Thursday, July 16, 2009

Health Care: Legislative “Firepower”

A call to action.
“There’s nothing better for morale than superior firepower.” Major Gerson Subotky, U.S.M.C. (1961) 105

Many of the Congressmen and Senators -- from both parties -- are presently reporting that constituent contacts, that is, letters, emails and phone calls, are running roughly even “pro and con” on the issue of health care insurance reform. This may seem unlikely given highly reputable public opinion polls which show Americans in favor of the reform at above 70%. How can this be?

Are these legislators lying about the message from the public arriving in their offices and switchboards everyday? Probably not. Much more likely our fellow citizens are presuming too much “democracy” in action. Get over it.

What we see is not “democracy” in action at all. The debate is between every corporate interest group currently benefiting from the existing health care scam and a bankrupt, unserviced populous suffering from their parasitic greed. The executives of those “health care” corporations are now screaming for the Congressmen and Senators they have carefully purchased to come to their aid.

The Congressmen and Senators representing us need a heavy duty infusion of "firepower!" And they need it now. Call them! Email them! Give them some "firepower" so they can represent your interests! Visitors to MeanMesa need to find the time to add their two cents to stopping this gang rape. The alternative is to submit peacefully to another fifty years of passive slavery.

Those executives, through their business groups (called “health care gangs”) are spending a reported $1.2 million per day to keep those “voter” phone calls coming. For the mathematically challenged, that is $1,200,000 per day, $84,000,000 per week, $366,000,000 per month. Don't ever underestimate what nasty, little, greedy monsters these guys are. Don't ever even think about believing the crap they are pumping out through the rancid mouths of their trained monkeys like Fox, Limbaugh and O'Riley.

Their $350 million a month effort has already moved "single payer" off the table, but those in the legislature with enough common sense, decency and self-preservation are still -- sort of -- trying to get the "public option" for us. Forty "bought and paid for" Republicans think that they can still decide the future of the country, even after they have soiled themselves "sucking teat " in the Bush autocracy, lost two elections and revealed what crooks they actually are every day since then.

Gosh! Where did they get all that money? The fact is that they have gotten LOTS MORE than the little dab they are spending to keep their PR schemes going, and they have gotten all that money from your health insurance premiums! They are wallowing in the cash they make by denying claims and screwing everyone with a pre-existing condition. Some health insurance chief executives are getting more than a billion dollars -- $1,000,000,000 -- a year to run those companies.

Uh, did you think that was a good deal?

They are buying radio and television time to ply their lies about the reform idea. Their commercials -- always an appetizing treat to the bigots, hillbillies and other crooks -- are a constant stream of inflammatory deceptions.

“Do YOU want a federal bureaucrat between you and your doctor?”
“The public option will mean health care rationing -- you know, like France!”
“The SO-CALLED reform measures will mean long waiting lines while you are dying of fatal illnesses!”
“If all the poor people get health care, it will BANKRUPT the country!”
"Public health care never worked in the socialist, European countries that have already tried it!"

Well, those bigots, hillbillies and crooks are flooding the phone lines, citizen. They have no idea what they are doing. They are simply responding to the expensive, half-witted poison of the health care corporations.

If you want them to decide about your health care, just relax and they will. On the other hand, if you think we can do better than what we’re doing now, get your ass on the phone, the emails, talk to your neighbor, write a letter to the editor. The choice is to either continue to pay $10,000 a year to these shysters or go without a chance of help if you get sick. Make your choice. You can sit there accepting the “bargain price” of whatever you’re paying now for the rest of your life -- by the way, health coverage costs are increasing steadily at the rate of 8% per year. But, even that is no problem if your wages are increasing at a higher rate. Uh, wait a minute, are they?

You can keep on “tempting fate” with the hope that you will never get sick. You can “man up” and “tough out” that heart attack or cancer or the little tumor which will take your house and bankrupt you. Does that sound like a good plan?

Then, DO NOTHING, and that’s what you’ll get.

Jump out of MeanMesa this instant! Call your Congressmen and Senators. Act in your own interest. You have the time to be a good citizen.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The June 29th Coincidence

A short, wretched fiction: the tale of two neo-con radio hosts gasping in unison about the Supreme Court firefighters decision. 104

Scene 1: Kentucky. The electronic media lab which was contracted to tally the Ohio votes in the 2004 election grew still after the votes were “certified.” Once the election had been “won,” the White House blanketed the place with its usual cover. The “special magic” of the place had not been needed after Mr. Blackwell’s contract was, uh, “completed.”

However, with the GOP disaster in 2008, the place exploded into a new life and a new mission. It was now the official “Neo-Con Talking Points Factory." Our “visit” occurs on June 29, 2009, the day the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Connecticut fire fighters was announced. The shift supervisor rushes into the “war room,” grasping a crumpled email in his hands.

Supervisor: “We’ve got new marching orders from the top! We have to trash Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination! Get on it, Schmidt!”

Schmidt: “I’ve already been through about a thousand of her rulings. There’s nothing there -- there’s nothing even a little bit stinky.”

“The ‘activist judge’ thing was too complicated for our base. She’s only had rulings overturned a half a dozen times on appeal. The ‘rascist’ pitch connected with a few bigots down south, but they were already in our pocket before we started.”

“Have you got any more ideas?”

Supervisor: “Only one, Schmidt, only one. It’s a long shot, but we have to try something! We get paid to follow orders.”

“Go back through this thing again. It’s a damned perfect storm. Firefighters from Connecticut, not promoted because they were white. Our base on the street can understand something like this, sort of.”

“Roberts delivered the verdict they paid for, 5-4, but he’s already started asking how many more favors he’s got to produce to pay back for the GOP cover during his own nomination hearings. I mean, he appreciates not having to answer questions about that conflict of interest case with the insurance company, but now he’s bucking a little, you now, getting nervous, complaining.”

Schmidt: “Wait a minute. I'm getting it now! What if the Supreme Court decision was unanimous instead of 5-4? That paints a picture of Sotomayor’s ruling as radical -- outrageous, you know, out of the ball park! Something like that could get some traction in the base.”

Supervisor: “Yeah, it could, but the problem with that idea is that the ruling was 5-4, not 9 - zip. Throwing something like that might be a bigger trick than any of the stuff we usually do. Anyway, the Supreme Court ruling has already been all over the media.”

Schmidt: “That’s my point! The hill billies don’t understand anything about the Supreme Court anyway, but they love white men getting discriminated against. The ‘grudge’ crowd who think that Obama is out for their jobs and their guns will glue on to something like this like pigs at a wiener festival.”

“We could fire up a lot phone calls to the Senate against her. You and I both know that facts don’t matter with our voters. We can rewrite the whole story! Make the Supreme Court ruling 9 - 0. That would mean that even the liberals voted to over turn her ruling.”

Supervisor: “God! That’s just crazy enough to work. So few of our base know what the Court actually did, we can put this out and just look stupid to a few of the smarter ones. Call Hannity and Limbaugh! Hit 'em hard, but make it look like a coincidence.”

The June 29th Coincidence

Rush Limbaugh Radio Show, June 29, 2009.
Rush Limbaugh discussing the Supreme Court decision in the firefighters case.

"RUSH: Now, the Sotomayor case. I want you to hear the State-Run Media describe the bad news. There's no question Sotomayor was overturned. Her court decided in favor of the City of New Haven and the black firefighters that didn't score as well on tests. Summary judgment without a trial, and they have been upbraided for this by not only the majority in the Supreme Court today (it was Anthony Kennedy's opinion) but also by Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the dissent. And this is why brilliant legal analysts are saying this decision when you get down to it is actually 9-zip, not 5-4 when you look at some of the things that Ginsburg wrote about the mistakes and not even hearing the case, not even taking the constitutional questions. And the reason for this is... I go back to what I said at the beginning, and I stand by this."

Sean Hannity Show, June 29, 2009, courtesy of RealClearPolitics.
Sean Hannity interviewing Karen Torre, attorney for firefighters.

"HANNITY: Karen, I know this is a 5-4 decision, and by any objective measure, people would say well, this is a pretty close case, but in essence, when you look at it, really, it's almost 9-0 because even those in the minority found that the Second Circuit with Judge Sotomayor had really botched this case. Is that your reading of it?"

I guess we shouldn't really be that surprised when great journalists arrive at the same conclusion at the same time on the same day a week before the confirmations hearings start in the Senate.

Friday, July 10, 2009

60 Votes, Senate Cloture & “The Theory of Everything”

The Fundamental Equation of the Senate.
No, not The Law of Thermodynamics,
the "The Theory of Everything!" It explains, well, Everything. 103

Much has been said about the outrage of an elected Senate which seems so nonchalant, untroubled, unembarrassed and unabashed as it continues to savage health care, climate change, education resources, Supreme Court Nominations, darn, as it continues to savage everything! The deliberating body has turned into an unappetizing mix of a whore house and a nightmare circus.

Obama knows this from his first hand experience with these “bought and sold” crackers. He had a job there for a while. However, some MeanMesa visitors may not have a firm grip on exactly what is going on as we sit and watch unbelievable scandal after unbelievable scandal. Rather than dive into the abyss of any specific insult, MeanMesa will attempt an abbreviated explanation of “standard operating procedure” in the U. S. Senate as it is apparently being applied to every bill presented there.

The provocateurs are world wide experts at their trade. Their profession is a balancing act between two extremely lucrative tensions. On one side, the prize is an uninformed, unaware electorate which, when assuaged by the idiocy of sufficiently extravagant campaign investments, will dependably send them back to the “hog trough” term after term, even when doing so is clearly counter to the best interests of almost every voter who will pull the lever. On the other side is the immense wealth which can be had by desanguinating just a trifle of every piece of legislation that will pass before them, that is, "sucking out a little blood, but, just not so much that anyone will notice!" When the price tag on such legislation is in the billions, that “trifle” can be generous enough to fund a new economic dynasty.

This is happening everyday. It is a bad habit these crooks picked up during the autocracy.

The other moment to observe them in action comes when one of their corporate cronies suddenly faces the “wrath of daylight,” that is, during those tense moments when such "Captains of Industry" such as the coal lobby or the health insurance corporations suddenly find their avarice exposed by “outrageous fortune,” in this case, a bankrupt electorate which is regaining consciousness and, frankly, infuriated to a blood frenzy. This latter case is roughly what is underway in the Great House on Capitol Hill as this posting is being written.

All the lecherous Senate monkeys the ultra-rich have previously purchased to protect their extraction games have been called to defend “free enterprise” or “capitalism” in these moments of peril. Now, that “free enterprise” and “capitalism” is not exactly defined by what one might encounter in a Webster’s Dictionary. No, indeed. These special forms of “free enterprise” and “capitalism,” rather than being what is characterized by hard working, innovative entrepreneurs, amount to decidedly less noble business endeavors which could never actually make a profit left to their own devices, but, when dutifully lubricated by every possible flavor of crooked legislation and de-regulation, turn out to be “roses, simply roses!

The following diagram might be similar to something which might appear in a “Beginner’s How To Pamphlet” for a new Senator. It explains, in a very basic way, just what will be expected and required for a prosperous incumbency.

The diagram is self-explanatory to anyone who has been “confused” by the news accounts of what has been happening in the Senate. Further, it represents both a useful contextual reference which can be cited in future MeanMesa postings and a simplified sort of “flow chart” which might assist in understanding why public opinion means so little and ideology means so much.

Try it out! The next time -- which will probably be tomorrow, the way things are going -- the news from the Senate becomes incomprehensible compared to what you learned in that old civics text, just take a look at the diagram. You will probably be able to point a finger at exactly which stage of the looting the thieves are working on at the moment.

More later. Rest assured. There's plenty more for later.

Monday, July 6, 2009

”Happy Coincidence?” Don’t Miss the Big Picture!

It is time to take a calm, reflective overview of Obama's foreign policy outcomes. Don't listen to the breathless pundits predicting doom on the "wholly owned" corporate media. Get a map of the world, point out these places for yourself and size up where we stand. 102

The neo-con media machine has carefully recruited a certain tribe of folks who refuse to entertain even the possibility that, for example, effective foreign policy can be accomplished by subtleties, nuance and maturity. The prevailing idea of cause and effect for this bunch is, “Do something, then the desired results will immediately follow.” The particular “somethings” they have habitually “done” in their gaseous claim of promoting democracy seemed to always turn out to involve threats, profit opportunities, bombing and lots of vacuous statements designed to inspire fear in their targets abroad and hokey pseudo-nationalism among their hillbilly yucksters over here.

Enter Barrack Obama.

In the last couple of months, the “big picture” of American foreign policy’s “win and lose” record is showing a remarkably positive score. The new President is, once again, able to sit at the same table with his Russian Federation counterpart, having tea and discussing nuclear arms treaties -- all this without even a hint at such a pompous claim of “seeing into his soul...”

The election in Lebanon, predicted to materialize as another Hamas-style calamity, emerged as a positive reaffirmation of, well, “spreading democracy.” And, that happy development reflects a wonderful, although subtly semantic departure from the dark days of the recent autocracy, that is, "democracy is spreading" as opposed to "we are spreading democracy."

The speech in Cairo, repeatedly characterized by neo-cons as a dismal mix between appeasement and a Presidential, Islamic “China Syndrome,” seems to have energized forward thinking Iranians who were previously painted only as bomb chucking mad men.

The elected government of Iraq doesn’t seem to be having very much trouble at all assuming control of that country’s problems. Gosh. It almost seems that “someone” (us) had been conspiring to make sure that American occupation forces remained, well, “needed” to, uh, maintain security, at least until the Iraqi Hydrocarbon Treaty was firmly in hand.

The government of Pakistan has taken a risky, but reassuringly ambitious stand against the troublesome Talaban insurgents, going so far as to partner with the NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan by blocking the southern border of Helmand Province, closing the escape route from the recent NATO offensive there. A new, highly promising “Special Operations” General has taken command of the armies in Afghanistan.

Is this the “track record” of the inexperienced black man who was so roundly attacked as “too light in foreign policy experience” during the campaign? More likely, when these positive developments are compared with the Cheney-Bush autocracy’s endlessly morbid bumbles, we are watching an astonishing turn of events. Further, those “bumbles” rambled on and on like an endless foreign policy tooth ache for eight years. These positive signs have begun to materialize in a few weeks after “Obama’s first 100 days.”

Don’t miss the “big picture.” Don’t miss the message. Americans are now, officially, facing the hopeful prospects of a future commensurate with our greatness and good intentions.

What Health Care Reform Looks Like From the Ground

A Letter to President Obama from Precinct 384

This quick note is about a serious difficulty we are having with Organizing for America’s (OFA) health care talking points.101

I am an “Obama soldier” from the campaign -- precinct 384, NE Albuquerque, neighborhood team 39. Naturally, I went to the new OFA office this morning after receiving last night’s phone call. I met the all the friendly, bright eyed, eager folks hunched over their laptops and picked up a copy of the canvassing material.

After looking through it, I am concerned that this effort is making the same mistakes that were made in the campaign -- at least, the same mistakes with respect to the precinct 384 “voter universe.” For 30%-40% of the voters in this precinct, the talking points are a “clear miss.” In fact, I suspect that they even go so far “off target” as to be insulting. This is too similar to an unfortunate repeat of what happened in the endless 2007 - 2008 Presidential campaign “slug fest” where the most persuasive campaign issues seemed to simply be “over our heads and over our pay grade.”

I’ll note the exact conflicts the “Three Principles”President Obama’s promotion plan presents in the real life situations of this constituency.

1. Reduce Health Care Costs
This constituency: They usually don’t pay for treatment. They wait until things get really serious, then they go to the ER and apply for “No Pay” treatment. That process is frustrating, uncertain, demeaning and time consuming. They suffer from all the subtle indignities of this process -- especially when they know that other people have actual health plans. They are totally ready to pay more taxes to get dependable care.

The emphasis on “keeping” your doctor means very little to my neighbors. They don’t have a doctor. They have probably never seen the same doctor more than once or twice. They are completely accustomed to taking what they can get. “Go to the Doctor,” to them, means packing up the family and waiting in the ER for 5 or 6 hours, then not having enough money for medicine until payday.

2. Allow Choice of Coverage and Doctor
This constituency: They have never made any choices at all so far. Period. No choices! Coverage to them means the “safety net.” They, frankly, don’t understand what “choosing a coverage” means. They have never had an employer provided insurance plan, although they may know people who have. A 21st Century version of "keep away."

3. Better Quality Health Care
This constituency: They have no way to make an opinion about health care quality aside from their memory of outcomes. They haven’t experienced enough of a variety of health care, that is, the variety that is implied in the talking points, to make a judgment. As for reducing the paperwork, they have never had health care other than the “No Pay” kind which is always chest deep in agonizing, belittling paperwork.

I’m not interested in starting a class war here, but the OFA material seems basically intent on doing just that. Precinct 384 contains an awful lot of voters who are simply put off by choice issues presented to them at this level. The choice the voters in this neighborhood have made is simply one in favor of improved access to health care.

We registered a lot of these people who had never voted before to elect the President. When we talked to them and approached them in a suitable way, they were completely ready to learn about the election politics and VOTE! However, the Presidential campaign had the same “over their heads” direction as this health care thing, and we could have failed to deliver this state if all this population remained “left out” in favor of a campaign targeted at more prosperous urbanites.

Precinct 384 voters have the same worries as most other Americans. They know that, in a well designed response to the grave damage done to the country during the autocracy, major investments in not only health care reform, but also in climate change, energy policy and educational resource allotment, will mean huge spending bills moving through the legislative process. In the past, they have seen every such possibility of actual progress being ruthlessly looted as it is “negotiated” into oatmeal in the Congress. Traditional hillbillies, crooks and neo-con bigots join forces with "bought and sold" Democrats, emerging from their dens to savage any good idea, that is, to extract every possible illegitimate advantage for their friends and campaign contributors.

About 1/3 of New Mexico is watching these health care developments while “looking up” from the very bottom of the heap. We are a poor state with lots of immigration, education and public service issues. Our neighborhood team made our own campaign literature for 2008 for just this reason. And -- this seemed to work well. Both the President and OFA must make more of an effort to include this constituency by focusing on a description the new system and what it will be like for Americans in this very real situation.

I was never much of a John Edwards fan, but he talked about “Two Americas.” He was right. In New Mexico we need “Two Campaigns” and some way to keep them pointed at the right constituencies. The neo-cons are already targeting the new Democratic Congressional delegation from New Mexico. We can’t let this slide back to where we were when the state went for Bush in 2004.

To President Obama: “Remember us! Tell about a plan that relates to our ‘on the ground’ reality. We support you now, and we will continue to support you, but we would like to be included in the debate!”