Thursday, September 17, 2009

More Discussion Of The Tea Party Protests, Interview With Barney Frank, Annie Le Case Update, Border Funding Bungle, And An Overly Honest Doctor

Hi everybody. Anderson Cooper is coming at us from Los Angeles tonight. I know this because he actually tweeted (gasp!), but he did not elaborate. So your guess is as good as mine. Choose your own rumor! Kidding. Okay, so you know how Jimmy Carter got everyone worked up into a lather when he said racism was behind the tea party movement? Well, the news cycle is just about at that point where things quiet down. So you know what we need? Something to ratchet it back up. Enter Nancy Pelosi.

Today she got a little teary when she noted that all this anti-Obama rhetoric is very reminiscent of what she saw in San Francisco in the late 70's, which is a reference to the assassinations of Harvey Milk and George Moscone. I think we all know what happens next in this play. Occupying the role of the Republican who is angry she would even say such a thing, is Minority Leader John Boehner. So that was fun. And the news cycle has red meat for at least one more day.

A Candy Crowley piece breaks it all down. We know the drill: Socialists! Nazis! Racists! Oh my! The president doesn't want anything to do with it, and no one is actually talking about health care. This is where we are now. I don't understand why people have to get so defensive when race is brought up. I haven't heard anyone say that everyone who opposes the president is a racist. If you think you have legitimate gripes, well fine, we're not talking about you. Though one does wonder about people who claim not to be racist, yet get overly defensive when the subject is brought up.

Next up, Barney Frank is here for the "360 Interview" (there's a graphic and everything!). He starts off by talking about the assassinations Pelosi alluded to and notes he wouldn't have made the comparison. All I can think is that I really should rent "Milk" sometime. Then Frank gives us a little history lesson in partisan politics, laying most of the blame for our current situation on Newt Gingrich's doorstep. Apparently the Newster felt that the only way the Republicans could ever win was to demonize the opposition. Says a lot about their policies, doesn't it? And here we are.

Frank goes on to talk about the faith that has been lost in our country's institutions, such as the financial sector and the news media. People get their information from partisan sources now. When you can't even agree on basic facts, what can you agree on? "You guys are more in the middle, but you're in the minority in being sort of in the middle," says Frank, referring to CNN. Anderson is all over this one. "Tell me about it," he says. Aw, the Silver Fox needs a cyber high five, y'all. (Though in my opinion, CNN's problems are just as much their own doing, as they are due to competing against partisan networks.)

For our requisite panel tonight, we once again play a rousing game of "which of these people don't really seem to belong?" Barney Frank sticks around and we're joined by David Gergen, Republican Congressman Mike Rogers, and Deepak Chopra. We're back to the racism deal and we begin with Rogers, but he pretty much says what you'd assume he'd say. The Gerg reiterates his point from last night that the racism is only on the fringes. Then he starts talking about Lincoln and the negative way he was portrayed, ending with, "And it's important to remember what happened to Lincoln in April of 1865." Um, wow. There's no follow up here, which is a shame because I think the Gerg just implied something pretty big. Maybe I'm misreading.

It's Deepak's turn now and he goes from talking about the moving goal posts of reform, to the fear people feel, to how end of life care extends suffering, to all the money spent on unnecessary tests, to how there are more health care lobbyists in Washington than Congresscritters. Wow, that was quite a trip we just took. I mean, all good points and all, but quiet the mouthful. Anderson then flips the subject to Frank's totally awesome instructional video on how you deal with a crazy person.

Following the clip, Frank explains that the woman who asked the question was a LaRouche. If you're not familiar, consider yourself lucky. "I ran against one who said that Queen Elizabeth was a drug dealer. My response was that I didn't think she dressed nearly well enough to be a drug dealer," he says. I love it that the Gerg and Anderson are the ones who get a kick out of this the most. Frank then makes probably the most important point about this whole thing thus far, which I'm not sure a lot of people are getting: "There is a reluctance on the part of mainstream politicians to repudiate the angriest and least rational and least logical and unfairest people in their own wing."

This is the problem with the debate in a nutshell. As I've noted numerous times, there are legitimate reasons for people to be wary about reform, but the debate is being driven by the crazies. Why? As Frank says, "The conservatives were very happy to let them go out and attack Democrats." Both sides have their fringes, but at this point the difference seems to be that the Democrats keep their fringe on the fringe, while the Republicans are allowing theirs to represent mainstream conservatives. Example: the Daily Kos is viewed as a far left blog by many, but Truthers and 2004 election conspiracists are not welcome there. Whereas Glenn Beck, who literally tells his followers Obama is creating his own army, is seen as a leader.

Okay, so this brings us to Rogers, who admonishes Frank for not calling out Code Pink during the Bush years. Except uh, according to Frank he totally did (even threatened to have police remove them), and boy is he not happy about this accusation. Rogers also talks about how the protesters are just average people who are scared. Well, of course they're scared; you let people keep telling them that Obama wants to kill grandma. The evilness of government sticking their nose in health care is also brought up. "You mean the same people that couldn't get water to Katrina...," says Rogers. Oh no, he didn't. A Republican is using Katrina as a political football? WTF? When Obama makes some horse guy head of FEMA, then you can talk. Until then, zip it. That's enough of that.

Transitioning now to me changing the channel and then forgetting I've changed the channel. You ever do that? Anyway, when I remember what show I'm watching and flip back to 360, Tom Foreman is there live to talk about the arrest of Raymond Clark in the murder of Yale student Annie Le. We're then joined by Lisa Bloom and stalking expert Rhonda Saunders for speculation. Seriously, Rhonda even flat out admits that's what they're doing: "And right now I think everything is pure speculation. We really don't know." Yep. So the point of this segment is...? Next time I hear Anderson talk about how much he likes facts, I'm going all Joe Wilson on his ass. (With love, of course.)

On now to some actual reporting...from Drew Griffin. Yay? Yes people, I have issues with this reporter. Search my archives if you want some background. Essentially this piece is about two border crossings to nowhere. Nowhere, I guess, being Canada. Love you Canada! Anyhoo! Up in Montana they have a couple of these crossings that see very little traffic, but are getting themselves a $15 million upgrade. Sweet! How little traffic are we talking? Like under 20 vehicles per day. This is illustrated to us by having Drew sit in the middle of the road. See how he can sit there and there are no cars? Clearly no one would have understood this situation without that demonstration.

Drew tells us that once the Democrats took over Congress, the two senators in Montana--Baucus and Tester--became mighty powerful. So, of course, the implication is that this is a big old porky gift to the state of Montana. And hey, that's probably the truth. It certainly looks like it. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no trust in Drew's reporting, so there's that. After Drew's piece, he tells us North Dakota's Byron Dorgan sent Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano a note about the situation and now things are on pause. Hopefully the upgrade gets kaboshed if things are really as bad as they seem.

Next up, we have a Gary Tuchman piece that continues the series on medical malpractice. We meet cardiologist Lester Dyke, a surgeon who likes to speak his mind and is unafraid of becoming unpopular among his peers. That last part is a good thing because his opinion is not going down well with the medical community. See, while most doctors point their fingers at trial lawyers when it comes to the problem of high medical costs, Dr. Dyke has his finger trained on his own colleagues. He claims doctors are putting money-making above patient care. Whoa. Now that's guts. As you might imagine, his referrals? Yeah, not so good these days.

For the other side, we also hear from gastroenterologist Carlos Cardenas, who denies that Dr. Dyke has been blacklisted for his comments. These men practice in McAllen, a very poor county in Texas, yet home of the second highest health care costs in the nation. Says Dr. Dyke: "The doctors are able to profit not just from being physicians like we have traditionally, but by ordering tests on equipment that they own or X-rays on equipment that they own, or sending patients to facilities that they own or have a financial interest in." Now that sounds like something that needs a big investigation.

But Dr. Cardenas says he thinks the county does extra testing--or utilization, as he calls it--because the patients are sicker. It's an interesting debate. This has been a good series. I wish they were doing their whole "dig deeper" thing on this stuff instead of giving us panels filled with speculation.

For the "shot" tonight, Susan Boyle is baaaack. Meh. I'm over her. The show was okay. They're starting to become too panel-focused again, but at least Anderson is doing actual interviews now. Also, in case I forget to pimp tomorrow, Jack Gray will be live-blogging the Emmys this Sunday. All the cool kids will be there! If you're not familiar with Jack Gray, grab some chicken fingers, wrap yourself in a Snuggie, and click on his name in my links. That'll do it.

Update: I'm getting lots of hits on Gary's story. Here's the video for those interested.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

From experience, I can say DO NOT GO TO DOCTORS IN MCALLEN. Go to Houston or else where. It's sad because most of the people in Mcallen cannot afford healthcare and the doctors know this. The system is corrupt. So they abuse the system. Much is the same with homehealth care agencies. I think I have only met 4 doctors in the McAllen area that care. I now live in NY and all my doctors are so well advanced. They know their stuff. McAllen doctors are super rich, they should spend some of my money and come get training in NY.

11:05 AM  
Blogger linda said...

As a health care provider who use to reside in McAllen, I agree with Anonymous. I use to travel to San Antonio Tx for all my medical needs, I did not believe the Dr's were competent in Mcallen. However there are exceptions, Dr Lester Dyke was my fathers cardiac surgeon, he is an extraordinary physician, Dr Carlos Cardenas was my GI Dr.before I left Mcallen, also a very good physician.


12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Cardenas is the Chairman of the Board of Doctor's Hospital. he may be a good gastroentrologist but he has to be greedy.
The Dr.'s own the hospital, order the test and surgery and send their indigent anywhere else they can. there definitely needs to be research done.

11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lester Dyke is terrible...he is losing referrals because he is incredibly difficult to work with. he IS a good surgeon, but people cannot stand his personality. he has been known to get into physical altercations, WHILE operating (i believe one in particular instance was with his own brother). he is extremely egotistical and paranoid, and throws tantrums like a little child. the system in mcallen is incredibly corrupt, with many doctors abusing and bending laws to their benefit.

6:09 PM  
Blogger linda said...

Just a few months ago another cardiologist from Mcallen was sentenced to five years imprisonment
for medicare fraud. I believe this type of corruption happens every where not just in Mcallen. Our health system is definitely broken.

10:02 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone. It's interesting to hear the perspectives of people from the area.

6:41 PM  

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