Posts Tagged ‘POV’

Healthcare summit, or healthcare nadir?

February 26, 2010

There was a big meeting at the Blair House in Washington DC yesterday. They called it a “summit”. It was a healthcare summit. A summit is one of those fancy words that sounds important, and it has two meanings: it means a “high point”, or a “meeting of the heads of government”. In this case, the “Healthcare Summit 2010” was supposed to be both: a meeting of government bigwigs that was of the highest importance to get things done.

As usual, all these big shot governmental leaders got together over the promise that they would make progress on healthcare reform. They were going to all come together to voice their ideas on how to reform the embarrassment we call the “American Healthcare System”. And predictably, they all got together and bickered, and whined, and postured, and pouted, and accused, and misstated the facts. And they brought their props, and their canned party lines, and their baggage.

And nothing got done.

Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) brought the 2,000 page House bill and plopped it on the desk in front of him. He’s never read the damn thing, but he had it sitting there as if to make the silent point that the bill is too big, and therefore it costs too much.

John Boehner (R-Ohio) kept saying that we needed to start over “with a clean sheet of paper”. Sorry, the only thing the Republicans have contributed to the process is exactly that–a clean sheet of paper. Like the kind of paper that average American citizens could wipe their butts with. Republicans didn’t bring any new ideas, but they brought the clean sheet of paper.

And then there was Johnny-on-the-spot McCain (R-Arizona) whining about the fact that it took the President a year to get this process on TV. McCain is so full of sour grapes about losing the 2008 election that he can’t do anything but moan and groan about process and procedure. He doesn’t care about actually getting things done, he only cares about nitpicking the politics–just like when he was running for President. To paraphrase President Obama: “Sorry John, the campaign is over, and you lost. Now please go away unless you are willing to help.”

And the Democrats were full of their own stupidity. Their party line is to keep on saying “we are closer than people realize” to getting things done. If the Democrats were only “closer” amongst themselves, this reform would have passed in the fall.

So please don’t call it a summit. There was no high point. Nothing got done. And to this voter it was the opposite of a summit. It was a deep, deep nadir. Defined as “the lowest point in the fortunes of a person or organization”.

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The Big Government Myth

February 22, 2010

Ronald Reagan: “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Bill Clinton: “The era of big government is over.”

Hypocrisy is the name of the game when politicians deride so-called “Big Government”. Republicans are often characterized as anti-big government, free-market capitalists who believe that if you put the power in the hands of the people the people will govern themselves. Democrats are thought of as reluctant big government advocates, who are forced to over-regulate everything because the people need government to keep the playing field level; they don’t want to grow the size of the government, but circumstances dictate the need to do so.

Fact: Democrats and Republicans both LOVE big government, each in their own way. Democrats love big-government for social programs, and Republicans love big government for military spending.

Exhibit A: In his eight years in office, Ronald Reagan increased government spending by 69 percent. He increased defense spending by 92% to force a stalemate with the USSR. By 1989 the US economy was growing, and so yes the size of government spending as a percentage of the economy had indeed shrunk under Reagan–an anemic decrease from 22.2% to 21.2%. Bottom line–US government spending was over 20% of the economy when he took office and it was over 20% the day he left. Conclusion: Reagan supported “Big Government” and failed to live up to his “government is the problem” mantra.

Exhibit B: From 1993 to 2001 Bill Clinton increased government spending by 32%, including only a 4% increase in defense spending–the cold war was over and 9/11 was unimaginable at the time. But Clinton’s numbers benefit from a booming economy that equated to a government spending decrease from 21.4% to 18.5%. In my book a 2.9% decrease is a wash when you factor in the technology boom of the internet and the lack of any serious military threat. Bottom line: Clinton’s government spent more than his predecessors, just like Reagan.

W increased government spending by 68% including a 126% increase in defense spending, and Obama’s spending is scraping almost 22% of the economy–so they are both infected by Big Government-itis.

Here’s the point: with over 300,000,000 people under its responsibility, the US Federal Government needs to spend money so that we have a well-protected, well-served, functioning American way of life. Democrats and Republicans pointing fingers at each other does no good because both sides are guilty. Got an enemy? Spend money on the military. Got a bad economy? Spend money so the whole ship doesn’t sink. Big government is only bad when it wastes money, but that is why we have elections–if you don’t like the stewardship of your tax dollars then elect someone else with better fiscal principals. The size of government is not the issue, it’s the management of the government we should be concerned with. When you put it in that context, as long as it takes care of the problem there is nothing terribly wrong with big-government spending.

But there is something terribly wrong with big-government bullshit.

D Is For DEMOCRAT

February 4, 2010

D is for DEMOCRAT; someone who is registered or aligned with the left wing of the political spectrum. The party with majority control of America’s Federal Government beginning in 2008.

D is for DISAPPOINTING; Democrats had a super-majority in the Senate for a year and got nothing accomplished.

D is for DEMAGOGUERY; how Democratic opposition scares the voting populace in America.

D is for D+; the grade I am giving the Democratic party for their performance from 2008-to date.

D is for DAFT; the way the Democratic party acts in the face of opposition.

D is for DE FACTO; the Democrats control the 2 out of 3 branches of government, but the GOP actually runs the show.

D is for DEADLOCKED; Democrats argue amongst themselves over everything, and they achieve nothing.

D is for DAMAGED GOODS; Harry Reid as the Democratic leader of the US Senate.

D is for DICHOTOMY; the difference between Democrats being in charge, and actually taking charge to get things done.

D is for DERELICTION OF DUTY; the shameful failure to fulfill one’s obligations (see DEMOCRAT).

D is for DISAFFECTED; how most Democrats feel these days.

D is for DOA (Dead On Arrival); the state of every bill introduced by the Democrats because of the GOP’s ability to rule from the minority position.

D is for DON’T ASK DON’T TELL; the most shameful Democratic idea ever.

D is for DUBIOUS; the state of Democratic power.

D is for DUPLICITY; Democrats promised to reform healthcare, and then they didn’t. No excuses!

D is for DIDDLY-SQUAT; what I got in return for electing Democrats.

Leading Off, Playing Center…Barack Obama

January 22, 2010

President Barack Hussein Obama (P)

Teddy is dead. Half of Massachusetts is Red. The Democratic Party had a Super-Majority for all of President Obama’s first year, and they couldn’t get healthcare reform done. 59 Democratic Senators can’t do any worse than 60 in this case.

Most US polls show that people like and respect Barack Obama. The rest of the world gave him a Nobel Peace Prize. Barack H. Obama was elected as the 44th President of The United states because most people on planet earth believe in his desire and ability to make the world a better place.

Now is the perfect time for him to leave the Democratic Party and start his own.

I have always believed in breaking the bi-polar mood swings this country suffers from being caught between a DEM vs. GOP, We vs. Them,  Hate vs. Other Hate. The only way to do that is to start a real 3rd political party in America. Joe LIEberman (i) has his ersatz independent Party (“i” intentionally lowercase). Obama can start the Progressive Party, as in President Obama (P).

Obama needs to get away from the entire congress and stand on his own personal principles and beliefs. The PEOPLE of America will re-elect him because he is brilliant, genuine, compassionate, and peaceful. He is a progressive person at a time when the “Progressive Party” agenda  needs to be distinguished from the centuries-old Democratic Party machine. But it’s not so much getting away from Democratic  ideals as it is getting away from the machine. The political machine in America is broken by political stalemate.

Two Democratic Party disasters occurred within 48 hours of each other: Scott Brown (R) was elected to replace the late Edward Kennedy (D) in the state of MA, and the US Supreme Court ruled that it was OK for Corporate America to give directly to Politicians’ campaign. Big sums of money. One MSNBC pundit said that Senators and Representatives would no longer represent states, but rather represent companies like GE and AIG and BP. He even suggested Congressmen and Women wear corporate logos when in session.

Senator Scott Brown is more an indication that there is an independent political growth in this country that has seeded and begun to crowd out certain legislators beholden to the left and the right. And Corporate America loves the GOP because of tax cuts and TARP, so can’t we just all recognize that that love exists? Let them give all the money to any politician who helps them out. If THE PEOPLE don’t like that politician they will vote with their wallets and spend their money with the companies that support the politicians that best represent them. Simple and honest. This Supreme Court ruling doesn’t bother me. As long as Obama gets out from in-between the Hatfields and the McCoys and leads the USA in his own direction.

Obama’s direction is very Progressive: Peaceful, Prosperous, Educated, Self-Sustaining, United, and Humane. The President of The United States of America is elected by all the people, supposedly because that person best represents what the country’s majority wants. Not to be the talking head of political party. If the people want something done then they will elect the person that will look at the other two branches of US government and say, “The people sent me here to sign this, and to veto that. You all figure out how to make it work in the US citizens’ best interests and show it to me when you’re ready!”

President Obama (D)–it’s time to become President Obama (P). Let’s get this party started already.

The Recession Is Ending-Could 11,000 People Possibly Be Wrong?

December 7, 2009

Only in America can a party breakout over 11,000 people losing their jobs.

Last week, revised employment figures came out showing that ONLY 11,000 people became newly-unemployed in November. This is what passes for good news these days. I apologize for my cynicism, but that’s 11,000 people who have been thrust into a really bad situation, most likely through no fault of their own.

I know logically that this is far better than what was expected, and perhaps it does signal that the worst is over and the tide is turning. But for now it still remains 11,000 more people who have to figure out what they are going to do to keep from being homeless, hungry, and hopeless. I know this feeling because I was unemployed earlier this year for (mercifully) 3 months. Anyone who has ever been laid off knows the feeling of desperation and loss, but being unemployed in this economy is downright horrifying. Back in the good old days if you lost your job perhaps you could sell your home and buy some time by living off of the profits, or you got a decent severance package, or there was a market to find more work–even at a lower wage. Not these days.

So while many politicians are hailing the new employment figures-which include the statistic that the unemployment rate “improved” to 10%-I don’t see this as a time to smile or even feel hopeful. Here’s my theory: the reason why ONLY 11,000 lost their jobs in November 2009 is because there’s almost nobody left to lay-off. Think about it; most remaining workers are doing the jobs of 2 or 3 other people, or enough businesses have gone under, so that there is nobody left to cut anymore. Somebody has to turn on the lights and make the widgets and send out the invoices and pay the vendors. Life goes on, but for many people it goes on way past the 40-hour work week without a raise or overtime. Hey, it beats unemployment.

Naturally Wall Street reacted well to the news, and by last count the DOW is over 10,300. So all is right with the world, and the bankers can give themselves millions of dollars in bonuses because things are heading in the right direction again (PLEASE READ THAT LAST SENTENCE WITH HEAPING AMOUNTS OF SARCASM). And yes, 11,000 people losing their jobs is way better than 111,000 people losing their jobs.

But until we are putting 11,000 people BACK to work, better keep that cork in the champagne bottle. This is no time to celebrate anything.

“Obama Admits He’s A Muslim” and the Crowd Goes Nuts

December 4, 2009

And on the eighth day God created FactCheck.org.

It’s a good thing she did too, because the people at Fact Check (a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center) are doing exceptional work. Today they uncovered a really diabolical and lame YouTube video entitled “Obama Admits He’s A Muslim”. Brought to you by a group called “Feel The Change Media”, this video has received over 1,000,000 YouTube hits since being posted in August, 2009. I can feel the change alright; Fact Check has revealed that the video is edited to show President Obama making statements that seem to prove that he is actually a Muslim, rather than a Christian. I was a post-production producer for eight years, and I can tell you that this is some of the most creative video editing I have ever seen.

I refer to the video as “diabolical” NOT because of the idea that the President could possibly be a Muslim, but because ever since 9-11 Muslims have been demonized in America. And during the 2008 campaign, accusations of Barack Obama being a Muslim were used to scare the ultra-right wing voters. As if being a Muslim means you are anti-American, or a terrorist, or you are unworthy, or some racist nonsense like that.

Come on America, can we please get a grip here? Will we ever be able to separate the person from the politics? We’re almost a full decade into the 21st century and we are still collectively acting like a bunch of drunken, ignorant fools at a KKK rally. “Obama the Muslim” should be as benign a notion as “Palin the Alaskan” or “W the Cowboy” or “Cheney the Prince of Darkness.” Well, scratch that last one…

“Post Racial Society”? Not the USA. No, the “Great Melting Pot” always manages to congeal into ignorant clumps of racism and hatred. It amazes me how important it is for the conspiracy nuts in this country to expose President Obama as a Muslim when there is not a single exception for any religion in the Constitution which would make someone ineligible to be President. Quite the contrary, it allows for total freedom of religious beliefs. That’s what makes this video so sad.

It wouldn’t matter if Barack Hussein Obama were a Muslim, Jew, Jehovah’s Witness, Atheist, Buddhist, Humanist, or if he were even Santa Claus himself–the people who hate him would still hate him because of his policies. But since those folks tend to be too stupid to properly articulate why they disagree with his policies they head towards the lowest common denominator (or lowest common uniter in this case). It’s amazing that this country got past the fact that he’s African-American enough to elect him. I guess being Muslim is the new black when it comes to racism.

I went to the web site for Feel The Change Media, and they have some other cute links there such as “Anti-Obama Shirts” and “Michelle Obama’s Bio.” So as you can see, they’re really feeling the change over there. And it feels like Antebellum.

Generation Cleanup

November 12, 2009

Ten years ago today I became a father, and by doing so I have left my indelible mark on society. Long after I am gone my two children will still roam the earth and try to live a good life in the wake of those who came before them. That’s what every generation does. We are all born amidst the circumstances and conditions that were created by those who came before us, and we have to live our lives either prospering from the ways of the world, or trying to make things better for ourselves in spite of the hand we are dealt.

Politicians like to fret over the budget deficit by saying “we can’t saddle future generations with our debt”, or “we can’t punish our children and grandchildren by making them pay off our excesses”. They say we can’t kick the can down the road for someone else to deal with. That is why politicians are up in arms about the bailouts, health reform, and deficit spending. They contend that government can’t afford to invest more money in fixing the economy right now because future generations will spend their lives paying off this debt.

I say that this is a baseless argument for two reasons.

First of all, unless we fix the economy NOW, my children will have far worse problems to deal with in the future. For example, if the economy continues to go south and I lose my job then my children will be at a huge disadvantage. We lose our home, their lives will be severely disrupted, and their future will be uncertain. Plenty of studies show that children whose parents struggle economically often turn to drugs, crime, and (for girls) are more likely to become pregnant teens. I would argue that these conditions are far worse than my kids dealing with higher taxes and inflation as adults when their generation has to pay off government debt. If they have good careers and healthy lives then they will have the ability to deal with it. It won’t be ideal, but it will be possible.

Secondly, “passing the buck” is a part of American history. The “Greatest Generation” dealt with cleaning up the Great Depression and fighting World War Two. The Baby Boomers helped remake the US economy by transforming us from a manufacturing and agricultural society to an information and technology society. Generation X (my generation) has to struggle with the looming transformation of the healthcare industry and its impact on the economy, while the country’s financial resources are evaporating under the heat of fighting two misguided and seemingly endless wars. And my children (and probably my grandchildren) will be paying the tab throughout their adult lives.

But that scenario is far better than having them struggle through poverty as children. The US government needs to invest more money where the US consumers currently can not. Otherwise there will be nothing left for our children to deal with when they are old enough to do so.

That’s the true way of life as Americans. It doesn’t matter who’s fault it is, and it doesn’t matter when it gets cleaned up (unless China decides to call us on the debt we owe them, which will never happen because they will lose their biggest global customer and plunge the world into economic oblivion). We need to get through right now with some semblance of normalcy so that our children have a decent life to grow up strong enough so they can have a decent chance to actually pay for our sins. And besides, after generations of mounting debt, it would be more unfair to suddenly say “this is wrong, we must clean this up right now” and start slashing things like infrastructure, social services, and more jobs. That would be far worse that pushing it off for another time.

So I say we keep kicking the can down the road until future generations are strong enough and better suited to pick up that can and throw it in the trash where it belongs. Spending beyond our means is wrong, but so is ruining the lives of generations that aren’t at fault for the situation they were born into. Let’s give them a fighting chance.

Is There Anybody Out There?

October 28, 2009

Sounds like that creepy voice from Pink Floyd’s The Wall, right? Well, that’s exactly what this first entry feels like–creepy.

Is anybody gonna read this blog except me? Am I gonna piss-off some gun-toting wacko (that didn’t take long)? Am I gonna write 11 entries and then get bored or distracted, and have this digital evidence to my lack of commitment left out there in the blogosphere for all eternity?

The only way to answer those questions is to just start wrting.

Voting Mad is a blog about politics, politicians, and their effect on people–specifically the American citizens. I have a point of view that will be the tone and personality of this blog:

  • I have been Voting Mad since I cast my first vote for Dukakis in 1988–I wanted Cuomo, but he never ran.
  • I think Voting Mad is perfectly okay–these are fucked up times in the good ol’ USA, and there’s a lot to be pissed off about.
  • I Vote Mad because I won’t get on the demonstration line. I yell at the TV, not at town hall meetings. I agree with Peter Tosh when he said, “I’ve got no time for generals or funerals.”  I’ll write and I’ll donate money, but I’ll get involved from a distance that protects me from getting shot or arrested.
  • I am an open-minded Democrat with many Republican friends. I am an extremely loyal supporter of Barack Obama and his policies, and passionately resentful of the disasterous W/Cheney administration. However, I am convinced that the USA would benefit greatly from a credible, independent, moderate, 3rd political party.

My hope is that I can use this forum to get my churning-mad political views out of my system, and perhaps enlighten, entertain, or enrage a few readers here and there along the way.

Please send me comments–I might learn something.

Let’s get started: Joe Lieberman is an asshole.

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Wow that felt good! But why would a Jew like me be mad at a Jew like Joe? Because Senator Lieberman is a traitor. The Democratic party made this guy. He was one Supreme Court disagreement away from being Al Gore’s Vice President. And now, when the Democratic party needs him to help push forward on a public option for healthcare reform he threatens to help the GOP fillibuster against it. What balls he has.

Yes I know, Joe is an “independent”. He’s not an “Independent” with an uppercase “I”, because there is no real Independent Party in America. You see, Bubbie Lieberman is what they call an “independent thinker”–beholden to no party. But shouldn’t I be lauding the guy for marching to the beat of his own Bar Mitzvah DJ? No. Joe likes to Caucus with the Democrats when it pleases him, and he likes his nice Homeland Security Chairmanship position (which he got by being in the majority party). But when we need this schmuck’s vote on a basic party platform issue he goes across the aisle. I’d have more respect for hm if he left the Democratic party and either became an out-of-the-closet Republican or started a legitimate Independent political party. Joe lost his Democratic cred when he supported John McCain, and it’s silly for Harry Reid to hold onto this guy so he can pretend he’s got a filibuster-proof majority. He doesn’t, and the healthcare debate is proving that every day.

Which brings me to a fundamental issue that will crop up in this blog from time to time: we need a real 3rd party in America. I don’t know that I would leave the Democrats for them, but a 3rd party will, as Rodney Dangerfield said in Caddyshack, “keep it fair.” Could I vote for Obama and an Independent congressperson? Definitely–all depends on the political views. But views are nothing unless they lead to action.

Regardless of party affiliation, I’d vote for anyone who believes in the following:

  1. Keeping abortion safe, legal, and rare.
  2. Outlawing 99% of the guns available. I am all for hunting, and self-defense. But only a criminal needs a semi-automatic weapon and armor piercing bullets. Find me a line in the Constitution about the right to pop a cap in someone’s ass and I might think differently.
  3. Making Gay marriage legal everywhere. As long as two adults are in love with each other, what the hell is the difference? And none of this civil-union bullshit either. The divorce rate in the US is just over 50%, so there’s nothing so sacred about marriage anymore that two homosexuals are going to degrade the value of tying the knot. Heteros have taken care of that all by ourselves.
  4. Make marijuana legal. Forget medical marijuana–I don’t want to pray for Glaucoma. I just want to smoke a bowl after a long day and not worry about going to jail. Is that too much to ask? Louis Armstrong once called a joint “a cigarette with a little booze in it”. Supposedly he smoked pot every day, and by any measure he had a pretty decent career. So can’t we just allow Phillip Morris and all the boys to mass-produce and market the product, then let the government tax the shit out of it so I can have the convenience of stopping by Dominicks on the way home to pick up a carton of kind bud? Let’s put the drug dealers out of business and let a real cartel like the tobacco industry take over.
  5. Death penalty reform–I am confused. On the one hand, I’d execute a rapist myself and feel good about it. On the other hand, there’s a reason why The Innocence Project exists. There are definitely innocent people on death row, and there have definitely been innocent people executed by the government. What to do? If you could guarantee me that rapists and murderers would automatically NEVER be allowed out of prison, I could do without the death penalty. Lock ’em up and leave ’em there for the rest of their life. If Bernie Madoff can get 150 years for stealing money, how can a child rapist get out of jail ever? Kill ’em or keep ’em off the streets–let ’em back out if you can prove they’re really innocent.
  6. Healthcare reform–end pre-existing condition exclusions, enact some measure of tort reform, and give me my fucking public OPTION. I may use it, I may not. But I want an option in case I ever lose my job. My family’s health shouldn’t be tied to my career anymore. And by the way, government-run programs work just fine for me–I’ve never had a problem at the DMV.

Well that’s enough for the first post. Hopefully someone made it this far and is willing to come back again for more. If there’s anybody actually out there reading this, I thank you for your time.