Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Few More Judges Like This????

New York Judge tough on banks trying to foreclose ... hats off to this guy for telling the big boys to take a hike!

Click HERE to read more.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ted Kennedy

A good friend wrote:

Ted Kennedy, the lion of the senate, has died! It's a sad day. I hope all the forces for health care reform will redouble their efforts and we'll see a good bill by Christmas. He worked so hard all his life for health care and the rights of those with no voice and no power in America. His life was one of privilege but he was raised to give back. "To whom much is given, much is expected". He lived it. I shall miss him. God's peace be with his family and all who work for a better America.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Will Whole Foods' Plan Work?

Ever since the post WW2 era when America linked health insurance to employment, the system has been slowly deteriorating. Now, with the demise and/or globalization of our largest corporations and changing employment patterns - from a single job to at least seven jobs in a life-time, it's crashing and burning. Sure, hats off to Whole Foods for trying, or whatever. But it's not going to work. It, too, will fail, either from management's end (see FedEx) or it will be crushed by costs.

The American worker needs a safe and reliable source of health insurance for herself and her family. Every American needs this and deserves this, because we are, at heart, a great and generous nation, and we can do this, as have most of the other civilized nations of the world.

The wealthy will always be able to afford their own programs - and they can opt out if they wish, just like folks can opt out of Social Security at the first signing.

Beneath all of this is a simple notion inherent in democracy - that we're all in this together. When my sister and brother are safe, I'm safe, too. It's a simple reality wired into our DNA. Or as the Bible suggests, we really are our brother's keeper, and when we fulfill these basic obligations, our heart is relieved, and we feel better, not only about ourselves, but our nation, too.

Kindness and generosity are always the healing energies of the soul.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Whole Foods Health Care?

For now, Whole Foods offers, a good health insurance plan for its workers, even as its CEO has come out against President Obama's plan.

Here's a note I posted to Smart Money and an article touting Whole Foods:

All fine and good, but for how long? FedEx in the beginning, was a similar model, but that all evaporated in the last five years.

The real flaw is our post-WW2 link of employment with healthcare - sort of like a roller coaster ride, too many ups and downs, and then it all ends one day, again.

A second flaw - the middleman insurance companies who are bound and driven by Wall Street to make a profit, and the bigger the better. Like the rest of the world, we need a single-payer health insurance system. Is this so hard to figure out?

The billions now being paid into the insurance pit would be dramatically cut when we begin paying into a single-payer system. We talk about efficiency all the time while supporting the most inefficient and expensive health-insurance industry in the world (inefficient for us, but highly profitable for them).

Until we correct these flaws, the system will continue to fail the American family, and more and more Americans will find themselves without health insurance or so poorly insured they might as well be without it.

Protecting Our Freedom?

A friend sent me one of those lovely emails filled with gripping pictures of our soldiers in Iraq – sitting on a ring of sandbags in the rain; sleeping on the road beside their tanks, boots off; obscured in a dust storm … with some thoughtful questions about the ease with which we complain while they struggle on in the hardship of war.

But, then, this: As they protect our freedom!

That’s the question, isn’t it?

Are they protecting our freedom…?

Or were they sent to Iraq to fight and die for a tragically misguided foreign policy driven by the illusions of the Neo-Cons bent on American Empire and world-domination?

Our freedom has never been at stake, except when threatened from within by the Neo-Con/Fundamentalist/Right-wing/The Family conspiracy to undermine our Constitution and create a fascist/fundamentalist-Christian theocracy ruled by the wealthy for the wealthy and the powerful for the powerful.

If this group were to have it’s way, abortion would be utterly outlawed, and the death penalty enacted for abortion providers; homosexuals stripped of their rights, harassed, persecuted, imprisoned and worse; the middle-class disenfranchised; unions busted; high walls erected on our southern border, while protecting wealthy employers who hire and abuse illegals; Israel’s madness would be used to destabilized the Middle East and continue the war against Islam (see Blackwater and Erik Prince), and world-domination, of course, all in the name of Jesus, or was that oil? Or is it strangely, both?

I strongly support our soldiers, so let’s bring them home now!

Let’s provide for their training, their health, their families 24/7, for we now have an all-volunteer professional army.

The day of the citizen-soldier is gone, except for the National Guard, but so many of them are on their second or third tour of duty they’ve become professionals as well.

Yes, provide for them, protect them, train them – give them everything they need to be the professionals they are (see The Hurt Locker), and let’s be rededicated to the sparing used of military power, for the lives of our soldiers are precious.

Politically, let’s tell the truth: Iraq was a misguided decision made by a failed administration driven by dark ambitions, and administration willing to fudge the facts in order to convince Americans and the world of the righteousness of our cause.

Lies and deception were the tools of the Bush Administration, that’s the truth, the dark truth underlying this tragic moment in our story. And if we can’t tell the truth, the lie will only grow darker, harder, leading to more lies piled up like barnyard manure.

As for our soldiers?

May God protect them, even as we pray God could forgive us, and with a lot of God’s help, restore our national dignity and rebuild our national character.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Income Inequality Is At An All-Time High: STUDY

Income Inequality Is At An All-Time High: STUDY

Posted using ShareThis

Who Wants More Taxes?

Charging down the street, sirens wailing, horns blaring, lights flashing ... cars pulling out of the way ... fire engines: pumpers and ladder trucks and rescue vehicles ... turning onto a side street.

My daughter and I were on foot heading for Trader Joe's, so being old fire-truck chasers, we walked up the side street a few blocks. There was no fire, so the firefighters took off their heavy coats. Was it a false alarm or did the homeowner put it out? We'll never know.

But what I know is this: I looked at all of that heavy equipment called out to a 4-story apartment house - millions of dollars worth - and the firefighters - their skill and bravery, willing to put themselves into harm's way for all of us - and I suddenly realized I was looking at our tax dollars at work.

That's right, tax dollars!

I mailed a letter the other day - these days a rare moment as more of us use email - but my letter traveled cross-country and was safely delivered to the right address on the third day (sounds almost religious, doesn't it?), and this happens millions of times a day.

I brought my son to LAX for a flight to KC.

I drove along the 105, the 405, the 110 ... later in the day, along the 5 and the 2.

All of this, and more, paid for with our tax dollars.

Here and now, I want to dispel a terrible lie ... here and now, it needs to be said, loudly and clearly and accurately and passionately: GOVERNMENT WORKS, AND WORKS VERY WELL FOR ALL US!

To suggest that "government is the problem," that "government is wasteful and inefficient" and "that big biz is the answer" - these are hideous lies.

I have had the pleasure (gulp!) of getting to know several industries rather well over the years - coal and steel in Pittsburgh, oil in Tulsa and autos in Detroit.

These massive and important industries were and often are poorly managed, with billions wasted on boondoggles and corporate perks, with tons of inefficiency and the blind-leading-the-blind when it comes to so-called innovation. In recent years, just ask an insider, billions have been shifted from R&D to advertising - unions have been busted, pensions slashed and benefits cut to the bone - to fuel corporate profits and to keep the Wall Street jockeys happy!

As we've seen with the financial meltdown, designed and driven by the big boys of American biz, along with the debacle of Enron and Bernie Madoff, big biz is anything but efficient, and hardly to be trusted with the welfare of this nation and our children.

Yet the lie of government failure continues to be spun a thousand different ways by the likes of Beck and Fox, big biz interests, Reaganphiles, and a host of gun-totin' wackos who love to tromp around in the woods, eating raw deer hearts, pretending they're fighting socialism, or some other imaginary enemy of true-blue White America!

America, wake up!

The next time you receive a letter, drive anywhere, get on a plane and turn on your faucet, you're celebrating the power and efficiency of our government.

In huge systems, there's always going to be waste and inefficiency - such is built into the DNA of life.

But to jump all over the exception is to miss the point - government is amazingly efficient, and, shall I say, real Americans support taxation - the heart and soul of democracy, and it's time we told the greed-peddlers and the wasteful big-spending corporate giants to take a hike.

We're betting on good government, not big biz, to run this nation, and run it well and bring us to the future. In the hands of the powerful and the wealthy and their corporate interests, our nation has nearly been ruined, brought to the brink of national and international disaster. Yes, big biz did this with it's headstrong drive for profit and it's entitled mentality, fostered in America by years of pampering and kowtowing to CEOs and their entourage, with the worst kinds of greed-inspired books and motivational speakers encouraging us to pillage the world for profit and the American Way!

Yes, I support more taxes ... to build schools and pave roads, pay our soldiers and support their families, providing our injured soldiers with the best of care - and a whole lot more. 

Americans have gotten themselves upside down and backwards on the importance and necessity of taxes - greed rules the day, fueled by the constant drumbeat of advertising to buy this and to buy that, along with the lie - government is the problem. We've been driven to buy the biggest and the best, to have the latest trinket, gizmo and gadget, filling our homes and our rental storage units with the detritus of greed.

American, government is not the problem.

Big biz is the problem; it's always been the problem (just ask Teddy Roosevelt or the maid turning beds at the Hilton LAX) ... big biz without restraint, without adequate government-imposed regulations and government salaried watchdogs, and, of course, our own greed-inspired gullibility.

And who, you might ask, will watch the watchdogs? We the people, who go to the ballot box and write our letters, who read the newspaper, listen to NPR and surf the internet and occasionally think. We the people have made it work since 1776, and we the people will keep it working well into the future.

Hats off to good government and America's democracy! And pay your taxes with pride and gratitude!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bad Teachers?

Just heard something on NPR - folks dissing teachers, blaming teachers for failed schools.

Wish it were that easy.

Blaming teachers for failed schools is like blaming the faucet for bad water.

So, blame the teacher; kill the messenger - feels good and absolves us of blame for a little while longer.

Sadly, in America, the mantra of the conservative press, a servant of the privatization of schools (???), has been a constant condemnation of our teachers, their unions and school administrators.

Once again, the issue calls for critical thinking, and it seems that Americans are terribly short on the necessary skills ... meanwhile, the real issues are ignored - like family life and the values we give to our children via TV and music - "American Idol" and "Fame," and all the other glitz and glamor, not to mention the junk food we're dumping into their bodies and brains - massive amounts of salt, sugar and fat in processed foods.

The teacher is at the end of the pipeline, just like the faucet. Neither harsh discipline at that point (like spanking the faucet - either the student or the teacher) or replacing the faucet (like getting new teachers) will solve the problems of classroom discipline, ADHD, the lack of ambition distorted by dreams of fame and fortune and chaotic family life - the craziness of the rich and the famous, and all their wannabees, driven by poverty of soul, and the desperate effort of the poor just to survive, driven by a poverty of the flesh.

Bullying and fighting, drugs and cheating, emotional and physical lethargy - this is the stuff of the life we chosen for our children - Enron and Madoff, needless prescription drugs, power and domination, to hell with the poor and, please, cut my slice a little larger; honk, honk, get out of my way; all the non-sense of being self-made and being bigger and smarter than all the rest; American militarism, saber rattling and tough talk. Our children have learned all of these lessons very well; they are a mirror of the American soul!

Shame on those who add to the problem by leading our attention away from the problems that make millions of students ineducable.

It's time to quit spanking the faucet and replacing it with newer models.

It's time to support our teachers, their unions and school administrations.

It's time to deal with the real issues confronting American education ... I think Jesus said, "The judgment of God begins with the church" ... we might well, say the judgment of God begins with American culture and the values we have nourished in our children for the last fifty years.

Painful as it is, that's worth looking at it!

Monday, August 10, 2009

More About Terri Schiavo - by Anne Neumann

The Resurrection of Terri Schiavo
By Ann Neumann
Posted on August 10, 2009, Printed on August 10, 2009

I remember exactly where I was the day Terri Schiavo died. I was in my Brooklyn apartment crying my eyes out and making arrangements to go home to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for the funeral of my beloved 94-year-old grandfather, who had died two days after Easter.

But the funeral the next day would be more about my father than my grandfather; one week before, on Palm Sunday, my sister and I had gathered around the family table to hear our dying father read the contents of his own will. As we grappled with the ramifications of this gathering, the US Senate was passing by unanimous vote—a vote the future president would regret—the Palm Sunday Compromise. The bill (later found unconstitutional) was intended to wrest federal custody of Terri Schiavo, who had been in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years, from her husband, Michael Schiavo, who had won a Florida court order to have his wife’s feeding tube removed.

The TV blared the Senate’s frenzied speeches as my father told us how, after nine and a half years of living with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, of brutal chemotherapy, hip and knee replacements, lost hair, wavering health and looming death, he had exhausted all avenues of treatment and was ready to die. We cried ourselves through the week, just as Terri Schiavo’s parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, her siblings, and her husband, Michael, must have cried, knowing that Terri was slowly losing her life. Two days after Easter, when news of Schiavo’s death came, I got the call from my father that his father had died. I knew the one question I wanted to ask him but couldn’t: What is it like to lose your father?

The intertwining of Terri Schiavo’s life, death, and media frenzy with my family’s own grief and loss had an extra poignancy. My father—a hearty, capable working-man, a gun owner, a flag flyer—had repeatedly threatened throughout his diagnosis to hang or shoot himself should he become unable to live alone, should the pain become too much to bear. Fear and a dear friend pushed me to read Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying, a bestselling how-to book. If Dad was going to kill himself, I hoped that I could encourage him to do it in a less violent way. I read about starvation and dehydration as proven painless methods of assisted suicide, while my father protested the Republicans’ overreaching attempts to prolong Schiavo’s life unnecessarily. They should have no hand in her death, he said, nor in his.

That week, Dad’s doctor recommended an injection of prednisone to keep him comfortable and miraculously, we embarked on a glorious, unexpected summer together. His thin blond hair, untouched by gray, was golden in the summer sun as he mowed the grass or cut firewood. I watched him smell the warm air of our wooded hollow and study the birds in the feeder with relish. I rode along on the back of his bulldozer as he graded the long farm lane one clear morning in July; he looked over his shoulder at me with a great smile of profound joy to be alive.

Schiavo as a Health Care Talking Point

Once again the death of Terri Schiavo is in the news. In an effort to mobilize “pro-life” activists and the elderly, Republicans and the medical industry are working together to stop the Obama administration’s proposed reform of health care. On June 24, the same day that House Minority Leader John Boehner misleadingly announced that article 1233 of the reform bill could lead to government-sponsored euthanasia, Republican National Committee president, Michael Steele, told Washington News radio that reform would “make Terri Schiavo look like a walk in the park.” Boehner’s statement is a call to mobilization for those who found the death of Terri Schiavo a tragedy; Steele’s statement is an erroneous warning that government intervention may disrupt private health care decisions. Together, they illustrate the contested nature of Terri Schiavo’s legacy in the United States.

“Pro-life” groups have long viewed the removal of Schiavo from artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH) as court-ordered murder. As Wesley J. Smith (a “pro-life” bioethicist and speaker) wrote on his blog, SecondHandSmoke, on March 31, 2009 (the fourth anniversary of Terri Schiavo’s death), “This cruel end was not a necessary death. It was forced upon her by judicial fiat even though she was not terminally ill, did not require a respirator or kidney dialysis, and had a loving family eager to care for her for the rest of her natural life.”

In an article titled “The New Euthanasia” in The American Conservative on Monday, Patrick Buchanan (long-time Republican commentator and strategist) referred to the growing prevalence of what the last Pope called “the culture of death”:

Revulsion to Nazism led to revival of the Christian ideal of the sanctity of all human life and the moral obligation of all to defend it. But the utilitarian idea—of the quality of life trumping the faith-based idea of the sanctity of life—has made a strong comeback.
The failure of Republicans to stop the “premature death” of Terri Schiavo was yet another indication to “pro-life” advocates that the country has moved farther toward institutionalization of unethical practices, of denial of medical rights to the disabled, the elderly, and the sick. As I wrote last week, this belief (and strategy, pointedly couched in Nazi overtones and loaded terms like “euthanasia” and “bureaucracy”) is proving helpful to the activation of the Republicans’ decreased constituency. That the concerns expressed by the increasingly radicalized base are predominantly, at least regarding “euthanasia” and “rationing” of services to the elderly, against government intervention in health care is proving a challenge to the Right’s existing Schiavo narrative. They are hoping that those who thought the Bush administration’s actions in 2005 were political overreaching have, in the intervening four years, forgotten what a partisan issue Terri Schiavo’s death was and agree with the Republican (and medical industry) talking points that government intervention is undesirable, and indeed, deadly. It’s a big gamble. Froma Harrop writes, “This carnival to discredit adult end-of-life care consultations brings them back into dangerous Terri Schiavo territory… The public was appalled, and Republican fortunes started their slide.”

Last week Bobby Schindler, Terri’s brother and a co-founder, along with Terri’s parents, of the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, reacted to Steele’s statement. In a post titled, “Michael Steele: Right on Rationing, Wrong on Reasoning,” he writes “Perhaps Mr. Steele has fallen victim, along with so many others, to the same media spin that implies Congress was intruding on a “private” matter, rather than applauding them for stepping in to protect a disabled woman...”

Indeed, if this perception of Republican action in 2005 is media spin, the media were highly successful. News polls from March of 2005 from both ABC and CBS show overwhelming public disapproval of Republicans’ actions. Eighty-two percent of those polled felt Congress and the president should not have been involved in the matter.

Only 13% felt Congress intervened out of concern for Schiavo, while an astounding 74% felt it was for political reasons. Congress’ and the president’s approval ratings pointedly dropped. When asked if Schiavo’s feeding tube should be removed, 62.1% said yes. When asked if the federal government should intervene, 59.4% said no; although whether this represented disfavor for Republicans or government intervention in general is impossible to determine. 94% of those who agreed that Schiavo’s tube should be removed said they would want the same for themselves in a similar situation, while those who opposed removal were split 45% to 41%, with the former wishing for their own removal. ABC’s reporting noted that the elderly particularly opposed federal intervention in the case and favored removal of Schiavo’s tube. In the aftermath, Americans rushed to complete their own living wills, also called advance directives, in the hopes that they would not be the next Terri Schiavo.

Seemingly aware of public opinion regarding his sister’s case and echoing the current Republican talking points on health care reform, Schindler writes later in his “rebuttal” to Steele, “We are in danger any time health care decisions are taken out of the hands of individual patients and their families and placed into the hands of government bureaucrats whose decisions are based on cutting costs rather than valuing the dignity and equal worth of every human life.” He does not acknowledge that indeed the decision to remove Schiavo from feeding tubes was made by her family: her husband, Michael Schiavo, who opposed the Schindlers’ “pro-life” views of end-of-life issues.

Choice as a Slippery Slope

Opponents to assisted suicide like Wesley J. Smith, who has spoken at anti-euthanasia symposia with Bobby Schindler, argue that here and now, as technology is so quickly transforming our world, we must be unequivocal in our decisions and laws regarding preservation of life. He writes, “Once we agree that society should facilitate the suicides of some people, suicide prevention as an effective intervention is effectively over.” That our society is not unequivocal, that we prepare our children for sex and tell them not to have it, that we find issues like unconsciousness as “excuses” for assisted suicide, proves that we are an unenlightened people. (In a separate post, referring to a quote from the writer Jane Brody, he remarks that only unenlightened society would label Schiavo a vegetable. “Terri Schiavo was not a carrot or a turnip.” The use of the term “vegetable” for unconscious people is, he writes, like using the “N word”.)

Smith states that what most pained the Schindler family was watching what we can assume he would call equivocal America “slowly dehydrate [Terri Schiavo] to death by court order to the applause of much of society.” The implication is that the pro-life movement is morally superior to general society, persecuted by the likes of those who put to death the innocent, and outside of or above our nation’s democratic processes.

What separates Terri Schiavo’s death from other assisted suicide cases is, of course, personal choice. Even Smith, who opposes choice, has noted that Terri Schiavo’s wishes regarding life-support and artificial nutrition and hydration were unknown, hedging the choice argument much as Sarah Palin (also opposed to choice) did when she publicly praised her daughter, Bristol, for “choosing” to have a child out of wedlock, or when she herself “chose” to have a Down Syndrome baby. While personal choice implies equivocality to Smith, Palin and others who support the “pro-life” platform, speaking to it allows them to perpetuate the “superiority” of those who eschew it. It also broadens their political constituency.


Our glorious stolen summer with Dad turned to fall. “I just want to go home and die,” he told his doctor of nearly 10 years. That afternoon, a hospice nurse began her weekly visits. I left my job and prepared to care for Dad until, I hoped, he would peacefully die in his sleep in our family home. He had a living will and hospice visited us regularly, and yet, his was a grueling death. Terminal Restlessness, a common affliction of the dying, prevented us from keeping Dad in bed. He didn’t know where he was. He swung his arms and kicked his legs at us. The morphine hospice had given us was not strong enough to calm him. When the nurse arrived, my sister and I cried with exhaustion. She insisted that we take Dad to hospice where stronger drugs could be administered. A day later, in a private room at the hospice center, after calming drugs, Dad looked out through unseeing, foggy eyes and died. It was not the death he had wanted, nor the home death we had planned for him. Six weeks later, I filled out my own advance directive.

Ann Neumann is currently writing a book about death, grief and travel. She lives in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

© 2009 Religion Dispatches. All rights reserved.
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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Health Care - Breaking Back of Small Biz

If a small company makes a serious effort to underwrite healthcare for it's employees, it's biting off more than it'll easily chew, if at all. And it's breaking the back of giant corporations, too.

We have to separate health insurance from employment - this was one of the goofiest moves ever made in our history, and it has put a burden (thanks to rising costs induced by the insurance industry) on all American business, large and small.

Is it any wonder that the auto companies have moved a lot of plants across the border to Canada? They all know that health insurance in Canada costs a lot less than here and is a whole lot more effective and efficient, covering everyone with quality care.

But why are the auto companies silent now?

The coalition of big biz and the insurance-pharmaceutical behemoth is real - the board room guys and gals all stick together, pretty much like flies caught on flypaper. Covering each others back, they're not about to break ranks.

But the auto industry could save billions, not by cutting jobs, reducing pensions for the retired and/or forcing workers to take a lower wage, but by helping this nation build a first-class, single-payer, health insurance program.

First proposed by Truman and supported, in some form or fashion by every administration since, a national health insurance program is clearly the answer to a huge set of ills associated with the current status, but whether the American people can join hands with our elected officials and buck the powers of the board room remains to be seen.

Americans are easily bamboozled by power and wealth, and driven unrealistically by an individualism ideology which blinds us to the common good so essential to the well-being of the Republic.

We are becoming a nation pitted against itself in our striving for material prosperity and security, neither of which will ever be ours as long as we refuse to be our brother's and sister's keeper.

We can do better by one another. Health insurances systems around the world work so much more effectively and efficiently than ours right now. We spend tens of thousands more per person than any other country in the world, yet our numbers are horrendous - we're ranked 37th by the World Health Organization, a notch below Costa Rico and one above Slovenia.

Friends, can we not do better?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Blackwater Debacle

Goodness ...

The Scahill article about Erik Prince and Blackwater is mind-blowing ... uh, wait a minute, not mind-blowing at all.

For anyone who's been paying attention to folks like Pat Robertson (whose daddy was a hyper-conservative senator), Ralph Reed and the C-Street Gang, this makes perfect sense - a world under the iron fist of Jesus-people, a world free of Islam and all such perversions, including abortion providers and all GLBT people.

This is serious stuff and not to be sniffed at by liberals.

This is what it's been all about for a long time - underground, secretive, Jesus-people, yes, Jesus-people, with a sense of entitlement bought by their wealth and power.

But more to the point:

1. If there's ever an argument against privatizing critical services, this is it.
2. If there's a clearer proof needed to maintain the highest of all possible walls between church and state, show me.

Going back to 1953 when Abraham Vereide (anyone know his name? Read Jeff Scarlet's book) organized the Presidential Prayer Breakfast (now the National Prayer Breakfast) and began to build a network of hyper-conservative Christians, most of whom opposed civil rights for African-Americans, hated unions and held misogynist views of women, with Pentagon (prayer cells) and big biz interests around the world to further power for the powerful and wealth for the wealthy through an American Empire, this cabal has sought to undermine the American Constitution and replace it with a hybrid theocracy - America under the dominion of powerful interests (try a google on Rushdoony and the Wikipedia article) - it's called Reconstructionism, and they're serious about it.

They despise our democracy, they use homeschooling to further their cause, and preach a constant message of Christian supremacy.

Anyway, hats of to Scahill for this remarkable expose of a black, murky, and secretive group called, how appropriate, Blackwater.

Beware the enemy within!

Managed Health Care

Hmmm, let's see - health care managed by the government?

Or by private companies ...

Who siphon off billions of our hard-earned dollars to fund corporate jets, junkets to expensive resorts, training seminars at places most of us will never see, tens of millions of dollars in salaries and bonuses, millions more for lobbying Congress to protect them ... millions more for advertising ...

Who then charge us for everything, who deny health care to millions, forcing millions more into under-coverage with impossible deductibles ... driving many into medical bankruptcy ... cutting hospital stays and threatening health follow-up ... telling doctors what procedures and tests they can and cannot offer ... restricting our health care at every level, while telling us the government is wasteful, terrible, untrustworthy and out to get our money ... while they, on the other hand, are efficient, reliable, and wanting only to serve our best interests.

P.T. Barnum said, "There's a sucker born every minute," and how right he was.

We're suckers to buy this kind of propaganda ... a long-established ploy of big biz to blind us to how they're robbing us and how the government is the real enemy. Wrong. Check with Teddy Roosevelt and how he busted the Trusts. Didn't take long for them to recover. FDR made a difference. Eisenhower, at the end of his term, recognized the terrible power of the industrial-military complex, but then it was too late for him to do anything about. Reagan bought it hook, line and sinker and spoon fed it to us with an "aw shucks pardner" down-home style; the Bushes, part of the elite, bought it and so did Clinton.

With Obama, we have a chance to clear the air and set things right for all Americans.

We have a chance.

But billions are being spent right now to mount one of the largest lobbying and advertising efforts we've seen in a long time - to convince us all over again that government is our enemy and big biz is our friend.

We're the laughing stock of the world, but as long as we keep believing we're the best, no matter how costly and perverted our health system is, and the rest of the world is crazy, I guess we'll keep on believing the spin doctors hired by the health insurance industry to fool us and fleece us.