Monday, November 30, 2009

Mr. Cheney..What can I say?

For the last ten days I have been taking a break from politics and my blog to relax and bit and for the Turkey Day but something has awakened my political spirit and that great honor goes to none other than Darth Vader himself, Dick Cheney.

Mr. Cheney has always been one of my least-liked politicans, to say he is an idiot would be foolish because I have never doubted his intelligence. To be absolutely honest I believe he was the most powerful VP in American History and also the most dangerous. The day he left office was a great day in my mind (because for all his mistakes, at least George was likable). Well unlike most former VPs, Cheney has continuously inserted himself in political agrument and made a complete Ass of himself. The main issue he has been whining and growling about is President Obama decision making towards Afghanistan. He has practically called the President a coward for "dithering" in his decision. While I do agree President Obama has taken a bit too much time making this decision, such decisions about war and our Soldiers is one that should never be taken lightly or hastely...

But it isn't what Dick Cheney said that angers me the most, it the audacity he has to even think that anyone should even pay any attention to him..because if anyone dithered in Afghanistan it was Bush and Cheney because while Obama has spent many months trying to make his decision, Bush and Cheney IGNORED our mission in Afghanistan for 6 years! To think this draft-dodger (5 deferments during the Vietnam war) has the guts to say ANYTHING bout someone's combat's just despicable. This man who has made a career of bad decisions in the area of foreign policy from his abandonment of Afghanistan during his tenure as Sec. of Defense under Bush Sr. to the invasion and botched occupation of Iraq with his equally worthless ally (and possibly the worst Sec. of Defense) Donald Rumsfeld to his lack of attention towards the war in Afghanistan when he was Vice President should just sit down and shut up because he is the LAST person I want to hear an opinion about Obama's decision-making....and while he may have a constitutional right to his opinion but he should have some respect for the President of the United States and just sit down and shut up bout issues he screwed up and helped create....Long Live Darth Vader

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fun Fact of the Week

I've decided that every week I'll post an interesting political fact...just something new for the blog goes nothing!

FUN FACT - NOVEMBER 20th, 2009

The Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy in 1892. It has been changed 4 times in its storied history but it's the writer that is the interesting part...He was a Baptist minister and..(Glenn Beck cover your ears) a SOCIALIST! Who'd a thunk?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sarah Palin...Oy Vey..

Well, after seeing nothing but Sarah Palin on MSNBC, FoxNews, and POLITICO...I have finally decided to direct my attention towards Palin. She is possibly the most divisive person in American politics, even more so than President Obama in certain aspects. So attention has been given to her as of late that CBS conducted a poll on how Americans see Mrs. Palin but I'll get to that in a little bit. In the meantime, I'd like to address Palin's book and its attack on McCain aides who she claims held her back and pushed her into situations she was comfortable with. While there is likely some truth to these claims, almost every major news agency and non-partisan groups (such as POLITICO) have found that most of her claims are false and McCain's aides have even provided emails to counter Palin's comments but I think there is a bigger issue here that no one seems to be addressing...if it weren't for these aides and campaign officials no one would even know who Sarah Palin is! Sure the people of Alaska knew of her but I consider myself a pretty politically aware person especially during elections and her name wasn't on any of the short lists of VP candidates I saw...whether she agrees with the decisions of McCain's advisors is largely irelevent considering she owes her very national political fame to's called being a decent and RESPECTFUL. To be honest, she was the VP candidate not the actually candidate and very rarely does anyone even pay much attention to the VP choice in the grand scheme of things but she has changed all that (which I do give her cudoos for). And there are some that see her attitude towards the McCain campaign in her book that indicates she thinks if she had been "let loose" McCain could have won the election....which I think is honestly ridiculus.

I myself was seriously considering voting for John McCain in 2008 but John choosing her for VP was the main reason I didn't vote for him. And I'm not the only one. There are many people I know in my home state that have told me time and time again that she is the reason they voted ultimately picked Obama over McCain...and the recent polls by CBS continue to reflect this belief that most Americans find her unqualified for national office (if she were to run). In this poll, 66% of Americans don't think she should run for President in 2012. The surprising thing to me is that this poll shows that only one group would like her to run, White Evangelicals and only by 4 points. Republicans are split right down the middle and Democrats (not surprisingly) overwhelmingly denounce the idea of her running.

Honestly, I don't think Sarah Palin is nearly as dumb as many people say she is, I just don't think she is as great as other people think she is. She does have one real thing going for her, she is definitely a political outsider which many Americans see as a good thing (something I don't really agree with). The problem(s) I have with Palin is that she doesn't seem to have much perspective on many political issues and she just seems to speak the conservative line and as of late seems to do nothing but complain about the 2008 campaign she has yet to take any real responsibility for her mistakes and if she can't do that she will never win over independents who want politicans who act like adults and not like a spoiled child blaming everything on someone else which is just dishonest and pathetic. The other problem I have with her is this claim her supporters say over and over that being a governor of a state means she has more experience than Mr. Obama before he was elected. While in theory this is a good argument it isn't true for ALL governors. Alaska is one of the smallest states in terms of population and population density and to me the only governors that are really qualified to govern the whole nation would be governors of Florida, Texas, California, or New York because not only have they had to deal with large populations but large and diversified economies and a diversified electorate. Claiming running the state of Alaska is the same as running the country just on a larger scale is absolutely ridiculus and obsurd. I said the same thing when former Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa tried to win the Democratic nomination last year. This claim is further crushed by the fact that she QUIT as governor because she claimed she wouldn't be able to win another term and would be a "lame duck" term which says alot. If she wasn't confident her own state would re-elect her for another term how does she think she is going to convince the American people to vote for her? Many have compared her quitting of the Alaskan governorship to Dick Nixon's actions after losing the 1960 presidential elections which eventually propelled him to the Presidency in 1968 but there is a flow in this thinking as well. Dick lost the election and spent several years prepping himself for the national stage and used the Governorship of California as a stepping stone to the Presidency (much like Ronald Reagan a decade later)...Palin seems to be plunging right back into the political arena just a year after losing an election (as VP) and just months after quitting as Governor of Alaska which just makes me wonder...what if Congress challenges her and makes her presidency stressful and bothersome will she just quit like she did as Governor? She can't even seem to take responsibility for her resignation and blamed it on the Alaskan legislature and her former brother in law and not on her own inability to handle the situation....can anyone think of the last time a political quiter still acted like they had a chance at higher national office? That would be like Dick Nixon acting like her could run again for President just a year after he's just crazy!

In normal times I think people (including Republicans) would largely ignore such a quiter but these aren't normal times. There is a strong anti-government sentiment in American and she is just the kind of political outsider people are looking for. To top that off, when one looks at the possible Republican candidates for 2012, she is the only exciting possibility. To be honest I don't think she will run in 2012 because she knows she can't win...just yet. If she is thinking what I'm thinking (frightening thought I know) she is waiting for 2016 because she knows with Obama gone (if he runs for a second term and wins) it would be much easier to challenge any likely Democratic successor and in the mean time she can build up political alliances and stay out of the political fray of Washington and repair her image and quietly build support. But by then she will have lots of political competition from another young Republican upstart, Bobby Jindal. So she may very well be tempted to run in 2012 because she knows she has a better chance of winning the Repub. nomination but I doubt she could defeat Obama (unless he does something really really stupid) due largely to her image as a quiter and a whiner. But I will give her this, she does have a hell of a following and definitely a larger one than any other well know Republican and I think that says something about the shape the Republican party is in these days...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Logical Healthcare Reform...I know crazy sounding right?

In the last few days, the political body that monitors and studies Medicare and Medicaid announced that their study of the current House bill for healthcare reform could potentially cost our nation hundreds of billions of dollars over the coming decades. Specifically, the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) announced on Saturday that they predict the House bill will INCREASE health spending by $289 billion by 2019 and healthcare will cost 21.1% of our GDP (compared to 20.8% currently). Among their findings includes some of the following:
1. The Public Plan will likely cost 4% more than private plans
2. 3million more Americans will be covered by their Employers because while 15 million more should be covered, many employers will shift 12 million of those Americans to the Public Plan to save costs.
3. 18 million people will likely remain uninsured and choose instead to pay federal fines.
4. The Bill would base Medicare payments to hospitals based on performance/productivity which could drive many hospitals to not accept Medicare.
5. The healthcare system could be severly strained by the massive influx of newly insured patients.

Obviously, several officials at the White House are challenging parts of this analysis and to be honest all analysis' should be looked at not as certainties but as possibilities..but there is likely some truth to this report and this just proves what I've been bothered about by this whole process..too fast and too one-sided to be the most logical type of reform. I've discussed in a previous blog on how Congress should have handled healthcare reform but I didn't go into a great bit of detail because I hadn't done enough research to be more confident in my observations but now that I've further explored both Republican, Democrat and Independent ideas on reform I'm offering a new and improved analysis:

As with my first ideas, I believe the Healthcare system should be reformed by several separate but independent bills. This way if only one or two of the bills make it through they will still help drive down costs somewhat (better some reform than none).
1st bill - Outlaw practices such as disqualifying people for pre-existing conditions and dropping people when they become sick. Also, remove the Insurance Companies Anti-Trust exemption. However, I do think the idea of being able to buy insurance across statelines in a possible compromise in this bill (if independent studies show it would drive down costs).

2nd bill - Limited Tort Reform (to maintain patients rights to protect themselves from malpractice) Case Study on Wellness programs' effectiveness on reducing costs (they sound good on paper but with people living longer preventative care will become more expensive).

3rd bill - Create a Public Option for those who can't afford private health insurance (largely targeted at basic services so private insurance will remain viable) and instead of an Opt-Out (in which state has to vote to exclude itself out of the program after it's created) let it be an Opt-In inwhich each state would choose to include itself in the Federal program by each legislative action or voter initiative.

Now this is a fairly logic approach with bits of reform from each side and I think would likely be reform Americans could get behind but sadly I fear such a Logical approach is a seemingly lost art in Congress these days..what happened to the days when the President could reach out not only to his own party but to the other major party (LBJ and Reagan come to mind)...has partisan politics become so great that simple cooperation is now considered political suicide? Sad times we live in friends..

The Dangers of "Revolutions"...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Hard Pill to Swallow...

Well, we now have a bill passed through the House of Representatives that hopes to reform our dysfunctional healthcare system. I actually watched part of the floor debate late saturday nite and to be honest there was only a few strong speeches from the Republicans that nite, while there were several strong and persuasive speeches by Democratic leaders, especially that of Rep. Weiner (yes that's his real name). He held up a copy of the Insurance package that each member of Congress and employee of the Federal government receives and asked the body shouldn't every American receive this kind of choice when it comes to their healthcare? He made a very good point, for several reasons but primarily because members of Congress receive excellent healthcare because they get a choice of several different plans and more importantly they will continue to have this great health insurance even after they leave Congress! To me, this is ridiculus because even if a person is elected for just once term (whether it be 2 years for House members and 6 years for Senators) they get government-aided healthcare for the rest of their lives...shouldn't they at least have to several terms before we start having to pay for their healthcare? This rationale is the reason many Americans and even several politicans have called on Congress to fully embrace the "Public Option" and be forced to take it themselves to prove it is a worthwhile venture and to be honest that does makes some sense to me...but the primary problem with this is it would cost far too much to be even remotely viable..

On the issue of costs, this bill is trully a hard pill to swallow...over $900billion over the next ten years according to the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) and is "paid for" according to many leading Democrats, something I and most Republicans find unlikely. While directly this bill may not add to the deficit, it's the indirect effects that will likely affect the growing deficit. For example, one sticky issue that wasn't even covered in this House bill is what will happen to healthcare premiums under this bill...which sounds crazy because how can this massive bill is...which just proves what the Democrats' real goal from the start was...Coverage not Cost. Now this isn't a terrible position to have because to be honest you compare our healthcare statistic to ALL other industrialized nations and it will make you angry and disgusted...but as this time in our nation, with a still ever-present recession to deal with, Cost is what most Americans are concerned about and most believe we can worry about greater coverage later. As of right now, no one knows what such a bill would do for those of us who already have healthcare insurance either from private providers or employee-provided coverage. Does that make any sense to anyone out there??

Another sticky part of this bill is the idea of an individual mandate. This mandate would mean every American would have to get health insurance or else get fined by the government. Though there are subsidizes for those who can't afford such, this is the current aim of the Public Option. To many, including the President and myself, its makes some sense. Think about it, everyone is required by law to have car insurance in most states and which is more important your car's safety or your health? But this bill warps this good idea, because though most states do require you to have car insurance the federal government doesn't. This idea of the federal government telling its citizens that it has to buy something or else is not only ridiculus but borderline unconstitutional. An individual mandate should, like the Public Option, be left to each individual state to decide. Good thought...Terrible follow-through

Finally, the idea of not passing any kind of reform is also very difficult to comprehend. While I would be ok with it being delayed til the economy was stronger and could better handle it, I don't honestly believe the Republicans will be anymore accomodating with this issues in few years then they are now. If this is going to be our only chance to pass some reform then now is the best time to do it but I'm not sure if the final bill that emerges will be the best reform possible but that is the hazard of politics. Compromises are a necessity in politics and to hope for a perfect bill is setting yourself up for disappointment..but I often wonder why it is so hard for lawmakers to take a logical approach to the issues that affect all Americans today...perhaps I am the one being overly hopeful...but regardless this nation desperately needs some reform especially when compared to ALL other industrialized nations in the world.
So what should we, as American citizens, do about this Healthcare reform debate? The thing to do is do lots of research on all the proposals and bills and write/email/call your congressman/congresswoman or senator and tell them what you think because if you sit on the sidelines and don't put in your input you might just get something you don't like or Pay Attention citizens!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Where's the Middle-ground in this Healthcare Debate?

The Healthcare debate, the most divisive issue of 2009 (and likely will continue next year) is seemingly closer than ever to a conclusion. The Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (who I am most definitely NOT a fan of..) has stated that they hope to vote on the House bill (H.R. 3962) on a rare Saturday session. Most likely the House will pass the bill and this would be one step closer to Healthcare reform. Of course it will hardly mean the end of the issue because not only does the Senate have to pass a bill, the two bills will then have to merged together and the final bill will then go to the President for signing. To be honest, I largely support most of the measures in the current House bill but the price tag and the massive scope of it does bother me a bit. I have paid a great deal of attention to the healthcare debate and have read the current bill. To me, it seems that the Democrats are putting too much too fast in this bill and therefore it makes it a hard pill to swallow. I have always wondered why they didn't try a staggered approach, for example:

1st Bill (pass before 2009 is out)- Ban Insurance companies from dropping people for "pre-existing conditions". Remove the Insurance companies anti-trust exemption.
2nd Bill (pass by Spring '10)- Pass measures (whatever they may be I'm not an expert on this) to lower insurance premiums
3rd Bill (pass by the end of 2010)- Establish a national Public Insurance Option for those who can't afford private insurance and allow each state to decide whether they want to "opt-in" by Legislative vote. And make members of Congress have to apply for this Public Option.

This makes the most sense to me, but it would be a much longer and possibly painful process but it would mean at the very least some reform would be achieved and would likely get some bipartisan support. But regardless, until very recently the Republicans have just sat by and yelled and screamed and not offered their own plan, that was til a few days ago. But to be honest if the Democratic bill is too much too fast, the Republican bill is much too slow and just pointless. The Republican bill, while costing less and would lower premium costs, would only cover a few million more people and would continue to allow Insurance companies to drop people for pre-existing conditions. The only advantage I can see that this bill does for the Republican is that they can at least claim they put up a bill, as terrible as it is.

Today the Republican house members (not all) held a "press conference" at the Capital in which several thousand Tea Partiers attended and vented their anger and outright ignorance towards to Healthcare reform. Led by Michelle Bachman, who the people of Minnesota should be ashamed of, she stated that as Thomas Jefferson stated that a revolution is good every once and a while. Are you serious? A congresswoman, supposedly a responsible and patriotic American, believes this healthcare debate requires a REVOLUTION to resolve. I honestly expect such chatter from Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh because they aren't accountable to anyone but for a member of congress to say such things and think she can get away with it is disgusting...what would be worse is if the people of Minnesota re-elect her though I know it is possible because a congressman from my home state of Iowa (Steven King) continues to win re-elections regardless of the ignorance and idiocy he often displays. At said rally posters in the crowd displayed beliefs that the actions of the government are socialist or worse (such as a poster that compared healthcare reform to a image of corpses at the Nazi concentration camp..) and I just wonder whether these people even try to research what they are protesting or they just blindly follow television/radio pundits as if what they speak is the truth. I've got news for these morons, the vast majority of Western Europe have either a "socialized healthcare system" or a single-player system that these people claim the Democrats are trying to pass, guess what, they haven't become Socialist/Marxist states deprived of freedom and liberty! Instead they have true universal healthcare and it costs much less than our current system and they often have longer life expectancies. I wonder how Michelle Bachman or Steve King would explain that? I think its insulting to all Americans that they believe we are politically weaker and simple-minded than our European counterparts and that allowing Healthcare reform pass would be the beginning of some kind of terrible Socialist takeover. I have honestly tried for months now to understand where Tea Partiers and right-wing crazies are coming from but I just don't get it. I may not think the current Healthcare bill the Democrats are pushing is perfect (and most agree it isn't) but the Republicans counter bill is just a joke. How do they expect political independents to think they are really trying to force a healthy debate on this issue when all they seem to do is yell and scream, but I don't think the Democrats have handled this the best either, they have been very partisan (not quite as much as Republicans) but the whole issue just illustrates the biggest problem with our political system. The idea of trying to find middle-ground and crossing the party lines is either seen as party treason or simply used as a political ploy to win votes..both parties should be ashamed of themselves...Somehow the political middle ground in Congress has become a No-Mans Land where Republicans and Democrats alike dare not tread...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tea Partiers a Sign of Things to Come?

With the NY-23 Election tomorrow, the news stations are all talking about the amazing rise of the nobody Conservative candidate Hoffman and the departure of Scozzafava from the race. This only leaves Hoffman and Owens, the Democrat in the race, and now polls show Hoffman with a small lead, so what does this say about things to come?

Many have said (including myself) that this race has divided the Republican Party and that this infighting could be a self-defeating issue for them. But after doing some reading and researching I've realized this is only a small part of a bigger issue for not only the GOP but for the whole American political system. While the Tea Partiers didn't necessarily pick Mr. Hoffman they are his strongest and more important supports, even more so than the many prominent politicans who came out to bat for him. They were powerful enough to force Scozzafava out of the race and now their man is in front. While I don't agree with a lot of things Tea Parties say nor do I agree with some of their tactics, if would be foolish to underestimate them or simply call them "astroturf". I do however understand why they're angry and do agree in principle with some of their ideas such as term limits, tax reform, and out of control spending. Now do I believe all Tea Partiers are conservatives? No, though it would appear the majority are, this is because Conservatives were the first and most successful at capitalizing on this anger towards the government. Regardless, this movement is very much real and appears (at least to me) to the first group capable of launching a viable third party and shake out political system to its core.

While the prospect of a viable third party capable of at the very least challenging the Democrats and GOP to keep their promises, I'm not sure the Tea Partiers can actually pull it off. What I believe is the true origins of this movement is the key to a third option in American Politics. The anger and discontent with our current way of things in Washington D.C. is very real and is the key to any successful Third Party whether it be Tea Partiers or Whigs. This movement seems to already have emboldened the Whigs to run for several federal offices which is fairly impressive considering out size. But it is too early to say who will be the last one standing is this political conflict or who will best utilize it.

The one prediction I do believe will come to pass is a transformation of the GOP as a whole. The fight for NY-23 has shown that the Tea Partiers are strong enough to get national figures to back the non GOP candidate Hoffman and force the GOP into a corner. When Scozzafava departed the race, she endorsed the Democrat Owens who is closest to her beliefs and now has been called a traitor by the same cornered and out of touch GOP that supported and who in the same breath jumped to support Hoffman. While this isn't surprising, it does show that the GOP is struggling with how to deal with friction between the Right and the RINOs (Republicans in Name Only). The fact that the only prominent Republicans to support Scozzafava was Newt Gingrich and the Republican House leader is very telling. Many on the news shows (especially MSNBC) has been talking on and on about who the GOP will soon become RINO free and could spell death to the GOP. While I don't necessarily agree with that assessment, I do believe the GOP is going to have to decide what to do with Tea Partiers, join them or not and this decision will decide what kind of party the GOP will be in the near Future. Either way, there are a growing number of American who call themselves neither Republicans or Democrats that will decide the political future of America.