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Okay, I can’t figure out how to make my blog go completely dark, so this is going to have to do for now. Stop SOPA/PIPA! Fuck censorship!
Okay, credit on this one goes to, I’m guessing, a Rosie O’Donnell reader. At any rate, this is posted on her site, and the context suggests that it came from one of her readers. I don’t ordinarily do reposts in this space, but in this case, I’m making an exception — if nothing else, maybe my mom will see the source and give it some serious consideration instead of dismissing it out of hand because I said it:
We had eight years of Bush and Cheney, Now you get mad!?
You didn’t get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.
You didn’t get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate energy policy.
You didn’t get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed.
You didn’t get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.
You didn’t get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.
You didn’t get mad when we spent over 600 billion(and counting) on said illegal war.
You didn’t get mad when over 10 billion dollars just disappeared in Iraq.
You didn’t get mad when you found out we were torturing people.
You didn’t get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.
You didn’t get mad when we didn’t catch Bin Laden.
You didn’t get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.
You didn’t get mad when we let a major US city, New Orleans, drown.
You didn’t get mad when we gave a 900 billion tax break to the rich.
You didn’t get mad when the deficit hit the trillion dollar mark.
You finally got mad when the government decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick. Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, are all okay with you, but helping other Americans…oh hell no!
Today, President Obama signed the much-fought-over health care reform bill into law.
Almost immediately, a group of thirteen Republican state attorneys-general filed a lawsuit in federal district court seeking to overturn the law.* I suppose we should be grateful that their rationale for overturning the statute has nothing to do with alleging that Barack Obama is secretly a Kenyan Muslim and thus not eligible to be president.
While the new law represents an improvement over the current system, and it will make health insurance available to many who are currently regarded as uninsurable due to pre-existing conditions, I do not believe that it will truly halt runaway health care costs.
The main problem, of course, was that the Obama administration and Congress would not look outside the current mostly for-profit health insurance paradigm for more effective ways to provide health care to the people of this country.
Someone please explain to me how insurance companies add any value to health care services? When did adding a middleman to any transaction ever drive costs down? Their role, if they want to be profitable, is to deny and/or place limitations on the health care services ordered by patients’ physicians.
And in exchange for this, they claim a hefty share of every health care dollar.
Yes, if we are doomed to retain the insurance company paradigm, the health reform bill represents a marked improvement over the existing system. But will it truly provide insurance coverage at a reasonable rate to everyone who needs it?
Somehow, I doubt it. Especially since the public option did not survive the legislative process. But the individual mandate did survive the process, so now those of us with no employer-sponsored insurance are at the mercy of all those mostly-for-profit insurance companies.
If we were serious about fixing our broken health care system, Congress would have given serious consideration to moving to a single-payer system. Take the profit-driven insurance companies out of the equation, and you will find that costs drop significantly, while consumer satisfaction will increase (so long as the system is adequately funded to meet public needs, that is). Plus, health care dollars will actually go primarily to providing health care, rather than to driving up insurance company shareholder profits.
Of course, talk of a single-payer system prompts the teabaggers – excuse me, Tea Partiers – and the sort of people who actually believe what they hear on Faux News to panic and scream about socialism and death panels. (Do they really think insurance companies don’t deny care – even though denial will mean a patient’s death – on cost/benefit grounds?)
Call it socialism if you must. I assure you, my feelings will not be hurt if you call me a socialist, as I don’t view it as an insult or a badge of shame the way certain people (cough*teabaggers*cough) do. Heck, while you’re at it, call me a liberal and a feminist as well. No skin off my nose.
But some services should be socialized. We already have a number of services that fall into this category at either the state or federal level: Medicare, Social Security, police and fire protection, public education, road and highway maintenance, and food safety inspections, to name just a few. We have the government provide these services because it is the most efficient and cost-effective way to ensure that everyone benefits from these services.
Why shouldn’t health care be in the same category?
* A copy of what purports to be the district court filing can be found here, though I question whether it is the lawsuit as filed – the document contains numerous errors that should have been caught at the proofreading stage.
If you’ve been watching Glenn Beck much lately – something I generally try to avoid, but I inevitably see clips on Countdown, The Rachel Maddow Show, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and/or just about every blog on the liberal side of the blogosphere – you know that the man has been bandying about terms like “Nazi” and “fascist” and “Hitler” pretty freely in connection with progressives generally and President Obama in particular.
Not that President Obama is particularly progressive, but that’s another rant for another time.
Anyway, Beck has been engaged in a lot of ranting and raving and name calling, including some odd combos like “communist fascists,” which apparently is what happens when someone moves so far to the left end of the political spectrum that they end up back around at the extreme end of the right side of the spectrum.
Apparently no one’s ever explained Godwin’s Law to Mr. Beck.
Now, just yesterday, I ran across the following photo from the Washington Post (h/t @chrislhayes, link takes you to the original photo in context):
I ask you, who does this photo remind you of?
Here’s a hint. Change the flag behind him with another historical flag. One from, say, Germany. Late 1930s – mid 1940s era.
Seriously, dude. Glass houses. Pot. Kettle.
Mind, I’m not calling Glenn Beck a Nazi. Because, hey, I am familiar with Godwin’s Law.*
I’m just saying that, well, if there was a photo of me looking like this floating around on teh internets, I’d really want to avoid mentioning the H-word. Or the F-word. Um, fascist, that is, not the other F-word (which I manifestly have no problem with using when the occasion seems to call for it).
Just a thought.
* I will concede that there comes a point where the comparison to fascism as a system of government may be appropriate, despite the emotional valence of the term. I drafted a couple of posts for this blog during the Bush administration where I speculated about where we as a nation were along the slippery slope leading to fascism, though I don’t remember if I actually posted any of them. I was not alone in speculating about this – see for instance Joe Conason’s It Can Happen Here: Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush.
Ordinarily, I focus on national politics in this blog.
There’s a good reason for that. See, I am currently living in Colorado Springs. Mecca for evangelical Christians and right-wing hotbed. Looking at local politics is just too damn depressing.
So for the most part, I ignore it, and focus on the national issues.
Every now and then, though, something from local politics intrudes on my consciousness, and I feel like I have to say something.
This is one of those times.
Our local embarassment of a state senator, Dave Schultheis, cast the only vote against a measure that would provide for HIV testing of pregnant women. The idea behind the bill is that it would allow doctors to take appropriate steps to prevent an infected mother from passing the virus on to her child during delivery (which is when infection of the child usually occurs).
Now, there may be good privacy-related reasons to argue against mandatory testing in other circumstances, though I think the health and safety of the child should trump privacy concerns, since knowledge of the mother’s infection status can allow doctors to take steps to prevent transmission of the disease to the child.
But Schultheis wasn’t making a privacy-based argument.
He was making an “AIDS is punishment from god for immoral behavior, and if the child gets the disease the mother will feel guilty” argument. In his own words:
What I’m hoping is that, yes, that person may have AIDS, have it seriously as a baby and when they grow up, but the mother will begin to feel guilt as a result of that. The family will see the negative consequences of that promiscuity and it may make a number of people over the coming years begin to realize that there are negative consequences and maybe they should adjust their behavior. (Quote courtesy of the dead-tree edition of the Colorado Springs Independent.)
Nothing like condemning a child to life with an incurable and ultimately fatal disease in order to teach his or her parents (who are already similarly condemned) a lesson.
Forget the fact that many women with HIV were infected with the virus as a result of their husbands’ cheating. We have to PUNISH these women and make them feel GUILTY for their husbands’ behavior.
How utterly appalling.
The good news is, Schultheis was the only state senator to vote against the bill. It passed. Pregnant women and their doctors will have the information necessary to prevent HIV transmission to newborns, in spite of Schultheis’ moralistic myopia.
If you’d like to let Schultheis know what you think of his position, you can e-mail him at email@example.com
Like everyone else, I’ve been watching the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. And I’ve been horrified by the loss of life. But I’ve been hesitant to comment on it.
Much to my shame, I really don’t know what to make of the Israeli-Palestinian situation.
I get that Israel is surrounded by a lot of people who don’t acknowledge its right to exist as a nation. And that wouldn’t be a pleasant situation to be in. It would make one want to have the best damn military possible, and it would tend to give one a rather itchy trigger finger.
At the same time, I think the Palestinians have some legitimate grievances against Israel. Really legitimate grievances. Grievances that could make one want to fire rockets into their territory, maybe, after decades of frustration in the face of those grievances.
But I don’t approve of bombing civilian targets. Something both sides have been doing to some extent, but Israel far more than Hamas in recent days.
I think Israel’s reaction to Hamas has been disproportionate, but at the same time, I realize that I haven’t walked a mile in Israel’s moccasins. It’s hard for me to know what I would do in their shoes.
I think they’re trying to get their licks in before Obama takes office, knowing that Bush won’t do anything to stop them.
And I think this is only going to make us look worse in the eyes of the Arab world. Where we already look quite bad enough.
I just don’t know what to do about it.
The end of any year is often a time of reflection. Looking back to see what went right, what went wrong. This year, we could perhaps benefit from such retrospection more than other years.
I was going to refer to 2008 as “a kidney stone of a year,” but I was almost certain I had heard that phrase elsewhere, likely in something by Hunter S. Thompson. A quick Google search of the phrase didn’t reveal the original source, but it did show three other people describing 2008 in those words, so at least I’m not alone in thinking of it that way.
On a national level, we saw a further…what’s the word I want? crumbling? eroding? collapsing? disintegrating?…let’s go with… deterioration of: our civil rights, our privacy, our status overseas, the situation in Iraq (notwithstanding all the neocons rushing to claim the surge has been a “success”), the situation in Afghanistan, the economy, the health care system, our schools, our infrastructure (Rachel Maddow’s favorite word), the situation in Israel and the Gaza Strip, the environment, and…well…it’s a really long list, actually.
So maybe we should think of 2008 as the year when the whole house of cards we’ve all been living in fell to the floor.
There was the presidential election, which filled up our ears for way too many months with noise and lies and distortions and endless debates and oh the spinning and spinning and spinning and stop the world, please, I’m getting dizzy.
Before that, though, we had the primaries, and the caucuses, and the conventions, and the polls, and the protests and…well, you were there. You heard it.
There were a lot of lows, but there were a few highs, as well. Particularly toward the end of the year.
For a nice change, we had a presidential candidate that appealed to our hopes, rather than hammering at our fears. We dodged the bullet of a McCain/Palin administration, four more years that would most likely have looked like the last eight, except less organized, and instead managed to elect the smart guy over the guy people would like to have a beer with. Thought I suspect Obama would be way more fun to have a beer with than McCain, anyway.
And there was the nice bit about finally electing someone who isn’t a white male to the highest office in the land. That part was pretty cool.
But the economy is bad, and likely to get worse before it gets better. People are losing their homes, their jobs, and their retirement investments. We’re probably going to see a lot more people moving in with other family members to save money, and we’re already seeing more people living on the street.
It’s a scary situation.
And yet, with the new year comes hope.
In twenty days, we will be rid of alleged president George Walker Bush.
We will have strong Democratic Party majorities in both houses of Congress.
Let’s hope they use their new power for good. Let’s hope they actually use their power, instead of allowing themselves to be conned by Republicans into thinking they don’t dare use the power we gave them to change things.
Hope is good.
I have some ideas for a new project for myself in the new year…something that will involve this blog – or perhaps a separate blog created specifically for the project…more on that soon. But I think some more changes are coming in the life of yours truly, that I hope will be interesting for you all, and ultimately, perhaps profitable for me. We shall see…
In the mean time, happy new year, everyone!
And stay safe.
p.s. And lest there be any doubt about it…I still think Bush and Cheney ought to be impeached.
Ah, the beauty of being in a state that allows early voting. No waiting in long lines next Tuesday for your humble correspondent. Which is just as well, because barring any unforeseen disasters, I will be driving to Chicago on election day to visit a friend and – assuming the election goes as current polls suggest it will – to be at ground zero for Obama victory celebrations.
No, I haven’t forgiven him yet for his vote on the FISA reauthorization. But I still voted for him, and I still want him to win.
The alternative seems unthinkable to me.
I honestly do not know that our country would survive even four years of a McCain presidency, considering our current sorry circumstances after eight years of alleged president George W. Bush’s mishandling of literally every matter that crossed his desk. To say nothing of the nightmare that might ensue if McCain died or became otherwise incapacitated (I still think he is showing early signs of Alzheimer’s disease) and Scary Palin took over running the show.
In spite of my ongoing fears that there will be some sort of terrorist attack in the coming days by someone seeking to influence the election in favor of John McCain (fears that the recent story about a call for terrorist groups to cause such an attack for just that purpose on a pro-al Quaeda website, did absolutely nothing to ease — honestly, who knew that al Quaeda would have a preference for a McCain/Palin presidency over an Obama presidency?), at this point, I do not believe that such an attack would actually be sufficient to swing the election in McCain’s favor.
Let me say that again, in case any terrorists (foreign or domestic) are actually reading this and got confused by that long sentence and the even longer parenthetical in the middle of it:
At this point, I do not believe that a terrorist attack would be sufficient to swing the election in favor of John McCain.
That window of opportunity has now closed, in my opinion. I don’t know if I could pinpoint the exact moment it slammed shut, but it has definitely done so now.
Back when the race was closer – before the economic meltdown and the McCain campaign meltdown that more or less coincided with it – there was a good chance that a terrorist attack would have swung the election in his favor enough to make a difference. I have explained elsewhere in this blog (over and over again) about why the principles of terror management theory and the research supporting that theory would make such a change in election outcome possible or even likely.
And even now, an attack would likely sway some voters who are still on the fence into McCain’s column. Just as the race-baiting and fear tactics that we have seen so much of from the Republican campaign likely have already swayed some particularly fearful voters.
But I do not think that an attack – even a very large one, even a nuclear attack on a major city – would be enough to persuade voters that McCain was in any way temperamentally suited to handle such a crisis.
Not after the way McCain responded to the economic crisis.
Not after the way the McCain campaign has repeatedly changed tactics and contradicted itself over the past few weeks.
Not after the way that McCain, Palin, and other members of the McCain campaign have repeatedly been revealed to have committed the very same sins they seek to smear Obama with, often to a far greater degree.
Not since the outcome of the Troopergate investigation, which has caused even Republican party loyalists to question McCain’s judgment in his decision to make her his running mate, and has even cause a few of said loyalists to actually endorse – or at least tacitly suggest that they plan to vote for – Barack Obama.
Not since it was revealed that the campaign that has repeatedly tried to paint Barack Obama as an elitist who is out of touch with the American public spent over $150,000 of the Republican campaign budget – money donated by party supporters under the assumption that it would be used to fund advertising – on the Empress’s new clothes.
Not now that McCain campaign insiders have taken to refering to Sarah Palin as “a complete whack job” and “a diva” who has “gone roque” in their comments to the press.
Not since it was revealed that Indiana employees of a robocalling firm walked off the job en masse the other day rather than read the Republican-prepared script smearing Obama over the phone to Indiana voters.
Let there be no doubt about it: not only have the wheels come off the Straight Talk Express, but so have the axles, the transmission, the exhaust system, and various other vital engine parts.
And as much as the pundits and politicians may assume otherwise, the American public does not consist entirely of uneducated morons. And even most of those with less education are smart enough to see that the McCain campaign is a campaign not only without a plan for responding to the various crises that currently face our country, but it is a campaign without even a coherent strategy for winning the election in order to attempt to take on those problems.
Meanwhile, the Obama campaign has continued to take the high road (for the most part, at least) – refusing to be persuaded to openly badmouth either McCain or Palin in the press, speaking instead (again, for the most part) only about differences between the two campaigns plans for the country and their respective abilities to respond to crises. Members of the campaign have not panicked, and are not badmouthing either Obama or Biden (or other members of the campaign team) in the press, and are continuing to work hard to ensure an Obama victory next week.
Obama continues to take his measured approach to responding to questions from the press. He has demonstrated an ability to be thinking about and responding to multiple issues simultaneously. And he has not once, to my knowledge, lost his cool during any of that. Sure, there’ve been a couple of times where he has clearly appeared frustrated by the differences in press treatment of the two campaigns – especially during a couple of the debates. But he has remained cool under pressure, has not made faces when his opponent was speaking, and has stuck to his message – a message that has remained consistent over the course of the entire campaign, not one that changes with the weather.
Of course, none of this is enough to persuade diehard Republican loyalists to vote for Obama. What would be? There are always and have always been members of both parties who would sooner cut off useful parts of their anatomy than consider voting for a candidate from the other party – particularly in presidential races. There likely always will be such voters.
But for most of the voters who describe themselves as independents (with the notable exception of Bill O’Reilly, who, let’s face it, is about as independent as Puerto Rico), the difference between the two major candidates is clear, and those that have taken the time and trouble to listen to what both candidates have to say are showing a lot of concern about what they are hearing coming out of the McCain camp. And with each day that passes, it seems that a larger chunk of those independent voters have made the decision to support Obama.
And I do not believe that a terrorist attack at this point in the race would be sufficient to change that, or to assuage voters’ concerns about the chaos they are seeing in the McCain campaign.
So in spite of being both a Democrat and a Cubs fan, I am actually feeling less and less certain that the Democrats will find a way blow this thing between now and next Tuesday. Though of course, I suppose the election could still be stolen. Sort of like the last two presidential elections…
That’s it for now, my friends. I have to hit the road. I have a long drive ahead of me today.
For those who didn’t get a chance to see War, Inc., John Cusack’s awesome satire about the corporatization of war that’s a bit too close to the reality on the ground in Iraq for comfort, when it was in theaters earlier this year, now’s your chance: it comes out on DVD tomorrow.
I’ve reviewed the movie previously (see my review and various other mentions of the movie here), so I won’t go into all that again here. But I do want to urge you, my dear readers, to see the movie if you haven’t already done so.
For an awesome double-feature to really get your blood pumping about just how badly Bush and his chronies have screwed our troops, innocent Iraqi civilians, and the American taxpayer, check out Robert Greenwald’s Iraq for Sale, as well. And while you’re at it, pick up a copy of Naomi Klein’s book on disaster capitalism, The Shock Doctrine, which will provide you with a whole new level of insight into the news not just in Iraq, but right here in post-9/11, post-Katrina, and ongoing-economic-meltdown America.