The Eclectic One

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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The Alternative Reality of the Right

Posted by Bill Nance on April 24, 2010

Anonymous Liberal just posted an article that’s so completely descriptive of the complete abdication of any reality-based arguments on the right that I thought I should re-post it in toto here.

This is the first post I’ve written since last November. Part of what drove me to take a break from writing about politics was a growing realization that the Great Conversation in this country had completely ceased, that the various sides were no longer speaking the same language, like dialects that have–over time–drifted so far apart that they are no longer mutually intelligible. Watching Fox News and Tea Party rallies, it became apparent to me that the right wing in this country had severed the few remaining ties it had to the world I live in, the empirical world.

In its place, the Right has constructed its own Bubble World, a sort of political Truman Show complete with its own facts and rules (albeit facts and rules that are constantly changing based on political expediency). The writers, directors, and actors in this conservative version of Seahaven are the legions of GOP politicians, operatives, and conservative media outlets that relentlessly push this politically expedient alternative reality, and the Trumans are the millions of regular Americans who don’t realize the joke is on them.

In this Bubble World, it is an accepted truth that our President is a bumbling ignoramus who can only string together a coherent sentence if he uses a teleprompter (which, apparently, other politicians don’t use). I can understand a world in which Obama’s political opponents mock him as a being too professorial or out-of-touch or arrogant. But unintelligent? Inarticulate? I don’t know how to deal with that. It’s like mocking John Boehner for being pale.

Similarly, it is an accepted fact in the Bubble World that Obama is an extreme liberal, if not an outright socialist or communist. According to Newt Gingrich, Obama is “the most radical president in American history.” Again, I just don’t know how to deal with that. This is a guy who, at every point in his political career, has gone out of his way to position himself as a moderate, as a pragmatic technocrat. Since taking office, he has not, as far as I can tell, made a single policy decision that can fairly be described as liberal, much less radical. The only significant pieces of legislation he’s passed are a stimulus package that nearly every economist endorsed and a health care reform bill modeled on Romney-care (which, while better than nothing, is nowhere close to the kind of bill most liberals–much less a communists or socialists–would have crafted).

In Bubble World, there is a movement known as the Tea Party, whose members are simultaneously incensed about the size of the deficit and the fact that they have to pay taxes (even though they have the lowest tax rates in the free world and just got significant tax cuts–from Obama–in the past year). Moreover, they’re not angry at the party that built the deficit–by starting wars and giving massive tax cuts to people who are much richer than them–or that presided, just recently, over the near collapse of the economy. But they are furious at the party that just recently took the reins, inheriting both a crumbling economy and massive deficit. And if they had their way, they would put back in power a party whose only policy idea is, that’s right, cutting taxes; which, of course, would only make the deficit much worse.

But not in Bubble World. In Bubble World, cutting taxes actually raises revenue. In Bubble World, “the market” will magically solve all of our health care problems and true “freedom” is defined by one’s ability to be denied health coverage for pre-existing conditions. And in Bubble World, a set of sensible and long-overdue financial regulations designed to prevent another meltdown of the economy and foreclose any future taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street is actually a “permanent bailout bill.”

In this alternative universe, the facts are literally whatever the political consultants say they should be. Whatever resonates with the focus group. If you’re working on behalf of Wall Street lobbyists to kill a bill that would impose more accountability on Wall Street, you simply accuse those who support the bill of doing Wall Street’s bidding. It doesn’t matter that this is the opposite of the truth and is, in fact, exactly what you’re doing. While these facts might matter to people in the empirical world, the facts in Bubble World are whatever the right wing wants them to be. In Bubble World, Mitch McConnell is bravely protecting the people from the Wall Street bigwigs, not doing the bidding of Wall Street lobbyists.

And that sad reality goes a long way toward explaining why I haven’t been blogging lately. We’ve reached a point where the right wing in this country has achieved complete epistemic closure. Aided by their extensive and growing media apparatus and a traditional media that is uninterested in playing umpire, the Right has managed to escape entirely from the gravitational pull of the empirical world, and in fact, has a created a world of its own, one with a rapidly growing gravitational field that, everyday, pulls in more and more of the unsuspecting and uninformed.

From the comfort of this Bubble World, people like Mitch McConnell can simply say whatever the hell they want to say, no matter how ludicrous, and trust that much of the country will readily accept it as true. As Christof famously says in the Truman Show, “we accept the reality with which we are presented.” And that’s particularly true when that reality is one that is focus-grouped tested to conform with our pre-existing biases and hammered home repeatedly by the folks we rely on to keep us informed (which, for a scary number of people these days, means Fox News and Rush Limbaugh).

From my perch back in the empirical world, I’m just not sure know to deal with this. How do you begin to make your case when there aren’t any mutually accepted facts? How do you convince someone that the people they trust are liars and charlatans? Writing posts trying to correct the record and dispel misinformation can at times feel about as pointless as trying to bail water out of the ocean.

I had high hopes after the thumping the Republicans took in 2006 and 2008 that we had finally turned a corner, that the cracks were beginning to show in Bubble World and the empirical world was slowly re-exerting its influence. I got the feeling that more and more people who had been stuck in the bubble were beginning to sense that something just wasn’t right.

But I was wrong. Freed from the burden of any actual governing responsibility, the GOP has been free to devote all of its efforts to reconstructing their Bubble World. And they’ve been largely successful. An entire movement has formed that is based, almost entirely, on confusion and mis-directed anger, a movement that sees the world only through the lens of Fox News and other right wing outlets. The Tea Party is an army of Trumans, a movement of people who have whole-heartedly embraced the false reality with which they’ve been presented.

The central dilemma for those us left in the empirical world is how to puncture the bubble. What can we do to make facts once again relevant? What can be done to dis-incentivize the kind of lying and reality denial that has become the hallmark of the modern conservative movement? I can’t say that I have answers to these questions, but I’m pretty confident that these are THE questions that we should be asking. Policy debates are great, but only when they take place in the empirical world. If a majority of Americans aren’t living in that world, then such debates risk becoming purely academic exercises.

One would be hard-pressed to find a better better description of what’s been going on with the right wing in this country over the last 18 months.

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Posted in Politics, Right-Wing Nut-jobery | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Truer Words Have Never Been Said…

Posted by Bill Nance on April 6, 2010

From a reader on Andrew Sullivan’s site:

During the campaign, Obama was demonized by the right and hounded by the press for not walking out of a church led by the likes of a Rev. Wright, whose worst sin was harsh rhetoric.  When will Catholic politicians be asked whether they intend to remain in the Church as long as it is led by a man who, at best was negligent in his role in investigating sexual abuse of children, or at worst, was actively involved in the cover up?

No kidding. But don’t wait for the anti-Obama crazies. They sold any sort of actual intellectual honesty and integrity down the river a long time ago.

Posted in Barack Obama, Politics | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

California Police Chiefs Back Off On Gun Control Measure

Posted by Bill Nance on January 13, 2010

Well, they did it. The California hoplophobes, a decades-long majority in the state legislature  has finally managed to come up with a gun control idea so stupid even the notoriously anti-gun California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA) can’t support it: Microstamping.

In case you don’t know what microstamping is, here’s a good description along with California’s iteration of the process:

Firearms microstamping is the process by which firearms manufacturers would have to micro laser-engrave a gun’s make, model and serial number on two distinct parts of each gun, including the firing pin, so that in theory the information would be imprinted on the cartridge casing when the pistol is fired. Legislation mandating microstamping in California was signed into law in 2007 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) and was slated to take effect this New Year’s Day (2010); however, since the technology remains encumbered by patents it cannot be certified by the California Department of Justice and therefore has not been implemented.

Other people have written about this incredibly bizarre idea California is trying to mandate, but I thought I’d add my 2¢, with the excuse of the letter the California Police Chiefs Association (Which has rarely met a people gun control idea it didn’t like) sent to the California AG saying essentially, “woops.

{From the letter: } Publicly available, peer-reviewed studies conducted by independent research organizations conclude that the technology does not function reliably and that criminals can remove the markings easily in mere seconds. We believe that these findings require examination prior to implementation.”

In other words, the technical flaws of the idea without any other argument needing to be made makes this a stupid idea. But the letter itself is a perfect example of the ignorance and hypocrisy inherent in the idea of requiring the microstamp in the first place, much less registering individual gun owners.    In it’s own words the CPCA references the fact that criminals can easily find a way to evade detection via a firearm registration scheme as one of it’s reasons for opposition to the bill.

“Criminals can remove the markings easily in mere seconds.”

The antis can’t manage to come up with even a remotely plausible scenario in which this stuff would solve many crimes, even if they got everything they wanted. But they want it anyway.

To many who don’t know or care much about guns, gun registration doesn’t sound like a big deal. And if you don’t know anything about microstamping, and much more importantly the assumptions that its supposed efectiveness rests upon, it might not sound like a bad thing. I mean, it’s supposed to help the cops solve crimes right?

The only problem is that this simply isn’t the case.

Microstamping guns and registering individual gun owners depends on a large number of things for them to make more than the very slightest difference in catching bad guys. And trust me, I was a crime reporter for years in an area with high gang violence and lots of shootings. I know whereof I speak.

First, and most easily shown to be false, is the required assumption that guns used by criminals are legally owned and obtained by said criminals. Otherwise having the murder weapon (or shell casing in the case of microstamping is useless.- There’s no connection to the shooter. Microstamping, or even posession of the weapon used will only provide a connection to the gun shop that originally sold the gun or if there is registration of guns as well, a connection in some cases to a previous owner of the firearm.

That won’t help.

We have actual numbers on this stuff. They are released by the FBI and most states every single year, and wide-ranging reports, even those submitted by Clinton Administration appointees and staff in the justice department have concluded that the vast majority of crimes are committed by people with previously existing criminal records, which bars any legal purchase of a firearm, people under age to posesss a firearm legally, and in a staggeringly large percentage of cases, where the gun is stolen or obtained from an illegal black market, so far removed from the original source that tracing is virtually impossible.

Essentially, their excuse for logic is that the thing they want to use for crime solving is the one thing they are absolutely certain to not have, even with the most stringent of registration/microstamping provisions.

First, there are a grand total of about 500-600 unsolved homicides in California each year. About 2/3 of those (following national statistics) are committed with a firearm. Many of these are caught the following year, so the real number of cases where absent more information on the gun could possibly help solve otherwise unsolved cases is already very small. Knowing who used to have the gun legally is of very little help in most cases.

Microstamping, even if it were trivial to do and worked every time rests upon the idea that there are lots of cases where:

  1. A registered gun is used in a crime by a legal gun owner or someone to whom he knowingly gave the gun
  2. Which isn’t a revolver
  3. The perpetrator doesn’t pick up his brass
  4. The perpetrator keeps the gun after committing a crime with it instead of reporting it lost/stolen
  5. The perpetrator is not otherwise tied to the crime
  6. The perpetrator hasn’t altered the gun to defeat registration/microstamping requirements

Is this true for more than a handful of cases? For this they want to spend millions, make ammunition AND firearms prohibitively expensive for all but the well-to-do and cost the state yet more jobs as anyone who is in the firearms business or cares about their human right of self defense, rapidly flees the Golden State.  Like the famous “assault weapon” ban, where the Justice department noted that fewer than .75% of gun crimes were committed by “assault weapons” and that hi-capacity magazines seemed to make no difference in terms of numbers of people injured or in rounds fired, this is another solution to a problem that doesn’t exist outside Sarah Brady’s fantasies.

I gave up on Democrat politicians showing any common sense on gun control a long time ago, but this is enough to make my jaded opinions sit back in awe.  This is beyond stupid. As a matter of fact:

Posted in Crime, firearms, gun control, Guns Dammit!, hoplophobia, Left-Wing Nut-Jobery, Politics, Prison and Justice, Stupid Idea Watch | Tagged: , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Dodging statues?

Posted by Bill Nance on December 13, 2009

ROME – An attacker hurled a statuette at Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, striking the leader in the face at the end of a rally on Sunday and leaving the stunned 73-year-old media mogul with a bloodied mouth, police said.

I saw the story today and had to laugh at the contrast with Iraq, where they throw shoes at national leaders.

So let’s see…In Iraq they throw shoes, in Italy they throw statues… I predict Germany’s Angela Merkel will need to dodge a Tiger tank or Piano in the not too distant future.

-That is all.

Posted in Crime, humor, International, Politics | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Scientists Predicted Ice Age? Not True

Posted by Bill Nance on October 17, 2009

I keep reading snark as well as serious arguments claiming that Global Warming is a myth. It seems that invariably in these screeds someone mentions that in the 70s there was some hoopla about the “coming Ice Age.”

Now, I remember being in school in the mid-70’s and remember reading something along these lines. But in fact, as a study published in the Bulletin of The American Meteorlogical Society shows, the people screaming gloom and doom over an ice age were newspaper reporters, not overwhelmingly scientists.

In the early to mid 70’s climatology was still a science still in it’s infancy, and more importantly a science without things like the space shuttle, or U-2 and SR-71 aircraft to use in their observations. Heck, weather satellites were still a fairly recent thing.

The report shows that due to some cooling observed from the mid-1940’s some scientists did indeed make the claim. –About 12% of them. The other 88% reported either no change (16%) or increased warming (72%).

climatology

Virtually all of the reports citing the possibility of global cooling came out in the years 1967 and 1971. By 1976 virtually no one was making the claim.

Find another straw-man argument folks, global warming is happening. We may or may not be able to address its man-made aspects in time to make a difference. But pretending it isn’t happening at all when there’s a broad concensus among climatologists and other scientists that it is and it is at least partially man-made just makes you look like a putz.  This isn’t Chemistry. It’s a theoretical science. We can’t prove the existence of black holes or human evolution either. We extrapolate from the data, come up with theories which best explain our observations. Global warming has been beaten to death by climatologists from day one. At this point, virtually none of the experts are questioning it any more. That’s called scientific consensus. Yes, it’s still theory, but no, no one has come up with an alternative that tests out as plausible.

When broad scientific consensus is reached and points to something with catastrophic consequences for the entire human race, only a jackass makes it a matter of political point-scoring. We can argue all day about what the best possible course of action to deal with global warming may be. To argue that it isn’t happening or that we shouldn’t even try to address it is stupid at best a racially suicidal at worst.

When Rush Limbaugh shows me his PhD in a related hard science I’ll be interested in his nattering. Until then I’ll rely on what the actual experts tell me, thanks

Posted in Energy issues, News & Analysis, Politics, Right-Wing Nut-jobery | 2 Comments »

Legaly Correct, Tactically Stupid

Posted by Bill Nance on August 28, 2009

The left-wing blogosphere is going apeshit over people showing up to Obama appearances open-carrying guns of various shapes and sizes. What’s behind the hysteria? In a word: fear.

Fear of guns and fear of people who have them and far more, fear of people who carry them.

I won’t go into the hysteria of the gun-grabbers. It’s all been said before. Instead I want to talk about the wisdom of those people choosing a political meeting about healthcare as a place for an in-your-face demonstration for RKBA.

It’s stupid folks. It’s incredibly bad tactics. It scares the bejeebers out of moderates who would normally be on our side and convinces absolutely no one who wasn’t already passionate about the issue. Worse yet, it’s another thing to throw out to moderate voters, the people who decide elections, to show that those gun people are just dangerous nutcases waiting to go postal.

Case in point:

Dumbshittery in action

Dumbshittery in action

This genius shows up to an Obama meeting on healthcare with a sign that quite directly calls for the shedding of the blood of patriots and tyrants; as in, you know, Obama. There is no other way to take this kind of statement. By itself it’s an obnoxious sign. I mean seriously, you’re going to have an armed revolt over healthcare reform? pulease. Grow the Hell up. But when you add the sidearm now it’s not just stupid, it hurts me. Because now the message stops being whatever the original point was and starts being about how dangerous people who own guns are.

Now, does Mister Dumbshit have the right to open carry? Of course. He even has the right to open carry to a political meeting. But it’s stupid to do so and even more stupid to do so carrying that sign.

Let’s face it folks, I’d put the odds of Obama going through a full term without a credible assasination attempt at slim and none. And that’s without any of the hyperbole on the right. Even if the guy was a conservative, his skin color alone makes a sadly large number of people in this country think: “Holy crap, there’s a nigger in the whitehouse.”  We can pretend all day long that isn’t true, but it is. And when that happens, succesful or not, clowns like this are going to get all of us blamed. It will be all about the gun, not the racist jerk that took the shot. And the grabbers will point to pictures like this and say “See? didn’t we tell you these people are dangerous?” Of course they’d do that anyway. But everytime they say it now, they’ll show this picture and scream “I told you so!”

There is a time and a place for everything. Even stupid signs, and yes, certainly for open carry protests. They happen not infrequently in New Hampshire and generally I’m all for them. People should be made to understand that people with guns aren’t dangerous. The best protests I’ve seen have been protests where open-carry advocates have picked up trash in town. What better face to put out to the community?

But this kind of crap is the polar opposite. Carry a sign calling for armed revolt while openly armed at a presidential meeting about something wholly unrelated to guns and no one gets the RKBA message. They get a message that people with guns are freakin looneys who need to be disarmed.

Every time I hear about stuff like this I shake my head. Who needs the Brady Bunch when we have fools like this on “our side?”

Posted in Barack Obama, firearms, Guns Dammit!, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 9 Comments »

How the American Healthcare System Is Broken

Posted by Bill Nance on August 9, 2009

The healthcare system in the U.S. is broken in dozens of fundamental ways. Over dinner last night, a friend said: “We have the best healthcare in the world with the worst delivery system in the world.” More accurate words could hardly be spoken.

Another way in which the system is fundamentally broken is the way defensive medicine adds billions of dollars to the cost everyone pays in increased insurance premiums and tax dollars.

I thought I’d share a personal story on this subject that happened to me not too long ago.

I have what is called Cystic Acne. I’ve had it since my early 20s. I don’t get many pimples, but every few years I get a Sebaceous Cyst. These are large, unsightly and usually painful boil-like pimples that will harden into a large nodule.

Two things can be done about these. One is antibiotics, which sometimes helps. But in my personal experience, I’ve never had success. The other way to treat these is to lance them and drain them, and on occasion, cut out the infected tissue.

Now treating a cyst like this is something that until relatively recently was done by your general practitioner. The process is quite straightforward and technically speaking, is well within the capabilities of any first-year resident, much less someone who’s completed residency.  I’ve had these removed by a GP before and it’s about a 15 minute process.

I hadn’t had one of these in almost 20 years, so I was amazed when I went to my excellent GP and was told yes, it was a cyst, but no, she couldn’t treat it. Apparently the medical board and her malpractice insurance insist that anything more complicated than a fever be treated by a specialist. That office visit was $50.

My next stop was at the dermatologist, who looked, remarked that it was a cyst and a rather large one at that, but then shook his head and said he couldn’t treat it either, because it was someplace he thought yet another specialist was better qualified for, due to the regulations and malpractice insurance requirements. That visit was billed at $200.

My next stop was the “specialist.” Yet again I was told that my observation was 100% correct. HE could treat the thing. the consultation was $350, the fee to do the 15-minute procedure was $900.

So the end result was that I completely wasted my time, and wasted the time of two specialists who could have been treating people with far more complicated and serious medical conditions, and paid $1500 for a procedure that my GP could have performed effortlessly for perhaps $200 at most.

Fortunately, I have rather good insurance and the out-of-pocket expense was minimal. But I didn’t get away without paying for the entirety of that procedure, and if you have Blue Cross, neither did you.  I didn’t pay it all up front, and you won’t either. What will happen is that this situation will be played out thousands and thousands of times and for each one of those, the cost of insurance premiums will rise. Since 1999 employer-based plans have had their premiums rise by 120%, compared to an average 44% cumulative rate of inflation.

Medical costs aren’t magically “absorbed.” Whether it’s my $1500 cyst or the $800 emergency room visit by an uninsured person with the flu complications, someone has to pay, and that someone is you and me.

So there is my story. And I personally want to thank each and every one of my friends opposed to serious reform of the system for paying their share of the $1,500 cyst removal that should have cost $200.  Get used to it, it won’t change unless the system itself gets an enema.

Posted in healthcare, Le Snark, Politics | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Healthcare Hysteria Part Deux

Posted by Bill Nance on August 8, 2009

My friend Jay G and I have got into a rather heated discussion on the comments section of his blog over healthcare, and in particular, about his assertion that the left in general and the Democrats in particular are inciting violence at town hall meetings being held by congresspersons this month on healthcare reform. His case rests upon this article, in which Whitehouse staffers Jim Messina and David Axelrod told Democrat Senators and their staff members: “If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard.”

Of course this single quote leaves out the context of the quote:

Senior White House adviser David Axelrod and deputy chief of staff Jim Messina told senators to focus on the insured and how they would benefit from “consumer protections” in the overhaul, such as ending the practice of denying insurance based on preexisting conditions and ensuring the continuity of coverage between jobs.

They showed video clips of the confrontational town halls that have dominated the media coverage, and told senators to do more prep work than usual for their public meetings by making sure their own supporters turn out, senators and aides said.

And they screened TV ads and reviewed the various campaigns by critics of the Democratic plan.

“If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard,” Messina said, according to an official who attended the meeting.

First, I just think Jay is flat wrong in his interpretation of the article in question. It seems crystal clear to me, that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, who was speaking to Democrat Senators about strategy, was referring to political tactics, not violence. That is, unless you think he was suggesting that U.S. senators punch out protestors at their town hall meetings, an assertion that’s frankly silly in my opinion.

I said later that in my opinion, the protestors are, by and large, being manipulated and organized by very well paid lobbyists and front groups for the GOP and people with vested financial interests in the outcome of the debate over healthcare reform. Jay asked for verification of this and I’m happy to provide a couple of examples:

First, lets start with an organization called FreedomWorks.  This organization’s Board of Directors is a veritable who’s who of GOP insiders including Dick Armey, Jack Kemp and C. Boyden Gray, Legal Counsel to GHW Bush from 1981 to 1993.

In addition to being a fairly thinly veiled front organization for the GOP, Armey went from congress and his position as HUD director directly to one of the most high-powered law firms in the world called DLA Piper, which has a “strategic alliance” with the lobbying firm, The Cohen Group.The Cohen Group is a giant lobbying firm.

FreedomWorks boasts that: “This past week, FreedomWorks helped to organize “Taxpayer Tea Party” protests around the country, in the wake of Rick Santelli’s (CNBC) call for a “Chicago Tea Party” to protest the ridiculous economic policies of President Barack Obama. These protests were a huge success around the country! Thousands of Americans showed up and made their voices heard.”

To call FreedomWorks a legitimate bottom up grassroots organization is simply a joke. It’s a paid subsidiary of the GOP.

Another organization is called Conservatives for Patients Rights. This organization, which calls for people to go to town hall meetings and has a convenient list of all the scheduled town hall meetings, acts as though it’s another grassroots organization. It is anything but.

What the website doesn’t tell you is that the head of this organization is none other than Rick Scott, owner and co-founder of Solantic, a Florida based large chain of walk-in urgent care facilities. Scott also has the dubious distinction of:

Scott founded the Columbia Hospital Corporation in 1987 and later merged Columbia/HCA along with the brother of Senator Bill FristThomas J. Frist in 1989, but was ousted by the company’s board of directors in 1997 in the midst of the nation’s biggest health care fraud scandal in which the company ultimately plead guilty to the nation’s then largest Medicaid and Medicare fraud and paid a record fine of $1.7 Billion dollars.

Nope, no vested interest in the topic here at all. And of course it’s purely coincidental that Scott is joined by disgraced former Bush administration Administrator of Medicare, Thomas Scully, who left office under a cloud after he was found by a Bush Administration internal investigation of threatening to fire a Medicare auditor who was about to go to congress with the actual cost of the Bushie’s medicare prescription drug plan. A plan that was so botched on the part of the GOP and their willing Democrat co-conspirators that it amounts to a welfare program for pharmaceutical companies.  Scully is now on the board of directors of Solantic.  If that’s who you want to ally yourself with, fine. But know who you’re sleeping with.

I don’t doubt that many Americans are unhappy with the Obama administration. After all, forty some-odd percent of the people voted for McCain. I also don’t doubt that in a time of serious economic uncertainty, that people are afraid.  Fear is easy to manipulate. And right-wing big business has been doing an excellent job of this stuff for decades. It happened in 1993, helped in large measure by a hapless effort on the part of the Clintons at heealthcare reform.

I also don’t doubt that the Democrats plans are flawed. They aren’t even discussing serious malpractice reform, which is an absolute requirement for reducing the ruinous inflation of healthcare costs in this country.

But there is no way in Hell that a loud, disruptive appreaance at town hall meetings, shouting down your representatives and screaming insanity is a good way to approach it. That’s exactly what the lobbyists and the healthcare industry wants you to do. They want to scare the living bejeesus out the American public so they can continue to make a killing without any sort of regulation.  They don’t have anyone’s interests at heart except their own.

I’ve said repeatedly that I would dearly love to see the GOP take part in a serious debate on this issue. But they haven’t and they aren’t now. Only yesterday I was able to see the first signs of anything serious in the way of policy proposals from the right, which was an article in the Washington Post by conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, where he advocated for the elimination of civil malpractice.  Good for him, let’s see more serious proposals.

But the teabagger movement and the folks showing up at town halls hysterical over commie programs and forced euthanasia are nothing more than useful idiots for moneyed interests who are very adept at manipulting people’s fears.  You’re being lied to folks, by the same people who’ve been selling you snake oil for 20 years.  The Democrats truly suck as a party. But what’s coming out of the GOP and their corporate sponsors is pure baloney. And worst of all, it’s baloney paid for with corrupt money.

Posted in healthcare, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Healthcare Hysteria

Posted by Bill Nance on August 7, 2009

Unless you’ve been living in a cave these last few weeks, you cannot have failed to hear about the hysteria from many on the right about the proposed healthcare reform bills circulating around congress.

Now normally I’m all for confronting your elected officials about policies with which you’re unhappy .  I still think that’s a good thing. But confrontation and mob hysteria are two entirely different things, especially when the hysteria has been fed by highly paid political operatives from the GOP and slick campaigns of blatant lies by people with a vested financial interest in the status quo.

Rachel Maddow has done an excellent job recently exposing this fraud.  Whatever you may think of her politics, she has the facts straight. Before you head out to your congressperson’s next town hall meeting with a pocket full of outrage, be sure to watch this segment. It’s a microcosm of the fraud being perpetrated by vested interests to stop any and all progress on healthcare reform.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I’d love to see the right get actively involved in a real debate on the issues with some concrete ideas that would seriously address the issues of why we pay 175% of what Canada pays for healthcare, have a life expectancy that’s 3.8% less than Canada’s, have a death rate that’s 8.4% higher than Canada’s and a system of health insurance and malpractice that’s literally putting American companies out of business.

What’s been proposed by the GOP has been so close to nothing as to be meaningless. It’s been at best a rehash of the McCain campaign’s proposals, which, in case you missed it, didn’t win the election. One reason for that is that the proposals he put forth, including taxing health benefits paid to employees, are non-starters.

I’ve recently been hearing Obama’s plans to reform healthcare compared to the Soviet Union.  It’s funny, but the friends I have in Canda, Australia, Holland and other places with some form of government assisted or administered healthcare don’t seem to think they live in the Evil Empire.  In fact, most of them are pretty pleased with the quality of their healthcare. Which is certainly more than I can say for most people I know in this country.

The Democrats really need serious input from people with alternative views. But mob hysteria and “NO” is not serious input. It’s plain old obstruction.

Posted in healthcare, Politics, Right-Wing Nut-jobery | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hiroshima, Holocaust Denial and Hypocrisy

Posted by Bill Nance on August 7, 2009

Today is August 7. As usual, this is the day my anger over the previous day’s marking of the bombing of Hiroshima subsides.

On August 6, 1945, Colonel Paul Tibbets and his crew dropped a single Atomic bomb, code-named “Little Boy,” on Hiroshima, instantly incinerating some 50,000-70,000 Japanese and injuring another 100,000, resulting in an estimated 60,000 additional deaths over the next five years or so. This bombing, and the one of Nagasaki three days later, resulted in the Japanese’ unconditional surrender to the allies and the end of world War Two.

No one would argue that the loss of some 580,000 Japanese civilians during the war was anything but tragic. Most of these died as a result of the US strategic bombing of Japan, though at least 100,000 were killed in the bloody house to house and cave to cave fighting on Saipan and Okinawa, including at least 5,000 Japanese civilian suicides on Saipan alone.

The civilian death toll during the Second World War was apocalyptic in scale, probably reaching forty million souls.  some of these were inevitable “collateral damage.” That is, civilians inadvertently killed during combat operations.  Some were killed as a result of strategic terror bombings on all sides, designed to sap the enemy’s will to fight.

But the vast majority, estimated to be at least 30,000,000 people, were killed deliberately or from a purposeful policy of neglect, brutality or  murder, to say nothing of the murder of helpless military captives, notably by the Japanese, Germans and Soviets.

Much ado has been made over the German perpetration of the Holocaust against the Jews, Gypsies and others during that war. Museums on the subject dot the world. And rightfully so. But the world has acquiesced to a conspiracy of almost total silence on the Holocaust perpetrated by the Japanese in every land they occupied, as well as in Japan itself, where until the very end of the war, the Japanese government was actively pursuing germ warfare weapons to be used against US civilians and where prisoners of war were vivisected whilst still alive.

If you live in Germany for a while, you will be struck by what even now, some 60 years after the fact, remains a collective consciousness of guilt and shame over the Nazi years and the atrocities of that period. There is of course, no reason for young people, who’s parents weren’t even born until after the war to feel any sense of shame, and many have rejected this with I think a justifiable sense of having paid whatever debt is owed. And collectively, Germany remains a deeply pacifist nation as a result of the memory of those horrible years.

The same sense of Pacifism remains in Japan, but for an entirely different reason.

While I have not lived in Japan, I do have many friends and several relatives who have lived there for years.

In Japan there is little in the way of shame. In fact, Japanese children aren’t even taught about the extent of the atrocities committed by their forbears. The entire nation, from the end of the war until this day have and continue to be in utter denial about both their own guilt in launching an imperialist war of aggression and the horrors committed by their armies, the worst of which was the genocide committed against the Chinese, in which an estimated 20,000,000 Chinese civilians were slaughtered.

In the last few years, Americans, notably the Neoconservatives, have noted with horror that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a holocaust denier. In fact, to be a holocaust denier is counted by most people to be a grave sin.  Yet Japan is an entire nation in utter denial of the systematic butchery and unprovoked aggression perpetrated by their country and no one says a word.

Which leads us back to yesterday, August 6, where the usual somber remembrance of the Hiroshima bombing took place all over the world in a sign of collective guilt over the killing of Japanese civilians in that city.

Enough. I’m sick of hearing about it. It was without doubt, a brutal act in a brutal war. but it pales in comparison with the deliberate mass murder perpetrated against helpless civilians in an unprovoked war of aggression. Hiroshima was bombed because the alternative was a bloody invasion of Japan in which many many times the numbers killed in Nagasaki and Hiroshima combined would have been killed. Alternatively, a blockade of the islands would have resulted in the death by starvation of millions of Japanese. In comparison, the bombing of Hiroshima was a trivial price to pay for ending the war.  The fact that the Japanese and their willing co-deniers of history across the globe continue to forget the atrocities of the Japanese, the utter unwillingness to surrender under the terms offered by the Allies and the comparative death tolls of the alternatives to the bomb disgusts me, and it should disgust you as well.

On the day the Japanese government starts printing the unadulterated truth about those years in their school textbooks and officially acknowledges, without equivication or excuse, the crimes they committed, I will begin to have more sympathy for the civilian casualties of the Second World War. But even with compassion for civilians caught up in an awful war, August 6 should rightfully be remembered as the day that led to the end of a nightmare, not as a day of mourning.

The Japanese were victims of their own evil. They were not and are not martyrs.

*For two excellent scholarly works on the subject of the bomb, I reccommend Weapons for Victory, and Hiroshima in History: the Myths of Revisionism by Prof. Robert J. Maddox.

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