Tom's Thoughts

Location: Granite Falls, North Carolina, United States

I'm an ordained United Methodist minister no longer pastoring churches, a former media producer with skills ten years out of date, a writer trying to sell my first novel, and a sales associate keeping body and soul together working for the People's Republic of Corporate America. I'm married to the most wonderful woman in the world, who was my best friend for 17 years before we married.

Friday, June 29, 2007

On Impeachment

The polling organizations refuse to ask Americans whether they favor impeaching Bush and Cheney. Still, the groundswell is there. Buzzflash had a contest for the Top Ten Reasons to Impeach Dick Cheney.

The winner was B. Dunn.

Herewith the Top Ten Reasons to Impeach Dick Cheney.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

B Dunn submitted the Amendments in reverse, which might be a good way to read them to understand the gravity of the Bush/Cheney betrayal of our Bill of Rights.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

On Health Care

I seem to have posted on this before, but now SICKO, a Michael Moore film, is going to premiere this weekend, and it's on the national radar again. If the Democrats in Congress can find their spine, we might have a decent national debate.

Maybe we need to organize a march on Washington by Chiropractors.

Anyway, We will hear (have started hearing) a lot about long waiting lists in single-payer countries, etc. BUT you won't hear the fact that in France, Canada, and England, they have more doctors per thousand population than in America, that a poll in England showed that 98% of the population and 95% of the doctors prefer their system to ours, and that they have lower mortality rates at every age than we do. The U. S. has the 28th. longest life span in the world.

Yet our system is the most expensive and the least efficient.

I heard on the radio a while ago that a large number of English people have private supplemental insurance. Fine. Here, we have "medigap" insurance, to close the gap between what Medicare pays and what the desired care costs. Yet Medicare is the best, most efficient health care system in the country. We have heard a proposal put forth many times to eliminate the age restriction and have Medicare available to everyone in the country. I would certainly sign up, and I'd probably get supplemental insurance to go with it.

With a system like that in place we wouldn't have corporate bean counters telling us that we can't have certain medicines or certain procedures that we need to save our lives and overruling the opinions of doctors. We feared bureaucrats, but we got the same people in charge, just with different job titles. Same job, different employer.

So what is so great about the system we have that leaves over 45 million people with no health coverage, that causes American manufacturers to operate at a disadvantage because overseas competitors don't have to cover employees' insurance premiums, that causes people to go to Canada for their prescription medicines because they can't afford American prices, that encourages drug manufacturers to stop looking for new treatments and just tweak old drugs to make more money (thus we have ten meds for one ailment, and we have Nexxium, which is just repackaged Prilosec)?

I say it's time to discuss a new way of looking at the situation, and we might start by looking at EVERY OTHER CIVILIZED NATION IN THE WORLD, and see what they know that we don't. Of course, no system devised by human beings is perfect. Thus, we have the opportunity to see what weaknesses there are in other systems and try to do something better.

Still almost anything would be better than the clusterf*** we have now.

Friday, June 22, 2007

More on immigration

I read an article on-line the other day, and I unfortunately didn't bookmark it. It was about how NAFTA caused the influx of illegal immigrants looking for work.

Most of the immigrants were small farmers in Mexico, and their crop was corn (tortillas, don't you know?). Since NAFTA, big, government-subsidized factory farms in the U. S. have been supplying most Mexicans their corn, at a higher price now, so these people are forced off their land. Where they gonna go? Up here, where there's work.

Second thing: In 1986 they passed an immigration "reform" law that gave amnesty to aliens who were here and legislated prosecution for employers who hired illegals. Well, they granted the amnesty, but when it came to cracking down on their corporate masters who pay for their re-election campaigns? Lip service.

In fact, enforcement has dropped drastically in the last six years. Guess why?

Three guesses, and the first two don't count.

The effect, of course, is to suppress middle-class and working-class wages. This is exacerbated by the fiction that there aren't enough high-tech, computer graduates to fill all the high-tech jobs, so they need more H1-B visas for workers from India, etc. The only reason they want more workers from India is that they won't have to pay as much as they pay American workers.

This is in direct violation of everything the Bible teaches. And aren't these supposed to be the evangelical Christians' favorite candidates?

I'll quit before I ramble too much.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Nanny State vs. Bully State

Father's Day brought thoughts to my mind about the image of government as parent.

For years (decades?) Republicans (who are called "conservatives") have been decrying the policies of the Democrats (who are called "liberals"), deriding them as favoring a "nanny state," wiping the noses (and other places which are wiped) of people too lazy to shift for themselves.

On the other hand, they project a "father state": strong on defense, and standing up for personal responsibility.

Well, both descriptions are faulty, and both are inadequate. True, there are faults with both, but there is some value to both ideas.

First, the Democratic programs produced more of a Heather Badcock state. Heather Badcock was the murder victim in Agatha Christie's The Mirror Crack'd. When Miss Marple had a fall on the street, Heather Badcock came out and comforted her, took her into her house, and made her tea and cheerfully did other things for Miss Marple, even though those things were not altogether what Miss Marple wanted or needed. How many of you have been married to people like that?

Similarly, some of the social reforms of the past century had the best of motives, but unintended consequences. "Urban renewal" turned out to be little more than poor people removal; housing projects were merely warehouses for unwanted people, and Aid for Families with Dependent Children actually encouraged women to stay home and have children out of wedlock. Good intentions, but not carried out well, partly because of Republican opposition. A Heather Badcock state.

On the other hand, the Republican administration of the past six and a half years has been more of a "bully state" than a "daddy state."

A bully father sits around drinking beer while his wife struggles and the children are neglected. The Bush Administration with a compliant Congress have neglected the needs of America's poorest children, and poverty and hunger rates have risen to a point higher than they were in 1967 when the Johnson Administration tried to do something about the problem.

A bully father spends money on his buddies and his pleasures while his wife and children do without. Bush lied us into an unprovoked war in Iraq, and Cheney's Halliburton buddies and Bush's Saudi masters have made obscene profits off the slaughter of the bravest young Americans.

A bully father refuses to listen to his children cry. Instead he tells them to "suck it up" or "walk it off," or even calls them "sissies." The American people have been told to shut up and let Bush "protect" us from the big, bad terrorists, even while he is making life easier for those same terrorists. Anyone who disagrees is being "disloyal" or "not supporting the troops," or even "supporting the terrorists."

A bully father convinces his victims in his family that they can't make it without him. The Bushites have told us repeatedly that the Democrats are "soft on defense" and that only Bush and Co. can protect us.

I could go on, and I probably will. I'm thinking about turning these thoughts into a book. But meanwhile, what we need is a Daddy state.

A good Daddy is equally able to change a diaper or a tire. A good Daddy can help his children with their homework, and make sure they have a safe home. A good Daddy can teach his children how to use a gun safely, and help wipe away their tears. A good Daddy loves his wife and listens to his children. A good Daddy helps his children achieve all they can amount to.

We need a Daddy state. One that keeps us both safe and prosperous.

Can any declared candidate come close to that?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

On Celebrity Worship

All over the media are celebrations of the tenth anniversary of the death of Diana Spencer who was the Princess of Wales before she divorced Prince Charles.

Why the hagiography of someone who is known for being glamorous? Many other people do much more for the benefit of humanity than Diana ever did, yet get only a small fraction of the publicity she got, if any at all.

The media is so full of the comings and goings of Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton that there is scarcely any room left for important things like the loss of our democracy at home and our respect abroad.

Maybe that's the idea.

Anyway, I'm just sick of it all. I remember on the Saturday after her death, NPR had a tribute to her that took up the first 20 minutes of the Weekend Edition Saturday program. I was so disgusted that I wrote them something like this: "The fuss you made over Princess Diana dying was so intense, you would thing that Mother Teresa had died. Oh, wait. Mother Teresa did die, didn't she? But you wouldn't know it listening to the first twenty minutes of your news coverage, which was all Diana."

I'm still disgusted, but I know there's nothing I can do about it, except ignore it.

I remember hearing about Diogenes sunning himself outside the hogshead barrel he called home. Alexander the Great rode up, having heard of this philosopher, and said, "I'm Alexander. Is there anything I can do for you?"

To which Diogenes replied, "Yes, you can get out of my sun."

Diogenes is my hero.