Monday, February 19, 2007

Disabled Iraq Veterans Shafted

Despite all the flag-waving, support our troups blah blah from this chickenhawk populated administration, disabled veterans returning from Iraq are routinely being given the shaft by the military regarding their disability pay and medical benefits upon discharge.

Meanwhile, the VA has a backlog of 400,000 new claims from fiscal year 2006.

This is a travesty.

John at AmericaBlog says "This is a national disgrace." He comments today on a piece from the Army Times, Wounded and Waiting and a two-part series in the Washington Post, Soldiers Face Neglect, Frustration at Army's Top Medical Facility and The Hotel Aftermath.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Drinkin' The Kool-Aid

After hearing the White House report on the new budget proposal...

Feb. 5, 2007: ...earlier today the President transmitted to the Congress the FY 2008 five-year budget. It contains good news for the American people. It includes a balanced budget over five years, while meeting the nation's priorities.

...I was thinking, this is positive. Maybe Bush is actually doing something right, getting things turned around and at least headed in the right direction. Then it dawned on me, I'm drinkin' the Kool-Aid. It's just smoke and mirrors, a BushCo snow job.

Richard Calderhead at Itsez has some comments worth consideration:


February 6: Average Americans will wake up today with the Good News: Bush is declaring a New Budget...that will Reduce the Deficit. And...(best news of all...No New Taxes!)...

According to Steven Rattner, NYTimes today, America is in really, really deep trouble. There is Red Ink stretching so far into the future it is nearly unimaginable to conceive of a way to get our national budget balanced!

How can this POSSIBLY be? WE are supposed to be America...the Land of Untold Riches and Prosperity (for...well, NEARLY all.)...

Bush has only been in office for 6 years...but he has radically worsened an already bad situation...which was CREATED by Ronald Reagan...on Destroy America's Social Contract.

We will accept Rattner's get this:

In 2006, we collected $185 billion more in Social Security than we paid out! Surprised? Well, there are a couple of problems with that fact.

1. First, you would ASSUME that SS payments would go into a SS Savings Account, to accrue interest to pay FUTURE payments? Wouldn't you? (Most Americans more or less believe this.)
Think again. That HUGE SS SURPLUS is swept up by Bush and used to make the current operating deficit appear smaller than it is.

2. Next...forget this current Surplus. We find out that Bush, Inc., is blithely LYING TO US (again)...and that we would need to put aside RIGHT NOW no less than $39 TRILLION...just to pay for Social Security, Medicare and OTHER payments already promised!

Quick now: Where will Uncle Sam EVER get a quick $39 TRILLION?

We have a few other pressing problems that need to be taken care of NOW. Put them all together and we see Ol' Sam in an entirely new light. Broke. Busted. And begging for cash to keep the country afloat.

Now...ask yourself: Is THIS what you read about every day in your local newspaper...or your favorite weekly? Not even Lou Dobbs is talking about it.

The word "Deficit" is made small ON PURPOSE...because it is swallowed up by all the other, more "pressing" problems we face.

Now do keep this in mind: If we fail to deal with this, in a systematic basis...and do it as a National Priority...we are headed for unimaginable troubles.

EXCEPT...that, once again, the Fat Cats will slip on by...and go their merry way, unaffected by the carnage they are creating. THEIR money, safely tucked away in Zurich or the Caymans...through various tax shelters you are not privvy to...will sustain them in the hour of need.

Only YOU, Suckers, will take it on the chin. As millions of American are hurting even as we speak.

And, saddest of all, your kids already BELIEVE that Social Security is doomed; they ACCEPT the failure (blaming it on Greedy Old Foggies and fumble-bumble DEMOCRATS!!!) and they ASSUME that...something "New" and "Smart" and "Modern"...will need to be put in its place.

In other words...they've Bought The Kool-Aid!

Itsez does not for a minute believe the Solution is easy. First, the Entrenched Interests will need to be rolled back. And THAT'S not going to be any walk in the park.

I knew this, just needed my daily wake-up call.

Eureka! The Language of Global Warming

Following links from Chris Mooney's post Framing Global Warming, I read the Ellen Goodman column in today's Boston Globe. She points out -

The folks at the Pew Research Center clocking public attitudes show that global warming remains 20th on the annual list of 23 policy priorities. Below terrorism, of course, but also below tax cuts, crime, morality, and illegal immigration.

One reason is that while poles are melting and polar bears are swimming between ice floes, American politics has remained polarized. There are astonishing gaps between Republican science and Democratic science. Try these numbers: Only 23 percent of college-educated Republicans believe the warming is due to humans, while 75 percent of college-educated Democrats believe it.

Mooney points out that Goodmans's source of inspiration comes from the work of Matthew Nesbit, PhD and who writes on Framing Science, as a part of the Science Blog community.

Nesbit refers to the "ineffectiveness of fear" in motivating the majority of consumers to alter their behavior to contribute less to carbon emission. Many of us seem to have our heads stuck in the sand, or have succumbed to the Masque of the Red Death Syndrome. We depair that nothing we do can possibly matter, so have locked ourselves in and plan to party till the bitter end.

I, like Ellen Goodman, am slowly converting to the compact flourescent light bulb. This is one small thing I can do, but I know it's not nearly enough.

Scientists must find a way to make their case in a way that will inspire the majority of the voting public to put pressure on local, state and national politicians to change course and at least make some attempt to lessen our contribution to global warming.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The F* Word And The Future Of Liberal Politics

Updated below--

Today's New York Times reports on criticism of the John Edward's campaign hiring of bloggers, Amanda Marcote (Pandagon) and Melissa McEwan (Shakespeare's Sister).

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said in a statement on Tuesday, “John Edwards is a decent man who has had his campaign tarnished by two anti-Catholic vulgar trash-talking bigots.”

Mr. Edwards’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Palmieri, said Tuesday night that the campaign was weighing the fate of the two bloggers.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I can use the F* word with the best of them, I assure you. But, I never cease to be amazed at the amount of profanity coming from the pens of liberal/progressive bloggers who, I presume, want to bring sanity back to Washington (and Jefferson City).

Of course, it's a "free" country, so they can say what they want. The other day I caught about ten seconds of Michael Savage screaming LIBERAL SCUM over and over and over. The button was red hot as I switched back to some droning classical music on KSMU.

The Radical Right has been winning elections by reeling in the "family values" voters. Why would we want to give them more fuel for the fire?

Liberal bloggers, get a clue! Stop shooting yourself in the foot. You're bright enough to get the point across without bringing your potty mouth into it. Save that for Friday night at the pub, or in pithy e-mails to each other.



Glenn Greenwald has a long post about the Edwards/blogger flap. From Glenn's post: As James Joyner points out: "Bloggers have a 'paper' trail. The longer someone has been blogging, the more of their sometimes-developed thoughts are out there for public consumption. Not only have they likely written things uncomplimentary to their now-boss, but they have almost certainly written things that could embarrass him."

A Newer World has this- "If Edwards can’t stand up to this kind of lame hack attack, he’s in for big trouble once the campaign really gets ugly.
And he’ll lose the netroots in a heartbeat."

John Edwards' Health Plan

Since my health insurance premium has raised to $589 per month for a policy with $2,000 deductible with no prescription med coverage, I've been thinking about universal health coverage quite a bit lately.

When I was in the hospital doing chemo some years back, my roommate was having treatment for a rare form of cancer. Her husband was a farmer and she worked part-time, so they had no health insurance. She said she did not know how they were going to pay the medical bills, she guessed they'd have to sell a cow. I imagine they wound up declaring medical bankruptcy.

Two of my acquaintances have had burst appendix events in the last couple of years. Both were uninsured for different reasons, and both declared bankruptcy. Both of these guys are conservative Republican voters. Go figure.

So who paid for their medical expenses? I guess I did. I'm the one who scraped up the money to pay insurance premiums for the last thirty years. Or more probably, you, the taxpayer paid the bill. I know several people who go to the emergency room for all their medical needs--sore throat, poison ivy, whatever ails them and never pay the bill. Hospitals either charge more to those who pay, or get some kind of reimbursement from MedicAid programs.

My sister was fired from her job in the middle of treatment for breast cancer, and as a result she lost her insurance coverage. The hospital helped her apply for MedicAid which paid for her three surgeries and chemo.

My point is, none of this makes sense. Recently, someone wrote "what if we didn't have universal police service"? (Sorry I can't remember the source on this). Things would pretty much dissolve into chaos. I live in the city where we have univeral fire service, but I have lived in a rural area where you had to pay a fee to be assured of fire protection. Those who didn't pay were just SOL.

John Edwards has proposed a health insurance plan that will be financed by a tax hike:

From Reuters:

"We'll have to raise taxes. The only way you can pay for a healthcare plan that cost anywhere from $90 to $120 billion is there has to be a revenue source," Edwards said on NBC's Meet the Press news program.

Newshog has an interesting take on universal health care. He is critical of Edwards' plan (See John, See John Run)and supports the view of Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a study author and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard, who noted: "We pay the world's highest health care taxes. But much of the money is squandered. The wealthy get tax breaks. And HMOs and drug companies pocket billions in profits at the taxpayers' expense. But politicians claim we can't afford universal coverage. Every other developed nation has national health insurance. We already pay for it, but we don't get it."

Links to a couple of his posts on health care are below.

The Great Divide: Public Vs. Private Healthcare: Part I
The Great Divide: Part II

I think he does a good job of dispelling some of the myths and misconceptions we have about how universal health care works in the UK, and how we could craft a plan in the US that would avoid some of the mistakes made there.