A heavy dose of truth, humor, and political activism.

Location: Phila, Pennsylvania, United States

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


As we often do in America, we’ve waited for months and months to get some definitive news from Washington and it seems like that time has finally come…sort of. The new proposed “universal” health care plan would include a public option, but individual states would be able to opt out of accepting it. A public option means that a government-run insurance alternative will be offered as an alternative to private insurance. States that choose to opt out will keep their health care markets completely privatized. A government alternative would allow for volume bases discounts for health insurance because the insurance companies would always have competition. This does not make the insurance companies happy. Meanwhile, it is giving liberals reason to celebrate.
An “opt out” clause is a victory for the people. Past studies have proven that if people (and government officials) have to opt in, they become lazy and often take no action. This also holds true for opting out. If the bill had included a public option but required states to opt in to include the public option, it is very likely that far fewer states would have wound up with a public option versus the way the bill was presented now (with an opt out clause). It is always more likely that a state will choose not to act. In this case, choosing not to act (opting out) would mean a public option and benefits the people who live there. Well played Harry Reid.
The real interesting part comes now. What will individual states do? If a state government chooses to opt out of the public option what message will they be sending to the residents of that state? How will politicians from the red states balance their loyalty towards the insurance company lobbyists that helped get them elected with their responsibility to properly represent their constituents? In conservative states like Texas, Arizona, and Louisiana it is feasible that government officials that want to separate themselves from Obama and liberal Washington would choose to opt out (despite the fact that their states have some of the highest rates of uninsured Americans in the country). All it takes is a few ambitious politicians who want to pad their war chests with insurance lobbyist money to turn things bad for an entire state. Imagine the fall out from a state opting out of a public option and hundreds of thousands of people being forced to move to a state where the elected officials are actual thinking of helping others and not themselves. This would come into play for businesses as well. If a small or large business can get much cheaper rates for their employees in a state with the public option, why would they ever stay in a state without it?
There will also be a great social experiment taking place through all of this health care reform. What will every day Americans accept from their elected officials. If a state chooses to opt out of the public option will the residents become so enraged that they rally to oust those officials from office at the next election, or will they continue to maintain the status quo of allowing politicians to make decisions that benefit themselves and the lobbies they represent while harming those that voted for them? Only time will tell. It may be a bit of a bumpy ride, but I think the train is finally headed in the right direction.


Medications prescribed to children and teens to treat symptoms of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, attention deficit disorders, and other behavior problems are weighing heavily on those who take them, literally. According to the Associated Press, a recent study conducted by the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System (in Glen Oaks, N.Y.) of 205 New York City-area children (from 4 to 19 years old) who had recently been prescribed one of four drugs (Abilify, Risperdal, Seroquel and Zyprexa) found that depending on which of four study drugs children used, they gained between about 10 and 20 pounds on average in just 11 weeks; from 10 percent to 36 percent of the children became obese.
"Sometimes this stuff just happens like an explosion. You can actually see them grow between appointments," said Dr. Christopher Varley, a psychiatrist with Seattle Children's Hospital who called the study "sobering."
Unless you find overweight children intoxicating, I don’t see how you could disagree.
This raises quite a large problem, and an even larger problem child.
Because these drugs can reduce severe psychiatric symptoms in troubled children, "We're a little bit between a rock and a hard place," said lead author of the study Dr. Christoph Correll.
What is worse; a child who can’t pay attention in class or a kid whose classmates pay too much attention to the weight he’s gaining? What’s more damaging for a child, violent mood swings or violent shifts in his physical appearance?
With over 2 million children using these four drugs in our country annually, it is important to understand what is going on here.
The exact reason that these drugs cause weight gain is uncertain but there's some evidence that they increase appetite and they may affect how the body metabolizes sugar, according to Jeff Bishop, a psychiatric pharmacist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The drugs also can have a sedation effect that can make users less active.
As if kids suffering from these conditions and their parents didn’t have enough to worry about already without adding rapid weight gain to the mix. Step up science! How about a side effect that makes kids better at math or more agile on the basketball court? Let me guess…fat chance.

Patients prescribed marijuana for medical purposes and their licensed suppliers "will not be a priority" of federal prosecutors in states that have legalized the practice, the Justice Department said recently.
That means if you’ve got headaches (or another approved condition) and your doctor gives you the “green” light, go ahead and spark up that bong…the feds won’t be knocking down your door anytime soon.
According to NPR, a three-page memo was released from the Justice Department. Prosecutors "should not focus federal resources in your states on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana," the memo said.
The memo was sent to federal prosecutors in 14 states that allow at least limited use of medically sanctioned marijuana and to top officials at the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration.
The memo did urge prosecutors to pursue marijuana cases that involve violence, the illegal use of firearms, selling to minors, money-laundering or involvement in other crimes.
The change in policy is a shift from the Bush administration, when prosecutors arrested medical marijuana distributors in California even though some of them were operating legally under state law.
(Score Card:
Bush’s war on Marijuana…the winner: Marijuana
Bush’s war in Iraq…the winner: Islamic militant groups
Bush’s war on terror…the winner: no winner possible.)
California's laws are the most permissive. Thirteen other states allow some use of marijuana for medical purposes: Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
We all know that Bush wanted to expand executive power to allow him to run the country like a king, but could it be that the United States of America, which was founded on the power of the states to govern is actually headed back in that direction under Obama? States will now have the right to make medical marijuana decisions on their own, they will soon be allowed to make the decision about a public option for health insurance on their own, and many have already adopted policies on gay marriage and civil unions. While many states have next to nothing in common with one another, it looks like we may still indeed be the United States of America; united by the freedom each state has to make its own decisions and policies.

The Phillies are the defending World Champions of baseball. In the NLDS we rocked Denver. In the NLCS, we put another Loss in Los Angeles. Now, on the eve of the World Series, New York actually thinks they have a shot. This week in the New York Post, an article said of Philadelphia, “their fans are second rate, and so is their city”. A picture of Shane Victorino in skirt was published along with it and they called our team “The Frillies”. I wonder how many hours their top-notch writers took to come up with that horribly uncreative nickname. If it was more than thirty seconds, that’s just weak sauce.
Here are a few things to consider...
*The house that Ruth built is no more. The Yankees are now attempting to win with pitchers like Andy Pettitte and hitters like A-Rod. Yankee Stadium is now officially the “house that roids built”.
*The Phillies all-star center fielder, the one that New York decided to picture in a skirt and laugh about, owns C.C. Sabathia. The Brewers thought they could beat us last season by buying Sabathia and Victorino hit a grand slam off of him. Result: Brewers lost.
*The Yankees will lose their number five hitter Hideki Matsui for the games in Philadelphia because there is no D.H. and he is too broken down to play in the field. They will also lose catcher Jorge Posada for any games in which prima donna A.J. Burnett pitches because he’s sensitive and he needs his own personal catcher. The Phillies eighth hitter Carlos “Choochtober” Ruiz is batting over .400. Our line-up is the best in baseball without a D.H. When we get to bat for our pitchers too, look out, we’re going to bomb the Bronx.
*Philadelphia has the Eagles. Any first rate city has a football team. New York has none. They simply claim both of New Jersey’s football teams as their own. Any city from another state that tries to claim part of Jersey as being theirs is low enough to look up at “second rate” cities (surprisingly, with how pathetic the Knicks are, New York doesn’t try to claim the Nets who play right next door to the Giants and Jets).
*The Yankees may have more World Championships than the Phillies in total, but this is a “what have you done for me lately” sports world, and when was the last time they won a title let alone New York City won anything in any sport? (Remember, the Giants play in New Jersey).
*On Saturday, Phillies fans will get a treat while Yankees fans will realize they are all a bunch of tricks.
*New York can call us a second rate city with second rate fans all they want because they’ll be the city with a second place parade for their second place rings.
*The Philadelphia Phillies will repeat. New York can Yank These.

I hope everyone has a happy (and safe) Halloween this year. Pass the Spoon around to your friends and co-workers. It’s a great treat that’s sure not to rot your teeth. Feel free as always to leave comments and share your thoughts and feelings on the topics above. Yes, even Yankees fans have the right to voice their wrong opinions. Thanks for reading and check back soon, to get your truth right from The Spoon.