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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Molly Ivins, in the Lead

“The Republicans are worried about the flag, gay marriage and the terrible burden of the estate tax on the rich. The rest of us are obviously unnecessarily worried about war, peace, the economy, the environment and civilization. Another reason to vote Republican — they have a shorter list.”
-From the dry wit of Molly Ivins, GOP: The 3 things worth worrying over, article in the Quad-City Times, June 7, 2006

-Forwarded by Casey Sweet



The Aborted Fetus of a Real Health Care Dialogue

There is simply no national debate on health care. Sure everyone's talking about childhood obesity and Maturity Onset Diabetes but no one... and I mean no one, either  in the media or on any public stage is talking about health care and/ or making sure every American has access to it.

No one is talking about the fact that at any given moment there will be between 43 and 48 million Americans without health care coverage. No one is talking about the fact that, at any given moment, approximately 62 percent of Americans will have no health care or insufficient health care coverage.

Many of us have seen our premiums double and even triple over the past few years. We have seen deductibles rise even more than that. American workers, once fully covered, are now forced to pay for part of their own premiums, sometimes even paying for their whole family "out-of-pocket" because their employer (out of necessity, much of the time) can only afford to pay a single man's share. We have seen the lowering of "usual and customary" payments to doctors and more "out-of-pocket expenses for us because of it. We have seen out-of-network doctors and facilities charge the under-insured or those not covered under "the plans they participate in" exorbitant amounts, sometimes double what the "in-network" plans will pay them.

Even those news shows with real integrity don't bother to mention health care as a crisis. Lou Dobbs and Keith Oberman are doing fine work, but isn't this an huge issue as well?

Maybe it's that no one cares. Maybe we have just given up and given in to big business of the health care industry.

Reviewing our nation's newspapers of record, one would think that there would be a mention of the health care crisis. There's none. I guess that since these members of the fourth estate have excellent health care coverage, so why rock the boat? Besides, there may be a Blue Cross/ Blue Shield or Kaiser Permanente or Oxford Health Care Plan ad in the Today Section and they don't want to piss off their advertisers.

At the Healthy Mississippi Summit, Governor Haley Barbour (R) says he's going to lose weight, much like Alabama Governor Mike Huckabee (R) who lost 110 pounds. They want a thinner America, but do they want a healthy America?

Maybe Barbour and Huckabee could start pointing at fat kids and yell "Hey Fatty," in order to shame the fat away.

There are no mandatory physical exams which could detect early diseases in our nation citizens. Many of us don't go to the doctor even when we have health care. The long waits and quick "turn your head and cough" exams just aren't cutting it. Those of us in the middle class without coverage, or without nearly enough of it, sometimes put off checking out "that little problem" before it's too late. Those on the lower economic scale use our emergency rooms as their primary care physicians and take away valuable resources which we require "in case of emergency". It isn't only illegal or legal immigrants who do this, it is also poorer American Citizens with no place else to go.

This isn't their fault. It is a nation's fault that allows our "leaders" to push votes on a marriage amendment while children die of malnutrition and diseases which we though we cured decades ago.

You may argue with the Massachusetts plan to cover all but five percent of all of its citizens, but at least they are trying something.

We applaud ourselves for being the greatest nation on the face of the Earth, yet we let our own people die. We give millions upon millions for donations to other nations who truly need it, yet balk when a politician has the temerity to ask for a small tax increase for the health and well-being of those who truly need it right here in the lower 48, Alaska and Hawaii. We use a twisted logic that says "insurance companies have to make a profit, too," while American children die due to the location of their birth and the color of their skin.

We live in a society where we care more about the unborn than that same mother's ability to feed her child, post-fetus. And if we happen to bring it up, we're branded as "Godless".

Health care for all - now - regardless of ability to pay, skin color, religious conviction or street address. It truly is the only thing to do.

-Noah Greenberg



More Medicare Rip-Offs

"Therefore, the annual percentage increase (on prescription drugs to those who use the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan) applicable for the 2007 parameters is 6.86%. As noted above, the actuarial value of the standard Part D benefit is also estimated to increase by approximately 6.86%."

OK – so if the cost of life saving prescriptions increase by 6.86%, due to mandatory enrollment in the nitwit & company Medicare part D plan, that means the retirees should receive the same in COLA increase.

What? Did I miss something? You mean retirees are NOT getting a COLA increase equal to or greater then the enhanced corporate welfare prescription drug program? (now I will nitpick – isn’t the word approximately redundant if it is preceded by estimated? Or did I sleep through 12 years of Catholic school English classes? Just curious.)


-Annmarie Polinsky
Retiree Benefits Advocate
CWA Local 1180



Crowing Republicans

Recently, the Republicans have been crowing about the lower unemployment. I don't think that tax cuts have been the cause, but rather the decrease in population. Hardly anyone wants to have children anymore. The school enrollments is down almost everywhere in my state of Minnesota. There are not enough young people to fill the job markets in many Minnesota businesses.

-John Kleinwachter



Media Madman
Jack Cafferty


I am really starting to like Jack Cafferty. He is becoming a master of outrage:

CAFFERTY: What an idiot I am. I actually thought at the time Senator Specter was going to exercise his responsibility to provide some congressional oversight of the executive branch, you know, see if the White House is playing by the rules. Silly me.
In the end, Senator Specter has turned out to be yet another gutless Republican worm cowering in the face of pressure from the administration and fellow Republicans. There are not going to be any hearings. Americans won't find out if their privacy is being illegally invaded.
You know what the Senate Judiciary Committee settled for instead? Senator Orrin Hatch said he has won assurances from Vice President Dick Cheney that the White House will review proposed changes to the law that would restrict certain aspects of the NSA program.
Dick Cheney is going to decide if it's OK to spy on American citizens without a warrant. And this worthless bunch senators has agreed to let him do it. It's a disgrace.

***

Shotgun Dick said spying on Americans is OK. Well, I feel better ... don't you?

-Robert Scardapane



A "Why Would They Need Amnesty" Thought
More Jack Cafferty


Jack Cafferty (CNN): Anyone involved in the current secret NSA spying program without a court order would be given blanket amnesty... Why would they need amnesty if what they are doing is legal?
 

***

Jack Cafferty keeps throwing monkey wrenches into the Re-Thuglican noise machine. Keep up the good work Jack!

-Robert Scardapane



In response to "Same-Sex Marriage Threatens No One", John Kleinwachter writes:

Same-sex marriage certainly threatens children that become part of such unions. I believe that universal common sense wisdom tells us that children have a right to have a mother and a father. If you don't believe that God designed this plan for the creation and the good of children then at least respect the highest wisdom and experience of humanity and sociology. Why is everyone only looking out for their own pleasure? The truth is that the greatest joy on earth is to be found in serving others.



In response to "Do we need a national language?", Jenny Hanniver writes:

Thank you, Victoria! I quite agree. The issue of multilingualism is very personal to me, and I'm passionate about it. My mother's greatest lifelong regret was that she and her siblings weren't taught German by their mother--nor did my ex-husband, his brother or any of his sisters speak or understand Italian, although their father emigrated from Italy as recently as 1922. Thank God my granddaughter, age 3, can converse quite fluently in both Korean and English! May she always be able to.

My father-in-law, who was only a lycee (college prep high school) graduate, came to this country speaking, understanding and/or reading Tyrolese Italian, standard Tuscan Italian, the everyday Alpine German of Austria's Tyrol, standard High German, Swiss Alpine French, Parisian French, Latin, classical Greek, and a smattering of English. My daughter-in-law speaks, understands and reads Korean, Mandarin Chinese and some Cantonese, Japanese, French, and English--requiring two alphabets, Korean and Roman, the Japanese katakana syllabary, and the separate word-symbols of Chinese and Japanese (Chinese characters are used, to a much lesser extent, in Korean). She is a college graduate but learned her languages and scripts early, in grammar school and high school. That age is exactly when they SHOULD be learned, either at home or at school.

My mother was a high school "secretarial course" graduate. She did not take the college preparatory curriculum but her English grammar and spelling were impeccable, and she could translate the Latin of Caesar to the end of her long life. Her brothers and she were all accomplished writers. I was drilled in school and at home in all aspects of the English language, which I love and respect--but NEVER to the exclusion of other beautiful and worthwhile languages. Languages are the source of poetry, philosophical ideas, the wellsprings of thought, and bring a peculiarly deep human richness to the mixture of cultures in the world--introducing young people to new perspectives in thinking. As an undergrad Linguistics major I studied Benjamin Lee Whorf's textbooks and, although I never learned Hopi, assimilated Whorf's conclusions on the vast differences between the Hopi perception of reality and the psychology of Euro-American English and Spanish speakers. Whorf considered the Hopi more civilized and humane than Westerners, in part thanks to their language.

In my 20s I studied Sesotho, a Southern Bantu language, because I fell in love with its assonant and melancholy poetry and fiction. The Basotho people (of Lesotho) use affixes, as do most Bantu speakers, to systematize their thought processes, and it's my opinion that Bantu languages lend themselves well to scientific taxonomic thinking, and the alliterative prefixes make for natural poetry. When I studied Cymraeg (Welsh) about 18 years ago I had the delight of becoming acquainted with a 2,500-year-old language that, like all the Celtic tongues, formalizes ordinary sound mutations in the spelling of words, making Welsh dictionaries somewhat bewildering but giving me a far deeper understanding of the power of sounds, and explaining why Celts--even those writing in English or French--have justly earned their reputation as Europe's most imaginative poets and fictioneers. Think of Dylan Thomas and Jules Verne. I've much more recently learned the Korean alphabet, Hangul, probably the most admirably simple, rational, easy to learn, and beautiful system of writing ever invented, and am not the only Western student of languages who wishes the whole world would adopt it as a primary mode of writing.

But it's probably good to keep the old writing systems along with the old languages--because they are part of our human heritage. Fear of foreign languages reflects two chauvinist reactions, neither of them anything to be proud of. The first is paranoid fear that furriners are passing secrets beneath the understanding of "real citizens." (My German-American grandmother and one of her sisters, swapping recipes on a party-line telephone, were almost arrested for that in WWI!) The second is conceited, arrogant snobbery like that of the ancient Greeks, who called everyone else barbarian because only Greek was perfect, and other languages seemed like nothing but stuttering "bar-bar-bar". Americans are not the first language bigots--the Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese, French, Germans and a few others have practiced this damfoolishness in the past, and a few still do. But nowadays it's English-speakers--Americans, Britons, Australians, those English Canadians who somehow never learned French--who are snickered at for being monolingual, and are considered mentally inferior for having no language resources but their own. There was never a time in history when knowledge of many languages has been as vital as it is now!

My only quibble with your essay, Victoria, is that Maryland was never French-speaking--although in the early 18th century it was heavily German-speaking thanks to immigration from the Palatinate. Maryland, with its St Mary's River and St Mary's County, was named for the Virgin Mary, but it was a land grant made by Charles I of England, carved out of a portion of the vast English colony of Virginia, to an early 17th century English Catholic aristocrat, George Calvert, Lord Baltimore. Its most famous Revolutionary-era political leader was Charles Carroll of Carrollton, another Catholic of British ancestry. Maryland was one of the three original American colonies officially granting freedom of religion (to Trinitarian Christians), and although I've never seen French Huguenots mentioned in histories of Maryland, there must have been some during the Colonial period, probably arriving by way of England or Holland. If there were any other French settlers directly from France or from the Louisiana Territory or Quebec, I'm not aware of them. The only "French connection" I can think of is that Charles I's queen was French and Catholic, but there were no official French government land-grant settlements anywhere in the American territories held by Britain.


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-Noah Greenberg