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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Tuesday, February 13


Not Enough and Too Much


"We do not have adequate forces. It makes accomplishing the mission that more difficult. It places every NATO soldier there at greater risk."

Now just which war do you think a top general was talking about here? Come on... There are only two.
A) Iraq
B) Afghanistan

As far as I'm concerned, it could be either one

The above statement was issued by General John Craddock to reporters at NATO's military headquarters in southern Belgium. "We do not have adequate forces," and "it places every NATO soldier there at greater risk."

The Taliban is stronger than our NATO allies have previously thought and, let's face it, the Bush administration only invaded Afghanistan - the REAL center of terrorism as it related to 911 (unless you take into consideration that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi Arabian) - as a reaction to that horrendous day. The war they wanted to fight was in Iraq and they have all but abandoned the Afghanistan effort in favor of it.

Remember, the Bushies have abandoned their search for Osama bin-Laden, the guy who orchestrated the worst terror plot ever on US soil. Like the President says, "I'm just not that concerned about it." And he isn't.

We have sent an additional 21,500 troops into Iraq as "The Plan" or "Plan 'A'". There is no "Plan 'B'" boys and girls. And NATO, in stating that we need more troops in Afghanistan is really stating that the US better put some more of our children in there before it's too late. It might already be too late, in both nations.

The total NATO force is a mere 35,000 in Afghanistan. We have somewhere around 150,000 US troops in Iraq alone and, as we all know, that is not enough. Both nations are roughly the same size, population-wise.

At the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, we could have put that a great force on the ground and, basically, eliminated the Taliban, and bin-Laden months after 911. Instead the Bushies decided to fix their Iraqi intelligence on their REAL target - and their great prize - Iraq.

And if that weren't enough, even when we entered Iraq, we didn't bother to put enough troops on the ground there - irrespective of "Mission Accomplished".

What do the military call that? A Cluster-Cheney? (substitute your favorite "F" word for Cheney.)

The Taliban are back and they control the southern part of Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai - he of the fur coat and hat - is more the mayor of Kabul than he is the President of his nation. He can travel nowhere outside of the capital safely.

And to add to all of this, this week a report by the Pentagon's inspector general stated that the pre-war intelligence sought out by the likes of Bush, Cheney, and especially those like Neo-con war-monger and former Pentagon policy chief Douglas J. Feith was "inappropriate but not illegal". How many more lives would make it illegal, I wonder? And some of the actions by Feith, the report said, were actually illegal.

Throw the whole bunch of them in jail - one day for each life lost in both wars.

So as we were making a cameo appearance in Afghanistan, those such as Feith were ignoring the war we were in for the war we "wished to be in at another time" as former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld might have said.

The intelligence, if "legally", or at the very least, appropriately processed, would have kept us in Afghanistan to really accomplish a mission and would have kept us out of a possible generational conflict in Iraq. But Iraq is where the money and natural resources lay.

Beginning two wars without the ability to finish one has become a Bush trademark. Tragically, so has the deaths of thousands of American children, along with the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis. These deaths are mere tools and their victims simply collateral fire, or cannon fodder, to those who made these "intelligent" assumptions. A new Democratic congress will, hopefully, get to the bottom of this seedy barrel and let the chips fall where they may.

The Vice President needs to answer for his part in all of this and so does President Bush, as well. It's time to get the troops home and put these criminals in their very own, special Abu Ghraib-type prison in the US.

Line up all of the Neo-Cons and put them in jail. For my money, even that's too good for them.

-Noah Greenberg

In response to, "Single-payer healthcare with everybody in and nobody out is the way to go--like the rest of the civilized world," Robert Scardapane writes:

I absolutely agree that single payer is the goal. I think Edwards plan is one way to start. If you look at his plan, single payer is one option that can be chosen. In the end, I believe a plan like HR 676 will win because it's the most cost effective and fairest approach. But, I suspect that single payer without price controls can also be costly. In the end, the only way to control health care costs is to regulate prices.

In response to, "However, he feels sorry for those long-suffering insurance companies who are worried that their totally unnecessary existence could be done away with. (They also probably contribute to his Presidential campaign, as they do to those of other candidates.)", Robert Chapman writes:

These remarks are totally uncalled for.

It is hard to imagine the mentality of people who think that the payment of medical bills is a simple matter that does not involve complex assessment of the value of the services rendered.

It is even harder to imagine what people expect the payment of physicians to be like. Physicians deal with disease, disability and pain. Because we have a medical insurance system consumers have access to high quality, highly technical and EXPENSIVE care. They receive this care without bargaining and without personal liability for the cost of the services.

To reduce politicians' concern about that fairness, affordability and equity of the health insurance reveals a cynicism that is founded in an attitude of entitlement rather than in reflective experience.

Ms. Yost's attitude of reducing complex and difficult problems into mere posturing and pseudo-cynical dismissal is injurious to any possibility of informative discourse and constructive action.

Medical providers EARN fair compensation, medical insurance administrators EARN the money they make. Any measures passed to limit medical or insurance costs for the sake of depriving them of fair compensation is theft of services, pure and simple.

And in response to, "In case anybody is worrying about what getting rid of them might mean, think, as many single-payer advocates have said, of the police and fire departments, to name just two of many government services we never get billed for. We don't have to pay insurance companies to get police and fire protection," Robert Chapman adds:

This statement is an inversion of the cause and effect relationship. An important function of police and especially of fire protection is to lower insurance costs by limiting the exposure to loss insurer's must bear.

This is an example of single payer advocates fuzziness. Single payer works in Canada because there is an entire panoply of social services to support, a penology that does not exist in this country.

For example, north of the border, only regional hospitals have expensive diagnostic equipment, this saves money, but requires long waits for many services. Often patients are required to travel long distances and make overnight trips to avail themselves of diagnostic procedures. In Canada, patients are compensated for travel, meals and lodging at government expense, they are compensated for lost wages and their child care expenses are covered. Since the government pays so much less on the machinery and since there is less administrative cost in this centralized system the federal treasury can afford these ancillary expenses.

But there is no free lunch, costs are incurred in the forms of higher taxes, long waits for care and lost productivity to employers, who are not compensated for loss of the employees labor.

It is unlikely Canada's system would be able to work if Buffalo, Detroit and Seattle were not located near Canada's major population centers to relieve the strains on their system and provide fee for service private care. In the Prairie Provinces where there are large cities well removed from American urban centers there is a strong political movement to privatize the health system and reduce the reach of the single payer network.

Note: Having vendors in Canada in a past business (past life?), and being an employer who paid for a large portion of my employees' health care insurance, I had occasion to ask my Canadian friends about their health care system. Simply put, Willy, the owner of a metal buckle and button manufacturer in a suburb of Montreal said, "It's simply the best health care in the world." he then began to explain how he, his family and all of his employees were covered. Willy also told me he never had to wait long to see a doctor and, as an elderly gentleman, he said "I ought to know."
I believe that a Canadian-style health care system could work here. After all, the American-style system does actually stink. -NG

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-Noah Greenberg