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Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

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.”

 

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Rachel Maddow, on her show, displayed a clip of the Reverend Pat Robertson explaining the role he thinks God played in the horrible disaster that befell Haiti early this week. Apparently, it was God’s vengeful fist that crushed the 100,000 people who died in that tiny country, if Reverend Robertson is to be believed.

Here is my transcription of Reverend Robertson’s words from the Maddow video.

They got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French.’True story! And so the devil said, "Okay, it’s a deal!" And they kicked the French out, you know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free, but ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other, desperately poor!

Americans well remember how upset they were over the despicable and criminal 9/11 terrorist attack that killed 3000 people.

And now Reverend Robertson accuses God of this act of mass murder, in effect, accusing God of committing a terrorist act 10 times more heinous than the 9/11 terrorist bombing in New York, all because of something their ancestors did a couple of centuries ago!

Reverend Pat figures God’s been fuming ever since. So that’s why, 206 years later, He decides to flatten the place!

Now I’m not a believer myself, but that sure sounds like blasphemy to me.

Maybe Reverend Robertson thinks the only way a bunch of illiterate blacks could defeat the mighty white French army was by making the devil their ally.

So God, according to Reverend Robertson, in a fit of pique, kills all those innocent bystanders, including nursing women, children, babies, elderly people, just because a bunch of black folks a couple of centuries ago had the temerity to slap the face of the white master and then throw his tokhes out of the mansion.

No doubt, those dark-skinned rebels could not have possibly committed this outrageous mortal sin without being in league with  the devil himself! After all, look at what they did! They were the first independent nation in Latin-America and the only nation ever born of a slave revolt. Haiti was actually the first independent black-led country to come out of a colonial revolution!

Unquestionably, that had to be Satan’s handiwork, n’est-ce pas?

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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