Friday, February 29, 2008
I am a Grouch
The only hope I see is that the Democrats will prevail in several Senatorial contests this coming November and get rid of several Republican obstacles to progress. Perhaps the country can tolerate President McCain if he has a Senate with fewer than 40 Republican supporters of his war and his judges. The Democrats may pick up a few House seats. However it's unlikely that they will pick up many because House districts have been gerrymandered to protect incumbents.
Another bit of cheerful news (I grasp at straws for this one) is that our Republican Governor here in California is now willing to talk about doing away with some tax loopholes to increase the State's revenue. I guess getting rid of a loophole doesn't count as increasing taxes, a phrase that Republicans choke on. Closing some loopholes, according to our governator, will raise an additional two billion dollars or so. The additional money can be used to reduce the proposed cut in the State's budget for schools.
Every little bit helps. I'm still a grouch this morning.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Half-measures for Universal Health Care
There's another side to this approach to governing. If you can not achieve all of what you want to achieve, is it worth while working on something that achieves only a part of what you want? I apply this question to the health plans promoted by several Democratic and Republican politicians: Clinton, Schwarzenegger, Nunez, Romney, and others. These plans all amount to an effort to fix or improve our existing system of providing health care to Americans. Although the supporters of these plans are sincere in wanting to do something to improve a poorly functioning system, I think they are like applying band-aids to a severely injured individual who needs surgery to stop internal bleeding.
The essence of the Clinton-Schwarzenegger-Romney plan is to require all employers (of more than just a few employees) to provide subsidized health insurance for their employees. If an employer wishes, he can instead pay money to the State which will be used to subsidize health insurance to those individuals who are not covered by an employer. There are differences among them as to how much the non-insuring employers should pay, whether all persons are to be required to purchase insurance, and what coverage the insurers are required to provide. Basically, they are all attempts to make a system, originally designed by some employers to attract skilled and expensive workers, provide affordable health care for everyone. These plans are attempts to make a system which was never intended or designed to provide universal health care provide it.
In spite of my criticism, the C-S-R plan does amount to doing something. It won't provide universal health care. It may provide universal health insurance, which is not the same thing. Experience with private for-profit insurers shows that having insurance does not necessarily guarantee having adequate health and medical care. My question is, is it worth while doing?
One can argue that enacting a plan that provides good medical and health care to every American is not politically possible at present. Too many people will argue against it with arguments about "big government," bureaucratic control of medical decisions, inefficiency of government, and the like. I argue that, in spite of the difficulties, our political leaders should try for a universal health plan and not an almost universal insurance plan. The President should be committed to it and should use his press conferences and other unique opportunities to speak to the American People to explain why a universal health provider plan is better than any insurance plan. And that means that we need a President who is committed to the idea of universal health care. The candidates among the Democrats who are committed to this goal have been discarded by the primary voters. There is no hope, in this generation at least, that a Republican candidate would be so committed.
Perhaps, in the end, we will have to accept, for the time being, a half-measure or a band-aid. Winston Churchill once observed that the "American People will always to the right thing, but only after trying all the alternatives."
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Is John McCain a Womanizer?
The conventional news media and the bloggers are busy today writing about the New York Times article that deals with a relationship between John McCain and a female lobbyist a few years ago. The implication is that McCain was:
- having an affair with the woman;
- granting special favors to her clients;
- risking his image as a squeaky clean legislator and not like the rest of the womanizing crooks that infest our national legislature.
Senator McCain has denied these implications with a simple response: "NO."
Some McCain partisans imply that the New York Times, a liberal newspaper, made up the story just to embarras McCain. They see a liberal plot to "swift boat" McCain.
The "swift boat" charge uses a poor analogy. John Kerry presented himself as having done something heroic during his service in Viet Nam. The swift boaters attacked and tried to disprove and discredit his claim as a war hero. The implication of the NYT story has no bearing of McCain's service during the Viet Nam war. A better analogy would be to liken the story to stories published during Bill Clinton's Presidency of his dalliances with various ladies.
My own reactions to the story are:
- It probably is factually correct.
- McCain is correct in denying an intimate sexual relationship with the woman.
- Even if he had such a relationship, it has no bearing on his ability to handle the job of President. We have had many Presidents who had relations with women. These relationships did not detract from their abilities to lead this great country.
Regarding item 3, we must remember that it requires a person of extreme ambition and desire, as well as ability, to get as close to the Presidency as John McCain, Hillary Rodham Clinton, or Barack Obama. Persons with these extreme characteristics are apt to have very strong sexual desires as well. We should not be surprised or shocked or even put off by stories of sexual adventures by those with the ambition and ability to lead us. We should not put a President on a pedestal and worship him or her as a role model for our children. Next November we will elect a President, not a saint.
I defend and excuse John McCain for any affairs he may have had or may be having. I admire his short answers to the reporters who quizzed him about the implications of the story. I still won't vote for him. If he becomes President, he will almost certainly continue Mr. Bush's program of loading the federal courts with ultra-conservative judges and justices. If McCain becomes President, Roe v. Wade will be overturned after he appoints a successor to John Paul Stevens, the oldest member of the present Supreme Court.
Labels: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, John Paul Stevens, President as a role model, Supreme Court, swift boating, womanizing Presidents, Womanizing Senators and Representatives
Monday, February 18, 2008
Flap over Warrantless Wiretapping
I wrote to my friend that I had seen a rather thorough account of the matter on PBS. According to my information, there were two versions of the bill. One, passed earlier by the House, did not provide immunity to telecommunication firms that had cooperated with the government in carrying out the warrantless wire taps. The Senate had that bill and also another one. The other one did include the immunity. Republicans in the Senate and the President wanted the bill that provided the immunity. The House refused to go along with the Senate version of the bill. Some lengthy negotiation would be needed to reach a compromise. In the mean time, both Houses agreed to extend the existing law for another three weeks while they argued and ironed out the differences between the two bills. The President and the Senate Republicans demanded either the Senate version or nothing. They were not interested in an extension. As a result, the President got nothing.
Actually, nothing was probably what he wanted. With nothing he could go to the public and point out that those damned Democrats had refused to enact a bill that would enable our fearless intelligence agencies to continue listening in on conversations that might provide leads to another terrorist plot. The Democrats are not to be trusted on defense. Vote Republican this fall.
To me it seems clear that if the President were convinced that he really, really needed this law to enable the warrantless wire taps to continue and that the nation would be in danger without it, he would have happily agreed to another extension of the existing law.