Friday, February 26, 2010

Review of Thursday's Health Care Summit

Yesterday I listened to all six hours of President Obama's bipartisan health care summit, and yes, I survived. In general, I felt the summit brought nothing new to the health care debate and was a waste of time. Republicans repeated the same talking point they've been crying all along: that the bill needs to be scrapped and Washington is incapable of making big changes. But here's my question: where was this philosophy when No Child Left Behind and Contract for America were before Congress?  Here's my own talking point: partisan posturing prevents progress.  Republicans also attacked the Democrats for wanting to use the reconciliation process to pass the health care bill.  And again, all I can think of are the tax breaks passed using the same process under President Bush.


On the other side of the aisle, Democrats complained about Republicans complaining.  The Democrats pointed to the fact that more than one hundred Republican amendments have been added to the current health care bills, and there has been a year-long debate on this topic to bolster their arguments that the Republicans shouldn't have anything more to complain about.

Ultimately, the summit was political theater at its best. Republicans continually confused facts, citing "polling statistics,"  which they claimed were true.  On top of that, there were some great moments between John McCain and President Obama (I really think McCain's losing it).

At the end of the day, I don't think anything is going to come out  of the summit in terms of bipartisanship. Instead, it gave the Democrats the political cover to go forward and push through health care legislation without worrying so much about the upcoming midterm elections.  In any case, Americans who don't like this bill won't vote for Democrats in November, but the Democrats need to energize their base at some point.  This should provide them an appropriate place to start.


Edited by John O'Connor

Thursday, February 25, 2010

CTA Seniors Program Cuts: Yes, I am Right (Sometimes)

About two weeks ago I wrote an entry regarding how to fix the Chicago Transit Authority. One of my ideas was to end the seniors ride for free program. Some of the commenters (Jack) claimed the following:
Tom, if you understood the political process, you'd know that seniors vote more than any other demographic group. And the last time I checked, politicians typically don't take actions which are likely to keep them from being (re)elected. I agree that it's ludicrous that seniors ride the CTA for free, but we're still charging everyone else $2.25/ride.
Well, I have good news! The Illinois House just voted to reduce the program and make some senior riders pay.  Sometimes I get it right.  And that feels good.

Edited by John O'Connor

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Walrus Watch: Men's Hockey

Ohr Ohr!

I think it's sad that I didn't watch the U.S. vs Canada  hockey game on Sunday, nor did I read about it on any sports-related website to know the outcome. Unfortunately, I had to learn that we beat the Canadians via Facebook; reading a myriad of anti-Canadian, anti U.S. chants through people's facebook status updates. And I have to ask -- are you people serious?!?

First, it's not 1980 and we aren't at war with Canada.  Second, Sunday's game wasn't even a medal round. Yes, the U.S. was the underdog to the host team Canada, but who really cares? Ok, I'll concede that it's been 50 years since the U.S. last beat Canada in the Olympics, but once again, who cares?!?  Hockey's hardly popular enough in the U.S. for me to believe that people are genuinely excited about this win.

I look at this game like as if it were an in-state college football rivalry. Canada is like the "Big Brother" college, similar to Iowa; whereas the U.S. is like a smaller college which is right nearby, similar to Iowa State (If you didn't go to Iowa, feel free to sub-in Michigan/MSU; Texas/Texas Tech; Florida/FSU, etc.). Canada could really only lose in this situation. Everyone expected Canada to win, and it was only a preliminary game. But for the U.S., we only stood to gain from this game. If we won, it was an upset of "epic" proportions. If we lost, it was because we were expected to, and really wouldn't have been a big deal.

Walrus Prediction: Canada's lose-lose situation put quite a bit of pressure on the Men's Hockey team on Sunday, and they buckled. I expect Canada to bounce back. As for the U.S.? I see bronze in their future.

Reading Assignments

1. Thank you very much Anthem.  This act may have saved health insurance reform. 

2. I think Hannah Storm should dress correctly. 

3. A new look for the hot dog

Avoid Health Care Overload: Increase the Number of General Practitioners in the U.S.

The increasing need for general practice physicians (e.g. family doctors) is ever-mounting.  If (when?) Congress passes health care reform, millions of people will have access to health care.  This influx of patients will wreak havoc on the health care industry because general practitioners will be in suddenly short supply.

As I see it, there will be one primary reason for this shortage: the separation of  medical practice into highly paid specialties and subspecialties. For example, an average general practitioner's salary  is $150,000/year. The average orthopedic surgeon, on the other hand, makes $250,000/year.  Both types of doctors are equally important in terms of the health care continuum, yet one makes nearly double the other.  Increased pay draws more and more medical students away from the general practice of medicine into subspecialties, creating the shortage of general practitioners.

To fix this impending shortage, we need to increase general practitioners' pay from Medicare. It should be noted that this will not be an easy change, as shifting funding is a major sore spot for many physicians.

Another way we can avoid this problem is by increasing allowing hospitals to grow in their teaching capacity and increasing funded slots. To do this we will need to offset the costs of any increase in teaching capacities.  But the costs associated with increased teaching capacities can easily be offset under the premiums any individual would purchase through a government  health care plan.

Edited by John O'Connor

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Walrus Wonders: USA Gold in Men's Hockey?

Hola,

With the U.S.'s hockey upset against Canada on Sunday, I wonder what podium placing, if any, you think the U.S. Men's hockey team will have?

Lurkers - Leave a Comment!

Movie Nerdity

I am, deep down in my closet, a nerd movie. Wait, I mean deep down, I'm a closet movie nerd. I mean, your boobs are huge. (If you don't know that last sentence is from a movie, then you are not a Jim Carey fan)

Prelude: the other night while watching new Starz series Spartacus: Blood and Sand (yeah, I need to apologize for that one, the show is pretty ridiculous, but still entertaining to me as I took many an ancient history course back in the college day) the final scene at the end where Spartacus and Crixus engage in a 2 on 1 against Theocoles in the Primus (think Gladiatorial main event). The character Theocoles spurred a conversation with my room mate that led to today's findings, which I'm getting to. Imagine Hulk Hogan in Rocky III (his movie name was Thunderlips, did you remember that?) as a 7 ft. huge body builder type with long white hair. Now, with that image, add some red eyes, a really scarred face and a lifetime without brushing his teeth, and you have Theocoles, the undefeated and pissed off super-Gladiator.

My room mate was absolutely convinced that this actor was the same guy that played Vigo, the villain of Ghostbusters 2. After some IMDB research, turns out they are not the same guy (actually, turns out the guy that played Vigo is deceased...) And this is still not the point.

The point is, while "researching" IMDB today, I came to find out that there will be a Ghostbusters 3 (THREE). Check the Sigourney Weaver interview. I just thought it was interesting, considering it's been over 20 years since Ghostbusters 2. Alas, we are in the era of movie trilogies and, quadriligies?

Walrus Watch: Can't Stop Watching Curling

Ohr Ohr!

Call me crazy, but today I am posting about Curling. Maybe it's just me, but I love it. The simple concept of the game is just awesome. Some of you may wonder -- is curling even a sport? And I would reply yes, Curling is at lesat as much a sport as pool. Curling is all about geometry and physics, just like pool. If you haven't been watching Curling, let me state that the women, both domestic and foreign, are another reason to watch the games.
Unfortunately for me, the Curling league season here in Denver ended a few weeks ago, but I plan on signing up for the next season!

Monday, February 22, 2010

First to Five: Robes v Snuggies Updated

First to five is a new segment in which I (Paul) debate two topics which are loosely related to one another, yet completely irrelevant to civilized society. I will assign points based on each topic winning different categories and, of course, the first one to five wins!

My first battle?

Robe v. Snuggie

Materials:

  • Robe: generally made of heavy cotton used to absorb water from the skin after a bath or swimming.
  • Snuggie: www.getsnuggie.com defines Snuggie materials as "ultra soft fleece [which] keeps you totally warm." Despite Snuggie's compelling argument, my experience is that the fleece is too thin and feels low quality.
Outcome: +1 Robe

Why I like Nuclear Power


President Obama recently announced that the federal government is supporting the construction of two nuclear power plants in Georgia.  These plants would be the first to be built in the United States in over thirty years. I think this is a great use of federal funds; and that nuclear energy should be utilized to support our country's future energy needs. Let me tell you why I like Nuclear Power:

The Letter Movement

Over the past week or so, a letter drafted by Senator Bob Bennett (R - Utah)  has been circulating through Washington.  The letter requests that a public option be included in the final health care bill, and has gained momentum. Since Bennett drafted his original letter, 17 Senators have signed it, including Senator Charles Schumer (D -NY), a Democratic Party leader.

I observe this letter with caution because my hopes have been dashed so many times over the last year in the health care fight. Personally, I don't think this letter will make a difference. Even though 17 Senators have signed it, 50 are still needed to pass legislation. And beyond that, the White House seems against the idea because of its partisan backing.

The letter will more than likely get around 30 signatures but fall well short of the mark and killing the last hope for a public option in this health care bill. I hope I'm wrong but nothing leads me to believe it will get any better.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Liz Cheney: Bah!

A quick stat for everyone: President Obama has captured more Tailiban leaders in one month than Bush/Cheney did in 6 years (Kudos to the writer of this article).  But don't hold your breath waiting for Liz Cheney to acknowledge this fact.

Edited by John O'Connor

Walrus Watch: Can Canada Choke?

Ohr Ohr!

So today I read and watched some Olympic coverage and there's a lot of speculation that Canada will win the gold in Men's Hockey this year. I have seen a few columnists say that there's a lot of pressure is on the Canadians to win, and that got me thinking . . . has any country or team ever had so much pressure placed on them to win? In my mind, I don't think that there's ever been this much pressure on an Olympic team to win since the "Dream Team," or any U.S. basketball team since the early 90's, for that matter.

So let's sum up the pressures Canada is facing this year: Canada's is the host country, according to many people, Canada's team is objectively the most talented squad, not to mention the fact that Canada basically invented hockey.

If Canada doesn't win the gold medal this year, it will be a travesty.And even though I am not a Canuck, I will be rooting for Canada in this Olympics. Go Canada!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Walrus Wonders: A Fitting End for Jacobellis?

Ohr Ohr!

Lindsey Jacobellis DQ'd herself from the final round of snowboardcross at the Olympics on Tuesday and was unable to redeem herself after practically giving away the gold medal in 2006. Do you think this is a fitting ending for her?

CHESS: Lets Get Connected!

A couple of summers ago, I interned at the Chicago Department of Public Health.  While interning, I worked on an effort to link all Chicago health providers through an electronic reporting mechanism. The project, Chicago Health Event Surveillance System (CHESS), was designed to allow all Chicago health care providers report diseases which have to be reported to health authorities immediately by electronic means (i.e., HIV, plague, etc).

The then-current system called for health care providers to notify authorities by fax or mail when a case was detected, considerably slowing the response system. But with electronic reporting, the Chicago Department of Public Health could quickly track and prevent potential outbreaks, especially because CHESS encompassed hundreds of locations and different computer systems.  Currently, the CHESS system is still being developed and implemented across Chicago. 

Walrus Wonders: Who wins the Olympics

Hello all. Today I wonder . . .

Which country do you think will win the most Gold Medals during this Winter Olympics?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Little Commission that Could?

This Thursday President Obama is expected to sign an executive order forming a debt commission whose goal will be to examine and produce plans for reducing US debt.  The original proposal was defeated in the Senate.  But President Obama still sees the comission as necessary.

A recent article in the New York Times argues that the commission is set with an impossible task: on one side, Republicans are decrying attempts to impose new taxes. While on the other side of the aisle, Democrats are unwilling to forego federal entitlement programs.

Being a Democrat, I of course don't want to see this commission reduce federal entitlement programs. But I do consider myself a realist, and I know this must be done. Nevertheless, what bothers me is the constant partisan hipocracy from both parties -- primarily the Republicans. For example, this commission was originally co-sponsored by seven Republican senators who then voted against it in Congress.

Because of this hipocracy, it's no surprise that a new CNN poll shows that Americans are willing to vote all incumbents out of office, including President Obama. To be honest, I don't blame them. Any logical American (tea baggers excluded) can see what's happening to our government. It's fractured.

Today I ask only this question--are the politicians who represent us broken, or, is the system in which they "work," broken?

Edited by John O'Connor

LOST: Question of the Day

I'm not sure if this will be a new 'segment' or weekly (or even daily) feature to the O-blog yet, but here's a random fun question pertaining to the ever changing, always confusing, out of nowhere plot twisting tee vee show, LOST.

Will the final season reveal something to do with another planet?


(Hey, Elizabeth Mitchell - LOST's Juliette - is in that new show V, which is about aliens. . . and they can travel through time, move islands, and reincarnate themselves, why not new life-allowing planets?)

Motivation to Pass Health Care Reform

Take five minutes and read this article recanting some of the worst denials of coverage by health insurance companies

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Eliminate the Office of The Lieutenant Governor of Illinois

I agree with Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan's proposal to eliminate Illinois's office of the Lieutenant Governor.  For those of you from out of town, Lieutenant Governor nominees are elected in a separate primary, and gubernatorial candidates don't choose running mates.  This system leads to many issues during the election process because many Illinois residents are unaware of its existence. A candidate for governor should get to choose his running mate in order to build a cohesive platform.  By having different candidates you can have an administration that lacks focus.  The position also offers very little in the way of robust duties.  If we can't get rid of this office, we should at least revamp the process by which the officeholder is elected, and give the office enough power to ensure that (1) qualified individuals run for the position; and (2) the person in that position is well-equipped to take the Governor's position in the event the incumbent Governor leaves office before the end of his term (as is too often the case in our state).


Edited by John O'Connor

Cell phone ban while driving

A local city to me, Dubuque, IA, has recently passed an ordinance banning cell phone use while driving within city limits, becoming the first city in Iowa to implement such a measure. Hands-free measures will remain allowed, and this is sure to spark a debate among those living in Dubuque, and could possibly lead to a wider implementation of this type of law.

Meanwhile, with the increase in vehicles containing large in-dash GPS navigation LCD screens, the internet has inevitably made its way from the computer to the car.

What do you think about the cell phone ban while driving? What will this do to the integration of the car and the personal computer? And, if a) you've bothered to read this far, and b) you bothered to read the comments of either of the 2 linked news articles, do you think it is a "right" to talk on your cell phone while driving, as so many esteemed intellectuals with access to computers believe?

Editor's Note: Health & Fitness at the Individual Level

In an effort to combat the overwhelmingly pessimistic views our lead author has toward the American Healthcare System, I have collected a few links which I think you'll find interesting.  While I do think everyone should have access to health care in the event they become sick, I think it's equally true that, as responsible individuals, we try our best to keep ourselves healthy.

I think the key to a lot of our problem as a nation is that as children, we largely ignore the virtues of eating well and exercising.  Fortunately, Michelle Obama's trying to effect change in this area, with her "Let's Move," campaign.  And for that matter, so is the NFL.

Unfortunately, there may be issues for all of us larger than just getting outside and "playing."  Food Safety is another key to promoting general health. And with massive food recalls, such as the recent pepper-linked salmonella outbreak,  It boggles my mind that over 1 million pounds of salami had to be recalled because of pepper.  But whatever the case may be, we have to watch what we eat, beyond just trying to slim our waists.

But all things considered, we should all be working toward living healthier lifestyles; and hopefully our government will catch on to this idea and provide us with an incentive to do so.  It does seem that at some levels, the government actually is starting to grasp this concept.


Edited by John O'Connor

2010 Midterm Elections Preview

It's difficult being a Democrat in the current political climate; especially considering the fact that Democratic Party has one of the largest Congressional majorities in modern history, yet it's gotten almost nothing done.  And now, in the upcoming 2010 Midterm elections, the Democrats will face two separate but powerful electoral challenges:

First, the Democrats are going to run up against an Enthusiasm Gap unless they start taking real action.  The Democratic base will more than likely stay home this fall unless the Democratic Congress actually starts passing legislation. In states like Missouri and Indiana, Democratic candidates need their base to win.

Second, the Democrats are going to face a newly Energized Conservative Base.  Because let's face facts, they want to win more than the Democrats.

Only two things can change the Democrats' bleak November prospects: the economy and healthcare. If the economy improves and unemployment falls, I guarantee the Democrats will hold more seats than expected. And if the Democrats pass at least some kind of healthcare legislation it will get the base active again. But right now, the Democrats really haven't proven why we should vote for them, volunteer for them, or even donate to their campaigns.

Edited by John O'Connor

Walrus Watch: Jailbustin' Bengals

Ohr Orh!

Rumor has it that the Bengals may be willing to sign Adam "Pacman" Jones. Really?!?! Have the Bengals not learned from their prior attempts to work with ex-convicts? Or maybe the organization has a case of "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again"-itis.

With this type of recruitment mentality, how can the Bengals franchise ever hope to get over the hump? The city of Cincinnati deserves some hope for a team that, at times, looked great last season. The Bengals made the playoffs this year, and look to be just a few key players away from being a championship contender, but offseason moves like this are going to kill them. Antics off the field are destroying the chemistry of a team who's shown sparks of greatness. And adding Pacman Jones to the mix can only make things worse.

Admittedly, Pacman would improve the Bengals defense, as long as he's on the field and not in prison. But unfortunately, there's really no guarantee that he'll be healthy or free next season. The only scenario in which I see Cincinnati picking up Pacman is if he comes at a huge discount, and making the risk worthwhile. But even under those circumstances, I still think this rumor is ridiculous.

My Prediction: Marvin Lewis is not Tony Dungy, but he will attempt to turn around another player's troubled past. Best of luck to all the loyal Bungals fans . . . .


Edited by John O'Connor

Monday, February 15, 2010

Baucus No!!!!

Last Thursday the proposed bi-partisan jobs bill fell apart and was scrapped for a smaller bill. It seems that Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) had agreed on a bill that didn't sit well with most Democrats.  The bill proposed by the senators proposed that Congress repeal or slash the estate tax; a change many Democratic leaders oppose.  As a result, the original jobs bill collapsed.

Senator Baucus maybe the single greatest reason the Democratic majority has failed. Not only did he slow healthcare legislation to a crawl, he's now managed to screw up the jobs bill too.  Baucus is paying for his on ineptitude with his polling numbers back home.  But because he is hell bent on bi-partisan legislation instead of the correct legislation, he is destroying the Democratic majority.


Edited by John O'Connor

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Everybody Loves Recess

A staggering number of President Obama's nominees for government posts are still sitting unconfirmed by the Senate.  Guess why?  Republican obstructionism.

The fact that the Senate is sitting on these nominations has serious effects on how our government runs.  Imagine a company with half of its managerial and supervisory positions left empty. How would it run?  Now imagine the Federal Government trying to do the same.  The results, to say the least, are less than ideal.

I am glad the President has taken a forceful step in this matter by telling the Republican Caucus to stop their obstructive tactics. But even after taking action, the Senate only removed 27 holds on President Obama's nominees, leaving at least 150 out in the cold. If I were in the President's shoes, I would use recess appointments to ensure that the government continues functioning, instead of playing a ridiculous waiting game with the Senate.

Edited by John O'Connor

Friday, February 12, 2010

Walrus Wonders: Winter Olympics, What You Watching?

Ohr!

Welcome to "Walrus Wonders" -- a new section of our sports posts here at Oblogatory! Walurs Wonders is a daily poll/open ended question section to complement our my Walrus Watch posts. Hopefully you all enjoy and leave some comments with your opinions on the daily topic!

Today I'm interested in your thoughts on the Winter Olympics.

Which event are you most looking forward to and why? Or, are you even going to watch the Olympics? If not, Why?

Sorry for the South

The southern states have been getting a lot of coverage (read: sympathy) about large amount of snowfall they have been receiving recently. Dallas, TX for example has been blanketed by about a foot of the white stuff, and on the east coast, Washington, D.C. has been hit by 3-4 feet of snow in the course of only a week. As I sit at work and look out my window, the Iowa landscape I see makes it easy to ponder the recent snowfalls in the south - it's been that way here since the end of November.

Now, I'll gladly concede that any multiple of 'feet' of snow in one week is nothing to shake a stick at, whether you're in Iowa or Washington, D.C. That's a lot of damn snow, and well deserving of a "state of emergency". However, this morning's edition of Good Morning America showed one of the hosts (either Robin Roberts or George Stephanopoulos, I can't remember which) make the comment with regard to the snowfall in Texas that "when it snows an inch, it snows a foot," as if an inch of snow were as dangerous or emergency-worthy as a foot. When I heard this, I had to laugh, but did so with a little understanding.

I know, I know, the southern states aren't supposed to get that much snow, and I can understand that deep southern states are probably less prepared for snow than we in the frigid north, with regard to salt and sand supplies and adequate snow plows/trucks for the roads. And in Dallas' situation where they've gotten a foot in a short time, I don't doubt there have been transportation problems. But here are my shiny 2 cents worth: there is a difference between an inch of snow and a foot of snow. It is possible to travel on an inch of snow. It is almost impossible to travel on a rapid accumlation of a foot of snow. Even in the "prepared" midwest it can take days to clear away that much snow.

I will also concede that just because it snows a lot every year in the midwest, not everyone is a professional driver when it comes to snow. Not everyone has the wherewithall to realize that when roads are slippery with ice and snow that they should probably drive slower. That's why there are minivans flipped on their roofs on our interstates and semis laying on their sides. It's the old saying: Don't make mountains out of mole hills. That goes for you, Good Morning America. I'm betting that Dallas and Washington, D.C. are wishing they only had an inch or two of snow right now. Welcome to winter, it's been here for about 3 months now.

Walrus Watch: Cowboys Cross-Promotion

Ohr Ohr!

Now that football season is over, I suppose I'll begin following/watching other sports. But before I do, I have to note that one football team is still in the news because of its insane cross-promotional marketing scheme.

Cowboys Stadium is hosting the NBA All-Star game this year, the Super Bowl next year, and management is also vying to host the Floyd "Money" Mayweather fight some time in 2010. When will this all end?
I think the recent trend in sports stadium cross-promotion started when Fenway Park hosting an outdoor hockey game. This event was a great idea as the hockey following in Boston is huge. But in Dallas, I'm not so certain locals will feel the same way about all the planned uses for the new stadium.

I understand that Jerry Jones needs to cover the cost of his billion dollar stadium ASAP, but I really hope that all NBA teams benefit from the NBA cross-promotion, and not just the business that is Jerry Jones. The NBA All-Star game should be a showcase of the entire league, not just the city of Dallas and the excesses of the Dallas Cowboys Ownership. And honestly,  I'm skeptical as to how good the view is from the upper deck in that massive stadium. It was built for football, not basketball. Once again, Dead Presidents speak louder than living fans. Jerry Jones's greed speaks volumes and I hope this Cowboys Stadium trend ends quickly!

My Prediction: Cowboys Stadium will host at least one event from every sport; MLB, NBA, NHL, UFC, Boxing, MLS. You name it, It'll be held there. Oh Cowboys Stadium, How I hate thee . . . .


Edited by John O'Connor

Walrus Wonders: Who is your favorite SI Swimsuit Model?

Let's be honest, the only Sports Illustrated issue most people look foward to every year is the "swimsuit" issue. But this year, SI is trying something new, allowing readers to decide on their favorite picture. Try the bracket yourself.


So -- Who/what is your favorite SI Swimsuit model/ picture?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

CTA Fixes

As many Chicago residents know by now, CTA service cuts began on 02/07/2010, affecting most bus routes and trains.  For non-Chicago residents, according to the CTA 1.7 million people use its public transportation services on any given weekday, so you imagine the strain the city is under.

There are three clear causes which led to these cuts: the poor economy, labor friendly deals, and a lack of compromises.  According to the Chicago Tribune, the CTA had a $95 million dollar budget deficit which it still needs to fix.  For months now, the CTA and labor unions have been talking about resolving this issue, while trying to avoid the service cuts.  Issues such as pay cuts and health costs have been at the center of these discussions.  The CTA Union claims that gross management pay and a saturation of management positions that are no longer needed have caused the budget deficit.  And ultimately, without the expected sales tax and property tax revenues, the CTA is faced with a large deficit. Its solution? city-wide reduction of service on train and bus routes.

The CTA has made a critical error here.  First, the CTA has clearly shown a lack of forsight in budget planning.The CTA has been bailed out before and clearly continues to have major budget issues.  Fares have been hiked twice since I moved to Chicago less than 2 years ago, yet the CTA has been unable to show a clear budgeting process.  Instead of the service cuts, the CTA should do the following:

Walrus Wonders: Vonn's a Done Deal

With Lindsey Vonn's recent injury, are you less likely to watch the Winter Olympics?

A Healthy Proposal for Chicago

Before the 2016 Olympics vote, one of my fellow employees came up with a great idea for improving the City of Chicago in anticipation that Chicago would win its Olympic bid. Roughly speaking my coworker's idea was for Chicago, as a city, to adopt an initiative which would focus on becoming one of the healthiest cities in America. This effort would work in tandem with the city's preparation for the games, and showcase Chicago's pride and excitement as the host city.

Even though Chicago didn't win its bid for the Olympics, I think the city should still focus on making this idea a reality. Here are a just a few steps and programs Chicago could adopt now to work towards this goal.

1. Work with Chicago companies to offer healthier snacks and beverage choices in the workplace

2. Give tax breaks to employees who ride their bike to work

3. Give tax breaks to companies recognized for their fitness programs (e.g. anti-smoking environments; weight loss programs; paid gym memberships)

These ideas are just a start, but could go a long way to improving the health of Chicago, instead of placing us on lists like these.


Edited by John O'Connor

What is up with Senator Lincoln?

Ever since the healthcare debate began, Senator Blanche Lincoln has made one misstep after another. First, she takes a conservative approach to healthcare reform thus alienating liberals and progressives in Arkansas. Second, she winds up voting for the Senate bill angering conservatives. Last, she helps block Obama's nominee for Labor Secretary because he will pursue labor policies that are friendly to labor.

My feeling is this, she knows she was in for a tough reelection and made the political gamble to go to the right. However, you have to remember who elected you and you never can out do a Republican at being a Republican. Now she finds herself with an alienated base and a hardcore conservative base willing to do anything to beat her in the general election.

I think the only answer for the Arkansas Democratic Party in saving this seat is to run a primary candidate against her, which this individual would more than likely win, and see where that takes you.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Walrus Watch: USCircus

Ohr Ohr!


Just when I think I cannot despise a college program anymore, USC has a 13 year old kid commit to playing football there. I know being the first to find/recruit these star players is becoming more difficult with the media and everything, but really, 13 years old?!?!? College football is going to change A LOT between now and official signing day 2015.

Deal or No Deal

So it seems bipartiasn politics is not completly dead.  A deal has been struck on the upcoming jobs bill in the Senate.  I will wait to see what the compromise is but it seems to have something to deal with a vote on the extension of the repeal of the sales tax.  Is this the first good piece of news to come out of Washington?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Editor's Note: Facelift

Welcome!

After a bit of deliberation, we have decided to change our name from "Random Thoughts," to "Oblogatory."  We'll still have the same content, we'll just be publishing under a new name. Over the next couple of weeks, we'll be reminding you of the changes we're making so we don't lose you.  Our blogger address will soon change too, so please watch out for that, and visit often!

Thanks for stopping by!

- Jack

Got a Comment?

Dear Readers:

If you feel the need or desire to comment on any story, feel free to do so. 


Best Regards,


--- Blog Team

Lesson of the Day

The power of tea.

Walrus Watch: UFC 109, Oversaturated?!?

Ohr Ohr!

Before I begin criticizing the UFC for its most recent card, "UFC 109: Relentless," I have to admit that I watched it, paid $5 to see it, and will still watch the upcoming UFC 110. While I was unable to get a pre-fight post out, my thoughts on the card have not changed one bit. If anything, UFC 109 proved that the UFC should show more free events on Spike TV, rather than charging Pay-Per-View rates all of the time.

For the occassional viewer, UFC 109 was mildly entertaining at best. But with a $50 purchase price, I wonder if the UFC could have combined upcoming cards to create more value. For those who pay for the fights at home, there are 4 upcoming cards in the next 2 months. Luckily one of those cards is free if your cable provider carries the Versus network (Off subject, I will be at the Versus event, as it is being held here in Denver, so expect more good UFC posts in the future!). Three sets of fights at $50 a pop is not cheap, especially now. And to top things off, only 1 of those 3 cards has a title fight!

More after the jump.

Double Standard

Does everyone remember the Republican attack line "do not cut Medicare expenses -- old people will die!!!" during the health care debate?  It seems they have forgotten their own stance when it comes to proposing budgets for the United States Federal government.  Not only do they want to privatize Social Security, they want to abolish Medicare.  To make matters worse, Republican leadership is not even backing down from this budget and Congress will be forced to vote on it.

Pow Wow

President Obama is planning a bipartisan health care summit.  One might ask: what can the Democrats get out of having another summit with the Republicans?  My answer: I don't know. But here are some thoughts on what I think is happening.

The President is trying to force the Republican Party's hand.  Throughout the health care debate, the Republicans have hidden behind lies and distortions of the truth.  This has allowed them to frame the debate in a negative way, thus souring many Americans' attitudes toward the bill.

What I can't understand is why Republican leadership wants Obama to start over. The Republicans are demanding things from Obama's administration, and yet, six core Republican ideas have been incorporated into the Senate bill, while many progressive and liberal ideas have been shelved (e.g. the single payer and public options). 

I hope this meeting jump starts some type of bipartisan dialogue. But, and call me a cynic if you must, I do not think it will.  The Republicans have not changed their game plan: destroy Obama.  What the President needs to do is follow the path already laid before him, even if he is reluctant.  He must require the Senate to reconcile and fix several aspects of the current health care bill and have the House pass the bill.  Right now the bill is by no means perfect. But by the time the next Congress is elected, no health care bill will have a chance at passing.


Edited by John O'Connor

Monday, February 8, 2010

Whatcha Fillibustering?

Here is a list of legislative action the Republicans want to Fillibuster:

1. Healthcare Reform
2. Jobs Bill
3. Financial Reform
4. Senate Appointments (including national security)
5. Mickey Mouse

I think Paul Krugman says it best:

[w]ell, America is not yet lost. But the Senate is working on it.

The only way to stop the Senate is have your voice heard.  We must write and call our senators to end this archane rules.

Light Reading of the Day 02/08/2010

1. Once again Fox News can not help itself. 

2.  This shows how much of a cry baby Dan Hynes is.

3.  Iran, I do not get you. 

4. John Murtha, rest in peace.

Focus on the Family at Super Bowl XLIV: Every Time an Abortion is Performed, the World Loses Another Tim Tebow

Generally speaking, people love Super Bowl ads.  They're short, usually funny, and typically entertaining.  And most of the time, they're innocuous.  It's not hard to understand why Megan Fox is an advertising gold mine; or why it's hilarious to see Betty White get tackled while playing mud football. My personal favorites from the evening had to be the Bud Light T-Pain and Book Club ads ("I'd like to hear you read some words!").

But this year, one ad in particular stuck out from the rest.  CBS allowed Focus on the Family to purchase ad time during the Super Bowl to run a pro-life ad. The ad featured Tim Tebow's mother Pam talking about how she worries for Tim's health.  What the ad doesn't tell you is that during her pregnancy, Tim's mother was told that she would have major complications, both for herself and her child, and that her doctors recommended she have an abortion.

I think the ad unfairly took advantage of the one in a million chance that Tim Tebow's mother would survive her pregnancy with her son, and that her son would overcome significant adversity to become one of the greatest college football quarterbacks of all time.  From my perspective, the ad sent a message to every person watching that if you choose not to abort, your son or daughter will probably grow up to be a world-class athlete.  Not only is this an unfair implication, it's simply untrue.  And on top of that, a Super Bowl commercial break is the last place I want to see the abortion issue brought up for discussion. We're supposed to be having fun! Not attacking one another's personal beliefs!

I've posted the ad below.  What's your take?

Recommended Reading Sites for Clearly Biased Individuals

For my fellow hippie friends, here are some sites I read on a daily basis:

1. Daily Kos

2. Talking Points Memo

3. Direct Democracy

4. Ezra Klein

Thank you, Mr. Cohen

The Illinois Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor dropped out of the race after Illinois Democratic Party leaders urged him to end his campaign after facts surfaced that his ex-girlfriend is a prostitute. Personally, I can't believe this man even decided to run for office in the first place, knowing the potential negative effect these allegations could have for him and the state. 

But luckily, there is a silver lining to this story. Cohen's exit should save Governor Quinn's Campaign. With with Cohen on the ticket, Quinn's campaign was damned from the start.  Now, Quinn can focus on real state issues, instead of constantly fielding questions about Cohen's sex life.


Edited by John O'Connor

What is a Save?

Here are five steps I think President Obama can take to quickly turn around his presidency:

1. Pass Healthcare Reform- so many progressives and Democrats voted for him because of his promise to pass real reform.  Even if most of the country does not understand the legislation proposed, that doesn't mean it's bad legislation.  By passing reform, Obama's (and the Democrats') base will be reenergized, which could just stop the tide of losses coming in the Midterms.

2. Close Gitmo- President Obama wanted it closed last year, but it didn't happen.  This prison is a symbol of what America is not: a torturous, inhumane nation.  By closing Gitmo (a promise made to his base), he can again prove that he really is different from President Bush and the Republicans. 

3. Jobs Bill- Have Congress pass a real jobs bill that will put Americans back to work.  I guarantee that poll numbers and approval ratings will steadily increase by August if unemployment rates continue to drop. 

4. Attack Big Banks- Nobody likes banks right now and rightfully so. So here is how we penalize them: taxes, taxes, and more taxes.  Tax the bonuses bailed-out banks are paying, tax profits, and restructure the financial system to prevent such a small number of banks to control so much money in the future.

These four steps will be difficult, and to be honest, they probably won't happen.  But the President, and members of Congress need to remember that midterm elections are all about the party's base. If your base doesn't show, you lose.  Just ask Martha Coakley.  But if in the next 6 months, President Obama can make even a few of these changes a reality, he can easily halt Republican gains in November and start turning this country around.


Edited by John O'Connor

Friday, February 5, 2010

Walrus Watch: What's Next For Gator Nation?

Ohr Ohr!

When I was 5, my grandma moved to Florida and turned me into a Gator fan. Now, I'm not a huge Gator fan, but I do root for them against any PAC10, BIG12, or other SEC schools. The last few years have been great for Gator Nation, but I now wonder where the program will go with all of its recent successes.


Even with "All-Forever," player Tim Tebow leaving this year, Florida still sits atop the college football pyramid, with the projected #1 recruiting class for the 2010 season. Yet again, the rich get richer. With the flood of talent heading to Florida I question just how many high-profile players are going to stay past the 2 year minimum. Is too much of a good thing really a bad thing?  For example: USC has had plenty of problems with its high-profile athletes in the past.

With Pete Carroll leaving USC for the NFL, I wonder if Florida will become the next USC-like powerhouse that everyone loves to hate. Before you say it, yes, I know that Florida didn't win the National Championship last year, but that's only because Alabama was so good. Of the past 4 years, Florida finished 3 of them 13-1 with 2 National Championships. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

I just wonder how long before Florida is filled with Escalades, recruiting scandals, and sanctions.

Oh Come On!!!

Tell me, does anybody, ANYBODY, think the Republicans are not the Party of No? If you think they are not, just read this story

Remember this is what President Obama has to work with. 

Brunch Time Drop

For all of you who do not know how to iron a shirt:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Surprise Surprise

So the Republicans are thinking about fillibustering the upcoming "Jobs Bill," but I thought the Republicans were going to work with the Democrats?  The Federal government is becoming unable to solve the issues of our country because of these legislative moves.

Something Ran-dumb

www.stfd.net




typed, not dictated.

Your Tab Dump: 02/04/2010

1. One Republican seems to be supporting repealing DADT

2. Glad to see Hynes conceded

3. Are Illinois Dems idiots?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Wait

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an interesting report on its webpage regarding the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," law. According to the report, Admiral Mike Mullen (chairman of the joint chiefs of staff) said the following in an effort to encourage Congress to repeal this law:
No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.

Well put.  But unfortunately it seems like we are still a long way from seeing any real change on this issue.
Any change in the policy would not come any time soon, the two officials made clear. Both Admiral Mullen and Mr. Gates told the committee that there would be a Pentagon review, taking up to a year, to study how to implement any change before they expected Congress to act on a repeal.

The burning question I have is, why is it going to take a year to "study" how to implement change?  Hopefully the Pentagon is studying ways to prevent discrimination against openly gay members of the military in the future, rather than simply sitting on their hands before handing over a bogus report which states that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," is effective.

I have never taken a strong position on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," until now.  But  I do think it's time we called for an end to a policy which never really worked in the first place.  And thankfully, I'm not alone;

[p]olls now show that a majority of Americans support openly gay service — a majority did not in 1993 — but there have been no recent, broad surveys of the 1.4 million active-duty personnel.

I think it's time that Congress responded to the will of the people, and do what's right.  What harm can there be if we allow gay men and women to serve openly in the military?  Homophobia can no longer stand as an excuse for the discharge of 13,000+ American soldiers who were willing to die for their country until we told them they weren't welcome.

See this story here.

Walrus Watch: Super Bowl Predictions

Ohr Ohr,

So the Super Bowl is this Sunday, and I have a fun drinking game you can play during the game! I created the rules myself, so have fun and add your own if you like. Take a drink whenever any one of the following occurs:

1: The announcers mention Archie Manning's decision to root for his son and the Colts rather than the Saints

2: Archie Manning is shown rooting for either team (we all know he will root for both)

3: Brett Favre's upcoming decision to retire or contiue playing is mentioned

4: Hell, drink any time Brett Favre is mentioned, since he's not even in the Super Bowl!

5: I believe this will be a fairly high-scoring affair, so drink anytime a touchdown is scored

6: You see a Hillbilly from Indiana or Redneck from New Orleans. (Don't be gettin' dem confused, cuz they be different)

  • If Both a Hillbilly & a Redneck are in the same screenshot, chug your beer
That's it! Have fun! And now, my prediction for the game:

Colts 31

Saint 21


Walrus Watch: Pro Bowl?!?

Ohr Ohr!

Hello all. I am The Walrus. I'm new to this blog, and I plan to add some non-political tidbits here and there. Actually, I plan to only add sports thoughts when they come to me. I will try and stick to one topic per post, but after all, this is a "Random Thoughts," blog, so who knows where it will take me!

Anyway, here's what the Walrus is "watching" these days. I say "watching" in quotes because apparently no one's actually watching what I am. For instance, are you aware that the Pro Bowl was this weekend? I was not. And even though All-Star games are essentially irrelevant, (unless we're talking about MLB, that is), people should still want to watch them.

Super Bowl Media week is great and seems fun, but most people work during the week. Therefore, let's make the Pro Bowl a media event too. Here are some easy ways I think we can reignite people's interest in the Pro Bowl:

  1. Host a "Fan's Field Day," where people can meet and greet all the players.
  2. Institute a Skills Competition: I want to see Philip Rivers kick field goals and see what Nate Kaeding deals with on a daily basis.
  3. Make New Events similar to the NFL combine: We could have 5 different events, or some other arbitrary number, and allow any player to sign up so we can see who really is the best overall football player. This would be a perfect place to have Chris Johnson face Usain Bolt or even CJ versus Ted Ginn Jr in a race to determine who is faster.
  4. Hold the event the same weekend as the Super Bowl: Let the Pro Bowl be a part of the largest annual sporting event in America. Since more people will already be in the host city for the Super Bowl, could it really hurt?
Regardless of what the future brings, something needs to be done to make the Pro Bowl more of an event. Year-in and year-out, I watch the MLB All-Star weekend for the Homerun Derby; the NBA All-Star Game for the Slam Dunk Contest; I even watch more of the NHL All-Star Game than the Pro Bowl! Something needs to be done. At this point, I would rather watch a Flag Football game over the current "game." that is the Pro Bowl.


Edited By John O'Connor

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The New Guy

Hello, according to my profile, my name is "Nick". It appears that I am now a contributor to this blog, "Random Thoughts", and have the ability to post my own thoughts, presuming I suppose, that they are random and not of the pre-thought, or pre-articulated type. I can safely assure our mass number of followers (6) that I do not regularly deviate from the type of spontaneous thought that this blog requires. Them's the rules, as they say. (Well, actually, in our case, we don't have a "they", or a really a "you", yet. But as our written skills - not Tom's - and luring powers become more able... nevermind, I was talking on GoogleChat and lost track of my... thoughts.

I almost swore there for a minute, but since I don't know if I am permitted to type out my bloggically required thoughten swear words yet, (I'm new) I didn't. I can also assure you that I swear a lot in my thoughts. That being said, I can't wait to divulge enough of my inner-spoken mind-words to all of the internets, for better or worse, with liberty and fraternity for all.

Tab Dump

Why govern when you can simply say no...

Interesting poll on the composition of Republican votes.  To review they are 89% white (clearly reflecting America), believe Obama is a socialist, should be impeached, not born in the US, and would vote for Sarah Palin.  There you go folks, your Republican voters. 

Great Graph

Great graph on government spending. 

Letter from the Editor: An Introduction

Hello!  I am Jack, Editor of Random Thoughts, and the unfortunate filter, literally, for Tom's random thoughts on this blog.

If you continue to read Random Thoughts, you'll notice that the following will appear at the bottom of many posts: Edited by John O'Connor.  When you see this, it means that I have attempted to take Tom's thoughts and put them into a semi-cogent, understandable form.

So why am I qualified to serve as Tom's editor?  First, I care enough about anyone reading this blog to save you from the typing Tourette's syndrome that is Tom's writing style.  Honestly, it's bad enough that you're here to read about Tom's liberal-ass obsessions with healthcare reform and President Obama. You shouldn't have to put up with some awkward stream of consciousness writing which you have to decipher line-by-line only to find out that Tom is . . . wait for it . . . Angry!!!

 Second, I'm anal retentive enough to think that improper grammar usage is a crime. Or at least it should be.

And finally, editing Tom's work is like a weird little creative writing project.  It's not really "creative" per se, since the thoughts I'm editing aren't my own.  But it is creative in the sense that Tom lays out a kind of code which I then have to decipher for you, the reader.


In seriousness, I am excited to be a part of this project.  I enjoy writing, and will try to add my own posts from time to time to provide a bit of counter-balance to Tom's "unique," point of view. 

So if you have a thought of your own, I encourage you to participate in the discussion.  Tom is bound to say something with which you disagree, and the comments section exists for a reason.  Use it.

Thanks again for visiting!  Come back often!

- Jack

Budget

The Huffington Post has a great article discussing the budget deficit and the reactions from both parties. Check it out.

To understand one of the primary reasons for there being such a large deficit today, you have to look back to President Bush's tax cuts in the early 2000s. Heralded by the Republicans as economic growth, these tax cuts (passed through reconciliation, not by super majority) gave large tax relief to individuals making 250,000 or more a year. Without the usual tax revenue, the budget surplus was turned into a budget deficit-- which was worsened by the pending wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Obama's budget, although large, would reduce the deficit over time by increasing job growth and tax revenue. Nevertheless, I'm sure the Republicans will filibuster this bill.


Edited by John O'Connor

Monday, February 1, 2010

News?

Here's a perfect example of what bothers me about CNN and cable network news in general. CNN is trying to create news instead of reporting it

Honestly, in what world is a $250,000 a year salary considered "middle class"?  If that's the case, then I must be below the poverty line.


Edited by John O'Connor

Changes to the Pro Bowl

I understand the honor to be a Pro-Bowl player but I do not get the game.  Players drop out of the game all the time, do not try during the game, or are afraid of getting injured.  They should simply hand out the honor like an All-American and not play the game. 

Imagine Petyon Manning blowing out his knee in the game

Sit Down?

I read an interesting piece in The Hill, recently discussing scarce signs of bipartianship in Congress. First off, I blame both parties for fostering this culture; but what was Mitch McConnell smoking when he said he would like to sit with Democrats to discuss starting healthcare over?  Did we forget about the "Gang of Six," comprised of three Republicans?  All they did was stall the healthcare debate until it died.

Remember one simple thing, the current healthcare plan was proposed by the Republicans during President Clinton's term in office.  But now, when the healthcare plan is we need to slow down.

Edited by John O'Connor