Pelosi’s Charges of Nazi References At Health Reform Protests Confirmed

Obama swastica

The right wing blogs have been attacking Nancy Pelosi for noting that some of the right wingers protesting health care reform have been using Swastikas. Despite the attacks from the right, Sam Stein has provided documentation of the use of Nazi references to attack Obama and the idea of health care reform, including the above picture. Their argument clearly makes no sense, and pointing this out is of questionable significance as nuts from both the left and right can always be found protesting, but Pelosi is right about this.

Coffee Shops Restricting Use of Free WiFi

When travelling I always find it helpful when there’s a nearby coffee shop or other establishment which provides free WiFi. This is often how I check the moderation que to let comments through and catch up on the news. Others tend to spend even longer periods of time taking advantage of WiFi but The Wall Street Journal reports that this is becoming more difficult:

Amid the economic downturn, there are fewer places in New York to plug in computers. As idle workers fill coffee-shop tables — nursing a single cup, if that, and surfing the Web for hours — and as shop owners struggle to stay in business, a decade-old love affair between coffee shops and laptop-wielding customers is fading. In some places, customers just get cold looks, but in a growing number of small coffee shops, firm restrictions on laptop use have been imposed and electric outlets have been locked. The laptop backlash may predate the recession, but the recession clearly has accelerated it.

“You don’t want to discourage it, it’s a wonderful tradition,” says Naidre’s owner Janice Pullicino, 53 years old. A former partner in a computer-graphics business, Ms. Pullicino insists she loves technology and hates to limit its use. But when she realized that people with laptops were taking up seats and driving away the more lucrative lunch crowd, she put up the sign. Last fall, she covered up some of the outlets, describing that as a “cost-cutting measure” to save electricity.

So far, this appears to be largely a New York phenomenon, though San Francisco’s Coffee Bar does now put out signs when the shop is crowded asking laptop users to share tables and make space for other customers.

Some coffee shops say they still welcome laptop users, if only because they make the stores look busy. For some, the growing number of laptop-carrying customers with time on their hands is reason to expand. “I had to add more outlets and higher speed” in early June, says Sebastian Simsch, 40, the co-owner of Seattle Coffee Works. Starbucks Corp. coffee houses, which in some cases charge for Wi-Fi, and bookstore chain Borders Group Inc., which always charges for Wi-Fi, don’t have any plans to change their treatment of laptop customers. Neither does bookstore giant Barnes & Noble Inc., where the Wi-Fi is complimentary.

But in New York, the trend is accelerating among independents. At Cocoa Bar locations in Brooklyn and on the Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a five-month-old rule forbids laptops after 8 on Friday and Saturday nights. At Espresso 77 in Jackson Heights, Queens, owners covered three of five electric outlets six months ago after its loosely enforced laptop-use restrictions failed to encourage turnover. At two of three Café Grumpy locations — one in Brooklyn and the other in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood — laptops are never welcome.

At least this shouldn’t interfere much with my typically brief use of WiFi when traveling, but it will make things more difficult for those who use coffee shops as a free office. I was also happy to receive the email from Barnes & Noble a few days ago saying they were changing their policy to provide free access to WiFi. This accompanies their recent attempts to sell ebooks to compete with Amazon’s Kindle. It only makes sense that if they want customers to download books to view with their new software that they allow free access to the internet in their stores.

Punkin’ the Birthers: Priceless

It increasingly looks like the fake Kenyan birth certificate which got right wing Birthers all excited recently was a hoax. Fearless Blogging has posted photos of the fake birth certificate and commented:

Fine cotton business paper: $11

Inkjet printer: $35

1940 Royal Model KMM manual typewriter: $10

2 Shilling coin: $1

Pilot Varsity fountain pen: $3

Punkin’ the Birthers: Priceless

(Hat tip to David Weigel.)

Rielle Hunter Met Before Grand Jury Investigating John Edwards

Rielle Hunter at grand jury

A Grand Jury continues to meet, probably related to questions as to whether John Edwards illegally used campaign funds to pay hush money to his mistress. Today’s witness was Rielle Hunter. AP reports:

The former mistress of John Edwards has arrived at a federal courthouse in Raleigh where a grand jury is meeting — an appearance that comes as federal investigators examine the two-time presidential candidate’s finances…

Edwards said last year that he and Hunter had an affair in 2006 while he plotted his second bid for the White House. The former North Carolina senator’s political action committee paid Hunter’s video production firm $100,000 for work that year.

Edwards has acknowledged a federal investigation into how he handled campaign funds. Grand jury proceedings are secret, and the U.S. attorney’s office in Raleigh has declined to confirm or deny an investigation.

Hunter carried her daughter into the courthouse. The paternity of the child remains in question with John Edwards denying that he is the father.

Chirac Recounts Bush’s Use of Biblical Prophesy To Justify Iraq War

In May I noted that, following previous reports that George Bush believed that God advised him to go to war and reports that Donald Rumsfeld used Biblical imagery to influence Bush, a new book quoted Jacques Chirac confirming previous reports that Bush used Biblical prophesy to justify the war in Iraq. The Council for Secular Humanism has posted more on this:

Now out of office, Chirac recounts that the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”

This bizarre episode occurred while the White House was assembling its “coalition of the willing” to unleash the Iraq invasion. Chirac says he was boggled by Bush’s call and “wondered how someone could be so superficial and fanatical in their beliefs.”

After the 2003 call, the puzzled French leader didn’t comply with Bush’s request. Instead, his staff asked Thomas Romer, a theologian at the University of Lausanne, to analyze the weird appeal. Dr. Romer explained that the Old Testament book of Ezekiel contains two chapters (38 and 39) in which God rages against Gog and Magog, sinister and mysterious forces menacing Israel. Jehovah vows to smite them savagely, to “turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws,” and slaughter them ruthlessly. In the New Testament, the mystical book of Revelation envisions Gog and Magog gathering nations for battle, “and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”

In 2007, Dr. Romer recounted Bush’s strange behavior in Lausanne University’s review, Allez Savoir. A French-language Swiss newspaper, Le Matin Dimanche, printed a sarcastic account titled: “When President George W. Bush Saw the Prophesies of the Bible Coming to Pass.” France’s La Liberte likewise spoofed it under the headline “A Small Scoop on Bush, Chirac, God, Gog and Magog.” But other news media missed the amazing report.

Subsequently, ex-President Chirac confirmed the nutty event in a long interview with French journalist Jean-Claude Maurice, who tells the tale in his new book, Si Vous le Répétez, Je Démentirai (If You Repeat it, I Will Deny), released in March by the publisher Plon…

The French revelation jibes with other known aspects of Bush’s renowned evangelical certitude. For example, a few months after his phone call to Chirac, Bush attended a 2003 summit in Egypt. The Palestinian foreign minister later said the American president told him he was “on a mission from God” to defeat Iraq. At that time, the White House called this claim “absurd.”

Considering that the stated reasons for going to war, such as WMD or a connection between Saddam and 9/11, failed to hold up, this perhaps explains why Bush did conduct such acts in office which were contrary to our national interests.

American Journal of Medicine Backs Medicare For All

The American Journal of Medicine has an editorial noting the high prevalence of bankruptcy due to medical expenses. The journal calls for Medicare for All:

The article by Himmelstein et al1 in this issue of the The American Journal of Medicine documents that health care expenses were the most common cause of bankruptcy in the United States in 2007, accounting for 62% of US bankruptcies compared with 8% in 1981.2

Most bankruptcies occurred in middle-class citizens with health insurance, further evidence that our current health care system, based on for-profit, employment-based health insurance, is not working. Millions of Americans have limited access to health care because they cannot afford health insurance. Millions of others, such as those who have to file for bankruptcy because of health care costs, have inadequate health insurance. It is estimated that 1 in 5 Americans goes without health insurance or has inadequate health insurance.3

Why is the United States, one of the richest countries in the world, the only major industrial nation that is unable to provide access to health care to all its citizens? Are there any other nations whose citizens have to declare bankruptcy because of health care expenses?

Other industrial nations ensure access to health care to all their citizens, at a much lower cost than the United States, and with better health outcomes, by 1 of 2 basic plans.

In some nations, such as the United Kingdom, the government provides health care and pays for it from general taxation. The government employs the physicians and other health care workers and owns and operates the hospitals. The US Veterans Health Care and Indian Health Service are examples of this model.

Other nations ensure access to health care by requiring all its citizens to have health insurance. The insurance premiums are paid by the citizen, and in most cases the employer shares the premium.

The insurance is provided by nonprofit companies, supervised by the federal government. Unlike in the United Kingdom, the health care is delivered by the private sector: private doctors and private hospitals. US Medicare is an example of this system of providing health care. Medicare has been providing excellent health care to our senior citizens for more than 40 years with an administrative overhead in the range of 2%.4 Nearly all US physicians and hospitals participate in Medicare. US Medicare is not socialized medicine. Health care is delivered by the private sector; patients have their choice of physicians and hospitals. There is no rationing, and there are no waiting lists.

Have any US Medicare patients had to file bankruptcy because of health care costs? Why not Medicare for all Americans? It has worked very well for more than 40 years.5