Archive for June, 2012

“Death to The Boogeyman”

June 29, 2012

John Roberts killed him.

Ever since Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on March 23rd of 2010, the measure became cleverly and effectively branded by rabid Republican opponents as “Obamacare” — yet a new Boogeyman designed to scare and frighten a faithful flock with outright lies and unrestrained deceit. Such manipulation successfully spawned a mindless, mobilized opposition – elevating timidity and fear of change to the level of virtuous patriotism.

You’ve heard variations of the rap.

“Obamacare is a socialist takeover of one-sixth of the American economy, engineered by the worst Kenyan-born, secret Muslim President in our history, with government run health care, confiscatory taxation, thousands of unelected “Czars”, IRS agents behind every tree, the end of private property, no more HBO, bad haircuts and Death Squads dropping Gramma in a dumpster.”

None of this is remotely true, but much was generally believed by many. Until now.

God Bless John Roberts.

In what sure qualifies as a Kennedyesque “Profile in Courage”, John Glover Roberts, Jr., the 17th Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, not only provided the deciding vote in the Court’s historic (5-4) affirmation of the Affordable Care Act’s Constitutionality, but he actually found a brilliant way to make things come together — piecing the puzzle into place — preserving integrity through ingenuity. As with most complex issues, simplicity carried the day.

You don’t like “mandate?” Let’s call it a “Tax.” No one claims Congress can’t do that. Thank you and goodnight.”

Appointed by George W. Bush in 2005, this clearly Conservative Chief Justice’s sudden and completely unexpected shift to join his four more “liberal” brethren on the left in rendering one of the most critical Supreme Court decision of our lifetime — one of multigenerational implication, quickly brings to mind one of our own — a prominent Californian.

Earl Warren was one of only two people to be elected Governor of California three times, the other being Jerry Brown. Warren ran for Vice-President on the GOP ticket in 1948 behind Thomas E. Dewey.

Republican President Dwight Eisenhower thanked Warren for his service to the party through the years by appointing him as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in September of 1953. Chief Justice Warren then proceeded through subsequent years to lead the Court in a transformational series of progressive decisions that revolutionized the role of the Court in such landmark cases as Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Reynolds v. Sims (1964) and Miranda v. Arizona (1966).

The ultra-right wing John Birch Society initiated a strong “Impeach Earl Warren” Campaign from the late ‘50’s onward, as I suspect similar disapproval will be leveled at Chief Justice Roberts from this point forward by Latter-Day Birchers parroting Tea Party slogans or similar expressions of divisive discontent.

But in making his stand and drawing sharp, detailed attention to exactly what the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act IS against what it IS NOT, John Roberts has also succeeded where the Administration had inadvertently failed — in simply — explaining itself.

With the Boogieman down, most of us now know that “Obamacare” was designed to reduce healthcare costs by making services available to 32 million fellow citizens who currently can’t get insurance. The states will be required to set up insurance exchanges to make it easier to shop for private health insurance coverage and Insurance companies can no longer deny children coverage for pre-existing conditions, a benefit which will apply to adults in 2014. If you get sick, you can’t be dropped from coverage. Parents can put their children up to age 26 on health insurance plans. If Insurance Companies pay too much in Executive Compensation and other non-health related items, you will receive a refund on your premium payments. In 2012 alone, this will be more than a billion bucks coming back to taxpayers. The Medicare “doughnut hole” gap in coverage will be eliminated by 2020. The Act will lower the budget deficit by $143 billion for the next 10 years by raising some taxes and shifting more cost burdens.

Oh, and that “mandate”, now a “tax?” That will effect just freeloaders who want us to pay for them by refraining from participation. They’ll be only about two percent of the population. Two percent. All of this comes from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

And — as if our President needed more good news — extensive polling by the National Geographic Channel now reveals that the American people, by an overwhelming two to one margin, believe that Barack Obama is better equipped than Mitt Romney to handle an alien space invasion.

Sleep well tonight.

“Money Talks”

June 8, 2012

“Tailored suits, chauffeured cars
Fine hotels and big cigars
Up for grabs, up for a price
Where the red hot girls keep on dancing through the night —
Come on, come on, listen to the money talk.”

AC/DC — (1990) — From “The Razor’s Edge”

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker’s multimillion dollar victory in Wisconsin has blessedly assured President Barack Obama’s reelection in November with commanding Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate.

There are lots of moving parts here, perhaps including loose screws in my head, but I firmly believe that the American people are finally starting to get it. Having dramatically witnessed an undeniable demonstration of arrogant, self-serving, primarily inherited riches — unleashed without reservation or restraint by a few against the many, recognition is at last being given that — when a handful of billionaires can dominate mass media with their exclusive message by an eight to one margin — the voice of the people can no longer be heard. Such silence is our deadliest enemy.

Nobel Prize Winning Economist Joseph Stiglitz, in his latest New York Times Best Seller, “The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future”, categorically states that economic injustice is killing the American dream. Stiglitz cites irrefutable data showing that in the “recovery” of 2009-10, the top 1% of US income-earners captured 93% of growth. The trend is one of concentrating income and wealth at the top, the hollowing out of the middle and increasing poverty at the bottom as the five Walton families (of Walmart fame — not John-Boy’s folks) enjoy greater wealth than the bottom 30% of the rest combined — all one hundred million of us.

And those who believe we still are THE land of opportunity should kindly notice their environment. Bootstraps have broken and many a Horatio Alger can’t find work. I include this arcane observation by way of also stressing that, for the first time in my seven decades on the planet, young folks have a better shot at rising to the top elsewhere than right here at home — almost anywhere else in the free world. But I’m not going anywhere and they’re not either. This is all fixable, but that means not pretending everything’s fine except for “big government” ,“taxes”, “regulations”, and mindless devotion to a “free market economy” — all of which are just part of the big lies designed to keep us powerless, poorer and in our proper places. Markets are “free” only as paid for.

My Great-Great-Grandfather, Thomas Newcomb, lies buried in a cemetery in Upstate New York, beneath a large grave marker prominently displaying an American Flag under which can clearly be seen the words, “Soldier – Revolutionary War.” Drafted into George Washington’s Army at the age of 16, Thomas was a Rebel — a Renegade — a Traitor against the King. Quoting from official documentation, “On 5 Aug. 1781, Thomas rendered service near Peekskill, and in a whale-boat on Long Island Sound; captured a sloop, and, immediately after, another armed with ten guns, making her a prize, with three other sloops, loaded with wood and forage for the British army; carried them into Stamford, Connecticut.”

I am pleased to report that Thomas was also a man of committed social conscience. Again from the archives, “Following his discharge from the Army, Thomas became a farmer and wagon maker. In 1821, Mr. Newcomb moved to Onondaga Valley, New York, and from there canvassed the country in supporting The Anti-Slavery Movement.”

The Fourth of July is but four weeks away, when we celebrate our freedom with fun, frolic, festivities and fireworks.

Political Conservatives in 1776 were Tories, also known as “Loyalists” or “The Kings Men” — supporters of the status quo and unquestioned British rule. How ironic that many who will be adorned in all sorts of red, white & blue attire this 2012 Independence Day, wearing breeches, woolen stockings, leather shoes and those iconic three corner hats dangling gayly festooned Lipton bags, will be sporting historically verifiable rebel wear from an otherwise Conservative era. Yep. That was the LIBERAL LOOK!

There is no doubt in my mind that, without question, my patriotic Tea Party friends have their hearts in the right place. I remain ever hopeful their heads will soon follow.