Monday, August 31, 2009

Is Virginia for Misogynists? Ask the Virginia Republican Candidate for Governor.

At age 34, two years before his first election and two decades before he would run for governor of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell submitted a master's thesis to the evangelical school he was attending in Virginia Beach in which he described working women and feminists as "detrimental" to the family. He said government policy should favor married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators." He described as "illogical" a 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples.

The 93-page document, which is publicly available at the Regent University library, culminates with a 15-point action plan that McDonnell said the Republican Party should follow to protect American families -- a vision that he started to put into action soon after he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. During his 14 years in the General Assembly, McDonnell pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he laid out in that research paper, including abortion restrictions, covenant marriage, school vouchers and tax policies to favor his view of the traditional family. In 2001, he voted against a resolution in support of ending wage discrimination between men and women.

In his run for governor, McDonnell, 55, makes little mention of his conservative beliefs and has said throughout his campaign that he should be judged by what he has done in office, including efforts to lower taxes, stiffen criminal penalties and reform mental health laws. He reiterated that position Saturday in a statement responding to questions about his thesis. "There is a just a massive effort underway to rebrand Bob McDonnell, and his whole legislative career speaks otherwise," said former delegate Barnie K. Day (D-Patrick), who supports Deeds.

"The voters have a right to know who these candidates really are."
"Virginians will judge me on my 18-year record as a legislator and Attorney General and the specific plans I have laid out for our future -- not on a decades-old academic paper I wrote as a student during the Reagan era and haven't thought about in years." McDonnell added: "Like everybody, my views on many issues have changed as I have gotten older."

TPJ: Nice con-job there Bob McCONnell, er, i mean McDonnell. He claims thesis he wrote was purely an academic exercise and clearly does not reflect his views. Well I'm sure that his former university will be pleased to hear that he thinks their master's program is just "an academic exercise." You don't go through the tedium of writing a 90+ page thesis for a graduate degree without really believing in what you write. Besides as the article said we see that for 14 years he actively pursued implimentation of at least 10 of the 15 points he recommended in his thesis that the Republican party strive for. As late as 2001 he was still standing against gender equality by voting against equal pay for equal work. You don't have to be a government policy wonk to understand the motive behind a "no" vote on that one.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

I Lift the Parting Glass to You Teddy. Goodnight Sweet Prince.

TPJ: I didn't personally know Teddy but being a political junkie, a liberal and a history buff since high school I've considered the name Kennedy to be nearly holy--Even more so once I got my history degree at the university. As I got older and more adept at following the minutia of politics I came to realize that I had benefited greatly because of Ted Kennedy. He passed the Americans with Disabilities Act, which I have benefited from as well as the student loan program to name just a few. In fact, not many Americans can say that their lives aren't better because of Ted Kennedy.

So Tonight is Ted Kennedy's memorial followed by a traditional Irish wake and being of Gaelic decent myself (though Scottish) I wanted to say goodbye to the Prince of Camelot, Senator Teddy Kennedy. I chose the stirring and popular, "The Parting Glass" as the song and below the lyrics. Read over them while you listen because there are some lyrics that speak directly to the blessing and curse of the Kennedy name with all the loss they've endured. If this song and memory of all that the Kennedy family has given to America and sacrificed for America doesn't bring goose bumps and a tear to your eye then you Sir/Ma'am, are a stone
Of all the money that ere I had, I spent it in good company.
And of all the harm that ere I've done, alas was done to none but me.
And all I've done for want of wit, to memory now I cannot recall.
So fill me to the parting glass. Goodnight and joy be with you all.

Of all the comrades that ere I had, they're sorry for my going away,
And of all the sweethearts that ere I had , they wish me one more day to stay,
But since it falls unto my lot that I should rise while you should not,
I will gently rise and I'll softly call, "Goodnight and joy be with you all!"

Oh, if I had money enough to spend and leisure time to sit awhile
There is a fair maid in this town that sorely has my heart beguiled
Her rosey cheeks and ruby lips, she alone has my heart in thrall.
So fill me to the parting glass. Goodnight and joy be with you all.

TPJ: And in a nod to the Irish wake I'd like to end my brief, mournful send off with a bit of a party. Those not familiar with an Irish wake it kind of goes like this--and I'm sure I'm not getting all the details being Scottish I don't know the Irish side of things as much. So you have the funeral and mourn. Then celebrate their life back at the house with song, dance (and more than a wee bit of the old drab) well into the mourning. So with a shot of whiskey in his memory, I'm sending Teddy off with the fun classic Irish tune, "Whiskey in the Jar."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Two New Polls Show Public Option Very Popular Despite the Misinformation Campaign by Republicans and Lobbyists.

Nearly 8 in 10 Americans support a federal health insurance plan for those who can't afford or can't get private insurance. The majority of people polled — 86 percent — say insurance should be available to everyone regardless of health history. The poll was conducted over the Internet by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates.

TPJ: A few days earlier a SurveyUSA poll found similar high numbers for health care reform:

More than three out of every four Americans feel it is important to have a "choice" between a government-run health care insurance option and private coverage, according to a public opinion poll released on Thursday. A new study by SurveyUSA puts support for a public option at a robust 77 percent, one percentage point higher than where it stood in June.

TPJ: Then there's this:

Just 34% of voters nationwide support the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats if the so-called “public option” is removed. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 57% oppose the plan if it doesn’t include a government-run health insurance plan to compete with private insurers.

TPJ: It appears that the tide has turned back in the direction of meaningful health care reform. It wouldn't surprise me to find out that the numbers are shifting in our favor again because people are finally finding out how they've been lied to by the Republicans that reform would cover abortions, illegal aliens and euthanize grandma. And that despite it being called an "option" (meaning choice) that the plan would force everyone into one, cookie-cutter plan and take away choice. All of which are untrue and have been debunked by independent sources. A funny thing happens when people realize that they've been lied to--It creates a backlash against those would would mislead. I guess these Republicans, Blue Dog Democrats and their henchmen lobbyists haven't heard of karma. It may be difficult to debate these issues on the merits but people from all persuasions don't like being lied to and that's exactly what they're realizing I bet given these fresh polls.

It'll be interesting to see what other polls will show in the coming week or so especially after the the heart-breaking death of Ted Kennedy. Maybe knowing that they let him down and didn't get something passed before his death will light a fire finally under the conservo-dems to stand with the American people and no longer with special interests. Being a student of politics, however, I remain a bit skeptical that anything emotional can move the hearts of some of these clearly corrupt politicians.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Let's Pass Health Care Reform for Teddy Kennedy, The Lion of the Senate.

TPJ: If the death of the great Senator Ted Kennedy doesn't light a fire under everyone to push health care reform over the finish line I don't know what will.

Senator Ted Kennedy's closest friend and ally in the Senate urged Republican lawmakers on Wednesday to take a renewed and sincere interest in passing health care legislation in light of Kennedy's death. So I'm still optimistic that if temperatures can cool and maybe Teddy's passing will remind people once again that we are there to get a job done as he would do," [Senator Chris] Dodd said. "Bring your passions to the debate. But then also remind people that you got elected in order to get a job done. And this is a job that needs to get done."

TPJ: If the Congress ends up passing a health care reform bill they better not name it after Kennedy unless it's robust, includes a public option, ends pre-existing conditions and has mandates for coverage. Anything less would be a slap in the face to his great legacy and name. The partisan ranker from the right, however, has been so bad with the shouting down of opponents of reform at these town halls that I wonder if even the strong legacy of Teddy can do anything at this point:

Mike Enzi, one of three Republicans ostensibly negotiating health care reform as part of the Senate's "Gang of Six," told a Wyoming town hall crowd that he had no plans to compromise with Democrats and was merely trying to extract concessions. "It's not where I get them to compromise, it's what I get them to leave out," Enzi said Monday, according to the Billings Gazette. "If I hadn't been involved in this process as long as I have and to the depth as I have, you would already have national health care," he said.

TPJ: See, this is what I'm talking about--The Republicans aren't even interested in compromising AT ALL. They won't even agree that what the Obama plan sets up isn't anything like national health care. Democrats compromised on single-payer for the public option and what did the Republicans compromise on? Nothing so far and many of the leaders in their party say that they wouldn't even agree to a co-op!!! Not that Democrats want it either but it goes to show how unreasonable the Republicans are being. They're not negotiating in good faith and haven't from the start but have been instead seeing this as a "war" of attrition with the American people caught up in their jamming the levers of government. It's hard enough to pass a meaningful compromise on health care with people coming to the debate in a sincere and serious manner. Let alone when one side (the right) isn't even trying to look for common ground and is wasting everyone's time by not taking the issue serious enough to honestly debate what we can come up with together.

Instead they spend the time making up outrageous lies such as the public option health care reform would cover abortions, cover illegal aliens and set up euthanasia "death panels" to kill off grandma!! That's not being the loyal opposition, that's just being an asshole and a bully. I knew that the two sides were going to butt heads on the details of health care reform. That said, I expected that there would a least be at least some compromising in order to get much needed reform for the American people who are needlessly dying young and going bankrupt due to a broken health care system. I guess not all of my optimism has been crushed yet by a cynical system, though not much is left but fumes.

Then you have the conservative "blue dog" Democrats who oppose the president's public option plan and suspiciously all have taken large amounts of "donations" (bribes) from the health insurance industry who vehemently oppose reform!! So the future of health care in America is in the hands of one party acting like children (the Republicans) and a handful of corrupt, weak willed, shifty, conservative Democrats. If ever there was a time for a Ted Kennedy is was now. It's such a bitter twist of irony that the great champion of health care reform, Ted Kennedy himself who had the best health care in the world died because Congress waited too long to act.

If this is the future of governing from our two political parties then we need to shatter the two party system and go toward a coalition government, which nearly every other developed country uses. Not even Iraq wanted to adopt our two-party system when they were reforming their government. A coalition government is more representational as it requires the winning party to bring in two or three other parties to rule with enough clout to govern effectively. That's because in order to rule outright a party has to get an impossibly high number of votes like, 70%. It keeps the government fresh and demands more co-operation and compromise. The two party system was great in Jefferson's day when America was small and didn't need much more than two parties. However, today America is such a vast, diverse and populated country that the two-party system just isn't working well enough to meet the demands of modern America.

I'm not holding my breath though because if you think passing health care is hard, try asking those same political leaders to re-write the Constitution that would threaten the strangle hold the Democrats and Republicans have on Washington D.C. That said, I still fight and push for it--That and campaign finance reform. We can't truly take our government back without eliminating this crazy train of privately funded campaigns. So, Teddy I think it is clear (from the Democrats side at least) that we miss your clout, experience and passion. I can only hope that there is a new, young Teddy like Senator that will be able to be half the legislator that you were.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Pastor Praying for Obama to Die. When Will Christianity go the Way of the Dinosaurs? Soon I Hope.

Nope. I'm not gonna pray for his [Obama] good. I'm going to pray that he dies and goes to hell. When I go to bed tonight, that's what I'm going to pray. And you say, 'Are you just saying that?' No. When I go to bed tonight, Steven L. Anderson is going to pray for Barack Obama to die and go to hell.

-Pastor Steven L. Anderson.

TPJ: This Christian wacko also wants the death penalty for homosexuals!! Sounds like the same bile that comes out of the clerics in Iran. I hope the secret service and/or the FBI is shining an exploritory scope up this guys homophobic, racist ass. And as usual, he's no the only one:
TPJ: And people wonder why I left Christianity? Of course most Christians wouldn't go that far but even much of what mainstream Christianity teaches and says about modern society is pretty bizarre and antiquated to me. On most cultural issues, however, like homosexuality their long-held, tight control and backwards thinking is falling quicker by the day. THANK "GOD."

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pan Am 103 Terrorist Release by Scotland is Shameful and Offensive.

(Above-left: Pan Am Flight 103 terrorist Abdelbaset Ali Al-Megrahi)

Today I'm a bit ashamed to be of Scottish decent. As most of you know by now the only person convicted of the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 was released from Scottish prison for "compassionate reasons." Apparently he has prostate cancer and only months to live and was released despite not having fulfilled his sentence. This is appalling and I can't imagine what the victims families are going through right now. Not only has this opened old wounds for them but it has made new wounds and poured buckets of salt into them. It's deeply offensive that non-violent drug offenders are still in prison no doubt today in Scotland while this monster walks free. It's a mockery of the rule of law.

Scotland doesn't have the death penalty and while I don't agree with the death penalty either I do believe in justice and life in prison without release is a very reasonable sentence for mass murderers. People die in prison all the time and they can deal with his final days compassionately without letting him free to return home to his loved ones and country as a hero. He could have been sent to a minimum security prison for those remaining days or allowed to stay in the prison hospital for those next three months.

Besides, given his high-profile roll such a release just underlines the terrorist argument that Westerners are too weak to hold them to justice. I'm not a war monger or "kill 'em all" type person. However, I'm not naive either. I heard that 160 people die every year in Scottish prisons and none of them were released for "compassionate reasons." In addition, since 2000 30 people have been released for "compassionate reasons" but 6 were denied--What did those six do that he rejected them and he let this infamous terrorist go? Something smells fishy--maybe there was some kind of gas contract up in Libya that the Scots or the Brits wanted in on? You never know these days what motivates politicians.

Letting such a high-profile terrorist free who was responsible for the death of 259 people is offensive and best. This wasn't your garden variety murderer--he was responsible for one of the biggest terrorist attacks before 9/11 and what offends me a lot is that the majority of the victims (180 out 270) were American and it doesn't sound like the U.S. government was even consulted on this release. Nor the I know that Scotland doesn't have to get an "o.k" from the U.S. when deciding their affairs but it a consultation would have been the polite and ethical thing to do. They least they could do for the American victims' families. I don't know how this man (and it was a lone official would make this decision) can sleep at night.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Can You Spare Some Money for the Poor Big Pharma CEOs?

NEW YORK — Billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical companies and their chief executives on Friday, declaring that they "don't make a lot of money" and shouldn't be scapegoats in the health care debate. "You know, last time I checked, pharmaceutical companies don't make a lot of money, their executives don't make a lot of money – not that they couldn't be better," Bloomberg said. Pharmaceutical CEOs are known to make millions, with generous salaries, stock options and other perks.

Abbott Laboratories Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Miles White's compensation was $25.3 million in 2008. The North Chicago, Ill.-based company saw profit rising 35 percent to $4.88 billion. Merck & Co.'s chief executive, Richard T. Clark, received a $17.3 million compensation package for 2008. The company's profit more than doubled to $7.8 billion.

TPJ: As many of you know I have the psychiatric disorder, (or mental illness, though I'm trying to move away from that stigmatizing word) schizoaffective disorder and I take 6 different psychotropic medications. As well as two other medications, one for acid reflux and the other for blood pressure so these drug companies get their pound of flesh from me and then some. One of the main drugs I rely upon is the schizophrenic drug Seroquel made by AstraZenica:

Swedish-Anglo pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca reported a 23.4 percent hike in interim net profits on Thursday despite the global recession. The firm reported profits of $3.853 billion on total revenues of $15.659 billion in the six months to the end of June 2009, up 0.2 percent on the corresponding period of 2008.

TPJ: That's not even YEARLY profit--that's in just SIX MONTHS!!!! Yeah, no wonder they're profits are up 23.4% despite the recession!! People are sicker when they're poorer!! That's not a surprise--don't you love how these guys act surprised when they have a strangle hold on the drug industry with hardly any regulation when each year they post "better than expected" profits? It's the classic business tactic of under-promising and over-delivering. Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful that these medications exist even though they aren't a cure by any means and they come at a price of not just money but some heavy-duty side-effects.

That said, I think these pharmaceutical companies are out of control with what they can charge--not even your garden variety pot dealer charges as much as these companies do for their medications. It's a racket and taking one look at their record profits each year or six months tells you everything you need to know as to why they are pushing so hard against a public option health care reform plan. And just like a mafia family these drug dealing corporations will do just about everything short of murder (as far as I know) to protect their racket. They have already bought the support of many of our government officials with bribes, er, I mean campaign donations to defeat any reform.

However, I digress. So getting back on point, I guess if you're the richest man in New York City (Mayor Mike Bloomberg) with a fortune of $16.5 billion that a take-home pay only in the ten's of millions is borderline poverty level. So we're left with the pressing question, "How will these people ever pay for their own island at such a low salary???"

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Conservatives Running Government is an Oxymoron.

Here's a thought: Why do Conservatives want to be IN government when so many HATE government? Why do these Conservatives want to be a government worker or politician when their salaries are paid by taxes, which they hate? They only thing they want to do it seems when they are in government is to dismantle it and thus pry loose the structural threads that bind us as a country. After all, uber-conservative poster child Grover Norquist is famous or perhaps infamous for saying this about government, "My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."

It always puzzles me when I hear people terrified, literally by the government when it is WE THE PEOPLE who ARE the government!! As one of my favorite president's, FDR said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." So if we are the government then why be afraid of ourselves? So why be afraid of the government providing an option (choice) in our health care decisions? Especially when you figure you can fire the politicians (through voting) if the public option doesn't work the way the majority want it to and vote in people to overturn the program altogether if need be. That's just one of the reasons why government is so important because it provides a safety valve to the structure of our country when balance or fairness need to be administered.

However, you can't fire the CEO of your insurance company, nor can you vote for who is on the board of directors. You can't really switch companies if your employer provides your coverage because they pick the plan for the entire company to use. And even if you do have a chance to pick a new provider--we all know that the majority of them run their businesses the same way. So in reality you don't have a real choice of a health insurance plan, which would bring true competition and better accountability to the private industry until and unless you have a public option to regulate the system a little bit.

I think we need to spend less time fearing the government (which is actually fear of each other) and increase our attention toward the growing, corporate, monopolies, which are creeping back into our society and crowding out small businesses. I have no problem with corporations, business or capitalism in general, in fact I think they are essential. However, I do have a problem with uncontrolled capitalism. These corporations start off o.k. and with good intentions but as more and more regulations fall away they get greedy and grow too big. It creates a lop-sided society where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. So these corporations have grown so big that they are mega-multinational corporations with more wealth and power than some entire countries.

Not all but a lot of these mega-corporations like the insurance giants are growing so much that they are beginning to take away more from the populous than they give. So they are quite literally killing the, "golden goose who lays the golden eggs" which is the middle-class and the backbone of a strong, vibrant economy. They have become too powerful too reign in due to too much relaxation of regulations set in motion in the last two or three decades. The government is kept in check by the democratic voting process and the balance of powers between the three branches of government as dictated by our Constitution. So the true and time-tested role of the government is to act as the arbiter of last resort and the "parent" to maintain a free, fair and balanced society. It was a Republican ironically, Teddy Roosevelt who used the power of the government to bust up the monopolies of corporations when they crowded out competition and eroded consumer protections. That is a very critical reason why we need a public option in health care so that there is a third party to check the power of corporations to maintain fair business practices.

Another irony of T.R. is that he was the first U.S. president to propose the idea of universal health care.

We supporters of sensible regulation and competition in health care are not against corporations making money and succeeding, however, we are against them becoming so powerful that, "we the people" become powerless toward them. That is what Obama and supporters of health care reform are seeking to ensure--that, "We the people" maintain control over not just government but also unchecked, corporate power. There is a reason for history and a reason why trust busting and monopoly busting happened in Teddy Roosevelt's time of the Robber Barons. If you don't believe that loose regulations aren't creating a modern era of Robber Barons then you are dangerously over looking history, which if not respected will repeat itself until we learn not to repeat the same mistakes. Let's stop touching the hot stove and expecting different results without turning down the temperature--i.e. sensible regulation with health care in the form of a public option.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rep Barney Frank Tears Apart Crazy Nazi Lady. Finally a Democrat Who Fights Back.

Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts is one of my favorite politicians and Democrats. He's unfortunately one of the last good old fashioned Liberals who knows how to throw a punch and call people out on bullshit when necessary. He's got a spine of steel when most Democrats today have one made of jelly if any at all. It's about time that a politician on the left dealt with these town hall nut jobs with some salty language of his/her own. The only thing these people seem to respect is a smack in the mouth, metaphorically and conversationally speaking of course. I'd take one Barney Frank over a handful of the Kent Conrads, Ben Nelsons and that worthless Harry Reid in a heartbeat.
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Republicans: Even Co-Op "Compromise" is Government Run Health Care.

Republicans spent Tuesday pushing back against a possible compromise–non-profit health insurance cooperatives, an idea that Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) had pushed for months before the debate centered on a Medicare-style “public option.” Inside the Senate and inside the conservative third-party groups that have been working against the White House, “co-ops” are being framed as an attempt to engineer a stealth government takeover of health care.

"You can call it a co-op, which is another way of saying a government plan," Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). He's not the only Republican, Senator Kyl is against co-ops as well. Sen. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.), the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, dismissed the co-op proposal Tuesday as a “Trojan horse” and a government-run plan “by another name.”As minority whip, he... speaks on behalf of the party's leadership." (Boles, 8/18).

TPJ: I told you Senator Kent Conrad "Democrat" of North Dekota--The Republicans aren't interested in compromising AT ALL. We've Libs have been trying to say this all along. If these Republicans won't even compromise on the co-op, which nearly all Liberals oppose then what will they accept that's short of total abandonment of health care reform? He actually thought you could come to a reasonable or even unreasonable compromise with the same crowd of people who deliberately have push the disgusting lies that the public option will set up, "death panels" cover illegal aliens and fund abortions. If these Republicans won't even work with us on the watered down, tooth-less, co-op plan then why are you still bothering to try and bring them along at all? Better to focus with a laser upon the conservative Democrats at this point and go it alone.

A new NBC News poll asked people what they thought was likely under the proposed health care plan? Fifty-five percent said it would cover illegal aliens, (which is a lie) Fifty percent said it would lead to tax funded abortions (another lie) and 45% said it would lead to goverment death panels (yet another lie). So what happens if the Democrats are able to strong arm the remaining fence sitting members and pass the public option themselves? Then once this public option was implemented the American people would quickly see that they were lied to by the Republicans and the backlash would be monumental. The GOP might cease to exist as a modern day, viable, political party once the feelings of betrayal and being deceived by them sets in. That will happen even if they don't pass the public option and get nothing done. Then the Demcorats can at least say that they did everything they could to pass meaningful change and while they failed at least they tried to change the status quo. In the meantime what will the Republicans say, "Hey we didn't do shit and things are still getting worse. Vote for us?!!

This is where I don't understand the Republican playbook. You'd think that they'd jump at this chance to go with the Liberal hated co-op idea to get something passed that will be destined to fail and make the Democrats look like failures. They don't even want to do that, which tells me that they seriously want the status quo and don't care or aren't thinking about a backlash against them. In addition to not caring about the declining health of Americans. As of now it's been the Democrats taking all the heat, which is misinformed and misplaced in many cases. At some point, however, the American people are going to look at them and say, "Where are your ideas? How come you won't even take the co-op compromise? You're looking more and more just like obstructionists. What are you actually for besides the status quo because that's not acceptable."

“The Republican leadership,” Mr. Emanuel said, “has made a strategic decision that defeating President Obama’s health care proposal is more important for their political goals than solving the health insurance problems that Americans face every day.”

TPJ: The vast majority of Americans want some kind of change on health care and the Republicans are taking a real gamble with this "No" to everything game plan. They're in very real danger of over-playing their hand. While the Democrats are pissing me off in how spineless they're being the Republicans aren't even trying to solve this health care crisis. They are playing political games with peoples' health, which is a very serious, dangerous and critical issue for the American people. Americans may not want single-payer health care (which I doubt somewhat if it was properly explained to them) but they also don't want nothing, which is exactly what the Republicans are proposing. They support the status quo of ignoring the spiraling health care crisis at their own peril. So much for the Republican claim to be for choice and competition--not when it comes to your health care certainly. If those spineless Democrats hadn't taken single-payer off the table we could have used it as a bargaining chip to get public option. Doesn't Obama and his crew on the Hill know how to barter?

In other news, the Obama administration is considering employing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton to push their health care plan, which is about time if you ask me but perhaps too late. I hope not. Though I must say that I wouldn't use Hillary on a political debate within the country. Use Bill but keep Hillary at State exclusively.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An Open Letter to President Obama. No We Can't?

Dear Mr. President,

Let me make this very clear, since the public option was the compromise between single-payer (which we Liberals wanted) and the co-op, which the conservative Democrats and conservatives want (because it will fail due to being weak with no bargaining power) then I will be very let down should you sign a co-op bill. That's not a compromise but rather a SECOND compromise by our side on the left. That's giving away too much of the store. You said you wouldn't sign a bill without a public option and that you're willing to be a one term president to get it and I am holding you to that statement.

If you sign a co-op bill I will feel completely dismissed as a member of the left who brought you into power and gave you 60 seats in the Senate and a majority in the House only to see this fail. That will NOT make many of us Liberals happy AT ALL. Don't do a second compromise Sir, we on the left won't stand for it.

Thank-you for listening,

James U.

TPJ: A bill that doesn't include cost containment (such as a co-op) is no bill at all. The public option is the only option at this point. Anything less is a waste of time, money, political capital and the voter's trust. I'm not a party over principle guy so I'm not going to be bullied into accepting what the Democrats tell us to accept. We've been trying to get some meaningful health care reform since at least Truman and actually since Teddy Roosevelt. Monumental health care reform is my top priority as a voter and it was a big reason why I voted for Obama. So if he goes with this open-ended, weak co-op cop-out plan then I'll be seriously thinking about voting Green Party next time. I'm still waiting for the Obama I voted for to show up.

These spineless, jelly-fish limb Democrats who think a co-op will be more palatable to the right-wing are wasting oxygen because those flat-Earthers won't vote for it either!! They still don't get it--THE REPUBLICANS DON'T WANT ANY BILL. They like the status quo, which is killing America and why we elected you, MR. PRESIDENT!!! Obama needs to go to these corrupt "Conservative Democrats" who are sitting on the fence and say to them, "Look. I'm not going to ask for your loyalty on everything but on this important of an issue I am. So if you don't vote for this, I will do my best to see you defeated by a primary challenger." Period--end of sentence. Politics is a contact sport and it's not all nice and cuddly--even in your own party. People don't realize that there is a lot of hardball played--at least from people who know how politics works. Sometimes I wonder about Obama--I worry that he doesn't have enough umph. It takes a lot of talk and a bit of bullying to get anything done in that town. I worry he's too nice sometimes. If he can't even whip his own members into shape and line-up behind him on his most important policy issue than what hope is there that the Republicans will do ANYTHING for him during the next four years???

I'm tired of being let down by the Democratic Party and I'd rather vote for a party, (like the Green Party) which actually backs up what it says it stands for then constantly be let down by the Democrats. I mean, this is ridiculous. They have the presidency, the House and 60 votes in the Senate. Yet those pussy ass (excuse my French but I'm very pissed off right now) Democrats on the Hill and the president himself can't even get his main policy issue passed!! That party doesn't know what to do with power. They are always so worried about not offending anyone and not looking like a hard ass now and then that they don't end up doing anything!! They need a little LBJ in them--especially Obama. He knows how to moderate and do the bipartisan thing but he does it too well and might end up giving away the entire store because of it. He needs to crack some skulls up on the Hill like LBJ did to get Medicare. In particular Mr. Obama should keep this statement in mind, "Johnson: I would be prepared to have nothing rather than not have Medicare."

I mean, when did
, "Yes we can" become "Yes, no, I mean yes, wait, no....hold on let me run a poll. O.k., no we can't?" Howard Dean seems to agree with me:

The former Vermont governor was asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" about President Barack Obama's statement over the weekend that the public option for insurance coverage was "just a sliver" of the overall proposal. Obama's health and human services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, advanced that line, telling CNN Sunday that a direct government role in a system intended to provide virtually universal coverage was "not the essential element."

Dean, a physician, argued that a public option is fair and said there must be such a choice in any genuine shake up of the existing system. "You can't really do health reform without it," he said. Dean maintained that the health insurance industry has "put enormous pressure on patients and doctors" in recent years. He called a direct government role "the entirety of health care reform. It isn't the entirety of insurance reform ... We shouldn't spend $60 billion a year subsidizing the insurance industry."

TPJ: Thank Darwin we still have Dean on our side. By the way, where has Russ Feingold been? I haven't heard much of anything from that great Liberal Lion. Maybe I've just over looked it. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., who is co-chairman of the Middle Class Caucus, said that "leaving private insurance companies the job of controlling the costs of health care is like making a pyromaniac the fire chief."

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Who Would Jesus Deny Because of a Pre-Existing Condition?

I've said this in different forums and posts before but not dedicating an entire post to it but I think it's time given the rage from the right-wing (who are predominately Christian) about providing a public health care insurance option for Americans.

When I think of the many times I read about the "works of Jesus" in the New Testament I think of a long-haired, bearded, toga and sandal wearing guy who went around healing the sick, raising the dead and feeding the hungry. Sounds like a communal hippie if you ask me but seriously did he charge for his healing?

Did he deny healing the lame because being deformed is a "pre-existing condition?" No and are you kidding??? Now I don't believe in Christianity (though some of it is worthwhile) or that Jesus was anything but possibly a historical figure. However, I wanted to raise some issues revolving around Jesus due to so many anti-health reform conservatives being Christians.

So since they are pulling out all the stops I'm using the "Big Guy" against them because well, I think the J.C. would be on the side of health care for all. I plan on using some of their own Bible scriptures to underline my point. First, though I thought that this was an interesting article and angle to the health care debate. I have to agree with most of it. It's from Beliefnet:

"Yesterday, Ed Schultz posed a question on both his radio program and his MSNBC show: Where is the religious community on health care? Ed, a Christian who admits he is not a regular churchgoer, sees the issue in pretty simple terms. Jesus healed the sick. For free. Period. Why aren't churches out on the front lines arguing for a compassionate government that will care for the infirm, ill, and dying? After all, don't these same people understand that America is somehow a Christian nation? Hey, Ed, I'm a fan. And since I was driving to the beach, I listened to you for two hours get more and more heated--and take some pretty heated calls--on the issue. I was with you, buddy. But I think you missed a thing or two. Let me help you get the religion story straight.

First, many mainline and liberal churches are on the front lines with this issue. For example, the Episcopal Church's policy office issued an alert to Episcopalians to contact their members of Congress and has tried to answer questions regarding the current legislation. And they aren't the only ones. Most American mainline denominations have policy offices working on this issue (and some have for quite a number of years now, around SCHIP and other health concerns). In addition to denominational efforts, on August 10, cooperating groups across a theological spectrum kicked off "40 Days of Health Care Reform" campaign to rally faith communities to support new health care policies. There are lots of Christians--mainstream, mainline, moderate, liberal, emergent, and progressive ones--who care about healing as a social and spiritual issue.

Second, and I say this quite ruefully to you, Ed: mainstream religion is of little interest to most of the media. Ed, while you may be quite supportive of the Episcopal Church or the 40 Days Campaign, you really wanted to know where James Dobson, Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, and Franklin Graham stood on health care. Ed, you wanted to know about the leaders of the conservative evangelical community--the big TV preachers and religious right political types.

I can tell you where they are. They are hiding. Some people think that evangelical opposition to abortion is keeping them away from the health care bill (the abortion issue is a factor worrying some Roman Catholics). But I think that many conservative evangelicals are using abortion as a way to duck addressing the issue. In Washington, religious leaders know that abortion is pretty much off the table in regards to the health care bill. The Hyde Amendment will keep the government from paying for abortion (as long as the Hyde Amendment remains in force) and private insurance companies will--or will not--pay for abortion as their policies dictate. As you rightly pointed out, Ed, abortion stays status quo in the current discussion.

The real thing keeping these leaders from speaking out is that large segments of their audiences suspect that President Obama is the Antichrist, the long-predicted evil political leader who will usher in a universal socialist state, complete with a false religion that will doom untold millions to eternal damnation with "666" stamped on our foreheads. "Becoming Russia" is code language for these fears--whether overtly or intuitively understood. In other words, Ed, this isn't a health care debate. This is the Apocalypse.

The most chilling aspect of the apocalyptic fever gripping the Bible Belt right now? I can't think of a time when American fundamentalists believed that the Antichrist was the President of the United States. Typically, fundamentalists have identified the Antichrist as someone outside the United States--Hitler, Stalin, Gorbachev, or Saddam Hussein to name a few recent candidates. A few fundamentalists thought Bill Clinton might be the Antichrist, but he was more often seen as the "forerunner" the real bad guy, a kind of wicked John the Baptist-type preparing the way for the big apocalyptic show. And for whatever perverse reason, Barack Obama is seen as the real thing. Some Christians have turned inward for the Antichrist; President Obama is the darkness (and I mean "dark") within.

In other words, Ed, don't expect any sort of rational discussion--or even biblical argument about a compassionate Jesus--to convince these folks. This isn't rational and sophisticated theology is out of the question. This is pretty much the worst kind of religion that can be imagined--apocalyptic fervor and biblical literalism stoked by the fears of racism and xenophobia--the sort of stuff that makes me think that the neo-atheists have a point. Wonder why the town halls are so heated? It isn't that religion isn't in the room. Bad religion--and lots of it--is present in the room. It just isn't the sort of religion that you or I approve of Ed. It isn't about healing the sick; it isn't about caring for the least of these. It isn't really about Jesus. It is about wide-eyed fear over the end of the world as some people know it.

And the only thing that can possibly speak to it is sane religion, the simple teachings of Jesus: Heal the sick, care for the poor."

TPJ:Would Jesus deny the lame because it was a "pre-existing condition?" Would he walk past the lepers because they didn't have money to repay him for a healing? Would he resurrect only the rich? I'm not trying to be sacrilegious or offensive here but simply raising an issue and argument that I have long thought about, which I think has a lot of merit. Matthew 25:31-46 "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'" "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."

Jesus healed everyone from a high ranking, wealthy, officials son to the poorest, voiceless lepers. He didn't just heal his followers as some Christian denominations do but all people. He didn't just heal the wealthy and gainfully employed but all classes regardless of ability to pay or reimburse him. That's pretty radical by today's standards, which makes me wonder with all the socialist labels being thrown at those of us who support universal health care reform I can't help but wonder if Jesus would be called a socialist too? By some standards one could at least argue quite convincingly that he was an egalitarian.

That's fine some might say but Jesus never said that some should have to pay more to help heal the masses. Really? What about, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Mark 12:13-17). It was in response to those who wondered if they should still pay taxes to Caesar despite being followers of Jesus. Many scholars and clergymen and women interpret that to mean what this Catholic Minister said:

Despite their flattering words, they were trying to trap him, to force him into a no-win situation. Consider the circumstances. They are living under the iron boot of a brutal empire which filled the earth with its idolatry. Patriotic Jews longed to throw off the yoke of the tyrants. They prayed for an anointed king who would free them from the Romans as David had freed them from the Philistines. Anyone advocating collaboration with the invaders could not possibly be the hoped-for Messiah. No, he would appear as a traitor. But on the other hand, anyone preaching resistance to Rome would be branded an enemy of the Empire and would wind up suspended from a cross. So the Pharisees decided to put Jesus on the spot in front of the crowd. They asked him a question bound to get him into trouble one way or the other. “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the Emperor or not?”

He transforms an attempt to make him look bad into a teaching moment recorded for all time, providing all peoples and ages with some very important food for thought. Government is a fact of life. Rulers, laws, police, taxes. What should a worshipper of God make of it? One thing Jesus points out to the Pharisees is that they participate in this societal infrastructure. They don’t live on a deserted island but are dependent upon the imperial system for everything from the food in the marketplace to protection from thieves. One rural community in the US recently celebrated their independence after seceding from the nearby township and its taxes. A few days later, they were unpleasantly surprised when the town trash trucks failed to show up. Jesus says we can’t have it both ways–if we benefit from secular society, we need to support the infrastructure of society. This can take the form of taxes, military service, jury duty, and informed, conscientious voting." -Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio

TPJ: In addition, Paul made it quite clear the importance of paying taxes to the local government in Romans 13:5-7 saying, "Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.(NIV)

It boggles my mind then that so many Christians are hard-line conservatives when a lot of what Jesus did, said and taught was quite in line with modern day progressive thinking.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Obama Townhall in Colorado Video Highlights.

I thought the president's town hall here in Colorado was one of his best presentations on the public option health care reform. Here are some of what I thought were his highlights of this event. First Obama took on this vile, "death panel" rhetoric:
TPJ: I thought he also underlined the foundation of the public option well--That being it is a choice and describing what's in it for those who already have health insurance they like:

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Grassley Was for "Death Panels" Before He Was Against Them.

Time Magazine's Amy Sullivan pointed out last night that, for all of his ardent demagoguery on the so-called "death panels," Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) voted for just such a provision in 2003. Remember the 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill, the one that passed with the votes of 204 GOP House members and 42 GOP Senators? Anyone want to guess what it provided funding for? Did you say counseling for end-of-life issues and care? Ding ding ding!! So either Republicans were for death panels in 2003 before turning against them now--or they're lying about end-of-life counseling in order to frighten the bejeezus out of their fellow citizens and defeat health reform by any means necessary. Which is it, Mr. Grassley ("Yea," 2003)?

Reps. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.), who both claimed end-of-life consultations could result in "government encouraged euthanasia," also voted for similar policy in 2003. Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) tried to call Grassley on Friday and tell him he was wrong about health care reform. He got the senator's voicemail.

TPJ: Could his opposition have anything to do with the flood of money coming into his 2010 campaign coffers from the health insurance lobby?

During the height of the debate over health care, Grassley pulled in $165,100 from health and insurance PACs. At the same time, Grassley’s language turned from the cautious but open words about reform in 2008 to the abrasive Twitter rants of 2009. The real torrent of funds comes in the waning days of June. Could this be because of these two fundraisers held for Sen. Grassley on June 22 and June 24? From June 22 to the end of the month Sen. Grassley raised a total of $44,700. During this time he was the beneficiary of two fundraisers, one held by the lobbyist for an alternative health organization that has lampooned reform efforts, whose invites can be found at Sunlight’s Party Time web site.

The majority of the contributions coming in during this high water mark for Sen. Grassley’s PAC fundraising came from health professional organizations, all of whom paid equal to or above the amount required for PACs to gain entrance to the fundraising parties on June 22 and June 24. The amount raised over the final eight days in June accounts for over one-quarter of the health and insurance PAC money raised by Sen. Grassley in the second quarter. The other three quarters came over the course of 83 days. Knowing this, it appears that the two fundraisers had the desired effect.

TPJ: Truth and rationality are pretty much worthless to this crowd. How do we expect these Republican's and conservative Democrats who are holding up health care reform, who also ironically take money from the health insurance companies to respond to truth, rationality, reason and compassion? If they are crooked enough to take that kind of money and openly, hypocritically lie about these "death panels" and hold-up real health care reform for Americans who either don't have it or are under-insured then nothing is going to appeal to their better side because they obviously don't have one.

These politicians and the swill of America who agree with their tactics are sociopaths who are defined in part by deceitfulness, which is indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure. Obviously Grassley is lying and conning others for his personal gain of extending his power with the help of this blood money from the lobbyists. Coupled with that symptom is showing a lack of regret in his or her actions. Clearly Grassley feels no shame, remorse or regret for his misleading actions about this false "death panel" rumor. Otherwise he'd have apologized and admitted his deceit and hypocrisy once having been caught. The same goes for these people in town halls who repeat that kind of shameful rumor with some twisted logic that the ends justify the means. And finally, how are we supposed to work for health care reform when a large number of people in one party can't even agree that our president is a citizen of the country?!!!! Greed and selfishness have become a virtue in America and that makes my stomach churn.

Other sides of sociopathy, which I see in many of these politicians and some of these town hall screamers:

-Manipulative and Conning: They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims.-Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way.

Shallow emotions: Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. (TPJ: Such as the inhumanity of people going without health care or adequate health care. They try and justify it by telling themselves that people who don't have health insurance or not enough are just "lazy." Despite many working 2-3 jobs but still can't afford it). -Callousness/Lack of Empathy: Unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others' feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them. Irresponsibility/Unreliability: Not concerned about wrecking others' lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Does not accept blame themselves, but blames others, even for acts they obviously committed.

Seeks out situations where their tyrannical behavior will be tolerated, condoned, or admired. Extreme narcissism and grandiosity. TPJ: No wonder we can't get health care reform passed. On one side you have compassionate, giving, rational people and on the other sociopaths and the less informed who follow the sociopaths around as sycophants. However, as the symptoms state--In the end even the accomplices get screwed over.

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Videos: Medicare: 44 Years of Successful Single-Payer Health care. Plus, Glenn Beck's Idiocy.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Educate Yourself America. Ignorance is NOT an Excuse but Rather a Deadly Disease for Democracy.

It seems that everyday I go through the various stages of grief concerning the state of this country. I often find myself wanting to give up on this place and move to that great, "evil" bastion of liberalism--Europe but they aren't taking many people.

Go figure conservatives!! You paint Europe to be this horrible place where people should be flocking out of but it's the opposite. So many people want to get into these countries that they have become very strict in who they allow in. If they were such shit holes then they'd be letting anyone and everyone in out of hopes that new blood (immigrants) could boost their economy, etc.

Then again, I think of how much I love this country and that I don't want to see it over-run by these radicals. America was never supposed to be a tyranny where people shout down anyone who disagrees with them. Yes, everyone has their freedom to say whatever they want but I guess it's too much anymore to ask for civility and basic manners. I see all these older citizens trampling on someone else's right to speak at these town hall meetings.

I have to shake my head because they are the same generation who constantly bitch that we youngin's (anyone under 65) have no manners. The other issue is that we've become lazy and it has infiltrated our politics to where no one does good old fashioned research of their own anymore, which increases radicalism on both sides. Americans would rather someone else do research for them on political issues and then tell them what to think and do. This is sadly ironic considering we live in the information age where between Google and other internet resources at our fingertips, researching is easier than ever.

Case in point these people who attend town halls who are poorly informed, not very active in politics and less educated in general, which makes for very counter-productive discussions. I'm thinking right now of that lady who appeared at an Arlen Specter town hall who said she's 30 something and had never thought or cared much about politics before now. She said she didn't really care about it but then shows up at this town hall with probably 2 weeks worth of knowledge of American politics and information about the issues such as health care, which is all probably filtered through right-wing radio entertainers.

In an interview she was asked why she was so worried about her taxes going up when most people won't see an increase unless they make over $250,000 a year. She struggled with an answer but then blurted out that her husband handles all the finances, which includes their health care budget. So she probably just listens to whatever her husband feeds to her on money, health care and politics in general. It seems a lot of wives are that way, they let their husbands do the thinking for them when it comes to politics. Wouldn't you want to know for yourself what you believe and not just parrot whatever your husband says? What happened to women's rights, thinking for yourself and making up your own mind?

She went on to say in her comments at the town hall that she was afraid America was going to turn into a socialist country like Russia. Um, well I hate to say this lady but Russia is no longer a pure Socialist country, which wasn't even called Russia then but the USSR. It is technically a representative democracy like ourselves, however, with some social programs that we don't have. She makes it sound as if it's still a hard-line Communist state. I know not everyone is a history or political expert but some of this is basic information and if you don't the basics and spew whatever someone else told you then are you helping or hurting the democratic process? That's a rhetorical question by the way. I am a political junkie where not only is politics something I study but it's a passionate interest of mine--as is history, which is what I have my degree in.

What I am NOT, however, is an expert in engineering so you won't find me showing up at a debate on the physics principles of engineering. I wouldn't presume to know enough to be anything but a hindrance, an embarrassment to myself and an asshole who thinks he knows it all. Again, I'm not saying that you have to have a history or political science degree to discuss politics but have some basic understanding of the main issues if you're going to stand up in public and take up the time of our Senators, Representatives and your fellow citizens. If I don't feel I know enough about a subject I listen carefully and then go home and study up more on the issue and research the stuff said that raised red flags in my mind. I don't stand up and just spout off what little I know and expect anyone to take me seriously.

The people who are showing up to these town hall meetings on health care sound more like the type of voices you hear call into radio programs with half-baked ideas, information and understanding. They probably heard some right-wing ideologue tell them on the radio that grandma will die and the other Americans will have their bank accounts seized, all their money confiscated personally by Obama and children aborted if they get pregnant too many times unless they show up at these town halls and throw tantrums. The fact that they're gullible enough to believe what anyone says on the radio or at home without fact checking before making an ass of themselves tells you all you need to know about why a curiosity for information and having a good, solid education is so important. I love my wife and family but I even research stuff that they claim and state--you have to think for yourself or someone will do it for you and use you for their own agenda.

What many people don't realize is that learning should be a life-long process. Otherwise you end up being susceptible to these radio propagandists and are more likely to believe whatever they say because they are smooth talkers and since you don't have much of an education or life-long curiosity you have no frame of reference to check what they say against. Don't believe anything that I say on this blog just because I say so. In fact I hope that you double check my research. I don't want people slavishly following my opinions, views and ideas. That's not why I started this blog. As much as I firmly believe in Liberalism I'm not here to deceive and mislead people. I started this blog to get people to think--not even to think liberally though I do hope people better understand liberalism. No, I want people to come away more curious from reading my blog than ever. I want it to spur an avalanche of learning and thinking in the minds of my readers. Educate yourself, I can't say it enough and check several sources, which is something very important I learned from writing history papers. If I couldn't prove what I was saying in at least 3 different sources I was docked points.

It's frustrating that those of us who've been paying attention all along, studying the issue carefully for ourselves, weighing both sides, etc. have to compete with so many who clearly don't know enough to converse at the level necessary for solving the challenging issues that modern governments have to face. So once they exhaust their 2 weeks worth of "information" they resort to yelling and talking over their opponents. Of course I'm not saying people shouldn't have the right to speak regardless of their knowledge of an issue but it sure makes it hard to have an honest, realistic, rational discussion with people who probably didn't even know who their Senator or Representative was before they got one of those chain emails from their brother-in-law to show up at the town hall. These town halls aren't meant for amateur hour--they involve our countries greatest problems and require more preparation than jotting a few ideas down on a post-it note after listening to an hour of Glenn Beck fomenting the masses. The reason that many of these people who are clearly less informed are afraid of change so much is because not having all the information and education breeds fear because it is human instinct to fear the unknown.

The fact that so many ask these leading questions at these health care town halls but then shout down the Congressperson or Senator when they actually try to answer them tells me that they were never really interested in their answer to begin with. They just wanted a platform to blast their screeds from. When hearings and other business are conducted in the House or Senate they kick ANYONE out who disrupts them from hearing both sides--Left or right. So why doesn't security escort out those who aren't interested in discussing in a civil way? And the ones who ask their question of the Congressperson or Senator but don't want to hear their answer unless it jives with their agenda. This isn't the America I was raised to believe in.

I was always taught in school that one of the things that makes America so great is our civility in debating issues. Well, that has completely gone out the window. I must say that I'm quite shocked at how out of control people are on this subject of health care reform. I shouldn't be I guess. I know that there were going to be the oddballs here and there but I didn't count on mass hysteria, loss of rational behavior, loss of critical thinking and common sense. I thought we have more pride in our country than to behave this way in a public forum.

I have to admit that I feel quite let down, embarrassed and ashamed of America right now. Where does all this shouting and anger lead? I am really starting to worry about the sanity, stability, internal security and unity of this country. It would be such a shame and tragedy to see America fall again into a civil war of some sort. Yet I try to maintain my courage, strength, hope and energy to prevent any such disaster. I would hope that despite our disagreements that we don't let our country spiral out of control. The Republicans who so vehemently oppose this health care reform remind me of the dog that chases loudly after squirrels in the back-yard or park--barking, growling and snarling its teeth. However, when they actually catch a squirrel of rabbit they don't know what to do with it.

They seem so hell bent on destroying the public option and anything that Obama proposes that they haven't seemed to have bothered to think of a viable alternative than the status quo. I tell you though, nothing is more educational than first hand, personal experience of say getting cancer, losing your insurance and wondering how you're going to stay in your house, keep your family fed and stay alive--all at the same time. The school of hard knocks always wins and unfortunately it seems many more people will have to learn the hard-way how badly we need a public option. If this bill goes down to defeat I cringe at how many more people will have to suffer and yes, ultimately die because of this metastasizing, cancerous, attitude in America today of intellectually laziness. I hope it doesn't come to that, I really do but I realize that talking to many of these people is like talking to a two year old.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How Much is Shouter Movement at Town Halls Manufactured.

We've all seen the images of an middle-aged to older American shouting down their Congressperson trying to answer a question on the Obama health care reform plan. Or shouting down a supporter of the plan in the audience. There has been a lot of talk about who are these people. How many are real, average Americans, health insurance lobbyists in plain clothes, misinformed Americans (thanks to the Glenn Beck's of the world) and actual, flesh and blood, average Americans who have real concerns about the bill?

Certainly there are many who are genuinely concerned about the bill and have honest questions but how many of those questions are heard over the din of the shouters and criers? It seems that the shouters are shooting their cause right in the stomach with these outburst tactics as it makes ALL opponents to the bill look like fringe radicals. I think a lot of these people just hate the government and/or just want to rant--period. Some of these folks have a whole laundry list of complaints, gripes, etc. that they list off at these town halls. So you start to wonder, what are they actually for? And how are they going to help end the out of control costs of our health insurance markets if they get their way and we just maintain the status quo? I can pretty much guarantee that costs will only increase, care will continue to go down, more and more people will be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions, etc. So what are they for?? What is their solution because dismantling the government to the point where they want is only going to make us weaker as a Republic and soon you'll see states decide that they'd be better off just declaring independence. Dismantling the government is the surest way to ensure this country falls apart completely.

I saw two articles yesterday that added to the body of evidence that some of this is manufactured outraged. We know that the health insurance lobbyists spend $1.4 million dollars a day on lobbying and that can buy a lot of influence. One guy didn't even both to hide his Blue Cross, Blue Shield health insurance shirt while at one of these town hall meetings. So the first article is about a health insurance whistle blower:

Health insurance companies deserve “a great deal of the blame” for the sometimes violent disruptions to town hall meetings on health care, says a former health insurance company executive turned whistleblower. Wendell Potter, a former executive with health insurer Cigna who now works as the senior fellow on health care at the Center for Media and Democracy, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that health insurance companies “are very much behind the town hall disruptions that you see and a lot of the deception that’s going on in terms of disinformation that many Americans, apparently, are believing.”

On her show Monday night, Maddow cited statistics from the Securities and Exchange Commission showing that profits at the US’s ten largest health insurance companies skyrocketed more than 400 percent between 2000 and 2007, from $2.4 billion in 2000 to $12.7 billion in 2007. “Apparently while they quadrupled their profits, the number of Americans without health insurance grew by 19 percent,” Maddow said. And she also pointed out that the average total take-home pay for the CEOs of those health insurance companies was $11.9 million each, per year, “while the number of Americans without health insurance, for whom a burst appendix can mean bankruptcy, has gone through the roof.”

Asked why health care costs are going up, Potter told Maddow: “Since 1983 … the amount of money that insurance companies take in in premiums — less and less of that is going to pay medical claims.” Potter suggested that health insurers’ fears of a public health alternative are unfounded, because they can still make money with a public plan in place. “They could [turn a profit], absolutely. I’ve seen the health insurance industry change its business models many times. The insurance companies who operate now are very different from the companies that operated a few years ago and the one thing they know how to do is make money.”

TPJ: Of course they can make more than enough money but we're talking about companies who are use to ridiculously inflated profits and who greedily want to hang on to that profit margin. This idea that they can't compete is bullshit. They will still be more than successful but just not to the tune of triple digit, record profits. And maybe a few go out of business but isn't that capitalism after all? The strong survive and the weak fall away? I find it funny that the one's being called the "Socialists" are defending more competition in the health insurance marketplace, which is pure, Adam Smith Capitalism.

However, the ones who beat their chests and yell the loudest that they are the "TRUE" Americans and defending freedom seem to be the ones standing in the way of the choice this public option would bring the most? The public option provides even more choices than we currently have, which keeps the health insurance companies relatively honest and thus prices down. Republicans call themselves the party of business but they aren't exactly the party of FAIR business practices. All too often they seem to be the party of business--gone excessive. They oppose nearly all regulation, which are measures that are supposed to help maintain a fair business environment.

So why would they be interested in seeing the truth about this health care reform bill be known? Of course they're going to want to muddy up the water. Doesn't it strike you as odd despite Obama saying time and time again during the campaign that he was going to reform health care, which in part led to his election, that now there are these "masses" rising up against it? Why would so many people vote for him only to not support his plans, which were well outlined in the campaign?

Because health insurance money is being spread around to agents willing to muddy up the water like hardcore activists and unscrupulous radio talk show hosts who make a living on saying the most radical things that they can think of. Do you honestly think that Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly want to see anything Obama proposes pass? Of course not--they are the very definition of an ideologue, which is someone who sticks to their views regardless of the evidence. And they exist on the left too but the right has more of a history with this kind of radio propaganda campaign. So these radio hosts (most by the way aren't journalists though many people think they are) are experts at manipulation of their audience because if they can't hold an audience and keep them tuning in then they lose listeners, then sponsors, which in turn hurts their pay check. So of course they're going to repeat the most outlandish things they can find regarding this health care debate such as Obama is going to set up
death panels, euthanasia, fund abortion and insure illegal aliens, etc.

All it takes is for a talk show host like Limbaugh who has a huge microphone influence to confuse enough people with shameless misinformation because he's a foot soldier, remember? He is such a believer of his ideology that he believes conservativism is the only way to go and the only way America can survive and succeed. So like many he doesn't mind bending the truth if what he perceives as the "right" political views get pushed in the end. In other news, some town halls are being over-crowded with people
either not in a Representatives district or even state:

In what became an emblematic scene, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), faced a hostile crowd at a packed health care town hall in Michigan on Thursday. Dingell, a major sponsor of health care reform legislation, was repeatedly shouted down. But who was actually populating this angry mob? Although town-hall meetings are intended for constituents of congressional members' districts, some if not a majority of attendees seemed to have come from further away. Members of Congress routinely ask constituents to sign in when they attend town halls so they can contact them later and gauge where people are coming from.

Dingell spokesman Adam Benson estimated that roughly 500 people showed up for the meeting, and half didn't sign in at all. Of the 262 who did, 80 listed addresses inside Dingell's district; 100 listed addresses outside the district; and 82 didn't put down an address at all. Sign-in sheet breakdowns provided to the Huffington Post in two other congressional districts indicated a similar pattern of outside agitation. In short, the sign-in sheets lend credence to the accusation that the protests are the product of Washington-based "Astroturf" organizations, rather than evidence of a groundswell of popular resistance to health care reform.

TPJ: As I said in earlier in the post, not all by any means are plants, insurance activists or brainwashed less informed voters. However, there is enough evidence to show that there is more of that going on than is being admitted by opponents. I just hope that everyone is getting the accurate information--whether it supports Obama's plan or whether it doesn't. I also hope that people aren't purposefully misinforming others because that is just down right shady, dishonest and disturbing. That kind of behavior shouldn't be tolerated.

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