The Latest on Health Care Reform

Well, apparently the GOP’s efforts at driving a stake into the heart of health care reform have been derailed. The President has put forth a bill that aims to be a compromise between the House and Senate bills that passed last year.

If passed, the bill would represent major and real change for the American people, especially the poor and uninsured/underinsured. I’m sure those on the right will hate it and demonize it without offering any plans of their own beyond tort reform.

This bill isn’t everything I would want (ie: Medicare for all American citizens and legal residents), but it is better than nothing and represents a significant step forward. Let’s hope it happens!


Visualize the Budget

The New York Times has a fascinating chart on their website showing the budget for 2011 and how it breaks down by category. You can check it here.

Not surprisingly the largest chunks are going to defense and Social Security, both of which are getting $783 billion. As I’ve said before, imagine if we cut defense spending half? We’d have another $391.5 billion to play with. I’m sure that would come in handy.

Visiting an Alternate Reality

In an alternate reality Obama is a fascist and a socialist, probably not born in the USA, who, despite overwhelming popularity and a strong win in the 2008 election, is defying the will of the people by forcing us to pay higher taxes through cutting taxes, and is probably a Muslim, as can be shown by him bowing before the Saudi king. Oh, and his people in the Department of Homeland Security are jack-booted thugs who are ready to arrest people at protests around the nation.

Sadly this alternate reality is how certain people actually view the world. They staged a cute little set of protests that were about… well, all those things, really. Check these pictures and see. They wanted to have some sort of revival of the Boston Tea Party and so, as a result, and cause I’m weak and can’t resist, I shall spend the rest of this article referring to them as “tea-baggers”.

The main thrust of the protests the tea-baggers were having today was that Obama was going to take your tax money and use it to do horrible, evil things, like nationalizing the banks, bailing out the automotive industry and generally turning us into one of those pussy little socialist nations like Germany or, even worse, France.

Now, mind you, Obama has actually helped lower taxes on people who make less than $250,000 a year (which I am sure includes most of the people at these protests), and during his watch Congress hasn’t done too much more in the way of bailouts than Bush and company did back in 2008. Ah, but Obama isn’t Bush and is, let’s face it, black-ish, so clearly he’s basically a Nazi and crap. I guess? Something like that.

If I sound a little vague here, it’s cause these tea-baggers haven’t managed to really make their point very clearly. It’s rather like the left’s protest marches (granola-baggers?), where they are officially protesting, say, the war in Iraq, but end up with people carrying banners for gay rights movements, the environmentalist movement, anti-globalization groups, etc. Their central message gets lost in the muddle, and it’s the same thing with the tea-baggers.

What the right fails to understand in this issue is that a: Obama, Congress and the Senate are hardly acting against the will of the American people, since they were voted into office to do things like this; b: Letting the fringe continue to pretend to be representative of mainstream Republican thought does nothing but damage their cause, and c: they have zero credibility here. Bush ran up the deficit and national debt considerably during his time in office and you heard nary a peep from most of these people (though there were some who complained).

There are some legitimate concerns with the fact that, to an extent, the government is spending money like a drunken sailor on his first shore-leave in a year. But given that most other people aren’t spending huge amounts of money, someone has to if we’re going to jump-start the economy. Yes, we’re passing debt onto the next couple generations, but that debt was made so much larger during Bush’s time in office that the little bit that’s been done during Obama’s time in office isn’t much by comparison.

So grow up, already. Get over yourselves and move on.

90% Fun!

The US government is moving to tax the bonuses given to various executives (mostly with AIG), to the tune of 90%. The logic here is that these companies are using money given to them by the taxpayers to stabilize their companies, not to give out as huge bonuses to the people who got us into this mess to begin with.

Much as I support the effort here, I don’t think this is Constitutionally viable. I mean, doesn’t this violate ex post facto? How can it be legal to go back and tax people at a higher rate on money they’ve already received and already paid taxes on?

I think we the people lost this round, and while I support Congress for trying to do something, I don’t think there’s anything that can be done. Let’s just make sure that the next round, we don’t make the same mistake.

Your Tax Dollars at Work!

It's a nice day for a white wedding.

It's a nice day for a white wedding.

The federal government is sticking its collective nose where it doesn’t belong yet again. They’re running an ad campaign touting marriage and what a wonderful thing it is! I have so many problems with this.

First, same-sex couples need not apply. This is only directed at the straights!

Second, this isn’t any of the government’s business. If I want to be single, that’s my affair, not theirs. They have no place telling me about the benefits of getting married, especially since they won’t let me.

Third, we have this quote:

“We’re not telling people ‘Get married’ but ‘Don’t underestimate the benefits of marriage,’ ” said Paul Amato, a sociologist at Penn State who advises the resource center.

Ok, that’s fine. How about we also tell people, “Don’t underestimate the benefits of being single”? Or, “Don’t underestimate the benefits of being a Democrat”? Believe me, if the government were pushing that message, I’d have many issues.

The federal government has many roles, and I support a great many of those, but this is not, never has been, and never will be, a message the government has any business pushing, period.

Those Darn Racist Democrats!

So due to the ongoing mess with Gov Blagojevich in Illinios, there is now controversy with his Senate pic, one Roland Burris. Understandably, due to the shadow over the governor there’s some concerns about Burris being picked to be the next Senator, especially since selling the senate seat is what the whole Blagojevich scandal centers on.

So now enter the right-wing commentators and, sadly, one Democrat who should know better, who are now saying the real reason the Democrats don’t want Burris is because he’s black! I linked this particular article cause it was the first one to pop up in my Google search. The fact that it’s from Fox News is a total coincidence, though a fun one!

Anyhow, I may be mistaken here. I seem to remember we had an election back in November, right. I could be remembering things wrong, but as near as I recall, the guy we elected to be our next President is not, in fact, white, but is actually biracial and identifies as black.

But of course there’s a certain set of people who have to believe anything against any black person anywhere is obviously due to racism. There’s a special set of people on the right who love to try to find racist actions by Democrats so they can say, “Ah-ha! See? We told you they don’t like blacks! They’re just as bad as we are!”

Rod Blagojevich (right), and friends.

Rod Blagojevich (right), and friends.

The fact remains that Burris could be Whitey McWhite and he’d still have problems due entirely to the shadow cast by Blagojevich. It’s not about race, it’s about the circumstances surrounding the appointment.

In the end, I’m sure Burris will take his seat in the Senate and this will all fall by the wayside, then we can move onto the next problem.

Conspiracy Theories and You!/Mass-Media Nonsense – The Roswell Incident

Roswell, New Mexico - Nothing special happened here, unless you can prove otherwise!

Roswell, New Mexico - Nothing special happened here, unless you can prove otherwise!

On or about July 7, 1947, an experimental weather balloon crashed near Roswell, New Mexico. Due to over enthusiasm on someone’s part, a press-release was sent out saying that they had found the remains of a “flying disk”. A correction was issued later that day, everyone realized their mistakes, and that was the end of it.

Well, at least it was the end of it in the world of reality.

The story was largely ignored until the 1970’s when it began to become widely known within UFO fanatic circles. Then it eventually wormed its way into the national consciousness where it has, sadly, resided to this very day, despite the efforts of the media to do basically nothing to dislodge it.

Due to the combination of conspiracy theories centering around this (“The guv’mint covered it up!”), and the fact that the media acts as a willing accessory in this story (“What really happened at Roswell? We’ll give you the official information, then lots of innuendo and baseless statements we’ll present as reality and let you decide!”), this article fits neatly into both the Conspiracy Theories and You! and Mass-Media Nonsense! categories here on my blog. True, most conspiracy theories touch both areas, but this one is especially egregious.

In many ways this is the grand-daddy of conspiracy theories. It ties in the idea of aliens visiting the Earth and shadowy, government cover-ups of this, and possibly other, UFO events. I’d say it’s second only to the Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy Theories in popularity and importance.

Of course there’s no actual evidence that it was a flying saucer or a disk or anything other than a weather balloon that was recovered at the crash site. Naturally the absence of any evidence is, to some thinkers, perfect proof that what they say happened, happened. After all, if the government covered it up, how could there be any evidence?

Because of this lack of evidence, all that we have are memories of a few people. Memories which were doubtless corrupted by time, wishful thinking, an eagerness to please, fame and money. This is part of why eyewitness accounts of events are not always reliable; everyone sees things differently. I’m not saying anyone is actually deliberately lying about what they witnessed, I’m just saying that they might not be providing an accurate picture of what actually happened.

The media is completely complicit in this whole thing, of course. If they didn’t talk about it so much, we wouldn’t know about it, at least not the extent that we do. If the mainstream media did their job (ie: “There is no evidence at all of any alien craft or bodies or of any sort of government cover-up of these events” instead of doing their usual wink, nod, spreading their hands, grinning inanely and saying, “Well, no one knows for sure!”), this whole thing wouldn’t have reached the point it’s at now.

Here’s a great example. Check out this video from CNN. Now at one point Miles O’Brien (and I love the fact that at one point O’Brien was hosting a news show with someone named Kira), says, “Are we ever gonna know what really happened?” Well, of course we are. We do. A weather balloon crashed. That’s what all the evidence points to. No evidence points to an alien spacecraft.

Consider also an interview with an old woman in that video. The incident happened when she was twelve. In 1947. Sixty-one years ago! Surely it’s entirely possible that after all that time, with her being told by various people that, oooo, it must’ve been a UFO, she might’ve started thinking, well, maybe, and her imagination began to fill in the blanks. Speaking just for myself I’d have a tough time recalling the details of a warm August night in 1986 when I first had sex. I can recall that it happened, but it was twenty-two years ago. My recollection of the fine details is hazy at best and I’m sure much of what I remember isn’t quite how it happened. That’s a little more than a third of the time this woman is talking about. I’m sure that in 2047 (ooooh! 100 years after Roswell! Coincidence? I THINK SO!), my memories of something that happened in 1986 will be even hazzier than they are now.

Please note: I’m not saying she’s lying. I think she really believes what she’s saying. That doesn’t make it true and it’s a great example of why eyewitness evidence is not the best.

Of course it’s not too late to correct this nonsense. All the media has to do is stop covering Roswell. Just do that until there’s some real, verifiable, hard evidence of anything other than the official government story of what happened that night. Until then, they should be responsible and do their jobs and ignore this idiocy.

As for the conspiracy theorists, you guys need to get a life. There’s no proof of what you say (not that that stops you). If you have proof, please come forward. But you don’t. Instead you come forward with the usual collection of innuendo and half-baked theories that aren’t supported by any evidence.

Also remember this folks: yes, there’s probably aliens out there. I’ve written about that before. But they probably aren’t coming here to observe us. Why would they? What makes us that interesting?

And no, the government isn’t covering up alien contact. Again, why would they? What does it gain them? You can make the usual noises about “national panic” but I think after 9/11 we can all say the public isn’t quite as panic-prone as we might think. On that day there were some uncomfortable moments and bad choices by some members of the public (like my sister who pulled her kids out of school and her money out of the bank), but most people kept their heads and watched the news.

I know this conspiracy theory won’t go away. It makes too much money for the people involved. I also know the media won’t stop covering it. It makes too much money for them. But is it too much for me to want to hold everyone to a higher standard?

Oh, well. I’m sure anyone from the conspiracy crowd will simply say that I’m delusional or in the pocket of the government. If that’s the case, damn it, I want a paycheck! 🙂