Saturday, December 19, 2009

I Know How to Guarantee Passage of a Worthwhile Health Care Reform Bill: A BogsBlog Special Edition

Pete Bogs here, with a new post about the ongoing health care reform debate in the United States.

In case you don’t remember, this all began with the suggestion of making health care available and affordable for all Americans. Unassailable, on the face of it. But the response by many of our citizens could cause an unobservant observer to believe that President Obama had announced his intention to give every man, woman and child a Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 on the taxpayers’ dime. In other words, something extravagant and unnecessary, rather than, say, a matter of life and death.

Even some of Jesus’ most ardent followers, who bemoan the disappearance of prayer from public institutions, are making a racket at the suggestion of extending healthcare to all. Apparently healing the sick and helping the poor were not among JC’s lessons in their version of the Good Book. Apparently these folks are also very choosy about which Christian values should be incorporated into government policy: Prayer, yes; aiding those in need, no.

I know how to get real health care reform to pass in Congress. And by that I don’t mean this watered-down disappointment that some are still insisting gives away too much to the deadbeats, single moms and minorities. I am talking about a full-on health care overhaul that includes a socialist-public-option-universal-coverage-single-payer-system that also enables people to get cheap drugs from Canada and allows Medicare to be extended. How do we do it?

Insert it as an earmark into the next defense appropriations bill, which few Democrats or Republicants would dare fail to support, lest they be labeled as "weak on defense," anti-American or pro-terrorist.

Generally, I oppose the practice of stuffing provisions – especially non-germane ones – into bills. You know, like when an education funding bill inexplicably also contains funds for new highways. Sometimes these are “poison pills” inserted by lawmakers who wish to kill the whole bill using unpopular amendments. Often they are snuck in in the hope that no one will notice (a tactic which could be useful here). But health care is germane to national defense. As I asked non-rhetorically in an earlier BogsBlog post:

Isn’t keeping Americans alive and healthy the common goal of both our defense system and our health care system? How can you say you want to prevent an anthrax attack from terrorists upon your neighbor, yet not be concerned about preventing or treating a naturally occurring cancer or infection in that same neighbor? How can you want to stop bullets and bombs from raining down upon someone, but be completely indifferent were they to be injured in another context?

Health care is part and parcel of keeping Americans safe and in one piece. So some principled politician – I think Russ Feingold is one of the last ones left – should jam it into a defense bill. And Russ, do me a favor: Jam it in there hard, and without using lubricant.

We need to end the health care reform debate and force the dirty hands of corrupt, greedy, misguided, pitiless (yet pitiful) politicians who use fear, distortions and outright lies to keep America sick. It’s perhaps fortunate that those lawmakers enjoy free, top-of-line, government-run, socialistic health care, because they are perhaps the sickest people of all. Cough Joe Lieberman cough.

Well, that’s about it from Pete Bogs for 2009. Maybe we’ll see each other in the blogosphere next year. I wish you all happy holidays; especially you, Bill O’Reilly, and the war-on-Christmas crowd.

PS: See recent BogsBlog posts for more on sick people and health care.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

BogsBlog Special Edition: What Is It With These Fvcking People?

Hi there, folks. Pete Bogs here, with a special, three-pronged edition of BogsBlog. We’ll discuss two of my favorite kinds of people: Preverts (sic) and idiots. These people ensure blogging fodder for many years to come, I am certain. Anyway, if you've got a few minutes to read 1000 words or so...

Debbie Does The Courthouse; Gets Lafavourable Ruling
BogsBlog’s own favorite fugitive-from-justice-hiding-in-plain-sight (and local gal) Debra Lafave is back in the news. Lafave, a former teacher who had a “consensual” sexual relationship with one of her male teenaged students – an acquaintance of one of my nephews – has been
granted the right to unsupervised visits with children after completing some counseling and probation. This is a woman who, back in the salad days, drew Pete Bogs’ ire for exemplifying the disparity in our society's treatment of male and female sex offenders. Lafave got two years of house arrest, which I liken to sitting home watching cable TV for 700+ days under judge’s order. Compare this to the man who, in the same county’s court system, just got 20 years in prison plus 10 years probation for having sex with a 12-year-old girl.

In the former case, you have a teacher – expected to be a paragon of trust in society, like doctors and clergy – a female teacher, having sex with a 14-year-old boy. In the latter, you have a man who found a 12-year-old girl on the Internet and arranged a sexual liaison. Not a huge age difference between the victims. Some have suggested the difference here is intent. The man clearly went online looking for young sex partners, while the woman merely had a lapse of judgment. But how do we know that? How do we know what was in Lafave’s mind before and during her illicit sex acts? Can we ever know what a person’s intent is, considering it’s locked in his/her brain and we only really ever know what they tell us? Lafave has admitted that the forbidden nature of the acts intrigued her, i.e., she’s a kinky bitch. The true difference here is gender, both that of the perpetrator and the victim. People fantasize aloud about personally castrating a male perpetrator, but can’t be bothered to muster outrage at a female one.

I want to make it clear that I am not defending sex offenders of any gender. Nor do I think Lafave is a genuine threat to children. I believe that in order for us to call our justice system “just,” we need to see more equality in sentencing. It’s the same argument I’d make if a black man got a stiff sentence after a crime for which a white man got a slap on the wrist. That’s not justice. That’s just wrong.

It’s sad to say, but pedophilia is one area in which women benefit from inequality. You may want equality, but how badly do you want it? One day you may not be guaranteed first dibs at a lifeboat seat or the freedom to fuck as many horny teens as you like. Think about it, ladies.

Is That A Jack-O-Lantern You’re Wearing, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?
Apparently, Boulder, Colorado has an interesting Halloween tradition:
Folks gather for a chilly late night run through the streets wearing pumpkins on their heads – and nothing else. Talk about shrinkage! But this year the local authorities have promised to crack down on the unfettered flop-fest. Runners have been threatened with being charged as sex offenders for participating. When did streakers become sex offenders instead of simple pranksters? It’s a victimless crime. Leave the runners alone. You fucking Nazis.

Immediate Attention Required
Earlier this year I had jury duty for a week. Twice during proceedings the court reporter’s cell phone went off, interrupting the multimillion dollar case. This was not some 19-year-old cell phone-worshipping ditz, but someone’s grandmother, who by her career choice knows court decorum better than just about anyone. Recently a
commercial airliner overflew its destination by 150 miles. The pilots on Northwest Airlines Flight 188 did not respond to repeated control tower attempts to contact them, fears of a hijacking were raised and fighter jets were put on alert. Turns out the pilots were using their laptops – a prohibited activity on the flight deck – and were not paying attention to their trajectory. At least no one was hurt. In September 2008 a commuter train collided with a freight train, killing 25 people and injuring more than 130. The commuter train’s engineer was texting at the time of the collision and failed to notice the stop signal.

People, what is it going to take to get us to be responsible with our electronic toys? Set them aside. Turn them off. Pay attention to other human beings. Lives could depend upon it, and not just because you’re operating a moving vehicle, but because some people around you are about ready to put a permanent end to your rudeness and stupidity! (I can dream, can’t I?) I've been on planes a few times this year, and while the flight attendants have repeatedly reminded passengers to turn off all electronic devices, I still heard heavy metal music blaring from the headphones of the guy sitting behind me, and saw the glow of the Kindle reader from the guy across the aisle. If these can cause any problem at all with the operation of the plane, you’d damn-well better turn them off!

Portable communications technology has developed fastly (sic) and furiously, with exciting new capabilities – you can now “flick” a file from your iPhone screen to someone else’s nearby – being introduced regularly. But the social implications of this technology have barely been addressed. I am once again reminded of a line from the film Jurassic Park, in which character Ian Malcolm chides the man who brought dinosaurs to life in the 20th century using DNA: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should.” Just because you are now able to use some technology anywhere while doing just about anything – Paris Hilton answered a cell phone while her boyfriend was screwing her, for God’s sake – that doesn’t mean you should. New technology seems to not only have made old technology obsolete, but also common sense and courtesy as well.

I say an agnostic prayer for our future. Peace.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Take Your Dirty Hands Off My Swine Flu Shot, Granny: A BogsBlog Special Edition

Pete Bogs here, with a BogsBlog Special Edition on the swine flu (which sounds like some kind of biological warfare agent created by the CIA to use on radical Islamists), aka “H1N1” (which sounds like a London postal code, but I digress a second time).

I haven't had any kind of inoculation since 1986, when I got a measles shot that was required for college. Long story short, I got a live batch that gave me the measles, but was not accepted into the university. The incident gave me a deep distrust of vaccines (and questionable college admission criteria) for decades thereafter. I'm not sure what was more irritating, the rash or the snub. (This is similar to a situation in which several AIDS cases linked to a Florida dentist made me avoid dental visits like, well, like the plague for about a decade. Ok, I am somewhat of a hypochondriac.)

But with a supply of swine flu shots supposedly on the way, I'm seriously thinking about going "under the needle" for the first time since Reagan and Gorby met at Reykjavik (I think it was actually the same week). I do ok with needles; it's what's in them that has concerned me ever since that unfortunate 1986 occurrence. As I am neither a health care worker, nor elderly, nor very young, nor saddled with a weak immune system, however, I will probably be put to the end of the line for a shot. Bastards! I am a paying passenger and I demand a seat in this lifeboat!

I am actually anticipating a run on the vaccine, resulting in long lines, rationing and lots of angry people. And that's without our country switching from its flawless, enviable free market health care system to an evil public option socialist model. With people dying from this illness, the clamor for inoculation may make the raucous town hall meetings that have thus far comprised the U.S. health care debate seem like tea socials. I certainly plan to crack a few skulls. Or at least pull a Peter Griffin:

So get ready for it, folks. You, too, may soon find yourself shamelessly shoving a feeble granny aside to get to your own dose. If you must jostle the elderly, though, please be sure to at least wash your hands before (and after) doing so. This article reminds us that washing our hands regularly is essential to stemming the flow of contagious diseases.

But we shouldn’t need a reminder to wash our hands. Most of our mothers told us this when we were young. Most of us remember this every time we see someone leave a toilet stall and head for the door without stopping at the sink. And I, Pete Bogs, reminded you in
this post, wherein I stated that hand washing should be considered not simply a suggestion, but a patriotic duty, with harsh penalties for those who don’t comply. So you can't say you don't know. Take it from a marketing professional: “There’s never been a better time” to adopt this good habit, folks.

Be healthy.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

American Sickness: A BogsBlog Special Edition

ABOVE: Pete Bogs getting "socialized" in the UK.

Pete Bogs here, revving up BogsBlog for a one-off post about the ongoing health care reform (aka healthcare reform) debate raging in the United States right now. And it is raging. Apparently, it takes a special issue to turn some people into noisemakers. I honestly can’t remember any issue eliciting such vitriol here – not the war in Iraq, not our own government spying on us, not the way our values have been so compromised in front of the world in recent years.

And this universal health care debate is at heart about American values. In broadest terms, it is a battle between those who care about money and those who care about people. On one side, defiantly ignorant hordes who use the fear of government-run “death panels” – seemingly drawn from some dystopic sci-fi story – and their profiteering enablers in the corporate world, who stand to lose the most (money) from a socialized, government-run health care system; on the other, those who believe health care is a basic human right that should be fostered from the top down.

Earlier this year I enjoyed visiting friends in Scotland and England, countries where everyone receives health care regardless of profession, social status or ability to pay. They love America and Americans, with some reservations (it’s not an unconditional love), but they consider it madness that one of the largest, richest, most developed countries in the world doesn’t provide health care for its people. And I agree with them 100%. We should be leading the world in progressive health care thinking; instead, we are way behind our friends. They don’t necessarily think their respective health care systems are perfect, but they also have made it clear they wouldn’t want to live without them.

The “American sickness” is our fear of making positive change because of the prevailing influence of misguided, even dangerous ideological ("special interest") groups. Yeah, let’s keep those assault weapons legal and easily acquirable. Let’s even allow people to brandish them outside an event where the president was speaking on health care reform. We’re smart people who always take sensible steps to do what’s best for us. No question.

We constantly congratulate ourselves on being the best at everything, but these notions are rarely based on empirical knowledge. They’re assumptions based largely on jingoism and ignorance (sorry for the redundancy there). The proponents haven’t looked at the world, nor do they often care “how they do it in (insert location here)”. So they can’t really say with any authority what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes, they seemingly just can’t make up their minds.

Socialized medicine, as it has sometimes been described, can and does work. Canada has it. Britain has it. These are some of our closest allies in the world, by the way. We’re not talking about Soviet-style socialism here, though judging by the overwrought reaction of some Americans, we may as well be. And we’re not talking about National Socialist Party-style philosophies either, but that is apparently lost on this woman, and this woman.

Again, I think this issue comes down to whether one cares more about people or about money. The first thing that comes up in any discussions I’ve personally had with health care reform opponents is, “Someone has to pay for this (universal healthcare).” Of course; nothing worthwhile comes without a cost. It all comes down to priorities. And I am ashamed by the misplaced priorities of so many of my fellow Americans. I am saddened, too, that a lack of information is often what drives their views on health care and so many other things.

My own mother – an extremely intelligent and liberal-minded woman who was a nurse for four decades – was opposed to socialized medicine. But I believe she was basing her position on outdated and/or inaccurate information. The true story isn’t coming from here, it’s coming from countries where universal healthcare is a reality. And I believe that if my mother knew the true story now, she’d feel differently. She certainly cares a lot about people, and always has.

There is no wrong in caring for your countrymen; the opposite is actually true. So people can shout and gnash their teeth about a “nanny state” or whatever they want to call it. I believe it’s a core function of government to protect and take care of its people.

Which brings me to a non-rhetorical question. Seriously, please answer it, at least to yourself, but preferably as a comment on this post. If you take nothing else away from this post, take this question, which is actually a series of interrelated questions:

How can some of the very same people who want large sums of money spent on traditional national defense also object to us spending money on health care for all citizens? Isn’t keeping Americans alive and healthy the common goal of both our defense system and our health care system? How can you say you want to prevent an anthrax attack from terrorists upon your neighbor, yet not be concerned about preventing or treating a naturally occurring cancer or infection in that same neighbor? How can you want to stop bullets and bombs from raining down upon someone, but be completely indifferent were they to be injured in another context? Who funds our defense system? We all do, because it is for the common good. We should give health care no less importance, starting now.

If Congress does not take this opportunity to make universal health care – including a “public option” – a reality for Americans, we need to vote to yank health benefits from them. Use your salaries to pay for your own, guys. If it’s good enough for the people you represent, it’s good enough for you. This seems like a sensible proposal to me. Anyone? Anyo

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Stop The Killing (Mostly) UPDATED

Americans are dropping to gun violence so fast it’s making my head spin and stomach turn. The bloodletting has reached epidemic proportions of late, with mass killings in homes, nursing homes, immigrant centers and even church retreats all over this gun-loving nation of ourn. I feel like it’s 2006 again, but instead of getting arrested for DUI, everyone’s going on their own killing sprees.

One of the
shootings involved a guy armed with an AK-47 (assault weapon) lying in wait for police to show up at his home. It’s been said he was afraid of the “Obama gun ban” that’s on its way (he’s likely also afraid of Obama’s socialist/Marxist agenda, his planned Muslim caliphate and his national service slave/drone army; he should be afraid of the Easter Bunny, too, because he’s just as real a danger). You can dismiss the shooter as a lone nutter, but remember, a lot of people share his concern. Gun sales are way up. And three cops are dead as a result of one man’s paranoia and a weapon he should never have been able to procure.

Now is a scary time to live in America. It’s clear we need to immediately take serious, effective steps to reduce violence within our borders. At the same time, I think there are some places in the world that could use a little more of it. (Re-read that if you need to.)

Yet another cargo ship has been
hijacked off the coast of Somalia, this one with at least 20 Americans on board. Piracy has become so frequent and – seemingly – so easy in the region that it’s turning into a bad joke. The typical scenario is this: a half-dozen guys armed with machine guns and grenade launchers zip out in a speedboat, seize a ship and either claim its cargo or demand a ransom for the release of the vessel and crew. On occasion, these men take time out from their shipboard hijacking duties to observe religious holidays. Let it never be said pirates are devoid of values!

For the life of me, I can’t understand why a few of the world’s powerful, armed nations can’t simply blast these pirate vessels out of the water on sight. A few guys in a small boat? I am seeing minimal ammo expenditure here. We’re allowing a few bullies to hold the entire school hostage, and it’s embarrassing, frustrating and mostly preventable. A single, well-aimed shot (say, in the direction of the speedboat’s fuel tank) from even a small gun on a plane, helicopter or military ship could put a stop to an imminent hijacking.

Any surviving pirates would then be given the opportunity to fill up a shark’s belly, or to have their own lungs filled with the ocean’s finest briny stuff. Yes, an essential part of this battle against the pirates is a “no rescue” policy. We have already wasted far too much time on these people. Let the pirates back home get the message that we’re done with them from the sight of their buddies’ bodies washing up on the beach.

I would say the same thing were this to be happening off the coast of a European country instead of an African one, lest anyone think my cavalier attitude toward the pirates’ lives to be racially motivated.

And then there’s Kim Jong-Il. Remember the little Asian dictator so desperate to stay in the headlines that he performs needlessly provocative
missile tests from time to time? It’s his way of saying, “Since I don’t have much of my own, I will f*ck the world with this baby. You complain and threaten sanctions, but you know you love it, b*tches!” People of North Korea: Why don’t just smother this guy already? Have you never heard of pillows, or does your “Dear Leader” not allow you to have those? We’re one palace guard away from restoring sanity and security to the region. The world needs – and awaits – your initiative.