Posts Tagged ‘politics’

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Some Thoughts About Healthcare

September 6, 2009

A quick piece I wrote sometime last year, or so–all the more relevant right now.

I’m a fiscally conservative liberal. It sounds like a contradiction in terms, but I promise you, it isn’t. I’m certainly not a libertarian, and I do not propose that I fall anywhere in your neat little political spectrum graph you have embedded in your head. I believe in providing some basic necessities of life, such as healthcare, retirement security, and social safety nets through grouping our resources as a community. I believe that we can do so in a cost saving manner, while ensuring a quality of life that is greater than current conditions.

That is how I view the function of government. I see it as our collective ability to help each other, and ourselves, through working in concert on the most basic of needs. We needn’t create massive bureaucracies to do so, nor do we need to give up our individual rights. No one wishes to have a government that is oppressive, or one that takes too much, and provides too little. These are the ingredients to doing the opposite of the what was intended.

The free market is fine and dandy for many, many things. It has proven effective at controlling costs up to a point, and provided us with ingenuity and inventiveness unseen for the vast majority of human history. It seeks to fill needs not yet provided, and punish those who would attempt to become robber barons. But it doesn’t always work. We know this. It isn’t that it needs to be done away with, or massively overhauled, it doesn’t. It just needs common sense measures to ensure it’s proper functioning.

The best example of the free market’s imperfection can be found in the mills and factories of the early twentieth century. Men, women, and children forced to labor in squalid conditions, and made to live as slaves within a framework of freedom. As a people, we rejected this, and rightly so. We put in place regulations and guidelines to correct the abuse of a few on the many, and the system was saved from catastrophe.

We have these dilemmas on a smaller scale each generation. Today, we have a few that need to be addressed. The free market has attempted to provide inexpensive healthcare while regulations have been put in place to help those that the corporate structure cannot, or will not help. These regulations are seen to have have worked against the goal of providing healthcare at a less expensive rate, making insurance and related costs skyrocket. Whether this is necessarily true is debatable, but I think there maybe some truth to the argument.

How are we to both provide inexpensive healthcare and also ensure the health of the population at large? We cannot sit idly by as millions of us suffer cruel fates because of the free market, just as we cannot let our desire to help collapse our ability to provide these services. We must choose a direction, either one that is less regulated, but may abuse those it provides services to, or one that is given to all of us, and is thus protected from such inequities. Either way, there is no doubt that lawsuits must be limited, and bad providers of services found and kept from hurting people. I don’t think anybody will disagree with that last point.

The best example on the world stage may very well come from a stereotyped people. The French. Sure, the French are the symbol of everything bad to the conservatives, yet there healthcare system may be the very best example of a market driven universal healthcare. A decent jumping off point for future discussions on the ability to help all without hurting everyone in the process.

The Frech system is not perfect, of course, but it does provide a wonderful array of services for almost half of what individual expenditures are here in the United States. The per capita cost in France is about $3500, while in the US it’s closing in on $7000. The french get to see their own doctor, and are reimbursed buy the government for a vast number of services. The individual can chose to get further private insurance for procedures that don’t fall into a basic medical needs category, and thus the extra costs of abuse of the system is avoided.

The system doesn’t have the long waits and poor service that conservatives put forward as arguments against universal coverage, and it’s bureaucracy is limited by the use of electronic filing and streamlined electronic transfers of funds. They limit the costs, and maintain a system that was rated number one in the world by the World Health Association in 2001. Half the cost, and everyone is provided for.

Businesses still provide their employees with extra insurance, as benefits, and a way to attract the best workers. Some self employed even completely forgo the system and provide themsleves with their own full coverage insurances. It’s a flexible system that does a number of exceptional things, while maintaining exceptional savings.

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I’ll be back sometime within a few days with updates

November 12, 2008

Sorry if it looks as though the blog has been abandoned, it isn’t. Just basking in a great victory for progress in America, and I’ll be back once my batteries are recharged for some new righteous indignation!

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First Election Results In!

November 4, 2008

Obama wins both Hart’s Location, and Dixville Notch (in my wonderful New Hampshire). The ballot tally in Hart’s Location was 17-10 for Senator Obama. Dixville Notch gave Senator Obama a greater victory, 15-6!

The tally now stands at 32-16

John McCain is not expected to overcome this 16 vote deficit.

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Kim Jong Il on Death Bed, Yet Again

October 29, 2008

Kim Jong-il looking fly in his designer sunglasses

Kim Jong-il, known as both the autocratic leader of North Korea, and a fashion icon to millions in New Jersey, has reportedly fallen very Jong-ill. It has been reported through multiple channels that he had brain surgery to repair damage done by a stroke in August. The report comes from the print edition of Dong-a Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper.

The report cites a South Korean intelligence officer who disclosed that intelligence reports emerged Sunday (Oct. 26) regarding Kim Jong-il’s sudden ‘serious health problem’. The brain surgery that was performed after Jong-il’s August stroke had been reported as being performed by Francois-Xavier Roux, a neurosurgeon from France. Roux is considered an extremely competent, if not world class surgeon, who has denied the reports linking him to the surgery. Roux claims that during that time he coincidentally traveled to Beijing to attend a conference. All video and photos released recently seem to show Kim Jong-il attending functions months ago, further raising the speculation that the sunglasses-wearing man-god is in a dire situation.

Kim Jong-nam inherited smaller sunglasses than his father

Kim Jong-il’s oldest son, Kim Jong-nam, was thought to be next in line for the role of fashion god dictator, although no public declarations were made to that effect, and now he appears out of the direct line of inheritance. After a 2001 arrest and detention by the Japanese, Jong-nam may be somewhat out of favor, and Kim Jong-chol, a younger son, may be in line for the gig. Jong-chol was appointed to a high office within the Workers’ Party in 2007, making it a reasonable conclusion that he’s the next in line.

North Korea is denying the report, which, if their other denials are any indication, means that this is absolutely true. Sunglasses manufacturers are bracing for a possible economic downturn within their industry upon hearing the news, as Kim Jong-il is thought to provide at least four percent to the sunglasses industry’s revenues every year. If Kim Jong-chul begins to wear

This is thought to be Kim Jong-chul, although he wears no sunglasses, making the genetic comparison difficult.

sunglasses like his father and brother, they expect serious profit potential, considering he’ll have to build his collection from scratch.

If Kim Jong-il dies, there could be some wrangling within the ranks of the Workers’ Party to see who becomes the leader of North Korea, and a violent solution between the brothers is not out of the question. Jong-nam may feel resentment for his lack of favor stemming from his attempts to travel into Japan under a false name and passport. Jong-nam’s mother, Ko Young-hee, is Jong-il’s latest consort, and thus may confer more power to Jong-chul. If Jong-nam and Jong-chul do come to a power struggle, expect Jong-chul to have more party support.

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Vote Flipping, Vote Caging, and Suppression Problems

October 29, 2008

Testimonials of vote flipping

And here’s the ‘problem’

And some nasty voter registration challenges in Missouri (‘caging’, a violation of the Voting Rights Act)

Vote caging exposé

pt. 2

Oh, my…more

Sen. Whitehouse (isn’t that the best name for a politician?) on vote caging

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Sarah Palin and Ted Stevens-Video-What is Their Real Relationship?

October 28, 2008

This was a great day, and one that makes us also realize that there are elements in this nation that will fight against us every step of the way. I’m not talking about fighting against Democrats, or Republicans, but all of us, our freedoms and our democracy. There were the skinheads found, arrested, and taken out of action from outrageous plans of killing simply because of melanin levels in their proposed victims, and then there was Ted Stevens, the senior Senator from Alaska. Stevens was found guilty of all seven charges relating to his cabin’s refurbishment, and his relationship with Veco, an oil services company.

Both of these elements are a destructive force on our landscape. One outwardly spouts hate, and proposes a ‘cleansing’ of those people that they find don’t fit their perception of what America is, attacking democracy from the outside in; the other works quietly, behind closed doors, eroding democracy from the inside out. Both are heinous and devoid of redeemable qualities, but both are now stopped (at least for the time being) from doing anymore damage than they already have.

Outward from these individuals, however, are people and events that still need to be understood. A corrupt politician is nothing without the means to be so, and radical planners of hate crimes did not get their ideas from the ether. These people are interconnected with all sorts of other people and ideas, and the following is an example of the interconnectedness of Ted Stevens with someone else you may recognize:

There are legitimate questions about the running mate of John McCain. Here, on this blog, I briefly examined her house, and the similarities its building has to Ted Stevens’ cabin situation. They shared the same building supply company, and they both were massive improvements done in strange manners. When Governor Palin was Mayor, she made sure that building codes were not put in place before she built her house. Todd says he built the immaculate home with a ‘couple of buddies’. There were events going on down a short road from the Palin’s house construction site, though, that make the situation so strange. The Wasilla Sports Complex was being erected, and the same building supply company supplied both with their material–the same exact building supply company that was involved in the Ted Stevens’ cabin refurbishing. Oh, and did I mention, that building supply company seems to be a big Republican donor?

There they were, all too familiar with each other. Ted Stevens and Sarah Palin, mucking it up and making nice on camera. A show of support from Sarah Palin to a Senator who, at the time, had been indicted for the crimes he has now been convicted of. Governor Palin is so close to Ted Stevens that she headed up a PAC for him. A political Action committee that gave her the state stage from which to introduce herself to the Alaskan state Republican party. Before that she was a small town mayor. A former Alaska Independence Party member who switch to become a Republican in order to run for mayor. She was already scheming her way up the ladder, and Ted Stevens gave her that ladder. So what gives with her making nice in front of the cameras with a man about to be taken down with national media attention. It’s a risky move for a governor who, from what I’ve been hearing, was already lobbying to be the VP nominee.

I view the meeting and make nice session as a capitulation by Palin to Stevens. The embattled cannot dictate terms, especially something so major as a sit-down in front of news cameras without something to negotiate with. Stevens plays hardball. Not typical hardball, but hardball even by Washington standards. This is a class A, 100 percent certified bastard of a politician. The man was indicted on seven counts of corruption, and he still gets Palin, the sitting governor of the state with VP aspirations (and more) to defend him. He has something on her–something bigger than what can be passed off with a sleight of hand.

They both have ties to the oil industry that have been questioned. In Palin’s case, she negotiated a pipeline deal that favored only one company. That company happened to have an inside player, the head of Palin’s pipeline team had been hired as a lobbyist for the winning company. With Ted Stevens, he is now known to have taken over $250,000 worth of goods and services from an oil company. These events may seem disconnected, but they stem from the same attitude, the same inner circle, and from the same ethos and teachings that Stevens passed onto Palin when he groomed her for bigger things. Now the end game is afoot, and the lessons to be learned will haunt them both.

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Palin – Massive Gaffe – Calls Israeli Embassy ‘Jewish Agency’

October 27, 2008

Palin's severe lack of knowledge about foreign policy was on full display in meeting with the Israeli Ambassador

Sarah Palin apparently doesn’t understand a couple of very basic concepts about Israel. It is not a Jewish state, no more so than Canada or Britain are Christian states. Israel is a secular government, just like the one here in the United States. Jewish isn’t a nationality, and Israel is not ‘Jewish’. This is such a very basic concept that I can’t even begin to fathom the depth of her ignorance.

Perhaps in the church where people speak in tongues, the congregants speak of the quickly approaching end times, and the certainty of dinosaurs and man living at the same time right after the earth was created (a mere 6,000 years ago) this type of thinking is encouraged. These radical evangelicals spout nonsense about Antichrists and demons, witches and angels, all the while claiming a false appreciation for Israel, contrived from the mistaken conception that the ‘apocolypse’ is coming any day now. They feign their friendship because Israel controls the ‘Holy’ land, and these radical, far right Christians need to imagine having access to that area.

As foreign relations gaffes go, this would be on par with calling up the Archbishop of Canterbury to negotiate a treaty between Britain and the US. It’s just that idiotic. What could her reaction be when she’s told that Israel is not a ‘Jewish’ state?

“Oh, gosh golly, you must be mistaken there fella, I know fer certain that those people wear those beanies!”

To say, direct to the face of the Israeli Ambassador, “We look forward to … working with your Jewish agency,” is not only an affront to Israel, it’s an affront to all of those knowledgeable potential running mates of John McCain. To think that Sarah Palin, a governor embroiled in an ethics probe, completely lacking any understanding of the Bush Doctrine (the driving philosophical force behind this administration’s foreign relations), and closely connected to a secessionist group would be picked over…well, anyone, is unbelievable. But this–this very basic mistake of Sarah Palin’s may be the most telling. Israel isn’t a nation to her, it’s a religion.

Edit: There is a misconception among some because of the statement “Hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in the land of Israel to be known as the State of Israel.” in the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel. Israel, however, has universal suffrage, and is not theocratic. This precludes the language appearing in the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, in that it is the law of the land, and is direct contradiction to the previous statement. It is much like the United States being considered a nation that has legal slavery, even though the practice is now unconstitutional.

Another case made for Israel being a Jewish nation is contained within the Balfour Declaration, which is just silliness.Israel does not even have a state religion, negating the concept of ‘Jewish State’ referring to the religion, but rather pointing to a cultural usage of ‘Jewish’.

According to Daniel Elazar, of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs:

As understood by the Knesset and the Israeli Supreme Court, religious law stands in relationship to the secular law of Israel roughly as state law stands in relationship to federal law in a federation with a dual legal system. That is to say, it is distinct, tends to be exclusive in its sphere, but is held to certain national tests in its application…

It is important to understand that the government of Israel does not control or try to control the religious establishment…

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