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17 September 2007


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Although I have not yet decided who I would vote for in the coming Presidential election - I have serious reservations about Hillary primarily because I am concerned that we seem to be evolving towards dynastic rule - 12 years of a Bush and possibly 16 years of a Clinton.

Bush 43 has been a disaster compared to Bush 41. Would Hillary be better or worse compared to Bill?

I just feel the country would be better off if the next President provides a fresh start.

On the issue of healthcare I will post a link to an article that I believe I read in the Economist which had a graph of per capita expenditures on health care in the West. The US spends something like 2-3 times more than Sweden & France & Germany & Canada. Is our health care 2-3 times better? I think the time for single payer health coverage has arrived. It will happen - the question is how long the insurance, pharmaceutical and trial lawyer lobbies will dominate the paid for politicians.


Hillary will do absolutely nothing of substance unless she ends the Iraq War, which she shows little inclination of doing. And by the time she takes office, she'll most likely have a smouldering Iran to deal with. There is simply no money left for ambitious new programs, what with the wars and with Boomers ready to tap the depleted Social Security Trust Fund.

al palumbo

Amen to that brother Lang. America has to self correct. Has to! For the sake of my grandchildren and everyone else's children and grandchildren.

What a terrible mess we've created!


It will be interesting how she will fight the health insurance industry. They have huge lobbying leverage.

Obviously national health care system work, since there are numerous world examples. They are not cure all, but on average they are much better than current all commercial system. (spain, Canada, all northern european countries, etc)

As baby boomer reach an age where they need more health care service, things will tilt toward national healthcare system.

The devil is in the details of course.


"The time has come in the United States to take up the responsibility for a system of national health care."

Col., may your loyal readers take that sentence as part of the SST Party platform? Such a stand on the healthcare issue is bound to win a lot more votes for your no-speeches run for the presidency....

Mad Dogs

"The time has come in the United States to take up the responsibility for a system of national health care."

Dang PL, You might be a Progressive after all! *g*

Seriously, like you, I too know from personal experience what kind of double-whammy happens when a health crisis occurs.

First, one is physically knocked flat on one's back in a hospital with a long and often painful recovery staring one in the face.

And of course, after one totters and crawls from the hospital, their next unwilling destination oft ends in the poorhouse.

I hope this topic gets a lot of thoughtful, rational and elevated discussion this election cycle.


can't have two presidents at one time. As much as i don't like Dumbya.

pity, bill richardson doesn't have a chance to be prez.

J. Rega

I hope to see more than the end of cowboy diplomacy and more practice of what is preached. I haven't given up on winning the hearts and minds of ordinary Arabs/Muslims, but we are not likely to make much progress in that area by continuing the Bushco methodology of yammering about democracy while supporting the likes of Mubararak, Musharraf and the Hashemite dumpling.
One question I'd pose to Mrs. Clinton is whether she's willing to sit and talk with the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and, gasp, Nasrallah, whatever the caterwauling of Aipac, to which she has shown no resistance at all. I'm less than optimistic; the re-appearance of Dennis Ross will settle the issue for me.

michael savoca

Hopefully a Clinton administration will, as one of it's first foreign policy initiatives, greatly limit if not ban the use of private contractors as fighting forces.

The recent tragedy in Monsour involving Blackwater and the so called security they were hired to provide state department officials and others raises an important question. Aren't sworn U.S. Army personnel good enough to protect the likes of Paul Bremer and now Ambassador Crocker and their subordinates?


When we look back a decade from now we will see that the use of private armed forces in Iraq with their freelance mentality and the many-fold increase in costs will be considered a significant factor contributing to our setbacks in Iraq.

I was told by a co-worker who served two tours of duty in Iraq as an E9, that on average 1 private contractor serving in the capacity as a soldier cost 10 times as much as equivalent sworn U.S. personnel.

When will this madness of war for profit be stopped?


What "most Americans" accept is a distinctly tertiary concern. It's the economic aristocracy that decides what's what.


Wes Clark officially endorsed her so I'd guess that he's been promised a specific position in her cabinet - or maybe even her VP.


Well, I guess it's official. Hillary will be the nominee. When Gen. Clark and Col. Lang are for something simultaneously, it's an idea whose time has come. I'm not sure why the Dem. Party needs to nominate the one candidate who will energize their opposition and get them to the polls, but I guess some things are simply beyond my understanding.

Jim Schmidt

The Post mentioned 12,000, but I heard 16,000 people attended. 12,000 was the number of steaks (two tons) served. They got the field part right, since the event was held at the site of the Indianola Hot Air Balloon festival. Given the location, I am surprised no one put hot air and politics together into a narrative.

The skies were fair, winds moderate and temperature mild if not slightly cool after recovering from record early frosts Friday. The alfalfa fields are green after recent rains and neatly trimmed from the last cutting. The corn is drying down to nice a golden hue creating a quilt of brown and green squares draped over a rolling landscape. In addition, the beer was cold. Food, hot air and cold beer makes for a real Democratic event.

Sixteen thousand people are a big crowd in Iowa (other than at a football game) given that Democrats are a subset in state with a small population. A report in the American Prospect mentions a total registered Democratic base of 597,000 as of May 2007.


The campaigns helped to drive the numbers up by handing out free tickets (35 bucks each) and Iowans are natural tailgaters. This is democracy at the cornroots.

The campaigns held early rallies for supporters and the supporters in turn tried all kinds of shenanigans to draw attention. All candidates received a minimum of 15 minutes to state their positions. Fifteen minutes does not seem like much, but we have been listening to these folks for several months now and there is not much new to say.

Iraq, of course, is a recurrent theme, with health care a strong second. Iraq, short term, is held hostage by events, the President's bullheadedness and fog campaigns like Return on Success™ so, while we wait for the air to clear, I agree that the health care debate is something we can at least explore without all the baggage the war presents.

Each candidate offers some form of health care assistance ranging from Biden's catastrophic reimbursement to variations of subsidized private plans to extensions of the Senate health plan and Medicare/Medicaid. All of this will take money, but several candidates make the point that we already pay a hidden tax for health care now in un-reimbursed expenses and co-pays. Whatever happens will need to go through the meat grinder first, but something is going to happen now.

HillaryCare is dead, but Harry and Louise are not coming back from the grave either. In fact, Harry and Louise might just have changed their minds now that they are facing the downsizing and benefits reductions common in today's workplace.

Different from 1994 is that industries, including the one I work for, want out of healthcare as they compete globally.



However, the competition is not going down easy:


So, now is a good time to read up.


A new "I will go to Korea" pledge? Eisenhower announced much of his team the day after the election and got the international policy ball rolling soon there after and America prospered for it.

It's ironic that the plan Hilary wanted in 93-94 is roughly the same plan being implemented by Republican governors in California and Massachusetts(something Mitt is trying to hide from now!). It's sad that things had to get this bad before people started taking healthcare reform seriously.


A very large percentage of the population would like the Bush "presidency" to be over tomorrow. That's not the way our defective constitution "works" however.

And it certainly does not mean that a small majority of Americans will not still prefer another disastrous "conservative" president in '08. I don't think the majority of Americans have learned very much from the Bush Era, except that he was "incompetent".

Let's not forget that Team Bush has a great many disasters to spring on us before he infamously exits the world stage, and we appear to have no ability to counter them.

And this does not even take into account the looming economic crack-up that we are entering as a result of Bushco's reckless fiscal policies---the bridge is out and the train cannot be stopped on that one, whatever Bush decides to do to Iran.

So I think it's wishful thinking on HRC's part to imagine (16 dreadful months before the next inauguration) that America will be "back" upon the election of a Dem. America's very imperial colors and ruthless energy insecurity have been revealed to the world. Many analysts and diplomats have said that it will take a generation to repair America's tarnished "image" after the outrages of Bushco. An election, whatever the result, won't change that very much.

frank durkee

There is an interesting interview on "Tom DISPATCH.com" with James Carroll on "American fundementalisms". Even though Carroll's points are open to significant argrument and can perhaps even be rejected in part; at its heart the interview captures some aspects of our ethos that have been troubling me for years. I particularly comend his understanding of the issues that drove theFounders in the development of the Constitution.
I note this as an Episcopal priest for 45 years and counting [ who like the Col. chooses to believe what he believes ]. Christian Fundamentalism and/or literalism is as dangerous in its way as any other religious fundamentalism. It is particularly dangerous when it replaces or usurps the normal sources of discourse. Revelation cannot be argured with only accepted or rejected if it is believed in without the contingency of human limitednesss much less the distortions of time, family, history and place. This especially dangerous when it is oriented around binaries such as good/evil and other Manichean type perspectives. I have spent most of adult life working in the secular society at tasks ranging from community organizer to health planning executive. In those tasks 'the binaries and that style of thinking andf acting have virtually never led to good problem delineation, suggestions for soloutions, or policy.
so long as we as a nation are lead by and act out of thes binaries we will remain in the kind of trouble we are in now.
Since it is in fact a dangerous world we live in we need the best, clearest and as complex as possible perceptions to have a decent chance at acting in ways that move us toward decent outcomes.
I too commend the Economist article mentioned in an earlier post. Note on thing about Medicare; it's overhead rate is around 3%, nothin else comes close to that. Our present system is increasingly dysfunctional and decreasing the actual level of health care that most of us receive.


While I'm not a great Hillary fan, I somewhat grudgingly have to admire her intellect. I also think she aspires to greatness (of course, they all do, witness Bush Two's illusions), yet she gives an impression of one who realizes that achieving that greatness requires some hard work. I believe she has the drive and work ethic for that.

She's not presently my candidate, but, hey, we could do and have done much, much worse.

By national health, do you mean a medical system run by the state as in the UK where doctors are state employees, or do you mean a single payer program such as Medicare?

For what it's worth, Medicare for all its imperfections uses about 3% of revenue for admin overhead. Private insurers use about 15%,

Babak Makkinejad

Some form of socialized medicine is the only way that manufacturing activity can be kept in the United States.

Of course, there are those who think that America is going to be a great country delivering pizzas to one another (and that pizza is going to cost $ 20,000).

There are many working poor people in the United States that have no medical coverage. At the same time, criminals and riff-raff are covered under various plans.

Go figure.


I hope the people you mentioned are with her because if not the world will think it business as usual. Scary Thought.

China hand

Clinton's healthcare ideas were fresh and relevant in 1994; now, they are (as we southerners say) quite pass-ay (per http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2007_09/012083.php). She is intent on bringing the insurance industry to helm the negotiations; unfortunately, these last 12 years have made it clear that it is the insurance industry that's causing the problems. Hopefully her plan has evolved beyond government-backed corporate bailouts, but so far her words belie that.

I respect Richardson, and not only for his advocacy this primary season. However, I see Clark and Holbrooke only as political functionaries. Rubin seems to represent old-time Wall Street, and to my mind that is very, very dangerous in the China-on-the-rise world we live in,

It's also something that would deeply threaten Holbrooke and Clark's exercise of duties.

Absent major reforms of the executive bureaucracy and curbing wall-street excess, I do not think Clinton's policies will serve America well. If you think Rubin is the man to manage that, then I will happily listen to your arguments (as a rule, I prefer hope to despaiir). Unfortunately, Clinton's ties to AIPAC are notorious, and this is central to our immediate foreign policy.

Similarly while big-business and corporations are certainly important attributes of a healthy economy, as equally important is a happy population that has money to spend and time to earn it. I see little in Clinton's policies that will aid in bringing such a world about. Her husband left Greenspan in place, and the U.S. economy is still reeling from the effects.

Col. Lang, if you would allow me (I'm a bit too young to personally recall), I'd like to ask: what is it that you feel the Carter administration did so wrong?

I have been hearing for thirty years now that he was a terrible president; yet so far as I can see, his administration was beset by an OPEC vendetta, a retaliatory post-Nixon opposition, and a recently-unearthed Iranian/Neo-con conspiracy (or semi-conspiracy, depending on the interpretation). All served the interests of his domestic rivals, and exaggerated by the media (in stark contrast to the current situation).

All of which seems absurd when one considers that during his presidency, the standard of living enjoyed by the lower quartile of Americans was comparable to that that enjoyed by the greater half of today. Nor do I see that corruption during his presidency rivaled that of the Reagan-Clinton-Bush years.

Beyond these facets -- any one of which would have been devastating for any president, and none of which were in his control -- the only other criticism I've ever heard has been from Vietnam-era military who resent his foreign policy.

Admittedly, the Afghanistan policies are debatable, and I myself have deep criticisms. But setting those aside the one thing I see that definitively marks the Carter presidency is foreign interference.

Yet despite these troubles -- or in response? -- Carter was preoccupied with weaning the US from an oil dependency; with setting up a viable Central-South American Economic Bloc; with ending US support for human rights abuses; with working towards detente with Cuba; with developing Democracy in Central and South America; with cutting back the welfare state; and with slowly bleeding the Soviet Union.

It seems to me, day after day, that Carter's policies were forward thinking and insightful; hardly anything to be categorically dismissed. You are an articulate man whose insight and opinions I have come to respect; I am quite interested in why you disagree.


I have concerns regarding Hillary, but I will vote for her if she is the Dem nominee for president. As a nurse I know the horrors of not having medical insurance, and how our emergency rooms have become the only health care the poor and uninsured have. I have seen children with their teeth rotted out and middle class families with mentally ill children unable to provide them any treatment. If Hillary will do something to ease this pain, of course I will vote for her.


The American Healthcarer industry is a giant racket. Doctors are an almost perfect trade union, the Insurance companies are a joke and the drug companies are effectively a cartel.

How do I know this? I worked in commercialisation of medical research and I've seen the industry in operation first hand. The entire purpose of this racket is to extract your last dollar just before your last breath, period.

Anytime someone proposes doing something about the problem they are labelled as "Socialists" and state controlled medicine "Socialism".

Let me tell you that we have a dual public/Private system here, and each side keeps the other honest. We also keep drug companies on a very short leash so that they cannot gouge and sell expensive treatments for something that is no better than simpler and cheaper medicines.

Here are four examples that I am personally aware of.

1. I had a knee reconstruction (Anterior Cruciate)after a skiing accident many years ago. Total costs $1500. I'm reliably informed that the same procedure in Vail or Aspen at that time would have set me back $20,000.

2. American lady friend had carpal tunnel syndrome. Even though she had top rate Kaiser Permanente insurance, they wouldn't fix it and the cost in the U.S. was about $5000. It was fixed here - $1000.

3. My Finance/Admin Manager was diagnosed with Leukemia. Glivec was prescribed (US $ 2000+ per month?) - he got it free from the Government.

4. My Dad was a WWII veteran. when he was 70, he was given a "Gold card" that covered him for any and all medical and hospital costs at any hospital, public or private, any specialists, any procedure, anytime, anywhere, any reason, no questions asked.

All the card had on it was his Army number, and each time I presented it on his behalf during his final years, I received a simple "Thats fine" and never received a bill for so much as a cent.

5. I had a large cyst on my neck and stupidly let it get hit by the boom while I was yacht racing three weeks ago.

It started to hurt, three days later my Doctor decided it had to come out and referred me to a Plastic Surgeon who operates out of the toniest hospital in the toniest part of this city.

I saw him that day, since he had a little time between boob and nose jobs, and he made space for me at the end of his schedule same day.

Half hour operation and out it came. Many stitches, internal and external and another consultation ten days later to have them removed.

Total costs:
Consultation..... $110.00
Hospital Operating fees and charges...........$500.00
Surgeons Fee......$111.40
Antibiotics ......$20.00
Pathology.........Free (covered by Medicare)


All with no health insurance, in a directly comparable standard hospital. I gave up health insurance since it is expensive and provides nothing I can't pay for myself.

I'd be interested to learn what the American comparisons would be like.

Perhaps the solution is to put pressure on the American healthcare industry by going to Canada, Cuba(?) or elsewhere for cheaper and just as good treatment.


Disclaimer, I am a registered Republican but from the Non-Lunatic wing.

I voted for the Dumbnator the first time out because I had nostalgia for Papa Bush.

Last time voted straight Democratic throughout even for local dog catcher out of sheer disgust at the NeoNutties.

Hillary is my hemlock, bit like Socrates I might have to swallow it and do the same this time around.

Hemlock is preferable to Kool Aid.

However, I have to acknowledge intelligence when I see it.

First, she says it will cost about 110 billion which is as much as a year in Iraq.

Smart move.

Even though we all know it will cost lots and lots more.

Second, she offers lots of choices which makes everyone happy but the reality is the cheaper choices are run by the government.

Guess which ones will the choice of employers?

So Hillary care, nationalized health care, will emerge over a couple of years.

Lastly, she says we deserve the same care that Congress gets.

No need to explain that one. lol

Col, if she can get that dream team, maybe she can start to undo the damage done by the Dumbnator.

Not an easy or enviable task.

Or maybe we can have another Lewinsky moment or something even better like a love child.

Charles I

National healthcare would be a wonderful thing to acheive. The sad reality is illustrated by the plan for healthcare insurance rather than for a national healthcare plan. The huge wad of capital and profit will just be shifted about between corporations rather than being invested, or say, the current profit component of the system
reallocated to cover the current 40M+ uninsured.

Its said the private infastructure promotes economical rationality, competition ensuring economy. The reality is often the law of the HMO jungle. But the goal is healthcare, not competition and profit. At the very least, removing the insurers would remove a layer of profit and semi-redundant administration and data management, the cost of which could be directed to healthcare, not health costs(profits). More money might make it to hospitals and patients.

But the insurers and their costs aren't going anywhere - but to Congress.

Clifford Kiracofe

If PL doesn't stir the pot (and run the temp up), I don't know who does in blogdom.

Well, as an on-going Republic for the past couple centuries we do need to think about the next few. To get us "back" is going to take a lot of thought and effort given the current mess into which we have managed to get ourselves. It is not fatal but...

I do not support the idea of sending "envoys" Hollywood style around the world PRIOR to her Inauguration (if she would be elected). She can give speeches outlining her foreign policy right here in America and capitals around the world will duly take note. This is what the foreign embassies in Washington are for. They will duly analyze the situation and their ambassadors will report, etc.

For better or worse, under the Constitution, the current President of United States is our Commander in Chief and is primarily responsible for the conduct of our foreign policy. And whether we like it or not we are at war and there are over 150,000 Americans in a tight spot in Mesopotamia. [This is said despite my belief that the Decider may have early onset Alzheimer's and/or clinical issues owing to cocaine and alcohol abuse and/or a chemical dependency.] The transition period from the Election to the Inauguration is a sensitive time period and the transition needs to run smoothly with continuity particularly given our international situation and the war that we are in.

Rubin is a serious and able man, Holbrooke and Clark are garbage in my view.

Hillary? Well, I don't have anything against folks from Park Ridge but...
"Mrs Clinton’s problem is that she very willingly suspended disbelief in 2002. When it came time to deliver her Senate speech in support of the war, she reiterated some of the most outlandish claims made by Dick Cheney. ...
Later, as the winds of opinion changed, Senator Clinton claimed – and continues to do so to this day – that hers was a vote not for war but for negotiation. In fact, the record shows that only hours after the war authorization vote Senator voted against the Democratic resolution that would have required Bush to seek a diplomatic solution before launching the war." Etc...

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