Monday, October 26, 2009

On Health Care, Al Franken Smacks Down A Hudson Institute Lackey (Also, Some Related Thoughts)

By Manifesto Joe

I think a lot of people were inclined to underestimate Al Franken when he at long last took his seat as Minnesota's junior U.S. senator. Although he demonstrated quite a bit of gravitas in his wonderful 2003 book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, some can't get past the fact that Al came to national prominence as a comedian on Saturday Night Live.

I'd say the people of Minnesota can be proud in that the new senator has already distinguished himself far more than his predecessor, the former mayor of St. Paul. Here's Al in action, figuratively slapping around a stooge from the Hudson Institute.

On the Same Issue, a Question From Michael Moore

The self-styled progressive documentary filmmaker and author is nonplussed about something that, on the surface, seems like a no-brainer. Why aren't Americans pissed off enough about obstructionism to health care reform to be out in the streets protesting, raising 10 kinds of hell?

An Answer From Gore Vidal

In a recent TV appearance, 84-year-old Gore Vidal had what could have been an answer to Moore's question. Asked for his opinion of President Barack Obama, Vidal replied that he likes him, but the problem is that he tries to address the American people as educated, thinking people, like himself.

That's a mistake, Vidal suggested. The U.S. has a very poor educational system, actually a joke in many other developed countries. People laugh at us. And for this reason, Americans are very easily misled and duped. The lack of critical thinking, even among those with formal education, shows up in an array of issues, not just health care reform.

I Have Yet Another Answer

I know a man from India, now a longtime U.S. resident and naturalized citizen, who once discussed cultural differences between Americans and Asian Indians. When one ventures to the countryside in India, one finds many illiterate people, many more than in America.

But these people argue and discuss politics all the time, and they're often far more savvy on the subject than most Americans are, even when they can't read or write.

I know plenty of Americans who say, when engaged in the subject past a certain point, that they just don't care about politics. It's times like these when that attitude becomes disastrous, because so many of the people who DO care, care for just one reason -- greed.

The less Americans care about politics, the more to the delight of the aforementioned powers that be. Millions who should be fighting for reform right now are instead being led around like cattle and sheep. As nasty as politics is, politicians are making decisions that profoundly affect our lives every day. The subject is ignored at one's own peril.

It's often not so much a matter of education as it is the quality of one's thought that makes the difference. There are plenty of insular specialists out there with BBA and B.S. degrees who are wretchedly ignorant when it comes to political issues.

They could use lessons in critical thinking -- from a former funnyman, Senator Franken.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Real Health Care Nazis? If The Jackboots Fit ...

By Manifesto Joe

What if a health insurance provider told you that before it would insure you, you would have to be sterilized?

That's what a Colorado woman told U.S. senators during a committee hearing last week. McClatchy Newspapers reported that Peggy Robertson read a letter from her insurance company. Here's an excerpt from the McClatchy report:

Robertson testified that because she had already given birth via cesarean, when she tried to get an individual policy in Colorado, her insurance company considered it a pre-existing condition and wouldn't insure her unless she could prove she had been sterilized.

The report said that the chairperson of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said that the woman's account "put me on the edge of my chair," and called the provider's position "offensive and morally repugnant."

"No one in the United States of America, in order to get health insurance, should ever be coerced into getting sterilized," she said.

Aside from the obvious gender bias exhibited in this incident, the Nazilike condition that this woman was confronted with reeks of totalitarian eugenics. This is something one would imagine happening in some futuristic dystopia, with common folks marching around in quasi-military uniforms and such. It was just being done in the private sector, and that's the only real difference.

Is Health Care a Right? Perhaps Not, But Neither Is Eating

Granted, the Earth is rife with sick people, and with hungry people -- millions and millions who have access to neither adequate medicine nor food. When you get down to fundamentals, I suppose there is arguably no intrinsic human right to either.

Consider, though, that the U.S. is, among developed nations, the lone holdout when it comes to providing universal health care. "We" (in the editorial sense) even do better when it comes to food. Although some, such as the homeless, are undoubtedly missed, food stamps are a savior for most of our indigent people.

So what happened with medicine? The simple and obvious answer: Money, and lots of it. There are several groups that are making a killing off the status quo, and those groups are prepared to do just about anything, even kill (the uninsured), to keep that money machine rolling.

There is no law I can think of, anywhere, that mandates that I personally provide medicine, or food, for anyone, anywhere, anytime. At a fundamental level, those things would have to come from the goodness of my heart.

Yet, I am forced to pony up tax money for wars I oppose, year after year. When it comes to paying for deadly force on an international scale, suddenly I am confronted with a collective responsibility. Call it "socialized militarism."

But when it comes to providing medicine and food for people, that ideology is turned on its head, and it's once more every fool for himself.

Chickens Who Still Support Colonel Sanders

Speaking of fools -- last week, before I read the aforementioned newspaper report, I saw an old, weather-beaten pickup truck with "Health care is not a right" painted in the rear windshield, apparently with white shoe polish.

No, and neither is eating -- until you've actually gone hungry. Circumstances like that can jolt even the most demagogued moron back into reality. Too bad such things can't happen more often. And yet, this rube's argument is with precisely the people who are trying to prevent that sort of thing from happening to him.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Governor Goodhair's 'Saturday Night Massacre' Of The Forensic Science Commission

By Manifesto Joe

If it were possible that your state had executed an innocent man, it would make sense to keep the same people on the main panel that's investigating the matter. Wouldn't it? But alas, this is Texas. And our governor is Rick "Governor Goodhair" Perry.

By now, it isn't news that at the end of last month, Perry decided to clean house at the Texas Forensic Science Commission, just two days before the commission was to examine a report challenging the arson findings that resulted in the state's 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham.

The news now is what has come out since then. But first, here's the background.

Perry's decision to remove Chairman Sam Bassett and commission members Alan Levy and Aliece Watts (who happens to be a forensic scientist) was announced Sept. 30. The three quickly questioned the governor's motives -- he was in office at the time Willingham was executed, and he's running for re-election next year. They also said that the commission's investigation could be slowed by the governor's actions.

The case stemmed from a 1991 fire at Willingham's Corsicana home. His three daughters died in the fire, and Willingham was charged with capital murder, as the fires were believed to be arson. Willingham said he was asleep in the house when the fire started, and denied that it was arson.

The Willingham case had become a kind of cause celebre for death penalty opponents and advocates for clearing wrongfully convicted inmates. Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, called Perry's actions "troubling" and compared them to "the Saturday night massacre," when in 1973 President Nixon fired a special prosecutor during the Watergate scandal.

The nine-member commission had agreed last year to review the case after defense attorneys said Willingham was convicted on flawed scientific evidence. Craig Beyler, an expert on fire investigation, was hired and submitted a report in August saying that he could not fully support a finding of arson.

Perry and his spokespeople have repeatedly told news media that the timing was nothing out of the ordinary. The removed members' terms officially ended Sept. 1, and Perry has kept saying it would have been business as usual to replace them anyway.

Then, on Oct. 9, Perry removed a fourth member, Sridhar Natarajan, a Lubbock medical examiner. Two appointments were announced the same day.

Now we have the latest development.

Former Chairman Says He Was Pressured

Bassett now says that Perry's office called him into meetings twice, during February and March, and that he was told by Perry's top lawyers that the Willingham case was not the kind of work the Legislature had intended the commission to do, that the case should be given a low priority in lieu of higher concerns, and so forth.

Here's a link to the full story, from the Chicago Tribune with contributions from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

If it weren't already obvious, Governor Goodhair doesn't want any more people to know that he may have Cameron Willingham's blood on his hands. That could be very damaging in a re-election campaign, especially since Perry was approached in February 2004, just days before the execution, about possibly flawed scientific evidence in the case. The execution went on as scheduled.

Perry has presided over the Texas Death Row killing machine for nearly nine years. Over 200 inmates have been executed since he took office. I know of one instance in which he commuted a death sentence, and in 2004 he defied the pardons and parole board's recommendation of clemency in one case.

Is Perry really more concerned about his own political career than about the possibility that he allowed an innocent man, and perhaps more than one over the years, to die by lethal injection? You be the judge. It looks pretty clear to me.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Do You Miss Chimpy Yet?

By Manifesto Joe


I have a right-wing relative who provided me with this priceless photo of Il Doofus. It has been circulating on e-mail among right-wingers. It's odd -- I couldn't have gotten a better favor from a left-wing blog bud.

The main problem I have with Barack Obama is that he's been entirely too nice. So far, he's erred mainly on the side of good manners. As so many Democrats have unfortunately done over the years, and decades, he brought a pair of boxing gloves to a knife fight.

But, even with Obama's early foibles -- do I miss The Monkey Man? Do I miss being crudely lied to, fleeced in taxes for a war that would have been ludicrous had it not been so deadly for so many? Do I miss the wholesale looting of the country for the benefit of the superrich? Do I miss cringing when I hear a man who is supposed to be our president, and he can barely speak English?

The answer, quite unequivocally, is NO, NO A THOUSAND TIMES NO!

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

At Last, A Democrat With Juevos To Fight GOP Hypocrites: Alan Grayson

By Manifesto Joe

He apologized -- to the uninsured dead. Freshman U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., showed REAL Democrats the REAL way. Don't pull punches with these hypocrites, and call them out on their double standards. After all the right-wing Republican rhetoric about death panels, government takeovers, the "free" market, so-called "choice," and such, we finally saw a Democrat stand up on his hind legs and give as good as "WE" have been getting.

Alan Grayson for President, 2016

I like Barack Obama enough to put up with him for two terms, and I understand that he can't afford to be the sort of attack dog that Grayson was Wednesday.

But what the Democratic Party has desperately needed for decades has been a dude who was willing to get this mean in the clinches. President Obama is arguably the most talented politician the Dems have fielded in a long time, even better than Bill Clinton. But what Democrats lack right now is someone like this who will give the other side HELL of this kind, and never, ever back down.

Compromise is beginning to seem futile, especially after the spectacle of "Heartland" Democrats spreading their posteriors for Big Insurance during that Tuesday Senate Finance Committee vote. These are not even good DINOs, and the party needs to field primary opponents, real Democrats, to run against every one of them.

I think Mr. Grayson is showing the way. This isn't a game that can be won with compromise or bipartisanship. The Baucus bill seems more and more like just another giveaway to Big Insurance. If I were a Democrat in Congress, I'd vote against it and reluctantly condemn America to a couple of more years with the status quo until we can get something that makes sense.

Here's a link to Alan Grayson's solid left hook to the Republican solar plexus, courtesy of the CBS News Web site.

Right-Wing Yellow Bellies' Hypocrisy

Now, let's look at the Republican crybabies' hypocrisy. After all the swill we've been hearing this year about "death panels," health insurance for illegal aliens, and funding of abortion, THEY now have the unmitigated gall to compare Alan Grayson's brave candor with the subhuman mendacity of Joe "You Lie" Wilson? Here's Keith Olbermann on the subject of Mr. Wilson, from last month:

I think the American people heard enough contemptible lies, for eight long years, that some candor is now sorely needed. After eight years of Il Doofus, Mr. Grayson is magnificently refreshing.

Now, maybe Obama can carefully, studiously find his way closer to this path.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.