Sunday, December 6, 2009

Obama's speech & healthcare this week

Since I last blogged, about a week ago, we've gone through Obama's speech, healthcare debate in the Senate, gate crashers at the White House, and Tiger Woods' feet of clay. So, OK, here goes.

1. Obama's speech was pretty much as expected, and it doesn't change my arguments for starting to remove our troops; if anything, the situation is worse because now no one (besides John Kerry) seems to think that his plan has any real chance of succeeding. We don't have the money, as the President himself conceded, nor the troops as several generals have pointed out, nor the will to make sacrifices like instituting a war tax. I believe that Obama has made an honest attempt at finding some sort of "middle ground": the problem is that the problem has no middle ground solution. The sop he threw to the anti-war faction -- which now seems to be a majority of people both here and abroad -- is a date for beginning the pullback of forces. If that date does not represent a real commitment to withdraw our troops, as seems to be the case, then we are in for a siege that will not work and that we can't afford. If it is a real commitment, then, as most military experts seem to agree, we can't possibly "win" since our opponents will simply wait us out, while we have no realistic hope of a suddenly revved up Afghan army and police to replace us. And then we still have to face al-Qaeda in Yemen and Somalia.

2. The good news in the healthcare debate is that Olympia Snowe is once again a player. As I've said many times, she is more of a "mensch" than many so-called Democrats, and I think she genuinely wants reasonably-priced universal healthcare, as opposed to nearly all of the other Republicans and Joe Lieberman. She is currently working on a promising plan that may involve the Office of Personel Management becoming a bargaining agent for the uninsured. Since a meaningful "public option" -- much less single-payer -- has long been a dead issue (though still supported by a majority of the public), new ideas are needed and this may be a good one. Most of the discussion is now going on behind the scenes in the Senate. However, if a good compromise plan is worked out, Snowe may bring her Maine colleague Susan Collins into the fold as well, so Lieberman can be left to twist in the wind. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

I hate to say it, but it is becoming clear that we have to support Obama and hope that his programs succeed, simply because, if he badly loses favor either over Afghanistan or healthcare, it will help the party of the rich to regain power and continue in their effort to transfer more wealth to the wealthy. This is not merely a matter of opinion: 8 years of Bush and company have driven this country into a ditch from which we may never be towed. We simply can't afford any more of the same. The Democrats should have been running daily spots reminding people who got us into this mess. It's not too late now; Americans have very short memories...

BTW, each day it becomes clearer that the Republican party has no agenda other than to embarrass and undermine the President. They are now voting to make healthcare more expensive by cutting out cost-saving measures that were put in to make the reform actual reform. The G.O.P. is so beneath contempt, so bankrupt of any positive ideas other than more tax cuts for the wealthy, that I don't think I will even mention them in future blogs. If you want to hear attacks on these bottom-feeders, you might as well tune in to MSNBC.

3. What do White House gate-crashers and Jurassic Park have in common? They both show, one through reality, the other through fiction, that the non-linear world is neither entirely predictable nor controllable. In both cases, the "good guys" had state-of-the-art equipment: cell-phones, motion detectors, psychological profiles for the Secret Service, and a can't-possibly-reproduce all-female dinosaur population for the Jurassic Park scientists. And yet, things just didn't work out.

4. About Tiger Woods: It's been fun reading all the gossip, but there's nothing to say. Too bad people, even rich and famous ones, can't find happiness in their families.

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