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Thursday, September 27, 2007
The SCHIP hits the fan
The State Children's Health Insurance Program funding bill made its way through Congress this week. It is pretty much what it sounds like, and it's one of the more successful programs initiated in the last decade. So given that fact, and also that wages are stagnant while medical costs skyrocket, some people thought it might be a good idea to expand the program to another 10 million kids. I know, it's crazy.
Guess who is going to veto the legislation, cutting off funding to even the current beneficiaries of such largesse, a.k.a. poor kids?
That's right, the compassionate conservative himself, President George W. Bush.
How can he do such a thing? It's easy, because he says the program "is an incremental step toward the goal of government-run health care for every American."
Now, who you are is defined by which part of that sentence you gravitate toward.
If you are a conservative, you see "government-run health care."
If you are a liberal, you see "health care for every American."
At this moment, I have medical insurance through my job, so I'm luckier than a lot of people who have no job, or have jobs (plural) which do not offer insurance. I pay a great deal for it, and in comparison to other insurance I have had, it's not really all that great. I have only the brochure's word for it that I will be treated if I actually get sick, but I have seen enough bastardry from that industry to be skeptical.
If the quality of the furniture in my doctor's office declines slightly because he is being reimbursed by a government agency instead of a for-profit insurance conglomerate, I will not just live with that, I suspect I will flourish. And so will all of the other Americans who can get medical care.
This is not bleeding-heart do-goodery. I am a misanthrope, and think the world is ridiculously overpopulated. That being said, I'm pretty sure it'd be more economically feasible to let people see a doctor when they have the flu rather than hospitalizing them when they have pneumonia. It's a cost/benefit analysis, and prevention is always cheaper than treatment. You want to see your taxes spent more judiciously? Make damn sure that children get their vaccinations, and then when your dumb ass breaks your leg skiing, you won't have to wait fifteen hours in the godforsaken emergency room, because people with preventable conditions and no insurance now require immediate treatment. WHILE YOU WAIT.
If state-run insurance is so awful, why do people in the countries that have these programs outlive us, and generally also pay less for their medical costs, including taxes? Please feel free to quote me statistics, I live for that shit.
Please don't quote me any statistics.
I am not a Christian, and I don't believe in god. I don't think that I am amoral. Morality exists, whether god does or not. And the golden rule still covers most things as far as I'm concerned. If you are someone who believes the teachings of Jesus, how does that jibe with your modern "Greed is Good" conservatism? I'm not saying you need to wear sandals and sleep in a tent, but maybe what helps others with less is ultimately good for all of us?
In 2007, it is abundantly clear that the free market has failed to produce satisfactory results in two areas: Health care, and fighting wars. 180,000 "contractors" in Iraq (Contractors! Like they're repairing the roof!) in addition to 165,000 US troops, and we are no closer to a self-sustaining Iraq that we were three years ago, or will be in another three. You can't fight this war with mercenaries, no matter how well paid, and you can't keep 300 million people healthy when profit is mandatory, and stockholders get bigger dividends when people with cancer are denied treatment.
There are some things that are so damned big that the government needs to do them. Sorry, but that should be obvious by now. If you have a free-market solution, please explain it to me, and spare me you tax credits for medical expenses. I'm not sure how those help people that can't pay for treatment in the first place. I know, I know, they should all let their accountants handle this stuff.
So go ahead, George, you silver-spoon never-worked-a-day-in-your-life elite, veto the bill. Dump it. Tell the people with kids that they're better off without insurance in a free market than they would be with insurance provided by the government. You push that argument right through election day next year. You will hand the Democrats a veto-proof majority, and the White House for good measure. If you think SCHIP will cost a lot, wait til you see what these moron Democrats come up with when there is no longer an effective opposition.
Veto it. Keep vetoing it. And enjoy the Rovian Permanent Minority you will usher into American politics for your party.
posted at 11:37 PM
This and that, 18 September 2007
That guy in Florida who got tasered by campus cops deserved worse. I'm all about free speech, but this moron is a performance artist who wouldn't even have been there if no one had brought a video camera. Once you are asked to leave a third time, you don't get to complain when security puts their hands on you to walk your ass outta there. I'd have used his head for batting practice.
And if that is civil disobedience in the 21st century, it is hard for me to imagine Ghandi and Martin Luther King Junior screaming "OWWWWW! OWEEEEEEEEE! OWWWWWWWW!" like a little bitch.
The Fed slashed interest rates by half a point. All four of you who stopped running up your credit cards can get back to burying yourselves in debt again.
The Iraqi government wants to throw American contractor and war profiteer, Blackwater, out of the country just because they killed a bunch of people. Someone needs to tell them that we broke it, so we bought it. And we own it. Now, SHUTUP.
A Nebraska state senator filed suit against God last week. So now you know why God decided to kill Johnny Cochran back in 2005. It's tough to have a decent alibi when you are everywhere all the time.
posted at 10:16 PM
The old Switcheroo
I was thinking this week about how great the war was going in Iraq, and it took me back to an article I read in the Fall of 2004, about why we had to invade. I know now that it is because we must grant democracy to the Iraqi people, but even three years ago, we had already gone through 21 different reasons for attacking. I shit you not, and here they are:
1) To prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
2) For regime change.
3) To further the war on terror.
4) Because of Iraq’s violation of United Nations resolutions.
5) Because of Saddam Hussein’s evil dictatorship and actions.
6) Because of a lack of weapons inspections in Iraq.
7) To liberate Iraq.
8) Because of Iraq’s ties to al Qaeda.
9) Because Iraq was an imminent threat.
10) To disarm Iraq.
11) To conclude the Gulf War of 1991.
12) Because Hussein was a threat to the region.
13) For the safety of the world.
14) To support the United Nations.
15) Because the United States could (easy victory).
16) To preserve peace around the world.
17) Because Iraq was a unique threat.
18) To transform the region.
19) As a warning to other terrorist nations.
20) Because Hussein hates the United States and will act against it.
21) Because history calls the United States to action.
Now, I suppose Number 18 might cover the whole "grant democracy to the Iraqis" thing, so I won't say that this notion is yet another excuse. But lists aside, have we made any progress?
According to the rather sunny report that General Petraeus delivered to Congress this week, the number of Iraqis being killed in terrorist incidents has dropped by 50% this year (only 2000 a month now!). In spite of this great news, the Iraqi government can't seem to get anything done. There are hopeless divisions due to the different Muslim factions that are trying to get their piece of the action, none of which are willing to compromise, take a step back, or admit that their side may have blood on its hands anytime in the, oh, let's say, eight centuries or so.
If you are willing to acknowledge these facts, you may want to throw your hands up in despair. I look at them, and can only think, "Mission Accomplished." In reverse.
George W. Bush, in his efforts to make Iraq more like the United States, has actually managed to make the US more like Iraq.
In Iraq, we have religious groups who have aligned themselves politically with parties that support their particular dogma. There is not, nor has there ever been, any room for compromise between these parties, because all sides are convinced that they are the only ones who know The Truth.
In the United States, where we used to have a two-party system that was capable of compromise, especially on important issues, we now have idiotic, fruitless (no offense Senator Craig) squabbling, because both parties are certain that their way is the only way to do things, and that compromise is a sign of weakness.
Iraq is in the Middle East, it is overwhelmingly Muslim, and even as an ostensible democracy, would still have an Islamic-oriented government. There could never be an institutionalized writ of separation between church (or mosque) and state.
The United States is predominantly Christian, and even though many of the founders were themselves believers in Christianity, they saw fit to not exclude anyone by having a de facto state religion.
Now, however, we have a government in place which is run at the highest levels by evangelical Christians, whose views on the universe and law are not altogether different than those held by Taliban clerics. They believe god, or more specifically, Jesus, should be a part of every single facet of American life, and that there is no type of charity but that of the Christian variety. They know that to believe otherwise makes one an infidel in this life, and condemned to hell in the next one.
Well, no thanks.
I wish the Iraqis well, but they and their inevitable theocracy can go rot. I want my country back. I want people running things that understand science and the value of research. I want the ones in charge to be able to see past their own selfish desires and dogma, and try to figure out what the consequences of actions might be, not just today but for the next fifty years. I want a president who has doubts, because no one but children and imbeciles could possibly ever have a clear conscience. Certainty, especially the moral brand, is the clearest evidence of a closed mind, and people who claim it ought not be left in charge of anything more important than a microwave oven.
These men who would protect us from evil have instead trashed our Constitution, and lowered us to the level of the enemy whom we proclaim to be so utterly backward in its thinking. And I'm not just talking about our Saudi allies who knocked down the World Trade Center, we have become more like the fascist Communist governments run by Stalin and Mao. We may be a ways off from that level, but we sure as hell are as close to that point as we have ever been.
George W. Bush, the staunch anti-Communist who kept the skies over Texas safe from the Viet Cong in the 1960s, and now battles to keep the American Way intact by taking moral lessons from the worst people on Earth. The 3,000 who died on 9/11/01, and the nearly 3,800 American servicemen and women who have died since then are casualties of a war to promote American-style democracy. It is a war we lost the moment the so-called Patriot Act was signed into law in 2001, and its headstone was cemented in place with the signing of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which eliminated Habeus Corpus.
We have forfeited our birthright to a group of inbred fanatics who could not take it away from us if they had their numbers increased a thousandfold. And we have done it thanks to the type of leadership one would expect in a third-rate, pissant country like Iraq.
Iraq has American-style democracy all right. If that country even exists in ten years, I'll buy you a Coke.
posted at 4:43 PM
This and that, 9 September 2007
Fred Thompson is running for president of the United States. I couldn't care less, even if I really put my mind to it. I'm hoping that after the current disaster-in-chief leaves, America may be done with dilettantes for awhile. Plus, he's only 65, and I thought he was at least ten years older. He looks like Magic Johnson is supposed to look.
Pro football has started. I'll start paying attention in a legitimate way once the World Series is over. It's too god damned hot for football.
I hope Larry Craig doesn't quit. Winners never quit, and quitters never admit their true sexuality.
The surge is working. And if you believe that and are between 18 and 42, you should go sign up now. Criminal records are no longer a problem.
That coward at the local news outlet hasn't responded. Pfft, I could do local news if I got a better haircut and a lobotomy.
Britney Spears is boring and fat. And I don't object to fat, but we don't need any "fat vixens."
I am amused the Osama bin Laden dyed his beard for his new video. I am greatly saddened that we can't find a man on dialysis who dragged himself into town for Grecian Formula.
If you consider "values" important in a candidate, and you support Rudolph Giuliani, you are a hypocrite of the first order. If the only thing that matters to you is that you believe he can win, just admit it. You'll feel better, wait and see. And by the time you do, he may be on wife #4.
I'm too lazy to type anything else tonight. Adios.
posted at 8:14 PM
Fun with local news
I am poring over the internet a few days ago, when I stumble across a news story on a local TV news website about pets being attacked by raccoons someplace. The story was certainly compelling enough, but what I really enjoyed about it was how unbelievably poorly it was written. I'd link it from here, but it has been corrected, I suspect, because of a letter I emailed to the guy whose name and photo were at the top of the page.
I should add, that I set my account to show sender as "The Late Ed Murrow." And we're off!
Sent: Tue 9/4/2007 8:59 PM
Subject: Gotta ask
Did you read this before you stuck your name on it? Because I'd swear it was written by a graduate from an ESL program. Leave it up, though, it's very funny.
A couple of days later, this lands in my in box:
Thanks for bringing that to my attention. No, I did not read it before my "name was attached". Since you're such a journalism expert you should know--we report the story and then the web editors take our stories and transcribe them. Writing for TV doesn't always translate to writing for print. I know. I used to write for The Los Angeles Times.
But I'm glad you received so much joy in pointing it out and so much esteem that you would call yourself the "late ed murrow".
My guess is, his time in LA was not spent proofing Miss Manners column. So I reply:
Sorry for the delay, my snark filter was temporarily overwhelmed.
You may be surprised to learn that I am not a media expert. And apparently, you would also be utterly astounded to find that most people who look at the news on your website are not, either. It is your name at the top of the article, and us poor, dumb hicks out here on the interwebs are not sophisticated enough to know that it is your editors making you appear foolish, and not sheer laziness on your part, or worse. Perhaps you ought to put the bit about working at the LA Times in your station bio, which would put the "print journalist slumming" into perspective for us, the great unwashed.
But credit where credit is due: Your rebuke of me was top notch, although I would have preferred to see you use a comma to combine the last two sentences in the first paragraph. Alas, none of us is perfect, and I'm sure it was your editor's fault, anyway.
Best of luck!
I strongly suspect that we are not done here. I will post updates as warranted, and stay tuned, because at 11, I will blog which common household item is a ticking time bomb, waiting to kill you all.
posted at 8:46 PM
A very good friend of the family died today, and her name was Cherie. She was a good person, very selfless, and was the type of person who would give you the last bit of food she had if you were hungry. She did not have an easy life, and like most of us, often made her life harder by her own decisions.
Cherie was not very old, but she had diabetes, and some other medical problems, and I'm sure it will be revealed that these contributed to her all-too-early death. In July, she had an operation to relieve her of some of her terrible pain she had experienced for years, and it seemed to have worked, as she had a lot less pain once she had begun to recover from the surgery. The fact that she could have had this procedure done years ago but for bureaucratic red tape is something that I will not forgive. She could have had pain-free years instead of mere weeks at the end of her life, but I'm sure someone got themselves a bonus out of the repeated denials of service.
Cherie had, in the past two weeks, sold off a large amount of her own possessions, as she had decided to move into a shelter rather than continue to pay rent on the place she lived in. I had made the offer to her to move in where I live for as long as she wanted, but she wouldn't have it that way, even though I know she'd have insisted I take her up on the same offer if the situation was reversed. She was stubborn, but she invariably did what she felt was right, and that was always what was best for others.
Fortunately, I got to see her only yesterday. I didn't say goodbye with any more emphasis than I normally did. I knew she was tired from selling all of her stuff, and I think she was going to get to bed after that. From what I can infer, she either died late last night or this morning, and even though she was alone when she died, she was the solitary type, mostly. She was probably happy to have the peace and quiet at the time.
I'm going to miss her a lot, for the reasons I've mentioned, and because of the fact that even though she wasn't naive, she was never cynical. I can't relate to it, but I can appreciate it, and I did.
Cherie, you will be missed. I don't really believe in an afterlife, but at times like this, I hope there is something nice waiting for you. Maybe being out of pain is enough, but you deserve more. Rest in peace.
posted at 8:53 PM
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