Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Temp Reads $10,000,000,000,000

For those of you that thought most politicians had a stick up their what'sits, it's not exactly a stick - it's a thermometer.

It seems a shame that our Congresscritters and Senatorpeople can't actually look at the healthcare situation in this country without first checking their temperature with Aetna or Cigna or whichever insurance company is paying the bills this month.

It seems very simple to me: if we mandate that people have insurance, and the government is willing to help pay for health insurance for poor people, and we don't have a public plan in place, what do you think the big insurance companies and big pharma companies are gonna think? I'll tell you:


It's going to be Halliburton & KBR all over again, except now we're talking health insurance, instead of army showers that double as execution chambers and food that doubles as bioweaponry. Assuming the government wants to make sure they don't piss off the big industries that pay for their campaigns, all of these contracts will likely be some form of "cost-plus" system. Which means the insurance industry will be guaranteed a profit (duh), only now, the taxpayers will probably be paying more for it than we have been.

I've not been blogging about this yet, simply because the more time passes on this issue, the more complex it all grows. That everyone has shied away from the single-payer system the whole country (except for the dittoheads) seems to want is bizarre enough. Jim DeMint of S. Carolina has even suggested that if Obama doesn't get his public option, this could be "his Waterloo" in relatively hopeful tones. Bill Kristol has stated that instead of letting the process play itself out, the Repugs should "go for the jugular," and make sure that Obama's failure is splattered all over the mediascape, in order that Obama loses the next election, and perhaps the Rs can regain some lost seats in congress. Nice to know that what matters most to some Repugnicans is Obama's failure, not the public's needs.

I know - what else is new?

So here we are, with a Democratic president and a Democrat-controlled House and Senate and still, healthcare is too big a nut to crack. If that doesn't tell you that something is wrong with both the Democratic Party and the way we do politics in this country, well, I can't write letters that large.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Power to the (Rich, White) Minority!

Is Pat Buchanan a 50s holdover? Or just really, really dim? In yet another harangue on the subject of Affirmative Action (or, for the knuckle-draggers in the crowd, "reverse discrimination"), good old Irish Pat went up against young upstart lesbian Rachel Maddow on her show on MSNBC. I think Rachel has him on sometimes just to get the extreme whacko viewpoint. They're friends, of course, but on TV, how could you tell?

While Ms. Sotomayor was having her legal abilities tested by some of the poor, downtrodden, rich white guys in the Senate Judiciary Committee, dear Pat was swiping at her from the sidelines. Quoting Ms. Sotomayor herself, who once said that she was an "affirmative action baby," this incensed dear Pat, because she took some poor, downtrodden, rich white guy's spot at Princeton (in the 70s!). And then got good grades (maybe better than dear Pat's). Her career after law school was a mixture of prosecution, corporate law and public service law in her home community of Brooklyn. She's had many years on the public bench.

Let us remind ourselves how things have "changed" over the last fifty years: In the early sixties, Black people had to prove they could read before they could vote in many southern states. Black people were routinely lynched in many southern states. Latinos were rarely allowed to get beyond "wetback" status in society at large. Even though Puerto Rico is considered a US Protectorate (and its citizens can pass to and from the US without a passport), folks from Puerto Rico won't be treated any better than the local Mexican, Honduran, or Salvadorean population.

Since then, Black people have finally been allowed to vote (unless you're in Florida or Ohio). And being Latino is not as much of a strike against you.

But people's minds don't change that easily. Rachel pointed out that, of the 110 jurists who have sat on the Supreme Court, 108 have been white or male. We've had two jurists who have been Black. And two that have been female. So far, no ethnic minority females (would that be too much, or what?). So what does this tell us? When we pick Supreme Court justices, why do we pick nothing but white guys? Could it be that white people tend to pick other white people, so as to be assured that the person they're picking is as much like they are as possible? And is this not normal, for the person in charge to pick someone who looks like him?

Pat pointed out that he opposed Harriet Miers on the grounds that (even though he suspected she'd vote exactly the way he'd want) she was horribly under qualified. I applaud him for that. Why didn't he say that John Roberts, current Chief Justice, wasn't qualified? He's younger than Sotomayor, and was only on the circuit bench for a couple of years before being nominated to the top post in the highest court in the land. In contrast, Sotomayor was on her local district bench in the early nineties and moved to a federal court bench in 1997. So if she's not qualified, how is he qualified?

Just asking.

The farther right (can you see that far? because I'm needing glasses) comes up with a wide variety of ethnic slurs and/or anti-feminist wackness (G. Gordon Liddy, that perennially law-abiding citizen, suggested that Sotomayor's PMS might be an issue). And I guess I have to say, if people who are paid to be listened to on the TV can't resist revealing what bigots and idiots they are, doesn't that mean that Affirmative Action is still necessary? Don't we need to keep ramming Blacks and Latinos and Indians and Chinese down the throats of these poor, downtrodden, rich white guys, until they either shut up - or evolve? I sure think we do.

I'm convinced that one day, dear Pat will either have an epiphany or apoplexy, and I really hope it's the former.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cats? Cats...

My dear fiend Boegle has requested cats and politics. I will have to approach this obliquely, something about leopards and their (in)ability to change spots...

While the current nominee for the US Supremes has to listen to a lot of pseudo-Hispanic jokes without getting all huffy on them ("you got a lot of esplainin' to do" is the worst by far - Tom Coburn R-OK), it seems as though there is a current of either racism or outright stupidity running through the GOP side of the aisle in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. One Repugnican upbraids her for not voting the same way as another Puerto Rican justice sitting on the same court, while others want to be certain she's as neutral as possible.

So this leaves me confused - either she should be a biased judge and vote with her P.R. posse, or she shouldn't. And while she's sold as a very passionate person when it comes to the law (comments made by defense lawyers that have come up before her appeals court describe her as a kind of Judge Crankypants), if she actually shows any sort of irritation to the members of the Committee, she would be lambasted for being too emotional, too erratic, too... I dunno... female...

So here we rest again, saying that affirmative action is bad, and that the only reason Obama picked her is because she's a Latina. Of course, when the black judge retired during George HW Bush's presidency, no one said affirmative action about Clarence Thomas. Well, except Clarence himself, who basically felt that it tarred him with an awful brush. So, while he's grateful to have received the benefits of affirmative action, it's bad. As Al Franken said in his Rush Limbaugh book, kind of an "I've got mine" attitude.

And so we come back to the spots of the Repugs. When we nominate a perhaps not-perfectly qualified person to the Supremes, it's affirmative action. When the Republicans do it, it's the "right thing to do." Hmmm... the constantly shifting patterns in their fur makes them hard to spot, yet when they bite you, it doesn't matter - it just hurts.

I know. If I'm going to write about politics, facts or truth or whatever you want to call it basically has to go out the window. When you ask a question like, "how far is New York City from Los Angeles?" and all you ever get are answers like, "well that's a complicated question..."

Cats are better than politicians, because they're honest about their appetites. If they want to eat, they eat. Politicians think they have to sound like the food asked for it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Magic Number

Sixty senators. 60. We have no excuses. The Democratic Party is either going to do good works for this country, or it's going to get itself voted out of office for being too Republican.

Al Franken, Saturday Night Live alumnus and best-selling author, decided to go after the late Paul Wellstone's seat, occupied by a man with too many excessively white teeth, Norm Coleman (R). After a vote that was way too close to count, Norm battled his way all the way up to the Minnesota Supreme Court, who (yesterday) unanimously gave Franken the win in last November's senate race. And a long, hard slog it's been.

So now we have a majority that can do things in both the House and the Senate, and we have the White House as well, with a President who is possibly the most progressive person in the White House since FDR.

Shame about the lack of spine, though.

Federal Reserve Notes

In other good news, it appears that the most Libertarian Senator, Ron Paul, and the only sitting Socialist Senator, Bernie Sanders, are both approaching the Federal Reserve with the right idea: "Let's Have An Audit!" Many people are advocating a return to the gold standard, which I am guardedly in favor of. It's all about perceived value, after all, and just because something is rare doesn't mean it's desirable. Uranium is quite rare, but I sure as hell don't want uranium coins in my pocket.

But the Fed is a law unto itself, and feels no compunction to tell the United States government (or the people of the United States) where they spent the money we told them to flood the market with. Or rather, Bush, Obama, and the Congress told them to flood the market with. Still not sure that was such a good idea. But hundreds of billions of dollars later, I'm still paying for a pretty inflated mortgage.

740 + 20% down

And (speaking of credit ratings, et al): why is it that when I pay off a credit card, or my car loans, my credit history is dinged? Or if an account is closed by a credit card company because I've decided to stay away from being further in debt, my credit rating is lowered? Can anyone reasonable tell me this? I know that one must experience small debts before one amasses larger debts (Macy's card, then car loan, then mortgage); but if a person pays their mortgage on time, and pays off credit cards, apparently that means you're some kind of deadbeat.