Tag: Politics

If Peace Is Really What You Want…

"If peace mattered more to you than anything else and if you truly knew yourself to be spirit rather than a little me, you would remain nonreactive and absolutely alert when confronted with challenging people or situations." — Eckhart Tolle, "A New Earth," p. 188

This is easily my biggest earthly challenge these days. I believe peace does matter more to me than anything else but when issues of war, peace, politics and the such come up, I tend to move into "I have a need to be right" mode. If I'm asked, "Would you rather be happy or right?" I hesitate. "Can't I be both?" I wonder. Yes, you can, but not always. And when being right fails to bring happiness or peace — or worse yet sows the seeds of conflict and anger and violence — then do I still have a right to choose being right? What about my oblgation to the world as a self-avowed peacemaker?

Heavy questions to ponder.

What Do iPhone, Health Care Have in Common?

Users of the iPhone have no choice of phone vendors. Consumers have no real choice in health insurance. Both create bad situations.

If you're an Apple iPhone user like I am, you're stuck using AT&T for your cellular service. That means that you get less adequate service than any other iPhone user in the world and less than almost all other American cell phone service providers, including AT&T's non-iPhone customers! How's that make you feel?

AT&T's U.S. iPhone customers cannot use two important features of the phone simply because the telecom behemoth has chosen not to make them available We can't send and receive photos, sound files or movies directly on the phone using messaging. And we can't use the phone as a link between our computers and the Internet, a technique referred to as tethering.
That is pure unadulterated crap. They only get away with it because they know that we love our iPhones enough that we're not going to toss them because the service provider sucks and treats us arbitrarily. I've written the FCC and the FTC asking for an investigation of these discriminatory practices. (These aren't the only such decisions AT&T has made; I'm just focusing on two for the moment because they are ticking me off.)

Similarly, in most parts of the United States at least, you as a consumer/employee have little or no choice when it comes to health insurance. You get the plan your employer decides to offer. Period. You may get a few "menu" options to make you feel like you're in control, but you're not. Pricing among plans is like gas price differences: for all practical purposes, non-existent. But you cannot affordably purchase coverage that is better or more closely suited to your own needs even if such a plan is available because your employer selects one plan for everyone. Some larger companies offer employees a choice of multiple plans but that practice appears to have fallen into disuse in a difficult economy.

This is the ultimate reason a public option is absolutely essential to real health insurance reform: it is the only meaningful way to provide true choice to consumers. And only when faced with true choice that consumers themseles can exercise directly, without employer intervention, will health insurance companies have to become reasonable and competitive in their business practices. Otherwise, they are effectively able to operate as monopolies within given market segments or geographic territories.

How do I get this iPhone removed from my rectum where AT&T has shoved it?

Seton Hits a Right Note on Obama’s Afghanistan Debacle

Internet radio commentator Tony Seton nails Obama on the Afghan war fiasco today. I couldn't agree more.

As my friend says, to say many of us who voted for Candidate Obama are disappointed in President Obama is to plumb the depths of dark despair. He has failed us in so many ways. And also as Tony says, I don't regret for a minute having voted for him ("President Palin" anyone? Yikes) but I'm saddened by the areas in which he's chosen to compromise or, worse, continue the policies of a badly failed regime that he was voted to purge.

Mark these words. If Obama doesn't get health care reform — including a public option — done in this term, he will be a one-term President. I used to think that would be a bad outcome. I'm not so sure today.

GOP Senators in “Bipartisan” Group Show True Colors

Obama is "not pleased" with Sens. Enzi and Grassley for revealing their true colors as unabashed partisan nay-sayers. No kidding.

These guys have not had a bipartisan thought in this entire Congressional season. The only one worse than these Just Say No politicians is the Democrat who chairs the Senate Finance Committee for: (a) forming a sub-committee to try to figure this out, thereby revealing his own lack of interest in doing so; and (b) putting three Republicans on the team as if the GOP had a right to an equal seat at the decision making table.

The time for the sham of bipartisan to be abandoned has arrived. Democrats will pay dearly for failing to accomplish what the voters elected them to do and which they've avoided by trying to make cooperation an end in itself rather than a means to a greater end. Let the 2010 elections clearly be a referendum on Obama's and the Democrats' family and social values agenda and the GOP's obstinate nay-saying. We may end up with a single-party legislature as the Republicans engage in a circular execution.

U.S. Torturers Miss the Point

I was in high school and college during the height of the Cold War. I remember the horror with which those of us who were the liberal thinkers of the day viewed the then Soviet Union for its gulags and fake insane asylums and torture. Such inhumanity was so outrageous to our sensibilities, so over the top, that we scarcely had words to describe our disgust. Of course we didn't actually know that the Soviets did any of that stuff for a while. But then Russian writers started smuggling out the truth that bore a surprisingly strong resemblance to what our own government had been telling us. We were dumbfounded and aghast.

After yesterday's release of the internal CIA study of its torture tactics, I am having difficulty finding words to describe how I feel. My country — once a bastion of civil liberties and human rights — is now at least as despicable in its treatment of other human beings as the old Soviet Union in its heyday.

And what are Bush, Cheney and their underlings saying in response? They don't deny the patently criminal behavior. Instead, they defend and justify it on the grounds that it worked, that it played a key role in keeping America safe after September 11, 2001. As if "it worked" is any kind of defense — legal, moral or rational — for engaging in heinous behavior that violates dozens of international laws and treaties that we have historically demanded be enforced by other nations whose misguided leaders engaged in similar acts.

Never mind the complete absence of any proof that torture worked. The point is that even if you had such evidence, it would not excuse the criminal conduct. "It worked" might be a defense you could raise in a trial but if you break the law for what you think are justifiable reasons, you're not exempt from arrest and trial, only possibly from acquittal or mitigation.

Bush, Cheney and their direct reports who were involved in this activity need to be tried as criminals if we are to avoid perpetuating our growing reputation as amoral bullies and murderers. It really is that simple.

Hey, Mr. President! When Do You Start Leading?

We sent President Obama to the White House with a clear mandate for change but he won't use that power where it's most needed. Instead, he prefers to allow the Know-Nothing, No-Everything Party to have far too much influence on public policy in a sadly misguided effort to be bipartisan.

The latest casualty: the public option in health care reform. That loss would be totally unacceptable, Mr. President, to your "base". Trust me. Your base already feels betrayed by your early decision to take a single-payer plan off the table without a single second of debate. If you allow this provision to be gutted from the bill as well, you might as well just do like your predecessors and let the health care insurance industry write the legislation. Nobody who's been paying attention the last 30+ years believes we will ever reform health insurance without a public option. It's the only real lever in the current legislation that has a hope of getting the health insurance industry to curb its greed and act responsibly.

Please, Mr. President, stop the ridiculous posturing on bipartisanship. Notice that word begins with the prefix "bi" meaning "two". You can't achieve bipartisan governance when the opposition is only interested in being the opposition.

Your job now should be to use your bully pulpit and convince those independents who have been influenced into changing their views on health-care reform by the screaming madness of the un-American opposition to return to their previous understanding of what's good and necessary and then to get back to D.C. and impose some party discipline to get this job done.

I don't want to see you be a one-term President but if you keep up this lack of real leadership from strength, I fear that will be the result.