#6282 Danny’s group, The Medicare bit, WWN, good movie possibilities, brains, Hitler.

Talked to Danny earlier, and got to hear about his coming game with his students. It sounds like he’s going to have a lot of fun… six players, one DM… First level party comprised primarily of Halflings and half-elves. Dan helped Julian with some plotting and mapping, so he knows a few “surprises that will be popping up in the course of the adventure…I think that helped his enthusiasm. He also assisted many of the players with character backstory and general fleshing out of the party. As it stands now, there’s a rogue (Danny… going to multi-class with a ranger, I think), A pair of clerics (Each with bladed weapons.. is that allowed now?), a paladin, a fighter, and Ex-pirate Assassin-type turned good. They’re going to go on an old-school cave/dungeon crawl Wednesday after school (Half-day for thanksgiving) until 5:30. I look forward to hearing how it goes… I’m Happy that he’s found a little social gaming fun to squeeze into his burny-outie teaching schedule.

It looks like we’ll not be going to his place for thanksgiving… instead, I think my brother and I will just spend some time together and get Chinese or Mexican, and give thanks that someone else is cooking, and maybe catch that seagoing flick. In other, related news, bro never returned for his TV today.

MmMM… Chocolate Braaaiiiins.

RE: What I’ve been watching on CSPAN2

Here’s a way for seniors to express to Congress their displeasure with AARP for supporting this bill.

Also, if they are unsure, have them go here and click on their state. This is a report commissioned by the Institute For America’s Future about how this bill would brutalize the Medicare system for each state.

Emergency Campaign to Save Medicare – Reports by State

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know enough about this bill, but I think that the first sign of a bad deal is the fact that it’s getting rushed through without giving people any real time to go over all of it’s details. And those that I HAVE seen I find disgusting.

The NYT’s Paul Krugman on the bill, and AARP’s stance

This is a good bill that will help every Medicare beneficiary,” wrote Tom Scully, the Medicare administrator, in a letter to The New York Times defending the prescription drug bill. That’s flatly untrue. (Are you surprised?) As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, the bill will force millions of beneficiaries to pay more for drugs, thanks to a provision that cuts off supplemental aid from Medicaid. Poorer recipients may find previously affordable drugs moving out of reach.

That’s only one of a number of anti-retiree measures tucked away in the bill. It contains several Trojan horse provisions that are clearly intended to undermine Medicare over time — it will allow private insurers to cherry-pick healthy clients in selected cities, and it will heavily subsidize private plans competing with traditional Medicare. Meanwhile, the bill prohibits Medicare from using its bargaining power to cut drug prices; drug company stocks have soared since the bill’s details became public.

Yet the bill has a good chance of passing, thanks to an endorsement from AARP, the retiree advocacy organization, which has already begun an expensive advertising campaign on the bill’s behalf. What’s going on?

Let’s step back a minute. This is a bill with huge implications for the future of Medicare. It’s also, at best, highly controversial. One might therefore have expected an advocacy group for retired Americans to take its time in responding — to make sure that major groups of retirees won’t actually be hurt, and to poll its members to be sure that they are well informed about what the bill contains and don’t object to it.

Instead, AARP has thrown its weight behind an effort to ram the bill through before Thanksgiving. And no, it’s not urgent to get the bill passed so retirees can get immediate relief. The plan won’t kick in until 2006 in any case, so no harm will be done if the nation takes some time to consider.

Many of AARP’s members feel betrayed. The message boards at the organization’s Web site have filled up with outraged posts. A number of those posts say something like this: “Now you’re just an insurance company.” Indeed, that may get to the heart of the matter.

Over the years AARP has become much more than an advocacy and service organization for older Americans. It receives more than $150 million each year in commissions on insurance, mutual funds and prescription drugs sold to its members.

And this Medicare bill is very friendly to insurance and drug companies. Senator John Breaux, one of only two Democrats who participated in negotiations over the bill, takes the controversy as a good sign: “No one got everything they wanted.” But as Jonathan Cohn points out in The New Republic, drug and insurance companies got exactly what they wanted: no efforts to limit prices, generous subsidies and lots of additional business. For example, insurance companies that offer an alternative to Medicare will not only be able to pick and choose their customers, but will also get 30 percent more per client than the government spends on the average Medicare recipient.

So do AARP executives support this bill because they hope to share in the bounty? Maybe, but it probably runs deeper than that. Once an advocacy group becomes as much a business as a service organization, its executives are likely to start identifying more with industry interests than with the groups they are supposed to serve.

Thus it may seem odd on the surface that William Novelli, AARP’s chief executive, wrote a glowing preface to Newt Gingrich’s book on health care reform. After all, Mr. Gingrich has long advocated turning the administration of Medicare over to private companies — an unpopular idea, and also an expensive one (forget the cliches about inefficient government: private companies have much higher overhead than Medicare). But what looks like wasted money to taxpayers and retirees looks like opportunity to private providers. Enough said.

Am I being too cynical? How could I be? In case you haven’t noticed, we live in a golden age of pork: the other big piece of legislation marching through Congress, the energy bill, makes the Smoot-Hawley tariff look like a classic of good government.

So it should come as no surprise that Medicare “reform” appears likely to be another triumph for the coalition of the bought-off — a coalition that, sadly, includes AARP.

bandicoot really liked Master and Commander, which is a good sign, I’m likely to agree with his opinion on things of that nature.

Daniel Meadows- The Bus, before and after images between 1973 and 2001… I really like seeing the effects of time on people.

Oh, who can resist the Weekly World News? It never fails to make me grin. I’d get a subscription if the paper wasn’t such an inky rag.

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