Monthly Archives: February 2010

Patriot Act Extended

President Obama extended provisions of the Patriot Act by another year today. Not surprisingly, provisions to protect the privacy of American citizens were not part of the package.

Funny how so many Americans and people in Congress rant and rave against “big government” and state they want their government to leave them alone, and yet not a peep is heard from those same people when a law like this gets enacted, or in this case, extended.

Interestingly, the vote has been disguised in the House as a vote on “Senate Amendements”, which isn’t surprising given how many Democrats voted for it. Only 87 Democrats voted against the extension, while 162 voted for it. As you will see in the link, only 10 Republicans voted against it, but this should be of no surprise. Their hypocrisy is revolting. They call for limited government when it comes to things like health care, or education, and yet want all the government we can get when it comes to foreign policy and spying on American citizens.

This is yet another example of how the MSM creates and perpetuates fear in the American public that reveals itself in “our” willingness to give up our personal liberties for the illusion of safety. Let’s be honest: Only a very small percentage of people in this country may actually need to worry about being victims of terrorism. And whether or not they need to is probably debatable. I am not saying there are not terrorists out there plotting to do “us” harm, but I think the threat is grossly exaggerated. Nor am I suggesting those of us not in harms way should not care about terrorism. I just do not think our government should be given carte blanche to spy on us; seems like the wrong approach to the problem. The point is that so many legislators will not vote against this because of their own fear of being branded “unpatriotic” or feeling the wrath of voters come November.

Perhaps some other time I will elaborate on that last point. By the way, I know it is nearly 11 p.m. on a Saturday night and I should be doing something other than reading the news and blogging, but my wife is about 650 miles away so cut me some slack.

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Lost Cont’d

We are four episodes into the final season of Lost and I have no idea how it will end, but I like the direction in which it is going. The tone is much darker which I like and will come to no surprise to those who know me. The “alternate timeline” is getting increasingly better and I only hope that it somehow ties into what we are seeing on the island and is not simply a look at what could have been.

Terry O’Quinn is nailing his role as “Jacob’s nemesis now inhabiting John Locke’s body”, or Esau as Lost followers have taken to calling him. Locke’s episode last week was fantastic and I really enjoyed Jack’s episode this week. I was especially fond of the alternate timeline story between Jack and his son, which is unusual given how what is happening on the island should be more interesting.

What is going on with most of the characters has been very solid. It is disappointing to see Sayid’s character diminished, and Kate’s story has always been fairly weak. I am looking forward to seeing Jin and Sun’s alternate timeline as their story was always a favorite of mine.

But enough with the aesthetics, let’s talk substance. I suspect that the “war” that has been alluded to in previous seasons is approaching, with at least Jack and Hurley (and the rest at the Temple) on Jacob’s side, and for now, Sawyer on the side of Esau. Whether there will actually be confrontation between the survivors on each side is an interesting question, and the first few episodes seem to suggest that if this confrontation occurs, Jack and Sawyer will have it out.

But I am not so sure they will. The recurring theme thus far has been the nature of destiny (Jacob) v. free will (Esau, sort of), which has been posited as an either/or issue and not a more heterogenous one. At some point I think the survivors will realize that they are pawns and have always been pawns, and use this to band together against both Jacob and Esau. But if that does not happen, and there is a confrontation, I am on the side of Esau.

I understand he is being portrayed as the evil one, but in my view, he is not. He just wants to be free and not controlled by either the island or Jacob, which in my view is very reasonable. Jacob, on the other hand, has manipulated the lives of the survivors, with mixed results, but I think most of the survivors have not faired well. Ironically, the one survivor who probably benefited the most turned out to be the one who killed Jacob (Esau as Locke).

Anyway, I am definitely “in” this season and cannot wait to see how it turns out. Happy viewing!


Health Care Continued (forever apparently)

So let us get back to business. The Health Care Summit that took place does not appear to have changed things one way or another, at least according to the various pundits and news outlets. I was able to catch some of it and it was disappointing to hear how poor the bill is.

Even taking some of the misinformation out of the equation, the Democrats totally screwed this up. As Rep. Ryan from Wisconsin (R) so intelligently stated, the deficit containment and/or reducing nature of the bill is highly suspect when only 6 of the 10 years of its implication are budgeted. Obama had no response for that. And I do not know whether this was discussed, but the mandate seems very problematic to me without a public option or some other mechanism in place to adequately curtail insurance costs.

It just does not make any sense to force 30 million Americans to buy insurance from the very companies that the President and so many others in Washington have been hailing as a major part of the problem. This is why the insurance companies want reform: They are going to get PAID!! Yes, the purchasers will be subsidized, but the insurance companies still profit and still have no serious competition pressuring them to lower premiums and provide a better service.

I started out thinking reform of any kind would be beneficial to the American public and to Obama, politically speaking. I still tend to think that is the case if the bill passes, but I am now a complete supporter of the single-payer system and am convinced our health care system will never be ideal until we all have access to a Medicare type system. This bill is only a band-aid.

We would be wise to model a single-payer system after the French system, which provides universal coverage but still relies on private medical providers and gives people freedom to choose those providers. In addition, private insurance companies still compete with the government. This is pretty much how our system now works except that we do not have universal coverage. But we do have Medicare, which functions basically the same way as the entire French system does: Empoloyers, employees and the self-employed (and other taxes) pay into the pool that the government draws out of to pay for services, with private doctors providing care. Why not just extend Medicare to everyone!!

Some legislators have proposed this and have been advocating for it for awhile, but they are dismissed as radical leftists and not invited to the table, or yesterday’s summit. The sad thing is that eventually this will happen, and it will work well, and everyone will wonder why we did not do it sooner. We will have mostly ourselves to blame, with assists from the main-stream media.

When will we wise up?

Update: And right on cue and elaborating on my last point about us, the American public, being ultimately responsible for our mess, Newsweek posts this article.


Lost!

Lost. The Final Season. Premieres tonight. 8 pm. Two hours. Giddy up!