HEALTH CARE REFORM AND THE POLITICAL SYSTEM

We are experiencing an example of two major flaws in our “democracy.” The drastic need for a totally revised health care delivery system is deliberated and decided by a group of people, called our Congress, which by its nature is severely compromised. Greed and arrogance rule this group, not intelligence and concern for the people they supposedly represent.

Perhaps some workable program will evolve, but in the end, the insurance companies will have won in their effort to maintain the status quo, which equals unjustified profits.

President Obama can be lauded for pushing for change, but the method simply is not acceptable. This is a situation where a change needs to be made for the common good by those who are qualified to do so – without the roadblocks of our current “non-system.” We can hope for the best under the circumstances and continue to press for a more acceptable approach: a Single Payor Universal Healthcare System.

Why Obama?

The character of the Clinton machine is becoming evident as the primary race continues.  The attacks are building and now the possibility of manipulating the “superdelegates” looms on the horizon as her chances for the nomination get slimmer.  The point is, her actions now demonstrate the very reason we need a person like Barack Obama as our President.  We can hope that he will bring credible, honest leadership to replace the greed, arrogance and back-door deal making that appear to be the hallmark of this office.

The Obama-Clinton Ticket

“It’s just a matter of common sense!”
This was heard from one of the “conservative” talk radio hosts in reference to making decisions on our country’s leadership and the measures that need to be taken to straighten things out. When thinking about the need to bring about economic stability and global respect, an Obama-Clinton ticket makes some sense.

Obama definitely has demonstrated the type of leadership we need in our president, the ability to bring hope to nation mired in “politics as usual” with its greed, elitism and behind the scenes deal-making. But Hillary Clinton has intelligence and abilities that would support a strong president.

Is this the “dream ticket” that our country can support, across all supposed boundaries of race, color, political party, gender, age, regional politics, etc.?

We’ll see…..

Ah…Those Messy Facts – Hillary Clinton’s Accusations

Where is the “Pinocchio Effect” when you need it…. Hillary’s politics of personal attack and destruction continue to take the place of rational discussion and debate. Too bad some obvious physical evidence isn’t possible when egregious lies are spoken so that they are just a wee bit more obvious.

Whatever is said in campaigns needs to be checked against the facts. This is not a time for the hidden agendas of typical politicians, but for a change to someone all Americans and the world can trust. Perhaps it is time for a woman as President. But let’s hope that the woman is a true leader.

The Tears of Hillary Clinton

In most years, the presidential election is a choice between a Democrat and a Republican. This election year is stacking up a bit differently – a choice between candidates in the Democratic Party. And within those choices an interesting sub-theme has developed: sex and color, not necessarily in that order…

With record numbers of voters going to the polls, the emergence of the “independent” vote importance and crossovers from Republicans voting for Democrat candidates, it is an interesting and exciting prospect we face.

So we note the pundit and public response to the tears shed by candidate Hillary Clinton in response to a question the Monday prior to the New Hampshire vote. The woman who asked her the question that generated the response heard ’round the world said later that she had voted for Barack Obama because she thought he was the better candidate. Other voters, however, responded that they had changed their intended vote from Obama to Clinton because of those tears.

Voters in other states now face a complex decision – voting for an obviously well qualified, courageous, honest and intelligent black male who will bring a new breath of leadership to our country or an intelligent, perhaps well-trained or campaign-weary white female who brings “politics as usual.”

Regardless of who becomes the Democratic Party candidate for President of the United States, history will replay those choice moments in New Hampshire and speculate – were they real or staged, what effect did they have on the overall election and did a few tears change the history of the world…

The Obama Factor II – Thank you, Iowa!

The Iowa caucuses are history. And an historical event they are. What the effect will be on the upcoming primaries and the population at large remains to be seen, but for now we can all feel the sense of relief that intelligence and common sense have prevailed. We can truly HOPE that our country can emerge from the depths of “politics as usual,” which translates into greed and corruption, into a new dimension of leadership. Leadership that will take us forward with pride and enthusiasm.

Barack Obama is not perfect – that would be impossible. But he has the honesty, wisdom and courage to be the leader we so much desire – and deserve.

Thank You, IOWA!

Bush Bashing – A Problem?

A recent newspaper article noted the flurry of “Bush Bashing,” particularly, in this case, in the form of greeting cards. Since no company will produce something that won’t sell, we can safely assume that a significant number of Americans are amused and/or disgusted enough to buy a greeting card calling Bush a clown or a moron.


While this is an interesting perspective on the collective humor quotient and popularity (negative, in this case) of a particular person, it can also be dangerous. To make fun of something or someone first of all is a form of sarcastic humor, which is not always productive, and it also diffuses the fact that Bush and company is an extremely dangerous combination in a national leadership role.


A recently released documentary, “No End In Sight,” may be of interest on this subject. One reviewer says that it is….”an exposure of the psycho-pathology of power.” (David Denby, The New Yorker, 8/6/2007)


Bush is the epitome of what a leader should not be. His actions speak very loudly that he does not have the welfare of this country in mind and he is certainly not anyone we would want to emulate or hold up as an example of exemplary human qualities.


Bush, and congress, for that matter, have completely obliterated the basic concept upon which America was built – that we would have a government of the people, by the people and for the people.


The positive side to this is that perhaps enough people will become so reviled by the current state of affairs that we will make a greater effort to effect the necessary changes to truly protect and defend our liberty and become once again an example for the rest of the world.

THE OBAMA FACTOR

Based on my observations and current information, it occurs to me that Barack Obama may be the person to lead America as President and that he would be a breath of fresh air in that office.  I’ve written previously about the characteristics we might seek in our leaders and he appears to epitomize a majority of them.

 
There is a video out that depicts how America could become in 500 years if we continue on our current path.  “Idiocracy” fantasizes that Americans follow their baser instincts and become an ignorant society, allowing themselves to be fooled by greedy, corrupt forces, including big corporations and politicians.

 
One might say that we are truly headed along that path already, having allowed our leaders to take us down the wrong road on a number of issues, not the least of which is the war in Iraq.  It is a bit unnerving to still find so many people who do not explore issues rationally; but who base decisions on what they read in the standard newspapers and hear from most of the television stations.

 
Of course, one might say the same thing about my observation here.  I don’t know Barack Obama personally and am basing my thoughts on what I have heard him say when speaking publicly and in his book, “The Audacity of Hope.”  It is clear, however, that his background supports his words and he has a history of following through on his ideals. 

 
The process of running for the office of President is grueling and will offer many opportunities for us to see many sides of the candidates.  Opponents will try to make sure that the seamier side of the individuals will be known – whether it be true or not. 

 
But I hope that adding the Obama Factor to the race will bring the whole process to a higher level – raising the “bar” on what the full measure of our national leaders should be.  And, hopefully, this is a step in getting us out of the ignorance, apathy and cynicism that many have come to expect and back into the active process of nominating and electing the best person for the position.

THE PARTY’S OVER

 From the Editor: Garrison is one of my personal favorites, particularly his NPR series, “A Prairie Home Companion.”  While he writes about one particular political party, our problem is much broader – spanning a corrupt leadership in both major parties and major agencies, e.g. CIA, NSA, FDA, NIH, etc.  Only concerned and alert citizens will be able to make the necessary changes.

*******

Note to Republicans: The party’s over
Ineptness has ruined the GOP
Garrison Keillor       

CHICAGO TRIBUNE June 7, 2006

People who live in mud huts should not throw mud, especially if it comes from their own roofs. As Scripture says, don’t point to the speck in your neighbor’s eye when you have a piece of kindling in your own.

I see by the papers that the Republicans want to make an issue of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in the congressional races this fall: Would you want a San Francisco woman to be speaker of the House? Will the lectern be repainted in lavender stripes with a disco ball overhead? Will she be borne into the chamber by male dancers with glistening torsos and wearing pink tutus? After all, in the unique world view of old elephants, San Francisco is a code word for g-a-y, and after assembling a record of government lies, incompetence and disaster, the party in power hopes that the fear of g-a-y-s will pull it through in November.

Running against Pelosi, a woman who comes from a district where there are known gay persons, is a nice trick, but it does draw attention to the large, shambling galoot who is House speaker now, Tom DeLay’s enabler for years, a man who, judging by his public utterances, is about as smart as most high school wrestling coaches. For the past year, Dennis Hastert has been two heartbeats from the presidency. He is a man who seems content just to have a car and driver and three square meals a day. He has succeeded in turning Congress into a branch of the executive branch. If Mr. Hastert becomes the poster boy for the Republican Party, this does not speak well for them as the Party of Ideas.

People who want to take a swing at San Francisco should think twice. Yes, the Irish coffee at Fisherman’s Wharf is overpriced, and the bus tour of Haight-Ashbury is disappointing (Where are the hippies?), but the Bay Area is the cradle of the computer and software industry, which continues to create jobs for our children. The iPod was not developed by Baptists in Waco, Texas. There may be a reason for this. Creative people thrive in a climate of openness and tolerance, since some great ideas start out sounding ridiculous. Creativity is a key to economic progress. Authoritarianism is stifling. I don’t believe that Mr. Hewlett and Mr. Packard were gay, but what’s important is: In San Francisco, it doesn’t matter so much. When the cultural Sturmbannfuhrers try to marshal everyone into straight lines, it has consequences for the economic future of this country.

Meanwhile, the Current Occupant goes on impersonating a president. Somewhere in the quiet, leafy recesses of the Bush family, somebody is thinking, “Wrong son. Should’ve tried the smart one.” Five years in office and he doesn’t have a grip on it yet. You stand him up next to British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a news conference and the comparison is not kind to Our Guy. Historians are starting to place him at or near the bottom of the list. And one of the basic assumptions of American culture is falling apart: the competence of Republicans.

You might not have always liked Republicans, but you could count on them to manage the bank. They might be lousy tippers, act snooty, talk through their noses, wear spats and splash mud on you as they race their Pierce-Arrows through the village, but you knew they could do the math. To see them produce a ninny and then follow him loyally into the swamp for five years is disconcerting, like seeing the Rolling Stones take up lite jazz. So here we are at an uneasy point in our history, mired in a costly war, a supine Congress granting absolute power to a president who seems to get smaller and dimmer, and the best the Republicans can offer is San Franciscophobia? This is beyond pitiful. This is violently stupid.

It is painful to look at your father and realize the old man should not be allowed to manage his own money anymore. This is the discovery the country has made about the party in power. They are inept. The checkbook needs to be taken away. They will rant, they will screech, they will wave their canes at you and call you all sorts of names, but you have to do what you have to do.

A MANUAL FOR CHANGE – PART II

It would almost appear that Americans have finally become sufficiently fed-up with our pseudo-democracy to usher in a new wave of inevitable reform, based on the information that I’m receiving of late.  I would like to believe this is true; but I was born close enough to Missouri to have a bit of the “show me” attitude in my genes.
 
Ignorance and apathy have no role on the path to freedom and democracy.  I hope I am understood that I am using these characteristics non-pejoratively, as I simply cannot put myself in everyone’s “moccasins” nor in everyone’s “classroom” of life.  There are many valid reasons that people do not understand the significance of political and economical action on their lives and their descendants.
 
Perhaps if the appropriate person can be found, a “savior” if you wish, enough people will become interested in taking action to select national leaders who not only will take us in the right direction; but will also garner the respect of the rest of the world.
 
To that end, I will attempt to initiate a discussion to outline 1) characteristics and traits we may want to see in our leaders and 2) the process by which that person would come to lead our country:
 
Characteristics:
Humble:  This does not equate with “weakness” in any form; but indicates a lack of arrogance or false pride.  None of us know everything and accepting advice from those knowledgeable in specific areas is a sign of strength.  Being “ego-less” is a great strength.  In the words of Oscar Wilde, “Ambition is the final step toward failure.”

Rational:  This relates to using intellectually sound judgment and good sense.  For example, when relating to people of different cultures, a rational person understands those differences sufficiently to engender mutual respect in communicating with each other.

Ethical: Probably many people believe that “ethics” and “religion” are synonymous; but they are not.  In fact, a “religious” person could be completely unethical.

Wise:  A wise person has the ability to discern and judge properly as to what is true, right and prudent.

No religious affiliation: I bring your attention to the “Related Other” links on the right side of this site, particularly to “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason,” a book by Sam Harris.  One site missing relates to the book “American Theocracy” by Kevin Philips, because I haven’t read it, yet.  I did, however, listen to an interview with him and was thoroughly impressed.  He goes back quite a way in Washington politics and has a fantastic memory.  You can guess from the title of the book what the main subject will be.  Now we can add Theocracy to Corporatocracy and Nerocracy. George W. Bush is an excellent example of someone using religion to his/her best advantage and, thus, is an example of a theocratic leader. (By the way, a recent news magazine points out that the conventional wisdom in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere is that “President Cheney” runs the country.  He and his cohorts are advocates of Corporatocracy and the “New World Power” and they will do anything, legal or not, to assure its continuation.  They have decided to “Let Bush be Bush,” which is the reason for his more frequent blundering.)

Sam Harris makes a very convincing case for the hypothesis that religion is the cause of evil, terrorism, etc.  Behind every religion is some form of “god” and a “holy book” that supposedly lays out the way its followers should live.  Some people who have read and studied these books realize that they represent the works of people who had to make up a god with human characteristics, as has every culture in the world.
 
A fundamentalist christian would have to be able to drink poison and not die, just as a fundamentalist muslim jihadist must, according to the word of god, kill any infidel who defiles god’s holy land or people.  Jews also must believe that certain land and rights are inherently theirs by the “word of god.”  And so it goes….    “god bless America” or “allah be praised” are meaningless.
 
So, another characteristic of our “perfect” candidate is that s/he be an atheist.  (I would accept “Theo-Atheist” since there is a God, just not the ones that we have made up.  I would also accept someone who participates in a religion; but is wise enough to put that aside and use reason, ethics and wisdom in leading our country.)
 
Independence from all “special interest groups:”  This is obvious.  Accepting bribes means that the person has no reason, ethics or wisdom, only greed, and we’ve had enough of that.


Process for selection of our leader and national representative to the world:
Previously, I brought to your attention to the link on the right side under “Links: Democracy” to “Cleaner Congress,” which notes how we can elect national leaders who have no debts owing to “special interest” groups.  A recent link added, “Democracy Land” refers to http://www.unity08.com, which proposes an interesting electoral approach, contrary to that which continues to promote the same methodology, which keeps us in deep doo-doo, as it were, at every election.
 
Perhaps we could combine this idea with something creative like having the finalists for the presidential election be chosen initially through a “draft” mechanism, similar to what was used before we had a “voluntary” military service, or through a process similar to the jury service selection currently in use.  Names are selected randomly and people are eliminated through a series of screenings until only a few, the best of the best, as it were, remain to be presented to the country as candidates.
 
We could call it “Survivor: Presidency 2008,”  “American President” or “Last President Standing.”   🙂
 
 
Anyway, this is just to get the thought process moving and I invite all comments and suggestions.  We may survive under our present system; but the chances are slim and the price we pay is too high.
Thank you,
Joe