Saturday, October 06, 2007

Well, What's Your Solution?

Recently, I blasted Sen. Clinton's 'universal' health care proposal for not only missing the point, but for being a poorly disguised gift to the insurance companies too.

I believe that any plan that fails to understand that the larger problem is the insurance companies (rather than Hillary's notion that what we need is to force everyone into this awful system) just doesn't get it. As the wise philosopher Lewis Black said in the 2006 movie 'Accepted', "Health insurance, my ass! They don't pay for shit. You get sick on a Friday, they only pay for Monday through Thursday. You go to Doctor A, they only pay for Doctor B."

And it's ultimately an overpriced, inefficient mess.

Do I have a better idea, I can hear some Hillary supporters asking. It's not the most original, but sure I do. So here's how a President Blueduck would reform American health care.

What America needs-- not just what liberals want-- is a national, universal health care system... just like every other industrialized nation has. And because all these other countries beat us to the punch, we will able to see their strengths, and steal them as or own, and isolate the weaknesses, and avoid duplicating them.

We all know the general idea.... in exchange for a modest increase in taxes (and/or utilizing another revenue source), you get access to a guaranteed, universal system of national health care. Ideally, it would be more similar to the British system than any other.

Every adult citizen would receive a government-issued ID card (in addition to your drivers' license, or other ID) that you use for health care. Show it at the doctor, hospital, pharmacy, etc, and you will be covered at no personal cost to yourself. Children won't need an ID, as they'll always be covered. How to factor in illegal immigrants is a subject for debate.

As in the British system, an important part of health care will be promoting preventive care. Educate, not just medicate. I think it's safe to say American culture regards a 'healthy' lifestyle as some odd fetish.

Doctors won't be bound to the system... they may also practice privately if they choose.

But what about the freaked-out conservatives? You know, the ones who vehemently defend our socialized military, roads, police, firefighters, libraries, postal service, etc... but draw the line at health care (that's for private businesses to handle, thankyouverymuch!)? Fear not, my plan would factor in those who oppose such a system, whether based on principle or irrational fear.

My program would have an "opt-out" option. Those who didn't want to be a part of the national health care system could apply to opt-out (and wouldn't have health-care cards, etc, for free care at hospitals, etc). The amount taken in their taxes for the national system would be refunded to them in full as part of their tax refund (or as a deduction, something along those lines). They could then use that refunded $$ to seek private insurance or to pay out of pocket. Their choice, their option.

You know what, though? When all was said and done, I'd bet those who chose to opt-out would represent a very small number. Because at the end of the day, even many conservatives know the health insurance business is a scam, and that we would all be better off with a universal system that gives you health care, not paperwork and bills. Even if that means the scary ol' government is running it.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Friday, October 05, 2007

Iraq: Fun With Numbers!

This past summer, the Center for American Progress created an interactive, flash-based timeline of the "broken record we've been hearing from our leaders," looking at the continued statements of progress and calls for patience over the years. Now, they've created a new interactive map.

This one breaks down the cost(s) of this war on a state-by-state basis. How much is your state paying for Operation: Eternal Occupation? Click on the link and find out! I don't see the big deal... New York has only contributed a tiny $40-50 billion or so.

Meanwhile, an analysis of the cost of war shows this all costs a measly $720 million a day. See? A huge bargain! Some damn hippies, though, pointed out that $$ could instead "buy homes for almost 6,500 families or health care for 423,529 children, or could outfit 1.27 million homes with renewable electricity." And who wants that junk?

Finally, Bill Moyers did a report trying to figure exactly where all this money goes.

Weekend Odds and Ends

More news that's important, and not given justice in this small space. Let's zoom through...

Yet another confirmation of the Bush administration's torture policies, try not to faint: "[S]oon after Alberto R. Gonzales’s arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another [torture] opinion, this one in secret... [it] provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures."

The White House, of course, gave its official "This country does not torture" because we choose not to define what we do as torture vague denial. Video- here.

The House has passed a bill "that would make all private contractors working in Iraq and other combat zones subject to prosecution by U.S. courts." This resulted in another White House hissy fit, insisting these pesky 'rules' would harm privatized war national security.

Business conservatives don't like the GOP anymore. The religious right is pretty grumpy too.

Sen. Domenici (R-NV) has announced he's retiring after this term. Larry Craig? He's staying.

Finally, Jon Stewart takes poor Chris Matthews to task for his disturbing worldview.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

SCANDAL! Sen. Obama Not Into Empty Jingoism!

Sen. Obama takes a small, but noted, stand that reminds me why I like him, but again why his principles might not translate into electoral victory. He has stopped wearing an American flag pin to protest the type of hollow, bumper-sticker patriotism that has-- as Tom Friedman noted this week-- made this country stupid in the post-9/11 era.

He explains this decision by stating that "After a while I noticed people wearing a lapel pin and not acting very patriotic... My attitude is that I'm less concerned about what you're wearing on your lapel than what's in your heart. You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those who serve. You show your patriotism by being true to our values and ideals." Amen.

The National Review's Jonah Goldberg, however, says it's "the single dumbest thing I've ever heard of him doing." And trust me, folks... Jonah knows dumb. Malkin freaks out too!

(UPDATE: Holy crap, even the NY Daily News has their panties in a twist over this.)

The right, of course, wants Hillary to win. She's the best thing they've got going for them.

Recommended Reading/Viewing

After watching Ken Burns' The War (which has been airing on PBS, and is on DVD next week), Bob Cesca looks at our national character and how it's degraded since then.

Speaking of... Bill Maher spoke with Ken Burns this past weekend on that very topic-

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Veto #4

It came as expected today, with little coverage and no ceremony (Mr. Drudge has no mention of it as of this writing)... President Bush's clearly proud decision to veto the S-CHIP bill, expanding children's health insurance. It, appropriately enough, comes just two days after the President celebrated 'Child Health Day'.

This move, which the President decreed as too costly, also comes as he is demanding more money from Congress to be poured into the quicksand of Iraq. $200+ billion more for endless war = good; $35 billion more for health care = bad. I wonder what people think about that.

More Odds and Ends

New 'South Park' starts tonight. So that's cool. Here's lots of miscellaneous news...

A new Supreme Court term begins. Obviously no rulings yet, but they did turn away a few controversial cases, including one on "a church-state dispute over whether some religious organizations can be forced to pay for workers' birth-control health insurance benefits" and another "over an evangelical group's plea to hold religious services at a public library."

Seymour Hersh takes a new look inside the machinations of a war-hungry administration.

Great news! The U.S. maintains its role as the world's largest arms dealer.

Fundraising quarter results are in from Sen. Clinton, Sen. Obama, Gov. Richardson, Fred Thompson, Rep. Paul, and the rest. So who'd you throw cash at?

Anti-immigrant fervor... great for rallying conservatives, not so great for local economies? The NY Times reports that a year after a NJ crackdown on illegal immigrants, small businesses suffered. Locals are now reconsidering the crackdown. Any lessons in there?

The GOP turned Congress' hearings on Blackwater into a circus... TPM covered it- here.

Finally, some news from around the world... Russian President Putin finds a way to remain in power. As does Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf. The leaders of North and South Korea(s) meet for a diplomatic summit. And a U.N. envoy speaks with the Myanmar junta chief, as the murder of protestors rises. Lastly, ahead of a U.S.-sponsored conference on Palestinian statehood, Israel releases 29 Palestinian prisoners.

9/11 Is Dead, Long Live 9/11

Thomas Friedman, the pro-war NY Times columnist who famously defended the invasion to Charlie Rose by stating that "what this war was about" was telling the Middle East to "Suck. On. This.", is the latest to wake up from the haze of mindless jingoism. No more endless 'six months' of war for him.

In a new column-- entitled '9/11 is over'-- he states "9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 - mine included - has knocked America completely out of balance, and it is time to get things right again." Amen. Some have been saying this for around 5 years now, but it's always good to see more influential voices join the chorus.

The problem, of course, is that anyone who listens to the ongoing political dialogue in this country-- whether over the war, or the 2008 election, or even the Constitution-- knows that "9/11" is far from over. It's the last desperate anchor of a party which has failed in all its recent endeavors, and they are still running with it. Hard. Friedman adds that, in regards to candidate rhetoric, "We need a president who will unite us around a common purpose, not a common enemy."

Yes, we do. But that ain't happening until lots more Friedmans awake from their stupidity.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Stephen Colbert salutes those courageously cheering on our President to start a new war-

The Senate, Rush Limbaugh, and Phony Votes

Okay, I hadn't intended to write about this, but it's a hot topic, so here's my two cents...

Rush Limbaugh made some comment last week about 'phony soldiers' opposing the war and everyone started freaking out. Democratic congressional leaders saw an opportunity to have their 'MoveOn/Betrayus' moment and started pontificating. An anti-Rush vote was planned.

I think that this was disgusting. The larger problem with the anti-MoveOn vote was that the Senate shouldn't be wasting time debating trivial nonsense and 'condemning' people they don't like for political reasons. And so how did the Democrats respond to the GOP's smallness and immaturity? Did they tell Americans that the GOP would rather discuss non-issues instead of trying to end the war? No. They responded with a bullshit revenge vote on a man whose dribble is best ignored. And then they allocated more funds for the war, despite all polling data showing what voters want is for Congress to do the opposite.

Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic.

Frightened Children

Torn between their war-crazy base and, umm, the rest of the country that wants this war over, the many Republicans up for reelection next year are walking a fine line. Every few weeks, they'll walk past a microphone and issue some vague opposition to the war, but when it comes time to vote, they all fall right back in line.

Here's the latest super serious step they are considering to wind down this disaster-
A small group of Republicans facing election fights next year have rallied around war legislation they think could unite the GOP: Call for an end to U.S. combat in Iraq, but wait until President Bush is almost out of office....

Such courage! Kick that can down the road, oh brave Senators!

Democrats, of course, have better ideas, but can't seem to get any past the drawing board-
The Democrats on Friday deemed the legislation a nonstarter, and underscored the difficulty Congress has in striking a bipartisan compromise on the war...

..Senate Democrats tried to attach legislation ordering an end to combat [to the defense spending bill], but repeatedly failed to muster the 60 votes needed to overcome parliamentary hurdles...

It's amazing, in hindsight, how easy it is for a government to start a war (rushing votes, rallying the populace, signing the contracts), but ending it is something that no one seems able to figure out how to do. Perhaps when we do figure it out, we should write it down, so we'll remember for next time.

[UPDATE: Well here's a headline I don't like... 'Senate approves $150B in war funding']

Monday, October 01, 2007

"They say true love comes only once in a lifetime..."

The absurdity that surrounded Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit last week came to a properly silly conclusion on 'Saturday Night Live', courtesy of this digital short-

Headline of the Day

Christian Science Monitor (via Yahoo): 'Bush's fiscal legacy: bigger debt'

And with what to show for it? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Odds and Ends

Got a case of the Mondays? I hear ya. Here's some news, which might not help matters...

The GOP effort to split California's electoral college votes next year has suffered a setback as two of its key backers quit, citing money issues. Oh darn.

Why does DNI Mike McConnell keep lying to Congress? And why does Congress let him?

File this story in the no-shit column: "The Environmental Protection Agency's pursuit of criminal cases against polluters has dropped off sharply during the Bush administration, with the number of prosecutions, new investigations and total convictions all down by more than a third, according to Justice Department and EPA data."

This one too: 'Presidential bid was media pipedream, Bloomberg says'

Sen. Clinton proposes $5,000 bonds for every baby born. And a chicken in every pot.

Finally, John McCain panders to the religious right, and embarasses himself.

"Oh Great Pumpkin, Where Are You?!"

Only 30 days 'til the Great Pumpkin arrives. The search for a sincere pumpkin patch begins.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Weekend Video Theatre: "M'Fer, I want more iced tea!"

After Jon Stewart mocked Bill'Os shocking discovery during a Harlem visit that black people are just as civilized as white people, Larry Willmore went to Sylvia's to see for himself-

Meanwhile, In The Rest of the World...

Because there's crazy shit happening in the rest of the world too, here's a Sunday afternoon roundup of significant news from other countries on this crazy old planet of ours...

North Korea: North Korean nuclear talks reach deal / Taiwan: Taiwan party asserts separate identity / Burma: UN envoy meets Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi / Pakistan: Opposition vows fresh challenge to Musharraf / Afghanistan: Karzai offers Taliban government office / Middle East: Israel's raid on Syria - prelude to a nuke crisis? / Africa: Darfur attack kills 10 AU troops, 50 missing / Puerto Rico: Dengue fever surges in Latin America

"Immigants! I knew it was them! Even when it was the bears, I knew it was them."

Federal officials have changed the civics test immigrants have to take as part of their paths to becoming U.S. citizens. Immigrants are given 10 random questions from a list of 100.

Could you pass the test? Take it for yourself and see(*) !

[*All questions and answers available... here.]