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Expert Unexpert Advice

What Could Possibly Go Wrong? – Quinn to Try to Take Over Healthcare in Illinois

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Enforcement

When you want to make sure you have access to quality health care, there’s only one place you turn.  The Springfield bureaucracy, right?

Unbelievable.

A task force appointed by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn wants a state law forcing insurers to spend 80 to 85 cents of every premium dollar on providing health care, or pay rebates to customers.In its initial recommendations released Thursday, the Health Care Reform Implementation Council also recommends legislation giving state regulators the authority to approve or deny health insurance rate increases.

The enforcement would be, pardon my french, a motherfucking catastrophe.  Before we even get to the inevitable corruption of the regulatory process, what qualifies as health care?  Inevitably there would be some unaccountable regulatory board where the insurance companies spend god knows how much time and money challenging every line item claiming it qualifies as health care, which will drive prices through the roof and make providing actual healthcare next to impossible.

And like I said, that’s before we get to the inevitable corruption.  This is Illinois politics, and there are quite literally billions at stake.  Does anyone actually think the appointments to these regulatory positions are going to be apolitical?  Sort of like it’s just a coincidence the Chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party is also the Cook County Assessor?  The political and financial power that would fall on this presumably unelected regulatory board would be massive, and when an insurer is faced with either giving $5 million in political donations or giving a $50 million rebate, what do you think it’ll decide?  Considering it’s damn near impossible to prove quid pro quo, it would be idiotic to think this wouldn’t happen.

These ideas were bad when they were included in Obamacare.  They are infinitely worse when it’s suggested to put enforcement in the hands of political appointees accountable to no one but their political bosses in one of the most corrupt political systems in the United States.

Written by updowndownup

February 4, 2011 at 10:35 am

Snowmaggedon – The Fun Part is Over

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VERY cold

Two days ago was all about drinking and watching the snow fall at home.  Yesterday was all about going out and taking all sorts of crazy pictures of the city after the storm.  Today people start dying.

People actually started dying almost immediately, with one in particular catching attention.

At 11:45 p.m. Tuesday, near the height of the third-worst blizzard in the city’s history, Chicago police received a distress call: A man had been blown in, or had fallen into, Diversey Harbor.

The Police Marine Unit launched a rescue, but amid the blowing snow and high winds, it was impossible to enter the water. What’s more, officers couldn’t pinpoint the best location to dive. After several hours, “they spotted a hat near a dock,” said Officer Robert Perez, a spokesman.

The body of Peter Davis, 60, of the 2300 block of North Lincoln Park West, was pulled from the harbor about 4:35 a.m. in the 2800 block of North Lake Shore Drive. Officials don’t know why he was out on the lakefront Tuesday, but by Wednesday, Davis was being called the only known blizzard-related fatality in Chicago.

There were a few deaths yesterday from people who had heart attacks and couldn’t get to the hospital on time (for obvious reasons).  And although the major streets are going to be mostly cleared today, the city is just starting on the side streets, meaning there are still going to be quite a few streets where emergency care can’t get to you (so if you can, put off the shoveling until they plow your street).

ComEd says the places without power should have it soon, which is good, as it’s about to get very cold.

After getting hit with its third-biggest snowstorm on record, the Chicago area is now under a wind chill advisory. Temperatures are expected to drop to 11-15 degrees below zero Wednesday night, with wind chills down to 25 to 35 below zero.

“It will mark the city’s coldest weather since Jan. 15-16, 2009 when the mercury bottomed out at -13 and -18,” the Chicago Weather Center reports.

The arctic freeze comes as the Chicago area is still reeling from the blizzard: motorists are still stranded, the airports are virtually empty, major roads are closed, Metra trains are running on limited schedules.

I can’t reiterate this enough – if you don’t have access to a warm place tonight call 311.  People are going to freeze to death tonight.  Landlords also need to recognize that they are required, by law, to keep the temperature in units they rent at 66 degrees during the night.  If your landlord has a tendency not to fulfill this particular responsibility, now is not the time for faith in his/her ability to rise to the occasion.  Call 311.

Written by updowndownup

February 3, 2011 at 11:31 am

The Decline of Daley?

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The final countdown

If you ever wanted to see a sign of Mayor Daley’s waning influence, it’s in the mayoral candidates’ responses to the drivers getting stranded on Lake Shore Drive during the blizzard. (Hat tip to CapFax)

“If reports that Mayor Daley was not involved in the actual decision making on the city’s response are true, that’s a disappointment, ”Carol Moseley Braun said through a spokeswoman.

Referring to the now internationally-notorious traffic mess along the lakefront, Emanuel said in a written statement: “We need to get to the bottom of what happened last night on Lake Shore Drive — with hundreds of passengers stranded for hours, it’s clear that there were mistakes made that we can never let happen again. And we need a comprehensive review to determine what went wrong and what went right throughout the city.”

Granted, no one running for Mayor was going to say “Listen, if those idiots couldn’t be bothered to recognize that a highway RIGHT NEXT TO THE GODDAMN LAKE might have some problems during the third biggest snow storm in the history of the city of Chicago they should have just been left there to freeze!”, but there was a time no one would consider taking potshots, even as relatively tame as Rahm’s, at Daley.

Seems like those with money in the game are banking on the assumption that Daley just doesn’t have much muscle left.

A top-level City Hall meeting aimed at ending the dispute over financing the stalled O’Hare expansion project was abruptly canceled Thursday by the CEOs of United and American airlines, the  mayor’s press secretary said.

City officials said they initially thought cancellation of the meeting this afternoon between Mayor Richard Daley, United CEO Jeffery Smisek and American CEO Gerald Arpey was due to the blizzard that socked the Chicago region two days ago.

But the airlines appear to be stalling on Daley’s demand that they bring new proposals to the table to jump-start the construction of new runways at O’Hare International Airport.

“At this point, the mayor has begun to wonder about the sincerity of their efforts to meet with him,” said press secretary Jacquelyne Heard. Daley even offered to see them on a Sunday, she said.

Daley has tried to set up alternative dates, offering four or five options, all of which were rejected, leading Daley to believe the delay is intentional, Heard said.

The cold reality is that people know Daley’s not going to be around long enough to get revenge against those who do him wrong now.  That means that even the people who don’t want to do him wrong have to when circumstances call for it (a la Rahm’s statement).  That said, the last arrow in Daley’s quiver is that of public opinion.  Although he may be kind of damaged goods after the more idiotic responses to the blizzard, if Daley’s going to have any clout left it’s going to come from people who appreciate his accomplishments (and how they are indicative of his love of this city and his knowledge of what makes it work).  Might be too late though, we’ll see…

People Stranded on Lake Shore Drive All Night – I Bet Daley’s Pissed

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Legacy

Before the blizzard really hit Mayor Daley went out on an all-out news blitz about the efforts underway to deal with the oncoming storm.  Then it started to snow…

Before the city shut down the Drive, traffic had been crawling; it took upwards of an hour to travel only a mile. Many cars were without a full tank of gas, and ended up running out.

Evanston attorney Craig Roeder says he got on Lake Shore Drive at 6 p.m. and headed north. He says he crept and crawled until just south of Fullerton Parkway, when traffic ground to a halt around 9:30 pm.

And there he sat, in whiteout conditions for six hours, until 3:20 a.m. when WBBM Newsradio 780’s David Roe was interviewing him on the phone.

Jim Glonke was stranded near North Avenue for 11 hours. He told CBS 2 he left his office in Chinatown in the late afternoon Tuesday, and it was backed up. He arrived at North Avenue around 7 p.m., and traffic stopped completely for an hour or two. Glonke was told a jackknifed bus was to blame.

A CTA bus driver told CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole he had been stranded on Lake Shore Drive since 5:40 p.m. Tuesday. That was at 5:15 a.m. Wednesday.

The trains are doing better, but that’s a case of damned with faint praise.

Metra trains are delayed up to three hours because of switching problems and weather conditions and numerous trains are stopped throughout the suburbs, according to Metra’s website.

The CTA is reporting Yellow Line service has been suspended and the Blue, Red and Purple lines are experiencing “significant delays.” Some CTA buses have also become stuck in the snow.

Watching the news blitz last night I found myself thinking that the response to this storm is Daley’s last hurrah, which makes this stuff all the more aggravating.  Realistically, what did the people taking Lake Shore Drive expect?  Traffic sucks there during rush hour under the best of circumstances, dump a foot of snow and add 25 foot waves and 60 mph winds…did you really think you were going to get home that way?  If there was a screw up on the city’s behalf, it was failing to shut it down before these idiots got on in the first place.

The most important barometer of the city’s response to the storm is going to be the death toll, in terms of emergency shelters for the homeless, whether landlords kept to the temperature laws and if anyone dies of carbon monoxide poisoning.  We’ll see over the next couple of days, but unfortunately for Daley, people not dying is rarely considered news.

The other big test is going to be how quickly the roads are cleared and how quickly the CTA returns to being “on-schedule” (which is an extremely relative term for the CTA).

If people respond as they tend to do to weather disasters – poorly – this could be a tragically fitting metaphor for Daley’s legacy as Mayor.  Old time Chicagoans will point out how Chicago was before Daley came on, where you couldn’t walk around in the Loop at night for fear of getting shot, neighborhoods like Lincoln Park were warzones, and Chicago was seen much like a haven for violent crime.  Now it’s in many ways a world class city, and yet Daley may be just as remembered, if not more so, for the fiscal catastrophe he’s leaving the city in.  It’s fair, but it’s also tempting to lose perspective on how monumental his accomplishments have actually been.

Written by updowndownup

February 2, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Carol Moseley Braun to Watkins – “You Were on Crack!”

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The video really speaks for itself, so please watch it.

Carol Moseley Braun to Watkins – “You Were on C…, posted with vodpod

Somewhere I’m sure Malcom X is very proud of the solidarity in Chicago’s black community.

Watkins fired the first shot accusing Moseley Braun of leaving public life for several years.

“I did not even know the woman lived in the city of Chicago because I haven’t heard her voice on the street,” Watkins said.

“Patricia, just because you didn’t know who I was for the last seven years is because you were on crack,” Moseley Braun said.

While Watkins admits she was a drug addict at 19, she says she was never addicted to crack.

“She could be sued for slander,” Watkins said.

Even with the threat of a lawsuit, Moseley Braun is not apologizing for her remarks.

“When someone slaps you like that then you have to tell the truth and that is what I did,” Moseley Braun said.

If you’re not familiar with Watkins, you’re not alone.  She’s been polling at 1%.  Apparently Braun thought that this 1% was so important it was worth it, though…

Written by updowndownup

January 31, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Hunker Down – Snow Storm Thread – Sudan Secession

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Snow-nado!

So for those outside of Illinois, you may not of heard but SNOW APOCALYPSE is on its way.  Between this afternoon and Wednesday morning there’s supposed to be something like 2 feet of snow dropped on Chicago.  Not magical Christmas snow-angel, snowman and sledding snow either.  Fucking freezing tornado snow.  The Illinois legislature has already cancelled this week’s sessions in anticipation.

 

Iiiiii just wanna celebraaaate

So to think of something warmer, and slightly more hopeful, yesterday South Sudan voted to secede from North Sudan (over 99% turnout, and over 99% voted in favor of secession).  If it works, it will correct one of the biggest fuck-ups coming out of African colonialism.  It’s not a done deal though.  The current oil revenue sharing agreement (2% to oil producing states, the rest is split 50/50 between the Northern federal government and the Southern federal government) expires in July – right when the South will be splitting off from the North.  Oil is just about the only source of money for Sudan, north or south, so if the South tries to keep the money (which kind of makes sense, as all of the oil is in the South) it’s a recipe for the third civil war.

To make things more difficult, there’s the little issue of the Abyei region.  It’s a tiny little area that is seen as the traditional gateway between the North and South, but the only reason anyone really cares about it is it contains about a quarter of all of the oil in Sudan (!).  They are supposed to have a referendum on whether they join the north or south, but that referendum has been put off indefinitely because the North and South can’t agree on who should count as a resident.  This issue could be made less contentious if the North and South strike a revenue sharing agreement that doesn’t put a lot of stake on which country the oil is actually in, but if not…could be very bad.

Still for a country that’s been in the midst of one of the worst Civil Wars in the world for nearly 4 decades, this is the most hopeful sign since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005.

Written by updowndownup

January 31, 2011 at 2:48 pm

It’s Official and Unanimous – Rahm’s On the Ballot

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Resident

7 out of 7 Illinois Supreme Court Justices agree that Rahm Emmanuel is in fact a resident of Chicago.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled today that Rahm Emanuel can stay on the ballot for mayor of Chicago,  saying in a unanimous decision that he meets the state’s residency requirements despite spending most of the last year as White House chief of staff.

“The voters deserved the right to make the choice of who should be mayor. And what the Supreme Court said basically, in short, that the voters should make the decicions of who will be mayor,” a victorious Emanuel said after slapping backs and shaking hands with commuters at the Clark and Lake elevated train stop near his downtown headquarters.

“The nice part was to be able to tell the news to voters, because a lot of people had not heard it,” Emanuel said.

The court essentially took the position of the Appellate minority, and by that I mean their position is that the Appellate majority are a bunch of political hacks who wouldn’t know established jurisprudence if it jumped up and bit them square on the ass.  Allahpundit at Hot Air points out:

So harsh is it, in fact, that two justices wrote a separate concurrence criticizing the court for being unduly vicious towards the appellate court. (“[T]he tone taken by the majority today is unfortunate…”)

Surprise surprise, one of the two dissenting concurrences came from Ms. “I Think For Myself and Don’t Care That My Husband Rules the Chicago City Council With an Iron Fist” Justice Burke.  Can’t imagine she likes seeing them get this kind of lashing when all they did was what her husband ordered them to.

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