Monday, February 19, 2007

Weekend Update: Blackness Scale

Humor about Senator Barrack Obama.

Disclaimer: This is not serious folk.

A Road Map Out of Iraq

I just recieved an e-mail from one Democratic Senator (whose name I will not mention) entitled "A roadmap out of Iraq".

Frankly, thats bull. You get paid to vote. Vote to End the War in Iraq!

Pentagon manipulated Iraq data


"Accusations of "Twisted Intelligence"; Defense Dept. Inspector General Tom Gimble told lawmakers that Pentagon officials manipulated data before the invasion of Iraq

Source: BusinessWeek Online 02/13/2007

Top Pentagon officials, authorized by then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, "inappropriately" misled the White House in asserting strong prewar ties between Iraq and al Qaeda, which turned out not to be true, and intentionally withheld data provided by outside intelligence agencies that challenged the Pentagon's conclusions, Acting Defense Dept. Inspector General Tom Gimble told lawmakers Feb. 9.

Gimble's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee and a summary report of a year-long investigation by the Inspector General's office shows the deep divide between policymakers at the Pentagon and the intelligence community, as well as stark partisan disagreements on whether the Bush Administration used false data to justify its war in Iraq.

A 52-page rebuttal by the Pentagon disputes most of the inspector general's findings, "except the finding that the activities reviewed were lawful and authorized."
Congressional Clash

Committee Chairman Carl Levin [D-Mich.] said the inspector general's report provides a "devastating condemnation" of the Defense Dept. policy that started the war with Iraq.

"The bottom line is that intelligence relating to the Iraq al Qaeda relationship was manipulated by high-ranking officials in the Department of Defense to support the administration's decision to invade Iraq when the intelligence assessments of the professional analysts of the intelligence community did not provide the desired compelling case," Levin said.

Senator James Inhofe [R-Okla.] disagreed with Levin. "You can read the same report and come up with different conclusions I don't think in any way that his report could be interpreted as a devastating condemnation, as you point out Mr. Chairman."

Just Following Orders?

Shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Defense Dept. expanded the duties of its policy office, then run by former Under Secretary Douglas Feith, to find any connections between al Qaeda and the Iraqi and other governments and to develop its own intelligence assessments -- separate from the Central Intelligence Agency and other agencies. Feith's shop under then-Deputy Secretary Paul

Wolfowitz disseminated "alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al Qaeda relationship, which included conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the intelligence community and these were presented to senior decision-makers," Gimble said.

Levin said, "senior Administration officials used the twisted intelligence produced by the Feith office in making the case for the Iraq war."

Feith, who is now teaching at Georgetown University and has been criticized in the past for manipulating intelligence data, released a statement saying it is "bizarre for the Inspector General to disapprove of policy officials' doing work that they were directed to do by the secretary or deputy secretary of Defense." Feith led a group of private contractors who reviewed existing intelligence reports to find any links between al Qaeda and Iraq.

The Bush Administration has already received $503 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The Pentagon recently asked Congress for another $235.1 billion to fund war operations this year and next. That's in addition to the $481.4 billion the Defense Dept. just requested from Capitol Hill to fund its regular operations in fiscal year 2008, which begins Oct. 1. "

Commentary: The Senate specifically must act to end the War in Iraq. It is in my analysis that the House of Representatives will pass significant measures to end the War void of pork baloney bills which on the other hand will be present in any Senate efforts. The U.S. Senate led by Harry Reid seems to be forgetting the mandate handed down by the People in November 2006. What the hell is a non-binding resolution on the desk of President & Commander-In- Chief G.W. Bush ? Let me answer that for you, poor use of a tree. Mr. Reid if it your last act as Senate Majority leader End this War in Iraq! Continued wasting time and tax payer dollars would surely spark debate of replacing you with those Senators sincerely committed to ending the War.

Here is a list of Democratic and Republican Senators that are pivotal in this matter: How shall they serve?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Health Care: the wrong position

The following position on Health Care is simply idiotic. I do not have time to present my view on this matter at the time, but please feel free to search this blog for my previous comments on healthcare and discuss this the most pressing political issue to come.

'Four Cornerstones'
Will Transform Health
HealthSource: Forbes Online01 February 2007

Editor's Note: This editorial piece now appears on Forbes Online. It is co-written by Dr. Bob Galvin and Newt Gingrich. Dr. Bob Galvin is GE's Chief Medical Officer and director of global healthcare, GE. Newt Gingrich served as the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999 and is founder of the Center for Health Transformation.

By Bob Galvin and Newt Gingrich

The president's State of the Union speech last week sparked a healthy debate over what to prescribe for our ailing health care system. Mandates or markets, single-payer or private sector, generic drugs or brand names? The list of differences is endless. What everyone can agree upon is that health care must be fixed. For both government and the private sector, our current system is unsustainable, and Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt is trying to change this.

Many entrenched health care interests often claim that transformational solutions will not work because "health care is different." Health care is, indeed, different, and that is not a good thing. Innovation is slow, quality indicators are down, costs are perpetually on the rise, and tens of millions of individuals are locked out of the insurance market.

Rather than attempting to "fix" health care by himself with one magic bullet, Secretary Leavitt is putting the system on the right course to fix itself. Echoing the renowned Harvard business strategist Michael Porter, Leavitt is moving health care toward a value-based system.
Value-based health care means that providers, health plans and other health care professionals are rewarded--and procedures and products are encouraged and utilized--based upon the true value they bring to the consumer. This means critiquing every aspect of the delivery of care, divining its true value by knowing its cost and quality. This formula works in every other market, and it must be the foundation of health care.

We can bring about real change by centering the system on what Secretary Leavitt calls the "four cornerstones"--information technology, performance measures, transparency and payment reform. The largest purchasers of health care, from state and federal government to the private sector, can change health care by ingraining these four priorities into their purchasing and procurement--and then demanding accountability.

First, we must get information technology into the hands of health care providers. Compared to every other sector of society, most physicians and other providers step back in time when they enter their offices, giving up computers and the Internet for pen and paper. We simply cannot deliver better quality, eliminate waste and improve efficiency without equipping doctors with the point-of-care patient information and decision support tools. And the technology must be interconnected, or interoperable, so that every information technology system, no matter where it is, can deliver the right information on the right person at the right time.

Second, we must accelerate our efforts to create common measures to evaluate performance and cost. Today it is nearly impossible to determine, in any reliable way, who delivers the best quality care and at what cost. Government and industry are working to standardize common measures to enable us to gather and measure performance and cost in a common way, so we can compare apples to apples.

Third, we must widely distribute this information to consumers. Currently, the health care system keeps consumers in the dark about the cost and quality of the care they receive. Try finding out which doctor has the best results for treating patients with asthma or diabetes. Try finding out how much a knee replacement will cost. Sites like and, which contain a wealth of quality and cost data, have proved to be incredibly valuable to consumers.

Additionally, with the right privacy and security protections, the federal government should release the data it has to let the public see which doctors are delivering the best care. Wouldn't you like to know who has the best track record for delivering high-quality care? You have the right to know this information, and the federal government should release it.

Fourth, we must change the way we pay for care. In our current system, hospitals and providers that deliver better care are reimbursed, for the most part, at the exact same rate as those who provide poorer care. That is like paying the same price for a new Cadillac as you would for a used Yugo. This egregious approach must change so that better performers are rewarded.
Secretary Leavitt is trying to ingrain these "four cornerstones" into the federal government's purchasing of health care, most notably through President Bush's Executive Order No. 13410. This order instructs key federal departments, including Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Veterans Affairs, to say to its contracted hospitals, physicians and other providers, We will not do business with you if you do not agree to these principles.

With a $600 billion budget at HHS that's set to explode in the coming years, Secretary Leavitt knows that sitting idly by is not an option. It is not an option for other big purchasers of health care either, be they from the private sector or state government.

That is why GE (nyse: GE - news - people ), IBM (nyse: IBM - news - people ), Ford Motor (nyse: F - news - people ), GM (nyse: GM - news - people ), DaimlerChrysler (nyse: DCX - news - people ), Humana (nyse: HUM - news - people ), and others have pledged to instill these cornerstones into their health care purchasing. Gov. Tim Kaine recently signed his own executive order to do the same in Virginia.

If every major employer, be it a corporation or state government, would embrace these four cornerstones, we could indeed build a value-based system that delivers more choices of greater quality at lower cost to every single American. But to get there, we need continued leadership and immediate action from everyone in health care--now.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is founder of the Center for Health Transformation. Dr. Bob Galvin is the chief medical officer and director of global health care at GE. GE, IBM, Ford, GM, DaimlerChrysler and Humana are members of the Center for Health Transformation.