THE DRESDEN FILES Reading Challenge



My Blog List

Friday, April 29, 2011

TEA PARTY + reTHUGS© = RACISM

Something really awful happened yesterday. The President released his long-form birth certificate, in the (futile) hope that in so doing, he’d finally quell the non-story that he is not an American citizen. Of all the sickening things that have happened lately, this one finally pushed the envelope of supposedly decent behaviour into being torn beyond being fixable.

To see a seated President, regardless of my political views, or my agreement or disagreement with his policies, have to prove he's American simply because he's a person of colour both sickens and saddens me. Folks, this is NOT the 1970s – this is Anno Domine 2011. That this sort of egregious behaviour is not only tolerated but encouraged is disgusting, and both the Tea Party and the ReThugs© are pushing this issue for all that they are worth.

I’ve gotten a lot of flack over the last couple of years for saying that the Tea Party was a racist organization, since the only faces found in their crowds of folks at their meetings and conferences and conventions that belonged to people of colour were usually serving drinks and food. Why, GOSH, one of my less-loonie Republican friends told me about 3 months ago, "just COME to one of our ‘do’s’. We’ve got MEMBERS that are people of colour! You're being very unfair to us." So, I went. This particular chapter does indeed have people of colour. Three of them, to be precise. Out of, I hasten to add, a chapter that boasts of 2500 members just in the Houston area alone. So, generally speaking (AND stretching this thin plastic so far that it tears into shreds) I GUESS that I’ll have to say that the Tea Party isn’t 100% racist. Just 99.9999999%.

Wow. GoshGollyWowGeeWhiz. If I sound pretty underwhelmed, well, guess what? I am.

(http://www.mydesert.com/article/20110428/NEWS11/110428006/-1/) "Shortly after President Barack Obama declared himself an American-born citizen with papers to prove it, Baratunde Thurston declared himself a disgusted black man. “I find it hard to summarize in mere words the amount of pain and rage this incident has caused,” Thurston said. “This” would be the nation’s first black president standing in the White House, blue power suit and all, going on TV to debunk, in more detail than before, the persistent, he-ain’t-really-an-American rumors fanned anew by Donald Trump, the developer and might-be presidential candidate. Many African-Americans responded to Wednesday’s scene with a large sigh. The rumors and the controversy had a particular, troubling resonance for them: They’ve seen, heard, lived, the legitimacy of black people being called into question so many times before that, they said, they weren’t shocked to see it happen to Obama over something as simple as a birth certificate.

But they were sad about it, too, seeing what they felt was a high-level manifestation of the idea that when a black person accomplishes something great there must be something wrong. “The stress of feeling constantly called into question, constantly under surveillance, has emotional and physical consequences for us,” said Imani Perry, a professor at Princeton University’s Center for African American Studies. “It also puts us in the position of not being able to be constituents, with respect to our politicians, because we feel we have to constantly protect the president. ... You see people attacking him, and he’s the president, what happens to those of us who are not the president?”

This week, black people struggled to deal with what many of them perceived as a racially motivated dis of Obama at the hands of Trump and the “birther” movement. Fleeting thoughts about boycotting Trump’s hotels and casinos, or pressuring advertisers to pull away Trump’s hotels and casinos, or pressuring advertisers to pull away from Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” reality TV show bounced around Facebook and Twitter, the barbershops, the suites and the corner.

Trump, who may or may not seek the Republican presidential nomination, stepped up to a microphone in New Hampshire within minutes of Obama’s appearance to claim credit for forcing the president’s hand. He said he still wanted to scrutinize the birth certificate to make sure it’s legit. Trump also wants to eyeball Obama’s college grades, in search of bogusness around the bachelor’s and law degrees the president got from Columbia and Harvard respectively. Trump said he’d “heard” Obama was a poor student unworthy of an Ivy League education, but offered no real proof. GOT to wonder just how well he "heard" - with that hair, it's hard to tell where his skullbones are, let alone his ears.

That’s what bothers black Americans so much - that sense that nothing they do can ever be considered good enough, said William Jelani Cobb, professor of Africana studies and history at Rutgers University. He recalled being on a flight recently, expressing amazement when his seatmate, a member of Congress whom he did not name, said he, too, believed Obama was not really an American. “It’s partly American tradition of paranoia, and partly just plain old racism,” Cobb said. “Illegitimacy is the rule, not the exception. It’s the sort of thing that people come up with regularly when there are African-Americans operating at high levels.”

c'MON, folks – just how chuckleheaded can you be? Well, if you're a member of the Tea Party, pretty chuckleheaded, it seems.

We as a country did something wonderful in 2008: We elected a BLACK MAN to be the President of the United States. WE THE PEOPLE did this, and it was a shining, awesome moment in our history. Unfortunately, there was, and is still, a hard core of racially-motivated white people in this nation who did vote against Obama because he is black, and who virulently oppose him as president because he is black. And that racist core of angry white Americans resides on the extreme political right of U.S. politics. The far-right wing in America has never supported racial equality. Their political representatives voted against both the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965, and most have never repented of it. And, let's be honest, the loudest voices of right-wing talk radio and cable television appeal directly to that core with subtle and not-so-subtle racial messages, as has the right-wing of the Republican Party for many years. Think Ru$hit ToiletBug and Glenn “BOOHOO” Beck here, gangers. Think DixieCrats under a different name, and call it the Tea Party.

Take the town hall meetings about health care in 2009, for example. There were blatant signs of racism at some of the town meetings and, indeed, many signs that carried overtly racial messages.

We all can see those racial sub-texts in the intensity of the attacks on President Obama - not in the disagreements per se, but in the absolute viciousness of the rhetoric. Racism is often about disrespect, and many African-American citizens are now feeling that the black president in the White House is being disrespected. I also see it in the supporters of the damnable (AND completely stupid) birthers’ movement, who stir up doubts about President Obama's citizenship. I see it in the furor over the President of the United States speaking to the nation's school children about studying and working hard. And, agree with me or not, I saw it in the disrespect shown toward a black president by a white Congressman from the South in 2009, whose less than enthusiastic apologies have now turned him into a fund-raising martyr, cheered on by a defiant rebel yell against the man (or is it "boy"?) in the White House. Yelling out “LIAR!” during the President’s State of the Union address was rude, disrespectful and completely predictable. After all, that’s just one of “them uppity N-WORDs, we don’t have to pay attention to IT!”

We’ve come a long way forward, folks – and now we’re taking a LOT of short steps backwards. I remember segregated lunch counters, and WHITE ONLY and COLOURED ONLY bathrooms, drinking fountains and bus sections. I remember cheering when the Woolworth’s lunch counter in downtown Houston was desegregated, and I remember how proud I was of the courageous 20-somethings that were getting out and DOING something both positive and proactive about racial inequality. Now, we’re into the second decade of the new millennium, and very little has changed.

Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, said "minorities (and women - bitch is an equal-opportunity offender here) earn less than white people because they don’t work as hard and have less initiative. We have a high percentage of blacks in prison, and that’s tragic, but are they in prison just because they are black or because they don’t want to study as hard in school? I’ve taught school, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn’t study hard because they said the government would take care of them.” Kern said women earn less than men because “they tend to spend more time at home with their families.” While Kern has long history of taking outlandish positions - from saying homosexuality is more dangerous than terrorism to introducing legislation to force teachers to question evolution - her bigoted comments reflect a disturbing trend among even mainstream conservatives to blame valuable social safety net programs for creating a culture of dependency or even “slavery.”

Then we have “The Donald”, who is even more of a racist that Mrs. Kern, talking yesterday to a black journalist during his break-his-arm-patting-himself-on-the-back alleged “press conference” in New Hampshire: Yesterday during his press conference in New Hampshire - after the cable news networks cut to President Obama’s remarks regarding the release of his long form birth certificate - potential GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump spent some time extolling infrastructure investments made by China and other countries, suggesting the U.S. should follow suit. This prompted Les Trent, a reporter for Inside Edition, to ask Trump: “Isn’t that what President Obama tried to do with his stimulus package?”

Trump’s response to Trent, who is African American, was “Look, I know you are a big Obama fan.” Trent replied, “Why do you say that?" (http://thinkprogress.org/2011/04/28/donald-trump-black-reporter-obama/). Last night, on CBS Evening News, Face the Nation host and CBS correspondent Bob Schieffer criticized Trump's recent statements regarding Obama's college transcripts, saying race was Trump's underlying motive: "That's just code for saying he got into law school because he's black. This is an ugly strain of racism that's running through this whole thing. We can hope that kind of comes to an end too, but we'll have to see," Schieffer said.

Trump responded today, saying he wasn't suggesting anything about Obama's race: "That is a terrible statement for a newscaster to make. I am the last person that such a thing should be said about. Affirmative action is out there. It's a program that is available. But I have no idea whether it applies in this case. I'm not suggesting anything.”

OF COURSE he isn’t suggesting anything, the damned liar. After all, doesn't he have a great relationship with "the blacks"?

And THEN, equally of course, we have Orly Taitz, who is the person that is credited with starting the abominable “birther” crap to begin with. Lawrence O’Donnell had her on his program last night, to give her a chance to speak to the release of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate and to apologize to the President for calling him a liar publicly on more than one occasion. Mrs. Taitz responded by awkwardly asking for a close-up, so that she could show a document that she claimed was Obama’s selective service record. O’Donnell was in no mood to let Taitz introduce new “evidence,” or let her filibuster, and after a few minutes of attempting to force her to stay on topic, he ended the interview. Yeah, he lost it, big time - but I watched the interview, and honestly can't blame him for it. She also had to compete with herself from earlier today, when she said that a real long form birth certificate would have said “negro” under “father’s nationality,” not “African”.

These are just the visible signs, gangers. It’s no coincidence that they all identify as both Tea Party Republicans and birthers. I am ashamed of a lot of my fellow countrymen. It’s one thing to be ignorant which means that you’ve never had the chance to learn any different. It’s another thing entirely to embrace stupidity and make said stupidity the choice of your life’s direction.

I just hope that we as a country can get beyond this nastiness. As the President said, there are a lot of things that we should be talking about and doing something about, rather than being distracted with this silliness.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

THE HUCKSTER EXPOSED (AND SHAMED, BUT HE DOESN’T KNOW IT)

Since I’ve never been a fan of The Donald (wasn’t even before his dick started leading his life for him in re: Wife #1), the crap that he’s been spouting lately didn’t really interest me, and basically I ignored it. Unfortunately, when you write a political/opinion blog, you really can’t ignore the lunatic fringe and their vomitous spewings for very long. I guess that I was like a lot of other folks; The Donald was, well, being “The Donald” and therefore whatever he was spewing wasn’t worthy of note. I hereby apologize to all: what he’s spewing in indeed worthy of note, if only to do the hand-smacking-head motion together with the thought “just HOW stupid does this P. T. Barnum wannabe think the rest of us ARE?”

The answer, of course, is that he thinks we’re all pretty stupid. As in, whatever he says is pure gold and only the truly and terminally dumb wouldn’t sit up and take notice of it, as witness his breaking his own arm patting himself on the back about this crap about the President’s long-form birth certificate. *HE* is convinced that he’s the one that forced the President to pony it up by pressuring him in public, in as rude and raunchy a fashion as was possible (incidentally, I believe what the President said: he’s tired of the nonsense, and nobody forced him to do anything).

So, let’s take a look at The Donald and see just exactly where he’s coming from, shall we? Here is a man, born into wealth and privilege, who basically has cheated and lied his way into more wealth and privilege by gaming the system through bankruptcy after bankruptcy after bankruptcy, and who brags about this fraud as if it’s something to be proud of. Here’s a man who is a sadistic “moralist” who believes that he’s been divinely appointed to the role of political candidate wannabe, and, as such, can say and do whatever he wants, including lie about everything that has to do with his main opponent, the President. Here is a man who is a born-again ReThug© who hasn’t bothered to vote for the last 20 years, and who has not supported the Republican Party by contributing either money or time to said party. Most importantly, here is a man whose only verifiable income comes from a reality show where he gets to exercise his sadistic impulses to the fullest by embarrassing people who are dumb enough to be a part of it.

Basically, here is a man who is a proven liar, cheat and fraud, who thinks that he’s going to be given the Presidency without his having to work for either the position or the job, simply because he’s a better liar, cheat and fraud than anybody else running. Anybody who questions his “divine rights” is, of course, the worst sort of human being: a person who is jealous of his success in business and envious of his wealth.

So, I ask again, just how stupid does this huckster think we all are? Pretty stupid, judging from the things that he’s been saying lately (http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/donald-trump-filed-bankruptcy-times/story?id=13419250):

"I've used the laws of this country to pare debt. ... We'll have the company. We'll throw it into a chapter. We'll negotiate with the banks. We'll make a fantastic deal. You know, it's like on 'The Apprentice.' It's not personal. It's just business," Trump told ABC's George Stephanopoulos last Thursday. Doug Heller, the executive director of Consumer Watchdog, said Trump is the "most egregious, almost comical example" of the disparity between what the average American faces when going through bankruptcy and the "ease with which the very rich can move in and out of bankruptcy."

"Under the American bankruptcy laws, if you end up in bankruptcy because you're struggling with divorce or medical payments or a sudden change of income, it's a disaster. If you fail miserably with huge dollars involved then you just need some accountants to rework your books," Heller said. The multi-billionaire touts his huge net worth and big business experience as qualifications for his possible presidential run. Trump recently bragged that he has "a much bigger net worth" than Mitt Romney, who he said is "basically a small business guy." "I'm a much bigger businessman. … I mean, my net worth is many, many, many times Mitt Romney's," Trump said.

The big business man has wrangled with big debt in the past 20 years. Trump's first visit to bankruptcy court was in 1991, when his Atlantic City casino, the Taj Mahal, was buried under a mountain of debt. The Taj carried a $1 billion price tag and was financed by junk bonds carrying a staggering 14 percent interest rate. As construction completed, the economy slumped, as did the Atlantic City gambling scene, soon plunging Trump into $3.4 billion of debt. Just one year after the Taj Mahal deal was struck, Trump was back in court, again "restructuring" his debt. This time the Trump Plaza Hotel in Atlantic City was in the lenders' crosshairs. Trump owed $550 million on the hotel and agreed to give up 49 percent of the hotel to Citibank and five other lenders. In return, Donald Trump was given a similar deal as before, with more lenient conditions to repay the debt. The Donald stayed on as chief executive, but his salary was taken away. "Here's a guy who's failed so miserably so many times and it's not as though he had to claw his way back after seven years in credit hell. He just said. 'OK, this isn't my problem anymore.' For him, it's just been a platform to the next money-making scheme," said Dough Heller, the executive director of Consumer Watchdog.

In 2004 Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts Inc. filed for voluntary bankruptcy after accumulating $1.8 billion in debt. The Donald agreed to reduce his share in the company from 47 percent to 25 percent, meaning he no longer had control over the company. The deal also included lower interest rates and a $500 million loan to make improvements. Also in 2004, he lost control of his name. One rule when you have a name like Trump is you never let anyone own it and control it. He got into such a bad spot here that he ended up with others owning and controlling his name. They can do what they want once they own it," LoPucki said.

Shortly after the proceedings, Trump told CNN's Geri Willis that his personal fortune would not be affected. "This is a very small portion of my net worth. It's less than 2 percent," he said. When the economy turned downward in 2008, so too did Trump's real estate holdings. Trump Entertainment and his affiliated companies had $2.06 billion in assets and was $1.74 billion in debt. In December 2008 his company missed a $53.1 million bond interest payment, propelling Trump Entertainment Resorts into bankruptcy court and plunging its stock price from $4 per share to a mere 23 cents. This time, Trump fought with his board of directors over the restructuring and ended up resigning as chairman of the board. He emerged from a messy, months-long process with a 10 percent share of the company.

LoPucki said it was very unusual for anyone to have that many large businesses go through bankruptcy. Most of the debt Trump incurred was through bonds that were sold to the public. "People knew who Donald Trump was and for that reason were willing to trust the bonds, and they got burned," LoPucki said. "The people who invested with him or based on his name lost money, but he himself came out pretty well." “

Well, today, this liar, cheat and fraud practically broke his arm patting himself on the back as being the man who “forced the issue”. Trust me, Donald baby, you didn’t force anything. The President is tired of being in the crosshairs of this particularly egregious lie, and he decided to make an end to it. Nothing more, nothing less. In the process, he basically took out The Huckster as well, and shamed him beyond belief – not that The Donald will ever admit that point.

And THIS, gangers, is the man who thinks that he can run the country? Nay, nay, I say. Trust me, collectively we are NOT that stupid.

Monday, April 11, 2011

SHAME, SHAME ON YOU, GLENN BECK

Let’s get something straight right now. I don’t much like Lawrence O’Donnell. I rarely watch his program, because, let’s face it, he’s always seemed to me at least to be, well, just that little bit too cutesy and folksy for my taste. A bit too dispassionate, a bit too detached – and, frankly, just a bit boring. There have been times, lately, when he’s shown that the dispassion that he shows can be a far more effective tool that an Olbermann-style bluster, or a Maddow-style snark, or even a Schultz-style rant. All of that changed for me tonight.

I dislike Glenn Beck; I find him pretentious, whiney and a complete phony. I have a lot of Mormon relatives, most of whom have been sealed in the Temple (which means that they are very good Mormons indeed), and I have yet to hear any of them say anything other than “Well, he tithes more than his 10%” – as if that was the absolute measure of the man’s worth. I keep up with the lunatic fringe on the principal that if you don’t listen to them and learn what they’re about and what they’re up to, the only person that you hurt is yourself. Being informed is still the best weapon that there is.

Well, tonight I was watching the late edition of Chris Matthews’ show, and out of sheer laziness, I didn’t change to another channel when Mr. O’Donnell came on the air. I’m glad that I didn’t, because I learned something that I find so egregious, so hateful and so shameful that it’s making me ill just to contemplate. I got to listen to part of Glenn Beck’s radio show that aired today. Did you hear it? It was, to put it mildly, loathsome.

Planned Parenthood is under attack, as are all women’s health issues including abortion on demand. On Friday, Mr. O’Donnell mounted a highly emotional and personal defense of Planned Parenthood on his Friday show. O'Donnell first zeroed in on Sen. Jon Kyl's assertion (which he was later forced to retract) that 90 percent of Planned Parenthood's services are abortion related. He called Kyl a "nice guy" who had told a "horrible lie" that he said was fed to him by "fanatical enemies of Planned Parenthood who hate the idea that the word 'planned' should ever come before the word 'parenthood.' " O'Donnell then showed charts which demonstrated that, actually, only around three percent of the organization's resources go towards abortion services, with the rest going to various screening and sexual health services. (None of the abortion services are funded with federal money either.) He said that Kyl's false statement would not be forgotten. "Lies that big...do not go unnoticed in the Senate," he said. "Jon Kyl will never again be trusted by Senators, including Republican Senators, as a source of reliable facts."

Mr. O’Donnell then turned to an email which he said came from a friend of his who used Planned Parenthood. He read the email out from his Blackberry, and as he did so, his hands, and his voice, started shaking with emotion. The friend's email recounted her dire financial straits and history of medical illnesses. Planned Parenthood, she wrote, was the place she went for her birth control and her cancer screenings, and through them, she said, she was able to get multiple mammograms. "It's terrifying to think that with lack of funds, millions of women would not have access to this kind of care," the friend wrote. "I can't imagine what I would do without Planned Parenthood. Talking about what they do is part of your job right now...please yell some sense into these people." As O'Donnell said those last words, his voice broke perceptibly, and he dropped the Blackberry shaking in his hands and turned away from the camera.

On Monday, Glenn Beck played the clip – and here’s what he had to say about Mr. O’Donnell’s emotional moment:

On his Monday show, Beck played the tape of O'Donnell - a host whose feud with Beck is long-running--reading the email from a friend of his who described her need for Planned Parenthood's services. He said he couldn't believe that O'Donnell had teared up about such an issue. "I believe that my country is under attack, and that man's freedom as we understand it is over," he said. "He gets on the air on Friday and [cries] about, 'we're not going to kill babies anymore.'"

He started playing the tape, but asked his producer to stop after O'Donnell read a part of the email where his friend said that she depended on Planned Parenthood. "Stop just a second!" Beck said. "Hookers? Who depends on Planned Parenthood?" He then impersonated the woman, who said she had had an abortion. "I've got 400 abortions that I have to have!" Beck said. "I have to have these children aborted!" He and his co-hosts then continued making fun of O'Donnell and the woman for several minutes more.
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/11/glenn-beck-lawrence-odonnell-planned-parenthood-hookers_n_847499.html?ref=tw)
Mr. Beck and his sidekick laughed over this for a good five minutes. They thought that this was funny.
Guess what, you son of an earless mother: *I* use Planned Parenthood for my health screenings. I used Planned Parenthood for my contraceptive needs, which also answered a need for hormones that my body didn’t produce enough of. I use Planned Parenthood for my twice-yearly wellness screenings. I use Planned Parenthood for mammograms.

Guess what else, you hyenas? There aren’t enough people to adopt the babies that are already out there. There aren’t enough people to adopt the special-needs children that need homes. For the love of the Goddess, there aren’t enough homes to even FOSTER all the children that are born every year, let alone foster the ones that are already out there, always assuming that the ethnic backgrounds are judged compatible. The GLBT community is not allowed to foster or adopt children. If the children are the offspring of alcoholics or drug addicts, NOBODY will take them.

If you’ve got to value every single life, then how come you don’t value them? As for your assertion about Margaret Sanger, I strongly suggest that you do your homework; the precursor to Planned Parenthood was an organization, started by Preston Bush, who was a great admirer of Hitler’s method of “controlling the undesirables” by sterilization.

Oh, and just for the record, Mr. Beck: I’m not a hooker. I’m a housewife.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

NO SHUTDOWN - BUT THERE IS A SELLOUT

Well, gangers, the FedGov didn’t shut down. Planned Parenthood didn’t lose its funding. Whoopie.

I know, that’s cynical of me, but this didn’t accomplish much of anything for us, the people that voted this particular gang of rascals into office. I include myself in this crowd because I voted for the current President, who has, basically, turned into a Neville Chamberlin-style appeaser of as sickening and corrupt a gang of ReThugs as I’ve ever seen. I’ve been proud to be a liberal because liberals care about things that most of the rest of the world doesn’t have: clean water, clean air, abundant, clean food, good roads, good infrastructure for delivery of all of this plus electrical power, good education for all – everything that makes this nation great. We’ve cared for the poorest and the most powerless with Medicaid, food stamps and CHIP. We’ve cared for the elderly with Social Security and Medicare, with cheap, good meds and cheap, good medical care. We’ve cared for women’s health issues and the right of reproductive choice.

On Friday, April 8th, all of this basically came to an end. President Obama, basically, sold us all out – all of us, be we liberals, conservatives or loonie-tunes. I can understand why he did it, but I don’t like it, and I don’t believe that it was necessary. Who won the standoff isn’t really relevant; more important is who lost it. We did. We all did.

A Senate Appropriations Committee review says that most of the $2 billion in cuts contained in the one-week bill come from a $1.5 billion slashing of the Federal Railroad Administration's High Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program. More cuts are achieved by hacking $220 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Fund, and research into making air travel safer and more efficient took cuts as well. Next on the agenda? Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP. Take a good look at Paul Ryan’s budget proposals.

Specifically, the Ryan proposal trumpets the results of an economic projection from the Heritage Foundation, which claims that the plan's tax cuts would set off a gigantic boom. The Heritage Foundation projection has large tax cuts actually increasing revenue by almost $600 billion over the next 10 years. Folks, cutting taxes on the wealthiest Americans and raising taxes on the poorest does NOT result in increasing revenue. What it does do is make sure that nobody BUT the wealthiest Americans get anything at all out of the deal. A more sober assessment from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office tells a different story. It finds that a large part of the supposed savings from spending cuts would go, not to reduce the deficit, but to pay for tax cuts. In fact, the budget office finds that over the next decade the plan would lead to bigger deficits and more debt than current law.

But NOT for the wealthiest. Oh, no. They’ll wind up paying no taxes at all.

Leave health care on one side for a moment and focus on the rest of the proposal. It turns out that Ryan and his colleagues are assuming drastic cuts in nonhealth spending without explaining how that is supposed to happen. According to the budget office, which analyzed the plan using assumptions dictated by House Republicans, the proposal calls for spending on items other than Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — but including defense — to fall from 12 percent of GDP last year to 6 percent of GDP in 2022, and just 3.5 percent of GDP in the long run. David Brooks has an excellent opinion piece about this nonsense: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2014724305_brooks10.html?syndication=rss I hope that you all read it. While I don’t agree with some of what he says, I do agree that we need to have a sane, reasonable, NON-emotional discussion about how to lower costs without penalizing those who are already overwhelmed with the decision to either eat or get meds, or to pay the light bill or go to the hospital. WonderWife has been extraordinarily lucky in that she found a job after two years of being unemployed that offered health benefits for us both at a very low cost. Our copays are low, our out-of-pocket expenses are pretty much nominal, and there’s no lifetime cap on expenses. Most people these days aren’t that lucky.

I agree with Representative Ryan that we need to cut spending. I even agree with some of what he is proposing – BUT I don’t agree with cutting Social Security or Medicare. I also don’t agree with his idea of block grants to states to fund Medicaid and CHIP programs. I wish that he’d propose instead to cut the Pentagon budget for toys that don’t work by 2/3rds. Cut at least 600 billion out of whatever they call the new equipment program, and we’d be in some TALL cotton as far as having monies to put back into the programs that actually work. Both myself and my wife spent time in the military, and I don’t think that cutting the salaries of the volunteers is a good idea. I do think that redirecting some of the money – hell, a LOT of the money - that the Pentagon wastes on non-competitive bid goods and services to the VA, specifically the hospitals, would be a good thing to do.

The $5.8 trillion in spending cuts - such as changing federal payments to Medicaid programs to a block grant to the states and shifting Medicare to the private sector – that Mr. Ryan’s budget proposal would make over the next decade would be "gradual" but cannot be avoided, Representative Ryan told Democratic critics. Other areas targeted for cuts or revamps include education grants, environmental projects, food stamps, transportation spending, government salaries, and corporate and personal taxes. Great idea, eh? Cut Pell grants, gut the EPA, and make sure that infrastructure spending goes to the corporations that bought and paid for him, and others in both the House and the Senate.

And this, gangers, is where I say that President Obama has sold us all out. He didn’t blink, but he did flinch. This could have been pushed through during the lame-duck session of Congress before Christmas. He should have gotten this done THEN. Personally, I believe that, had he proposed his health-care initiative as opening up Medicare for everybody (as Representative Kuchinich wanted him to do), that we wouldn’t be having this stupid conversation at all. The President might be a great chess player, but this is not chess. Neither is it a “nyah, nyah, BEAT’cha” competition between the Tea Party and the rest of the elected representatives.

Buckle up, kids – it’s going to be a very bumpy ride from here on in.