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Journal Journal: Ending the Heath Care debate

It's been more than a few days since I shared my wondrous insights with my legions of fans here at /. (does two people count as a legion?), and there's been a bunch of back and forth on the health care debate so far, so insteadof doing some massive fact-laden post,we'll pick up this thing mid-stream and go with it (besides, the debate has devolved to the point where facts mean little, and are quickly ignored).

The quick point of this post...maybe it's time to quit even talking to Republicans about the problem and the proposed solution. As Senator Charles Grassley recently opined, it doesn't matter what's in the bill, this is about putting Obama in his place.

When NBC's Chuck Todd, in a follow-up question on the show,asked the Iowa Republican if he'd vote against what Grassley might consider to be a "good deal" -- i.e., gets everything he asks for from Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D) -- Grassley replied, "It isn't a good deal if I can't sell my product to more Republicans."

There reaches a point in any debate when it becomes clear that one party of the other is actually arguing about something else. Once this point is reached, it's time to just make a decision.

So far we've seen very prominent and unemployed Republicans opine about how the terrorist-lovin' Obama (he pals around with them, I hear) is working to institute a fascist/socialist/Hitlerist program in this country , where he will be killing old people and pushing abortion on everyone. He's going to take the guns away and blot out the Sun, from what I hear. Sure, none of this has anything to do with having a modern health care system, but that's the point.

When folks are talking about what health care is really like here, no one says that the system we have is beyond reproach. I've personally talked to folks, after the calm down and quit frothing at the mouth, that make suggestions for health care reform *that are already in the bill*.

When one side is saying that we need to reform a health care system that is currently rationed out to the point where 1 out of 7 red-blooded Americans get nothing, and the other side is carrying around high powered assault rifles to rallies, it's time to end the debate and bring it to a vote.

The Democrats have the votes needed to pass legislation. The Republicans have made this a proxy fight against Obama himself (very little they say, and their media motormouths repeat, has anything to do with the legislation as proposed).

Bring it to a vote and do the job the majority of Americans elected you to do.


[originally published at the Examiner]

United States

Journal Journal: The Tipping Point of the Iraq War (And Bush?)

We have officially crossed the public opinion line of the general wisdom of the War in Iraq.

While a slight majority believe the Iraq war contributed to the long-term security of the United States, 70 percent of Americans think these gains have come at an "unacceptable" cost in military casualties. This led 56 percent to conclude that, given the cost, the conflict there was "not worth fighting" -- an eight-point increase from when the same question was asked this summer, and the first time a decisive majority of people have reached this conclusion.

A full 57 percent disapprove of his handling of Iraq, a number that is seven percentage points higher than a poll taken in September. But the president's core political asset, public confidence in his leadership on terrorism, remains intact, albeit down significantly from even a year ago. Fifty-three percent approve of his record on terrorism, while 43 percent do not. Those numbers were 70 percent and 28 percent a year ago this week.

[Wash Post - Tuesday, December 21, 2004]

Here is the news from Iraq for the day that will accelerate the trend.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE MAREZ, Iraq - A deadly precise rocket attack killed 24 and wounded 64 in a dining hall tent inside a U.S. military compound outside Mosul today.

The dead included 14 U.S. soldiers, an Iraqi soldier and at least three civilian workers, according to a military briefing in Mosul. Identities of the other dead were still being determined.

Hundreds of U.S. soldiers had just sat down for lunch about noon when rockets launched by insurgents hit the giant dining tent.

Amid the screaming and thick smoke that followed, quick-thinking soldiers turned their lunch tables upside down, placed the wounded on them and gently carried them into the parking lot.

"Medic! Medic!" soldiers shouted.

Medics rushed into the tent and hustled the rest of the wounded out on stretchers.

Scores of troops crammed into concrete bomb shelters outside. Others wobbled around the tent and collapsed, dazed by the blast.

"I can't hear! I can't hear!" one female soldier cried as a friend hugged her.

Read more here for some first hand reporting.

We also have the news from Gitmo that will accelerate the acceleration.

There are fresh allegations that prisoners under U.S. custody in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, suffered serious physical abuse from their interrogators.

Agents from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation describe the abuse in newly-released e-mails obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union.

In one e-mail, an FBI agent says he saw Guantanamo prisoners chained to the floor for up to 24 hours and left to defacate on themselves.

In another, the FBI reports that an unnamed individual saw Iraqi civilian detainees being beaten and strangled.

The e-mails also allege that Guantanamo military interrogators posed as FBI agents to avoid accountability for their deeds.

[VOA - 21 December 2004]

While it is still quite possible to deny the feelings of the world in this regard, there remains a question whether or not Bush can, or will, do anything to try and reverse the trend

From Berlin to Beijing, President Bush was widely scorned abroad during his first term as a headstrong hombre more interested in action than consultation.

Now, as the world spins into a new year, many are eyeing his second term with a mixture of caution, frustration and resignation.

Denied the chance to wipe the slate clean with a Kerry administration, nations like France _ snubbed and sidelined by a bitter trans-Atlantic rift over Iraq and other foreign policy squabbles _ can only hope that Bush will cast a less imposing shadow over the next four years.

The angst and suspense underscore a simple, if jarring, truism: Like it or not, America, the world's only remaining superpower, still calls the shots on everything from global warming to peace in the Middle East.

[AP - Wednesday December 22, 3:09 AM] (I still love those future posts...that's from an Asia feed)

The problem of being a Cowboy in a world where we don't even come close to outnumbering the Indians is rather self-evident.

For weeks, Mohammed Ahmed Abdul-Rahman could only wonder where his son had gone. Then the mystery was solved in a will.

"I am in Iraq, seeking martyrdom. I hope we are all forgiven," Abdul-Rahman quoted his son's will as reading, saying in a weekend interview that an unknown caller from Jordan had told him how to find the document three weeks after 20-year-old Hossam Abdul-Rahman vanished in September. He said he doesn't know whether his son is dead.

While only a few cases of Yemenis going to Iraq to fight have been documented, security officials say they are keeping a close eye on travelers leaving this country at the tip of the Arabian peninsula, where Islamic teaching is strong.

Abdul-Rahman has taken the rare step of going public with his story, and is accusing Islamic extremists of brainwashing his university son.

Although its government supports the U.S.-led war on terror, Yemen has long been a center of Islamic militancy, and has suffered several attacks and bombings in recent years. The security officials say they are trying to determine whether Yemeni individuals or groups were financing trips to Iraq or helping with travel logistics.

A group of Yemeni clerics recently endorsed a call by 26 Saudi religious leaders to support the insurgency in Iraq, saying the attacks on U.S.-led forces are a legitimate form of resistance.

[AP - Tuesday December 21, 4:23 AM]

One wonders how long the dissonance can last. One must be patient in the face of it.

The time for drastic action will come.

Perhaps the greatest aspect of a functioning Democracy is one's inability to continue to wage war in the name of people who find the wage to be lacking.

[original article posted on Quantum Philosphy.net]

United States

Journal Journal: Pictures from NYC Peace March

Here are some of the photos from the peace march this last Saturday, March 20, 2004.

We got there and walked the entire route, from 23rd and Madison over to 6th, up to 40th, back over to Madison, and finally down to 23rd. Click on the pictures and they get larger. Commentary, comments and ratings are enabled for the gallery, so vote for your favorite and add your own insight.

A total of 94 pics posted from the entire 'square route'.

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