Thursday, July 19, 2007

For your amusement...

...and speaking of Senator Hutchison, when I was sending the remarks in the previous post to the senator, I found the following caption on her web page. It was under a photo of the back of a lot of heads in an auditorium looking at a woman in the distance who may be the Senator herself behind a podium, addressing them. "07.18.07 Senator Hutchison addresses the Christians United for Isreal Washignton Summit about America's friendship with Isreal."

I am sure this will be corrected at some point, if and when a literate person reads her web page and points it out. Perhaps I will send an email to the site administrator myself.

Update: I did email the site administrator, who, without privately thanking me or even acknowledging my message, fixed the caption. Republicans. But in fairness, I guess he or she could have been fired if the Senator, who is notoriously bad tempered with underlings, found out about it.

Another open letter to my senators

I occasionally get tired of sending unread pixels to gnomes in the offices of senators Cornyn and Hutchison, and post an open letter addressed to the senators from Texas on my blog so that they might, when surfing the web, run across it and read it here. Of course I also send it the standard way, along with an invitation for the senators (or designated gnomes) to comment, either here or by return mail. They never do, unless you count a form letter.

Dear Senator:

Having seen Michael Moore's film, I feel compelled to write to protest the awful medical system we have in this country.

The word "awful" is carefully chosen. This is the only country in the civilized world where people are _ever_ reduced to penury by medical bills. Only in America. Not only does this happen here, it happens routinely, even in cases where people have insurance they have paid for all their lives in good faith, believing it would actually be there for them when they got sick.

As you know it is quite common to have payment disallowed by insurance companies when major illness strikes. Indeed, and as you know, insurance companies employ large numbers of people whose sole _job_ is to find excuses not to pay when an insured person gets sick.

Republicans believe deeply in home ownership. As it happens, this is also the only country in the civilized world where people lose their homes because of medical bills. Medical bills are the major cause of personal bankruptcy in this country. Not only that, but because of the draconian bankruptcy laws (that YOU voted for, by the way, Senator) victims of illness now stand not only to lose their homes, but, once reduced to bankruptcy, will spend their old age (if they survive the illness, which in this country is less likely than in 36 other countries) in perpetual debt peonage to meet the requirements of their court-ordered payment plan, assuming of course they are able to hobble to Walmart to work as a greeter or stockboy.

What a brave new world you have created!

But wait--the rest of the world is not like this. I momentarily forgot. Sorry. This problem is one of the few items we can find still bearing the label "made in America." In France, and Britain, and every western European country, they spend half as much as we do on medical care, with better medical outcomes. Half as much money. Better outcomes.

And faster service.

Contrary to insurance company propaganda, in all of these countries except Canada they have a _shorter_ wait time for elective medical procedures than we do. (In Canada it's about the same as here.) And nobody at all goes bankrupt because of medical bills in Britain, France, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, get the picture...or even in Canada.

Wow! How do they do that?

Well, I have a suggestion as to how. Here's my proposal. Why don't you extend the, um, "socialized" medical care you receive as senators to the rest of us? Senators and members of Congress have a very good taxpayer funded medical plan, which is comparable to what ordinary citizens have in France. I have seen the details of your plan. It's exceedingly gold-plated--for the United States, although, of course, it would be entirely normal elsewhere.

This issue is kind of personal for me, actually. A good friend of our family died a few years ago because she had no insurance and could not afford to see a doctor until she got very sick, at which time it was too late to cure the cancer that killed her--which is routinely cured if caught early. She was the sole support of two children. She worked as a waitress. Her excuse for her negligence? She had to put food on the table and come up with the rent for a roof over their heads. Obviously, in retrospect, she should have let them go hungry for a week, and perhaps even gotten herself and her children evicted. That would be the Republican way.

Maybe there's a better way, senator. The system that you and your friends have built (for the rest of us, not for yourselves), sucks. It's time to change it.


Jim McCulloch

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Dulce et decorum est

So here I am minding my own business on Flickr, where I have sequestered myself lately, looking at and enjoying other people's excellent photos, and in going through new photos on one of the groups that usually has wonderful pictures displayed, mostly of nature, I find a photo of a tattered stars and stripes against a stormy sky, with the caption "Remember the children..."

This is the day after Scooter Libby has been pardoned by The Decider in Chief, and the day before the Fourth of July, so it briefly occurs to me that politics will rear its ugly head for good or ill, probably ill, but hey, let's not jump to conclusions yet. Maybe it's an ironic comment on justice in America, where Scooter walks and merciless and often draconian sentences are meted out to the lower orders, who of course have no friends in the White House.

So with a deep sigh, I read the long entry that followed the ellipsis, which quickly fulfilled my intuition that we cannot escape right-wing political hectoring, in this case dipped in syrup, even when we are innocently looking at online photo galleries. "Some of us have highs, others lows, but really, what have we done for those who have lows unavoidable? Those away, serving, what have we done for them, for their families, for their children."

What indeed? So far, it looks like we have posted a photo an American flag. This person, who btw likes to upload photos of monster trucks crushing natural beauty under enormous tires, goes on:

"what are we doing on Independance Day to remind those children of military parents that the sacrifice they give is also as worthy of the ones their military parents give. Remember those kids who dads havent seen them graduate, havent seen the prom dress, didnt get to walk them down the aisle, havent had the first dance, missed a baptism, werent there for a birth, a first step, a first word, a first smile.

Remember those in the Services who didn't volunteer when there parents did....remember the children. "

Well, in answering the question, which our flag waver does not actually do, other than proposing remembrance and a sort of involuntary enlistment for them, I suppose that since those children already have the folded-up flag the government gave them, they have no need of flag photos, nor of reminders that dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, nor saccharin pieties and sappy bromides.

What was this guy thinking?

You know, there's not a lot you can say to someone whose father or mother has been killed in Iraq, whether that father or mother was an American soldier or one of the 600,000+ Iraqi civilians killed so far. "I'm sorry," (if sincere) is certainly appropriate. I don't know what else you can say.

But now that I think about it, I suppose that monetary reparations would be a good thing--even though obviously morally and psychologically insufficient--in that a chunk of money would at least be a practical help to survivors. The sums could conceivably be quite ample, if taken out of the profits of Halliburton and Blackwater and all the other mercenary corporate profiteers swollen like parasites with the rewards of war.

And maybe some of the superpatriots could sell of a few of their monster trucks and all-terrain vehicles and donate the proceeds to the children of the war dead. Anything helps.