Saturday, December 26, 2009

What's Wrong with This Statement.

Rajiv Chandrasekaran has a good article about the differing interpretations of President Obama's Afghanistan strategy in today's Washington Post. It's a good analysis of some likely policy contradictions.

This quote appears on page four:
"Winning means we hand off to a security force that can secure the country," the senior Pentagon official said. "We've separated the enemy, we've connected the people to the government, and we're helping them to rebuild their economy. It's at that point that we begin to transition it over to them."

These words easily encapsulate everything that is wrong with American policy in Afghanistan. The problem begins and ends with "we". WE cannot separate the enemy from the people; THEY are the people. WE cannot connect people to their government; only THEY can do that.

You'd think we would have learned this long ago.


Velo Drumming Health Care Solstice News

The previous rant began on a Saturday morning. By the time it posted on Sunday evening, much of the ennui that comes from paying too much attention to public affairs had been dissolved by some pleasant personal moments. Saturday afternoon I submitted a three minute video to complete a digital field and editing course at Thurston County TV. Even better, the sun came out for a few hours around mid-day on Sunday--enough to ride 14 miles--before the steady rain returned later in the afternoon. By that time, Maggie and I had joined drummers making a powerful noise in the capitol rotunda. All that took some of the edge off any residual bile I felt about the health care finance bill.

Make no mistake, the senate bill is not an effective reform by any means. I guess I'm happy that it might do something but skeptical its prospects. I'm definitely not happy that the changes are so weak, meager and ineffective, nor am I happy about the fact that this legislation is about the best that can be expected from the American political system. I little noted the goings-on this week but will, no doubt, long remember them.

More fun was watching Andre Nkouaga, a musician from the Ivory Coast, shoot a video at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts. Maggie had been helping out so we ended up backstage and in the audience during the last hours of two days rehearsing and filming. Lots of activity and lots of technology was on hand, everywhere--all the bits and pieces that will edit seamlessly into a performance video. I know this because I am a newly certified field and digital editor.

Next day is Christmas Eve and the town is winding down for Christmas. The office closes at noon on what turns out to be a beautiful sunny day. After sunset Maggie and I walk through the neighborhood to check out the neighbor's decorations and lights. The first quarter moon is high in the southern sky. Jupiter is in western sky. The evening is cold. It's good to return to the warmth of home and hot chocolate.

Christmas morning, Maggie and I hike the loop trail in nearby Watershed Park for the first time. The low winter sun pours abundant light into this wooded area. Along the way we hear all sorts of calls and chirps. We see hear and then see a pileated woodpecker working its way up a dead tree, making distinct thumps with each peck. Farther up the trunk, it plunges its entire head into larger openings.

The park is a gem, a gift of nature on this Winter Solstice.

The sun is well over the horizon now (9:00 am) on this day after Christmas. I was up for the last few hours of the long darkness, early enough to see Mars and Saturn in the clear winter sky. The bright, sunny day looks perfect for a bike ride.

Health care finance can wait.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sausage & Policy

As part of a busy week, I spent time last week pissed off with the perverted health care finance bill as it has come to be during Senate deliberations. The bill is egregiously bad—it provides a guaranteed income base for an already rich industry with few guarantees that the for-profit insurers will actually fulfill the promises of the bill. It may expand insurance to 30 million uninsured. It may end discrimination via pre-existing condition rest. Much of it will not come into effect until 2014. For THIS I compromised? What a fucking fool I am.

Yep, I didn’t insist on a single payer, unified system that would eliminate all this bullshit. I was responsible, not an ideologue. And look what I got—another jury-rigged system that does nothing to simplify health care and will in many respects entrench the flaws of the current system.

THEY, on the other hand, didn’t compromise. They being all he self-interested parties who did a masterful job of confusing, bamboozling and frightening most Americans. Opportunists plateau-bargained, upping their demands and conditions with each concession made in their direction. They just drew their lines, shouted long and loud, flooded congress with lobbyists, spouted misinformation and delayed, delayed, delayed. In the end, they forced congress and the president to accept more of the same with some regulation (which can be further thwarted in design and implementation) and government subsidies that will further enrich the insurance industry at the public’s expense.

During all this, I called my senators and congressman asking for more unified and rational health care finance. I signed petitions. I did all that shit. And supposedly millions of others did the same. But it makes no difference. We still end up paying for profit. Our nation, our economy and individuals also pay in the form of lost opportunity due to ill health. None of that will change under this bill. It’s still the same fucking story.

Paul Krugman says we should support passage to get what accomplishment we can out of all this effort. So does Ted Kennedy’s widow. Something’s better than nothing, right? After being ass-fucked by Republicans and their health and insurance industry allies, I could find some satisfaction in shoving this goddamned bill down their throat. Even better, doing it on Christmas Eve.

But that still leaves this nation with another lost opportunity in designing a health care system that is rational, fair, effective and affordable. Krugman and Kennedy argue that this year’s legislation is one step. That’s true, as far as it goes. But the last step was taken in 1965 when Medicare was created and that was really the first step in a journey that began in the late 1940’s. In the meantime, every other major industrialized nation in the world has made that journey ahead of America.

Of course, what I think and want is of no consequence to anyone other than me. It sure hasn’t affected the direction of health care financing in this nation.


Scratch a Republican...

...find a hypocrite. Yeah, I know hypocrisy isn't limited to one party. I just know that recall far more Republicans who live differently from the values they claim to represent.


A Life Worth Noting

Leon Malklin.

"All I ask for in life is a soft bed and a library card. Everything else is extra."