For the BEST Holiday Entertainment…Head For the Airport!

So you’re just finishing up Thanksgiving dinner and thinking that you’ll just settle in front of the TV and watch football or a full-action movie.  After all, they both feature your entertainment…conflict, challenge, violence,  and some sexual component…like watching the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, or some R-rated movie.  Plus, you get to munch on snacks and drink your favorite beverage while you’re comfortably seated and entertained.

But wait!  Real live-action, unscripted challenge, conflict, violence and activity that will titillate your prurient senses, with an endless cast of thousands, awaits you in one place that you’d never think of…the airport!!

Yep!  For perhaps the price of short-term parking, you can watch real-time human drama played out in all of its naked (so to speak) reality by finding a spot just outside the airport security checkpoint.  You’ll get to witness real-life-as-it’s-happening, when some people challenge the entire Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport security procedures, yelling at the TSA employees and hurling all form of obscenities at them.  Maybe you’ll even witness a few brought to blows by the anger they feel toward this perceived intrusion into their privacy.

You’ll get to watch people reluctantly submitting to full-body scanners that can see through clothing, while you know that an out-of-sight TSA employee is feasting on an endless parade of naked bodies.  You’ll wish that you had that job as you watch an attractive someone stand with arms outstretched in the full-body-scan booth, first to the front, and then to the side.  Oh, wow!

You’ll also witness people whom, refusing the scan, have every inch of their bodies touched (“fondled”, you imagine) by a real live same-sex TSA person.  Imagine the joy of a beautiful lesbian being touched everywhere by a beautiful female TSA operative!  Or a gay guy submitting to a male TSA “examiner”.

AND!!  You get to enjoy all this and more while munching on snacks and enjoying drinks bought from airport kiosks which stand to do a brisk business if enough people realize that the best show in town is right here where the airplanes are.  What more could you ask for when it comes to public entertainment??

While you’re considering taking that trip to the airport, consider the strangest part of all:  in what can only be defined as a weird (hypocritical?) philosophical reversal of the conservative’s mantra of “security before individual rights!” which defined them throughout the Bush years, these folks are screaming the loudest about how the TSA is violating their privacy rights!  They are attempting to organize a “national opt-out day“, encouraging flying boycotts and telling travelers to refuse the scan in favor of the enhanced pat-downs, which can cause departure delays if enough people participate.

Trying to explain the conservatives’ view of this is complex, considering their previous “the government can’t protect us enough!” stance..  The only plausible explanation is that the more conservative one is, the more religiously they think.  Perhaps their religion is telling them that their bodies should not be displayed by the scanners, and that the pat-downs are patently evil because the “privates” get touched by strangers (something that should never be allowed, except by one’s marriage partner).

Or perhaps the protesters are feeling a bit “under-endowed”, and they don’t want anyone else to find out.

Whatever the reason, it seems unlikely that TSA will be forced to back off from the full-body scans or enhanced pat-downs anytime soon, even though Florida republican US congressman John Mica is demanding the effective neutering of the TSA.  But Mica is known to support privatization of just about everything the government does, so it seems a wee bit too opportunistic of Mica to be choosing this moment to get on his anti-government-agency soapbox..again.

For now, what seems clear is that TSA is here to stay, the national opt-out day seems destined to be a gargantuan flop and, according to a new Gallup poll, 71% of Americans who fly at least two times a year agree with the need for the full-body scanners.

So seriously consider that trip to the airport after your meal this Thanksgiving.  Or maybe try to make it over the weekend, when people will be flying back home and the airports will be crowded.  It’s really cheap entertainment, and you can even take photos and video if you like.

But hurry.  New full-body-scanners have been developed that replace the image of the naked human body with a no-body-detail cartoon figure.  When those new scanners are installed, this won’t be anywhere as fun to watch as it is now.

Then you’ll have find some new form of amusement…like watching smashed luggage go around and around endlessly on the arrival baggage conveyor belt.  🙂

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  🙂

GOP Wasted No Time Showing Its TRUE Colors

If there’s a single unified message that the American voters sent to Washington in the recent midterm elections, it is that they are sick and tired of how Washington does business.  They are sick of the “politics first”motives of both parties.  They are sick of the party partisanship.  And they are sick of the refusal of the parties to compromise in the the best interest of the American people.

That attitude on the part of the American voter is partially, at least, the result of the political strategy adopted by the republican party shortly after the democrats took control of the house of representatives and the presidency in January 2009.  As a group, the GOP decided that since they had literally lost it all in the 2006 and 2008 elections, they really had nothing left to lose.  Therefore, they could easily afford to spend a huge amount of the their time and political resources doing whatever it took to make the Obama administration and the dems look like losers.

The republicans did exactly that by becoming “The Party of NO!“:  no compromise with the dems, no support for any of the dem’s agenda, legislation, and/or policies, no working together in a bi-partisan fashion on the house and senate committees, no supporting of any action taken by the dems in governing.

By adopting the strategy of “no-action-is-good-action”, the GOP was free to whip up their highly-developed hate- and fear-mongering about anything and everything the dems were able to pass without republican support:  the bank/auto bailouts, the stimulus package, health care reform, financial reform, etc.  They accurately calculated that if they whined and moaned often enough, loud enough and long enough about any of the dem’s accomplishments, that eventually the independent voter base that catapulted Obama and the dems into power in the previous two elections would start believing what the GOP propaganda machine was spewing.  That continuously repeating message, paid for by wall street and “anonymous” deep-pocket money donors, screamed that the dems were dead-set on imposing socialism on everything and everyone, increasing the size of government at any cost, ignoring republicans, etc., etc.

Note to the GOP and their strategic planners:  Congratulations!  You convinced the American voters that the sky was literally falling down under democratic control.

But your arrogance still isn’t letting you hear the message the voters sent about being sick of the partisan politics in Washington.

Maybe that’s why the GOP decided, without even waiting until the GOP election 2010 winners take office in January, to continue their partisan bullshit right out of the election box.  They shunned a contrite president Obama’s invitation to the “Slurpee Summit“, which was to be a meeting of GOP and democratic congressional leaders at the White House tomorrow (Thursday November 18, 2010), followed by a relaxed dinner with them in the White House residence.

Abruptly, the GOP announced yesterday (Tuesday, November 16th, 2010) that it wasn’t going to attend this well-publicized event, only two days before it was scheduled to occur.

Concurrently, a single republican, senator John Kyl of Arizona, blocked one of the most important nuclear reduction treaties between the USA and Russia, the NEW START treaty from being ratified in the US senate.  Kyl (and the GOP) did this not on some critical issue, but for the politically motivated goals of both embarrassing president Obama and the dems, and making them look ineffective, even before the GOP election winners are sworn in.

All public statements by Speaker-of-the-house-in-waiting John Boehner regarding the GOP’s willingness to compromise and work with the dems after the GOP “shellacked” them in the midterm election to the contrary, the GOP strategic propaganda machine is still operating full tilt.  The republicans just couldn’t resist the opportunity to pull out of the Slurpee Summit and make the president of the USA look like he’s not as important as republican activities such as photo sessions for the junior incoming republican members of congress, coupled with their challenging the NEW START treaty.

It’s still very early in the 2012 presidential election season, but the GOP evidently believes that it’s never to early to start the political partisanship.  And while the White House meekly tries to defuse the GOP’s Slurpee Summit snub by pointing out that the summit is now rescheduled for Tuesday, November 30th, 2010, the damage has been done.

The only saving grace in all of this is that the American electorate has a short 3-month memory span.  By January 2012, no one will remember that any of this happened.  But the democrats can draw no comfort from that fact.  They urgently need got to “grow a pair”, and FAST, if they are to have any hope of recovering from the pasting the GOP gave them in this midterm election.

Because if the home team can’t figure out how to get its message out there as masterfully as the GOP does…they might as well stay home.

Can The GOP REALLY Repeal Health Care Reform?

Most polls taken just prior to the November 2008 mid-term elections indicated that American electorate was going return the GOP to power in the US House of Representatives.  The reason most cited for this, by at least 60% in most polls, was the economy in general, and the lack of significant job recovery in particular.

Health care reform, as an issue either pro or con, was a distant follower.  In fact, polling indicates that that the country is approximately evenly split between those who want repeal of the new health care reform law, formally called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and those who want it expanded.  Additionally, a considerable number want it to remain as is with just some modifications, such as eliminating the IRS reporting requirements on small businesses dealing with small-time contractors.

Considered in its entirety, there is no real national consensus on the new health care law.  But when asked specific and separate questions about which parts should remain in effect, a majority continuously affirms the different separate features of the law, with the notable exceptions of the aforementioned IRS reporting requirements, and the requirement that all citizens purchase health insurance at some point within 3 1/2 years from now.

Many people do not realize that the mandatory health insurance requirement is dictated by the need to offset the additional costs of covering people who get sick but for whom the insurance companies can no longer cancel their coverage when they need it the most.  It also offsets the additional expense of covering people with recurring pre-existing conditions.  The costs of these two changes clearly would have been covered by the for-profit insurance companies increasing premiums on existing customers, by enormous amounts.

Thus, the mandatory coverage requirement was designed to make for-profit health insurance affordable for almost everyone else.  After all, the health insurance industry now has a potential market of more than 30 million new customers!  Significantly, however, this provision doesn’t become fully effective until 2014.  In the meantime, the biggest issue to the American population BY FAR is clearly JOBS, and the need to create them is NOW.

So why is the new GOP majority in the House of Representatives screaming that their very first order of business is to repeal the new health care reform law?  Were they absent the day the American people screamed that JOBS was “Job 1”?  And don’t they realize that they can never get repeal by the democratically controlled US senate and by the president’s veto pen?

The answers to the questions above are:  Politics; No; Yes.

The GOP knows that the odds of repealing health reform are virtually zero.  But they will probably pass bills calling for total repeal every few months for the next two years to keep health reform repeal alive so that it will remain a powerful issue during the 2012 presidential election season.

They also plan to capitalize on the unpopular parts of the law.  Their reasoning is that if they can gut those unpopular parts to the point of the law’s financial unsustainability, they will win a substantial political victory.  They know that’s unlikely, so their fallback position is that they can ultimately block appropriating funding, and thus starve the law into non-existence.

Oh yeah…and they’ll eventually get around to dealing with job creation, too.

But there’s a danger here for the GOP….Their leaders have recently stated publicly that the GOP realizes that they are on probation with the American public. But stating publicly that their first priority is health care reform repeal, instead of job creation, puts them in the same place they claimed the democrats were in when they passed health care reform instead of concentrating on job creation.  If the GOP spends a lot of time dealing with the impossible task of  health care reform repeal while the job market continues to stagnate, they may find themselves in the same position that the democrats did last week.

In truth, the US version of health care reform is unnecessarily complicated and cumbersome.  That’s because in order for it to pass in the first place, it had to avoid certain “features” that the more conservative folks strenuously objected to.  So it morphed into this bloated and inefficient system that purposely preserves the for-profit-private-sector-insurance-company model of approving/disapproving claims when CEOs get billions of dollars in bonuses every year.

It is an axiom of government that a legislated problem cannot and will not get fixed until its pain is so great people scream for a correction. Prohibition in the 1920’s is an example of conservative-dogma-enacted legislation that was so painful it had to be fixed.  And the solution is staring the USA in the face from every other advanced western industrialized nation on the planet, even if the head-in-the-sand GOP won’t accept it for another 20 years:

Single-payer, not-for-profit universal health care!  Just like Medicare (single-payer, not-for-profit), only for EVERYONE.  So what’s the problem??

Naw….It’ll never work..just like Medicare doesn’t work.   Right??

Mid-Term Elections: Back To The Future…Or The Past???

There is just no way to sugar-c0at it.

As President Obama himself said only moments ago at his post-election news conference, it was a “shellacking”, primarily because of his and the democrats’ inability to reduce the jobless rate in the United States significantly from its high of 10% a year ago (it is 9.6% today).

Of course, one could say that it was an impossible task to actually reduce the unemployment rate in the USA by very much within only two years after the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930’s was even recognized.  And, after all, this recession was 8 years in the making.

Additionally, coupled to the recession is the private home foreclosure rate in the USA, which is presently at its all-time high.  One could say that two years is too short a period of time to both repair a years-long process of impossible mortgage requirements on people who should never have been able to get a mortgage in the first place, and to stop the foreclosures.

Furthermore, TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program), which bailed out Wall Street and was actually signed into law in October 2008 by then-president GW Bush, was ultimately associated with Obama and the democrats.  This occurred because Obama, who took office in January 2009, immediately had his democratic congress pass an addendum to TARP, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or “Stimulus” for short.

Even though the “Stimulus” funds have not been completely spent, and even though much of the money that was spent has now been paid back to the US government with interest, many Americans are upset that their tax money is going to support financial institutions which had exhibited bad economic behaviors.

This is an example of people with just enough knowledge to be dangerous, but not enough knowledge to fully understand the nuances.  And, of course, the fault of the lack of knowledge, and subsequently the lack of full understanding, belongs completely with Obama.

Add to all of this the strategy of the GOP which from day 1 of the Obama administration implemented their “don’t ask us,  we won’t vote yes” program on just about everything proposed by the democratic congress, coupled with lies, hate mongering, fear mongering, accusations of socialism, screams of “the sky is falling”, plus a healthy measure of electorate ignorance and laziness regarding finding the REAL truth, and the recipe for a democratic political disaster was almost idiot-proof and complete.

The one piece that was missing in this GOP master political plan was the Obama administration’s compliant cooperation.  Not to worry, though.  Obama himself supplied the last required ingredient:

Lack of effective response.

Obama and the Dems made a science of not clearly explaining, in one-syllable words so that even the dumbest fo the dumb could understand, why they were doing what they were doing.,  As the “party of no” attacked and accused and misrepresented reality, the party of “change you can believe in”  just stood there like a deer on the highway paralyzed by the headlights of an oncoming car…silent and paralyzed and oblivious to its impeding demise.

There’s an important lesson to be learned here, and one can only hope that the democrats learn it quickly.  Politics in the USA is no longer about who can best represent the interests of the majority of the people.  Instead, it’s about who can raise the most money, who can buy the most TV airtime for political ads, who can scare the electorate the most, who can best tell the people exactly what they want to hear, and who can best make the other guy look like an genocidal idiot.

Additionally, the democrats’ very first task is to understand that regardless of the magnificence of their work in congress for the people…if they can’t market it, then they can’t sell it on election day.  That’s defensive, but necessary.

The second task is that they must learn from the successful strategic planning capabilities of their opponents (enemies?), the GOP.  Despite some of the GOP’s tea-baggers’ extremist views, the American electorate embraced their message of “stopping the madness” which actually began and then peaked during the Bush administration.  Think about it:  How many folks actually believed that the USA could eliminate Al-Qaeda by invading Afghanistan in 2002 or Iraq in 2003?  And how many believe it now?  Isn’t it all about marketing what you want others to believe?  Kind of like selling sand to desert-dwellers or refrigerators to Eskimos…

For now, Obama and the Dems had better “get a grip” and learn from the victors in the biggest turnover of the House of Representatives since 1948.  Because if they don’t, Obama may well be the first one-term democratic president since Jimmy Carter lost his re-election huge to Ronnie the Ray-Gun in 1980.

Can you learn to say “President Palin” without throwing up?