Wednesday, December 4, 2013
The grinding mendacity of the Republicans has become boring and absurd, and, I keep hoping, so obvious to my fellow Americans that they will start to react negatively to all of it. Last night I watched an hilarious bit of the Dobbs show on Fox. He was talking to two "experts" concerning the effort to reduce tensions with Iran, prefacing the segment with critical quotes from Henry Kissinger and George Schultz (remember them?--you're more or less as old as me then). His experts were Judith Miller, disgraced shill of the Bush Administration and Scooter Libby, and Professor Walid Phares. Dobbs quoted the Schultz/Kissinger remarks, expecting Miller and Phares to jump in with hobbed nailed boots.
They didn't, even when Dobbs paraphrased the Kissinger comments as "two adults correcting rash and not too intelligent adolescents at play in the White House." Here's the segment:
As you can see for yourself, Dobbs was unable to brow-beat his own "experts" into a full-on attack of what is clearly a very circumscribed and modest effort by the United States State Department to make some headway with Iran on the issue of an Iranian nuclear weapon. Even when he resorts to what must be his nuclear rhetorical weapon: "bloody hell!" Ms Miller remains firm. "Let's wait and see," she responds. That is exactly the Administration's modest position.
Later, of course, we found Mr. O'Reilly brow-beating Alan Colmes on the health care reform issue. Nothing's changed over there. Out of a group including O'Reilly, Krauthammer, and one of the many blonde newsreaders of Fox (who might as well wear Hooters teeshirts to work, since this is exactly their function in the Fox system), only Colmes opined that it was too early to know how the health insurance reform was going to play out. O'Reilly even invoked numbers: "but you're in the minority here, four to one." Colmes refrained from pointing out that this was exactly his horrible function at Fox--a Washington General along with Juan Williams, forever being dribbled into the opposite basket by louts and girls with Hooter teeshirts.
Maybe Ms. Miller feels the same way. She once, after all, was an esteemed member of the press corps of the New York Times. But in that moment with Dobbs, she stood her ground, and was articulate. It was a small, hopeful sign, and I looked out into the darkness at the Cone, lit once again in our now-annual Xmas Rite. So what if we can't have an indoor Christmas Tree with 5 cats living here. We have the Cone.
Friday, November 22, 2013
You can just kick back and read this a few times. It'll do you good. And a hatlo hat tip to Martin Bashir, who obviously has just had it up to here with the incredible endless fountain of hypocrisy that Ms Palin has managed to tap. I happened to sample the yammerings of the young conserv table talkers over at the Blaze Network last night, and one of 'em was fuming about Mr. Bashir's piece on Palin. I hadn't heard of it at all before that.
Here's Mr. Bogg's take: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/11/21/how-the-bashir-stole-christmas/
You may infer that Mr. Bogg has now resumed his commentary on life in the United States from a new deer stand. I'm thinking he just couldn't escape Ms Hamsher's gravity any other way. I'm hoping he'll find much happiness at his new digs. I'll check daily.
In other matters, our Early Blurs web-mistress sent me a link to an ebay listing which describes one of the records I made back in the '70s with the other original Red Clay Ramblers as "hippie bluegrass." You can go check out the link if you like (how long it'll be live I have no idea):
As the term appears in the actual link, I guess that will live as long as this blog. Pretty cool. I like how the term amounts to a triple bank shot which after several other dings and scrapes deposits Mssrs Stretch and Bland together in the corner pocket one might term the dustbin of histoire. I will gladly apply the necessary bandaids to my bow arm and point out to all that this is simply a tiny example of the workings of the millstones of said histoire, which pretty much universally grinds all of our aspirations to powder eventually. It is a further delight on this Friday morning to recall watching the Senior Senator from Kentucky weep bitter crocodile tears all through the evening news last night. Too bad they didn't get around to ending this filibuster nightmare back in '09.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Sitting in the Walmart parking lot yesterday on the way home from work, some snatch of an NPR story on the Affordable Health Care law brought into clear focus what the Law aims to accomplish, and how. I was struck later by the appalling fact that this clarity was not readily obvious to me long long before yesterday in the Walmart parking lot. But of course the Republican din of distraction has been at full volume since before the Law was even passed, and has included such features as protests with men brandishing arms, signs suggesting Mr. Obama was a bushman, the idea of "death panels," messages of panic and horror and fear from all manner of accomplished salespersons such as Mssrs Limbaugh, Beck, and Hannity, and an entire faux news network complete with all manner of pretty blonde news readers and associated with all the major American sports events. In ordinary American life, the din far outdistances the small bits of real information. This is primarily why we now have half of our Congress controlled by charlatans and muddled idiots--a terrific wound to our government's ability to function.
In all of this on-going and distracting din I've never heard, once, the statement of a simple truth--the truth I heard yesterday by accident in the middle of an NPR story which was not even directly about this fact. Here's the deal. One of the most central features of the health care reform bill is the elimination of existing conditions as a factor in obtaining health coverage. The meaning of this fairly complex idea is that the insurance companies are now expected to simply insure everyone. Thus, policies which distinguish between, for example, male and female insurees, are no longer allowed. The fundamental idea is this: all people are either healthy or ill. The illnesses may vary for any number of reasons among the pool of ill, but that detail can't be allowed to drive the crafting of policies which favor the well and drive away the ill.
Even on reasonably clear PBS news coverage of the problem of policy cancellations, this basic premise is omitted. Last week there was a flurry of stories about individuals who had lost their existing policies. One middle-aged woman on PBS complained that since she was no longer able to get pregnant, why should she pay for insurance covering pregnancy issues.
This is exactly the crux of the new law, and must be addressed head on. On the PBS show, it wasn't. You can imagine that it's never addressed on Fox. But yesterday on the NPR piece, the federal employee trying to explain the new law addressed it, and clearly. New health insurance coverage is aimed at covering everyone. Not everyone will need any particular coverage, e.g., prostate cancer isn't relevant at all to women, pregnancy coverage isn't relevant to men, and so forth. But--to make the law work there must be a general policy which covers everyone. This is the fundamental difference between the ACA Law and the current situation. Insurance companies can no longer carve out policy coverage which cherry picks the pool of potential insurees. And on the other hand, the pool has been expanded to include everyone, which should make for much lower rates.
This is the fundamental change. Yet the House has already passed another "reform" which, by allowing existing cherry-picked policies to remain in force forever, basically rolls back the reform. But this fundamental remains mostly obscured, to the public, by the din. And the folks banging the pot lids include every Republican in Congress. And yesterday, this group was joined by several dozen Democratic House members. This suggests that even many Democrats do not understand the fundamental change the law accomplishes (or that many Democrats care more about their personal advancement as Important People than their charge as representatives of their constituents).
This din started in 2009, with the orchestrated efforts to shout down all rational conversation about the new law at various meet-the-public events held by Democrats who supported the law. This was the advent of the so-called "Tea Party." With the really terrible execution of the "roll-out" in October, the Obama Administration has opened a vein. The entirely unnecessary blood-letting will draw all the sharks who care not at all about any such thing as affordable health care. Indeed, this is what we're watching now. "Oh my, you're bleeding, let me help you with that." CHOMP.
The reform to our very broken health care system has not yet been accomplished. The sharks await the next election cycle, and the next. All the while their hope is that most of us never really face head on the fact that in life there are but two groups of people, the healthy and the ill, and that these demarcations are never permanent, but only seem so. The healthy never need health care coverage. For the ill it is often literally a life and death matter. You can't get radiation or chemotherapy at the ER. You can't get dialysis. The ER doesn't give out essential medication, and it doesn't perform crucial operations if you can't pay for them. A fellow I know, in his 80s, just got a pace-maker. The bill was for $100,000.
[photo of sharks from National Geographic]
Update: A great article on the current state of the start of the Affordable Care Act:
It is remarkable and disgusting to discover, each and every day I click over to sample Fox News, how the unrelenting din of attacks on the Affordable Care Act remains the primary subject of this so-called "news" channel. Has the United States ever had to deal with such a powerful media effort at brainwashing its citizens? In the next Democratic Administration, should we be so lucky as to manage in 2016 to deflect the Republican attack on democracy once again, the first order of business should be some well thoughtout effort to mitigate this cancer on our democracy--the gigantic propaganda machine that operates 24/7 to confuse and confound all reasonable thought on the serious subjects which the United States must deal with--before such subjects become so powerful that they deal with us as they will. Events beyond political control do happen. While the Romneys can then talk of things "sorting themselves out naturally," the human cost of this way of operating is not only unacceptable for any civilized people, but will have its own terrible political cost as well.