Thursday, December 17, 2009

Two Gnarly Nuggets

Two signs-of-the-times blog entries for you to get frosted about:

  1. Bob Cesca's piece in the Huffington Post about how as a progressive Democrat he's pissed off at the turn healthcare reform has taken. There's a whole wonderful list of things that he's pissed off at: healthcare reform, the Senate, the House, Joe Lieberman, the media, Tom Colburn and his hair, Rahm Emmanuel, and more. But he concludes his entertaining diatribe by making the case for passing the bill anyway, despite its odiousness, despite the fact that Lieberman and the conservadems get what they want while the progressives get the shaft. His argument is not original in that you have heard it before. Basically it goes like this: if health care doesn't pass now, it's not going to pass anytime soon: pass this bill or give up getting healthcare reform for a long, long time. And all the damage that would do: millions remaining uninsured, ridiculously high rates, more deaths, more healthcare bankruptcies. Actually, it's a reasonable position, but really it's like drinking vinegar laced with habanero. Truth be told, I think he's right. I think healthcare reform of any description is dead for who knows how long if we don't get some semblance of it passed now. But I can't tell you how much I hate being played like the White House has played me on this issue. I cannot help but believe that the Administration played footsie with the damn Democrats who have scuttled real reform. If they had broken a few heads and played rough, we might not be in this situation.
  2. Matt Taibbi has got a reminder of the "ordinary" stuff that's going on in Congress while all the dust is being raised over the healthcare bill. That would be the end-of-the-year passage of the defense appropriations bill. Groaning with the bipartisan pork, it's "the worst and most morally reprehensible" thing that Congress does. 
This is because Congressmen shift money--over $6 billion--from spending categories directly connected with troops to whatever boondoggle expense the congressperson wants: " Congress sticks in a few extra airplanes or ships as a handout to this or that member, usually in exchange for his vote somewhere else on some other issue. To pay for those earmarks, the favored targets for cutting are usually two parts of the defense bill: Personnel (i.e. military pay) and Operations and Maintenance (which includes such things as body armor, equipment, food, training, and fuel).
         Nice, huh? And of course this goes on year in, year out, and it doesn't make any difference the        party or persuasion. I'm continually amazed at the vise-grip the defense department has on us. I'm not talking about this issue here. This is garden variety hypocrisy. I'm talking about all the moaning and weeping that goes on about "where's the money going to come from" for programs that actually help people, like healthcare, for example, when the military continues to drain our life's blood. There are hundreds of billions we could put to those uses if we stopped shoveling a king's ransom to the Pentagon every year. That is never even considered even in day dreams.
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