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Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

I’ve been sick with a head cold which a massive dose of “Emergen-C” has probably prevented from turning worse. To tell the truth, I’m still tired, stressed, and more than a little cranky. I’m also behind the curve in terms of current events commentary, so I’d thought I’d play catch-up by offering my unsolicited opinion on a range of news topics, albeit at a deeply discounted price, given the economy, my general mood, and the fact that the stuff is unsolicited (which makes me just like the other 80 million bloggers across the globe). Anyway:

imagesArmy doctor at Fort Hood kills twelve:  The shooter was commissioned, a loner, a psychiatrist (!) and a Muslim, in no particular order — or maybe the order matters. The location was a military base in Texas. The hero  was a local policewoman. So many stories, so much analysis, so few new angles. Once again, mainstream media is obsessing.

Health care legislation may not solve problem of rising costs: I admit that while championing a solution that would provide health care for the uninsured, I foolishly believed Congress and the White House might also be able to craft legislation that addressed the runaway cost of health care. Was I wrong? Tell me I was wrong. Otherwise, what the hell are we doing? Obama_health-care_Congress_Sept102009

Republican candidates win gubernatorial races in Virginia, New Jersey: First governorsof all, these victories do not represent an indictment of Obama; rather, the Democratic candidates represented an indictment of incompetancy. Second, New Jersey is exceptional; that is, exceptionally corrupt. If the virus is spreading, however, I have to rethink this whole third party thing.

Joe Jackson petitions son Michael’s estate for an allowance:  I have no idea what kind of a fatherJacksonJackson was, except probably a typically show-biz type — all swagger and gaga over the cash cow he produced. Still, he’s now eighty and he’s asking for approximately $180,000 a year, which is probably less than some of the Goldman-Sachs bonuses this year. Give it to him.

Andrea Agassi has “written” a book:  This autobiography apparently contains  shocking revelations about drug use (gasp), fake hairpieces (no) his antipathy for his first wife, AgassiBrookes Shields (oh dear) and his apparent dislike of tennis (oh please). Mostly, it’s noticeable for pull quotes, serialization potential, and the overtly earthly presence of its “ghost” writer. It’s sure to be a best-seller.

Now hand me the Kleenex and turn off the light on your way out.

sick

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I am sick to death about the health care arguments. I know you are too. In fact, that’s something about which we can all agree, I hope, as it appears not much else is.  Well, wait, there’s something else: we all feel the health care system needs reforming.

The devil is in the details, as always, and there are far too many details for most of us to process. So we argue about generalities or about specifics that are either irrelevant, less relevant or completely  misunderstood by most of us. Now I read that as Congress recesses, partisans are planning attacks on each other and on selective specifics, such as targeting Congressmen who oppose a public health plan option as being in the pocket of the insurance industry (MoveOn) or preventing a public insurance option because it might cover abortion (private conservative group). The DNC will accuse Republicans of trying to kill health care  reform and the RNC will accuse Democrats of trying to foist a risky experiment on the American people. Doctors will show up at Republican rallies to rail against medical malpractice costs and lawyers will show up at Democratic rallies to rail against inadequate protection for consumers. At this rate, Congress will reconvene in September and do nothing because they can’t agree on what they’ll claim are key pieces of the legislation. leonardo_da_vinci_man_in_circle

Where does that leave us? Bluntly, it leaves me with more than adequate health insurance that, at the present time, I can afford, notwithstanding health-related expenses are becoming one of the single highest yearly expenses I have. But it leaves my single mother friend, my 58-year-old consultant friend, and my married friend with two children and self-employed, disabled husband with a lot less.

The insurance companies are promising to reform themselves, which I’d like to believe but unfortunately, I have only to think of the financial industry – well, you get the point. I detest the idea of more regulation but wouldn’t mind a conditional attempt at requiring the private sector to cover preventive health care and alternative approaches, not to mention pre-existing conditions. I don’t like the idea of more taxes but I don’t like the idea that small businesses can’t afford to insure their employees. I know the between forty to fifty million people are estimated to be without health care but I imagine many more are under-insured, and so the idea of a publicly financed option looks good. I think that trying to track down positive or negative examples of how health care works in Great Britain or Canada is asinine because first of all, the systems don’t resemble each other and second of all, neither will resemble whatever the Senate brings out of committee.

The real question all of us have to ask ourselves is whether we believe health care for all our citizens is a right or a privilege, an obligation or a blessing, a guarantee we must make or one we can’t make.  We should have asked and answered it long ago, but we sure as hell better know when we run into our representatives in August.

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The House Foreign Relations Committee voted yesterday to condemn the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey in 1915. The resolution, in particular the use of the word “genocide” infuriated the Turkish government, whose president strongly condemned the resolution and warned that Turkish support for US activities in Iraq could be seriously jeopardized. Turkey is already angry with the US for its perceived lack of support for Turkey’s incursions into Iraq to fight Kurdish rebels, a move which has been strongly condemned by a Kurdish lawmaker in the Iraqi Parliament.

Rather than condemn you to further reading about angry politicians in global hot-spots, I thought it would be interesting to consider resolutions like this most recent one. Today’s open question on Yahoo’s answer board was “Why does the US Congress Pass Resolutions Condeming Other Countries?” Bloggers noted that Congress had recently passed a resolution urging Japan to apologize for tricking South Korean women into sexual slavery during WWW II. One poster noted that the U.S. is loathe to condemn its own actions, which would seem to be borne out by a search for resolutions about slavery or the treatment of Native Americans. A resolution was passed in 2005 in the Senate apologizing for its failure to enact anti-lynching legislation (a rather roundabout way of approaching the subject of slavery and the government’s complicity). That same year, the Senate considered legislation introduced by Senator Sam Brownback (Republican of Kansas and a candidate for President in ’08) apologizing to Native Americans; the resolution was apparently never passed. There was, however, a Congressional resolution passed in 1993 apologizing for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893.

Actually, many governments around the world issue resolutions as a way to make symbolic gestures for particular political constituencies. It’s tougher than ever for the U.S. to make such gestures in a community that views us as morally suspect. Still, resolutions have their place, if for no other reason than to prevent history from being rewritten. Where it gets a little silly is when Congress starts making resolutions condemning private organizations or citizens whose views, whether we like them or not, represent exactly that – private views. Instead of the intemperate rush to condemn, I’d urge Congress to move on. There’s work to be done.

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Some people yell at the television, especially during sports events. I yell at the newspaper. This kind of venting is supposed to be good for you, although I’m not so sure. The stories in today’s paper, which I was reading at breakfast, gave me ample opportunity to release my frustrations. For instance, when I read that millionaires in Silicon Valley still felt poor and struggled to “get by,” I said very loudly, “More? You want MORE?” (from the musical “Oliver”), which I thought was clever. I mean, come on people. Anyway, I felt momentarily better but then I read that new rules designed to reduce the practice of earmarking money for pet projects in Congress has instead increased it because our representatives are competing for our tax dollars for their districts and even bragging about snagging the extra dough buried in some appropriations bill or other. “Everybody over to the trough, free pork!” I shouted at the newspaper and shook it a little for good measure. When I got to the piece about about the changed domestic surveillance bill passing despite serious misgivings, I found myself yelling, “Then why pass it?”. By the time I had perused the other headlines (forclosures up, stock prices down, healthcare still insufficient or out of reach for most, elite child athletes are seeing sports psychologists for heaven’s sake!), I was inflicting serious damage to the paper and I hadn’t even finished my first cup of coffee. That’s no way to begin the day so I balled up the front section, along with business and sports sections (I’m cranky about Barry Bonds’ pursuit of my beloved Hank Aarons’ home run record), took a deep breath and with a sigh, picked up the arts page where, by avoiding any references to pop culture celebrities without talent, I was able to sooth my troubled soul and finish breakfast.

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