Market, Health Insurance, and Pre Existing Conditions

Companies exist to make a profit.  If you’re in the insurance game, you are gambling.  You are gambling that your customers will largely remain healthy, and you won’t have to pay out too much for care.

Pre-existing conditions seriously cramp that style.  (NYTimes):

In a telephone interview, the Frosts said they had recently been rejected by three private insurance companies because of pre-existing medical conditions. “We stood up in the first place because S-chip really helped our family and we wanted to help other families,” Mrs. Frost said.

This is a problem with leaving health insurance up to private companies.  Given a choice, who would choose to insure people who already have dangerous conditions?  How will you turn a good profit?

It is important to keep the uninsurable caste in mind when debating health care.  A rare recessive genetic defect or an accident should no more be a barrier to health insurance than skin color or religious creed.  If we don’t have a right to access medical care, of what practical meaning is the “right to life”?


Supreme Court OK’s Torture

This man was tortured by our government.

Our Supreme Court ruled that because our government claimed what it did was “secret”, his case against the government could be thrown out.

After man was tortured, he came seeking justice. Justice stood silent:

Without comment, the justices let stand an appeals court ruling that the state secrets privilege, a judicially created doctrine that the Bush administration has invoked to win dismissal of lawsuits that touch on issues of national security, protected the government’s actions from court review. In refusing to take up the case, the justices declined a chance to elaborate on the privilege for the first time in more than 50 years.

The declined more than a chance to talk about the state secrets privilege. They have allowed the government a defense that can be used to protect it from any number of challenges. They have given the government the key to our rights as human beings.

Our security is not worth becoming a cruel and violent empire. The Supreme Court has made a disastrous mistake, and shown a weakness of ethics that will hurt this country, and the world, for years to come.

CNN, Iran, Republicans and Ron Paul

For everything else about the candidate, he’s absolutely right about war. How sad that this is would even stand out.

In the recent Republican debate, candidates were asked about the President ordering strikes on Iran without authorization from congress:

The other topic that sparked fireworks was a provocative, albeit hypothetical, point of constitutional interpretation — would the U.S. president need Congress’ permission before launching an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities?

That’s bad reporting on CNN’s part. “hypothetical”? Bush has plans drawn up and the propaganda organ of the war machine in full gear.

Romney busts out of the gate with this bit of idiocy:

Responding first, Romney said as president, “you sit down with your attorneys” to determine whether such authorization is needed, but he said, “Obviously, the president of the United States has to do what’s in the best interest of the United States to protect us against a potential threat.”

He was immediately and forcefully shut down by Ron Paul:

Romney’s answer drew an incredulous retort from Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who said the president would “absolutely” need Congress’ OK before striking Iran.

“This idea of going and talking to attorneys totally baffles me. Why don’t we just open up the Constitution and read it?” Paul said. “You’re not allowed to go to war without a declaration of war.”

This didn’t stop the rest of the candidates from joining in with Romney:

However, the panel’s general consensus was that the president should be able to launch an attack without authorization if the circumstances called for immediate action, but that he or she should go to Congress if time permits.

Wow. In a time crunch? Then the constitution no longer applies. Imagine one of those clowns in office during a natural disaster, with Bush and the rubber stamp congress’s lovechild: martial law decreed by the President. Would you trust any of them with that power?

“If you have a very narrow window to hit a target, the president’s going to have to take that on his shoulders,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter of California. “He has the right to do that under the Constitution as the commander in chief.”

He is command in chief of the military, not the country. We are in charge of him. And we give authorization for war through the Congress. The President has no such right.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona agreed that a president would have to move on a threat requiring immediate action, but “if it’s a long series of buildups, where the threat becomes greater and greater, of course you want to go to Congress.”

McCain added, somewhat cryptically, “I believe that this is a possibility that is maybe closer to reality than we are discussing tonight.”

McCain is going with the “emergency zomg!” argument. But look at that last line. He’s being a creepy old man with insider political knowledge. Sometimes I love having this guy still involved in the debates. This line is only cryptic in the context of this article, the same one that suggests unauthorized strikes by the President are “hypothetical”. McCain was being uncharacteristically straight with the viewing public.

We should really be paying attention. With the exception of Ron Paul, every Republican candidate up there basically said the constitution can be disregarded in times of war with a shallow and obvious misinterpretation biased towards their own desire to conflate blood lust with strength.

OnStar System: Remotely Halt Stolen (And Only Stolen) Cars

The AP via slashdot:

DETROIT (AP) — Say some clown steals your car from the parking deck at work. If it’s equipped with General Motors’ OnStar service, he could be in for a big surprise and you could get a little revenge — and even see your car again.

Starting with about 20 models for 2009, the service will be able to slowly halt a car that is reported stolen, and the radio may even speak up and tell the thief to pull over because police are watching.

Wow Mr Reporter, that sure sounds great. There is no chance they’ll use this for anything else. Ever. That’s why the article, as slashdot notes: “doesn’t mention any privacy implications.”

There’s no way authorities will use this to enforce license suspensions. Or if they want to pull you over. One commentator observed:

alan_dershowitz (586542) on Tuesday October 09, @06:42PM (#20918717)


You know what, after I posted I remembered actually hearing about police wanting something like this to be mandated. I did a little googling and:

UK Police call for remote button to stop cars []. So, if you are in the UK at least, no it would not be a slippery slope; they have already asked for this power to be added to all cars once it is safe. Interestingly, some politicians expressed interest in this being used as a way to prevent speeders by forcibly reducing your car’s maximum speed around school zones or in bad weather.


And the AP doesn’t even pretend to do any reporting here. Seriously, how is this anything other than a packaged press release? I hope they at least got paid by OnStar, because this kind of advertising shouldn’t be free.