The Real Issues

One of the things one must know to make intelligent choices in politics is how to discern what the most important issues are at a given time. This goes right to the heart of political philosophy. Is the war really the most important issue for years to come? Is it hypocrisy? Shouldn’t we trust the people the really smart (and beautiful) people in the media trust?

Don’t we trust the news to be telling us what is really important? Are these the Real issues? If your answer to any of the above questions is affirmative the party in America that will best suit you might seem to be the Democratic Party. The rest of this article will be distressing to you.

If all of the possibilities mentioned above bother you, media coverage of issues may still make you feel that you have
little choice but to vote Democrat. This is in part because the default approach to news coverage is to pump ratings by touting crises and then, because air time is too precious to be serious about educating the public on issues, presenting “leaders” with simplistic solutions to the crises. The easiest simplistic solution to every crisis is to have some powerful, trusted elite reach down from on high to set things right. In the fairy-tale world of modern news coverage the government is the fairy god-mother of choice. And, of course, Democrats corner the market on government fairy god-mothers (hereinafter referred to as GFGMs). If you take these fairy tales with a grain of salt, though, you might be a Republican.

Another reason for your discomfort may be that the Republican Party you get to see, seems loath to be clear what difference it presents in political philosophy. That, too, is the sad result of media coverage. In this case it is the coverage of a news media that can't comprehend that there might be a difference between a party's office holders and the substance of the party itself. If one grew up watching Democrat politics and studying Political Science in its nominal iterations political party decisions are naturally the product of the party's elites and its upper class. Indeed, even the Republican Party's current elites seem not to comprehend what is happening to them as they receive their 'intelligence' from a media and staff that comprehend the workings of their opposition well and their own party not at all.

Democrat elites really do run their party and can use the threat of loss of power and erosion of the GFGM to intimidate their constituencies into quiescence. The Republican rank and file would as soon mount their own president’s head on a trophy wall as allow him to intimidate them. This fierce independence is the key to understanding the rise of conservative talk radio. Conservatives are a freedom-minded people who want early warning of events that may interfere with their liberty. They don’t trust even their own party leaders so they want a constant stream of information about politics. They get the willies at the thought of someone being so powerful that they could solve all our problems. 50 million people died of granting that kind of power in Russia and China in the 20th century. So, if your leaders don't intimidate you, you might be a Republican.

Republican rank and file, because they are generally well informed, know what they want government to look like and how they want it to interact with them. The recent furor over illegal immigration has largely been cast in the media and in political circles as a jingoistic or racist fight by conservatives. That is a bald lie. It is about the word “illegal”. No matter what twists those in politics and business, who want to violate our immigration laws, may wish to put on their attempts to do so what they are trying to do is break the law. American citizens fought hard to have those laws protect citizenship in this country and Republicans in particular were willing to lose their majorities in Congress to stick a knife in the gut of the movement to eliminate that protection. Rank and file Republicans believe in the “rule of law” as the law was understood by the people who wrote it. They don’t want GFGMs, and certainly not Republican ones, waving wands over law for the convenience of the day.

This fierce independence means rank and file Republicans would rather define their own success than have “success” defined for them. Private property is, to conservatives, a sacred right. Recent decisions by the courts to allow governments to seize private property so that it could be more profitably utilized by other private property owners are abominations to this mindset. Such decisions subjugate the right to private property, and by extension your right to determine your own standard of living, to a standard of utilization vaguely determined by the government. You never truly own property if the government can take it just because someone else could make more money with it.

Republicans are often accused of being the shills of big business. False. What rank and file Republicans really want government to do in relation to business is to maintain stable, fairly regulated markets, and then get out of the way. That means that if a big business can write off what it pays for health insurance so it need not pay Social Security taxes on that income small businesses and sole proprietors should also be able to do so as well. (We can’t.) If those health insurance costs are protected from insurance industry cherry-picking and exclusions the same should be true for small business as well. (It’s not.) We also want government to be honest about what it costs us. American workers are the most efficient in the world, but business taxes bury so much of the cost of bloated government in the wholesale costs of our goods and services that we are kept artificially uncompetitive on foreign markets. For that reason many thinking conservatives favor a consumption tax that places the cost of government right in front of us and removes it from the pretense of business taxes that force even the poorest of us to pay taxes buried in the costs of their necessities.

The first Real issue, then, is trust, or lack of it for our information sources. The second is whether we are willing to be intimidated by our so-called leaders. The third is whether or not we will insist on a firm foundation of law that binds even our leaders. The fourth is how much latitude we will allow government in controlling our lives and commerce. Don’t see the media’s issues yet? Well, there are more parts to come, but the media’s top ten tells you more about their agenda than it tells you how to ensure your grandchildren a great and prosperous future. We will get to more Real issues in coming days.

Posted by Lee Emmerich Jamison at September 16, 2007 7:31 PM
Comments
Comment #233107

Please read this.

Then read this.

And then … when you go to vote in late 2008, please, please do not mindlessly pull the party-lever.

Posted by: d.a.n at September 16, 2007 8:06 PM
Comment #233114

Thanks, Dan, I never mindlessly pull the lever. I also read a little more widely than internet propaganda sites. I support the war effort (Three of my family members have been active military in harm’s way) and don’t get my intelligence by cherry-picking quotations from sources inherently interested in political gains made at the expense of one party or another.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at September 16, 2007 8:53 PM
Comment #233121

Lee-
Welcome to the site. Unfortunately, I’m not feeling all that distressed.

First, realize that your party never really ever fully bought the conservative line, at least not in the modern era. Your party, as it is today, is a composite of disgruntled policy hawks with otherwise liberal sensibilities, Religious conservatives with varying degrees of allegiance to other kinds of conservatism, wall street Republicans who talk about a free market, but do everything they can to intervene on business’s behalf, and the good old-fashion Goldwater Republicans, who, if you’ve looked around, are generally disgusted with how those who call themselves conservatives act.

The binding commonality to all these people was their common hatred of communism abroad, and their common dislike, for one reason or another, of liberals. They wanted to defeat them all.

Unfortunately, they did. Everybody got what they wanted, and then everybody discovered that major parts of their own party wanted things that were contrary to their idea of what the party was supposed to be.

It doesn’t help that generations of new Republicans have been fed their mothers milk from so many different ideological wet nurses that they hardly know one kind from another; their ideology is an incompatible mishmash of these philosophies. Bush is the ultimate expression of this confusion, a cipher who essentially passed along and passed so many of the conflicting party wishlists.

As for Authoritarianism? Please don’t tell me that your party is like that, because nobody ever asked me from my party to sign a loyalty oath to the Democrats, much less to Bill Clinton. Nobody in the Clinton administration pushed executive power to the heights Bush has, nor raised the level of executive secrecy to the clouds like he has done.

I think many in your party have been truly naive about what’s been going on within it. But how can you expect people to have a clear picture of their party, when they get their information right from the horse’s mouthpiece? If you spend your time sunk within the conservative media, -surprise, surprise- you’re not going to find out all that much about the negative things going on in your party.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 16, 2007 10:23 PM
Comment #233125

Lee,

Welcome to watchblog as well,

The only problem I have with this is the same issue that Rhinehold has with the various images of Libertarianism. Libertarians insistence on ignoring 200 years of evolution of government, sometimes rings of an ideologue out of touch with reality.

Republicans have no one but themselves to blame for their predicament. The party isn’t so much about it’s platforms, rather it is the failure of it’s leadership to keep from going way off course. Alan Greenspan is right when he is quoted saying the Republican Party has “swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose.”

While I agree with most of what Stephen says, I’ll say that the Democrats are as guilty of authoritarianism in their pursuit of things that are “good” for us at times.

Posted by: alien from the planet zorg at September 16, 2007 10:49 PM
Comment #233126

alien… I agree with your comments about evolution of government and the (implied) need to update platforms and policies… but libertarian principles (along with liberal and conservative) are as valid today as they have ever been.

You are correct that those in power have taken it in a whole different direction (read: authoritarianism). Certainly the reps and dems (and greens and libertarians potentially as well) in power do not represent the core beliefs of their parties.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 16, 2007 11:02 PM
Comment #233127

Lee,
Interesting article.

The “Real” issue, the overriding issue of our time and of our generation- more important than corporatist media bias, more important that terrorism or Iraq- is Global Warming.

Professor John Marburger, top scientific advisor for the Bush administration, just stated it is 90%+ likely that Global Warming is being caused by human=produced C02, and the eventual result is that the earth will be “unlivable.”

“Unlivable.”

Conservative philosophy is uniquely ill-equipped to deal with this problem.

The identification of liberals with the Democratic Party and conservatives with the GOP is arbitrary. By their very natures, their political natures, both parties require compromises.

Furthermore, there are many varieties of “conservatives” as well as “liberals.” But we all know this.

During the years of the Bush administration and Republican control of Congress, the Republicans have voted in lockstep. It is a little silly to argue for fierce independence among conservatvies, because their actions reveal just the opposite: an inherent philosophical bias to follow authority & adhere to tradition, particularly among social conservatives and neoconservatives.

In terms of the big picture, media and politics are overwhelmingly controlled by corporate interests. The questions is not whether the media is biased towards liberals or conservatives. The only question is “what flavor of corporatism would you like?”

Posted by: phx8 at September 16, 2007 11:25 PM
Comment #233131

your article seems aboveboard and on point… but one can’t help but wonder whether you support merely the “war effort,” or indeed the war itself… and if so, why in God’s name you would.

so, do explain…

Posted by: diogenes at September 17, 2007 12:32 AM
Comment #233135

Lee, I couldn’t disagree with your last paragraph more! As a political blogger of many years, I have rarely ever found an absence of the facts and data needed to become informed about any topic. The medial insures that most of the data voters need is available, IF voters are willing to look for it. I know this from personal experience, as do most journalists. About the only information voters need to make informed voting decisions that isn’t available is that which government officials choose to hide from the media and public. Sometimes justified, as in sensitive national security information like the identities of our espionage agents or latest military weapons and tactics capacities, and often not justified, like violations of Constitutional or legislated laws by government officials like circumventing FISA and presidential signing statements not revealed to the media.

By and large, however, the media does an excellent job of insuring information and data needed to make an informed decision about policies, politicians, parties, etc, is put out there. If something is lacking in this process, it is more likely the absence of sufficient education, or motivation, by voters to seek out the information they need, or recognize its value if they come across it.

American Congress persons and the public had the 2001 and 2002 CIA Fact Books available to them in bookstores across the country, if they wanted to know about Iraq and what might be the consequences of invading that country. Dick Cheney’s 1994 taped interview in which he clearly stated invading Iraq would be an enormous mistake and end in a quagmire with no foreseeable exit strategy, was out there, produced by our media.

So, I don’t think the media as information provider, is the problem as much as it is the politicians who direct public attention away from what they don’t want visible and toward what they do, and media directing attention to news that sells as opposed to news that informs, and the public’s willingness to have their attention directed by commercial media politicians. Far too many voters behave as sheepish followers, hanging on their party’s and biased media channel’s every word as gospel in a display of team loyalty, as if politics were supposed to be a team sport for entertainment value only.

Our founding fathers were the inventors of the concept: “Question Authority”, as in the King of England, who was the authority in governance of their lives at the time. Far too few today, question the authority of their politicians, party leadership, or favorite party supporting media channel, which perpetuates this spectator sport between the duopoly parties in which, the status of victor changes every few years and reverses some of the bad and most of the good of the former victors. Nowhere is this clearer than in the decade of postponement in addressing the coming entitlement crisis, global climate change, and decades of decline in American education standards and health care inflation. And of course, evident in the growth of corruption of government officials and policy by the campaign financing and lobbyist system of modern times.

Statesmen and women are on the verge of extinction, replaced by financiers of campaigns and policy which make government the lackey of greedy intents. (Haliburton, KBR, Blackwater, CountryWide sub-prime lender, Bank of America issuing credit cards to illegal immigrants, Enron, Adelphia, and a host of law firms feeding at the public trough of taxpayer dollars, etc. etc. etc.)

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 17, 2007 4:13 AM
Comment #233158

Lee, while your Republican explanations may describe the average joe-blow citizen, it no longer pertains to the majority of those who have been elected as Republicans.
Sure they talk a big game, but they have done nothing significant to change things like anti-2nd Amendment legislation, big govt, over taxation etc… that has taken our country towards being just another socialist nation.

The real issue? Getting our once great country back on track to being the country our founders believed it could be.

Posted by: kctim at September 17, 2007 10:52 AM
Comment #233161
Thanks, Dan, I never mindlessly pull the lever.
You’re welcome.
I also read a little more widely than internet propaganda sites.
That’s good. I agree.
I support the war effort (Three of my family members have been active military in harm’s way)
Fine. But do you support our troops only? Or do you support the invasion of Iraq? Or do you also support Bush’s “stay the course”? Or do you support the occupation of Iraq? Or do you support all of the above?

I support our troops. And I think they deserve much better. Soldiers in Iraq were polled and most think we should leave Iraq. I’m no their side. I agree.

… and don’t get my intelligence by cherry-picking quotations
intelligence? Hopefully that’s something you were born with.
from sources inherently interested in political gains made at the expense of one party or another.
Political gains? Hmmmmm … and what was the purpose of this article? This web-site?

The title of this thread is: The Real Issues

Here are the Real Issues to me (sorted approximately by priority). That’s not a mere propaganda site. That is what I use to explain my position, rather than have to repeat it over and over (ooopss … uuuhhhh well, I do that too : ) ).

And, if you looked at it, the War and Terrorism (to me) is the most important issue. I think the lives and our troops is very important. And that is why I agree with MOST of the troops. They deserve better. They should not be used for nation building. And Bush should listen to the troops, and the American people (which he most certainly is not).

And as far as political parties go … I don’t have much use for either.

I used to be a Republican, but the last 4 years cured me of that.

However, I did not see any point in continuing or compounding that error by becoming a Democrat.

The fact is, where the two-party duopoly is concerned, while there are few differences, the end result is about the same.

Perhaps some voters are now catching on to that, based on Congress’ dismal 18% approval rating. That does not say much for REPUB or DEM politicians, eh?

The first Real issue, then, is trust, or lack of it for our information sources.
The truth is out there, but it takes work. You can find viewpoints from every angle, but it is up to you to decide which is most accurate.
The second is whether we are willing to be intimidated by our so-called leaders.
Hmmmmm … I take it you mean “filled with fear”. It depends on the facts. It depends on what it is they are saying we should be fearful of? For example, I think Americans should be concerned about the economic factors that have a potential for economic instability. But there seems to be VERY little fear anywhere of that.
The third is whether or not we will insist on a firm foundation of law that binds even our leaders.
I agree. But look at ‘em. Even when convicted, they may still get a pardon. They put themselves above the law. And even if ever convicted, they get to keep their cu$hy, mult-million dollar pensions (like Trafficant when he gets out of jail), and Rostenkowski who got a pardon even though he pled guilty. But voters are equally culpable of they continue to reward corruption with 90% to 95% re-election rates (since 1996).
The fourth is how much latitude we will allow government in controlling our lives and commerce.
That’s a good point. Have you ever looked at all of the offices, commissions, agencies, departments, etc. in the Federal government. It is so bloated it is ridiculous, yet it continues to grow to nightmare proportions. It takes in 20% of GDP in tax revenues.
Don’t see the media’s issues yet? Well, there are more parts to come, but the media’s top ten tells you more about their agenda than it tells you how to ensure your grandchildren a great and prosperous future. We will get to more Real issues in coming days.
There’s no doubt about the Main Stream Media (MSM). They are pathetic. And that is why people are turning to the internet for news, information, and data. While it is buried amongst a lot of propaganda, garbage, and crap, the truth is there somewhere. Not true with the MSM that fills the time with Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and other nonsense (which is when I turn it off or change the channel). Thus, the MSM is probably losing viewership of those realize the MSM is not only limiting what they show us, but putting their twist on it too. For example, which channel is right (Fox) or left (CNN)? But, these are corporations and they are owned by people that have differing agendas.
  • Posted by: d.a.n at September 17, 2007 11:12 AM
    Comment #233165

    Dan-
    My policy on bias is that I don’t look for it unless and until something gives me cause for concern, or if I know the source to be inherently biased. When I’m trying to piece together an argument, I’ll often forgo a liberal source because their conclusions seem too dependent on their political perspective, and not enough on facts that can translate across the political spectrum.

    I know my people can be wrong, but I also know that while bias often affects the interpretation of the facts, it’s presence doesn’t necessarily negate the value of the facts used to back the interpretation. It’s my habit to track facts presented in the liberal blogs I frequent back to source, to see things for myself.

    The Republicans and many independents have suffered for their reliance on accusations of bias for explaining negative coverage. It allows their own bias on the matter to pull them into a closed loop of denial, such that they gradually grow unaware of what their candidates really do, what they really stand for, and the effects and non-effects of their policy. The Republican Congress and conservative movement did not corrupt itself overnight. The signs were out there. The focus on media politics robbed the right of clear lines of insight and understanding about their politicians.

    There’s no question it could do the same to Democrats, but Democrats do not emphasize media bias as a primary problem for their party. They don’t share that sense of alienation from modern society that would fuel a reaction against the mainstream media.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 17, 2007 11:39 AM
    Comment #233183

    Stephen… I think you are absolutely correct above. The right has made a large part of their political living on crying foul against the ‘liberal’ media… so much so that any report that sheds any negativity on a republican/conservative policy is berated simply because of the obvious media ‘bias’.

    Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 17, 2007 12:52 PM
    Comment #233188
    Stephen wrote: … but Democrats do not emphasize media bias as a primary problem for their party.
    Maybe. But that may very well be because the media was biased for a while? Not any more so much (I think).

    Biases still exist. It’s just that there are now right and left stations. The biases now seem more evenly divided. That is, we now have FOX on the right, and other stations on the left, and perhaps a few in the middle.

    Stephen wrote: The Republicans and many independents have suffered for their reliance on accusations of bias for explaining negative coverage.
    Until FOX and the internet came along, it was probably because there really was a liberal bias in the media. Again, I don’t think that’s true anymore.

    But, either way, whether there was or exists now doesn’t really matter to me much. The Main Stream Media (MSM) is not showing us everything the same way. Each have their spin. I switch between the two or three channels and usually discover that the truth is somewhere in the middle.

    I remember when the statue of Saddam was being torn down in Bahgdad.

    I switched the channel over to CNN. Nothing.
    Switched to BBC. Nothing.
    Switched to FOX. There it was.

    Now why did some channels choose not to report that? It was very noticable.

    Likewise with many other things.
    Fox is definitely right leaning.
    CNN is definitely left leaning with a few exceptions (like Lou Dobbs and perhaps Jack Cafferty).
    Shawn Hannity on FOX is definitely right leaning.

    So, biases definitely exist.

    The MSM is not very good though for really getting all the details (that is, unless it is about Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Lyndsey Lohan, etc., … then you get all the gory details). Why does the MSM do that? Does that really increase ratings?

    Posted by: d.a.n at September 17, 2007 1:10 PM
    Comment #233189

    Hi Lee, and welcome aboard.

    The only real problem I have with your article is that it’s written from within a set of political blinders. Rank and file Republicans strongly independent? It might seem that way now given that many have finally turned from the president, but that’s hardly true of most of his two terms. A Democrat might now talk of the disparate interests that make up the Democratic party; one could claim that Dems are far more independent in their views.

    However, getting trapped within these arguments merely reduces everything to a simple binary.

    I’d echo what David R. says about information. We have more information available than ever in history. As a people, however, we are often lazy, and don’t use the marvelous resources available to us. I see no point in blaming the big media for this or getting trapped in arguments about whether the big media is liberal or conservative. From my point of view, it all promulgates a certain capitalist/corportate/consumerist mindset; from a broader perspective, the choice between Dem and Rep is similar to the choice between Coke and Pepsi. Both have rhetorical talking points, but when it comes down to it, both have presided over enormous growths in federal spending, both are complicit in the Iraq fiasco, both suck at the lobbying teat.

    Our system is broken, and voting either Dem or Rep seems unlikely to fix it. I say that as someone who usually votes Dem when presented with only two realistic choices. What is the solution? Voting out incumbents, maybe? Voting third party, maybe? Refusing to vote? Article V Convention of some sort?

    Posted by: Gerrold at September 17, 2007 1:10 PM
    Comment #233191

    OH boy yet another red column writer spouting the same old “its the media” line to justify repub excesses. The righties dominate the AM dial with “news” and opinion, they have their own network that has, without a doubt, a conservative bias yet its the medias liberal bias that is the real issue. The famous conservative attacks on PBS that proved false a few years back, yet still the “its the media” line. But I guess it does serve to misinform the “generally well informed” repub rank and file (great satire Lee) keeping them in lockstep with their corporate bosses, as if they watch anything but faux and listen to anything other than Rush, Sean Ann et al. For crying out loud, what is it 30 percent still think Saddam was involved with 9/11(again thanks for the laughs Lee).
    Maybe the real issue is the lack of reality by the repubs and cons regarding how well informed they think they are.

    Posted by: j2t2 at September 17, 2007 1:24 PM
    Comment #233196

    Gerrold, I would agree that the system is broken, and perhaps politically speaking that is the real issue. In addition to the fixes you mention I would add public financing of elections and lobbiest allowed only in free speech zones set up outside of the beltway.

    Posted by: j2t2 at September 17, 2007 1:50 PM
    Comment #233209

    “allowed only in free speech zones”

    wow… that’s a bit of a departure from the Constitution…

    Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 17, 2007 2:50 PM
    Comment #233215

    Doug, I agree. But, there is nothing wrong with requiring lobbyists to conform to the same access to Congress persons as the politician’s constituents have, by phone, fax, letter, email, or office visit. That’s it. No lunches, shared plane rides, outings or vacation trips, etc. Lobbyists should have no greater access than voters.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at September 17, 2007 3:29 PM
    Comment #233220

    Doug, no more so than W’s free speech zones for protestors.

    Posted by: j2t2 at September 17, 2007 3:47 PM
    Comment #233223

    David… fair enough. But… if a member of Congress invites you out to lunch for an honest discussion of the goings-on in your district, should that be against the law?

    j2t2… uh… you’re right? G-Dub has walked all over the Constitution with his very dirty feet… that doesn’t necessarily mean we should start assigning zones where people are free to speak and others where they are not.

    Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 17, 2007 5:20 PM
    Comment #233227


    Cable Television gave the people the options they wanted. The viewing public started turming the channel when the nightly news came on. The nightly news used to be a ritual in America, not so much anymore. The news has been forced to compete and raise it’s level of entertainment and sensationalism.

    As David Remer pointed out, there is still a large group of investigative reporters who turn out excellent work on behalf of the American people, But, how many people really pay attention anymore. For instance, when it comes to informing the American Public on major issues that the country faces, It is hard to beat the News Hour on PBS. What percentage of the American people watch it?

    Those who have nearly all of the wealth and power have a pretty nice setup that they would like to preserve and strengthen. The last thing they want is a well educated, well informed public. Power uses the corporate media sources well to provide the entertainment that the public wants and to muddy the truth with punditry disguised as news. Despite their efforts, the uneducated and not well informed public still knows that something is really wrong with our government and that the wealthy and their corporations are up to their necks in it.

    An Unconstitional act that would be in the best interest of the American people would be to deport Rupert Murdock and auction off his American investments.

    Posted by: jlw at September 17, 2007 5:50 PM
    Comment #233234

    Doug, I agree with you that free speech zones are not in keeping with the intent of the constitution. Perhaps walking on the constitution is the real issue.

    All, Until this past January its been over 6 years with a repub majority and repub administration and yet no outcry over the restrictions of free speech rights have we heard from them. Yet we are told by Lee that repubs and cons are not the shills for big business, they are generally well informed and they want an early warning of events that may interfere with their liberties.Why has Fox, Rush et al not educated their followers on this obvious violation of the constitution? Why has there not been a conservative lead revolt by the rank and file of the repub party over this issue? I think the repubs and cons would be up in arms except for the fact that most of the protesters are assumed to be left wing types. Its hard to beleive the MSM, if it were as liberal as we are lead to believe by the repubs and cons, would let this issue fall under the radar. Its also hard to believe that those freedom loving repubs Lee writes about would allow such a violation of the constitution to go unchecked just because protestors are liberals. Sorta makes them appear to be much less than advertised.

    Posted by: j2t2 at September 17, 2007 6:27 PM
    Comment #233238

    To be fair, there are a number of conservative groups that have been agitating against this administration’s Constitutional abuses.

    Posted by: Gerrold at September 17, 2007 6:49 PM
    Comment #233240

    Oh, come on…

    Do you believe there is substance or political ideal in either party? Wake up.

    What ideal of the fiscal conservatives hasn’t been betrayed?

    …or the rule-of-law conservatives…
    …or the religious conservatives…
    …or the small government conservatives…

    Need I go on?

    The Democratic side of the coin is very similar.
    It is all a shell game. It’s all ‘wag the dog’ B.S.

    Hell, compared to almost any outside news source throughout the world, our media is actually powerfully conservatively biased. This is easy to see when you engage in monitoring it against other international news sources as well as human rights NGO’s which amass data on conditions and circumstances around the globe.

    Posted by: RGF at September 17, 2007 6:54 PM
    Comment #233254

    I’m sorry that due to family commitments I have been unable to respond to comments in a timely manner.

    That said, there are a few things that should be responded to. I have not said the media do not provide adequate information to the people who work to find it. However, to be a connoisseur of information in this culture one must swim upstream more than a little. One does not frequently find among those who savor fine wines a natural progression starting with grape soda. In all of western society, though, we see people fed the information on which they must make nuanced decisions about their future leaders through a fizzy sweet media produced by large corporations and paid for by large corporations, both sides of the equation which benefit highly from cozy relations with government. This is an inherent institutional bias in which two types of large organization, government and industry, both of which see us as a sort of raw material, share in a temptation to reinforce each other. This is an arrangement I do not trust, in part because it gives people the illusion they know something about the world in which they live even as its perpetrators benefit from informing us either poorly or misleadingly.

    To address in small part the issue raised about a capacity for independent thought I take as an example Global Warming. Conservatives err if they allow a prejudice born of the perceived proponents of GW and their supposed political biases to color their perception of solid science. There is no question that CO2 absorbs infared light and coverts the energy in it to kinetic energy (heat). There is neither any question that when we see the sun in the sky infared in the bandwidths CO2 absorbs is still shining on us so if one adds more of the gas it will absorb more of the light and trap more of the heat. The same effect works the other way as well. As we add more CO2 to the atmosphere we warm the air more from the sun one way and prevent the cooling of the Earth more the other way.

    This is easy to reference in a simple internet search. From the Wikipedia page on the Greenhouse effect I was able in less than three minutes to recover this information about the absorption of infared by CO2 gas in the atmosphere. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_effect
    “Roughly 5% of CO2 molecules are vibrationally excited at room temperature and it is this 5% that radiates. A substantial part of the greenhouse effect due to carbon dioxide exists because this vibration is easily excited by infrared radiation.”
    Conservatives run the risk of seeming stupid by not knowing this sort of thing, or blatantly, perhaps even cynically, misleading by ignoring it. The point is not whether the effect is happening. It is what we choose to do about it. Will we permit governments, which in their most authoritarian forms are arguably the most corrupt and stupid human organizational structures on Earth, to determine our fates? Or will we use well constructed markets to utilize their inherent evolutionary intelligence to solve those same issues? (OMG! he believes in EVOLUTION!) I believe the market provides a better solution than bureaucratic or authoritarian intervention.

    If one needs a blade to divide liberal/progressive philosophy from conservative philosophy the use of evolutionary processes to solve problems would seem in most cases to highlight the conservative approach where the resort to the intelligence of the “best and brightest” would characterize that of liberals.
    Not realizing this is what they are doing and having affiliations with religious groups that self-consciously eschew “evolution” conservatives seldom recognize God’s method when they use it. On the other hand the humanists who comprise the squeaky hub of the liberal wheel are happy enough to think they are discrediting God with evolution even as they would never favor the method that designed the human brain over the human intelligence that conceived and marketed the Edsel.
    Finally, to the point about ideals and politics. America exists as the first nation on the face of the Earth to be organized around a set of ideals because four million or so people decided to toss in with a group of hopeless idealists who were driven by the clearest notions of human frailty ever set into law. Doing so made every other government on the planet at the time, the ones that despaired of ever dealing with our failings, obsolete. Therein lies the problem I have with big-government Democrats and B.G. Republicans like President Bush as well. Hand them the public gun and you have eliminated the chance to walk away from the big organization that serves us badly. Woolworth’s, the inefficient private enterprise, is dead. Mohair subsidies, God bless them, live on.
    To really trust government you must believe somewhere in your heart of hearts that people in government are BETTER PEOPLE than the rest of us are.
    Do you REALLY believe that?

    Posted by: Lee Jamison at September 17, 2007 8:50 PM
    Comment #233263

    Dan-
    I don’t think we need to be segregating the dial based on politics. It really doesn’t add needed information to the mix as much as it takes it away. I stopped watching Bill Moyer’s NOW because I found it annoying the way they hand fed the viewer the political line. I’d rather watch something like Frontline where you get the facts without being spoonfed a political line.

    I don’t political balancing from either side. I never thought of the media in that way in the first place. If you asked me, the whole point would be that the press would hold everybody to account, not take a side.

    As for the Statue? I hate to tell you this, but that was actually sort of set up. It wouldn’t be surprising, then, that FOXNews was there to get it. For me, though, that’s the kind of media manipulation I really don’t want. I don’t want our leaders setting up these little Potemkin village moments to fake us out.

    As for why the media reports more on celebrities? Because it’s easy. The corporately consolidated media slashed the foreign offices, cut down on investigative reporting, and emphasized entertainment value in coverage.

    What they don’t realize is that they’re trying to take up a niche already well occupied by somebody else. A lot of Cable News networks, in my opinion, involve themselves with too much local material we could care less about, when they should be doing what these other channels cannot. They should be reaching out, finding real news, going after stuff. Never underestimate’s the public’s thirst for a story well told.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 17, 2007 10:08 PM
    Comment #233276

    Lee,
    Great comment.

    Global Warming is a topic in itself. A free market approach risks being ineffective because of timelines and the enormous amounts of energy behind Warming. By the time a free market responds, it could be too late. But it is worth pointing out, most major multinational corporations have already recognized the problem and at least support the idea of addressing it. And government offers the best tool for addressing a large scale, long-term problem of the public commons, the planet itself.

    You write: “To really trust government you must believe somewhere in your heart of hearts that people in government are BETTER PEOPLE than the rest of us are.”

    That cuts to the heart of the matter for a true conservative.

    Americans of any political stripe recognize government can be used as a powerful tool to address issues of the public commons, as well as a tool for nefarious ends. There will always be an innate tension between the rights of the individual and the rights of society. But I am not sure “trust” in government is the right word. I am sure transparency is an absolute requirement; and the demand for transparency is one shared by liberals and conservatives alike.


    Posted by: phx8 at September 17, 2007 11:58 PM
    Comment #233287

    Doug asked: “David… fair enough. But… if a member of Congress invites you out to lunch for an honest discussion of the goings-on in your district, should that be against the law?”

    There is a concept in our legal system that stipulates equal treatment in the eyes of the law. It is a bedrock cornerstone of our rule of law concept. So, if the Congress person isn’t prepared to invite all persons from his district wishing to talk with him about district issues out to lunch on the taxpayer’s dollar, then he should invite NONE. Equal treatment in the eyes of the law.

    Any person seeking an audience with a representative should be afforded the same accommodations as every other person seeking audience. Failure to observe this principle swings the doors open wide for preferential and potentially corrupting influences to take advantage of the preferential treatments.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at September 18, 2007 9:36 AM
    Comment #233288

    phx8

    Your first and last paragraphs are intimately related. The notion of government’s power to work in the “public commons” is, of course quite valid. Where government is best able to do that work, though, is in the matters of common infrastructure (roads and public sanitation, for example) and provisions for the common defense such as the police and the military. All of these measures are themselves difficult to form effective markets around, though the principalities that do them best have a tremendous competitive advantage over those that do them poorly. The capacity of American government to marshal the power of our private industrial marketplace is the principle factor in our ascendancy from colonial backwater to world economic dominance. That does not happen in a vacuum, but, rather, is made possible by the fact that our peculiar system makes us very responsive in a national marketplace made up of highly competitive states and, only secondarily, a world marketplace made up of nations with less facile interactions of government and industry.

    In other words, our system creates a market system in which even governments compete, and this encourages transparency.

    Where global warming is a problem is that current suggested solutions tend to lump the whole world into a single enforcement structure where the limits of human intelligence trump the evolutionary powers of competing markets. This negates any objective pressure to remain transparent, because humans don’t like having their intelligence closely and critically examined. In government mandated global systems nothing mandates transparency but the government’s assurance they will follow the rules. The litany of such authoritarian structure’s failures to follow legally mandated transparency requirements could not be written in this space in a year. Nor could that of the number of people who have died, ultimately, of the lack of government transparency.

    I hold fast to my statement on trust in government. Even government only works well when it is held to the objective standards and inherent transparencies of a marketplace.

    Posted by: Lee Jamison at September 18, 2007 9:36 AM
    Comment #233290

    David… first off, I agree with you. Lawmakers should make themselves equally available to all, but it is just not that practical. What if the lunch is not paid for by tax payer dollars? Are you suggesting they, for all intents and purposes, sequester themselves while they are in office? They can’t, after all, go to lunch with everyone… should they therefore not be able to go to lunch with anyone? Anyone at all?

    Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 18, 2007 10:03 AM
    Comment #233292

    Re: comment #233234

    j2t2,

    Chief among the lessons of growing up in a place that all-too-well remembered itself as a conquered nation is an observation on prejudice. If you can’t recognise it in the mirror it is bigotry. I am prejudiced. It is a part of the human condition I know to be a frailty I share with my fellow humans. It is not strength to claim to have eliminated it, but, rather, to seek it out and know it and limit its power to bend our actions to the detriment of others.

    You say that we do not see when conservatives seek to limit freedom of speech. What we often see is that when we do the only place it will be reported is in conservative media. I was listening to a very conservative Houston radio station (KSEV 700 AM) report today on court documents sealed at the request of federal prosecutor Johnny Sutton. This has been done to protect Sutton’s use of a known drug runner, who has been caught running drugs while under the protection of Sutton’s federal immunity, as a key witness in a court case that has sent two border agents, both hispanics, to federal prison. Our uproar over this abuse of prosecutorial power and the power to hide pertinent information from the public is simply not reported in the “MSM”

    Johnny Sutton is a long-time personal friend of President Bush. His abuse of power is a symptom of a malady I call Bush Personal Loyalty Disorder, a genetic disease passed from father to son.

    It is distressing that liberals would be so upset at a mechanism common in dealing with large crowds but seemingly unaware of the use now also common to college campuses of the same mechanism to limit the freedom of speech of individuals expressing conservative viewpoints. Restricted “Free Speech Zones” have even been tried on campuses here in East Texas. (We’re apparently not ‘enlightened’ enough to make them work.)

    In the matter of large protests or gatherings of large crowds there certainly is a place for appropriate crowd control and limiting protestor’s negative impact on the ordinary lives of the public. On the other hand there is no really inappropriate public common place for respectful expressions of personal opinion. I have a great many liberal friends whom I love. Their opinion is as important as my own.

    I will fight for that. But you probably won’t hear about it.

    Posted by: Lee Jamison at September 18, 2007 10:49 AM
    Comment #233306

    Doug, not if the intent is to lobby for one position or another. The Constitution also protects free association, so the Congress person may eat lunch with whomever they please. Just not for the purpose or intent of lobbying.

    I should think that would be obvious from our previous discussion on this matter.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at September 18, 2007 12:58 PM
    Comment #233311

    Here are a couple of “real” issues:

    U.S. home foreclosures soar in August

    The number of foreclosure filings reported in the U.S. last month more than doubled versus August 2006 and jumped 36 percent from July, a trend that signals many homeowners are increasingly unable to make timely payments on their mortgages or sell their homes amid a national housing slump.

    Health Insurance Costs Rise Again

    the 6.1 percent increase still outstripped the rises in workers’ wages (3.7 percent) and inflation (2.6 percent), according to a study released this week. There’s no relief in sight for workers, who paid almost $3,300 on average for family coverage this year. Forty-five percent of employers polled say they’re likely to increase employee premiums next year, with a significant number reporting they plan to increase employee deductibles, copayments, and drug contributions as well.
    Posted by: womanmarine at September 18, 2007 1:44 PM
    Comment #233312

    womanmarine, yes, I confirmed in another article that health care expenses on average have risen 2% more than real wages for every year of the last 20 years. This is one of the main reasons the middle class and poor have not felt the benefits of the economic gains enjoyed by the wealthier and corporations and investors during the same period. It also explains why the majority of voters refuse to accept Bush’s rosy economic statements, recognizing that Bush is not speaking for them, but for the minority for whom real wealth and wages have outpaced health expense and energy inflation.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at September 18, 2007 1:53 PM
    Comment #233314

    Those are real issues?
    Foreclosure? Don’t buy what you cannot afford and if you do, quit expecting somebody else to bail you out.
    Health care? Quit blowing your money on eating out, alcohol and tobacco and start saving it.

    Now, over taxation and the lose of personal freedoms and rights are REAL issues and adressing them is vital for our country to continue as it was meant to be.

    Posted by: kctim at September 18, 2007 2:21 PM
    Comment #233318

    kctim, are you trying to contract the economy?

    Posted by: David R. Remer at September 18, 2007 2:59 PM
    Comment #233322

    David,

    If you can’t see the hand of government failing precisely in the area of establishing stable and equitable markets in health issues, you’re not paying attention.
    I’ve had to drop my personal health insurance in the last two months because of the favoritism government shows big companies versus sole proprietors. I paid more than $12 thousand for insurance alone last year. This year it would have run to $15 thousand. None of that, not a dime, was deductable against my adjusted gross income. That means I pay thousands of S.S. tax dollars on income that would not have been taxed had these expenses been paid through a corporate employer.
    That kind of government policy may literally be killing me and my family.

    Our third-party payer system is constructed by accretion and pays for a system bloated with insurance recovery costs, tort insurance costs, and legal protections designed to feed people, like lawyers, who do questionable service to delivering medical care.

    Posted by: Lee Jamison at September 18, 2007 3:21 PM
    Comment #233323

    If thats what it takes to get the majority of Americans to quit expecting govt to take care of everything for them, then I’m all for it David.

    Saving and taking care of oneself is more important than spending and living off someone else.

    Posted by: kctim at September 18, 2007 3:23 PM
    Comment #233324

    Kctim:

    While I expected no agreement in a response from you, I didn’t expect the overgeneralization. If it were only that simple. Which, as you well know, it isn’t.

    Posted by: womanmarine at September 18, 2007 3:24 PM
    Comment #233326

    David… yes, of course it is obvious, to a point… but it is a slippery slope and at what point does simple ‘freedom of association’ turn into ‘freedom of speech’ as to what is discussed at lunch?

    Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 18, 2007 4:07 PM
    Comment #233328

    kctim,

    There is a difference between gov’t managing things for others…
    Not what ANY of us want, regardless of politics.

    …and wanting gov’t to stop monkeying with everything to our detriment.

    Health care HMO’s and insurers get what they want because they have the power to persuede.
    (READ: Lie their asses off to voters and gov’t alike).

    Social Security is another example -
    It would be fine, and last into the indefinite future, if only those monkeys in Washington would stop monkeying with it and counting it in the overall budget!

    There is an erroneous stereo-type that Liberals want gov’t to take care of things for them.

    SHOW ME that Liberal.
    I’ve never met that person!

    republicans, back when I was still calling myself one, used to be about small government and less regulation. They wanted free markets and all of to live with as little government interference as possible.

    Now, it seems, the party wants government to gays how to live and to listen in our phone calls in case there might be a terrorist on the line. The modern GOP wants us to accept a war-based economy that requires record breaking deficit spending and the highest percentage and actual number amount of national debt in the history of our country. This GOP wants us to accept the notion that our nation was supposedly intended to be a christian nation! …A notion that doesn’t stand up under the mildest scrutiny!

    The GOP is 180 degrees off of what it was in the early ’80s when Reagan ran and won.
    …and yet, inexplicably, the memory of Reagan is invoked among the same people supporting this mess of imbeciles in Washington now.

    Stunning hypocrisy. Absolutely stunning.

    Posted by: RGF at September 18, 2007 4:23 PM
    Comment #233330

    But it is that simple womanmarine.
    If I cannot afford something, I do not buy it. If I cannot afford the monthly payment, I do not buy on credit.
    If I love my family, I do not take them to McD’s to show them, I take that money and save it. There is no reason in the world for people to feel sorry for the chainsmoking 300 lb. woman can’t see the doctor because she doesn’t have the $50 for an office visit.
    You know I could go on and on with real world crap like that, so I won’t bother adding them.

    Overgeneralization? No.
    That simple? Yes.

    Posted by: kctim at September 18, 2007 4:33 PM
    Comment #233332

    kctim,

    You are inventing a scenario to support your argument.

    What about the much more legitimate cases out there?
    …and they are most assuredly there!

    Posted by: RGF at September 18, 2007 4:56 PM
    Comment #233333

    RGF
    “SHOW ME that Liberal.
    I’ve never met that person!”

    “There is an erroneous stereo-type that Liberals want gov’t to take care of things for them”

    Really?
    Universal healthcare and Social Security are the govt taking care of things for you instead of doing it yourself. Do you support them?

    As for your rant against the Republicans, uh, ok.
    Seeing as I don’t really see any significant difference between the two, I can’t say as I disagree with much of what you wrote. I could do the same for the other side.

    Posted by: kctim at September 18, 2007 5:00 PM
    Comment #233334

    Come on RG, inventing that? We all drive by at least 20 people like that a day.

    But, I would be happy to hear your “legitimate cases” and why its ok for govt to force me to believe as you and care for them as you think I should.

    Posted by: kctim at September 18, 2007 5:07 PM
    Comment #233343

    There are some things about which the inclusion of profit margins is innappropriate.

    As for social security…
    The problem there has nothing to do with the idea itself and everythign to do with how it politicized.

    Perhaps some there needs to be some sort of way to keep Washington’s hands off of it.
    But if we include profit motivated firms in social sec. we will only find ourselves with an even more horrific scenario.

    Perhaps some sort of private administrative entity acting under the authority of government, like the U.S. postal service for instance.

    Posted by: RGF at September 18, 2007 7:12 PM
    Comment #233353

    kctim, “Universal healthcare and Social Security are the govt taking care of things for you instead of doing it yourself. Do you support them?”
    My understanding of universal healthcare is that we all pay into a fund hopefully eliminating the 30%middlemen and securing the better rates and coverages that would come from the scale of the plan. I dont feel that is “the government taking care of things for me” Its me paying my fair share and others doing the same. Its the same as SS, you make it sound like the government takes this money from your pocket and gives this money to me. This is not the case. Ive paid in for years and get my return based upon what I have contributed it doesnt come from your pocket.

    Do you really think that going it alone against the insurance companies and/or for profit hospitals is the smart way to deal with medical issues? If so you have obviously never run up against a catastrohpic illness or injury.

    Posted by: j2t2 at September 18, 2007 8:17 PM
    Comment #233356

    Lee
    “Our third-party payer system is constructed by accretion and pays for a system bloated with insurance recovery costs, tort insurance costs, and legal protections designed to feed people, like lawyers, who do questionable service to delivering medical care.”
    That, Lee is the problem with the free market. The free market works great for TV’s, refrigerators etc. but has not passed the test on more important services like health care.
    Its not just lawyers however Im sure the for profit hospitals and insurance companies have way to many accountants and executive types sucking up the money along with the lawyers. Thats what happens when profit is the guiding force. Hell the poor consumer and the Doctor both need to hire lawyers just to get their moneys worth under the current system.

    Posted by: j2t2 at September 18, 2007 8:42 PM
    Comment #233360

    I can find more information (faster) on the internet than anywhere else.
    Yes, it is buried along with lies.
    Yes, it takes work to ferret out the truths.
    But, at least it is there.
    Not so with the pathetic Main Stream Media.
    I find myself igoring the Main Stream Media more than ever.

    I’d rather watch something like Frontline where you get the facts without being spoonfed a political line.
    Yeah? I don’t see much difference.

    But, when it comes down to it, I don’t see much real difference between DEMs and REPUBs either. People keep telling me they are very different. Yet, the “REAL ISSUES” continue to be ignored as they grow dangerously in number and severity, and threaten the security and future of this nation.

    Bernanke is predicting (if not addressed soon) that the standard of living in this nation will fall by 14% in the next few decades. Well, that 14% won’t be evenly distributed. Not when 60% of the U.S. population only has 5% of all wealth in the U.S., 40% of the U.S. population is broke, and 5% of the population has 60% of all wealth.

    In a voting nation, education is important.
    So, the REAL ISSUE is education.
    We have a choice.
    We can get our education the smart way.
    Or the hard, painful way (again).

    But then, many people just call all that dooms-dayish fear mongering.
    So why should anyone give a $#!+

    Well, you know what? Increasingly, I think the voters have the government they deserve, and they only have themselves to thank for it, since they repeatedly reward the same incumbent politicians for it with 90% to 95% re-election rates (since 1996).

    Even when incumbent politicians give themselves raises 9 out of the last 10 years (while our soldiers risk life and limb, go without body armor, medical care, and promised benefits), accomplish little (if anything; despite a dismal 18% approval rating for Congress), the voters continually reward them with 90% to 95% re-election rates (since 1996).

    Seriously. Why?

    Because they are brainwahsed to pull the party-lever. It’s the easy thing to do. It’s easier to let THEIR party think for them. Sad but true. So everything else takes a back seat to winning seat for THEIR party. And it shows, as pressing problems continue to deteriorate.

    Like Forrest Gump said: “My mother told me ‘Stupid is as stupid does’.”

    And it ain’t likely to get better until it gets much worse; only when the consequences of complacency, apathy, and disinterest finally becomes too painful.

    Posted by: d.a.n at September 18, 2007 9:23 PM
    Comment #233361

    kctim said: “If I cannot afford something, I do not buy it. If I cannot afford the monthly payment, I do not buy on credit.”

    We get your logic, kctim. And if you cannot afford health care you would choose to die in misery and suffering. We do get your logic. We just don’t agree with it.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at September 18, 2007 9:24 PM
    Comment #233371

    Folks,
    I hate so keep sounding so brutal, but the healthcare system doesn’t give a damn about you.

    Did you know the heatlhcare system is making huge profits while people are dying due to preventable medical mistakes. How many? Guess …

    195,000 or more per year.
    106,000 of those are adverse drug reactions.

    That is 48.8 times more deadly than the 4.5 years in Iraq.

    Sorry, I have a very bad habit of bring up these inconvenient truths.

    Sorry, but when ever I go to the doctor or hospital, I am thinking: How is my life in danger. If you aren’t, you may be the next statistic. You should be afraid. VERY afraid. That is truly no bull$#!+. If you don’t think so, then you should do a little research. And if you have a family member in the hospital, they should have a friend or family member along. Truly. I probably wouldn’t be here today otherwise. The huge number of medical mistakes is appalling.

    Posted by: d.a.n at September 18, 2007 9:55 PM
    Comment #233387

    Yes, yes, David… and we all know that the only way to care for humankind with any compassion whatsoever is to have the government do it for us…

    We do get your logic…

    Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 18, 2007 11:53 PM
    Comment #233393

    Is there really any mystery that some have figured out what the next huge thing is to milk for all it is worth?

    77 Million baby boomers approaching old age.

    Yeahhhhh!

    When I was a kid, the doctor came to our house.
    Even when we went to the doctors office, while expensive, it was still less than a 5% of the average annual income.

    Not anymore.

    I recently spent 5 minutes in a doctor’s office to drain my right elbow with a needle. It took 4 or 5 minutes. The doctor that did it previously charged me $75. The other doctor and labs charged $760. It was ten times more. I asked why is it so much? They said the new patient record costs $285.00.

    I paid the bill in full.

    A few months later, they were trying to bill me for another $156.00. I called them and said that I already setteled my bill. They agreed.

    A few months later, I get more bills. $44 for this and $46 for that. I called to see what that is about. They said it was for someone to read the lab reports. I paid them (stupid to do perhaps) but I am not sure what they are for.

    There is some serious greed and gouging going on, and it is escalating. Not only that, (IMPORTANT)if you EVER go into a hospital or in for an out-patient procedure, you NEED an advocate. I have seen several dangerous situations in hospitals, and other negligent situations. Obviously, with 195,000 accidental deaths per year (16250 per month, 518 per day, 22 per hour), you do not want to take chances.

    The approaching 77 million baby boomer bubble is between a rock and a hard place. Hmmmmmm … that hard place may be the bottom of a casket. Seriously, this was recently reported and I can verify the importance of it from personal experience. Get an advocate should you have to get any procedures in a hospital or out-patient facility.

    Posted by: d.a.n at September 19, 2007 12:48 AM
    Comment #233398

    d.a.n said: “I hate so keep sounding so brutal, but the healthcare system doesn’t give a damn about you.”

    The system, its investors and managers, by and large don’t care except for how much green is in your pocket or insurance policy. But, the same is generally NOT true of half or more of medical personnel (overworked and undereducated receptionists and billing clerks excepted). Shopping around is important, if you need to find a Dr., Dentist, nurse, assistant, etc. There are plenty, and I have never had to go through more than 2 of any to find someone who cares.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at September 19, 2007 4:39 AM
    Comment #233399

    Doug said: “Yes, yes, David… and we all know that the only way to care for humankind with any compassion whatsoever is to have the government do it for us…”

    Obviously from your comment you don’t know dung, which means you can’t speak for everyone. I have never gone to a politician for a physical, or their staff for nursing care, nor would I. I have known many government medical personnel with great compassion. And I have received outstanding care and compassion by government medical personnel, both in the Army and the Veteran’s Administration.

    So, on the whole, from my experience, your implied disrespect for our VA system and Military Medical Corps as lacking in compassion, is unwarranted and ignorant of the both the expertise and compassion they bring to their patients and personnel, overall, when they are adequately resourced by the politicians.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at September 19, 2007 4:50 AM
    Comment #233422

    J2
    “Do you really think that going it alone against the insurance companies and/or for profit hospitals is the smart way to deal with medical issues?”

    This is where all you guys get confused J2. I have nothing against insurance and SS, and I would even be ok with govt creating some sort of voluntary guidance plan or something. The problem I have is with govt forcibly making me support it and be a part of it.
    In a nation which was founded on freedom and individual rights, compulsory participation in these things is a disgrace and craps all over rights.

    David
    “We just don’t agree with it”

    Thats fine David, but even though you disagree with it, you should still respect my right to believe it and live by it.
    I respect your right to believe how you wish and to live your life as you wish, why do you not respect my beliefs?

    RGF
    “The problem there has nothing to do with the idea itself and everythign to do with how it politicized”

    I totally agree that SS is politicized and abused by govt. Most govt programs are.
    I’ll even give you that SS is an ok idea.
    But, my problem with SS is that it is not voluntary.

    Posted by: kctim at September 19, 2007 9:31 AM
    Comment #233423

    Re:comment #233356
    j2t2,

    A point I have already made several times is that, either accidentally or on purpose, governments construct markets. They do not happen by themselves in human societies. In this case the market has been manipulated by people with the government’s ear, particularly the most over-represented minority in American life; lawyers.
    The “accreted” structure of which I wrote builds layer upon layer of complexity onto the system for the express purpose of finding ways to get more money out of it for people who deliver no medical care.
    Government has the power to create simple markets for medical insurance, but as long as they can confuse us with obfuscations and continued accreting complications of the system they will continue to rake in the money of their grateful legal and insurance lobbyists.
    I have posted on my personal blog a letter I wrote to my representative, Kevin Brady, on this issue. It rambles a little, but is fairly clear on what I think government ought to be doing on healthcare.
    http://leejamison.com/blog4/2007/09/healthcare_open_letter_to_kevi.html#more

    Lee

    Posted by: Lee Jamison at September 19, 2007 9:59 AM
    Comment #233425

    Lee said: “A point I have already made several times is that, either accidentally or on purpose, governments construct markets. They do not happen by themselves in human societies.”

    Did you type what you actually meant to say here? Markets existed long before governments, see the history of Tinbuktu, or the Caravan routes of trade in the Middle East in B.C. periods and beyond. Governments don’t construct markets, supply and demand exchange of goods and services where labor becomes specialized constructs markets with or without government. Read your Adam Smith, Lee. Read your history of Ancient Greece dating back to 7 and 800 B.C. before governments.

    Shippers on the Aegean created the first insurance companies amongst themselves to disperse and share the risks of Aegean storms notorious for sending those Greek vessels to the bottom for us to dig up these millenia later. No government involved. Markets, specialization of labor, and wealth accretion create a demand for security, and it is the demand for security born out of markets and wealth, that create the need for government.

    You have your history, sociology, and anthropology backwards on this.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at September 19, 2007 10:18 AM
    Comment #233451
    David wrote: The system, its investors and managers, by and large don’t care except for how much green is in your pocket or insurance policy.
    That seems to be a common theme in so many things.
    David wrote: But, the same is generally NOT true of half or more of medical personnel
    Yes … I would agree with that.

    half or more?
    That may be a pretty close approximation. Is half a good thing? Sounds kind of sad actually. Maybe dangerous? An hour at your lawyers’ office might cost you $250 too, but at least your life isn’t in danger. Of course, there are some good medical professionals (as with most professions), but there are some real quacks out there too and they can be very dangerous. For example, I have come close to being killed 3 times by medical mistakes:

    • (1) Once I was almost given another patients medication that could have killed me.

    • (2) Once an I.V. in the jugular wasn’t flushed with saline every 24 hours (like it wss supposed to be) and caused a subsequent blood clot in the jugular.

    • (3) And once, a defective or improperly operated I.V. machine introduced a 6 inch pocket of air into the I.V. tube leading straight to the jugular vein. The line was removed only seconds before it reached the jugular. I was not even aware of the problem until the nurses started scrambling to remove the jugular I.V. line and I saw the 6 inch pocket of air in the line. Little did I know at the time it could have causes an embolism, cyanosis, respiratory arrest, and/or heart attack. The cause of the air pocket was because the I.V. tube had been pinched by the I.V. machine’s front door.

    I’m quite certain there are others out there with much worse experiences. After all, 195,000 deaths per year is a staggering statistic. Then I’ve also seen price gouging, double-billing, triple-billing, erroneous (or fraudulent?) billing, bad advice, pill pushing, and doctors and P.A.s wined and dined by pharmaceutical sales reps. I even went along once when an acquaintance (a P.A.) invited me and my wife to a free night on the town (paid for by the pharmaceutical company). I turned down subsequent invitations later when I realized the pharmaceutical was paying the way. So you should wonder about the choice of prescription brands doctors and P.A. are prescribing.

    The healthcare industry ain’t what it used to be. Of course, we have benefited from technological advances. But people need to educate themselves so that they don’t become one of the 534 people accidentally killed each DAY (195,000) by a negligent medical mistakes and adverse drug reactions (ADRs).

    Doug Langworthy: “Yes, yes, David… and we all know that the only way to care for humankind with any compassion whatsoever is to have the government do it for us…”
    Who is the government? That’s us. Should government (us) have this duty? Actually, as David R. Remer pointed out, the government would merely be the guarantor of payment. I’m not exactly thrilled with that prospect. After all, look at the wonderful way they have managed Social Security and Medicare. I’m not exactly thrilled with that, but there are worse things … like the current system.

    However, a government system might at least eliminate one unnecessary middleman (i.e. the two major middlemen being insurance companies and government (e.g. Medicare)) that are driving up costs drastically and unnecessarily.

    Why should people be paying millions to support people working in the insurance companies?
    Think of the millions of people making a living (profit) from medical insurance.
    Now consider that money being used for something more constructive?

    One healthcare system solution, though improbable until the current system becomes more useless, is to remove the middlemen. But this requires the medical professionals to go back to the way it used to do things, before they let the foxes (the middlemen: government and insurance companies) into the henhouse.

    Posted by: d.a.n at September 19, 2007 12:41 PM
    Comment #233455

    I don’t know dung? Isn’t that the kind of personal attack not allowed on this site? That was certainly an attack on the messenger, and not the message…

    No… my (purposely) over-generalizing comment about the compassion of government was in direct response to your over-generalizing comment about “you would choose to die in misery and suffering.”

    Over-generalizations are fine, as long as they come fron your point of view… otherwise, the person making the obviously gross over-generalization doesn’t know “dung”.

    Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 19, 2007 12:55 PM
    Comment #233459

    David,
    Your criticism of my statement is well taken. The statement attempts to say something I know to be true, governments are intimately invovlved in the action of markets in developed societies, but what you have said is also true. Markets, in primitive areas, precede governments and even become the catalyst for their development. However, try exercising the most basic of those markets, a true barter market, for an extended period in a developed country and see how long it goes before the government tries to ‘take part’ as it were.

    Posted by: Lee Jamison at September 19, 2007 1:26 PM
    Comment #233521
    “you don’t know dung?”
    Isn’t that the kind of personal attack not allowed on this site?
    Yes, I believe you are right about that.

    Yet, I have seen far, far worse things.

    Posted by: d.a.n at September 19, 2007 6:40 PM
    Comment #233525

    There are HSA insurance accounts that most people can afford. The one I use costs a little more than sattelite TV and internet cost a month. This can easily be budgeted in. 2 packs of cigs a day cost about the same as my premium. I could calculate junk food and pop to about the same. There is a deductable that you put in the bank to pay med expenses tax free. My plan pays 100% after the deductable is used up.
    This was passed by Bush in his first term.
    Yes Dave it is logical.

    Posted by: Kruse at September 19, 2007 6:59 PM
    Comment #233595

    Lee said: “However, try exercising the most basic of those markets, a true barter market, for an extended period in a developed country and see how long it goes before the government tries to ‘take part’ as it were.”

    In a democracy, Lee, it would be the people clamoring, as they do today over the sub-prime profiteering on buyer ignorance, for regulation, to which the government would respond. In a democratic form of government, government does not act without the assent of the people through vocal demand or silence. This is what the non-voting half of Americans need to understand, their silence is ASSENT! That is how our system was set up.

    Same as voting for candidates. The people don’t need to vote to keep politicians in office, politicians will stay in office without voters. This has been true since King George’s England and long before that. The power of the vote devised by our founding fathers, was to REMOVE politicians from office. A power not understood by most Americans anymore.

    Silence is assent. If only Americans could be taught this from the 3rd grade on. But, like all authoritarians, parents don’t much favor the notion of vocal dissent from their children, so large numbers of them grow up silent, or sheepishly pulling the lever for the incumbents no matter how terrible the results of politician’s actions, considering that to be the obedient and patriotic thing to do.

    Patriotism in our founding father’s day meant never trusting those in power, remaining ever vigilant and suspicious of their actions and motives, and standing ready to vote out incumbents whose terms in office have failed to yield the results expected by the voters, and vote in their challengers. They understood what Einstein so eloquently said, doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is NUTS! (paraphrased slightly).

    Posted by: David R. Remer at September 20, 2007 12:25 PM
    Comment #233597

    “If you ain’t sayin’ nuthin’ you the system’s accomplice.”

    Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 20, 2007 12:43 PM
    Comment #233603

    David,

    Excellent post. Silence is, indeed, assent. That very fact converts a failure to teach the true role of the citizen, our responsibilities as the real co-sovereigns of a great nation, into a form of slow coup d’etat.

    Obviously I am not a libertatrian. So I want to take part in a debate that will bring up all the sides of an issue concerning appropriate regulation in a marketplace. That sort of thing we all should want, so we can become educated populace who will ACT ON WHAT WE KNOW, hold our representatives to account and, frequently, replace them with new representatives.

    Posted by: Lee Jamison at September 20, 2007 1:30 PM
    Comment #233634

    Questioning authority and government is patriotic.
    Pulling the party lever is a result of laziness and a very effective form of deception that capitalizes on that laziness.
    It is easier to take someone else’s word for it (THE PARTY).
    This creates the situation we see today.
    Congress has a pitiful approval rating (18%).
    Congress has a pitiful approval rating before the last election (7-Nov-2006).
    Yet, over 90% of Congress was re-elected.
    Congress has enjoyed a 90% to 95% re-election rate since 1996.
    Voters vote for the candidate that spends the most money 90% of the time (usually the incumbent).
    89% of all federal campaign donations only come from 0.15% of all 200 million eligible voters.
    Since THE PARTY is all important (just look at this web-site), winning seats for THE PARTY is all important. Everything else takes a back seat to it.
    Too many see others in the OTHER party as partisan.
    Too many overlook THEIR own party’s faults and say the OTHER party is worse.
    In the mean time, the nation’s problems grow worse, and will probably continue until the consequences become too painful.
    But there are some that say there’s no chance of that.
    I’m not sure why, since a look at history and human nature makes one wonder how it can’t happen.

    Posted by: d.a.n at September 20, 2007 5:09 PM
    Comment #233659

    Lee… thank you for your comment about not being a Libertarian, as it brings up a very good point.

    “Obviously I am not a libertatrian. So I want to take part in a debate that will bring up all the sides of an issue concerning appropriate regulation in a marketplace.”

    Me too… and I am a Libertarian.

    There absolutely needs to be an appropriate amount of regulation in the marketplace… and the facts that I am a Libertarian and I believe that are not mutually exclusive. To be Libertarian does not necessarily mean you believe in no regulation… just as little as possible. I firmly believe there needs to be an intelligent debate about how much is necessary.

    Heck… just about everyone from Teddy Kennedy to Ron Paul would agree there needs to be “as little as necessary” regulation in the market, and the definition of that is where the differences in opinion arise.

    Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 20, 2007 7:15 PM
    Comment #233669

    d.a.n.,
    My solution to the party issue is to vote in primaries, and as frequently as possible vote for the “new guy”. Our real problem is structural. Congress, in order to defend office holders against newcomers, has organized itself around seniority. EVERYTHING in Washington is designed to aid in this sham, from the insulating bureaucracy to the lobbying support structure. We abet the deception by believing the fallacy that we dare not lose some representative’s “experience”. What a crock! America is full of leaders, thousands in every district in the country.

    In ‘94 we let Congress bluff us on term limits. this time we need to get serious and shove them down their throats.

    Doug,

    I had to laugh at that. Of course the most “liberal” (in the modern sense) Democrat from, say, Andrew Jackson’s time would think we had bought into the sort of governmental control imagineable only in horror stories were he to see America today.

    Posted by: Lee Jamison at September 20, 2007 9:10 PM
    Comment #233676

    Lee… yep… and 150 years from now, I am sure Kennedy would look at horror upon “the sort of governmental control imagineable only in horror stories”.

    Well… maybe not Kennedy… ;-)

    Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 20, 2007 10:05 PM
    Comment #233731


    After five years of Republican rule, the public had a very good education on Republican philosophy and the direction they wanted to take the country. The Republican party’s foreign policy was a grab for control of the Earth’s oil reserves and a chastisement of countries who refused to go along with the plan. Their primary argument to the American people, for their oil war, has been false accusations and fear. Throw enough false accusations out there in the Conservative press and couple it with a healthy dose of fear of any and all alternatives and the people will fall in line. Because of 9/11, this tactic worked quite well for a while.

    Domesticly, the Republicans voodoo or supply side economics is basically, give it all to the rich and they will keep enough trickling down to prevent a collapse of the economy and a possible worker revolt. While much of America is barely treading water and hoping their doggie paddling will keep their heads above water, the wealthy are jet sking. I don’t mind the jet sking as long as everyone who is willing to work is at least standing on terra firma.

    However, just creating a terra firma economy is not enough. Even a worker who earns enough to provide the American dream will not be able to maintain or increase their position unless they are fiscally responsible. In my opinion, this is the area where education is most needed. The government can help in this area in two ways. The government can stress personal fiscal responsiblilty ( no more of the don’t worry, go shopping philosophy) and by setting an example for the people to follow.

    I think it is possible that the Republican Party could have maintained both their primary domestic economic philosophy and their foreign policy had they not made their fatal blunder in 2005. They couldn’t leave well enough alone. They just couldn’t resist going after Social Security. This got a hell no response from the people and in my opinion, caused the people to pay more attention to the Republican war and the economy.

    It is not media bias that has soured the majority on Republican philosophy, but rather the philosophy itself.

    The people may not be educated well enough on the workings of government and they may not know which solutions are the appropriate ones but, they are educated enough to know that the government has been headed down the wrong path and needs to change the road it’s on.

    Posted by: jlw at September 21, 2007 11:32 AM
    Comment #233760

    jlw,

    What you suggest as a political philosophy is, first of all, not among our choices in the current dabate. There are people willing to run away from the world internationally, but they aren’t interested in making the government a model of efficiency or thrift.

    On the other hand you won’t find anyone on the conservative side of this blog who thinks Republicans really followed our philosophy when they had a chance. To that extent we’re tied; two constituencies without willing representation.

    Secondly, though, what you suggest has, in a sense been tried. We did it in the 1920s.

    How do you think that turned out?

    Posted by: Lee Jamison at September 21, 2007 2:40 PM
    Comment #233895
    Lee Emmerich Jamison wrote: d.a.n., My solution to the party issue is to vote in primaries, and as frequently as possible vote for the “new guy”. Our real problem is structural. Congress, in order to defend office holders against newcomers, has organized itself around seniority. EVERYTHING in Washington is designed to aid in this sham, from the insulating bureaucracy to the lobbying support structure.
    Mr. Lee Jamison, Thank you. I regret that I alienated you so early on.

    I think your advice is wise advice.
    So, what is up with those saying: “Never vote in a primary”?
    And why? After all, as you point out, getting more new names on ballots is important. In fact, I’m am going to focus more on that very area. However, we still have a problem in which most voters (the 50% to 60% that bother to vote) vote for the candiate that spends the most money (90% of the time); which is why Congress enjoys a cu$hy 90% to 95% re-election rate.

    Lee Emmerich Jamison wrote: We abet the deception by believing the fallacy that we dare not lose some representative’s “experience”. What a crock! America is full of leaders, thousands in every district in the country.
    That is refreshing. Yet rare. Rare in words and rarely backed up by deeds … at least until the lack of it becomes more painful. The human factor is becoming increasingly clear and explains much.
    Lee Emmerich Jamison wrote: What a crock! America is full of leaders, thousands in every district in the country.
    Yes, it is a crock. I agree more than you know.

    After all, what good is any incumbent politicians’ experience in the U.S. Congress when it is seems to be mostly experience at:

    • breeding corruption,

    • pandering,

    • perpetuating the myth that we can all live at the expense of everyone else,

    • Gerrymandering,

    • bribing voters with their own tax dollars,

    • selling out Americans,

    • pitting Americans and illegal aliens against each other,

    • pitting voters against each other,

    • selectively enforcing laws,

    • ignoring Article V of the Constitution, despite 567 amendment requests by the state legislatures of all 50 states,

    • plundering Social Security,

    • trolling for big-money donors,

    • starting wars based partly on inaccurate intelligence,

    • ignoring countless warnings that could have prevented 11-Sep-2001,

    • giving themselves raises (9 times in the last 10 years),

    • honing their skills at finding pork-barrel and graft,

    • perfecting the art of partisan warfare,

    • looking the other way and refusing to ever police their own ranks

    • refusing countless common-sense, no-brainer reforms,

    • supporting the many forms of legal plunder (along with the Supreme Court’s help), such as eminent domain abuse (6 new cases per day), violation of the Constitution, ignoring existing laws (e.g. immigration), Habeaus Corpus, torture (ask Spec. Sean Baker about this),

    • ignoring the nation’s problems growing dangerously in number and severity,

    • rampant spending, massive debt, and incessant inflation (863% since 1950),

    • and exploring every facet and manifestation of unchecked greed?

    But voters repeatedly reward those very same incumbent politicians for all of the above with 90% to 95% re-election rates (since 1996).
    Therefore, the voters are culpable too.
    The voters actually have the government that they deserve.
    Very few (if any) will approach this reality.
    Voters give Congress dismal approval ratings (18% as of late), but still reward them with perpetual re-election rates of 90% to 95%.
    It doesn’t make any sense, until you carefully examine human nature.
    It is not logical.
    And it shows.

    Unfortunately, the painful consequences are lagging indicators, and so is the education that follows. Eventually, pain trumps greed and laziness. It is a built-in self-correction mechanism.
    But will the correction come in time?
    A purview of history should raise concerns.

    So, I see you are a Republican.
    That is not a condemnation.
    I used to be a Republican too.
    However, do you struggle with that?
    Have you always been a Republican?
    And why?
    Why do you prefer the Republican party?

    Posted by: d.a.n at September 22, 2007 1:21 AM
    Comment #234138

    d.a.n.,

    I’m new here. It will take a while for people to understand what I’m trying to say in a lot areas, but you have the jist of the area of representation. On my personal blog You can find a number of posts specifically on what I think it will take to fix representation in our government. These things will require Constitutional amendments but will be worth the effort in the long run.

    First- bring our House and Senate representatives home. Office them and require them to be in office the vast majority of the time in their own districts and states. They can communicate, caucus, hold hearings, and vote electronically. But if Exxon-Mobil wants to wine and dine them they will have to do so in 535 different places. Washington D.C. was a necessity in the 1790s. It is no longer so today.

    Second- Limit the House to six years in office and the Senate to twelve. In addition, limit the amount of time any one person may serve in federal offices requiring a vote of the people or approval by the Senate to a cumulative lifetime total of 24 years. That includes the courts.

    I believe these measures will involve more people in government, encourage the states to become leadership incubators, and remake a legislative branch with an inherent distrust of bureaucracy. Because there will be more churning of the Congress voters will feel they have more impact on policy and will have more incentive to take part.

    This is not a Republican or Independent issue. It is an issue that crosses party boundaries. Ours is a government designed by the Founders to be a REVOLUTIONARY government. We have permitted it to become an elitist government by letting people become entrenched in power. Stability in government can easily morph into rigidity, and thence into brittleness. Let our stability be in the offices, not in their occupants.

    That’s the way to make government look like us.

    Posted by: Lee Jamison at September 24, 2007 11:32 AM
    Comment #234141

    Oh, d.a.n., I meant to answer your questions.


    “So, I see you are a Republican.
    That is not a condemnation.
    I used to be a Republican too.
    However, do you struggle with that?”
    Yes, I do. There is always a damger in identification with a group organized (ostensibly) around a set of values because it is easy to take the values for granted and simply become a team player. I refuse to do that. I will stand up for the core values even to the point of loudly criticising my own party.

    “Have you always been a Republican?” And why?
    I have been a Republican pretty much all my life because as a young person I was constantly exposed to the political debates of my family. That is where I learned the rationale of my core beliefs, their fundamental address of issues like poverty, economic development, social and religious principles, etc. In my extended family we learned core values that transcended party boundaries so that I could see how my stauchly Democrat pastor grandfather and his staunchly Democrat newspaper publisher brother could want exactly the same things we wanted for the poeple, while disagreeing on the best societal mechanisms for achieving those things. I also remember my father’s impassioned, but loving, debates on these great things with these men. The credo of this site is the atmosphere in which I was raised. When the ideas had been thoroughly discussed I thought the fundamental values most Republicans hold and the solutions they sought made the better case.
    Why do you prefer the Republican party?”
    The structure of American government forces the people to make a difficult choice because it makes third parties so difficult to sustain. When the Whig party collapsed in the 1850s a new party became inevitable. We WILL have two parties, but we can hardly sustain a third for even a single election cycle. I can’t be a Democrat given the policies their most vocal grassroots espouse. If I fail to choose a party I will have no voice in government. I’m forced to choose the Republican Party and commit myself to changing it to live up to the values I embrace. Posted by: Lee Jamison at September 24, 2007 11:58 AM
    Comment #234175

    Lee Jamison,

    Thank your for responding.
    I used to think term-limits was a bad idea. Now I think it is an excellent idea. Unfortunately, Congress will never pass it.

    That’s the way to make government look like us.
    Unfortunately, I think the government does look like us. That’s why the situation is serious. Government won’t become responsible and accountable until the voters do too.

    And the nation’s problems won’t be addressed as long as voters repeatedly reward incumbent politicians with 90% to 95% re-election rates.

    I agree with some of the different positions of the two party’s platforms, but I don’t see that EITHER is interested in solving problems. There is too much corruption. Politicians are so FOR-SALE and corrupt, the differences don’t matter much.

    However, I think voters will eventually (it will take a while) figure it out, but not until the consequences of their complacency and apathy become too painful.

    Posted by: d.a.n at September 24, 2007 5:08 PM
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