Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Devil is in the GOP

So the healthcare bill has finally passed, after a year of wrangling, public lies by the GOP and their fellow travelers, and every effort - parliamentary or otherwise -- to derail it. Any feelings of victory at its passage will be short-lived, because the Rethuglicans and their minions have already declared their intention to challenge it any way they can and to use it in the midterm congressional elections as something with which to beat the Democrats up.

Funny how trying to do something to help ordinary Americans would engender anger and hatred against the Democrats. (Not that I love the Democrats, but that's another story.) Funny how the healthcare bill is considered a budget buster, while the two wars Bush started -- and which continue to this day -- are apparently not viewed as having made any contribution to our deficits, despite the $1 Trillion+ we have spent on them so far. Not to mention his budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy.

Odd that gun ownership is viewed as some sort of sacred right, but access to affordable healthcare is not.

Odd that abortion is an abomination, but allowing -- nay, encouraging -- people to bring up children in poverty and ignorance and with little access to healthcare is a good thing.

Odd that spending massive amounts of money to kill people in the Middle East is "good for America," but improvements to the healthcare system here at home constitutes the worst thing that has ever happened to America, as some Rethuglicans have pronounced it.

Odd that private control of healthcare decision-making and costs by big insurance is a priori a good thing, but public control by government is a bad thing. What would be the rationale for this view? Is there information to back up the superiority of the private sector over the public sector in managing anything? No, but there is a simple perception, reinforced by the right, that big business is your friend and government is your enemy. It is based on nothing defensible, but is a widely-held notion, nonetheless.

This belief flies in the face of the fact that Medicaid, for instance, has lower administrative costs than private insurance. It also runs counter to the underlying facts of our current financial crisis, which are the result of conniving by the financial sector to defraud the American people. (Is government to blame? Yes, but only to the extent that its regulators were convinced by the same connivers that regulation was unnecessary or actually bad.) And what about the poor performance of GM and Chrysler? What does that say about the competence of big biz?

I could go on, but why bother? The atmosphere for intelligent argument in this country is so ruined -- so poisoned by lies and manipulation -- that no amount of reasonableness can penetrate the cloud of inanity.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

More US Hypocrisy on Israel

In a March 9 AP story on MSNBC entitled "Biden Slams Jerusalem Housing Plan", one might have expected to read that Biden was criticizing the Israelis for their obstinate expansionism and for the racist content of their Jerusalem housing quotas, which seem designed to ensure that Israelis outnumber Arabs in the city.

One would be wrong; the whole flap was actually over some Israeli functionary's announcement of further housing development, not over the actual fact of that development. The VP was angry because (a) the announcement, coming as it did during his visit to Israel, was a personal embarrassment for him and (b) because it threatens to derail his efforts at salesmanship of the never-ending peace process circus.

If there's one thing we know about the new world order it is that it's the triumph of form over substance. Biden is trying with his visit to undo the perception that our president doesn't think much of Netanyahu nor of Israeli expansionism and to assure the Israelis that they are our friends and allies no matter what vile things they get up to.

After all, some 50% of the Jews in the world live in the USA and, of those that voted for Obama, many did so only because of a large propaganda ploy during the campaign to convince them that he would continue America's role as a "friend to Israel." Thus, we are told we must hold our noses and let Israel do whatever it wants. And, what our politicians don't need is for the Israelis to do something blatant during a state visit by our VP, thus revealing, once again, the actual substance of Israel's commitment to peace, which is nil.