Universal Health Care Can’t Wait – nannymm

February 25, 2007, Deamonte Driver died as the result of an abscessed tooth.The infection that could have been so easily treated invaded his brain and festered until it was too late to save him. He was just 12yrs old.

Unfortunately, Deamonte is not an unusual case. Children like him suffer everyday, and many die, because they and their families either don’t qualify for free or low cost medical coverage or must fight a complex (and sometimes hostile) bureaucracy to receive the benefits to which they are entitled.

Seniors and the disabled have their own struggles with the health care system in this country. The Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit is often little help.
“Claire Rogers* is a Mount Prospect senior that currently takes 11 medications, 7 of which have no generic form. Even though she is on Illinois Cares Rx Basic, just the co-pays ($2.15 for generic drugs and $5.35 for brand names) can add up and become troubling. Claire explains, “My income is so low that every dollar is important to me.”

A few states have taken the matter into their own hands and tried to fashion solutions for the uninsured and the under-insured. Although, such programs may help some people, they are largely inadequate.  For example, in Massachusetts, many residents are still struggling to afford even basic care, despite the state mandate that all Bay Staters must have insurance.

Where there are no meaningful provisions for insuring those who can’t afford insurance or are otherwise uninsurable, death rates soar.
“Six Florida adults die every day because they lack health insurance and Florida appears to have one of the highest death rates due to its uninsured population, according to a national healthcare consumer group.”

Uninsured and suffering a recurrence of cancer, Mark Windsor was so desperate for care that he “married a woman, who was simply a good friend, at least partly so he could get insured. It may be too late. His cancer has spread to his lungs.”

We’re all aware of the sad tragedy of Andrea Yates who drowned her five young children in the family bathtub. While the media concentrated on postpartum depression as the factor that led up to the horrific crime, the truth is that Mrs. Yates suffered from an extremely severe form of schizophrenia for which she received inadequate care. Unfortunately, the Yates tragedy is just one of countless tales of abuse, neglect, and murder of children by their untreated or under-treated mentally ill parents. These stories  are shocking to most, but all to common to those of us who work or have worked in the field of mental health.

As the parent of an adult child with a serious mental illness, I was stunned and horrified to learn that those who suffer from a significant mental illness die an average of 25 years (Yes, YEARS, not months) sooner than the  general population. This is largely due to lack of medical care or inadequate care.

I’d like to believe that the healthcare crisis in this country is going to improve as soon as Barack Obama becomes our President. But I am neither that naive nor that stupid.
Even if circumstances were ideal, it would take time, alot of time, to turn around our failing system. But current circumstances are far from ideal.  The recession is getting deeper and wider with no end in  sight. That means that healthcare reform is no longer the number one priority. I suspect it isn’t number two or three, either. More worrisome, is that the crisis in our healthcare system is now guaranteed to get worse.

Barack Obama is going to need a strong team to find our way out of this desperate situation we find ourselves in. He will need great minds, fresh ideas, strong personalities, and the support of all Americans to turn this around. Most of all, he must insist that Congress move ahead with a Universal Health Care bill immediately. Cost cannot be an issue that prevents a comprehensive health care package that guarantees universal coverage to all. The truth is, we can’t afford to go on as we have. The cost of that is not only far too great in monetary or societal terms, it is simply unconscionable.

Further Readings:



2.)   “Consequences of the Lack of Health Insurance on Health and Earnings”
Full Report in pdf:

3.)  “Economic Consequences of Being Uninsured:
Uncompensated Care, Inefficient Medical Care Spending, and Foregone Earnings”

Societal Costs:

1.)   Societal Costs Exceed the Cost of Medical Care

2.) Access To Health Care





Filed under Uncategorized

97 responses to “Universal Health Care Can’t Wait – nannymm

  1. A heart breaking story about Deamonte, as are the others. Nann you’ve done an outstanding job putting this thread together, my hat is off to you!

  2. BTW deaths due to dental disease are not as uncommon as one would think. One of the things we need to be sure of with the new changes in health care coming is that it has to be comprehensive. We also need to make sure mental health care coverage is included too.

  3. chefsheila

    Nanny! Outstanding. My goodness you’ve given us some big reading. Great researching.

    The Deamonte debacle is an issue I was just trying to highlight with the presidential transition team. The Dental Insurance in this country is sooo bad, most of us wait until its too late.

    I have to go to work. but I will get back as soon as I can. Its Friday and you know what that means.

    Work Work Work…..

  4. dnd

    Great thread. My health insurance is scheduled to go up 20% next month. It’s highway robbery. I’m shopping for a new plan.

    The needed radical changes in health care won’t happen overnight, but there are simple steps we can take now that will go a long ways to improve this dreadful situation.

  5. hey dnd that sucks about your premiums going up, but I’m certainly not surprised. It’s for that reason I switched into a city run program last summer. I just couldn’t afford to pay 700 bucks a month. Now I’m spending far less and getting far better coverage including dental and mental health which I didn’t have before. The only downside is I now am in a clinic setting instead of a private practice setting, but hey I’m saving about 500 bucks a month!

  6. dnd

    Good point about making health care coverage comprehensive. I’ve never understood why medical and dental are separate.

  7. Because our health care system is run the for profit insurance industry, and dentists don’t have the same political clout the AMA has.

  8. dnd

    One of the major problems is the for profit health insurance industry. When Blue Cross was not for profit, they spent the bulk of premiums on claims. Now it’s more on administrative costs. What’s changed? All the people they use to deny claims to increase profits. This is criminal.

  9. Nannymm

    Good morning, everyone! Thanks for your compliments.
    Healthcare is obviously one of my main issues. I could write volumes about the horrors I’ve seen personally, nearly all involving a lack of timely care or inadequate care. It turns your stomach to watch a young mother or father die because they didn’t have the money to get early diagnosis and care while their cancer was still treatable. It tears your heart up to see the little children who have been abused by mentally ill parents who have no access to mental health care and appropriate medication. I could go on and on….

  10. dnd

    Now this is timely:

    “DENVER (AP) – Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle will be in Denver Friday to lead a discussion about health care reform.

    President-elect Barack Obama is expected to name Daschle as his health and human secretary in the coming days. Colorado Senator Ken Salazar invited Daschle, the former South Dakota senator, to speak at the summit at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. ”


    I suggest we all call our congresscritters and let them know that health care coverage is a high priority.

  11. dog's eye view

    Nanny: popping by to say hello, your blogpost deserves way more attention than I can give just now.

    The Deamonte story is a local one for me, and why we heard so much about Joe the Plumber and not Deamonte the child who left us too soon… that one is a heartbreaker and more people should know about it. So thank you there.

    Universal healthcare coverage for Americans is my #1 priority. It drives so much else, and would be a huge boon to business and our global competitiveness, whether some of the idealogues want to admit that or not.

  12. One of the things I found very encouraging during the election was how many young people said health care was an issue for them.

  13. dog's eye view

    That beautiful face is saying “Didn’t I deserve a future?”

  14. dog's eye view

    uh, Brian, care to rephrase that?

  15. dnd

    “LONDON — When you’re smiling, the whole world really does smile with you.

    A paper being published today in a British medical journal concludes that happiness is contagious — and that people pass on their good cheer even to total strangers. ”


    I think grumpiness is contagious too…

  16. dnd

    See what I mean 😉

  17. OJ is going to be getting some big time behind bars!

  18. dnd

    Prohibition ended on this day in 1933. I’ll drink to that!

  19. dnd

    I have a question on your comment about clinics vs. private practice. Do you have to wait as long at the clinic to see a physician? My private practice doctor is great, but appointments take forever. Not a big deal for a checkup, but annoying when something is seriously wrong.

    I’m of the thought that clinics could significantly reduce health care costs and possibly improve coverage.

  20. I always figure it’s going to be the entire morning or afternoon. This is a hospital clinic, if something is seriously wrong they suggest you go to the ER.

  21. When I knew I was getting in trouble over the summer I called the surgery clinic and told them I needed to see someone right away. There first appointment was 3 weeks away. The receptionist asked if I was in pain I said I was, she said go to the ER and they will fast track you into clinic. That was on Friday, I went to the ER on Saturday, the wait there was about two hours. They put me on meds, including pain, and got me a slot at the clinic for that coming Tuesday, I had surgery 3 weeks later while we tried different antibiotics to see if we could get the infection under control. Surgery wasn’t planned (but when I went for my visit I had a pretty good sense I wouldn’t be coming home that day and made arrangements for the dogs and cat), I went from my clinic visit right to the OR.

  22. dnd

    Given OJ’s personality type, I doubt he’ll be released early for good behavior.

  23. dog's eye view

    The Rocky Mountain News to close?

    DENVER – The publisher of the Denver Post claims the owner of the Rocky Mountain News said the paper would be closed “as soon as practical,” belying hopes that a buyer for the Rocky will be found.

    The Rocky, Colorado’s oldest newspaper, was put up for sale on Thursday after owner E.W. Scripps Co. said it lost about $11 million on the operation in the first nine months of the year.


  24. dnd

    McCain campaign spent $110,000 on Palin’s hair and makeup. This in addition to the $180,000 wardrobe. Clearly the GOP is the party of the working class…

  25. dnd

    It would be horrible to see the Rocky fold. But it could have been predicted when the Rocky and the Post entered in a joint operating agreement. Where ever that’s happened, only one paper survives. It’d be a shame for Denver to be a one newspaper town.

  26. dog's eye view

    On the passing of Henry Gustav Molaison, patient “H.M.”, aged 82, who developed “profound amnesia” as a result of 1953 brain surgery meant to relieve his seizures, but which unintentionally destroyed part of his hippocampus, not then known as crucial to memory formation.

    A personal tragedy, the loss of his identity for one gentle man, that opened so many avenues of brain and memory research to help others.


    “… Every time H. M. performed the task, it struck him as an entirely new experience. He had no memory of doing it before. Yet with practice he became proficient. “At one point he said to me, after many of these trials, ‘Huh, this was easier than I thought it would be,’ ” Dr. Milner said.

    The implications were enormous. Scientists saw that there were at least two systems in the brain for creating new memories. One, known as declarative memory, records names, faces and new experiences and stores them until they are consciously retrieved. This system depends on the function of medial temporal areas, particularly an organ called the hippocampus, now the object of intense study.

    Another system, commonly known as motor learning, is subconscious and depends on other brain systems. This explains why people can jump on a bike after years away from one and take the thing for a ride, or why they can pick up a guitar that they have not played in years and still remember how to strum it.

    Soon “everyone wanted an amnesic to study,” Dr. Milner said, and researchers began to map out still other dimensions of memory. They saw that H. M.’s short-term memory was fine; he could hold thoughts in his head for about 20 seconds. It was holding onto them without the hippocampus that was impossible.

    “The study of H. M. by Brenda Milner stands as one of the great milestones in the history of modern neuroscience,” said Dr. Eric Kandel, a neuroscientist at Columbia University. “It opened the way for the study of the two memory systems in the brain, explicit and implicit, and provided the basis for everything that came later — the study of human memory and its disorders.”

  27. dog's eye view

    dnd: do you like the RMN or Post better? How do they differ?

  28. dog's eye view

    Reader letter to Andrew Sullivan; dovetails with today’s theme/nanny’s marvelous essay.

    Posting in full:

    “A reader writes:

    I have lived and worked in the US and the UK. In the summer of 1999, I disappointed a work client by deciding against a planned move from the UK to the US. I had my visa in place, I had scoped out housing and childcare. In the end, I didn’t think it was worth the trouble of moving my family, with a young son and a baby daughter, thousands of miles away from friends and relatives.

    A few months later, my 4-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia.
    Had I moved to Chicago, the three-year chemotherapy nightmare would have been accentuated by constant worries about insurance. My job was a good one; I would have been covered as long as I kept working. But the company was an IT startup, and in fact did downsize after a while. Like to bet your kid’s health on staying in work?

    Staying in the UK I found other clients, cut my hours right back, and intermittently stopped working altogether, to care for my family. He got three years of world-class treatment, without any question of payment. Many years later, he continues to be very well, and I continue to believe that we dodged a bullet by staying in the UK.”


    That’s the dreaded “National Health” this well educated parent is describing.

    In the US, this story could have had a coda including massive medical costs that insurance declined to cover or disallowed, mounting credit card bills as the family scrambled to continue treatment for their child, a piling on of card company fees and penalties — with less recourse to bankruptcy filing than before — and perhaps even the loss of the parents’ house and job, as they struggled to work and care for a desperately ill child.

    What I like about Andrew: it’s a dissent to some earlier post of his, utterly convincing, and he shared and highlighted it as a dissent.

    Also: recall the recent experience of Tylenol (screen name for a Canadian commenter beloved to many on backchannel) who walked into an ER with stomach pain, walked out of the hospital days later after life-saving surgery, and was not bankrupted or anxious about any insurance coverage denials that might arrive, months later.

  29. dog's eye view

    Continuing the dog filibuster:

    Hilzoy, a star blogger at Obsidian Wings who cross-posts at Washington Monthly, is recovering from emergency surgery. In her post, “Look Ma, No Gall Bladder” she sums up:

    …”Lacking health insurance does much worse things to people than that: for instance, it can kill them. But even if all it did was make people have to pay for health care they cannot afford, and thus make people in my situation have to worry about where they were going to find the money to pay the hospital bills, that would be too much. I would be more than happy to pay some additional amount in taxes in order to live in a country in which no one in my situation ever had to worry about that. Because, frankly, emergency surgery is quite bad enough by itself.”


    OK. Now I really do have to mow the lawn one last time before this weekend’s projected rain and blustery winds.

  30. dnd

    I love the Rocky and the Post equally. News-wise they both have great reporters. Editorially they have people who talk about both side of the aisle. The Rocky has Mike LIttwin, who does not suffer fools gladly and good friend of Mudcat Sanders. They have Tracy Ringolsby, a sports reporter who is in the MLB Hall of Fame.

    The street in front of the Rocky is named “Gene Amole Way” in honor of the late great columnist, Gene Amole. Amole was to Denver what Mike Royko was to Chicago or Herb Caen was to San Francisco.

    And as you know, my favorite curmudgeon, Ed Quillin, writes for the Post.

    My point is that I think it’s important for all major cities to have competitive papers.

  31. dnd

    “OK. Now I really do have to mow the lawn one last time before this weekend’s projected rain and blustery winds.”

    I’d mow my lawn, but there’s six inches of snow on it 😉

  32. dnd

    “DENVER (AP) ― Former Sen. Tom Daschle, in line to be the next secretary of Health and Human Services, says the Obama administration will need to focus on a health care policy that has broad support and doesn’t get bogged down in details or get set aside.”


  33. dog's eye view

    Six inches of snow in Denver area. How beautiful. Northern VA has not had a flake yet, to my knowledge.

    Caught a glimpse at ABC News tonight. Jake Tapper piece on Obama’s overwhelming cash advantage, and nugget that his small donor rate was similar to Bush’s in 2004.

    91% of contributions were $100 (maybe $200) or less (if memory serves).

    Kind of sounded like “Obama bought the election.” Never heard it stated that donors were chipping in because they liked the message and messenger.

    But I didn’t see the beginning.

  34. dnd

    Jake Tapper is ABC’s Matt Drudge. Cutting the line between “large” and “small” donors at $200 is misleading at best.

  35. dog's eye view

    hate to bail on you, but thinking of dining and reclining! Hope you will have some company soon!

    Or go out and make a snow angel.

  36. Health care reform from the grass roots

    In another signal that health care reform is a top priority for President-elect Barack Obama, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has begun organizing Americans even before being formally announced as Obama’s pick for secretary of health and human services.

    In a speech in Denver on Friday, the former Democratic senator from South Dakota said the Obama transition team will organize neighborhood discussions about health care reform. The transition’s website, change.gov, will be used to facilitate the meetings during the last two weeks of the year and process their feedback, Daschle said, and the ideas will become part of the transition policy recommendations.


  37. dog's eye view

    Good morning all. Frosty out there this morning.

  38. dog's eye view

    Listening to CSpan’s Washington Journal. Catch the woman who speaks about 29 minutes in — she’s a hospital lab worker in Michigan and has a lot to say about longtime workers let go months before retirement, the ripple effect on their lives; drawing blood and hearing stories about how terrified people are and how they’re losing their health insurance.

    On hospitals shutting down services because there are not enough patients still carrying health insurance to cover payment.

    It’s not like “just pay cash: — there’s a two track (at least) system, and if you are without insurance, you pay the full freight less whatever discount an individual doctor or practice will give you.

    Lot of heartbreak and angst out there. On the positive side: I don’t think the cries of “socialism” will resound when so many Americans are looking at death or bankruptcy and loss of their home if any family member gets critically or chronically ill.

    And playing roulette with the insurance company, if you are “covered.”

    For profit does not belong in healthcare, at least not to the extent that it does.

    I would like to see a count of how many people have administrative jobs dealing with health insurance: with the insurers, the hospitals, the doctors’ practices, the agencies regulating corporations providing health insurance and care.

  39. dog's eye view

    This is mean (bad dog), but we need to see a Joe the Plumber or Tito the Builder get stuck with some health catastrophe or accident without insurance — or sufficient insurance — and get that story out there.

    Someone cable TV will cover. Someone where people can’t say, well, yeah but…

    Plenty of stories in the newspapers, but apparently people don’t read enough there.

  40. dog's eye view

    Arctic surfing exists. People were surfing the coast of Alaska last week.

    Big waves, freezing weather and a 42 degree ocean.


  41. dog's eye view

    from Anchorage Daily News, specifically their Alaska Political Blog: More on Palin clothes and political polls.


    Looks like the first few commenters I read get this one.

    PS: Blog includes this warning at the top:

    Keep your comments civil and on point. Avoid personal attacks. Do not use profanity. Posts that violate the Terms of Use will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be banned.

  42. dog's eye view

    dog’s home maintenance tip:

    we now have a surge protector attached to our main fuse box. It will protect all equipment in the house in event of a transformer blackout or power surge.

    Means we no longer have to have all the electronics plugged in with computer-strength power surge cords. (Note: we still will, of course, since this house is 40 years old and predates the electronics craze. Not enough outlets.)

    Cost about $275.

    Our electrician recommended it when he installed a new front light yesterday.

    Money well spent. Did not even know that such a system existed.

    My sister lost a computer a few years ago, due to a lightening strike. Replacement cost way more than $275.

  43. dog's eye view

    need to get some work done, but any comments about a deal for Big Auto?

    I’ve not read anything on it yet. But does strike me that letting a major car company fail would have ripple effects way beyond what the neoHooverites are expecting.

    Sound familiar?

    That said, got to cut a deal that benefits and protects the American people, particularly the non-investor type.

  44. dog's eye view

    It’s warmer in Anchorage than it is in New York City or the Washington DC area this morning.

  45. dnd

    “It’s not like “just pay cash: — there’s a two track (at least) system, and if you are without insurance, you pay the full freight less whatever discount an individual doctor or practice will give you.”

    I encountered this a while back when my insurance company denied a claim. I asked the billing office why they were charging me twice what they would charge the insurance company. They mumbled something about negotiated prices with the insurance company. Boy was I pissed.

    I worked with a patient advocate, and it took hundreds of man-hours, but eventually the insurance company paid everybody. Any wonder why health care costs are so high?

  46. dog's eye view

    It’s 48 degrees in Charleston, SC, and much colder inland, in Columbia.

    Strange story out of the Charleston paper. Be careful who you fly with.


  47. That’s very typical dnd, but if you push hard most doctors will accept what an insurance company would pay. But you’re right, it’s a disgrace, another example of ripping off the poor.

    Dog it looks they will get enough money to hold them over till Feb or March.

  48. Biden Adds an Economist to His Staff

    Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has hired one of the leading economic voices from the Democratic Party’s liberal wing, Jared Bernstein, for his White House staff as he prepares to broaden his influence within the Obama administration beyond foreign policy issues.


  49. dog's eye view

    It’s not just holding over the car companies. It’s all the suppliers and truckers and affiliated businesses, which are probably still sweating blood.

    In a way, the level of this disaster gives our new administration a lot more room to operate, even as it constrains their choices.

    I think Gail Collins called it right. Also Barney Frank, on that we might not even have a president now, save who is wrapping up his stuff (issuing rules on the way out, protecting his prerogatives).

    Cheney should resign, then Bush, and we should celebrate with a very scaled back inauguration.

    This new president, it would have been fun to move some of those inaugural balls to other cities on successive nights.

    Why should DC get all the tourism bucks?

  50. As long as they get a big enough bridge loan to hold them over till after the new administration comes into office I’m not worried.

  51. dog's eye view

    LA Times on the Wal-Mart death.

    A very dark Black Friday

    Jdimytai Damour died on the floor of a Long Island Wal-Mart, trampled by a mob thinking only of bargains and buying.

    Reporting from New York — He took his last breath on a gray floor, between a row of soda machines and a device that disperses change for cans and plastics.

    Trampled by a mob of bargain-hungry Black Friday shoppers, Jdimytai Damour, 34, died by asphyxiation, leaving people across the world asking: Why, and how?


  52. dnd

    “Biden Adds an Economist to His Staff”

    This signals that Biden will be a real player in the Obama admin. Obama has an embarrassment of riches in the foreign policy area. This gives Biden the opportunity to work on both foreign and domestic policy.

  53. Well Obama offered him either VP or State. The only reason I can think of for his picked State is that he wanted a hand in domestic policy.

  54. chefsheila

    Brian. A great article about Michelle Obama’s roots.

  55. chefsheila

    Oh by the way,

    Good Morning Everybody!

  56. Nannymm

    Good afternoon!

  57. chefsheila

    Hey Nanny!!!

    Doots wow. lol

  58. Martha (Sunny) von Bulow, the American heiress who was first
    married to an Austrian playboy prince and then to a
    Danish-born man-about-society who was twice tried on charges
    of attempting to murder her, died on Saturday after being in
    a coma for decades, a family spokeswoman said.

  59. chefsheila

    ok……I have to give all you guys and lurkers a charge!

    My favorite commercial and song. I’m the cheerleader.

  60. dog's eye view

    It’s odd to hear of the death of someone you assumed died many years ago, and I’m not speaking merely of the coma.

    I don’t recall the particulars (except that Jeremy Irons was terrific in the movie), but did Klaus von Bulow poison Sunny? Might it have been someone else?

  61. Nannymm

    Great video, Sheila!!

  62. dog's eye view

    NYTimes article today. These folks had generous medical benefits through their employment with an Archway Cookies factory in northern Ohio which closed abruptly this fall. They were informed in writing that their health benefits would end in three days.

    ” … Starla D. Darling, 27, was pregnant when she learned that her insurance coverage was about to end. She rushed to the hospital, took a medication to induce labor and then had an emergency Caesarean section, in the hope that her Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan would pay for the delivery.”

    [It didn’t work — her insurance company has disallowed the $17,000 in medical expenses. She has a young son and a 2-month old daughter, no job and a huge medical bill. She has no employer or group health plan to intercede and help fight for her.]

    “In a letter dated Oct. 3, Archway told workers that their jobs would be eliminated, and their insurance terminated on Oct. 6, because of “unforeseeable business circumstances.” The company, owned by a private equity firm based in Greenwich, Conn., filed a petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code.

    …In the weeks before it filed for bankruptcy protection, Archway apparently fell behind in paying for its employee health plan. In its bankruptcy filing, Archway said it owed more than $700,000 to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, one of its largest creditors. …”

    “When a Job Disappears, So Does the Healthcare”


    This should not be going on in one of the richest countries in the world, land of opportunity.

  63. Nannymm

    This is why I think the time is right for universal healthcare, People are frightened now. They are getting it, finally. What happened to those Archway employees can and may happen to anyone. If we can’t get this done now, then this country is headed for real decline. People can’t be productive members of society if they are ill or worrying about how they and their loved ones can afford to survive.

  64. dnd

    Didn’t Archway’s HR dept tell them about COBRA?

  65. dog's eye view

    yup, I’d wondered about the COBRA too. But their group health plan ceased operation as well — BCBS of Illinois premiums had not been paid for months and Archway owed $700,000 to the insurance company.

    from NYTimes story: “In some cases, people who are laid off can maintain their group health benefits under a federal law, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986, known as Cobra. But that is not an option for former Archway employees because their group health plan no longer exists. And they generally cannot afford to buy insurance on their own.”

    One would hope some judge might make the private equity company that owns Archway do right by these employees who got jettisoned. The three day notice of health insurance cessation is egregious.

    And all these nice folks have pre-existing conditions now too.

  66. dog's eye view

    Washington Post today.

    website headline:
    Intellectual Tilt Worries Critics
    Obama staff generally share a more intellectual view than is often the norm in government.

    Story itself, with this headline:

    Academic Elites Fill Obama’s Roster
    Critics Worry About Intellectual Insularity

    a few paragraphs in:

    …” But skeptics say Obama’s predilection for big thinkers with dazzling résumés carries risks, noting, for one, that several of President John F. Kennedy’s “best and brightest” led the country into the Vietnam War.

    ….The Ivy-laced network taking hold in Washington is drawing scorn from many conservatives, who have in recent decades decried the leftward drift of academia and cast themselves as defenders of regular Americans against highbrow snobbery. Joseph Epstein wrote in the latest Weekly Standard — before noting that former president Ronald Reagan went to Eureka College — that “some of the worst people in the United States have gone to the Harvard or Yale Law Schools”…..since these institutions serve as the grandest receptacles in the land for our good students: those clever, sometimes brilliant, BUT RARELY DEEP young men and women who, joining furious drive to burning if ultimately empty ambition, will do anything to get ahead.”

    … All agree that the picks reveal something about Obama, suggesting he will make decisions much as he did in the U.S. Senate — by bringing as many smart people into the room as possible and hearing them out. This contrasts with the style of President Bush, who played down his own Ivy League credentials and played up his mangled elocutions and the gentleman’s C’s he received at Yale and Harvard. …”


    Oh Jeebus, please help me with this.

    I do remember some incompetent numbskull president with a Harvard and Yale education who wreaked havoc once in office; not sure it was the Law School, per se.

    Notice how the Weekly Standard’s Epstein appears to have zeroed in on Yale’s Law School — alma mater and meeting place of HIllary and Bill Clinton …. and gives GWB’s legacy undergrad education a pass.

  67. dog's eye view

    Nanny: you are so right. Terrible that so many are suffering and anxious, but maybe we can get the silver lining right this time and get universal healthcare.

  68. dog's eye view

    Thank goodness the WaPost readers are smarter than its editors and writer on this story. A selection of readers comments on the story posted at 4:29 p above. Just picked up the most recent with no editing (save the first one, for length):

    *** When critics cite Kennedy’s “best and brightest” as a cautionary tale, they forget that the Ivy League grads of that era were the product of nepotism and wealth, not merit. Not so for Mr. Obama’s colleagues — they achieved academic greatness from being, well, academically great.

    *** At first, I had to check my url, because I was beginning to think my browser had wandered into “The Onion.” The idea! “Smart people take over the government!” “Obama inflicts the audacity of brilliance and accomplishment on an unsuspecting nation!” “President-elect tries to undo 8 years of incompetence and arrogance with elitism and competence!”

    Instead of adopting the Joe six pack absurdity of assuming that only regular guys can govern, the WaPo might consider that academics and experts grounded in their fields and the constitution might actually be qualified to govern. A more fitting critical analysis would steer away from labels and more on policy, which this article began to do toward the end. In this new era of American political leadership, maybe the Post could follow suit, and focus on ideas and policy, instead of the ad hominem labeling which has deadened the political dialogue since the decade’s beginning.

    *** With the state of America at the moment, I suggest that having a bunch of intelligent folk in charge of proceedings would be a marvelous idea, and certainly a better idea than having a clique of business managers with little or no credentials in charge, as has been the case up until now.

    *** Oh, shut up. What do we want, dummies?

    *** Worry his critics? Because of the schools they went to? That about sums up why our school system is in shambles. We’ve got guys who worry that our leaders went to good schools. Perhaps that’s why we hire primary and secondary school teachers at the wages we offer experienced janitors. Little wonder our school teachers generally draw from the bottom 1/2 of high school graduates. No amount of creative school vouchers, certifications, or other efficiency strategies will change that.

    *** Smart people in government — what a revolutionary concept. There may be hope for this country after all.

    *** People are seriously suggesting he should do what Bush did? Isn’t “what Bush did” the whole reason Obama was elected?


    I really wonder about the WaPost and its quest for “balance” and its neocon-enabling editorial page.

  69. dnd

    The WaPo piece is a red herring. Almost all of the neo-cons in the W admin have graduate degrees. This was designed to appeal to the dumb asses that fall for the Sarah Palin or Joe the plumber crap.

  70. dog's eye view

    dnd: true re the neocons. And Brownie had a law degree.

    AP: Eric Shinseki to be Veteran’s Affairs Secretary, per Democratic officials.

    “Shinseki is the former Army chief of staff who upset his civilian bosses in 2003 when he testified to Congress that it might take several hundred thousand U.S. troops to control Iraq after the U.S. invasion. He was forced out of his job within months for being ”wildly off the mark.” But his words proved prophetic after President George W. Bush in early 2007 announced a ”surge” of additional troops to Iraq after miscalculating.”


    Good choice. I bet Tammy Duckworth finds work there, if she wants, or maybe elsewhere.

  71. dog's eye view

    Pres-Elect Obama to sit for full hour of Meet the Press; anticipated David Gregory will be named new moderator at end of program.


    I think Gwen Ifill and Rachel Maddow should be the guest moderators. DGregory is good, but he’s the most corporate of those 3 too.

  72. dog's eye view

    An upside to the downturn: Teach for America is getting more and more applicants, as are the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps.

    Now TforA pulls in grads from elite schools and has some cachet, but think of the impact if some very bright grads — from anywhere — teach in public schools across America for a few years. Some will depart for other fields once the economy improves, but some may stay for the chance to make a real difference in their students’ lives.

    Maybe you’ll see returning military working in the schools too. Build them in Iraq and Afghanistan, build them here too.

    from the WaPost story:

    …”Experts say a 50 percent increase in applications in one year is surprising for any program, but they add that young adults’ growing interest in public service organizations does not end with Teach for America. Programs such as AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps also report a steady rise in applications for the past several years, though not as large as Teach for America’s.

    A 2007 UCLA survey of college freshmen showed that 70 percent of students say it is “essential or very important” to help those in need. And many young people became socially motivated during this year’s presidential election, when record numbers volunteered for President-elect Barack Obama, inspired by his message of change.

    “Teach for America may fit a perfect niche,” said Peter Levine, director of a research center on civic engagement at Tufts University. “You get to work on a social problem on the public payroll, but you’re going through a nonprofit, which many young people prefer to working for the government.”


  73. dog's eye view

    Louisiana’s ethically embattled congressman William Jefferson has been defeated in a low-turnout primary; lost his seat — decisively — to a GOP challenger.

    Per the Washington Monthly “no one saw this coming.”

    “Little-known Republican attorney, Anh “Joseph” Cao” [ an immigration lawyer, will be the first Vietnamese-American to serve in Congress.]

    With all precincts reporting, Cao has defeated Jefferson 50 to 47 percent. The AP has called the race for Cao.”


  74. dog's eye view

    Cao was an attorney AND a community organizer too.


    Hilzoy has a good piece on Erik Shinseki, soon to be nominated to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, with lots of links to other articles on Shinseki and pre-war planning.

    Hilzoy has an interesting take on the nominations of Shinseki and Retired General Jim Jones to be National Security Advisor.

    “I think this is very important — as I’ve said before, with all Obama wants to accomplish, he needs strained relations with the military like he needs a hole in the head. But Obama’s choices to date also raise the serious possibility that he could end (or at least mitigate) the Republican tilt of the senior officer corps. They have already experienced life under George W. Bush, and by all accounts, they did not care for it. But their distrust of Democrats might easily have prevented them from seriously considering drawing the obvious conclusion from Bush and Rumsfeld’s trashing of the armed forces. If Obama can get past that hurdle, he could, just possibly, cause a very significant change.

    I don’t expect that the senior officer corps would go Democratic the way they are now Republican, nor, frankly, would I really want them to. I think that it’s bad for the senior officer corps to be overwhelmingly aligned with either party. I would just like the two parties to be on a level playing field, as far as the officer corps goes. Obama might actually achieve that. And that would be a very big deal.”


  75. Congratulations to Chef Sheila for picking Eric Shinseki for the VA. She also has picked three other cabinet members but not in the right slots. (Bill Richardson, Hillary Clinton, and Timothy Geithner)

  76. dog's eye view

    Jamie: good to see you.

    Yep. Perspicacious.

    acutely insightful and wise; “much too perspicacious to be taken in by such a spurious argument”; “observant and thoughtful, he was given to …

    clear-eyed: mentally acute or penetratingly discerning; “too clear-eyed not to see what problems would follow”; “chaos could be prevented only by clear-sighted leadership”; “much too perspicacious to be taken in by so spurious an argument”


    That she cannot easily spell it — and cooks up a mean anything — keeps her real!

  77. dog's eye view

    “A World of Hurt.” 3/5 of General Motors’ employees are outside the U.S.


  78. dog's eye view

    Obama the non neoHooverite: on the auto industry

    I don’t think it’s an option to allow it to simply collapse. … they don’t have a sustainable business model right now. [if they expect any investment from the American public, they can’t continue to put off the changes they should have made 20 years ago.]

  79. dnd

    Condi on This Week. I have never seen her so relaxed or happy or engaged on a Sunday talk show. None of that up-tight body language that telegraphed she was spinning.

    Is she:
    1. finally getting better at this?
    2. got the go ahead to do whatever she wants from W?
    3. excited about leaving her current job?
    4. all of the above?

  80. *stretches and yawns*

    morning peeps

  81. dog's eye view

    Interesting re Sec. Rice. Will catch that on tonight’s rebroadcast.

    I think Obama’s MTP will be watched all over the world. He’s a reassuring presence and has a clue at what’s on his plate, although no one can tell the scope yet.

  82. dnd

    People will be watching MTP worldwide to find out who will replace Browkaw 😉

  83. Nannymm

    Good morning! It’s snowing again here. Looks like winter wonderland outside. We’re going to cut down our Christmas trees today. What a great day for that!
    David Gregory sure was all smiles on MTP today. I think he’ll do a great job. He’ll grow into the position just as Tim Russert did.

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