Friday, August 31, 2007

a health care question

Allow me to point out at least one major problem with American health-care which most of the politicians who put forth ideas for a "cure" not only fail to solve, but exacerbate:

Insurance is a casino-style system where more money goes in than comes out; their long-term profit is guaranteed by their business model. What "service" do we recieve for our money? Why, we get "administration" of our health care, which generally consists of accountants deciding whether or not we will be allowed to get medical treatment.

I dont know about you, but I personally think that the Insurance industry is a parasitic beast in the body of America. It is simply an insane system. No, no, that’s not quite right; it makes perfect sense from a money-making perspective. But it sucks from the standpoint of healthcare because it ensures not only that care will be denied to increase profit, but also that fraud will be committed in order to collect disbursed money. If you think that this last point is not true, then why do you think that insurance companies have so many functionaries? They arent all there to deny claims, some are there to watch for those who seek money for services not actually rendered (this kind of fraud is much easier when the money is controlled by parties not actually recieving the services).

The real solution is something along the lines of the VA, but for all the nation. No, it wont be perfect, but then the current system hardly qualifies for that description either. And right off the bat, let's adress the national shortage of qualified health care professionals by staffing it with doctors, nurses and technicians who have been trained at government expense (and are obligated for a term of government service after). This will ensure that we can get qualified people who are not denied the opportunity to work in health care simply because they cannot afford to go to school. Next, minimal outside contracting will be allowed, with all work being done in-house that can be, which will reduce graft to mostly the usual, old-fashioned lazyness and incompetence (which you can find just as easily in for-pay health care). Oh, did I mention that such care would be cost-free. We can start small, maybe in inner city neighborhoods or underserved rural communities (the types of places that for-profit medicine has abandonned).

Of course, when I say "cost free", I mean cost-free to the user, but it would certainly cost tax-payer dollars. But if that eliminates insurance premiums (for which the Family Plan eats up 15-20% of my meager paycheck), and reduces the effects of the healthcare by Public Hospital Emergency Rooms syndrome, wont that pay off in the end? Why have a layer of (private, profit-making) bureaucracy in the middle of the system? Do we like throwing away money?

Here, let me present an analogy (you know I love analogies) on just why the current health-care system is crazy:

Imagine if we ran the police the same way we run health-care. Instead of taxes, everyone (who could afford it) would pay for the coverage of private "security firms". When you called with a problem, you'd have to dial the number on the back of your "security insurance" card (rather than 911), where you would talk to person who would then have the power to decide whether or not your "emergency" had merit.

"I'm sorry, m'am, but it appears that the restraining order against your ex-boyfriend was obtained before you contracted with us, which makes any problem you have with him pre-existing. If you want to have him arrested I'm afraid we're not going to be able to cover that problem. Yes, m'am, we can arrest him, but I'm afraid you'll be required to cover the full cost of that service."

There would be multiple "police" companies, all "competing" for your business, but also contracting with multiple Security Insurance companies. Naturally, those companies which paid the best would get the priority in service. Imagine a world where the police interest in responding to calls was based on who payed the most (oops! it's already pretty much that way, isnt it?). Oh sure, some form of local government-run police would still exist, but it would be small, and only show up when things (in the under-insured parts of town) had gotten way out of control, and damage which could have been limited or even eliminated if attended to early, has now spread throughout the neighborhood.

Does this sound like a system you'd like to live under? Now imagine the Fire Department run this way. Is not medical care just as important?

Much like Police and Fire protection, most of us dont usually need the health care protection. Few of us buy health insurance for the mundane trips to the doctor, but for the bigger problems, like when our guts catch fire or our hearts attack us. Does our current system make any sense at all, except as a way for an ethically dubious segment of society to skim a profit off those who are already vulnerable?

Assuming that anyone is still paying attention to those things, during the next debate, let's see if we can get someone to ask (especially Republicans) this question:

"Do you have a plan to get Medicine out from under the thumb of parasitic, for-profit, health-care bureaucrats? And if not, why not?"


And dont let them give you any crap about socialism, okay.

Monday, August 27, 2007

quote for the day

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
- Albert Einstein

stolen from random jokes

My only question is, who will BushCo pick to replace him? Be careful what you wish for...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

green home

the Dome of a Home, which has survived 5 Florida hurricanes with barely any damage.If you've been wondering about energy efficiency and greener living, then check out these dome homes. The one shown here is just the tip of the iceberg. Credit the Monolithic Dome Institute and its 68-year-old founder and president, David South. And not only is it green, but it's relatively inexpensive and well-nigh indestructable. Check out how they're being used in earthquake-ruined Indonesia. Personally, I think these are even better than Earthships, though they dont have the "advantage" of being self-constructed.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Dallas Morning Blues

For a while now, I've been considering setting up a blog whose sole purpose would be to respond to the multitude of annoying, and occassionally infuriating, letters on the opinion page. Yes, I know that those people would never read my replys, nor would they care about my opinion if they did. But it would make me feel better.

For instance:
Rove: Unbeatable villain

I am enjoying the letters from Democrats who find great pleasure in bashing Karl Rove. It is even more comical to see the comments from the Democrat candidates for president.

How many of them, I wonder, would hire Mr. Rove to run their campaigns if he were to lower himself to their standards? These people hate Mr. Rove for one reason: No matter how hard they tried, they couldn't beat him.

David Bryant, Richardson
my response:

Dear Mr. Bryant,

Okay, in honesty, I cant say that there are not Democrats who would not hire Karl Rove were he to, as you say "lower himself to their standards". But should they make that choice, I would have to decline to vote for them, also.

I'm not impressed by much that the Democratic party has done in the last two or three decades, but of this I must say I admire them for: They have not stooped to the poor sportsmanship of Karl Rove and the Republican party which he has polluted with his ideas. That's right, I said polluted.

Try this: Image that your child is an excellent chess player, so good that in the upcoming chess tournament, there's really only one other player that worries him. The day of the tournament comes, you wish your offspring well, and send him to school. That night, you inquire how the tournament went; excellent! he says, I won! You ask, was the match against your rival a tough game? Oh no, he answers, then tells you how he stashed a baggie full of boric acid in his rival's locker, then called the police with an anonymous tip about some cocaine a couple hours before the tournament. Naturally, no charges came of the incident, but the timing caused the rival to miss the tourney!

How do you answer such a child. If it were you answering, Mr. Bryant, the response would appear to be, "Great job, Son! Nothing is more important than winning!"

You see, people dont hate Karl Rove because he wins elections. People hate Karl Rove because he uses lies, innuendo, doublespeak and damned statistics to win. He's a poor sportsman, a spitballer and a ball-puncher. He's the Barry Bonds of politics. Sure he wins, but he does so in a skeevy, nasty and dishonorable way, and in doing so pollutes the whole game of politics.

What's that you say? It's not a game? All the more reason to despise him.

Go ahead now, tell me how dirty politics is nothing new. Tell me that things like this have been going on since elections began. Tell me how the Democrats have done the same thing themselves. I'll agree with you, too. There has been a lot of dirty politics throughout history. A lot of dirty politics over history, and none of those who practiced it are called heroes (unless, perchance, their bad behavior has been forgotten: history is written by the victors, but that doesnt make their bad behavior any less unethical).

Karl Rove has helped contribute to the idea, made policy by the Republican Party, that winning is the be-all and end-all of politics. They have taken it from being a game of exchange, compromise and statesmanship to a winner-take-all-and-damn-the-loser knifefight for power.
This kind of thinking leads in only one direction: do whatever is necessary to remain in power. It starts with lies and con-games, but it can only, led to its logical conclusion, end in chaos and murder, bloodshed and oppression. Think not? If winning is all, and the loser gets nothing, what happens when the winner becomes the loser, as must eventually happen in electoral politics? Do those who have stopped at little to beat an unpopular foe simply give up, and wait for their time to come 'round again? Or do they ramp up the foul play in a desperate attempt to maintain control, TO WIN?

Well, no one knows until it happens, do they? But by then it may be too late. Better, it seems, to play the game with good grace and honor, to fight fair, and lose nobly. Under such a system, where no one cheats in their bid for power, the consequences of losing are far milder. For both sides.

No, Mr Bryant, you are wrong. I dont find great pleasure in bashing Karl Rove, only great contempt at watching him in action.

Daveawayfromhome

ps. Yes, the Democratic candidates for president are, by and large, a bunch of clowns; but then, the same goes for the Republicans. Not that I find clowns particularly funny...

Even though your heart is breaking...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

read this

"Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence."

from "The War as We Saw It" as written by actual soldiers.

pictures

No dear, Dick Cheney is the Devil's half-brother.  See, no tail or red skin.Sherry sent me these, she thought maybe I'd like them.
Change in the form of some big BILLS, perhaps?


She was right.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

quote for the day

[T]he right by a group to express its views within a democracy does not mean that all views should have equal power to influence the civic community. In a democratic, just society, all views cannot have equal weight. Views and opinions that violate the human rights of others, such as gay people*, cannot be sanctioned or tolerated in a democracy. In a democracy, we must take a strong stand and defend equality and justice for all groups, no matter how stigmatized they are within society, because as Martin Luther King said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

(snip)

[S]chools are public institutions that should promote the common good and the overarching values of the nation-state. While we value diversity and are committed to that ideal, the diversity that we value must exist within the framework of American democratic values. Gunnar Myrdal calls this framework the American Creed in his study published in 1944, An American Dilemma. Myrdal points out that American values include justice, equality, and human rights. Our national values also include the right to freedom of expression and freedom of choice. Many of the religious conservatives deny these rights to others, and consequently violate some of the basic values of our democratic legacy.

from "On Educating for Diversity: A Conversation with James A. Banks"

* It seems a little unclear, so let me just say that it is gay people having their rights violated here, not gays violating someone's rights (like a fundamentalist's) by being gay.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Why? Why does this woman have a career?

Seriously, what is wrong with this country that this woman is making a living saying this stupid shit. People havent talked this way in public (acceptably) since crazy Uncle Morty in the 70's. Hey, give this a try, go to your conservative gramma and tell her that the country would be better off if she didnt vote, and see if she gives you a dope slap or not.
Maybe this is just some form of Republican porn? You know, here's this blonde with a smokin-hot body, speaking the forbidden thoughts of humorless wealthy and would-be wealthy people. You can find a blow job anywhere these days, but talk like Ann's? No way, that's just not done (tee hee hee).

Want to see how Ann Coulter ought to be handled by the press? Watch her on the BBC, where the news is still more or less respected.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

counterpunch

Here's one possible way to deal with the neo-con subversion of our nation...

one person at a time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

give me your rates

caution: deregulation kills
This is just a quick question, and I beg of you, even if you've just accidentally dropped by, to leave a comment with an answer to this question:
How much do you pay for electricity per kilowatt hour?
I ask this because I just got a fabulous offer to buy electricity at 11.3¢ per kwh. This is a 17% savings over the usual 13.6¢ or so that electricity generally cossts here in Dallas. But it's 70% more than my mother pays for electricity in Oklahoma (7-8¢). Why is our electricity more here than in Oklahoma? I dont know, because when Dallas electricity was deregulated, we were told that it was being done for the benefit of the consumer, and that competition would lower the cost to us. Didnt happen, but at least we havent gotten rolling blackouts. So I'd like to know just how much this "competion" is costing us.

accolaides* and tags

I've been somewhat out of circulation for a while, so first let me apologize to Len and Dusty for seeming to have ignored you. I didnt, I just havent had the chance (or, to be honest, the will, lately) to respond. So, Len first.

tag!Len listed me as one of his choices for a "Thinking Blogger" award, which I could make a joke about, but I am too tired to think of a good one right now. Anyway, it's awfully kind of him to say so, and makes me feel a bit better about my generally fuzzy head. Apparently there are rules that go along with acceptance, though, including promotion of the clever fellow who conceived this ponzi meme, so here they are:
  1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
  2. Link to this post so that people can find the exact origin of the meme.
  3. Optional: Proudly display the Thinking Blogger Award on your site with a link to the post that you wrote.
A couple of days later, Dusty chose me for the The Partisan Reflections on "Pissant Provocateurs Award". Apparently it originated from the Divided We Stand, United We Fall blog site. The award is inspired by this definition: Pissant - Little person blog with big attitude. Big attitude? Me? Well, okay, maybe a little.

By the rules of both of these I must myself nominate 5 people for each of the awards, thus passing on the meme and spreading the name of the meme originators about the blogosphere. (okay, maybe more than a little attitude). So, here are my choices (by the way, I've seen Thinking Blogger out there before, so if you feel hurt that I didnt nominate you, it may be because I thought I saw it on your blog already):

Thinking Blogger Award:
  1. Sherry, over at Spring Cleaning, because she's smart, she's funny, and she's always interesting.
  2. Chance, over at the Sapient Sutler, who scores points for the name alone (though that's not the only points he scores).
  3. David Brin, over at Contrary Brin, who is, yes, a big time author who will probably never know that this blog exists, but who still has a lot of cogitation at his blog, even in his comments.
  4. Bora/Coturnix, over at Blog Around the Clock, who's my science pusher.
  5. Shawn over at Monkey Eggs, who's generally got a lot going on that I dont understand (which isnt his fault).
Pissant Provocateurs Award:
  1. Len, at the Existentialist Cowboy, gets a tag right back at him, because though "pissant" might not apply, he's definitely a provocateur.
  2. UWL, over at United We Lay, gets it not only for her posts, but for the quality of her comments.
  3. SBH (again with the initials), gets my nod at Rational Rant.
  4. Kel, at the Osterly Times, goes on my sidebar whenever I get around to it.
  5. The Omnipotent Poobah, if you can call an omnipotent being a pissant, that is.
If I didnt pick you, sorry. Like I said, my heads a bit fuzzy lately, and this post has taken way too much time already. Still, that's my 21st century chain letter done. I know, I know, I said no tagging, but what the hell. Be sure and pass this award on, or something terrible might happen!!!

*similar to lemonaide, but sweeter

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Who are the Elites?

"It's time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the founding Fathers. James Madison said, ‘We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.’ This idea that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power, is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man. This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves."

Ronald Reagan October 27, 1964

Now, I know that our ol' conservative demi-god Ronny was talking about bad old liberals in their ivory university towers, but suppose we take him literally here. Who are the so-called "smart"guys now, the "elites" ruling things in a Capital? Could we describe these "elites" as Conservative think-tanks in Washington D.C.? This really should be the issue of the next election. Our "representatives" have abandonned us, and the power of the Imperial Presidency is on the rise. Worst of all, the true "Deciders" of America (the Congress) are so hung up on looking "soft" on terrorism, that they have failed to be "strong" on the one thing that truly matters, our Constitution, with the liberties that it guarantees its citizens, and the hope that it holds out for all the rest of the world.
The Goverment of the United States of America is supposed to be answerable to it's people, and yet it refuses to do so. In just 15 months, we will have a chance to make it answer, but this chance will mean nothing if in the next 6 or so we do not make sure that the people put in place for us to choose from come November 6th are actually worth voting for.

Choose wisely, choose carefully. For the primaries, vote your conscience. Just because your candidate doesnt win doesnt meant that his ideas wont gain traction if he does well in the polls.
Most important of all, ask questions. Or maybe this is more important; when you ask a question, be sure that you actually get an answer to that question. If you dont, then ask it again.

Oh, and dont shirk the local scene. Whatever abuses of power occur at the top, they'll have a harder time filtering down if the local leaders are on the opposing side.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

time marches on...
as it ought

Okay, so here it is, the two year anniversary since my first real post*. In that time I've done a lot of ranting and raving, and I've simultaneously enjoyed myself immensely, and become more and more miserable. I've gone from relative blind ignorance (I wont say I didnt pay attention to things, but I didnt worry about them much) to painful awareness. I cant say that I'm thrilled to have awoken.
America is my home. I love it here, as much as I would like to see and even live in other parts of the world, this will always be where I belong. But I dont care much for the direction it is headed, or has been heading to. For over two decades I've watched as America has slowly given itself over to the powers of Authority. America, the rebel nation, the home of rock-and-roll, somehow seems to have given up the urge to make it's own choices.
Now, we seek others to make up our minds for us. Sometimes it's our leaders, Big Daddies who we appear to beg for direction from. Sometimes it's our enemies, who "leave us no choice". But always, always, we look for others to take responsibility. You will see it in our lawsuit-happy obsession with suing people, even when those "responsible" had no more prescience than we ourselves should have. You will see it in the resurgence of Fundamentalism, which relies, without exception, on an external truth, the word of God as given in a book by a Prophet, and interpreted by a Biblical Authority. America, once a Protestant nation (which relied on an individual's 1:1 relationship with God), has seen those very Protestants betray their own religious heritage.
Now we appear to be poised on the brink of a sea-change in our political system. George Bush's Imperial Presidency has all the makings of an unstoppable juggernaut, while our Congress acts as helpless as rowboats in the path of Dubya's Supertanker of State. Always, always, our Congress, despite the will of the people and despite having a majority in both houses held by the Democrats, capitulates to our "Decider's" desires. They are so fearful of "looking weak" on terrorism, that they have forgotten that it is their duty to be strong on the Constitution.
How about the Courts, which have shown, after years of stacking by Republicans, a bias towards Authority in almost all of their rulings; will they rein in this self-created Monarchy? I personally am not very hopeful. In addition to all this, our citizen military is exhausted, our armed forces are showing the wear of a poorly planned and under-funded, four-plus years of battle, and the only armed force that shows any signs of becoming stronger is a mercenary one, owned by a Republican fundamentalist, staffed largely by foriegn soldiers.
Grim, indeed.

And yet, I had a thought today. It was, at first, about Russia. Even though for decades, conservatives attributed (still attribute, in fact) all the faults of that country to the forces of Communism, the truth is that there really was not much difference between czarist Russia and Communist Russia, just as there is still not much difference between Communist Russia and Capitalist Russia. Paranoia, pogroms, secret police, cronyism, corruption. Same game, different name. In the end, Russia's culture is not determined by its political system, but rather it's political system is shaped by its culture.
So I thought to myself, the same is probably true in America. Oh sure, conservative think-tanks have been trying to change things for years, remaking America bit-by-authoritarian-bit into a place where Might does make Right, and those with money and power can safely hold onto and add onto their wealth and influence. But I wonder how far can they take things?
So far, the average American, while uncomfortable, is not in any kind of acute discomfort. But they are aware that something isnt quite right, and as more and more conservative chickens come home to roost (crumbling infrastructure, high energy prices and its affect [on everything], the skyrocketting cost of health care and higher education, and the fallout from our so-badly botched military ventures in the middle-east), the public will grow more and more uncomfortable. I believe we will, one day, wake up, and remember that this was a country built on telling Authority to Fuck Off. That we are a rock-and-roll nation, and that we dont need some Big Fat Daddy sitting in his comfy chair telling us what he wants us to do.

And about fucking time, too. I think this nation has spent enough time wallowing in a teenaged-like stupor of instant satisfaction and happiness-on-credit. Get your ass out of bed, folks. There are a lot of heavy duty bills coming due, and your Daddy isnt going to willingly give you a dime to help pay them off (because he's profitted too much from your incurring them).
We, all of us, have made really big mess. It's going to be hell cleaning it up, and dont expect any pity from anyone. We've thrown a really big party, and however hung over we may be, it's our house, and unless we want to sleep amongst the crushed chips, spilled beer and vomit that such a thoughtless blow-out inevitably leaves behind, we'd better get busy.

Buck-up little troopers, time to grow up and be responsible. Get some balls, and make sure that those whom you choose to protect your interests really are protecting your interests. If not, fire them.


*Sorry, Dusty, I said three years, but I was delusional at the time

Monday, August 06, 2007

another modest proposal

Seriously, let's just get it over with. I'm sick of the waiting.
Copy this, and mail it to your "representatives" in Congress:


United States Congress

Committee: Principle
Author: Daveawayfromhome
Bill No:
Delegation:

Title of Bill:
Declaration of Empire Act

Be it enacted by the United States Congress:

Preamble: Whereas the President of the United States, George Walker Bush, has
arrogated upon himself powers previously held by the Congress, i.e., "Decider" and maker of laws, and has since shown an obvious contempt and scorn for Congress, and as that Congress has, rather than censure or otherwise fullfill their duty to check the power of the Executive branch, instead continued to issue laws which fully comply with the wishes of the President, whether they be constitutional or not, and since the President has said himself that "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator", and since the President, Congress, and even the Supreme Court have all shown themselves to be uninterested in the will of the Sovereign people of the United States of America and their Constitution,

Section 1: Let the President, George Walker Bush, be crowned Emperor, and the Congress of the United States of America be disolved. Henceforth, all laws will be made by Emperor Bush and his staff. The Constitution, a valuable document, will be treated with due respect, and safely locked away in a deep, sealed vault, where it will remain safe*.

Section 2: Let the Emperor make whatever laws he feels are necessary, needful, required, and appropriate for the benefit of his
"base", and anyone else he feels like.

Section 3: All elements of the current Constitution and Bill of Rights shall remain in effect, except those that the Emperor decides are unnecessary for the purposes of Security.

Section 4: Let the Emperor henceforth be known to the Military as "The Supreme Commander". No military decisions will be questioned; those who do so will be charged with treason and summarily shot. As he will no longer be subject to the whims of politics, the Supreme Commander will declare "political influence" in the military to be an executable offense.

Section 5: "Campaign contributions" formerly distributed amongst members of Congress by lobbists will now be given directly to the White House. These monies will, as with the former Congress, in no way influence any laws or decrees which are made by the Emperor (wink, wink).

Section 6: Corporations will now be considered "Super Citizens", and have special rights and privileges, to whit:
     Sub-Section A: the power of Eminent Domain
     Sub-Section B: the power to disolve trade unions
     Sub-Section C: the power to compell workers
     Sub-Section D: shall pay no taxes of any kind
     Sub-Section E: shall not be held liable for any actions

Section 7: This bill shall go into effect some time before November 6th, 2008. In October, perhaps.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

yeah, we knew this, though
didnt we?

Hey, here's a piece of news: Seems that bosses that act bad, often get ahead! Imagine that! Who'd have guessed that one? Seems the study's authors think that the really big bosses havent been policing the ranks well enough, as if the biggest cheeses are somehow nicer than the middle men. I find myself wondering if I can get a grant to do a similar, really important study myself. Perhaps something like, Is the Sky Blue? or Do Cows Actually Go Moo?
Irritatingly enough, the article I'm linked to is the same article you will find everywhere if you google the subject. The art of journalism is dead.

stupid white boy

Take this, the Educational Equity And Social Justice Awareness quiz. I think you'll be surprised at the results. I was, though my wife disputes the answer on the question about violence in schools (I failed, miserably).

Oh, by the way, there are no instructions given, but you click on choices until you get a smiley face (the right answer), then move onto the next question. Your score is shown as a percentage, though of what I'm not sure.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

not a gentleman's "C"

If this statement doesnt explain our current governmental situation, I dont know what does
"Remember success for a politician is fifty percent plus one, you dont have to have everybody on board."

-- Dick Cheney talking to Larry King
I'm sorry, Dick, but you're an idiot. Or an asshole. Or both (yes, definitely both). You're not talking about statesmanship, you're talking about gamesmanship, and it's the gamesmanship of a bad sport, to boot. Wouldnt it be nice to have a government made up of grown-ups, rather than spoiled children?
I did enjoy Jon Stewart's reply, though:
"Oh my god! The White House is taking America pass/fail!"
It's pithy, mocking, and yet handily points out the immaturity of our leaders. Boffo!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007