Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Fine Art of Having It Both Ways

There is no doubt that the recent attempt to blow up a jetliner over Detroit is a scary reminder that the terrorists are still out there. And – if we are to be honest about this – we must surely admit that no screening system is ever going to be foolproof.

Remember Richard Reid, aka the shoe bomber? He tried to blow up an American Airlines flight en route to the U.S. from France in 2001. Following that incident, no one – neither Democrats nor Republicans – tried to blame that on then-president George W. Bush.

What struck me about this latest incident was the immediate chorus of criticism of President Obama by Republicans … with pit bull Dick Cheney in the vanguard, of course. One more example of the Republican tactic of attack, attack, attack!

I guess that’s what you have to do if you have nothing new or of any value to offer people.

But what disturbs me most is the constant banging on the drum of patriotism by Republicans at the same time they're trying to convince us that Barack Obama is to blame for everything from the economy to global warming to the latest terrorist incident.

That's not patriotic. That's unpatriotic.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Barnes and Noble Tells It Like It Is.

This photo was apparently taken by someone doing some Christmas shopping at a Barnes & Noble bookstore in Washington State. It was forwarded to an Alaska blogger who delights in poking pins into Sarah Palin and blowing the whistle on her never-ending excesses.

It sums up Going Rogue quite neatly, dontcha think?


Monday, December 21, 2009

Going … Going … Gone!

Over the Thanksgiving vacation, we had a delightful visit from my wife’s son, his lovely wife and their two-year-old son. On one occasion, they took our granddaughter, not quite 2 ½, with them on an excursion to the Maui Ocean Center. Here are three photos taken of the two kids on the way back.

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Hypocrite of the Week …

… is John McCain, who said on Fox News (where else!) that Barack Obama is responsible for the intensely partisan atmosphere now existing in Washington.

Oh, really? You mean it’s not the fault of Republicans who demanded a bi-partisan approach to health care reform, told preposterous lies about what the reforms would do (remember the “death panels?”), insisted on amendment after amendment to weaken those reforms, and now will almost certainly vote unanimously against the final bill?

That monumental cynicism and hypocracy is disturbing, but entirely predictable coming from today’s Republican Party. What distresses me even more are the Democrats who threaten to vote against the emerging health care reform bill because it doesn’t do everything they want.

That’s the problem with our damn party, isn’t it! Republicans will stubbornly back people who are clearly and demonstrably incompetent as long as they continue to spout the conservative line. We, on the other hand, will throw our own Democratic president under the bus at the first inkling he may be about to do something we don’t like.

I think it was Will Rogers who said, “I don’t belong to an organized political party. I’m a Democrat.”

Friday, December 18, 2009


Sarah Palin is HERE! I mean, she's on Maui, for God's sake!

You've heard about the latest Palin flap? She was photographed on the beach wearing a John McCain sun visor with the "John McCain" blacked out. Palin says she still adores John McCain, and did that in an effort to remain incognito and not attract attention. (We all know how much Sara Palin hates all that intrusive publicity.)

So she's sitting on the beach, with husband Todd and her two daughters and her infant son with Downs Syndrome, and no one recognized them until they spotted the sun visor?

Sarah ... in God's name ... please go away. Haven't we suffered enough?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What's That Definition of Insanity, Again?

I sometimes wonder if Republican voters ever stop to consider their party’s track record when it comes to the milestone pieces of legislation that have come before the Congress.

The fact is, when the break-through moments have appeared, Republicans have been on the wrong side every time.

Republicans opposed giving women the right to vote.

Republicans opposed Lend Lease, which provided obsolete ships, planes, and other war material to help England battle Nazi Germany before the U.S. joined the conflict.

Republicans opposed the Marshall Plan after World War II which helped to rebuild Europe and is largely credited with preventing a Communist take-over.

Republicans opposed the creation of Social Security.

Republicans opposed the creation of Medicare.

And today, Republicans are in lock-step opposing health care reform.

Still, a significant number of our fellow Americans continue to support the Republican Party and vote for their anti-damn-near-everything candidates. It really makes you wonder, doesn’t it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Quick Update

Back home and everything went exactly according to predictions. As advertised, the Russian doc was clearly very skilled, although a man of few words. At our meeting the day before the surgery, I told him how I have always wanted to visit Russia. He looked at me and said, dead-pan, "Don't go in winter." (Actually: "Dun' go een veentair.")

By the way, many thanks for the several nice notes. Much appreciated.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A bit of a hiatus coming up.

I’ve tried – sometimes without a lot of success – to post here on a fairly regular basis, but things do sometimes get in the way. Starting in a few days, there will be what could be an extended gap … perhaps ten days or more.

About a month ago, my doctor gave me the cheery news that I have prostate cancer and, early next week, the damn thing is coming out. (The sooner the better, if you ask me!) A number of tests followed the nasty biopsy and the good news is that it appears to be confined to the prostate. That simplifies things a lot and made the choice of surgery easy for us.

But here’s the interesting part: The surgery will be done by a robot … operated by a doctor, of course. The Queens Medical Center in Honolulu has one of these machines and it’s really a marvel. For one thing, it allows the doctor to get a close-up view of your innards that’s enlarged several times, meaning he can do very precise work.

Another plus is that it’s much less invasive. Without the robot, surgeons make what appears to be an eight- or nine-inch incision in the abdomen. With the robot, the procedure is done through five small holes … so small that no stitches are necessary once the procedure is over. The recovery time is a lot less, too.

In a detached way, I find it interesting that I’m finding this whole experience, well, interesting. Not scary … in fact, not even worrisome. (Gee … maybe that’s something to worry about.) Well, there is one thing: I came across a photo of the doctor who’s going to be manning the joy stick. He looks like he’s 12 years old.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

46 Years ... And Still Counting

Today is the 46th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In the intervening years, there have been other tragic events that have affected me: 9/11 and the death of my parents among them. But, all these many years later, November 22, 1963, remains the worst day of my life.

Jack Kennedy was a whole new kind of politician. Smart. Young. Inspirational. With new ideas and new approaches to old problems. And the ultra-right hated him.

Sound familiar?

Frightening, isn’t it.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

With Enemies Like That …

They say a person can be judged by the enemies he or she makes.

I submit that’s also true of an issue such as health care reform. Take a look at the people and organizations that are against it.

There are the elderly Tea Partiers, whose grasp of the issue was summed up perfectly by the guy at a town hall meeting who yelled at a beleaguered member of Congress: “Keep your government hands off my Medicare!”

Then we have the Republicans in Congress demanding a bipartisan approach to health care reform while boasting that their goal is to prevent any bill from passing in order to damage President Obama politically.

Next there are the pharmaceutical companies who are raising their prices just in case a bill does pass.

And finally – although there are many other people and organizations on this shameful list – there is an organization called Americans for Quality and Affordable Healthcare.
This shadowy outfit is organizing opposition to health care reform in a number of states represented by influential members of the House and Senate.

So who is behind AQAH? No one knows. And, so far, no one has been able to find out.

Such are the opponents of health care reform: The ignorant, the partisan, the greedy, and the anonymous. Surely “enemies” like that tell us much about the merits of what they oppose.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Obviously a Chip-esse off the Old Block

Appearing on Fox News Sunday – Fox? Why are we not surprised? – Liz Cheney, daughter of the former Vice President, touted Sarah Palin as a credible candidate on the Republican national ticket in 2012. She then suggested that a Dick Cheney-Sarah Palin combo would make a first-rate GOP tandem.

Not satisfied with that, she went on to say that, if elected, they would have their hands full undoing “… a lot of the damage that this president has done to our national security, to our economy, to our health care system, to our standing around the world …”

To our standing in the world??

Right! Water Boarding's biggest fan is just the right guy to improve the way the world thinks of us.

You really have to marvel at the way these people can say such things with a straight face.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wrong Again, and Again, and Again, and …

The Republicans have blathered for months about wanting a bipartisan bill for health care reform. By now, however, it’s quite clear they have only one goal: killing any bill in order to weaken the Obama presidency. Or, failing that, they will try to delay any vote (with help from the miserable little weasel, Joe Lieberman) until next year when, they hope, they will gain enough seats in the 2010 elections to defeat any bill that may come to a vote.

How irresponsible. How cynical. How partisan. And how typical for the Party of No.

The Republicans, after all, have a long tradition of opposing reforms and progress. Here are four examples (there are many more):

* The Republicans opposed the creation of Medicare.

* They opposed the creation of Social Security.

* Before World War 2, they opposed Lend Lease, which provided obsolete ships to help a desperate Great Britain defend itself against the Nazis.

* And – here’s a nice little bookend for you – after World War 2, they opposed the Marshall Plan which is credited with keeping millions of Europeans from starving and their countries from falling under Russian domination.

Let us hope that they will not be able to add health care reform to that shameful list.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Progress Toward Health Care Reform … Sorta.

Well, OK … so the House passed their version of health car reform. Barely. Now we have to see what, if anything, the Senate will do.

Clearly, the Republican strategy is to stall and delay, trying to push it all off until next year when, they hope, they will pick up some additional seats in the off-year elections. And all of this could be made possible by the contemptible little weasel, Joe Lieberman, who has said he will side with the Republicans to prevent the forcing of a vote on the issue this year.

I did note that AARP has endorsed the House version of the bill. That’s nice. But what AARP really needs to do is confront every member of the House and Senate with a simple ultimatum: if they vote against health care reform, AARP will actively campaign for their opponent in their next election. That is the only way to get their attention.

Incidentally, have you noticed that so many of the protesters ranting about socialism in these Tea Party rallies against health care reform are obviously senior citizens, most of whom are on Medicare or get their health care through the Veterans Administration? Wouldn’t you love to take them aside and ask how they rationalize that?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Headline for the Day from The Onion:

Obama's Declaration Of Swine Flu Emergency Prompts Pro-Swine-Flu Republican Response

Pathetic ... but that pretty much nails it, doesn't it!


Saturday, October 31, 2009

The need for health care reform hits close to home.

The arguments against our current health care system -- if you can call it a “system” -- are just overwhelming. Every other industrialized country does it better. Every damn one.

Let me give you one example of how our system fails people.

A young woman has been working in one of the local restaurants here. The owner of the place pays her partly in cash to fudge the number of hours she works. And that’s done so the cheap bastard doesn't have to pay for the girl's health insurance.

But the girl didn’t really care. What the hell: she’s young, she’s single, she’s healthy, and she’s living on Maui. Life is good.

But a week or so ago, she got an infection … scratched herself on something and just didn’t give it much thought. Then she developed a fever. Probably just the flu, she thought … no need to see a doctor … especially with no health insurance.

A day later she was worse, much worse, and was finally taken to the emergency room. They did all they could, but the infection had spread throughout her body. She turned critical and ended up being flown to Honolulu where she had surgery to replace a couple of valves in her heart.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are in lock step opposing any real health care reform. Forcing people to buy insurance is bad. Raising costs to small business is bad. Could mean higher taxes, and taxes are bad. It's all just bad, bad, bad!

Well, guess who’s going to pay for this young girl’s medical expenses? We all are … through higher hospital bills, which ultimately mean higher insurance premiums and reduced benefits.

The last I heard she was still alive, but just barely. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

What I don’t understand is, how do all those people – John Boehner and Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham and all the rest of those selfish, cold-hearted ideologues -- how do they sleep at night?


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Reveling in My Obsession

The first major league baseball game I ever saw was in Boston at storied Fenway Park. It was May 25, 1946. I was nine years old.

I vividly remember walking through the bowels of that wonderful old ballpark, down a concrete ramp, looking up at a maze of steel girders overhead. Then came the magical moment: walking up a ramp and seeing that baseball diamond: green grass, immaculately groomed, and dazzling in the sunlight of a perfect spring day.

The Boston Red Sox were playing the New York Yankees that day. They won, 7 to 4, and ever since I have been a passionate fan. I even manage to travel to Boston almost every year to see them play.

But while the Red Sox grew to be my passion from that experience, it also turned the Yankees into an obsession.

I loath them.

I will not see them play in person and I cannot watch them play on television. They often win and I often hear myself screeching obscenities at the screen. It's just too upsetting.

And so, this morning, I am reveling in the news that the Yankees lost the first game of the World Series to the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-1. And, adding luster to this glorious news, a local Maui boy, Shane Victorino, played center field for the Phillies, got a hit, scored a run and drive in a run. And it all happened in the new BILLION-AND-A-HALF DOLLAR Yankee Stadium in front of all those Yankee fans.

I am still pessimistic about the final outcome of the series -- being a Yankee-hater breeds pessimism -- but today, at least, I rejoice.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Little Weasel Does It Again!

Joe Lieberman was the Democratic Party nominee for vice president a few years back, so it was shocking when he endorsed John McCain in 2008.

But the Democrats welcomed him back and he became the 60th vote that would prevent a Republican filibuster of any vote on health care reform ... a filibuster that would put off any action indefinitely.

And today, the despicable back-stabbing little weasel said he would side with the Republicans.
They don't call Hartford, Connecticut -- capital city of Lieberman's home state -- the Insurance Capital of the World for nothing.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Petty Spite ... and the Company It Keeps

The Republican right is happy that Chicago didn’t get the 2012 Olympic games because Barack Obama spoke to the International Olympic Committee on the city’s behalf.

They want to wreck health care reform because, as Republican Senator Jim DeMint said, it would be Obama’s political “Waterloo.”

In a speech on the floor of the U.S. House yesterday, Democratic congressman Alan Grayson from Florida said it best: if Barack Obama were to cure hunger, the Republicans would blame him for over-population; if he were to bring about world peace, they would blame him for destroying the defense industry.

What a spectacle: the flag-waving, drum-beating, family values, holier-than-thou Republican blowhards would rather see Americans hurt than see Obama succeed.

And today they’re angry because an American president was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

There are, however, two prominent groups that agree with them: Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Health Care Reform: One More Case History

The other day there was a heartbreaking – and infuriating – story in the New York Times by columnist Bob Herbert. It was about a man who has lost both his kidneys to a serious disease. A transplant will soon be needed … or the man will surely die.

His two sons are potential donors, but there’s a problem: Any test to determine if their kidneys would be compatible with their father’s will also reveal if the same disease is latent within their bodies. And there’s a 50-50 chance they have it.

Why is that a problem? Because their health insurance company could then claim they had a “pre-existing condition” and cancel their policies. And no other insurance company would ever insure them for the same reason.

How’s that for being between a rock and a hard place? The boys want to have the tests done anyway; their dad doesn’t want them to do it, even if he dies as a result.

How can we, as a civilized society, stand by while people are forced to make choices like that?


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Super Patriots or Super Hypocrites?

The right-wing media blowhards like Glen Beck, Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other of that contemptible ilk love to loudly proclaim their patriotism. They love even more to denounce as America-haters and traitors anyone who dares to disagree with their ideologies.

Yet these and others like them actually cheered when Chicago was not selected as the site of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Glen Beck: “Oh, it’s so sweet. Savor the moment.”

Rush Limbaugh: “I don’t deny it. I’m happy.”

Erik Erickson of “Hahahahaha!” (Articulate devil, isn't he!)

But why in the world were these buffoons slobbering with such delight? Clearly, Chicago’s pitch to the International Olympic Committee had nothing to do with politics, left or right. It had only to do with the huge economic benefits that would have come to the people – the American people – of that city.

Incredibly, in their tortured minds, the devastating loss to the people of Chicago was not nearly as important as the supposed loss of face for President Obama, who had flown to Copenhagen to champion Chicago’s bid for the games (photo above). And that's why they were cheering.

What a bunch of miserable, low-life, soul-less hypocrites.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Bad News and Good News from Washington State

In Washington State, budget cuts meant the suspension of "adult day health services" to 950 elderly people. I gather these services, among others, included providing professional visits, therapies, necessary treatments, allowing relief breaks for those caring for elderly and infirm spouses, and just checking in on people to make sure they were OK.

Well, hell .. we got no choice, right? The durn money just ain't there!

Result? Elderhealth Northwest is an organization that helps frail adults continue to live in their own homes. This organization has determined that two people died and eleven others have lost the ability to walk as a direct consequence of lack of service resulting from state budget cuts.

Thankfully, a federal judge has stepped in and temporarily restored these services ... services that are clearly very much needed.

How can we as a civilized society simply say, "We don't have the money to look after the old and the sick and the helpless"?

How? Well, let someone propose a small tax increase to pay for these "frills" and the Republicans will start braying about "tax and spend" and "big government" and yaddah-yaddah-yaddah.

And, fearing that inevitable onslaught, no politician will have to guts to do what is not just right, but what is civilized.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Winding Down, But Still Very Grand

DAVIS, CALIFORNIA -- Spectacular is overused, and I refuse to use the word awesome as a matter of principle, but I must report that both Monument Valley and Arches National Park are ... well ... spectacular. Monument Valley is part of the Navajo nation and they run the place. And, from all we saw and experienced during our visit there, they run it very well indeed.

Arches is magnificent also, although what impressed us most were the towering rock formations, even more than the several arches we did see.

After leaving Moab, Utah, which had been our HQ for a few days, we headed back to the southeast and spent a night in Ouray, Colorado ... originally a small mining town that sprang up in the mid-1800s and which now caters to skiers, hikers, and sedentary tourists like me. And they do it very well indeed.

A highlight of our brief stay was a visit to the little museum there, which features wonderful displays depicting all aspects of life in Ouray through most of its history. The museum has justifiably been called "the best small museum in the west" by the Smithsonian.

We left Ouray yesterday morning and headed for Grand Junction where we connected with Amtrak's California Zephyr. Fortunately, we had some extra time and took a long-cut on the way which took us over Grand Mesa. Our timing was perfect because the Fall colors were at their height and dominated by the yellow of the aspens ... entire mountainsides splashed with dazzling color. I'm from New England originally and have never seen anything on such a grand scale.

We boarded the Zephyr and soon after departure headed to the dining car where we were seated with a delightful Irish couple ... world travelers with an almost endless repertoire of stories and anecdotes from their travels to Kathmandu and Cape Town and Eastern Europe ... among others. Just another typical evening in an Amtrak dining car!

Tomorrow we will catch the Coast Starlight just before 7:00 a.m. for our return to Los Angeles. As soon as we drop our bags in our roomette, we'll head off to the dining car for breakfast. Who knows whom our companions-at-table might be!


Sunday, September 20, 2009

As Willie Nelson says, "On The Road Again ..."

Another trip coming up. Leaving tomorrow for LA, then taking Amtrak to the Grand Canyon where we'll rent a car and spend several days seeing that and surrounding areas. We'll end our driving in Colorado, catching what is probably Amtrak's most scenic train, the California Zephyr, back to the West Coast for the flight back to Maui. I'll try to do some posting along the way ... but no guarantees. We'll be home again on Oct. 3rd.


Friday, September 18, 2009

These Aren't Statistics, They're Real People

One of the problems in the health car reform debate is that the dialog too often inbvolves only statistics: X number of people, Y number of dollars, etc. To fully understand what's at stake, we need to understand how the current system affects real people.

I wrote a while back about the young husband and wife who were forced for both economic and practical reasons to decided which one would get a needed surgery. What a choice! How would you like to be the husband who gets the surgery he needs, leaving his wife with her chronic gall bladder pain untreated?

Here’s another case history, sent to me today by a regular visitor to this page:

A little over three weeks ago, forgetting I'm no longer 16, I jumped off a harmless 4' wall, and my right knee gave out. Not a landing Nadia Comaneci would have applauded. Anyway, for 2 days I couldn't walk, but did improve a bit.

I went to our doctor here, and the decision was to wait two weeks and see if it got "good as new" on its own. Two weeks later I reported back and said it had indeed improved a lot, but it still didn't feel stable at all. No pain to speak of, but a sense of weakness and, specifically, a sensation it would bend the wrong way backwards. So my doctor ordered an MRI.

Aetna* refused to cover it. Seems I should have waited 6-8 weeks for “therapeutic effect”, and hadn’t had exercises to strengthen it, etc., etc. A consulting doctor for Aetna reviewed the case and gave that opinion.

I don't dare try to find another carrier. I pay Aetna $566 a month for a policy with a $3,000 deductible and am "lucky" to have that!

So much for having my doctor and me together decide what's the best treatment plan.

How can the people bragging about ours being “the greatest country in the world” allow its citizens to be treated this way?

*Remember the Aetna? Their CEO’s compensation was $25 million last year!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Just asking …

The Republicans are quick to blame Obama for everything that goes wrong, even things that clearly had origins in the Bush years. Wouldn’t it seem fair, then, to give Obama credit for things that have gone right since he took office?

So how come we don’t hear anyone on the right noting that shortly after Obama’s inauguration, when the stock market was at bottom, it has come up by 2100 points?

I guess giving Obama credit is just not part of the right’s political game plan. Possibly it’s because the game plan is what’s good for the Party and not what’s good for the country.

This is probably why it bugs me so much when these clowns strut around with their American flag lapel pins.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Do We Know How Low They Can Go?

Goaded and encouraged by Fox News, thousands of people showed up in Washington over the weekend to protest … well, just about everything that has anything to do with Barack Obama.

But it was more than a protest; it was a hate-fest.

There were signs depicting Obama in whiteface. Signs showing him with Mao and Castro and saying “three of a kind.” There was the sign, recycled from the 2008 campaign, saying “Hitler gave good speeches, too.” And, of course, signs urging us to “Say NO to Socialized medicine.”

One guy brandished a sign that said “We’ve come unarmed … THIS TIME!”

And then there was the sign -- not hand drawn, but printed on glossy cardboard for mass distribution -- that said, “Bury Obamacare with Kennedy.”

Just when I think these people have gone as low as they can go, they manage to take it down yet another notch.

Ironically, they are trying the very same tactics the Nazi brown shirts used to shout down and bully and, yes, kill those who opposed their guy Adolf. Of course, most are so ignorant they don’t know that. A few do, but they don’t care. No matter, they are all disgracing the country they loudly profess to love so much.

But the real disgrace? Politicians like South Caroline Senator Jim DeMint. He showed up at this unholy gathering and took the microphone to praise and encourage these pathetic, frightened, angry fools.

And no one can go any lower than that.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Five Questions for Someone Who's Against Health Care Reform

1- When an illegal immigrant shows up at the emergency room with a life threatening illness, should he or she be treated or turned away?

2- Over the last three years, my co-pay for a routine doctor’s appointment has gone from $8 to $14 to $22. Do you see that as a problem?

3- One of the medications I take costs $218 a month. Coincidentally, the company that makes it was just fined $2.3 billion for illegally marketing one of their drugs … sending doctors on all-expense paid trips and paying kickbacks for prescribing it. Do you see any problems there?

4- Hospitals routinely double or triple charges to patients with insurance to cover the cost of treatment they provide to patients without insurance. Do you think something should be done about that?

5- A friend of mine broke his wrist last year. His insurance company renewed his policy, but told him they would cancel his health insurance if he had more than five visits to a doctor this year. Do you think that’s right?

Wait ... wait ... stop chanting "Liar! Liar!" for a minute and ...

Oh, nevermind.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Everyone Has a Different Reaction to "The Speech"

"President Obama' televised speech to the nation's students during school hours. Many Republicans kept their kids home from school in protest. As a result, those kids have voted Obama 'Best President Ever.' " -Conan O'Brien


Friday, September 4, 2009

There's Nothing Grand About the GOP These Days

Barack Obama is going to use a nationwide TV hook-up next week to speak to kids around the nation about the value of an education and the importance of finishing school. And that has brought the Republican loonies out in full force.

Typical is the chair of the Florida Republican Party, Jim Greer, who says he is “appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology.”

Greer is either a liar or an idiot. There is no Door Number Three.

Surely, he knows that Obama is not a socialist … not even close ... in which case he is a shameless liar. If he truly believes Obama is a socialist, he is woefully ignorant and a fool. Personally, I’ll bet he’s a combination of the two, but with a big edge going to “liar”.

There have been any number of deliberate and contemptible Republican deceits in the past weeks, most having to do with spreading misinformation – lies – about health care reform. But nothing better exemplifies the blind, unreasoning, paranoid partisanship of the Republican right than their outraged howls over Obama’s speech to school children.

These are the same people who wear little American flags in their lapels and brag about how much they love their country. Bullshit! They’re more than willing to put the health of millions of their fellow Americans at risk for the chance to make Obama look bad. And they want to prevent school kids from hearing an inspirational message from their president, a message that could inspire many of them to overcome daunting personal obstacles and actually make something of their lives.

These hypocrites demand a bi-partisan approach to dealing with our country’s problems, when their real intent is to delay, obstruct, and prevent. It’s time to ignore them … time to go around them.

Or, better still, I say we go right over them.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The debate – if we can call it that – goes on. And on.

I continue to be astonished at the fabrications being spread about health care reform … spread by people who clearly know that what they are saying is not true. Ohio Republican John Boehner, for example, says the Democratic plan would amount to a government take-over of our health care system.

That’s poppycock and Boehner knows it! I see whichever private doctor I want … I get a blood test whenever my doctor recommends it … I have routine procedures whenever he and I decide they should be done. The only involvement by Medicare is to pay the damn bills!

But the Republicans keep howling that we don’t want to drive the insurance and pharmaceutical companies out of business.

You mean insurance companies like the Aetna, whose CEO gets $25 million a year in compensation?

Or pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, which has just agreed to pay a $2.3 billion fine -- yes, that's billion with a B -- for illegally promoting some of their nostrums?

Doesn’t it occur to any of those Republicans that if a drug company can afford to pay a several billion dollar fine, they’re making too damn much money? These are the people they're blathering about?

Will said it best: "… it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

OK ... so once in a while we may make a little mistake.

An excellent column by Bob Herbert in today's New York Times, brought to mind the following:

"Absolute proof of innocence does not necessarily undo a guilty verdict by a jury...!"
Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice
United State Supreme Court

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Two Things to Know About Health Care Reform

First, the United States is the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn’t make sure all its citizens have quality health care.

Second, Americans pay twice as much for health care than do citizens of all those other countries.

It’s time to get the job done.

Let’s do it for Uncle Teddy.

Postscript: This is on point and worth reading.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Many People Write … But Only Some Are Writers.

A lot of us manage to get our words published in one venue or another. But there are a relative handful of people whose work humbles and sometimes even shames the rest of us who presume to call ourselves writers. My personal favorites among contemporary writers are Paul Theroux, Maureen Dowd, Roger Angell, Dick Cavett and Rick Reilly, although there are many more.

Lately, I’ve come to admire the wonderfully irreverent work of Joel Stein, who is a regular columnist for TIME magazine. The subject of his piece in the current issue is health care reform and, in it, Stein opines that he would be a perfect choice to serve on one of Sarah Palin’s “death panels.”

“ … you need me on your death panel precisely because, unlike politicians and doctors, I can admit that we already have death panels; they just prefer to go by the name insurance companies. Some people get rejected by the death panels because of pre-existing conditions, lifetime spending caps, or drug co-payments they can’t afford. Others die because they are freelancers and don’t have insurance, so they don’t go to doctors. Others might not get the coverage they need because they wrote a column that called insurance companies death panels.”

Funny, eh? But he’s also right.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

It's Really Not That Hard to Understand

The problem with the health care reform debate we’re now witnessing is that the vast majority of people don’t understand the problem, let alone have any sensible solutions. So let me offer a simple case history ... and this is a true story.

The case is that of a woman – let’s call her Jane – who slips and falls one afternoon, breaking her wrist. A friend takes Jane to the emergency room of our local hospital where the doctor on duty sets the bones and applies a cast.

She has a before-and-after X-ray of the wrist, an MRI because she whacked her head when she fell, and they send her home with a bottle of pain pills. In all, Jane was in the hospital for not quite four hours. A fair and reasonable charge for those services would have been about $1,800. (I checked.)

But every day our hospital treats people … ordinary folks … who have no health insurance and not very much money. They treat them because they’re sick or hurt and can’t simply be turned away.

But somebody has to pay, so the hospital spreads the cost of that “free” service around by padding the bills of people who do have insurance … people like Jane. And that’s why Jane’s bill came to $5,600 instead of $1,800.

And it’s why Jane’s co-pay was $560 instead of $180. It's also why her insurance company’s share was more than $5000 instead of the $1600 it should have been.

The insurance company knows perfectly well this is what happened, and at renewal time they increased Jane’s monthly premium from $375 to $540.

So because the hospital treated people with no insurance, the cost of Jane’s health insurance went up 44 percent and is now costing her $2000 more this year than it did last year.

In other words, it’s pretty clear that the way our health care system works now, some of us pay nothing and the rest of us are paying way too much.

But if it's so damn clear, what accounts for the video clips on CNN of people screeching “Nazi” and “socialist” at Barney Frank, who is trying to explain some of this to them?

They’re either – as Barney suggested – from some other planet, or they care more about screwing Barack Obama than they do about their friends and neighbors who are being screwed by a broken health care system. That’s why we need to get this health care reform done now ... and done right.

And let the selfish, petty, miserable sons-a-bitches scream.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Yep ... That's Us, All Right!

Global Warming ... or Health Care Reform ... or the Economy ... Doesn't matter.


Monday, August 17, 2009

You Just Can't Argue With Logic Like That!

Well, Senator Orrin Hatch (Republican of Utah) opposes a public option for health insurance because, he says, people should worry about some nameless, faceless government employee making health care decisions for them.

Boy! That really IS a concern. I’d much rather keep the system we now have … with some nameless, faceless employee at the profit-making Aetna making health care decisions for me.

By the way, as mentioned here some weeks ago, the total annual compensation for Ron Williams, CEO of the aforementioned Aetna, is $24 million. That's "annual" ... as in every year. Clearly, this guy's main concern is my health care.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Health Care in the U.S. - Two Snapshots

I have health insurance.
Three years ago, my co-pay for a routine office visit was $8.00.
Last year, the co-pay was $14.00.
I had an appointment last week. The co-pay was $22.00.

I have drug insurance.
The monthly co-pay for one of my prescriptions is $38.
But I’ve just landed in “the donut hole.”
The monthly payment for that prescription is now $218.

We need health care reform. YA THINK???

Weird Things Are Happening

I have no idea what the problem is, but I have been unable to access this blog through the normal means ... that is, by selecting it from my "favorites" list. Yet I was able to get here by going through the route I use for putting up a new post. I have emailed Google about this and will hope they can clear it all up.

In the meantime, if you, too, have been having problems getting here, let me know at


Monday, August 10, 2009

This is how the debate on Health Care Reform is going.

Take a look at what we’re up against, folks. People with no idea what the problem is, let alone any understanding of how the various solutions might work, shouting down any debate or discussion. What a disgrace.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

What’s worse than an idiot? Someone telling the idiot what to think.

The woeful and, in many cases, willful ignorance being displayed by people opposing health care reform is nothing short of a national disgrace. I returned home today to find a letter-to-the-editor in today's Maui News from a woman ranting against politicians wrestling with this monumentally complex issue. Among other things, she says she wants her 80-year-old mother to live as long as God intends, not until some Washington bureaucrat decides she’s lived long enough.

This stupid woman should be scorned for actually believing that euthanasia canard (if she truly does believe it), but the real condemnation should come down on the heads of the people promoting such outrageous lies. Some are paid lobbyists for the health insurance and health care industries. Others are elected public officials … and, as far as I can tell, every damn one of them is a Republican.

But the worst are the media crazies like Glen Beck … people who are not stupid and who know perfectly well that they are promoting lies to inflame the morons who believe what they say. That, of course, boosts their ratings, and higher ratings increase their already bloated paychecks.

If there is a God, these are the people who already have a seat reserved in the hottest corner of the hottest spot in Hell.


Friday, July 31, 2009

It Makes You Wanna Weep, Don't it?

You want to know why politicians don't deal in calm rational debate much anymore? Because, by and large, we are a nation of morons and they would be wasting their time.

Case in point: At a town hall forum the other day, Republican congressman Bob Inglis of South Carolina started to talk about health care reform. Remember now, this guy is a Republican, so we can reasonably assume therefore that most of the folks in the crowd were of like persuasion.

Anyway, as Inglis starts to talk about health care, a guy in the audience jumps up and loudly demands that he (Inglis) should "keep your government hands off my Medicare!"

(I know I need not explain why this idiot was wrong to the intelligent readers of this blog!)

It is an absolute miracle that we accomplish anything of consequence in this country.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I'll Be Traveling For a Couple of Weeks ...

... so posts will be occasional during that time. There will be a lot of train trips, of course, and I'm taking a laptop along, but access to the internet will be spotty during those times. A longer description of what I'm going to be up to is on my other blog site. If you'd like that additional detail, just go here. I'll be home on August 8th.

Remember: It's five o'clock somewhere!


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

And There's Quite a Long List of These Frauds, Too!


"I know where I'm going to go on my next break. I'm going to the C Street House in Washington, D.C. You know what this is? It's kind of a frat house for Christian congressman, where they live and pray together and counsel each other on how to adhere to the nine commandments."

--Bill Maher


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Inescapable Logic Reveals A Probable Truth

CNN regularly conducts an informal poll on their web site. The results don’t precisely reflect a national consensus since only people who visit the web site are counted, but the survey results are usually interesting. And occasionally fascinating.

A few days ago, people were asked if (a) they thought men had really walked on the moon or (b) did they think the whole thing was a giant hoax.

You may be as surprised as I was to learn that 14 percent of CNN viewers don’t believe Neil Armstrong really went to the moon and that his “giant leap for mankind” actually took place on an elaborate movie set in a secret warehouse somewhere.

Then, in a moment of illumination, it occurred to me that just about the same number of Americans actually think Sarah Palin is qualified to be President of the United States.

Gotta be the same people, dontcha think?


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Headed in the Right Direction ... DOWN!

Sarah Palin’s numbers are dropping … even among Republicans.

According to the very latest poll, only 33 percent of Republicans now think she is qualified to be president. That’s a huge drop from a survey taken eight months ago when 71 percent of Republicans voters thought she would be just great as the Leader of the Free World.

Maybe … if there really is a God … those numbers will keep going and finally hit zero. In that perfect world, we will never, ever have to look at or * shudder * listen to that foolish, self-impressed, ignorant embarrassing woman again. Not ever.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

There has GOT to be a better way!

We moved to Maui from Oahu seven years ago. For the first year, our mail was delivered to a postal box in a mail-drop place a couple of miles from here. You know the kind … they offer copying services, internet access, and collect your mail for a small monthly fee.

Then we moved into our home and, for the past six years, mail has come to our mailbox out on the road at the front of our property.

I had to copy a dozen pages from a book yesterday, so I stopped by the old copy center. After some casual how-ya-doin’s with the owner, he mentioned that they were still getting junk mail for us. Two or three pieces a day for us and it’s the same with most of his former box holders. He just dumps it all, of course.

I don’t know why, but that surprised me. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it, how many millions of tons of paper are wasted every year like that … circulars and flyers and other printed pieces that are sent to postal addresses that have been obsolete for years. Not to mention the money it costs to print all that crap.

I hate the SPAM that comes to my computer, but at least it doesn’t waste millions of trees.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Still Taking Very Good Care of Their Own.

The former -- and disgraced -- Attorney General under George W. Bush, Alberto Gonzales, has landed a job at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. He’s going to be recruiting minority students and teach a current events course. Here is the CNN story.

What’s obviously missing from the story is how much the taxpayers of Texas are going to be paying this clown. I'll bet it turns out to be a lot ... and, if and when that information does become public, brace yourself for more screams about the liberal media bias. (Actually, I think I'd rather not know.)