Stuff to Read and Watch

A massive earthquake has rocked Japan and set off a tsunami that threatens the entire Pacific rim. The waves reached Hawaii early this morning and are heading for the West Coast. Stay safe out there.

With the events in Wisconsin this week, I keep forgetting to note that the guy accust of attempting to bomb a Martin Luther King Day in Spokane definitely is a wingnut, as most of us suspected. Yet no one in Washington has the courage to hold Peter King-Joe McCarthy hearings investigating the Right.

If you missed Maddow’s special report last night, here is a bit of it. You can watch the rest in clips at

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Read about the remarkable wives-to-candidate ratio of the emerging Republican presidential field.

Krugman, “Dumbing Deficits Down.” Are Republicans really that stupid?

I have a new post at Comment Is Free about the semi-retirement of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

20 thoughts on “Stuff to Read and Watch

  1. As it turned out, I was right in one of the areas that was on high tsunami alert, and only a few feet above sea level. But it was OK – the ocean happens to be very deep around here, so the wave didn’t amount to much. Areas with shallow water are especially vulnerable. Worst place to be is an inlet or bay, which funnels the wave into a narrow gap.

    It was pretty amazing though – most everyone fled. Downtown looked like a ghost town.

  2. From Krugman:
    “Mr. Obama’s political advisers clearly believe that this strategy of protective camouflage offers the president his best chance at re-election — and they may be right. But that doesn’t change the fact that the White House is aiding and abetting the dumbing down of our deficit debate.”

    It’s almost as if, while the righties are assaulting the nation, the Democrats aren’t screaming for help or trying to prevent the assault, let alone fighting back, they’re instead turning their heads and hoping that the assault isn’t fatal.

    America as Kitty Genovese.

  3. Candide, glad the danger is past your location. Sounds at the moment like Hawaii was essentially spared, too. But good heavens, the photos of Japan are heart-wrenching.

  4. It’s documented: insurance companies never reward damages without a thorough investigation of all circumstances – unless, apparently, when it comes to paying off the claims submitted by the health-care consortia.

    Anecdote: A woman in her nineties had a major stroke, prognosis, she’d be dead in about two weeks. Her doctor/hospital subjected her to every test (from rabies to psoriasis) and billed her insurance providers, Medicare and her private plan, accordingly. The final bill was $350,000. The woman died in about two weeks, as known she would and as predicted she would. Medicare and her supplemental policy paid the bill.

    The question looms – why do insurers investigate all submitted claims except those submitted by the health-care consortia. I have not a clue.

  5. Krugman, “Dumbing Deficits Down.” Are Republicans really that stupid?

    No, but they’ve learned that they can *act* this stupid and still be supported, both by the media and their base. And if they can act like this is just plain common sense, they’ll even encourage their followers to scorn the people who point out that it doesn’t make any sense at all.

    It’s a kind of bullying cliquishness, based entirely on political advantage. They aren’t stupid; they’re scheming, and confident that anyone who points out their stupidity will be ignored by the base.

  6. Newt’s a disgusting pig… Patriotically induced infidelity? I don’t think so! Newt takes the cake when it come to lame excuses. Just when you think you’ve heard every possible excuse to justify pure predatory animalistic sexual behavior, Newt comes along with his “I did it for you,America” excuse. Maybe Callista is buying that nonsense because she evidently has a big, big, void between her ears, and doesn’t realize that her anchor in her marriage to Newt is only as secure as Newt’s next sexual urge….Newt want a Chevrolet?

    In short…Newt is an undisciplined pig!

  7. Is it me, or has anybody else noticed the facial similarities between Ann Coulter and James O’ Keefe..It’s like they are twins separated at birth. Same cheek bones, same sunken eyes, and same adam’s apple also. If you’d put a cheap stringy Afghan hound looking wig on O’keefe you couldn’t tell them apart,I swear you couldn’t. It’s weird!

  8. I am going to offer an opinion. I ‘m from California originally and I know quake. A quake in one place may cause geological instability elsewhere. IMO, quake happen in bunches, but not necessarily in the same region. If you live in a place prone to quakes, this is the time to check batteries, fill the tank on your car, review plans with family. It can’t hurt, and might help a lot.

  9. Swami, I sure hope Callista has the name of a good divorce attorney handy. Something tells me she’ll need it.

  10. Thanks for the reminder, Doug. Whenever I hear about an event on the other side of the Ring of Fire, I here in Seattle start to get antsy. I’ll be checking the expiration dates on the supplies in my disaster kit this weekend, and double-checking that there’s a smaller version in the car.

  11. Rachel Maddow has been doing some pretty good work – or at least the best I’ve seen – at connecting the dots. On her site at MSNBC are some good reports not only covering the action throughout the midWest and the rest of the country, but also behnd-the-scenes activities by conservatives to limit the franchise, in very targetted ways. Check out You can’t vote them out if you can’t vote, and the wholesome sounding American Legislative Exchange Council – a conservative organization, funded in part by the Kochs to write model legislation for Republicans at the state level.

    I’ve been stunned by the coordinated attack going on in all the statehouses at once, and we’re starting to see exactly how this is happening. One of the longer term things that’s interesting to me is that several of these state capitols are also home to major universities, and I’m pretty certain a good chunk of these sharp young people are deeply pissed at the power grab by the greedheads. They’re my big hope.

  12. khughes1963… Nah, Newt’s an old hand at tossing his old discards overboard. He knows how to limit his liabilities before he ever bags ’em, so a good divorce lawyer for Callista will only be spinning his wheels trying to pin the old stud muffin down.

    When it comes down to casting off a used model Newt has a style that has them all beat, even Giuliani.. I mean, why publicly humiliate them by giving them their notice in the press when you can discreetly serve them divorce papers when they’re in ICU.

  13. It is certainly indicative of the state of our society that Reagan was able to exaggerate the details of his famous “welfare queen” with such success, while real life fraud by medical providers just doesn’t push the right buttons. They’re respectable after all. Every medical group has a business manager to maximize income, which in other words, means gouging whenever possible and delivering services in the most profitable, not the most efficient manner. No wonder so many doctors are Libertarians. I have heard many stories over the years from close friends who are, or were medical service providers. It’s anecdotal, but in some cases the plural of anecdote really IS data, if your sampling is large enough and the selection of valid.

    Sometimes the business model of medicine has real life negative consequences. So here’s an anecdote. A very close friend of mine died late last year. He was fairly young and active, but suddenly developed some odd symptoms. An MRI discovered a brain tumor that was obviously inoperable. Somehow they talked him into a biopsy. The tumor was so deep that the process left him paralyzed. It confirmed that he had only about a month to live. So, instead of spending his last month at home dealing with the advancing neurological deficits, he spent it lying paralyzed in an expensive hospital bed.

    What possible medical justification was there for this procedure, which was done at great cost to my friends quality of life? They already knew that the tumor, in any case, was inoperable. Well, pretty obviously, it was good business.

    Unbridled capitalism has grave consequences. Our way of practicing medicine is a glaring example. In our system profit is the primary objective and saving lives is secondary. Of course, American exceptionalism demands that whatever we do MUST be best and the whole world will flock to our wonderful “free market solutions” and hardy individualism because,… well just because!


    I wonder what some of the baggers would “think” if they actually read a little bit about some of Rand’s and Von Mises’ views of democracy. Both preferred a non democratic government that left business alone to a democratic one that regulated it.

  14. goatherd,
    I’m sorry about your friend.
    But I can vouch for the money part. My Dad’s 85, and my Mom just turned 79, and they have a veritable whirlwind of doctor’s appointments every month. I thankful that there’s all of this attention and care, but I wonder how many of these visits are really necessary, and how many are to make a few more bucks for themselves and their pals?
    Of course, if that’s what keeps them alive and active, I’m all for it then.

    • That is a tragic story, goatherd.

      c u n d gulag, regarding older folks — one of the changes the health care reform act is suppose to put into effect, although I don’t remember when, is to change the way Medicare reimburses hospitals and doctors for treatments. As I understand it — Instead of submitting bills for every individual thing done, hospitals and doctors’ charges will be “bundled,” and they will be reimbursed a set amount for every “episode of care.” So, if someone has a heart attack, all health care providers treating him for that “episode” are reimbursed a set amount, and the figure doesn’t change because he gets more tests.

      This could be good or bad. Seems to me it would stop a lot of nonsense such as ordering procedures just to run up the bill, but it also depends on Medicare providing reasonable reimbursements. We’ll see how it goes.

  15. maha,
    I’m sure there’s a lot of fraud out there. There was a Ukrainian friend of a friend who was charged with over $5 million in fraud. And he wasn’t even a doctor! Just part of a mob scam. As far as any of us know, he’s either dead, or escaped to Ukraine or Russia. All of that was about 15 years ago.
    And also, there are procedures that are done that have no real direct bearing on the success of treatment. I think the reason some of procedures are done is because of “CYOA,” to prevent lawsuits, and may have nothing to do with either fraud or running up bills. It does, however, increase the cost to everyone.
    For my parent’s, as well as for myself, and everyone out there, I want the best care at the lowest cost.
    But that seems to be the opposite of what Republicans want and are prepared to do. They seem to want to take the baby, put it in the bathwater, drown it, and then throw the baby, the bathwater, and the tub, out the window.

    • to prevent lawsuits, and may have nothing to do with either fraud or running up bills.

      There’s all kinds of empirical evidence that isn’t true, or if it is true, it’s much less of a factor than whether or not the person ordering the test/procedure can submit a bill for it.

  16. Well, I defer, because you know a hell of a lot more about this subject than I do – which might fit on the back of a postage stamp.
    I know you know a lot more because of how informative you were during the whole HC nonsense. If it wasn’t for you and your links, I’d have made a jackass of myself about 10 times over. Per day!

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