Friday, August 21, 2009

So Sad (Now) - re: National Health Insurance and Obama

1. I am sad that a Single Payer National Health Insurance Plan, the one logical alternative is Not going to replace Medicare, Medicaid, the Federal Health Plans (for Federal employees, retirees and Congresspeople) - and be made available to All.

2. I am sad that it appears now that either:

a. A watered down Public Option based plan will be passed - strongly influenced by the Drug Company Lobby, the Health Insurance Industry Lobby, the Hospital Industry Lobby and other such "interested parties" : with a likely result that it won't significantly help most Americans and will likely not stop health insurance and medical treatment under it from being - unaffordable for many or:

b. Other - "reform health insurance legislation" - will be passed and it may tokenly do a little good, but basically will not change much, or

c. No - health insurance reform legislation will be passed and

d. The Republicans - and Red Dog Democrats - will gain as a result of all of this and

e. President Obama - will be greatly weakened as a leader of our country

3. I am sad that President Obama seemingly did Not understand the lessons of the past - and didn't see the need to take Strong Leadership - meeting in Private with Democratic Party leaders and influential others - and hammer out a basic Plan - in advance of - "going to the Public" - and thus has been torn to pieces - in Public - by the combined efforts of the Republican Party and the organized other vested interests who may lose by serious reform.

The lessons of the past were Not that - Single Payer Health Insurance was "not feasible" - but rather that it was necessary to be organized and focused as a "single strong interest group" - strong enough to take on "Special Interests" - opposed to serious reform - to avoid - a "people vs. special interests" - repeat of the prior Clintons failure in the early 1990's.

4. I am sad that for the most part far, far too many American people do not clearly see certain obvious facts such as:

a. Health Insurance and Medical Treatment is Expensive -

1.) (Federal coverage for Federal employees/retirees) Examples from: (
2.) Blue Cross Rates for Family Coverage: the "low cost" coverage which appeals to those who don't have Huge Normal Medical Expenses - costs Non-Postal Employees/Retirees = $216.48/month - and the total paid by the Federal Government and the Worker/Retiree = $865.93/month,
3.) Blue Cross Rates for Family Coverage: the "comprehensive" coverage which appeals to those who have Huge Normal Medical Expenses (where paying a Higher Premium pays off for them) - costs similar people - $356.59/month - and the total paid similarly = $1120.47/month

b. To provide 50,000,000 - uninsured people with health coverage will either require:
1.) Uninsured Families - to pay figures such as $800-1100/month for good coverage or
2.) The Federal Government - to pay substantial amounts of such figures to give good affordable coverage or:
3.) Dual Systems to (continue to) Exist - where - those without good employer subsidized health insurance and those with no employer subsidized health insurance - if not of high income - are only able to afford policies with features such as $2500 yearly deductibles and similar - which continues to make health care unaffordable for them.

c. Non-Generic (and often generic) Prescription drugs in the U.S. - cost significantly more than in other countries - where their governments effectively have price controls which generally both keep costs lower and still allow drug companies to profit from these sales. It is a drug industry lobbying falsehood that the high prices in the U.S. are necessary to keep research and production going. Advertising and related lobbying costs could be drastically lowered without hurting most Americans most of the time,

d. Liability related court costs (and "tort reform") - are a smokescreen - which are a relatively small percentage of our medical costs,

e. Healthcare costs are higher in the U.S. than in other developed countries:

Example: 2003 Per Capita Costs:
( - from Kaiser Family Foundation
* U.S. = $5,711
* Canada = $2,998
* Germany = $2,993
* France = $3,048
* Japan = $2,249

f. It is an illusion that our health coverage is better than most developed countries AND - such countries virtually all (if not all) have universal health coverage

We can and should have a better healthcare system which in the long-run will provide universal coverage and lower overall costs. In the short-term some of us will have to pay more and "lose a little" - to get such coverage.

IF - single payer - is not our (eventual) system we will need to find ways to make powerful vested interests and their lobbies no longer control the system so that Profits no longer dictate "the market" - as exists today. We already have "socialized medicine" with all our Federal (and some limited State) systems. Medicare has not been the disaster that naysayers predicted, though it has problems.

It would seem logical for a new single system to be developed as follows:

a. Start initially with either: Medicaid, Medicare or the Federal Employee Healthcare System,
b. Reform - the system for one of the three programs to provide a single, comprehensive system that is available for all current beneficiaries,
c. Expand the reformed system over time to a second and then third of the above-mentioned groups, and then
d. Make the reformed system available to all other Americans,
e. Tax the public and employers - in an equitable manner (based upon income for the public and similarly for employers) - to pay for the increased costs - as the Government subsidizes coverage for all to make it affordable for all.

Thank you!

Either I'm Wrong or She's Right ?

I am (obviously) a man. My partner is (obviously) a woman.

Somewhat in jest - I say:

"Either I'm wrong or she's right" (- most, if not all the time.) What does this mean?

* Does this mean that I'm always wrong?

No - because She could be right and I could also be right. Perhaps this might imply that either I saw her being right - and learned from her so that I was right - then or perhaps, that by us communicating we reached a consensus - that was - right, perhaps because we both avoided being wrong through that process.

* Now - similarly - if I'm Wrong, does that mean that she's - right?

No - because I could be Wrong and she could also be Wrong. Perhaps this might imply that She was lead astray by Me - and Wasn't Right because She listened to What I said and took it seriously or Perhaps sometimes When we listen to each other cooperatively We both ended up Wrong, so .....

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Woodstock Memories - 40 Years Later!

Writing today on the 40th Anniversary of the beginning of the Woodstock Festival, which I was fortunate enough to attend, I will try to share my memories, faint as they are. As I wrote earlier 1969 was my year for discovering live rock music. I hope that what I write interests at least a few of you.

Two weeks before Woodstock I was in the NYC Area and got the opportunity to attend the Atlantic City Rock Festival, my first festival. Its performers included The Byrds, Canned Heat, Iron Butterfly, Joe Cocker, Creedence Clearwater and many others – overlapping somewhat with performers I saw at Woodstock. (See: - for a list of performers.)

I first heard of Woodstock while at Atlantic City, but presumed I’d never make it back to the East Coast two weeks later as logistically it seemed impossible at the time. I had planned on trying to go to the (First) Ann Arbor Blues Festival that weekend, but Woodstock had much more appeal to me.

My “friends” (more like acquaintances) that summer were most often a “radical/druggie” group. I best remember Wednesday that (Woodstock) week, there was space offered to me in a car going to Woodstock. With my mother’s permission I took off Thursday in an older model convertible with my friends.

Late that night in rural Pennsylvania we were awakened from our light sleep as our driver (apparently having dozed off) hit a guard rail. He then swung the wheel to the left to keep us on the road. We spun around but miraculously didn’t flip over or hit another vehicle. Shaken – another driver took over and we continued on.

As we approached the Festival Area the traffic got increasingly heavy. We slowed to such a slow pace, that I decided to leave my car-mates and walk into the festival. Perhaps I had a little of my hyperactivity, as well as a fear of missing early acts in the show. I (of course) never saw my car-mates that weekend again!

There was no “gate” when I got to the festival site, after walking a good hour or longer with my sleeping bag and clothes, so I didn’t have to pay anything for the festival. I remember seeing the huge stage and many thousands of others on the sloping site. It was easy to find somewhere to sit down as close to the stage as I could comfortably be.

Everyone was most cooperative and “cool” during the Festival. We had long lines for the portapotties, but there were no hassles that I saw with any of the simple logistics. Food was shared and there was plenty of water that helped when it got hot during the days. There was a little nudity, but really it didn’t feel that “crazy”, though it was certainly a Very New experience for me to be at such a momentous event.

I remember it raining Saturday or more likely it was Sunday which made it somewhat uncomfortable with mud and a wet sleeping bag and wet clothes, but such things seemed inconsequential with all the great music.

The group that most impressed me (silly to say I know!) – was Ten Years After – whose guitar player played extremely rapidly. That really seemed “great” to me then! I also enjoyed – The Who, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker and many others. The music continued into the early morning – Saturday and Sunday nights. I dozed off during some of the performances – from sheer exhaustion. It was hard to sleep much – not wanting to miss music and then facing the bright sun in the mornings.

Monday morning during Jim Hendrix’s set – I was both too exhausted and too disappointed with what I saw as a poor performance by his group – and decided to try to begin my trek – to NYC – to try to work my way back to WL. (I had seen Hendrix with his great group – with Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding in June, 1969 in Indianapolis – which had been incredible – and Hendrix’s new group was not together at all and he seemed a little out-of-it.).

I hitchhiked to NYC – don’t remember the trip at all. In NYC – I think I stayed at my relatives’ apartment in Manhattan. Richie Havens who I’d enjoyed at Woodstock was playing at the Felt Forum (part of Madison Square Garden) and I enjoyed the show very much – feeling a tie back to Woodstock.

I then flew back to Indianapolis the next day. I then hitchhiked home to WL. My first ride was in a Rolls Royce – the only time I’ve ever ridden in one. Though it was only a ride for perhaps 5 miles, it was a memorable end to a most memorable part of my life.

My memories of Woodstock – are not of illicit substances or craziness, though there were of both. (For me leaving Indiana a few weeks later for The University of Wisconsin was when I left the druggie world of 1969, though I was never a heavy drug user.)

My memories are of an experience which dwarfed my life up until then. I wish that I could remember more! A year later – I attended the Second Ann Arbor Blues Festival and got Massively Interested in Blues Music. No longer was I interested significantly in the groups now famous as the first Woodstock Album came out – and my peers in my single semester at Macalester College (St. Paul, MN) listened to. I was in my own mixed up worlds in my first two years away from home. Thankfully life is much calmer and more together now – 40 years later.


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Who Are They ???? (Is it a Conspiracy?)

Question: What do: Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin and New Gingrich have in common?
Answer: They are Not in the Picture above!
Who are these 4 Mysterious Bloggers?
First Prize: A Free Subscription to one of their blogs (you choose)!
Second Prize: A Free Subscription to two of their blogs (you choose)!
Third Prize: Enrollment (as soon as it's available) in the Republican Party's new National Healthcare Plan - at its Market Driven - Bargain Price!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Getting - Semi-Real - at Least - RE: Health Reform

It seems obvious to me that to date President Obama has fallen into a trap similar to what the Clintons fell into early in the first Clinton Administration and that Unless Obama recognizes this and takes decisive action the results may end up similarly bad for him. To date he seems paralyzed as the Clintons were.

The Clintons took their electoral mandate as a mandate for change. Their approach seeking a Single Payer Healthcare System (or similar) was totally flawed because they posed things (realistically) as a totally unorganized, non-unified - "public" confronting a well-organized Insurance Company Alliance - who had plenty of power with other big business interests.

To date Obama has spoken many things in varied environments as an idealistic, "realistic" concensus builder. This approach is totally naive given how the insurance industry and their allies have virtually conquered the "blue dog" Democrats and are pressuring mainstream others such as Senator Baucus and similar leadership. The battle for the support of mainstream America is now being lost by this naive approach, because of the Strong efforts of the opposition.

Scare tactics with divide-and-conquer strategies will succeed in butchering the Obama initiatives unless Obama - takes clear control of the issue in the public eye - and starts moving the public to see more of his position, whatever that might be. To do this, he will need to publically:

1.) Be directly publically connected with at least a few top Democrats - including Pelosi, Reid, most probably Baucus and possibly a single "Blue Dog Democrat" - building a Democratic Party Consensus with his leadership and

2.) Be directly connected to the American People - as a decisive - communicator - with clear goals - connecting the Democratic leadership, himself and "us" - the "public".

Such a push may not be that different from what he's done so far, except that he needs to be "the leader" instead of the "consensus builder" - as well as - the "hero against the lies" - of the "right".

In doing this he's going to need to be realistic in terms of what is doable, what isn't doable as well as How - the necessary compromises are a start, that will need more work over time to be successful in the long run. It is foolish to pretend that - major compromises - by themselves - will allow the obvious benefits of a Single Payer System - which evidently is deemed not doable now. To put forth the proposed reforms he's going to need to convince us - the public - that things will be Much Better than they now are. We're going to need to believe - which many of us do not - as of now do.