Senate Reconciliation Now!

The Republican obstructionism on the health care reform agenda is not “principled objections” as Senate minority leader Eric Cantor suggests. It is non-principled, pure nihilistic policy of poisoning the well and deception on behalf of conservatives.

The liberal majority that elected Democrats to office in 2008 has spoken.

The Public Option must survive in a final health care bill, and the process of reconciliation between House and Senate bills is the only avenue by which Democratic representatives can claim to have made any “meaningful reform” come reelection time.

Make it clear that this will not go away, and we the liberal progressives will not be silent.

This push did not come from the White House, or the Progressive Caucus, or from the desk of Sen. Harry Reid. This push for a strong public option through reconciliation came from the people who understand that health care is a moral issue, not merely a budgetary issue.

Both President Obama and Senator Reid remain open to the pursuit of Senate reconciliation, but I believe it important to state that this in itself is the “failure to sell health care reform to the American people” I spoke of before.

Instead, we will have to make perfectly clear that the public option must go forward and does not continue to be the “public optional.”

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced on Friday afternoon that he would work with other Democrats and the White House to pass a public option through reconciliation if that’s the legislative path the party chooses.

The party has spoken. The ball is their court now in congress, but we must not allow this to fade into the night.

Just as Paul Krugman recently closed an op-ed with, “Health Care Reform Now!” I would say the as he except in different words given the changing of the situation but holding the same meaning:

Senate Reconciliation Now!

Urban Institute Overviews The Public Option

Ezra Klein of The Washington Post has called this the “best overview of the public option” he has read so far, and I concur:

Getting to a Public Option that Contains Costs: Negotiations, Opt-Outs and Triggers

The debate over a public option has essentially become a debate over the size and role of government in the health care system. The central argument, as we see it, should be one of fiscal conservatism—that a public option should play a role in addressing the very serious problem of health care cost containment. The current debate between the left and the right on this issue is obscuring the fact that consolidation in both the insurance and provider markets is propelling a higher rate of growth in health care costs. The consolidation of power, particularly in provider markets, makes it extremely difficult for insurers to negotiate rates for their services and contributes to rapid growth in health care costs. A strong public option is one that ties provider rates in some way to Medicare rates (though set at likely higher levels), and that is open to any individual or firm regardless of firm size. It would thus provide countervailing power to providers and help control cost growth.

We argue that a strong version is necessary because there is little else in health reform that can be counted on to contribute significantly to cost containment in the short term. Capping tax-exempt employer contributions to health insurance has great support among many analysts (including us), but it faces considerable political opposition. Proposals such as comparative effectiveness research, new payment approaches, medical homes and accountable care organizations, all offer promise but could take years to provide savings. Thus, the use of a strong public option to reduce government subsidy costs and as a cost containment device should be an essential part of the health reform debate.

We recognize that there is opposition to a strong public option. Both the House and Senate proposals are considering relatively weak versions to make the public option more acceptable. Both proposals would have the public option negotiate rates with physicians and hospitals. We see two problems with this. One is that negotiating rates is not simple and it raises difficult implementation issues; for example, with whom would the government negotiate? Further, negotiations are most likely to be unsuccessful with providers who have substantial market power. Since this is at the heart of the cost problem, a strategy of negotiations seems unlikely to be effective, as has been affirmed by cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.

The Senate has proposed a public option with an opt-out provision. This has the advantage of recognizing regional diversity in political philosophy by allowing states to pass legislation to keep it from being offered in their states. A disadvantage of this proposal is that it would exclude many who would potentially benefit from a public option. The states likely to opt out are likely to be those with high shares of low-income people and many uninsured.

The other alternative is to establish a strong public option but not implement it unless a triggering event occurred. The goal would be to allow the private insurance system to prove that it can control costs with a new set of insurance rules and state exchanges. The triggering events could be the level of premiums exceeding a certain percentage of family incomes or the growth in health care spending exceeding certain benchmarks. Since the public option would only be triggered because of excessive costs, however measured, we assume that a relatively strong version of a public option would come into play.

We recognize that taking a strong public option off the table may be necessary to enact reform legislation. But this will mean, at a minimum, higher government subsidy costs by not permitting a payer with substantial market power to bring cost containment pressure on the system. The outcome is likely to be that costs will continue to spiral upward. In effect, the nation would be relying on the range of promising pilot approaches to cost containment that would take some time to be successful. If they are not, we may be left with increasingly regulatory approaches, such as rate setting or utilization controls that apply to all payers. This would mean much more government involvement than giving people a choice of a low-cost public option that would be required to compete with private insurers.

(Read entire paper in PDF)

UCSC Student Protest & Possible Suppression of Facts

University of California Santa Cruz is often associated as a left-leaning campus and administration, being the keepers of The Grateful Dead Archive and located in a mainly undisturbed forested historic location, but they have raised the ire of this liberal blogger in the aftermath of a recent four day sit-in protest of a 32% increase in college fees enacted by the university.

I personally side with the protestors, and the group leading the statewide protests called “Occupy California,” in that the increase is outrageously high and only serves to make higher education less available to lower and middle-income households. UC colleges across the state have spent huge amounts of money on construction projects but done nothing to improve affordability or increase teacher pay. I am well aware of the budgeting woes of the university that are not connected to administration decisions and believe this heavy of a rate increase and the response to the Kerr Hall Student Protest are examples in poor leadership above all else. If the spokesman had spoken with the protestors prior to speaking with the press he would not have spread what appears to be inaccurate information, and if the president had only come to find a method of negotiation with the protestors instead of simply ejecting them from the campus using the police department this incident might have been avoided.

It appears the administration, though unlikely in a unanimous effort by any fashion, sought to simply throw these civil protestors off campus without even addressing them as concerned Americans because the protestors raised matters they would rather not address. Such attitudes of indifference to differing logic pang more of the “loyalty tests” we see coming from conservative-ideological camps than it does of liberal-ideological camps. I detect a desire to silence the facts of this matter, perhaps because it looks bad for the “image” of the university. I am also willing to entertain this may have been a decision of the University of California administration as opposed to a decision of the UCSC administration to handle these protestors as such.

To make all these matters worse the local news-outlets are simply repeating statements of UCSC Spokesman Jim Burns, thereby I believe are under-reporting and outright altering the objective truth of the events surrounding the aftermath of this protest.

Both The Santa Cruz Sentinel and The San Jose Mercury have notably deleted the online-versions of the articles they published on the matter.

I do not have all the facts of the case, at this time, but it appears that either the Santa Cruz Police Department or the UCSC administration or both are guilty of greatly mishandling the matter of their response to a small number of destructive and misguided individuals who committed unclear amounts of property damage at UCSC’s Kerr Hall.

One eyewitness told me that people were indeed being forcibly pushed out by the police of Kerr Hall, one website claims mace was used on students and a Letter to the Editor in the Sentinel claims that batons were used.

According to the eyewitness:

“You had to be there. It was frightening to see police officers show up in response to a peaceful sit-in protest with riot gear and holding tazers.”

“The whole point of the protest was non-violence and the leaders of the protest were adamant about keeping the property protected and stopping any violent behaviors before they began. Many of the people who were doing the destruction were not even from UCSC, it is not fair that so many are saying to protestors were the ones doing the damage to the building.”

I asked this eyewitness if they had witnessed any use of non-lethal force against the protestors by the police:

“I didn’t see anything like that. They were pushing people. It’s true that when they arrived a few people had overturned a table and were trying to keep them out, but that was only about three people and from there they were very heavy-handed with everyone.”

I inquired as to why some were so angry in the first place that they felt the non-violence and anti-property destruction ethics of the promoters should be ignored:

“There was a letter sent to the president of the university and it simply asked him to come down and talk to them and it was outright refused. Some people were made very angry about this and started saying things like that the university didn’t care to even take them seriously. I’m not sure, but I think that was motivating some of those people who were very angry. That all went on upstairs, I only know what happened after the police made us all leave.”

Without inquiry the eyewitness filled in the next question I had:

“A lot of people, I was one of them, were trying to get the police to let us back in to clean up the trash and try to repair some of the damage done by the unruly protestors, and we were told that we would be arrested if we went back inside.”

(I am told both the journalistic articles of The Sentinel and The Mercury did not include this report, and that they only repeated the UCSC Spokesman Jim Burn’s statement. Neglecting to report on this claim that many protestors offered to try to clean up whatever damage they said a “select few” were causing in the upstairs of Kerr Hall and also omitted these reports of mace and batons being used.)

Then, after pumping them for information, they started pumping me for information:

“Why weren’t you there?”

I was working, I have been broke for way too long, but I probably would have missed it due to ignorance of it going on more than a lack of support. (I could have asked for the time off if I knew in advance.) Also I’m the “firecracker” in the crowd and might just have my pocket-Constitution handy since I’ll never be able to carry around that huge textbook o’ mine on U.S. Constitutional Law. (The Freedom of Speech shall not be infringed.) I should have been there on Saturday, no question, but I might have only gone as an objective observer.

Had I attended the sit-in protest itself I would have been there on behalf of all American Workers, and on behalf of the working-poor and their equal right to higher education as the upper-classes. All while the UC system makes them the target of the budget gap that have in part created with speculative construction projects.

Here is a notion: how about all UC administration officials take a statewide 25% pay cut?

The difference that would make should be removed from the 32% fee increase and then that would be a policy I might support and would be more critical of those protesting such a hike in fees under such a circumstance.

If the state is suffering and people are struggling perhaps the UC administrations around the state should consider putting themselves in a position in which they have to file for food stamps and are collecting their change to pay for gasoline to get to their job like the rest of us.

To the credit of The Santa Cruz Sentinel they published a Letter to the Editor by one of the protest organizers who is also a UCSC alumni and I believe one of the other credible sources on the events of Kerr Hall:

“Shame on UCSC administration

Throughout Saturday night at UC Santa Cruz, students faculty and staff massed outside Kerr Hall where students barricaded themselves [incomplete]”

To credit of The Santa Cruz Police Department they have recently formed a gang task force after myself and many others made voice to our concerns about the matter. I failed to give credit as that story broke to the SCPD after berating them over the matter via weblog. I believe this was simply a matter of a poor response, in this case, on behalf of the department to arrive with riot gear and non-lethal weaponry instead of standard equipment.

The party that appears to hold the strongest share of what went wrong at Kerr Hall, is the UCSC administration, in both refusing to meet the protestors head-on and directly address their concerns and seek a peaceful solution to their vacation from the grounds if one exists and also in the case of publicly denying that protestors were asking to clean up the facilities that others had damaged if they were indeed ordered by law to leave grounds by means of their spokesman.

Atop of that the university is claiming an unrealistically high damage cost for what multiple sources have told me was mostly minor damage caused by only a small numbers of irate individuals.

It is my view, that if the administration had only addressed the protest from the lens of a civil rights matter they would not have made the same decisions.

One thing I’ve learned, is that ordinary people don’t bend the truth and I believe these two testimonies over any of the “big-name” reporting to come out about this so far.

I don’t have all the pieces at my disposal to provide what I would call “full-coverage” of the UCSC Protest and the aftermath, but I thought it important to share what I know so far as it is somewhat difficult to get the whole journalistic story on this matter with only internet resources:

CBS5.comUC Student Protest

No arrests were made and the demonstration ended without confrontation, UC officials said.

I believe it to be inaccurate to say that the demonstration ended “without confrontation” only in that, according to my sources, approximately 75 people approached the police and offered to clean up the second floor. However, CBS5 is only repeating the statements of the UCSC Spokesman. It is accurate to say no arrests were made in Santa Cruz.

NewUniversity.orgUC Santa Cruz Protest: From a Face-off to a Mace-off

Someone at the protest was using CNN’s iReportUC Santa Cruz Protest Enters Day 4

-The protests at the UCSC campus are soon entering Day 4.
-Additional students entering Kerr Hall to aid and support the occupiers.
-Protest has remained peaceful and non-violent.
-Positive atmosphere
-Dozens of students remain outside supporting those inside.
– As of 1:20AM Sunday morning, supporters and occupiers are still present.

The final component here is the political right-wing native to Santa Cruz and our local political dynamic perhaps effecting a great many views on this matter.

The local “Club for Growth” neoconservative / libertarian / conservative right-wingers had their voice well expressed in this Letter to the Editor in the same edition of The Sentinel:

“No-growth policies come home to roost

[incomplete]”

I wouldn’t be surprised to discover many of the local police officers agreed with this position and such attitudes are not often found from reactions of law enforcement officials in regards to right-wing protests.

The tuition increase along with the excessive spending on construction contracts while neglecting other more pressing matters like affordability were exactly what the sit-in was in protest of and this individual insists upon finding a way to blame the protestors for the highly questionable decisions made the UC that many, including myself, find upsetting.

I long for a day when “tea-baggers” and neoconservative (“neocon”) pro-war protestors are treated with the same heavy-hands and greatly scorned just for the sake of expressing their ideals. I would love to serve some of these people the medicine of civil injustice and public harassment they so enjoy seeing done to any left-wing protest.

I dream of an America that remembers the past of this country, endless disagreements of every nature and sort that we came together and sought solutions and found a way to look our neighbor in the eye even though we believed their politics to be nothing but whimsical rubbish.

I believe far too many in this community would seek to blame the protestors themselves for all ills than ever look at the matter scientifically, or at least rationally.

With all this love of the “expose,” I should really start tearing apart our local nut jobs and tell my tale of complete disillusionment with a prominent figure in local-conservatism.

The true “expose” here is to be had on portions of the American Press, as well countless figures across the nation touting themselves as “objective” in politics when in fact they are nothing but the most bitter partisans you could hope to find who simply smile and laugh as they create an atmosphere of utter hatred for their fellow Americans. The people tearing apart our legislature, our political media, our newspapers and our economy in this state are not we the liberals and progressives of the state.

I will continue to be critical of both sides and attempt to convey both sides of an issue, and then people can judge for themselves if any level of credibility should be bestowed upon people who distort facts to suit an agenda.

Coming from any political persuasion, such actions are wrong.

The population of students, alumni and residents here in Santa Cruz may be left-leaning individuals but I have long held the impression that the UCSC current administration is not that by any means and this possible suppression of what really happened when the sit-in protestors were asked to leave and the circumstances surrounding the dispersal.

Jack Kerouac, The Diamond Sutra, and Blogging

kerouacNot only would Jack Kerouac have had a weblog, but he would have been blogging on Open Salon.

I feel that his writing techniques and contributions to Modern Literature are mirrored in the so-called “blogosphere” of today. I also feel that Open Salon is the only blogging-platform that is the home of artists of all stripes and the bastion of free expression in the mania of the web.

I would never go so far as to say that this little weblog here, that you currently reading, is anything close to what Jack Kerouac might contribute artistically to the community.

I only to seek to draw out that I am influenced, in part, by the same elements that influenced him to drive away from the cautious roads of standard-literature-procedure and drive boldly forth into the deeper forms of thought and real life observation.

The Diamond Sutra, a Buddhist text teaching avoidance to the extremes of mental attachment, has long held deep meaning to me and I am returning to it again after many years to seek it’s truth once more. Every verse of The Diamond Sutra begins “Thus I have heard.”

Thus shall you think of this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.

Jack Kerouac defined his “method” of writing in way that also effects my own blogging efforts greatly in terms of raw influence:

Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for your own joy
Submissive to everything, open, listening
Try never get drunk outside your own house
Be in love with your life

Something that you feel will find its own form
Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
Blow as deep as you want to blow
Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind

The unspeakable visions of the individual
No time for poetry but exactly what is

Visionary tics shivering in the chest
In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
Like Proust be an old teahead of time
Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye

Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
Accept loss forever
Believe in the holy contour of life
Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind

Don’t think of words when you stop but to see picture better
Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in your morning
No fear or shame in the dignity of your experience, language & knowledge
Write for the world to read and see your exact pictures of it

Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
You’re a Genius all the time
Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

This is the driving force of today’s cognitive-blog interlay system

I am the Writer-Director of the Earthly Enterprises

I struggle the stretch of the flow that never ceases, even as I command it to do so

Pure crazy, pure declarations, pure honesty

Not fear nor shame in the dignity of your experience, language & knowledge

There is only so much I take away from Kerouac, as I have made more clear in bold.

And to any thinking whatever I am doing is wise … This is not the case.

I believe “edgy” is the term that keeps getting ascribed to the end result of this practice.

That and getting banned from websites.

So I invite everyone who already was live-journal blogging to keep doing your thing because this noise over here is usually taken as throwing firecrackers at people.

Fair warning to the curious.

Jimmy Carter And The Race Card

1.carter.nbc

I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African-American,” Carter told NBC News. “I live in the South, and I’ve seen the South come a long way, and I’ve seen the rest of the country that shares the South’s attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African-Americans.

That racism inclination still exists, and I think it’s bubbled up to the surface because of belief among many white people — not just in the South but around the country — that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It’s an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply,Carter said.

The oldest son of U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, Alan Wilson, has come to his father’s defense in regards to a racial motivation to the uncouth interruption of President Obama during an address to a Joint-Session of Congress.

There is not a racist bone in my dad’s body,” said Alan Wilson, an Iraq veteran who is running for state attorney general in South Carolina. “He doesn’t even laugh at distasteful jokes. I won’t comment on former President Carter, because I don’t know President Carter. But I know my dad, and it’s just not in him.

It’s unfortunate people make that jump. People can disagree — and appropriately disagree — on issues of substance, but when they make the jump to race it’s absolutely ludicrous. My brothers and I were raised by our parents to respect everyone regardless of background or race.

I personally believe that former President Carter’s words were the absolute truth. I doubt that Rep. Wilson was motivated by a direct, personal hatred for Barack Obama based on his skin color but rather that he chose to be so disrespectful and chose to insult the nation in the way he did because of the exact principals that Carter touched on in the above quote.

The notion that Obama is not qualified to state facts as a President addressing the Congress and that one must not even hear out his entire address before rebuking him, is so outrageous and unheard of up until this point, that few other explanations remain. Joe Wilson continues to defend his un-American slander and claim that he was truthful in his statements when in fact he was, and is, completely misguided.

The notion that all strong resistance to Obama coming from the middle and the right is pure racism is also inaccurate, in my view.

However, the people who constantly use the argument that not everyone opposed to Obama is a racist are very often the same people who fail to point out the racists on the right-wing and fail to be honest about the reasons for their own intense outrage. Or they fail to give any rational explanation that makes any kind of sense for their intense fear mongering and willingness to believe wild claims about Barack Obama.

You Only Have Three Choices

There are endless possibilities within contemplation and creative expression. An infinite number of ways to view, reflect, express and ponder.

But as to the confines of reacting to our environment there seem to be only three options. Only three choices.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

{+ Positive +  ( = Neutral = )  – Negative -}

{+ Creation +  ( = Equilibrium = )  – Destruction -}

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Let’s use an every-day example:

You wanted to go on a bike ride today. Unpredicted heavy rains have come to your area and are not expected to leave for several days.

In a positive outlook, this is a chance to catch up on reading, housework or perhaps to spend time with friends and family.

In a neutral outlook, this rain has no effect on your day and you may go ride your bike anyway or you may stay indoors due to the rain and both events are equally desirable to you.

In a negative outlook, this rain has ruined your day and no matter what activity you engage in you will resent deeply that fact that you are not riding your bike.

The ‘bike riding’ example is more or less what we most often from motivational speakers and self-help books. The concept that if you change your outlook on life you can attain happiness in your life now, instead of waiting for the perfect job or the perfect mate to fill that hole.

I don’t fully subscribe to this logic. I see all people as first and foremost human beings. And human beings have all three of these reactionary options available to them no matter what choices they have made prior to this moment in time.

I don’t condone negative and destructive behaviors, but I see them entirely human acts to commit.

I don’t condone utter apathy and ignorance of your emotions, but I know most have strong and often private reasons for behaving as such.

And finally I don’t support viewing all the world and your part in it as purely positive and affirming. We must strive for such a goal, must reach toward such heights without pause or question. But to believe we are not flawed nor perfectly capable of destruction and causing pain unto others is a flawed perspective.

I see a lot of people using different words to describe the same thing.

I say positive and negative, someone else says ‘evil’ and ‘good.’

I say creation and destruction, someone else says ‘angels’ and ‘demons.’

In my mind it is all the same elements expressed in different fashions. Humans trying to paint a picture using symbols but failing to recognize the source of these ‘evils.’

We are the source. We drew the line in the sand that says what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong.’ Whatever religious beliefs a person might have there is a serious need to recognize that negative elements in all societies such as greed, hatred, violence and slander are acts committed by human beings.

My perspective allows no one to excuse their unkind and hostile behavior as acceptable in any way. I only seek to point out that all of us work within the same confines of human emotion and human irrationality. Rather than try to define our species as something it is not and never was, a perfect race.

Iran Explodes with Unrest

Huffington Post has the latest updates on the Iranian situation.

I would draw your attention to the final video on the post: “12:17 AM ET — Awe-inspiring courage.”