Thursday, February 28, 2008

William F. Buckley Jr. -- a well earned rest.

Hi everyone,

What ever happened to great conservatives like this?

For the full set of reviews see the National Review Online and a nice farewell from The Globe and Mail in Toronto.

For me, Buckley was a sailor even before he was a public figure. His description of "lift" (in Racing through Paradise: A Pacific Passage) alone makes him worthy of eternal merit.

Fair winds Bill.

You've left us with midgets.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Nearly twenty years without buying gas from Exxon.

Hi everyone,

Just a strange moment today, stumbling across this story on Yahoo. Two decades after oil spill, Alaskans still await 'new start'. Back after the spill I got so irritable that, in a gesture of absolutely no importance whatsoever, I stopped buying gas from Exxon. When they merged with Mobil, I stopped buying gas from Mobil too.

Pretty soon I'll be reduced to driving a push cart.

But I have 20 years of satisfaction.

The people in Alaska are remembering too. Here from the Anchorage Daily News, some excerpts:

Exxon Valdez spill by the numbers

11 MILLION: Gallons of oil spilled into Prince William Sound from the Exxon Valdez in 1989.

470 MILES: How far the spilled oil drifted from Bligh Reef, to the village of Chignik on the Alaska Peninsula.

1,300 MILES: The miles of oiled shoreline, 200 of them heavily or moderately oiled.

$2.1 BILLION: The amount Exxon estimates it spent cleaning up after the tanker spill over the following four summers.

$1.045 BILLION: Amount Exxon paid in 1990s in criminal fines and civil settlements.


8,000: Estimated number of plaintiffs who have died since the 1989 spill.

$40.6 BILLION: Exxon's estimated profit last year.

$7.6 BILLION: Estimated cash dividends Exxon paid to its shareholders last year.

I wonder if they've worked out the actuarial tables to see how long before the rest of the plaintiffs die off?

Naahhh... that'd be too cynical.


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Defend the American Dream -- stay asleep.

Hi folks,

They're having a big party in Waukesha today called "Defending the American Dream".

The acronym, D.A.D., is a slick example from the neo-con playbook on marketing the strict-father model of government .

I see my neighbor Owen Robinson will be there hosting a session on blogging, sponsored by the Lucy Burns Institute.


How do you have a day-long orgy of self-congratulation for 30 years of shifting the tax-burden to the shoulders of people at the bottom of the economic system -- with cake for dessert?

You stage circuses in Waukesha to make sure all those people at the bottom continue to believe that dreaming is better than living.

The downside?

When those folks wake up, or when the cake runs out, they're going to be irritable.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Primary candidates on the Political compass: results.

Hi folks,

My friend Michael Fountain just posted this little horror up in his blog:

Most of the political candidates in this year's election fall into the authoritarian/right category of the Political Compass.

Mapped against each other, they come out like this: [click for a clearer image]

Drop by Michael's and have a look at his comments and find out how to take the test yourself.

Somehow, I ended up on the libertarian left sandwiched between Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, and the Dalai Llama.

Not a lot of hope for political success in my Dixie-chicken universe, clearly.


Hospitalization *for* Washington County?

Hi folks,

More mergers among our local hospitals-insurance-industrial-complex [sorry, I've been rereading President Eisenhower's Farewell Address this weekend.]

From BizTimes Daily:
Thursday, January 31, 2008

SynergyHealth to pursue affiliation with Froedtert

The board for West Bend-based SynergyHealth today announced that it will enter into "in-depth" affiliation discussions with Froedtert & Community Health.

Synergy had considered becoming affiliated with Froedtert, Aurora Health Care or Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare. Earlier this week, Aurora withdrew its bid for an affiliation with SynergyHealth.

Froedtert is in the process of merging with Columbia St. Mary's to form a health care system called Progressive Health. As part of SynergyHealth's possible affiliation with Froedtert, St. Joseph's Hospital in the Town of Polk, the West Bend Clinic and SynergyHealth staff would become part of Froedtert & Community Health and the Progressive Health organization.

"After a careful and thorough review, Froedtert & Community Health emerged as a strong partner that is committed to investing not only in St. Joseph's Hospital and the West Bend Clinic but also our community," said SynergyHealth chief executive officer Gregory Banaszynski. "We look forward to structuring an agreement with Froedtert that will enable us to control costs, improve services and develop a stronger health care infrastructure in Washington County."

SynergyHealth, as those of us who live here remember, pulled St. Joseph's Hospital out of West Bend and moved it 20 minutes further south into a bigger new building closer to Hwy 45 in Jackson. Columbia-St. Mary's, as you'll remember, pulled St. Mary's Hospital out of Port Washington and moved it 20 minutes further south into a bigger new building closer to I-43 in Mequon.

In both cases, we heard the argument that relocating these hospitals, away from the population centers that had supported them, would make health care more convenient and less expensive.

The hospitals are now less convenient and more expensive.

I'm not sure how much more of this kind of cost savings we can stand.


Friday, February 01, 2008

Bush's state department using slave labor to build our embassy in Bagdad

Hi folks,

Eventually the news reaches even the Kettle Moraine. The company we've paid $2 billion to build our new embassy in Iraq is apparently using slave labor.

Yes, I'm sure it's more cost effective.

Let's make a deal. No more Presidents with MBAs.


Pat Strachota: insinuating her religious beliefs into medical practice?

Hi folks,

Well, it seems like conservatives can't walk 6 feet without reattaching their neo and their hyphen.

Rep. Strachota was nice enough to respond to a note I'd sent asking her why she would oppose compassionate care to rape victims. She explained that she'd voted against the legislation because it didn't include a clause that would let physicians opt out of providing that treatment -- what she called a "conscience clause."

Conscience Clause, sanity clause, Santa Claus.... you make the call.

Doctors have a duty to care for their patients, regardless of their own religious beliefs. They are not allowed to impose their religious views at the expense of a patient's welfare -- can you imagine a physician who refused to give a patient an emergency transfusion because his religious beliefs said he couldn't?

Politicians have the same obligation: they shouldn't impose their religious views at the expense of the health or well being of their constituents -- especially when those constituents are rape victims.