, low-income, or unserved area.

Moreover, right now Verizon’s FiOS service, which runs fiber optic cables to customers’ homes, is by far the largest provider of Internet service that meets the 100 megabits-per-second hurdle.

“On first blush it appears that this will be very beneficial to Verizon,” Ms. Zufolo said.

At this point I think we need to be grateful that Verizon even has a product/service that can reach the 100Mbps threshold. We need to give them that per subscriber tax incentive of $29. We should also give them that jobs creation incentive they’ve been talking about so that every neighborhood can relish the sight of the Verizon FIOS van mucking around with the tubes. Hell, for good measure we can let them depreciate all their old DSL equipment. Give me FIOS!