Monday, April 30, 2012

In the Land of the Blind...

Open your eyes America and see what is really going on.
Ronald Reagan was right (in more ways than one) with his campaign slogan running against Walter Mondale in 1980; he just got the spelling of the key word wrong. Under his rule and every Republican since it has been Mourning in America for the citizens that make up nearly 99% of the country.
Thomas Frank’s book, “What’s the Matter with Kansas” speaks of a problem that has become an American problem; education, or the lack thereof. And the poor education of the masses must be partly to blame. The less average people use their brains the more they tend to vote against their own best interest.
Our ‘two party’ system basically offers only two choices for any important government post. And this is true from local legislatures up to Congress and the White House.
What is a voter to do when both choices are awful?
How many times have people held their noses when entering the voting booth and pulling the lever (sic) for the least contemptible or lesser of two evils?
Sadly we are stuck with the current method and it seems as though we will be burdened with it for decades to come so it boils down to nuance.
Which party generally stands for the values you believe in?
Which party will, when push comes to shove, vote for your best interest?
The answer since the Supreme Court of the United States, SCOTUS handed down the unbelievably absurd decision to give corporations the same rights as human beings is neither. And no amount of empty head shaking by partisan appointee and Republican shill Alito will change the fact that the ruling was clearly anti-human!
But if one were to hearken back to a time before the insane ruling the party of the people would be the Democrats.
In New York there is a fight surrounding the minimum wage and whether or not it should stay at $7.25 per hour or should be raised to a far fairer $8.50.
All business owners naturally oppose it as it would appear to cut into their profits, key word profits! All Republicans also oppose it because anything that cuts into big business’ profit margins cuts into their lobbying money, AKA bribes.
I am actually against all Lobbies but I am also a realist so I will not demand they be totally banned from the halls of government since government would never kill the golden goose they rely on for vacations and obscene perks. But I do believe they should become more transparent so that we know who is paying for the private jet to that orgy in the Greek isles under the guise of a fact finding mission for a mayor of some hick town in the Midwest.
However that is another story and I do not wish to discuss it at this time.
If you look at the increase in wealth of the people of the so-called 1%, the wealthiest among the country, you will note that their fortunes have risen obscenely over the last couple of decades while the rest of the country has languished at levels close to poverty or at least sub standard amounts.
This is not an accident but rather a well thought out plan started by that fine actor of Bonzo movie fame, Reagan. (I will pause while any Republicans who accidentally stumbled upon this post kneel and genuflect.)
Across America the Republican Party has waged a war not just on women but on anyone not in the 1%.
And if you are in a union beware the wrath of Rove.
Unions tend to vote Democratic because unions are comprised of humans and humans know what’s good for them and who’s on their side.
Union busting has been a top priority ever since Bonzo’s equal killed the PATCO strike back in the early 80s.
And right about the time Reagan was tearing down the wall between Republicans and the living wages of union members’ the country became discouraged about strikes.
Emboldened by the success of the chimp in the White House the right started their campaign to eradicate all unions and deplete any Democratic leaning groups across America. And before Nancy took over all decisions for the Alzheimer President the path was set.
Fox joined the fight and weasels such as the now dead Andrew Breitbart hired equally disgusting low life scum such as James O’Keefe to make community organizers with voter registration agenda look bad.
One should ask the supposedly patriotic Republican Party why they continue to make voter suppression a top priority. It would appear to be an anti-American practice bordering on treason and certainly against the wishes and beliefs of the founding fathers that all citizens have a say in their government!
Perhaps the ‘no taxation without representation’ chapter was removed from their history books to be replaced by intelligent design and other nonsense.
Republicans continue to pick and choose which laws and regulations they like and which they choose to ignore and kill people for following.
Roe V Wade gave women abortion rights so the ‘right’ waged a war on the law and anyone in favor of the law.
Some unfeeling hypocrite coined the phrase Tiller the Baby Killer and Fox’s low-life resident O’Reilly goaded his audience of uneducated crazy viewers into murdering the good doctor in cold blood. The irony of murdering for the sake of life is naturally lost on easily manipulated weak minded Fox viewers.
Suppose a Democratic leaning commentator on MSNBC started a campaign to kill someone in the Republican Party for breaking the law, or following it for that matter? I wouldn’t know which Republican to start with as the camp of immoral ones on the 'right' is quite crowded. Perhaps we could list them alphabetically.
Suppose one of the Democrats placed gun sight targets over right leaning districts like the uneducated non-reading failed governor from Alaska?
What would Fox & allies say about that?
Rove would have a fake coronary!
Cheney would call for water-boarding.
Condoleeza would go out and buy more shoes.
But we only have ourselves to blame for allowing the lies of the Conservatives and their Republican comrades as they continue to spew hate filled speeches about Democrats.
President Obama is an American born citizen; Global Warming is a reality, and evolution exists whether one political party acknowledges the fact or not.
And yet over one quarter of the people of this country still deny at least two if not all three of the above.  And guess from which party those people hail?
So the Republican strategy has been working. And it has been working so well that they may soon not even bother to hide their anti-middle class tactics.
So many voters are painfully ill or under educated and are so focused on irrelevant issues that they see not the forest for the trees. And one side note; never forget that the Republican God himself, Ronnie, once famously blamed trees for polluting the Earth?  Look it up!
I hazard to suggest that a Republican leader could actually advocate the jailing of any voter who votes against their party and get away with the tyrannical tactic by invoking God, family values, pointing to his or her spouse and smiling at their fine church attending children. Of course his mistress would have to stay in the shadows while he did so.
The bottom line is that unless we the people wake up and open our eyes to the tyrannical tactics of the megalomaniacal party which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the 1% this country will continue its trek into the deep hole dug by the party of no.
Don’t be blind to the facts!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Change the Past or the Future?

History is filled with ‘What Ifs.’
If you could go back in time and change things would you?
What if the Titanic had enough lifeboats to service all its  passengers?
What if the SS California had not turned off their wireless for the night and had actually heard the distress call from Titanic?
They were only a few miles away and easily could have arrived in time to save most of the passengers.
Sadly the engine crew probably would not have made it out but fifteen hundred others who died in the frigid waters of the north Atlantic would have reached America shaken and without their personal possessions but alive. 
I do not blame SS California for its failure as they did try to warn Titanic of iceberg dangers in the water but with so many wealthy people aboard the wireless operator was inundated with messages to send out and refused to listen to all else.
The Carpathia tried valiantly to get there in time but the laws of physics and liquid dynamics prevented them from doing so.
The Unsinkable Mollie Brown would not have been a film and when I visited her museum in Denver I would have been trespassing in someone’s home.
Science fiction writers have covered every topic of alternate endings or futures imaginable through the years with regards to titanic like events.
What if that asteroid did not kill off the dinosaurs?
Would mammals ever have survived and taken over the world?
What if that Jewish carpenters son was not murdered a couple of thousand years ago and allowed to continue talking about peace till old age took him?  Would any of us now remember his name?
What if women never got the vote or slavery was never abolished?
I should pause here so my Republican friends can wipe the smiles off their faces and stop daydreaming.
What if my high school Spanish teacher had not found that tiny piece of paper I hid under my butt?
History teaches us but do we learn?
History warns us but do we heed?
And with that in mind I turn your thoughts toward a topic that has polarized humanity for over half a century.
It's a hot button issue that’s guaranteed to start arguments and turn former likable actors into raving lunatics after being caught driving under the influence.
It’s also an event whose very existence has been denied by many who refuse to admit facts into their brains, most notably and dangerously the bearded ugly President of Iran.
What if Hitler had been stopped before killing so many Jews?
In other words, what if the Holocaust had never happened?
Before going further let me assure you that it did and I in no way shape or form am suggesting otherwise!
But what if?
First and foremost there would be many more Jews alive today, or at least I think so.
Steven Spielberg would still be making movies but only about aliens and Liam Neeson would have one less great role to point to.
There would be no Israeli state and the entire Middle East would be Arab territory with occasional visits by nomadic Jews.
The Bible toting radical Evangelicals would have to interpret the prelude to the Rapture in a different way.
And so many more consequences or threads leading from that horrible event that would or should not have happened that I am not smart enough to know or educe.
What I am trying to bring out is while it is romantic to think about how we would change the past given the opportunity we should face the reality that it cannot be done.
And it is entirely possible that while events of the past may have been terrible they are just that, in the past.
And rather than decry them forever we should learn from them and where possible make sure they never happen again.
For the most part we have made things better as a result of past disasters.
The likelihood of another cruise ship setting sail without sufficient lifeboats and trained personnel to load them is near zero.
We may not be able to do anything about an asteroid hitting our atmosphere in the future, sorry Mr. Willis but at least we will be well aware of it long before it does.
And I now know better ways to hide cheat sheets should the need ever arise.
But more to the point, will there be more atrocities in the future?
Will there be pain and suffering brought about by man’s inhumanity to man?
Will natural events such as tornadoes and hurricanes and earthquakes continue to destroy property and ruin lives?
The answer to these questions is undeniably yes!
Can we lessen their effect and mitigate the pain they cause?
The answer to this is also yes.
And the way to do this is through education.
We should embrace science and seek to understand more about our world and the natural forces that shape our very existence.
Closing our eyes to empirical fact is both ill advised and dangerous.
Religion and faith can coexist with science and education as long as the former does not attempt to supersede the latter and impede progress or muddy the waters.
What if we used religion only for personal inner peace and lost the need or desire to proselytize?
What if instead of trying to put the other guy down for personal or political gain our leaders started using their brains to work toward raising everyone up?
If we could admit that some of us have more than we will ever need even if we live to 200 then maybe we could selflessly work toward helping those of us who only have enough to reach next week and build a better future for all.
And if we did all this we might finally be able to lose the ‘What Ifs’ forever.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Follies for the Middle Class (Thanks Mr. Sondheim)

Fox News & Small Pox, all kinds of plagues
And I'm here, I'm still here.
Radical Repubs; SCOTUS gone wild but I'm here
I'm still here.
Kill all the unions,
Screw healthcare
A conscience in DC?
That’s quite rare
Lived through trickle down economics
And I'm here!

Cheney & Palin; Chads and the radical right
And I'm here
Bailouts and blowouts;
Money's incredibly tight
And I'm here
Taxes are killing the middle class
Repubs have their heads up their ass
Wealthiest few get a damn free pass
And I'm here
I sold all my silver, gold and brass
And I’m here

I've lived through Rove and his brain trying to lead us
Who the hell is that prick?
Or better yet
Let's give the vote to a fetus
What's the matter with Rick?

Long dong; Scalia; Roberts; Alito and such
And I'm here
Boehner and Grassley; Ryan and Cohen's out of touch
And I'm here
I've lived through Limbaugh, Bill-O too
Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter all screw you
I survived Nixon & Reagan and I'm here!
Mission accomplished wasn't
And I'm here!

The President's Kenyan; a Muslim; Illegal
And he must be removed
The right has all of the brains of a beagle
And no claims can be proved

Tea Party madness
Funded by sick brothers Koch
And I’m here
Watching Repub debates
Damn what a sad bunch; a joke
And I’m here
Please tell me that it will all soon end
The Democratic Party won’t break we’ll bend
I’m looking forward to November
And my friend
Four more fruitful years for Obama
To be here

And I’m here
Yes I’m here
I’m still heeeeeeere!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Leeches, Health Care & the Tax Code

The fight over President Obama’s health care overhaul, the so called Affordable Care Act (ACA) has reignited the wide divide between current political ideologies in America. That divide was always just beneath the surface but has become painfully evident since we had the audacity to send an African American to the White House.
But analyzing the law and its underlying intent merely through the eyes of politicians and special interest groups on either side of the aisle is disingenuous to all interested parties and especially those of us in need of affordable health care.
One side may offer silly arguments about family values and religious freedom, while the other points to fairness and equal justice for all but neither side can win an argument and stand up to 100% scrutiny.
The religious freedom people, with the most vocal being Christians, say they do not want this form of health care because it goes against their religious training and heritage.  But they lose as soon as someone gives them the old WWJD argument as in what would Jesus do?  Clearly their savior was for healing the sick regardless of their ability to pay.  And what would he think of the greedy insurance companies etc. but enough of that for now.
And as for the 'equal justice for all' camp I agree but still say that many people, by their own actions or lack thereof are not deserving of constant coddling.  You must at least attempt to take an interest in your own well being to earn our care and respect in return.
But I digress and will not argue those points here because no matter what is debated in the halls of government everything always boils down to costs and who will be paying.
Pay Your Fair Share!
Unless You're Extremely Wealthy!
The wealthiest of the country feel they should never have to pay for anything, including taxes on the money they make or inherit. They do not wish to part with a penny if it will not come back as two cents for themselves or their family. Sadly the poor, even if employed, generally do not have two pennies to rub together and can not afford to pay for services they so desperately need.
As with all social services in civilized countries taxes pay for the needs of the many. And taxes are levied on all citizens with varying degrees of tax rates depending on their income.
In America we have inverted the fair tax code and it seems to be an impossibility to come up with a system that understands two plus two equals four!
Warren Buffet attempted to make it simple by telling the country it is unfair that his tax rate is lower than that of his secretary. Naturally Mr. Buffet could rectify that by adding a few zeros to the end of her paycheck but that is between those two and not up for discussion.
Mr. Buffet is not alone in his legal gaming of the system even though he decries its inherent unfairness.
One need only look at the absurdly low tax rate Presidential candidate Willard Mitt Romney is asked to pay and with which he all too gladly complies.
Obviously this incredibly wealthy man does not wish to see the tax code changed and will most likely continue to do everything in his power toward that end.
God Save the Queen
And The Caymans
He and his idle friends who add nothing to society but sound-bites and pink slips will do this while laughing all the way to the bailed out banks of America and the tax haven ones of the Cayman Islands and beyond.
The tax code may have started out as a great idea with fairness toward all in the beginning but it has been changed, altered, rewritten, reinterpreted and cut to pieces so often through the years that there are more loopholes in it than actual tax rates and the current incarnation has made the nation loopy!
Mr. Romney’s “carried interest income” which earned him millions over the years is not levied as regular income in the tax code but rather at the lowest allowable rate of 15%.
A family of 4 could comfortably live on that income for decades.
Cheesy way to hide income!
Mr. Romney also conveniently forgot to disclose that aside from his hidden Cayman Island bank accounts he earned quite a handsome sum of loot from his Swiss Bank accounts!
I am using Willard as an example but he is by no means the only one, nor is he the worst offender when it comes to screwing America and Americans out of much needed tax revenue.
Bane of our Existence
Mr. Romney is but an example of how the wealthiest of the country plan to stay in that elite club every day of their lives.
I sometimes wonder if everything they do or say is done with an eye toward keeping or making more money.
“Sir, would you like to wear the red or the blue tie today?”
“Which one will get me more money, Jeeves?”
So if we still wish to help Americans in need of some form of affordable health care and, assuming we will not be able to pry any more pennies from the cold brain-dead hands of the wealthy by way of the skewed tax code, then we must look toward streamlining health care costs.
The wealthy turn the argument in that direction every chance they get using phrases such as “Fee for Service!” (They also say Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid every chance they get but that makes even less sense so we’ll let that go for now.)
These greedy anti-social beings boldly claim that as long as you allow doctors and hospitals to charge fees for every service, test or procedure they perform health care expenses will needlessly rise through the roof.
They naturally hide the fact that they themselves demand payment for every service or rather disservice they perform each and every day!
They further posit that insurance companies are the guardians of our nation’s money constantly pushing back and fighting the evil hoards of medical mercenaries in their pursuit of endless wealth.
Saying the above with straight faces is quite impressive not to mention totally hypocritical since many of them are directors on the boards of those faceless insurance behemoths.
In the end however there may be a glimmer of truth as some doctors can be unscrupulous.  After all they are human and as such err.
But I hazard to say there are far more bean counting insurance accountants with no medical training or knowledge doing the evil than doctors since their salaries and future employment depend on profit.
And in the end it is we the public who pay for this back and forth game of he said she said which inevitably kicks the can down the road on solutions.
Are Leeches People too?
Many years ago the medical industry used leeches to bleed the sick. The idea was to rid the body of bad blood by using those low cost creatures.
Today’s leeches are the insurance companies who survive by sucking out the life blood of our economy.
The difference is the current parasitic creatures are killing more people than they are saving and getting wealthy along the way.
For years insurance companies have been raising their rates, charging more and more for less and less and using their obscene profits to fund vacations, private jets, and bonuses. But more importantly a significant amount of that ill-gotten cash has found its way into and through the hands of lobbyists and into Congress in order to keep the status quo!
Those of us who have insurance payments deducted from our salaries by our employers pay on average $10,000 per year for healthcare insurance.  But the cost is actually double that because insurance is partly covered by our employer.
If they had to pay less to the leeches we might actually be able to negotiate raises. (Pie in the sky perhaps but worth noting.)
Pray for Health?
We pay all this money for the pleasure of being told by those insurance carriers that much of what we need is not covered and that that which is covered comes with a $50 ‘co-pay,’ a $100 ‘co-insurance,’ a $500 ‘deductible,’ and a cap of $1,500 for any particular occurrence.
I Guess So!!!
And in some States you may also be forced to listen to lectures  in an attempt to shame you out of whatever it is you need to have done!
These insurance industry made-up words could add up to as much as $30,000 per year for a normal HEALTHY family of four.
But for arguments sake let's say it's only 10% of your income.
SO the question we should all be asking ourselves is this:
If I have to pay 10% of my income for good health care and a chance at longer a life to whom would I prefer giving that money?
A. An insurance broker trained in the fine art of bean counting and ledger-keeping whose main job is to make more money for the corporation who hired him
You'd be in good hands
WITHOUT Insurance Companies!
B. A staff of board certified medical professionals and personnel trained in the art of keeping humans alive and healthy?
It is quite apparent that we need regulations but shouldn't we rid ourselves of the leech mentality from the dark ages?
Can we not do without the useless insurance industry entirely and instead regulate and fine-tune the medical industry.
In the long run our tax dollars would go further and the economy as well as ‘we the people’ would all be healthier.