Thursday, August 27, 2009


Be afraid seniors, be very afraid. Michael Steele, (head doofus of the republican cartel) is talking about “saving” Medicare. In his opposition to any, repeat any public health insurance plan/option, Steele has been mumbling noises about Medicare. Whenever republicrats begin talking about saving a popular program originated by the democrats, I know that program has been targeted by them for “termination with extreme prejudice.”
The republicrats have largely been focusing on stupid Americans for their campaign to rid the world of health care. You know, the people who don’t seem to understand that Medicare, Medicaid, the Military health care, and the VA health care systems are actually government programs. They’ve been yelling at meetings that they, “don’t want the government messing with their Medicare program.” Even when informed that Medicare is already run by the Government, they are not to be pacified.
So, having captured the nation’s stupid people, the republicrats are now apparently trying to bring the broader population of seniors within their sway by doing what they always do--lying to them. That they have chosen Steele as their spokesman seems perfect, since he seems to be an idiot, albeit a middle-aged idiot.
His central point seems to be that Medicare is run inefficiently, whereas private health insurance is run efficiently. He has no data to back this up of course, and most accounts show a dramatically lower administrative cost to run Medicare than to run the private health insurance companies- He wants to cut Medicare, but doesn’t say where. His NPR interview this morning with Steve Inskeep bordered on the incoherent.
Let us all—we seniors who now rely on Medicare—hope that Mr. Steele will be kept very far away from deciding any changes to the Medicare program. In a recent article on Mr. Steele in the Washington Monthly, Steve Benen concludes:
The GOP's record on Medicare is clearly embarrassing to the party. In the 1960s, Republicans fought against Medicare's existence. In the 1990s, Republicans shut down the federal government because a Democratic president wouldn't tolerate proposed GOP cuts to Medicare. In 2008, the Republican presidential ticket ran on a platform of cutting Medicare.
And in 2009, the chairman of the Republican National Committee has decided, over the course of 24 hours, he's both for and against the Medicare program, for and against Medicare cuts, and for and against privatization.
From there, Steele talked up the ridiculous "death book" lie, either unaware of or unconcerned with reality.
The mind reels.”

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Senate is Poorer

The passing of an iconic figure. He was flawed, but then so are most great public figures. His enemies , and he had many, would never let him forget Chappaquiddick. But somehow, he managed to get past that awful tragedy in which a young woman died. Teddy kept on, as probably he had to.
As a younger senator, he seemed to have the right instincts for social justice, but he wasn’t skilled enough, or charismatic enough to pull it off. His pursuit for the ultimate throne—the presidency—seemed a Quixotic pursuit, aimed more at securing his brothers’ legacies than his own. But then, having failed at that game, he came into his own. He secured a position of power in that most powerful club—the US Senate-- and he used that power for public good, unlike many, perhaps even most of his senate colleagues.
Senator Kennedy is one of the last of his kind—rich public officials who succeed in giving back to the nation, and whose instincts seem drawn to at least try to better the nation. Many rich people still give—through foundations, or simply private giving. But Kennedy tried to give back by becoming a powerful friend to that public that has few friends, and fewer still powerful and rich friends. He pursued civil rights, health care reform, and other socially useful causes just because they were right, while others in this club, Jesse Helms for example, fought tooth and nail to prevent social progress.
The nation is poorer with his passing.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Giving up or In

Ok, so I guess the wealthy right wing has won. Health Care Reform is now over, and we can get on with other ways to kill/confound the Obama Presidency. It’s too bad, really. I actually thought he had a decent shot at fixing our broken health care system. It’s especially too bad for the 45 million uninsured, and the growing ranks of unemployed and uninsurable families. They really needed some of that “finest health care system in the world” but, thanks to the republicans--special thanks I guess to Rupert Murdoch--we will now have to keep on making believe we’re a great nation.
The problem as I best understand it, is that without a true public option, we cannot afford to cover the currently uninsured. We probably cannot even sustain the current system. The Public Option was truly the best shot we had at transforming our system into one that we could both afford, and that would cover everyone. Without it, we have no chance, and we might as well fold up our tent now, and steal away into the night.
Like Vietnam, let’s declare victory and go home. Who will be the last person in the US to have health care?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Just Wondering

I’m wondering about the economics of health care reform. I know that republican-christians seem to believe, a) that they don’t want to pay for health care reform at all, and, b) that Jesus may well take care of them (at least senator Grassley of Iowa thinks and says so). So, maybe, just maybe, we should examine a health care reform act that is aimed only at democrats (whether they’re Christian or not), That is consider a much smaller public option for democrats only, one for which democrats only would pay. If democrats, and others of that ilk are told they need to pony up through the US tax system for a health care that would cover only democrats, that would still include at least 100 million people. If you could develop a public plan that eliminates the need for that group to buy private health insurance, it would save them a bundle, thereby enabling them to pay the taxes required to sustain a public health care plan. Private insurance companies would then have to compete for the reduced private market of republican Christians. And just imagine the super health care the republicans could be buying for themselves . . . and with no death panels, at all . . ., well at least no public death panels. I imagine the private health insurance companies would still reserve the right to pull the plug on granny, but you can’t have everything, right? Everyone would thereby be happy . . . right????
Just a thought . . . trying to be helpful in these troubled times . . .

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Getting a Grip

Getting a Grip
I have begun thinking that Republicans have lost their grip on reality altogether. In watching the most recent episode of the Jon Stewart show, he played a few bits from recent Fox “News” shows. Glenn Beck yells in rage that this is no longer “his country.” People attending the pseudo-town hall meetings are seen yelling about how they are scared of Obama, with one woman yelling that she “wants her country back.” Jim DeMint of South Carolina, a congressman who has been compared with Jesse Helms, informs his constituents that the United States is now like Germany under Adolph Hitler.
They seem vaguely psychotic, or simply good actors feigning rage.
I started thinking that these crazed people need to get on the road and begin driving.
First, I thought, they need to drive all the way out to Arizona, to Canyon de Chelly, where the Navajos have a reservation, with a history dating back to 950 AD, when the Anasazi lived in the pueblos there. It would be useful for these people to ask permission to attend a Navajo council meeting, so they could address the assembled Navajo people on their fervent wish to “take back their country.” I am left wondering what the assembled Navajo people would say to them.
Then, after they leave the Navajo reservation, I would suggest that they drive East, maybe going first to Detroit . . . inner city Detroit. I would suggest that they attend a Sunday church service in a black church there, and that they address that assemblage on how scared they are of President Obama, and how they want their country back.
Then perhaps they might drive to another city, I’m thinking maybe Atlanta and the Ebenezer Baptist church, where they could inform the mostly black audience there about their great fears of this first Black President, and how he resembles Adolph Hitler, and how they feel like the residents of Jewish Ghettos, just before the Jewish residents were hauled off to concentration camps to be gassed.
After those experiences, perhaps these crazy people might begin to understand just how far out of touch with reality they have moved. They might then be able to consider driving to the nearest dump and offloading their mostly racist attitudes and detritus. Then I would suggest they attend their neighborhood church and ask God for forgiveness.
Couldn’t hurt.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Lying and those Lying Liars

So, she hasn’t been out of office more than a week or so, and she is already on the money trail, trying to pick up all that geld lying around for . . . lying about the Obama health care reform intent. We knew Sarah had no ethical principles, but we are now beginning to see some signals of how far they (the Republicans) will go to secure its (and his) defeat. Listen to Fox news and they are all sounding the same Rupert Murdoch-inspired speech—“if he doesn’t pass health care reform, his presidency is over.” Then of course, they proceed to their other Murdoch-inspired speech about how awful his health care reform will be. In Sarah’s recent speech, she tells us that Obama plans to have a “death panel” that will be an integral component of the new health care system. Now, we know that is a lie and that they are willing to lie beyond any reasonable decency grounds to secure his defeat. Although, what Sarah is unwilling to disclose is that there may already be something akin to a “death panel” operating under our present “private” health care insurance system—that panel would be the health insurance CEO’s and their accountants. If there is anyone between you and your doctor, it’s more likely to be Blue Cross, or Aetna, and others of that ilk, than the government. But Sarah doesn’t want to talk about that. Instead, she stays busy raking in the cash placed on the stump by our health insurance companies and the “non-profit” organizations they founded to represent them in their death battle against the President.
We are also beginning to discover just how far the republican opposition will go to defeat these plans. They have sent out instructions to their loyal troops to attend all rallies or meetings scheduled to allow the public to speak before their congressmen about health care reform. The troop’s orders—bring those meetings to a halt by any means necessary. Yell, shout, scream until the meeting can no longer continue. And the latest tactic—death threats. At least one congressman has just received a death threat if he continues to urge passage of health care reform. That, it seems to me, indicates that republicans have passed beyond some point of danger, and are now fully in the embrace of fascism. When they will kill to secure their objectives, they are now fully anti-American thugs, resembling an organized crime ring. They deserve no more respect than we grant the Taliban, or Al Qaida.
First they sent in the clowns, and now they are sending in the thugs. What’s next, predator launched missiles to close down open meetings? Your call republicans. .

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Political Corruption

Gail Collins and Ross Douthat had one of their “conversations” in the NY Times--the subject: are liberals inherently more corrupt than conservatives? I thought the conversation came out about even, i.e., the corruption dishonors seem evenly distributed between the warring factions. But as I read the column, I found myself thinking of the “old days” when Nixon was in power. Then I used to debate in my head (I often argue with myself, but I’m weird that way) whether it was better to have a smart crook (say Nixon-Agnew), or a fool (say Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Sarah Palin . . .) for a President. I know, I know, it would better were we to have a smart, honest, ethical President (Obama) in power. But often we are not given that choice. We got lucky this time.
Then, I concluded in my head that perhaps a smart crook would be preferable. But why, you might ask? Well, it occurs to me that smart crooks almost always get caught, one way or another (Bernie Madoff comes to mind). Sooner or later, they do something not so smart, or they get too clever by half and then they get found out. And the good thing about that is, because they are acting illegally, we can do something about it. We do, after all, have laws that allow us to pursue the crooks of the world. So, whether you’re a crooked Congressman, Governor, or even President, once we find you out, you’re toast . . . eventually.
So, the corruption thing I find uninteresting, even silly as a debate topic. Gail and Ross need to consider other subjects to debate, like, for example, which group is more likely to lead the nation into an unnecessary war? Or which group is more likely to “legally corrupt” (as in Bush-Cheney) our system of government. How can one “legally corrupt” our system, you might ask? Well, if you appoint people hostile to the very notion of our current laws and structure, and you tell those people to go light on enforcement, then you get a legally corrupt system. For example, if FDA consistently refuses to monitor and enforce our food safety laws, you will eventually get a totally corrupt and very dangerous food supply system. Ditto on drugs. Similarly, if you appoint either incompetent or uncaring people to agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, or to the Council on Environmental Quality, you will eventually see a degradation of the environment.
Why do these things happen, as sure as night follows day? Well, my view of the private sector is that, because profit is the dominant (sometimes the sole) motivation, eventually that factor becomes a corrupting influence. That is, people begin to act as though commercial interests are the only interests. And then companies will begin to slide on safety, or health, or environmental, or even employee issues.
So, to counter that tendency, you need some balancing force. Such a force tends to be government. A while ago, I wrote to President Obama about this issue. I said then:
“In economic matters, extremes do not work. Under Bush, we shifted dangerously in the direction of a fascist state—that is, a state in which private owners of businesses dictate government policies. The inevitable result is Enron, et al, as well as the collapsed financial system. We have been drifting in that direction for quite some time now, even under Clinton. Everyone has been so concerned with government regulation, that they failed to notice that unregulated business is as dangerous as unchecked government. One gives you fascism; the other socialism. Private business interests must always be checked to assure that the public is protected. So too must government overseers. Balance in everything is the answer. But balance requires mental agility. The public has little patience—they want the world to operate on autopilot. They need to be convinced that a world in which competing interests are balanced is both an efficient world, and a world that is worthy.
We need to pay for what we need. The Republican Party has been, almost as a matter of policy, fiscally irresponsible. They practice “charge and spend” politics. We will now have to pay for their profligacy. The public—the thinking public—needs to understand that we cannot continue on the course they charted and followed. Mainly the rest of the world will not allow us to continue on this course. They will simply stop buying our debt and then it will end, badly. Taxes are the way we pay for our policies. Taxes are neither good nor bad, in the abstract. They represent the price of operating our country, or, perhaps, the glue of a civilized society.”
So, there you have it. We need to operate as a balanced entity, occasionally twisting one way or another, but struggling always to stay upright and in balance, and to remain conscious that in the end we should act in the best interests of the American people—not just a small segment of that people. And, also, because we are big, relatively rich (well, we used to be prior to George Bush) and powerful, we need to be mindful that we affect the world in ways disproportionate to our size and population. There are in fact other inhabitants in this world beyond us Americans. They deserve a decent life also.
So, maybe, Gail and Ross, or David, the next time you debate, perhaps consider more important subjects than which party has a corner on corruption. These other issues seem to me more important. Of course, then you would have to check your usual biases at the door and actually think before you speak/write. Tough I know, but at least consider it.