Archive for the ‘Obama’ Category
Sigh. And the American electoral process just lurched downwards again. The next few months is just going to be a cacophony from the right about Obamacare. Can we talk about foreign policy, maybe jobs? I doubt it. Not that they were going to talk about relevant stuff much anyhow, but now it’s going to be so much worse. Once the sound of conservative’s heads exploding from the Supreme Court ruling dies away, they will rise from the dead and begin a howling like we have never heard before. On the plus side, pundits on all sides of the aisle will have a field day, and it’s a good bet people like Rush will outdo themselves in their efforts to demonize Obamacare.
OK, a few thoughts, hopefully adding up to a coherent conclusion. First of all, America’s health care system is a disaster. The numbers speak for themselves, on every metric one cares to examine, life expectancy, etc. … America comes in dead last among the developed countries. Even worse, we actually pay the most for this ghastly health care! France provides cradle-to-grave health care for everyone within its borders, including dental care. Health care that by almost any measure is considered some of the finest in the world, when a ambulance arrives in France, it has an actual doctor on board for God’s sake! And they provide this for about 11% of their GNP. The USA’s system? It costs about 16% of our GNP, and provides health care that is the shame of the developed world.
Of course the big objection that the Tea Party and ilk seem to have is something along the lines of “Forcing me to pay for my neighbor’s health care is socialism!” Aside from the lunacy of using ideology to support a social policy (a blog on that is in the works,) this is stupid because health care costs are distributed anyhow! When your neighbor down the street goes bankrupt from a sickness or injury, like about a million families a year, guess who the shorted creditors pass the loss onto? When your uninsured neighbor goes to the county hospital at public expense, whose taxes pay for it? When your sick neighbor misses work because of a treatable illness, guess who their employer’s lost productivity costs get passed on to? Everyone pays for the costs of sick members of society. Yet the Tea Partiers and their ilk would apparently rather have a system where they can pretend they aren’t paying for their neighbor’s health care, while simultaneously paying more than anyone else in the developed world. That’s nucking futz.
In the same vein one often sees the most egregious crap about foreign health care systems bandied about as if it were fact by the Tea Party crowd. One routinely hears that in Canada “People have to wait six months for a check-up” or “People have no choice about what doctor they see.” Sigh. Canada has a single payer system. That means you go to any damn health care provider you like, and the government pays the bill. Canada has a vast assortment of modern hospitals and doctors, just chose the one you like. Sometimes there is a wait for non-emergency procedures, but few if any complain. Be honest, wouldn’t having free health care of your choice for life be preferable to having to pay through the nose for health insurance, even if it meant having to wait a few months for some non-emergency services? Of course it’s the better option, which is why numerous completely democratic countries repeatedly elect governments that provide cradle-to-grave health care.
So what do I think of Obamacare? Many of its provisions seem like a step in the right direction to me. I’ve yet to hear any practical objections too it. Yes, it means some tax money will pay for health care for sick people. Um, you have a better use for tax money? That’s one of the things that amazes me about the Tea Partier’s objections, they have a problem with using tax money to help sick and injured people? Excuse me, but that sounds like one of the best possible uses for tax dollars. It beats the hell out of giving buckets of money to the people whose greed and gambling destroyed the economy, or using it to send soldiers to die on the far side of the world to defend corporate profits.
Granted it’s only a baby step in the right direction, towards a health care system where the only people profiting are the actual health care providers, not giant insurance companies that make their profits by denying coverage. How we ever even got to the point where huge corporations took over health care and turned it into a corporate gold mine is a testament to how far from a government “for the people” this country has gone. Still, it gives me hope in this age where the corporations have undue influence in government and the regulatory process that the people can still win a battle. There are plenty of sound reasons not to like Obama, but that the Republicans have thrown their lot in with the corporate death panel vampires that profit from sick Americans is disgusting. Shame on them.
Have a great weekend everyone!
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. I don’t know who to credit but I wish I did, it’s brilliant. For those who haven’t heard, CNN and Fox both initially reported that the Supreme Court had stuck down Obamacare, apparently because in their haste to get the news out they only read the very first page of the Supreme Court decision before hitting send. It’s based on the famous “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline.)
Well, what can I say, I have not been practising due diligence in blogging the past week or two, so maybe lost weeks would be more accurate. Oh well, if the gentle reader had my life, they would understand. And at my age, upgrades are few and far between. In any event, notes in the margins so to speak.
I find it fascinating how the UN has morphed into an instrument for the west to simply install governments the west likes in the rest of the world. Granted it was always about preserving the world order (IE, white people running the world,) but at least they used to pretend that it was an organization about handling disputes between sovereign states. Not any more. Sovereign nation, what’s that?
The madness with Iran continues. Israeli media is reporting that preparations for an attack on Iran are underway. Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the biggest impediments to peace in the modern world is a handful of nations, the US and Israel being foremost among them, having huge standing militaries. History shows that almost always (well, I can’t think of any exceptions) a huge standing military means that the military will eventually get involved in politics. And guess what policies a military might encourage? Endless war! And since the end of World War Two, that’s pretty much what the USA and Israel have done. And at this point their populations think it’s normal to be at war with everyone and surrounded by enemies. Sigh.
The Taliban spring offensive has begun. Or more accurately, spring has arrived in Afghanistan. They don’t call Afghanistan the graveyard of empires for nothing. Of course now a days the bodies are shipped home so that politicians can spew egregious self-serving nonsense while their families bury their dead. Sacrifice, duty, and the spiffy new propaganda for sending troops to the other side of the world to impose our will on people … we’re just defending our freedoms! How about freedom from senseless colonial wars, can we bring that one back? In a final bit of delicious irony irony what, the US has called the Taliban “cowards.” Right, people that are willing to fight the most powerful military machine the world has ever seen … are cowards. Snort.
I see Cheney has called President Obama’s presidency an “unmitigated disaster.” Of course he didn’t actually specify what he meant by that, since it would take an electron microscope to see the distance to the left of the Republicans that the Obama administration is. In fact the only thing “liberal” about the Obama administration is that Obama occasionally (and very occasionally these past few years ) says liberal things. More on point, it’s just disgusting that a smart man like Cheney is pandering to the tea party crowd and urging his fellow Americans to hate each other for their political beliefs. I’m beginning (beginning?) to think that modern American politics is just like the modern American media … there is no depth so low they won’t sink to to pander to the great unwashed masses.
In one little bit of good news (yes, it also takes an electron microscope to see the silver linings these days, I keep mine in standby mode,) some foreign leaders are calling on the USA to reconsider the War on Drugs. Since, you know, it’s been an unmitigated disaster. Will the USA respond to its allies concerns? Of course not, Obama was blowing up Pakistani women and children within weeks of taking office, so the idea that he gives a rats a** about our allies doesn’t pass the laugh test. Well, I mean our allies who are brown skinned nations, he at least pretends to be concerned about white nations.
So was this post a good cheery Monday morning post? Doug’s Darkworld, where it’s always the hour before dawn. Have a great week everyone!
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit etc. Credit and copyright: Universal Studios. It’s Ray Milland in the Academy Award winning 1945 movie “The Lost Weekend.” He has my sympathy.)
I’m going to start posting some timely comments on world events as they occur. These will likely be smaller than my regular posts, less polished, and more prone to factual errors. Please point out same when they occur. I’m doing this because the winds of change are blowing, and I want to stay somewhat current. And to get feedback on my thoughts of the evolving new world order as it unfolds, we are in for a ride in 2012 it looks like.
OK, Obama just announced a change in military spending and priorities. Fewer ground troops, more ships and planes, increased emphasis on East Asia (China’s neighborhood.) Obama is spinning this as some huge change in our military posture, it isn’t. Some will no doubt claim it is weakening America and our enemies will take advantage of us. No it isn’t, and no more than usual. What does it all mean?
I can only think of two things. One is that it’s a pretty obvious attempt to transfer more money to the armaments industry. We already have more ships and planes than we know what to do with, and Iraq and Afghanistan suffered form insufficient troops. Secondly, it’s an attempt to get the Chinese to react and increase their spending … which we could spin as a threat … and thus we increase “defense” spending again. We already spend more money on war than the rest of the world combined, but apparently we can always go higher.
Now, domestic pie-slicing concerns aside, is there anything else going on here? China doesn’t really pose much of a threat, a best they are working on the ability to defend themselves far more formidably if we want to go to war with them. (And they don’t have a history of imperial ambitions.) Our nuclear armed Navy and Air Force are still a mind numbingly bloated mass killing machine, it’s not like anyone is going to seriously go at it with them. The one down side to this I see, is this may encourage China to ally itself more closely with Russia, Iran, etc. Which could really be spun into a threat by Obama. See how this works?
And uglier, we segue to a more global idea, is the USA actually trying to start a bigger war? Judging from the hysteria being whipped up about Iran, I am not reassured. I’ll write about that soon.
(There will be no images in these current events posts. Hate em or enjoy em, please let me know.)
Well, no rapture. No surprise. It really is dismaying how people can believe prima facie nonsense in this day and age. It’s especially galling because so many Americans, especially the ones who fall for this kind of crap, have an especially high opinion of America and Americans. A country where tens of millions of people think the Earth is a few thousand years old or that evolution is “just a theory.” And don’t even get me started on people who think the Moon landings were hoaxed. Our educational system as once the envy of the world, it’s rapidly becoming the laughing stock of the world.
Moving right along, I think it’s clear at this point that Obama is going to get reelected. No one in their right mind is going to run against him, so its going to be a very amusing election. Especially the Republican primaries, a collection of, well, political suicide bombers like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich squaring it off. They might as well skip any actual pretense of debate and settle the issue mud wrestling. Hell, I’d pay to see Sarah and Newt go at it in a mud pit. On the plus side, I won’t have much to blog about since Obama’s inexorable progress will be painfully obvious to all. I wonder if peeps will be dancing in the streets the second time he gets elected? (Of course by then public displays of affection towards our Dear Leader may be mandatory.)
The economy still sucks. Tushima is still a disaster. The Gulf Oil Spill is still wreaking an unsung toll. Iraq is still a bloody mess, Afghanistan a repeat of Vietnam … without even the option of carpet bombing the Taliban’s cities because they don’t have any. Egypt is still a mess becasue Mubarak’s cronies throwing him and him alone to the wolves was not exactly the democratic revolution the people of Egypt struggled for and deserved. Libya is now effectively two states, with NATO bombing here and there. The totalitarian governments of Syria and Yemen are slaughtering people in the street, Syria’s may survive, Yemen’s is looking more doubtful. Bahrain is still a brutal mess. Pakistan gets more unstable every day. And the rest of the world is looking on and trying to stay out of the scrum … or see how they can benefit from it. See, more information about the state of the world in one paragraph than in an entire year of the New Yorker.
I wanted to mention Pakistan in a bit more depth. There’s been a lot of hostile talk about Pakistan in the USA, about how they aren’t a good ally, and they may have even known about OBL’s location. All possibly true. Then there’s reality. In reality, Pakistan is far more fractured and power is far more diffuse than in the USA. It takes a long time to forge a nation out of nothing, and Pakistan has had less than a century as a nation under conditions that make the United State’s infancy look like a romp in Disneyland. Secondly, aside from understanding what a mess Pakistan is, more importantly, they only joined the USA’s war against the Taliban because of threats and bribes. Pakistan was the Taliban’s best friend, for perfectly reasonable geopolitical reasons. So basically the USA is in the position of a bully who with a combination of threats and bribes forced Pakistan into a war not only against its best interests, but into a war against elements of its own society. To then blame the Pakistanis for being less than enthusiastic participants in the mess we made is, well, ignorant. We’re lucky they’ve cooperated as much as they have, we should be counting our blessings.
Lastly, as far as I can tell, the western cabal’s control of the mainstream media gets more pervasive and more subtle every day. Not that it was ever easy to figure out what was going on, but more and more huge numbers of people think they are tuned in … and they aren’t. This isn’t going to end well.
(The above image is being used legally under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Credit and copyright: Syriana2011. It’s an image of protesters in Damascus this spring. It’s obviously been photo shopped, since none of the thousands of Muslims in the image is engaged in violence.)
I’m sure almost every English speaking person heard that in their childhood, a mantra someone uses when someone has called them names. Of course if it was actually true, there would be no need to say so, the mere fact that such idioms exist is proof positive that words can most definitely hurt. Words can hurt, for good or for ill, they are one of the most powerful tools humans have for affecting how other people think and feel. Leaders don’t inspire crowds by drawing pictures or doing dances, most of the time they use words.
So I’ve been a little peeved at the amazing circumlocutions I am hearing from the right how the violent eliminationist rhetoric used by so many influential figures on the right is somehow irrelevant when someone actually acts out that violence. Yes, the Arizona shooter is a nut, no doubt about that, but since Obama got elected there have been half a dozen other nuts who also went out and shot people acting out right wing ideals, from shooting policemen out of fear of gun confiscation, to actual targeting liberals such as the fellow who shot up the Unitarian church. Granted this is a very small number of cases, but still, there is a pattern here. More on point, these shootings didn’t take place when Bush was in office, they took place after the whole Tea Party movement started and the rhetoric (not to mention actual guns) at political events reached new heights.
Do I think this is a major problem? Not yet, though it’s a major problem for those whose lives have been affected by this sort of violence. The fact that so many on the right are in complete denial about this though, that’s a problem. Let’s look at this. The right is constantly making the claim that liberal media and liberal educators are poisoning people’s minds. Some have even gone so far as to create Conservapedia, to counteract the alleged liberal bias of Wikipedia. So let’s see, all this liberal bias in the media is poisoning people’s minds … but all the vitriol, hate speech, and violent eliminationist rhetoric coming from talking heads on the right has no influence on people? While breathtaking hypocrisy is stock-in-trade for American politics, simultaneously ranting about the liberal media while denying that violent right wing rhetoric has any influence is about as hypocritical as it gets.
Moving right along in my random revisiting of the Arizona shooting, once again we have an incident that has been blown all out of proportion by the press and the politicians. President Obama even gave a speech at the memorial service. It was a stirring and inspiring speech by most accounts, but I’ve heard stirring speeches before and unless they are followed by action, I’m underwhelmed. It’s not like any effective gun control is possible in the USA, the conservatives have pretty much won that battle. And it’s not like people like the shooter are going to get more mental health resources available to them, again, the conservatives have worked hard to prevent spending on public health. Yes, I am not so subtly implying that aside from violent rhetoric, other conservative policies also contributed to this shooting.
Granted both sides used this incident to score political points. And I seriously doubt it will result in any changes in American politics one way tother. It’s just the story of the day. And despite the nonstop coverage in our so called Free Press, little of substance will be said. The Americans dying in our foreign wars for example, how much press do they get? And as a perceptive commenter pointed out on my last post, we are committing massacres like the Arizona shooting on almost a daily basis in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And this was a war the USA chose, the Taliban and the Pakistani tribesmen are only fighting back, we attacked them. This too isn’t likely to change any time soon, but like the endless conservative violent rhetoric, it’s going to come back and bite us in the ass again sooner or later.
Do we really want to inspire and incite another Timothy McVeigh or Osama bin Laden? Sometimes I wonder.
(The above image is a funeral after a drone strike in Afghanistan. It’s claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and its use here in no way interferes with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image. Credit: NY Times. Pretty good bet many or most of those people don’t look too kindly on the people who killed their friends and relatives. Why are we fighting these people again? When is Obama going to give a speech explaining that? And in a final macabre note, on top of my Internet and computer problems, I tried to saw off my thumb on Monday. No, not on purpose. So that too is going to limit my on line and writing time, sigh.)
McCain Proposes Indefinite Detention Without Trial for Citizens … and Why I Still Think We Would All Be Better Off If He Had Won the Election
Still, this proposed law is scary. The whole concept is so foreign to the principles the country was founded upon that it’s like being in a bad dream and not being able to wake up. This proposed law basically turns the Constitution and the Bill of Rights into a piece of toilet paper and gives the President dictatorial powers to have anyone he likes locked up, permanently. I wonder if it has occurred to the good Senator that a future president could simply have Congress detained if the president was frustrated by them? I doubt it, Congress has so long gotten away with exempting themselves from their own laws that I don’t think it even crossed his mind. On the other hand, laws like this have made it onto the books before without people being locked up as a result. So who knows what this means, incipient fascist police state, or politicians pandering to the law and order sheep? It’s just one more piece in the puzzle, and there’s no box lid with a picture to see how it’s supposed to all turn out.
In any event, I’m more convinced than ever that we all would have been much better off if McCain had won the election. Well, maybe better off is not quite the word, but if McCain had won, there would still be hope. There would still be hope, because there’d still be an opposition movement to the “borrow and spend” and “war forever” insanity that is making a tiny number of people very very rich, while impoverishing the rest of us. I mean, Obama has not only continued Bush’s policies, in most cases he’s actually expanded on them. He really is the Manchurian candidate, though not in the silly way the Tea Partiers and such espouse, he’s no socialist or Muslim. He’s simply the complete political tool utterly craven to the rich and powerful who have been running the country as their own company town for the past few decades (at least.) Far from being an opposition party, the Democrats are now just the other face of the Republicans. Both are big business, big military, and big war supporters. For those of a literary bent, we are living in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, and the pigs and the farmers just merged.
So it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, but I don’t think this fall’s elections really mean a damn thing. Even if the Tea Partiers are swept into power, they will deviate as much from the course we are already on as Obama. Anyone who seriously thinks that any Republican or Democrat is going to shrink government and cut government spending is living in a dream world. Well, a propaganda world more precisely. A world where the rich are victims, and the poor and immigrants are the source of all our problems. A world where blowing up brown woman and children on the other side of the planet in droves isn’t even newsworthy, but some guy lights his pants on fire on a plane and it’s an existential threat to the USA. I have to admit I never ever thought when I was a a kid that I’d grow up and find myself living in a world that was sillier than the comic books I was reading.
Where this is all going is anyone’s guess. The current situation is frighteningly similar to Rome at its height. An empire basically grown too large to manage, and hollowed out at the core by corruption and greed. An empire that is surviving by debasing its currency and looting foreign lands. Neither is a good long term strategy for a nation or an empire, but boy, a tiny number of people get rich beyond imagining. Sooner or later it will all fall apart, maybe with a whimper, maybe with a bang. It’s the bang that scares me most. A single event in the US even remotely like 9/11 and the country will go cuckoo bananas. Literally. And sooner or later one of our ever increasing number of enemies, or even one of our “friends,” is going to pull it off. It’s inevitable, 9/11 wasn’t the first terrorist attack in the USA and it won’t be the last. It’s the first one though where a rudderless administration seized upon it to make terror mongering a structural part of US politics and society. Yes, now we’re stuck with 9/11 mania forever, thank you Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney.
Lastly, while my assessment of the overall situation is bleak, it has to be balanced by the fact that throughout history, no matter what great events and catastrophes were raging, most people in most places managed to live out their lives. I dare to say that most cities in the Roman Empire are still cities today. I was reading the other day there’s one of the grand villas (palaces) built by a Roman emperor that’s still remarkably well preserved today, because a local village grew into it and used (and preserved) its buildings. I plan to live my life and enjoy the company of my friends and loved ones no matter what, as long as people do that, ultimately the bastards will never win.
(The above image of Diocletian’s Palace. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Credit and copyright: Rialfver at nl.wikipedia. If I was a better artist I’d create an image of the ruins of Washington being viewed by tourists 2,000 years from now. And I don’t mean any of this in a bad way, American simply fell prey to the same sorts of greed and corruption that have destroyed so many prior empires. It’s been a hell of a ride, and it’s not over yet by a long shot. Parts of the Roman Empire for example carried right on for a thousand years after the fall of Rome.)