Saturday, September 19, 2009

Blog # 106: The Death of Decorum

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An MTV Awards Moment: Kanye West snatches the microphone from 14 year old Taylor Swift to tell the world that the award Ms. Swift is holding should have been given to Beyonce, who in Kanye’s estimation, had made the greatest music video of all time. The action earned West the designation of “jackass” from President Obama. Photo from

Watching Decorum Being Decimated

What is this country coming to? Joe Wilson shouts “You Lie!” during the President’s address to the joint houses of Congress, formerly mild mannered tennis star Serena Williams in no uncertain terms threatens to shove a tennis ball down a line woman’s throat, and Kanye West at the MTV awards grabs the microphone from the best video winner, 14 year old Taylor Swift, and announces to the world that Beyonce should have won the prize for releasing the best music video ever made, causing the President of the United States who was being interviewed by ABC at the time to refer to West as a “jackass.” Which would probably be the one statement from the President of late that much of the free world would agree with.

Then last night former President Jimmy Carter tells the world what many of us had already figured out for ourselves, that racism is behind things like Wilson’s shouted comment and signs at the recent tea party march on Washington which depicted Obama with a Hitler mustache, and stating that “The Zoo has an African Lion, the U.S. has a lying African,” and equating Obama Care with a picture depicting the President as a witch doctor. Of course the Republican party could not admit for a minute that there was even the slightest bit of racism involved, after all racism is so yesterday. To repudiate President Carter and attempt to disassociate itself from the racist tag the Republican Party sent out its number one clown, the recently reincarnated Uncle Tom who masquerades as Michael Steele, and he offered what he fondly hoped would be the final word. According to him, racism has nothing to do with the outrage conservatives are expressing at the rallies, people are simply revolting against Obama’s policies.

Photo from

Isn’t it just super the way Michael Steele nails everything with a conservative purity which is positively unparalleled? Like fun it is. One might draw parallels with the late William F. Buckley, except that Mr. Steele and Mr. Buckley aren’t even in the same universe. Conservative or no, Mr. Buckley could think and reason. And he had another characteristic not shared by Mr. Steele, he could be honest. Steele doesn’t sound reasonable at all, his words are only reasonable if you weigh them against those of the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck. Of course when weighed against those two his words sound like the epitome of elegance and reason. But otherwise, it is thumbs down.

The problem many of us see is that Barack Obama is really getting too far into his role playing of Clark Kent, while for the sake of the future of our health care many of us feel that he must don his Superman cape and start strong arming Red Dog and Blue Dog alike. We suggest the Obama administration take a good, hard look at that excerpt from Bill Maher’s HBO program that we embedded last week. In the straight talking spirit of George Carlin, Maher told it like it really is.§

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Dell Hit by N.Y. State for 4 Million

How’s this for computer news? The New York State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Dell Computers and its subsidiary, Dell Financial Services (DFS), have agreed to pay the Attorney General’s Office of N.Y. $4 million in restitution, penalties and costs to resolve charges of fraudulent and deceptive business practices that scammed consumers across New York State.

The settlement follows a decision of the New York Supreme Court, Albany County, which sustained Attorney General Cuomo’s claims that Dell had engaged in fraud, false advertising, deceptive business practices, and abusive debt collection practices. The court’s decision came as a result of the original lawsuit filed by Cuomo’s Office, which charged that Dell engaged in bait and switch advertising with respect to its “no interest” financing promotions, misled consumers to believe they had qualified for promotional financing, failed to adequately disclose the terms of its “next day” service contracts and failed to provide consumers with warranty service and promised rebates.

Other than the four million and non-existing services everything is peachy-keen and positively hunky dory in the land of the Round Rock, Texas computer manufacturer. Perhaps that’s why Dell stock was 16.92 +0.35‎ (2.11%‎) Sep 16 4:00pm ET, after hours 16.85‎ -0.07‎ (-0.41%‎)

Meanwhile Apple stock: 181.87 +6.71‎ (3.83%‎) Sep 16 4:00pm ET
181.87‎ after hours +0.00‎ (0.00%‎)§

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Cougars Sighted on Microsoft Campus

As if Microsoft didn’t have enough problems on its horizon, what with its new, improved operating system, OS 7, going up against Apple’s Snow Leopard, for the second day in a row a cougar was sighted on the Microsoft campus. Our friends at Seattle’s TechFlash published this story, which you can access here! A note to staffers gives tips on what to do if you see the cougar.

For the second day, Global Security has received an unconfirmed report of a possible cougar sighting, this time near building 32.

Microsoft Security will conduct frequent patrols of all wooded areas of the campus, and will work with the State Department of Fish & Wildlife and other experts to assess the situation and provide further updates, as appropriate. In the meantime, we ask that all employees exercise appropriate caution, particularly in remote or wooded areas of campus. If you meet a cougar:

-- Never approach a cougar. Although cougars will normally avoid a confrontation, all cougars are unpredictable. Cougars feeding on a kill may be dangerous.

-- Always give a cougar an avenue of escape.

--Stay calm. Talk to the cougar in a confident voice.

--Pick all children up off the ground immediately. Children frighten easily and their rapid movements may provoke an attack.

--Do not run. Try to back away from the cougar slowly. Sudden movement or flight may trigger an instinctive attack. Do not turn your back on the cougar. Face the cougar and remain upright.

--Do all you can to enlarge your image. Don't crouch down or try to hide. Pick up sticks or branches and wave them about.

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Boiling Down Apple’s Sales Pitch to Adjectives

A hilarious new YouTube video strips all but the adjectives away from Apple’s recent Music Event letting you get straight to the nitty-gritty of Apple’s message. Click on the arrow below to view what’s left.§

Mary Travers Dies at 72

Mary Travers, who began singing with Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey when she was still a teenager, has died. She succumbed from leukemia, the same malady from which folk artist Mike Seeger passed recently. Travers began her singing career with a group called the Song Swappers who backed up Pete Seeger on an album and a couple of concerts. But it was when she joined in singing with Peter and Paul that her career took off in a meteoric rise. Their first album produced two hit songs, one of which was Pete Seeger’s and Lee Hays’ “If I Had a Hammer” which became an anthem for racial equality and won them grammys for best folk recording, and best performance by a vocal group. Through the years they had a number of other hit songs, including “Lemon Tree”, John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” and “Puff (The Magic Dragon”.)

Bandmate Peter Yarrow said that in her final months, Travers handled her declining health with bravery and generosity, showing her love to friends and family "with great dignity and without restraint." "It was, as Mary always was, honest and completely authentic," he said. "That's the way she sang, too; honestly and with complete authenticity."

Noel "Paul" Stookey, the trio's other member, praised Travers for her inspiring activism, "especially in her defense of the defenseless." "I am deadened and heartsick beyond words to consider a life without Mary Travers and honored beyond my wildest dreams to have shared her spirit and her career," he said.

The group collected five Grammy Awards for their three-part harmony and at one point in 1963, three of their albums were in the top six Billboard best-selling LPs as they became the biggest stars of the folk revival movement.§

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In the Beginning . . .

The remarkable thing about BlogSpot is that you can access every blog you have ever written just by perusing the Archive files to the right of the copy, and clicking a few times. This is how it is supposed to work, but earlier this week when I attempted to access a few of my early blogs I got an interminable message that the blog I was seeking was “loading,” but my patience meter ran out long before the content was brought forward. Then I made an interesting discovery. I had saved several of my early blogs using the Camino browser (Mozilla’s browser especially for the Mac) and I found when I clicked on earlier issues there, they came forth immediately. And so I made a lot of captures of those early blogs, which from time to time, I plan to reprint seeing as how my browsers have locked up trying to get those early blogs from here. (I also tried Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox, but nothing seemed to work.)

Anyway, for those who are new around these parts I thought it would be fun to revisit the whys and wherefores of my handle, Little Eddy.

Who Fore Art Thou, Little Eddy

What to write about in this week's blog? “Well,” said the Google BlogGod who is constantly looking over my left shoulder and scratching his head, “why not explain your handle? Give us the story behind Little Eddy?”

Ah, shucks, do you really want to know?

“If I didn’t would I have asked?”

Well, as you can probably guess I am a junior, Edward Raoul Badeaux, Jr. to be precise. As I was growing up at 1805 Fairview in Houston, Texas my mother created my handle in order to make it clear which one of us she was addressing. There was Big Ed (my father) and Little Eddy (me). I didn’t very much like it. I guess to tell you the truth I rather strongly didn’t very much like it. (The little prefixing Eddy was like adding insult to injury especially after I grew two and a half inches taller than my father at 5’10 1/2”, but isn’t that the way of the world, as both of my own sons have topped six feet?)

However, Ma (may a benevolent God rest her soul) truly loved the handle. It did the two things she wanted most, it allowed her to direct her words with specificity, but best of all in her eyes the handle kept me young and manageable. (Ha! So she thought.)

Well, the years have frittered away, I may not be the original creature of habit, but I am certainly an early adopter and an archetype of the first degree. And over time I have finally come to accept the name. Each mention of it keeps the memory alive of that sweet and well meaning lady who once birthed me and then happily hurried off to get back to work. She had her priorities set right. And so now, in my weekly blog, I decided to revert to the moniker I had while growing up. Little Eddy lives again.

The same issue that featured the story of my handle, also featured my revuew of Michael Moore’s brilliant film “Sicko.” Because what it had to say is so important in the face of the present Health Care Reform bill that the Obama administration is trying to get through Congress, we thought it was important to reprint that too.

My Revue of Michael Moore’s Sicko . . .

Sunday afternoon my computer spent several hours with Transmission's bit torrent engine downloading Michael Moore's new film "Sicko." It is by far Moore's most effective film, although I’m afraid the title might turn off some people who would really benefit from seeing the film. For lets face it, this is the one movie that everybody in America would benefit from seeing. Moore lets the people he was interviewing do their own talking. He has examples of people who lost their homes, their fortune, even their lives because of their H.M.O.'s denial of care. He had telling examples of the Canadian system, the English system, and the French system, all of whose hospitals are beautifully free even to non citizens of the country, unlike U. S. hospitals who practically want a complete credit history before they will think about admitting you.

He ended up taking a group of people who had worked at Ground Zero in N.Y.C. in the aftermath of 911 and who are subsequently suffering health problems to Cuba. After failing to get them treatment at the Guantanamo base, he had wanted them to have the same medical help given the prisoners there, Moore then took them to Cuba proper where they got medical treatment at no cost to them whatsoever. They ended their visit at a Cuban fire station, where the firemen saluted and praised them for assisting the firemen in N.Y.C. in the wake of 911. It seems firemen feel a common brotherhood all over the world, even in Cuba.

There are some really heavy ideas floated around in the film, particularly from Tony Benn, an ex-member of the English Parliament, who exposed our current system with unerring clarity. When Moore asked him how the British free health care system came about, he summed it up in a nut shell, "it all began with democracy. What democracy did was move the power from the market place to the polling station. From the wallet to the ballot." He talked about the unemployment in Britain in the thirties, and how the war later brought full employment. He reasoned, "if you can have full employment killing people, why can't you have full employment helping people? Building hospitals, schools, etc. If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people."

Exactly what Franklin Roosevelt had put into practice during the depression here in the United States. Benn went on to explain how a society like ours keeps its people in line, first by getting them heavily in debt, then by keeping them that way. "A demoralized people don't vote, if the poor would vote and put in power people who truly represent their interests, then you would have true democracy."

But by far the most damning testimony to the commercial institutions who administer health care in this country was the repeated exposition of how the Health Maintenance Organizations used denial of care for patient after patient in order to make money for their companies and their stockholders. Moore even graphically shows how such a monstrously perverse system began, under the presidency of Richard Nixon, and thanks to those White House tapes, we hear it in the Trickster’s own voice. And after several stinging examples of testimony by people the industry hired to deny claims telling their stories, it climaxed with the testimony of one Linda Peeno, a former medical reviewer for Humana, who in a deathly quiet, tear streaked voice told a Congressional Committee:

“I am here primarily today to make a public confession. In the spring of 1997 as a physician, I denied a man a necessary operation which would have saved his life, and thus caused his death. No person and no group has held me accountable for this, because in fact what I did, I saved the company a half a million dollars. And furthermore, this particular act secured my reputation as a good medical director and it insured my continued advancement in the health care field. I went from making $300 a week as a medical reviewer to an escalated six figure income as a physician consultant. And in all my work I had one primary duty, and that was to use my medical expertise for the financial benefit of the organization for which I worked. And I was told repeatedly that I was not denying care, I was denying payment. I know how managed care maims and kills patients, so I am here to tell you about the dirty work of managed care, and I’m haunted by the thousands of pieces of paper on which I had written that deadly word, denied.”

I am absolutely sure that the so-called Health Care industry will scream "anecdotal evidence" as if real stories are somehow tainted and not truly "scientific." Real people who see the film are likely for the first time to realize just how out of control and basically wrong the health care industry in this country really is. As we said everybody should see this film. Then we should put the Democrats in power in 2008, and demand that they give us a truly universal system of affordable health care.

I say Democrats because it is perfectly obvious that the Republicans won’t do it. They won’t consider a health care system unless the words “for profit” are grafted onto it, and that just doesn't cut it. You can’t run true health care for profit any more than you could run fire fighters for profit or police officers for profit. A for profit system can only make money by taking money in and not paying money out, in other words by denying care to patients, which is exactly what our present system has learned to do so well. And I retch every time that tv commercial comes on where Montel Williams touts about how, "the American Pharmaceutical Industry wants to help." Sure it wants to help, help keep those outrageous profits rolling in while giving lip service to helping a few needy persons pay for their grossly overpriced drugs.

My own case is miniscule compared to the stories in Michael Moore’s film. As a senior citizen I have for two years in a row drifted into what I call the Repugnacant Party's "doughnut hole" under which after a couple of thousand dollars of drug assistance your health care provider is free to cut your prescription assistance to zero. Type in "doughnut hole" into Google and see what you come up with.

Texas HealthSpring is my Medicare provider. During my first trip through the doughnut hole my physician was able to give me enough doctor’s samples of the Eli Lily’s Forteo Pen (treats osteoporosis) to get me through until the new year when my coverage would resume. But the Forteo pen is $700 a month, and after the three months the pen had navigated me right back into that Bermuda Triangle of drug assistance, the infamous doughnut hole.

Is this the kind of help a caring society really wants to give its citizenry, and particularly its elder citizenry? We have been listening to this private enterprise and hate the government crap from ardent Repugnacant loud mouths for the past seven years. As we approach the 2008 elections the American people really need to make an important decision. Do you really want your government to work exclusively for the benefit of the super rich and the giant corporations, and in the process elevate incompetence into a virtual state religion? Think about that for a minute. What kind of man would first relieve the super rich from paying their fair share of taxes and then start a major war? A Republican, who else!

The other choice would be to have your government return to working in the interests of you and me and to resume performing at the best level it can manage in the process? That is the real issue facing Americans. It's so simple a choice, really. But we Americans inevitably get sucked into that silly pipe dream that says, "let the rich make all the money they can, and maybe someday I'll be rich and get to enjoy the privilege."

We never seem to learn. It failed under Coolidge and Hoover, in fact the country damn near went down the tubes after their respective reigns, and when a bunch of starry-eyed followers of Newt the Gingrich started mouthing off about the evils of government we fell for it all over again. I hate to be a disillusionist, but a health care system for profit just doesn't work. Never has, never will.

In case you haven’t noticed the rich don't have a real good track record in benevolence department, in fact they have been known to get downright testy at the slightest mention of the word share, and so the result of our present system is: surprise, surprise? The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and middle class gets a royal screwing as they are left to pay society's bills. If America is to get true health care coverage for all it can only happen through the federal government. There is no other entity in our society that has the power or the will.

“But hey little Eddy, didn't you feel the least bit guilty downloading Mr. Moore's film and viewing it without giving the poor fellow a chance to earn a penny?” No I don't. I don't have a car to go to the movies, nor could I go to a store to buy the dvd if there was dvd to buy. These words are my contribution to Michael Moore’s film. And somehow of all the filmmakers out there, I think Michael Moore would be one to care the least about someone downloading his film. Like the folk musicians I talked about in Eddy Blog #1, the important thing for Michael is that people see his film and seriously consider his ideas. It reminds me of the yippie of years back, Abbie Hoffman, who once wrote a book he titled, "Steal This Book." I'm sure his publisher did a double take when Hoffman presented him with that title. I wouldn't know whether the book was interesting or worth stealing, I didn't steal books back then. Nowadays all he would have to do is put it up on the web and he would get his wish in spades.

I do have a suggestion for Michael Moore, and for all of you who have a broadband internet connection. A check with Amazon showed that the “Sicko” DVD is not out yet, so Michael get to work and release the DVD. In the meantime all you broadbanders out there fire up your web browsers and get on mininova, or Pirate Bay, or any one of the bit torrent search engines still working and download the film. Watch it yourself, then invite your friends over for a Sicko party, just like the Tupperware people do. Watch the movie as a group. Discuss it afterwards, sharing your individual experiences. Then try and arrange for each attendee to hold a Sicko party of his/her very own inviting their own circle of friends. If people can sell plastic doodads to their friends and neighbors, why not health care?

If enough of us did this there is no telling how far we might be able to go towards fixing this broken health care system of ours. You might say, "I'm not sick, this doesn't effect me." But it will effect you, if not tomorrow, then next week or next year or somewhere down the line. Trust me. Getting sick is as inevitable as is our very mortality. You could call this suggestion for Sicko parties little Eddy's prescription for preventive medicine. Prevention from bankruptcy that is, for when you do get sick.§

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And so this week's Little Eddy Blog rides into the sunset. We would like to thank Mary Travers for living and sharing her talent with us, and Michael Moore for sharing his remarkable talents with us. Obviously, push has come to shove in regards to Health Care Reform. Support Obama's reform measures, and even though it is true a weak bill is better than no bill at all, a strong bill, with a public option in place to ensure true competition, is way better than a weak bill. It is worth fighting for.

And that's the way this week went. Mosey back again next week to see what we're into then. Meantime, bye now.§

The Real Little Eddy

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