Dick Meyer, the head of the Scripps Howard News Washington Office, has written a wonderful tribute to President Obama that we all need to read.
Dick Meyer, the head of the Scripps Howard News Washington Office, has written a wonderful tribute to President Obama that we all need to read.
Here I am writing about acceptance one more time. This is likely because I have spent four or five months being forced to learn new things about my health, my age, and my marriage that I certainly did not fully appreciate before. I had simply taken my health, age, my career, and my 47 years of marriage too much for granted.
Having gone through shingles and then prostrate surgery and now congestive heart disease and waiting for a test next week (hopefully) to remove blockage in my coronary arteries, I am forced, once again to see that taking life itself for granted is the furthest thing in the world from the idea of acceptance.
Acceptance is learning to wake up to what is going on in front of our nose, coming to terms with what is occurring in your life, and learning to accept the challenge of daily reality and the ways in which that reality can turn things upside down for us, and yet to find grace in that.
While the past five or six months has been hard on me, it has been doubly hard on Carole. She has had her life turned inside out and it has been her willingness, her acceptance of that new set of circumstances that has been rather amazing. She has had to set so much of her life on hold as we went from doctor to doctor, from procedure to procedure, and this for a rather common heart or prostrate condition that so many other men confront as they grow older.
Read Paul Krugman's column on Greece for a smart, intelligent, lecture on debt, austerity, and economic nonsense from the political right. The calamity that is Greece is exactly the kind of calamity that the GOP and Paul Ryan are trying to impose on our economy. Germany, the U.S., England and other countries wound up with enormous debt after WWII and yet went on, with intelligent deficit spending, to produce unprecedented growth in the post-war era. Germany's insistence of austerity for Greece after Germany's debt forgiveness after WWII, is simply willful blindness to their own past.
See also Howell Raines column on the coming demographic changes to the South that will change American politics itself. Dixie's last hurrah is almost surely in its final decades. I wish I could be around to see it, but alas...
Anthony Downs once observed (The Public Interest, 1972) that our most intractable public problems have two significant characteristics. First, they occur to a relative minority of our population (even though that minority may number millions of people). Second, they result in significant part from arrangements that are providing substantial benefits or advantages to a majority or to a powerful minority of citizens. Thus solving or minimizing these problems requires painful losses, the restructuring of society and the acceptance of new burdens by the most powerful and the most numerous on behalf of the least powerful or the least numerous.
For some reason I am digging out my old copy of Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. My recent unpleasantness with surgery and prostrate blues seems more absurd and comical than anything else. I hope that reading the book again and watching the movie will help me laugh out loud at the human situation...from war, my time in the military and the 16 months in Uijongbu, Korea, and now, aging.
The movie is a marvel; I have watched it many times and will likely watch it again soon, as long as I can sit still for two plus hours. It was filmed in part in San Carlos, Sonora. Carole and I have been to the site–the beach at any rate–as a sort of homage, while visiting Mexico some years ago.
I haven't wanted to go to Mexico for a number of years for the obvious reasons but so many friends continue to go to San Carlos or further south to Alamos I suppose we are building up courage to visit both places again, perhaps for the last time.
The story of WWII fought in the Mediterranean near Sicily turns up in Andrea Camillieri's books on Commissario Salvo Montalbano. Occasionally, the plots touch on the war, and the bombing of Sicily and the fictional town of Vigata by the Allies.
I had prostrate surgery a week ago and while all of that left me a little diminished, there wasn't an alternative. It also left me with new respect for our fine but small Copper Queen hospital here in Bisbee. Small town America still thrives, at least in this part of Arizona. Kudos to the director Jim Dickson, and also to the medical and nursing staff.
Jim moved here from New York, where he was a hospital director. New York does regulate its hospitals extensively, but that was outside my policy division's responsibilities, thank goodness.
In researching websites on the issues for benign prostrate hyperplasia, I noticed something striking: the websites from England, Australia, and New Zealand are often without advertisements; the ones in the U.S. are drowning in advertisements. Why do we permit everything we do almost everywhere to be surrounded by a forest of ads? Free speech here too often means "sponsored speech," "commercial speech"
Today, April 15, is the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's assassination and it is a day we should all remember in sadness and loss. In my view Lincoln was our greatest president. He faced our deepest divide, the divide of race and slavery. He led us through a horrific, tragic war, and pushed through the Congress the proposed Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, finally finishing off slavery, but not ending constant attempts to diminish the rights of black citizens.
Remembering Lincoln's assassination, I recall reading how his casket slowly made its way back to Springfield, Illinois, the casket displayed at many places along the way, including the state Capitol in Albany, where crowds passed by his body through the night and the next morning.
I also remember the 4th of July, 1988, our first summer in Albany, when we joined the crowds that each 4th fill the Empire State Plaza to celebrate and to watch the fireworks coming from boats in the Hudson, America's river of politics.
We were newcomers to Albany and we lived at the time on Willett Street, across from Washington Park, a park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect of Central Park. During the Civil War Washington Park served as a parade ground for training Union recruits preparing to enter the Civil War.
The ghost of our greatest president continues to haunt me and all of us.
Of all the leading columnists in the U.S., I prefer Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post. His assessment, posted at Truthdig, is that the proposed agreement between Iran and Russia, France, England, and the U.S. is historic and represents a genuine breakthrough for the prospects of a safer world.
The deal isn't perfect; none could be. But nonetheless it may well become President Obama's and John Kerry's signal achievements in foreign policy.
Lets hope. If somehow the GOP manages to stymie us, I think they will find that the public has grown weary of crisis after crisis in the Middle East.
My brother Steve sent me this clip of Jerry Jeff Walker singing his very own song, "Mr. Bojangles." A wonderful song. Also, my old friend Jim Brown sent me a clip of the Time Jumpers performing in Austin at the Station House. The group is great but I can't get the You Tube link right. Time Jumpers are all over You Tube, but the Time Jumpers clip that Jim sent me is special. Go find it.
In a chilling column for Salon, Bill Moyers tells the truth about the 4,000 public lynching of blacks (and some whites) in the Bible Belt of the South, including Texas. Moyers talked about being shown pictures from 1916 of a public lynching in Waco, Texas, where a young black man was burned alive to die on a pole, in ways that should remind us of the cruelties of ISIS.
I was at the University of Texas about the same time as Moyers, in 1955 to 1956, and, after a three-year stint in the Army, I returned to Austin from 1959 to 1962 to finish my undergraduate degree.
I remember being told in 1959 by a student from Corsicana, Texas of pictures in the basement of the courthouse of a lynching, burning, and dragging of a young black man that were still hanging on the wall in the courthouse basement. The young man from Corsicana didn't seem to see anything strange about either the pictures or the lynching, but simply reminders of the racist past of Texas. Others in the Wyler house in Austin were appalled that the past was displayed so blatantly.
The reaction to President Obama's speech is predictable: the GOP is livid, the Dems pleased.
The pundits? The pundits want a different narrative. What happens to Obama when he doesn't have Congress on his side? Pundits like conflict: winners and losers. And to their lights, Obama is losing.
Obama's speech was about the future in spite of the GOP. Prophets can’t worry too much about winning or losing; they worry about where the country is headed. Obama sees a future that the Internet helps shape; the GOP sees the Internet as something to use to attack liberalism and Obama. The GOP has no vision for the Internet.
There was nothing in the speech about pushing the Russians back. Obama wants to negotiate with the Russians to lower the threat of nuclear war. The GOP isn't interested in that; they made hay in the Cold War and surely there’s room to make more hay. Fighting the Cold War made the GOP of today.
The media should just shut up.
The hubbub over the President not flying to stand with other European leaders in Paris was another 24-hour melodrama. We can't keep on indulging in international drama every time some extremists decide to kill innocent strangers.
I'm also a little weary of seeing these murders as the "voice of the dispossessed".
The assasination of the 11 individuals in the offices of the Paris newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, a newspaper for cartoonists and reporters engaged in politics and public affairs, reminds me that free speech (and the right to privacy) are not simply central to democracy; both freedoms advance the public's health.
Some years ago I wrote, The Health of the Republic: Epidemics, Medicine, and Moralism as Challenges to Democracy, in which a major chapter, "Speech, Privacy, and the Public's Health," argues that if we want more health we must have more speech.
It wasn't that long ago that there were major restrictions based on religious moralism limiting the advertisement of contraception services for women. As late as the 1960s public discussion and information about birth control and abortion were sharply limited.
Cartoonists across the political spectrum can stir public debate that moves far beyond the mainstream media's cozy platitudes.
My all-time favorite cartoonist was Bill Mauldin, who poked fun at the foibles of the Army during WWII and in "Back Home" shone a light on the plight of ex-GIs. home after a devastating war, having a hard time finding jobs or putting food on the table. Mauldin pissed people off.
The horrible killings of cartoonists in Paris and the cold-blooded assasination of the wounded policeman on the ground, reminds me of the time when I was asked if I would consider a teaching position at a new school of public health in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. At the time I was on the faculty of the University of North Carolina's School of Public Health in Chapel Hill.
The person recruiting me and others in the U.S., an Egyptian, was a doctoral student at the school. I frankly was taken aback. Riyadh was a mystery to me; I didn't recall ever seeing a picture of the place. The student said that I would be extremely well paid, and my wife and I would go for two years. Where would we live?, I asked? He said in parts of the town where foreigners lived. What would I do, when I wasn't at school? Were there movies there? Television? Would we have a car? This was roughly 1980 or so, as I recall.
Here we are on another Sunday and once again we probably won't go to church. I'm not protesting anything, many of my friends attend the church I love, and so it's not that either. It's just that it seems that our devotion, our ethics, are too small, way too small.
Devotion should be about gratitude and if there is anything we ought to be grateful for, it is life itself. That's true for almost any age but its really true when you are 77. Life itself for we humans is personal but we also sense that we are members of something larger, something far more significant. Our understanding of life ought to be expressed in an ethic, an ethic that expresses to what we mean by our membership in the community of life.
The best statement I have found for this view of an ecologic ethic is Wendell Berry in his book of essays, Another Turn of the Crank. Berry argues that health is a communal and ecological concept, referring to our membership and participation in communities, both civic and ecological. As Berry says,
I believe that at bottom our most important ethic should reflect how we view life---how we view life itself underneath it all and what this means for membership in the body politic.
Christopher Germer's The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion is flat-out one of the best books I've read on acceptance and mindfulness. These ideas will seem familiar to most who are in some recovery program, like AA, or who have a daily meditation practice.
Acceptance is the big idea behind AA but Germer shows us how to practice acceptance of ourselves in our time alone and in all of our affairs far better than anyone else I have come across. The result is something really helpful in opening us up to the life in front of our eyes.
I wish I had found this book years and years ago, but then, Germer would remind me that the only important time to practice acceptance is now and tomorrow and always. I'm planning to give this book to friends and members of our family, many of whom already are on to its wisdom but who will still find its ideas and practices fresh and inspiring.
Michael Tomasky says it: It's time for the Democrats to dump Dixie. Tom Schaller said it some years ago, and they are both right. I grew up in East Texas and my most scarring memories are those connected with race and prejudice.
Dixie is not the only place where racism exists but among Southern politicians, playing the race card in the numerous ways it can be dealt is part of their "tradition."
Tradition is what Southerners called segregation when in fact it was a kind of social death for millions of black Americans, citizens all. So much hatred and fear is tied to the social failure to accept how much we have changed, and the larger social death is for those white Americans, in the South and elsewhere who cannot accept the America that we are becoming.
The Justice Department should not forget Dixie, and should seek to veto blatant racism in their policies. But except for districts where blacks and white liberals are dominant, for presidential and Congressional elections we ought to Whistle Past Dixie, as Schaller said in his book.
I am to talk this afternoon with several doctoral students (in public health) from the University at Albany, SUNY. They are compiling a composite picture of the leadership of my old boss, Dr. David Axelrod, Commissioner of Health of the New York State Department of Health, from the 1980s until 1991. Axelrod suffered a stroke in 1991 and went into coma. He died in 1994, on July 4th, in Albany, NY.
I worked for New York's health department from 1988 to 1992, and six more years as faculty and department of health policy chair, for four years. As I said, Dr. Axelrod was my boss and my hero; I was deputy commissioner for policy, planning and resource development. I had about 60 professionals working in my (our) division, one of the smallers ones in the Department. It was the best job of my life and our years there were wonderful, if often intense.
My wife Carole Beauchamp was the Washington representative or lobbyist for the Department of Health, and she often traveled to the Capitol on business. She loved her job as well.
We often wonder why we didn't stay in New York, but decided that those wonderful years were over, and there was no use in finishing our life in constant story-telling. And of course, there was Bisbee, AZ on the horizon.
The only other job that I had that compares with New York was serving two terms as Bisbee's mayor. Two very different jobs but both working on behalf of the public's health. A sewer mayor for a famous copper mining town of 5000, and before that, a deputy commissioner for health in New York, one of the largest, most active state departments of health in the nation.
That spruces up a resume.
In case anyone is wondering whether Obama's actions regarding last night's executive order, the experts, conservative and liberal, agree that it is legal. Congress over the years has granted the President expansive authority over immigration policy. One question remains: will this unilateral action poison relations with the GOP in Congress? Actually, it may have the opposite affect. Now they are dealing with a president who says, 'I'm not going to play games with this crowd any longer."
These are hard times for President Obama, but I still remain a strong supporter. Not too many years from now we will look back and say that it was during his presidency that we finally took a fateful step toward universal health care with Obamacare, and his leadership and his courage was met with yet one more outpouring of racial politics, anti-poor, and anti-government rhetoric. To be sure, Obamacare is pale beer compared to Canada's Medicare (they got the name from us!), England's National Health Service, and the health care systems of European democracies.
If you want to read a thoughtful, sober assessment of how President Obama can deal with the new Republican majority in Congress, especially in the Senate, read Kevin Drum's latest column in Mother Jones. Drum writes that it all depends on how tough the president, and the new Democratic minority in both the House and Senate next year, are in dealing with reality. My only reservation is the president's unfortunate tendency to seek compromise with any and all instead of holding fast to his progressive values and his Constitutional authority.
We should always remember that Kevin Philips, the author of the famous The Emerging Republican Majority, argues that resentment against elites is the glue of American politics. This goes especially for the by-elections when both parties have to lay out their agenda.
Unfortunately, the Democrats are not so talented in laying out a programmatic agenda, and not tough enough to use that agenda to foment resentment against Republicans and the GOP who are today the party of elites, the hand-maiden of big oil and big corporations, and also those voters who vote against social change, not realizing that it is the GOP that promises big-time change in our daily lives because of the party of Lincoln's fealty to the Big Rich.
I am fond of the "elephant in the room" metaphor, the idea that there is a giant issue or problem sitting in a room and that is ignored or denied by others who sit there. As I watch American politics today and try to keep my nose above its general craziness, I try to remember what's behind all of this: the elephant in the room of redistributing economic power to benefit the public.
Paul Ryan was asked by The Week to list his six favorite books on economics and democracy, and he produced the following: Among the six were The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, and Jude Wanneski (The Way the World Works), and George Gilder (Wealth and Poverty), and F.A. Hayek's The Road to Serfdom. Plus Manchester's book on Churchill, and de Tocqueville's book, Democracy in America. I haven't read the Manchester book, and I haven't read the actual work or of Adam Smith. But Gilder and Wanneski are "around the bend" free-market fundamentalists. I have read Hayek's The Road to Serfdom.
Democracy in America is a classic and Tocqueville'e comparison of the economies of the South and the North were chillingly prescient. Hayek is the Austrian who predicted that social democracy would lead to slavery, and yet when he came to the U.S., he signed up for Social Security on the recommendation of the Koch brothers's father. Hayek was told "it was a good deal." Apparently the rich and the connected can participate in social insurance programs without turning into wards of the state.
I wish conservatives today were not so evangelical in their reading of economics; they might discover a new idea or two about how economies actually work. Instead these texts are used today to demonstrate conservative bona fides and to write speeches preaching that old-time religion.
I took good economics courses in undergraduate school long before the right wing resurgence came in the Reagan era. Still, in a price theory course, the reverence paid to supply and demand curves convinced me that I was learning theology, not science.
And by the way, there's very little in any of these books on democracy, and on how markets have their place but they must be kept in their place, as the economist Arthur Okun argued.
Like birds on a wire, when one flies off, all fly off.
The reaction of the media to the gruesome beheading of an American journalist was predictable. "The president interrupted his golf game and then, after a passionate news conference went back to the game."
How callous. Right after the killing, too. There was much wringing of hands all the way around. How insensitive can President Obama be?
Let's just ask the former Vice President, Dick Cheney. Cheney helped unleash the hell of Iraq over ten years ago. Cheney will know what to say about President Obama. Wait, his comments are in: "Obama would rather be on the golf course that taking care of terrorists." Or something like that.
But wait! Isn't it just possible, maybe even likely, that the White House knew of the beheading and the video but did not know when or if the video showing the beheading would be released to the public? So, what was President to do, stop everything until ISIL decided to show their barbarism to the whole world?
Kevin Drum, in a wonderful article, "Let Us Now Psychoanalyze Famous Men," nails the recent New York Times articles talking about the President's "remove" or "aloofness" as a national leader. He repeats the picture of Obama meeting with Attorney General Holder in the White House, as both prepare for General Holder's trip to Missouri.
Drum says that he understands the journalist's need to have a "hook". In the Times picture, Obama is sitting back in the picture and Holder is leaning forward, ready for action.
But as Drum points out, that's the way leaders often sit in meetings. The leader is the boss; the top aide is just that, a top aide. The Attorney General leans in to make his point. Obama is weighing the options.
The New York Times writers use the picture as the "hook." People will now say, have said, Obama should go to Missouri, not send Holder.
That's crazy. The president should not go to Missouri for his own safety's sake. Missouri has a lot of crackers living in it, and they pack weapons. Some are even policemen. The president would be a tempting target.
The stories in newspapers a year or so ago about the foiled kidnapping in western Idaho, near Cascade, Idaho, take me back. I know that part of Idaho, and especially the area further north, where Pierce and Headquarters are located. I first worked there in 1956, having hitchhiked there from San Antonio to find work with Potlatch Forests. I returned several years later and worked a summer for a timber protective association, in brush clearing and fire protection.
My high school best friend, John Feeley was already in Idaho, working in the Potlatch Forest logging camp at Headquarters, and he called me and told me I ought to get up there. The pay was good, the logging camp food was tremendous, and it would be an adventure. So, after much debate with my father and mother, in the summer of 1956, I quit my summer job at J.C. Penney and set out. Dad drove me up to Comfort, Texas, about 25 miles north of San Antonio, and I got out and stuck my thumb out.
One of the hardest things to accept, to live with as I get older, are the simple infirmities: the rapid way we fall out of condition, the fatigue found in taking long road trips in the car, and on and on. The shock that occurs when you suddenly see yourself in a mirror and realize, "Jesus, I am getting old."
Some people respond to aging with Yoga or going to the gym, my particular choice. I try and fight aging by keeping the weight down, with regular workouts at the gym and some walking. I go to the gym pretty regularly, two to three times a week.
But this isn’t exactly what I mean by“accepting” aging.
There are six Catholics on the Supreme Court and five of them voted in support of the Hobby Lobby decision. Justice Sotomayor, also Catholic, wrote the dissent.
I am appalled that the extreme views of the Catholic Church prevail on the nation's highest court, and in a nation where Catholics are by no means the majority. Those who appoint these justices seek to use the divide of abortion and homosexuality to weaken liberals and progressives. It's time that we who are not Catholics begin to express our opposition to the Supreme Court bias toward non-Catholics and indeed to those who find the role of religion in the United States divisive.
Last night, after watching the wonderful movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel again, this time at home, we were getting ready for bed and I made my "media check" on the progress of the lawsuit against the president. There was one fragment of news based on an interview with Chris Matthews, responding to the question, "why is the popularity of the president so low, at 39 percent?"
Incredibly, Matthews said the polls rank the president so low because of his failure to give the American people something to do. I guess he's thinking of the President as national Scout Master.
Matthews, the author of a fine biography of John F. Kennedy, says that a lot of the blame with Obama's low poll ratings, rests with the president and his failure to "reach out" to the other side, the GOP. Incredibly, Matthews went on to say that the President doesn't socialize with the opposition, arguing that there's no late night phone calls from Obama to leaders on the other side.
This, in a word, is the worst kind of bullshit, the worst form of media nonsense. But it's the kind of bullshit that American media too often engage in.
One of the most startling pieces of news in the past decade about the American public and politics is that the public is not polarized around the central issues of today: from immigration reform, to health reform, to the national defense, or to getting out of Iraq.
The book that first opened my eyes to this startling insight was the 2005 book, Culture War: the Myth of a Polarized America by Morris Fiorina, Samuel J. Abrams and Jeremy Pope.
A recent article by Eric Boehlert, in Media Matters, repeats this crucial insight into our politics.
Where do you start, to try and stomach the news of our politics today? It is awful, all of it.
I am in the middle of changing our arrangements for receiving television and the Internet, cable versus satellite, and I find myself worrying about who should bring me the mess that is our politics and our media, at considerable expense.
It's like choosing which corporate entity I should pay significant monthly sums to haul away the trash every day. Fortunately, we have a municipal service in our small town, but someday someone is going to propose "going corporate."
News has become our national trash, which has to be hauled off on a daily basis, and all of it sickens and dismays.
One particular story really tires me: Israel and Palestine. In my career I have had the great honor of working with Jews who were prominent in public health, and there were, and are, many. Some were refugees from South Africa. Others have moved from Europe to Canada.
The Serenity Prayer is one of the best known prayers in the world. Written by the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr to serve as part of a sermon during WWII, it soon became a cornerstone of Alcoholics Anonymous and all manner of recovery groups.
I have written about the Serenity Prayer before here and, on the origins of the prayer, here. Niebuhr's daughter Elizabeth Sifton, in her book The Serenity Prayer: Faith and Politics in Times of Peace and War, traces the origins of the ideas in the prayer to the famous Deportation Strike of 1917 in Bisbee.
With all of the evidence pointing toward chaos in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras, what does the State Department and the CIA and the NSA have for the American people in the form of useful intelligence? Why isn't our own government informing us about the violence in Central America? Is it because the media is caught off guard, and there aren't sufficient reliable news sources regarding the extend of this violence? Isn't the vioence much nearer our borders far more important than the endless sectarian violence in the Middle East? Could it be that the media is so invested in the Middle East that it shows little interest in what is happening in our side of the world?
I've just read Michael Tomasky's analysis of President Obama's strong jobs record: 4.5 million jobs created.
Why don't we hear more about this? The contrast with George Bush is astonishing, and yet the press, and even liberal commentators rarely crow about Obama. Even liberals are brow-beaten by the rabid right's constant attacks. Why can't we fight back?
We're having Congressional elections in a few months, and still we can't get out in front of our own parade and brag about it.
I once had a very powerful governor, Mario Cuomo, tell me and Henry Aaron from the Brookings Institution and the late Bob Ball, a former head of the Social Security Administration, that "politicians have to get out in front of their own parade and boast of their records, because the media won't do the job for them." I think Governor Cuomo is right.
John McCain has never recovered from the nation's rejection of his candidacy for the presidency. Every chance he gets he tries to undermine President Obama on the Middle East. As Steve Clemons writes, the current ISIS crisis in Iraq was fostered, in significant part, by Senator MacCain's meddling, and particularly his encouraging the Saudis to arm ISIS. In truth, McCain's actions are a violation of the Logan Act, the act forbidding foreign policy negotiations by others than the sitting administration.
The trouble with McCain is that he has a kind of militaristic conception of international politics: force, first and last and always. Never insight, never sophistication, just force.
Thanks goodness we were spared a presidency by another version of George Bush.
Senator John McCain's ridiculous statement, "We had it won....and President Obama lost it," is the almost perfect reminder of how lucky we were to dodge the bullet of a McCain presidency.
Here's what Kevin Drum has to say about this sad remnant of an American hero. "John McCain is now the Donald Sterling of foreign affairs: old, angry, retrograde, and only barely in touch with the real world."
Here's what Tom Englehardt has to say about the colossal failures of American wars, starting with Vietnam.
Not that anyone asked for a picture of an old man, but here's our daughter Valerie and me sitting in our nice suite at the Ayer Hotel in Mission Viejo, CA.
We were there for her college graduation from Cal State, Fullerton, and the three of us had a wonderful time, along with Linda Beauchamp, Valerie's Mom, and many friends that I knew from so long ago. Tempus fugit.
Valerie is already planning to do graduate work in Sociology and modern social problems at Cal State and when she finishes she hopes to teach.
When we sort through all the B.S. about the VA "crisis" and sort out the relevant issues, it turns out that the VA system still outperforms the rest of American health care. It turns out that the "system" at certain places like Phoenix and perhaps elsewhere in the Southwest experiences more "waiting" and " "backlog" than occurs nationally, or overall. Why does the media, like "birds on a wire," fly off over every scandal that seems the newest, with "one flies off, they all fly off" coverage. But Philip Longman is still the expert on the sytem and we should listen carefully to what he says.
Longman argues that we need to loosen the ridiculous rules Congress has imposed keeping Koreaan Vets, like me and others, out of the VA system, when, in the long run, it would be a wonderful way to provide additional brakes on too-expensive Medicare reimbursement policies. And I could, in turn, use the very good VA hospital in Tucson.
Let's allow all vets to use the VA system and help good medical care and prescription drugs at a reasonable price too take some more steam out of health care spending.
I had a burn recently which took me to the local emergency room, and the attending was a VA physician and he was excellent, thoughtful, practical, and well-trained. We enjoyed spending a little time with him.
The best column on the VA scandal, and that's what it is, comes from Eugene Robinson, perhaps the nation's best newspaper columnist and commentator. Robinson says that this scandal is a real one, not the hoked-up one about Benghazi. This is a scandal that could have been averted.
And no, it's not because Obama didn't know there was trouble brewing in the VA system. The trouble is that Obama is too loyal to top staff when things go wrong. Sadly, it seems to me that General Shinseki needs to offer his resignation and Obama needs to accept it.
And then President Obama needs to point out how the constant impasse in Washginton over cutting government spending is a principal cause of this scandal. We have never acknowledged how much the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have caused so much suffering to our military persoannel, and we need to step up and pay the price.
Let's not forget that not too long the GOP shut down the government, and no matter whether exceptions were made. A government shut down because one party is determined to undermine government and to extoll private enterprise is the real scandal, the scandal of a conservative dream that is bankrupt at its very core.
And while we are talking about the costs of war, and that's what the VA represents, there is never any mention of the many hundreds of thousands of civilians who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan because of these two wars over oil and American Empire.
I haven't read Common Dreams for a while but as a progressive voice it is unparalled. This entry, "The Top Fallacies of 2012" reminds me of the damage that political fundamentalism and liberal fecklessness has wreaked on this country, with the biggest one, "The Economics of Austerity."
We are ruining our economy by refusing to spend money, denying the purchasing power that would put us back on a path of reasonable growth. And liberals, because they refuse to educate themselves as to the idiocy of the austerity myth, are responsible too. The top fallacies of 2012 read as if they were an indictment of the decades-long struggle of the GOP to counter the Great Society by trashing everything government, by making the market "God", and by treating liberalism as if its only aim is to elevate minority groups over the white population.