Saturday, August 01, 2009

Letter to President Obama on Health Care

Mr President:

I read in the in "The Wall Street Journal"* that the big drug companies are getting most of what they want in the health care bill. This alarms me. I fear that in order to get some kind of a bill, there will be a sellout to the insurance companies, Big Pharma, and other corporate interests and maybe to the Republicans for the sake of bipartisanship.

I know the enemies of reform are rich and powerful, but I hope you and the Democratic Party will do everything possible to fight the lies, distortions, misrepresentations, and all the other scare tactics of the combined forces of Republican and corporate opposition.

Republicans have fought every piece of progressive legislation from Social Security and Medicare right down to the present.
It is extremely important that Medicare be authorized to negotiate with drug companies on drug prices. The original bill was essentially written by the drug companies.

We need genuine and substantial reform, not the mere appearance of it.

I have confidence in you. Do not permit a sellout to corporate interests and reactionary ideology.

Thank you very much from an enthusiastic supporter.

Ken Cauthen

Friday, July 31, 2009

Tempest in a Teapot: Boston Cop-Harvard Professor Drollery

Modern technology--24-7 news channels and the electronic gadgets that facilitate instant messages-- has contributed to the gigantic blowing up of a minor misunderstanding into a national incident of purported major significance.

A little perspective and a sense of humor all around could have had both policeman and professor laughing at a comedy of errors initiated by the good intentions of all involved -- the 9-11 caller, the cop doing his duty, and the professor getting through a recalcitrant door in his own home.

What followed is typical. Framed only by the barest of facts, people everywhere brought to bear interpretive patterns springing from their general world-views regarding race and cops and knew instantly what it all meant. From one side, "racial profiling," from the other defense of police doing their duty, often in the face of danger and amid insults from loud-mouthed offenders. Even our calm, cool, collected President blew off before all the facts blew in and spoke of police "stupidity," necessitating a retraction and a quickly planned beer party to save his own behind and to remedy a situation that threatened to get out of hand.

Of course, we need a serious dialogue about race, and this was perhaps a teachable moment. But what we usually get is two monologues in which each party recites its own preformed narrative non-stop without ever listening to the other and with no inclination to test habitual prejudices. Two monologues do not add up to one dialogue. Thank goodness for the few sane voices, e. g., Colin Powell, who urged us to enter into a willing suspension of preformed interpretive schemes and attend patiently to the all the particular details of this specific situation before drawing any conclusions.

Was "racial profiling" involved here or a conscientious cop doing his duty in response to an emergency call? Was the professor being done an injustice in his own home by a prejudiced policeman, or did he subject the officer to verbal abuse by his words, demeanor, and tone of voice beyond reasonable endurance? Or something simpler or more complex? We all should have keep quiet until all was known in full context with some sense of proportion.

I tentatively conclude at the moment subject to change that it was most likely a farce, a comedy of errors apparently precipitated by initially innocent parties doing what was reasonable under the circumstances, but both by not grasping quickly enough and fully enough exactly what was happening seemingly let it get out of hand, resulting in an unnecessary arrest provoked by perhaps too much gratuitous, incessant, persistent verbal noise from the arrestee and ending with the whole nation subjected to it for days on end without relief or surcease of repetition and with hardly any recognition of the drollery it actually was.

This headline in the August 3 Washington Post illustrates my point well:

"Gates Says He Can Joke about Arrest"

Hey, "Kip." if you and the cop could have had a sense of humor that night, you would not have been arrested. The cop would not have overreacted, and the two of you could have had a beer without Presidential assistance.

PS: My son Paul suggests this alternative title: "Brew-Ha-Ha in a Beer Mug"

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What I Hate About Commercial TV

I hate TV for:

1. The shameless advertising of nutrition poor, sugar rich cereals like Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops, etc. on kid's programs, while claiming they are sooo good for you.

2, Contributing to the decline of manners and civility by introducing the yell and scream genre of sarcastic family interactions featuring Don Rickles type insults as seen in programs like All in the Family, Roseanne, Married with Children, and many more. Thank you, Norman Lear.