People Into Astrology Shouldn’t Attempt Medical Commentary

The last few days I’ve ignored most of the lame attacks coming from The Democratic Daily and other blogs from its writers, other than for the discussion going on in following this post which does get into some of the background behind their persistent attacks on Liberal Values. I probably should have ignored ths one too, but decided to comment as it demonstrates why people who believe in astrology and ghosts should avoid commenting on matters involving science and medicine.

The Katrinacrat Blog posts on the finding of a 10,000 year old baby mammouth, deriding the researcher in the picture and attempting to turn this into another lame attack on me:


Why does that guy in the pic look like he’s trying to listen to a heartbeat? Is he from Michigan? Hint: he’s already dead fool! Pretty cool science stuff there.

The writer is the same guy who once told me that my disbelief in astrology was like George Bush not believing in global warming. Needless to say, the scientific viewpoint would be to accept the scientific evidence on global warming and dismiss astrolgy as bunk. He again shows his lack of understanding of science in asking, “Why does that guy in the pic look like he’s trying to listen to a heartbeat?” There are two problems here. First of all, his head is no where near the heart–perhaps it might help to pay more attention to anatomy than astrological charts. Secondly, he is not wearing a stethoscope, as he would if he was attempting to find a heartbeat.

Libertarian Blog Reports: John Kerry Was Right

Liberating Our Heritage reports that John Kerry Was Right, quoting him from 2004:

We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance. As a former law-enforcement person, I know we’re never going to end prostitution. We’re never going to end illegal gambling. But we’re going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn’t on the rise. It isn’t threatening people’s lives every day, and fundamentally, it’s something that you continue to fight, but it’s not threatening the fabric of your life.

They follow this up with similar views from Steve Chapman at Reason:

Instead of being the opening blitz of a “long, global war,” 9/11 was a freak event that may never be replicated. In a real war, such as the ones we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, many people die, week in and week out. But John Mueller, a national security professor at Ohio State University, notes that in a typical year, no more than a few hundred people are killed worldwide in attacks by al Qaeda and similar groups outside of war zones.

That’s too many, but it’s not a danger on the order of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union or even Saddam Hussein. It’s more like organized crime—an ongoing problem demanding unceasing vigilance, a malady that can be contained but never eliminated. . . .

Crime is a serious national problem that used to be even worse. At the height of the mayhem, more than 24,000 Americans were murdered annually—a Sept. 11, 2001, attack every six weeks. Yet even when the toll was at its worst, we insisted that police respect the constitutional rights of suspected criminals. We maintained the limits on the power of the president and other law enforcement officials to investigate and imprison people. For the most part, we kept our perspective. . . .

The 9/11 attack was a crisis that has largely passed, but no one in Washington wants to admit it. It’s politically safer to depict the danger as undiminished no matter how long we go without an attack. But someday, we will look back and ask if we were acting out of sensible caution or unfounded panic.

I wouldn’t say that the threat from al Qaeda has passed or dismiss the tragedy of the 9/11 attack, but do agree with the general sentiments regarding the manner in which the threat has been turned into a perpetual state of war. The goal of terrorism is, obviously, to create a sence of terror in the populace, and the propaganda of the Bush administration only adds to this. If they believe the terrorists hate us for our freedoms, we should respond by defending those freedoms, not surrendering them as part of the “war on terror.”  Besides, if the goal is to reduce our risk of terrorist attacks, the actions of the Bush administration such as invading Iraq do the opposite.

Previously Uninsured Increase Costs for Medicare Program

Last week I posted in favor of expanding Medicare to cover more people before they reach the age of 65 due to the difficulty people in their 40’s and 50’s have in obtaining affordable coverage, especially if they have a history of medical problems. A study this week’s issue of The New England Journal of Medicine shows the need for providing care at an earlier age.

I often see patients without insurance avoid needed medical care until they reach the age of 65 and qualify for Medicare. The study verified that “Uninsured adults were significantly more likely than insured adults to report health declines before the age of 65 years.” As would be predicted, they also found that “Uninsured adults reported significantly fewer doctor visits and hospital stays than insured adults before age 65 .” The study concludes:

In this nationally representative longitudinal study, obtaining Medicare coverage at 65 years of age was associated with greater ncreases in doctor visits, hospital stays, and total medical expenditures for previously uninsured beneficiaries than for previously insured beneficiaries. Previously uninsured adults reported consistently greater use of health services and total medical expenditures after age 65 than previously insured adults with similar characteristics at ages 59 to 60 and comparable coverage after age 65. Self-reported use of health services for previously uninsured adults with cardiovascular disease or diabetes remained elevated through 72 years of age, indicating that the earlier lack of insurance was associated with persistent increases in health care needs rather than with transient spikes.These findings support the hypothesis that previously uninsured adults used health services more intensively and required costlier care as Medicare beneficiaries than they would have if previously insured.

The prognosis in problems such as diabetes is much better when treated aggressively at an earlier age, rather than waiting until the patient is 65. While the primary reason for expanding care would be to improve health, providing better coverage at an earlier age could also save money for Medicare. It is far more cost effective to care for diabetes and other chronic problems at an earlier stage as opposed to paying for cardiac bypass surgery, renal dialysis, and post-stroke care if treatment is delayed. I found it to be no surprise that the uninsured account for greater health care costs than the insured when first joining Medicare, but seeing that this effect lasts until at least age 72 could represent significant avoidable costs for the Medicare program.

The discussion in the study concludes:

Our findings have important policy implications. Near-elderly adults who were uninsured required more intensive and costlier care in the Medicare program after the age of 65 years than previously insured adults who were otherwise similar at ages 59 to 60. Therefore, providing health insurance coverage for uninsured near-elderly adults may improve their health outcomes and reduce their health care use and spending after age 65. Particularly for those with cardiovascular disease or diabetes, these benefits may be substantial and may partially offset the costs of expanding coverage.

Mitt Romney, Porn, and The Dark Ages

Mitt Romney is under attack for religious reasons–this time from, believe it or not, an LDS church-owned newspaper. Hat tip to Bible Belt Blogger who presents an op-ed from the Deseret Morning News:

The nasty taint of porn

Pornography taints everything it touches. Mitt Romney should have understood that. So should the Marriott Corp. and other hotel owners who offer hard-core movies in hotel rooms.

Romney caught a bit of flack last week because he spent nearly 10 years on the Marriott board and yet never tried to reverse the company’s policy of providing pornography on demand, something J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr., defended in a 2000 letter as being economically important. The corporation controls only a few of the hotels with its name on them.

For a presidential candidate who has railed against pornography, this is not entirely insignificant. Even if the subject never came up at a board meeting, one can argue that at least part of the $25,000 plus stock he was paid annually for his board membership came from the money some hotel guests paid for access to the films.

If even the Mormons are against Romney, he really has problems. I also received email announcing a new web site, which claims “we have video of Romney and the LDS Church leadership claiming absurd beliefs that are destined to drag the rest of humanity back to the dark-ages.”