Thursday, December 31, 2009

Lists of 10 for 2009

Here are a few lists of 2009 (in no particular order).

Ten biggest deaths in 2009
1. Senator Edward Kennedy
2. Michael Jackson
3. Walter Cronkite
4. Dom Deluise
5. John Hughes
6. Ricardo Monteban
7. Marilyn Chambers
8. Les Paul
9. Bea Arthur
10. Robert McNamara

Please don't be mad at me for not including Ed McMahon, Billy Mays, Patrick McGoohan, Farah Fawcett, Karl Malden, Koko Taylor, John Updike, Andrew Wyeth, Frank McCourt, Patrick Swayze, and everyone else We lost over the past year. My list is based on the effect their death (and life) had on me.

Top Ten News Stories of 2009 (For the US)
1. The Inauguration of President Barack Obama
2. The End of Failure 43's reign as president
3. The economy continues to slide (but possibly finds it's bottom)
4. Control of the Green Zone in Iraq is turned over to Iraqis.
5. Sonia Sotomayor is named Supreme Court Justice.
Kim Jong-il pardons two American journalists, who had been arrested and imprisoned for illegal entry, after former U.S. President Bill Clinton meets with Kim in North Korea.
7. Evidence found of water on the moon.
8. A plane lands on the Hudson River between Hoboken and Manhattan. (No one is hurt.)
9. President Barack Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
10. The failed attempt at a bombing attack on a 300 passenger plane bound for Detroit on Christmas Day. (What happens next might be on next year's list.)

In international news...
1. Gaza War (Part ?)
2. North Korea tests missiles and a nuke.
3. Protests in Iran
4. The outbreak of the H1N1 influenza strain , commonly referred to as "swine flu" is deemed a global pandemic. The first condition since the Hong Kong flu of 1967-1968 to receive this designation.
Earthquakes!! A 6.3 magnitude earthquake strikes near L'Auila, Italy, killing nearly 300 and injuring more than 1,500. A 8.3 magnitude earthquake triggers a tsunami near the Samoan Islands. Many communities and harbors in Samoa and American Samoa are destroyed, and at least 189 are killed. A 7.6 magnitude earthquake strikes just off the coast of Sumatra , killing around 1,000 in Indonesia.
6. Dubai requests a debt deferment following its massive renovation and development projects. (the richest country in the world... broke?)
7. Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir arrested for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Al-Bashir is the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the ICC.
8. Bolivia becomes the first South American country to declare the right of indigenous people to govern themselves.
9. Sweden assumes the presidency of the European Union , with the Czech Republic as president of the Council of the European Union.
10. Albania and Croatia join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Loves and losses in "the media"
1. A pet chimpanzee rips its owner's face off.
2. Jon Stewart crushes Jim Cramer
3. Ex-South Carolina Governor Sanford's appalachian hike/south american love affair
4. the Beer Summit
5. The coverage of Michael Jackson's death
6. "Balloon boy"
7. coverage legitimizing made up tea party attendance numbers, "birthers", bringing guns to the parking lots of presidential speeches, and death panels
8. Artie Lange on Joe Buck (!!!)
9. Lady Gaga
10. Viral auto-tune political and science videos

The Policy of 2009 (Change?)
1. America Recovery and Reinvestment Act (tax cuts for everyone making under $250,000, investments in health care, alternate energy, infrastructure, education, etc.)
2. The House and the Senate pass Health Care Reform bills that pay for themselves (unlike the "bush tax cuts", the medicare prescription drug bill of 2003, or the Iraq war) reduce the deficit, and increase the number of insured Americans by 30,000,000, among other things.
3. Drawing down troops in Iraq and increasing troop numbers in Afghanistan
4. Beginning to close Guantanamo Bay and trying, at least some, "terrorists" in criminal courts where the crimes were committed.
5. Lilly Leadbetter Fair Pay Act
6. Children's Health Insurance Reauthorization Act (CHIP)
7. The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act
8. Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act/Defense Appropriations Bill, cutting F-22 fighter jets ($2 billion saved) among other cost saving measures.
9. "Cash for Clunkers"
10. Covert, and not so covert, operations in Yemen

10 things that most annoyed me in 2009
1. a republicant congressman yells "you lie" at the President of the United States during a speech to a joint sessions of Congress
2. john and kate get divorced (who the hell are they anyway?)
3. michael phelps gets stoned
4. tiger woods gets laid
5. twitter
6. the "octomom"
7. miss california, perez hilton and "the abortion debate"
8. the phrase "in this economy"
9. the hand sanitizer boom
10. Letterman gets laid

Feel free to send me some of your lists.

Here's to hoping things somehow get better starting in 2010!

To Progress (one act at a time)
David Calamoneri
Hoboken, NJ 07030

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Second Step (Senate Bill HR3962)

The AMA backed Senate Health Care Reform bill that Paul Krugman called both "an awesome achievement" and "seriously flawed" and two, of what are probably three, (Go Franken!) Liberal Senators and backers of not only the "public option" but "Single payer" "Universal Healthcare for all Americans", Russ Feingold (D) and Bernie Sanders (I), supported and signed, passed on Christmas Eve morning. Senator Feingold actually read the bill.

There is good and bad that came from the sausage making process that is the reality of getting 60 Senators to agree on a bill. Here's a break down from DailyKos, who ended up against the bill mainly because of the omission of the "public option". The Progressive Left was not the only side with negative things to say about this bill. They joined the already vocal "tea partiers" (can you hear those who founded this Nation rolling?) and other republicants. One "party of no"er went as far as to ask Americans to pray that a democrat wouldn't be able to show up to vote. I can only hope the senator wasn't refeing to 92 year old Senator Robert Byrd. The party that once howled "unAmerican" and "unconscienable" at the mention of holding up of money for Our troops did just that to delay the Senate Health Care reform bill's passing. Delaying procedural tactics, coupled with the Democrats wanting a bill before the winter break and the end of the year, pushed votes to 1 AM. Tactics like having Senator Bernie Sanders' 700+ page amendment read allowed illustrated the delaying obstructionism taking place in on the Senate floor. Sanders withdrew his "single payer" ammendment without any actual debate after 3 hours of reading.

I'm not sure if the two "national private plans" overseen by the Office of Personnel Management (overseers of Federal Employees benefits) will keep insurance costs down as well as a "public option" would have in the Health Insurance marketplace this bill creates. One of the plans would be non-profit. Mandating that everyone have insurance is hard to swallow without the public option to keep costs down, but arguing that the tax breaks and rebates that help low and middle income Americans afford their mandated insurance as "big insurance subsidies" sounds a little hollow from some, especially those who were for no government intervention. If you want the private sector to run Our health care, Americans are going to need help paying them. It certainly should help lower tax payer funded emergency room visits. Unfortunately, taking the bottom line over health insurance companies completely out to be replaced by a universal health care system for every American would be much more costly and is absolutely a political unreality.

So yeah there are things I do not like and wish were different in the Senate's Bill. I like the House Bill much better (even with the Stupak travesty). But as Ezra Klein recently noted the final Senate Bill looks an awful lot like the Obama/Biden campaign plan (pdf) for Health Care Reform. Pre-existing conditions will be a thing of the past, as will dropping you for being sick. Premptive care will be a thing of the present. Billions more for Community Health Centers for people who can't find primary health providers. Like it or not, it will be the biggest and first real Health Care bill, since the establishment of Medicare, the tax payer cost of which this bill will actually reduce (along with the federal deficit by $132 by 2019) mainly through waste reduction measures. It is not law yet. The Senate and House now go "to committee" to iron out the differences between their two bills. With Congress's winter break, President Obama probably will not sign a Health Bare Reform Bill into law until February. Though it's certainly not everything I wanted, I'd like to thank the US Senate for their work and attention on America's expensive and broken Health Care system over the last 25 days, and the US House of Representatives before that. I know it's your job, but Thank you.

"Despite the bill's flaws, it does meet the test of real reform, and the cost of inaction was much too high." - Senator Russ Feingold

On to the Jobs Bill!

Merry Christmas! (If you're so inclined. If not, sorry about all the annoying music.)

To Progress!
David Calamoneri
Hoboken, NJ USA