Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Political’ Category

The article that appeared in this blog called Pat Robertson’s Blasphemy, Accuses God of Terrorism has got me a fair amount of private email, and several readers of this blog left comments. Because of these private emails comments posted here, there are a few more things I wish to say about Robertson and this tragedy.

In the past few days, it has become quite obvious to me that many, and probably most, Christians completely disavow Pat Robertson’s pronouncements, which seemingly blame the Haitians themselves for this tragedy. It’s not just us atheists who are offended. Many decent Christian folks have also taken exception.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

 

For those blog readers outside the United States, the State Of The Union Address is a speech the American president customarily gives at the beginning of each year, usually in January but sometimes in February, to a joint session of congress and, via broadcast, to the USA population. It lays out what the president hopes to accomplish in the coming year, what the past year has meant in his or her estimation, what the state of the country (the Union) is. If I were the president’s speech writer, this is the speech I’d write for him.

Good evening Madam Speaker, Vice President Joseph Biden, Elected Members of Congress, privileged guests, and my not-so-privileged and long-suffering fellow citizens and residents of these United States of America:

Customarily, during a State of the Union Speech, the congressional attendees and privileged guests in these chambers interrupt this speech with many applause lines, cheers, and even a few ovations. I fear that tonight, my fellow Americans, those elected legislators and privileged guests will do precious little applauding and even less cheering.

At the beginning of my address tonight, I will give them credit, the credit they deserve. I will recognize that these legislators have worked very hard, represented quite effectively their constituents, the stakeholders present at the negotiating table that is Washington DC. They have supped at the table of American affluence. They spent many hours dealing with conflicting agendas of those who sought their ear, those who sought to influence them, those who brought them their views, their concerns.

However, they will not cheer the various points I make in this address. Their silence will be forthcoming because tonight I speak not in the service of those constituents for whom the legislators have labored so diligently, so conscientiously.

No! Instead, tonight’s speech is in service of people with a separate set of interests, the ordinary working people, the common people, those whom we understand by the term “American middle class.” That’s quite a different constituency, if you will, than those whom the mass media and the pundits have traditionally considered to be the stakeholders who matter.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

In 1940, shortly before the United States went to war against Hitler’s Germany, the famed and highly-acclaimed comic actor and director Charlie Chaplin made a wonderful movie called “The Great Dictator.” You can get The Great Dictator for home viewing, and it is a worthwhile purchase.

This movie plays up the classic doppelganger gag. The story is of a little Jewish tailor who is drafted into the army of the country of “Tomania,” (a satirical reference to Germany) during the First World War. The Jewish tailor helps save a comrade in battle and is wounded, ending up with amnesia in the hospital. After 20 years, just before the beginning of World War II, he somehow leaves the hospital to go back to his barbershop, thinking he has only been gone a couple of weeks. Of course, the anti-Jewish pogroms were in full swing by then.

As an odd wrinkle, our little Jewish tailor bears an uncanny physical likeness to the insane dictator of Tomania , Adenoid Hynkel, (another satirical reference, this time to Adolf Hitler) who is rising to power on anti-Semitism and anticommunism. In fact, at the beginning of the movie, there is an advisory that the resemblance between Adenoid Hynkel and the tailor is purely coincidental! Our Jewish tailor is completely unaware of the anti-Jewish fever sweeping the country or the redoubtable Adenoid Hynkel’s rise to power.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Martin Luther King died in 1968, a year of incredible upheaval throughout the world. I was a young married man with a beautiful young daughter. We lived in San Diego, California, and I was a private music teacher. It was a completely different world then. People in my town thought it was funny to call Dr. King “Martin Luther Coon.” Many were sure he was a communist.

A student came to my studio in downtown San Diego for a music lesson. He was about 16, and his father was an officer in the Navy. San Diego had a large US Navy base.

This young man broke the shocking news to me that Dr. King had been assassinated. He was quite pleased. He referred to Dr. King as “Martin Coon.”

 

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Single payer health care reform proposals seek universal health coverage to replace  the confused network of thousands of for-profit private health insurance plans and companies. Under such proposals, a publicly accountable single payer board would administer the payment of medical costs.

Every other industrialized nation on the planet manages to achieve universal coverage for all their residents. They do that without relying on for-profit companies that make obscenely large profits by denying care to the policy holders.

In such countries as the UK, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, France, Israel, and even Cuba, nobody goes bankrupt, loses their life savings, or gets thrown out of their home because of medical bills.

Yet, in the United States in 2007, 62% of all bankruptcies were for medical costs, according to Business Week. The Business Week article says that the majority of these bankruptcies were in what we Americans call the “middle class,” people who had insurance and no doubt thought they were covered.

As there were 822,590 total personal bankruptcies in 2007, according to the Bankruptcy Law Network, that means there likely was one medical-cost-related bankruptcy every minute during 2007 in the USA. Bear in mind that was 2007, before the big meltdown! No doubt, the situation is much more dire today.

Compare that massive number to zero medical bankruptcies in the above-named countries—no elderly, no desperately ill, no children, no pensioners, no handicapped, no working people thrown out of their houses and into the street because of  medical bills! Zip! Zero!

Meanwhile, medical bills thrust hundreds of thousands of Americans into penury every year.

To get some perspective on this, consider that the number of people killed in the 9/11 terrorist attack on the International Trade Center was 2,973 (not including the 19 terrorists). According to this Urban Institute study, the number of excess deaths in 2006 in the United States was 22,000. That means there were 7 times more victim deaths owing to lack of medical insurance in 2006 than victim deaths owing to the 9/11 terrorist attack!

As the American Folksinger Woody Guthrie said:

As through this world I wander
I meet lots of funny men.
Some’ll rob you with a six-gun
And some with a fountain pen.

Just think about that for a moment, will you?

(more…)

Read Full Post »

By all accounts, when the proposed “health care reform” bill passes, it will still leave many Americans uncovered. We will still be saddled with a crazy-quilt of separate for-profit insurance bureaucrats who know zip about medicine, but who will nevertheless check their spreadsheets and profit margins before deciding what medical care we can get. Medical decisions will not be made by you and your doctor, but by the insurance bureaucrat standing between you and your doctor.

This law will require all Americans to become the paying customers of private companies or pay a fine. These insurance companies enjoy exclusion from antitrust legislation . These companies will still be able to set rates, define benefits, and exclude people whom they say did not disclose preexisting conditions.

The politicians, including the liberals and moderates, tell us that these measures are necessary to protect free enterprise system and enable market forces to solve our broken health care system.

There’s something terribly wrong with that picture.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

It appears that this well-documented RawStory.com article gives us another graphic lesson about the folly of imperial adventures with its description of a recent suicide bombing.

The article describes how the CIA recruited an Afghani to act as an “informant,” (which is polite-speak for spy). CIA personnel escorted said Afghani would-be informant into a CIA facility, whereupon he detonated the bomb he had hidden on his person, killing himself, several CIA agents, including the CIA station chief, along with several “contractors” (more polite-speak for mercenaries).

The bomber was wearing the uniform of the Karzai’s Afghan National Army. He enjoyed enough trust that security did not check him for any hidden nasty surprises before escorting him into the compound.

This was despite the known success the Taliban have had in infiltrating the Afghan National Army, police, and security forces, and the corruption of the Karzai regime.

Now I don’t much care for the forces who make up the Taliban. However, they are native forces fighting an unpopular foreign occupying army.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

In this essay, when I say “Americans,” I mean citizens of the United States, with apologies to the good citizens of other countries on the North American and South American Continents who visit this site.

The real question is this: What is the American middle class and in what sense did it ever exist? And how does this tie in with idea of the “upper class”?

We Americans love to think we have no “upper class,” that we are a actually a classless society, that the USA is a democracy beholden to the will of the governed, the great “middle class.” The politicians tell us they serve the interests of this middle class, the ordinary chap in the street and in the workplace.

The popular American concept of ourselves is that when the Europeans landed in what eventually became the United States, they formed an egalitarian society. Eventually, a majority coalition of small landholders, the small tradesmen, the mechanics and artisans, the yeomen farm-holders, frontiersmen, and small burghers–in other words, the great  and broad “middle class” overthrew the tyrannical rule of the tax-happy British monarchy and instituted a republican form of government. This was a government, perhaps divinely inspired, that represented the will of the great majority of its inhabitants.

Like all narratives that great powers and empires tell themselves about their beginnings, this tasty broth contains both a dash of truth and dash of myth.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

 

I offer each of you personally this lovely Christmas card, now nearly 140 years after it was first created in the year 1870, as I start to write this essay on Christmas eve, year 2009.

Best holiday wishes to all my friends and visitors, you who are my brothers and sisters, who come here to Alan OldStudent’s Musings.

And Merry Christmas to my Christian friends.

Although I am an atheist, I like that Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr:

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things that I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.

As one who is in the seventh decade of his life, I have seen some amazing things. I saw how a mass movement in my own country, the United States, defeated and knocked down the infamous Jim Crow laws, America’s home-grown version of apartheid. And I saw how a mass movement ended an unjust war in Vietnam.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Reader Bob White, a Canadian resident and citizen, commented on the recently posted article: Obama’s Health Insurance Bailout Bill of 2009.

Like many Canadians and Britons, Mr. White finds the American conservative’s description of their health system strangely at odds with their usual medical experiences.

I invite any other interested Canadians or Britons (or anybody else, for that matter) to share their reactions, experiences, and opinions. And do click here to see Mr. White’s comments if you haven’t already read them.

Between April 23 and May 5, 2009, the  Nanos Research firm, (probably the most prestigious polling firm in Canada) conducted a poll that shows 86.2% of Canadians want public health care to be strengthened and oppose privatization. Although Canadians have their criticisms of Canadian Medicare (Canada Health Act), it is widely popular and enjoys  broad public support.

For example, a blogger named Sara Robinson, who contributes to Orcinus and who is a US citizen residing in Canada, weighs in on her personal experiences and impressions of both Canadian- and American-style health care delivery. You can read her blog article called Mythbusting Canadian Health Care by clicking on the title of the piece.

It’s a worthwhile read and backs up what Mr. White and the Nanos Research organization say.

It’s not just our Canadian cousins whom the American anti-reform advocates lambaste. The American health insurance apologists are even more horrified at the UK’s NHS system, perhaps because it actually is socialized medicine, unlike Canada’s system.

For the information of those outside the UK, NHS stands for National Health Service, the British health care program, and although Britons have their gripes about it, they are fiercely proud of it and resent American conservative attacks against it. And when those attacks display ignorance about the facts that are completely obvious to UK residents, many Britons find them to be particularly galling.

Consider the following:

(more…)

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »