Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Public vs Private health insurance plans

A good buddy of mine discussed health care in his blog, and it brought up a question that I keep asking myself. This question is not so much directed at him and those who responded in his comments section that followed (but he is free to respond here, of course!), but rather this is me thinking out loud. That question is this:

Will a federal health insurance plan (FHIP) do any better than the private system that we have now?

First, understand that I tried very hard to keep this question from sounding like I'm some sort of anti-government kook. However, I can't shake the idea that a FHIP will become yet another political football whose coverage will vary depending upon who's in office. I also can't shake the fear that a FHIP will become the tool of political lobbyists for pharmaceutical corporations and various other associations allegedly based on "health services". In other words, I can't shake the belief that certain illnesses will get preferential coverages under a FHIP because a certain PAC happens to have powerful lobbyists working for it rather than coverage being based on actual need.

Granted, there will be a "shake-out" period for any FHIP that happens to get off the ground, but can we afford to wait until such a shake-out is complete? And any medical or pharmaceutical PAC would want the "shake-out" period to last as long as possible so that they can keep taking advantage of the uncertainty to work in as much influence into the final plan as they can. I can't shake the feeling that a FHIP is going to be a gigantic financial boondoggle that will do more to hurt health care than help, because we are depending upon politicians to not resort to type by using a FHIP to help their re-election chances rather than to help the people for whom it was intended: the currently uninsured. Can any of you honestly trust politicians to not think of themselves first before the constituencies that they serve - especially with something that is going to be so personal and primal to our lives as our health and health care?

There are some other things I can add, but now is a good time to stop and get some feedback before I continue. However, I will say that it really would give politicians' word more sway if they made themselves subject to the very same FHIP that they expect us to take up (see my previous blog entry). If it's going to be mandatory for us to take it, then it should be the same for them. As foreign a concept as this might be for them, if they would lead by example, then it would speak volumes more of their faith in a FHIP than exempting themselves from taking up such a plan while requiring us to take it up.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mr President, sign up for your own health care plan!

I was sent this article about the Democratic Party not being required to sign up for the health care plan that will be expected of us to sign up for if it passes. As I often see in many Internet chats: WTF?

I say that they should set the example and require that this mandatory sign-up also include themselves. If it's good enough for them, then it should be good enough for the rest of us. Otherwise, they're setting themselves up to look like a bunch of friggin' hypocrites.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking: "Gasp! A politician lied! That's never happened before!" Still, if they want us to swallow this bitter medicine, then it will down easier if they share our pain.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sotomayor's limits on "empathy" now known

Only yesterday I had asked about the limits of Judge Sonia Sotomayor's "empathy" - specifically, whether it extended beyond Justice Ruth Ginsburg's level of empathy. Ginsburg apparently believes that there are a class of people out there that "we don't want so many of", which means of course that she believes there are a class of "undesirables".

Does Sotomayor likewise believe in "undesirables"? I held out hope that her talk of "empathy" was more than just talk, but when the chips were down and the opportunity presented itself for her to publicly demonstrate her level of "empathy", she fell flatter than her "wise Latina" quip. She refused to answer directly on her views of the abortion issue.

If she's pro-choice, then why not state so? It's not like the GOP could do anything to stop her ever reaching the Supreme Court. But if she's pro-life - ah, there's a potential hitch, because if there were anything that could derail this "lock" and get the Democrats to vote against her, it's a public admission from Sotomayor that she's actually pro-life.

No, wait. Wait.

If Sotomayor were truly empathetic, then she would be empathetic no matter the political cost to her. That's what being liberal means, right? Supporting the "little guy" - damn the consequences? Ginsburg betrayed this hallowed liberal ideal by her admission that she believes in a class of undesirables, but it's still not too late for Sotomayor. C'mon, Sonia, do it. Do it for the little guy. Damn "The Man", Sonia - Damn "The Man"!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How far does Sotomayor's empathy go?

Much has been made by the right about Judge Sonia Sotomayor's "empathy" standard when it comes to her judgments. It's not so much that that I'm questioning, but rather, how far does it extend? Will she extend her empathy to the still-unidentified group of people that her possible future colleague Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had stated that we "don't want to have too many of (quote is from last page)"? Who are those undesirables that Ginsburg refers to, anyway? Is it perhaps related to this?

If Sotomayor is willing to extend her empathy to this group of people, then I might actually be able to support her entry into the Supreme Court.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

My take on Sarah Palin's resignation

Okay, I've been asked enough times about my take on Sarah Palin's resignation that I should probably go ahead and give it: I say more power to her.

The left wingers are terrified of her. Why do I say that? Damn, man - the election was so last year, and yet the lefties can't stop checking on her and trashing her when they get the chance. David Letterman's stupid human trick of a Palin joke succeeded in only giving him a temporary ratings boost, but his joke on Palin's 14-year-old daughter was beyond moronic. And yet, he's only the most recent example of the left not being able to turn away from Palin.

Why are the lefties frightened of Palin to the point that they have adopted obsessive/compulsive habits over her? It's because they know - either consciously or subconsciously - of the potential populist power she has. They know if that if she ever got her act together, she can be a genuine threat to their way of doing things. And on top of that, she's very attractive - a "MILF"("Mother I'd Like to F**k"), according to some of the cruder slang terms out there. The lefties act very much like a 4th grade boy who find himself attracted to a girl in his class, but he doesn't know what to make of his feelings, so he hits her.

So far Palin seems to be her own worst enemy, which the lefties can't help but delight in whenever she seems to stumble in the public arena - but their reactions speak volumes of their not-so-secret fear of her. Their reactions are their worst enemy - it is because of the way they react to their fears that Palin is still in the limelight. How many other losing vice presidential candidates do you know of who still get this much attention more than 6 months after the election? Ain't that ironic that she's still in the limelight because of the left's obsession with her?

But let's not forget the right-wingers here. The right wingers blame her for John McCain's loss to Barack Obama, which is stupid beyond belief. What happened was that they mishandled Palin. They had a game-changer in her and didn't know what to do with her. I say a game-changer because to this day the left is STILL keeping tabs on her. Anyway, rather than blame themselves for their own bungling, they blame her instead.

Palin also represents a contrast to how the GOP wants to do things nowadays. Nowadays they are trying to be more "centrist", while Palin does not. Ultimately, I feel that the GOP is a bunch of cowards because of their constant failure to back up what is alleged to be their beliefs. Does the left worry about whether or not they should back up their beliefs? Hell no. At least the left has the courage to state what they believe in - no matter how stupid and wrongheaded it may be.

That actually leads to a question I always wondered: Which is worse - to be right yet cowardly in defending those views, or to be wrong and yet brave enough to stand up for those views? Well, anyway, Palin at least has the courage of her convictions that many in the GOP do not. So she scares the right as well.

And now we have the instance of Palin on her own now - unmoored to an office and its responsibilities. This makes Palin a rogue element - or perhaps a loose cannon. In either case, both the left and the right are watching her very carefully to see what she does next, which is anyone's guess. Perhaps that's how she wants it - them wondering what she plans to do next.

And you know what? A part of me hopes that she gets her act together. I have to admit that the potential she has stirs the mind of what kind of impact she could have once she has an idea of what she wants to do. I also hope that she runs as an independent in 2012. Oh, would that be most fascinating! A Palin, organized and a potent political force, running as an independent. I can't help but feel that such a scenario could only be endlessly entertaining for people like me.

Palin in 2012!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Final chapter of the Benny Baloney story

Okay folks - here is the final chapter of the Benny Baloney story, and it's a long one because I wanted to wrap it up during the week. I hope you enjoyed the story


Only now am I beginning to notice that Red's conk to my noggin not only left a knot, it also broke skin. I feel blood trickling down, and my head is starting to pound like a jackhammer. I've had hangovers that made me feel worse, though. I follow Red up the metal staircase, but I wish it weren't so damned long. I finally reach Red just in time to hear her curse a blue streak.

“Just found out that you went to the observation deck, I see.” I tell Red. “Might as well give it up, toots. There's no other way out.” Red looks one way, then another as her breath gets more shallow. Then she stops and looks straight at me, declaring, “I’m not going back to prison”. Before I can react, she suddenly disappears over the railing just before I pass out from the pain in my head.

"BENNY!" Betty yells in my face. "You awake? C'mon, wake up!" I suddenly jolt up to a sitting position only to feel my head pound like thunder. I fall back to what I discover is Trixie's lap. "Howyadoin' boss?" Trixie inquires from above me and upside down. "I wish I had been doing something fun that was worth having this headache." I reply just as Betty hands me an icebag.

As I apply the icebag to the knot on my head, I tell Betty, “So fill me in, kiddo." "From the looks of it, you chased Red up to this observation deck, and apparently she jumped over the railing to escape. You tried to stop her, but passed out.” “Oh. Oh yeah, that’s right.” I respond as it all starts coming back to me. I then look her way and ask, “Did you find Red?”

Betty's face becomes crestfallen. "No Benny, we did not. The cops are still looking for her. There's only the river below us, and we're high up enough that diving from such a height would have knocked her out. The cops just now sent divers to the river bottom." I get myself to my feet, despite the dizziness and the ache in my head. "There's still some things we can check out, Betty. Follow me."

"But we already searched Red's hideout, Benny." says Betty as we enter the room. "No Betty, you didn't." I scan the room. "What do you mean?" "Because you didn't find anything. There's a reason it's called a hideout." I point to a spot on the floor. "Here" "Just scratches, Benny." "But note the pattern, Betty - back and forth." I shove the desk aside and start feeling the floor.

My fingers finally find a notch and I get enough of a fingerhold to lift the false floor up. "Bingo." "A secret vault!" Betty exclaims. A quick examination of the contents reveals a treasure trove of incriminating evidence. "We got goods here to finger other mob bosses, business leaders, and politicians. Even if Red surfaces again, her empire is dead." We gather up the rest of the vault's contents.

Trixie notices us coming out with armloads of documents "Whatchat got dere, Boss?" "This is how we’re getting’ paid for this case even if we didn't nab Red." When the police lieutenant shows up, we hand him the goods. “Thank you, detectives. You’ve done this city a huge favor.” “All in a day’s work, officer.” I manage to reply, despite the soreness on my forehead. I'm gettin' too old for this.

"Yes, Officer. Thanks for lettin' us know. Goodbye." I haven't even hung up the phone yet before Betty’s asking "What'd he say?" "They ain't found Red yet. They'll keep looking and will let us know if anything turns up." "Drat! It's been 2 days, Benny! Where could she be?" I light up a cig as I say, "All the more reason I shoulda stopped her when I had the chance."

"C'mon, Benny - don't beat yourself up over this. You had a concussion, you know!" "Kid, it was just a conk on the noggin. I coulda shook it off." "Ben, we got all that stuff on her anyway, so we got something done." "Yeah Betts, we did. But not everything I had hoped to do. Ya know I hate unfinished business." "Why'd she do it, Benny? Why'd she leap over that railing? I don't get it."

“Hard to say, kiddo. Before she jumped, she said she wasn’t going back to prison – that’s our only clue. But she had to know that water was below – I don’t see her as the suicidal type.” I take a couple of drags on my cig as I scan the city skyline outside my window. “I have a sneaky suspicion, Betty, that we ain’t seen the last of Rhode Island Red.”

(The End)

Saturday, July 04, 2009

I am grateful that Sarah Palin resigned

I am grateful that Sarah Palin resigned, because the news finally stopped talking about Michael Jackson. Don't get me wrong - I share the sadness of Jackson's early death and I hope for the best for his children. But enough is enough already; report on Jackson when there is something to report! The 24/7 coverage was ridiculous especially since there's other more important things to cover in the meantime.

And yes, I think Palin is setting herself up for 2012.

By the way, Happy 4th of July. :-D

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Chucky's little sister?

Why this doll hasn't been made into a horror movie villain by now, I'll never know.