Turns out that declaring war on a concept, like Cheney's 'war on terror", might provide cover for major errors (like invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11), but makes an unwieldy disaster for the troopers sent by our "courageous leaders" to engage an amorphous enemy.
Not only that, but think how much better our airport security would be if we had a fraction of the hundreds of billions of dollars misspent in Iraq, (while Bin Laden was stocking his cave in Afghanistan with food and ammo), to modernize our airport scanning equipment and add legions more, highly trained, airport security personnel.
Why are so many, ordinarily street smart citizens, taken in by Cheney's blatant lies? Americans by and large resent intensely, efforts to use them as suckers or patsies to the money making schemes of unscrupulous charlatans. But here is Cheney pulling off scam after scam like a Wizard of Oz who feels no need to hide behind a curtain.
On any stage he can find, he spouts his vial rhetoric; WMD, a mushroom shaped cloud, Iraq's connection to 9/11, all long ago proven false. But most injurious to the health of this great land is Cheney's continuing call for war to stop the terrorists "over there" so they are unable to hurt us here.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was not even slowed by our forces, airplanes or drones presently tearing up Afghanistan as he boarded Northwest Flight 253. Others who hate us for killing their wives and babies will follow one at a time because in our distracted state of "war", we leave ourselves open to the only effective weapon in their arsenal. All the while, the Haliburton stock in Cheney's "blind trust" climbs in the boldest example of war profiteering this country has ever experienced.
But hang on. There is more to come. As long as we the people allow an evil few to write themselves a check from our tax dollars, while they send other peoples' children to kill and die to protect their wealth, it will go on and on and on.
Looks like the big insurance companies will have their way. The senate’s proposal allows them to continue to foist dramatic premium increases on the American people while crushing alternative plans like the public option. On the one hand we could blame it on Congress. The companies are spending $1.4 million dollars per day to send an army of lobbyists, 5 for each of the 535 congresspersons in Washington, D.C., to coerce favorable policy votes. But that’s a cop out. We as voters have the real power if we will use it and if not, we will live with the result.
PT Barnum of the eponymous circus has been credited as saying, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Around his circus venues Barnum made a killing off of citizens who were naïve or trusting enough to believe that; the booth games were honest and the meat in the sausage sandwiches was fresh.
Bernie Madoff hoodwinked “smart” people including leading lights of the financial industry. He turned billions of dollars into air before an incredibly gullible SEC was forced to get involved after the horse, the cow and the rats were out of the barn. One has to wonder how smart people could have been so easily taken in by such obvious schemes. It seems people believed they could trust him.
Like PT Barnum the insurance companies, fearing reduced profits, use misleading advertising to inflate the benefits of their product, and fear tactics to trash the “public option”. Meanwhile health care costs are rising 3 to 5 times faster than wages in this country. Employer sponsored health insurance premiums increased 119% from 1999-2008 and are projected to double again by 2020 forcing more businesses to drop coverage for their employees. Interestingly in 2008, 600,000 workers making over $75000 a year lost their employee sponsored coverage. The number of people without health coverage went from 45.7 million in 2007 to 46.3 million in 2008.
Insurance companies want Medicare to remain in place because it is paying 46% of our nation’s health care bill, while the companies pay 42%. Medicare covers the elderly, the group most likely to get sick and require coverage. Essentially the government pays for the most costly demographic, leaving the insurance companies to comb through the healthiest, lowest risk, most profitable population. For each dollar health insurance companies collect in premiums, they spend just 77 cents on patient care. For every dollar Medicare receives, it spends 97 cents on patient care. One way or another we each contribute to pay twice what Europeans pay for a health care system that is no better, and with 47 million people left uncovered.
The way to bring down the premiums we pay is to introduce a major player, big enough to compete with the insurance companies for our benefit. The public option is the only plan that adds a mechanism to allow free market competition to function, leveling the playing field and all but guaranteeing health insurance at a reasonable rate for U.S. citizens.
According to recent ABC/Washington Post poll, 55% of Americans favor the public option. The latest New England Journal of Medicine poll finds 73% of physicians favor the public option. Stunningly, the bill coming out of the Democratic led senate committee does not.
Five years from now the question will be, “How could we have been so naive?”
President Obama has decided to spend the money, and the lives and bodies of great young Americans, on a foolish effort in Afghanistan.. Bush, Cheney and now Obama, feigned soul wrenching pain as they deployed our young people to kill and die in a place where we don’t belong, have no right to be and where we cannot win without nuking the entire populace into oblivion.
Despite1 in 4 children in the U.S. living on food stamps, and 20000 kids a year die because they are without health care, our so called leaders are on track to divert close to three trillion dollars on a “war” being waged to protect the Cheney and Bush family oil interests.
Lindsay Graham is with the president on the latest troop surge. Isn’t that reassuring. Lindsay Graham, who says, “If it’s good enough for the generals on the ground it’s good enough for me”. Some deep thinking there before committing the cream of American youth to perpetual war. Good enough for him sitting in resplendent Washington banquet halls or in his warm, comfortable office in the capital.
And, by the way, these generals are not on the ground for long, as they make their appearances with macho shoulder holster prominently displayed. They’re back in the personal chopper before dark, returning directly to HQ for a hot shower and a home cooked meal on white table cloths while the real troopers lie each night on the frozen Afghan earth, hungry, dirty and sleepless.
I hope you and your family had a fine Holiday. I hope you found moments of peace, even brief respites, from the ugliness of our times.
I can’t but think, though, during this time of celebrating peace, of the parents who have lost children or are caring for severely maimed children, the victims of the insatiable maw that requires so many young bodies to fill its belly in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I used to think of it all as Cheney’s evil; Cheney working the levers to continue a brilliantly choreographed annihilation of any threat to the industrial mechanism of his wealth. Any threat to oil or defense spending based profits is a threat to the inheritance of his grandchildren and those of his cronies.
I’m sure that the greatest punishment in the hereafter is suffered by those who harm children in this life. I’m convinced that nothing angers the power of the universe more than those who cause children to suffer. Though they provide well for their own children, Cheney and his ilk will pay the devil’s price for the kids coming home to the U.S., youth in their prime with limbs blown off with ears, no, entire faces burned away in the searing inferno of an IED blasted Humvee, their souls shredded like tattered rags.
And then there are the children of Afghanistan and Iraq. They have little standing in our eyes it seems, but considered of equal in value to our children by any god worth believing in.
I supported your run to the White House because I believed you to be our best chance to confront the Cheneys of this world. But there has been a subtle and chilling change in perception as the person of Barak Obama is revealed. You seem to have stepped in behind the curtain and learned to pull the levers in much the same way.
History repeats. Lyndon Johnson, I’m old enough to remember, fell in love with driving this awful military machine. Like you, Mr. President, he was viewed as a champion of the downtrodden until too many of them died for his “honor” in Vietnam and he became the catalyst for revolt.
Those who matter most to the spirit of America, the population that supported you in November of 2008, are losing hope as you complete your first year in office. If you lose that base, Mr. President, we all lose, for what it portends for the future of our country are fear and a despairing in the possibility of a return to what the United States of America once stood for. It’s a far leap but one you, and maybe only you, can make by ending these wars now, Mr. President.
When Dick Cheney worries aloud about the tax burden being passed to “our” grandchildren to cover the deficits that we would incur by providing healthcare for all, (even just all children), improving schools, or providing a safety net to make sure kids don’t go to bed hungry, think about whose grandchildren he’s worried about.
Not the kids of the 15.4 million unemployed or the kids in the U.S.A. going hungry today; not the kids whose moms or dads are deployed overseas to fight his oil war.
He’s speaking of his grandchildren and those of his associates at Haliburton, Exxon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and the rest of the contractors feasting at the trough of war. Like hungry hogs, they’re too fat and addicted to the free flowing supply of war funding to look up at the America they are destroying.