aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, July 12, 2007
The wrong way on I-20. And addiction.
Last night a drunk man driving the wrong way on I-20 while watching a movie and ignoring the honking horns, shouted warnings and flashing lights of witnesses trying to stop him - ”He just honked back” - slammed into a silver Honda and killed the front seat passenger.
As the drunk driver walked away from the crash “with just a few scratches,” in the back seat of the Honda he hit “the guy was screaming and she was hollering and saying that her leg was caught.”
Everyone in that car was injured. Everyone in that car is an innocent victim. Everyone left alive is in serious condition.
As I drove on that same stretch of I-20 yesterday I listened to the great-granddaughter of Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, Nora Volkow, on Fresh Air. She’s now the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and ranks as one of the U.S.’s leading addiction researchers:
I think that, as a culture, we have not done very well in the way that we treat drug addiction. Even though we have been educating now for years, drug addiction is a disease of the brain and, as such, it should be treated medically, this concept has not been incorporated on medical practice, and this, for example, is reflected by the fact that most private medical insurances will not cover for the treatment of drug addiction, and if they cover, most of them cover for it inadequately. And this really stems from the belief that drug addiction is lifestyle choice, which is pretty paradoxical, and I think...(unintelligible). Throughout all of these years as a clinician, I’ve never--I mean, it’s actually 26 years to be exact--never, never, never met a person that was addicted who wanted to be addicted. Addiction is not a choice. You choose, initially in adolescence, to experiment with drugs, but a lot of young people in our country do experiment with drugs, and only a few will become problematic users, and those outcomes actually are not choices but they are biologically determined.
I promise you that I am as mad as anyone else at the idiot who drove that vehicle and killed that woman and I’ll be happy as the next guy to see him locked up in jail. But not only will that not bring the dead woman back, I don’t believe for a second it will save the next victim.
If you need any more reasons not to drink and drive, consider this: A driving-under-the-influence conviction is a financial wrecking ball. A typical DUI costs about $10,000 by the time you pay bail, fines, fees and insurance, even if you didn’t hit anything or hurt anybody.
The penalties are intended to be discouraging. Alcohol played a role in nearly 40% of U.S. automobile fatalities in 2005. That’s 16,885 deaths, a figure nearly unchanged over the past decade, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Now I’m thinking that what we’re seeing is diminishing returns on our draconian measures. We’ve got to do something else.
Automated driving would be cool but that’s still some way off. In the meantime one thing I might like to see is ignition interlock breath alcohol devices required - like seat belts and air bags - on all vehicles. The pervasiveness of the devices will improve their performance, drop the price, and reveal to the medicated teetotaler that they shouldn’t be on the roads either.
Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet
While I thought my headline was so clever, Doug completely missed it! In case you did, too, here’s the 2006 sequel to the famous and effective Chevrolet ad campaign that ran from 1974 to 1978. Back in those 3 channel TV days we all sang advertising jingles, “Apparently baseball’s changed a little over the years, but not America’s love of the game...”
Mo[o]re on Gupta
Media Matters followed up on the July 10 claim by Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Larry King Live that Vanderbilt University was the “only affiliation” of Paul Keckley, the expert Gupta had quoted criticizing the national health care systems of France, Canada, and Cuba during his July 9 CNN Sicko “fact check:”
Gupta asserted: “We checked it, Michael. We checked his conflict of interest. We do ask those questions.” In fact, in Gupta's original report—which King excerpted during his show—the caption identified Keckley not as affiliated “with Vanderbilt University,” but rather as a “Deloitte Healthcare Expert.” Indeed, in addition to serving on the faculty of Vanderbilt University, Keckley is the executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. [...]
Contrary to Gupta's assertion on Larry King Live that Keckley's “only affiliation is with Vanderbilt University,” Keckley is affiliated with Deloitte & Touche USA LLP, part of a global audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services group of firms. Keckley is the executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions states on its website that “it delivers research on and develops solutions to some of our nation's most pressing health care and public health related challenges.” As Moore noted on Larry King Live, the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions is also “connected” to Tommy Thompson. The center's website lists Thompson as the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions' independent chairman.
Keckley is also a Republican contributor, as Moore claimed. According OpenSecrets.org, Keckley has donated $8,500 to Republican candidates or party committees since 1990, including $1,000 to Sen. Bob Corker (TN), $2,000 to the Republican Party of Tennessee, $2,000 to Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN), and $500 to Rep. Marsha Blackburn (TN). During that period, he has made no donations to Democratic candidates or party committees that have been reported to the Federal Election Commission.
Moore's assertion that Keckley “has done business with Blue Cross, with Aventis, with these other groups,” is also accurate. According to Keckley's curriculum vitae, posted on Vanderbilt's website, from 1998 to 2002 Keckley served as chief executive officer of EBM Solutions Inc., which licensed software applications to “32 healthcare organizations in 2002 including Health Net of California, Blue Cross of Tennessee, Aventis and others.” Keckley's curriculum vitae also lists him as a member of the Aventis Health Outcomes Measurement Committee. Further, Keckley's biography on the website of the Vanderbilt Center for Evidence-Based Medicine notes that he is “a frequent keynote speaker for national healthcare organizations including the AMA House of Delegates, National Quality Forum, The Medical Group Management Association, Disease Management Association, Blue Cross Association, American Association of Health Plans and others.”
Here’s the King clip with Moore and Gupta. Here’s part 1 and part 2 of the Blitzer/Moore interview. Here Gupta admits an error, an error this email exchange between Moore’s team and Gupta’s producer, shows that Gupta and CNN had the facts before the Gupta piece first aired.
RELATED - Dean Baker calls Gupta on his economics acumen in a Medicare piece:
CNN’s health care analyst is now telling people that Medicare is going bankrupt. What does this mean? Medicare’s costs are projected to exceed its revenue and drain the surplus from its trust fund in a bit over a decade, but this has been true at several points in the past. Did Congress tell tens of millions of beneficiaries to get lost? No, Congress appropriated the money needed to keep the program going.
Comments PGL at Angry Bear, “If Dr. Gupta wants to play a neurosurgeon on TV - fine. But let’s stop pretending he’s an expert on everything that is health related.”
Justice for Troy Davis
Troy Anthony Davis is currently scheduled to die by lethal injection on July 17. Davis has been on death row in Georgia for more than 15 years for the murder of Police Officer Mark Allen McPhail at a Burger King in Savannah; a murder he maintains he did not commit. The record of his case offers much credence for his contention.
As a comprehensive recent report by Amnesty International shows, no physical evidence against Davis was ever found and the weapon used in the crime was never located. The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained numerous inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Since then, all but two of the state’s non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony. Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Davis. One of the two witnesses who has not recanted his testimony is Sylvester “Red” Coles Ã‚â€“ the principle alternative suspect, according to the defense, against whom there is new evidence implicating him as the gunman. Nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles. [...]
Read more about this travesty of justice, click here to send an urgent message to the Georgia State Board of Pardons & Paroles urging a stay of Davis’s execution and and write your local newspaper asking them to report on this case.
Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and singing gays
My, how times have changed…
Via John Aravosis.