December 2009

By Cessna

Are insurance companies worried about the health care bill?

(Hint: Their stock prices are rising)

Under the Senate plan, millions of Americans will be forced into private insurance company plans, which will be subsidized by taxpayers. This will do little to reform health care but will be a windfall for insurance companies.

The point of creating a government option is to bring prices down. Naturally, the Senate version of this bill does not provide a ‘government option.’ Instead, we will subsidize the private insurance market.

You have heard the line about making laws and making sausage. The difference is that quality sausage can be very satisfying to the consumer. Major legislation, on the other hand, is almost always directed at benefiting the very wealthy first and foremost. If there are secondary benefits to the consumer, well, that’s nice too.

We expect this when Republicans control Congress. In practice, the result is the same when the Dems are in charge. Money dictates what goes into each and every bill.

Democrats are as beholden to the almighty dollar as are the Republicans, they are just less obvious about it.

To illustrate the difference, let us look at the major (non-war) concerns of the parties:

Republicans: Insist on elimination of the estate tax (also known as the inheritance tax). The standard scare tactic of the GOP is to call this a ‘death tax’ because stupid people will believe it applies to all those who die. They sell it as though YOU will lose dollars when a loved one dies.

Nope, this tax only effects the VERY wealthy, with giant estates. There is a credit which eliminates any tax on the first $3,500,000 of the estate.

Regardless of estate size. if an asset is left to a spouse or a charitable organization, the tax usually does not apply.

When it does apply, amounts over $3,500,000 are effectively subject to a flat tax of 45%.

To repeat, the estate is not taxed if the money (1) goes to a spouse, or (2) to a charity, or (3) if the estate is less than $3,500,000.

But Republicans keep screaming ‘death tax’!

Who are they fighting for? Only the mega-wealthy. Not me. Not you (probably).

Democrats: Insist on providing “health care for all Americans”!

Nope. The Senate bill does NOT provide health care for all Americans. It provides an opportunity for all Americans to BUY health care from already wealthy insurance companies, sometimes at higher prices than they could have bought it before.

The new, higher prices will discourage even those who can afford it from buying it.

For those that can’t afford it, they will be subsidized to make it more affordable but, either way, the insurance companies garner millions more customers.

There will be no competition from a public option, so insurance companies will have no motivation to moderate premiums.

Are you under the impression that Senate Democrats wrote this law? Nope. Insurance lobbyists wrote it, the same way drug companies wrote the Medicare drug law (under Republican rule) which forbid Congress from negotiating the purchase price of the drugs.

The “Golden Rule” is: Those with the gold make the rules.

It is and ever shall be.
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By Wink

We have done an informal and completely unscientific poll. It turns out most of you read Winkest Link well after it has been posted.

To you we say “Happy belated Christmas!”

We hope it was loads of fun.

For those of you in the twin cities of Minneapolis and Cleveland, we hope Santa brought you a sled, because the snow has been mounting up.

To our readers in Miami / San Diego / Honolulu we say “we don’t care HOW your Christmas was, because WE had to deal with all this stinking snow.”

No offense.

Seriously, though, we really don’t mind the snow too much, because it makes Christmas look a lot more Christmassy. (We constantly crave new words, and ‘Christmassy’ is our newest.)

Also, once you get used to driving in snow, it isn’t too much of a challenge. In fact, it is kind of fun if you can avoid the idiots who DON’T know how to drive in snow. Note: Snow driving does not maximize your gas mileage.

Be honest now, which would you rather do around Christmas, sled or sit by a pool? Your answer to this may or may not speak volumes about who you are, but we shall pass judgment anyway…. If you would rather sled, you are cool, exciting and fun. If your answer was ‘sit by the pool,’ you are boring, boring, boring.

P.S. Happy belated Hanukkah to our Jewish friends. May your oil lamps always last longer than you anticipate!

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By Wink

I had several roommates in college. Each was a variation on the concept of ‘weird,’ but they were all pretty smart.

Now that I think about it, they were probably all smarter than me. That is a disheartening revelation this late in life, but at least I learned a lot from them.

My first roomie was an artist from small-town Nebraska. Relentlessly positive, and fascinated with how ‘normal’ people would react to abnormal situations. His nutty way of looking at the world helped pull me through my tough freshman year.

One roommate was an American-born French dude. He grew up in Houston and was very ‘worldly.’ A pretty big Led Zeppelin fan, but we all have our quirks.

One was a musically-gifted gay guy. I never figured out he was gay while we roomed together, but that just shows how naïve I was. (I was young and stupid, but I am proud to say I have finally shed that ‘young’ label.) The signs were all there. He, too, was from a small town. I can’t imagine the psychosis that would have been created growing up in a small town knowing you were gay, and knowing everybody would hate you (and worse) if you admitted it. Gays, in the 70’s, were loathe to come out.

One roommate was a big-city guy who came from money. His affection for jazz and recreational drugs made it seem like he was desperate to appear ‘cool.’ Dorm rooms are never big enough for two people, but he also had a stand-up acoustic bass, to help occupy more space. ‘Beatnik’ may be the word that best describes him. I can’t help but think, for all his counter-culture efforting, that he is probably now on the corporate ladder somewhere.

When I moved off campus I roomed with two other guys, one a military guy, a courteous and helpful ‘straight arrow.’ No doubt, the most honest person I ever known (which means I should make some effort to hang with a better crowd). The other? He was a fantasy/sci-fi fanatic, tennis player and wordsmith, with many-many other interests.… just a bit too hard to define.

All were nice, none were jerks.

I only mention this because I did a web search for my first roomie, the artist, and was lucky enough to find him.

He now lives in a different state, hundreds of miles from here, but he is still an artist. Thank God, because that is what he was meant to do.

In this internet age it is almost unremarkable that he and I have been able to rekindle this friendship.

I am not desperate to find all my old friends, but some are worth the effort.

Do yourself a favor. Dig into your memory banks. Find someone who, long ago, really made a difference in your life.

Find them and thank them. Nothing more is needed.

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By Kasson

Yesterday President Obama went to Norway to pick up his Nobel Peace Prize.  He spent 26 hours there, long line I guess, these days they seem giving them out to everybody.  He get’s to Norway and prepares to deliver his acceptance speech.

What will he talk about? Well it is the Nobel Peace Prize, so I am sure it will be about holding hands, ending all wars, getting rid of all nukes, and the like.  It turns out his speech is partly about the necessity of war, how wars can be justified.

This type of speech should be a State of the Union address in which he outlines the reasons to invade Canada.  This is not exactly the typical “peace speech” that you would expect from a person who just won The Nobel Peace Prize.

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By Wink

You might imagine we at Winkest Link are highly amused by The Daily Show. You would be right.

Recently Jon Stewart performed a dead-on parody of the Beck style. This clip has become very popular on YouTube. Of course it can also be viewed on indecisionforever.com, which is a Comedy Central website connected to The Daily Show.

While the performance is hilarious, it does not quite satisfy my urge to spell out my objections to the “Beck style”

I have touched on Beck before, and probably will be forced to again sometime in the future, but I would like to share with you a post from indecisionforever.com. This is un-edited, as the words are not mine. (To maintain credibility, Winkest Link makes a high priority of accuracy and context unlike, well, you-know-who.)

“All he [Glenn Beck] does is ask questions, explain what he thinks the answer is, and challenge his audience (and the White House) to correct him.”

The problem with that is I can do that to. “Why was Palin’s daughter absent from school when Palin was allegedly pregnant? I think it was because she was the real mother of the baby. I challenge Palin to correct me! Why did George Bush Senior say he doesn’t remember where he was the day Kennedy was shot? I think it was because he recruited the CIA shooters! I challenge Poppy Bush to correct me!”

See what’s wrong with that? The “answers” are not supported by fact but mere conjecture. Given Sarah Palin and Bush probably will never see this post much less respond, I can claim that because no one DISproved me, that must mean that I’m right! In genuine logic, you’re supposed to prove your point, not throw out an unproven premise and have it be accepted as true until someone disproves it. If someone does respond, I can allege that I must be on to something for them to bother to respond to me. I can say I have them scared and feed an image of importance. There’s very little antidote to that type of demagoguery – except ridicule, which is what Mr. Stewart has applied.

“The White House has only answered him to date by firing the people he (Glenn) exposed. His critics only answer him by making fun of him. ”

The White House doesn’t own Glenn Beck explanations. The ridicule shows the silliness of the non-fact-based rhetoric.

I gave an example in another online forum of Glenn telling a story about some radio towers which had been “blown up” in a terrorist attack and how this was an assault on freedom of speech that “the liberals” were ignoring. The reality – i.e. all the news reports – actually said that the towers had been knocked down with an excavator, not blown up, and it was an act of vandalism over a years-long dispute about the towers being a public eyesore – it had nothing whatsoever to do with the content of the radio broadcast.

Now, is it other people’s job to fact-check Glenn Beck? He’s gone and twisted every single fact of the story to fit his narrative. No, when this happens again and again, you employ ridicule to show that he is a nontrustworthy news source and should be ignored. Would you fact-check the Weekly World News week after week after week? Does every Bat Boy story need a debunking?

“It’s pure rhetoric. What has he said that is in any way so ‘dangerous’? ”
See, you’re doing it too – glossing over any fact that doesn’t fit your narrative. You ask a question rather than say “Glenn Beck isn’t dangerous because….” You don’t have facts to back your supposition, and hope readers don’t either or are too lazy to check.

How about one GIANT example – he put a man on the air who said the only way for this country to be saved was for Osama bin Laden to attack it again, and Beck not only didn’t rebuke him, but appeared to agree with him. Ummm… I think encouraging a terrorist to attack us is dangerous, and trying to condition the public at large to think so to (so they’d be less likely to report suspicious behavior or stop it) is extraordinarily dangerous.

“Who wants groups like Acorn to commit vote fraud?”

That’s one of those “when did you stop beating your wife” questions. ACORN hasn’t committed vote fraud.

” Where are the other news networks on these stories?”
It hasn’t hit you yet has it – nowhere, because THEY”RE NOT NEWS STORIES. That’s why CNN doesn’t run “Bat Boy escapes!” headlines. They’re NOT REAL.

” Who wants SEIU thugs to be free to beat up people who oppose them?”

Health care workers are not beating up people.

“What part of these stories shouldn’t be told?”

That parts that aren’t true, which would be all of them. You know, like how Hannity and Beck ran a tape that accused an ACORN member of having murdered her husband… the problem being HER HUSBAND ISN’T DEAD!!! See, these guys don’t check facts because they’re not relevant. Beck’s listeners don’t check them for the same reason. It’s not an acceptable news model for one party to constantly lie and everyone else has to try to catch all their lies and expose them. It can be impossible at times to prove a negative. Take my Bush/JFK example above. If Bush himself doesn’t know where he was, you can’t know where he was, and the only way to PROVE he didn’t kill Kennedy would be to put him somewhere else, then you can’t DISPROVE the assertion, so I must be right! Is that the logic we should use in the arena of public discourse?

“If you deny these stories then validate your denial with evidence, not by ridiculing the messenger.”

You still don’t understand how science and logic work. When you make an accusation, you have to prove it, I don’t have to disprove it. Otherwise blowhards can make #$#% up all day and about 10% of it will get through. It’s up to you to present all of your facts and then draw a valid conclusion. Then I can examine and question those facts, whether the conclusion drawn is valid, or whether there are additional facts that refute the conclusion.

by Joseph G. Mitzen November 19th (2009) at 10:08PM

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