Monday, August 31, 2009

JMO - Doing Nothing

I don't know if this is just my opinion, something about life, or whatever, but after listening and reading about the debate on healthcare reform, and listening to the rhetoric from the far right, the angry retirees, the consevative pundits, etal, against the reform proposals, which I haven't heard any alternatives from them yet, let's not do anything. In short, let's do nothing.

Let's let healthcare reform die a quiet death it did the first time round. Sounds fair? You seem to want to do nothing, so let's do that. And then when you complain in a few years about costs, premiums, coverage, profits, etc. We''ll just shrug and say, "Well, it's what you wanted. And now you want to do something, and you want our help? Now? What happened when we wanted change and reform? Where were you?"

You were standing with protest signs. You were yelling at townhall meetings. You were writing columns against it. You did everything you could to get nothing changed. Nothing done.

When the uninsured increases from 10-15% to 20-25% and the underinsured increases from 10-15% to 20-25%, and the total is approaching half the adults and children, especially the children, in this country, and they're using public programs and services for their healthcare, tax dollars which you don't see to complain about spending, then what will you say?

It was our fault? No, sorry, it will be your fault. All your fault.

When your premiums increase 25-33% and the coverage drops with a higher co-pay and deductible. Who will you blame? The companies we wanted to reign in prices and costs? Nope. Doctors and hospital trying to balance budgets? Nope. Medical malpractice lawsuits? Nope.

You! Only you for preventing us from doing anything and only you for letting companies continue to abuse everyone for profit.

And when you finally understand and want change and reform, and you want our help, what should we do then? Stand there with protest signs? Yell at your meetings? Proliferate lies and false claims about what you want? Write columns against you? And what will you call us then? What we're calling you now?

Or maybe we'll just hold up a mirror and ask, "So, where were you then? What were you doing then?"

And when you finally see the truth and reality about now, what will you say? Will you realize you were not only our worst enemy but your own worst enemy? Will you see and then realize you fucked yourself for reasons you thought were right but weren't? Will you admit you were wrong?

Or will you just shrug and say, "Oh well, it's wasn't really me." And then demand change and reform, thinking it's good and great for everyone? Will you want our help for your plan and program? Will you expect it and not see our anger and resentment? Will you get angry when we don't want what you want? Will you get angry when we're not enthusiastic? Or worse, we refuse to help?

So, let's do nothing. You can declare victory and cite the beauty and greatness of our healthcare system. But then you'll have no right to complain. You'll no right to speak against the status quo. You'll have no right to want change. You'll you no right to expect us to agree with you.

In doing nothing, your rights will be just that, nothing.

You'll only have the right to accept blame when things get worse. And we'll have the right to say we told you so, and point fingers at you and say, "You created this mess because you wanted it. You wanted to do nothing." And you'll have to accept it, all of it, as yours, not ours, but yours.

All for doing nothing. Just what you wanted.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

JMO - Let's get real

Can we get real with healthcare and health insurace reform? Can we stop all the speculation and fearmongering about what you think or you've heard someone think is in the plan? Just because someone, like Michael Steele, wrote it, it's true. It's not. And that's because the bill and plans in the bill haven't been fully developed and written yet. So, everything is just words about a cloud.

But what bothers me more is the public complaining about healthcare and then saying they don't want change. It's like the guy who drives an old clunker and refusing to get a new car even though he can easily afford one. "It's runs, what more do I need? Yeah, it's has it's problems and gets bad mileage, but it's enough.", he'll say. And we're doing that with healthcare and health insurance. We'd rather keep a broken system than fix it, or better replace it.

And that is so stupid.

But what's worse is that people don't even know what they're complaining about might happen is already happening. Do you really know who makes the decisions about your coverage and care? Do you know who rations your healtcare and coverage because it cost the insurance company too much? Do you know who determines the prices you pay for drugs, services, and care? Do you know how much "choice" you want or demad isn't real?

So? Do you really know? Have you read your health coverage plan lately? Read it and you'll discover how little control and choice you really have. And read the stories about the people who have been treated badly by their healthcare insurer. And read the people who really know, and know what's bullshit, what's (political) rhetoric, and what's real.

And then ask yourself who's been in control and had oversight on the healthcare industry all these recent years. How did the system get so screwed up for the sake of money and profit. Is it ok with you the health insurance companies have been getting rich on your premiums, deciding your healthcare, and deciding your amount?

Do you want more of the same? Do you want this to be problem worse in a few years than it was and is now?

So, how about calming down, shut the rhetoric, stop the "What if's" - because they're not real or true, just your fear - and listen? How about rational discussion from what you've experienced and what you know that what you think? And consider these thoughts.

Most personal bankruptcies are due to healthcare costs, usually from one catastrophic disease, illness or accident or from a family member needing continual, high cost care.

Most "frivilous" lawsuits aren't from individuals suing companies, doctors or hospitals, but companies suing each other. Only the individual lawsuits get media attention, not the 90% of the lawsuits which don't involve individuals but companies.

Malpractice insurance is only high because of insurance companies, not doctors or hospitals. The companies are setting the rates, coverage and legal support. And most of the malpractice insurance isn't necessary, only they've convinced lawmakers it is to mandate it.

People who live in countries, mostly European, with universal or government healthcare are in better health, have better healthcare, and have far lower costs. And they have a far higher level of satisfaction for their healthcare.

America has the most expensive per-capita (person) healthcare than any nation in the world and yet we are barely in the top ten for quality of healthcare.

The government already oversees many healthcare plans and programs, like Medicare, FEHB, etc. and they're all successful and provide affordable healthcare.

Think about it, but first learn the facts and truth. Then, get real about what it could be for every American to have affordable health insurance and the best healthcare.

Monday, August 24, 2009

JMO - Response to RNC

I read today's editorial column by Michael Steele, Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), about "Protecting Our Seniors", except he didn't say how to protect them as he kept firing bogus shots at the President and Democrats in Congress of what he says is "their" healthcare reform plan. I say bogus because he doesn't supply any facts because there aren't any facts to cite. The healthcare reform work is still being debated in Congress and no one has released any one specific plan which he can use as evidence.

He lists a number of claims about the Democratic plan except those claims aren't true. Nor the President or any member of Congress has said they support what Mr. Steele says. And as we should know and practice in discussions, ideas are put on the table for the purpose of discussion. We all know everything will be negotiated and compromised with the healthcare reform bill, with some inclusions of Republican provisions and amendments. And this will be the bill presented to the President.

And we all know now, that weeks, if not months, away. Nothing is cast in stone, or words as absolute part of the bill. Mr. Steele is simply speculating and espousing fear-mongering rhetoric many other republicans have already spouted, and which has been disproven. Mr. Steele only added his flavor to the rhetoric.

Mr. Steele's column lists five points he claims the Democrats will do to seniors by imposing a worse government benefit and managed program than seniors already have. The problem is that not all seniors have a good, let alone great, plan, and why we wouldn't be here if it weren't for the Republicans runnning things in Congress (1994-2006) and the White House (2001-2009).

It was the Republicans who fucked seniors with their healthcare. And why we need reform. And pointing fingers now at the Democrats won't change history. Mr. Steele better look in the mirror first with his criticism about healthcare and then ask where were the Republicans when reform was needed and wanted.

No one doubts the Democrats will pass a plan that does everything right, and especially right over the coming years. We forgetting our history. We should focus on incremental changes using a good foundation. Lay the foundation first and then build on that over the next 8 years or so with updates and upgrades to our nation's healthcare system.

And before you simply dismiss my view as just one of many citizens over the Chairman of the RNC, consider that I've spent 32 years of my life working for the government, first as a Vietnam-era veteran and the rest as a government employee. In between I didn't have health insurance. I was lucky nothing serious happened. And as I did for 28 years, I still have the government (active/retirees) healthcare plan.

I have first hand experience with a government run healtchare program. And it works. Really, not the rhetoric the Republicans cites as failures, but what is a success for 8 million active and retired government employees. And there are many more state and local employees with their government run programs which work. That is what the Republicans don't want you to hear and know.

And with that what we don't need is more Republican bogus rhetoric. You don't have to stand in the cow pasture to know it when you see it. And if Mr. Steele has ideas, let's hear them. But let's not point fingers and assess blame until we see the final bill. And by the way, Washington Post columnist also seems to take offense at Micheal Steele's piece.

Monday, August 17, 2009

JMO - Keep Public Options

Dear Mr. President and the "Liberals" Democrats in Congress,

Do not drop the public option in the healthcare and health insurance reform package. Don't give complete control on coverage, prices, premiums, and everything else to the health insurance companies, drug companies, and for-profit healthcare companies and hospitals. All they'll do is continue what got us here in the first place and they'll continue to milk the users for more money at the taxpayers expenses. And they'll have your blessing doing it.

The health private sector needs competition in the healthcare and health insurance arena. Don't forgo this and don't forget the poor who still won't get adequate coverage at affordable prices. Pushing everything back to the private sector won't solve the problems or reform healthcare. You and we will be back to this same issue in 3-5 years after record profits by the private sector.

Is that what you want? Try standing up and be vocal and counted. Represent the American people, not the insurance industry and lobby. As another President would say, "Stay the course." It's what the majority of American will want if you don't add public plans into the reform. You can make it competitve and make it cooperative with the private insurers and their plans.

Don't forsake the American people for politics. You'll hear about it in 2010 or 2012 when you're up for re-election. You will be known for abandoning the American people when they needed you. You will be known for caving in to fearmongers. You will be known for selling out to the insurance companies. You will be known as simply too scared to be faithful to the American people.

And I won't vote for someone who doesn't have the character to be strong and stand up for the American people when we're most in need. Don't be a quitter and bailout. Or else be ready to face the music later. You'll be known for continuing the healthcare mess and backed down when you had the opportunity to fix it right. Right for the American people.

We voted for you. The insurance companies didn't. But they bought you. We can't. So which side are you on?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

JMO - Ugly Americans

We're ugly. Just as was written about decades ago about our foreign policy. It's still the same. We didn't learn in Iraq and we're not learning in Afghanstan. We're repeating what we think is right and calling it reform and new, and it's not new nor right. It's simply ugly. We don't seem to learn except in hindsight, and then we promptly forget it.

Watching Lehrer News hour on PBS, they interviewed a GlobalPost journalist back from Afghanistan on the Taliban. He explained why we just don't understand them and their country. An American woman who lost her son in Afghanistan decided war wasn't the answer so she went there to open a girl's school in her son's honor. She convinced the village elders to help build the school and ensure it stays open to all girls. They agreed as many of them sent their daughters to the school. The village elders made a pact with the Taliban, who have a presence in the area to keep the village open and free of violence and keep the school open if they (elders) don't actively support the US presence there to oust the Taliban.

The US miliary comes in and decides the pact wasn't in their interests and arrests the village elders for "supporting" the Taliban. The US military tells them they'll release them if they don't actively support the Taliban, including engaging in any "pacts" with them to keep the village and school violence free. The elders reluctantly but not openly agree. Within a week the Taliban blew up a bus of girls on the road to the school in retaliation for the elders "supporting" the US miltary.

There was peace and assurances all the way around until the US military steps in to say anyone who even talks to the Taliban is their enemy, let along engage in discussions to keep a village and a girls school free of violence. The worst offenders in the US military's view are and will be arrested and imprisoned. And now the village elders and people don't trust either side, but trust the Taliban more than the US military.

We're failing to see we are the new Soviets. Hated and feared, and maybe loved occasionally, but only enough to let people get on with their lives. What don't we understand it's an unwinnable war, like Iraq has become and we're exiting as fast as we can without creating a new war, but we know is inevitable. Afghanistan is an order of magnitude worse because the country is surrounded by other countries who would rather help our enemy than us.

We're effectively shining up a really old and bad clunker and calling it new. And thanks to former President Bush, ugly became and is still our clothes of choice. It's on top of the dust on the camoflage every soldier wears and over all the gear every soldier carries. No one doubts we have the best soldiers and the best technology there, but we can't shed the ugly with it.

And we're ugly here. Just watch and listen to the whole public, media and other debates over healthcare. The ugly Americans are rising and raising their voices without listening. They don't want to listen. They don't even want to think, just spew a litany of rhetoric that is meaningless to the debate but makes them sound important. But only to themselves because we're not listening either.

No one listens to the person yelling over everyone at a meeting. We all know them and we all hate them. We have to show restraint and paitence not to want to inflict pain on the throat and shut them up. And still we don't do anything, except seem to tolerate the ugly ones. That's because we all have them in our family and we all understand the embarassment they cause to friends and family.

But ugly is still ugly. We always seem to think we are and we have the answer. To anything. And we have the right to say so whenever and wherever we want and especially think is rigth. Except we've never learned our right is the ugly and we're only looking arrogant and stupid. Pure and simple ugly.

I was listening to the healthcare reform debate when someone asked, "So how can the companies compete with a government run plan?"

Ok, fair question on the surface. But what does this guy think we have to pay a health insurance company money to profit from us over providing good and better healthcare? What does this guy think the word affordable isn't in the lexicon of the health insurance companies. And what does this guy think his health insurance company is putting his interests ahead of their interest for profit and shareholder value?

And what does this guy think the government can run a better system for healthcare and make it affordable? Like Social Security. Like Medicare. Like all the other government run program for the benetif of all. And this guy forgets one really great program, the Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) plan. It's a government-company run cooperative where the private insurance companies provide good, affordable health insurance.

Yes, it's private health insurance, but overseen by the government (Office of Personnel Management or OPM) to ensure federal employees have choices of health plans (about two dozen companies now in the program) at affordable prices. The OPM sets the minimum service and the range of costs, and the companies submit plans within that to be accepted into the program.

Every year every active and retired employee gets to change the company or plan. The company can not reject anyone nor can they terminate the coverage of anyone. One stipulation is that you ensure who pays the premium, whatever their health and their families health. Failure to act within the rules, gets the company ejected from the program and not allowed to re-enter until they show they'll follow the rules.

Kinda' cool huh? And it works beautifully for 8 million employees. And if you want to change the minimium plan and coverage, you talk with OPM, not your company. OPM reviews requests every year and creates the next year's minimum coverage and options within the plans. Everything else is whatever extra the companies want to add, but not raising the premiums.

So, to the loud voices in the room, try listening and learning.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

JMO - Healthcare Protesters

Dear protesters,

After all the noise you make about "your" healthcare, I wonder if you've read your health insurance brochure and coverage. Have you? If you did, then you would know it's not your healthcare, but the insurance company's plan and you're only paying the premiums. And odds are, you have little, if any, say in the coverage in the plan nor the price (premium).

You pay the bills, and hope it works. So, where the "your" in your healthcare? Everyone else decides what healthcare you get and what you pay and they pay for any care. There's no "your" choice or decisions there, it's all theirs. You're only along for the ride and the hope it's paid for?

So, what's your stance now? You're either blind, and haven't read your coverage plan, or ignorant, and don't want to know. Which is it?

And it's a good bet some level of government has decided what in your plan. Ever hear of State Insurance Commissioners? Ever hear of State Insurance offices which investigate abuse of health insurance by both patients-customers and companies? Yup, they're there and working for you, to keep costs down and coverage as stated in the plans. Yup, for your protection and rights.

Damn, they're government too.

And if you think it's "your" health insurance, have you ever called them to argue a decision they made for your healthcare? Did you get to decide what's right and what's the cost? No? Gee, I thought you said it was your health insurance. They didn't listen to you? Why not, you're forcing us to listen to your yelling lies?

If you have a company health insurance plan, have you tried to change it? Have you tried to decide what you pay? Or are you given choices for plans, coverage and premiums, and you consider that's your acts of choice? Multiple choice is freedom? Is that what you call yours?

And even then, who decides the coverage and the costs? Your employer and the health insurance company. Certainly not you. Or did you got to your human resources department and tell them what you want and what you'll pay? And did they listen?

And if you went to your employer, healthcare provider or health insurance company and said, "I want..." with a litany services, and prices, how long do you think the conversation would last past the end of your sentence?

The truth is your health insurance is no different than anyone else's insurance. And maybe before you open your mouth, you sit down and actually read the coverage plan, that pamphlet you get every year updating the coverage, restrictions, choices and deductibles. And then see if you really call it "your" healthcare.

Until then, try shouting less and listening more.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

JMO - Healthcare Reform

I've only been kinda' watching, reading and listening to the debate over healthcare. For the most part, unless Congress gets really bad and stupid, and even in the extreme that's not very often and usually only about war, they won't touch my health insurance plan. Yes, it's a good program with many choices of plans and premiums, and best of all, yes best, it's overseen by the government. It's not perfect, but it's better than what the insurance companies, er. corporations, would do for profit, which they also make with the government plan, called the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan.

This kinda' makes me immune from the effects of the health insurance debate. Yes, the program and my plan will be effected, but it won't change dramatically and prices won't go up very much, all because it's limited by our government. Yes, our government actually looks out of it's people, the active and retired federal employees. They ensure we don't get screwed and they ensure we have affordable choices.

But that said, my view of the healthcare reform debate was typified in a photo today's (9/12/09) Washington Post of a woman holding a sign for President Obama which read, "Fix old, no new." Well, that's exactly what he's asking Congress to do. And that leads to the myths and rumor the health insurance companies and the Republicans are spreading. Lies, just pure lies.

And that needs the other side's voice from the people. Like me.

For one, it's not "the President's plan", it's Congress' plan. They're the ones writing and passing the bill into law. The President can call for what he wants, and even have White House staffers talk with members of Congress and their staff, but he can't direct the work or write the bill. He's the leader who can only lead but can't order or direct. He can only talk and then sign the bill into law.

Two, the President is trying to describe a framework for Congress he wants and likes. The details belong to Congress, or really all the lobbyists "helping" their staff write and direct the bill. If you don't believe that, read this story from a former industry excecutive. On healthcare, they own Congress. It's that simple.

And that means we, the people, aren't controlling the debate. There is no debate. Congress is simply quibbling over the details to keep the health industry companies happy and profitable, richly too at our expense. The companies will give up a few things, to appear cooperative, but they'll profit in the end. It's why healthcare costs so much for you and everyone. Their goal is maximize profit and invester share, not provide good and especially not affordable health insurance.

Three, more of the second about the companies. They're the reason the system is broken. It's too expensive and 15% of Americans are uninsured and another 10-15% underinsured. The taxpayers are picking up the costs for those and for us when we have catatrophic health problems. We're doing what the employers and insurance companies won't, pay for healthcare. Don't believe that, look at Wal-Mart's history of health coverage for employees. The vast majority are underinsured and rely on public service for major problems.

Did you know the number one cause of personal and family bankruptcy is healthcare? Yes, the bills from one accident, illness, or condition banksrupts familes. That's the sign something is terribly wrong. It's not bankrupting the healthcare industry, they're getting rich, on our money. And they don't care about us, just our money. But it's killing families, financially and emotionally. Is that what we want to continue?

Four, the government is actually better at running programs than industry and corporations. Yes, that's true. It's only wrong when the Republicans are in the White House and they nullify any government action which benefits the people. The Republicans are for the very people who put them there, the corporations. Ask Dick Cheney, former CEO of Haliburton.

The government actually runs great programs for us. Like the US Postal Service, Social Security, Medicare, Veterans programs and all the rest of what government does, by itself or in cooperation with quasi-governmental organization. They are the better managers, because the people are their priority, not money or profit. But that's not the point here because the government doesn't want to run the healthcare program.

The government only wants to offer and help provide a healthcare plan the health insurance companies won't, like the 20-25% of Americans who can't afford insurance or barely afford a basic plan and rely on public services for much of their healthcare. If the companies won't offer them affordable plans who will? Think about that, who will, you or I as we are now, or them helping themselves, like us?

Which leads to the fifth, the companies. If they got us into this mess, do you think they'll get us out? And affordably too? Think again. They won't. They want the healthiest people for the most profit and jettison the worst or the healthy when then get some catatrophic condition to the public sector. Look at their history of rejecting or ejecting people from their programs while increasing premiums for the rest.

Don't believe that? Look at all the laid off employees who now lost their coverage with the automobile industry shut down factories in the US for elsewhere, like China. Look at all the other laid off people, many now going on two years, who lost their coverage when they lost their job and rely on public service. Look at all the retirees who have had their coverage reduced or eliminated because the company couldn't afford it.

And the sixth, the last point. It's only a discussion now. Congress is stil working. But the problem won't get better with tinkering if that's all you want. It's what got us here. We need change, good change, affordable change, and if necessary, control the companies now controlling the discussion and the choices. We want choices. Real choices. Affordable choices.

So what does this all mean, beside my ranting at the noise? Not much, except maybe to calm down, listen to the views, and think about what's best for America and Americans. Not insurance companies and their share holders. But us, your friends, neighbors, and all the rest of us here. Think what's best for all of us.

It's time to solve this for Americans, every last one of us.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

realism versus pretty

I've written twice about my view of realism and pretty photos or images, see the first and the second. And yes I'm beating a dead camera into submission and it just won't fire the shutter anymore. But I'll keep harping on it as long as I keep seeing pretty pictures in photo magazines by professionals because it sells the ideal, something rarely attainable by most photographers and certainly beyond the interest of ordinary ones like me except to complain.

Well, I was reading Outdoor Photographer at our local Borders stores. I don't buy any photo magazines at newstands anymore. I have three subscriptions, LensWork, View Camera and Photo Techniques. I usually just scan them and read them since I find almost all are full of ads and articles selling equipment. The old sales adage, you always need new or better equipment. And the pros are more than happy to show and prove it.

And yeah, they do produce some great images. And occasionally some serious photographers have an article or portfolio in them. I can't argue against that, it's what you see in photographer's resume, the different magazines and issues you can see their images. Some strive to that end, the number they can recite in the bibliography. Some are just satisfied to do that occasionally.

It shows the degree they work on their photogaphy as a profession and career. Not that I'll ever by that good. It's not my goal in life or with my photography. Not that I wouldn't mind, but I just don't produce that quality. I like to look at the magazines for ideas in the images and the places they were taken than the images themselves, and why the images kinda' bother me a little.

And that's what bothersome about the magazines than realism or pretty pictures. With the sheer number of outdoor photography magazines, it's hard not to notice almost all peddle professionals selling pretty pictures. I'm not knocking their skills or craft, nor really their results. Their photos are beautiful and excellently produced. But they're still just pretty pictures. Turn the page and you forget what it was.

But the real question that always come to mind when I see these images is simple. If I were standing there what would I see? Would I see this pretty scene or something less and even far less glamorous and beautiful. It's clear when the best photographers see a scene they can also imagine a final print.

That's something I've never really learned how to do, imagine a final image from what I'm seeing. I see and capture what I see. I produce what I saw, or thought I saw. I'm not a fan of "improved" images beyond what the film or digital images didn't do and you remember or want to present. After that I'm done, and it's why my images look ordinary.

I've tried to produce pretty images and I keep getting tired or bored with all the manipulations or the variety of results. It's why I like film so much. It's there in your slide. I worked or it didn't. And all my images from slides compare almost identically. That's my goal. And probably my downfall or failure in photography. Being ordinary and producing what I saw.

I want to share what I saw, not what I imagine. It's the photo above. I drive by this pond often enough to watch it through the year and was fascinated by the color difference in the spring. And it's what I saw standing there. It took some playing with settings in the camera to capture it, but the only work in Photoshop was resizing for the Web.

It won't make a magazine, let alone a cover anywhere. Obviously. But I'm happy with it, and that's all that matters for me, my photography. Nothing pretty and real as my mind sees and thinks.

JMO - When the truth is lost

I'm reading all too frequently now individuals, groups, organizations, political action committees, lobbyists, and even the staff of politicians have been sending letters, from a few to selected members of Congress or the White House, to mass mailings to every member of Congress, government leaders and even us citizens, which were fake. Either the group identified in the letter as sending it was forged or different to represent someone other than the sender or the content was meant to represent a view from the sender which contradicted the opposition.

This has been done to disguise the real sender, but mostly it's been done to overwhelm the receipents with bogus letters in favor or opposition of a political view or on a particular issue. This is because the real sender had exhausted it's limit of lobbying, so they resort to illegal ways to add to the message to Representatives and Senators in Congress. It's done through paper mail and through e-mail.

And it's now a commonplace practice. Kinda' like when one person breaks the law, then it's ok for everyone to break it, and the law itself along with the reason for the law becomes lost. After all what's wrong with speeding a little? But this is our political process that's been corrupted by everyone, including organizations associated with or working for elected officials, what they dismiss when caught as "outside" groups affiliated with them, except those actions were approved and funded by the organizations.

It's the new norm. If you want to get a message across, fake an organization and inundate political officials with fake letters of support or opposition. Or worse, create a fake organization with a good sounding name of the opposition and send either misleading letters to make them look bad or letters stating erroneous views on issues. In other words make it appear they sent it rather than you.

I've seen this before, but I didn't really see it in action personally until last year when I read the comments to a bill supporting allowing carrying guns in National Parks and Wildlife Refuges. Almost all the e-mail in support of the bill on the bill's Website for Congress had the identical messages, a very carefully crafted legal statement supporting the bill. It was obvious that someone posted it on a Website to send view a script with the individual's e-mail address.

These weren't letters written by individuals, but letters using a canned content. And we don't really know even if the e-mail address and people's name and address were real, and even if real, were really from that person. There's no confirmation in the process to ensure it's a real person and it's their real letter. It was a mass mailing simply to overwhelm the opposition's comments.

When I found the Website for the source of the e-mails, it was proven that in this day of technology and the Internet, mail may not always be what it's supposed to be. On the Website they had the content you can cut and paste into your e-mail program with the list of Congressional representatives for each state and district, or you can simply add your e-mail address and using your zip code it looked up your elected representatives in Congress you could send the e-mail from there.

And now it's seem every week some revelations comes out to show some organization faked letters. The problem is that there is no law against this practice, and once sent, the damage is done. The truth, later revealed, can't and won't overcome the impact of the original letter, no matter being wrong and bogus.

And yes, I realize this isn't new by any stretch of my imagination. It's an old politicial tactic. It's just the technology and information has changed you can't tell what's real, and you can't even control if your e-mail wasn't used for some mass mailing you wouldn't agree with. Your own e-mail and identity is now the property of polticial hacks.

I don't have any answers about this, and not really surprised anymore with new revelations about this or that organization sending fake or bogus letters or e-mail. In the day of spam, it's just another flavor it. Except it's our elected politicians and their staff who may not know the difference.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

JMO - Discussion about guns

Isn't it time this nation had an intelligent discussion about guns? And yes, it's time to come to the realization that some degree of regulation and oversight is necessary to ensure our nation doesn't become a lawless one where individual citizen use guns to exercise their choices and decisions on justice. It's time to realize that's already happening in some places of this country where a gun becomes the instant decision maker of choice.

It's also time to accept it's not about the Constitution, which doesn't guarantee the right to own guns, but only for national defense and protecting citizens (law enforcement). It's time we as a nation stand up and tell the NRA where they belong in the agenda of the discussion, one of the players but not the one or the controlling one. Citizens who don't want guns have rights too.

It's time the Supreme Court reinforced the Constitution to reflect the place guns have in our life and our nation, not a guarranteed one without restrictions, but one in cooperation with all citizens and the right for governments to regulate the sale and ownership of them for the protection of life and property for everyone, not just gun owners.

I have the right to speak for gun regulation, and control if necessary, and I have the right to expect to see laws passed and enforced to that end. The point is that fewer guns leads to less crime and violence than more guns. More guns only leads to more crime and more violence. It's the old idea when someone wants to hurt someone, a gun makes it easier and deadlier.

That's the reality. When you look at countries where there are fewer guns (per capita), there is less crime and less violence. And the reverse. It's the reality of guns and what they do to people. And it's not about just people, but people with guns. That's what the NRA won't admit and doesn't want the public to know.

Simply put, no citizen needs a gun to make a living and get by in life. No citizen needs a gun for the expectation of protection if fewer people didn't have guns and the chances of violence against them is lessened with fewer guns. It's about the need to limit guns because it's about people with guns are far more likely to use them than without them.

But when you sell a gun mentality to people, they will believe a gun is there for their protection. From what and for what? The vast majority of homes haven't experienced burglaries and the vast majority of people haven't experienced a violent crime against them. And it's only people and criminals with guns who are the threat to everyone.

Yeah, I know, so much for an intelligent conversation about guns, when I'm so anti-gun. Well, if we don't speak up with our view and for our rights, then there won't be a discussion. I have rights to know others don't have or carry guns and aren't a threat to me by simply having that a gun.

So, I get the right to sit at the table to argue against guns and for laws governing guns and gun owners and sellers. And it's not that I don't have experience with guns. I used them as a kid in southern Idaho. I used them in the service during the Vietnam-era. And I used them afterward on occasion with friends (long story about how not to hunt rabbits in a vineyard).

But in the end, I don't see the need for eveyrone to have one. It's not just about protection. It's about freedom and the right to be safe and secure. That doesn't require guns, but the absence of guns. It's time to leave the guns to those who need them in the performance of their job to enforce the law. They also deserve the right to be safe against people with guns.

It's about what best for America and every American. That's what this country is about, not the NRA or people advocaing guns simply because they want more of them. It's about us too who what to advocate against them, because we know they don't make us safer, only worried about those with them. That's our right too.

JMO - Fear Mongering

I wrote about the Republicans and the healthcare debate and reform now, or was before the Congressional August recess, being considered by Congress. Unfortunately, they're cowards to address the real issues and decided, as they usually do, reciting rhetoric is easier than reality and change. But what galls me more than their ineptness and incompetence is the Republicans responses with fear mongering. As Reagan himself might say about them, "Well, there you go again."

This week Republicans response is simply fear mongering. There is little, if any, truth in this week's response. It's simply providing lies about the work to date, especially lies about the Democrat's ideas, and worse, the President's plan. Again the Republicans, as they did last week, espoused lies about the reform being a "government" plan, and everything will change. It won't, every player in the healthcare industry is involved in the discussion.

The truth is quite the opposite. The discusison is being dominated in the backrooms and lobbying by the industry representatives, the health insurance companies, the hospital corporations, the drug industry, and the rest of them. They're getiing more access to Congressional Represenatives and Senators than the citizens who elected the Representatives and Senators. And that includes the very ones working with the Republicans to derail any good plan which help Americans.

That's where President Obama is doing good. He's providing balance. He's providing something for everyone, including the Americans who need health insurance because they don't have any, Americans who need affordable healthcare because the plan they have is too expensive, and for businesses who can provide affordable health insurance for their employees because they're lose money if they do provide it.

The unfortunate reality is that for profit healthcare and healthcare insurance isn't the answer. Every country that has a heathcare for every citizen has as a minimum a government oversight program for all heath insurance and healthcare, and as a maximum a nationial program controlled by the government. That's the solution Congress doesn't want to consider, but they forget the two best government plans out there, Medicare and the Federal Employees Heath Benefit plan.

Both of them work very well with the very government oversight and management the Republicans hate, but still providing incentives to provide the optimum plan at affordable costs to the patient. And this is the least what most countries which provide better heathcare than the US. So, what's not to understand? I don't know except I'm tired of the corporations controlling healthcare, controlling the elected politicians, and now controlling the discussion.

That's who the Republicans are representing and criticizing the proposals being put forward by the President and the Democrats. And why the Republicans can't do anyting but spread lies. They really are doing the old joke, "How can you tell when a politician is lying? His mouth moves." Yes, that's they're doing. Not being positive and open to get good healthcare for every American, but simply being dumb and stupid, espousing lies.

And the reality is that they know it and we know. No one is being fooled, except of course the Republican faithful who devour their lies like candy. The Republicans aren't fooling anyone with any sense of reality because we have to pay and live with the heathcare and health insurance currently available. Congressional representatives and staff get govenment health insurance, something they don't want you to know.

You see the government pays and provides their healthcare and health insurance. They very plan they criticize is theirs. And if that's not lying, then I don't know what is. And still they go forth and lie to the American people about heathcare and health insurance reform, all the while getting free healthcare at our expense, the taxpayers.

So why they're lying with one hand, they're doing the very thing they don't want us to have with the other. And that's on top of the lies they're espousing. They're hypocritical in their own life too. Yes, your elected politicians. Like you expect anything different? They talk about being your representatives and then forget you exist when it comes to actually doing anything. And then they'll sell you the corporate bought and paid plan to you as good for you.

They lie from the moment the see you to the moment you turn and walk away. Nary a truth said in between. Nary a truth, just lies about the truth. All in the weekly radio response from the Republicans.