Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I didn’t count on just how much money the Healthcare industry has to spend, and how much power and influence it has already bought over the long years since President Nixon set the HMOs loose on us like a pack of rabid dogs.
Maybe attacking Healthcare Reform now, and at any of the times since President Truman’s efforts, was a case of putting the cart before the horse; because without getting the lobbyists away from all of our representatives, without campaign reform that actually keeps corporations from buying our House and Senate out from under our tired feet, it doesn’t matter what we need or how badly we need it. With enough money, "we the people" can be made to believe we don’t need anything, and we can be made to fear and refuse the very things that will save our lives. After all, Healthcare is a matter of life and death for millions of Americans, and yet some people are arguing about it today it as if “coverage” were fancy clothing, or an extended awning to be put off in favor of remaining indoors and saving money.
Everyone in America needs to remember that the Republican Party and its members asked no questions about budgets, deficits and the burden we were passing onto our children when President Reagan tripled the deficit, and the GOP again remained conspicuously silent when George W, Bush doubled it again while increasing government bureaucracy to an unprecedented degree.
Rupert Murdoch’s Fox “News” Channel consistently focuses on “character” issues (-real or contrived,) points out hypocrisies and celebrates the moral lapses (-legitimate or spurious) of any Democrat. So why haven’t they pointed out that Max Baucus, the Democratic Senator from Montana received $3,973,485 from the Healthcare industry from 2003 to 2008? In fact it surprised me to know, the only senators who have received more campaign contributions from the Healthcare industry during the same time period were the three major Presidential contenders of 2008: Hillary Clinton; John McCain; and Barack Obama. That’s how much money Baucus is in the barrel for. Think about it: the only people who took more money from the Healthcare companies were people running for President… and one of them won.
That’s how much money one Senator is worth to the Healthcare industry.
According to The Center for Responsive Politics, Senator Baucus has received $852,813 from the Pharmaceutical companies and drug makers, $851,142 from doctors and health professionals, $784,184 from the health insurers and $465,750 from HMOs.
Now, my collaborator on this blog and I have repeatedly pointed out the many reasons why Fox “News” Channel isn’t news: but for once, just once, I should’ve been able to count on Fox “News” Channel, -that dogged bastion of partisanship- to go after a Democrat…
Didn’t I tell you I was naïve?
America’s health has no price my friend.
If President George W. Bush could say to Americans that our lives were worth whatever we could go into debt for, why can’t President Barack H. Obama say the same thing?
Is war really that much more easily justifiable than medical coverage?
You reading this, if you are sick, there is no price we should not pay to keep you, a member of our society, from pain and untimely death. There is no America without Americans, and we’d do well to remind each other and every politician that we’ve elected and that we’ve paid to represent us that we are the country, we are its spirit, its mind, its power and its naked soul.
There is no refuge from this problem:
We can reform Healthcare in such a way that it is no longer an industry that preys on us; destroys our businesses big and small; denies help to the dying –or- we can put it off once again, and in twelve-years time be forced to nationalize it completely in a panic, thereby actually bringing about the bureaucratic nightmares, draconian rationing and inefficiencies many disingenuously claim are common in the United Kingdom, Canada and all those other nations with curiously higher life expectancies than our own.
Maybe we’ll just sail to Byzantium my friends, or better yet, to some other imagined shore where life has no price, variable or set, and the truth is not what somebody says it is, -but a thing we know and use against the people and things that would harm us.
Friday, September 25, 2009
I suppose I take issue with the notion of redemption as a tangible functioning concept. What could anybody ever do to compensate for a murder?
There are no dollar amounts imaginable, no assignment of human service that can approach the suffering of family and friends. Nothing can bring back the murdered. Nothing can erase the pain and violence of their end.
What punishment or prison can make things “even?”
After all the promises of justice; often portrayed in marble as a blind-folded robed woman, scales in hand, what is there? It’s a fiction.
Nothing can ever balance her scales; nothing can ever truly set things right against the finality of an untimely death at the hands of a criminal. Killing the Manson family members a thousand times over, would not bring back one single human being. There is only the dry solace of knowing that murderers like Susan Atkins will never be free to take another life, never be free to unleash their homicidal idiocy on the defenseless. There is only the small consolation that Patricia Krenwinkel; Leslie Van Houten; and Charles Watson will spend the rest of their lives surrounded by dangerous individuals like their own worthless selves, who share their same shameful disregard for human beings.
Atkins lived to be 61. She had been suffering from brain cancer, she’d had a leg amputated and was partially paralyzed in her last months of life. According to the New York Times, Vincent Bugliosi, (Susan Atkins' prosecutor in the 1970 trials) recently spoke out in favor of her release, saying the mercy requested was ''minuscule'' because Atkins was on her deathbed.
-This woman was sentenced to life in prison.
What mercy, -minuscule or otherwise- should come in to play?
During the 10-month trial in 1970, Atkins, Charles Manson and their co-defendants lied and aggressively maintained their innocence. Once they were convicted however, Atkins confessed her violent homicides in graphic detail without visible remorse.
They killed 9 in all that we know of: Sharon Tate 81/2 months pregnant, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Voityck Frykowski and Steven Parent and grocery owners Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Subsequently Atkins also was convicted of another murder. She and Charles Manson killed Gary Hinman, in July of 1969.
I’m not in support of the death penalty because I’m against killing people like Susan Atkins: I’m against the death penalty because our justice system is run by human beings and is susceptible to all the errors and abuse that ordinary people bring to doing a job. I just don’t trust anybody with a decision so permanent. However, in cases like these, where life sentences are administered, why at the end of a convicted prisoner’s life is it even conceivable that they be afforded parole?
Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, was convicted for his involvement in the Lockerbie bombing that killed 243 passengers, 16 crew members and 11 unsuspecting Scottish citizens on the ground who had the terrible misfortune of being hit with debris from the airplane. Al Megrahi was sentenced to life imprisonment but served just over 8½ years of his sentence in Greenock Prison. Just over a month ago, the Scottish Government released him on “compassionate grounds,” because he was suffering from terminal prostate cancer, with a diagnosed life expectancy of 3 months.
Al Megrahi returned to Libya.
His victims are still in the ground; their own lives violently interrupted and unfinished. Al Megrahi will get to say good bye to his relatives, and ponder his life and existence, something he didn’t give his victims a chance to do.
As for Susan Atkins, she said she had found redemption in Christianity in the later years of her life. Trouble is, I just don’t believe in that kind of absolution. It’s entirely unacceptable, and yet another reason why we have to insure religion stays out of government. If Atkins had said she deserved mercy because she’d now had a new found belief in Superman and this ethics, she would have been laughed at. Because she cited an established religion, her request was actually deliberated and considered.
I don’t think Atkins saying she’s sorry and that she’d changed, or found God should’ve unlocked the doors to the prison she murdered her way into. I’m glad the authorities and the parole board in California agree. Susan Atkins received a life sentence. Being that life sentences are the least we can do (-keeping them away from the rest of us so they can’t hurt anybody again) to the monsters amongst us like Al Megrahi who think it’s rational and just to murder people in order to make a political point, these sentences should be honored to the letter.
I think the entire idea of parole for murderers, on the face of it, is utter nonsense. Parole essentially undoes the functions of the laws that we agree to obey and uphold and makes their consequences ultimately non-existent.
The act of even weighing parole for a murderer or rapist, gives consideration to a human being convicted of the most violent crimes imaginable, but it also affords a right to that offender, a right he or she took away from their victims.
We’re an odd country at times. Our inability to reach consensus on just exactly what is fair and just punishment reflects our diversity of thought and ethics, but I believe that laws, if they are to be laws at all, have to be enforced, or legislated into disuse if deemed ineffective or incorrect. We have had a bizarre trend over the last forty years of new laws passed simply because existing laws are not enforced. The body of Hate crimes legislation, which I largely support, is a sad indication of this. Hate crimes laws have largely come about because the existing laws to safeguard all citizens from violent battery and attack simply aren’t enforced when it comes to certain minorities and gender groups. While I support Hate crimes legislation as a necessary stop gap, ultimately we have to return to the concrete idea of one set of laws and consequences for all.
We have to insist upon immutable rules, consequences and regulations for living where violence is concerned so that we avoid the insulting charade of multiple-murderers like Susan Atkins, David Berkowitz and countless others attempting to play on the sympathies of a parole board for clemency.
In their actions as executioners of human beings, they gave no such consideration to their victims.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Fox “News” Commentator Glenn Beck, (who repeatedly claims to be an independent but only takes up Conservative causes that benefit the wealthy, the Republican Party and the Right) has been on a targeted witch hunt against the organization this year, accusing ACORN of voter-registration fraud among other things. Recently ACORN office workers were videotaped consulting and advising Conservative activists who were “undercover” posing as street hustlers interested in establishing a prostitution ring. Officials at ACORN have called the incidents uncovered in the sting “isolated” and have begun their own internal investigations, maintaining that workers at other ACORN offices immediately reported the Conservative imposters to the local police. Time will tell whether ACORN’s explanations are valid or whether it is a systematically “corrupt” organization as many on the Right are rushing to allege.
I can tell you what I know of ACORN from my own personal experience. In my native South Bronx, ACORN workers did and continue to do extremely important community outreach, passing out flyers notifying people of upcoming election times, from the all important local primaries (I just missed the Democratic primary here in New York City, so shame on me) to the national elections. I first registered to vote because of ACORN outreach and I don’t think I’ve missed a local or national election since. ACORN’s outreach efforts serve the poorest communities and the most impoverished Americans across the nation with information about their rights and responsibilities as voters. You will not find them canvassing in the Hamptons, Beverly Hills, Westchester, Aspen Hills or Hilton Head. It’s pretty much a given-truth if not a discernable fact that ACORN’s efforts do not aid the GOP, which has been consistently hurt when the poorest in America step up to vote en masse. It’s important to point out that this is not ACORN’s fault. If the GOP represented the working poor in this country and proposed any policies that weren’t “tax breaks for the Rich in disguise,” they might get the millions of Poor and lower working classes to vote for their candidates across the nation on occasion. Instead, the GOP will have to rely on those particular lower class White and Hispanic voters who they can scare easily.
In the end, most of ACORN’s operating revenue comes from members and other supporters, so these efforts will not dismantle the organization outright. Yesterday’s House financing ban, which may be Unconstitutional, is crow-barred into an education bill that has to pass the Senate. I'm not counting on an eventual veto by our President, as neither he, nor anyone else seems to have the guts to stand by this organization that has done so much for so many for so long.
All I can say is, game on.
If an entire nationwide not for profit’s funding can be taken down by the alleged criminal negligence of employees in the field or in one office thanks to Glenn Beck and Rupert Murdoch’s Right Wing Media apparatus, then we should all prepare ourselves for more of the same.
Let's see More “investigative activism” by everyone.
Let's do it America. They say "the truth never hurt anyone," but I say the facts are downright poisonous to liars.
I am going to check out ACORN’s local offices here in New York and see about making a contribution and thanking them for reaching out to me when I was in college. I should note that, once registered, I in fact voted for a Republican; George Bush in 1988.
As of this writing 62 companies have pulled support from Glenn Beck’s show.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
A year ago we wrote plenty about the collapse of the Investment Bank economy on Wall Street due to years of frontier-style deregulation. Lehman Brothers imploded exactly a year ago this week. Now, today, --Ben Bernanke, says the recession is “probably over.” Well, I think our Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is “probably out of touch.” He said this recession is over, while fully acknowledging that the almost 15 million unemployed Americans will remain jobless as the nation “recovers.”
I don’t think that Ben Bernanke and I have the same definition of “recovery” in mind. I’m not even sure if he’s from the same planet as myself and every other person doing the living and dying on earth. If you’re reading this and you’re out of work, what in hell does “probably over” mean to you? For that matter what does a “recession” or “recovery” mean to you?
If you don’t have a job, no amount of macroeconomic rationalization will help you. In fact the easing of credit and flow of goods is just a slap in your face, because you can’t pay for any of it.
Aside from the obvious intrinsic ties to that entire “supply and demand” concept that is practically religion here and in the United Kingdom (or for that matter its cynical, Randian cousin “supply-side economics”), there are a host of reasons why we need all people at work in America and throughout the world (read consumers) who can actually pay for things. The most important among these reasons is the consumers themselves, because they and the citizenry they benefit with their work and taxes are one in the same. When people are out of work it doesn’t just mean boom times for Campbell Soup Co. and bad times for Ruth Chris. It means the fabric of society is coming undone. Every fraction of a percentage point up in Unemployment is another tear. We’d do well to remember Flint Michigan in the 1980s, and remember New York City in the 1970s. We must remember that every riot we have ever had in this country had an ultimate, underlying economic cause. Violent crime will inevitably rise with unemployment, igniting a holocaust in regions where unemployment soars above the national averages.
But Ben Bernanke says the economy “likely is growing now,” warning that “growth” won't be sufficient to stave off the unemployment rate from rising from its (as of this writing) 9.7 rate; nearly double what is considered “normal.”
“Normal” is a word that should be legislated into disuse. No term with such built-in relativity can be harmless.
The consequences of crime, deregulation and greed “from above” are now wrecking lives anew “down below.” The cycle will “likely continue” in my estimation as the usurious credit card debt that is crippling the nation’s consumers, out of work or not, finally brings the remaining transnational banks to a reckoning not imagined since the evaporation of Bear Stearns.
The question remains, who will be the next parade of “experts,” officials, financiers, bankers and regulators who will claim not to have seen the next collapse ahead of time? Who will be the new fools charged with telling the world they did not know that joblessness would wreck every remaining institution in the now Global economy?
What fool believes this recession is over?
Saturday, September 12, 2009
A few posts ago, I wrote that I would leave the Republicans alone, while I attempted to focus on what appeared to be a faltering resolve on the part of Democrats who were swept in by American exhaustion and frustration with Conservative economic and foreign policy in the last election cycles. I reasoned, incorrectly, that ignoring the GOP’s childish attempts at disinformation and obstruction and instead focusing on the actual policies and bills under proposal and supporting real change was the best course of action.
I reckoned, incorrectly, that taking the high road was the only option.
I was naïve, and I was a fool. Our President and his administration, (especially Rahm Emmanuel) have also been naïve and foolish to sit and trust that the truth and the facts of any matter will ever get out in our country.
How can anyone in this nation expect their owns words to “speak for themselves” when there are demagogues and gang leaders, (Yes, in my opinion, I consider people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck to be no different than gang leaders) not reporting, but lying about what has been said?
Not opining, not editorializing, not commenting, but actually lying and saying that things were said that were not said by anyone.
Most Americans shrug, thinking there is nothing that can be done when people on TV or the web lie.
My solution, and I hope you’ll help me fight for it is simple: America has to force the FCC do it’s job.
Whenever a news outlet, “News” Channel, Newspaper, Magazine, Radio show, News website, blog or other media vehicle pronounces a lie, misstates a fact, they must be fined 30% percent of the ad revenue generated and 30% of subscription revenue generated unless they give equal time and space to correcting said lie, or misstatement. Blogs and other websites get a three strikes rule, 3 lies and they’re out-unless they give equal space to the facts as they are. Period.
This is not an attack on the freedom of speech, because the freedom of speech is not a right to lie. Lying is not self-expression. Lying is an assault on reality, and when it happens in the news? It’s a threat to national security and our society at large.
The First Amendment does not protect Sean Hannity’s lying about the President. When Sean Hannity purposefully (or due to his theoretical and likely calculated ineptitude) gets the facts wrong and insists on TV that the President "said tonight that insurance executives are bad people" in referring to the Presidential Capitol Hill address of September 9, 2009 there should be immediate consequences.
In fact, our President said “…it makes it easier for insurance companies to treat their customers badly, by cherry-picking the healthiest individuals and trying to drop the sickest, by overcharging small businesses who have no leverage, and by jacking up rates. Insurance executives don't do this because they're bad people; they do it because it's profitable.”
Here’s Sean Hannity’s lie about what the President said, so you don’t have to take my word for it:
This repeated, daily lying by the Right wing media apparatus can only be remedied by exact instances in allotted space and time of the facts being spoken as they are. The FCC, if it was worth anything at all as a regulating body, would force Sean Hannity to correct this lie immediately.
But it won’t unless we make them do it. The FCC won’t do a thing unless Americans show them that we care more about “News” channels lying to us than we do about Janet Jackson’s nipple, or someone cursing at the Grammy’s.
I am asking you the reader, for the first and only time, that you please forward a link to this post, or better yet, write to the FCC at the link below and tell them what you know and how you feel:
Simply click here
Glenn Beck’s right. We need to take our country back, --from Rupert Murdoch.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Yes my friends, last night was a doozy of an oratorio from the President of the United States. It is mind-blowing when we soberly consider what we had to put up with in the way of a Commander-in-Chief for eight long years. Strange how although George W. Bush was repeatedly caught in obvious lies, especially concerning the run up to the war in Iraq, nobody ever called him a liar to his face, no one ever shouted it out during a press conference, and it was certainly never yelled out from a crowd while he was making a speech on Capitol hill, -if we can call the sad bumbling mutterances of George W. Bush speech making at all. Anybody shouting anything at George W. Bush would have been promptly bum rushed and hand cuffed, despite the fact that it would not have been a false accusation to call the man a liar.
-Don’t tase me bro, indeed.
Representative Joe Wilson, a Republican from South Carolina decided he not only disagreed with the President, but that last night was all about him and his theatrical self-righteous anger. In shouting "You lie!" all Mr. Wilson did was accuse President Obama of doing what he and his party is actually doing. Mr. Wilson has lied repeatedly, promoting phantom items in the Health Care bills that simply do not exist: coverage for illegal immigrants, death panels, et cetera, et cetera.
Our President may not have any more time for games, but the Republicans have all the time in the world for games, for nonsense, and for obstruction. It’s the only way to protect the status quo they love so dearly and profit from so greatly. The Republicans want to protect Health Care Insurance companies from the people of the United States.
Simply put: The GOP’s goal is to protect the Health Care industry's profits.
Does anyone need to be convinced that the GOP is not going to support reform in any way? Does anyone need to look at history again to see how consistently Conservatives and free markets proponents always fight progress and stone wall anything that helps individual Americans as a population? If you do, read Jack Jodell’s recent excellent post for a mind-bending refresher.
The GOP is at it again, but this time suggesting:
“On that goal (-lowering the cost of health care), Republicans are ready, and we've been ready to work with the president for common-sense reforms that our nation can afford.” in the words of Representative Charles Boustany of Louisiana’s 7th District in response to the President’s address last night.
This is bullshit of the worst kind.
Republicans had controlling majorities of the House and the Senate for much of the 1990s, and they did not bring up the subject of healthcare, -in fact, they fought it tooth, nail and hoof when President Clinton proposed it, successfully delaying and burying it, until now.
The GOP only seems to care about costs when a government program is not lining the pockets of their corporate supporters. Republicans only care about costs when a program or law might compete with that profit hungry base of theirs represented by industrial lobbyists.
Remember the “no bid” contracts awarded to Dick Cheney’s friends for the War in Iraq? We’re running up that particular tab every single day, month, and year. I don’t hear one Republican calling that out as a concern. The “no bid” contracts were not bad business or acts of fiscal irresponsibility; they were crimes of theft. Instead, Joe Wilson of South Carolina and his cabal of whores in the Congress are mobilizing to fight against insuring 50 million Americans because of what it might cost.
The GOP will continue to use double talk and lies to protect their beloved Health Care industry. You heard it yourself last night, you saw it on the faces of all those Congressmen, some sitting with hastily scrawled paper signs, ready to protest the very idea of medical coverage for all Americans… -other than themselves that is. These games the Republican Party plays with American lives will not end, not abroad on the streets of Kabul, not in downtown in Peoria, and not outside my window here in New York City.
Monday, September 07, 2009
How does a country that elected a descendant of its former slave class Commander in Chief and President reconcile the juvenile shouting and bluster across town halls, and in so-called “protests” across the Midwest and South?
Currently, (among a slew of recent indignities weathered with unprecedented grace,) our President now has to explain, excuse and submit for review a direct address to the nation’s schoolchildren. Never before has any President had to file an advance copy of an address with the schoolteachers, principals and parents of the United States for vetting and approval. Since when do the children of America have to be protected from the President? We know the answer don’t we?
It’s not everyone in America who wants to use supposed ideological differences as an excuse to invalidate a President because he happens to be Black.
It’s not everyone in our nation who wants to use prevailing racial prejudice to strike a symbolic blow across partisan lines.…But once again, the “loudest voices in the room” are focusing, and at times even determining the subject of national debate.
It’s time we all remembered that bigots will always be the “loudest voices in the room.” Scared people can always shout longer than those who aren’t afraid, or those who want questions answered. It’s time we fully acknowledged what the “loudest voices in the room” are actually afraid of. Our news media isn’t up to telling us the truth anymore. They’re too scared of being called “biased” or “Liberals” by Fox “News” channel’s McCarthyite media apparatus.
Pundits and fake journalists like Sean Hannity who promote this kind of mob stupidity are just as responsible as the real journalists who report these latest attempts to invalidate the President as if they were legitimate invocations of parental rights or genuine dissent.
To the Right, the Republican Party and its sympathizers, I say again to you:
Your candidate lost.
When George W. Bush took the election in 2000 under inarguably questionable circumstances, not one Democrat in office talked about revolution, secession, or “wanting their country back.” -And maybe the Democrats should have, because the Republican candidate’s brother just happened to be Governor of the state that decided the election,
-but nobody did. Nobody.
So grow up, all of you.
There is no reason, (other than a childish refusal to accept a Black man as President,) for the nonsense going on in America’s schools over the President’s address. Fox “News” channel and its mascot of the moment Glenn Beck won’t call it racism and bigotry cloaked under partisanship because they’d have to concede that they have no point, no reason or basis for their ongoing opposition to every single thing the President does.
They’d have to concede that it is the President himself, down to his last African-American molecule that is so disgusting and unacceptable to them.
Rupert Murdoch’s band of cowards from Sean Hannity, on down to Glenn Beck won’t ever call what they are doing by its actual name, but everyone else should, because that’s all it is.