Archive for January, 2010

The President’s speech

January 28, 2010

I guess President Obama doesn’t read my blog (see last entry).

Instead, he chose the “double down” option – if what you’re doing hasn’t been working, do more of it.

All the talk touting bipartisanship is fine. But on Obama’s part, unfortunately, it’s just the same empty talk he’s given out before. There was no recognition that he himself bears some responsibility for how things went off track, in the way he let Congressional Democrats run riot at the outset of his administration, and effectively shut out Republicans who, in the crisis climate of early 2009, actually wanted to be part of a broad-based legislative effort.

That was then. Now we have the health care impasse. It’s obvious Democrats don’t have the votes for the huge bill they’ve cobbled together. So what does Obama’s say? He gives the same speech about health care that he gave last summer. It didn’t work then; why should it work now?

He did, seemingly, challenge opponents to come forth with their different ideas. But it was more a rhetorical taunt than a sincere invitation for cooperation. Mr. President, you want some ideas? How about tort reform? Hello, Republicans have been talking about that for years. It should be a key element of any serious attack on health care costs. Congressional Democrats would have none of it; and Obama, in his speech last night, wouldn’t even mention it. Instead, he just called again for passage of the flawed bill that is already dead. There was no new proposal, no suggestion for how to fix it, nor for how to actually meet the concerns of opponents, except to insist, yet again, “you’re misguided.”

On bipartisanship, Mr. President, you talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. If you want some cooperation from Republicans, and all the other people who don’t like your party’s bill, you have to be willing to compromise, to accept some of their concerns, and try to meet them halfway. I heard nothing of the sort last night.

If I were a Presidential speech-writer . . .

January 20, 2010

My fellow Americans: I became your president by promising to end the excessive partisan bickering that has gridlocked our politics. Looking at recent developments — yes, including yesterday’s Massachusetts senate election — it’s clear we’ve gotten off track. Remember that “re-set” button we proposed to press in our relations with Russia? It’s time for a re-set in Washington.

It was wrong trying to pass such a major policy initiative like health care reform with zero Republican support. It was wrong to claim we weren’t increasing the deficit, when the American people could see it actually would cost a trillion dollars. And — sorry, Speaker Pelosi — it would be wrong now to somehow bull ahead with this legislation when it’s clear that more Americans oppose it than support it, even in Massachusetts, and there are no longer enough Democratic legislators for it anyway.

Still, almost all of us agree that our health care system needs reform. I now call upon Congressional leaders to withdraw the currently pending bill, and start over. I propose to hold a meeting in the White House with the key leaders of both parties, to try to find a way forward. I think there are some basic reforms that most of us, both Democrats and Republicans, can agree upon.

One is certainly to end all this “pre-existing condition” nonsense so that everyone who can afford it can actually get health insurance, and then actually get the coverage they’ve paid for.

Another is to make at least some basic health coverage — maybe not comprehensive coverage for every possible treatment, but at least basic everyday medical care — available to Americans who can’t afford even that in today’s system.

And third, we’ve got to get serious about controlling costs. One simple, obvious reform is to allow insurance companies to compete across state lines. We also have to recognize that costs cannot be controlled when the consumers of health services, by and large, don’t have to care about the amounts billed. That has to change somehow. And members of my own party have to come to grips with the necessity for tort reform, because the cost of the existing system is not just in the big jury awards, not just in the malpractice insurance fees, but mainly in the way our whole practice of medicine is distorted. Republicans, to their credit, already understand this, and maybe if Democrats meet them halfway on this issue, some bipartisan horse-trading agreement can be reached. Frankly, it’s more important to have Republican support than to placate trial lawyers whose self-interest makes them opponents of tort reform. Fuck the trial lawyers.

Thank you, and God bless America.

Haiti donations

January 17, 2010

If you want to make a donation for Haiti earthquake relief, I would like to recommend the International Rescue Committee, a good reputable organization. Click here.

P.S. Pat Robertson says Haitians were punished by God for devil worship. When is God going to do something sensible and punish Pat Robertson?

U.S. Isolationism soaring

January 16, 2010

A recent Pew Research Center poll finds that 49% of Americans say the U.S. should “mind its own business” internationally and let other countries get along as best they can on their own. That’s up from 30% in 2002. (Click here for more info.)

Bring ‘em home,

Bring ‘em home,

No more soldiers over there,

We’ve no business being there.

Haven’t we trouble enough over here?

Must we look for more elsewhere?

Let’s just worry about our own folks;

Those foreigners are not our blokes.

Let ‘em look out for themselves,

While we do likewise for ourselves.

So in Country X there’s rape and pillage?

Well, this ain’t no global village.

So kids are starving in County Y?

I say let them die.

And there are massacres in Country Z?

Let it be.

And if the world goes to hell?

We have our walls to hide behind;

We’ll be safe inside our shell;

On our island we’ll be fine.