Author Archives: jeffkimball

Social Media Makes History…or Lincoln’s Wearing Pink Underwear


It’s an undeniable fact, sometimes a sad one, that the evolution of communication technology has led to what I call the cult of instant mass personalization.  I was on a social media site the other day and someone was posting, about every couple hours, what they were eating, and how at this point in the day a certain company’s French fries tasted better than another’s. It got me thinking: what a perverted sense of history we must have. We now live in a world where we know everything about everyone in real time. Or actually, we know what people want us to know, and we know what we think they are, but we really don’t know anything at all. We just have lots of mostly useless information. Maybe too much sometimes. But this info – it’s really personal, but now it’s out there for the world to see, and it’s locked away in someone’s servers for eternity. It kind of changes the definition of history in the making, when you think about it.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not preaching – I’m as guilty as the next person. I’m out there putting my best face, or facebook as the pun goes, forward. One look at my posts and you’ll see I’m caught in the wave, too. But every once in a while it’s nice to sit on shore and look at the churning sea of communications and kind of take it all in. I wonder if anyone knows how to talk to each other anymore, or if I put myself in a room with 15 other people, had a conversation and we all got text messages at the same time, if we’d all reach first and then talk later? (I know I would).  I wonder if we’d say half the things we say (or, I mean, write) if we actually had to say them to someone’s face, rather then post them anonymously like some kind of rhetorical voyeur for all the world to see? Would someone really go out of their way to tell me that they had a really bad ingrown toenail, or maybe by the time we got face-to-face, some of this stuff would become irrelevant? I wonder if history will be changed by this constant stream of noise?

What would it have been like if social media existed, say, during the Civil War?

  •  We’ve been marching 4 days and my feet r killing me! What I wouldn’t do for comfy shoes.
  • RT: Lee says we’re outta here. Does that mean I have to pack? I have a game on Sunday…
  • My tent mate is an a-hole. Snores like a bear. I’m going to stuff him like a turkey if he doesn’t stop.
  • @hunkymusket: My tent mate is a hunk. His snore is cute. I’m going to stuff him like a turkey if I get the chance. tee hee 🙂
  • @G’Burg, Lil RoundTop: This guy Chamberlin might be smart, but he’s annoying as hell. If I don’t get off this hill soon I’m going to shoot someone! Ha ha ha LOL.
  • Wow, that guy Lincoln is tall! I can’t hear him, but I sure can see him. It doesn’t matter. No one will remember what he says here anyway. Politicians – they’re all the same. blah, blah, blah ,G’burg, blah, blah, blah, dead people. Hey, I think he’s wearing pink briefs!
  • Hey look, there’s a black guy. Good reminder of what we r
    fighting 4. 🙂
  • I’m craving mutton. God, I’m hungry. I just ate grass. It’s gross, but it’s high in fiber. Yum.
  • “Four score,” who talks like that? This is nuts. GTG, commander just shot me a look.
  • I got a #boil on my foot yesterday. It’s leaking like crazy. Looks like I have to take a bath in the river today. Oh joy.
  • On battlefield. Jones just went down. Guts everywhere. So many screaming in pain. Place is burning like hell. All I can think about is seeing Sarah naked in the shower. Isn’t that sick?
  • Sitting here on this hill. Ready to take the enemy by surprise. Boy are they going to be shocked. Oh God…ah, darn, that hurts. Just got shot. Guess they have Twitter, too!

Something to think about…

— Jeff Kimball

Episode 120 – Budget Charade, Health Care Fixes and Presidential Politics



Jeff starts the show by talking about Donald Trump and the “birther” issue. He then explains why the recent “budget” passed by Congress was a total charade, and why they should not be fighting about the debt limit, but should actually be fighting about the budget going forward. Jeff then talks about the Senate race nobody is talking about — Virginia — and from there goes into a discussion on the Presidential campaign and why Mitt Romney is in trouble before he starts. At the 10:00 mark, Jeff welcomes Ty from Monroe, Georgia, a long-time listener and a voice of most people in America — neither Republican or Democrat, but concerned about matters of politics and policy. The thoughtful discussion ranges from the talk about the budget and the debt ceiling to fixing the health care law and handicapping the Presidential race. Ty encourages us to repeal the health care law and engage in a genuine process to fix the system. Jeff and Ty, coming form different political perspectives, come to agreement on how to deal with social security. They close the show by talking about the Presidential campaign, why Romney is in trouble and why we should be keeping an eye on Herman Cain. Always engaging and informative, it’s PoliTalk, your weekly political podcast.

Best Friends. Vast Experience. Engaging political discussion without the fighting…and with a few laughs. It’s PoliTalk, your weekly political podcast.

You can get the PoliTalk Podcast on iTunes and Zune

Of you can play right the show here by clicking on the play button below:

http://traffic.libsyn.com/politalk/Episode_120_-_Budget_Charade_Health_Care_Fixes_and_Presidential_Politics.mp3%20

PoliTalk Co-Host Nominated for Prestigious Fields Medal


Many know Jeff Kimball as the co-host of the popular PoliTalk podcast, as a featured actor in the upcoming American Jubilee movie (www.ajmovie.com), or a former aide to three US Senators. What many people don’t know is that Jeff has led a quiet life as a genetic engineer, resulting in a nomination for one of the most prestigious awards in science.

Yesterday at their bi-decamal meeting, The Fields Foundation announced that Jeff Kimball would be granted the Pioneer of Science Award. Mr. Kimball’s research focuses on the engineering the molecular structure of the Great American Horned Toad and a common Northeastern Hamster. The resulting species, The Great American Horned Toad Northeastern Hamster, or Horny Hamster, is bred for a number of practical purposes.

Recently, Mr. Kimball stunned many in the health field by unveiling the Horny Hamster’s ability to identify cancer cells. “We discovered that the Hamster, when crawling on the human body, identifies areas where cancer cells are growing by initiating a rarely seen tribal dance,” Kimball said, “It’s quite remarkable. Here you have this tiny animal crawling on the stomach of a subject, and then out of nowhere it’s as if a DJ is breaking down slamming tunes. The hamster stands on its hind legs and starts shaking to the most amazing groove. It’s just a classic shakedown, although it’s more Grateful Dead at times than anything else. Unfortunately that’s when we know the cancer is really bad.”

More controversial are the Horny Hamster’s military and national security uses. The hamster has been known to infiltrate terrorist pet shops in foreign countries, mix in with other hamsters, and then when a triggering mechanism is keyed, the hamster proceeds to vomit, eat the vomit, regurgitate the vomit, mix it with a hint of almond and a smattering of blueberry, eat the vomit and then regurgitate it a final time, causing panic in the hamster cage and raising the curiosity of the terrorist pet owner. At that point, the owner comes over and the hamster spontaneously combusts, quite possibly hurting an eye or upper forearm of the terrorist pet owner. “It’s hard finding terrorists that use pet shops as fronts for their ungodly acts of evil,” said Mr. Kimball. “But when we do, the Horny Hamster is the perfect foil. As a Westernized and unusual hamster, it’s usually coveted by pet store owners who are attracted to its cuddly nature. But then when they get close — bam, the Hamster takes them down. Well, not really “down” per se, but it kind of hurts them in a scary way, like a really bad paper cut or an angry cat. I’m just proud to be able to do my part in the War against Terror.”

The award is somewhat controversial because Mr. Kimball holds no actual degree in science or bioengineering, but as a lifelong enthusiast he has built an impressive resume. “Kimball is a visionary,” said GenTech’s Bruce Arnold. “He’s a real jerk personally, but his work is top notch. If you can suffer through 15 minutes with the guy, you’ll learn a lot. I try to actually talk to him only once every few years — that’s the most I can take — but we communicate mostly by email, and so I’m able to validate that the science is good.” Others in the field disagree.  “Oh fiddle sticks,” commented Harry M. Smith, Ph.D., M.D., EdD, MA. “In time Mr. Kimball will be revealed to be the fraud that he is. He can take his Horny Hamster and shove it.”

The Fields Medal comes with a monetary award of $18.69. Mr. Kimball plans to use the money for research, and give the remainder to charity. “I’d just like to thank my friends and family for their support,” Kimball concluded. “This really isn’t about me, it’s about the team. I’m just one of many here. It takes a village and we’re all in this together.”

Mr. Kimball is now exploring other uses for the Horny Hamster. “I’m re-engineering it now to shuck corn. Of all the pursuits in life, it’s hard to find value in shucking corn. The corn never comes out perfect — there’s always those little strands left, and it’s just a waste of time. Nobody has ever been able to mechanize this, and so I’m giving it a shot. If we can’t bring technology to bear to solve this terrible problem, then bioengineering will have to do. If I can teach this hamster to shuck the corn and deliver a perfectly clean corn on the cob, think of the ramifications. We’d not only save 2-3 minutes in a day, but the whole corn industry would be turned on its head. This is a game changer. I can feel it.”

For more information, contact Mr. Kimball at Jeff@kimballwriter.com.

 

Episode 119 – Corporate Taxes, Libya Policy and GOP Presidential Politics


This is the episode where everything gets turned on its head. It’s Glenn who takes on the big corporations and their scheming ways this week, pointing out that GE in 2010 paid no taxes. Jeff takes on the big banks as usual, calling for the restoration of Glass-Steagall so that banks can start acting like banks again and pump money to small businesses and help grow the economy. Jeff also talks about some lobbying the banks are doing to protect their high fees on debit and credit cards, otherwise known as free money for banks, from being repealed or restricted. They then dive into the Libya policy and explain that it’s really about payback for cheap gas for France and the UK for their support for our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Finally Jeff offers up an interesting view of the average GOP caucus voter in Iowa, and how the IA party is in danger of marginalizing itself in 2012, with social issues taking the lead in Iowa, but not elsewhere. Gone are the days when as Iowa goes, so goes the nation?

Best Friends. Vast Experience. Engaging political discussion without the fighting…and with a few laughs. It’s PoliTalk, your weekly political podcast.

You can get the PoliTalk Podcast on iTunes and Zune

Of you can play right the show here by clicking on the play button below:

http://traffic.libsyn.com/politalk/Episode_119_-_Corporate_Taxes_Libya_Policy_and_GOP_Presidential_Politics.mp3%20

Debt Ceiling Explained…


This is from the good folks at CNN Money, an excellent primer on the debt ceiling:

What is the debt ceiling?It’s a cap set by Congress on the amount of debt the federal government can legally borrow. The cap applies to debt owed to the public (i.e., anyone who buys U.S. bonds) plus debt owed to federal government trust funds such as those for Social Security and Medicare.

The first limit was set in 1917 and set at $11.5 billion, according to the Center for a Responsible Federal Budget. Previously, Congress had to sign off every time the federal government issued debt.

How high is the debt limit right now? The ceiling is currently set at $14.294 trillion. As of Feb. 28, the debt subject to that limit totaled $14.142 trillion — or $152 billion shy of the cap. But the total can fluctuate up or down daily.

How is the ceiling determined? Based on policies in place, lawmakers have already committed to incurring the obligations that require them to raise the debt ceiling.

“Congress has already passed and the President has already signed legislation that increases spending or decreases revenues. Those decisions have already been made,” said Susan Irving, director for federal budget issues at the Government Accountability Office.

In that sense, much of the political rhetoric is misleading because the money has already been committed and lawmakers are arguing over whether to pay the bill, according to former Congressional Budget Office Director Rudolph Penner.

 

Rock On, Bachmann!


Michele Bachmann, Congresswoman from MN who is considering a run for President of the United States, on at least two occasions over the last few days said the following to GOP audiences in New Hampshire: “It’s your state that fired the shot that was heard around the world, you are the state of Lexington and Concord, you started the battle for liberty right here in your backyard.” Well, unless New Hampshire’s backyard extends all the way down to Massachusetts where the real Lexington and Concord are, I think she got the wrong place.

What I wonder is did she know she got it wrong? The way things work today, someone on her staff must have been alerted pretty quickly (er, um, ah, excuse me, I know you are very busy right now, but please tell her it’s the other one…), so why after the first gaffe, didn’t she bother to correct her mistake? Pretty telling.

Then again, American history is fairly subjective. I’m just surprised she didn’t talk more about the Polish invading Pearl Harbor, or Washington wielding a sub-machine gun, mowing down legions of British soldiers at the Battle of Harlem, or  how God sided with the native Indians against the colonists until they scorned Him by backing casinos, or finally how, through work done by the House Special Committee on Un-American Activities, McCarthy warned us that Barack Obama was indeed a foreign born socialist ultra-left wing anti-corporate anti-capitalist pro-union fanatical liberal…a full 13 years before he was born (Congress was much more productive back then in the days of balanced budgets).

Hey, look, I’m not sure I could pass a spot-quiz on the Constitution right now, so let’s give her a break, right? I mean, it’s not like she’s running for President or anything.

— Jeff K

Understanding the Message Context…


We’re heading into a very bizarre time — pre-primary candidate positioning. Campaigns are about time, money and messaging. In terms of messaging, most people focus on what a candidate says about him/herself. As this rolls out, consider this: the public perception is set in four ways:

1. Candidate on Candidate

2. Candidate on Others

3. Others on Candidate

4. Others on Others

For example, there’s what Romney says about himself (and he kind of changes his tune a lot). There’s what Romney says about others (not just Obama, but his Republican rivals). Then you have to consider what others say about Romney, and finally what they say about themselves (we’re the most reputable source on GOP politics…). Somewhere in this soup is a seed of a message.  A message that is clear, concise, and one that establishes an builds a brand that will organize or persuade voters and raise money.

In 2008, this was a $750 million endeavor by President Obama, that began four years out, but in earnest two years out. This is serious business, and the messaging construct is extraordinarily complex, never mind the fundraising, organizing, etc., etc.

I’ve been saying this for months now, but the Republican field, with the exception of Mitt Romney, is way too late into this game.  Most of them aren’t even close to the first-stage message yet.

 

— Jeff K

Where are they?


By this point in the 2008 cycle, then Sen. Barack Obama had announced and raised $26 million (the actual date was Feb. 10, 2007). There’s a lot of talk coming from the Republicans, but no candidates. I understand why they want to keep argument confined to legislative issues, but I’m not hearing a lot about staff hires or boat-loads of cash being raised by The Gang of 13. Interesting…

— Jeff K

The Accidental History of the Health Insurance Industry…


History of Health Insurance in America

  1. Pre-paid community health plans started to emerge in the late 1920s and early 1930s.  Very small in size, people paid hundreds of dollars for pre-paid services to a single doctor. Direct relationship with doctor.  You pay a group, that group pays the doctor, who cares for that specific group. In 1910, the Western Clinic in Tacoma, Washington provided a wide range of medical services to lumber mill owners and employees for a monthly premium of 50cents. In 1929, a managed care pioneer by the name of Dr. Michael Shadid began a cooperative health plan for rural farmers in Elk City, Oklahoma. The members who enrolled in his plan paid a predetermined fee and received medical care
  2. Not for profit entities starting offering health care to more than one doctor in more than one location. Initially non-profit insurance companies flourished, then for profits entered seeing that they could rate the risk of patients and make money.
  3. In the 1940s, for-profit insurance companies grew.
  4. During WW2, labor was in short supply, so the government instituted wage controls. Companies wanting to attract better workers with higher wages had to do so by offering health insurance benefits, which the government encouraged by offering tax breaks.
  5. Much later, non-profit HMOs started to balance the insurance companies, and when insurance executives saw how successful they were at controlling costs and providing care, they created for-profit HMOs. In 1996, more than 600 HMOs were in operation covering 25% of the population. Now 90% of the population is covered under some form of managed care. We live in a managed health care society.

Health care is about 4 things:

  • Money. Medical treatment costs money. Medical treatment also makes a lot of people a lot of money, especially doctors and health industry executives.
  • Quality. Wanting the best doctor, the best medical care. Everyone wants quality medical care – nobody wants sub-standard care, albeit some receive it. You don’t want anything to stand in the way of you getting that doctor. I want my doctor, and I want my doctor to have the ability to focus on me. Unfortunately when it comes to quality of care, very few doctors look outside of their box — beyond the “standard of care” prescribed by insurance companies, and so therefore very few doctors have a holistic view of their patients.
  • Sickness, not wellness. Very little money is spent on prevention. The system is skewed towards sick care. You don’t see a doctor to stay well, although doctor office visits are some of the least expensive things in medicine.
  • Access – having it. Health care is a system of haves and have nots. If you don’t have private insurance, you can’t gain access.

Major Problems and Issues

  • Managed care, what does that mean? What is managed by whom? We have a system now where sick care is managed by insurance company beauracrats not doctors in relation to patients as the practice of medicine demands.
  • Patients don’t assume enough financial and personal responsibility.  We want it all, and we want it now, and we don’t want to pay for it. We expect the best care for the same dollar someone else is paying for basic care.
  • The myth of the market. Where is the market in health care? There is no free market between the provider and consumer. Both buyer and seller are insulated from the market.  It’s a market driven by health insurance companies, and that’s not really a free market, and without a public option, there is no competition.   Because there is no free market in the classic sense, the consumers lack appropriate information to make informed decisions (but rest assured health insurance companies have all the info on doctors and patients they need to make their ‘informed’ decisions — like who deserves care or what rates to pay doctors). For example: We all need transportation, but maybe we don’t need a Mercedes – you can get by with a VW. In health care, you expect to pay the same for the Mercedes as you do a Hyundai.
  • We also don’t work hard to stay well, and to stay well informed. The health care system doesn’t reward wellness.
  • We pay doctors for the most part by head count – not what they do or how well. That makes money but sacrifices the quality people want.
  • People who are uninsured or underinsured have more chronic problems and worse outcomes.
  • The US spends 2 or 3 times more than any other country, per capita and per GDP, on health care. 16% of our GDP is spent on health care, compared to 8.3% in the UK and 9.3% in Canada.  Any system that spends more and gets less is by definition inefficient.
  • Health insurance companies make billions in profits and we don’t see changes in the system because the nature of their oligarchy makes it hard to hold them accountable. You don’t have free choice to leave your insurer – to fire your insurer, to vote with your wallet – especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
  • Private greed corrupts, morally, physically and financially. Any company that can afford to give an executive and 8-figure compensation package and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, on lobbying, that is administratively top-heavy is by definition making a choice in the care it provides by saying less money should be spent on care and more should be given for the personal financial benefit of a few. There are estimates that shareholder profit, CEO and top-level executive salaries and top-heavy administration comprises 25% of health care costs.  The 20 largest HMOs made $11 billion in profit in 2005, and the largest drug companies made $62 billion in profit. So are they primarily motivated by making money (financial play) or by keeping or getting people well?
  • Health insurance companies currently ration care, but they do so disingenuously by using back-door practices or fine print – the consumer doesn’t really know what he/she is buying. The system is inherently complex – it is done so by design for the benefit of the insurance companies and to protect their control over the system and the flow of profits.
  • States share in the cost of Medicaid with the federal government, and with the recession they have declining tax revenues and surging enrollment, costing them an additional $200 billion over the next 3 years, making any changes to the current system that shift more costs to states prohibitive.
  • Small businesses, self-employed, working poor are discriminated against with the current delivery system through businesses.
  • The cost of health care undergoes dramatic inflation each year because there are no market controls. Why is it that some insurance companies can raise rates 49% and others just 7%, as was done in the same geographic market last year?
  • The Amish have been able to provide care for their community without insurance through a belief that they all share in the responsibility. So when one is sick, they voluntarily share the burden. Charitable care, throughout history, has been the most efficient and effective way to provide care.
  • Most advances in research come from government funds or in university or non-profit settings, then they are privatized and commoditized by for-profit companies. The notion that reforming the system will hurt research and innovation is a myth.
  • An employee with gold-plated coverage at work will get excellent care. 50 million under-insured people will get C or D level care. 50 million uninsured will get no care at all.
  • People and providers find the current system so confusing and so complex that they often give up, which benefits those who control the status quo.
  • Doctors practice defensive medicine. The cost of lawsuits has gone so high that some physicians engage in medical practices they otherwise wouldn’t for fear of being sued.

Are you serious about dealing with the debt, deficit and entitlements? If you are, then you have to grapple with these issues, and more around Social Security.

— Jeff K

The GOP Field for 2012?


At this stage, the Presidential race is about raising money, hiring staff, and making your presence known among the key players in  Iowa and New Hampshire.  Here’s a look at the field as it now stands, but the first hurdle: credibility, which is viewed through money raised and staff hired, comes soon and the field  may narrow…

MN Rep. Michelle Bachman
MS Gov. Haley Barbour
IN Gov. Mitch Daniels
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich
Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani
Former AR Gov. Mike Huckabee
Former UT Gov, Amb. to China Jon Huntsman
Former Gov. and VP Candidate Sarah Palin
TX Rep. Ron Paul
Former MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty
Former MA Gov. Mitt Romney
Former PA Sen. Rick Santorum
SD Sen. John Thune