Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The New Prez

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a new President of the United States. In what was not a very surprising result, Barack Hussein Obama was elected to be the 44th President. Some states remain too close to call still. But the electoral college result was clear enough to all the folks in Grant Park, Chicago last night.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

First the Good. I haven't read any numbers yet, but many states were predicting 80-90% voter turnout. That is an incredible accomplishment, and I give a lot of that credit to the Obama campaign. Again, this alone is a great thing for our country and sends a message to the rest of the world, which is still largely undemocratic.

Also good is the symbolism involved with electing the first black American to become President. The race card still looms large in the minds of many, many people in this country. Many older whites are probably shocked by this day, as are many older blacks. Did you see the tears in Jesse Jackson's face? And for many in our parents' generation and ours, the majority of race consciousness is not about bigotry but more about white-guilt. I truly hope our nation is purged of both types of this foolishness.

Having watched some video feeds from Harlem, I can say I have never seen so many truly joyous black faces in our country ever. The tremendous impact of even a fraction of formerly disenfranchised blacks stepping up, plugging in and making a difference could be enough alone to carry this country for another 100 years. This too sends a message to the rest of the world, which is largely still made up of racially homogenous countries (and therefore don't have to deal with things like racial issues) or regions that are still embattled by racial or religious divides. Hopefully, the angry remnants of the once proud civil rights movement in our country has been left for dead.

The Bad part of this election is that the Democrats have gained sweeping control over the entire federal government. Although they were not able to acquire a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, the gains made by the Dems in back-to-back elections are near historic. Not since the Great Depression have they picked up more than 25 seats in the house in consecutive elections.

What does this mean? Is this a mandate for Obama and the Democrats to do whatever they want? Or is this just a fearful, angry reaction via rejection of the many gross failures of the GOP? (NB: By the way, many conservatives are secretly over-joyed at this result. The stranglehold the neocons have had over the GOP has been plied loose and a chance for a more commons sense form of conservatism to reassert itself has now emerged. Also, many in the media got it wrong. Sarah Pallin did not cost the GOP the election, it was the failed policies of the Neocons and John McCain himself that cost the GOP the election, if it was ever even his to lose.)

Is the country trending more liberal anyway? The election results might make people think so, but if one takes a slightly closer look at some of the more specific issues on various state-wide ballots, the trend is not as clear. Or maybe it is that things are not as clearly red or blue as the two main parties would have us believe. Voters in California (of all places), Florida, Arkansas and Arizona all amended their state constitutions to ban gay marriage. Similar amendments already were on the books due to recent efforts in 27 other states. In what may have been an anticipation of an Obama presidency, gun purchases are up 10% this year nation-wide.

In other flashpoint issues, Colorado and South Dakota rejected measures that would have severly if not entirely eliminated abortion on demand. Michigan and Massachusetts also passed laws decriminalizing certain aspects of pot. Getting caught with an ounce or less of weed in MA is now a $100 fine/misdemeanor with no court involvement. MI will allow severely sick people to grow or buy weed for personal use. It's hard to say if these measures indidicate a strangle-hold, new wave of "liberalism" or just are prudent rejections of otherwise radically forceful laws/proposals.

So we will see how liberal the results are of this new Democratic leadership. Although the big dogs in the party are on the far left, the majority of Dems are still either Southern Blue Dogs or leftover Neocons like Hillary, who generally favor shreds of common sense.

The Ugly.
Who is Barack Obama? I mean, really. This giant baby wants to know. The mainstream press, with the exception of Fox News and Conservative talk radio, did their absolute best to help the Obama campaign. But nothing was as shocking to me as the hyperfocus on the "lack of experience" of Sarah Pallin to become Vice-President. The main duties of the Vice-President include breaking rare ties in the Senate and attending funerals of foreign leaders. I'm pretty sure she could handle that. Believe me, she deserved her share of scrutiny, but people need to be honest and just come out and say it: You don't agree with her, and you think she's stupid.

If it were really about experience, then the press should have also turned on Barack Obama, whose only real experience was one year in the Senate. The importance of this is not to demonize the press -- which just cannot help itself -- nor to defend the overall quality of Sarah Pallin, which would be tough to do. But, it is to acknowledge the fact that Barack Obama is a fresh face and a clean slate. He got elected based on his charisma and on the fact you could see anything in him you wanted to. After out-flanking to the left his comparatively conservative opponent in Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama's campaign became extremely simple: Vote for Change, and I'll give a couple hundred bucks back to you in the middle class in exchange. There wasn't much else to it, except some rousing speeches. Is that liberal? Is that mainstream? Who knows what he really wants to do? His past (e.g., his brief voting record, early speeches, stances on abortion and guns, his 2 books, his long-term associations) indicates he's a raging liberal. His recent present indicates not that he is mainstream so much as he is able and willing to change any aspect of himself to suit his circumstances. Will he continue down his very liberal, partisan path, or will he be forced to reach out to those around the country still "bitterly clinging to guns and religion"?

His first test may come soon, as even he, Joe Biden and Colin Powell have warned. I think his hands are largely tied over the economy and the middle east. We have already signed an agreement with the Iraqi government to remove troops by 2011, and I don't see any advantage to speeding that up. The economy is in for a long slow chill.

But Russia announced today, probably not by coincidence a day after the election, that she plans to put missiles near her border with Poland. This is direct retalliation to the neocon Bush's plan to put missiles in Poland by their border with Russia. Barack Obama talked a very big game early on about how he was against the Iraq war in principle and favored a more relaxed foreign policy. However, to move to the middle so as not to appear "weak", he came out against Russia in the recent situation in Georgia. We shall see what he really thinks, as this situation is not going away. Let us find out what the new guy sees when he looks deep into Putin's eyes.
May God bless America and our new President-elect.


nickname said...

but what about...?

Roller said...

Funny picture, nickname - if that IS your real name!

Well said, Rye. Obama definitely grew on me over that last year, and part of his charm is a certain stoicism that seems, well, presidential. He'll be challenged internationally, and he's sure to piss off a number of people here after he is forced to reneg on promises because all the government's money has been allocated for that whole financial crisis thing. But like him or not, this is an epic moment in our nation's history; I can't help but think it's just plain cool to be a part of.

Rye, I'd be interested to hear what your uncle(?) would think about how/if the Secret Service detail changes. As much as I don't even want to think about it, you can't deny that there are some loonies out there, and it could happen.

I can't end the thought like that so, I guess I do have a Palin question for you. You mentioned that you don't think she cost McCain the presidency. Do you think she had a positive, negative or neutral effect on the campaign?

I don't think that she alone cost McCain the presidency, but I do think in the end she did more harm than good.

Again, great post.

Joel said...

I'm actually worried that combining "gun purchases are up 10% this year nationwide" and the "Obama is an Arab" ignorance and fear will lead to a horrible outcome.

Did you hear all the violent "BOOs" at McCain's concession speech? I think a little respect and composure was called for (which I feel McCain handled very well), it's his portion of radical supporters I fear.

Love yah Ryan, but at heart, I'm a socialist. I believe in progressive taxation, affordable health care for all, and using regulation to push for greener energy sources and consumption.

So I'm /hopeful/ we get some of that done in the coming years.

A voice from the past...

Coovo said...

First nickname, now Joel? This is enough to bring me out of hibernation.

Great post Ryan. Funny picture of that fat kid. Obama better make him skinny like he promised.

Personally, I got burned out on election coverage like 6 months ago. I haven't watched much since, but I agree that this is certainly a momentous time. But from my outsiders viewpoint, no Republican short of Abraham Lincoln was going to win this thing. Bush and his cohorts are just that unpopular and McCain's efforts in the primaries to cater to conservatives or I guess neocons, played right into the Dems portrayal as McCain as 4 more years of Bush.

I didn't hear the boos at McCain's speech but doesn't the opponent always get booed at those things. Especially the losing speeches. Bitter supporters who realize they have to find jobs now.

Speaking with our friend John, he seemed to think this will help race relations. I can't say I'm that optimistic. Maybe in the short term and in the extreme long term, but Obama will have to open to criticism like every President and hopefully the spin doctors from both sides will be able to keep the race card up their sleeve. If not, who knows?

And I think thats the exciting part of all this is that we don't know what to expect. However, I do expect Obama to moonwalk into the Oval office.

Gene said...

Joel, if you like croissants, I have another country to tell you about.

Rye, great post. I am with Roller, however, in questioning your thoughts on Palin. VP responsibilities are more important than you suggest, especially when your would-be president presides with a pasty pallor that makes me fear what a coronary angiogram would show. Even with the understanding that liberal media outlets went out of her way to attack her, she did not show me she is ready for this level of responsibility. I think it was a bad choice to pick her.

I always fear the country swaying too far to the left or right, and your concerns are well taken. I think the coattails were particlarly broad in some cases. However, I wonder if a dash or two of Joel's point of view wouldn't help stir the pot. Couldn't government incentive and regulation to help create and develop alternative energy sources actually be a good thing? It would be nice if the private sector did it on its own, but is it always a bad thing to have our government give us a little kick in the pants?

Ryan said...

Joel, great to hear from you man, hope all is well.

As for Palin followup, I think if people reread the post, they will see I wasn't defending her one way or the other. As for her effect, I think she was probably vote-neutral. Although she galvanized the GOP base, those people were going to vote for McCain anyway. And out of all the people who voted for Obama, I highly doubt their main reason was Sarah Palin. She was more of a scapegoat.

As for gov't intervention. The thing is, I agree with Joel's aims too. But I just can't find any example of how the federal government has done something like that well. The whole Fannie/Freddie crisis we're in now was a result of govt intervention with good intention. A lot of the problems in healthcare come from Medicare and gov't involvement. There is not car insurance crisis in our country. The CAFE standards put in place by congress in the late 70s had the intended consequence of lowering emisssions in our fleets of cars, but the unintended consequence was the creation of the SUV to supply people with what they demanded. The government can't change the demand curve. And price fixing, etc, just messes everything up.

Philosophically, that is central planning, or imposing one set of beliefs over the whole nation. The free market does provide those solutions if those who claim to support them are willing to pay for them. Start a group, donate money, invest. T. Boone Pickens is doing it. It's just that too often, such sentiment really comes down to forcing other people to pay for our ideas, which the govn't fumbles in the process.

Coovo said...

I thought that was Joel having dinner with Hugo Chavez and Harry Belafonte.

Ryan said...

Coovo, funny you mention Abe Lincoln. If you read some of his speeches from the day, he said one thing in the south and another in the north (about slavery) so as to not alarm people and get elected. His true colors then came out, and history was made. I wonder if we're not in for a similar "surprise" with Obama.

As for the gun purchases, the McCain crowd BOOs and my uncle. The second amendment has been under attack for a long time, but with this kind of heavy political victory by the Dems, people are genuinely worried about being able to defend themselves (not hunt). I found the BOOs inappropriate but expected. People voted for McCain for a variety of reasons, but people who fervently supported McCain were as clueless as him, and so their BOOs were just another mindless Pavlov response.

My uncle is no longer in the SS, but I would imagine he would say they would do the same job for Pres Obama that they would for anyone else. Those guys take their jobs very seriously and do it very well.

Gene, one form of regulation etc that I am in favor of is making sure the true cost of something is reflected in a price. I think our borders need to be secure and that business conducted across our borders costs us money. Due to the slimeballs who have run our country for the past 16 years, things like NAFTA have greased the skids for border crossing without consequences.

Therefore, a simple 1% tax on goods entering or leaving the country could be imposed and would help pay to secure our borders. Otherwise, the oil we import could be intervened against for national security reasons, but we would need to be able to drill more in the short term.

But until this energy we all speak of is demanded and allowed to be developed (the free market will definitely deliver if people want it), then we will be stuck in this quagmire of high prices created by our leaders to pad out their friends' bottom lines.

Why should energy be regulated like this? Why are utilities public companies? We all have cell phones and computers supplied by teh free market and they keep getting lower cost and higher quality every year. Imagine if the gov't determined it was their job to supply us with these now indespensible items.

And if anyone knows whose giant baby that is, please alert them to come pick him up. He's eating all my damn food.

Coovo said...

Ryan, start in the phone book and look under Man, Michelin. Might have to try more than one number but I think you get them eventually to come and get their kid.

Ryan said...

I keep thinking about why I am usually against the federal government getting involved with even well-intentioned stuff. Another reason is that we don't have a healthy press to help keep the corruption down.

The following two stories are related and are meant to clear up some misconceptions some people have about the failed policies of the GOP. Bush's failed policies were primarily involved with pressing Greenspan to hold interest rates artificially too low (another example of good intentions gone awry) and his huge fiscal spending increases. Bush is no conservative, in any aspect of the word. But the paper trail with the housing crunch leads right to the Dem's door, and that fact is largely ignored by the press.

The second point shows a clear bias in the press. This is not a conspiracy theory but what I call the breadcrumb theory. All the individuals who work for the major news sources all live in major cities and vote similarly, at least like 80% of them do (grant me my simplifications). Certainly, business concerns from the top down curtail strong investigation of many things, but in general, the folks in the newsrooms have their focus guided by what they already believe.

I.E. Investigate the relationship between Bush/Cheney and Halliburton/Oil companies? I'm on it chief! Investigate the possible corruption between Barney Frank and his gay lover while billions of dollars of public money are being funneled into Fannie/Freddie and attempts at oversight by the GOP are being blocked? No way that's coming up on MSNBC. AFterall, having the federal government push an agenda of putting minorities and low-income people into housing is a GOOD thing, right? And Oil is a BAD thing...

and here:

Free the Press!

Gene said...

Fair points, Rye. Good intentions do not always yield good results. Regarding the free market, yes, competition has driven the quality of personal electronics up and the price down. I have nothing against a utility company being private, for that matter. The problem occurs when the most profitable production and sales models do not coincide well with what is best for our environment and even our national security (oil vs. alt energy source.) The sart gov''t will help steer private industry in ways to improve all of these concerns.

I think we're agreeing more than disagreeing.

As for Palin, I didn't mean to suggest you endorsed everything about her. I just think she had more of an impact on some undecided voters than you claim. I can be considered exhibit A.

Nicole said...

Exhibit B on the Palin question reporting for duty.

G said...

Ryan, I appreciate your analysis here. As I've mentioned to some folks, I'm in search of a conservative agenda that I can believe in. Out here in the West, I'm swimming in a warm pool of progressive values and libralism, and no one around me can figure out why anyone would not want to jump in with us - it's so warm and fuzzy in here!

That said, I'd like to reply to your post, and some of the discussion that has followed.

I want to start by reiterating how great a milestone Tuesday's election was. It is indeed an astounding thing that we now have a black man as president. I well up in tears thinking that I can now tell my new son, without the wistful look that I remember seeing, that in this country, anyone can be president.

However, I want to temper this moment with some reality. We all need to be careful, about trying to get all post-racial. The racial disparities that exist in almost all facets of American society are real, and persistent, and highlight a racism that goes far beyond how individuals feel about eachother. It is a racism that is ingrained in our institutions and the very structures of our society, which leaves people of color less healthy, poorer, and with fewer opportunities.

If we truly believe that all are created equal, then these disparate outcomes cannot be acceptable. There is work a ton of work to be done to eliminate racial disparities in education, health, opportunity, wages - the list goes on. Until this is done, I don't think biggotry, the race card, white-guilt, or black rage are going anywhere just because there's a black guy in the white house.

To borrow a metaphor, the election of a black president is a heavy push on the arc of history, bending it ever closer towards justice, but we need more hands.

(and by the way, was that sarcasm suggesting that other countries don't have to deal with racial issues?)

But, Ryan, I think you missed a significant portion of the Good in the election of Barak Hussein Obama. It wasn't just black people celebrating, take a look at the diversity of the crowd in Grants Park, or in New York, or in LA, or in Seattle, or in St. Louis. Obama drew people not just because of his race, but because he offered a different vision of the country, and what it means to be a patriot. For 8 years we've been fed this rhetoric that being patriotic meant bombing more because people were out to get us, and protecting "American" culture by stopping the infiltration of immigrants. Obama offers an alternative to this politics of fear, that have us building bigger walls, carrying bigger guns, not trusting our neighbors, and afraid of talking about inequality. He offers a vision of America that is based on community values, the idea that we're all in this together, and the best way to make sure everyone can prosper, is to make sure that everyone can prosper.

The good is that there has been a fundamental shift in ideology here with this blue wave. This Marlboro man mythology that works on this idea that there are scarce resources - so it's every man for himself - is waning. It's being replaced by the realization that we're the richest, most powerful nation in history, there is no reason why people in our community should be suffering. He taps into this great American value of community. His vision supports the fact that that humans are by nature social beings, and in order to thrive, not only must we work together, but it is natural to work together.

Will he reach out to people who are bitterly clinging to guns and religion? Absolutely, and I think he'll ask them to put down their guns,pick up a mop or broom or rake and help clean their neighborhood up, and leave their judgement aside, have faith in eachother, as well as their God.

Now, for the bad and the ugly, I have a shorter spin. I'm of course jazzed that within this framework, the D's have a pretty good majority in Congress. However, the bad for me is that most of these folks are centrists, and have already signaled they're going to be pulling towards the middle, and since I'm a progressive, this is too bad. What I'm most afraid of is that out of an effort to act in a bipartisan way, the D's will cowtow to the R minority ideology, and will not be able to keep their party together, and nothing will get done.

Obama has already signaled he's pulling center by hiring Rahm Emmanuel as his chief of staff. He's alright on some progressive issues, but dispite the rhetoric of Yes We Can, he's happy to throw all immigrants (documents or not) under the bus. So I revel in the moment, but again, there is much work to be done.

And lastly, it seems all this talk about the wonders of the free market are in need of counter-point. What about this economic collapse - wasn't that because of the free market and deregulation? Wasn't that the thing that blew Greenspan's mind when he said that he had made an error in the way he thought the free market would act? I just haven't seen many places where leaving things up to the free market has resulted in an overall good. But I do have some great government programs - take Medicaid, SCHIP, and Medicare - these are hugely successful programs at keeping people healthy. Medicaid and SCHIP alone over the last 10 years have reduced the number of uninsured children by a third. And try to take Medicare away from a retiree, you'll get a good whipping there - my uncle, who's a tree man in Seattle, was finally just able to afford the knee replacement he's needed for 5 years, and to fix the hernia he's been walking around with for 10 years, all because of Medicare. Great program, but I ask myself, why the hell should he have had to live with all that pain for so long, just waiting until he's old. Well, he and his wife ran a small business, and the only private insurance they could afford wouldn't cover it.

The reasons these government programs suffer is because they are constantly under attack from people trying to leave health care to the private market. But anyone paying attention to the private insurance market these days have seen premiums are skyrocketing, and coverage declining. Medical debt from people with insurance is responsible for half of U.S. bankruptcies, and I guarantee you 9/10 labor negotiations are in large part over health care benefits. Make no mistake, it is the private market's responsibility for our current health care mess.

and hey, I'm getting screwed by my cell phone company - isn't everyone?

My point here is that government has a role to play in ensuring the well being of our country. And We are the government, which is why Obama's Yes We Can slogan is so powerful.

As for abortion, gun control, gay marriage, medicinal marijuana - these are red herrings, designed for lazy politicians to sway single-issue voters. They're tools of fear politics, which again, I think this election is going to allow us to move past. (On gun control though, this recent tragic story

makes me very scared that people are out buying guns afraid of Obama limiting their right to keep AK-47s in their homes. Only morons hunt with an AK-47. And it turns out that countries with fewer guns in homes have fewer people being killed by guns.)

so folks - that's officially me interrupting with a tirade again. I know the Loop and the Lou is not meant to be a political blog, but I hope I've added to the conversation - thanks for providing the opportunity

p.s. just for the record, I disagree with Sarah Palin and think she's stupid.

Coovo said...

G, you have a son? Congrats! You also deserve mighty praise for typing all that in this little box. That takes dedication.

I apologize for my jokes in the midst of this serious conversation but I thought the Michilen man thing was funny, and I stand by that one.

I have enjoyed reading everyone's different takes on this situation. For me personally I'll never have the knowledge or maybe even interest to delve into such topics with this kind of depth so I make jokes about Joel sipping coffee with Hugo Chavez. Often times I wish that weren't true, but it's just me. I gots to be me.

But I enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts. You've made me a smarter, more well rounded human being.

G said...

hey, it's your blog! no apologies necessary, sorry if I sounded argumentative - Griffin Lee and I were up late talking and this is what we came up with:)

Coovo said...

Contrare mon frer. No apology necessary from you. I just wish I could contribute on the same level with you all.

Sorry, but I am on the Palin in '12 bandwagon. I actually never heard her talk or read anything about her, but she is HOT!! If the oil barons in the middle east are anything like me, they get super nervous talking hot chicks and they buy them all sorts of drinks. Only in case the drinks are oil and I'm i'm a middle east oil magnate.

Think about it.

Roller said...

I have enjoyed reading everyone's contributions, both the serious and the humorous. I still can't believe that Joel and G just came out of the woodwork like that! Great to hear from you guys, don't be strangers...

Ryan said...

G! what a post. I know we're not a political blog, but politics is still on everyone's mind, so I'm happy to try to maintain an environment where real ideas can be respectfully debated. You make a lot of great comments, with all respect.

Let me respond to two general points that I got from your writings. The free market remains a huge scapegoat in a lot of situations, but rarely is it at fault because it is rare to ever find a free market allowed to work. First off, I'm not saying free markets don't ever go down, they do and have to as a natural function, if they are allowed to. But we live in a political culture where no one wants to be in office when things go bad, so they intervene.

This has created, over time, a not so subtle instinct in us that if it gets really bad, the big daddy gov't will bail us out. Many friends of mine unwisely bought into financial companies/banks because they literally thought, the govn't will not let them go out of business. This is not free market, this is political intervention/regulation. If you followed the links I posted, you will see that fannie/freddie were the main causes behind this whole mess. Why? Because the free market only exists when the greed that drives profits is tempered by teh fear of losses from too much risk. The (mostly Dems in this case) fed govn't removed FEAR from the equation for what they advertised as good intentions (getting minorities and low-income people into homes) by implicitly backing ALL debt purchases by Fannie/Freddie. Of course, the Gov't has been bailing out wall street for a long time, which is how we've come to the system of privatizing the gains, socializing the losses that we have now. That's not free market.

The Bushies are to blame because they wanted to "jump start" our economy (an arrogant proposition) and they mailed wellfare checks to everyone and Greenspan held interest rates artificially too low for too long. Greenspan may mouth that he is or was Randian, but he is not now. he's a good old boy from the inside, and he does what he's told.

A free market system would have it's own ups an downs but would be way steadier and with no bubbles in it. Of course, fewer people at the top could get rich as fast, but I'm fine with that.

Race. I agree that Obama's rise to Presidency is nothing more than a symbol. Ironically, Obama is not a typical black man from a city culture, so in many ways he does not prove the theory. But he is a symbol that all the entrenched racism you speak of is not as strong as people have been complaining of and is more a function of white guilt and black rage -- emotions, not realities.

In fact, another ballot initiative in CO, authored by Ward Connerly, a successful black businessman, is too close to call now but effectively bans all forms of affirmative action. he has already pushed such measures through in several states such as CA, WA, MI and NE.

The idea that we need to measure our equality by money or by outcome is an absurd fart from Marx's mouth. We are equal by creation and by free will in a way that is "self-evident" and are guaranteed by law the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which is used interhcangeably with the ownership of private property. That's all our government owes us, the protection of those basic rights.

The black culture in our country now is probably no different than any of the other foreign ethnic groups that at one time or another came over here looking for opportunity. Admittedly, 200 years ago, there was more land to settle out west, but there are plenty of opportunties for work in this country now. Reliance on wellfare and such diminishes the senses and instincts and retards cultures who allow it to become engrained.

Two more littler points: the gun issue needs to be talked about more. Although I have become way more tuned into the importance of the 2nd amendment, especially as the government becomes more big brotherish, I agree some regulation is necessary. I just don't claim that regulation can be made at the federal level. Clearly, that guy, a repeat drug offender, should not have had an AK 47. That is another failure of gun laws to be effective, just as the strict gun laws on college campuses have not worked either, but have just created helpless killing fields.

Medicare. You might be right taht Medicaid/care/SCHIP have been successful in helping out a lot of people who need it, and that's good. But they are horribly run programs that are entirely too expensive for what they provide. They are largely (not solely) responsible for the main problem in our healthcare community today -- expense. that expense has led to 40-50 million working poor who cannot afford healthcare. So they Medicare/caid/Schip are a very very mixed blessing if they are a blessing at all. Certainly, unlike the auto insurance industry, the healthcare industry is not even close to a free market (although you call it "privatized", which could mean a lot of different things).

If we completely deregulated health insurance and outlawed employers from "providing" it, millions of consumer decisions and hundreds of new middle companies would spring up, literally, in months competing for dollars and driving down costs, and the main problems in our country would go away. Again, I site the lack of an auto-insurance crisis in our country.

I agree deeply with your foreign policy sentiments.

Gene said...

So G thinks Palin is a moron because she hunts with an AK47 and Ryan thinks cultures who've benefited from affirmative action are retarded! Coovo's busy crackin' funnies, Joel fell back asleep, and Roller's downright giddy to have all the chatter.

Austin...Marty?? Where are you guys????

Ryan said...

They're in Texas, buying assault weapons:


G said...

I want to say that I too appreciate all the comments - I'm enjoying this respejctful debate. And like I said, the reason I'm barking up this tree is because I know and trust my old STL crew to give me a respectful, honest and intelligent

I don't want to get too deeply into the free market - I agree, that there is virtually no example of a truly free market, everything is regulated (btw much to our favor on the international scene). But i want to put a plug in for bailing people out - isn't that what the government is there for? Isn't the government US? and do WE really want to see people out on the street when the natural function of a market fails people? Yes, everytime, I'm going to lend people a hand if they're suffering, even if I think it's their fault. I'd rather bail out a family to keep them in a house, than see them sitting on the street, living in a shelter, without resources to keep themselves healthy. Stable families make a stable country. This is what a government based on community will do. I think you hit on a point that I completely agree with but I think is a problem in real societies - fear of loss is an essential part of a successful free market, but I don't think we can be driven by fear - this fear of loss is the reason people buy AK-47s.

On race - I'm not sure if I'm defending Marx's flatulence here, but how can we not judge equality, or equity by outcome? That's like saying a doctor should judge the success of a proceedure by how well he did the proceedure, rather than the health of the patient. So, based on these outcomes, there is ample data available that shows people of color have worse outcomes. Perhaps the entrenched racism is due to white-guilt, or black rage, but there is enough evidence for plenty of both (btw, as a person of color grown up mostly in a white society, I have a very interesting mix of both those feelings).

And get ready for some sarcasm - the black culture is indeed no different than any other ethnic groups that have come to this country looking for opportunity, except of course, they were brought here in chains as slaves with no chance for opportunity.

It has only been in our lifetimes that our laws have explicitly given blacks equal opportunity. The year I was born, my parents' marriage was illegal in several states. We've changed the laws, and we have a black president, so we're in much better shape than we were in 1975. But changing laws doesn't change outcomes. If you want a society where everyone truely has equal opportunity, you have to go beyond the laws, and measure how they're doing in creating the society we all want to see.

Guns Guns Guns...I think there are too many...isn't it freakish to want to shoot wolves from a helicopter?

And lastly, I'm confused by your rap on Medicare. I have vastly different information about how much it costs, and what it does. My favorite stat is that while the private industry spends about 30 cents of your health care dollar on administrative costs, Medicare and Medicaid spend 3. Vastly more efficient, and people aren't profitiing off the sick. I'm interested in where your data comes from - I get a lot of stuff from Kaiser Family Foundation -

The millions of people that are added to the roles of the uninsured, and underinsured each year are not being dropped by government programs (unless the program is cut legislatively, something Missouri's governor Blunt did not so long ago to Medicaid, leaving hundreds of thousands Show Me Staters without any access to health insurance). These people are dropping their private insurance because they can't afford it.

Health insurance cannot be treated like auto insurance. First of all, you buy auto insurance in case something happens, not everyone is in an accident. But everyone goes to the doctor - at least they should, thousands of studys say that preventative medicine, regular check-ups keep us healthy. And not to mention, all of us are going to get sick and die. Secondly, the stakes aren't as high in driving as they are in health, so the suppy and demand thing is all whacked out. 18,000 people died last year because they didn't have health insurance. i don't know anyone who died for lack of Geico. And third, you can control how much you drive, and so if you can't afford a big policy, then you might adjust your driving habits to limit risk. there is only so far you can go to limit risk in real life - maybe you don't skydive or wrestle wild boars, but people have random illnesses that happen to them all the time - a colleague of Amanda's just had a stroke - perfectly healthy mother of 2 with no risk behaviors. People get hit by cars, come down with congenital defects - shit happens to people's health, and people shouldn't be expected to try to limit their lives according to their health insurance policy.

There are much smarter economists than who've laid out some pretty compelling arguments as to why the free market doesn't work with health care. But I think it has to do with what I mentioned at the top, that I for one, am not willing to accept the fact that the natural function is that there will simply be winners and losers in health care. Isn't health a requisite for opportunity?

hmmm...this is another long post - I need a joke...

what's brown and sticky?

Marty said...

Austin and I had a softball game...must have missed all this....but I told our buddy nickname to fill us in...

Gene said...

Gross, G!

I hope my previous comment was interpreted in jest, as it was made with the same premise of respect for other contributers as alluded to by G. And Nicole, I meant to say The Rollers, not Roller. Sorry to leave you out. You too, Nickname.

Regarding healthcare, it seems like a fundamental argument is whether or not this is an unalienable right. Obviously, it can be argued either way in a compelling fashion. Being in the business of providing healthcare for dependent children, I tend to lean left on this.

On guns, I think we started this discussion shortly after the Kirkwood city hall tragedy, and Ryan wisely suggested this could be a great topic for discussion down the road, when raw emotions were more tempered. Now, the problem is that we have too many damn topics to discuss. I'm confussed.

And the Kirkwood tragedy is an unfortunate segway to race. G suggested racism remains ingrained in the institutions and structures of our country. Ward Connerly may argue the affirmative action is one of these very institutions. I don't know enough about this. He may be right, at least in certain circumstances. I guess what I'm getting at is this example validates G's premise. And as Cookie (the gunman) showed Kirkwood last spring, emotions are indeed rality, and at times the most visceral and terrible form of reality.

So, yes, Obama the african american president is a symbol, and it does not define the end to racial injustice. I, however, feel it's a pretty kickass symbol of progress, fairness, and equality, regardless of one's political view. I'm sure we all agree on that.

G said...

Answer: A stick

(who needs to clean out their minds?)

G said...

speaking of dirty - Tim, you may be in luck - she's so free spirited!

Ryan said...

A stick! I was thinking maybe a tootsie roll. I wanted to respond to this stuff yesterday, this is a great debate. But I had to get back to work on simulating the effects of 10mg daily of Atorvastatin on CVD first event risks.

G, I think you and I are so close on some of these issues, we are actually standing back to back, like, hey ma, who's taller?

Bailout/Welfare, Guns, Medicare.

I'm surprised to hear you argue for the Bailout after making such great cases for the need for better equality. Whom do you think the bailout is helping? It is helping directly the rich people who ran fearless and rampant through our economy because the gov't removed the consequences of risk only to turn to the govt when they fell down. Those people prudent and saving money wisely are paying for this with our devalued savings.

I need to reword some of the things I've been saying. Yes, you are absolutely right that the socio-economic divide between black americans and the rest of america is a bad thing; just as the increasingly huge divide between the richest in our country and the poorest in our country is a bad thing. But Marx is farting out of his mouth by confusing causes and effects. He's bass ackwards. These are *symptoms* of problems, not the problems themselves, so redistributing income coercively through taxation is only a palliative, not a cure.

I was hoping that Obama as a symbol of black success would destroy the very harmful types of leaders like Jesse Jackson, who have gripped and oppressed and reinforced horrible attitudes in black communities all over this country. I respect JJ for his sacrifices when Dr. King was alive, but he has become angry and bitter and counter-productive ever since. Sure, economic hurdles are stacked up against inner city blacks way worse than most other people, but that is not what is keeping them down. The same is true for rural whites, who receive far more welfare.

I've gotten the majority of my medical information from two sources over the past few years. I sat in on an interesting conference call with McKinsey & Company which overviewed a study comparing USA's macro medical expenditures vs. countries' like ours. As a function of GDP, there is a clear, linear relationship predicting expense. The US is the only country (of something like 22 westernish, industrialish countries) that is out of whack, to the tune of $500 billion. That's a lot extra to be spending. They covered all the basics, but to sum it up quickly -- there is no extra disease rates or sicknesses in our country that would necessitate extra spending, nor do we get an extra benefit from it in life expectency or infant mortality, etc. So it's "waste". There are no silver bullets to correct it, a lot of it is underutilized rural clinics with empty beds and lots of nurses.

Second, i work very closely with some very experienced doctors. When they miss our meetings, it's because they're in D.C. in front of Congress or in Atlanta working with CDC on policy, etc. So they know what they're talking about. One of our meetings went sideways and they started telling stories. This Doc mentioned one drug he saw while looking through some financial reports of his clinic that Medicare charges $140 for but his coverage charges $12 for. There is apparently some part of medciare, I think it's Section D, that prevents price competition explicitly by fixing prices.

So I can't argue with you about the administrative effciency, I can only say what I know, that Medicare, while probably helping out a lot of people, is causing a lot of problems as well. And even without this knowledge, how would you predict that an insurance company would funciton if it were run like the IRS, FEMA, or the Military?

I believe that if we deregulated all of this and cut taxes, people would redistribue income via non-profit corporations that do an excellent job at what they do. There are so many great charities out there, and there would be twice as many if we removed the gov't bureacracy that is funded by our tax dollars.

Guns. I agree we need to find a way to have registration, background checks, possible restrictions on "bearing" arms in public as long as they're enforced locally. But I cannot be convinced of any good coming to restricting access to "common weapons of the day" for law abiding citizens.

Although I cringe with news of the Cookie Kirkwood shootings or the Halloween tragedy, I am devastated by news of genocide in Darfur, Congo, etc., which could only have been prevented by an armed citizenry.

Ryan said...

p.s. The rural clinical waste was the direct result of 1 well meaning sentence in a piece of legislation under the Eisenhower administration's highway bill. It said that every american had the "right" to healthcare and by law couldn't live more than like 50 miles away from healthcare access.

Another example!

mattdougherty said...

Wow, I feel like I just came late to a party and missed all the fun. Thought I would throw in a few of my thoughts as well, if you all don't mind.

First, with regards to Sarah Palin- in my mind, and I believe in the minds of most people who were concerned about the possibility of her becoming president (which was far more likely than just about any VP in history), the issue was less about experience than it was about competence. There have been numerous Presidents who have had tremendous executive experience who were awful in office and vice versa. In an example that is all too real for us right now, eight years ago this country elected a former veteran, oil company and MLB executive, and governor of the 15th largest economy in the world. Experience he had, competence he did not. Look how that has turned out. Seriously, if an election for President was held today between W and a bag of shit, without joke, I would vote for the bag of shit.

Most of us who watched the debate took home a sense of Obama as being truly presidential and more than competent. I have yet to speak to someone had that feeling about Palin. She cost the ticket in a big way. Sure she energized the base of the electorate that would never have voted for Obama to begin with, but I think a large percentage of those initially unsure voters saw her as incompetent for the job and shifted them over to the Obama side. While she was not the only reason for McCain's loss, she was part of the equation that added up to millions of voters believing that Obama was a better person for the job. I understand your argument, Ryan, but I have a hard time believing that this choice was truly neutral on the overall vote count.

Second, I have to back G on the health care issue. The comparison between health insurance and auto insurance does not measure up. I guess this argument comes down to whether you believe the market alone should drive the quality of care that people should receive and I can tell you, from my experience, that the market can often come up quite short. I have several patients in my practice whose health insurance does not cover immunizations. The market has made a cost-benefit analysis and decided to rely on the fact that disease rates of certain vaccine preventable illness have decreased so much that they can make more money by not covering immunizations. This is short-sighted thinking at its worst. In this case, the market is allowing poor medical care for the sake of profits. You may say that in a truly free market, poor programs like this would get no business and eventually fade away. Such an argument, though, does not address the limitations that finances can put on a family with a limited budget when they are looking to ensure quality health care for their children. Those with limited means may find themselves faced with paying higher premiums or taking a gamble that their child never gets measles or preventable types of meningitis. These health risks are an unequal burden on the poor. The right to quality affordable health care should be treated as a human right for all Americans (I would argue for all people but that is a discussion for another time). I do not believe that the market alone will ensure this.

Third, I would have to disagree that all government directed interventions have been poorly run. The SCHIP program is a very recent example of a federal program that was considered widely successful from people on both sides of the political spectrum. Then entire controversy with the SCHIP veto did not focus on whether the program was properly run- rather the controversy centered on the issue of how far to extend the program given how successful it had been.

Finally, I have to say that right now, I still feel like Oprah must have felt on Nov. 4th when she kept using that guy in front as a hanky. I feel proud of this choice for president- we got it right this time. We elected a tremendously bright, tremendously composed, well spoken, well advised individual to lead this country at a time when it truly needs a leader. The fact that he happens to be black is all the better for the social message that sends but still, this is the right man for the job no matter what his color.

As an unabashed social liberal (fiscally I am more centrist), I know that I will at times be disappointed in how various issues play out in the next four years. I can honestly say that I hope Obama disappoints me by being more centrist than I would probably chose to be. Either way, though, I have an optimism and faith in leadership that I haven't felt in eight years.

G said...

This is indeed a many pronged discussion - guns, economics, politics, race, hot or not politicians - good fun, really! They all seem to overlap.

Ryan I read your posts about the bail out. I agree that it was a bad idea, but not necessarily for your reasons. I don't have the faith in the invisible hand to do nothing. Briefly, I think we bailed out the wrong people. I think it's alarming that even though trickle down economics has been proven not to work, we employed a trickle down bail out theory. Is this really going to reach people who are losing jobs, or getting kicked out of their homes?

I don't know enough to have a solid suggestion for what should have been done, but one thought I liked would be instead of giving the banks all that $$, why not give every home owner that's in over their head an extra $30,000?

On a somewhat related note, I'm conflicted over the state of the big auto makers, currently hemorrhaging money and getting the Heisman from the feds to bail them out too. On the one hand, if these guys go, that's hell of a lot of jobs lost, and a huge hit to families. On the other hand, these companies have been peddling a dying product, and just not competitive in today's auto market. So what to do?

I also agree, Ryan on your info on U.S. spending on health care. The stats on the US's health care system compared to the rest of the industrialized world are terrible, we spend the most by far, and are indeed among the bottom of the industrialized list in terms of quality of care, and overall health of the nation. But again, these studies that measure overall U.S. spending include the private industry. This is where we find a majority of the waste. Private practice docs we work with say they have to hire new staff (and thus charge more for services) just to deal with the myriad of health insurance paperwork. Matt or Geno - do you see this in your experience?

There's a lot of research out there to say that the free market isn't the way to provide health care. Our current HC crisis should be enough to prove this. Even though the health care market isn't truely free, the regulations that are in place (mostly state-based, here's a good synopsis of them for the individual market: are there to protect consumers. Consumers, sick people, need protection, because a free-market cost benefit analysis would never cover someone who had a previous ailment, or had a congenital disease, or had a family history of illness. Same with underutilized rural clinics - the market would do a cost benefit analysis, and decide that a certain clinic should be closed because it's underutilized, and there is a shortage somewhere else. Now the shortage is certainly a problem, but it's not acceptable to me that a community, no matter how small, doesn't get access to a doctor.

Now, I"m not saying that just because the market doesn't work for health care, it won't work for anything else. I'm just saying that it won't work for anything else that people actually need. So food might be in this category, which, I believe is why we have such massive subsidies for farms (did I just bring up another topic?).

I am curious to hear more what you docs reading this think, a lot of the providers we talk to are ardent single payer advocates.

Guns - I think we are close to agreement on this. I don't think they should all be banned,I don't know what conventional weapons of the day might be, but there's probably a reasonable list of guns out there that doesn't include Uzis. I also think a robust registration system needs to be in place, without any "gunshow type" loopholes. I do think that has to be federal though, otherwise we'll all be driving to Alaska to pick up our steel.

And while I think we do agree on foreign policy, Amanda just handed me an interesting analysis of the crisis in So. Sudan that led to the genocide in Darfur. It shows that it was specifically the introduction of AK-47s to the region that interrupted traditional customs of dispute resolution between the Nuer and the Dinka that escalated the violence and the conflict there.

I maintain, more guns means more violence.

On Obama, Palin, and race, Matt, I like how you put it - he's the right leader at the right time, and the fact that he's black is like the icing on the cake - a really really really good icing that makes you cry for justice, (like that German chocolate frosting with coconut? perhaps that metaphor could be stronger...). And I have to say, I do feel sympathy for Palin right now, especially with the her aids spreading rumors about all the stuff she didn't know. Those guys are jerks. I don't blame her personally for not being prepared to be VP, or even for a campaign. But I do think the fact that many conservatives came out publicly saying she was a bad choice had to hurt the ticket.

And lastly, you're right, Ryan, black people don't have a monopoly on poverty, or barriers to opportunity. There's folks we work with in rural Idaho who can't get in the door to a job interview because their teeth are so bad because they never had access to a dentist.

If I'm understanding you correctly about Marx, you're implying that the inequities we see between people of color and whites, rich, poor, rural, urban, whatever - are because of a misguided economic system that tries to control market forces too much (are we back to the free market again?). So what I think you're saying is that we should not address these symptoms, the inequities, but rather the causes. And I think you're suggesting the cause is economic, and that freeing up the economy, now that everyone has the same opportunity by law, we would see a more equal distribution of wealth between races. There would still be rich and poor as governed by the ups and downs of the market, but people of color wouldn't be so disproportionately affected.

I want to stop here b/c I want to make sure my above guess is accurate.

Again, thanks for all the thoughtful responses, as well as the comic relief - it's made these sleepless nights a little more interesting.

Joel said...

No time for politics, it's an awesome fall day here. I'm going for a hike.

btw: I'm getting married in June. Any of you cats want to come to SF to help celebrate?

I'm also in Lou town over tday. Any hanging out to be done? (15 year HS reunions to boot)

Roller said...

Awesome content, everyone.

Joel - congrats!! A whole lot of us will be meeting at Schneidhorst on Friday eve, probably around 8. It's that kind of smarmy place right at Clayton and Lindbergh. It happens to be centrally located for a lot of the attendees so it works (we met there last year too). The invite is obviously extended to all...

I want to start a new topic - gay men having abortions. I can only assume that government regulation must be keeping this market from exploding.

G, I'd like to respond to your thought about the bailout - passing the bailout $$ immediately to the public. I'll start by admitting that I don't know the solution. I don't know what percentage should be doled out to whom, or how much should be given out at all.

But I can't shake a feeling of "foul" when we talk about just giving money to troubled homeowners or refinancing their mortgages so that they're more affordable. If a person got themselves into a mortgage that they now cannot afford because the economy has soured, or they truly believed that house prices always go up, I feel they should just find a home they can afford. It is not up to the American taxpayer to suffer the burden of cleaning up the mistakes of other citizens that could have easily been avoided. (Ryan is arguing this point about the financial executives, but I'm just focusing on Joe-the-Dumber).

Without a doubt, there are some people that were victims of predatory lending. I'm not against helping those people out, and of course putting the predators in jail. But my guess is that the majority of the "victims" of these bad loans are people who wanted a bigger house or a smaller mortgage payment for the next 2 years. You can call me out on the fact that I don't have numbers to back that up. And to further complicate the situation, it's not easy to tell the irresponsible from those who were deceived. I'm mostly expressing these thoughts because they are my knee-jerk reaction to the bailout, and I'd like to hear everyone else's thoughts.

One last point on that subject - foreclosures do not mean that people will be out on the street. They can move into smaller homes or rent apartments. In many cases, that's what they should have been doing in the first place.

Regarding the auto industry, I see no need to bail them out. I do sympathize with the workers, and I think a plan to cover their pensions and/or retrain the workers is just (the latter being much easier said than done). But the companies themselves have shown poor management for years. They acted irresponsibly, and I see no need to save them.

G and Rye are definitely more similar than different, but I love imagining Ryan typing these posts with "The Best of Alex Keaton" Family Ties in the background, and G mellowly responding to a Jack Johnson soundtrack. BTW I love both of those!

Matt, tell me more about this bag of shit. My interest is definitely piqued.

Great talking to you all.

Gene said...

Funniest lines of this blog:

Coovo: "Great post Ryan. Funny picture of that fat kid. Obama better make him skinny like he promised."

Close second:

matt dougherty: "Seriously, if an election for President was held today between W and a bag of shit, without joke, I would vote for the bag of shit."


Coovo said...

I really am taken aback by the history of all this: 33 Comments on a post for the TLATL!!! Eat it Anderson Cooper.

I haven't had a chance to read all the comments in detail but I promise I will before Joel gets married.

But one thing is for sure, no way I'm voting for a bag of shit unless I know whose shit it is and what they had for lunch.

Marty said...

I just want to keep my post frequency up....With the recent quadrupling of reader population, i can't help but feel intimidated. Also, with the apparent IQs of the recent readership, I am intimidated...however, it should be said that from time to time I do hang out with people who are doctors...and my brother....who now has a moustache...

Roller said...

Looking at that picture of Obama on the basketball team... that must have been around the time he was getting drunk and high. I think his partners in crime are sitting to his left and right.

G said...

I think you're right, Rollo, it's impossible to tell who got swindled and who swindled themselves. It's just that I keep hearing about how this or that neighborhood has more and more boarded up houses at the same time I hear about how we're pumping AIG with federal money.

I like what China's doing with their stimulus plan - building roads, and airports, and infrastructure projects - new deal style - so I'm thinking to myself, aren't we due for flying cars? - GM, get busy

and speaking of high - did anyone else see how stoned Jeff Tweedy was on the Colbert Report last week? Must have been the Yarb stuff.

Ryan said...

p.s. nickname, to answer your question, he's back in congress where he belongs. He's also the only candidate in either party to successfully predict every predicament we find ourselves in today and who only uttered true statements from his mouth. (better than farts)

That's why the room is empty. He offered intellectual and substantive rather than symbolic change. Booooorrrring.

I've learned from reading all these responses that there are a lot of misconceptions about free market economics, so I"ll be working on a new post concerning that. The abandonment of that is the center of nearly all of our concerns, except, perhaps for Sarah Palin.

p.p.s. can't spell tweedy without weed.

Roller said...

I saw this morning that Congress is calling for an auto bailout. Deutsche Bank gives GM a target of zero. Ouch. GM plunges.

I think we're destined to bail them out. Bush won't want them to go under at the end of his term, and Obama won't want them to go under to kick his administration off. Arg.

Look forward to reading your post, Rye.

John Hanrahan said...

I have some thoughts

As Coov said I think the election of a black president will help race relations in this country. This statement in no way means that I think that race is not still a major issue. I just think that the election has shown how we are progressing as a society. It has taken far too long but I think some progress is being made.

Free Market
Ryan I can not think of one “free market” the way you would describe a “free market” in the world today. (Not trying to call you out just looking for an example)

I don’t think the federal government as a whole or the media have done a very good job of explaining what is transpiring with the credit markets and how that impacts you. You can spread the blame on this issue to thousands of people, possible millions. The issues is not just someone buying a house they couldn’t afford, or an investor taking a huge risk in order to gain a quick profit or a CEO wanting to increase profits, or an investors expecting 15% returns on investments instead of 4% or 5%, or the US government trying to grow a robust economy. The problem is all of those things and more.

After the computer boom in the late 1990’s and 2000’s corporations and individuals had created a substantial amount of wealth, a majority of which was invested in the real estate market. This investment could be developing property, buying property or investing in or lending to people purchasing or developing property. Instead of concentrating this wealth in real estate the money should have been put into new technology and renewable fuel and energy. While hindsight is 20/20 we find ourselves in a very challenging situation that needs to be addressed. The US Economy operates on credit and the ability to get capital for day to day operations as well as future growth. Currently major banks and lenders in the US are not lending money or have seriously limited the amount of money they will lend. This trend and issue effects fortune 500 companies, Small Business and every America that relies on any type of credit. While I don’t like certain aspects of the “bailout” letting the market correct itself would cause more pain that I would like to deal with. By pain I don’t mean losing my 401K or all of my investments. I mean great depression breadlines kind of pain.

Auto Industry
I am not in favor of rewarding stupidity. I am also not in favor of protectionism policies and companies spending little on developing new technologies or products to make them competitive. While I am in favor of Unions as a whole I am not in favor of Unions that suck the life out of an organization and make it impossible for them to be profitable. The US auto industry is horrible shape. I wish we could let them fold but given the current economic climate and the impact their collapse would have on US manufacturing I don’t think it is possible. I am certain that the Government will need to step in with emergency loans at the very least. I believe that the US Auto industry needs an overhaul of management, production, design and technology. Unfortunately I think the only way to turn around the US auto industry is through the development of more fuel efficient vehicles or vehicles that use renewable energy. I don’t believe the current auto industry has the capital or individuals to produce this technology.

Why I don’t think she is the dumbest person in the world, I do NOT think that she is smarter than I am. I like my President and a Vice President to be substantial smarter than I am. I think people talking about her running for President in 2012 is funny.

Liberal Media
They have this channel called fox news that covers the conservative point of you. They also talk about the liberal media from time to time. I agree that reporters slant stories to fit the beliefs they currently have but I think they do it on both sides.

I was at my doctor the day after the election and Obama came up. My doctor thought that he had some radical ideas that scared him. He said he was a democrat and had some concerns. He also said that he thought Obama would socialize medicine. My doctor then told me he would retire if medicine was socialized. I almost let it go but I asked him about socializing medicine. My doctor got very serious and said that just because you lose your job doesn’t mean that you should lose your healthcare. He is in favor of socializing medicine.