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Cancer Treatment and Health Care Reform

Blogged by: BarbaraOBrien1

One argument you may hear against health care reform concerns cancer survival rates. The United States has higher cancer survivor rates than countries with national health care systems, we’re told. Doesn’t this mean we should keep what we’ve got and not change it?

Certainly cancer survival rates are a critical issue for people suffering from the deadly lung mesothelioma cancer. So let’s look at this claim and see if there is any substance to it.

First, it’s important to understand that “cancer survival rate” doesn’t mean the rate of people who are cured of a cancer. The cancer survival rate is the percentage of people who survive a certain type of cancer for a specific amount of time, usually five years after diagnosis.

For example, according to the Mayo Clinic, the survivor rate of prostate cancer in the United States is 98 percent. This means that 98 percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer are still alive five years later. However, this statistic does not tell us whether the men who have survived for five years still have cancer or what number of them may die from it eventually.

Misunderstanding of the term “survivor rate” sometimes is exploited to make misleading claims. For example, in 2007 a pharmaceutical company promoting a drug used to treat colon cancer released statistics showing superior survival rates for its drug over other treatments. Some journalists who used this data in their reporting assumed it meant that the people who survived were cured of cancer, and they wrote that the drug “saved lives.” The drug did extend the lives of of patients, on average by a few months. However, the mortality rate for people who used this drug — meaning the rate of patients who died of the disease — was not improved.

But bloggers and editorial writers who oppose health care reform seized these stories about “saving lives,” noting that this wondrous drug was available in the United States for at least a year before it was in use in Great Britain. Further, Britain has lower cancer survival rates than the U.S. This proved, they said, the superiority of U.S. health care over “socialist” countries.

This is one way propagandists use data to argue that health care in the United States is superior to countries with government-funded health care systems. They selectively compare the most favorable data from the United States with data from the nations least successful at treating cancer. A favorite “comparison” country is Great Britain, whose underfunded National Health Service is struggling.

It is true that the United States compares very well in the area of cancer survival rates, but other countries with national health care systems have similar results.

For example, in 2008 the British medical journal Lancet Oncology published a widely hailed study comparing cancer survival rates in 31 countries. Called the CONCORD study, the researchers found that United States has the highest survival rates for breast and prostate cancer. However, Japan has the highest survival for colon and rectal cancers in men, and France has the highest survival for colon and rectal cancers in women. Canada and Australia also ranked relatively high for most cancers. The differences in the survival data for these “best” countries is very small, and is possibly caused by discrepancies in reporting of data and not the treatment result itself.

And it should be noted that Japan, France, Canada and Australia all have government-funded national health care systems. So, there is no reason to assume that changing the way health care is funded in the U.S. would reduce the quality of cancer care.

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TRMS: Navigating Race in America

Op-Ed by: Audiegrl

Rachel Maddow ShowLeave it to our girl Dr. Rachel Maddow to have the most meaningful, informative, substantive, and thought-provoking discussion on ‘race‘ during the MSM’s ‘Harry Reid said ‘negro dialect’…so now we have a shiny new ratings toy‘ moment. She actually had the fore-sight to invite a professor of Africana Studies on her show to discuss what could be a teachable moment for our country. And gasp! She even went as far as to criticize, in the way only Rachel can, the MSM in general, including her employer MSNBC, for their so far shallow and ultimately meaningless coverage of this moment. In just one 10 minute segment, Rachel and Professor Rose made more sense than all the talking-heads have for the last 72 hours. This is just one more reason that MSNBC needs to give Rachel ‘Meet the Press‘, so we can start watching it again, and have an open and honest debate of the political topics of the day. And please, give us more Professor Rose! Hers is a voice that needs to be heard. 🙂

In the video below, Rachel and Professor Rose discuss racial gaffes and insensitivities in politics and why some politicians suffer more severe consequences than others.

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Professor Tricia Rose, Professor and Chair, African American Cultural Politics and Gender Studies, Brown University

Professor Tricia Rose

Professor Tricia Rose

Tricia Rose (Ph.D, Brown University, American Civilization, 1993) is Professor of Africana Studies. She specializes in 20th century African-American culture and politics, social history, popular culture, gender and sexuality. In addition to her scholarly interest in black cultural production, the role of new technologies and ideologies about race in U.S. life, and the politics of intimacy and social justice, a central facet of her work reflects a deep interest in examining the current legacies of racial and other forms of structural relations and exploring the creative and visionary strategies developed by artists, communities and movements to build a more just society.

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The Moment Ted Kennedy Would Not Want To Lose by Victoria Reggie Kennedy

Senator Ted Kennedy and Victoria Reggie KennedyWashington Post—My late husband, Ted Kennedy, was passionate about health-care reform. It was the cause of his life. He believed that health care for all our citizens was a fundamental right, not a privilege, and that this year the stars — and competing interests — were finally aligned to allow our nation to move forward with fundamental reform. He believed that health-care reform was essential to the financial stability of our nation’s working families and of our economy as a whole.

Still, Ted knew that accomplishing reform would be difficult. If it were easy, he told me, it would have been done a long time ago. He predicted that as the Senate got closer to a vote, compromises would be necessary, coalitions would falter and many ardent supporters of reform would want to walk away. He hoped that they wouldn’t do so. He knew from experience, he told me, that this kind of opportunity to enact health-care reform wouldn’t arise again for a generation.

A supporter of health-care legislation holds a portrait of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy at a Times Square rally shortly after Kennedy's funeral.

A supporter of health-care legislation holds a portrait of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy at a Times Square rally shortly after Kennedy's funeral.

In the early 1970s, Ted worked with the Nixon administration to find consensus on health-care reform. Those efforts broke down in part because the compromise wasn’t ideologically pure enough for some constituency groups. More than 20 years passed before there was another real opportunity for reform, years during which human suffering only increased. Even with the committed leadership of then-President Bill Clinton and his wife, reform was thwarted in the 1990s. As Ted wrote in his memoir, he was deeply disappointed that the Clinton health-care bill did not come to a vote in the full Senate. He believed that senators should have gone on the record, up or down.

Ted often said that we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. He also said that it was better to get half a loaf than no loaf at all, especially with so many lives at stake. That’s why, even as he never stopped fighting for comprehensive health-care reform, he also championed incremental but effective reforms such as a Patients’ Bill of Rights, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and COBRA continuation of health coverage.

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SNL Gets It Right – Do We Get It?

Posted by Guest Contributor Hail To the Chimp

World leaders are meeting to discuss climate change, there are wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Iran is taking away Nobel Peace Prizes from its citizens, the dollar just had its two month high against the Euro, our President just received a Nobel Peace Prize, the stimulas money is making its rounds in the economy, there is a health care debate still going on, there are still federal departments/agencies under continuing resolutions because Congress has not approriated money for FY2010, the economy is in shambles, the House just passed a questionable bill on financial reform, Guantanamo detainees, energy reform, Cap and Trade is being discussed, genocide is still occurring in Darfur, more children in the US are going hungry everyday, unemployment is between 10-19%, foreclosures are still high,…..

And the list goes on, but if you turn on the tube you would think that none of those issues exist or that there are no good stories on American heroes to report………

Every “news” channel is Tiger all the time. Will his wife leave him, can he redeem himself, what about his endorsements – what about John Doe who has been unemployed for 6 months, Cobra benefits are about to expire, is getting more and more calls from collection agencies, is about to lose his home, has to go to food banks to get food to feed his 3 children, has had his car repossessed, and is about to lose his home.

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SNL gets it right. Why is someone who has no responsibilities to the public being covered while politicians who have broken ethics laws, are hypocrites, and just purely being corrupt not covered? Ensign paid off his mistress’ family, Baucus tried to get his girlfriend to be made a US Attorney and only backed down when a reporter scooped him, several Republicans vote against bills knowing their constituents will still get funding for the earmarks they inserted in the bill, but voted against; governors cover up when they have executed innocent people, spouses’ companies get no-bid federal contracts, Congress cannot pass any bill, lets not forget that pesky lie that led to Iraq war…….

This is beyond just turning off the tv and just relying on blogs, research, and actual reporters. What exactly does the corporate media have to gain with this story, but not covering real issues that impact Americans? Why are the same lightweights on TV – David Gregory, John King do not know anything about the issues. They do not even know how to give rebuttals to the lies and spin that politicians give on their infotainment shows.

The 2008 election was about Bush and what he represented anti-intellectualism. The eight year war on science, math, and all–out critical and analytical thought. Sensationalism has always existed to some extent in the media, but there was always a difference between the National Enquirer and the NY Times. All one has to look at is the “op-ed” that someone wrote for Palin that was one of the top 10 reads for the Washington Post for 2009. Really? An “op-ed” that was a dishonest, non-fact supported rant in hope of getting attention. Surely this country can do better, but do we want to do better.

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Tiger’s Validation Complex by Eugene Robinson

Op-Ed by Eugene Robinson

Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist, Eugene Robinson

Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist, Eugene Robinson

Washington Post/Eugene Robinson—Leave Tiger alone. Enough with the puns — we get that he’s really just a “cheetah” in disguise. Enough with the Barbie-of-the-Day revelations — we get that he’s attracted to a certain type. Enough with the whole thing — we have far more important things to worry about.

Yeah, right. Sit down with a friend over lunch and try to have a conversation about health care, climate change, financial regulation or Afghanistan without straying at least once onto the oh-so-unimportant subject of Tiger Woods’s philandering. I’ve given up trying to deny that the unfolding saga is compelling, even if paying attention leaves me feeling a bit disappointed in myself. Prurient interest is rarely something to be proud of.

I’m beginning to fear, actually, that the unfolding may never end. If you’re the richest, most famous athlete on the planet, and you have an eye for cocktail waitresses and nightclub hostesses, the opportunities to cheat are probably limited only by the number of hours in the day. It’s becoming clear why Woods’s initial mea culpa was worded vaguely to cover any and all “transgressions.” Wouldn’t want to leave anybody out.

I’m not going to pronounce judgment on Woods’s moral fiber, except to state that adultery is bad. I’m also not going to judge the women who have reportedly had affairs with him, except to point out how quick they’ve been, as soon as their names have surfaced, to retain high-priced legal counsel. I will suggest that Woods consider this possibility: Random women he meets in restaurants or bars may not be reduced to putty by his good looks or sparkling wit, but may in fact be aware of how wealthy he is.

I was going to critique Woods’s technique of adultery, or at least his apparent selection of playmates, as measured against a theory about philandering developed by my colleague Roxanne Roberts, who has spent years covering the capital’s libidinous social scene for The Post. Roberts postulates that famous, powerful men who stray would be smart to choose women who have just as much to lose if the liaison were exposed. Some ultra-rich tycoon’s young trophy wife, say, would fit that criterion. Cocktail waitresses and nightclub hostesses, not so much.

In fact, Woods seems to have hooked up with the kind of women who save old voice mails and text messages — giving their high-priced legal counsel something to work with.

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It’s a Helluva State by Cynthia Nixon

Op-ed by Cynthia Nixon

Cynthia Nixon and her girlfriend, Christine Marinoni

HP/Cynthia Nixon—My girlfriend and I want to get married. Only thing is: it’s not legal in NY State, where we live. So we started doing everything we could think of to reverse that. Including going up to Albany this past spring with two of our politico friends to speak to some Senators — Democratic and Republican — who were on the fence on the issue.

Wednesday’s No vote on same sex marriage was supremely disappointing on a personal as well as a political level. Guess Christine and I can kiss that Waldorf Astoria wedding… Brooklyn Botanical Gardens wedding… Montauk Beach wedding — you fill in the blank — goodbye. But we have two things today we didn’t have yesterday.

The first thing we have is clarity about who’s with us and who’s against us. And we’ll remember those yays and nays for next November and for Novembers to come. And there will be consequences.

The second thing is a new ally. Her name is Ruth Hassell-Thompson. She is a Senator from the Bronx and Mt Vernon and she is fierce.

State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-Bronx/Westchester)

State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-NY)

Our gang of four met with her last spring and she explained to us in depth, over a long and respectful meeting why she thought she was going to vote no on gay marriage. Senator Hassell-Thompson is deeply religious. She felt strongly that marriage always has been and always should be the union between a man and a woman.

But she is a careful, thoughtful person and you could see her weighing the issue again and again in her mind. And in her considering she stumbled across something in her personal experience that began to change her perspective.

She spoke about how her mother had been a deacon in their church at a time when previously only men had been deacons. And how controversial that had been. And how vehemently many people opposed her mother’s appointment. And how none of those opposed could give any explanation for why her mother becoming a deacon was wrong, just that it was. Because it was new. Because it was shocking. Because it was an idea that took people a little time to get used to.

On Wednesday Ruth Hassell-Thompson voted yes.

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Paranoia Strikes Deep by Paul Krugman

Op-ed by Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman, New York Times

Paul Krugman, New York Times

New York Times/Paul Krugman—Last Thursday there was a rally outside the U.S. Capitol to protest pending health care legislation, featuring the kinds of things we’ve grown accustomed to, including large signs showing piles of bodies at Dachau with the caption “National Socialist Healthcare.” It was grotesque — and it was also ominous. For what we may be seeing is America starting to be Californiafied.

The key thing to understand about that rally is that it wasn’t a fringe event. It was sponsored by the House Republican leadership — in fact, it was officially billed as a G.O.P. press conference. Senior lawmakers were in attendance, and apparently had no problem with the tone of the proceedings.

True, Eric Cantor, the second-ranking House Republican, offered some mild criticism after the fact. But the operative word is “mild.” The signs were “inappropriate,” said his spokesman, and the use of Hitler comparisons by such people as Rush Limbaugh, said Mr. Cantor, “conjures up images that frankly are not, I think, very helpful.”

What all this shows is that the G.O.P. has been taken over by the people it used to exploit.

gallery-bachmannteaparty30The state of mind visible at recent right-wing demonstrations is nothing new. Back in 1964 the historian Richard Hofstadter published an essay titled, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” which reads as if it were based on today’s headlines: Americans on the far right, he wrote, feel that “America has been largely taken away from them and their kind, though they are determined to try to repossess it and to prevent the final destructive act of subversion.” Sound familiar?

But while the paranoid style isn’t new, its role within the G.O.P. is.

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The Night They Drove the Tea Partiers Down by Frank Rich

Op-ed by Frank Rich

Frank Rich

Frank Rich/The New York Times

New York Times/Frank Rich—FOR all cable news’s efforts to inflate Election 2009 into a cliffhanger as riveting as Balloon Boy, ratings at MSNBC and CNN were flat Tuesday night. But not at Fox News, where the audience nearly doubled its usual prime-time average. That’s what happens when you have a thrilling story to tell, and what could be more thrilling than a revolution playing out in real time?

As Fox kept insisting, all eyes were glued on Doug Hoffman, the insurgent tea party candidate in New York’s 23rd Congressional District. A “tidal wave” was on its way, said Sean Hannity, and the right would soon “take back the Republican Party.” The race was not “even close,” Bill O’Reilly suggested to the pollster Scott Rasmussen, who didn’t disagree. When returns showed Hoffman trailing, the network’s resident genius, Karl Rove, knowingly reassured viewers that victory was in the bag, even if we’d have to stay up all night waiting for some slacker towns to tally their votes. (Posters note: see SNL spoof video)

Alas, the Dewey-beats-Truman reveries died shortly after midnight, when even Fox had to concede that the Democrat, Bill Owens, had triumphed in what had been Republican country since before Edison introduced the light bulb. For the far right, the thriller in Watertown was over except for the ludicrous morning-after spin that Hoffman’s loss was really a victory. For the Democrats, the excitement was just beginning. New York’s 23rd could be celebrated as a rare bright spot on a night when the party’s gubernatorial candidates lost in Virginia and New Jersey.

readingtealeavesnytThe Democrats’ celebration was also premature: Hoffman’s defeat is potentially more harmful to them than to the Republicans. Tuesday’s results may be useless as a predictor of 2010, but they are not without value as cautionary tales. And the most worrisome for Democrats were not in Virginia and New Jersey, but, paradoxically, in the New York contests where they performed relatively well. That includes the idiosyncratic New York City mayor’s race that few viewed as a bellwether of anything. It should be the most troubling of them all for President Obama’s cohort — even though neither Obama nor the national political parties were significant players in it.

But first let’s make a farewell accounting of the farce upstate. The reason why the Democratic victory in New York’s 23rd is a mixed blessing is simple: it increases the odds that the Republicans will not do Democrats the great favor of committing suicide between now and the next Election Day.

This race was a damaging setback for the hard right. Hoffman had the energetic support of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Fox as well as big bucks from their political auxiliaries. Furthermore, Hoffman was running not only in a district that Rove himself described as “very Republican” but one that fits the demographics of the incredibly shrinking G.O.P. The 23rd is far whiter than America as a whole — 93 percent versus 74 — with tiny sprinklings of blacks, Hispanics and Asians. It has few immigrants. It’s rural. Its income and education levels are below the norm. Only if the district were situated in Dixie — or Utah — could it be a more perfect fit for the narrow American demographic where the McCain-Palin ticket had its sole romps last year.

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South Carolina Needs to Stop the Stupidity by Brian Hicks

Posted by Audiegrl

Op-ed by Brian Hicks

michelle-obama-white-house-portraitPost and Courier/Brian Hicks—Let’s get this straight: The White House has allowed first lady Michelle Obama to tool around Moscow, the Czech Republic and even Ghana in the past year, but officials are a little worried about her coming to South Carolina.

They consider the atmosphere here too dangerous.

Just when it seemed the summer of shame was over, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn dropped this bombshell on The Post and Courier’s Yvonne Wenger on Friday. Clyburn says the White House is wary of bringing the first lady to the state because of the attitude of some of its residents.

Even if they are overreacting, or if Clyburn is overstating the case, it’s embarrassing.

If security professionals, who apparently have reservations, actually believe it is too dangerous for the first family to visit a U.S. state, then we have dropped below the status of a Third World country.

It makes us look like buffoons, racists and backwater morons.

A loudmouthed minority of Neanderthals and sore losers have so poisoned the national discourse with their racist rantings, crude jokes and veiled threats that they have sullied South Carolina’s reputation more than any governor, congressman or senator could ever imagine.

So, thanks for that.

If unemployment holds at its current rates, you can thank these same idiots. Think any international company, any major business, will locate to a state where the president’s own wife might not be safe?

This is not about politics or that socialism baloney cooked up by politicians and insurance companies. It is about respect for the office.

This is the bottom of the barrel.

U.S. House Majority Whip James Clyburn

U.S. House Majority Whip James Clyburn

This all came about when Clyburn, who has close ties to the White House, asked that the first lady attend an event at South Carolina State University. There have been more than 100 requests for the first lady to visit.

Clyburn quoted Valerie Jarrett, adviser to the president and a friend of the Obamas, as saying, “It’s not always our decision to make.” The implication is that the Secret Service has concerns about the state. A lot of it, Clyburn said, has to do with the climate in South Carolina.

He wasn’t talking about the humidity, just the stupidity.

Clyburn was talking about Rusty DePass, a South Carolina Republican activist, who earlier this year said a gorilla that escaped from the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia was an ancestor of Michelle Obama. Some rubes thought that was hilarious.

Clyburn was talking about the reaction to U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson’s rude outburst of “You lie!” to President Barack Obama. Wilson has been hailed as a conquering hero by some for doing little more than embarrassing many of this state’s residents.

He was talking about the knucklehead cowards who anonymously post vitriolic comments online.

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Note: Neither the first lady’s press office nor the Secret Service provided comment for the original The Post and Courier story.

Brian Hicks

Brian Hicks

Brian Hicks is a senior writer with The Post and Courier. In his 10 years with the paper, he has covered a wide variety of subjects, including politics and news of the weird (also known as politics). His reporting has won 20 S.C. Press Association Awards, including Journalist of the Year in 1998. He is also the author or co-author of four books, including the local history yarn “Raising the Hunley,” which was so popular it was even translated into Czechoslovakian. Really.

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Teachers Are Key to a Successful Economy by First Lady Michelle Obama

Op-ed by First Lady Michelle Obama

First Lady with daughters Sasha and Malia

First Lady with daughters Sasha and Malia

This is a busy time of year in the Obama household. Like so many parents all across this country, I watch with a mixture of pride and anxiety as my daughters stuff their backpacks, kiss me goodbye, and move ahead in another school year without so much as a backwards glance.

My girls are now making new friends, tackling challenging new subjects, and moving closer to becoming the strong, confident women I know they can be. But when I see them come home, bursting with excitement about something they have learned or someone they have met, I can’t help but think that some of the most influential people in my daughters’ lives won’t be the ones they socialize with on the playground or read about in the pages of a book—they will be the people who stand up every day in front of their classrooms.

classroomWe all remember the impact a special teacher had on us—a teacher who refused to let us fall through the cracks; who pushed us and believed in us when we doubted ourselves; who sparked in us a lifelong curiosity and passion for learning. Decades later, we remember the way they made us feel and the things they inspired us to do—how they challenged us and changed our lives. So it’s not surprising that studies show that the single most important factor affecting students’ achievement is the caliber of their teachers. And when we think about the qualities that make an outstanding teacher—boundless energy and endless patience; vision and a sense of purpose; the creativity to help us see the world in a different way; commitment to helping us discover and fulfill our potential—we realize: These are also the qualities of a great leader.

Today, more than ever before, we need precisely this kind of leadership in our classrooms. As the president has frequently said, in a 21st-century global economy where jobs can be shipped to any place with an Internet connection and children here in America will be competing with children around the world for the same jobs, a good education is no longer just one road to opportunity—it is the only road. And good teachers aren’t just critical for the success of our students. They are the key to the success of our economy.

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