Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Massachussets Tea Party and Humpty Dumpty's Health Insurance

Massachussets Tea Partiers, in a fit of angry inchoate anarchist rebellion against politics as usual, elected a .... Republican Real Estate Lawyer.... to the US Senate. It shocked the Democrats that the Massachusetts "Ted Kennedy" seat was taken away, and the Republicans may not like Scott Brown's "social" positions -- he's pro-choice, for example. And let's remember that the Tea Party movement has been created by corporate donors and a conservative media mouthpiece, Fox News, along with a few out of power Republican movers and shakers, i.e., Dick Armey. The Tea Partiers may implode from their own anarchic rhetoric and chaotic impulses, but the Supreme Court has handed those same corporate backers the keys to the palace with its recent ruling regarding corporate campaign finance $$$$.

As a Nebraskan who supported Barack Obama, the role of Ben Nelson's sweetheart deal to federally fund future Nebraska Medicaid increases as a factor in the election of new Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts particulary irks me. Nelson's "hard to get" strategy hurt President Obama and the chances for meaningful health insurance reform. Senator Nelson maneuvered himself into a bad political place and is paying a high price. Polls indicated that this "sausage grinding" aspect of politics turned independent Massachusetts voters against Coakley, the Democratic candidate there. Their shock that "politics" was going on in Washington is particularly amusing in the Land of Tip O'Neill and Ted Kennedy -- two legendary deal makers. Ben Nelson has back-tracked on his "deal" and now wants Medicaid increases for all states paid for by the Federal government. Too much, and too late.

And the icing on the cake is the irony that Massachusetts , which mandates that citizens purchase health insurance and subsidizes to some degree those unable to purchase it, has apparently stopped in its tracks the incremental steps Barack Obama campaigned on and attempted to midwife through the minefields of (sorry about the mixed metaphor but I like the alliteration) disparate Democrats and an obstructionist minority whose only program is to oppose President Obama on everyting.
So after 8 years of bad government by the Republicans and 1 year of the Republican's intransigent refusal to take yes for an answer on President Obama's many concessions to them on health insurance reform, Independent voters and "Tea Partiers" have sent another Republican, a real estate lawyer, to Washington. How much sense does that make? Not much......

Republicans are licking their chops, and Democrats, scared silly it appears, are trying to make sense out of the incoherent nature of it all. Remember the woman last summer who became the poster child of the Tea Party's approach to Health Insurance Reform -- "Keep Government out of my Medicare" and the propogation of the Death Panels Big Lie. They won, it looks like. Too bad for us. The Boston Tea Party has turned in the Alice in Wonderland Tea Party.....where reality no longer matters.

`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'

`The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

`The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master -- that's all.'

And to mix one more metaphoric allusion -- we'll see whether the Democrats can put Humpty Dumpty's health insurance back together again!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Art, Literature, and Politics

It’s Tuesday morning again and I’ve got about two hours to kill before doing some prep for tomorrow’s classes, so here I am at the keyboard once more.

I’ve got a painting titled “The Bearable Lightness of Being” at The Hot Shops Nicholas Street Gallery, 13th and Nicholas, for a month as part of their fundraiser for the food bank. Stop by if you get a chance and see some of work of the best artists in the area. Take a can of food. I call the painting "The Bearable Lightness of Being." A Kundera novel with the title of “The Unbearable Lightness of Being" was made into a movie of the same name years ago and were philosophical looks at cycles of life and recurring archetypes and what if there is no life after this life?, German existentialism, the futility of life, etc. So I think that even if we are given one shot at life and that's it, we should make it a good one. Not that I've particularly succeeded, but it's a good thought. So do well and do good seems to be a good strategy no matter what the depths of despair in an uncaring universe. To see more of my art go to:

My current reading includes Joseph Heller’s, “God Knows-Go Figure,” a fictional autobiography of King David, William Least Heat Moon’s “Blue Highways,” Kenneth Davis’ “Don’t Know Much About History,” Ted Kooser's, "One Hundred Postcards," James Morgan’s “Chasing Matisse: A Year in France Living My Dream,” a Christmas gift from my sweetheart, (I may write “Six Years in Papillion: Living My Nightmare”), about a 59 year old successful writer and editor who decides to sell everything, move to Paris with his successful wife, and become at artist – what a crazy idea - , and another Christmas gift, “The Mystery of the Missing Antimatter,” by Quinn and Nir, two astrophysicists contemplating the cosmology of why we are here anyway and were not all annihilated in the first one-billionth of a second after the Big Bang. I’m wondering too. I’ve been reading Heller’s “God Knows” continuously for years now and am in my 4th or 5th read. Wonderful book.

And my few thoughts on the last few days politics:

Sarah Palin –According to many of Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign managers, Sarah Palin was a walking catastrophe: her mangled “word twistification” and garbled thought processes; her information deficit; her fact avoidance; her truth challenged look at the world; and her willingness to spread untruths even after the few facts she was given indicated otherwise. And now she’s going to Fox News as a commentator and news contributer – sounds like a perfect fit. And the Tea Parties – these folks continue to be fringe looney-toons guided by Dick Armey, Fox News, and some corporate right wingers as far as I can tell. Sarah Palin is scheduled to speak at their upcoming convention in Memphis…….That they appear to be gaining traction says much about the “dumbification” and embrace of demagoguery in America. I hope I’m wrong about that.

Health Insurance Reform is turning into a health insurance industry windfall where citizens are required to purchase health insurance and illegal aliens are prevented from doing same; I’ve heard very little about ending the anti-trust exemption given to the insurance industry decades ago, Ben Nelson’s gambit regarding Federal Medicaid reimbursements for Nebraska made him look greedy and petty. Without competitive forces introduced into the industry, rates will continue to skyrocket – I got a notice the other day that my own crappy over the counter catastrophic health insurance premium will go up by 20% this year. For a few days last month the idea of Medicare buy-ins at 55 was circulating as part of the discussion gave me hope, but that died even quicker than those thousands of Americans who die each year sans health insurance and health care.

Harry Reid’s clumsy and “inartful” remarks on President Obama’s lack of a “Negro dialect” loosed the hounds of hypocrisy: that Trent Lott was forced to resign as Leader of the Senate after his fawning tribute to segregationist Strom Thurmond a few years ago are now being equated with Senator Reid’s gaffe; Reid was pummeled and pilloried over the weekend by right wing talking heads including Michael, “Honest Injun,” Steele, head of the Republican party and all the other shallow draft Republicans were trying to score cheap political points. The transparency and silliness of it all is reaching new heights and depths of tawdriness.

The Big Lie – President Obama’s response to the failed terror attack on an airplane headed to Detroit caused the right wing propoganda machine to say over and over again, “There were no attacks on the US during George W. Bush’s watch” - except many pointed out the biggest attack in US history and the shoe bomber and the anthrax thing and some others. Oh, those……those shouldn’t count, they say. And the repeated untruths that Obama didn’t use the words “terror” or “terrorism” in his many speeches this last year while a look back shows repeated use of the very words. The Big Lie Machine continues to work and the mainstream media tends to sit back and not challenge the malefactors. Even heavyweights like George Stephanopoulos on his ABC interview with Rudy Guiliani had to apologize publicly afterward for letting such inane and inaccurate remarks from Rudy Giuliani go unchallenged.

So there you go, and as Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five” narrator said one hundred and sixteen times, “So it goes.”

Regards, Bud C

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

When given Yemens, make Yemenade!

President Obama doesn't bluster, and blather, and bloviate like the right wing wants him to, but he is taking several fights to those who would blow our airplanes out of the sky. He said during his campaign that our focus should have been Al Quaeda terrorists and it has been since he was elected. Getting out of Iraq appears to be possible and is proceeding. More troops are in Afghanistan now trying to figure out what to do in that far away strange failed drug state. And more are on their way. I continue to believe we should buy up all the Afghan opium crop as a way to weaken the Taliban and its Al Quaeda allies. And maybe use the plants to make ethanol.......or I don't know what else.

So now, Al Quaeda, having been defeated in Iraq has moved heavily into Somalia and Yemen. And remember it was Al Quaeda that rushed into Iraq after we took out Saddam Hussein and disbanded the Iraqi army and mismanaged the post war period so egregiously. By bombing a mosque, Al Quaeda triggered the civil war that turned that poor country into a killing zone. And it appears that President Obama is intent on following and engaging them in Yemen and Somalia with our arsenal of drone directed cruise missiles and possibly escalating the military action which may include US troops. Our soldiers won the Iraq war in about three weeks, and then the Bush W administration so badly bungled the aftermath in that poor country that we are still there seven years later. Same thing in Afghanistan only nine years.

The Republican Right appears to want a President who talks loud and tough and spits in the dirt while scratching his nuts and makes bold, if wrong, decisions. Shoot first and ask questions later. Or don't even bother to ask the questions. President Obama appears to gather facts, deliberate with his military experts and diplomatic corps, and then act carefully. The gathering facts part is something new to the Republican Right and I can understand their confusion regarding this step in the President's planning.

So I've got my fingers crossed that this President will do a better job in routing out Al Quaeda and that far right version of Islam that is responsible for so much bloodshed in recent history. When given Yemens, make Yemenade.

I had to write this tonight because I finally got tired of reading and hearing about Dick Cheney and all the right wing radio and Tea Party crazies who criticize President Obama on a 24/7 basis about his response to that stupid kid who set himself on fire trying ignite a bomb in his underwear on that flight to Detroit. The intelligence apparatus failed and I believe President Obama will take steps to fix it.

President Obama was presented with two wars, an economy in shambles, a collapsing banking system, a country divided by eight years of bumbling, bungling, bombast, and in his first year our President has helped avoid a world wide depression, is getting us out of one of those ill-advised wars, is responsible for helping bring the US economy out of its doldrums, and has even accomplished several good things in the health insurance reform bills that may pass soon. When given Yemens, make Yemenade.