Friday, August 28, 2009
Tomorrow will be the 4th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation of New Orleans and surrounding areas.
Bush, Cheney, Rice, all the Republicans went about their summer holiday without a second glance while the people of New Orleans drowned in boarded-up attics, in nursing homes, in jails, in hospitals, in streets and homes, while the federal government provided no help whatsoever. Old disabled ladies sat in wheelchairs, parked by walls, and died from the heat. There was no water. Babies cried, as did grown-ups. And still there was no help from the federal government.
The Republicans wanted to try out their theory of "privatization." That means that whatever happens, expect nothing from the government. If you're hungry or homeless or sick, go beg in the streets for help because you'll get nothing from the government. Call the Red Cross -- maybe they can bring some coffee and donuts for the survivors. Call the churches -- maybe they can get their members to bring in a can of food on Sunday.
But expect nothing from the federal government because all its money has gone to the insiders, to the politicians, to the defense industry, and to war. Nothing for the people. Crumbling infrastructure? Too bad. Schools closed down? Bummer. No water, no housing, no medical care, no food, no transportation, no way out? Tough luck.
It was only after the entire world gasped in unison at the sight of Americans being so callously left to die by their own government, it was only after extremely poor nations like Cuba offered to send help, that our useless corrupt federal government made the tiniest gesture to help the citizens. To save face.
While progressives around the country take a moment to remember those who died and suffered, and who still suffer from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, remember this: the Democrats did absolutely nothing to help either. As I recall, Sean Penn got down there into the chemically-filled waters in a rowboat and tried to help save people. Anderson Cooper managed to get there. But not the federal government, Republicans or Democrats. They were on vacation.
Except, and this is a big one: except the National Guard Air-Sea Rescue teams who worked round the clock, risking their lives again and again to try to help save the citizens of New Orleans. So hats off to those brave people of the U.S. Coast Guard. To everyone else, may you all rot in hell.
Of course the poor never get help. They get lousy infrastructure and housing, high poverty and crime, no real protection, few social safety nets, no healthcare. Did anyone notice the number of amputees being wheeled around in wheelchairs in New Orleans? You know what that's from? Diabetes: the diet of the poor, the sugar, starch and fat diet that U.S. corporations sell to poor people, destroys their health, leads to an early death, amputation of the feet, then to the knee, then to the hip, chipping away pieces until the person dies.
Anyway, in 1927 there was a big flood of the Mississippi, a real scandal at the time, and Randy Newman wrote this wonderful song about it. "Louisiana 1927."
Thursday, August 27, 2009
The military people are eventually returned to their own countries. When they receive instructions from the U.S., they will do such things as overthrow their own governments, or round up political opposition groups in their own countries and kill all the members, kidnap union organizers and murder them, slaughter entire villages. They do whatever the Americans tell them to do.
This is exactly what happened in the coup in Honduras a few months ago: a U.S.-trained School of the Americas man, technically part of the Honduras military, got a team of trained military people to attack the President's home, beat the President, kidnap him, remove him from his own country, and install some phony two-bit thug dictator to take his place.
This was under Obama's watch, and he must have signed off on it. Otherwise, Obama would have cut off the U.S. aid the day after it happened, as he was legally required to do. Instead, Clinton and Obama both hemmed and hawed, said it wasn't a big deal.
Clinton and Obama together are doing exactly the same things that Nixon and Kissinger did: using the military from other countries to overthrow governments, stage coups, murder and terrorize the civilians, to ensure the U.S. keeps control of the country. And remember: Nixon and Kissinger started by waging war against other nations, but eventually they used those same tactics right here in our own country. Look at Cointelpro: an official U.S. government program of the F.B.I. to set up, falsely accuse, imprison, and/or assassinate the leaders of the Black Panther Party. What change?
There are people who have been protesting against the School of Americas for decades, trying to get it shut down. Below are a couple of good videos, plus a link to their major website. http://www.soaw.org/
When anybody claims that the U.S. using torture in Iraq or Afghanistan was shocking, or contrary to our normal military methods, don't believe it. Not only do we do it, we train and direct others to do it for us. And we need to stop doing it. Everybody in the world knows about this except the Americans, who are willfully kept ignorant by our government.
That's one of the reasons we need public hearings about the U.S. use of torture, directly and indirectly, around the world. Air the dirty laundry, expose the mold to sunshine. Imprison the people who direct these crimes. Why isn't Henry Kissinger in prison? He's an international war criminal, just like Dick Cheney. But these people are never held accountable because they're Americans, and they get away with murder.
If we don't stop this murdering Empire, if we don't start prosecuting and throwing these war criminals into prison, not only will our country continue to engage in international war crimes and murder, but it likely will soon become the norm inside our country as well. Anybody who is not moved by a concern for people of other countries might want to stop and think about your own grandchildren being "disappeared," or tortured, or murdered by future American governments. Remember, unless they're caught in bed with a live boy or dead female, U.S. politicians are never held accountable for their crimes, even murder.
The U.S. is apparently getting ready to launch yet another invasion and occupation, this time in Central and South America, under the "No Change" leadership of Dick Cheney's cousin. Five-Deferment Dick, the man who loved war as long as he didn't have to go, and his cousin Barack Obama, a man who also managed to avoid military service but now has no compunctions about sending other Americans again and again and again and again to foreign countries to attack, brutalize, occupy, destroy, torture, annihilate the unarmed civilians around the world, all in the name of preserving the American Empire.
Probably the only "good" thing that came out of Bush and Cheney's eight-year campaign of international war crimes in the middle east is that it kept their evil little minds and armies occupied with slaughtering the people in the middle east, giving the folks in Central and South America a little breathing room for a change. After all, for over a 100 years the U.S. has repeatedly attacked, invaded, overthrown governments, murdered civilians, tortured, disappeared, stolen resources of Central and South America under various phony doctrines used to justify the quest for Empire.
In the middle east it is the "War On Terrorism." In Central and South America it used to be "The War Against Communism," but then it became "The War On Drugs," and now there are signs of it mutating into "The War Against Illegal Immigration," although it's also sometimes referred to as "The War Against Leftist Guerrillas," not to be confused with the domestic "War Against Obesity."
Has there ever been a nation so in love with war as the land of the free, home of the brave, sea to shining sea known as the U.S.A. The government always comes up with these catchy names to disguise what's really going on. And all that's ever been going on is that the U.S. steals everything of value, all the resources, all the wealth from Central and South America, and uses its military to murder anyone who tries to stop them.
The wealth and plunder goes to the corporations, the insiders and CEOs, and they pay a big percentage to the politicians who support these wars. Do you know why there is cocaine on all the U.S. money? Because the cocaine money comes to the U.S., is taken by the U.S., or at least a big chunk of it is. War on Drugs my Ass. It's more like a gang war to see who gets the profits from selling drugs: the actual growers/traffickers, or the U.S. politicians with their big fat military. We're such a disgrace.
Obama's looking less like Gandhi and more like his cousin Dick. Less like Bishop Desmond Tutu and more like Idi Amin. Is there a war that Obama does not like? Is there a continent he does not want to invade? They just announced this week that Obama surprisingly gave into every single thing Israel demands -- again -- including the right to continue the Israeli genocidal policy of extermination of the Palestinians. If it involves slaughter and war, Obama is so there.
We already know that the U.S. was behind the coup in Honduras. We trained and financed the thugs that staged that coup in the School of the Americas in Georgia. Hillary Clinton came out immediately and held a tea party for the gangbangers who have taken control, insisting that it wasn't really a "coup," it was more like a surprise party for the President who was kidnapped and taken out of his country, forbidden ever to return. Surprise!! Here's your new home!
Now Obama's negotiating a deal with the thugs and criminals running the dictatorship in the nation of Cocaine -- excuse me, the nation of Columbia -- so that the U.S. can take over Columbia's bases, move our troops and military equipment there, and presumably prepare to attack every single government in South and Central America that Idi Obama decides he doesn't like. Our new "peaceful" President is massing troops along the border with Poland. For what purpose, one might ask, other than for more war?
Is that why Obama refuses to help people keep their homes, refuses to create jobs programs for real Americans, why he refuses to support a national healthcare program for the citizens? Because he wants to take all the money that remains and use it to start more wars. Like his cousin Dick. If these men -- Bush, Cheney, Obama -- wanted to be "warriors," then why didn't they go put their butts on the line, sign up for military service and go to war when it was their turn? No George -- snorting lines in urine-drenched piss-hole saloons in West Texas doesn't count.
From the Guardian Co., U.K.: Outcry in South America Over U.S. Military Base Pact.
"South American leaders are due to square off tomorrow over a plan to increase US access to military bases in Colombia, a deal that has damaged Barack Obama's attempt to mend relations with the region."
"A diplomatic firestorm has been ignited, with a summit in Argentina pitting Colombia – which has sought closer co-operation with Washington – against its neighbours who fear the US presence will threaten leftist governments."
"Venezuela's president, Hugo Chávez, has led the denunciations, claiming US imperialist aggression was blowing "winds of war". ... "Bolivia and Ecuador's socialist leaders have condemned the bases plan and even the more centrist governments of Argentina, Brazil and Chile have expressed unease."
"Washington and Bogotá have scrambled to defend the pact, which is close to being finalised, as a mere administrative tweaking of their decade-long military co-operation to combat drug traffickers and leftist guerrillas. The proposed 10-year lease will give the US access to at least seven Colombian bases – three air force, two naval and two army – stretching from the Pacific to the Caribbean."
"The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said there was no intention to expand the number of permanent personnel beyond the maximum permitted by Congress: 800 military and 600 civilian contractors." [NOTE: AGAIN, THE U.S. HAS ALMOST AS MANY "CONTRACTORS" INSIDE COLUMBIA AS WE HAVE "OFFICIAL" MILITARY PEOPLE. THAT MEANS, JUST LIKE IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN, THAT WE ARE USING PAID PRIVATE MERCENARIES, RUNNING DEATH SQUADS IN THESE COUNTRIES AND PRETENDING THAT THEY ARE OPERATING INDEPENDENTLY. THEY REPORT TO GOD, LIKE ERIC PRINCE WOULD CLAIM]
.... "But a region scarred by memories of CIA-backed dictatorships in the 70s and 80s has balked at the prospect of "gringo" boots and aircraft stationed on their continent, notwithstanding goodwill for the new occupant of the White House. ..."
"Washington has not fully explained its mandate nor the scope and nature of its operations, wrote Adam Isacson, of the Centre for International Policy, which monitors US initiatives in Colombia. 'The United States is creating a new capability in South America, and capabilities often get used.'"
"Colombia's US-supported military has won plaudits at home for pushing back Farc guerrillas but has also provoked dismay over its human rights abuses and a cross-border raid into Ecuador last year. "
Remember: the real reason the Republicans want to snuff grandma instead of paying for her healthcare is because they want all the money to go to war. And, apparently, so do Obama and his Democrats.
"The feuding will test Brazil's hopes of moulding Unasur, which was founded last year, into a vehicle for regional integration along the lines of the EU." [AND A BIG P.S.: THIS IS THE CRUX OF THE ISSUE. SOUTH AND CENTRAL AMERICA SHOULD BE WORKING TOGETHER FOR MUTUAL ECONOMIC BENEFIT, SHARING RESOURCES, TRADING WITH EACH OTHER. THE U.S. WANTS TO PREVENT THAT FROM HAPPENING SO THE U.S. CAN CONTINUE TO CONTROL AND EXPLOIT THE ENTIRE REGION].
Here's my suggested timetable: September 1, 2009.
Are you listening, President Obama? End the Wars. Bring the troops home. Get the mercenaries out of Afghanistan too -- the so-called "private contractor" assassins that we have sent into that country and Iraq to indiscriminately murder the civilians. Do something to help the American people and stop pursuing the Bush-Cheney Wars Against Everyone.
Stop killing the poor people of Afghanistan. Give funding (it's called damages, or reparations) to NGOs, and let them use it to hire Afghanis to build homes and everything else we're destroyed, conditioned on them ending the violence against and oppression of women.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Ted Kennedy was the youngest of the brothers of his generation, and lost all three of his brothers at relatively young ages. His oldest brother, Joe, died in World War II in service to this country. His brother John became President of the United States and was assassinated while still in his 40s under circumstances which to this day remain secretive, incredible, and largely covered-up by our government. His brother Robert was also assassinated under circumstances which to this day remain largely covered up by our government. As his brothers died or were murdered, Ted Kennedy became surrogate father to his nieces and nephews, walking the girls down the aisle in weddings, providing comfort and solice for each new family tragedy. He also lost three of his nephews, young men.
Ted Kennedy suffered from what appeared to be a family or genetic tendency to substance abuse, having a long-standing rumored problem with alcohol. He was involved in a scandelous accident driving a car that went off a bridge and into the water, escaping and fleeing the scene, but a young female passenger in the car died. Many assumed Ted Kennedy had been drinking at the time of the accident, and fled the scene to avoid being tested and found to be driving under the influence, which could have led to charges of homicide.
But despite these personal problems, Ted Kennedy became the most important liberal and progressive politician in the Senate, and kept that title for decades due not to family wealth or connections, but to hard work. He was firmly committed to the traditional Democratic Party principles of standing up for working people, for the poor, for women, for the rights of all people to be free from racism. And he was one of the first and loudest voices in the Democratic Party demanding that our government finally pass a national healthcare program to provide healthcare to all Americans, free of charge.
In 2008, Ted Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primary. I think it was his finest moment. Even though Obama has turned out to be such a disappointment, at the time he seemed to be so much a better choice than was Hillary Clinton.
Bill Clinton more than any other person is responsible for destroying the fundamental Democratic Party and its principles which had been supported and sustained by all the Kennedys. Bill Clinton re-made the Democratic Party into a corporate party, one in which politicians use their position only to enrich themselves and sell their votes to corporations, one in which the politicians do nothing to help the working people, and act only to amass more wealth for themselves. The new Democratic Party created by Bill Clinton loves war because the defense industry pays them so much in kick-backs that it makes war lucrative. The new Democratic Party, which Obama said he rejected but now embraces, is really indistinguishable from the Republicans, except they've got fewer lunatic from the Bible Belt.
Ted Kennedy spoke out against the war in Vietnam, and voted against the war in Iraq. And he came out in support of Obama, and stood against Clinton, choosing to end his career by standing up for his principles, just as he had done throughout his life.
Ted Kennedy was a terrific guy. His death is an enormous loss for progressives and for working people in this country.
The New York Times has a lengthy obituary, and I'm sure his life and death will be exhaustively covered by all the media. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/27/us/politics/27kennedy.html?_r=1&hp
"Funeral Blues," by W.H. Auden (1936)
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the message the sky: He Is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought love would last for ever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one:
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep away the woods:
For nothing now can come to any good.
Over the next few days, all over this country, all over the world, in many small towns, there will be masses held for Ted Kennedy. Here's my contribution, a portion of a mass, in tribute to this great man whose loss I mourn: Agnus Dei from Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis," Berlin Philharmonic.
Monday, August 24, 2009
I broke a couple of bones recently, had surgery, and my foot has been encased in a cast-boot for over a month.
I actually took the boot off today planning to cut my toenails, remove the polish, wash the foot, have an open-air session on the sofa. But within about one minute I felt like I was going to pass out, it made me so sick to look at my foot. One of my toes wasn't moving right -- it looked weird -- something was wrong -- so I put the boot back on quick. I'll probably brave it again tomorrow, maybe the next day.
I feel like it's an alien appendage, almost like what's-his-face Bobbitt, like they cut off my foot and sewed on another one. I can see the little bandages covering the stitches. It could be a foot from a corpse, or maybe somebody in the hospital who was near-death, they thought "she'll never notice -- she'll be dead by sundown," one of those ghoulish experiments.
The doctors figured I'd either never notice or, if I suspected anything, I'd doubt myself. "Let's see if she notices -- she's near-sighted, drugged, and seems kind of stupid."
It didn't look like my foot. I don't want to get too weird about this, but I think they put someone else's foot on my leg. OH MY GOD, how am I going to live with this type of deformity? And those strange little toes.
This girl had long blond hair, came from money, she had more clothes than Barbie, they went on summer vacations to places like Hawaii, and all the boys were madly in love with her.
When I got out of high school, I never gave her a second thought. Until decades later, when it turns out she was going to be at an afternoon Bar-B-Que that I was also going to attend. Nobody in that backyard could have been more surprised than me to see this nondescript short, leather-skinned, bleached-blond portly little female who was certainly pleasant, but nobody would have mistaken for a beauty queen.
My sister told me later that high school cheerleaders don't age well. I think it was one of the first really important lessons of my adult life.
I was thinking about her, the cheerleader, when I read an article in the L.A. Times last week about the once-great-state of California which for a long time represented the state of eternal youth in our nation. Except for that stuff about earthquakes and Charlie Manson, most kids from everywhere in the country at some point in their life wanted to go to California. Way back in the 1940s, Lana Turner was discovered in a soda fountain in Hollywood (or so they say, and I do not want anyone to tell me otherwise), and went on to become a big movie star.
Leave the snow and the tedious back-breaking factory jobs to states like New Jersey and Michigan. In California everyone has good-paying easy jobs with casual hours and terrific benefits. Forget about the row houses and tenements, because in California everybody lives in a Craftsman bungalow, or a ranch house, with a big back-yard and brand new schools for the kids. There is sunshine year round, you can pick an orange off a low-hanging branch while driving down the freeway in your convertible, you don't even need heat in your house because it's never cold, the beaches are fabulous and everyone is incredibly fit and surfs quite well. Or so we believed.
But now, appropriately much like Gloria Swanson's final scene in Sunset Boulevard, the State of California is being exposed to the daylight, no filters, no makeup, just the old, tired, wrinkled, exhausted state that has been used up by the residents, all the money gone. Like a big party, but the next day when the hangover hits and the mess is disclosed.
What happened to California? First and foremost, the Republicans have wanted to destroy California for years because it is a source of funding for Democrats. So the ever-charming Terminator smiled at the folks with big white caps and got his hands on the controls. He was and is incompetent, of course, but did his part to ruin everything.
Uncontrolled growth is responsible for much of the deterioration. Time to go home, somebody needs to say. Go to Iowa or Indiana. Go somewhere else. How many new homes have been built in the past decade, sold to people who could not afford them, empty now, people unemployed and unable to pay a mortgage. The local authorities responsible for controlling growth did nothing to stop what was a very foreseeable disaster. Now so many of the people who worked in the building trades and related fields are unemployed, and will have no work for many years. What's next for them?
The hospitals have often been bankrupted by thousands of uninsured poor people who use the ERs instead of clinics because the ER is free -- if they can't find you, or can't catch you, anyway, it's free. The schools have turned into a warzone between the credentialed, five-years-of-college teachers with Mexican-American backgrounds who decided, for bizarre reasons, that it was "oppressive" to teach children in English, and lobbied to force schools to create classrooms in which students are taught only in Spanish, and often by non-credentialed teachers. The parents of the students, as an aside, often fight the district and the teachers trying to get their kids into classrooms where they will be instructed in English. Some "Hispanic pride" nonsense being used to deny kids an education.
There has been an open-border policy under 8 years of Bush, anyway, which has allowed millions of Mexicans to come to California to work illegally, for very bad wages, which brings down everyone else's wages. And those same open borders are the preferred drug-trafficking avenues, so gang-bangers have flourished, taking over entire cities throughout the state, terrorizing the residents and turning nice neighborhoods into intolerable zones of violence and drugs. Or, in other words, exactly what the Republicans wanted.
Where's the leadership? There is none. Not from either of the two major parties.
There are entire communities now full of new, vacant homes. Don't believe the bull about an economic recovery being on the way. It's going to take a long time to sell all those homes, a long time before there will be jobs in construction, brokers, trades. The glory days based on this real estate balloon are over, and all the people who came to California to get rich will more likely lose everything. Aerospace manufacturing: gone. Most of the manufacturing from the state which provided work for the citizens has now gone to third world countries and has not been replaced. The living wage is gone. Retail, minimum wage jobs are the best available, and most people cannot pay their bills on such low wages. Nor can they pay for health insurance or save for retirement.
The government of California, both parties, has been wringing their hands: what to do, what to do. But you know what? They do nothing. Just like at the federal government level, they do nothing. What should they do? Tax the rich people, just to start. Tax the rich people, raise taxes on incomes above $150,000. Start there. Then tell the foreclosing lenders to either re-sell their houses or tear them down. The state would be better off if the population was cut in half. No need to leave those empty houses sitting there. Nobody lives there, and nobody can afford to buy them.
What else? Pass laws making lawns illegal. Isn't this the Southwest, in an arid zone, permanent drought? Get rid of lawns altogether and make water rationing permanent. Encourage people to leave. Maybe hire buses, and take people to Wyoming, or one of those states that doesn't have too many people. How about Utah? Idaho. There are too many people.
Then throw every single person out of the elected position in the state government and start over. What a bunch of incompetent losers. Hope you enjoyed the party, boys, but the state is now in ruins.
(From the L.A. Times, 8/22/09, by Alana Semuels):
Unemployment in California hits post-World War II high
"The state's rate jumps to 11.9% in July as the U.S. rate declines to 9.4%. Job losses have an outsize effect on Latinos in the state as work in the construction and hospitality sectors vanishes."
"California's jobless rate reached a fresh post-World War II high in July, climbing to 11.9%, a sobering reminder that though the nation's deep downturn may be nearing its end, the state's employment woes are far from over. Golden State employers cut their payrolls by 35,800 jobs in July, according to figures released Friday by the state Employment Development Department. That's a significant improvement over monthly losses that averaged 76,000 over the first half of the year. Still, July's numbers were worse than some analysts had expected, rising from 11.6% in June and led by declines in trade, construction and manufacturing."...
"[S]ome regions of the country are expected to suffer fallout from the bursting of the housing bubble for years to come. That includes California, which is now tied with Oregon for the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the nation, behind Michigan, Rhode Island and Nevada. .... California's battered construction and housing industries, long pillars of the state economy, remain troubling sources of weakness. Over the last year, the state has lost 760,200 jobs, nearly 1 in 5 of them in construction. White-collar workers have likewise suffered from the housing crash as thousands of jobs in banking, mortgage processing and real estate sales have vanished."
"In July, California's Latino unemployment rate hit 12.7%, dwarfing the white jobless rate of 9.5%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Black unemployment remains the highest in the state at 14.2%."
[NOTE: These figures are questionable, because they do not include the people who have lost jobs but did not qualify for unemployment compensation, which includes many of the illegal immigrants who work off the books; it may not include people whose unemployment compensation benefits have run out even though they do not have a new job; they do not include people who lost full-time work and now have part-time, but don't warn enough to pay their bills. So overall, the unemployment numbers in this article appear to be lower than they likely are].
Republican HealthCare Means Rich People Get Everything, Poor People Are Dumped On The Streets And Left To Die.
I just got one of my first bills for my broken bones. For the trip to the emergency room. I saw a doctor for about 15 minutes total in the emergency room and was charged $1,200.00. That works out to $4,800 per hour. He was a nice doctor. He didn't save my life. He didn't even treat me. He didn't even touch me. He sat in a chair and asked me what happened, looked at my leg, sent me to x-ray, told me "Yeah -- it's broken -- you'll need surgery -- go to the orthopedic doctor's office tomorrow and schedule your surgery." He had the nurse give me two vicadin, a cast, and some crutches. The nurse was nice too. Everybody was nice, even the receptionist who told me all about her DUI while I was waiting to be seen. Even she was nice. I told her to lay off those prescription pills if she was planning to drive. But other than that -- nice lady.
But nobody is worth $1,200.00 for 15 minutes of chatting. That's more expensive than phone sex. The entire medical industry is hosing America, robbing us blind just like Wall Street does, paying enormous bribes to our politicians so nobody will stop them. They should be riding through the corridors of the hospital on horses with masks over their faces and guns in their hands: "This is a stick-up. Hand over your wallets and nobody will get hurt."
Ask a doctor how they would feel about having an hourly rate which is posted in their office, so everybody knows in advance what they're getting into. Doctors are horrified at the thought. If they told the public how much they were charging per hour, they'd probably all be strung up at the edge of town. So they don't want an "hourly" rate. They just want an obscene rate.
I waited for my insurance company to come back with some adjustment to tell this ER doc that he was nuts, this was way too much for him to charge. They did nothing. I've got a big deductible, so I'm paying the bills. I'm one of those citizens who supports the following healthcare reform: national healthcare for all people, free of charge, paid by taxes on rich people. In particular, there should be big taxes on ER doctors who charge $4800/hour for their services.
I suppose if I was uninsured and broke, they would have spirited me off in a taxi and dumped me on skid row, like they did to this poor old lady who had broken something, had "confusion" (i.e. dementia), but the hospital dumped her in a hospital gown on the streets of skid row. That is the "fabulous" medical care system that the Republicans keep talking about. I think they said she was 63. If she'd been 65 and had Medicare, they probably would have kept her, done lots of needless surgery, run up a $100,000 bill. If she'd had Medicare, paid for by the taxpayers, then she would have received the same healthcare as the Republicans do. Instead of dumped on skid row in a hospital gown, with no shoes, at 63 years of age with dementia, and left to die.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
One of the constant threats that gets people to open their pocketbooks is that if you don't give enough money, God won't like you, then you won't be able to spend eternity with your family -- they'll be in one place, you'll be in another. I guess they never met my family.
As for snuffing grandma, I know a lot of old ladies I'd personally snuff with or without a kick-back from the insurance companies. Top of my list would be the ones under 5' tall who drive the big cars, can't see anything, get a determined look on their face and step on the gas pedal, in reverse, public be damned. I'd pull the plug on them in a heartbeat, the number of times they've scared the pee out of me. Go ahead, honk at them -- they're deaf, and they can't hear. Or they pull out across 3 lanes and wait for everyone to stop so they can go all the way over into the 4th lane, because seventy-two miles from now they need to be in the 4th lane so they can turn right.
There's also the old lady who works at a local retail store as a checker, and every time she hands me my bag full of whatever junk I just bought she always says "Have a blessed day," and I always recoil in horror, grit my teeth and close my eyes tight, turn away before I give in to my impulse to put my hands around her neck and squeeze. I bought some paper towels -- I didn't come in for a prayer session.
And why does everyone talk about snuffing grandma, anyway? Why not snuff grandpa, who for whatever sick reasons can never remember to zip his fly? Whole generations of children have been traumatized by flashing grandpas. Why not snuff them, if we want to rid the world of some real unattractive folks?
My local newspaper today had 3 articles written about healthcare in the opinion section. One by a highly respected doctor in the community said nobody's talking about snuffing anyone, the right-wing is crazy, we do need healthcare reform, everything costs too much, and we need to get serious and stop the screaming. Another one basically said yes we need some, but maybe not everything should be changed.
But the third article was written by a group of 8 "Christian" Doctors. Christian Doctors Against Healthcare Reform. Including 2 plastic surgeons, and we all know how critical they are to the Christian faith. Nobody wants to go to church on Sunday and look at a bunch of ugly people with big noses and tiny little chins. Actually, I think the ugly Christian have to go to to the poor church in the "mixed" neighboring town (you know -- the one where everyone isn't of the Anglo-Saxon persuasion).
The Christian Doctors, each of whom undoubtedly is worth multi-millions of dollars, focused their article on the claim that Obama's health care reform will "inevitably" lead to doctors murdering patients, pushing confused old people (grandma again) to "choose" "assisted suicide" so the doctor can knock her off rather than treat her. You know -- that section of the pending bill. F-ing Morons.
I have a modest proposal. If the only way we can have a functioning health care system that doesn't bankrupt the country is by exterminating huge groups of people, I say let's start with the Christians. Hands off Grandma.
Friday, August 21, 2009
What is going on in this country? We had 8 years of illegal rule based on a stolen election and a corrupt judiciary that issued the astonishing order that the Ballots Of The Citizens May Not Be Counted. Illegal wars, people being disappeared just like we did in South and Central American so many years ago, death squads, torture, spying, planting bugs on people's telephones and in their homes, lying to the public, stealing all the money from all the people in the country, politicians taking so much money in bribes that they can't even find places to hide it, so have to store it in secret off-shore hedge funds, and "private equity funds" run by criminals. Like the Mafia but with fewer ethics.
But the people threw out those criminals and wanted someone new, a new President, a new Congress, a new start. Yet all we see is more of the same. No Change. The wars continue and have escalated. There is no jobs program to help the unemployed, but massive give-aways to Wall Street. The president prohibits enforcement of the criminals laws against the people who broke them. Congress does nothing but solicit and accept bribes, and make excuses for their own incompetence and failure to act.
They have done nothing. And now the people are getting angry. And are rightly getting angry.
When Democrats come out to public meetings to demand a real health care program, or just listen to discussion about it, they are now met with armed lunatics with assault weapons. What should the police do when some lunatic shows up at a public meeting with a gun? I'd say surround him, point a loaded gun about one inch from his eye-ball, and tell him to back up four blocks from the citizens because his presence is an implied terrorist threat. And if the armed citizen blinks, shoot him, just like he's threatening to do to the Democrats. But nobody from the Democratic party is doing anything to protect the citizens against this kind of national terrorism. White male Republican terrorists are allowed to do whatever they want. It's just that simple.
What is going on in this country? And if our elected leaders won't do anything to help us, and won't stand up for us, won't protect us, what can we do?
These are not the voices of the fringe. I'm talking about normal people, highly respected, award-winning, moderate people, and they are telling the national Democrats, telling Obama, that he's blowing it, and it's almost all over already. He is dooming his presidency to even a lower position than that of George W. Bush. The hour has come: do something or stop giving those stupid "inspirational" speeches, because the public is onto you, and is sick of the hot air.
Here's Paul Krugman at the New York Times in an article titled "Obama's Trust Problem."
Krugman notes than when Obama and his people started pushing the idea last week-end that we don't really need a "public option" for healthcare reform, it was symptomatic of how much Obama has ignored the progressives, the exact same people who got him the nomination, and the exact same people who got him elected. The fact that Obama figured he could get away with this without the uproar which met his statement shows how much Obama has lost touch with the people who elected him. Obama seems to be ignoring the growing anger among progressives, those on the left, and even basic Democrats in this country, who have seen Obama take the wrong position again and again on every single important issue that has come before him.
Obama has even sent his people into court to fight in support of the anti-gay defense of marriage act, filing briefs to uphold the right-wing bigoted law. Why would he do that when he has said that he opposes that law? Obama has upheld the right of the government to violate the people's 4th amendment rights of privacy. He has continued and escalated the wars. He has given away hundreds of billions of dollars to the criminals on Wall Street, and has packed his cabinet with corporate right-wing sell-outs. Time and again, when given the choice between right and wrong, Obama has chosen wrong. And of course the Democrats in Congress do nothing but solicit bribes and sell their votes.
Here's Krugman: "On the issue of health care itself, the inspiring figure progressives thought they had elected comes across, far too often, as a dry technocrat who talks of “bending the curve” but has only recently begun to make the moral case for reform. .... Meanwhile, on such fraught questions as torture and indefinite detention, the president has dismayed progressives with his reluctance to challenge or change Bush administration policy. And then there’s the matter of the banks."
"I don’t know if administration officials realize just how much damage they’ve done themselves with their kid-gloves treatment of the financial industry, just how badly the spectacle of government supported institutions paying giant bonuses is playing. ... So there’s a growing sense among progressives that they have, as my colleague Frank Rich suggests, been punked."
Matt Taibbi, at Rolling Stone magazine, has his own criticisms of Obama and the Democrats, and discusses their failure to make any effort to get a real healthcare program for the people of this country. It's all been a big show, sound and fury, signifying nothing. Below is a link to Rolling Stone's webpage which contains a summary of Taibbi's position and a couple of video comments by him. There is also a Taibbi interview with Sam Seder on You Tube, and an interview with MSNBC on the same subject in which the obviously panicked Maria Bartiromo accuses Taibbi of being un-American for supporting a national healthcare program. I'm surprised she didn't bring her AK-47 to the set.
Taibbi apparently interviewed quite a few people in Congress involved in the negotiations about a possible health care law. He states that Obama made a deal with the big Medical Industry people right up-front, which is what I've been saying all along. Taibbi claims Obama's "deal" was that he promised he wouldn't push a Medicare-For-All/Single Payer system if the medical industry, big money boys, would promise they wouldn't try to crush other reforms. I suspect the "deal" Obama negotiated involved hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes being paid to the Democrats in exchange for them doing nothing to reform healthcare.
But whatever the deal was that was struck in these secret meetings between Obama and the CEOs of the Health Insurance Industry, the AMA and Doctors' Lobbies, the Hospital Owners, the Pharmaceutical Industry, here's the problem: who the heck does Obama think he is to negotiate away the people's rights without our consent, and to do so in secret? Doesn't this sound exactly like something Bush and Cheney would have done, and did do a thousand times over? What Change?
Let's say we, the people, are on a baseball team called the Good Guys. And the people who want to beat us are on the other team called the Bad Guys. If our managers and coaches held secret meetings with the owners and sponsors of the Bad Guys right before the World Series, and we know they negotiated benefits for themselves -- either political advantages, future employment opportunities, or dirty old cash -- and we found out about it, what would we do? We would accuse them of fixing the game, selling us us out, throwing the series for their own personal benefit. It's exactly the same thing.
Shoeless Joe Jackson and every baseball player who ever took steroids or secretly gambled should be permanently pardoned and exonerated, and every single person in Congress should be listed on a national monument in D.C. known as the "Monument of Treasonous Disgraceful Politicians." Then throw them out of office, make them forfeit their salary and pay over to the public treasury all the money they've taken in bribes. Then throw them in prison for betraying the public. If this isn't corruption, what is? Having sex with somebody not your wife? Is that it? Taking money and betraying the public is okay, but sex is a crime?
Is there anything these people won't do for money? If it turned out, for example, that Senator Baucus bent over and grabbed his ankles and let some big insurance industry CEO put a cigar up his butt, in exchange for millions of dollars, would that be bad? What if Senator Baucus had sex with a Pharmaceutical Rep in a public bathroom, would we pay attention then? What if the Pharmaceutical Rep was a boy, would that make a difference? Is there anything these Democrats won't do for money? We know they'll sell out the public without giving it a second thought. As long as they don't have sex, it seems like they do anything they want and we can't touch them.
Taibbi concludes that if any health care bill passes it will be essentially of no value to most Americans. It won't control the escalating costs, won't help people who are made bankrupt when they become ill, won't stop the insurance companies from raising premiums every year, or more often, so they can get rid of people who are actually sick. He suggests the only benefits that might pass are preventing insurance companies from excluding coverage for certain illnesses based on pre-existing conditions and possibly the creation of some kind of phony "co-op" which will provide people with insurance at the exactly the same exorbitant and unaffordable rates they now pay. Krugman also says the co-op will be worthless.
As for pre-existing conditions, this is nonsense. The insurance companies will simply raise everyone else's premiums to cover it, then blame the Democrats.
Taibbi suggests that the only thing of value that might come out of this whole process is if the progressives in Congress refuse to support this do-nothing bill. That's what I'm going for at this point. Stop the phoney "reform" of healthcare. Tell the Democrats to go back and do their job, and pass a real healthcare program that provides relief for the citizens of this country.
Like Taibbi says: we've got a president elected with a huge mandate; an opposition party that has no support in the public, and is little more than a bad joke; a 60-vote control of the Senate, and great majority control in the House. If the Democrats want to pass a national healthcare program, they can do it. Nothing is stopping them. So if they fail to pass a national healthcare program, it's because they never intended to help the people at all. All the while, they keep getting more and more money from the Medical Industry.
Don't shop at Whole Foods. http://www.singlepayeraction.org/blog/?p=1370 The CEO of Whole Foods has come out publicly against a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system of healthcare in this country so all the people can get healthcare. There is a national boycott of the store. I couldn't afford to shop there in any event. Let's see, retail, grocery, probably non-union: what does he pay his people? Six bucks an hour? $12,000/year? And how much is he paid? Millions of dollars every year, I assume. And now he's out campaigning to make sure the people who work in his stores can't get healthcare? What kind of a scumbucket is this guy, anyway?
I thought I was mad. Then I read these articles at Counterpunch: Boy are these guys mad. (Obama has squandered the opportunity to be a decent president, and has sold out the public by cutting deals with big industry. He refuses to do anything to enforce the law against all the criminals in, and criminal acts committed by, the Bush Administration. He is continuing the illegal acts of the Bush administration and destroying our democracy).
If you're depressed and unhappy, exhausted all the time, worry constantly, despair, can't sleep, have no zest for life, feel like you're being buried under a mountain of debt and can't dig your way out, your health seems to be failing, you're getting older, you're irritated all the time, don't take drugs. I mean the legal kind -- the kind the doctors push. If you want to take the illegal kind, smoke a joint for example, that's your business. But don't sign onto the medical industry's efforts to Disease-ify your life.
If you're upset about money, it's probably because you don't have enough, not because you're mentally ill. If you feel buried in debt, you probably are, and a drug isn't going to make it better because the doctor will charge a bundle for pushing the drugs, and the drug dealers take a big chunk off the top. Interesting article and analysis of the drug-dealers who call themselves the Pharmaceutical Industry and their efforts to convince Americans that we're all mad: http://www.counterpunch.org/tsao08202009.html
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
What is the purpose of government? Is it simply to take money from the citizens, and use that money to fund a military force to attack other nations, steal their riches, bring them back for the kings and princes and lords, or the politicians and CEOs and Wall Street financiers?
Or is the purpose of government to create the best possible country, the best place for its own people to live their lives? If so, then shouldn't government fund and encourage public art, including not just sculpture, but also performance art? If the purpose of government is to create a great country, shouldn't the government build parks, and keep safe for the public the oceans, the lakes, the forrests, all the wonderful resources and recreational areas, rather than letting the rich take them over for themselves?
There is a British artist named Antony Gormley who has created a piece of art known as "Another Place." It actually consists of 100 cast iron man-like figures about 6 feet tall, each weighing over 1400 pounds. The figures are displayed by being spread out over a certain area, usually by and in the sea, and will be submerged at high-tide, re-emerge intact when the tide goes out.
The pieces have been displayed in Germany, Norway and Belgium, and currently are at Crosby Beach in England.
The pieces generate a good deal of discussion among the residents of the towns where they have been displayed. Some objected to the life-like penis that is shown on each sculpture. Of course there is much discussion and analysis about what did the artist mean, does this tell us something about the modern man, alienation, emptiness of modern life?
Public art serves many purposes, including giving people a place to go in public and a reason to talk to each other, share views, create community. It's such a contradiction to see European nations creating common areas for their citizens to come out, socialize with each other, get to know their neighbors, exchange ideas, enjoy their country.
In the U.S. the government uses most of our money to fund wars against other countries in the world, to terrorize, threaten and intimidate our neighbors. When we hold public meetings, the craziest of the lunatic fringe bring assault weapons to the meetings to threaten their neighbors and force them to run back and hide inside their homes. Instead of "community," and a public sphere and arena, instead of dialogue with our neighbors, we are locked inside separate homes glued to an electronic advertising-delivery device. That's not community. It's just existence.
Public art is a source of pride for the citizens of a country. It is a public way of saying "Here, we did this, or we exhibited this." It allows citizens to feel a sense of belonging to a society, a group that creates and has ideas and does things that have artistic value. It strengthens community. It makes people think that they matter, their fellow-citizens matter. Maybe that's why we have so little of it. Our money goes for tanks and weapons, to kill, not for public spaces, not to create community.
Give Us A National Healthcare Program Or Forget About The 2010 Elections. (Here They Come Again, ... And Here I Go.)
What're they waiting for? So far, they've done nothing.
Oops. Too late. Six months have passed, and now the Democrats are ready to start the next two-year vacation-campaign. We "need" to prepare for 2010, or so they say. We "must" begin fundraising in earnest because the Democrats only have a "slim majority," a "razor-thin" majority in Congress. And because those Republicans are so mean, that 20% of the country that is Republican, they're just too tough. That mean old Sarah, we need to raise half a billion dollars by the end of this month to launch a new media campaign against mean old Sarah.
I can't believe I'm already getting fund-raising solicitations from Democrats. I'm stunned. It's as if they have no conscience. Or they think we're really stupid.
Here's the Democratic propaganda phrase of the week, in case you're not on the e-mail lists or have missed the cable news appearances of top-level Democrats. Here it comes. Ready? "Health Insurance Reform." That's the new phrase. It's revisionism at warp speed. It's a lie. The Democrats this week are claiming that what the public is demanding is "Health Insurance Reform." But that's a lie. What the public is demanding is a National Health Care Program. We don't want no stinkin' insurance. We want a national healthcare program so that when we get sick, we can go to the doctor and get treated. Screw the insurance companies which are just a protection racket, often involved in criminal activities, and serve no legitimate purpose except to launder money to pay bribes to the politicians.
So let's look at the deterioration of the original concept of a national health care program which would provide health care to all Americans free of charge. Which should include dental, because dental problems can cause, and are often indicative of, serious or even deadly illness such as heart disease.
First, many of us want single-payer. You go to the doctor, the doctor submits the bill to the government, government pays according to their payment schedule. Like Medicare. Some call it Medicare for All. We could even have people under 65 buy into the system, pay a certain amount every month. The difference would be that it would be a non-profit system so the insurance company wouldn't be in the middle taking their 30% take off the top. And if somebody got sick, the system couldn't jack up their monthly payment, or force them out, like private insurance does. Hopefully the monthly charges would be radically less than private insurance premiums. There are existing actuarial data which would allow quick and easy calculation of monthly charges based on income and means. By "means," I mean that if somebody had a low income but also had $2.0 million net worth, they would have to pay for their share.
As soon as they had wrung every penny out of us in the last two elections, run us ragged dedicating our time making phone calls, going to rallies, going door to door, doing everything asked of us to get Democrats elected, the Democrats announced that they really didn't care what their supporters wanted, they would not even consider a single-payer system. How embarrassing for us. How foolish we seem, with hindsight.
To quell the uproar, Obama announced there would be something called a "public option," though nobody has ever explained what it's going to be. I suspect it's just another word for bullshit, and that's why they won't explain it.
Then, as we all know, there were a series of secret meetings between Obama and the big-money men from the health industry. At the end of which time the Democrats had apparently secured not only millions more in donations for themselves, but the promise of hundreds of millions more in the future. Like Judas, there was a quid pro quo. The Democrats promised they would do nothing to change the health care system in any significant manner. No help for the people, nothing for the poor, no cost controls, not so much as a drop of sympathy never mind treatment for the sick and dieing.
Rahm Emanuel, Wall Street's Favorite Politician, the man who distinguished his career by his devotion to taking money for himself and controlling money paid out to his co-conspirators in Congress, is against any kind of real health care program for the peasants, the chumps, the working people. He even came out and said no "public option," whatever that is. Obama's Chief of Staff. Obama then came out and said a public option isn't really important. Same with Kathleen Sebelius. That was the propaganda slogan for last week-end: public-option isn't imperative.
Somebody, maybe a Republican, maybe a democrat, came up with an alternative they call an "insurance co-op." I can already tell you what this will be: a marketing and sales opportunity for insurance companies funded by the taxpayers. The taxpayers will give more money to insurance companies, and they will come and put on fancy forums for us, and explain to us how we need to pay more, buy more, give them more money. Co-op my ass. Co-ops for apartments or for string-beans are okay. Co-ops for health insurance are just a plan to force Americans to give more money to health insurance companies who, in turn, will keep raising our premiums, denying our claims, bankrupting the people, and putting many of our neighbors into early graves.
And now we get the 2010 campaign solicitations beginning. I hope everyone will write back (go to their web-sites if the solicitation e-mails are no-reply). Tell the Democrats that you will not give them one penny, or do anything to help them, and will not even vote for them unless they pass health care reform. Something which gives the public the equivalent of a Medicare for All, a non-profit system people can buy into and get out of the private insurance system.
To be clear: The public does not want "Health Insurance Reform." That's a new bullshit phrase designed to confuse the issue.
The public wants a national health care program for all Americans. Screw the insurance companies. And stop trying to hide behind the Republicans. They're not in charge and nobody cares what they want. If they don't want to participate, let them stick with private insurance.
Remember that great Dolly Parton song, "Here You Come Again." Some good-looking charmer keeps coming back and fooling this woman, looking good, saying all the right things, and she falls for it again and again. But finally she wakes up, and when he comes in her direction she turns right around and walks away. That's what we need to do to the Democrats. They should be ashamed of themselves asking us for money when they have breached every single promise they made to us. If they lose Congress in 2010, it's okay with me. What's the difference if they won't pass any bills unless the Republicans agree with them.
Here You Come Again, And Here I Go. You tell them, Dolly.
"Here you come again
Lookin' better than a body
Has a right to
An' shakin' me up so
That all I really know
Is here you come again
An' here I go."
P.S.: I just got an e-mail from the Obama group called "Organizing for America." If you don't know already, this is an Obama-supporters group that is intended to prevent people from actually acting like a real grassroots group, and instead just do whatever Obama wants. In any event, their e-mail twice identifies the key battle on-going today as the need for Health Insurance Reform. That's the propaganda term of the week, and it means bullshit.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The Democrats Have Received Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars In Bribes To Make Sure They Will Not Pass A Law To Provide Americans With Health Care.
We hear silly speculation while people ignore the obvious. For example, I've heard that the Democrats "have no stomach" for confrontation with the Republicans. Someone has suggested that the Democrats are just too nice, they don't want to pass a law unless their Republican friends will support it. Another theory is that the bedrock of Obama's presidency is a desire for bipartisanship -- a belief that unless the Republicans support a policy, he won't sign the bill. I've also heard that the Democrats have "lost their way," the poor dears, have suffered a "failure of will," or simply "do not have the spine" to stand up to the Republicans. I've now begun hearing that the Republicans have "won" on this issue. Really? How is it possible that the Republicans can win anything when they've only got 21% of the country supporting them?
I actually got an e-mail yesterday from Barbara Boxer's son, who is apparently involved in politics, and is trying to raise money for some Democratic candidates who want to run for office in 2010. He had the nerve to start his e-mail solicitation by explaining to me that the Democrats currently have a razor-thin majority in Congress, a slim advantage, and we must send more money to the Democrats so they can win more seats. And then, when they've got 80%, or maybe 90% control, then maybe they'll actually do something to help the people. My response, too vulgar to be repeated here, was that I would not send one penny to any Democrats, and am seriously thinking about campaigning to throw them all out of office. It's like the rich people on Wall Street whining that their bonuses aren't as big this year. These people just don't understand how bad it is out here in the real world.
But anyway, I have no time for such speculation, nor am I inclined to participate in such nonsense.
The Democrats never intended to pass a program to provide healthcare for the citizens. It was just a slogan for them. Under Clinton, the Democrats abandoned the working people and became the party of the corporation. Corporations give them money, and the Democrats do whatever the corporations tell them to do. The Democratic Party is a criminal enterprise and we're the victims. Their motto should be "Show Me The Money."
Go ahead -- complain to somebody. It's like the cops are coming into your little corner business and shaking you down every week for money. What're you going to do? Call a cop? We're in the same position. The Democrats are involved in a criminal enterprise, looting the treasury, robbing us blind, selling their votes, betraying the constitution and their oath of office, hiring consultants at millions of dollars to prepare slick campaigns to fool us into thinking they really like us.
Have you ever known teenagers who truly believe that some teen heartthrob "likes" them. They can tell because when they saw the heartthrob, it seemed like he was looking right at them? Harmless fantasy. But our whole society is infected with it, well past the teen years, it has passed from amusing distraction to psychotic delusions. If you think that anyone in the Democratic party "really" cares about you or your life, or your credit card bills that you can't pay down, or your old refrigerator that is making such weird noises but which you cannot afford to replace, about the aching tooth that you can't get fixed, about the soft tires that may kill you on your commute, about your aching back and insomnia and grinding despair because you cannot dig out of this hole -- if you think the Democrats, or even one of them, cares at all about you or your problems, you are delusional.
The criminal enterprise works like this. First, No-Change Obama held secret (they called them "private") meetings with the big-money boys in the Medical Industry. First he met with the health insurance big-boys in a secret meeting. What was discussed? Is it possible, dare I be so cynical as to suggest that they negotiated a shake-down, a pay-off. The insurers agree to give a certain amount of money to the Democratic politicians if the politicians promise they will not even consider single-payer, Medicare for all, or anything that will cut into the profits of the insurance industry. Is that what was discussed? If not, why was the meeting secret?
Next, No-Hope Obama held secret (they called them "private") meetings with the Drug Dealers of America, who call themselves the Pharmaceutical Industry. Another shake-down and sell out. I believe there were also meetings with God -- the AMA, the representative of all the doctors in this country who think they are God because they have succeeded, through propaganda, in convincing the public that they are God, and they need to steal millions every year from every community in this country while providing routine, uninspired services to the local population, and bribing politicians to pass laws so they can't be sued for their too-frequent malpractice.
The Democrats refuse to pass any law to provide healthcare for Americans because they have taken so much money in bribes from the Medical Industry, and have been promised millions more in the future. The Democrats are corrupt. They are criminals. They are running a criminal enterprise, deceiving and selling out the public while they make themselves rich. So sad, but ultimately true.
We can't afford to buy the Democrats' loyalty because we're not as rich as the corporations. The only way we can get anything out of our government would be massive civil disobedience -- massive work shut-downs, a general strike, a confrontation between millions of our citizens and the bureaucrats who are selling us out. There is no other way.(From the Center for Responsive Politics):
The group of people known as "Health Professionals" give more money to politicians, as a group, than all but four other categories. Health Professionals include doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, everyone providing health-care services as well as their "profesional" associations. What do they want? More Money. That's why they keep paying so much in bribes to our politicians. They want to be paid more from Medicare. They want the government to pay them more for everything they do.
They want laws passed making it impossible for any victim to sue any doctor or healthcare professional for malpractice, even if they cut off the wrong leg, even if they kill somebody, even if they were drunk at the time they provided the services. And most important of all, they want to prevent the government from setting up a program that would provide healthcare for all Americans, subject to a compensation scheme established by the government. These people paid $82 million to politicians during 2008. What did they get for their money? We're seeing the results right now: no healthcare program to help the citizens of this country.
But that's not all. The insurance industry paid $47 million to the politicians in 2008. What is it they wanted in return for that money? Well, just to start, they don't want a single-payer healthcare system which would put them out of business. They don't want a public option which would allow Americans to opt out of the private insurance field. And guess what? For $47 million, it appears that they were successful in bribing the politicians to do exactly what they want. http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=F09
But that's not all. This is like one of those game shows where they keep telling the winner about more and more prizes that they've won. That's not all. In addition to all the bribes paid to our politicians as described above, they also got a whole bunch of money from the Drug Dealers of America aka the pharmaceutical companies. You know. The ones that keep telling us that they're going to cure cancer, but instead we keep seeing commercials on TV with supermodels pushing drugs that will make our eyelashes thicker. They kicked in an additional $30 million in bribes to the politicians in 2008 to make sure that nobody passes a law to require discounted prices on any drugs sold to Americans. Or maybe, better put, would be to say that Congress could pass a law saying the Drug Dealers can no longer charge Americans three times, or ten times what they charge people in other countries. http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=H04
I hope the progressives voices in the media stop all this silly speculation about what might explain the refusal of the Democrats to do what is right, obvious, apparent, and most cost-efficient: let everyone buy into Medicare.
The reason the Democrats won't do it is because they have negotiated shake-downs with the big-boys from the medical industry, they have taken bribes and arranged for future bribes of hundreds of millions of dollars, and they don't care that Americans cannot afford healthcare and so end up living in pain and misery, suffering, and dieing young.
Why is it the Republicans keep showing up at public meetings, often brandishing weapons to suggest they will violently overthrow the government if some of us are allowed to buy into Medicare? How did this get so crazy so fast? Why aren't these people being arrested and who is encouraging Americans to bring guns out in public to terrorize their neighbors? All of this is happening because the Democrats have allowed it to happen, I suspect they even want it to happen, so they can now go back to the public in September and say "Well, we tried to pass healthcare reform, but the Republicans wouldn't let us.
I've got a better idea. Let's just have a general strike. The Democrats keep ignoring us. I don't have enough money to bribe them, but I'm sure willing to go sit down somewhere, in a road or an office or in front of a building, and see if I can get their attention that way.
Friday, August 14, 2009
The current system is all about money, and not at all about "care" of patients. Show me a doctor and I'll show you a greedy, blood-sucking parasite who whines bitterly at the idea of earning less than $1.0 million/year. I've represented a lot of doctors professionally, and they are mostly all about money. Don't kid yourself.
The doctor's lobby is intended to limit the number of people who can become doctors, and to maximize the doctors' income. That's it.
The whole story about lawsuits running up the doctors' charges to patients is complete b.s. I represented some ER doctors. They paid $7.50 per patient for malpractice insurance -- the same amount they paid to their medical billing providers. It's just more lies. They don't want the public to be able to sue them when they kill people, or maim them, or operate while drunk or drugged (lots of alcohol and drug problems among doctors), or cut off the wrong leg. They're not really gods -- they just think they are.
I am an attorney. One of my areas of practice is estate planning. I routinely help people prepare a Power of Attorney for Health Care. This provides essentially that when the person is incapable of making decisions on their own, or communicating on their own behalf, then another person is designated to communicate with the medical providers for them. That power is revoked as soon as the person regains the ability to understand and communicate.
The form I use is quite lengthy, and modified to suit personal beliefs. For example, some people want to instruct their representatives to tell the doctors that no matter what, don't pull the plug. Others, the great majority, are insistent that if they are in a persistent vegetative state with no possibility of ever resuming a normal functioning life, and the doctors say their death is imminent, they do not want to be kept alive by artificial means. Everyone includes the provision saying that they should be kept comfortable, given as much pain medication as is reasonable to eliminate pain without regard for the possibility that they might become addicted.
I have been preparing these for people for decades now. Most people do not want to be kept alive by artificial means, or used by greedy doctors and hospitals to line their own pockets, once they reach the end of their lives.
If you have ever gone through this with someone, it usually makes it much clearer. There is suffering involved in the end of life. Why not relieve it with strong drugs and let the person go in peace. It is horrible for the family to sit for weeks watching someone with a terminal illness, unconscious, wasted away, hooked up to tubes and needles, unable to speak, eat, move, bodies developing bedsores, minds deteriorated, often unconscious but moaning in pain.
For Sarah McSimple and the Republicans to use sick old people in this way to try to prevent health care for the sick is disgusting. I only wish they all have their own Waterloo, so to speak, with no relief available to them at all. That's what they deserve.
To deny people the right to evaluate, review, make decisions about these tough issues in advance of illness, is simply a reflection of the underlying fascist view of the Republicans that the average citizens should have no rights: no rights to speak with a doctor or anyone else about their own wishes as to end of life. No right to make their own decisions on these issues.
Most hospitals now require people to sign their own form for health care agency before surgery. Their forms tend to be fairly simplistic, and I would advise people who can afford it to go get a good one before they become sick. You should be able to get one for about a hundred dollars. Check AARP -- they have a list of attorneys, then call around and get a good price. Make a list in advance of the issues you want addressed.
I've seen sick old people go into the hospital for something minor, and the doctors and hospitals run up $100,000 or more operating, testing, experimenting, doing ridiculous things to these old people because they've got insurance, and because the doctors and hospitals are greedy and have no conscience. I've seen dying people get operated on for new knees when they would never rise from a hospital bed due to failing heart and lung disease.
These are serious issues. No, we should not let the doctors and hospitals, or the politicians, or the drug pushers, decide to do what they want, the blank check, to use old people as guinea pigs, which happens with the insureds who have no one to advocate for them.
I don't think doctors are the right people, however, to advise patients on these issues. People should go to an attorney, maybe a community center, elder law area, before they get sick, go through the various issues and scenarios, get it signed up and completed in advance. Then just hand it to the doctor and tell the agent what your wishes are.
That's the fundamental difference between people who believe in democracy. I believe people are competent and empowered to make their own decisions, preferably in advance and before the onset of an illness, to have those decisions written down clearly and handed to a doctor. The doctor should be instructed by the patient as to the patient's wishes. If the patient is unconscious, for example, their agent should step in and take over. It's not the business of the politicians to interfere in such personal matters.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
In August of 1969, a music festival was scheduled to take place on some open land, rented from a farmer, near the town of Woodstock in upstate New York. Outdoor music festivals were relatively common at the time, but the promoters did plan to draw a large crowd because of the terrific line-up of performers they had scheduled.
As it turns out, the number of young people who decided to go to this music festival grossly exceeded what had been planned. Hundreds of thousands of young people traveled to upstate New York for that three-day festival in brightly-colored vans, some hitchhiking, all planning to celebrate with other young people from around the country and listen to some good music. The rumor has it that the New York State primary freeway was shut down for a time because of the enormous number of vehicles headed to Woodstock. Eventually a half a million people ended up at the Woodstock Festival.
The young people who attended, cheered, celebrated Woodstock soon became known as the Woodstock Generation. They have been vilified, demeaned, ridiculed by the right-wing fascists who took control of this country under Reagan and kept control through two Bushes and one Clinton. But the Woodstock Generation was possibly the smartest generation in this country for decades. Had their ideas and views been followed, we would undoubtedly have a better country and more peaceful and humane world.
Among the performers at the Woodstock Festival were the following:
Country Joe McDonald
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Sly & the Family Stone
Country Joe and the Fish
Ten Years After
Blood Sweat & Tears
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Nice shot of the crowd:
The Woodstock Generation, although consisting of a loose connection of young and not always so young people, embraced certain beliefs and principles about life which at the time were considered revolutionary, and which terrified the ruling powers in this country. Here are just a few of the principles of the Woodstock Generation.
1. Stop Polluting The Environment. Rachel Carson brought the nation's attention to this issue in her book "The Silent Spring," and the Woodstock Generation was the first to demand that changes be made. Stop polluting the air and water. Simple concepts, but at that time the people who ran this country tried to cover up the truth. How much of the cancer in this country, and disease in the world, is the direct result of corporations dumping chemicals and poison in the earth and water?
2. Live Simply. Don't spend your life chasing more or competing with the neighbors. Consume less and contribute more. Help your neighbors. Don't hoard. Don't take more than you need.
3. Local Food Control. Eat simply. Eat locally-grown produce. Don't buy the corporate-produced food which is packaged or sprayed with poison. Take back control of food. And help people in other countries do the same.
4. Population Control. The churches oppose this, and encourage their members to breed as if there was no limit to our resources. But the fact is all people should be limited to 1/2 of a child. After that, get yourself fixed. We should cut the world's population in half immediately, and possibly cut it by another half after that. We are well on the way to destroying every living plant, all food stuff, and every single animal or fish in the world, because of gross and excessive and obscene overpopulation. And in the meantime, the Republicans on TV celebrate the stupid Americans who have 12 kids, or 18 kids, and act like this is all good fun. It's suicide. It's also likely to destroy the entire earth and all living things. If the demands of the Woodstock Generation for population control had been followed, we probably would not be facing the extinction of so many animals on this earth.
5. End All Wars. The Woodstock Generation was against the war in Vietnam. But they were also against all wars, preferring the idea of creating strong international organizations with the authority to send in peacekeeping troops to protect civilians. Possibly mandatory mediation of disputes. War consists of one macho male sending the young men from his country into another country to kill the women and children. That's always what it comes down to. Killing children and babies is wrong. We have the sophistication and wealth to end war for all time, if we wanted to. If this principle had been adopted, think of the millions of lives that might have been saved.
(Burning a draft card, refusing to go to Vietnam).
6. De-Criminalize Drugs. Who came up with the stupid idea that we should use the military to fight against addiction? The U.S. has troops all over Central and South America propping up dictators and despots, providing security for U.S. corporations that are stealing resources from those countries. And this military occupation is done under the guise of a "war on drugs." Nonsense. There is no war on drugs. Drug addiction is a medical condition and should be treated as such. If this idea had been adopted, our country could have saved billions of dollars that has been wasted on guns and wars used against poor people in other countries. And our massive prison population includes way too many young non-white people whose only crime is that they liked to get high.
7. End Racism. This went way beyond the minimal rights acquired during the 1950s civil rights movement. The Woodstock Generation promoted the idea that all people were equal, were the same, and should and must live together in peace. This included the idea that black and white or hispanic or Asian people should date, marry, form families without regard to racial or ethnic identities. This was an idea that was considered shocking to much of the country at that time.
(Huey P. Newton, Black Panther Party. The members of the Black Panther Party, standing in defense of their communities, were framed, imprisoned, assassinated, and exterminated by an illegal program of the U.S. government known as Cointelpro.)
8. Equality For Women. Again, this was a radical concept. Through the 1950s and early 1960s, women had to belong to some man, provide unpaid slave labor for life to a man and to however many children her body turned out, in order to have a place in society. Women had few opportunities to work or earn a living, often had no birth control, had no legal rights to prevent their husbands from beating them. Divorced women were considered whores and single women past a relatively young age were considered spinsters, completely banished from the rest of society. No options for women. The Woodstock Generation promoted the idea that all people, regardless of gender or race, are equal, and should have equal opportunities.
9. Create And Nourish Community. It had already become apparent that the single family suburban neighborhood was destroying community. Imagine people living in cubicles, not even knowing their neighbors, working in cubicles and being prohibited from even speaking with their co-workers. I worked on a lawsuit once in which a worker was fired by a big retailer which claimed she was guilty of "theft." Based on that charge of criminal behavior, the worker was even denied unemployment compensation. But it turns out that the only "crime" the employee had committed was that she spoke with a co-worker during working hours, asked how her week-end went. The company's employee handbook said any conversations among co-workers unrelated to work were considered to be "theft" of company time. People have no community, live in isolation, and they therefore have no power. How can people organize to protect their own rights or their community when they don't even know who lives right down the street?
10. No Nukes. If only this idea had been pursued at the time, think how different the world might be today. Because the right-wing took control of our country, they promoted the widespread distribution of nuclear weapons to our "friends," which now means we live every day within minutes of having the entire world annihilated by some moron, either in a cave or in a government office.
11. Recycle. Stop Consuming. Stop filling the ocean and the earth with crap. Re-use. The U.S. corporations hate the idea of people using their own independent judgment to decide that they will not spend their lives buying the crap sold to them by the corporations.
12. Free Love. It is not the place of the government or the "community" to dictate to other adults when they may have sex, with whom, or in what manner. It is also not the place of the government or the community to dictate to other adults whether they may use birth control (as late as the 1960s, some states still made birth control illegal) or whether, or when to have children.
13. Workers Rights. The Woodstock Generation marched and demonstrated and boycotted along with the United Farm Workers to demand that all workers get a decent paycheck, have safe working conditions, healthcare, decent pensions, vacations and holidays.
14. Freedom And Independence For Other Nations. The Woodstock Generation promoted the view that all people are entitled to be free and independent, to run their own countries without interference from other nations. If only these views had been adopted, how different the world would be today.
(Che Guevara, hero of the Cuban revolution.)
In this 40th anniversary of Woodstock, the right-wing fascists who control the media and the Republican party will undoubtedly take this opportunity to ridicule everyone who was part of the Woodstock Generation, and to reaffirm the concept that "real" Americans love war, guns and violence, and hate their neighbors. The Republicans are trying to create a fascist nation, and the Democrats aren't doing much to stop them. The fact is that the Woodstock Generation consisted of true patriots, people who loved this country and democracy, and who were creative and innovative in trying to find new ways for all of us to live in peace in this world. Make Love Not War. No Nukes. Peace.
In addition to having important and creative ideas about how to change society and the world to be cooperative instead of combative, there was also a tremendous flourishing of music, film, and fine arts during this time. The idea was that art became fun, a part of people's lives rather than something to be shut away inside museums and judged by a small panel of upper-class white men as to whether the art did or did not have merit. Young people all over the country decided for themselves whether they liked some art and, if they did, collected the reprints and posters and tacked them up all over their rooms. People's art, as it were, shown throughout this post.
During the entire history of the U.S., under or after slavery, it had always been understood that black and white people should live completely separate lives. In the 1950s, blacks spent years demonstrating and marching for such minimal rights as the right to sit down on a public bus, the right to buy food in a restaurant, the right to vote, the right to not be murdered by white men. Black people were often legally prohibited from buying homes other than in "black" neighborhoods, their children were legally prohibited from attending schools with white children, and they were legally prohibited from marrying a white person. Even in states which did not have those laws, segregation was strictly upheld in all classes of society.
The Woodstock Generation took enormous leaps forward on the issue of race, and demanded that all racism, all segregation be ended. This was a radical position at the time. The Woodstock Generation had a view that all people were equal and should live together in one community, in peace. Not that this was necessarily successfully implemented, but just the fact that these people embraced that idea was horrifying to the white men who ran this country.
For example, Jimi Hendrix performed at Woodstock to wild acclaim. Just a short time later, by the 1980s, under the regime of Ronald Reagan and the white boys who re-took control of our country, a black performer like Michael Jackson had to physically alter his appearance to make himself look white and female, in order to be "acceptable" to be presented to a white audience. Jimi Hendrix didn't appear white or female. He was a hot black man, sexy, publicly celebrating his sexuality, and he was worshipped by many of the young white people who made up the Woodstock Generation.