Saturday, September 25, 2010


Yes, it's campaign time again. Did it ever leave? It seems like campaigners on both sides of the fence lingered on like hungover party guests, unwilling to leave or cede that the "party's over, it's time to call it a day." (Thanks, Comden and Green.) I suppose if you loiter around from one campaign's finish until the next one's start, the "party" never really ends.

The latest screaming point--surprise! surprise!--is once again health care reform. Democrats are pointing to the accomplishments in health care as the cornerstone of their first two years in power, while Republicans are denying any gains in overall benefits to the public and are pushing for a total rollback/repeal if they are restored to their "rightful places."

Just another day in the U.S.A.

Don't the Republicans promising repeal realize that shouting "rewind" without presenting REALISTIC alternate plans arrogantly reveals the issue as one of power? Or that it reveals them to be favoring big business interests over the interests of those they are sworn to represent? And are they cynically counting on the fact that the voters won't do their own thinking, research, reading? (Are they right?)

Once again, it seems demonizing opposition is the sole objective of both parties--versus truly
presenting and exploring valid alternatives, which most folks would be open to hearing. If the Democrats and the Republicans agree on one thing, it's silencing the moderates within their own parties! Discussion and discourse seems to be the last thing they want, and certainly without any better ideas to provide than their current nebulous policies and planks, they don't want to highlight their own lack of answers. It is laziness, combined with cynicism, hate-speech and the very worst kind of rabble-rousing.

It is funny that some of the very people who, say, favor Creationism over Evolution, nonetheless seem to support might is right and the spoils going to the most powerful. We, as a country, are nothing if not ironic.

One plank of John McCain's campaign two years ago (a classic of the Republican health agenda) would allow insurance purchases across state lines for services not covered in a home state. This is apparently one of the few ideas being revived and touted in the Republican's lovely new 5th Grade-level picture book being used as a marketing tool. (Does a picture of the Statue of Liberty or a bald eagle really solve not having enough money to pay for my prescriptions?)

However, the Republicans continually sweep under the rug the reality--that providing said availability doesn't guarantee a lower price. In fact, when any company becomes one of the sole providers of a particular coverage or service or product, the price goes up! It's a basic law of supply-and-demand economics. A similar ploy was made when the Bush administration changed prescription plans for seniors. It's one thing to open the field of opportunities, but if companies have unfettered, unregulated options as to WHAT they choose to offer (based no doubt on what makes them the most money), they won't offer those products that aren't highly profitable to them, regardless of public need--and therefore the drugs most needed will be sold by a handful of companies at the HIGHEST price possible. Once again, the general public is victimized, especially those on fixed incomes. (Free market economies are wonderful--unless your personal buying power gives you no freedom whatsoever.) And if the Republicans did get their way and re-reform the system, while you might be able to PURCHASE said coverage across state lines, that doesn't mean that the medical institutions and practitioners in your home state would have to accept that coverage (which would cost them more in administrative fees and red tape). So once again, the fat cats would win and John Q. Public is left helpless to protect his family.

Another consideration: the parts of the reform bill that have just gone into effect--protecting the public from discrimination for preexisting conditions (especially for children) and allowing families to protect their children longer in this particular (read jobless) high-cost economy, are at the very core of what ANY civilized government should do for its constituency. (Why come together as a group if there is no overall advantage for everyone?) And now that these changes have been enacted, they can't legally be canceled retroactively (unless fraud is proven). So the promises for a total rollback are rhetoric at best.

It is a classic question of who is being served here--the individual American or Corporate America? Time and time again, it has been shown that there IS no trickle down effect of any significance from big industry and big money. The occasional public relations gift of a Gates or a Facebook mini-mogul, while welcome, is merely a drop in the bucket and does not result in more jobs or economic growth. The relative failures of the stimulus plan thus far, according to all indicators, have happened not because profits weren't up but because the tycoons have decided to hoard those profits versus re-investing them into jobs and increased production, thereby short-circuiting the recovery. It is behavior that is obstructionist and, basically, selfish. (A little regulation might have required them to do this kind of reinvestment in exchange for the bailouts and gifts--but no, no, no, we don't want THAT either.)

Once again, the Republicans are pandering to the big corporate interests, in this case the pharmaceutical and medical insurance industries, who helpfully bankroll candidate campaigns but somehow fail to offer aid to average Americans (who are their customers). But then again, the Tea Party, who wants to "take it back for the people," to "return to the way things were"--take a really GOOD look at at their funding sources! It is not the grass roots organization it professes to be. (Nor is it necessarily the true Republican party.)

This is not to say that the Democrats didn't realize setting this week as the time for some of the new health care reforms to kick into effect was advantageous to their cause. The timing, as the campaigns are heating up, is enormously theatrical and surely a political ploy. And the overall lack of transparency as to what is happening in health care and when policies takes effect is appalling--and even more so when such manipulation is used for political gain.

As always, this is not solely an issue of party line or conservatives or liberals being right. But it feels like "Mom" and "Dad" are fighting, with the "kids" being left out--and ultimately suffering the consequences. People only fear true and open discourse either when they think they may find themselves to be wrong or when they are apathetic and would rather delegate then take a stand themselves, later on joining joining a bandwagon of angry protest without having taken on an iota of personal responsibility. Are we as a people incapable of self-critique? Are we as Americans truly unable to come together for the best interests of all? Does protecting basic American rights only mean protection of the its most powerful citizens? Finally, when did intelligent discourse become such a distasteful, "bad" thing?

(Apologies for technical difficulties with edits on this post--wrong buttons pressed, passions over-flowing in the moment, etc. Hopefully it is now reading "respectably." )

Thursday, September 16, 2010


They don't want us to notice.

But have you noticed that the folks who are attacking Obama for being disappointing are actually the same exact folks who fought against his getting in in the first place? Responding vehemently to any idea of his, irregardless of what it was, as wrong and worthy of Hitler?

Like they were ever really open or listening? Like they've changed their minds? Like THEY are disappointed?

They like to create the illusion that people are turning against the President--they foment disenchantment--but they are actually the same opponents he always had!

And they are the same people who keep shouting "We must go back to the way we were, the people we are."

But . . . weren't they the folks who got us into this financial mess anyway?

Many Tea Party folks want to go back to "the way they were" circa 2000--not 1776, when the forefathers wanted to take care of ALL Americans, guaranteeing free speech, freedom of religion, and a welcome to all who wanted a better life. Who, indeed, is more the true American?

Worst of all, these are the people who speak "American values" and yet treat the office of the Presidency and the man who holds it with disrespect unprecedented in American politics.

Are we cured of a decade's worth of policies that sent us into wars, gave tax benefits to the wealthiest few, saw health care costs spiral out of control, and gave the oil companies and the pharmaceutical companies carte blanche? No. Are we recovered from years of unregulated bank activities and unsecured mortgages? Educational systems devastated by massive cuts to arts, physical education and culture? No.

And were we promised these would be cured in less than two years by the incoming President? NO. NEVER. In fact, over and over again he told us that these were not quick cure situations. (No "mission accomplished" stunts going on here.)

And were any attempts to resolve these situations welcomed by the party who lost their majority, putting the good the country before party politics? No.

Interestingly, articles in The Times and The New Yorker continually point out that the folks who are funding the Tea Party movement, the Coalition for America, the Glenn Becks and the Sarah Palins are the very same folk who stand to lose from the policies designed to protect the common man versus the tycoon. Their backing comes from the very folks who thrived while the system was brought to its knees. The Tea Party movement claims to be the party of the little people, but check out their demographics--do you see an America of many races, creeds, economic strata? This is America? Well, maybe it's THEIR America, but there's no sense of US.

Most of all, DO YOU HEAR ANY NEW IDEAS? I continually point out that what I really would welcome is discussion, a sincere sharing of possible solutions. I'm not content with how things are at present, nor do I feel all my concerns are addressed by this administration. I would so welcome good ideas from both sides of the fence. THAT would be constructive. But personal invective is used as a smokescreen. Whoever shouts loudly enough wins . . . right?