Independent Medicare Commission Weakened In Senate

Today’s news on the health care debates is somewhat favorable, but that depends upon your perspective. The legislation must be viewed in terms of how it balances positive aspects such as expanding care and cutting costs with questions of quality and the nature of the government regulations.

There are benefits to an independent Medicare commission which might reduce the political influences on decisions. I was also concerned that the Senate bill went to far in stressing cost cutting over other concerns. Karen Tumulty describes how the independent Medicare commission has been greatly weakened to a point where it very well might now be meaningless.

Many liberal bloggers are upset over this, and I understand their reasons. I also believe they are looking too much at cost cutting alone and are missing the big picture. We need a more reasonable middle position which maintains the benefits of an independent Medicare commission but which does not place cutting costs over other considerations as the commission was originally structured in the Senate bill. While there might be benefits to an up or down vote, our representatives in Congress must have the ability to throw out the recommendations if they were to decide that preserving quality is at times more important than cutting costs. The bill as originally structured would have made it virtually impossible for Congress to vote down the recommendations, giving an unelected group far too much power. Liberals who support such a small group having this  much power over Medicare should consider where Medicare might be if we had such a commission dominated by members appointed by recent Republican presidents who might have fulfilled the desire of many conservatives to destroy the  Medicare program.

Two Additional Articles on Climate Change

It is rather futile to waste time trying to argue with those who spread the bogus arguments against climate change. They have already made up their minds based upon beliefs which have nothing to do with the scientific evidence.  For those who are interested,  a couple of good articles  have come out this week. Scientific American provides Seven Answers to Climate Contrarian Nonsense.

I have already linked to articles which debunk the claims that the recent hacked emails alter the overall science supporting climate change. Popular Mechanics has another good discussion of the issue. Note that the key question is not whether some of the scientists might have acted improperly (and possibly illegally) but whether this affects the overall scientific evidence.

Posted in Environment. Tags: . No Comments »

Jack is Back, With Torchwood

Last season there was a miniseries instead of a full season of Torchwood but with its success it was widely assumed that the show would be returning. The big question was who would return. Going into last season only the three in  the picture above were still alive. By the end of the mini-series Londo was dead, Gwen was pregnant, and Jack was leaving earth. John Borrowman has now confirmed that he has signed for a fourth season of Torchwood, returning to his role of Captain Jack Harkness.

There is no word as to whether Gwen will be returning, but either way it will be necessary to rebuild.There is also no word as to whether there will be further cross over episodes between The Doctor and Torchwood. Now that Russell T. Davies is leaving Doctor Who I would guess that the chances for cross overs would be reduced but might still be possible.

There will also be a full thirteen episode season. While the miniseries format worked out well last season, a regular season would be preferable to re-invent the series with new cast members.

Men and Porn


This story has a great headline which is being spread around but this conclusion is not really substantiated. The Telegraph reports: All men watch porn, scientists find:

Researchers were conducting a study comparing the views of men in their 20s who had never been exposed to pornography with regular users.

But their project stumbled at the first hurdle when they failed to find a single man who had not been seen it.

“We started our research seeking men in their 20s who had never consumed pornography,” said Professor Simon Louis Lajeunesse. “We couldn’t find any.”

Although hampered in its original aim, the study did examined the habits of those young men who used pornography – which would appear to be all of them.

Prof Lajeunesse interviewed 20 heterosexual male university students who consumed pornography, and found on average, they first watched pornography when they were 10 years old.

Around 90 per cent of consumption was on the internet, while 10 per cent of material came from video stores.

Single men watched pornography for an average of 40 minutes, three times a week, while those in relationships watched it 1.7 times a week for around 20 minutes.

Their findings would be more meaningful if they had interviewed more than twenty men in their 20’s. I don’t know if the title findings of  all men watching porn is valid with this sample size but any sample of twenty men in their 20’s would be expected to have a very high number who do view porn.

Update: James Joyner agrees with regards to the limitations in the sample studied but seems to think that the easy availability of porn on the internet is a bad thing.  (On further update, see his comment for clarification of his view as to whether this is good or bad.)