- Politics

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Healthcare for All

I hope to see in the coming year a universal healthcare system instituted in this country. Not mandated healthcare, but the expansion of Medicare/Medicaid to cover all Americans. Doing such would do more for the middle class than any stimulus or bailout possibly could. Forcing people to buy subsidized health coverage from the big insurance companies isn't enough, not unless the quality of coverage can be guanranteed and the prices kept low. Why outsource to the people already scamming us what we can do better? We need this more now than ever, please help us do something about it.

Why not universal healthcare?

I ended up in a debate on universal healthcare with a coworker at work yesterday. I don't know how I keep getting myself involved in these things at work; I guess it's just hard for me to keep my mouth shut when topics like this come up. But I came across the dumbest philosophy ever related to universal healthcare. I'm not talking about half-educated claims of how horrible Canada and the U.K.'s systems supposedly are, or even that it would socialize the entire medical industry and lead us to communism. No, it's an even more dangerous philosophy: why should my taxes pay for those who use the service more than me? What. The. Fuck. That is wrong is so many ways, so let me count the ways in which it is.

One, with any form of insurance today, be it house, car, or medical, the safe people who pay in and don't withdraw pay for the people who use the services more than they do. Except the insurance companies cut a profit off of your medical coverage, and to further their profit margin, they're always looking for ways to not pay, or not pay full price, thus causing you to have to pocket even more expenses than the insurance costs you already pay. Also, there's a backdoor tax we already pay for the uninsured when they receive E.R. treatment and are unable to pay for it. Furthermore, we already pay for Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP programs out of our tax dollars, and most of us taxpayers don't actually benefit directly from such programs, but we know plenty of people who do. Why can't we extend those benefits to everyone, and be able to use the services we pay for?

Two, we pay for plenty of services that we don't directly use, or use much less often, than other segments of the population. My house hasn't burnt down, why should I pay taxes for fire services? Some rich guy has a private security force, why should he pay taxes for police? Some 26-year-old BK employee doesn't read, why should his taxes fund libraries? Some 50-year-old man has no children and isn't in school, why should his taxes fund education? I'll tell you why: for the public good. The little bit in overall taxes it would cost to have universal healthcare would be offset by all of the money freed up so that individuals could go out and stimulate the economy. A healthier society would also benefit everyone, as we would be more productive (fewer sick days, healthier, happier).

Three, sure, you may not be using the doctor much now, what happens when you get cancer? Suddenly you become the guy you blasted earlier, so are you going to suck it up and not take treatment because there's someone else out there that feels as you did? Fuck no, you're going to go get your treatment and get better. As you should, because you would be paying for a service that would provide you with all essential medical services, with no potential to be dropped or rejected for pre-existing issues. You would have access to the best in modern medical technology: you know, the equipment that right now only the very rich can even afford to go near. No longer would we have a stratified healhcare system: the very best for the very rich, moderate for the middle class, and third world care for the poor. That alone makes it worth it to me.

I can see the reasons why some people might not want such a system, but I don't think many of them are valid, this one especially. Some may not want universal healthcare, but I don't want private healthcare. We tried their way, now lets try our way.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Looking Ahead

The coming days have been hard for me to get a grip on, and I'm still obsessing over Missouri's EV's, and Alaska, Minnesota, and Georgia's Senate races, but I have begun to look ahead to the future, to decide what I need to be doing. Firstly, I plan on remaining organized, allying with local Democrats to start shifting the ground game here in Michigan for future elections. Also, I plan on utilizing my new Democratic Congressman (Gary Peters, whoo!) and my two Democratic Senators to keep the pressure on Congress as we go forward into the Obama administration. But, I'm also looking ahead to 2010, attempting to decide what I can do best to secure our hold on the Senate and the House.

There are so many issues that we need to get off the ground, so many causes set back by our 8 years of national nightmare. My immediate priorities going into 2009 are to help pressure Congress into introducing and passing legislation on universal healthcare, expanding social welfare, and introducing infrastructure projects. The Employee Free Choice Act needs to be passed, which would allow employees to organize unions with a simple card check stating their intent to unionize, rather than the current up or down vote that's subject to such anti-union pressure. Finally, I plan on advocating the causes of civil rights for homosexuals, and legalizing marijuana (not that I smoke it, or would if it were legal, it's just that pot is basically harmless, the laws against it do all the harm).

On top of that, I hope to help keep the Obama and Peters' campaigns massively successful ground game from being dismantled between now and 2010, and between now and 2012. We're built a wonderful organization for Democratic GOTV this year, and I refuse to let it die. Locally it'll be a lot easier than nationally, since Peters is up for re-election in 2010 and his ground game here in the 8th was just beyond amazing. Not all of the 2010 candidates will have that infrastructure in place already, especially in weak Dem or Republican held areas. Much like Dean did with his Dean for America team (transitioning it into Democracy for America, an organization of which I am proudly a member), we need to transition this GOTV operation from 2008 into a movement that will last for years to come. The people at the top of the party can only do so much for the 50 State Strategy: the rest is up to us on the ground, and the local organizers who step up and volunteer.

Which brings us into 2010. It is a year I look forward to and yet fear. We could increase our gains in the Senate, the map looks very favorably to us in that year. We could hold steady, winning some and losing some. Or, the Republicans could stage a comeback in the next 2 years and sweep us back out of power, or into a majorly reduced minority. But the map is beautiful: 19 Republican seats for them to defend; 7 of them in states that went for Obama, or narrowly went for McCain. Meanwhile, there are only 15 Democratic seats for us to defend, mostly popular Senators in safe states. There is also the case of John McCain, the man who only won his home state of Arizona by 9 points (versus Bush who won AZ by 11 points), and who may be facing popular Governor Janet Napolitano for his seat come 2010.

In neighboring Ohio, George Voinovich faces re-election in a state that has trended Democratic following the 2006 rout of the Republicans there in the Senate, Governor, and other top state races. Then there's Pennsylvania, where RINO Senator Arlen Specter will face re-election after two bouts with cancer, in a state under similar circumstances as Ohio. These are the two out of state Senate races that I will personally be watching and (hopefully) working on. At home, I plan on devoting myself to the Gubernatorial elections and to re-electing Gary Peters in the 9th District. 2010, in my mind, is a watershed year for Democrats: if we can hold onto Congress, expand our control in state legislatures nationwide, then after the 2010 Census, we can redraw the political map. Preferably via nonpartisan methods, since I'd rather we not become what the Republican Party was for the last 8 years.

So, I guess I have my plate full for the next 2 years. For a junkie like me, there is no end to campaigning, just lulls. My fears that perhaps I was only in this to win the Presidency back have been swept aside. I'm in this for the movement, for change, for my children, for my future grandchildren. If anything, now I'm more motivated than I ever was. Obama winning hasn't stripped me of my purpose, it's reaffirmed it. I have a plan, I have a goal, I have the will, and I have what it takes, god dammit. I will do this. This is a war to retake our country: we've won the battle, now let's not lose the war.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Post-Election Thoughts

I've had little time in the past few months to sit and collect my thoughts at one time and in one place, so bear with me, this is going to be long. The election is over, and it was historic. Possibly the highest, or second highest, youth turnout ever; potentially the highest voter turnout levels since 1908; first African-American President; first Democratic President since Carter to be elected with more than 50% of the popular vote. But what does this all mean going ahead? My guy won, and believe me, I'm ecstatic, but I'm not yet satisfied. Why not?

Well, it really boils down to this: people outside of the bubble think that Obama supporters think he'll make everything instantly better. Inside the bubble, the view is much different: this is not the end, but the beginning. This isn't a campaign to be disbanded upon initial victory, but a movement to build a lasting future. We've seen the Republican Party reduced to a regional Southern party this cycle. We'll see how long that holds up, we're not counting on a permanent majority just because we took two elections. The Republicans made that mistake, and look where it lead them.

No, this is a movement for the future, with me and my generation on the front lines. Everything has changed now, we're looking at quite possibly the most progressive generation in American history coming to the forefront. The job now is to secure that progressive alignment, spread it to other demographics, and create a political realignment not seen in America since the 1960's. The Baby Boomers, parents and grandparents of the generation that just broke 2-to-1 for Obama, forged that realignment. But they became burned out, they got burned by authority and by history. Everything since then has been defined by the culture wars, by whether you were for or against Vietnam. The 1960's defined the 40 years to follow, but with this historical election, maybe the trend will be broken.

I certainly hope so, because we are no longer, if we ever were, a center-right nation. Surveys and polls have a majority who think the government should be bigger and more influential; a larger majority believe we should have government funded healthcare, even if they are otherwise against big government. Our people are suffering, and they believe that we should be helping other people. Especially my generation, having been stripped of so many paths to success by the after effects of the 60's. Real jobs ever declining, service jobs all that springs up to replace them. Real wages decreasing steadily since the 70's, adjusted for inflation. The power of the labor unions in that same time period has declined sharply. Food prices, rent prices, a collapsed mortgage market, encouraging college students to endebt themselves up to their eyeballs to try and succeed in a contracting job market... where is the prosperity and opportunity we were promised growing up?

It's time to end it. The culture wars, the Cold War, the Vietnam War: they're all dead and gone, in the past. This generation cares little if gays marry, we just don't see it as a problem. Interracial marriages? Whatever. A black man for President? Where do we sign up? Socialist? So what? Get it? We're, like, so totally over that stuff, man. Get with the times or be left behind. We're moving forward, can you say the same? Everything I've ever wanted to tell my elders, I now have justification for. My dad, who voted Obama but is convinced that "black people don't have enough collective experience to run in politics. They need at least 50 years in power." Well ya know what, fuck you and your subtle racism.

The truth is, this country is going to be looking at our white majority shrinking into a white plurality in the coming decades, and both political parties are either going to be looking a lot more diverse, or they're going to be relegated to the dustbins of history as the minority party of OLD WHITE PEOPLE. 95% of blacks voted for Obama. 68% of Latinos. 61% of Asians. 60% other minorities. These are the expanding populations in America, white people are shrinking in relation to these demographic forces. Deal with it. Want to hide behind your Confederate flag? Eventually it will be torn away and your racism exposed. You don't have to be KKK to be racist, as my experiences with my family this year proved, there's plenty of subtle racists among otherwise tolerant populations.

But the future, it's ours. But what do we expect from it? Depends on who you ask. Myself, I hope that an Obama Presidency will bring us things like a national election policy, taking us out of the dark ages of 50 different, nearly incompatible election systems nationwide. Institutional early voting, instant runoff voting to make third-party runs more viable (pick, in order of preference, your preferred candidates). D.C. statehood, universal healthcare, increased federal grants for continued education, a sane economic policy (i.e. a move back towards Keynesian economics). I hope for all that and more. Because even more than change, this election was about HOPE.

Hope, because as things stand now, I see very little hope for me or my fellow Millennials. Republicans have saddled us with record national debt, sucked us in to fight their war for oil, left us with a collapsed economy, depressed wages, few job opportunities, and an uncertain future for our Social Security or our ability to retire at a semi-decent age. Our health is endangered because of skyrocketing healthcare costs, and insurance plans which charge more and more for less and less coverage. Burdened by the cost of our aging parents and grandparents retiring, needing care we can't afford. Having to watch them struggle and scrimp and save as their health wastes away while you struggle and scrimp and save alongside them. It's been tragic, so we need a little hope. Don't try and take this away from us, because we will fight you to the end, if need be. We won't be broken and tossed aside like the Boomers were in their heyday, and if you try, you'll be even worse than "the Man" that screwed you back in the day.

I guess, in the end, my lack of satisfaction is due to the rage I feel against my predecessors among the voting population. We made a great achievement, and we carried much of the burden of doing so. Sure, everyone else started climbing on later, and they contributed a great deal, but in my mind 2008 is OUR election, and forever will my memories of it be of stocking capped college students canvassing; the field organizers no older than I, running campaign offices; the rooms full of youth voters manning phone banks. This election isn't just historic because our man was black, or because we're so progressive. It's historic because it's OURS. So come on, try and take our hope and victory from us. I dare you.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Wow, it's been ages since I posted here. Almost forgot that it even EXISTED. Well, perhaps I'll get back to posting. Expect an amusing election post within days. :P

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


If Hillary is the inevitable Democratic nominee, then I'm the queen of France. This media narrative is stupid, and I can't believe people are falling for it. Instead of choosing candidates based on personalities, positions, and records, we're picking a candidate because the rebirth of a Clinton-lead presidency is inevitable. It's stupid, beyond retarded, and dumb to boot.

Maybe Hillary offers the most to please the most voters, what with her skills with triangulation and fudging her positions. But then again, if a uber conservative like Reagan can bleed moderates away from the Democrats, who is to say that a very charismatic liberal couldn't do the same? Because that's all that Reagan had going for him: charisma. Hillary doesn't have charisma though, she's not like her husband. And she doesn't have strong positions on really anything, she just polls her way out of messes.

Le sigh. I guess I'll just have to see how this all plays out. Looks like another election process hijacked by the corporate media. Fuck you Chris Matthews and all the other talking heads.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Don't Just Vote Blue, Act Blue

Never under estimate the power of the masses. I finally got a little money in my account again, so I donated to the candidates in my Act Blue page. The races I'm highlighting there are two seats in my home state of Michigan, U.S. House districts MI-07 and MI-09, featuring Democrats Mark Schauer and Gary Peters, respectively. Also, I have Al Franken, who is running in a Democratic primary to be the challenger for the MN-Sen seat, and Barack Obama, democratic presidential contender. If donating to Mark Schauer before the primary is decided makes you iffy, donate to the MI-07 Democratic Nominee Fund.

Contributions don't need to be large. I plan on periodically giving a few bucks plus spare change in my account. Who knows, maybe if I get excited enough for the candidates, I might sell some of my stuff on eBay, with the proceeds going to Mark Schauer or Barack Obama. Hmmm, sell a llama for Obama... good idea.

Catch you later.

July 2008?

Petraeus: Troop withdrawals by year's end -
The 30,000 additional troops dispatched to Iraq in January could come home by next July, but further American withdrawals would be "premature," the U.S. commander there told a fractious congressional hearing Monday.
Whoa, wait a second: July? Of '08? That is unacceptable. That means, in ten months time, a year and a half after the surge began, we'd be down to pre-Surge levels? Hell no, we need an end now, not another six month trial period before deciding the final fates of the extra 30,000, let alone the rest of our forces there. At this rate, we'll be out... around 2020.

Also, the placing seems highly political. July 2008 allows Republicans to say, within four months of the elections, to say that they've started withdrawing forces from Iraq. Absolute bullshit. We cannot stand for this.


Trolls on teh internets give me a headache. One of the driving factors in me shying away from participating in forum discussions online is that I tend to come across the kind of troll who likes to misrepresent people's statements because he has an agenda against that person or something a person said. Yet still, I would fight to protect their freedom to criticize and be belligerent, even if I dislike it.

Fuck T.V.

Television bugs me. The quality of the programs are usually substandard, shallow, and often idiotic. There is very little I can tolerate on television in terms of shows, and very few news programs have my respect. CNN, for example, with their new "Most Stories Per Hour" slogan. I like MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olberman, but off the top of my head, that's really the only exception to the rule. All other news programs are mostly background noise while I read the news online.

But recently television has been bugging me more and more. Is it that the programming is getting worse? Maybe. Is it the lack of interactivity that I can find online? Possibly. What the hell is so different about how I perceive the boob tube nowadays? Is cable television dead to me? Or is it a dying breed?

The answer hit me this morning: television is nothing like "teh internets". It isn't very interactive, and even where it is, it's very shallow and limited: American Idol, for example. It isn't easily navigable: search functions are primitive and weak; channel surfing usually involves hitting channel up numerous times, navigating a "guide", or scrolling through your favorites listings. Online, I can just bookmark my favorite sites, open up the bookmarks folder, click a link, and BAM, I'm there. With cable, the closest I can come to that with my favorite shows is navigating the guide to find the channel, navigating the time slots to find the show, and then setting it to record on DVR.

That's another thing: DVR is really the only saving grace for cable or satellite television these days. Websites are there any time you want to access them; television shows are not. You have to hit the day and time of the broadcast, and if you miss that, chances are you're S.O.L. unless they rebroadcast it (whenever they feel like it), you DVR it (what if you forget?), or someone bootlegs it and puts in on BitTorrent (illegal). Television has arguably become the least user friendly of our daily-use technologies.

But it gets worse. The average television show is low quality entertainment to begin with: whether it be an idiotic concept, low production values, or shallow source material. But advertising makes it worse. Unlike online, you are forced to watch ads in several minute blocs before your program returns. And then, like on the internets, you get ads slipped into the actual content, whether it be the little bug in the corner of your screen, or characters drinking Coke, wearing Nike shoes, and the Geico billboard in the background. It's a double whammy of advertising, just to put a show on television on a national network to reach a small portion of the national audience.

What then, is the alternative? Once again, the internets come into play. Online broadcast of shows is already becoming a reality. We can also sometimes access clips or even live streams from networks, although internet radio does this more effectively. The internets also offers a cheaper distribution model than cable or satellite television does: it is a global series of networks with a global audience. An investment smaller than that made to air a program on television could reach a larger portion of the global audience, and advertisements would have a greater reach on a lesser budget. An expensive website with massive broadband bills wouldn't even be necessary: the foundations are already laid in the form of P2P networks such as BitTorrent. There are people out there willing to share the bandwidth costs to help distribute your material.

Who wins in direct broadcast online? Viewers, producers, and advertisers. Who loses? The middlemen: the networks. The networks, in their inflexibility, may well lose not only their audience, but their producers and advertisers should legal P2P distribution of shows ever become a reality. Imagine an internet where one could legally watch Heroes episodes by downloading them on BitTorrent, and all one would have to suffer for it is a sponsorship message, a small advertising bug, and some ingrained ads. Where shows don't get canceled because they can't attract a large enough portion of the national audience to justify their continued production: direct broadcast will always reach your target audience if your promotions work, made cheaper by word of mouth and ease of access on P2P networks, is effective.

So what holds us back? A laundry list of problems: cable companies favoring the television format, telecoms drive to kill network neutrality, the drive by the MPAA and RIAA to kill P2P technologies, slow broadband speeds in the United States, inflexibility of the current broadcast system, and sheer force of consumer habit. Some of these issues can be struck down with two simple measures: getting the FCC to restore open access and network neutrality would promote growth of broadband networks in the United States, for example. Some problems are harder to tackle: television, as much as I and many others hate it, has consumers locked into habit, despite how unfriendly it can be to the user. P2P technology is suffering at the hands of a witch hunt due to its association with piracy. And yet, piracy would become less of an issue if television (and music) weren't so god damned restrictive. People bristle at being made to pay $70 a month for the good cable, just to watch a small handful of shows in a small handful of time slots.

The tyranny and the bullshit can only go on so long, though. Television's days are numbered in the information age. Just look at my generation and the next: television digestion is down, internet use is up. The internets are this generation's television, and television is just a distraction from this new reality. It will fade from prominence, and the internets will absorb all of its functions, and it will perform them better than television ever could.

Friday, September 07, 2007

About Time

Democrats in Congress restored money into the federal Pell Grant program and cut corporate welfare to the lending companies in a new student loan bill. Hopefully this isn't the last progress we see in this department, and let us pray that Bush doesn't veto it. My future education rides on this. It really does.

Emanuel on Iraq Report

Oh my god, a Democrat in Congress pointing out the reality of Mr. 25%'s war? What next, an actual proposal for withdrawal in Congress? Maybe we're getting to them, wearing down their resistance.

Net Neutrality

Now the antitrust division of the Justice Department is jumping into the Net Neutrality game (yeah, like anything they can contribute will be trustworthy, right Al?). What's more, they're attempting to use the same tired argument that Rep. Boehner attempted with me last year.

In comments submitted to the Federal Communications Commission, the department said some net neutrality proposals "could deter broadband Internet providers from upgrading and expanding their networks to reach more Americans."

"Regulators should be careful not to impose regulations that could limit consumer choice and investment in broadband facilities," the department's antitrust chief, Thomas Barnett, said in a statement.

Now compare this to the prewritten response letter sent to me by Rep. Boehner's office last year:
This year, Congress will reauthorize the 1996 Telecommunications Act. One of the key criticisms of that act... is that, despite supposedly benevolent intentions, Congress essentially picked winners and losers in the various sectors of the telecommunications industry instead of allowing a free marketplace in which competition would lead to new technology, better service, and lower prices for consumers. As a result, many industry experts have concluded that governmental regulation has impeded the emergence of new technology and better applications. Perhaps the biggest example of America's stifled telecommunications progress is that the United States, despite being the world's economic powerhouse, is currently ranked 16 th for Internet broadband deployment.
And then, of course, there is my point-by-point response. The argument now is the same as it was then: network neutrality won't kill off the profit margin of telecom companies with their hands in many pots. Net neutrality doesn't prevent companies from charging based on bandwidth use, it prevents them from prioritizing, refusing to carry, or penalizing certain sites in favor of the corporation's interests. The Internet is not there for Time Warner, Comcast, or AT&T to decide what content gets buried, and what content gets promoted. That is wholly against the concept of what the Internet is.

Save the Internet Coalition's blog has a good post about open access and how it transformed Japan's broadband landscape. Open access laws were developed here in the United States, but were dropped by the Bush Administration at the behest of the telecom lobby.

Letter to Sherrod Brown

So this morning, laying sick on the couch, I got the overwhelming urge to bombard my Senators and representatives with appeals to create and back stronger proposals for withdrawal from Iraq. But considering that one of Ohio's Senators is Republican George Voinovich, and the Representative from my district is Mike Turner (yuck), that left me with one real option: Sherrod Brown. So below is my letter to Senator Brown.

Dear Senator Brown and his staff,

It concerns me that our Democratic Congress is capitulating on the subject of total troop withdrawal in Iraq so easily. With such an unpopular war, supported by such an unpopular party (Republicans), mismanaged by such an unpopular President, what possible backlash could you really imagine there being against us for ending this quagmire?

You, sir, were elevated by the people to the post of U.S. Senator for a myriad of reasons, among them the belief that you could be a great leader on Iraq policy. Much the same with the elevation of Democrats to power in both halves of the federal legislature. This war is deeply unpopular, and Democrats were empowered to end it.

I fear that failure to do so may cost us much, maybe not in 2008, but beyond that. The Democrats must show that they have the strength and moral conviction to lead us out of this mess. What I'm asking, sir, is that you lead the charge in the Senate. The time for compromise with Bush and his Republican cronies is over.

We need change, we need to be out of Iraq before it drags us under and destroys our military capability. Put a proposal on the table for an actual timetable for withdrawal, and oppose the weak piece of legislation which suggests that Bush should figure something out, and then Congress would just merrily do with whatever the Decider decides.

Also, deny the war the funding to continue until you get Bush and the Republicans to capitulate to you. Even if you can't get enough votes to block spending bills, filibuster them to death. If Strom Thurmond could manage a 24 hour filibuster, it should be no problem for you, sir.

In conclusion, you hold my deep set respect as my representative and I hope that you continue to represent the people of your state fairly and honestly. I know that you are destined for greatness in the Senate if you just apply yourself. Thank you for your time.

Act Blue (Edited for Errors)

I created an Act Blue page, primarily to support Mark Schauer, candidate for MI-07; Gary Peters, candidate for MI-09; Al Franken, candidate for MN-SEN; and Barack Obama, the next POTUS.