Open Thread. Write Your Words on Wednesday, January 31, 2007


“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
~ Jackie Robinson

“I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me . . .
All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.”

~ Jackie Robinson


Jackie Robinson
Also known as Jack Roosevelt Robinson, John Roosevelt Robinson
Born on this day in 1919

“The right of every American to first-class citizenship is the most important issue of our time.”
~ Jackie Robinson

“There’s not an American in this country free until every one of us is free.” 
~ Jackie Robinson

Please tell your tales.
Share your stories; offer your statements of fact.
Might you relate to the words of a man that broke the color barrier?
What obstructions were placed in your path?
What were you able to overcome?

Dissent On Iraq. Bush, The Decider Divides Republican Party

© copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Please listen to the founders’ definition of the government as articulated by Senator Arlen Specter.  Watch, as the Senator addresses the decisive dictum made by the current President, George W. Bush.  Bush believes he is the “decider,” the sole “decision maker.”  However, Senator Specter differs.  You decide.  Specter Challenges President’s Claim to be “The Decider.”

The Washington Post observes the nation is divided; yet not by party lines.  The vast majority want us [the United Sates of America] to exit Iraq.  The logistics of when and how are in question.  The House and Senate are split.  Their dilemma mirrors that of the citizenry.  The surge may be slowed,  perhaps even stopped.  George W. Bush is not the Commander-In-Chief he once was.  He can barely contain the Republicans that elected him to office.  How can he be expected to restrain the terrorists that have long eluded him? 

Read of the resulting gridlock.  Five resolutions float on the floor.  Who will decide what happens?  The “decider,” the “decision maker,” or perchance, the people!

For GOP, Discord In Dissent On Iraq
Senators With Doubts Over Bush Troop Plan Debate 5 Resolutions
By Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray?, Washington Post Staff Writers?
Wednesday, January 31, 2007; A01

Republican misgivings over President Bush’s new war strategy are increasingly dividing the GOP as the Senate moves toward a showdown over the deployment of 21,500 additional troops to Iraq.

Republican strategy had envisioned a single resolution that would allow the party’s senators to express doubts about the plan without stating their outright opposition. Instead, Republicans appear to be balkanizing, with at least five GOP drafts now in play and more Republicans stating their reservations.

“We’re all looking for a plan that will work,” said Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). “The current plan is not working, and 21,500 additional troops — it’s a snowball in July. It’s not going to work.”

Vice President Cheney and senior military officials attended a Republican policy lunch yesterday, which turned into a raucous debate about the various resolutions, according to a party leadership aide. Bush will meet with GOP senators on Friday as the White House continues to try to tamp down opposition.

But Republican misgivings are not subsiding. “This war has been mishandled. No one doubts that mistakes have been made in Iraq,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), long a supporter of Bush’s war policy, told Adm. William J. Fallon at Fallon’s confirmation hearing to become the top U.S. commander for the Middle East. “I have to tell you, this committee did not get candid assessments in the past, and I view that with deep regret.”

Having chastised Democrats for not showing unity on Iraq, Republican leaders have decided they need a resolution of their own when the Senate begins debate on nonbinding resolutions of opposition next week.

Specter, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, pushed back against Bush’s claim he is the “decision maker,” saying the White House needs to accept Congress’s role in shaping war policy.

“I would suggest respectfully to the president that he is not the sole decider,” Specter said during a hearing on Congress’s war powers. “The decider is a shared and joint responsibility.”

Republican leaders had hoped to divide Senate opinion largely along party lines, to allow Bush to argue that any outright statement opposing his plan was politically motivated partisanship. A resolution by McCain and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) demanding tough benchmarks for progress in Iraq was supposed to garner overwhelming Republican support, being a more palatable alternative to language by Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) that would state opposition to the troop buildup.

Instead, rival measures continue to proliferate. Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said he is circulating language that would forbid a cutoff of funding for troops in the field under any circumstance, similar to another proposal by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) is shopping around a measure that would demand that the president’s policies be given a chance to work while calling for the reversal of perceived war-related mistakes, such as the wholesale purging of Baath Party members from the Iraqi government and the failure to ensure equitable oil-revenue sharing among Iraqi groups.
“Resolutions are flying like snowflakes around here,” Specter said.

Meanwhile, the two camps promoting competing resolutions of opposition — one headed by Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and the other by Warner — have not agreed on common language that could win a clear majority .

“This isn’t about party loyalty. This isn’t about presidential politics. It’s about policy,” said an exasperated Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), who has been urging Warner to negotiate an agreement to meld his language with the Democratic-driven resolution approved last week by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “What America is desperately thirsting for is for the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives to come to terms with where we are in Iraq.”

The policy, the President, the protracted war, and the people, where might the power lie?  Is peace even considered an option?

Resources for Republican Rebellion and Resolutions . . .

  • For GOP, Discord In Dissent On Iraq, Senators With Doubts Over Bush Troop Plan Debate 5 Resolutions.  By Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray.  Washington Post. Wednesday, January 31, 2007; A01
  • pdf For GOP, Discord In Dissent On Iraq, Senators With Doubts Over Bush Troop Plan Debate 5 Resolutions.  By Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray. Washington Post. Wednesday, January 31, 2007; A01
  • Hillary Clinton or Her Husband; War in Iraq



    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Hillary is resolute even while campaigning in Iowa.  She does not apologize for her position on Iraq.  The Senator from New York spoke in favor the war in 2002.  She voted for the invasion, and she still supports the effort.  Missis Clinton prefers we adjust the strategy.  Last week she called for a troop increase into Afghanistan.  However, for the Senator, the war must be won.  She as he, George W. Bush thinks we must succeed in Iraq.  Neither proposes a swift exit from this battle.  President Bush wants a temporary surge in Iraq. Hillary believes we must extricate the troops slowly.  Bush must bear the burden and clean up his mess before he leaves office in January 2009.

    Clinton has stayed steadfastly on a centrist path, criticizing President Bush but refusing to embrace the early troop withdrawal options that are gaining rapid favor in her party. This careful balance is drawing increasing scorn from liberal activists, frustrated that one of the party’s leading lights has shown little appetite to challenge Bush’s policy more directly and embrace a plan to set a timetable for bringing U.S. forces home.

    Perhaps, Presidential candidate Clinton believes as she does because her husband Bill intimated “regime change” when he was President.  Former President Bill Clinton “hinted” that under Saddam Hussein the people of Iraq would never be able to “rejoin the family of nations as a freedom-loving and law-abiding member.”  In 1998, William Jefferson Clinton proclaimed . . .

    Statement By The President

    Today I am signing into law H.R. 4655, the “Iraq Liberation Act of 1998.”  This Act makes clear that it is the sense of the Congress that the United States should support those elements of the Iraqi opposition that advocate a very different future for Iraq than the bitter reality of internal repression and external aggression that the current regime in Baghdad now offers.

    Let me be clear on what the U.S. objectives are: The United States wants Iraq to rejoin the family of nations as a freedom-loving and law-abiding member.  This is in our interest and that of our allies within the region.

    The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home.  I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq’s history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up.  Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else.  The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life.

    My Administration has pursued, and will continue to pursue, these objectives through active application of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.  The evidence is overwhelming that such changes will not happen under the current Iraq leadership.

    In the meantime, while the United States continues to look to the Security Council’s efforts to keep the current regime’s behavior in check, we look forward to new leadership in Iraq that has the support of the Iraqi people.  The United States is providing support to opposition groups from all sectors of the Iraqi community that could lead to a popularly supported government.

    On October 21, 1998, I signed into law the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999, which made $8 million available for assistance to the Iraqi democratic opposition. This assistance is intended to help the democratic opposition unify, work together more effectively, and articulate the aspirations of the Iraqi people for a pluralistic, participatory political system that will include all of Iraq’s diverse ethnic and religious groups.  As required by the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for FY 1998 (Public Law 105-174), the Department of State submitted a report to the Congress on plans to establish a program to support the democratic opposition.  My Administration, as required by that statute, has also begun to implement a program to compile information regarding allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes by Iraq’s current leaders as a step towards bringing to justice those directly responsible for such acts.

    The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 provides additional, discretionary authorities under which my Administration can act to further the objectives I outlined above. There are, of course, other important elements of U.S. policy.  These include the maintenance of U.N. Security Council support efforts to eliminate Iraq’s weapons and missile programs and economic sanctions that continue to deny the regime the means to reconstitute those threats to international peace and security.  United States support for the Iraqi opposition will be carried out consistent with those policy objectives as well.  Similarly, U.S. support must be attuned to what the opposition can effectively make use of as it develops over time.  With those observations, I sign H.R. 4655 into law.

    William J. Clinton

    The White House

    October 31, 1998.

    President Bill Clinton acted on his beliefs and his Statement.  He ordered an attack on Iraq.  Operation Desert Fox was born.  The official intent of this mission was to “degrade” Saddam Hussein’s ability to produce weapons of mass destruction.  The targets were vast.  Facilities thought to be associated with chemical and biological weapons production were bombed.  Missiles were aimed at buildings intelligence sources claimed housed the regime’s secret police and elite Republican Guard forces.  Airfields, air defense sites, and a Basra oil refinery were all hit.

    Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz reported 62 military personnel were killed and 180 injured.  Yet, there was more.  Many deaths occurred because the United Nations with the blessing of the United Sates imposed cruel and inhumane restrictions on the people of Iraq.  These sanctions were imposed while George Herbert Walker Bush was in office.  However, Hillary’s husband Bill did nothing to lift the authorizations.  Clearly, from his statement in 1998 a reader can only conclude he endorsed such horrors.

    With “thanks” to sanctions against this Middle Eastern nation, one-half a million children perished in Iraq!  Children were slowly slaughtered, starved in mass!  Apparently, that was all right with the Clinton Administration as is evident in this article.  A Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting journalist offers . . .

    “We Think the Price Is Worth It”

    Media uncurious about Iraq policy’s effects- there or here

    By Rahul Mahajan

    Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died.  I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima.  And, you know, is the price worth it?

    Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.

    –60 Minutes (5/12/96)

    Then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s quote, calmly asserting that U.S. policy objectives were worth the sacrifice of half a million Arab children, has been much quoted in the Arabic press.  It’s also been cited in the United States in alternative commentary on the September 11 attacks (e.g., Alexander Cockburn, New York Press, 9/26/01).

    Perchance, Senator Hillary Clinton agrees.  The ends justify the means.  Hence, she supports a ‘successful’ combative mission, as long as it does not continue into her [possible] watch.

    We can presuppose that Senator Clinton, who openly states her support for brutal battles, can stomach sanctions that destroy young lives.  Unlike former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and I, war and death are options this Presidential candidate endorses.  For me, Mister Clark says it all.

    Neighborhood Bully

    Ramsey Clark on American Militarism

    An interview by Derrick Jensen

    The Sun

    Clark is founder and chairperson of the International Action Center, the largest antiwar movement in the United States.  A vocal critic of U.S. military actions around the globe, he calls government officials “international outlaws,” accusing them of “killing innocent people because we don’t like their leader.”

    [Clark] He has traveled to Iraq, North Vietnam, Serbia, and other embattled regions of the world to investigate the effects of American bombing and economic sanctions there.  The sanctions, he says, are particularly inhumane: “They’re like the neutron bomb, which is the most ‘inspired’ of all weapons, because it kills the people and preserves the property, the wealth.  So you get the wealth and you don’t have the baggage of the hungry, clamoring poor.”

    After the Gulf War, in 1991, Clark initiated a war-crimes tribunal, which tried and found guilty President George Bush and Generals Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf, among others.  Clark went on to write a book, The Fire This Time (Thunder’s Mouth Press), describing the crimes he says were committed by U.S. and NATO forces during the Gulf War. When asked why he focuses on the crimes of his own country, instead of those committed by Iraq, Clark says that we, as citizens, need to announce our principles and “force our government to adhere to them.  When you see your government violating those principles, you have the highest obligation to correct what your government does, not point the finger at someone else.”

    I thank you Ramsey Clark for speaking out when others do not.  I appreciate that you advocate peace and policies that do cause no undue harm.  While I might admire former President Bill Clinton, and I do, on domestic issues, I have deep reservations when assessing his policies towards Iraq.  I cannot and do not support strategies that cause death, slow and sustained.  War and sanctions hurt the innocent.  Civilians, even or especially the children suffer when sanctions are imposed.  Imagine what a surge in Iraq or Afghanistan might do.

    I, for one, think if world leaders wish to argue over their differences, let them.  They alone can sit in a room together, perhaps, play a game of chess, or chat.  One never knows what might occur when communication is the first, last, and best option.

    As for Hillary, when Senator Clinton is sincerely ready to begin a conversation, to be part of a discussion that stimulates a solution, I’ll be there.  I will be in her camp.  Until then, I will continue to talk, to chat.  I will start a dialogue about her ideas and mine.  Dear reader, if you are wondering, I believe sanctions and war cause great suffering, even death.  These are not options!  I ask for peace.  Might we give it a chance!

    I thank you Max for once again, stimulating my mind.  May I present Back To The Future, By Max Sawicky.  MaxSpeak.  January 29, 2007

    Why, for me, War is Not an option . . .

    Half Million Man and Woman March Against Iraq War

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    In order to attend the January 27, 2007 rally, a family from Florida, not mine, though I wish it were, drove up to Washington District of Columbia.  They wanted to be part of the newer “Half Million Man and Woman March.”  This protest did not focus solely on civil rights at home.  It addressed sacrifices and privileges of the people worldwide.  Foreign and domestic policy was in question.  The American public was requesting a return of the troops.  People, individuals, and groups were saying, “Give Peace a Chance!”

    I wish I had been there.  If the war continues for a few months more, I will be able to speak for myself.  I hope to discuss this matter with Representatives in Washington District of Columbia.  I am planning a short visit.  I hear myself say, “if,” and I wonder.  Were it to be so, that this war would end, before Bush leaves office.  It seems but a dream that the war in Iraq will conclude before Spring.

    Since I was not at the scene, I can only look on.  For now, the written word will have to suffice. 

    Protest Focuses on Iraq Troop Increase,
    By Ian Urbina. 
    The New York Times. 
    January 28, 2007

    Washington, Jan. 27 – Tens of thousands of protesters converged on the National Mall on Saturday to oppose President Bush’s plan for a troop increase in Iraq in what organizers hoped would be one of the largest shows of antiwar sentiment in the nation’s capital since the war began.

    The event drew demonstrators from across the country, and many said that in addition to taking their discontent to the streets they planned to press members of Congress to oppose the war.
    “When we voted it was a directive to bring our troops home now,” said the Rev. Graylan S. Hagler of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, referring to the November elections when Democrats won control of Congress.

    Demonstrators listened to speeches from a roster of politicians and entertainment figures including the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio and a candidate for the presidency in 2008; and Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California. The actors Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Robbins also addressed the crowd.

    “We need to be talking not just about defunding the war but also about funding the vets,” Ms. Sarandon said, adding that more than 50,000 had sought treatment through the Department of Veterans Affairs while benefits for them continue to be cut.

    With Mr. Bush facing low approval ratings and Congress continuing to debate the terms of a nonbinding resolution opposing the troop increase, elderly people in wheelchairs, housewives pushing strollers, seasoned dissenters in tie-dye and veterans in uniform turned out to protest.

    “I grew up during the Vietnam War, but I never protested it and never had my lottery number called to go fight,” said David Quinly, a 54-year-old carpenter from Prairie Village, Kan., who arrived here Friday night with about 50 others after a 23-hour bus ride.

    “In my view, this one is a war of choice and a war for profit against a culture and people we don’t understand,” Mr. Quinly said.  “I knew I had to speak up this time.”

    Along the north side of the Mall, teenagers in T-shirts featuring sinister depictions of Mr. Bush chanted, “End the lunacy; end it now.”  A man wearing prison stripes carried a sign with the likeness of Vice President Dick Cheney.  A man on 30-inch stilts, dressed as Abraham Lincoln, carried a sign quoting him: “But you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”  A tall, clear plastic column stood overflowing with thousands of shoes symbolizing the civilians killed in the war.

    “I’ve got a son who just got out of the military and another still in,” said Jackie Smith, 65, from Sunapee, N.H., whose sign read “Bush Bin Lyin.”  “And I’m here because this is all I can do to try to help them.”

    Tassi McKee, from Bastrop, La., who said she was a staff sergeant in the Air Force, was among a small contingent of about 20 active-duty service members who turned out.  “I believe this has become a civil war, and we are being hurt and making matters worse by staying in the middle of it,” Sergeant McKee said.

    She said that it was not illegal for active-duty members to attend protests but that it was strongly discouraged.

    Veterans were more numerous among the crowd.

    Dressed in the olive green, military-issued flight jacket that he said he wore during the invasion of Iraq while serving as a Marine sergeant, Jack Teller, 26, said he joined a caravan from Greenville, N.C., because he felt that it was his duty.

    “I don’t like wearing the jacket because it reminds me that I participated in an immoral and illegal war,” said Mr. Teller, who had “Iraq Veterans Against the War” stenciled on the back of his jacket.  “But it’s important to make a political statement.” 

    Visions are available on video.  YouTube offers many firsthand presentations, firsthand films published by protestors themselves.

    If you dear reader might share an anecdote, I would be pleased as punch.  Oral history is far more real and revealing.  Please tell us your tales.  If you would answer our questions.  What was it like?  What did you say, do, feel, and experience.  We embrace you and the cause.

    Today Was  One Of The Best Days of My Life
    posted by deb kory (Saturday, January 27 2007)

    Our March on Washington exceeded my wildest dreams-as well as the media’s lame, subdued coverage.

    “Tens of thousands” protested in Washington, they are saying.  The news media got this number from an unofficial, un-named police source, while the organizers of the event themselves were seemingly not consulted.  I walked right up to Leslie Kaufman (President of United for Peace and Justice and chief organizer of today’s protest) after the event was over and asked her how many people she thought attended today.  She said 500,000 was their estimate, but she expected the media would report only half that number.  But “tens of thousands”?  Come on, news! 

    There were masses of people from forty states, three hundred busloads, over 1000 organizations, not to mention all the people who just showed up because they had to.  The media does a grave injustice in under-reporting our collective force.  We came from all parts of the country to represent the majority of Americans in our call to end the war in Iraq and withdraw our troops.  This was not some fringey little gathering-we had Congresspeople, grandmothers, Democrats and Republicans, veterans of the Iraq War, men still serving in the army, celebrities, children, people of all faiths, ethnicities, color.  It was the most enormous gathering of people I’ve ever seen, and most certainly, the biggest and most diverse protest held in Washington, D.C. since the Vietnam Era.

    Peace!  What is it good for?  Absolutely everything.  The prospect of peace brings people together.  Please, let us unite.  Share the sensitivity.  Soldiers and civilians are counting on us.  A half million is an excellent beginning!

    Milton Friedman, Martin Luther King. Homage to Freedom

    © copyright Betsy L. Angert


    Please view the video Martin Luther King “I have a dream”
    Reflect and recall the upcoming Black History Month.

    Economist Milton Friedman has his day.  This controversial fervent “free market” advocate is being widely received.

    Dr. Milton Friedman was perhaps the most influential economist of the 20th Century, and the impact of his ideas will extend far into the future. To honor the man, January 29th is declared as Milton Friedman Day – a celebration of the economist’s positive impact on American life and business, and the spread of the benefits of free markets to nations around the globe. Milton Friedman Day will include a host of activities, including a “Day of National Debate” at universities across the country, a live online discussion on The Economist’s Free Exchange blog, and the premiere of the PBS special, “The Power of Choice: The Life and Ideas of Milton Friedman” (check local listings), among other events.

    This man passed only months ago, in November 2006.  Yet, this nation is quick to embrace the individual and his economic views.  Friedman was influential during his lifetime.  The effects of his economic policies are not diminished, even after death.

    The same is not true for all men of great standing.  Might we wonder why this is.

    Reverend Martin Luther King, Junior is thought to be a national hero by many, though not by all.  For numerous citizens January 15 is a shopping day.  It is a day free from work. Many consider it just another date.  Some do not acknowledge it at all.  Life is a blur; it passes them by. 

    After the civil rights leader’s death, in 1968, Representative John Conyers introduced a bill requesting that we honor this prominent man on the date of his birth.  Congressman Conyers thought it vital that we, as a nation come together and celebrate the wisdom of a man that tried so hard to unite us.  Throughout the 1970s, Unions promoted the possible holiday.  Later, President Carter endorsed the bill.  He thought it wise, that, as a country, we be civil.  It is right to remember the Reverend. 

    Still, the official homage did not take place.  Some states adopted a policy to honor the man that fought for equal rights.  Many did not.

    President Ronald Reagan opposed the King bill.  He saw no need for a national day of observance in honor of Martin Luther King.

    He relented in his opposition only after Congress passed the King Day Bill with a veto-proof majority (338 to 90 in the House of Representatives and 78 to 22 in the Senate).

    It was not until January 17, 2000 that all fifty states embraced this celebration.  Yes, though the date of Martin Luther King Junior’s birth is the 15th of January, the observance of this holy date is as all other holidays in America, set aside.  We wait for the nearest Monday before we acknowledge a man or an event.  A three day weekend is more meaningful that the actual reason for commemoration.

    Meaning, perhaps is as beauty.  It is in the eye of the beholder.  For me, personally, Martin Luther King is and was worthy of recognition from the first.  He did so much to inspire equality.  Milton Friedman, while speaking of freedom, help to divide a nation, or so I believe.  Yet, we honor economist Friedman easily and quickly.  I wonder whether Martin Luther King has yet to receive an authentic homage.  You might recall, dear reader.  February is Black History month.  Please remember Martin.  Live as he might, peacefully, with your fellow man in mind.

  • Milton Friedman Day.  Free to Choose Media.
  • It’s a Celebration
  • Martin Luther King Day
  • Celebrating Black History
  • Down Home: Barbecue Time – © 2007 copyright Possum Tales

    Growing up in the south and in the country brought experiences that not everyone shared.  Our childhoods were all different and mine was not too different from many, and yet at the same time we all had different times.  This story is another cooking tale although there are other aspects as well.  So if you are so inclined jump in the wagon, hold on tight, and travel down the road for another of the possum’s tales.

    My father grew up a poor farm boy in a situation where the family relied on their own ability to produce most of the food they consumed.  They grew various crops for both human and animal food along with a large vegetable garden.  Food animals were raised for slaughter to feed the family and to share with neighbors.  They picked berries and fruits during the right seasons.  Along the way all those lessons of life were well learned by my father.  In my childhood he carried many of the processes right into our family life.

    One part of Dad’s life was the preparation of live animals for barbecue.  For most of the time we did not raise the appropriate animals, so my father went to the local stock market (the stockyards) for an animal.  In those days the food of choice was goat.  He would come home with an animal of the appropriate size.  For the night the animal usually stayed in our garage, tethered by a rope, with food and water for those hours.  The next morning the animal would be taken to our back yard and strung up by the rear legs on a clothesline pole, a welded iron affair behind the row of shrubs that stood in a line across the yard.  I can still hear the bleating cries of those animals as they were suspended.  The protest was quiet noisy.  We were glad not to have neighbors on those days.  The animal’s throat was cut with a sharp knife and the blood drained into a large bucket for disposal.  Skinning and quartering was rapidly accomplished and the meat taken to the barbecue pit for cooking.

    The barbecue pit was a brick affair in one rear corner of our property.  The grates were mounted permanently in the pit.  Wood for cooking would have been gathered days in advance.  The fire was started early in the morning so by the time all was ready the coals were hot.  Barbecue sauce was a traditional vinegar based sauce with various ingredients that my father failed to reveal to us boys.  Only he and Mother really knew how that sauce was made and even they seemed to do the preparation more by taste than by recipe.  I often wondered how any was left for the meat after all the spoonfuls they took during the day.  The sauce would be prepared in the kitchen and taken to the pit for application all day long.  Dad believed in keeping the meat well sauced as it cooked so the flavor soaked in as much as possible.

    Cooking was a several hours long affair.  Dad wandered back and forth between the house and the pit as Mother prepared the remaining parts of what was always a very special feast in our family.  As the day went along the superficial bits of meat would be fully cooked early on.  Picking and eating began with the first moments any parts were done enough to eat.  We boys were careful to stand nearby once we knew the meat was getting close to ready.  Those tidbits during the day were real treats.  For the entire day the area around our house smelled just like a southern barbecue joint.  The smell was nothing short of heavenly.

    By dinnertime the appetites would be large indeed what with smelling the smoke and tasting little pieces along the way.  Most barbecues were accompanied by visiting family.  Many times my father’s parents were along.  Other times we had locals, but always we had a crowd for dinner.  Baked beans, potato salad, jello mold (usually lime jello with cottage cheese or pineapple bits), and homemade rolls were standard fare.  Desserts were always available in large quantity.  Food was served in the house-we never really picnicked at home, that was reserved for affairs at other places and other times. 

    Joy prevailed in those times of fine food and good friends.  Goat barbecue was a one time a year affair until I was about 10-years-old.  That year was famous in our household.  Dad got the goat just like always.  Somehow the animal got loose in the garage and spent the night sliding down the front of my mother’s nearly new car.  The entire front side of the car (and they had long hoods in those days) was scarred from those sharp hooves.  The top of the car was dented, scraped, and scratched.  The rear was the only part that escaped major damage and only had small scratches.  The front really looked like a goat sliding board that had enjoyed far too much use.  The car really was pathetic to see.  Mother saw no humor in the situation.  She got a new car and my dad bought no more live goats.  From that day forward the meat came from the professional packers instead of being produced at home.  Somehow the experience was just never the same again.  The meat was good, but the whole event lost some of the original flavor.

    My father lost most of his tastes for the foods that reminded him of his growing up years.  We lived a relatively prosperous life and he wished to forget the poverty of his childhood.  We ate no homemade bread other than Mother’s rolls.  We ate all the wild game and fish we were able to kill or catch, but we relied on the supermarket for much of our food and grew no vegetables for the table.

    Possum’s tale will be missing next week.  Returning February 9 about 9:30PM with a STORYTIME DUET accompanying cronesense and again on February 23 about 9PM with another of the possum’s tales.

    Crossposted at NION.

    Bush; ‘I’m “Trainable” and the Decision-maker’ on Iraq Troop Levels

    © copyright Betsy L. Angert


    Please view either or each.  Keith Olbermann :: Bush – The decision maker or . . .
    Please preview the CBS coverage of the press conference.  Pardon the obligatory advertisement.  Bush: ‘I’m The Decision-Maker’

    Today, President Bush meeting with his new top commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and the press bought back memories.  As I listened to George W. Bush speak on Iraq, I was reminded of my youth.  The once self-proclaimed “decider” explained he is “the decision maker.” 

    Back in the day, my parents worked with patients labeled “mentally retarded.”  Often these “special needs” persons were not as they appeared to be.  Diagnosis means and methods were poor.  People’s chosen perceptions played a more prominent role than “reality” might have.  The same may still hold true today and likely, it does.  Nevertheless, I recall dinner conversations and terms flying around our family table.  One was “trainable.” 

    Apparently, there are differences even within the dynamic of “retardation.”  Some are mildly affected, thus “educable.”  Others are moderately influenced; thus, they are considered “trainable.”  The severely or profoundly slow may require life-long care and supervision.  These persons are often confined to institutions. 

    I have never thought George W. was or is as others state, the stu*** word.  Nor do I think he meets the criteria for special needs.  I think the man is infinitely shrewd.  Yet, I do wonder; perchance, is the White House the proper setting for such a character.  Might this haloed hall be the best prescribed treatment center for a chap such as Bush?

    This morning I realized that my own analysis was flawed.  George W. Bush is trainable.  The “decider” spoke, as he had never done before.  He labeled himself the “decision maker.”

    I pondered.  I recall when Mister Bush articulated his regret.  He acknowledged that the characteristically George rhetoric may be too dramatic.  George W. Bush expressed his intent to capture Osama Bin Laden and bring him home, “dead, or alive!”  President Bush, when proclaiming his frustration offered, “You are either with us or against us.”  He told his enemies, “Bring it on” and they have.

    Most surprisingly to me was that George W. Bush stated his wife spoke to him of his cowboy-like language.  Laura advised him to watch his tongue.  It seems the leader had; he is learning his lessons.  Thus, I conclude, George W. Bush is “trainable.”  That is good to know.  You go George.  Please impress them, preferably, with your intellect and give up the statements of grandeur!

    As I read the text and reviewed the video of this last exchange with the press I can only conclude, training a tyrant is a slow process.  Once a “decider” decides, as far as they are concerned, they are done.  No further discussion is needed.  Mister Bush may speak to the media more eloquently; however, little has changed.

    Bush says ‘I’m the decision-maker’ about sending troops to Iraq
    By Jennifer Loven
    Associated Press

    9:50 a.m. January 26, 2007

    WASHINGTON – President Bush, on a collision course with Congress over Iraq, said Friday “I’m the decision-maker” about sending more troops to the war.  He challenged skeptical lawmakers not to prematurely condemn his buildup.

    “I’ve picked the plan that I think is most likely to succeed,” Bush said in an Oval Office meeting with senior military advisers.

    The president had strong words for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who are lining up to support resolutions opposing his decision to send 21,500 troops to Iraq.  He challenged them to put up their own ideas.

    “I know there is skepticism and pessimism and that some are condemning a plan before it’s even had a chance to work,” the president said.  “They have an obligation and a serious responsibility therefore to put up their own plan as to what would work.”

    Despite doubts in Congress and among the public about his strategy, Bush said lawmakers agree that failure in Iraq would be a disaster and that he chose a strategy that he and his advisers thought would help turn the tide in Iraq.

    Hold onto your hats.  Grab your saddles.  People we are again in for a rough ride!

    Rally ’round.  The Trainable Decider is expecting or creating trouble again . . .

  • Keith Olbermann :: Bush – The decision maker YouTube
  • Resources for Working With Youth of Special Needs.  University of Illinois Extension
  • Bush: ‘I’m the decider’ on Rumsfeld, Defense secretary: Changes in military meet resistance.  Cable News Network  Tuesday, April 18, 2006
  • Regrets? Confessions? Bring ’em on!  By Leslie Savan.  The Boston Globe. June 2, 2006
  • pdf Regrets? Confessions? Bring ’em on!  By Leslie Savan.  The Boston Globe. June 2, 2006
  • Bush: ‘I’m the decision-maker,’ By Mark Silva.  Chicago Tribune.  January 26, 2007
  • Bush says ‘I’m the decision-maker’ about sending troops to Iraq, By Jennifer Loven.  Associated Press.  San Diego Union Tribune.
  • Bush: ‘I’m the decision-maker’ on Iraq troop levels.  Cable News Network  January 26, 2007
  • Senator Webb Speaks From the Heart; State of the Union Rebuttal

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    The full text, the transcript of the speech is offered at the end of this treatise. 
    You may view the speech in its entirety. The film is divided into two parts; each of these is presented in this post.


    Please view the video Jim Webb gives Democratic response to 2007 SOTU (Part 2)

    Jim Webb thankfully did speak for the Left and from the heart.  I had my fears for the newly elected Senator does have a hawkish past.  Senator Webb is known to be a warrior and while he has advocated against the fight in Iraq.  His history gave me reason for apprehension.  After all the man was Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs.  Later he served as Secretary of the Navy.  Jim Webb was a devout Republican, and rarely are those of that political ilk active pacifists as I am. 

    The Webb family has fighting tradition.  Senator Webb’s father was a Marine.  He and his brother each wore the birdie and ball.  Currently, his son, also a Marine, is stationed in Iraq.  Senator Webb graduated from the Naval Academy.  I doubt the curriculum was Liberal Arts.  Martial Arts was likely the agenda.

    Senator Webb spoke of his lineage and their loyalty to the country.  However, his words were not aggressively warlike.  The new Senator, Webb stated that service in his family was not politically motivated.  Generations of the Webb family trusted that the leaders of this country were as devoted to the well being of its citizenry as the Webb family was to this nation.  I was pleased when the idea I forever hope to advance, reciprocal reverence was mentioned. 

    Senator Webb touched on this topic tenderly, even while discussing battle.  Jim Webb avowed, he and his family felt certain that in the past, this nation’s leaders demonstrated a “concern for our welfare.”  Sadly, the Senator stated, this Administration does not.  They show no compassion for our soldiers.  Webb declared George W. Bush and his ‘Battalion’ [my word for the combative cronies now occupying the White House] acted “recklessly.”  Senator Webb reflected on the blatant disregard and contempt this President and his Cabinet showed for expert military opinions.  As I listened to this portion of the State of the Union Rebuttal, I was somewhat gratified. 

    I want to share with all of you a picture that I have carried with me for more than 50 years.  This is my father, when he was a young Air Force captain, flying cargo planes during the Berlin Airlift.  He sent us the picture from Germany, as we waited for him, back here at home.  When I was a small boy, I used to take the picture to bed with me every night, because for more than three years my father was deployed, unable to live with us full-time, serving overseas or in bases where there was no family housing.  I still keep it, to remind me of the sacrifices that my mother and others had to make, over and over again, as my father gladly served our country.  I was proud to follow in his footsteps, serving as a Marine in Vietnam.  My brother did as well, serving as a Marine helicopter pilot.  My son has joined the tradition, now serving as an infantry Marine in Iraq.

    Like so many other Americans, today and throughout our history, we serve and have served, not for political reasons, but because we love our country.  On the political issues – those matters of war and peace, and in some cases of life and death – we trusted the judgment of our national leaders.  We hoped that they would be right, that they would measure with accuracy the value of our lives against the enormity of the national interest that might call upon us to go into harm’s way.

    We owed them our loyalty, as Americans, and we gave it.  But they owed us – sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defending it.

    The President took us into this war recklessly.  He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs.  We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable – and predicted – disarray that has followed.

    The war’s costs to our nation have been staggering.  Financially.  The damage to our reputation around the world.  The lost opportunities to defeat the forces of international terrorism.  And especially the precious blood of our citizens who have stepped forward to serve.


    Please view the video Jim Webb gives Democratic response to 2007 SOTU (Part 1)

    What truly gave me pause was the earlier portion of the Senator’s speech.  It was in his introductory statements that the Jim Webb spoke to me.  I welcomed the words of concern.  However, I thought this portion of the speech was far too short.  It was lacking in specifics, though admittedly, it reflected what was stated within the State of the Union, not much.  Perhaps, because there is little good that can be said of a country in dire straits domestically, little was offered.

    Nevertheless, Senator Webb, citizen Webb spoke of man’s inhumanity to man.  He questioned the State of our Union.  Mister Webb spoke of a country divided.

    Domestic policies loomed large in the mind of this man.  That, for me, was wondrous.  Senator Webb cited the dire need to improve education and health care for all Americans.  He questioned the sincerity of a President that speaks of compassion and yet, has done virtually nothing to restore the vitality of New Orleans.  ‘

    Senator Webb called Mister Bush to task for speaking of energy independence in each of his annual addresses; yet never truly acting on his proclamations.

    Further, this is the seventh time the President has mentioned energy independence in his state of the union message, but for the first time this exchange is taking place in a Congress led by the Democratic Party.  We are looking for affirmative solutions that will strengthen our nation by freeing us from our dependence on foreign oil, and spurring a wave of entrepreneurial growth in the form of alternate energy programs.  We look forward to working with the President and his party to bring about these changes.

    Jim Webb as I would welcome more than words.  This man of action wishes to see some.  I am with you Jim.  You may recall, I am an activist peacenik.  My assertions are not empty.

    Lastly, as Senator Webb spoke of the home front, he humbly concluded with an economic discussion.  This section of the Rebuttal Speech was perchance my personal favorite.  Mister Webb, civilian Webb offered . . .

    When one looks at the health of our economy, it’s almost as if we are living in two different countries.  Some say that things have never been better.  The stock market is at an all-time high, and so are corporate profits.  But these benefits are not being fairly shared.  When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times, what the average worker did; today, it’s nearly 400 times.  In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day.

    Wages and salaries for our workers are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth, even though the productivity of American workers is the highest in the world.  Medical costs have skyrocketed.  College tuition rates are off the charts.  Our manufacturing base is being dismantled and sent overseas.  Good American jobs are being sent along with them.

    In short, the middle class of this country, our historic backbone and our best hope for a strong society in the future, is losing its place at the table.  Our workers know this, through painful experience.  Our white-collar professionals are beginning to understand it, as their jobs start disappearing also.  And they expect, rightly, that in this age of globalization, their government has a duty to insist that their concerns be dealt with fairly in the international marketplace.

    In the early days of our republic, President Andrew Jackson established an important principle of American-style democracy – that we should measure the health of our society not at its apex, but at its base.  Not with the numbers that come out of Wall Street, but with the living conditions that, exist on Main Street.  We must recapture that spirit today.

    I never knew that I was such a admirer of former President Andrew Jackson.  Apparently I am!  As the top one percent of the population prospers, and all others fall, I am gratified to know that there is a philosophy, a history, that promotes awareness and sensitivity for all.

    As I reflect on the practices of this present Administration, I marvel.  The State of their Union is solid, for they together climb.  The cashboxes of this clannish Cabinet are full.  These cronies step over bodies, dead and alive.  They care not.  As this country crumbles, consistently the citizens are told in “We’re not the first to come here with a government divided and uncertainty in the air.”  In conclusion we hear this utterance, “the State of our Union is strong.”  Mister Bush, which is it?

    I think Senator Jim Webb knows.  He spoke of our trials, our tribulations.  It seems Mister President, Senator Webb speaks for the public.  I know not for whom you speak.  I am only certain, it is not I!  I thank you Senator Webb for saying what I would have wanted to say  aloud, in front of a national audience.  Someone must.

    Senator Webb, well done!

    I offer the full transcript of the speech Senator Jim Webb delivered.  May you read the text, review it, reflect upon it, and enjoy!

    Tuesday, January 23, 2007
    Democratic Response of Senator Jim Webb
    To the President’s State of the Union Address

    Good evening.

    I’m Senator Jim Webb, from Virginia, where this year we will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown – an event that marked the first step in the long journey that has made us the greatest and most prosperous nation on earth.

    It would not be possible in this short amount of time to actually rebut the President’s message, nor would it be useful.  Let me simply say that we in the Democratic Party hope that this administration is serious about improving education and healthcare for all Americans, and addressing such domestic priorities as restoring the vitality of New Orleans.

    Further, this is the seventh time the President has mentioned energy independence in his state of the union message, but for the first time this exchange is taking place in a Congress led by the Democratic Party.  We are looking for affirmative solutions that will strengthen our nation by freeing us from our dependence on foreign oil, and spurring a wave of entrepreneurial growth in the form of alternate energy programs.  We look forward to working with the President and his party to bring about these changes.

    There are two areas where our respective parties have largely stood in contradiction, and I want to take a few minutes to address them tonight.  The first relates to how we see the health of our economy – how we measure it, and how we ensure that its benefits are properly shared among all Americans.  The second regards our foreign policy – how we might bring the war in Iraq to a proper conclusion that will also allow us to continue to fight the war against international terrorism, and to address other strategic concerns that our country faces around the world.

    When one looks at the health of our economy, it’s almost as if we are living in two different countries.  Some say that things have never been better.  The stock market is at an all-time high, and so are corporate profits.  But these benefits are not being fairly shared.  When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times, what the average worker did; today, it’s nearly 400 times.  In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day.

    Wages and salaries for our workers are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth, even though the productivity of American workers is the highest in the world.  Medical costs have skyrocketed.  College tuition rates are off the charts.  Our manufacturing base is being dismantled and sent overseas.  Good American jobs are being sent along with them.

    In short, the middle class of this country, our historic backbone and our best hope for a strong society in the future, is losing its place at the table.  Our workers know this, through painful experience.  Our white-collar professionals are beginning to understand it, as their jobs start disappearing also.  And they expect, rightly, that in this age of globalization, their government has a duty to insist that their concerns be dealt with fairly in the international marketplace.

    In the early days of our republic, President Andrew Jackson established an important principle of American-style democracy – that we should measure the health of our society not at its apex, but at its base.  Not with the numbers that come out of Wall Street, but with the living conditions that, exist on Main Street.  We must recapture that spirit today.

    And under the leadership of the new Democratic Congress, we are on our way to doing so.  The House just passed a minimum wage increase, the first in ten years, and the Senate will soon follow.  We’ve introduced a broad legislative package designed to regain the trust of the American people.  We’ve established a tone of cooperation and consensus that extends beyond party lines.  We’re working to get the right things done, for the right people and for the right reasons.

    With respect to foreign policy, this country has patiently endured a mismanaged war for nearly four years.  Many, including myself, warned even before the war began that it was unnecessary, that it would take our energy and attention away from the larger war against terrorism, and that invading and occupying Iraq would leave us strategically vulnerable in the most violent and turbulent corner of the world.

    I want to share with all of you a picture that I have carried with me for more than 50 years.  This is my father, when he was a young Air Force captain, flying cargo planes during the Berlin Airlift.  He sent us the picture from Germany, as we waited for him, back here at home.  When I was a small boy, I used to take the picture to bed with me every night, because for more than three years my father was deployed, unable to live with us full-time, serving overseas or in bases where there was no family housing.  I still keep it, to remind me of the sacrifices that my mother and others had to make, over and over again, as my father gladly served our country.  I was proud to follow in his footsteps, serving as a Marine in Vietnam.  My brother did as well, serving as a Marine helicopter pilot.  My son has joined the tradition, now serving as an infantry Marine in Iraq.

    Like so many other Americans, today and throughout our history, we serve and have served, not for political reasons, but because we love our country.  On the political issues – those matters of war and peace, and in some cases of life and death – we trusted the judgment of our national leaders.  We hoped that they would be right, that they would measure with accuracy the value of our lives against the enormity of the national interest that might call upon us to go into harm’s way.

    We owed them our loyalty, as Americans, and we gave it.  But they owed us – sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defending it.

    The President took us into this war recklessly.  He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs.  We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable – and predicted – disarray that has followed.

    The war’s costs to our nation have been staggering.  Financially.  The damage to our reputation around the world.  The lost opportunities to defeat the forces of international terrorism.  And especially the precious blood of our citizens who have stepped forward to serve.

    The majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought; nor does the majority of our military.  We need a new direction.  Not one step back from the war against international terrorism.  Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos.  But an immediate shift toward strong regionally-based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq’s cities, and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq.

    On both of these vital issues, our economy and our national security, it falls upon those of us in elected office to take action.

    Regarding the economic imbalance in our country, I am reminded of the situation President Theodore Roosevelt faced in the early days of the 20th century.  America was then, as now, drifting apart along class lines.  The so-called robber barons were unapologetically raking in a huge percentage of the national wealth.  The dispossessed workers at the bottom were threatening revolt.

    Roosevelt spoke strongly against these divisions.  He told his fellow Republicans that they must set themselves “as resolutely against improper corporate influence on the one hand as against demagogy and mob rule on the other.”  And he did something about it.

    As I look at Iraq, I recall the words of former general and soon-to-be President Dwight Eisenhower during the dark days of the Korean War, which had fallen into a bloody stalemate.  “When comes the end?” asked the General who had commanded our forces in Europe during World War Two.  And as soon as he became President, he brought the Korean War to an end.

    These Presidents took the right kind of action, for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world.  Tonight we are calling on this President to take similar action, in both areas.  If he does, we will join him.  If he does not, we will be showing him the way.

    Thank you for listening.  And God bless America. 

    Please review the references . . .

  • President Delivers “State of the Union”   Office of the Press Secretary.  January 23, 2007
  • Va.’s Webb Offers a Blunt Challenge to Bush, Va. Senator Urges Change in Direction for Economy, Iraq War, By Michael D. Shear.  Washington Post. Wednesday, January 24, 2007; Page A12
  • pdf Va.’s Webb Offers a Blunt Challenge to Bush, Va. Senator Urges Change in Direction for Economy, Iraq War, By Michael D. Shear.  Washington Post. Wednesday, January 24, 2007; Page A12
  • Democratic Response to the State of the Union Address, Delivered by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.)  Source: Senate Majority Leader’s Office.  Tuesday, January 23, 2007; 8:50 PM
  • pdf Democratic Response to the State of the Union Address, Delivered by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.)  Source: Senate Majority Leader’s Office.  Tuesday, January 23, 2007; 8:50 PM
  • Jim Webb gives Democratic response to 2007 SOTU (Part 2)  YouTube
  • Jim Webb gives Democratic response to 2007 SOTU (Part 1)  YouTube
  • Bush Health Insurance Plan Punishes the American People

    © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    I will write more on President Bush’s proposed tax deduction for health insurance later.  I intend to speak in depth and detail soon.  However, in this moment, and since I first became aware of the current proposal, I am steaming.  My mind is racing.  I can barely grab a hold of my own thoughts.  Let alone pen my points.

    Having been among the uninsured for decades, while working full time in respectable professional  positions, I cannot imagine a nation more insensitive than this one is!  We, as a nation attend to the health needs of those we intentionally maimed and massacred, the civilians of Iraq [and our own soldiers,] more so than we do to our local citizenry, those suffering or simply surviving in this nation.  With this novel plan, circumstances will worsen.

    I thank you Congressman Jim McDermott for pointing this out.

    Madam Speaker, I want to reassure my colleague from Massachusetts that there is hope after all.  The Bush administration has endorsed and even funded universal health insurance.  The thing is, the President’s universal health insurance program is for the people of Iraq, not anything for the 44 million Americans.

    Madam Speaker, we already pay enough for universal health care in this country, but we are not getting it.  The administration misleads the American people by having the Secretary of Health and Human Services say, and I quote, “You are still taken care of in America.  That certainly could be defined as universal coverage.”  The truth is that every other industrialized nation in the world has a universal health system except the United States.  Half the bankruptcies in this country are due to health care costs.

    I discovered long ago that many were as I.  They were embarrassed to admit that they were without medical coverage.  People look down on the uninsured, as though they are uninformed, uneducated, lacking in intelligence rather than struggling to survive.  Funds are few when we live in a society that strokes the needs of the already affluent and disregards the needs of the common folk.  It seems in America, we just do not care.  Creating a community or a country that thrives is not our agenda.  Here it is every man or woman for him or herself.  Businesses no longer promote loyalty.  Profits are their goal.  Margins are steep.  Mister Bush now wants to make these steeper.

    What is already scarce, adequate health care, will be made more scarce if President Bush has his way.

    The Census Bureau estimates that 175 million Americans obtain private health insurance through employers, while 27 million people are covered by insurance bought outside the workplace.  The rest, with the exception of the 47 million uninsured, are covered through government programs like Medicare and Medicaid and military health care.

    Under Mr. Bush’s proposal, people buying health insurance on their own would receive a tax break similar to the one that has historically been available to people who receive coverage through their jobs.  The plan is tied to the average cost of family health coverage, which is currently $11,500 a year.

    I must stop here and ask how will those that are already strapped purchase a plan, or pay taxes on policies that already deplete their budgets?  Granted, Mister Bush has never needed to balance a budget.  Congress seems to cater to his whims and allocate funds for what is not placed in the financial plan [consider the Iraqi war] however, most of us do not have infinite resources to turn to. 

    More and more in America, people are foregoing health care services because they simply cannot afford them.  Even those that have insurance realize there are and pay handsomely, the deductibles.  More and more, corporations are “asking” employees to pay for their health insurance policies.  Those companies that still supply this necessary benefit require their personnel to pay a large portion of the costs.  Where might workers find the funds to cover the proposed tax?  Nevertheless, here are the details

    It [the Bush Health Care Plan] would work like this: The administration would cap the amount of benefits that can remain tax free at $15,000 for a family and $7,500 for an individual.  Anyone whose health insurance cost more than that would pay taxes on the difference.  For example, a family with coverage costing $16,000 a year would pay taxes on $1,000.

    The cap would also be used to establish the amount of the new deduction for people who lack coverage.  In this example, a family buying insurance on its own could take a $15,000 deduction – even if the insurance cost less.  The cap would rise with some measure of overall inflation, but would not necessarily keep pace with the costs of medical care and health insurance.

    A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity so as not to upstage the president, said, “The vast majority of people with employer-provided coverage will benefit as well.”

    One of the nation’s leading experts on tax policy, C. Eugene Steuerle, a Treasury official in the Reagan administration who is now a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, said the proposal “would probably help increase the number of people with health insurance at no cost to the budget.”

    Yes, let us provide a false sense of security while penalizing the people at no cost to the government.  I once believed that the government was of, by, and for the people.  We worked together for the greater good.

    United we are strong.  When divided, us and them, management or employee, government or gravelling low-life, we fall.  Nevertheless, the great “uniter” continues to divide us.  Thank fully, even entrepreneur see the flaw in this logic.

    The administration official said the White House envisioned health insurance companies offering new plans to meet a growing market.  But employers expressed doubts.

    “This is a classic case of robbing Peter to help Paul pay for coverage,” said E. Neil Trautwein, a vice president of the National Retail Federation, which represents retailers of all sizes. “I do not think the president will find many backers in the employer community for this proposal.”

    In trying to address the problems of the uninsured, Mr. Trautwein said, “we should not start by endangering coverage for people who already have it.”

    Voices of calm, those that care have been speaking of the benefits of a Universal Health care system for decades.  However, their rational falls on deaf ears.  I submit some of the reasoning for your review once again.

    Why doesn’t the United States have universal health care as a right of citizenship? The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee access to health care as a right of citizenship. 28 industrialized nations have single payer universal health care systems, while 1 (Germany) has a multipayer universal health care system like President Clinton proposed for the United States.?

    Myth One: The United States has the best health care system in the world.
    Fact One: The United States ranks 23rd in infant mortality, down from 12th in 1960 and 21st in 1990

    Fact Two:  The United States ranks 20th in life expectancy for women down from 1st in 1945 and 13th in 1960

    Fact Three:  The United States ranks 21st in life expectancy for men down from 1st in 1945 and 17th in 1960.

    Fact Four:  The United States ranks between 50th and 100th in immunizations depending on the immunization. Overall US is 67th, right behind Botswana

    Fact Five: Outcome studies on a variety of diseases, such as coronary artery disease, and renal failure show the United States to rank below Canada and a wide variety of industrialized nations.

    Conclusion: The United States ranks poorly relative to other industrialized nations in health care despite having the best trained health care providers and the best medical infrastructure of any industrialized nation

    Myth Two: Universal Health Care Would Be Too Expensive

    Fact One:  The United States spends at least 40% more per capita on health care than any other industrialized country with universal health care

    Fact Two:  Federal studies by the Congressional Budget Office and the General Accounting office show that single payer universal health care would save 100 to 200 Billion dollars per year despite covering all the uninsured and increasing health care benefits.

    Fact Three:  State studies by Massachusetts and Connecticut have shown that single payer universal health care would save 1 to 2 Billion dollars per year from the total medical expenses in those states despite covering all the uninsured and increasing health care benefits

    Fact Four:  The costs of health care in Canada as a % of GNP, which were identical to the United States when Canada changed to a single payer, universal health care system in 1971, have increased at a rate much lower than the United States, despite the US economy being much stronger than Canada’s.

    Conclusion: Single payer universal health care costs would be lower than the current US system due to lower administrative costs. The United States spends 50 to 100% more on administration than single payer systems. By lowering these administrative costs the United States would have the ability to provide universal health care, without managed care, increase benefits and still save money.

    With a deep sigh of relief, I see that there are those that do represent the people’s interest or try to.

    Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., said Monday that the tax changes, which Bush will promote in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, would encourage employers to stop providing health insurance.

    ”Under the guise of tax breaks, the president is pursuing a policy designed to destroy the employer-based health care system through which 160 million people receive coverage,” the lawmaker said.

    Stark, who oversees a key House Ways and Means subcommittee, said he would not consider holding hearings on the proposal, which includes a trade-off. Contributions from employers toward health insurance would begin to be treated as taxable income. At the same time, a standard deduction for taxpayers with health insurance would be set at $15,000 for families and $7,500 for individuals.

    The White House says 80 percent of workers with health insurance through their jobs would see a tax cut as a result of the change. But about 20 percent would see a tax increase — those workers whose health insurance cost more than the standard deduction.

    The change in tax policy is one of two major health proposals announced by Bush last weekend. The other would take some federal money now going to hospitals and other facilities and give it to states for programs to reduce the number of uninsured.

    Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said there are better uses for some of the $30 billion a year the government spends on bills for the uninsured.

    ”When you subsidize institutions but not people, oftentimes the institutions get taken care of, and the people don’t,” he said.

    Leavitt said he can redirect some on the money on his own, but he needs help from Congress for other transfers.

    I thank you Secretary Mike Leavitt.  May I reiterate, for emphasis your own words.

    ”When you subsidize institutions but not people, oftentimes the institutions get taken care of, and the people don’t!”

    Please I plead with this administration and all those apathetic souls that allow those in authority to choose for them.  Please may we work towards Universal Health Care.  May we show those in other nations that we are the superpower we claim to be.  Let us be a compassionate as all other industrialized countries are.  Let us care for all our people, impoverished, common, and affluent.

    Please peruse the plan and thoughts about the further health care inequity . . .

  • President’s Radio Address Office of the Press Secretary. January 20,2007
  • Fact Sheet: Affordable, Accessible, and Flexible Health Coverage, Office of the Press Secretary. January 22,2007
  • Bush to Urge New Tax Plan for Health Care Coverage, By Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Robert Pear.  New York Times.  January 21, 2007
  • pdf Bush to Urge New Tax Plan for Health Care Coverage, By Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Robert Pear.  New York Times.  January 21, 2007
  • Bush Insurance Plan Gets Cold Reception, By The Associate Press.  The New York Times.  January 23, 2007
  • pdf Bush Insurance Plan Gets Cold Reception, By The Associate Press.  The New York Times.  January 23, 2007
  • Universal Health Care, By Congressman Jim McDermott.  House of Representatives. March 4, 2004
  • The Case For Single Payer, Universal Health Care For The United States, By John R. Battista, M.D. and Justine McCabe, Ph.D.  Connecticut Coalition for  Universal Health Care.

    You may wish to read the thoughts of noteworthy Economist, Max B. Sawicky, and Mark Thoma.  Each offers viewpoints beyond their own.
     

  • BUSH REARRANGES DECK CHAIRS ON USS HEALTH CARE  MaxSpeak.org. January 23, 2007

  • Paul Krugman: Gold-Plated Indifference  By Mark Thoma.  January 22, 2007
  • Bush Health Care Proposal Round-Up: Klein, Mankiw, Tax Foundation, and Cowen  By Mark Thoma.  January 23, 2007
  • Worthy Woes for President Bush, State of the Union

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert


    Please view the Bush – State of the Union 2006 – “The Enemies of Freedom” video. Assess for yourself.  According to a recently released Associated Press – America Online poll, Americans have.

    An Associated Press – America Online poll reveals, sixty-six percent of Americans think the country is on the wrong track.  It is now infinitely clear Democrats and Independents are not alone.  Some Republicans object to the war in Iraq.  The findings of this newer study conclude wranglings within this country disturb those on the right, perhaps as much as they have those on the left and in the middle.  Health care, the economy, Iraq, and terrorism are the issues that cause Americans great concern. The situation in this country is grim.  As President Bush prepares to speak to the nation he, or the pollsters, realize  he has little support.

    However, George W. Bush still has one thing in his favor.  Many of his fellow citizens think he, as a man is likable.

    At the same time, Americans see the president as likable, decisive and strong — but also stubborn.

    It appears that the personality that secured the vote for boy George in 2000 and 2004 is still strong.  Many think the man born with a silver spoon in his mouth would be a great guy.  Throughout his campaigns many proclaimed, ‘I like to have a beer with Bush.’  It seemed numerous individuals saw this strapping stud as one of the boys.

    Perchance, being pleasant, amiable, and congenial is or was enough to get this President elected.  It seems sociability is often appealing to American voters.  After all, over the years many proclaimed they would like to have a beer with Bush.  Pundits often marveled at this message.  Would we, as a people vote for a man to serve as our President simply because we think he would be good company.  We want to sip a brew and chat with this chap.

    Being a person that does not imbibe alcohol and never has, I always wondered about a man the could hold his liquor.  This President did it well until the age of forty.  Yet, he stopped drinking, cold turkey, and turned his life over to the Lord.  Possibly, these actions are admirable.  They might be endearing and engender great praise.  The public may appreciate a man that overcomes his demons and turns to G-d.

    Still, the people do not necessarily trust this kinder and gentler, compassionately conservative leader.  They say he is a nice man, just a little bolshie [obstinate].

    And only a minority think he is honest — 44 percent, down from 53 percent two years ago

    As he sends young boys and girls to their death, people, some, a few think this chap is fine.  Actually, many approve of the newer Bush strategy to surge.

    Support for sending more troops to Iraq grew slightly after Bush’s speech, although the idea is still unpopular.

    Almost one-third of the public — 31 percent — favor the plan, an improvement from 26 percent in a survey done almost entirely before he spoke to the country January 10. Thirty-five percent now believe additional troops will help stabilize the situation in Iraq, also up from 25 percent.

    Bush’s overall approval rating inched upward to 36 percent, from 32 percent early in the month.  Despite that low score, 53 percent of Americans say he is likable; 58 percent, decisive; and 58 percent, strong.

    Perhaps the fact that he has struggled with what life has offered him, [wealth, the means to travel, an education at Andover, Yale, and Harvard,] somehow people feel they can relate to George W.  Many of us, no matter what our circumstances, us are challenged to accept our selves.  Affluence does not exclude a person from feeling personal pain.  I understand that.  I have had my own experiences, though my coming and goings differ from Mister Bush’s exploits.

    There are those that party hearty to escape.  George admits to being one of these.  He became, as numerous Americans have addicted, or at least indulgent when in the presence of alcoholic substances.  Thankfully, President Bush found G-d.  Several Americans relate to this path.  Perchance this endears the Commander-In-Chief to the citizens of this nation.  Karl Rove realized that the Religious Right might be George Junior’s saving grace.  Those that shared his devotion too the Lord might cast their ballots for him.  They did so, in droves.

    Possibly, a slight majority of our citizens saw the President’s conviction to Christ as a reason to support the man.  Maybe they elected George W. Bush for they admired his inner strength.  He stopped drinking without looking back.  Might people have thought these actions were worthy, so much so they decided  to make this man President of the United States?  Sadly, I think many did.

    Somehow, I do not think a profound belief in the Lord or a change in habits qualifies a person for the Presidency.  Many believe or achieve as Mister Bush did.  Most do not have the power to put hundreds of thousands of individuals in harms way.  Few can mandate policies that threaten the health and welfare of a nation or the world. 

    Consider tax cuts for the wealthy and what these did to devastate the economy.  Ponder bills that favor big business, hurt the consumer, and advance health care woes.  Look at laws that ignore the delicate balance of nature.  Then, contemplate the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Think of our troops and how their lives are permanently affected.  Remember those that live no more, civilians and soldiers, Americans, and innocents in lands abroad.

    Americans may not have been thinking beyond the moment when they sent the reformed George W. Bush to the oval office.  No one could have expected the trials and tribulations that occurred.  Americans could not imagine a country mired in a protracted war.  Nor could they fathom how George W. Bush might react.

    In the eyes of 83 percent of Americans, he [President Bush] also is stubborn.

    “Mainly it’s his ‘stay the course’ attitude,” said Bill Basher, 21, a Republican from Angola, New York.

    Even Republicans are now requesting a change in course.

    That’s a stark reversal from mid-January 2002, when 68 percent said the country was on the right track and 29 percent said it was not. Then, the nation was still coming to grips with the terrorist strikes four months earlier on New York and Washington that killed nearly 3,000 people. And, U.S. troops Bush sent to Afghanistan had toppled the Taliban government that harbored the terrorists believed responsible.

    After the U.S. led an invasion of Iraq in March 2003, public support for the mission there began to slide as the war continued, the U.S. death toll climbed and the violence raged on.

    John Raab, 77, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, a conservative Republican, said the United States can change course “if people rally around the president and he can get this fiasco in Iraq under control.”

    Others think we need more than further support for a stumbling President.

    Kerry Moore-O’Leary, a 31-year-old Democrat from Boston, said it will take new leadership.

    “I really think the only time we are going to see some real changes is when we elect a new president,” she said. “Even people who are moderate Republicans are going to say that we need someone who’s a breath of fresh air.”

    The new Democratic Congress is making promises, pledging a change.  The first one hundred hours, in the House seem impressive to some.  Others thought the progress lukewarm.  Those responding to the Associate Press – American Online are disillusioned in general.

    Lawmakers in both political parties have promised more bipartisanship and comity since the November elections, when voters took away the reins of Congress from Bush’s Republican Party.

    But the public appears largely skeptical of those pledges.

    Nearly two-thirds, 60 percent, have no confidence that the political institutions at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue can work together to solve the nation’s problems.  Overall, the public has grown less confident since the days after the election when nearly half, 47 percent, expressed confidence that Bush and Congress could work together.

    Four in 10, or 42 percent, think the country will now be better off with Democrats controlling Congress, while 18 percent think it will be worse off.  Thirty-nine percent think it won’t make much difference.

    Several have misgivings.  They are not so easily elated.   Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich had higher hopes.  Secretary Reich acknowledges aloud what many Americans truly believe.  There is little hope that true change is coming.  Professor Reich shares the reasons.

    the Dems who took control of Congress know they (1) don’t have the votes to override a presidential veto, (2) still have lots of “blue-dog” conservative Democrats among them who don’t want change, (3) can’t do anything very dramatic without stirring up the business community – which has more lobbyists and more clout than ever before, and (4) want to show business they’re “responsible” in order to get corporate campaign contributions for 2008 and remain in power, and possibly even elect a Democrat president.

    Ah, such is life in America.  The State of the Union is split.  On the eve of the annual speech, George W. Bush has a lower approval rating than any other President since Richard Milhous Nixon, post Watergate, in 1974.  This matters not for the White House maintains that it does not pay attention to polls.  Thus, we await the speech.  Our countrymen and women want to know; what is the Sate of the Union according to Bush, and are we expected to believe a man that ultimately we do not approve of?  Stay tuned America.

    You may wish to ponder the poll or pour over the reporting . . .

  • Poll: While preparing speech, Bush faces sour mood.  Cable News Network.  January 22, 2007
  • How different groups feel about President Bush, top issues .  Associated Press. San Diego Union Tribune.  January 22, 2007
  • pdf How different groups feel about President Bush, top issues .  Associated Press. San Diego Union Tribune.  January 22, 2007
  • “That Guy” in Chief, A beer with George W. Bush ain’t as good as you think.  By Charles P. Pierce.  The American Prospect.?Web Exclusive: October 8, 2004
  • Profile: George W Bush.  BBC news.  Wednesday, 19 November, 2003
  • Eye on the Clock, House Democrats Put Their Focus On ‘100 Hours.’ By Jonathan Weisman.  Washington Post.?Thursday, January 4, 2007
  • Why the Dem’s First Hundred Hours is Much Ado about Little, By Robert Reich.  Robert Reich’s Blog.  January 18, 2007
  • State of the Union: Unhappy With Bush, By Gary Langer.  ABC News.  January 22, 2007
  • Poll: Bush’s Ratings Drop on Nearly All Fronts, By Michele Norris.  All Things Considered. October 13, 2005