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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Thursday, February 15, 2007


We Can't Survive Another "Bush-Plan"

It only took five and a half years, but President Bush has finally come up with a plan for Afghanistan. He's going to - no - make that demand help from our allies in the war in terror.

I guess it's better late than never.

The president who rarely gave press conferences (he was the low record setter up until recently) is on a press-conference-a-day pace which rivals Joe DiMaggio's 56-game Major League Baseball hit streak. (Too much, huh?)

If yesterday's press conference was to get the US citizenry ready for an invasion/bombing/conflict with Iran, than today's session was put into place to get NATO to put more troops in Afghanistan - where we still have some support. Maybe this is GW's way of freeing up some of our brave boys and girls so they can get ready for a war with Iran.

"When our commanders on the ground say to our respective countries 'We need additional help,' our NATO countries must provide it. As well, allies must lift restrictions on the forces they do provide so NATO commanders have the flexibility they need to defeat the enemy wherever the enemy may make its stand."
-Bush to the American Enterprise Institute, a CONSERVATIVE (Neo-Con) think tank

Of course, with no more leverage amongst our friends, let alone our former friends, there is no nation on the face of this earth ready to supply more bodies in Afghanistan. There can be no doubt that President Bush is getting us ready for a huge failure in Afghanistan, and he is going to put the blame squarely on the international community's shoulders. Get ready for:

"See? We asked NATO for help and they refused. I ain't MY fault!"

Remember when it looked as if Afghanistan was a done deal? Osama bin-Laden fled; The Taliban fled; Mullah Omar and his seeing eye camel fled. What happened?

The Bushies didn't take it seriously, that's what happened. The Taliban is back and Osama bin-Laden is safe somewhere near the Afghani border with Pakistan. And if that isn't enough, he is actually being protected there in some kind of terrorist "don't ask, don't tell" negotiation where he gets to stay in an area in Pakistan called Waziristan

We have met the enemy, and he is us - and he is stupid.

Even today, we only have a force of about 27,000 troops in Afghanistan, a nation roughly the population of Iraq. That's where we have about 150,000 troops. We have more policemen in New York City than we do troops in the whole nation of Afghanistan.

It's simple: We didn't get the job done in Afghanistan. The reason we didn't get the job done in Afghanistan was either that the Bushies took their eyes off the ball or they had their collective eyes on a different ball all together. I think it was the latter.

Just how incredibly bad would the salivating have been on September 12, 2001 had Saddam Hussein actually been harboring Osama bin-Laden? Imagine if just one of the 911 hijackers were of Iraqi descent. That would have been a slam-dunk for the Bushies. Instead we got a war we never wanted and a war we can't win. it's the Bushie version of a really bad parlay.

And they're betting with our nation's economy and the lives of our children for generations to come.

-Noah Greenberg

Back on the Air


Marc Maron is filling in for Thom Hartman this week (12pm - 3pm) on Air America Radio. he is the best thing that they ever put on, and the dumbest move they ever made (when they took him off).

-Eddie Konczal and Noah Greenberg

Good News on the Health Care Front?
Depends on your point of view

There is good news on health care, US Senator Max Baucus, (D., Mt.), has proposed a comprehensive rather than incremental reform of the US health system.

This is good news because it opens up a wide ranging discussion of the entire system instead of technical haggling over incremental issues.

It is also good news because Montana is one of the more conservative, free market oriented states and if a cautious and experienced politician like Baucus is willing to make such a proposal, its time has come.

Some highlights of Baucus' proposal:

WASHINGTON - Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., on Tuesday called for universal health coverage for all Americans, starting with signing up every newborn at the hospital.

Baucus said a "new season" has arrived in the national health care debate that will allow for sweeping changes to the system. He made proposals to:
-improve and expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program,
-help small businesses to provide health coverage,
-increase oversight of the Medicare prescription drug benefit,
-allow the government to negotiate drug prices and reviewing the Medicare Advantage program.

Neither the employer-based system nor the individual market can provide enough coverage, Baucus said. Instead, he believes large numbers of individuals and small businesses should be allowed to pool together to purchase group coverage at reduced rates.

Pools must be a partnership between federal and state governments and the private sector, and would require rules on rates and subsidies and careful regulation, he said.

Baucus does not favor a single-payer system but said employers, individuals and government must work together to establish universal coverage.

The rate of growth of health care costs must be reduced, he said, adding, "I do not have a magic solution."

Possible ways to lower costs include investing in health information technology, boosting research on which treatments work effectively and tying payments to quality of care, he said.

The health system must also focus more on prevention, he said, such as covering all immunizations and fighting obesity.

Baucus said the finance panel will hold a series of hearings and round tables on health care issues to "plant the seeds of an informed dialogue."

Many of the readers of this newsletter will argue that Baucus is still not taking a broad enough view of health care reform, or that his proposals are wrong.

At this time however, it is encouraging to know that open and comprehensive debate on health care is finally on the agenda.

Now is the time for debate leading to constructive and effective revitalization of our health care system.

Let's take advantage of the opportunity and make it happen.

-Forwarded and commented by Robert Chapman

Note: Whereas a Baucus plan is better than nothing, any plan which doesn't lead to each and every man, woman and child covered in this country is a plan I will not support. No one - and I mean no one should fall through the cracks of a medical plan that will leave any single person out. Unfortunately, Baucus' plan seems like it would do just that.

Baucus is right, he does not have a "magic solution." Additionally, I didn't see the word "affordable" anywhere. Any plan where the American public is footing the bill must be made affordable and must have a sliding scale that starts at the number zero, so even those whose circumstances put them above arbitrary dollar figures can even afford to see a doctor.

A step in the right direction? Yes. But Baucus can't expect it to be the final step. -NG

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-Noah Greenberg