The Monster Tree –– Photo from 4chan.org
This all happened on Tuesday. Bill Clinton popped up in North Korea to arrange for the release of the two female journalists who had wandered over the border and who are presently imprisoned in the North. Clinton looked serious while North Korean leader Kim Jong Il looked happy as hell, like he had just hooked the big one, which he had. All this time the tiny, nearly bankrupt country has been craving attention, setting off atomic bomb tests and missile tests in order to attract notice to get negotiations going again. But it was the imprisonment of the two journalists who had wandered into their country which had reeled in the big fish.
And would you believe, “Bubba” as he is affectionately referred to by many, scored their release. Of course, I’m sure it was set up well before he ever set foot in an airplane. He would never have risked such a gigantic failure on the world stage. But the important thing is that Kim Jong Il was all smiles nearly every time the camera was on him. He was obviously happy to see the American ex-president who had actually previously negotiated with his regime. And because the Clinton mission seemed to go swimmingly there is much hope that the Korea of the North will again be open to negotiations. Republicans, believing their own shoddy slander machine, hold something just short of contempt for the ex Democratic president, but this view is certainly not shared the rest of the world. The rest of the world admires the hell out of the U. S. President who, in spite of 8 years of intense Republican opposition, managed to achieve eight years of peace and budget surpluses. Clinton was a president who actually seemed to understand the importance of foreign policy, and during his tenure actually kept much of the world friendly with America.
Former President Bill Clinton sits alongside North Korean leader Kim Jong Il as his staff stands behind them for a photo opportunity.
During its eight year reign, the Bush administration would have nothing to do with the likes of North Korea, calling them part of the Axis of Evil. But Obama entered the White House professing opening dialogues with friend and foe alike. Then the two female reporters (who worked for Al Gore’s television channel) drifted across the border and gave Jong Il just what his heart desired. Two juicy hostages to hold in captivity to capture America’s and the world’s attention. They were tried and sentenced to 12 years in a labor camp, but they have seen no labor camps, instead were dangled to get high level U. S. attention.
And why not? The Bush administration’s “closed door” foreign policy was the most dismal failure of any foreign policy in our recent memory, one moment invoking the Crusades as it needlessly invaded the Middle East, and the next refusing to talk with any regime with which they had even modest disagreements. Our relations became so strained with those in the world who did not fully embrace the Bush foreign policy that even long time allies like France and Germany were vilified.
France so irritated the Bush administration that they began a concerted movement to rename French fries Freedom fries, which was about as close as the Bushies ever came to exhibiting a sense of humor. And you can tell the success of a maneuver like the one just made by Clinton by the comments from the other side of the political divide. Ex Bush U.N. rep. John R. Bolton, who sports a large and frequently miss-firing oral cavity, lamented Clinton’s trip to North Korea that freed the two journalist hostages, decrying the fact that such dealings bestowed an aura of legitimacy on ruler Kim Jong Il. Of course, the very fact of Jong Il continues in power speaks to his legitimacy, whether the hard-of-head Mr. Bolton likes it or not. And Hillary Clinton greeted news of Mr. Bolton’s comments with one of her famous cackles. President Obama’s talk of opening conversations to friend and foe alike is a gentle breeze denoting a return of freedom and reason in American foreign policy. And Obama’s persuading Hillary Clinton to become Secretary of State was sheer inspiration.
Of course, Obama’s greater challenge is going to be Iran, over whose border not one but three American hikers recently strayed. With Ahmadinejad’s tenure somewhat shaky with the recent round of demonstrations and protests, and the Iranian establishment hellbent to blame the disturbances on American and British influences so as to deflect any blame from their own governance, setting up talks with Iran may not be so easy.
North Korea was eager for America’s attention, Ahmadinejad can’t appear to be interested due to the fact that America is being used to deflect blame for the unrest from where it really belongs, which is on Ahmadinejad’s government and the election it recently ran. However, the chances are the American hostages will receive good treatment, as it will enhance their worth when negotiations do finally loom large. Oddly enough, in both cases the real question will be if U. S. negotiators can rein in the nuclear programs of both nations. We would wait a decent interval after President Clinton’s return before taking up the Iran hostage situation, but if it was up to us we would dispatch President Clinton to Iran after the shortest of intervals.§
United Airlines will probably be turning over in their hangars as we speak, but they should beware of doing a country singer wrong. And especially don’t break his guitar. We ran into this heartwarming video through the San Francisco Chronicle’s Tech Blog column, which they got by way of Kara Swisher’s Boom Town Blog. Like all guitarists’ past and present, we identified strongly with the singer’s sad tale. And we embedded it here so that you could enjoy it too. Catch it quick before United Air Lines hears about it and has its legal department make YouTube take it down. And the video’s last words are guaranteed to warm your heart: they read, “No Taylor guitars were harmed in the making of this video.§
Captain Kirk holds Mister Spock back from using his Vulcan mind meld technique on Republican Health Care Busting Goons. –– Photo from 4chan.org
Well, August is here. Democratic Congressmen from across the United States are headed home this month to arrange for town meetings to discuss the upcoming health care legislation. A fine idea, right? But hold on, not so fast. A script for shouting down town meetings has been prepared by a think tank in service to the insurance companies who are out to kill any health care change whatsoever, and busloads of Republican sponsored goons are being sent to these meetings with the sole purpose of preventing any kind of rational discourse from taking place, in much the same way as Republican business suited thugs broke up the Florida recount in 2000 when the Gore vote was threatening to overtake that of George W. Bush, the present group of paid disorganizers are showing up to shout down and prevent any rational discussion of the health care takes place.
Why, you might ask, don’t they let matters be discussed? Don’t they believe in rational discourse? Don’t they have faith in their side prevailing in the end? Of course the answer is no, in all cases. Just like in their minds the Florida vote counting had to be stopped until the Supreme Court could rule on the case and put Bush in power, so these modern day thugs must stem the tide of rational discourse concerning health care reform, else Democrat legislation designed to trim the wings of the for-profit Insurance Companies by requiring them to live up to their promises, pass the Democratically controlled Congress in August.
In truth the nation’s health care situation has deteriorated notably since Bill and Hillary Clinton’s failure to invoke reform back in 1993, so much so that even Harry and Louise (who speak for the pharmaceutical industry, and were a key in bringing down the Clinton initiative) these days are making commercials acknowledging the need for change. One health insurance company recently announced a profit margin growth of a hundred and sixty per cent, undoubtedly fueling the attempts to silence the voices of progress and reason.
There are two ways a health insurance company can show a profit. One is by rejecting all applicants with any kind of pre-existing condition which would require the company to pay out money. This assures a healthy fee-paying clientele. The other way a company improves its bottom line is by rejecting expensive surgeries and procedures when the healthy they do cover get sick and a doctor recommends expensive treatment. The insurance companies have on their payroll people whose primary expertise is in finding ways to turn down a patient’s request for service in a way that won’t call too much attention to the company or the system. And of course, it won’t do any good for the patient to change insurance providers, for needing the service would disqualify him from any other provider. In other words, the for profit insurance company patient is, in the words of GI’s of World War II, S.O.L.
Doctor Leonard McCoy reacts to Republican Health Care Busting Goons disrupting a Democratic Town Meeting on reforming health care. –– photo from 4chan.org
This is the situation as it exists today. And since there is no rational argument the companies can make as to why this system needs to continue for their financial health, the industry can only cry “do you want some government bureaucrat to stand in the way of your and your doctor, and dispatch hoodlums to meetings to break them up before anything meaningful can be discussed? All the while pretending that this is a “grassroots” movement springing up from a frightened populace. We as a nation need to make a big decision. Are we going to be ruled by corporate interests who employ criminal tactics of confusion and disruption, or are we going to be what we profess to be, a nation ruled by laws? Send in the clowns . . . don’t bother they’re here!
It’s a shame that elements of the Republican Party and the for-profit health insurance industry are resorting to the strong arm tactics of disruption to attempt to nip health care reform in the bud, rather than letting rational discussions proceed. This is nothing new, or course. In addition to the disruptions of the Florida vote recount in 2000, during the Nixon, McGovern election in 1972 I was living in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and night after night while walking my dog I saw gangs of teen age storm trooper types roll through my Park Slope neighborhood removing all McGovern and other Democrat signs.
We might note that this was exactly the way the Nazis took over Germany in the 1930’s. By sending their brown shirted thugs to break up rational discussions, finally setting themselves up for a power grab. It is far too soon in our process to determine whether this strategy of preventing health care from being discussed has legs. However, it is no surprise that Democratic law makers are rejecting the Town Hall meeting for telephone conference calls, which cannot at this point be broken up with hoodlum tactics. But we the public should really think on what’s happening. We can either sit back and watch it happen and let these hoodlums defeat any chance of meaningful health care reform, or we can rise up at meetings and out shout down the shouters. At the very least let us all remember just who it is that is forcibly trying to influence health care legislation and vote against them and for supporters of real health care reform.
If we are sincere in our wish to continue our freedoms it behooves us to refuse to let these well-orchestrated crazies prevent true discourse. After all, rational discourse is the very foundation upon which our democracy is built. In a normal situation we would note that this branch of the Republican Party ought to be ashamed of itself. However, seemingly these corporate hoodlums seem to know no shame.§
The Washington Post presented a slide show of Obama inspired posters and magazine covers which began with this one depicting the president as the Heath Ledger era “Joker.”
The people who are doing the work are the moving force behind the Macintosh. My job is to create a space for them, to clear out the rest of the organization and keep it at bay.
Recently I have been breaking my evening CNN addiction courtesy Lou Dobbs, whose arrogant anti-Obama line finally drove me over to the competition. At the suggestion of my youngest son I moved to MSNBC, whose evening anchors, Ed Schultz (The Ed Show), Chris Matthews (Hardball), Keith Olbermann (Countdown) and Rachel Maddow are a lot more friendly to my point of view than is Dobbs. And this was before Dobbs began espousing the “birthers” point of view, which only served to reinforce my sense of the correctness of my move.
Of course, MSNBC has basically three prime time programs, which it plays over and over again. Thursday, as ten o’clock rolled around and Chris Matthews rolled around for the third time, I decided to tune back to CNN, which was devoting Thursday evening to giving President Obama a 200 day grade. The 10 p.m. slot marked the repeat of this program.
I don’t know who dreamed this travesty up, probably the same executive who signed onto the Lou Dobbs hiring. The idea was 200 days of the Obama administration had passed, and it was time for America to grade him. For god’s sake, take me back to Elementary School, won’t you please.
CNN certainly took itself and its project seriously. It assembled the Emmy winning team of its election coverage, heavyweight political commentators David Gergen and Gloria Borgia, Democratic leaning pundits Paul Begala and Donna Brazille, Republican pundits William Bennett and Alex Castellanos, plus legal eagle Jeffrey Toobin and CNN political reporters Candi Crowley and Dana Bash among others.
The cast may have been stellar, but the concept was stupid. Who can seriously judge a president after only 200 days. Certainly not the experts CNN gathered for the occasion, who all predictably graded within their political philosophy. Castellanos and Bennett awarded Obama D’s and one C-minus during the six or so minutes I watched this travesty. Begallo and Brazille balanced the scales with A’s and B pluses. For my money David Gergen’s vote was the only one of interest to me, and he rated Obama’s foreign policy an A-.
Jeffrey Toobin gave Obama’s foreign policy an incomplete, which of course is the score each category should have been graded. You can’t judge a President in 200 days, and any grading you report by way of the viewing audience or your talking heads is nonsense, as was the concept of this complete waste of time.
Needless to say, six minutes was my limit before I switched back to MSNBC, and Chris Mathews’ third go around for the night. In my opinion CNN’s exercise in absurdity did a disservice to both anchors Wolf Blitzer and Campbell Brown, and especially to the Obama administration by highlighting the public’s momentary discontent at this stage of the administration’s tenure. It was a completely stupid idea, which was wrapped in the trappings of CNN’s Emmy winning election coverage as a vain attempt to give it gravitas. And of course it reinforced the message Obama’s major detractors are screaming by day and by night, Republican Party Chairman Michael S. Steele, Mitch McConnell and John Boehmer, the “just say no” Republican Senate and House leaders, Rush Limbaugh of painkiller radio, and the Fox News Dancing Clowns, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck, and Karl Rove. Way to Go, CNN! You sure got yourself in some mighty exclusive company last night. I suppose CNN’s next move will be 24-7 Twitter-grading the President. Gee wouldn’t that be a creative tracking device. Lou Dobbs would sign onto it as long as it showed negative enough numbers for the President, and the resulting explosion just might blow Wolf Blitzer right out of the Situation Room!§
And with that rant we pull the plug on this week’s edition of the Little Eddy Blog. Not to worry, we are always very careful not to let the baby go down with the bath water. Our weekly musings magically mutate Saturday mornings. We hope, probably in vain, that you found something in this week’s blog to make you want to come back for more next week.
Meantime, enough is really enough. Take care, keep your head above water at all times, and do face the coming week with a stiff upper backbone. Bye now.