Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

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 »

In the short time since the article Obama’s Health Insurance Bailout Bill of 2009 was posted, several people have commented on it, both here, in private messages, and in various other places around the web. This article is in response to some of those comments.

The question often posed is this: Exactly why was single payer taken “off the table”?

When the Obama administration came into office, the talk was that Single Payer was "not on the table" because some of the important "stakeholders" in health care reform opposed it and that passing single payer was unfortunately not in the cards. After all, we have to be “pragmatic” and do what’s politically possible.

Now just who were those "stakeholders"?

Why, they were those very selfsame health insurance companies, those pharmaceutical companies, and the big HMO/hospital chains who had profited by creating the malady in the first place and who now stand to gain beaucoup bucks when the proposed cure is administered! They want to benefit from both causing and curing the disease!

Well Duh! What a bleeding coincidence! We might just as well let the bank robbers design the bank’s security system!

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Right now, in the USA, a patchwork of private insurance companies pays for health care of a major proportion of American population.

To put it baldly, the health insurance companies make money by denying you coverage that you, as the policy holder, have paid for. This becomes especially true if you become really ill and desperately need that coverage, although you’re probably okay if you just get a cold.

That’s just crazy making.

Under modern capitalist management theory, corporations try to minimize the impact of what they call, in polite corporate circles, “cost centers” and maximize the impact of what they call “revenue centers.”

For an operation like an auto maker, a megastore like Wal-Mart, or a meatpacking operation, a “cost center” might be wages and benefits paid to workers. Alternatively, “revenue centers” may consist of sales of SUVs, sales of hormone-laden, additive-spiked dead cow burgers, or sales of cheap nasty plastic garden gnomes.

And in the case of health insurance companies, payouts to health care providers would constitute a “cost center,” while the collection of premiums constitutes a “revenue center.”

In other words, if you become really ill and really need medical care to save your life, your health insurance company would benefit from spending as little as possible on you, even  to the point of denying you the very coverage that you paid for. That’s about when the insurance company starts looking for some “undisclosed preexisting condition” or some other dubious reason to drop your coverage, as I explain below. The insurance companies make money by saying “no” when you need coverage, and they lose money by saying “yes” when it comes time to pay your medical bills.

That unappetizing economic fact is the most salient point to keep in mind when looking at the present political spitball fight going on in Washington.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

 dollarsign This morning, on December 8, 2009, Peter Shane, a law professor and author of “Madison’s Nightmare: Unchecked Executive Power and the Threat to American Democracy” posted an article on the Huffington Post titled WH Releases Open Government Directive: Transparency (Plus) Engagement (Equals) More Democracy. It is a somewhat breathless article about a supposed new openness from the Obama White House.

Regardless of how much credit you want to give to the President for sponsoring openness in government, one item jumped out to me. That is the mandate that government documents to be made public must be placed in an open format. That’s interesting and may cost Microsoft millions. Here’s why:

(more…)

Read Full Post »

It is Monday night, November 30, 2009, as this is being written, and President Obama has apparently committed to sending tens of thousands more troops to  Afghanistan. This is a terribly flawed decision, and absolutely no good can come of it.

Instead of sending more troops, the United States should just bring all the troops home now from both Afghanistan and Iraq.

There is a huge difference between defeating a country in war and conquering a country. The US did not find it difficult to drive the Taliban out of state power with military action.

But conquering Afghanistan, imposing a new form of government on it from the outside is a different task.

As Michael Moore in his heartfelt open letter to President Obama says:

There’s a reason they don’t call Afghanistan the "Garden State" (though they probably should, seeing how the corrupt President Karzai, whom we back, has his brother in the heroin trade raising poppies). Afghanistan’s nickname is the "Graveyard of Empires."

Graveyard Of Empires Indeed!.

 

(more…)

Read Full Post »

This is a rather extensive update of a piece I wrote in December, 2006, nearly 3 years ago, and originally published elsewhere

Most American politicians and many pundits now concede they were wrong to support Bush’s invasion of Iraq, stating that the administration lied to them about its justification. Politicians who voted to support the invasion, especially liberal politicians, say that the Bush administration lied to them about its reasons for this invasion. It is hard to believe this, especially in the case of bright, educated, and talented people like Hillary Clinton and others. The Bush administration’s phony excuses did not fool many ordinary American citizens, who did not have the same access to information as did the Clinton-style politicians and inside-the-beltway denizens.

When trying to justify launching this war, the Bush administration and its apologists gave reasons that included:

  • Saddam’s supposed cache of weapons of mass destruction
  • Saddam’s nose-thumbing UN weapons inspectors in the face of UN sanctions
  • The undoubtedly brutal nature of the Saddam Hussein dictatorship
  • The supposed desirability of creating an Arab democracy that would serve as a beacon in the Middle East, the latter a more “politically correct” and polite version of early 19th century meme of carrying “white man’s burden” and securing the “blessings of western civilization.”

But the truth is that none of these stated reasons were the real reasons for this war. These currently transparent excuses were really nothing more than a now-failed public relations ploy.

As demonstrated below, the American corporate rulers had planned this war a decade before the initiation of hostilities. This war planning had always been about control of energy resources and marketplaces, not democracy, not terrorism, not Islam.

Moreover, this war was not an aberration from American moral principles that supposedly guide its foreign policy. It was the natural  outgrowth of a longstanding foreign policy, a strategy that stems back from the days of the  Spanish-American war of 1898 and before.

Consider my reasons for stating this:

(more…)

Read Full Post »

This is a rewrite and update of something I wrote and published elsewhere about 3 years ago. Perhaps many will think it is still relevant.

Lately, pundits and politicians have both pooh-pooh’d and drawn parallels between the Vietnam war and the present wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But there is another, not-talked-about parallel, and it is much more important.

During the Vietnam war, the military brass and assorted apologists for this appalling adventure complained about how the US was fighting with one hand tied behind its back, owing to the treasonous antiwar movement and their bullying of those weak-kneed liberal politicians.

Until quite recently, the American military brass have avoided voicing similar complaints about the United States’ present efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Although most of today’s military strategists do not think there are anywhere near enough “boots on the ground” to achieve US goals, they have mostly avoided voicing this sentiment too loudly. And there is a good reason why the US has not mobilized its military machine to the extent they did during World War II or even Korea. Looking at the Vietnam war and how opposition to it shook the empire to its roots can provide us with some insight.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »