Monday, March 22, 2010

Oh boy...a political blog

Well congrats are certainly in order for President Obama and Speaker of the House Pelosi for their efforts in passing one of the most significant, encompassing, and expensive entitlement programs in American history. The President essentially bet his legacy on healthcare reform, and achieved something he promised during the campaign.

I am one of the majority of Americans that agree 110% that the current state of healthcare in our country desperately needed to be looked at, stripped apart, and fixed for the benefit of ALL American citizens. Speaker Pelosi said on Sunday, "We're doing this for the American people." I think a more accurate statement on her part would have been her saying, “We're doing what WE think is best for the American people.”


NEVER has legislation had so much misinformation spun to John and Jane Q. Public as this bill has had - FROM BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE!

And in all actuality, we don’t have to read the thousands of pages of this bill to clarify it a little bit or find out what’s truly fact and what is simply propaganda and fear-mongering.

Here are some UNDENIABLE TRUTHS and UNDEBATABLE FACTS about this program:

FACT: According to polls, the majority of Americans do NOT want this plan.
I suppose that means what the majority of the American people want doesn't matter to Speaker Pelosi or the other 218 Representatives that voted “YES” on Sunday night. I think it’s fair to say those 219 Congressmen think they know more than we the citizens do, and that they know what we want better than we do.

FACT: For those who already have health insurance, there is in all likelihood that you are going to pay more and get less in return. John and Jane Q. Public WILL see a tax increase…and not just the “rich” (defined as income of $200,000 or more). The premium health care insurance plans many already have will be taxed, and there is NO chance that the taxes that smaller businesses are going to have to pay on insurance plans won’t be passed along to the consumer in some capacity.

FACT: Doctors and hospitals are not going to be paid as much for the services they currently provide to the public. Currently, FORTY-SIX cents of EVERY dollar spent on medicine is paid for by John and Jane Q. Public…hope they tighten the belt, because they’re going to pay more.

FACT: Both small and large businesses are going to have to pay more for their employees' health insurance plans. And every American is mandated to have health insurance, no matter if they want it or not (several states are lining up to question the constitutionality of that facet of the bill).

FACT: Those currently on Medicare will see their benefits changed - DRAMATICALLY. The single largest hope of paying for Obamacare is the more than $500 billion PLANNED cuts to the Medicare program, and these cuts will come when over 70 million Baby Boomers will become eligible for Medicare over the next 10 years.
**As a side-note to that fact, it is mathematically impossible for
Medicare to be able to handle that many additional beneficiaries.
It’s “Washington’s Dirty Little Secret”. Look it up. **

The second biggest hope in paying for the reforms is by raising and expanding the Medicare tax. What does that mean? Those currently on Medicare will see their benefits change, vanish, or become WAY too expensive for them to afford.

FACT: SOME Americans will ABSOLUTELY benefit by the reforms. By 2014, according to the supposed non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the bill will give 19 million current uninsured citizens subsidies averaging $6,000 to help pay for insurance premiums and other medical charges...mind you, this is on top of the government ALREADY footing the bill for close to 100 million Americans through Medicare and Medicaid.

FACT: President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and the rest of the YEA Congressmen will be LONG gone when all of the debts this reform will produce come to the forefront. But my Littleheads and their Littleheads will be stuck with the tab…and that just doesn’t sit well with this voter.

So what can be done about it? Today I heard rumblings of something being introduced that would repeal the health care bill. C’mon., really? That’s all you got? WTF?!?!?!?

Here’s some things the collective assholes in DC need to do - NOW…

FIND ANOTHER SOURCE OF REVENUE TO PAY FOR THIS THING!!!! Increasing income taxes is NOT the answer, especially in this economic climate. The top rate of tax is scheduled to take a HOLY SHITBALLS 39.6 percent hike at the end of 2010. Now a surtax of 5.4 percent will be stacked atop that higher rate to help pay for this legislation! NO WAY, CONGRESS!!!! Sure, the surtaxes only hits those fortunate enough to make $500,000 annually, but that tax will HAVE to distributed to more and more of the public over time

The new health care reforms call for every insurance policy sold to meet certain STRICTLY REGULATED conditions. This has got to be reworked ASAP. Think about it…John and Jane Q. Public will lose the option of buying CHEAPER, MORE BASIC plans. That’s like going to car dealers and only being able to buy fully loaded vehicles. That just doesn’t work.

The legislation REQUIRES businesses with payrolls of more than $500,000 to buy health insurance for their workers or face fines of $2,000 PER WORKER. Yes, that is FACT - $2K per employee. CANDIDATE Obama and the Democratic Party promised up and down they’d help out smaller employers and encouraged people to start their own businesses. It was part of the “Change We Can Believe In”. Even the less colorful crayons in the box know that there conceivably couldn’t be a worse time to drop this bomb on smaller employers. Again, think about it…health insurance comes out of employee wages, plain and simple…it is part of the benefits of being employed. Look at your paycheck, and you will see it is lumped into the income calculations. Employers today that don’t offer health insurance to their staff (and YES, there are companies like that out there - especially smaller, start-up operations that are supposed to spur on economic recovery, PER PRESIDENT OBAMA) must compete for workers with companies that do provide health insurance. And they have to compete by paying similar salaries for similar positions, I’d assume. Sure, the new healthcare reforms will give uninsured employees an avenue to get insurance, and even provide some subsidies to help buy coverage for themselves and their families. But there is absolutely NO justification for slapping the aforementioned fines on small businesses. After all, it goes against nearly everything President Obama campaigned for before his election.

As I stated at the beginning of this blog, I firmly believe that healthcare reforms MUST happen. Coverage needs to be more affordable, prescriptions need to be more affordable. Coverage shouldn’t be denied to those that have pre-existing conditions.


The way this bill was passed APPALS me. It turns my stomach. It - for the first time in my life - makes me ashamed of our government. Our President campaigned on establishing transparency in government, something he constantly said made him different - BETTER - than President Bush, or ANY Republican. This was “change”. Honest and open dialogues did NOT happen on this bill. This bill was shrouded in secrecy…even Speaker Pelosi said the bill had to be passed so we could find out what’s in it. Seriously?!?!?!?

The bill was negotiated, not written. The bill was negotiated behind closed doors. The bill was negotiated on ONE side of the aisle. And yesterday when Pilosi, paraded hand-in-hand to the House chambers, I almost threw a shoe through my TV…all pomp and circumstance. All bullshit political theatre. As will be the Republican attack adds on the Democrats who voted for the bill.

To quote President Abraham Lincoln - “A house divided against itself can not stand”. Last night we, the people, saw the very worst…a house divided, and even worse, the people solidly divided against the house…just check Congress’ approval ratings.

The greatest enemies of the United States of America aren’t in Iran, or Afghanistan, or Russia, or anywhere else outside of our borders. Our greatest enemies are from within our own country. The enemy is spawned by the ever-growing divide between the elected officials in DC and the people, between liberals and conservatives, between red and blue states, etc. These growing divides have roots in one all-encompassing issue - our economic failings…and those failings that are not being directly dealt with.

AGAIN, yes - health care needs reform. MAJOR reform…but a federal government take-over by the very same federal government that has EPICLY failed on nearly every system in our country that is financially messed up is absurd. Hell, the federal government currently is drowning in debt…what’s a few billion more dollars between friends?!?!?!

I’m starting to ramble a bit…my apologies.

YES, healthcare needs reform…but not like this. I sincerely believe this bill passing - more importantly, HOW the bill was passed - and the ensuing fallout will further divide the house, so to speak.

And that’s the worst thing imaginable at this point in our history…

“There is no worse death than the end of hope” from the 2004 movie King Arthur.

This blogger feels that “hope” is hanging on by a thread…let’s see if this health care legislation will ultimately be the reason the plug is pulled on “hope”…

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Blindest Are Those That Try Not To See...

Hello from a saturated People's Republic of Pasadena on this 14th day of March, 2010.

This could be an interesting one...I'm writing it on the fly, and not really sure how it's going to turn out...that could be a dangerous thing considering I'll be blogging about one of the more emotional topics - religion. This one is also going to be pretty uncharacteristic of this blogger, but I have something to say (and by all means, nothing can hold that in!).

I'll preface with a little bit of my religious background. I was brought up Catholic - I was Baptised, received my First Communion, did the Sacrament of Penance, was Confirmed, attended (by parental edict) CCD, and went to Mass (again, mainly due to my parents - more so my Mom - "making" me go). I've frequented Immaculate Conception in Towson, the Church of the Nativity in Lutherville-Timonium, The Church of the Resurrection and St. Louis Catholic Church in Howard County, and more recently, St. John's down in Severna Park. I've even been to the "vacation-minute-masses" at St. Luke's while visiting Ocean City!

I digress...

I was brought up Catholic. I was taught the differences between right and wrong (from my folks) built solidly on a foundation of Christian beliefs. I attended Mass, but never really listened. I prayed...more often than not only when the proverbial stuff hit the fan, things were out of control, or I desperately needed/wanted something tangible (I'm not talking about seriously praying for a winning Mega Millions lottery ticket!).

However, I got a little disenfranchised at the whole Catholic thing due to (1) scandals in the Church, (2) the overwhelming feelings of guilt that seemed predominant in any and all aspects of Catholicism, and, for lack of a better word, (3) the bore-factor...when people stood up and said The Apostle's Creed or The Lord's Prayer (The Our Father, for the less religiously-inclined readers) out loud, it was monotone - no emotion, no feeling, no anything...words - nothing more, nothing less.

Finally, as I got older and wasn't being "forced" to go to Mass, I stopped going.

Now don't get me wrong, I have taken the Leap of Faith - I truly believe in God and His Son Jesus Christ, Who walked the Earth as a man, Who died for our sins, Who rose from the dead, and Who truly is The Way to Heaven.

I also know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that I am a sinner.

I've had my ups and downs with the Man Upstairs...I'd be surprised if anyone who believes hasn't.

I've asked "Why me?" more times than I can count.
I got angry when my folks were taken a mere 70 days apart, and when they were (in MY mind) far too young.
I've questioned.

Again, I know I'm not the only one who has felt this way.

A few gentlemen that I worked with at my previous job got me thinking about religion again...they made me want to get back into things, and see where my Faith stood. I dabbled. A few visits to Church here and there, an incomplete Bible study, and some good conversations made me want to go back and actually listen this time. But when I figured out it was time to go back, things always came up.

Too tired.
Too late.
Too early.
The boys wouldn't behave.
The lawn had to be cut.
The house had to be cleaned.
Always something.

Then, this past January 30th, I found myself in a place where I was lost...a significant event occurred that made me realize I HAD to go back. I NEEDED to go back.

So I did.

I picked Ash Wednesday to start. And I'm proud to say I've been every Sunday during Lent, I'm getting something out of it, and I intend to continue my journey.

All of which brings me back to the point of this blog - today's Mass was a good one. The Readings struck a chord, and I want to have a little say about them.

The Second Reading today was from the Book of Ephesians,Chapter 5, Verses 8 - 14. A few lines stood out to me...

"Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness;
rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention
the things done by them in secret;
but everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
for everything that becomes visible is light."

Whoa! That's some heavy-duty stuff! Everything exposed by the light becomes visible...expose the darkness to the light...visible is the light...

Then the Gospel came from John, Chapter 9, Verse 1 - 41. A Cliff Notes summary - Jesus made a man, who was blind from birth, see. The Pharisees (a sect of Jewish men whom were held with high regard back in the day) weren't too happy about this because Jesus performed this miracle on the Sabbath, a no-no (no work was to be done during the Sabbath), which made them think Jesus was a sinner and couldn't be from God, despite performing the miracle. The once-blind man was also called a sinner by the Pharisees. Jesus told the once-blind man who He was, and the guy worshipped Him. The best line in the Gospel is something Jesus says to the once-blind man...

"I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind."

Again - Holy Smokes! Heavy!

"Amazing Grace" was one of the hymns today - I love that song, and it has struck a major chord with me since it was played by a bagpiper at Dad's funeral in May, 2005. But again, I never really listened to the words.

"...was blind, but now I see..."

I noticed a reoccurring theme...blindness/being able to see...darkness/light. The Homily (which today was an amazing and inspirational speech by the Deacon) brought it all together perfectly...and it really got me thinking (like all Homily's should)...

Here's my take...

I've been BLIND. I sin. Often. I've done a ton of messed up things...nothing I'm proud of, things I knew where wrong, but did anyway..."fruitless works of darkness".

Yet I am beginning to see. My eyes are opening.
How's that?
Because I am recognizing the wrong, I am asking for forgiveness of the sins, and I'm trying to straighten the boat...and the only way to do that is to allow the Light in.

On the flipside, there are many individuals out there that claim to be straight and narrow...that claim to be better than others (due to socio-economic factors, popularity, looks, the company they keep, etc.)...that claim to speak God's Word and do His bidding, but use that as a front to cover-up their lies, their deception, their's those individuals whom are truly blind because they refuse to see...refuse to notice how wrong they are, and how unrighteous they act.

The world would be a much better place, regardless of Faith or Belief, if everyone simply opened their eyes. And dare I say, the first thing everyone should truly look at is the reflection staring back at them in the mirror.

The world would be a better place if the blindest of us, the folks that try NOT to see, would open their eyes, remove their blinders made of prejudice, malice, selfishness, hate, greed, and scheming and let some Light in...

It all starts with a simple blink...a recognition.

I've got a long (LONG) way to go before I can see clearly, so to speak...but at least my eyes are now open. I said, a little uncharacteristic of me...but something I had to say. So I said it - laid it all out there. Tread lightly.

God Bless, Beatdowners.

Until next time...