Thursday, July 30, 2009


Earlier in the week I featured a series of thoughtful quotes by progressives, liberals, and Democrats. In the interest of fairness and providing equal time, I now feature a series of revealing quotes this time by conservatives, neocons, and Republicans. These should provide all voters serious food for thought come election time. Unlike the progressive quotes featured earlier (whose profound insight and wisdom was readily apparent), this batch requires additional explanation, which I have provided in editorial fashion following each spolesperson's quote. Enjoy!

"Capital punishment is our way of demonstrating the sanctity of life."
- Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) -

"Bank failures are caused by depositors who don't deposit enough money to cover losses due to mismanagement."
- Former Vice President Dan Quayle -
and by moronic free-market deregulators like you, Quayle. Potatoes, anyone?

"As for that VP talk all the time, I'll tell you, I still can't answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly the VP does every day?"
- Sarah Palin -
if you have to ask, you'll never know, you stupid little girl!

"Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across the country."
- Former President George W. Bush -
you'd screw up a wet dream, pal...

"Billy Graham is the chief servant of Satan in America."
- Jerry Falwell -
I guess it takes one to know one, Jerry boy...

"Trees cause more air pollution than automobiles."
- Former President Ronald Reagan -
I think that Alzheimer's of yours started long before you entered office...

"So many minority youths volunteered, that there was literally no room for patriotic folks like myself."
- Former Texas Representative Tom DeLay (on why he never fought in Vietnam) -
great example of a snooty condescending attitude toward brave minority soldiers who DID fight and die in the war, and also a big lie...

"Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war."
- Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld -
in case you still haven't figured it out, Rummy, NORMAL people don't jump for joy at war like you do.

"Literally, if we took away the minimum wage - if conceivably it was gone, we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level."
- Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) -
yup, and you'd be the first in line to apply for one of those marvelous $1.45 per hour "whatever level" jobs that would spring up, wouldn't you, Bachmann? What a foolish, elitist hypocrite you are. Somebody PLEASE get this imbecile some Immodium AD for that brain and flapping mouth of hers!

"God is the one who chooses our rulers."
- Katherine Harris, on George W. Bush becoming President -
and that's why you lost your Senate bid, and your party lost control of Congress and the White House, right, Harris? Stop talking like an idiot!

"The only way to reduce the number of nuclear weapons is to use them."
- Rush Limbaugh -
stupid is as stupid says and does, Limbaugh. We've had just about enough of your blathering, pseudo-tough guy talk. You're a cruel, cold-hearted blowhard bully, and a total WIMP to boot.

"Time for the human race to enter the solar system."
- Dan Quayle -
and what galaxy are you speaking from, Mr. former VP? I guess a guy who can't even spell potato doesn't know much astronomy either...

"President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, and President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a much broader scale."
Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales -
tell us something we didn't already know, Fredo. We learned that a long time ago by watching reruns of Plato's old TV show from ancient Greece...NOT! FREDO, YOU ARE A MORON!

"I am the federal government."
- Tom DeLay -
no you're NOT, and you never were, you delusional and egomaniacal little boy!

[resident Obama has] "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture."
- Glenn Beck -
sure, Glenn, with Obama having been raised by a white mother and white grandparents in a white family. The only "deep-seated hatred" I see here is YOURS, Beck: hatred for minorities, for truth, and for common decency. Protozoa are more civilized than you, Beck.

"We just want Jews to be perfected, as they say."
- Ann Coulter -
by becoming the type of vicious and intolerant person YOU are, Coulter? Or by practicing your hateful, exclusionary, spiteful brand of Christianity? No thanks---I'll take Jews just as they are right now!

"I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself."
- Former President Ronald Reagan -
now THERE'S a thoughtful, forward-looking President! Sounds like Dick Cheney, speaking of whom:

"I had other priorities in the '60s than military service."
- Former Vice President Dick Cheney -
sure you did, Dick. That's why you made up for it in 2003 by starting an illegal war for profit and plunder in Iraq. Now THAT'S a patriot! An arrogant, self-serving one who cut and ran before he even got his draft notice, but a patriot nonetheless. NOT!!!

"Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream."
- Former President George W. Bush -
and YOUR family, buddy boy, produced nothing but a nightmare for our nation and the whole world!

"...merciless rivers rush and carve and remind us that Mother Nature wins. The big, wild and good life teeming along that road leads north to the future."
- Sarah Palin -
and some want her to become President! Palin, please do our language, rational thought, our nation, and the world a huge favor and JUST SHUT UP!!!!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


"Tax the very wealthy to make everyone healthy."
- Vigilante, Sozadee, CA -

Here's a song that was quite popular right about this time in the summer of 1966 and was done by a vocal group called The Happenings. I have adapted the original lyrics to fit the situation of an uninsured constituent of today (there are nearly 50 million of us) as he says goodbye to Congress as they leave Washington D.C., without having passed a universal health care reform bill, for their August recess. (My apologies to The Happenings and to our countrymen for having had to make this post this way today). So break out your old Happenings 45 or LP and sing along with me as I remind Congress that once again, it has failed the American people by bowing to pressure from special interests.


(I'll feel alone, each and every night
While you're away, I'll be sure to write)

Bye bye, so long, farewell
Bye bye, so long...

See you in September
See you when the summer's through
Here I am (bye, Congress, goodbye) saying goodbye at the station (bye, Congress, goodbye)
Summer vacation is taking you away (bye Congress, goodbye)!

Have a good time, but remember
There is danger in this uninsured man's fist
Will I see you in September,
Or lose you to an insurance lobbyist?

(Counting the days 'til I'll hear from you
Counting the hours and the minutes too)

Bye, Congress, goodbye
Bye, Congress, goodbye
Bye, Congress, goodbye (bye bye, so long, farewell)
Bye, Congress, goodbye (bye bye, so long)...

Have a good time, but remember
I'm no stranger, and I'm one who shouldn't be missed
Will I see you in September,
Or lose you to an insurance lobbyist?

Monday, July 27, 2009


It's been quite some time since I devoted an entire post to some thoughtful truisms, so that is what I am featuring today. I hope you enjoy them!

"Tax the very wealthy to make everyone healthy."
- Vigilante, Sozadee, CA -

"Have a bias toward action - let's see something happen now. You can break that big plan into small steps and take the first step today."
- Indira Gandhi -

"Liberals feel unworthy of their posessions. Conservatives feel they deserve everything they've stolen."
- Mort Sahl -

"He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich - both come to poverty."
- Proverbs 22:16

"Conservative: a statesman who is enamoured of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others."
- Ambrose Bierce -

"Where trade unions are most firmly contracted, there are the rights of the people most respected."
-Samuel Gompers -

"Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people."
-Eleanor Roosevelt -

"In this world of sin and sorrow, there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican."
- H. L. Mencken -

"The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected."
- G. K. Chesterton -

"If we don't get some money in our bank account soon, we'll be arrested for impersonating the government."
- Unknown -

"It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven."
- Jesus Christ, as quoted in Luke 18:25

"Of all the varieties of virtues, liberalism is the most beloved."
- Aristotle -

"Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially for the lower classes of people, are so extremely wise and useful that to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant."
- John Adams -

"You ask me why I do not write something...I think one's feelings waste themselves in words, they ought to be distilled into actions and into actions which bring results."
-Florence Nightingale -

"Today's conservatives uphold and confirm the wisdom of yesterday's progressives and liberals."
- Jack Jodell -

"There is no greater calling than to serve your fellow men. There is no greater contribution than to help the weak. There is no greater satisfaction than to have done it well."
- Walter Reuther -

"If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give it to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come and follow me..."
- Jesus Christ, quoted in Matthew 10:21-22

"As mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality."
- George Washington -

Monday, July 20, 2009


"Tax the very wealthy to make everyone healthy."
- Vigilante, Sozadee, CA -

TOP ROW L to R: The Supremes, L.A. Civil Rights march
NEXT ROW: Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan
NEXT ROW: Yardbirds, The Association
NEXT ROW: The Mamas & Papas, LBJ
BOTTOM: Lovin' Spoonful

I had the chance to delightfully revisit much of my past this last weekend, when a cousin came back to town and I was able to get together with a number of other cousins. We spoke of the usual family stuff, but also of current events and past history and music. When I got home, I started to again reflect on those days of yesteryear, and I began to appreciate what a fabulous and historic era I grew up in, living as I did in my lower middle class beginnings during the 1950s and 1960s in the Minneapolis, MN area.

The summer of 1966 was a particularly pleasant time for me. The world was abuzz with activity, creativity, and change. Things seemed to be picking up momentum on all fronts. Incomes and buying power for nearly all were rising, and the youth culture was starting to come into its own. Civil rights marches were happening and rights were justifiably being obtained, fashions were flipping like pages of a magazine, a cultural renaissance was occuring in art and music, antiwar protests over Vietnam were just starting to bud at college campuses, America had searched its soul and found injustice, thereby engaging itself in a noble War on Poverty (funny how the far right, who love to condemn war protesters as being cowards who want to "cut and run" from a fight did themselves unhesitatingly cut and ran from one of our most important wars ever, that War on Poverty, isn't it?). Gas was plentiful and cheap, and a popular ad slogan was "see the USA in a Chevrolet." Economical "Fizzies" made it possible for you to make your own cherry, orange, grape, lemon lime, or root beer carbonated soda pop at home using tap water. They came 8 Alka Seltzer-sized tablets per 19 cent package, and all you did was drop a tablet into an 8 ounce cup of water and wait for the fizzing to stop. They were staples in every supermarket. iPods and CDs had not yet even been conceived, stereo was only 8 years old (and most of us didn't own one, instead having the "high fidelity" monaural phonographs). Two song 45 rpm vinyl records and transistor radios were the rage, AM radio was king, the Beatles were the undisputed masters of pop rock music, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass and Frank Sinatra were immensely popular. People were optimistic, trusted their neighbors and government, and everything seemed to be on an upswing except for that nagging Vietnam War and civil rights marches and riots.

I came of age in this era. I began to take notice of the world around me and began thinking independently, as my own person. I started watching the news on our black and white TV (remember, we were lower middle class and couldn't afford a color set), and actually began reading more than the comics in the newspaper. I thought it was wrong for minorities to be discriminated against. I found it funny that we weren't winning hands down in Vietnam, with the body counts being as lopsided as the Pentagon was reporting. I was swept up in all the color, change, and heady excitement of that era, but especially in its music.

As I look at some of the songs and music groups who were popular just in this two month period of July and August, 1966, it looks like a murderers row of all-time classic rock and R & B. With so many fabulous new songs coming out each and every week, I never dreamed back then they would still be played on radio stations even today, some 43 years later! More classic songs were released in this 2 month period than have appeared in entire months or even years since then! See if you don't recognize or remember some of these artists' names: Beatles, Supremes, Four Seasons, Sam and Dave, Lovin' Spoonful, Hollies, the Mamas and the Papas, Simon and Garfunkel, Rolling Stones, Temptations, Grass Roots, Yardbirds, the Association. Some of the classic hits first appearing in that golden summer were "Summer In The City" by Lovin' Spoonful, "Hold On! I'm A-Comin'" by Sam and Dave, "Yellow Submarine/Elkeanor Rigby", a two-sided hit from the Beatles, "Hungry" by Paul Revere and the Raiders, "Along Comes Mary" from The Association, the Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love", "Bus Stop" from The Hollies, "I Want You" by Bob Dylan, Donovan's "Sunshine Superman", a very uptempo and brassy "Respectable" from the Outsiders, the punchy and unique interpretation of "Summertime" by Billy Stewart (OUTSTANDING vocal!), and the smooth and jazzy "Sunny" by Bobby Hebb. 2 1/2 to 3 minute pop songs sold millions of copies by having a predominant rock beat, catchy tune, and a serious, relevant lyric, like The Yardbirds' classic "Over Under Sideways Down" with its expressions of nonconformity ("when I was young, people spoke of immorality / all the things they said were wrong are what I want to be"), The Rolling Stones' commontary on the stresses of life back then as described in "Mother's Little Helper" ("...mother needs something today to calm her down / and though she's not really ill, there's a little yellow pill / she goes running for the shelter of a mother's little helper."). B. J. Thomas scored with his ballad "Billy and Sue", the tragic tale of a soldier in far-off combat getting a "Dear John" letter from his girl back home, causing him to jump up in battle and get fatally shot. Folk/easy listening masters The Sandpipers released their melodic gem "Guantanamera" based in part on a poem by Cuban freedom-fighter Jose Marti ( "...with the poor people of this earth I want to share my fate..."). Folk artist Verdelle Smith even had a modest hit with her rendition of "Tar And Cement", a milestone which I believe was the first-ever environmental protest song. In it, she describes leaving a small country village to find wealth and success in the big city, only to return to find things back home had changed immensely ("...and every night I'd sit alone and learn what loneliness meant / up in my vented room above a world of tar and cement. / Many years later, tired at last, I headed for home to look for my past / I looked for the meadows - there wasn't a trace / six lanes of highway had taken their place / where were the lilacs and all that they meant? / Nothing but acres of tar and cement..."). Pretty heady stuff back then for the targeted audience of pre-teen through young adult! But it was indicative of a flawed, but much better time. A time where most people really cared about others and were less preoccupied with their own material lust. A time where liberals and conservatives and Democrats and Republicans could disagree without spitting insults at one another or hating each other.

Thank you for letting me indulge in the past for this post, friendly readers. I am glad that I grew up and came to awareness in such a time. We have made great progress in many areas since then, but we have lost a great deal of what was simple and wonderful and good along the way. There are many unrealized goals from that era, and it reminds me that we Americans still have a long, long, long way to go, and that we must continue to strive for a better world for all...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


As we begin the great national debate on solutions for our nagging economic and health care problems, it is not hard to see how deathly ill our economy and government are. A massive tumor of corporate greed has mestastasized throughout both, and it appears as though we are in the final, deadly stage IV of this corporate malignancy. Is there any hope for our survival? The prognosis does not look good.

The ever-rising cost of health care, health insurance, and pharmaceuticals is proving unsustainable. The costs of these items rise well above our rate of inflation. Board members of health insurance and pharmaceutical companies unhesitatingly award themselves multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses as they routinely deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions who need insurance coverage and aid with prescription costs the most. They also heavily influence methods of treatment and hospital stay lengths, not in the interest of patient well-being and efficiency, but in the interest of their own maximized profit. 1 in every 6.5 American citizens no longer have health insurance, as they either cannot afford it or are refused it altogether. Doctors must continually battle with these companies on treatment methodology. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies raise prices at will, and frequently. They charge American citizens DOUBLE what they charge Canadian citizens FOR THE VERY SAME AMERICAN-MADE DRUGS! They claim they need huge profits to conduct expensive research and development, even though AMERICAN TAXPAYERS SUBSIDIZE ROUGHLY 30% OF THEIR R & D COSTS! This is criminal. Instead of a health care system, insurance and pharmaceutical companies are forcing us to ingest their poisonous profit maintenance system. This, too, is criminal. It is also immoral.

This "medical/industrial complex" controls the entire health care operation in the United States, and they want to keep things exactly as they are. They are willing, and will always find the money, to spend over one million dollars a day on lobbyists to influence our legislators to leave this pathetic system as it is, but they are unwilling to cover millions of Americans who need coverage most. They want NO government involvement in the administration of health care, and are spending even millions more on TV and radio ads featuring lies and distortions about government-run health care in an effort to scare the public away from the idea. THE MEDICAL/INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX AND ITS EVER-DEMANDING STOCKHOLDERS ARE THE CARCINOGENS OF CORPORATE GREED WHICH IS KILLING THE NATION. Their presence and influence is everywhere, hence my metaphorical stage IV malignancy description. They are all over the media; they control virtually the entire Republican Party; and they have bought out huge numbers of Democrats as well. Their obsessive profit-grabbing is killing businesses and destroying our economic well-being, and it must be checked before it destroys the entire country.

The only true total cure for this wicked scenario would be for the country to surgically remove these cancerous tumors altogether through the adoption of a fully government-run, single-payer system of health care. But remember, folks: this is a stage IV situation we are in. As such, the total surgery of a single-payer, universal system simply won't happen. But an alternative of successful chemotherapy we can and MUST adopt is called the Public Option. It is our only hope for survival, and will at least keep the stage IV malignancy at bay, and, at best, greatly shrink the horrible tumor which currently strangles us. Below is an outstanding piece by Kevin Drum which appeared in "Mother Jones" (and which I learned about through Yellow Dog's July 14 "Blue In The Bluegrass" blog, It is a superbly concise summary of what a public option for health care would offer us. Here it is:

"The so-called 'Tri-Committee' healthcare plan has just been released, and it's so called because it's a joint effort from the House committees on Education and Labor, Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce. It looks pretty good at first glance, but honestly, I haven't read through it in any detail yet. So more on that front later.

For now, though, let's take a look at the PR effort. Here are the talking points from the "What's In It For You?" handout:


Without reform, the cost of health care for the average family of four is projected to rise $1,800 every year for years to come—and insurance companies will make more health care decisions.

America’s middle class deserves better. Here’s what America’s Affordable Health Choices Act means for you:


No more co-pays or deductibles for preventive care
No more rate increases for pre-existing conditions, gender, or occupation
An annual cap on your out-of-pocket expenses
Group rates of a national pool if you buy your own plan
Guaranteed, affordable oral, hearing, and vision care for your kids.


Keep your doctor, and your current plan, if you like them
More choice, with a high quality public health insurance option competing with private insurers


You and your doctors make health care decisions — not insurance companies
More family doctors and nurses will enter the workforce, helping guarantee access
Mental health care must be covered


No more coverage denials for pre-existing conditions
No more lifetime limits on how much insurance companies will pay
No reason to ever make a job or life decision again based on health care coverage."

This stage IV situation we face IS something we can keep in check with the adoption of a public option. That is why I again urge you to barrage your Representative, your Senator, and even your Governor with a demand for the adoption of a strong, universal public option plan for health care in this country. Do it TODAY! And TOMORROW! And NEXT WEEK, TOO! Thank you. We'll all be much better off for it!

Friday, July 10, 2009


Shown here are a number of players key to the solving of our national health care problem. Some, like Senator Ted Kennedy, President Barack Obama, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, are strong advocates of a universal plan which would cover all citizens through the creation of a government-run, "public option" system (similar to Medicare or the VA) to compete with private insurers; some, like Senators John Cornyn and Mitch McConnell, and Minority Leader John Boehner, are adamantly opposed to any government involvement whatsoever; and some, like Senators Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, and Evan Bayh, are caught in-between, not wishing to offend the large pharmaceutical and medival/industrial complex corporations or their constituents, seeing merit in both sides of the argument(or at least saying they do). Though a finished bill has not hit either chamber, lines are already being drawn in the sand without any floor discussion having even taken place yet. It reveals a lot about the mindset and priorities major legislators have.

Proponents of a public option plan point out that most individuals can no longer afford health care on their own, that nearly 50 million citizens have no health insurance, and that the unchecked rising costs of health care are bankrupting businesses and dragging the economy down. They further contend that coverage for health care should be a universal birthright and not a privilege for only those who can afford it. I, my own physicians, and the majority of voters (72% in a recent nationwide poll) support this view. My own physicians have even told me that Medicare and VA health care, being government-run, are working just fine. My elderly father adds a hearty voice of support for how his medical needs have been met through the VA, and even Republican Senator John McCain has praised the VA. Members of Congress and federal employees receive superb "government-run" health care, and I have yet to hear of a single one of them declining it due to the supposed inferiority some claim "government-run" systems have!

Those "caught in the middle" are, in large part, members of Congress who have received huge donations over the years from insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Nearly all are what is termed "blue dog" Democrats (i.e. Democrats who represent more conservative, traditionally Republican areas or states, who were elected last time with slim majorities). These politicians want to hang onto their seats and fear their support for a public option may cause insurance companies, pharma houses, and some of their constituents to turn against them and donate heavily to their next opponents. It would appear on the face of it that these "caught in the middle" types have a severe case of mistaken allegiance and obligation. As representatives and senators whose paycheck comes from taxpayers, their primary concern should be that ALL of their constituents receive good health care, not just some, and that their constituents' employers and businesses not be put out of business due to unsustainable health care costs! Again, their primary job is to look out for the well being of their constituents, not for their own careers or the well being of corporate campaign donors.

Opponents of a public option, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, want no government involvement or public option at all. They claim that, if given a choice, almost all Americans would choose a public option. Well, if that's the case, then why aren't they doing what most voters want and supporting a public option. Isn't that what they were elected to do, to do what the public wants? Evidently they don't see it that way. They fear that a public option will put private insurers out of business and/or deprive them of profit. Ahhhh---so PROFIT is the priority! They believe that profiteering middlemen like insurance companies should be able to make money off of people's illness and treatment. They believe that it is perfectly fine for insurance company boards of directors to pay themselves millions of dollars each in salaries and benefits while excluding people from coverage, effectively dictating drug dosages and hospital stay lengths, and even refusing to pay for certain treatments ordered by physicians, thereby depriving patients of proper medical treatment. This is all done to ensure enough profit for these greedy middlemen. Public option opponents apparently also see no problem with pharmaceutical and medical supply companies constantly raising their prices at will, well above the rate of inflation. Obviously, these conservatives believe that healthy medical/industrial complex profits are far more important than the health or economic well being of those multi-millions of consumers who are footing the bill in the name of excessive profit.

Public option opponents love to tell scare stories of how health care will diminish, the ability to choose one's own doctor will disappear, and how much more we'll spend on health care if a public option is adopted. I say that is nonsense. I've said it before and I'll say it again: those living in countries with government-run programs are NOT dropping in the streets from neglect, their death rates are NOT dramatically rising, nor is disease running rampant due to the fact that the government is administering their health care. Opponents also love to raise the frightening specter of the government coming between consumers and their doctors. The implication is that government bureaucracy will create a lot of unnecessary paperwork and interfere with a doctor's ability to treat patients. I say this, too, is nonsense. If anything today's private insurers are far more bureaucratic and are creating far more paperwork than these conservatives are letting on. We are jumping through far more hoops and paying far, far more of a bill under the profit-malignant private system we have today than we did 40 or 50 years ago!

I would just as soon take the ridiculously excessive profit and unnecessary privilege out of health care altogether by adopting a public option. If you, too, are fed up with ever-rising drug costs, filthy-rich private insurance executives padding their wallets at your expense while determining whether or not you'll be covered by them, and then dictating from their corporate offices afar just how long you need to be in the hospital or what tests and treatments you can or cannot have, then do as I have just done: WRITE YOUR GOVERNORS, REPRESENTATIVES, AND SENATORS AND LET THEM KNOW IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS YOU WANT A PUBLIC OPTION FOR HEALTH CARE IN THIS COUNTRY! Tell them you want UNIVERSAL COVERAGE! Tell them you want AN END TO CONSTANTLY RISING DRUG PRICES! Tell them you want AN END TO PROFITING OFF HUMAN DISEASE AND MISERY! Let them know you MEAN BUSINESS, and will do EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO UNSEAT THEM if they don't follow through on this!

Those who are placing a priority on the profit and wealth of businesses and an elite few over the well being of all, or who are placing their own well being before ours, are each guilty of setting badly mistaken priorities. It is up to us to let them know we will not accept this, and to get them back on track. So let them know, and do it today! There is no neutral ground on the issue of universal health care. Silence is complicity.
LATE BREAKING NEWS! In today's (7/13/09) "Crooks and Liars" blog, there is a piece dealing with Progressive Change for health care reform wherein you can vote on which Senators to target for TV ads about their weak or non-support for a public option. DO IT!

Sunday, July 5, 2009


"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."
- Bertrand Russell -

"Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives."
-John Stuart Mill -

I am normally a fairly patient and supportive person. Yes, when it comes to mechanical or electronic equipment breakdowns, I have been known to erupt and lose my cool. But when it comes to people, I can usually put up with a lot before I start to blow steam. Unless, of course, someone is completely and needlessly wasting my time, is thoroughly and stubbornly ignorant, is VERY foolish, or is bald-face lying to me. This past week, for the umpteenth time, Alaska Governor and unsuccessful 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin made my Irish blood boil.

We got the surprising announcement last Friday that Palin will be soon leaving office, 18 months before the end of her term, to pursue a "higher calling." All I can say is, and I'm sure my statement will be shared by many Alaskans, "don't let the door slam you in the ass on the way out." Many questions surround Palin's abrupt and unexpected decision. That is not unusual with Palin, for her impulsive shoot-from-the-hip style and inarticulate sound-bite phraseology always seem to raise questions. This time, some speculate she is getting out of the governor's mansion prior to facing upcoming questions on allegations of corruption or other scandal. That would fit her modus operandi. Others believe she is dumping the encumbrances of the governor's office to plunge headlong into a full time campaign for President in 2012. That, too, would fit her publicity-craving persona, for it has become unquestioningly obvious this woman loves and has become addicted to media attention and being surrounded by screaming, adoring crowds who are hanging on to her every shallow, unoriginal, cliche-ridden pronouncement. It doesn't matter, though. Palin's move this week was merely another in a long line of rash and irresponsible actions she has taken since her late teens. She is an unstable, self-centered personality who does not belong in national office, and that fact alone will deservedly short curcuit any attempt she may make to get there.

Let's look at this pathetically impetuous woman's history for a moment. She finally received a relatively easy degree in communications-journalism, after five years in college spent at four differnt schools. She quit the first one after one semester. She quit the second after only two more. She quit the third after two more semesters, attended a fourth and spent one term there, and then went back to the third school once again for her final three semesters. Now THERE'S a gal with staying power and clear vision who can make lasting decisions! She then worked for two differnt TV stations for a short time, and very briefly at ESPN, before deciding to run for Wasilla, AK city council. She spent a few terms there and a few as mayor before becoming Governor. Now, 2 1/2 years into her first four year term, Sarah Palin wants out again. Her Facebook explanation for leaving the governorship was as ridiculous as her action. "How sad that Washington and the media will never understand it's about country," she wrote, "...though it's honorable for countless others to leave their positions for a higher calling and without finishing a term, of course we know by now, for some reason a different standard applies for the decisions I make." Palin's Nixonian expressions of self-pity are nauseating. So is her absurd talk of abdicating her office being "about country." WHAT country, Palin? Your husband belonged to an Alaskan secessionist party which advocates LEAVING ours! Sarah Palin sure sounds like the type of person YOU'D like to hire for an important job, doesn't she, reader? Hardly!

Republican strategist Ed Rollins, a former advisor to President Ronald Reagan, is a man whom I often disagree with but nonetheless admire for his civil demeanor and analytical and empirical approach to politics. I think he summed Palin up perfectly this time by stating, "...she is now becoming more of a kook than a serious candidate." David Gergen, a long time, level-headed advisor to both Republican and Democratic past Presidents, summed up Palin's latest actions by saying, "There is an old adage in politics that says 'when the going gets tough, the tough get going.' Now she's trying to persuade us of a new adage: when the going gets tough, the tough quit. That dog won't hunt." He, too, is totally correct in his analysis of her.

A look at Palin's demeanor over the years strongly suggests she has never grown beyond her beauty pageant days and is starving for constant attention. She is so smug and overly self confident that she is appallingly ignorant and dismissive of vitally relevant factual elements of worldpolitik. This deluded woman truly believes that, in spite of her tremendous lack of knowledge or understanding of world affairs, she is abundantly qualified for the nation's highest office. She evidently thinks "Christian values" and her phony just-like-the-average-American exterior, replete with its "you betcha!" and "First Dude" commonality, and including shopping trips to a second-hand store, will pave the way for her success. Even that attempted portayal of the Palins as "average," with their net wealth at $1.2 million, is an infuriating insult to our intelligence and shows how little she really understands about THIS country. Palin, ever the naive and calculating little fool, couldn't possibly be more mistaken about what really qualifies one for the presidency. It has also become obvious that Palin, like most conservative Republicans, loves to dish out political hyperbole but can't take the heat of political criticism. In her pea-brain, it was perfectly ok to run around during the last campaign making inflammatory and downright stupid accusations of Obama "palling around with domestic terrorists" and having a "socialist" agenda, but when justly criticized for the evasive and moronic interview she had with Katie Couric, wherein it became apparent how little she read of foreign affairs or current events, the wimpy little Palin screamed foul and media bias. This was a clear overreaction. She also overreacted immensely to the recent bad joke by David Letterman and even shamelessly exploited her children (AGAIN) for selfish political gain in the process. This is the behavior of a wholly self-obsessed drama queen who is not fit for ANY public office!

Sarah Palin is a non-stop irritant, like a very bratty little sister who repeatedly wants to argue about trivialities and simply won't go away. Worse yet, she's become a bratty little sister who won't grow up. But for now, she is stepping down. So good riddance, drama queen! I hope this time you will leave public office forever and find your pompous "higher calling" elsewhere, well out of public view. But, I fear, like a bad case of hemorrhoids, Sarah Palin will flare up again and again and end up being a constant pain in the ass to all of us until at least 2012. Grrrrrrrrr!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


"With virtually no Republicans agreeing with their own constituents that a public option is the way to go, you can take any state in the Union (especially in the Old Confederacy) and find a disconnect between members of Congress following a lock-step anti-family ideology and average families wanting the reasonable health insurance like the rest of the industrialized world already has---and for far, far less money than the U.S. spends on health care."
- Howie Klein, in his june 26 post "Why Are So Many Members Of Congress Going Against Their Own Constituents' Demands For Health Care Reform?" on his superb blog "Down With Tyranny!" ( -

Here is another tremendously intriguing idea on reforming health care which appeared in the Sunday edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 28, 2009. Yes, we in Minnesota DO have brains and aren't all wacko eccentrics like Michele Bachmann and Jesse Ventura! FYI: "DFL" stands for Democratic-Farmer-Laborer, the Minnesota version of the Democratic Party.

The White House wants help, and state Rep. Tom Huntley gets the call. Here's why:


Last update: June 27, 2009 - 11:57 PM

You don't get a telephone call inviting you to the White House every day -- or ever -- even if you're a nine-term DFL state representative from Duluth.

Rep. Tom Huntley picked up the phone and heard "This is the White House calling" on June 13. He had to catch his breath before he could utter, "I'll be there."

Four days later, Huntley sat at 1600 Pennsylvania Av. with 21 other state legislators from around the country and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, discussing the hottest national policy topic of the season, health care reform.

It may say something noteworthy about the Obama administration's policy focus that among all of Minnesota health-minded legislators, Huntley got the call.

It isn't surprising that the president would seek out someone with Huntley's expertise. The 71-year-old Ph.D. biochemist taught at medical schools for 40 years, most of them at the University of Minnesota-Duluth School of Medicine. At the Legislature, he has chaired the House's health care finance division since DFLers took control of the chamber in 2007.

What's interesting is that the White House tapped someone with Huntley's take on how to proceed with reform. More than any other DFLer in St. Paul, Huntley has been a champion of changing the way medicine is practiced and paid for, in order to control costs.

Huntley's stock line is, "You've got to fix the system for the 93 percent in order to have money to serve the 7 percent" -- that is, the share of the Minnesota population that lacks health insurance. For the nation, that share is closer to 16 percent.

He says that Minnesota's doctors, some of whom he trained, treat insured people in ways that are too often duplicative and ineffective. For that, he does not blame them. Rather, he faults a fee-for-service payment system that rewards doctors for the number of procedures they do, not for keeping patients healthy.

Only if the galloping growth in health care spending can be slowed can the state or the nation afford to insure the uninsured. "You have to get after the costs," he says.

Other DFL legislators who carry a health care portfolio -- Sens. Linda Berglin and John Marty, to name two -- have made themselves almost synonymous with expanding access to health insurance via government efforts. Their difference with Huntley is more one of emphasis than of substance. They too favor lower-cost, prevention-focused medical practices, and Huntley is not averse to a government-sponsored health insurance program.

But if you're President Obama, and you see the access expansion train beginning to move in Congress without cost-containment cars firmly attached, the Minnesotan whose advice you want is Tom Huntley.

And if you're Huntley, itching to change the way Minnesota doctors treat the big-ticket diseases -- diabetes, depression, asthma, heart and coronary artery disease -- you want the White House to bring a Medicare and Medicaid payment-reform pilot project to this state. That's what he pitched in D.C.

He explained: "If you have a clinic and 5 percent of your patients are in a special payment program, you're not going to change the way you deliver medicine. But if 60 percent of your patients are paid in a certain way, that will change your behavior. I want to be able to combine Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance to get that critical mass for change."

Huntley's 2008 bill started down that road. When fully implemented later this year, it will pay primary care doctors to coordinate the care of their patients with chronic conditions. That idea -- "medical homes," in Capitol shorthand -- is intended to minimize high-cost, duplicative treatment by medical specialists.

But without the big federal programs involved, there's only so far that Huntley's 2008 bill can go in saving money. "We're asking that Minnesota be allowed to change the way Medicare pays," he said.

If Huntley gets his pilot, Minnesota could find itself positioned as a make-or-break proving ground for President Obama's biggest domestic initiative. The pressure will be on a lot of Minnesotans - not least of them Huntley - to show that it's possible to rein in health care costs while still insuring more people.

Huntley acknowledges that changing the way medicine is practiced is "very difficult." But, he says, "it's what we have to do.

"If this doesn't work, then you really will have a system where government sets the cost of everything...I don't think that's good for anybody. That wouldn't do anything for quality improvement. That's the club that's hanging out there."

Lori Sturdevant is a Star Tribune editorial writer and columnist. She is at

Treat the disease: Change how health care is paid for. A novel idea indeed!