Archive for July 30th, 2007

The nail in the casket.

Jul 30, 2007 in Iraq, Middle East, Politics, Uncategorized, War on Terra

In the ideal world, the last US citizen to believe in Bush’s foreign policy “strength” just turned their back and vomited:

Saudis’ Role in Iraq Frustrates U.S. Officials — NYT, July 28

Bush administration officials are voicing increasing anger at what they say has been Saudi Arabia’s counterproductive role in the Iraq war. They say that beyond regarding Mr. Maliki as an Iranian agent, the Saudis have offered financial support to Sunni groups in Iraq. Of an estimated 60 to 80 foreign fighters who enter Iraq each month, American military and intelligence officials say that nearly half are coming from Saudi Arabia and that the Saudis have not done enough to stem the flow.

U.S. Set to Offer Huge Arms Deal to Saudi Arabia — NYT, July 29

In talks about the package, the administration has not sought specific assurances from Saudi Arabia that it would be more supportive of the American effort in Iraq as a condition of receiving the arms package, the officials said.

Bush’s foreign policy has been a perfect blend of the excited testosterone of a teenager fantasizing about war and the cynical bile of a corporate mummy entombed in the military industrial complex. Bogged down in Iraq, Bush still sells those fighting him weapons. If he’s learned the difference between Sunni and Shiite yet, it doesn’t show.

-jb

Staggering medical debt beats paying some extra taxes?

Jul 30, 2007 in Health Care

The genius of the American medical system, testified to in the House:

She told what it was like to have health insurance and still be crushed by medical bills. She explained how she put off medical visits because her husband was seriously ill. She told about how, when they finally had nothing, a hospital agreed to write off the copay after her husband’s surgery, but told her that if he wanted to come back for follow up treatments, that she would have to show up with cash in hand. She told how her husband was fired while he was in the hospital because he couldn’t do his job. She explained to the Judiciary Committee that she sold nearly everything they had to try to pay their bills. She went back to work six days after abdominal surgery because she needed the paycheck. She explained about the humiliation of filing for bankruptcy and how hard it was to get a job later on. In short, she told about how the American health care system tore apart her life and how bankruptcy was her last hope to try to put a few of the pieces back together.

This anecdotal, but representative of the widespread medical debt and the bankruptcies that follow.

Five million families since 2000 alone. For every one of them, sixteen others that could benefit from bankruptcy but won’t file out of pride or other reasons. They worked hard, played by the rules, and then a medical problem arose. They were healed, and then a pound of flesh was asked for. That’s a little inconsistent for my tastes.

-jb

The political evolution of Google.

Jul 30, 2007 in Media, Politics

Google evolves in the land of legalized bribery:

Google has not always been taken seriously in Washington. When co-founder Sergey Brin visited Capitol Hill two years ago, he had trouble persuading members of Congress to meet with him. The company didn’t bother to open an office in the District until 2005, when it hired Alan B. Davidson, formerly of the Center for Democracy and Technology, to tackle Internet policy issues. A year later, Google hired Robert Boorstin, who held several positions in the Clinton administration.

When the debate over the ability of Internet service providers to favor certain Web content for a fee, a concept known as network neutrality, heated up last summer, Google was late to the scene. It initially depended on public interest groups to lobby on its behalf.

Since then, Google has expanded its Washington presence. Besides increasing its effort to sell its services to government agencies, Google has taken what it calls a “Googley” approach to politics by seeking the business of political campaign managers and starting a public policy blog. Last week, the online video site YouTube, which is owned by Google, sponsored a debate between the Democratic presidential candidates.

The company recently hired Johanna Shelton, formerly on the staff of Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), an influential member of the House telecommunications subcommittee. Google also frequently invites prominent politicians to tour its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. But its 2006 congressional lobbying budget of about $770,000, according to public disclosures, is dwarfed by the $21 million spent by AT&T and $14.4 million spent by Verizon the same year.

Unlike many campaigns that use well-connected lobbyists to persuade members of Congress, Google and its opponents have fought this battle on paper, using their lawyers to make their arguments in filings to the FCC.

It’s unfortunate that our political decisions are for sale, but it is a small consolation to see somebody with money who’s on the right side making a dent.

Google is on the right side with this issue just like they were on net neutrality. This is a logical extension of net neutrality that could offer the public things like wireless neutrality, forcing all the telecoms to play on the same field so the consumer can decide. Yes, it’s very free market, enough to please a slightly drunk Cato staffer.

The telecoms want to buy up every bit of bandwidth they can and lock out the competition; this is simply how they function. Corporations will naturally drift towards monopoly.

My problem is I’m a people person. Real people, not legal artificial persons like corporations. Everybody who’s reading a blog, rightwing Nazi or leftwing Commie, can certainly understand the importance of keeping communication infrastructures uniformly open to all.

Google is the underdog here, but grassroots power and the weight of the Internet in political debate are powerful allies. I foresee Google’s inevitable victory.

-jb