Archive for January, 2010

Snow Bored

January 30, 2010

We have about six inches of snow so far, I do not have any cable TV here, and you know what the Saturday networks schedule is: infomercial paradise.  So I am bored.  In an attempt to entertain myself, I will try to entertain you.

During the President’s SOTU address this week, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo live blogged the event.  He had two very funny comments.  He referred to Senator John Boehner as the “Prince of Orange”.  Even a zombie couldn’t miss Boehner’s constant tan, and I have referred to him frequently as “Tan Man”.  But “Prince of Orange” almost made me fall off my chair.  Then, during the speech, the camera panned to Senator Joe Leiberman and Senator Ben Nelson, who were sitting next to each other.  Marshall called them the “axis of weasels”.  When I read that, I did fall off of my chair.

Here are some funnies that my loyal readers have sent in to me.  Thank you, everyone!

A CAUTIONARY TALE FOR AGING BOOMERS

A group of 40 year old buddies discuss and discuss where they should meet for dinner. Finally it is agreed upon that they should meet at The Palm restaurant because the waitress’s there have low cut blouses and the food is good!

10 years later, at 50 years of age, the group meets again and once again they discuss and discuss where they should meet. Finally it is agreed upon that they should meet at The Palm because the food there is very good and the wine selection is good also.

10 years later at 60 years of age, the group meets again and once again they discuss and discuss where they should meet. Finally it is agreed upon that they should meet at The Palm because they make the steaks with no added salt.

10 years later, at 70 years of age, the group meets again and once again they discuss and discuss where they should meet. Finally it is agreed upon that they should meet at The Palm because the restaurant is wheel chair accessible.

10 years later, at 80 years of age, the group meets again and once again they discuss and discuss where they should meet. Finally it is agreed upon that they should meet at The Palm because that would be a great idea because they have never been there before.


HAVING MOM OVER FOR DINNER

You don’t even have to be a mother to enjoy this one …..

Brian invited his mother over for dinner.  During the course of the meal, Brian’s mother couldn’t help but notice how beautiful Brian’s roommate, Jennifer, was.  Brian’s mom had long been suspicious of the platonic relationship between Brian and Jennifer, and this had only made her more curious.

Over the course of the evening while watching the two interact, she started to wonder if there was more between Brian and Jennifer than met the eye.

Reading his mom’s thoughts, Brian volunteered, “”I know what you must be thinking, but I assure you Jennifer and I are just roommates.”

About a week later, Jennifer came to Brian saying, “Ever since your mother came to dinner, I’ve been unable to find the beautiful silver gravy ladle.  You don’t suppose she took it, do you?”

Brian said, “Well, I doubt it, but I will send her an E-mail just to be sure.  So he sat down and wrote:

Dear Mom:

I’m not saying that you “did” take the gravy ladle from the house, I’m not saying that you “did not” take the gravy ladle.  But the fact remains that one has been missing ever since you were here for dinner.

Love,

Brian

Several days later Brian received an E-mail back from his mother that read:

Dear Son:

I’m not saying that you “do” sleep with Jennifer, I’m not saying that you “do not” sleep with Jennifer.  But the fact remains that if Jennifer is sleeping in her own bed, she would have found the gravy ladle by now.

Love,

Mom

Lesson of the day: Never lie to your mother.


This classic skit, featuring Sid Caesar and Nanette Fabray, is very funny.  It has found its way all around the Internet savvy world, and sent to me by a cousin.  Enjoy!




The Duplicitous Dichotomy of the GOP

January 30, 2010

As I was driving along yesterday on my way to a big bowl of Vietnamese pho for lunch, I drove past the headquarters of Sallie Mae in Reston, Virginia.  Imagine my surprise when I saw the street name where Sallie Mae is situated:  American Dream Way!!!!!!!!  Can you just believe the irony of this?  It represents a dichotomy between the supposed noble goal to make education available to all and the stark reality of making that opportunity financially out of reach for many.

Sallie Mae is (was?) the quasi-government agency that offers and administers student loans.  Do you know the percentage of student loans that actually get paid off?  The answer is 99.99%.  Not a bad figure.  However, that just was not good or profitable enough for Sallie Mae.  No way.  They securitized their outstanding loans, which not only had an almost perfect payoff rate, but also earned the company a decent rate of return.  Adding undue risk and leverage to this straight-forward, reasonably profitable enterprise nearly brought down the whole show last year.  Just as the desire for record-breaking growth in our private sector resulted in dangerously risk-laden investments, Sallie Mae thought they could also play that game.

President Obama, in his SOTU address the other night, made a plea to remove the middleman, i.e. private banks, from the process of student educational borrowing.  In this way, we would save $80 billion over the next decade.  These savings could then be plowed back into the educational system for the benefit of our citizens.

Here is the article from today’s Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/28/AR2010012803672.html?sub=AR

The Congressional Republicans are on another frenzied tear to offer no help to regular Americans regarding this issue of student loans.  Yesterday, they uniformly made their displeasure known regarding removing private banks from the student loan process.  The GOP thinks that the private banks are a necessity for “competition”.

I beg to differ with their supposed intentions, and cite the example of health care reform to point out their duplicity.  If we need private banks in order to stimulate competition for student borrowing, why do we NOT need a public option in health care to stimulate effective price competition and cost savings?  The logic of the GOP is nonexistent.  On one hand, they want competition re: student loans to stimulate competition but, on the other hand, they do not want the public option (or any other method that would foster reasonable costs) for health care.  Could their real motivation be that their support of corporate America takes precedence over everything else?  Could their insistence on private lending for students and the condemnation of government participation, i.e. a public option, in health care be chalked up to anything other than supporting corporate profits on the backs of our citizens?  I believe the answer to both of these questions to be a resounding “Yes”.

These same Republicans will tout their platform of less government intervention.  The GOP stands firmly on their mantra that only private growth can reinflate our economy.  Need I remind them that the retreat from financial regulation over the last 20 years nearly toppled our entire economy?  Do they also require a summary of the abuses the private insurance industry embodies mainly because there is no competition.  Both of these situations are being ignored by the GOP because they hold firm in their belief that exuberant growth is the only issue that will rectify all that ails us.  Idiots.  Continuous, year-after-year new highs in any growth rate is a sure sign that all is not well, and that dubious methods of producing that growth-gone-wild will poison the whole system.  This did not work under Reagan and will not work now.  As usual, the GOP wants the wealthy to stay wealthy and the middle class to be the victims from where this top-bracket, elitist wealth originates.

The Street sign by Sallie Mae really got me going: “American Dream Way”.  Whose dream is that?  America’s or just the Party of No who answers to no one except the big corporate sector?  This dichotomy of the GOP’s behavior is as obvious as the nose on my face.  This governing party that represents 50% of our population spouts a true concern for their constituents yet supports legislation that works against the majority of Americans.  Is my theory of the GOP’s blocking direct student loans and health care reform exemplary of their total disconnect of policy making for the betterment of the people having precedence over their aim of funneling profits to corporate America?  Those profits, of course, will then be redirected right back into the pockets of the top 1% of earners.  Am I missing something here?  Am I being too imaginative and judgmental?

So  right on.  “American Dream Way”  is a misnomer, unless it is referring to the dreams, hopes and wishes of corporate America.  It sure as hell isn’t my “American dream”.

LIVE BLOG: State of the Union

January 27, 2010

PRE-ADDRESS POST

Welcome and thanks for visiting this site.  President Obama is just about to give his first SOTU address.  I was much happier this time last year than I am presently, but happiness has nothing to do with anything.  I am behind the man and am willing to draw on my remaining short supply of patience in anticipation of real change.  Here are my  comments on some of the major issues..

President Obama has offered up much-needed solutions to many of our problems.  We now need him to translate those words into actual events.  The financial industry must be held accountable to the government.  It is called regulation, which needs to be re-instated immediately.  This is rather difficult though when the government is in the industry’s pockets.  The lack of oversight and accountability has served to alienate and infuriate most Americans.

Ditto goes to our wars on two fronts.  It is a meaningless and fruitless task to help those who refuse to help themselves.  Further, our fixation on “fighting terrorism” can not be won by using the typical, historical methods of warfare.  Waste of time.  We must acknowledge that terrorism is a state of being, not a single event that can be wiped away by retaliation in the form of an endless war.

President Obama’s recent call for cost-cutting is only cosmetic.  I doubt that a freeze on that kind of spending will tip the economic scales one way or the other.  However, my mind is still open and I will comment further during his speech.  I am inclined to believe that these spending cuts are merely a political move, rather than a real fix for our economy.  A symbol, if you will, rather than a solution.

I need not rehash the importance of facing and fixing our high unemployment figures.  To fall back on the excuse, “It takes a strong private sector to create jobs” is an excuse for kowtowing to the usual suspects of special corporate interests.  I am not falling for that one again.  Instead of starting at the top of the triangle and hoping for a trickle-down effect to the middle class, the beginning point has to be at the bottom and middle of the triangle.  We never recuperated from that genius, elitist theory that we used to extract ourselves, i.e. the moneyed class only, from the recession under President Reagan.  Fool me once…….

Additionally, I remain steadfast in that the most important issue that reflects our gridlocked and unresponsive government is health care reform.  Health care reform must not remain a symbol of hope; it must be brought to legislative fruition and in so doing, will be an actual solution.  President Obama and our Congress must make good on delivering a reasonable, even though not complete, program.  I want my President to allow the do-nothing GOP to filibuster.  Big deal: another time delay in getting decent legislation.  Also, I want to see the President and our houses of Congress use their power of the majority.  If need be, reconciliation should be implemented to get some sort of reform enacted.  At this time, faced with understandable anger by the people, every legislative measure possible should be activated to make this reform a done deal.  It appears that Nancy Pelosi is the only one on Capitol Hill with some balls.  Not only is this particular issue the heart of what ails America (How could we be the only industrialized nation on earth that does not provide universal health care for our people?), but also this will be a test to see if the government can move past its own selfishness and inertia to enact policy for the betterment of the people.  Fat chance of that happening.

On the issue of global climate change, each nation is afraid to step up to the plate and institute responsible reforms for the benefit of our entire world.  Instead, they harp on tit-for-tat, lest any one nation lose economic superiority for the sake of our planet.  Would you agree that some guts, role-modeling and long-term concern are called for?

The time has come for action.  Nothing less than a  sea change in our governing practices and business objectives will be required.  Our elected government officials should be subject to the same FICA taxes as is every other American.  Regardless of their term in office, pensions for the rest of their lives should be thrown away.  Their pay raises should be limited to the CPI.  Above all, our mantra that bigger is better should be buried deep in the ground.  Pre-recession, when our economy was supposedly flourishing, any corporate earnings report that was a few pennies short of expectations or even worse, remained the same, caused the underlying stock to tumble.  By deeming anything less than previous earnings a market failure, pressure was applied to business interests, such as the financial industry, to come up with more esoteric and so much more riskier strategies and investments.  Not an excuse for their horrendous penchant for risk, yet a warning nonetheless.  It is unfair for the powers that be to rely and encourage the middle class to buy, buy, buy in order to stimulate the economy, at a time when personal debt is at just as dangerous levels as overpriced mortgages were.  Equally important, the middle class must stop their rampant consumerism just because easy credit is available.

A call for bipartisanship is just another delaying tactic and avoidance of responsibility.  The GOP’s do nothing platform of the last year has worked; why should they change their strategy now?  For the sake of unity, President Obama could give them one last chance.  He could list five issues, i.e. financial reform, health care, wars and national security, unemployment and perhaps immigration, and set a date and a time when the GOP can offer five fixes for each of these problems.  Shall we call this initiative “Five For Five”?  The Republicans’ biggest criticism of the health care bill was its length: “Five For Five” can be dispensed with in two pages.  Are they up to this task?  If they do not respond, it is only an affirmation of their solitary goal of taking down our President.

The poison that is eroding our middle class and our nation as a whole is deeper than we can imagine.  I am not at all sure if any President can stem the tide.  However, if we start with baby steps of corrective action, and fill in the gaps later on, perhaps we can get back on the right track. President Obama must turn his creativity and rhetoric into actual results that benefit the middle class.  And I do not mean pretty, election-saving but empty promises; I mean immediate steps to help make American life more secure.  Let’s see if that is going to happen.  Here we go.  Lights, camera, ACTION!

Some reading  links for your enlightenment on relevant issues:

1.  Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post on  “The State of the Union Speech Obama Would Give in a More Honest World”:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/26/AR2010012603934.html

2.  Andrew Simms on unsustainable growth (two very good articles):

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2010/jan/25/uk-growth-energy-resources-boundaries

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8479508.stm

THE LIVE BLOG OF THE SOTU ADDRESS

9:09 P.M.

Manners, puh-lease! Is Joe Wilson in the House?

9:11 P.M.

Look at how color coordinated Biden, with his purple tie, and Pelosi are, with her lavender suit.  I do not want staging; I want substance.

9:14 P.M.

He recognizes the decades-long faltering of the middle class.  He’s got the problem identified.  So what are you going to do, Mr. President?  We the people “share a resilience in the face of adversity”.  What choice do we have?  We should prefer to live a more gentler and kinder life as do our elected officials and corporate CEO’s.  So enough compliments.  What have you got on the table?

9:20 P.M.

Only half of the room stood and applauded Obama’s plan to charge fees to the largest banks in order to repay the taxpayers.  At his mention of the bonuses,  still only half the room was standing.  Therein lies the problem.  How could any politician from any party condone the huge bonuses paid to financial executives with funds borrowed from the taxpayers?

9:25 P.M.

Where will Obama’s new jobs bill originate?  With the already wealthy or within the middle class?  Will we have trickle down or trickle up?  Looks like he wants his starting point for jobs growth to be small businesses, by taking $30 billion from the money the banks have already paid back and use those funds for community lending to small businesses.  Here we go: no more capital gains for small business investment.  Don’t hold your breath.

Green jobs.  Infrastructure investments.  How we so desperately need this.  Not only will such a program provide jobs, but it will also repair our crumbling bridges, roads, water mains, etc.  Another great idea.  This Congress couldn’t unify behind the American people for all of the tea in China.  Obama’s presentation of this jobs bill is admirable.  So were all of his other progressive ideas.  How the hell do we turn these ideas into actions?

9:34 P.M.

Mr. President: economic growth is not always synonymous with a “healthy, strong” economy.  Quality, my friend is worth so much more than quantity.  Please do not fall into that American trap.  We do not necessarily need “more”; we need “different”.

9:36 P.M.

Best point so far: the nation that leads the clean revolution will be the nation that leads the world economy.  No guts, no glory.  Didn’t I say that in my pre-address comments?

9:39 P.M.

No progress.  Only half the room is standing and applauding.  Our Party of No cannot overcome the only issue that unites them: take Obama down.

The President is now addressing education issues… Still only half the room is responding positively.  Shoot.  The Republicans, in all of their elitism, do not think that college educations should be available and accessible to all.  How else can we interpret their apathy to Obama’s comments?

9:44 P.M.

Here comes health care.  I am so pleased that he hasn’t tabled this reform.  If he can get this bill passed, I do believe that future policy changes in areas like climate change, unemployment, and education will have an easier time and a better chance of passing as well.  The health care debate is the oil that will grease all present and future progressive legislation.  Obama must see it through with whatever available but legal procedures necessary.

9:49 P.M.

“Let’s get it done” re: health care.  Finally, the entire room is on its feet.

9:51 P.M.

Have to take a brief break.  Tell me what happens.  Wait:  I like his idea for spending cuts of $1 trillion to cover that exact amount that we had to borrow in response to the recession.  Surely the cuts are modest when compared to our overall debt, but now I understand the rationale behind the specified amount.  There is a certain symmetry there.  But in a perfect world with a perfect government, I would still like to see deeper cuts in such areas as military/war spending, pork barrel issues and especially, the payroll exemptions, ridiculous lifetime pensions and salary increases of our representatives and senators.

9:57 P.M.

Aaaaaahhhh ….. “the deficit of trust”, “the need to close the credibility gap”.  We have finally gotten to the heart of the matter.  In the same vein of reclaiming trust,the denouement of the recent Supreme Court’s decision to allow unfettered campaign giving.  Free speech, my ass.

I like that website idea for all pork barrel requests.  Remember that Bridge to Nowhere?  “Thanks”, but “no thanks”.  Palin’s lie was an attempt at covering up her pork barrel pet project.

I love Obama’s point that every day cannot be Election Day.  Governing must trump individual career goals.  Now I would like to see him lead the way on this issue and fight like the Dickens to get health reform done, with whatever methods are available to him. He must pull out all the stops and LEAD BY EXAMPLE.

10:06 P.M.

Major faux pas.  Obama has just pledged that the Iraq War will be over by August and that “all of our troops will come home”.  Will they?  Or will they be recycled to Afghanistan?  Do not pull the wool over my eyes.  This is not conducive to building trust.

10:10 P.M.

President Obama has given a good speech.  It was much less condescending than I thought it would be.  He stood on his principles yet was brutally honest.  Downright daring.

Oh my!  Hold on to your hats.  He has just promised to do away with DADT (Don’t ask, don’t tell) in our military,one of the most hypocritical policies thriving in America.  How can we be an honest nation with an honest government implementing an honest agenda if we hide behind and bury gender preferences?  Fake, phony and fiction.

10:18 P.M.

Obama is finishing up.  He is speaking about having the dedication and strength to “do what is right”: to invest in the generations, not just in an election.  Please Mr. President, live by your own words.  Your head is screwed on absolutely correctly.  I am with you and I have your back because I know you have mine.  Now act.

GOVERNOR BOB MCDONNELL’S REPUBLICAN RESPONSE

Allow me a few comments about Virginia’s new Governor Bob McDonnell, who will be giving the GOP response to the President’s SOTU address.

He ran a good campaign against a weak opponent last November here in the Commonwealth.  However, a few things need clarification.  First, his campaign jewel was the promise that he would fix the horrendous transportation gridlock here in northern Virginia.  Not three days after being sworn into office, McDonnell announced that he will not be tackling our transportation woes this year  Liar or realist?  Both.  He knew damn well during the campaign that our state was over $4 billion in the hole.  Of course there was no money available.  But he chose to lie to aid his victory at the polls and THEN he became a realist, after being inaugurated.  Yuk.

Secondly,his gubernatorial opponent, Creigh Deeds, accused McDonnell during the campaign of not supporting equal rights for women, as McDonnell had voted against equal pay for women.  Further, a master’s thesis written by McDonnell  when he was 34 years old in 1989, put forth his beliefs that working women and feminists were detrimental to family life.  McDonnell countered this brouhaha  by citing the careers of his wife and numerous daughters.  His paid political ads featured many female state employees who refuted his alleged sexism.  Fine and dandy; he fought off the charges well and successfully.  However, no one, not even one person in the media or state government, questioned McDonnell as to why, if he holds no prejudice against equal gender rights, why the hell he voted against equal pay for women.  To this day, no explanation for that vote has been offered.

So now let us listen to the hope for the GOP.  What?  Why did they choose him to deliver this speech?  He has only been in office for about three hours.  Oh right: he is a Republican who actually won an election.  Got it.  Here we go.

10:30 P.M.

McDonnell has one thing right: it is not easy to follow the President of the United States, especially this particular one who currently holds office.  Remember the debacle of Bobby Jindal last year?  Oy.

McDonnell is starting out with his favorite topic: job growth.  And of course, that can only happen if we have unfettered, unregulated growth.  Never mind that with the constant expectation of growth comes corruption and abuse.  It is one thing to harp on the GOP’s steadfast platform of growth, but McDonnell is conveniently ignoring the disaster that irresponsible growth can cause.

Yes, I agree with him on the topic on the necessity of tort reform as an important underpinning for successful and effective health reform.  This issue has not ignored for too long by the Democrats.

Uh-oh: here he goes, willing to sacrifice a clean America for an energy independent nation.  I do not fall for this.  The achievement of both goals can be attained.  It is not an “either or” situation.

10:38 P.M.

McDonnell is touching on all the issues, i.e. education, the war against terrorism, a strong military, etc.  Pretty simple task when you only have ten minutes to talk.  He is pushing all the right buttons, be it only for five seconds each.  In six minutes, we have met three of his five children.  Sorry, not interested.  Extraneous.

Overall, a decent, white bread kind of speech from a member of a white bread sort of party.  Admirable but very milquetoast.  A recitation of party platitudes, affecting no deep-seated changes in attitudes:

10:44 P.M.

Good night and a better tomorrow.

POSTSCRIPT:

For a more eloquent, sensitive live blog of President Obama’s SOTU address, please visit Andrew Sullivan:

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/01/liveblogging-the-sotu.html



Ed Schultz Stands and Delivers: Will We?

January 25, 2010

Listen to Ed Schultz of MSNBC.  He has summed up exactly where we stand today in our fight for what is right.  He continues in his support of Barack Obama, although not blindly and without criticism.  Yet, Schultz admits, not as an excuse but simply as an explanation, that our problems in this country go much deeper and are more widespread than merely assigning the role of scapegoat to President Obama.  Take the time to watch the video in its entirety:

I will not reiterate all of his well-taken points.  The problem is two-pronged.  On one hand, we have the oppositional GOP working for nothing except the demise of President Obama.  Historically they have never cared about your everyday, middle class American and have always designed their legislative agenda to benefit the industrial/financial complex and the economic elite.  On the other hand, we have our very own Democratic members gaming the system for their own selfish desires and special treatment.

Schulz is correct: health care reform is the lynch pin, the premier issue, that typifies the disgraceful disregard our government has for the people.  Our President and members of Congress have lost sight of their initial goals and job descriptions.  Each and every level of both parties are culpable for deceiving and abandoning the public.

It is not relevant or productive to dump this whole mess in the lap of President Obama.  Sure, his methods need some backbone and refinement.  He has abandoned loyalty to his base in his quest for reconciliation of all factions, which is a political impossibility.  What infuriates me the most are those people, his supporters, who turn on a dime from blind adoration of our President one day to utter hatred the next.  They have not one ounce of patience or guts.

After trashing the President, these people then proceed to regale the likes of FDR, JFK and even John Edwards.  Their thinking is impulsive with no homework to back it up.  They substitute lazy intellects for inflammatory rhetoric.  FDR was not the beloved savior during his time in office.  In fact, his New Deal programs were often criticized.  Furthermore, these people who have elevated FDR to sainthood fail to acknowledge that he turned away from our shores boatloads of Jewish refugees, who had to reverse course and face ultimate death in Europe.  JFK held office for only three years.  He was young, energetic and a fabulous speaker.  But wait: does anyone remember the Bay of Pigs?  Had he lived, it would have been interesting to see how history would have treated him, politically and with his sexual peccadilloes in tow.  Also, do you remember Presidential candidate John Edwards?  For some voters, he was the apple of middle class America’s eye.  Do you think that his supporters did their fact checking, bringing to light his sleazy courtroom tactics to win liability/malpractice suits at any cost?  Why the surprise when his  sordid contemptibility spilled over into his personal life?

Having in-vogue heroes and trendy goats serves no purpose.  By elevating any public figure to the rank of savior can only result in disappointment.  But for Heaven’s sake, neither be so eager to trample someone whom you once supported so vigorously.  President Obama has held office for merely one year, certainly not enough time to erase the deeply harmful effects of the last 28 years of Presidential tenures.  Also, this one year is not enough time to allow the President to implement new policies, some which are totally experimental for America, like health care reform.

Likewise, with the media, it is either anoint him or bury him, for the sake of entertainment ratings, personal ego-stroking or the venting of individual miseries.  The opposing, wildly-fluctuating extremes of various media opinions invalidates most of their thoughts.  How can these purveyors of public commentary be the President’s cheerleader one minute and his executioner the next?

It is a given that the  mainstream television and radio journalists will say anything to bolster their ratings.  In the print and especially the internet media, slipshod writing with the single intent to provoke and be melodramatic serves no one.  It just causes the  sacrifice of literary coherency, content and any kind of structure, like grammar, punctuation and spelling,  to sheer emotionalism.  Disheveled writing, disheveled mind.  In this manner, the writer’s intended premise loses real meaning and is replaced by a vindictive, fleeting, exploitive punch of sensationalism. Further, when treed for their wildly fluctuating political opinions, these media mavens accuse people of making politics personal.  Nothing is more “personal”, i.e. insulting, than baiting the public with fickle commentary just to validate the author’s personal predictions in order to assuage his ego.

Politics has to be more than blowing off steam in order to make a point.  Today some former supporters are feeling pretty good because their criticism of Obama has some legs.  What about the fulfillment of serving the greater good?  Is their ego gratification enough, or do they really want to implement change?  Does their “being right” about Obama make them feel better for what has transpired?  If their answers to the last two questions are “Yes”, then they are in the same class as our Congressmen who run roughshod over the wishes of the people just to attain their own selfish goals.  Better to flow with the ups and downs, study the subject and provide reasonable criticism coupled with continued support.

Clearly, in their quest for those overrated fifteen minutes, the media  are not interested in securing the needed legislation, but instead, use their outlets, be it newscasts, talk shows or blogs, as a psychiatrist’s couch for their own mental relief.  Sloppy journalism coupled with emotional, vengeful hysteria is just as harmful to real reform as is our politicians’ subversive and selfish agendas.

Please understand that I welcome reasonable criticism of the President.  The flaw here is not the criticism; it is the volatile progression from love to hate.  Me thinks these everyday individuals, bloggers and news people are really railing at their own predicaments, at some dissatisfaction within themselves and their own lives.

President Obama’s mission now has to be to seek action to get the job done.  No more talk.  Eloquent speeches will not fill the bill anymore.  Actions are required regardless of the risk they may entail.  Our President has to put himself behind his convictions despite the possible effects such efforts may have in the voting booths.  For him to stay the course he is currently on is neither here nor there, and carries much more risk and ridicule than a more forceful position would.

Stand and deliver.  Ed Schultz is so on target about the health care issue and the necessity of supporting President Obama.  Another moderate, steady voice has been Andrew Sullivan.  To President Obama, to our elected lawmakers, to every American: get out there and fight for what is rightfully ours.  Do not kill the messenger, for Barack Obama is still the best shot we have at affecting change.  He just has to learn, as we all do, the proper way to deliver that change.  And he needs more time.  The chance is no worse than what we have now and the risk is worth taking.

The Abyss

January 24, 2010

Having read all the post-mortems of the Massachusetts state Senate election, I see no one actually admitting the real culprit: the abasement and subversion of  a people’s government for the betterment of our political and corporate interests.  I am hearing such semantic remedies as “course correction”, “getting back on track”, “reconnecting” and “rebooting”.  However, no actions have been taken to produce any change.

Frank Rich, in his New York Times Op-Ed today, comes the closest to a realistic analysis of where the Democrats (and Republicans) failed and where they need to go.  The bottom-line problem is all the attention being paid to the upcoming mid-term elections, rather than to what the people need.  As we have seen during the last year, sweeping someone into office and having a fool-proof majority in the Senate does not ensure a clear path for promises and progress.  No Siree: the only thing those factors signify is that we have a President elected by a large mandate and a Senate that is (was) filibuster-proof.

Frank Rich is good, but not totally complete in his ideas.  He steps back from taking his ideas to their natural conclusion: specific corrective actions.  Please read his article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/24/opinion/24Rich.html?hp

My favorite paragraph is:

Kennedy didn’t settle for the generic populist rhetoric of Obama’s latest threats to “fight” unspecified bankers some indeterminate day. He instead took the strong action of dressing down U.S. Steel by name. As Richard Reeves writes in his book “President Kennedy,” reporters were left “literally gasping.” The young president called out big steel for threatening “economic recovery and stability” while Americans risked their lives in Southeast Asia. J.F.K. threatened to sic his brother’s Justice Department on corporate records and then held firm as his opponents likened his flex of muscle to the power grabs of Hitler and Mussolini. (Sound familiar?) U.S. Steel capitulated in two days. The Times soon reported on its front page that Kennedy was at “a high point in popular support.”

President Obama and our other elected officials have demonstrated a lack of any effective follow-through.  Great ideas, progressive policies and financial “saves” were all talked (and semi-legislated) to death.  In the end, nothing.  Bankers, investment enterprises, mortgage lenders, drug companies, insurance companies and yes, even the Supreme Court in all their supposed glory for backing the First Amendment could not stimulate our lawmakers into actually legislating for the people.

Now the President has signed on David Plouffe to work within Congress on the mid-term elections.  Plouffe was terrific during the campaign, and might also be successful in our upcoming elections.  Oh yeah: it is great to help the party, but who the hell will help the people?  That is the disconnect.  That is the abyss. Yet and still, I see no push, no emphasis, on the real mission, which is to deliver legislation to help Americans.  I understand that in order to do so, we must have our party members in office.  Yet, that is exactly what we had this past year and the legislative process became a contest of political gamesmanship for the benefit of the politicians and special interests.  The American people are still left with paying bailed-out banks their atrocious bonuses and no universal affordable health care.  This week’s Supreme Court decision to further allow our businesses to give without limit to the candidates of their choice geometrically increased our government’s loyalty to entities that can keep them in office rather than to responding to the needs of the people.

How come President Obama never got on his speaking platform and said, in plain English, that the financial industry is raping this nation?  Why hasn’t he come right out and listed the abuses of the health insurance companies?  He needs to name names.  To cite vague examples for the sake of arousing sympathy will not work.  It just serves to increase our helplessness.  Drastic times call for drastic measures.

Our representatives and senators are legislators.  It is time they did exactly that.  Take on those greedy Wall Street hoarders, select five or ten aspects of health care that must be passed and work together to do just that and start the legislative process to override the Supreme Court’s decision.  For Heaven’s sake, legislate!  Enact!

The abyss, the great divide, we have seen this year has been the gap between talking about fulfilling needs and then, in the end, being satisfied with making only the special interests happy.  Thus, by assuaging the needs of the corporate and political elite, our lawmakers have sacrificed the real needs of the people.  It is the classic carrot-and-stick approach.  The voters were lured in by promises of new, innovative and often, beneficial ideas.  Then, the peoples’ concerns got lost in the shuffle and all we were left with was the pacts made to the special interests.

President Obama and his Congress, despite some great ideas and oration, have been paralyzed so far.  They have to take decisive actions, whether it be reconciliation in the Senate to pass health reform or some kind of executive power to rein in the financial industry and cut them off at their knees.  With 41 Republican senators now, a filibuster is a possibility.  So what?  What’s the big deal?  Let the GOP filibuster.  Let them talk and delay for as long as they want.  This will serve only to raise the ire of the American population even more and then, just maybe, public disgust will turn the Party of No away from their sheer obstructionism.  No more wait-and-see.  No more compromise.  No more useless attempts at bipartisanship.  Actions speak louder than words, which can be flexibly twisted to reflect just about anything.  President Obama and Congress have used rubber cement as the main ingredient of their policies. Folks, what we have in place now is a Gumby Government, where the initial aims have been perverted, distorted and through very talented wordsmiths, been presented as what we were after in the first place.

Unless our government can refocus their goals based on the true needs of all Americans and translate them into responsive lawmaking, this great divide will be the only result we will have to show for our efforts.  A big hole in the ground.  What is needed is not an “ism”, such as “protectionism”, “populism” or “bipartisanism”.  The chasm of need versus specific remedy must be closed now.  Beside the destruction caused by alienation and anger of the American people, our viability as a functioning nation is also on the line.

So this crevasse in our country is about so much more than just winning elections which, in and of itself, is not a guarantee that our needs will be met.  It is about delivering to the country what was promised and what is ethically correct.  Above all, it is about our lawmakers upholding their oaths of office to the voters who elected them.  Our government, by design and constitutionality, operates to improve the lives of our citizens.  Contrary to present policy, our citizens do not exist for the benefit of our government.  Until this fact is acknowledged and answered by engaged execution of appropriate laws enacted by our legislators, the abyss of inertia stands.

Photo Essay: Boys Will Be Boys

January 23, 2010

THIS IS FOR MOTHERS OF BOYS

SISTERS OF BOYS,

AND BOYS THAT ARE ALL GROWN UP


WHY BOYS NEED PARENTS




THANK HEAVEN FOR LITTLE  …. AND BIG …. BOYS!!!


The Devil and Pat Robertson

January 22, 2010

I thought you should read the following letter.  The Minneapolis Star-Tribune published a letter from Satan to Pat Robertson, responding to his comment that Haiti’s persistent troubles, including the earthquake, are due to a pact the nation made with Mephistopheles.  Actually, it wasn’t Satan who wrote the letter but Lilly Coyle of Minneapolis writing in the persona of the hellish one.  I think she got it down pretty well.  What say you?

—– Frank James, January 15, 2010

Dear Pat Robertson,
I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the
shout-out. And you make God look like a big mean bully who kicks
people when they are down, so I’m all over that action.

But when you say that Haiti has made a pact with me, it is totally
humiliating. I may be evil incarnate, but I’m no welcher. The way you
put it, making a deal with me leaves folks desperate and impoverished.

Sure, in the afterlife, but when I strike bargains with people, they
first get something here on earth — glamour, beauty, talent, wealth,
fame, glory, a golden fiddle. Those Haitians have nothing, and I mean
nothing. And that was before the earthquake. Haven’t you seen
“Crossroads”? Or “Damn Yankees”?

If I had a thing going with Haiti, there’d be lots of banks,
skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox — that kind of thing.
An 80 percent poverty rate is so not my style. Nothing against it —
I’m just saying: Not how I roll.

You’re doing great work, Pat, and I don’t want to clip your wings —
just, come on, you’re making me look bad. And not the good kind of
bad. Keep blaming God. That’s working. But leave me out of it, please.
Or we may need to renegotiate your own contract.

Best, Satan

Pants on the Ground

January 21, 2010

Not only are our pants are on the ground, but we have been given the biggest wedgie in existence.

My last post, “The Courage of Our Convictions”, nearly did me in and took the wind out of my sails.  So for the sake of brevity and preservation of what ever strength and conviction I have left, this post will deal with an issue of national disgrace concisely.  The abuse and lack of corrective measures is so damn obvious that only a few sentences are required anyway.

The headlines in the Washington Post today were:

Obama blames Massachusetts Senate loss on middle-class economic pain

CITES DISCONNECT IN SENATE DEFEAT

Well, DUH!!!!!!!!  Finally, an admission that we are not representative of a capitalistic economy but of a billionaire society.  There is a total alienation of the middle class caused by our government and industrial/corporate complex having an overwhelming loyalty to the financial elite.

I will cite only two examples to demonstrate this total dedication to the top 1% of our earners while the rest of us are ignored, or even penalized.  When the financial crisis hit, Goldman Sachs had racked up billions of dollars in losses from risky investments.  Enter AIG, who insured Goldman for those losses.  Goldman had almost $13 billion in losses, which were summarily offset by federal bailout funds.  Then, to add insult to injury, AIG made good on its insurance contract with Goldman as well, enabled by their own receipt of bailout funds.  In effect, Goldman was made whole again by our tax dollars TWICE: first by the bailout funds and then by AIG’s payment to them which, by the way, also resulted from taxpayer money handed over to AIG to stave off their collapse.

In fact, the current House committee investigation of the New York Fed, then headed up by none other than Tim Geithner,  is up to their elbows trying to sort out the truth regarding AIG funneling billions of bailout dollars to other banks to pay off their insurance obligations.  When a bankruptcy is expected, as was the case with AIG, many of their debtors would be willing to accept a much smaller payment.  Geithner however, offered the banks owed money by AIG payment in full.  Well, why the hell not?  It was our money with which he was being so generous.  Easy come, easy go.

Then the ultimate slap in the face was that these financial companies increased the bonuses paid out to their executives.  These outrageous sums of money existed only because we, the taxpayers, made billions of dollars “too big to fail” available to them.  They are using our money to compensate themselves!  Why did it take President Obama so long to act against this financial tyranny?

In the interim, unemployment has risen upwards of 10%.  We knew this would result as a function of the recession. However, unemployment in a lagging indicator, and the worst job numbers hit as we witnessed corporate, bailed-out America repeating their mistakes by issuing even larger bonuses than last year.  No wonder the outrage of middle America.  No wonder the loss of patience with this administration.  No wonder the political powers that be are having doubts and seeking a re-evaluation of their priorities.  It is about time.

More icing on the cake of corruption and special interests: today the Supreme Court ruled that, as a function of the first amendment (freedom of speech), unions and corporations no longer are limited to the amount of donations they may make toward political candidates.  Hold on to your hats.  This ruling can be just as damaging to our elective process as the unrestricted TARP funds were to our unregulated financial sector.  If you think lobbyists and special interests rule the economy, just wait and see their takeover of our elections.

Health care is another clear example of this disregard for the majority of Americans.  With the GOP (and Joe Leiberman’s stalwart support of the insurance industry headquartered in his state) firmly behind the private insurance companies, there is no possibility of creating a fair and just health care system.  John McCain said today that the Democrat’s push for reform was misguided from the get-go, and was made even worse by their efforts to “buy” the votes  of Ben Nelson, Joe Leiberman and even Max Baucus.   McCain erred on the first part: this country needs a new system that delivers health care equally, easily and effectively.  While McCain twisted his party’s shut-down of everything the administration offered  just to deny President Obama any victory, his take on the Democratic horse-trading was correct.  I have got news for you: NEITHER party cares about a reasonable health care policy for all Americans.

This is because our dignified and prestigious elected officials play political games for their own benefit.  If not cutting deals to ensure their re-elections, they are consummating other deals to line their pockets.  Yesterday, the common shares of Merck reached a 52-week high while many other pharma enterprises were near their highs as well.  Personally, I would like to see America’s anger reach a crescendo, causing much worry and restorative responses on both sides of the aisle.

So yeah, our pants are on the ground.  Not only is the middle class being ignored, the the Billionaire’s Club is reaping all the money.  Supposedly the aid allocated to those entities that “are too big to fail” will ultimately trickle down to assist the needs of the other 99% of Americans.  This is nothing short of  fantasy.  “Trickle down” economics was a lie during the Reagan years and remains so today.

Our pants are on the ground.  It is high time for the middle class to pick up their pants on their newly-developed spine, affix them tightly around their waists and use their vote to assert their opinion, which was clearly the case in Massachusetts.  Then we should pull down the pants of our lawmakers and give them them biggest wedgie ever.

Sorry.  I lied.  There isn’t an ounce of brevity in me.

POSTSCRIPT:

How to Fix Congress – From the Grassroots

Congressional Reform Act of 20101. Term Limits: 12 years only, one of the possible options below.
A. Two Six year Senate terms
B. Six Two year House terms
C. One Six year Senate term and three Two Year House terms

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.  The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

2. No Tenure / No Pension:
A congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security:
All funds in the Congressional retirement fund moves to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, Congress participates with the American people.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, server your term(s), then go home and back to work.

4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan just as all Americans
Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.  Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.
Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

6. Congress looses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.
Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

7. Congress must equally abide in all laws they impose on the American people.
Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.  The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

8. All contracts with past and present congressmen are void effective 1/1/11.
The American people did not make this contract with congressmen, congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.  The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

The Courage of Our Convictions

January 20, 2010

Oy.  Better yet, a roaring “OMG”.

I think I will go to Arlington National Cemetery this week to visit Teddy Kennedy’s grave.  Certainly I am bound to see some movement there: I am sure that he is rolling over and over in his grave.

Not even the most talented, imaginative writer could have scripted the scenario that is now in front of us.  The drama is overwhelming.  Not only has a Republican taken ownership of Teddy’s Senate seat, a seat held by a member of the Kennedy family for almost 60 years, but also the result of this election could be the demise of our one shot for universal health care, the heart-and-soul issue of Teddy’s tenure.  Granted: Martha Coakley was a very weak candidate.  However, Scott Brown was a nobody, one of only five Republican state senators (of a 40 member body) and a former male centerfold model.  So ironic, so devastating and at the core of this turn of events, a sad commentary on the state and effectiveness of our form of government.

This effort at passing health care reform has all the markings of a Greek tragedy, almost doomed from the start.  This was in part, due to President Obama’s aloofness and the horse-trading methods of our government’s legislative process.

Very briefly, let us review the factors that played into this mess.  Numero uno is that President Obama insisted that the Congress should be the designers of health reform and that they should negotiate their proposals through the horrendous legislative process.  After all, when the Clintons came up with their own plan and tried to ram it through Congress, it was summarily buried.  In theory, President Obama wanted this to be a bill for the people, by the people.  He wanted the citizens and their elected officials to take ownership, assume responsibility and invest themselves in the fate of their own health care.  The purity of the President’s objective was admirable.  However, his major fault was that he removed himself a bit too far from the process.  Was this because of the piety of his original objective, or was it due to an unwillingness to partake in political risk?   He did not assume enough risk and thus, the reward might not come to fruition.

Secondly, the antics and deal-makings undertaken to pass this legislation were shameful.  Please explain to me how the federal government’s concession to Ben Nelson, to exempt his state in perpetuity from all Medicaid expansion costs, was a fair deal when made on the backs of the other 49 states, who would have to cover the free ride of Nelson’s state.  Also explain to me why Joe Leiberman is still chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee after he single-handedly killed any chance of a public option, an absolute necessity for attaining fairness and competition in health care.

The irony of all ironies is that neither Ben Nelson nor Joe Leiberman matter as health care reform comes down to the wire.  Ha!  Our President and our publicly elected servants gave away nearly the whole kit and caboodle only to discover that the Senate race to replace the deceased Lion of the Senate, the strongest proponent of decent and affordable health care, was the last minute deciding factor.  The ultimate sin was that our lawmakers lost sight of their original intent of enacting a bill that would insure every American fairly and affordably.  Instead, the wheeling, dealing and bowing to special interests became, in and of themselves, the ultimate goals.  Political gamesmanship overtook our dire need for universal health care.  The process, in this case soiled and corrupt to the core, supplanted the substance.

Some politicos say the Massachusetts Senate race/health care mandate was a response to the proposed bill, believing that it is not conservative enough, i.e. it involves too much government interference coupled with runaway costs.  Others say that the bill is not liberal enough, i.e. contains no public option.  Arianna Huffington commented that the results of the Massachusetts senate race provides an opportunity for the Democratic party to “course correct” before the 2010 midterm elections.  Spin is a funny thing.  It can go either way.  That is why it is called “spin”.

The possible strategies for rescuing health care reform include the President signing the Senate bill as it now stands, the Senate attempting to use the tactic of budget reconciliation to pass the bill and a public option by a simple majority of 51 votes, or delaying the swearing in of Scott Brown until the bill passes through the House and taking a final vote.  All of these options will further infuriate both sides of the aisle.  Once the original intent, the integrity and the legislative process of a great idea is watered down so profoundly, there are no saving graces.

Our legislative process is so corrupt and out of sync with what the people need and want.  This is the lesson of the “referendum” passed in Massachusetts today.  Only 12% of the registered voters in that state are Republican, while a whopping 51% are Independent.  This race was, in President’ Obama’s earlier turn of a phrase, a “teachable moment” —– in humility, complacency and above all, democracy.  Americans want what they were promised, or at least, something that resembles those pledges.  As with AIG and the other huge financial institutions that are using our tax-provided bailout funds for disgraceful bonuses, the people of Massachusetts used this Senate race to let our government know, this time before any legislation is voted on, their displeasure with “selling out”.  Americans are angry.  They do not want the same hoax vis-a-vis the bailouts/bonuses revisited on an empty health care bill.  They have been the victims of an egregious violation of the original promises and intents.  The results of this state election for U. S. senator was indeed a mandate on the subterfuge, chicanery and deception that flourishes in our halls of government.

A more optimistic lesson learned from current events is to always expect the unexpected.  The impossible can become a possibility.  With that in mind, a glimmer of hope for a comprehensive, cost-conscious and effective health policy still exists.  How (and if) we get there and implement it will be the true test of our values.  Perhaps this “revolt” will be the fruition of the courage of our convictions.

What a way for our President to mark his first anniversary of taking office.  Oy.  And a rip-roaring OMG.

Mindsets

January 18, 2010

Individuals, societies and nations all have existing mindsets that need to be shaken up, thrown out the window and then allowed back in through the front door in the form of new mindsets.  To me, that is the definition of progress.  Let me explain.

With the savage destruction in Haiti, one is forced to ask “Why?’.  Not the why of having such a terrible natural disaster hit there, for that can happen anywhere.  Rather, the “why” applies to the devastation that existed in Haiti before this tragedy.  The world is appalled at the current physical and human misery in Haiti, but where was the world before this disaster struck?  Haiti had no infrastructure, either structural or social, not to mention a functioning government, before the earthquake hit.

The enigma I am faced with is why such apparent outrage now and not before, when the state of existence in Haiti was so antithetical to living a productive, healthy life.  It has to do with mindsets, and the fatigue of poverty, along with the accompanying feeling of hopelessness and helplessness to rectify the situation, throughout the world.  Poverty never goes away and, let’s face it, it is a horrible thing to witness.  So we steel ourselves, by our emotional and financial outpouring in response to a specific horrific event but at the same time, avoiding the reality of poverty and its destructive effects.

Our world is diverse in its political ideologies, types of governments and religious beliefs.  Poverty exists in no one type of social, economic and legal framework.  Is wealth re-distribution the simple answer?  Probably just part of it.  It is the chicken-and-the-egg puzzle all over again: which came first?  Corrupt, self-serving governments or the poverty that they seem to ignore?  How come the leaders of impoverished nations never live in those same deplorable conditions as do their citizens?

Poverty is a complicated, global  manifestation of political beliefs, geography and natural resources, education, economic viability and human caring.  I am certainly not going to solve this problem here.  My one aim is to detail  the overwhelming evidence that poverty is insidious and is the culprit for most of what ails this planet.  It is the same old story: if we can identify and acknowledge the problem, the solution may arise a bit more easier.

A few months ago, I cited a PBS series entitled “Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?”.  I was mesmerized by this straight-forward, four-part documentary of how poverty is indeed the underlying cause of inequality in health care in this country.  And the expected corollary of that premise is that if poverty causes such disparity in the levels of health care, certainly poverty also brings with it inequality in many other aspects of our lives.  Take the time to rent this program, or view it on line, as it is a stunning eye-opener:

http://www.pbs.org/unnaturalcauses/about_the_series.htm

This week in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, David Brooks of the New York Times wrote an Op-Ed article on poverty being the ultimate enemy in Haiti, not necessarily the earthquake.  His points are well-taken:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/15/opinion/15brooks.html?scp=2&sq=brooks&st=cse

The true disaster of Haiti is the human suffering and need that was apparent before the natural disaster.  For richer countries to allocate aid to the poorer countries is not the answer.  Even Bill and Melinda Gates, through their charitable foundation, have admitted that to throw tons of money at a problem such as malaria, will not erase the disease.  The solution is much more complicated and multi-faceted.  The human race needs a mindset alteration in how best to alleviate the world’s poverty.

Likewise, in our nation, we celebrate President Obama’s first anniversary of assuming that office.  This year has also been cause to alter my mindset.  Has he delivered on his promises?  Were his promises realistic in the first place?  President Obama has made great strides for America.  He has salvaged our international reputation to a large degree, appointed a well-educated, experienced person to the the Supreme Court, stemmed a total collapse of our economy and financial institutions (although some would say perhaps it would have been better to allow those enterprises to fall off the face of the earth), and above all, continued to set an example for disciplined and measured personal and professional behavior.

In my previous posts, I have often referred to Barack Obama as “strict”.  I now believe that my inexact words really meant his conservatism .  Yes, you heard me correctly, and that is the mindset change that I have undergone during the last year.  The sector of our population that probably is most dissatisfied with the President’s first year is the left.  Not the right wingers —- but instead, the left-leaning liberals.  They feel betrayed by his campaign promises, sincerely but nonetheless rather naively made, that he will put Washington, D.C. back on the straight and narrow again.   Just like the world’s deep-seated poverty, this ingrained abuse by our elected officials is just as destructive to real progress.

I do think that President Obama has undergone a reality check this year which has altered his mindset.  He no longer preaches his intention to change the structure of Washington because he has seen firsthand that it is practically an impossible task.  Instead, he has recognized that the only antidote is to work from the inside out, work within that system, to try to affect change.  It is a sad and dispiriting revelation for any American to concede this fact.  Nevertheless, that is our reality.

Mindset changes are tough calls, often implying defeat because the process carries with it so much compromise.  Such is the state of our health care reform proposed legislation.  If Scott Brown wins the Massachusetts Senate seat tomorrow over the Democrat Coakley, there is a good chance that passage of the the reform will be stopped dead in its tracks.  Yes, there are certain alternative paths Congress can take to get the reform through.  However, I will not be so devastated if this reform falls by the wayside.  This new mindset, of accepting a general framework of what we can get done now and then, at some later date, refine the legislation, does not sit well with me.  Basically, the new bill offers insurance to some uninsured 30 million, but does so mainly by expanding the Medicaid roles.  Regarding the supposedly history-making provisions of no more pre-existing conditions or cancellation of policies due to actual illnesses, I still have not seen the appropriate checks and balances necessary to ensure those provisions.  Also, this bill does not address the hugely increasing costs of health coverage.  Further, with the insurance companies facing no public competition, they are still the rulers of the health care universe.  There is no new mindset associated with the proposed health care reform bill.  This is my major objection to accepting it, even though I admit that the initial framework would be a good starting place.  Shoot: any place would be a good starting point for reform of our health system.

Mindsets are like promises: they are made to be broken, whether we like it or not.  In Haiti, should the citizens accept immediate aid without the world’s promise of a larger scale dedication to helping that country?  Should poor Americans accept the only health care available to them, often only the immediate, minimalist efforts of Medicaid, or strive for equality despite their poverty?  Should President Obama and we Americans accept the advances made this year or claim defeat and surrender because often the results were not what was specifically promised?  Your answer is probably as puzzled and muddled as is mine.

A change in mindset can be mind-boggling, no?