Wednesday, December 23, 2009

On vacation

As you can see I haven't posted here since November 16th of this year (2009). Well, I still read the newspapers and articles, listen to NPR radio shows and watch documentaries. I just didn't find enough anger to write here. I went in other directions, which you can see here about the healthcare reform, or lack of it, legislation going through Congress.

We will get some reform, whatever they want to call it to put a positive spin on it for our votes. But I'm not convinced it's good reform because I know my premiums won't go down and my coverage won't improve. So what's reform there? Anyway, that's not the point here, but simply I choose to take a break from being angry at the news of the world and the people reporting it to enjoy winter.

It's that simple, give the mind a rest to find some semblence of peace within the larger world of chaos. So in my little corner, the anger will be minimized. Not the obscure perspective of the news, nor the out of the box or off-hand idea about the news, just the words on the screen. It's time to do as I wish for everyone. Have a good holiday season.

Monday, November 16, 2009

News of the Day

Monday newspapers are the slimest of papers of the week except for Saturday's paper, which often doesn't even line a bird cage. And the publishers have the audacity to charge $.75 to 2.00 for a copy. Those are the days I read the on-line version, and as long as they offer it for free, I'll oblige them.

I expect sometime in the future we'll have to pay for the daily on-line version. The ads don't generate the revenue to pay for the Web people and rights to redistribute the news of other papers and organizations (or I've read). So subscription services are the route they're going, like the Wall Street Journal does now and the New York Times has their reader service.

Anyway, for now it's free. And what is interesting?

For one, the health insurance, healthcare industry and drug companies are raising prices ahead of the healthcare reform legislation in Congress. Since the wrote much of the bill and many of the amendments for the members of Congress, they already know what's in it. So we get screwed now and we'll be screwed next year too.

Why doesn't this seem unusual? They've bought and they own Congress. They write the bills and amendments, supply the data, even provide the specialists to supprt their view. They write the speeches of the members of Congress (yes, noted in the NY Times Sunday they write portions of speeches which are used my many members of Congress - so much for original thought by our elected officials).

They know they can get away with this because no one will challenge them and we have little if any choice to find another healtcare provider and insurance company. In some states, a few providers insure most and some cases approaching all of the people of the state. It's borders on if not actually a monoply. But Congress isn't addressing that. They arguing the edges over immigrants and abortion.

They'd rather push aside the real issues and problems, and then propose and support real reform, and push the lesser, but poltiically hot issue of immigrants and abortion. These are important isssues, as we've seen the amendments to virtually eliminate health insurance for abortion under any plan. And the truth is, we still have to treat people, regardless of their status, so you can pay through premiums or pay through taxes and rates.

They, Congress, know they can't take on the industry and companies without risking losing their financial support and face the opposition the industry and companies would support in any election. They'd rather save their butt and job than the people of this country. How misplaced is that? They take an oath to uphold the Constitution and defend this nation, and all it seems they do is protect and promote corporations and industries.

Anyway, I don't know about you, but thinking through the healthcare issues, my brain is tired. And yes, I still read more news of the day, but these two prompted words of dismay and disgust. I'm ready to just bail on the healthcare reform and propose Congress just drop it. They won't solve the problem, and likely add to it, and they won't reduce costs or premiums, as we've already seen.

So, maybe it's time to set it aside for year or so and come back with a better plan, one which works than one which is political. But that's not going to happen as the Democrats want the bill for votes next year and the Republicans want it for votes next year too. One will pass it for votes and the other oppose it for votes.

That's Congress for you. Fuck the public and the people. Just get the votes to stay in power or get power back. And don't lose your lobby money from corporations and industries.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What do...

What do large format photographers looking through their cameras have in common with the politicians in Congress?

The both see the world upside down and backwards.

[Hint.--If you don't get the joke, when large format photographers view the images through the ground glass at the back of the camera, the image is upside down and backwards. It's the same for all cameras, as SLR, film and digital, cameras capture the image the same way but correct it to the viewfinder (prism) or LCD (software).]

So more? Or not.

So, what does the healthcare and health insurance reform bill in Congress and icing on a cake on half-baked cake have in common?

They both look good but the underneath nothing changes and both are still bad and expensive, one for your waist and the other for your wallet.

[Note.--All the healthcare reform bill will do is change the window dressing and still not address, let alone solve, the underlying problems and issues in our nation's healthcare and health insurance system. That requires a paradigm shift and a major restructure and reorganization, neither of which Congress has the balls to sell the American publc because it threatens the money all of them get from the health insurance lobby.]

What do facts and opinon from the mouths of pundits and talking heads have in common?

Nothing. They're mutually exclusive and never right.

[Note.--More often than not pundits mistake opinion for fact or assume incorrect or inaccurate facts to espouse an opinion. And yes, this is my opinion too.]

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Freedom of Religion

I was reading the newsstory in the New York Time about the high school in Georgia which introduced Chrisitan messages in the football games after 9/11. Recently the school district had to abandon that practice when threatened with a lawsuit about the separation of church and state, in this case, school sponsored activities which included football games.

Well, for one those kids misunderstood 9/11. It wasn't about religion. It was about the global economic power of some countries exemplified by the World Trade Center. Remember people from about 100 nations died, not just Americans. While espousing your religion for 9/11 is ok, it's incorrect and inaccurate to phrase the attack in terms of religion.

But that's a different issue. I want to talk about this example of where Christians view their faith and religion as the only religion in this country and to them the freedom of religion as embodied in the Constitution isn't about true freedom of religion but the Christian interpretation and values they think it represents.

And they couldn't be further from the truth. This country wasn't founded on Christian values but the freedom of religion to practice their faith not allowed in Europe. The Christian idea came later, but even then the founders of this country knew, even those they were Christians, that freedom of religion was fundamental. Any religion or faith.

The story made me wonder if someone held of a sign at the football game that read, "Freedom of Religion, Be a Taoist" would they let me stay and display the sign? Or Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Paganism, or whatever? Would they say that's my right and freedom of religion?

After all God is God, each reilgion defines it differently but it's still God. And if we question the existence of a God or more so, deny the existence of God, is that not our freedom too? Isn't that in the Constituion?

When these people focus on their Christianity, I think they have misplaced their sense of America and American values about all of us. It's not about just being Christian, but the freedom to choose and express our religion, whatever that is. That's what this country is about.

And Christians, of all faiths, should honor that, the right to choose and the acceptance of that choice. Or do they say non-Christians are real and don't believe in God? That's not what God and especially Jesus preached. That's not what's in the Bible, ot hate everyone you disagree with? That's not being Christian, but quite the opposite.

They need to relearn history, civics and Christian values, correct this time.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Excuse me Mr. Cheney

I was reading of the speeches Dick Cheney, you know the former Vice President who sunk this nation into wars in two countries, one misunderstanding the facts, truth and reality behind 9/11 and one for his interest to promote the company (Haliburton) which he was CEO and refused to put his wealth in a trust during is terms in office essentially collecting his salary and the dividends from the company.

That Mr. Cheney, who with Mr. Bush, had 7 years to win the war in Afghanistan and didn't. He, as he criticizes President Obama for, "dithered" away time thinking about decisions, procrasting problems, and diverting resources, some of which were solely designated by Congress for Afghanistan, to Iraq. He fucked and sucked the war for 7 years, leaving a mess we can't fix.

That Mr. Cheney, who after leaving office is spreading unfounded and unnecesary fear about our effort there and now the effort in Iraq, which he hasn't noted that it's President Obama who is working to leave the country with a minimum force and bring the troops home, something he promised but didn't do.

That Mr.Cheney, who as VP, kept promising victory and never produced anything more than more deaths, injured and destruction. And a whole lot of money and profit for war companies. You see, he only wanted Haliburtion to get access to the oil fields and the natural gas pipleline which was supposed to be built through Iraq. He wasn't for America, for Americans, for the troops. He was only out for himself.

That Mr. Cheney, who is bitching now to anyone who will listen, for a fee of course. But no one wants to listen to him. We know the truth and the lies behing the White House decisions and marketing of the Iraq war, and he was the driving force. We know his attitude about the law, which he believed he was above and not accountable under it or to the American people. He was simply arrogant and wanted to create a presidential dictatorship.

That Mr. Cheney, who should find the nearest rock big enough to hide is sorry ass and hide. You had 7 years to find Osama bin Laden and you couldn't. You had 7 years to win the war in Afghanistan and you didn't. And now you don't have the right to second guess the President who is really trying to win the war in Afghanistan.

That Mr. Cheney. Excuse me Mr. Cheney, your taxi is waiting. Goodbye and don't call us, we'll call you, but then we don't know the number.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Congressional absurdity

I was reading Congress wants to pass the funding to provide the 57 million receipents of Social Security a one-time $250 check after announcing there will be no cost of living increase in the benefit entitlement for 2010, which is similar to federal government retirees not getting any increase too. All the while health insurance will go up 9-15% fro the same retirees. Talk about being screwed on both ends of the deal.

Anyway, almost all the Republicans and many conservative Democrats are balking at the one-time payout to the elderly, veterans and disabled, because it "would unduly increase the defiict by $13 Billion." Wow, like that's a lot of money too. But compared to the various government Stimulus plans for well over $2 Trillion ($1,000 Billion), and two wars now at $1 Trillion, and the Bush tax cuts (losing about $1 Trillion in revenue), and so on down the line.

That $13 Billion is chump change. And do they really want to piss off 57 million voters more than they are already pissed off losing money next year with not cost of living increase while the cost of everything goes up? Are they really that stupid? Well, apparently so, but I'll be damned if they find a way to explain it away during next year's re-election campaign.

And you can bet when it does come up for a vote in each house, there will be score keepers for the elderly noting who votes no. After all, those in Congress are already rich, so they're not worried about their income or retirment, only the idea of the taxpayers' money, except it's our money and we'd like to see it back in our pocket.

So, dear Congressional representatives, you have a choice. Be smart or be stupid, and if you can't figure out which is which, maybe you deserve to lose next year. So, if you're stupid and don't know the diference or stupid enough to vote no, then maybe you should try to live on the income of those who elected you for awhile, like the rest of your life. And then see how you would vote.

Thought police

I was reading the latest news on the work of hte FBI against terrorists and the latest arrest of individuals in a "terrorist" cell, see news story. I don't know of the facts of this case, but it strikes me like all the rest of the one the FBI has done, meaning in the end, it was all thought and worse the defedants were convicted of were criminal charges, except the blanket one, "providing material support to terrorists", which is so vague anyone could be convicted for accidently talking with a suspected terrorists.

I won't argue there is some truth in the indictment, but why is it that only Arab men are charged by the FBI with terrorism and their case made public? Where are the terrorism arrests and cases against non-Arab men? Why does the FBI use the word of Arab informants against those same terrorists, even members of their own group?

What terrorists can't tell the truth but informants can't lie?

Why does this make the FBI seem more and more like the thought police? Hollywood can make movies on terrorism, even hiring ex-FBI agents as consultants and disclose a lot of information about the infrastructure for real terrorists to use. Writers can published even move explicit books on terrorism and terrorists in this country. They can write the most elaborate plan and show how to make it work.

But a 16-year old high school student who was a legal immigrant, and by the way from Pakistan, was asked to write a story about a woman suicide bomber by her high school teacher. After the story was submitted another teacher found it and reported her to the FBI. She was deported, even though the evidence was on her side and it was just fiction. It was the fact her family was from Pakistan, obviously a known terrorist home, even for high school students here.

But a bunch, er. terrorist cell. of bumbling Arab men, almost always encouraged, trained, funded, arm, lead, etc. by undercover FBI agents, and suddenly their arrested for planning to attack America. Is the FBI saying our security system and the their "targets" are so lax that these guys could actually carry out their plan?

And what happened to just thinking out loud? If a gang of white guys took over a mall, as they alleged this Arabs of planing, would the FBI have called them terrorists and treated them the same as Arab men? Why don't I think they wouldn't, and they would just be called criminals?

If a fiction writer were to write the story of the FBI's terrorist sting operations, we would consider it absurd in the least, and comical in the worst. I'm all for the FBI, but I'm also all for keeping them honest, and more and more it seems they're focusing on arresting racial or ethnic groups for simply thinking and talking, much the same as we do or could, but the FBI considers them terrorists, but not us.

I would rather see the FBI work on catching real terrorists than creating them or inventing cases against them. In this country we're supposed to do something before it's a crime, but for Arab men, it's all about the thought of it. Conspiracy does have legal value in many cases, as we've all seen in the news. But with terrorism and Arab men, the FBI seems to have lost their common sense and their touch with reality.

But then again, I'm just thinking out loud again, and probably more wrong than right, but in this country, thinking and talking isn't a crime, unless of course something criminal actually happen using the information from those words, except of course if it's obviously just thoughts and talk, something the FBI seems to lose sight of these days.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The public option

The Washington Post reported today that the majority of Americans, you know the voters and taxpayers, want a public option overseen by the government, and a very clear majority want a simplified one for the underinsured and uninsured run the the states. And we're the one who elected the representatives in Congress and pay for the appropriation bills they pass and the President signs.

So, Congress what don't you understand? Your 500+ amendment bill to date should either scraped and rewritten or should be drastically revised. We have spoken. We want you to do what we want and not what the corporations who give you a lot of money want. It's not about them, it's about us, the American people.

We also want to you ensure no insurance can deny or reduce coverage for anyone, including those with pre-existing conditions, to cancel anyone insurance because their healthcare is costly, extensive or long. In short, the companies can only provide the insurance and premiums and let the people decide. It should be a market where there is choice, not empty promises and increasing costs and prices.

And once the person is enrolled with a health insurance company they should have rights to ensure their coverage won't be cancelled, won't be denied, the premiums won't be increased different than others (essentially driving them out of the company), and the company won't change coverage more than once a year. And they want a independent process to address denials of coverage, premiums increase above the cost of living or within reasonable expectation, and complaints with undue lengthy claim processing.

That's not unreasonable and would be allow the insurance companies to profit.

There ways to simplify the healthcare reform bill. You don't need a lot of pages. You don't need 500+ amendments. You simply provide the language with define what people can expect for their insurance and from insurance companies, and the basic framework health insurance companies have to work under to offer insurance in this country. Many states are already doing this with insurance (oversight) committees and commissioner(s).

It's not unreasonable to expect the federal government to set a minimum national standard and provide rights and protections for the insured and incentives for the companies to follow the rules and be reasonably profitable. All you have to do is simplify the bill to the minimum and restrict anything beyond it without authorization from Congress.

That's not rocket science. And it's not politics. It's about the American people and American families. Nothing less will do.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nothing really changes

Reading the Sunday newspapers, it's why nothing really changes and all we get from Washington DC is more of the same. The same politics, the same rhetoric, the same partisanism, and now the same non-public transparency, or really the same closed door, private meetings between the President, and his staff, and members of Congress. The last thing they want the American public to know is the truth of what they're doing.

We've seen this from President Obama on terrorism, just more of the same Bush policies rewritten to sound less offensive to the public and the world, but really the continuation of the past of American arrogance and indifference to the world's view of us. And forget the Geneva Convention. Yes, he has promised to close the CIA secret prisons, and close Gitmo, and treat those "captured"in war, meaning captured or kidnapped elswhere and not the actual battlefield let alone the war zone, under the rule of law.

But then he had to appease the right wing conservatives and still call and treat them as terrorists. Yet, only about 10-15% are actually terrorists and most of those are incidental players, and only about 2-3% are real serious terrorists. And now we can fnd homes for them anywhere else. They're branded and they lives gone, and what do we have to show for it. Nothing, but then we already knew that, it was all show.

And now we're seeing the President shelve his public transparency idea and negotiate a healthcare reform bill behind closed doors. In an effort to get a bill, they'll produce a bad bill before they decide to call it quits. And then praise themselves for saving healthcare and health insurance. Ok, some of it will be good, but I'll bet starting in 2-3 years the problems and failures of any bill will become apparent.

And in 3-5 years will have to revisit the issue and nothing will have changed and some things, premiums for example and the number of under insured and uninsured for another, will have gotten worse. And the cost of healthcare will still rise as it always has. There are good models to use, the state of Hawaii for example and Europe for another. But that's socialism to the Republicans and many Democrats.

It's better, cheaper and provide more healthcare to more people without losing the benefits for all. It works. But the President won't begin to talk about real solutions for healthcare, insurance and costs because it would offend almost every Republican and some Democrats. It's not about the American people, what's best for them, and about the Nation, what's good for it, but about politics and money, money for corporations.

And we know now the healthcare industry and health insurance companies are already prepared for healthcare and health insurance reform, after all they know everything in it already. It's why they own Congress, to ensure they're not only not hurt but they continue to profit and now profit more with our money, our taxes paid in subsidies, offsets, etc. and our premiums. We've seen they've already raised premiums ahead of any law.

And in the end the American public we'll get screwed, because I'll bet they'll still find a way to deny healthcare and health insurance for many people around the law requiring them to accept everyone and cover everything. They're smarter and quicker than Congress and obvious way smarter than the President. They don't have to play politics and they're not answerable if Congress doesn't want.

It will be dumped on the states, where many are proactive and vigilant with the health insurance carriers. While Congress and the Presiden tout their success, will have to live with their failures.

And we we've seen it with President Obama's push to renew the Patriot Act, preferably as it was which was worse than the first one. He's learned you don't give up power once you have it, no matter how you got it, illegally or through Congress. It's power over the American people, total intrusion into our lives and even our privacy. He wants to keep that except he can't prove it's worked in the past, is necessary and will work in the future.

He's learned you sing the song of terrorism and fear. You make the American public afraid. George Bush, er. Cheney, learned this, something we've never done. We've always stood tall and defied any enemy. And now we're afraid of small groups of terrorists. Becuase they succeeded once.

It didn't matter we helped cause this with a free and degegulated airline industry, a lax FBI which had all the information, and even a lax White House who also had all the information and warnings. It was citizens which brought down the fourth plane, not law enforcement, the military or the system. Ordinary people.

And now he's reniging on helping retirees. He said no increase in Social Security next year. And at best only a 2% and mabye a 0% increase in federal employees annuity. All the while health insurance for the former will increase before the new year for those the Medicare supplemental insurance and will increase 9-12% for federal retirees. And the normal cost of living increases over the year (2010) and we lose somewhere between 15-20% in real money.

They say it's because of the deficit. Bullshit. It's because Congress and the President has added $3-4 Trillion to the national debt for everything else, and mostly corporations and companies in various stimulus packages. And yet the won't extend unemployment benefits for the same reason. The deficit.

Add the Bush tax cuts and the American people are on the hook for $5-6 Trillion in the last few years on top of the previous national debt. But help those same people. Not in their plans, except maybe in a year to help their re-election. Well I got news for them. They screwed themselves there.

We'll remember this year and what they did. We'll remember nothing really changed despite all their words and promises. We'll remember they left us along side the road over our homes, our health insurance, our jobs, our expenses. and everything else in our lives. All the while corporations got richer and CEO and managers richer still.

We'll remember that. And we'll vote what we remember.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Healthcare Reform

I listened to and read some news stories and the typical pundits yesterday about the current state of the healthcare reform legislation. And granted there are several bills in the Senate and House, each which have to be combined and reconciled for a floor vote. And then the two different versions will be negotiated in the conference commitee. All this before President Obama gets to peek under the covers of the bill.

I have no doubt the White House knows the bills and all the amendments. But here is where I part company with the President and Congress now. There has been so much noise about this work, it's time to do one of two things. First, trim them down to the minimalist measures which focuses on the greatest needs of the healthcare problem. Or second, just let it go. Dump it all in the history trash can and walk away for a few years.

This is a case where hindsight may prove the better choice here. And yes, the problem will worsen, but it doesn't mean Congress can't address some of those with selected legislation. I say this because the bill will be so bloated and convulted no one will really knows what it means and what the impact will be, and we know it will take another 2-3 years to implement all the measures in the bill.

So, it's time to just quit. Right now. Congress has managed to piss off everyone, now including myself who, blindly, thought my health insurance was immune from change beyond what it normally does. But I learned it's now open to massive changes which will make it more expensive and give insurance companies complete control over it and even deny or cancel it. I want it kept within the oversight of the program's government agency.

If anything in the bill touches it, I will lose. And I don't want that. And I know most Americans are already afraid the same will happen to their health insurance, which we're already seeing as companies raise rates and change coverage in anticipation of new rules and mandates. They're smarter and quicker than Congress.

So, it's time to just quit. Right now. And not inflict more and worse damage on the American people who already have health insurance. As for the underinsured and uninsured, maybe Congress can find new ways and new programs to help, but not at the risk of any existing programs or plans. Focus on that, and they'll be fine.

It's time to focus on more important matters. And to President Obama, you have another three-plus years to get healthcare reform, relax you have time and you won't risk the 2010 elections for the Democrats and your 2012 re-election campaign so early in your term of office.

So, to Congress, just quit. Box it all up and put it in some warehouse as a memory of something tried and lessons learned. That's because no bill is better than a bad bill. You've been down that road too often, and this one will certainly piss of everyone. This way you can try again with the advantage of hindsight.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dear Democrats

Alas, with the work on healthcare and health insurance reform you have shown your true colors. And we're finding you're really not much different from the Republicans in that in the end you really don't care about the American people, us ordinary folks living normal lives trying to survive and just maybe, ever so slowly, prosper. We had hints with the various stimulus packages aimed at, and reeally for, the financial industry, the mortage industry, and a host of companies. All as you said, to help the economy and save or create jobs.

Except it hasn't and it won't do much for real people for awhile, but it will make the industries very rich and profitable. Yes, you're a Republican in Democratic clothes. Some of the financial companies are making real profits because we, the taxpayer through your efforts, bought their toxic assests and debts. We now will lose that money instead of them. All thanks to you.

And you helped the mortage industry stay afloat and now profit but you haven't really helped the home owner outside of a few laws you think would protect their home, but really ensure the loan industry isn't burdened with a glut of foreclosed homes from failed mortages and bankrupcies. You didn't give the home buyer enough rights to stand on their own but you gave the mortage industry the power to continue, and even profit, financially.

And now we expect something different over healthcare reform? So how many companies in the healthcare and health insurance industry have contributed to your campaigns and continue to provide information and financial support through lobbyists?

And how much have the given you to ensure you won't screw them and even make the profitable?

How many times have you met and talked with their lobbyists?

How many times have to asked them or presented draft amendments to them to review for inclusion under your name?

How many times have you accepted their information as fact to support your view, which is really their view and not asked nonpartician organizations for the same treatment?

Huh? Or is this off-limits to the public to know how much you're in their pocket despite the fact we elected you?

Cruel or harsh? Probably? Truthful? Some and maybe even much. But the fact remains, in the end, it's the individual and family who will have to pay the price and premium, and there is no study to date which has addressed healthcare and health insurance reform that even suggests our costs will at best stay level and our coverage will improve.

All you talk about is money. But not our money, the budget we live on every month.

And now I know where you stand on government employees, especially retirees. You are freezing our annual cola while our insturance premiums will go up 9-12% in January 2010. Is that what you call support? Is that what you say will help us?

And now I know you're planning to undo the Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) plan and program. It is the best model for other plans but you decided we should be the sacrificial lamb for the public option. That's sucks and you know. It screws us while making political gain for you.

Why? Because your staff, which is currently covered under FEHB as federal employess, wants to have the same health insurance when they leave, but will lose this coverage since they won't be federal employees. So to help a few thousand staffers you're going to screw 8+ million active and retired permanent federal employees and our health insurance.

So, what does it all mean? Well, to me, I guarantee you that if anything in the healthcare reform act touches the FEHB I will quit being a Democrat, something I've been for about 40 years. I won't go Republican on you, but you can bet I will work against everything you do, every Senator and Representative who voted for the Act, and make a lot of noise about your lack of support of and for Americans.

You can bet on that, because You screw with my health insurance and I will let you and everyone who will listen what you did. I have to live with my health insurance and plan, and pay the premiums for the rest of my life, barring you undo it so much they deny or remove me for some reason or another or price themselves out of my range.

You don't have the worry. You can afford any plan and program you want. You get the best healthcare for being in Congress. And we have to live with what we can afford and choose. And if you make it worse, I hope you lose your next election, because you can bet I'll speak out against you. I won't support your opponent, but you won't have me to pander to for money, support and my vote.

And yes, I'm just one person, one voice and one vote, little to fear from or about me. But I can try. And I will tell the world what you really are and are for. And that's not for America or American, just your wallet. So that's the deal, fuck with the FEHB and I'll raise my voice against you.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Republican good ideas

Kinda' an oxymoron in many ways. Don't worry, the Democrats are about the same with many of their ideas, except at least sometimes they have their heart in the right place. And there are some good Republicans, but you'll have to give me a minute to think of some. Kidding again. My point here?

The Republicans have long lauded the free marketplace as the answer to everything. The great idea of capitalism. Except it's not free and it's certainly isn't unimeded capitalism. But to the Republicans in Congress offering healthcare reform packages without any public or similar option citing the advantages of the healthcare industry and corporations to solve the problem, I have a response.

The very same free market is what got us here now. It's what created the healthcare mess and what has given American the most expense healthcare system in the world for less than good performance. When you maximize profit in the name of workers, patients, care, costs, etc, then you get what you expect, what we have now.

So you think a better market will induce the corporations to be noble and humane? Well, we're not stupid. They won't change and in fact, they've bought almost every member of the Senate to ensure they'll not only survive, but profit more, even with more government money helping. You know that and don't want to admit it.

And so now you ask us to trust you with a market-based healthcare reform package you "guarrantee" will work, except you can't guarrantee every American and every American family will have good affordable health insurance. Can you do that? Do you really expect the health insurance companies to do that?

Or have you quietly snuck in provisions pushing them to what they use now, public assistance and hospitals mandated to provide healthcare for uninsured? That's your idea of the market at work, jettison the underinsured and uninsured to us, the taxpayer, which you can then criticize for not working let alone being profitable?

The public has heard nothing but fear mongering from you about the public option being a socialist government takeover the healthcare system. You knew then and know now that's false and you're wrong. And you failed to note Canada and every major country in Europe has public healthcare which works as well if not better than ours. You knew then and know now that's true.

And yet you kept the fear mongering up, scaring Americans, especially the elderly on Medicare, they'll lose their coverage to a government bureaucrat, like they already have with Medicare. And you have proposed cuts to Medicare at the same time. Talk about speaking out of both side your mouth. You lied on both sides.

So, do you really have good ideas or just what the healthcare industry and corporations tell you are good ideas? Do you really want to know what it's like for many Americans, now about 20+% of them who are under insured or worse uninsured and forced to use emergency rooms and public assistance programs?

Maybe you should live like they do and face the same issues and problems? After all you have an excellent affordable government-assisted paid health insurance. Or do you forget to mention that in your message? You get what you criticize and don't want Americans to have.

And we're expected to believe anything you say?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

On-line Newspapers

What's with them? Ok, I read a few of them, namely because either I'm too lazy to buy or subscribe to the paper every day or because they're not available locally. I know I've ranted or vented before about them, but the local, Tacoma and Seattle, ones (3, Tacoma News Tribune, Seattle PI and Seattle Times), really suck. I don't mean kinda' suck, but really suck, pure visual overkill.

It's like they're addicted to filling every space and more on a Web page with something, some news story, images, ads, etc., and they're long, The Seattle Times is 5+ page (1024 length x 900 width) scrolls of stuff, and the other two are 3+ page scrolls of stuff. Give the reader a break. It's like they want you to take up residence on the home page for hours or something, reading and following all the links.

But the problem is that 80-90% of the news is repackaged news from other sources. None of the three have reporters beyond the Puget Sound excepting some in New York or DC, but mostly travelling there. The Seattle PI simply shut down all news operations except local and state news when they went to an non-paper on-line format after closing down.

So what are they good for? Well, local news, government, events, arts, sports, etc., the stuff you expect. After that, they're a waste of time and space when you can get the news from the source or from better news Websites. And the sad reality is that none do what I expect, offer a daily version with just the news duplicated in the print edition. All major newspapers do it except USA Today, and that's another rant.

So it's impossible to sort out what really news, like today, or just something kept on-line. It's why it's called a daily newspaper, like they can't duplicate that with the links to the stories. The New York Times and Washington Post do it for free (probably subscription in the future like the Wall Street Journal). Those on-line papers are clear and easy to navigate and read both today's news and sections.

But the local ones just want to bludgeon your eyes and mind to death. No wonder Google has a good customer base for the daily alert e-mails for specific searches. I use it for "Mount Rainier National Park" and get through all the hype, crap and junk of the on-line newspapers. Try searching that on their Websites every day. Whew!!

Anyway, I'm done, and more or less done with them, unless it's a specific topic or issue. Otherwise, I'll buy the daily paper, maybe. Ok, Sundays for sure, but then that issue is geting sparse for the price. And some of the other days are only worth it for the pullout section.

And if they bitch about losing customers, so be it (although the Seattle Times is now profitable when it picked up half the former PI readers by picking up some of their sections and comics and moving to the center right instead of middle to far right editorially). It's not hard noticing the print editions are half their size a year or so ago and costing half gain more.

I'm waiting for the day they all go to non-paper on-line only versions with subscription. It's the model that seems to work for those who use it (eg. Wall Street Journal). It's about the repeat customer, you want them coming back and you want new customers. That takes reinvention and innovation, obviously lacking with the local on-line newspapers.

You have to create some degree of uniqueness which the customer wants. It's why the Christian Science Monitor and Wall Street Journal have additional services for a subscription. And you have to create ease of navigation, both reading and searching the Website. What good is a newspaper you can't find the news?

So, while I may read the print edition of the Seattle Times once or twice a week, they, and the new on-line only Seattle PI, can park their Websites as far as I'm concerned. I'll get my news from the other newspapers and use Google's news search engine.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dear Senators

To the Democratic Senators who aren't for the public option with the healthcare reform work. What don't you understand? I don't get it. You get low cost health insurance under a federally managed program, just I as do and the 8 or so million of active and retired federal employees. That federally managed program covers every member of Congress and all their staff.

And yet you don't complain about the coverage or the rates. So, you don't want Americans, now estimtated at 10-15 million who are uninsured and that many again who are under insured, and those are conservative figures, to have a similar option as you? What don't you understand about being hypocritical?

So far, you're doing a great job undermining American's confidence in you to represent them. Apparently you really don't want healthcare reform, only the appearance of it to get re-elected. You don't care about the millions of Amerian families who have gone bankrupt from huge medical bills. You don't care about providing even the minimum healthcare for families with income near or below the poverty line.

So what do you want besides votes? Or is it the lobby money you get from the heathlcare industry and health insurance companies? You feel you owe them more than you owe Americans? Who pays your salary? Who are you supposed to represent? Like the American people?

I'm one with a decent affordable health insurance plan, but I also know any severe accident, illness or disease will also bankrupt me very quickly. For the most part I'm relatively safe now, but I want health insurance for everyone, especially familes and more so children. It's about what's best for America and the American people.

But apparently you don't see that, only the industries who write you checks. You have the power to change the course of healthcare in this country for a long time, for the better, for everyone, and best of all for America. And all I see is you tinkering with the edges, trusthing the same private market which got us here to the mess we're in. And you still don't see that.

Well, either you're intentionally blind or ignorant, or both. The 20% of Americans who need affordable insurance won't get it under any plan you've proposed without a public option to make health insurance affordable and healthcare adequate. Otherwise, we'll continue the problem in the future and in 8-12 years revisit it, citing the failures of your work now.

So, if that's whay you want, go ahead and screw the American people. Or you can stop being assholes and do what's right.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Notes from the news

It's Monday, I read the on-line newspapers, usually 3-5 depending on the time. I noticed it's faster to read the on-line daily paper because of the format. There's no pages to turn with the big spread and ads, and yes, I like it. I'm a traditionalist about newspapers, or a curmudgeon to some. I like spreading the paper out with coffee and maybe a snack or meal, and looking at every page and reading the interesting stuff and news, and yes, reading the ads.

The on-line ones aren't necessarily easier to scan because you're reading differently and hoping the headline catches your eye and really does encaptulate the article to go to that Web page. And back and forth you go, the main Web page to the articles or to the section and then the articles. Equally efficient, and different, but not more enjoyable for me. But I'm learning.

Anyway, I diverged so on with the notes from the news, or as I see them.

Afghanistan. General McChrystal wants more troops for Afghanistan. I've posted my basic thoughts on the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And he's right, but he's also repeating what was said in the mid-1960's before the half a million troop buildup in Vietnam. While the numbers aren't the same, the idea is the same. And sadly, it's also the truth and reality.

What he's saying is do we have the stomach and stamina to stay there with significant troops levels - and don't forget logistic, civilian and contract personnel which doubles the numbers (eg. Iraq). - for a long time, at least up to 10 years and maybe longer. And he points out, similar to Vietnam, we, or NATO/US forces, don't control the majority of the country, and what we do control, isn't always stable.

Eight years ago we were assured victory and it seemed evident within a year of it, but then Bush-Cheney and co-horts diverted attention, resources and effort to an imaginary enemy in Iraq - remember it wasn't Saddham Hussein who was the enemy, he was only the poster boy, it was the connections to 9/11 and Al Qeada which didn't exist and the connections to weapons of mass destruction which also didn't exist.

In short Afghanistan got short changed and in the time gap the enemy as they did in previous years with fighthing and occupying force regrouped and gained strength, and a lot of money from the cocaine market. And slowly since we've been waging a status quo war, and the general is saying if we want to win, or achieve some measure of success, we have to commit the resources and especially the troops.

We'll see what happens here and there.

Healthcare reform and its unintended consequences about the taxes on premiums. It seems almost any provision which taxes the "highend" healthcare plans, or to Congress, expensive ones, which aren't always the best or most comprehensive, just expensive, will actually get paid by both the middle class and wealthy.

That's because some of those plans are with companies and with individuals who aren't rich but middle class. And because companies won't charge just those employees for the tax but spread it to everyone in the company. Everyone will share in the employer's tax. The employer won't pay, they're smarter than that. They'll just push it to the employees.

This was part of all of the proposed reform plans. So Congress didn't think beyond the end of their noses, again. Quick and dirty is their motto. We want a quick political answer which sells to the voters. Never mind in time, years down the road, it want come true or really happen, but it's all about the next election.

That's not fair. They're considering the whole problem and issue which is complex to say the least, without any real solutions for everyone today, from the individual to the big health insurance providers. And everyone has a stake it and is lobbying hard, well all are but us the taxpayer who are hoping some organization represents our interests and goals with this.

But in the end, the Senators and Representatives will vote who pays their bills, the industries with the big lobbies. There are some exceptions, as we know from their outspokenness against corporations and industries and the support for the average person, but they're few these days and fewer in this issue.

And as noted, so far there are over 500 amendments to the main bill so it's hard to know what's really in the bill. But in the end, we know that the companies will make out ok, and probably profit from the bill and the average taxpayer and especially the familes, will pay more to everyone. It won't get solved, only patched and kicked down the road a few years or more to the next president.

And to the President, "It won't be affordable." The premuims won't go down. Heathcare costs won't go down. And the healthcare companies and health insurance providers will get richer at our expense. That's the reality Mr. President, because that's what got us here and the change won't effect that very much if at all.

Real healthcare and health insurance reform will come with near-universal coverage and government oversight of healthcare and its associated costs similar to Canda or most of the European countries, and we know that won't happen here. So try hard, promise what you want, but realize we know and see the truth and reality every day in our lives and every month in our premium.

But I'll support your effort to try.

Ok, back to Afghanistan. The real obvious. President Karai didn't win 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff election and we know his opposition got more, but it wasn't just one candidate which makes him the winner by default. There was mass fraud in the election, probably somewhere around 20-25% or more of the votes. And the US is stuck wondering what to do, certify it and a fraudulant President or coax a compromise to get a fraudulant President.

Either way, Mr. Karzai knows he won and he's won our support. He's our lesser of evils except it's more about what the US always does, support dictatorships, or the appearance of it, in some form or manner. We like continunity and consistency, even if it's the worse of the lot.

The latest terrorist(s) arrest. I have little doubt the FBI actually did the right thing this time, instead of creating a terrorist group to arrest them under the guise of fighting terrorism. All the facts seem they were headed in that direction. But let's get one thing clear, a book doesn't make a terrorists.

The FBI says, "He had a bomb making book." Like how many people in the US have these books? Lots I suspect, including the Federal govenment agencies, like the FBI. But private specialists have them, academics and universities have them. some journalists and writers doing research have them. And on and on down the list of those with these books. It's what America is about.

Don't condemn them because of their ethnicity and reading material.

And on the print media, been to a magazine rack recently. I mean a really complete one, like in Borders, Barnes and Noble or any local magazine only store? Rows and rows of them, magazines. There are probably at least half a dozen, and often more, magazines on each speciality. You name it, there are 6-12 magazines on it.

For example? Woodworking, sewing, knitting (separate from sewing), writing, running, guitars (just them), etc. And the big subjects, like the big sports, the news and weeklies, fashion, travel, etc., there are 1-2 dozen of them. Any wonder the magazines are going broke, too much competition for with too little content and too few buying (notice buying) readers.

I say the last because every watch people in the bookstores with magazine sections next to the cafe? People pick up a few, sometimes a pile, get a cup of coffee and read. They'll read them all, then leave. They'll leave the pile on the table for the staff ot put back on the rack.

And these people do this in the face of signs to the cafe, "Purchase magazines before entering cafe" or some such similar words. Even Barnes and Noble tries to separate them to prevent this but they discovered people simply took the coffee to the magazines and sat or stood in the aisle reading and drinking. Then they put stairs in between with signs "No drinks in books and magazine sections." And people took both to the small sitting area near the entrance but inside the store (walk through alarms).

They coudn't stop the problem so they have simply contained it. Borders doesn't even try. Only the specialty magazines shops have and enforce a reading rule. It's their only product and the income. All of them I've been in have policies or watch customers, and will ask loitering ones, just reading upon reading, to buy or leave. And none allow drinks.

What don't people understand to respect the magazine publisher and the workers? All the writers, reasearch staff, editors, etal, and the print companies. What you don't want them to earn a living? You're screwing them while thinking it should be free. It's not free.

What if we demand your work be free? Not because you wanted it to be free and didn't care to earn a living, but because we wanted it free? So stop being assholes. Peruse the magazine if you want, but then buy it or not, but don't read it and leave it. If you want to read it for free, go to your nearest library, you paid for it there.

Ok, enough caffine for one morning. And I have real work to do.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Caster Semanya

Update.--Today (9/19) the news are reporting that the South African sports officials did sex/gender test on Ms. Semanya before she left for her latest competition despite telling her that no tests were done and she was cleared to go and compete. But the team doctor recommended against her going and competing, opening the door to more scurtiny. In short, they lied and for what ever reason they haven't said yet. The final results of the last round of tests aren't scheduled to be released for a few weeks.

Original Post.--The full results of the tests are still out on Ms. Semanya, what she is anyway. And there are a lot of voices arguing the range of views and opinions and what the IAAF should do. And there is a lot of misinformation, mostly speculation, on what she is, and yes, almost all probably wrong.

I won't try to determine what or who she, the information is far from complete, accurate or correct. I can only say she appears to be some form of gendervariant or intersexed, but more a combination of the two, so she doesn't fit any clear group, which is what bother me. Putting labels on her or putting her in a box isn't good, because the labels don't fit and the boxes are full of equally divergent and diverse people.

What I can only guess from the reports is that she wasn't born female as we know and expect females to be. Without ovaries and a womb, that kinda removes a lot of guessing on one end (normal female). Having undescended testes adds to the picture, removing her from the other end (normal male).

Having had genital surgery (to be female) and having a more boyish body probably removes having AIS (since they're usually born with a vagina and develop female body shapes). She is likely another form of sex development where her testosterone had some but not a complete effect to develop her into a boy and man, and maybe a combination of AIS and other conditions.

From there only tests will establish what sex and gender she was born and is know. But that really isn't the question, which is what should the IAAF do with her and her records. I would suggest she, and others like her, be treated like male to female transsexual and apply the same rules. That remove any male factors from her body on par with post-transistion transwomen athletes.

As has been noted, she has a higher level of testosterone than normal women (the testes will do that) but her body isn't fully receptive to it so she ends up in between and a combination of female and male. And that's where the IAAF may have to decide, what natural or artifical level is acceptable for female athletes, based on the normal range expected from women born female and post-transistion transwomen (who are within the normal range of females).

I'm sorry this doesn't sound fair to her. But she isn't fair to the competition. They have a legitmate complaint and the IAAF needs to address them and the competitors to put her on the same field. Give her the choice of changing sex and gender under the guideslines for transwomen or changing her sex and gender marker to male and men.

Anyway, that's my opinion as I read the news. I'm sorry for the publicity about her, but she has to understand she walked onto the world stage open to that scurtiny and was caught. She didn't intend it, and likely didn't know, but she was there and has to stand up to it. And she has choices too, but like it or not, it's not as she is now.

The IAAF has to change as does she, both to be fair to the other female athletes. She also has the opportunity to be an ambassador for other similar athletes. So, while she may not like the choices and the future, it's still there and she still has one. That's her choice.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Roadside Bombs

Thursday the Tacoma News Tribune (TNT) front page had two stories on the recent death of soldiers in Afghanistan. I'm not going to discuss the issue of Afghanistan, at least not here, or the soldiers, who deserved the recognition for their duty to our country. The deaths are sad and a sad reminder of the cost of war. I would, however, like to address the story itself, a small semantic argument with the writers.

In the caption to the photo, the TNT wrote, "...when their vehicle was attacked with a pair of improvished explosive devices.", and in the story below this one with the photo, the TNT wrote, "Two Stryker soldiers from Fort Lewis were killed when a roadside bomb hit their vehicle Monday..."

Well, the stories are true except for one fact, Improvished Explosive Devices (IED's) and roadside bombs don't move. They can't attack anything and they don't hit anything. IED's can be detonated by running over them or by being detonated remotely with a trip wire, radio signal or cellphone. In Afghanistan it's almost always by being run over, and roadside bombs are detonated when run over.

This means the vehicles have to run over the devices to detonate. So the bombs didn't attack anything but detonated after being run over and the explosion hit the vehicles. This is a small and pick distinction, especially when it's soldiers who die, but the TNT should get the facts correct. As was often said about similar situations in Iraq, the papers always wrote the soldiers died when their vehicle hit a IED or roadside bomb.

I'm not going to get into the discussion over roadside bombs, IED's, mines whatever. They're a fact of war and as much as you want to complain about the enemy's use of them in Iraq and now Afghanistan, the US is the biggest producer of them and the US historically been the biggest dispenser of them in the world. And while we perfected them, the Taliban are using more old-school simple ones.

And as we discovered the new armored vehicles built especially for Iraq don't work well in Afghanistan and the ones currently in Afghanistan aren't working. It's why those soldiers died. While the Army keeps selling Congress the need for bomb-resistant vehicles and keeps geting more money for research and production, the vehicles aren't getting better to protect soldiers.

And they're costing $1 Million each. Yes, each, and once blown up, they're pretty much only good for parts for existing vehicles. The Army keeps saying they're for the soldiers, but until they stop been killed by roadside bombs and IED's, the enemy isn't the bombs but the Army brass, Congress, and the companies.

I want to see the headline, "Army vehicles works againts IED's", and maybe some day I will, but not with the state of vehicles now and the enemy getting better with the roadside bombs and IED's, importing the technology and techniques from Iraq. For now, they'll be more headlines, more ceremonies and more grieving families.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dear Senators

Whatever you're thinking about the latest proposal for healthcare and health insurance reform and the national deficit, don't think for one minute you can snowball many Americans over either. You have never passed a budget or bill in recent times that didin't increase the deficit with the exception of some of former President Clinton's budget.

You told us the Iraq war would pay for itself and now approaching $1 Trillion later, where was that idea? You passed tax cuts for the wealthy which has cost the government over $1 Tillion in lost revenue. You have passed many pork-barrel projects for your district or state costing taxpayers $ Billions. George Bush increased the deficit more in his term than all the previious Presidents and you said it was ok, after all you passed those funding bills.

And now you're crying foul over healthcare for the poor? And now you're selling us healthcare reform which doesn't increase the deficit. Did you buy that bridge in Brooklyn only to hope you could resell it to us? And in ten years when it's proven it did add to the deficit, how can we hold you accountable? That's always your saving grace, the future won't hurt you. But it will severely hurt us when we have to live under your new healthcare proposal.

And you'll be retired with nearly free healthcare compliments of the government. How nice of us, and how cruel and mean of you. You scapegoated us for votes and you took the credit and ran for those very same voters. While the uninsured won't be able to afford the option you will offer outside of the public option which you're quickly jettisoning for political expediency, you will look good to the rest of the voters.

That's what you don't seem to realize and understand. Offering incentives to families who are uninsured or underinsured still won't make it affordable. That's why they don't have or have enough health insurance. They need real affordable good health insurance, and the public option was and is the only way to go.

It's about government helping all Americans, not just those who can afford good health insurance. And the more you dance around the public option trying desperately not to include it, you sending the message the poor in this country isn't your interest or your problem. Well, I defy you to live on their salary and say that.

The public option is the only real solution. Health insurance companies won't touch the uninsured or offer better coverage to the underinsured. You know that. We know that. The companies don't see the profit, unless of course you simply write the checks for it, but I guarrantee you it will cost more than the public option.

The government should be the provider of last resort. That's your job to ensure that happens. That's what Social Security and Medicare are about. That's what many government program to assist the poor are for. That's what we all owe as citizens, to raise their standard of living.

Else nothing changes and we'll continue to pay their coverage through the Emergency Room and hospitals who have to take and treat patients without coverage or money. If you want more of the same, then sure, pass your bill and see what happens. If you're so sure and thinks it right for America and Americans, go ahead.

And in a few years when we're be back discussing the failures of your healthcare reform with the reality that 10% or more of Americans are uninsured and another 10% or more are underinsured because you reform didn't work except for the rich and little for the middle class, what are you going to say again.

Oops won't cut it because there's no band-aid big enough and no cure good enough to undo what's been done.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More of the same

I've been reading the news about President Obama's plans for fighting terrorism and terrorists, and lo and behold, after all the rhetoric in the campaign against former President Bush's policies, he's pretty much following those policies. He found himself in the middle of reality and faced with using existing tools, tweaked to look more humane, or develop new ones.

And he found the current political and legal toolbox nice, with all of its neat torture tools, Geneva Convention aside or wrapped around them, the invasion of privacy rules, only for suspected terrorists of course, loss of legal rights, again only for terrorists, and security rules, to hide any violations and protect violaters. Yup, it's quite a set of tools.

And so President Obama wants the Patriot Act renewed, and only Congress is hedging the rules in the law to provide more rights and protections for citizens. They're doing this because every audit to date on the Patriot Act has shown the FBI never worked within it, and always violated it. And they've shown that 95% of the search warrants under the Act weren't for suspected terrorists, but ordinary crimes.

The FBI has been using the Patriot Act in place of other existing legal avenues to investigate suspects because it removes the safeguards, like a judge's review and signature, from their work. They short cutted the system for no real reasons except being too lazy to prove their case to a judge and give the suspect, many times just ancillary people or innocent citizens, rights. And they've failed to followup warrants with the evidence in the timeframe to a judge.

Cheating to fight crime is one thing, widespread and wholesale cheating to fight crime but including innocent people, especially citizens, is far and away another thing. And it's why the Patriot Act doesn't need to be renewed or even extended. It's just needs to be stopped and make the FBI do the work they're supposed, under the law with all the rights and protections afforded suspects.

And if Congress wants to renew the Patriot Act, they should really pare it down and put in a lot of rights, protections and especially oversight. It's time the pendulum swung back in favor of citizens. We don't need stories about what happened when the FBI used minimal and often unreliable or noncredible information or evidence, and sometimes just creating it, to arrest and detain citizens to later, often months to years, without any charges and having to rebuild their life and career now destroyed.

Anyway, the discussions are just starting, so I'm early, but I want to express my view as I did when the Patriot Act was first proposed and then renewed. It's not necessary and hasn't proven sufficiently successful for the lost of privacy, rights and protections. We as citizens aren't the enemy and shouldn't be treated like we are. That's what the FBI needs to learn and remember.

Monday, September 7, 2009

I'm amazed

I've been listening to the healthcare reform and insurance debate, like I haven't blogged enough already last month and this, but I'm always amazed that all the pundits, analysists, politicians, etal who are heading the debate on or from both sides don't have problems with their healthcare. Really.

Not, I'm sure all of those folks have excellent, affordable healthcare. They have their insurance through some larger providers, Congress through the government, which is another contradiction on their part - they argue against the public option for you or I while getting excellent government healthcare cheap - and all the rest through company plans. They's sitting pretty, so they can argue against anything.

That's their advantage. And it's also, like the millions of federal or military retirees, I get good healthcare at affordable prices. But until the military thorugh the Veterans Administration, mine as a federal retiree is through private companies. It's the Federal Emplyees Health Benefit Plan (FEHB). It's one of the best run programs of the federal government, and it's not paid by the government, but only partially for the employees and none for retirees.

Retirees pay full fare for their health insurance. There are over two dozen companies offering over 50 different plans for individuals and families. And surprisingly, there's always more companies bidding to join the program despite about 60% enrolled in some Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan. That means 40% of 8+ million customers is a lot, and worth providing affordable health insurance.

And so, yes, I can also be in the class of the others arguing for or against something knowing it doesn't and won't really effect me directly. But it does because I use the same pharmacies, the same doctors, the same hospitals and clinics as everyone else. I face the same issues and often problems with healthcare, and I face the same issues and problems with my health insurance provider.

I'm just one of millions of their customers. Just like you. So I'm there too, only with a small distinction about my insurance. It's what federal employees work for less salaries and less benefits for their career for, a good annuity and affordable health insurance. We sacrificed the benefits of the private sector to serve the public and for the rewards in retirement. That's our choice as yours was for you.

But it's those with the loudest voices in the debate that bother me. They argue principles and issues with no real idea of the average person's life and world. They're not financially strapped living day to day at worst or month to month as many. They're not personally strapped to worry about their home, the bills, their children's health and welfare, and our neighborhoods.

They don't face wondering if their job will disappear tomorrow because of some global corporate decision finally faced implementation at their workplace and office, to see the job shipped overseas for the company bottom line, profit and shareholder value. They can stand their and shout knowing it's not about them but about us.

And that's what they're trying to do, convince us they really are like us. They're not by any stretch of the imagination. If they did, they wouldn't say what they saying in our name and for us. They only know their reality which isn't about reality or the truth, but just their idea of our world and life.

They really are clueless. And all the while we watch them on TV, listen to them on the radio, or read, listen and watch them on the Internet. And we think they're right or not. We think they know us but they don't. They don't have to, they've already convinced you.

That's our failure, to see and recognize the con and scam by these people. it's worst with our Congressional representatives who argue against the public option. They have it and use, and wouldn't change that (and they also control that too). But they don't want it for the rest of people in this country. They can increase the deficit with their health insurance and healthcare at public (ours) expense, but you can't.

And that's the amazement. It's not about what they say, but about how they live. That's what we should be looking at first before we listen to them. Shouldn't we if we really want to know they what they say is real and true? Because in the end, it's not real or true. And shouldn't we all be amazed at their indignity?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

More there

I've added a series of posts about the healthcare reform issue on my main blog. You can read the many rants I have against the protesters, Congress, companies, media, etc. All of them roasted. Or not. It's all just my opinion, nothing more and nothing less, and just like yours, a voice. Our right to our soapbox.

That's all for now from here. There's always more in the future to fill the spaces empty of words.

Monday, August 3, 2009

On-line newspapers

I wrote about reading on-line newspapers, mostly rants or vents about their Websites, and mostly how clunkly they are to use. Well, I forgot another idea which I find on some but not on others and another idea which is here and likely will be more so as the newspapers and technology evolve. And these are?

First, the presence or lack of a daily version, the "Today's paper" version in an on-line form. As we know news is always on-going, and the television news Websites are always presenting new stories and articles. You have to keep going back to see what's new and news now. The daily papers have taken two different routes.

The almost all established city daily papers present the on-line version of today's print edition where everything is there in an on-line form. This is cool for those of us who read the dailies and like to see what's new from the previous day. Kinda' playing mental catch-up with the world. It separates the day fron the on-going.

But some, like the Christian Science Monitor and USA Today, don't have an on-line daily edition. They simply don't provide one, so you have to wander around and remember what you've read and what you think is new news. While it makes information management and presentation easier, not separating a daily version, it's frustrates readers like me, when you have to keep looking for a date, if there is one, when the article was posted.

And yes, it's frustrating and irritating. I like daily newspapers, whether print or on-line. It makes reading easier to decipher what's overnight and what's really news. This is because many of the news Website mix the stories so you can't tell which is current, which is recent and which is simply keeping around because it fills space or has lingering value in their minds.

And sometimes that's what they want. The longer you linger and wander the Website and pages the more they present ads and other stuff to entice you to help them generate revenue. Like I will. Sorry, I'll scan it for articles I don't find elsewhere or you're better at the others at investigating and reporting. It's why I like the USA Today and CS Monitor, different perspectives and presentations.

But it also leads to the second idea that's the future of the news Websites, subsriptions. The first to do this was the Wall Street Journal when they decided revenue was the way to go through the on-line version, which the offer as:

"Subscribers to get access to articles from daily editions of The Wall Street Journal for the past 90 days, organized by section and page, and may also view images of each section's front page. It's a quick way to find a specific story from the paper, or to scan page by page to make sure you haven't missed anything.
Subscribers may also browse section front pages of The Wall Street Journal Europe and The Wall Street Journal Asia, with complete access to stories from those papers.

Nonsubscribers may view headlines from today's section fronts. Subscribe now to get full access to the full list of headlines and the articles."

The CS Monitor offers changed to a non-print daily last March (announced fall 2008) and now offers this.

Subscribe to the weekly edition of The Christian Science Monitor, the news weekly that confidently confronts today's complex and changing world. Each issue will bring you a major in-depth cover story on pivotal global events or emerging trends … on-the-ground dispatches from Monitor correspondents around the world … and "Why It Matters" briefings that give perspective to today's news and assess the impact for tomorrow. Plus the Monitor will give you great ideas to enrich and enliven your life with regular features including Money, Culture, and more.

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If you have questions about an existing subscription, or would like information on education rates, please email us at or call 1-800-456-2220.

Daily News Briefing provides a selection of the most important stories of the day and a special column with our Editors' perspectives on these important events. With leading news articles and a News-in-Brief column, The Christian Science Monitor Daily News Briefing will provide abridged Monitor news electronically five days a week by 5:00 a.m. EST each morning. Its short format is easy to read and print out, and is available for only $5.75 each month."

All the major city dailies now offer a host of free services to reader, from RSS to Facebook and other Websites to get or comment on the news. They want your patronage and loyality, and eventually they'll want your money to pay for it. The money from ads doesn't even pay the rent, let alone the salaries, so they have to invent new presentations to attract you.

That's because with few exceptions, most of the news they present is from other sources, some they pay the source and some they simply glean and reproduce. The free service will eventually go away as the news sources begin to charge readers to read and other news sources to reproduce.

It's the flexibility in the copyright law which allows fair and free use for non-commecial purposes which has covered news and newspapers. But that has and will continue to change as the sources need income to pay for the work, therefore becoming the commercial use of news. This means those simply presenting the news stories will also have to find ways to generate income to pay the sources for the stories.

So what do I see down the road for on-line news Websites? Simple, just like print editions, if you want the news, get out your checkbook, or rather the credit card they can automatically deduct the cost of either a subscription or a per item, time or use fee. It will be part of the cost of living and keeping current. Or you can simply skip it all and be clueless on the news.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dear Republicans

To the Republicans, I've been listening to your rhetoric about healthcare reform and all I've heard is just more political bullshit from ya'll. You talk about the very aspects of the issue and the various plans without realizing how hypocritical it sounds. Or maybe you do and know but decided not to acknowledge and pretend we forgot. Really?

For one you criticize President Obama and the Democrats for fixing a problem with a "government" plan which isn't a government plan. You're simply lying to the American people. The government isn't taking over healthcare, it's simply making private healthcare plans manageable, affordable and effective. Something you have encouraged let alone address.

If healthcare was so good, which is the most expensive per capita cost in the world while delivering less than the best healthcare (in the lower half of the top ten), by corporation, for profit, why then are there so many problems and it cost so much? You haven't answered that question. It's broken, and you not only help break it, you profited by it being broken, with our own money through premiums and taxes.

That's because your private plan doesn't work, hasn't work and won't work, because it's focused on corporate profit and maximizing shareholder value and excutive pay. It's not focused on the patient, not on optimizing costs, and not being held accountable for being fiscally responsible and make it affordable. You and your corporate friends (and lobbyists) have driven the healthcare to where it is today.

You have no room for criticism of change or reform. You created this mess and anything is better than what's there now.

For another, you whine about the cost of the plan and the addition to the deficit. What the fuck are you saying? You have created more deficit spending under Reagan, Bush I and especially Bush II than the Democrats have ever created. The deficit has your name on it. It has your political blood and all the whitewash won't cover that up.

Remember under Bush you blew a budget surplus into record deficits, and that was before the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And then those wars came along and you never questioned the huge deficits for what? Record annual deficits. And the money is gone. The wars aren't going as you sold it to the American people. But the deficit is still there, the very thing you whine about now.

You're being political assholes, and what's coming out isn't any better than what you said when you were in power, both in Congress and the White House. You told us deficits are ok. What? Ok? But now it's not? And that's not being hypocritical? You're complaining about deficits for healthcare when you didn't complain about the Bush bailout? One Trillion dollars gone, half unaccounted for and the other half going to what the law prohibited.

You didn't even flinch when you passed it. You didn't complain when the money was unaccounted and lost. You didn't complain with the financial bailout for the financial industry, whom are now recording profits at our expense (we bought they bad debt). You didn't complain about rest of the bailout. Well, most didn't. Some did but then changed their mind when the majority of you passed the bill.

But now you complain about healthcare reform, both the plan and the costs. This is for the American people. That's you reason? You don't want and don't think money should be spent on Americans and our healthcare? Oh, I forgot you have free healthcare at the best hospitals, so you don't know.

You haven't experienced what Americans face with their healthcare. Maybe you should live like the rest of us. Or maybe you don't want to because you know you'll be mad at Congres as we are. You already know the truth, you're lying to us and you're afraid we know it. So you keep talking, spouting more rhetoric which we both know is pure bullshit. Not just lies, but stuff we know is trash and best handled with shovels and put in dumpsters.

So, now you can either help reform what you broke or you can continue being stupid. Your choice. Be what you've been or be human and a real elected representative. Rememer who elected you? Not the corporations. Not your friends. But the American people. Oh, I forgot, that would make you a democat.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

On-line newspapers

I've written how many newspapers I read per week, ok, and again, 3-5 papers, 4-5 days per week. And those are the print ones. I also read several on-line ones from across the nation. While I read editorials of most of them, I don't routinely read columns or blogs. There aren't any blogs or columns I find captivating enough to read every publication of it.

And the rant here? Simple. What I hate about on-line newspapers are several things you don't find in print newspapers, or at least in the same manner or format. And these are?

First, the format. Ever been to an on-line newspaper? Notice how busy they are trying to present tidbits to everyone's interest. The first thing you have to do is find the navigation bar - and remember all of design of Web pages has been studied for years as an adaption to the design of print media, which is really not about the medium but instinctive human reading habit - and then remember it for that Website.

Then you have to figure out the organization of the Website. They obviously know the main items for the moment have to go on the top third to half of the Web (depending on your screen and browser window size). They know few on-line readers scroll, and most don't even remember to scroll thinking there's more below the bottom of the browser window. So, it's the biggest bang for the buck, as they say.

Then you have to sort out the organization, the what's where of what you want or interested in at the moment. In short, the first time visitor takes 20-30 seconds to get the lay of the layout, what's where. Repeat visitors however, still have to check to see if nothing has changed, however, small, like moving catagories in the organization and on the navigation bar. Then you can focus on the content.

But this is when and where print and on-line papers change. First are the ads. In print, they're there and you can choose to read them or read around them. On-line has two types of ads, those pesky teasers which display all sorts of treats or temptations to click on them, including using animation and video. Except almost all are bad, really bad. Then the on-line ones go one step father.

The stick the ads in your face two ways. The ever-present popups which have been around for a number of years to which all browsers have popup blockers now. But the worst are the new types, ones which display before you can read the article. You have to click "continue" to continue. No print paper keeps pushing an ad in front of you before you can turn the page.

And then the recent one I've found, and on one of my favorite newspaper Websites too, The New York Times, is the history control. When you click the back button, you stay there. Holding down the back button shows the NYT article is listed several times in the history file. That's simply a cheap trick. A print paper doesn't keep you from turning pages or force you back to the same page when you try to turn the page.

Anyway, it's just a rant on the differences. I'll still continue to read both. I have one against print papers, like the price.

Yeah, the price. Last year 5 daily papers cost me about $5. Now they cost $7. Sunday was $8 and now they're $10. They're slowly pricing themselves out of a market, but not me for awhile. I love reading them with breakfast or lunch. There's still something about the print version. So far anyway.

Healthcare Reform

How many of us are getting tired of the continued tirade on healthcare reform, and that's by those in Congress not the media, who themselves are bad enough? Ok, I'm one too, especially reading the latest from the GAO and CBO that it won't reduced costs and will add to the federal budget deficit. But then I listen to the Republicans and their ideas and criticism of the Democratic plan.

Well, my view is simple. If a Republican talks about making it "right", it's about making it profitable for corporations, the health insurance, for-profit hosipitals, drug companies, and down list of them. Republicans only really want your money and the government's money to go to them, and make a profit from it, both the patient and the taxpayer.

That's why when I hear a Republican talk about their healthcare plan for "us" I know it's not about us but about our money. Their plan may sound good, but it's just their words to gloss over the details which hide the reality. Remember the drug plan? And how they sold it as "the right answer", only to find it didn't work. It had the doughnut hole.

It also gave the drug companies far more rights to change the plan during the year when you could only change plans once a year. They would offer you low prices on your drugs, and remember they know what you're taking, and then raise the price after you're in their plan for the year. That's the Republicans for you. Trust them and you'll be screwed.

I can't say much better than the Democrats' plan but what needs to be remembered is that the goal is to improve healthcare for every American. And the reality is that no plan will reduce costs or prices because no one wants to do that, regulate costs and prices. Congress can only regulate the government payout, they can't regulate your share determined by the healthcare providers and insurance companies.

That's because the healthcare industry corporations have both the Republicans and Democrats in their pocket. They've already sealed the deal and you're the victim for your healthcare and your wallet. That's the reality. We have a healthcare industry, not a healthcare system. The healthcare ndustry works for profit with the patients' money. A healthcare system works for everyone, but it's focused on the patient.

To really go after reducing costs, the government will have to do the unthinkable, cut profits and then regulate prices. And we all know they won't do that. It's not that they could or should, which we all know is the only real answer, it's about their political career that's more important to them, disguised in the political rhetoric they espouse for or against any plan. It's about political self-preservation.

It's not about you or the folks they're supposed ot represent, but themselves and the contributors who support their campaigns. It's why nothing significant, let alone real, will be done. Too many politicians and corporations have too much at stake for Congress to really do the right thing for Americans. You and me, and your money and mine, both our personal money and our taxes.

So, when a politician, and this doesn't necessarily exclude the President, says they want to talk about the right healthcare plan, hold onto your wallet and your health. They're certainly not interested in saving your money, securing your medical privacy and providing the best healthcare for you. They're interested in the opposite in the name of being right for you. It's all a lie.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The simple solution

I've written about the problems with my TV cable signal, especially some channels that either pixelate (some call tiling) or go blank, getting either a blank screen or the little box about coming up soon. And I've written about the troubles talking with Comcast or having technicians out to help fix the problem. Well, there was a very simple solution.

When the MLB All-Star game started the screen pixelated for a few minutes and then went blank, not even the please wait sign, nothing. And sure enoough, all of the channels which do the same did the same too. So after about 30 minutes, I recycled the power to the box (which erases the memory, meaning the settings and schedule) several times and got nothing. So after another 30 minutes of that, I gave up and called their 1-888 number and got through to a service representatives.

And lo and behold I got a smart one. After of few minutes of confusion in the conversation and trying things, which I admit is partly my fault - I apologize to her (did then and am now), she had a suggestion. She said, "Can you do me a favor? Turn off the box, disconnect the cable from the wall, reconnect the cable and turn the box back on."

And sure enough it worked. The problem is dust and other things interferring with the signal. She said it seems to be selective with which channels it effects (tiling and blank screens). So, after cleaning the box on the wall (compressed air) again and connecting things up, it's normal again.

So, why didn't I think of that? I don't know. Ok, dumb me. But still, why didn't Comcast before think of it and suggest it? I may be dumb here too, but a collective dumb? Ok, a bit much because I should have know with my experience in real-time satellite system to check cables, but the Comcast people who work with stuff should also have known too.

Anyway, I'll park the rant against Comcast until something else happens. And still apologize to and thank the smart woman who helped me.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Goodbye Ms Palin

Sorry, you won't be missed. I didn't vote for the McCain-Palin ticket because I didn't like the politics of either of the candidates for President and Vice-President. I wasn't entirely sold on Obama, but sometimes the old adage about the lesser of evils never seems to go away these day with all the bad choices we have in almost everything in life. But I was less sold on Sarah Palin as VP because she simply didn't have the experience a vice-president should have.

She wasn't a political naivete, she was politically inept. She pulled a Reagan out of her political hat. Almost everything she about her term as Governor of Alaska wasn't true, and in fact was almost always the opposite. She learned to do what old Ronny did, spin the truth 180 degrees and make your mistakes, misstatements, and even lies look like the truth, and when the media contests or questions it, call them names for their muckraking methods.

And now she's resigning as Governor. As they say in almost everything, timing is everything, so me thinks a few things are on the horizon. One, the state finances aren't good and, as Governor Palin learned this year, the tough choices are harder than you imagine. She's choosing to run from the hard work than do the time working hard to prove she really is a governor when things are good and when they're bad.

Two, she wants to run for the Senate in 2010, or maybe worse, the Presidency in 2012. In the first case, she'll need the help of the very people she pissed off, the Republican establishment in Alaska. She'll need them in the primary to support her campaign to replace the sitting senator. Anyone taking bets? And being out of the Governor role, she's just another citizen with political aspirations, richer than most for Alaska standards, but still just another wannabe.

As for the presidency, her personality will carry her part of the way but without any recent political experience to cite she's not much beyond just another hopeful, and one without name recogniztion beyond the 2008 election as eye-candy for the party who lost. In a republican presidential primary, how well do you think she'll survive against the likes of Romney, Huckabee, and the rest of them?

All that said, what angered me the most are her resignation and other statements is, as noted by several pundits, she picked and chose which of and who in the press were the enemy to call the "mainstream media" and which which and who were her friends. You can't pick and choose which of the media to put broad stroke labels on and exempt others without qualifying it. She didn't and didn't seem to recognize that.

And that's her obvious failure. She's totall oblivious to her own faults and failures. We all know someone like that, they just don't see themselves making mistakes and blame anything bad on everyone or everything else. They just roll on in life like they're perfect. She's one of them, except in the spotlight, it's obvious to the world, except those who she enamors with her prophetic sweetness.

Unfortunately sweetness isn't poltical experience. It's just eye-candy. She doesn't seem to even see that. She seems to think that just thinking you're a patriot, you're immune to doing anything bad or stupid or you're the victim of others who are out to make you look bad or stupid. But it's not you. Except it is and she is. Take her view of being "ordinary."

How many of us are governors? How many of us are worth in the neighborhood of a million dollars with a joint income of over $200,000? I won't argue she has some of the experience ordinary people face, a daughter who gave birth out of wedllock, a downs syndrome child, and others. But that doesn't make the rest ordinary. How many of us have caretakers for her downs child while she travels around the country during an election?

How many of us get all our expenses paid by the Republic National Committee? From clothes and stylists, to travel, lodging and food for the whole family. Remember while she complained the media attacked her and her downs child, she often used the child to show how "ordinary" she is. Like the kettle calling the pot black? Just a little?

Ok, I've ranted enough about Ms Palin. She deserves to go back to her life in Wasilla and fade into political history, not unlike Dan Quayle. And hopefully she'll see what happens to eye-candy when it sits in the dish too long, no one likes it anymore and it goes out with the rest of the trash. It's a long time to the elections in 2010, and she'll be sitting in the dish getting stale.

Update July 13th.--I've read some more about her resignation, both stories from politicial reporters, some from Alaska, and editorials and columns of the pundits, and it's clear she was overwhelmed and didn't the interest to continue. But it's nothing any haven't done similarly and anyone couldn't handle. She had all the best advice, support and staff, and she simply ignored them.

That's not what you want in a leader. Also, she brough much of it on herself with your fabrications about her view, exprience and knowledge of issues and her personal life. Standing in the spotlight you can't hide anything, and all of her lies came out of the shadows. And if you can't dance, don't try, you only look worse. So she quit. She's exactly what she said she is, a quitter who can't take the heat or work in the public light.

Alaska deserves a real governor, not a someone who just wants to pretend, take credit when it's easy and then quit when it's hard. And some folks wanted her to be our Vice President? Would you still want her to be that, all show and no substance?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Comcast Art

And I thought Comcast had no taste. This is what happens when the signal pixelates for hours on end. You get this collage of changing images. This happens on the channels I wrote about here about the signal and having to go through the normal cycle they require to get help to prove that what's happening isn't my fault or their cable receiver, but the signal, either the signal itself or the network bandwidth.

I don't know what it takes beside the comments by the Comcast representatives who offer help but still going through some hoops to arrange an appointment for service, and in the past, it's the same story. They prove it's not the cable receiver but something with Comcast. They promise to tell the engineers but they don't offer to confirm they did or keep me in touch about what happens.

Beside this great changing art, I got either a blank screen or the typical channel display, below.

These two screens alternated for just over three hours from about noon to just after 3:00 pm, and yes on all the channels in the previous post. And all the other channels were fine, except a little halting with some of the HD movie channels. So I'm still interested in an answer and a solution.

And remember it's not the box, that's another problem I'll write about again (HDMI to DVI signal still not always working and the digital audio signal (digital output) doesn't work). I can't prove the latter but I'll post photos of the former.