Posts Tagged With: Bill Clinton

AND ….THEY’RE OFF AND RUNNING

Probably, over 99% of Americans living outside of New York state have never heard  of George Pataki. Within the state of New York, perhaps about a quarter of the population still remembers that he was governor from 1995-2006. A pretty fair governor to be sure, but nothing that would set off a cavalcade of fireworks. Nevertheless, Pataki, at age 69, is putting together an exploratory committee to determine the feasibility of seeking the GOP nomination for president in 2016. His chances of success are about the same as mine if I ran for president. And why would anybody really want the job. Just the thought of having to deal with Congress would make me nauseous. Sure, there’s the fun stuff like getting to fly on Air Force One, or playing at elite golf courses, or hosting lavish state dinners. But every now and then the president has to deal with serious items such as combatting terrorism, Iranian nuclear ambitions, and budget and tax issues. The Obama presidency has seemed to focus more on the fun side such as playing golf, and as little as possible on world affairs such as the Ukrainian civil war and other other crises. But who needs all those headaches. I would probably do the same in Obama’s shoes.

In any event, with the election still more than a year and a half away, the race for the Republican nomination has attracted more than a dozen players, some whose chances of success are about as ludicrous as George Pataki’s. First off, like the ghost of Christmas past, Mitt Romney returned to the political arena figuring that the third time had to be a charm. It seemed for awhile that despite his losses in 2008 and 2012, His Mittness still had enough popularity amongst the GOP rank and file to secure the nomination for 2016. But as I’ve written many times before, financing is the name of the game in buying an American election, with the winning candidate usually being the most costly that money can buy. In our faux democracy, if a potential candidate can’t raise at least tens of millions of dollars, just for openers, he or she is usually toast. Romney did have huge money supporters until former Florida governor Jeb Bush figured that it would be a neat idea to follow the family heritage and become Bush number three to occupy the Oval office. When that happened Romney’s big money donors decided that the Busch name still had more commercial value than that of a previous two-time loser, and they swung over to Jeb’s side. Once Romney lost his major donors he knew it was all over, and time for him to get out of the game. The problem is, however, that Jeb Bush might be a tad too rational and sane to satisfy the looney-tunes element of the GOP which continues to grow even larger and more powerful.

The Rush Limbaugh faction in the Republican Party has focused on a number of potential candidates (excluding Jeb Bush) that would satisfy their far-right ambitions to basically destroy what’s left of the non-military portion of the U.S. government. First off, there are the holdovers from the 2012 Republican debates, such as Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania who is still seeking to criminalize social affairs such as birth control, abortion and gay marriage; as well as bible thumper Rick Perry, ex-governor of Texas, who couldn’t remember, last time around, all the government departments he would eliminate upon becoming president. Then their are new figures that  have lunatic fringe especially enthralled. One is Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, who pretty much was able to destroy public worker unions in Wisconsin that state employees belonged to, by taking away their rights to collective bargaining. He had to face a recall election because of that action; but thanks to heavy financing by the Koch brothers (whom I’ve written about before), Walker won the recall and is now the darling of the far, far right. He’s being hailed as another Ronald Reagan, their all-time favorite hero. With heavy money interests starting to galvanize in his direction, I would not discount Walker’s chances of securing the Republican nomination.

Of course he would have to contend with others that even the lunatic fringe considers lunatics, such as Rand Paul from Kentucky and Ted Cruz from Texas, who also have strong presidential ambitions. And, for the dingbat faction of the GOP, which is also growing in strength, there is always Sarah Palin who has mumbled something about entering the fray. I think more than half the fun of watching this circus unfold, would be lost if Sarah Palin didn’t have a go at the nomination. Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, was thought to have a shot for awhile, but his balloon seems to be deflating. Again, he seems to possess too much of that sanity thingy to be a viable GOP candidate. But, if you want irrationality,  there’s always Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, who traded in his Hindu heritage for a strict brand of fundamental Catholicism, and who would also criminalize abortion and gay rights. And the beat goes on with a slew of more aspirants, each seeking to outdo the others in their extremist views.

If the Republican side of the coin has an over-abundance of candidates striving for the presidency, the Democratic side has decided to put all their eggs in one basket; which, of course, belongs to Hillary Clinton. Which is a very dumb idea to begin with. First of all, Hillary will be 69 in 2016 and has had health issues that could raise a number of red flags. Secondly, Hillary has enough political baggage to fill every flight leaving out of JFK for a month. Republicans, who are so much better than Democrats at practicing the politics of personal destruction, would immediately jump on husband Bill’s personal foibles from the 1990s and blame them all on Hillary. Already, they are printing up bumper stickers that say: “Monica Lewinski’s ex-boyfriend’s wife for president.” You can be sure that all of Bill Clinton’s prior misdeeds would be dredged up all over again. Also the Benghazi fiasco, where 4 Americans, including our Ambassador to Libya, were slain by terrorists on Hillary’s watch as Secretary of State, would be thrown in her face. Add to that, the fact that Hillary isn’t exactly the most dynamic or charismatic candidate around, and you can see that the Democrats are in a real pickle. The problem for the Democratic Party is, however, that they have such a thin farm system, who else could they nominate that would have a viable chance of winning the presidency.

My prognosis is that the election of our next president is the Republican candidate’s to lose. Which wouldn’t be the first time that they’ve snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Think back just to 2012 when Mitt Romney should have won by at least 10-15 points. In any event, it will be a fascinating spectacle to watch along the way, as the political scene unfolds over the next 18 months in our pretend election process.

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THE HEALTHCARE SCARE

So Obama promised on numerous occasions that: “If you like your healthcare plan you can keep it. Period.” He often repeated this while campaigning for President and then after he was elected. Bad mistake, as it turned out, since perhaps millions of people will lose their healthcare plan due to implementation of Obamacare. Couple that with the disastrous incompetence of introducing Obamacare on-line, and you have Republicans, like sharks smelling blood in the water, circling around their prey, ready to pounce. I suppose if Obama had said that most people would be able to maintain their healthcare plans, this entire kerfuffle might have been avoided. In any event, before we let panic and hysteria reign supreme, I felt it would actually be helpful if we looked at the facts and the reality surrounding the whole healthcare stew that exist in America today. You know what facts are; those pesky and annoying items that always seem to interfere with ideology.

The first fact to acknowledge is that we are the only civilized country on Planet Earth, (and perhaps in the universe) that doesn’t provide its citizens with universal healthcare. Republicans, and other assorted right-wingers point to healthcare systems in Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, China, Japan, India, and everywhere else, and declaim these systems as “socialized medicine.” Oh, the horror. We must never allow the evils of socialized medicine to take root in the U.S., they staunchly proclaim. Except that it already has for major segments of our society. Like the military, for example. Republicans hold the military in such high esteem, that it has not been a problem bestow upon them the “evils” of socialized medicine. Here’s how it works. The military healthcare system is called TRICARE, and it’s available to all active AND retired military, their spouses and their young children. All are eligible to obtain free medical treatment at VA hospitals or from private doctors. Currently, this comes to just under 10 million people who don’t have to worry about obtaining healthcare. Plus, if one has ever served in the military, they’re allowed to obtain medical care at VA hospitals for a small co-pay. Why is socialized medicine a given for the military, but such a big deal about making it available to the civilian population?

Next comes Medicare for all those pain-in-the-ass seniors, who, as everyone knows, are just leeches on society. While not as good as TRICARE, it’s still not bad. It pays an estimated 80 percent of usual doctor bills, and almost 100 percent of hospital charges. It doesn’t cover stuff like eye glasses or hearing aids which are an increasing necessity in many senior’s lives. Normally, when one has Medicare, one has to also acquire a supplemental healthcare plan to cover the stuff Medicare won’t pay for. My supplemental costs about 3 times more than my Medicare premiums; but, between the two, I don’t have to worry about any billings from doctors or hospitals. So we’ll say that Medicare is semi-socialized medicine. Except if a senior decides to belong to an HMO, where everything is paid for and no supplemental is required. Then it’s fully socialized. There are, however, certain disadvantages to belonging to an HMO, which you can learn about on Google. In any event, there are currently 49 million people receiving Medicare benefits. The list of those with Government healthcare support keeps growing.

The next category of Government provided healthcare is Medicaid, a health plan for the poor. Medicaid is generally not considered a worthy plan because the Government is extremely parsimonious in its funding. Medicaid is a joint federal and state funded venture and both have been reluctant in providing the resources needed to keep the system afloat. Many doctors will not accept Medicaid patients because of stingy reimbursements. Still, if you’re poor, and can’t afford health insurance, it’s better than nothing. Currently, 70 million people rely on Medicaid for their health benefits. There’s also CHIP, the Children Health Insurance Program; essentially, Medicaid for youngsters, which enrolls another 7.6 million people. So we’re now up to about 136 million Americans receiving health insurance benefits from the Government. (Better not alert the Tea Party nut cases, or they’ll develop a case of the heaves.)

An estimated113 million Americans receive their health insurance from private employers or as employees of governments at the federal, state and local levels. These are generally safe from the mandates of Obamacare. So where’s the problem with all these cancellation notices and rate hikes. It comes because 5 percent of the population, or about 15 million people have to buy health insurance directly, because, for one reason or another, they are not part of a group plan. Which is always an unfortunate position to be in. Most of these cancellation notices are occurring because many of these self-insured health plans do not meet minimum medical requirements specified by the Government. Or, in other words, these plans are a piece of crap; and the only thing saving the butts of those purchasing such plans is that they remain healthy enough to not require serious medical attention in the first place. Eventually, over time, if Obamacare is allowed to develop and evolve, those buying self-insurance will be able to obtain decent plans at reasonable cost.

But, if Republicans want to howl that Obama lied, they’re free to do so. Imagine, a politician in Washington lied. I don’t think my heart can take it. Where’s my defibrillator? Although I seem to recall those famous words uttered by George Bush, the Elder: “Read my lips, no new taxes.” That notorious line was proclaimed about a year before he signed legislation raising our taxes. Or how about the right-wingers favorite President, Ronald Reagan, lying to us for over 2 years about the Iran-Contra scandal. (Those not familiar with Iran-Contra can also check it out on Google.) Or how about the infamous: “I did not have sex, not even once, with that woman, Miss Lewenski.” Bill Clinton is now revered as a saint in Democratic circles, despite the utterance. It was he, more than anyone, that saved Obama’s butt, in the 2012 election. Or how about George Bush, the Younger, telling us we had to go to war with Iraq because Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. It was only later that we found no WMDs existed in Iraq. Or better yet, take the man considered our greatest President, Abraham Lincoln. In trying to secure enough votes to pass the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery, lying was the least of his sins. Lincoln used bribery, blackmail, threats of political or bodily harm, coercion, and bunches of other bad stuff, but he got the job done and was hailed as a hero. Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned from that.

 

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