Mitt Romney and Obama Care

The Massachusetts health care law passed in 2006 and was signed into law by Mitt Romney.  At the time it was touted as “….as a sign of his empathy for all people…”  He Romney claims, “one hundred percent of the kids in our state had health insurance. I don’t think there’s anything that shows more empathy and care about the people of this country than that kind of record.”  Showing his conservative compassion Romney said, “Overall am I proud of the fact that we did our best for our people and got people insured?” Romney said at a health care speech in Michigan in May 2011. “Absolutely.”

So, if universal health coverage for all Massachusetts citizens is so compassionate as to have an ex-republican governor proud of his work shouldn’t universal care for the entire country be very similar?  The good news is that The Affordable Care Act, which goes into effect in 2014, is very similar to the Massachusetts law.  Yet Republicans claim Obama Care will raise taxes, which it will do.  The truth though is that penalties for not getting universal health care will be much less under Obama Care than under the Massachusetts version.  “An adult over the age of 27 who makes more than 300 percent of the poverty line (about $37,000 a year) and chooses not to purchase health insurance would pay at least $695 in penalties under Obamacare. Under Romneycare, that same person would pay at least $1,530 in penalties.

Is everything about the Massachusetts health care law and Obama Care perfect?
Absolutely NOT!  Nothing humans ever do is perfect, after all we are fallible humans and prone to imperfection.  What seems so odd though is how all of a sudden republicans have turned on the very program some of them touted as “compassionate conservatism”.

Since the two programs are so similar it would appear the main reason for republican objection now is nothing more than who the Massachusetts Governor was at the time, versus, who the President is now.  That is truly sad too!

In fact Newt Gingrich picked up on the idea of republicans opposing “Obama Care” because of who Obama is when he said, “I will bet you, for most of you, you go home in the next two weeks when your members of Congress are home, and you look them in the eye and you say, ‘What is your positive replacement for Obamacare?’  They will have zero answer.”

Gingrich continued, “…the problem on Republican culture that rewards obstruction and negativity instead of innovation and “being positive.”  To a group of 200 republican donors Romney warned congressional Republicans against letting emotions drive their decisions.

Republicans are so determined to oppose anything Obama that they are willing to shut down the entire government to get rid of “Obama Care”.   “I’m afraid that in the final analysis, Obamacare would get its funding, our party would suffer in the next elections, and the people of the nation would not be happy. I think there are better ways to remove Obamacare.”

If republicans want an example of how this constant opposition could turn out they need look no further than the government shutdown of 1995-1996.  “When Clinton refused to cut the budget in the way Republicans wanted, Gingrich threatened to refuse to raise the debt limit, which would have caused the United States Treasury to suspend funding other portions of the government to avoid putting the country in default.”

Clinton’s approval rating fell significantly during the shutdown. According to media commentators, this indicated that the general public blamed the President for the government shutdown.  However, once it had ended his approval ratings rose to their highest since his election.”  “The shutdown has also been cited as having a role in Clinton’s successful re-election in 1996.

It would seem, therefore, that republicans are foregoing the opportunity to learn something from their past mistakes.  Instead, they are preparing to repeat those same actions, while expecting different results.  Let’s see how that one turns out!

 

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Drugs, Violence, and the National Debt

What are now illicit drugs could easily be used to reduce and eventually eliminate the National Debt.  Let me state up front, regardless of how some may interpret this statement I am NOT in any way condoning the use of illicit drugs.  I am, however, saying that if we are going to have drug users in this country, we unfortunately have more than our fair share, we should use these same drugs to somehow benefit society at large in as many ways as possible.

In an effort toward total disclosure I would like to reveal that I smoke like a chimney.  Smoking may be legal but I do NOT recommend or condone smoking cigarettes for anyone of any age.  I know, from personal experience, how hard it is to quit smoking.  I wouldn’t wish the efforts and guilt of trying to quit, numerous times, on my worst enemy.  If you don’t currently smoke DON’T EVER start.  If you do currently smoke cigarettes please try, try, and did I mention try to quit.

It seems even Attorney General Eric Holder recognizes that what we are presently doing with drug offenders isn’t working very well.  “Attorney general calls for change to sentences for drug-related offenses”  In his remarks “Holder
said he is mandating a change to Justice Department policy so that low-level,
non-violent drug offenders with no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs or
cartels won’t be charged with offenses that impose mandatory minimum sentences.  Holder went on to say, “Federal prisons are
operating at nearly 40 percent above capacity and hold more than 219,000
inmates — with almost half of them serving time for drug-related crimes and
many of them with substance use disorders.”  At the very least, this might leave prison space to keep individuals off the street that could be an even greater danger to society at large.  “Sex offenders routinely released from California jails, records show”

My knowledge of illicit drugs is limited since I’ve been lucky enough to never have tried them, except for weed a couple of times.  Drugs like heroin, cocaine, crack, and ecstasy, come to mind as being some of the major drugs reported most in the news.  The manufacture and distribution of these drugs, and no doubt more like them, have been the cause of seemingly endless violence and thousands of deaths.  The ruination of thousands of lives and long prison sentences are obviously not combating the problem.  Meanwhile, the US and our criminal justice system continues to do the same things while hoping for different results.  Since that obviously isn’t obtaining the results we want as a people, why not try something else that might help these people and society at large?

Congress or even a Presidential Executive Order could legalize every illicit drug known to man.  If more illicit drugs are developed those could be legalized as well.  This could be done through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with the eventual help of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and even the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  Once the FDA has legalized every illicit drug, taxation and tax enforcement could be put in place on everything.  The tax rates, for example, the percentage of taxes could be five to fifteen times what is currently attached to cigarettes and alcohol.  Rules should be put in place from the very beginning as to what the money from these taxes should be used for.  Enforcement of those rules would, of course, fall on the shoulders of the FBI, CIA and IRS.

Congress or Executive Order could mandate that some of the tax money would have to go to the treatment of drug users who truly want to quit.  We already have clinics and doctors who specialize in the treatment of alcohol and drug users.  So why not tap into this resource in developing more clinics and hospitals to do this work?  Needless to say, some of the tax money would have to be reserved for hiring personnel in the FDA as well as more IRS and FBI agents.  There’s a saying that goes something like, “If you want to beat a criminal you have to think like a criminal.”  So why not hire some of the drug manufacturers and distributors that want out of the business, to help catch the others?  Much like the government used to do, and still does, in hiring computer hackers to counteract and catch other computer hackers.  Last, but not least, another percentage of the money could go toward paying down and eventually wiping out The National Debt.  This, of course, would benefit everyone in society now and in later generations.

Now is where the CIA, FBI and IRS takes over the majority of operations.  As we all know, these three agencies can be extremely determined and absolutely ruthless when they are going after someone they are trying to catch.  We shouldn’t make the mistake of hunting drug dealers down on grounds of having broken the law.  As a society, we already do that and we know how successful that has been so far.  Instead, after all drugs are legalized and taxed, we should turn our law enforcement agencies loose on grounds of avoiding taxes.  Anyone that has ever been the subject of an IRS audit, or IRS confiscation of property for unpaid taxes, can attest to the unbelievable ruthlessness of the IRS.  Why not put the IRS to work doing what they do best for the good of everyone in society?

I’m by no means claiming the actual implementation of legalizing and taxing illegal drugs would be as easy as I have probably made it sound here.  I am, however, saying that legalizing what is currently illicit drugs would in the end benefit everyone in this country and around the world.  Just think of all the crime that could be eradicated and the money that could be made with the legalization and taxation of all drugs.

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The Answer to the “Women’s Choice” Issue

I know I’m going to be accused of hating men with this article but nothing could be further from the truth.  I like men for a variety of reasons, the least of which they can be very good friends.  Yet, for some, the very mention of “women’s health”, “abortion”, or any variation thereof and automatically a woman is labeled “a man hater”.  For those, it’s obvious that nothing anyone can say will ever change their minds.  For men, with a more open-minded and fair attitude an explanation may not even be needed at all.  In this case, however, I’m going to try once again to reach the former group with a little personal experience and some common sense.

Let me say, up front, I do NOT think abortion should be on demand.  Women requesting an abortion should be required to seek advice from doctors, social workers, etc., and reconsider their decision for a number of days to prevent abortion being used as a method of birth control.  Yes, each woman has her own personal circumstances and those issues deserve to be given consideration by friends and professionals.  Rape and incest, however, should automatically qualify for abortion without question or hesitation.

At the same time, men who want control over the decisions a woman makes behind the closed doors of her doctor’s office should have to earn that right.  Earning the right to dictate what a woman does with her body, especially a woman he doesn’t even know, just seems fair.  Nothing in life, worth having, comes without cost.  This is especially true when the woman will be forced into living the rest of her life with the decisions men make for her.

Earning the right to dictate the rules of another person’s life, at least in this case, could begin with making sure there are no future unwanted pregnancies.  For example, men who disagree with abortion under all or most circumstances should be required to undergo a non-reversible surgical vasectomy.  Those who have already had a vasectomy could be required to do lengthy community service at a shelter for battered women.  This would at the very least show these particular men the circumstances involved in both sides of their beliefs.

As for myself, I was faced with the issue of an abortion at one point in my life.  No, I was not the victim of rape or incest, thank goodness.  Yet, the circumstances involved in even considering an abortion were quite substantial and fairly complicated.  Yes, members of my family and I have discussed the issue a few times.  Yet, I’ve never told them exactly when I faced this decision or who in the family this decision involved, and I never will.  Considering an abortion is NEVER an easy decision for any woman.  In fact, from personal experience, I can say it is probably the single most difficult decision a woman will be faced with.  The English language is simply not extensive enough to explain the depth of feelings and the seriousness of all the circumstances involved, in making a decision to have or not have an abortion.  In considering everything involved I sought the advice of the aforementioned professionals as well as friends who knew me.  In the end, I took the advice of friends, which was my right to do so.  Since then, I’ve come to realize one very important fact though.  Taking the advice of friends, instead of following my own gut, was the absolute worst thing I could have done for everyone involved.  So, yes, I have always regretted my final decision.

That abortion decision is why, to this day, I will follow “my own gut feeling” or my “sixth-sense” over the advice of friends and family.  In fact, I’m famous in my family for saying, “I’ve got a gut feeling about this.”  If I follow that “gut feeling” I’m usually right on target or at least close to it.  If I don’t, I end up living with the regret from that point on.

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“1984” and Today

Books are a wonderful thing.  Well written books can carry us away to make believe places where life is anything we imagine it to be.  Yet other books use the unbelievable scenarios of fiction and our imagination to create plots that all too closely mimic our own lives.

So it is with a book I read some years ago that turned out to be one of the scariest books I had ever opened the pages on.  In fact it is “1984” that made the phrase “Big Brother” forever a household term.  Anyone mention “Big Brother” and everyone instantly knows it refers to government surveillance and censorship.  Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to read George Orwell’s book yet again and as before came away with chills running up and down my back.

People in each generation have imagined or actually seen examples of George Orwell’s book “1984”, and their own society at the time.  Of course there have been times when the similarities were more glaring than at other times.  At no time, however, has the similarities between “1984” and modern society been more glaring than they are today.

A closer look at this book reveals that “We’re Living in 1984 Today”.  Our government realized early on how advantageous it would be to their interests if the majority of George Orwell’s work of fiction was implemented into our day-to-day life.

For example; we have the “Ministry of Peace” renamed “The CIA” waging “perpetual war on terrorism”.  This “war on terror” is not limited to foreign enemies but rather also includes domestic terror, whether it be real or imagined.

For a long time we’ve had the “Ministry of Plenty” otherwise known as the “IRS”.  It’s the IRS that enforces economic issues in our society.  This enforcement has resulted in the ruination of many citizens, guilty of nothing more than disagreeing with the IRS’ authority and practices.  I used to work for the IRS and I saw firsthand exactly what they are capable of, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

Oh, and let’s not forget the “Ministry of Truth” known today as “the media”.  All of America’s media outlets are only too willing to spoon feed American citizens the “news of the day”, which of course is subject to “Ministry of Truth” or “NSA” approval.  Our media even goes so far as to use pundits to “discuss” the headlines of the day and tell the populace exactly what to think.  Those who want to, or insist on, thinking for themselves can face a variety of consequences.  The least of these is being a social outcast.

In George Orwell’s book, “Doublethink” is used to turn otherwise contradictory beliefs into facts for the purpose of controlling the citizens of Oceania.  Such things as “freedom is slavery” and “ignorance is strength” is supposed to be for everyone’s good.  Today we call this “ignorance is strength” “pro-life”.  In America men, who have no concept of being pregnant or giving birth, are only too willing to shut down all women’s health clinics supposedly “for the good of women”.  How is denying women pap-smears, mammograms or general health check-ups good for women?  In truth today’s “Doublethink” is simply men insisting on controlling someone else, instead of focusing on the better control and improvement of their own lives.

Today we have the “Ministry of Peace” otherwise known as the “War on Terror”.  In “1984” Oceania wages war with Eastasia and Eurasia at different times.  Today we wage war first with Al Qaeda of the Middle East, later with Al Qaeda of Africa, and let’s not forget Al Qaeda of Europe.  In Orwell’s book, the people of Oceania are willing to live in perpetual fear and poverty in hopes the government will keep them safe.  In fact a recent poll showed that today about 70 percent of Americans would favor more surveillance cameras in public.  A full 28 percent of the 1,000 people who were surveyed for the poll believed the system worries too much about protecting individual rights.

It used to be that Americans greatly valued their privacy but in today’s society some will claim “if you’ve haven’t done anything wrong you have nothing to worry about from surveillance measures”.  My answer to this is always the same, “I DO have something to hide, my privacy.  Just my privacy.”  I’ve even had some people challenge my claim of not having done anything wrong if I’m so insistent on guarding my privacy.  I remind them that Ben Franklin put it much better than I ever could when he said, “Those who are willing to give up freedom for security deserve neither.”

No society has ever been totally safe regardless of the measures they were willing to go to in the hopes of having security.  Whether it was the swords of the Dark Ages, the guns of the Wild West, or the Atom Bomb of modern society, there have always been dangers.  People always will face a variety of dangers, it’s called life.  So with that face in mind, will people continue to give up all vestiges of privacy??  Will people also hand over ever increasing control of their lives to the government for the perceived security they inwardly know is unattainable anyway??

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Why I’m Beginning To Hate the American Media

Let me start by saying I’m a news junky.  I like knowing what is going on in my own country as well as the world around me.  I know I’ve driven some people crazy at times with my insistence on watching 24/7 cable news stations.  It used to be these stations would give the viewer a pretty good run down on what was going on in any all parts of the world.  Things have changed the past few years though, or maybe it’s just the last few years that I’ve noticed a definite change.

CNN is the most recognizable cable news station, and claims to bring the viewer the latest breaking news from around the world, at a moment’s notice.  At one time this used to be true, which is how CNN got to be so well-known around the world.  Anchors and reporters the likes of “Aaron Brown”, “Bernard Shaw” and “Christiane Amanpour” could be depended on for the latest and most accurate in-depth reporting.

Among this group the only reporter left at CNN these days is “Christiane Amanpour” and even she doesn’t get as much air time as she used to.  In fact Aaron Brown was quoted as saying, “odd” that none of the major anchors who covered Sept. 11 – ABC’s Peter Jennings, CBS’ Dan Rather, NBC’s Tom Brokaw and Arron Brown himself – “…is working today”.  Yes, I too find that very odd and to me it also smacks of a deliberate pattern, a very disturbing pattern.

Any reasonable person that has witnessed the reporting of major life changing events, compliments of our news media, could be forgiven for wondering how much of our so called news is used to manipulate the American people.  Instead of digging for the complete truth on any given issue, modern news outlets skim the top of a subject.  They follow that with the same “breaking news” for hours and sometime days.  I fully understand and even applaud checking with multiple sources to verify a story before reporting on the issue.  What I find disturbing “in the land of the free” is after verifying a story so it can truthfully be reported on, news outlets like CNN will actually admit to withholding certain information.  I find that very disturbing in a country where we value an informed citizenry.

What is the answer to our lapdog media??  I don’t know.  I do, however, know that the American people are treated like sheep and, unfortunately, too many Americans act like it too.  I do know that I look forward to the day when a group of reporters will resurrect the practice of hard-hitting in depth reporting.  Until that day arrives I think I will start looking for another source of information on what is going on in the world around me.  I know the “other choices” I look at won’t include Faux News, the political commentary of MSNBC, or other outlets like them.  So I may be forced to look at foreign news sources for some truthful in-depth reporting.

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