*A proposal for the impeachment movement – The reality is that OUR SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT IS BROKEN and NO ONE SEEMS ABLE TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. Bush and company discovered and invented ways to neuter checks and balances, and oversight. I believe that they broke laws. I do not believe that current circumstances will yield a congressional trial. I would like to make a suggestion to the forces campaigning for impeachment and to advocates for responsible government. Devote at least a portion of your passion and resources to fixing the problem. Pressure each presidential candidate and each senator and representative to investigate what went wrong during the Bush administration and devise legislation that prevents a recurrence. It is incumbent upon our legislators to repair the system. However, since Congress has been dysfunctional and oft times impotent, we the citizens must vociferously demand they be responsive to renewing accountability. For those congressmen who do not respond, expose their recalcitrance and campaign for their defeat. In less than 11 months the Bush & Cheyney Prestidigitation Show closes. America will be best served focusing our outrage and disappointment on the solution.
*A Tale of Two Senators ~ from Pennsylvania
>Arlen Specter (R) is currently in a hissing contest with the National Football League concerning the New England Patriots against-the-rules video taping of opponents’ signals. In a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Specter said, "I am very concerned about the underlying facts on the taping, the reasons for the judgment on the limited penalties and, most of all, on the inexplicable destruction of the tapes". My “esteemed” senator is not investigating hundreds of millions of U.S. tax dollars unaccounted for in Iraq. He is not investigating Bush’s demolishing of the Civil Rights division in the Justice Department. He is not investigating the CIA’s destruction of interrogation tapes of suspected terrorists. But, look out NFL.
>Bob Casey (D) wrote an important and intelligent commentary for the Philadelphia Inquirer that addresses a subject of great concern – keeping nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists. Excerpts: “Since the early 1990s, there have been hundreds of reports of attempted smuggling from the former Soviet Union's vast nuclear stockpile... Too many nuclear facilities across the globe still do not have the security safeguards we should demand for stockpiles of fissile material... as many as 40 nations possess the key materials and components required to assemble a nuclear weapon, with security conditions varying greatly...” Casey’s final comment in the article is particularly telling. “The next president, with a strong mandate from Congress, must place at the very top of his or her agenda a full-scale effort to reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism.” I take this to imply that it is not very high on the current agenda. As soon as our leaders finish investigating major league baseball (for performance enhancing substances) and football (for who the hell knows what) they can work on preventing a nuclear bomb from blowing up an American city.
*In need of Xanax ~ Ole! – This week was incredibly exciting. I received an email notifying me that I had won the ROYAL SPANISH SWEEPSTAKE LOTTERY. Ignoring the fact that I had not entered the sweepstake and that there was no mention of the amount awarded, I began thinking like a travel agent. I started a list of the people I wanted to tell where to go. As the adrenalin waned the thought occurred to visit the website noted in the awarding email. Gloom settled over my computer desk when a message window popped up, accompanied by a deafening ding, telling me the website could not be found. I sheepishly tucked my list away for future reference. In the mean time I will continue to be nice to almost everyone
*To your good health – There is an interesting article at alternet.org that discusses 10 Myths About Canadian Health Care. I will note a couple of the points it makes. The link provides the entire article.
~Canada’s system is not socialized medicine where the doctors work for the state. In Canada and many other countries with universal healthcare the doctors run their own private practices. The only difference is that the doctors deal with one insurer (the government) instead of multiple insurers. It is called “single-payer” insurance.
~Canadians choose their own doctor and poor Canadians have exactly the same access to the country's top specialists that rich ones do.
~ Americans and Canadians have exactly the same drugs, made by the same pharmaceutical companies, often in the same factories.
~The Canadian system covers only the basics and depending where you live wait times for an appointment may be a bit longer in some regions. At the same time I have spoken with people who have called a specialist in the U.S. for an appointment and they had to wait 3 months or more.
As America begins to look at changes to the current health care system that is burdened with skyrocketing costs, much misinformation is being disseminated by health insurers and pharmaceutical companies that make inordinate profits under the current system. We do not know what changes the U.S will eventually implement but it would be prudent to become familiar with what does and does not work in other countries as well as being able to separate fact from fiction.
*A Tribute to John Edwards – He has dropped out of the presidential race. However, his strong positions on improving health care, attention to the environment, fairer government and policies for all Americans and the need to reduce the influence of special interests helped shape the platform of the other Democratic presidential candidates.
*Romney ~ Romoney - Mitt Romney has suspended his bid for the presidency. I saw one analysis that concluded he spent about one million dollars for each of the 35 delegates he had garnered. Some attribute his lack of acceptance by Republican primary voters to his being a Mormon. I believe it more likely that people did not believe his flip-flopping lips. Only Romney’s shirts were changed more often than his positions. You can’t fool all of the people all of the time – even the Republican base.
*Up, up and away ~ even if you can get it up – Israeli doctors recently did a study of mountain climbers. They found that erectile dysfunction drugs, such as Viagra, improved performance at high altitudes. Army doctors are now considering giving the drugs to Israeli combat pilots who fly at altitudes up to 50,000 feet. Rumor has it that the new battle cry for these pilots is Mazel Tov!
*The South and racism ~ an optimistic perspective - Highly respected columnist George Curry wrote a commentary this week about Barack Obama’s strong showing among southern voters. Mr. Curry was a teenager in Alabama in the 1960s when the call for civil rights was met with the reactionary likes of George Wallace and Lester Maddox – representatives of a racism mentality forged over generations. The article provides a brief history of that unseemly but revolutionary period as well as Democratic and Republican Party attempts to use this racial divide to their political benefit. Mr. Curry sees the success of Obama as well as other equally important developments as an indication of significant positive change. An excerpt: “Fortunately, the South is vastly different from the South I knew during my childhood. The University of Alabama has since elected an African American as its student body president. Atlanta and Birmingham have elected a string of black mayors; Alabama and Georgia have African Americans in Congress. Public schools in the South are more desegregated than in any other region of the country.” As I noted last week, prejudice is a constant throughout the history of man. Perhaps in our own small corner of the universe we are beginning to nurture a degree of color blindness.
*Everyday is a Superbowl ~ on television – Advertising on TV now averages about 15 minutes an hour. With all of this free time to go to the kitchen for a snack it is no wonder that Americans are overweight. If you want to lose weight, listen to the radio where advertisements average only 10 minutes per hour.
*Quote of the Week – “It's sort of a little poetic justice, in that the people that brewed this toxic Kool-Aid found themselves drinking a lot of it in the end." This was said by billionaire investor Warren Buffett referring to bankers who designed and sold complex investments that have since gone sour. The sub-prime mortgage fiasco occurred when Republican leadership and Democratic impotence surrendered oversight of the financial community. They closed their eyes to the memory of the U.S. Savings and Loan collapse in 1985, a result of deregulation and unsound real estate lending. While there are now laws against performance enhancing steroids our elected leaders enfranchise greed on steroids. Unfortunately, it is far more than the financial community that pays the price.
*Quote of the Minute – “Dick Cheyney is the best Vice President in history”. In a speech to a gathering of the hard-core Republican base group, Conservative Political Action Conference, so spoke George W. Bush, aka, The Worst President in History”.
*What’s It All About? ~ another Brown-out – In testimony to a Senate panel this week U.S. Intelligence Chief Mike McConnell said, “Al Qaeda is gaining in strength from its refuge in Pakistan and is steadily improving its ability to recruit, train and position operatives capable of carrying out attacks inside the U.S. and ...Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, remained in control of the terrorist group and had promoted a new generation of lieutenants.” We have spent hundreds of billions of dollars and almost 4000 American lives in the war on terror and the two individuals responsible for initiating the terror attacks are still around, stronger than ever and based in a country that is led by a dictator whom George Bush touts as our ally. At the same time, early successes in Afghanistan by U.S. troops have been dissipated after Bush reduced our resources in Afghanistan to attack Iraq. The Taliban has since regained a strong presence in Afghanistan and the U.S. is unsuccessfully pleading with NATO to commit additional resources to the region. Also this week Admiral Mike McMullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, Afghanistan is facing "a growing insurgency, increasing violence and a burgeoning drug trade fueled by widespread poppy cultivation." Heckuva job Mr. President!
*If you don’t have a headache yet – Our government continues to reward incompetence/malfeasance. “A North Dakota manufacturer, Sioux Manufacturing, has agreed to pay $2 million to settle a suit saying it had repeatedly shortchanged the armor in up to 2.2 million helmets for the military, including those for the first troops sent to Iraq and Afghanistan.” Grab your meds because here comes the migraine! “Twelve days before the settlement with the Justice Department was announced... the company was given a new contract of up to $74 million to make more armor for helmets to replace the old ones, which were made from the late 1980s to last year.” The investigation resulted from a whistleblower lawsuit filed by Jeff Kenner and Tamra Eishaug, two former managers at Sioux Mfg. These two people deserve medals but it is not likely to happen in the alternative universe that we find ourselves.
*An anniversary remembered – February 5th marked the 5-year anniversary of Colin Powell’s presentation to the U. N. Security Council. One of his introductory comments: “My second purpose today is to provide you with additional information, to share with you what the United States knows about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, as well as Iraq's involvement in terrorism...” During his presentation he said, “My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.” Recall his description and graphics of mobile chemical labs. Be he a pawn or a deceiver is for history to judge. He will have to resolve with his soul the deaths and injury to almost 35,000 American military personnel. For more detail and analysis on Powell at the U.N I recommend the site tinyrevolution.com.
* Francois de La Rochefoucauld - Quotes
~A man's worth has its season, like fruit.
~A wise man thinks it more advantageous not to join the battle than to win.
~No man is clever enough to know all the evil he does.