Thursday, July 30, 2009
First of all, I would like to say that I think the Republicans and a few bought-and-paid-for "conservative" Democrats are doing a great job lying about the health care debate. Like the president says, they are out there sewing fear hoping to terrorize the electorate. They are using every opportunity to skew the debate, distracting people from the real legislation.
It's sad to say that their tactics are working somewhat, since most of the national polls are showing a decline in support for the health care initiative overall, however, it's interesting to note that when the polls actually tell people what's in the primary legislation, the overwhelming majority of Americans favor it. It's also important to point out that most of the polls are misleading, manipulative and unworthy of reporting.
I don't wish to get into the nitty-gritty of the debate in this post seeing that I want to talk more about why we need to stay focused, but suffice it to say that after talking to a few Washington insiders this week I feel better about the delay and most of the legislation being debated in the House and Senate.
The House has some great bills, but the sticking point at the moment involves my own awesome Congressman Henry Waxman and the bill being debated within the Energy Commerce Committee, where we're being held hostage by a small group of Blue Dogs.
I called Waxman's office and they assured me the chairman supports a strong public option, and that his compromise with the Blue Dogs requiring rates to be set by "the secretary" is almost as good as rates being set by Medicare. I'm no expert, but it does concern me. A strong public option based on affordability is the only way to go in my opinion. Still, I believe in Waxman, and will continue to hope for the best.
The bill forged by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) led by Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) are very positive. Their work along with a few other Senate committees provide some kind of public option and clean-up most of what is wrong with the health care system in America. Hopefully the Senators will be able to find common ground during their August break.
We should be highly skeptical about the legislation coming out of Senate Finance led by Baucus (D-MT) and Grassley (R-IA) pushing for eliminating employee health benefits in favor of ineffective health cooperatives, but the good news from what I hear is they do not have the support of the majority of Democrats in the Senate.
I also hear they've earned a bit of a bad rep lately. The other Senators fully realize just how much health care industry money has been pumped into that committee, so much so that it's been embarrassing for many in the Senate. FYI, after working in the Senate I know how Senators keep an eye on their colleagues and donations - often looking for motive before a vote. They don't always like it when powerful committee leaders sellout to overzealous industry profiteers.
Donations from lobbyists work best when the amounts donated to each politician remain secret. When the process takes time and legal reporting leads to open accounting (past legislation thanks to Democrats), it can create conflicts between officials. There are signs it is beginning to happen in relation to the Senate Finance Committee, as some Washington insiders report many are tiring of Baucus and his industry friends. Still, Baucus is failing to create a bipartisan bill, which is fine with me since I don't believe it will be good for the American people in the end.
There is also the fact that most of the committee chairs and co-chairs receiving the bulk of the money represent less than 3% of all Americans - a fact that sticks-in-the-craw of many elected officials.
The other side of this debate is - of course - the Republican lies. They are bigger and better than ever. Again, despite the August delay, I'm hearing good news from my friends in Washington. There are signs the Republicans may have gone too far once again. They may have "jumped the shark" in their opposition to health care. Many are reporting that their latest lies - the elimination of Medicare, loss of personal health care choices, and forced living wills and early death - may be one step too far to say the least.
It doesn't matter if Hannity, Limbaugh and others repeat the lies ad nausea, as long as they can easily be disproved. In the end, the lies themselves can ruin the credibility of the opposition.
The polls show that when Americans learn about the primary legislation, they support it. The bulk of the legislation goes far enough to solve most of our health care problems. The special interest groups have been spending millions on ads and the polls haven't changed that much. Most important, the president and others are willing to sacrifice their valuable political capital (something most politicians won't do) to get a bill. If the legislators spend August learning about the options and informing their constituents, then we may just have a chance to change the system come Fall.
To me, the glass is half-full. To me, the signs are pointing in the right direction.
It's easy to get discouraged these days when it comes to Washington, politicians, corporate greed and especially all the Republican lies. It's harder to actually do the heavy lifting, oppose the "ends justify the means" crowd" and fight the good fight. That's what we need our politicians to do. We need them to stay focused, and to ignore the ignorant rants of the uninformed. We need them to follow the president's lead, stay strong, and pass real health care reform for the majority of Americans who support it.
Thursday's Political Rave - Michael
PS - As I always like to say, please use the contact information section on this website to contact your elected representatives and tell them WE THE PEOPLE support health care reform with a strong and effective public option - not coops. It's the only way to save us from the greed and corruption of today's Republican-supported health care debacle.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
There's no doubt he was informative and extremely competent (a far cry from the way the illiterate George Bush sold his expensive wars and half-ass legislation), but unfortunately that may not be enough when it comes to fighting the evil forces out to kill health care reform.
A billion dollars a year derived from 20% plus profits occupying one-sixth of our GDP can generate some pretty tough opposition - especially when you have greedy Republicans available for purchase.
Instead of a press conference Mr. President, perhaps you should have considered a speech, or a lecture? There is no doubt Americans want health care reform, but most of the current complaints (by reasonable people) are about how the plan will effect them personally, or about how it will add to deficit spending. Those answers would have been helped by more visuals.
We all understand show and tell. Powerpoint? You definitely needed a few visual aids sir.
I feel horrible criticizing a man who I consider one of the smartest and most competent, but tough times call for extreme measures. The only way health care reform will succeed is with the support of the vast majority of Americans - it's the only way to fight the riches of the industry and the greed of the Republicans.
Most Americans need to be hand-held into this reform. Unfortunately, the president didn't reach far enough last night.
Fighting the Republican lies is only possible by educating the people. Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) admitted on CNBC Wednesday that "a desire to prevent the Democratic president from scoring a historical victory with a public health plan accounts for at least 50 percent of the GOP opposition to the plan." Senator Demint called the health care struggle the president's possible "waterloo."
It's clear the Republican opposition is devious. They are the ultimate con artists. They sell expensive wars and legislation (benefiting big business) with barely any opposition, while we are forced to account for every word and every dime. They succeed by lying to their constituents, and to the American people. So, how do you fight that kind of opposition? You do whatever you have to do, that's how.
To the President and Congress
First of all, I think the president and congressional Democrats should do more to point out the Republican past. They should remind Americans who created the debt, who got us into war, who destroyed the economy, who passed expensive corporate legislation, and who has done little to help middle-class Americans over the past thirty years or so. It would remind people who to trust.
Destroying Republican credibility would help undermine their current opposition. We could simply tell the truth!
Second, this reform effort requires every man on deck, including celebrities, scholars, community leaders and activists, or anybody who can help. You're doing a lot Mr. President, but you need more help. Please don't try to go it alone.
Finally, unlike George Bush who encouraged us to "go shopping" during wartime, you should encourage us to hit the streets. We're willing and able to do whatever is necessary. We have your back sir, as long as we have your leadership. Explain until you cannot explain anymore, and use us as necessary. We are ready to do our part.
Thursday's Political Rant - Michael
Monday, July 20, 2009
Yes, I said adequate at best. I thought it left out some of the most interesting bits of the book while adding things that weren't even in the book - silly action scenes like battles and burning buildings that did very little to advance the story. To me, the additional scenes seemed superfluous in a movie already brimming with the book's less interesting tidbits.
My worst criticism is how the movie left out some of the book's best dialogue (especially a few great conversations between Harry and Dumbledore) to replace it instead with Quidditch highlights and teen angst.
It's true, the movie was filled with half-assed teen romance. The writers/producers unfortunately decided to make romance the movie's leading storyline, instead of the conflict between good and evil that dominated most of the book. Teen troubles were felt throughout the movie, going so far as to pepper the action scenes like bad acne.
My limited praise must go to the actors themselves, since the screenplay was not their fault. All the actors, including the ones we all grew up with, were excellent this time around. Kudos to all!
I wouldn't ignore the movie, for it's worth a matinee price at least. It does include a wonderful portrayal of Horrace Slughorn - Jim Broadbent steals every scene. I'm just a little disappointed because, like so many fans, I want the movies to represent the best parts of the books. Unfortunately, this movie turns Hogwarts into a bit of an English 90210.
As I said, the movie was adequate at best. Let's just hope they do a better job with the last book.
Monday's Movie Review - Michael
It's clear to me the numbers are manipulated to hurt President Obama's popularity with Blue Dog Democrats during this very critical time on Capitol Hill, when he is fighting for his most important legislative agenda.
Interestingly, the poll is supposed to reflect the results of a hypothetical 2012 presidential election held today (it's always a good idea to get the party in power fixated on upcoming elections, confusing their legislative determination), and manipulated to clearly discourage the party in power. It has also been released at a time when our nation is debating critical Democratic legislation, when every vote counts.
The numbers are obviously fake. Unless they polled mostly far-right Republicans (or at least equal parts of the extreme far-right and Democrats), the numbers are completely foreign. They don't match anything else out there. Simply put, they are CRAP!
In addition to Obama's 45%, Mitt Romney gets a 45% rating, while Sarah Palin comes in close behind at 42%. Those results are way off when compared to other polls. Romney and Palin are in much lower percentiles. It's clear Rasmussen manipulated the results, and are obviously Republican operatives.
The sad part is you can find this corrupt Republican poll on every major news outlet, being reported as legitimate polling. It's being mentioned on FOX "News" as great news for the right. Unless the Democrats are smart enough to know the poll is nothing but a political hallucination, then it may just hurt Obama's leverage on Capitol Hill during this very critical time. Let's hope our politicians are smarter than they look.
The poll does prove one thing in my opinion. Rasmussen has about as much credibility as the Republican Party.
Monday's Political Rant - Michael
PS - Another disturbing poll result hit me when I signed on to my AT&T Yahoo account this morning. It's unscientific, but still disturbing:
Do you support the health care overhaul?
- Yes. The plan will save lives and money in the long-term. 17%
- Somewhat. It's not perfect but it's something. 6%
- No. It will burden us with debt and won't fix anything. 76%
- Not sure/No opinion. 1%
That poll would be disturbing if I felt it reflected the truth. Once again, the results go against more legitimate polling. It's clear to me that illegitimate polls can be a very effective and frustrating political weapon.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Anyway, I recommend that we all take a look at it. There is a helpful table of contents that makes it relatively easy to look up the part of the legislation that may concern you the most. I'm doing the same thing, and will let you know if I find anything to worry about. I think it's important for us all to do as much as possible to help support this reform initiative, including giving our own feedback to our elected officials. Once the process is over it will be too late, so I suggest we all do our part now.
I do like the bill's summary: "In general, the purpose of this [bill] is to provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending."
That, in my opinion, is a great goal. To view the legislation, I recommend using the PDF version from the Huffington Post.
Wednesday's Political Rave - Michael
PS - Regarding the cost, for those Republicans and "conservative" Democrats who want to focus only on it, you should know that if the Congressional Budget Office were to factor in all future savings this legislation would be budget neutral.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
from the Financial Times
Published: July 13, 2009
"The Republican charge that Barack Obama is seeking a “government takeover” of US healthcare is further proof that American political rhetoric has become detached from reality. In fact, once you take away the proposed public insurance option, which Mr Obama’s aides have signalled they will drop in final negotiations, the likely outcome is an affordable reform that embraces Mitt Romney’s blueprint from Massachusetts and funds it with John McCain’s best idea from the presidential campaign.
Only in America can you co-opt Republican thinking and have critics label you “socialist”. " Read the whole article here.
Monday, July 13, 2009
We - Democrats - were trying to make our case that today's problems are too important to be ignored - the way they have been by the GOP (and Blue Dog Democrats) for decades, but we didn't go there. No matter how hard we tried to make our case for real reform where necessary - health care, energy, environment, finance and the rest - they would argue in fear of taxes. Of course, pointing out our historically low taxes didn't matter one bit.
Of course, today's Republicans are unconcerned by the money their party already spent, or the debt their leaders generated (over 90% of federal debt) by irresponsibly cutting taxes while far out-spending revenues.
It was a tiresome experience. Though it seemed like a well-reasoned political evening where people actually listened to one another, the discussion went nowhere fast. Despite all our efforts, the Republicans that evening wouldn't give an inch. They wouldn't support us, the Democrats or Obama on any issue, or help solve any problem. They also offered us no solution of their own. They were hard-headed to the point of severe annoyance.
It's true, they didn't seem to think a plan was necessary. They said the GOP didn't need a plan, because everything would "work itself out the way it always did." Incredibly, that was their answer to everything. They refused to accept the idea that legislative, government policy and systemic changes always proceeded societal and economic development. It didn't matter, they wouldn't listen. To them, it was all Democratic BS!
They want their leaders to stop us from changing the status quo, no matter how scary the data is suggesting a very dark future for most Americans. No matter how serious, they didn't care. One minute they would acknowledge a crises (while defensively refusing to be blamed in any way), and the next minute they would be talking about how "real people and the market would work it out." That was their STUPID and INSANE answer to everything.
A Republican doctor at the event kept rambling on about how horrible health care is in the rest of the world, scaring all the other Republicans at the dinner to death. After prodding he acknowledged no real experience with those health systems. After being exposed to data showing otherwise by yours-truly, he still wouldn't give an inch. Any change was bad. I finally gave up.
I must admit, I left the evening depressed. If intelligent, civilized, politically-aware Americans cannot sit together and find common ground, then what does our future hold? We seem to come from two different Americas these days. One cares about the majority, while the other focuses on its own interests.
Looking back, and this might burn a few bridges, but my conclusion is that it's Republican individualism gone wild. They're simply selfish. They are determined to reject any change to help their fellow Americans, or even America itself, if it requires them to compromise their lifestyle in any way, or costs them any money. It's that simple.
That was my conclusion. Individual Republicans seem to be heavily invested in the status quo. The last thirty years since Reagan have given them most of what they wanted, primarily low taxes and minimal regulation. It doesn't matter if it doesn't work for most of us, as long as it helps them personally. They refuse to sacrifice anything for the greater good, or for a better future. They also seem unable to imagine a better world for some strange reason. It's as though they lack imagination.
They are refusing to help their nation compete and succeed. There's only one way to describe that position, and the word is unAmerican! We don't want to, but due to Bush and the Republicans (and those annoying Blue Dog Democrats), we Democrats know that sacrifices are now necessary. Whether it involves money or lifestyle changes, we must act now!
We Americans for America must fight their spurious claims of socialism, government waste, and their worst claim of all, Democratic corruption. If necessary, we must move forward without them.
If we cannot find common ground, let's ignore them and move on. President Obama needs to stop relying on phony bi-partisanship and focus on success. We cannot stand by and allow their personal greed to ruin what are legitimate attempts to reform our system.
If that calls on us to use the same dirty tactics of the GOP, by calling them unAmerican and unPatriotic, then let's do it. I don't necessarily believe it (thinking them ignorant instead), but if it works it may be worth a try.
We need to fight fire with fire. We need to show them how the "party of no" is trying to prevent access to affordable health care, clean domestic energy, guaranteed food and water safety, safe regulated financial markets, and a world without the threats of global warming and environmental catastrophe.
We also need to show them that instead of Republican lies and debt without end, we Democrats are trying to forge a healthy, effective, prosperous and financially sound America.
They may be willing to gamble with our children's future - and the planet's, but we are not. We are determined to change what isn't working. If our current crop of Democrats fail to deliver, I suggest we work hard (like we did to elect Obama) to defeat them, and install new ones. That's right, let's threaten to FIRE THEIR ASSES! That should scare them.
I say let's forget bi-partisanship, for it's a dead-end. Let's focus on real problems, real solutions, and finding corruption-free, fair politicians willing to deliver.
It's my new mantra! The Republicans are a waste of our time and energy. Let's force the Democrats to do their jobs. If they don't, let's fire them and find new Democrats. Let's stop playing games. It's time to create a better America for the majority of Americans. That's patriotism. That's what this nation was founded on, the "unalienable rights" of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" for ALL Americans.
Think about it! It is a special time in American history. Like our own Declaration of Independence points out, sometimes in the course of human events WE THE PEOPLE need to act, or suffer the consequences.
Monday's Political Rant - Michael
PS - What the minority Republicans and conservative Democrats don't realize is that most of us feel our leaders have turned their backs on us - ordinary hardworking Americans. Unless politicians focus more on WE THE PEOPLE and our concerns - instead of corporations and special interests - campaigns of change thwarted by the elite will ultimately give way to real revolution.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
I think our Republican friends are beginning to stir a little more these days. It seems they've been listening to FOX "News" (RBI central) long enough now [since their election losses] for some of their more heinous brainwashing to take full effect. At least in my world, they've begun to share. They're beginning their usual blame game, and unfortunately facts have little to do with how they assess or assign blame.
The lies have begun to flow like girly-poop in a man-sized Texas toilet. In the same way Ronald Reagan's fake legacy blossomed after a a few years (I guess they forget faster these days - must be the drugs in our water), George W. Bush is beginning to emerge as a competent president who ran a highly successful foreign policy and economy. The signs are there that he is destined for honor and glory within the party. I must admit, you have to admire them for their ability to turn anybody, even the biggest loser, into a hero.
Unfortunately, and equally perplexing, President Obama is now the one responsible for everything bad that's happening in the world - especially the bad bits they're mostly responsible for.
I could ramble on (as I usually do - to get the facts right) with a laundry list of BS they're beginning to buy into again, but that would be exhausting for all of us, and I want to go play outside. So, let's focus. What are the far-right screw-ups - the ones who drink their own Kool-Aid - really annoying me most about these days? What propaganda pisses me off the most?
I know! It's that latest false factoid being spewed on FOX "News" day and night these days - not to menation the lesser media minions. Hannity, O'Reilly, Cavuto and the rest are all talking about it ad nausea. They even have their creepy-crawlies Coulter and Matlin carrying the water on other networks. I guess it must be an edict from the top, wherever that top is these days.
What is it? It's their claim - which my friends and family now believe - that Barack Obama has now contributed more to the federal debt than any president before him. It's BS, but they keep saying it.
The claim is outrageous. It has no bases in fact. The federal debt remains the responsibility of the Republican Party, since their leadership created over 90% of it. Barack Obama has contributed to less than 1% of the federal debt so far, and his annual budget deficit is still overwhelmingly the product of George W. Bush.
A matter of fact, George W. Bush is reponsible for contributing the most to the federal debt. Now that's a fact you can take to the bank.
Of course, the far-right will ignore the obvious facts. A matter of fact (sorry, it's a fun word), I'm pretty sure we'll have somebody crapping those very same Republican BS-talking points in response to this very post.
As always, the Republicans are lying to the American people and to themselves. As you can see by the chart above, George W. created the largest annual deficits in American history. Incredibly, those annual deficits would be even higher if war borrowing had been included on the federal books. Barack Obama has included those negatives since taking office, which has increased the debt
I know it had to be done, but I wonder if the Republicans will get away with painting us with their own stink of irresponsibility. Unfortunately, our own honesty may become a liability in 2012.
In my humble opinion, because of these and other lies, the Republicans have no honor. They are liars, plain and simple. The Republican leadership/elite will do or say anything to regain their power, and that includes massive doses of propaganda. We can only hope the American people will not fall for it again. "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." Let's hope that shame remains a distant memory.
Just to be clear, the facts about the federal debt are simple. I have reviewed them on this blog numerous times. The overwhelming majority (over 90%) of today's federal/foreign debt was created during the leadership of the Republicans. They borrowed to lower taxes. It was done mostly under Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and George W. Bush. Bill Clinton lowered the debt. Those are the facts (see the chart below).
Like most Democrats, I can't stand the way President Obama is forced to spend to salvage today's broken economy, but to blame him for the debt is tantamount to blaming the Democrats for starting the Iraq War. They may have been involved to some degree, but the blame lies clearly at the feet of the Republican Party.
I will probably be writing about some of the other bits and pieces of propaganda the Republicans are pushing these days, but let's leave those for another time. Today it's all about the way they're lying about the money.
What do we ordinary American citizens do? We do what's right, and tell the truth. Please, keep talking to your friends and family about the facts. Tell the truth about the lies. I don't care how many times we have to say it, it's important to get our message out. WE ALL NEED TO TELL THE TRUTH!
WE MUST NOT allow those at FOX "News," or similar-slimy-corrupt-propaganda-fake-news-outlets, to poison the minds of the American people. We need to keep reminding our friends and family the truth about what really happened, and most important, about what really went wrong.
Thursday's Political Rant - Michael
PS - I know most have to work, but I'm taking a break at noon to join a group of protesters in front of Dianne Feinstein's office on Santa Monica Boulevard at noon this afternoon. If you're in LA, please consider joining us to call on her to support a strong public option as part of health care reform. If not, please think about contacting your representatives. It's the only way to prevent the private-sector from robbing us of affordable health care. Thanks - MB
Monday, July 6, 2009
In addition to a great time in San Francisco, I loved Sonoma, the Russian River Valley, Green Valley, Bodega Bay (all the Coastal towns pretty much), and especially Tomales Bay and Point Reyes. They were all amazing!
Anyway, the only thing I would like to say today is that I think Sarah Palin is one FREAKY WACKO! That press conference announcing her resignation made the one by Mark Sanford look sane. I especially loved the quacking ducks in the background while she complained about being a lame duck. What an idiot!
What the hell is happening to the now laughable GOP leadership? Are they all on drugs? If not, they sure are acting like it. My guess is Crystal Meth. I hear it's popular in the red states.
The idea that she's trying to claim persecution by the press and the opposition is unbelievable. Doesn't she realize the press only mocks what it doesn't understand? Doesn't she realize that she's only "persecuted" because nobody understands what the hell she's doing or talking about most of the time? I'm sorry, but it's NOT because she's a woman. She/he/it is getting exactly what it deserves.
The woman is an embarrassment by all measures. The idea that some Republicans will continue to support this freak, or defend her actions, is crazy. She is hurting the party. You Republicans need to jettison her. Unless she gets a brain transplant - highly unlikely - it's clear she's going nowhere. I think she could hurt the GOP for years to come.
She is obviously an opportunist who's leveraging her I'm-the-victim-here-like fame to acquire even more fame and power. To me, she's clearly a narcissistic, ego-maniacal, crazy woman!
She's also confusing, strange, and (especially after he resignation) undeserving of anybodies political support. For me, she's too weird for words - so I'll just give up now. I welcome your own comments, but that's my gut reaction for now.
Monday's Political Rant - Michael
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
I stayed in Morro Bay in the central part of the state last night, and this morning I'm heading off to explore and enjoy Big Sur, Carmel, Monterey and San Francisco. Stops after that will include Sonoma (spas and vineyards after the hard hiking) and the redwoods of Northern California - or what I like to call Bigfoot country.
I do love my adopted state, especially exploring its natural beauty. I hope you guys have a great 4th of July week/weekend.
PS - I'm pleased to let the burglars know that I have a friend staying at my house. :)