Daily Archives: August 13, 2009

Les Paul dies at 94

Les PaulElectric guitar legend, musical innovator Lester William Polsfuss, known as Les Paul (June 9, 1915 – August 13, 2009),  a pioneer in the development of the solid-body electric guitar which “made the sound of rock and roll possible.”, who changed the course of music with the electric guitar and multitrack recording and had a string of hits, many with wife Mary Ford, died Thursday. He was 94.

In my mind I hear “Running Wild” playing over and over.

The Health Care Challenge grows clearer as the Right disrupts Town Meetings.

It is now the day after Senator Benjamin Cardin’s Town Hall meeting in Hagerstown, MD, and I have had plenty of time to see what the local papers and television news have covered on it… plus I spent some time looking into the web sites of organizations that pushed attendees to the meeting (like Resistnet.com) and the prearranged instructions they put out to make sure nothing was reasonably discussed.

And this is what amazes me the most: a couple of hundred people who are my age or older who came to protest the benefits which, for the most part, would serve them well and which they actually need. Thinking back to where this kind of behavior, in which ordinary citizens are convinced to work against themselves, started… the incoming of Ronald Reagan 40 years ago… I am as confused now as I was then.  How do middle-class and lower-middle-class individuals justify campaigning for the things that make their own lives worse?

Before the coming of Reagan, things were paid for with taxes on income… including a substantial amount by the income of the upper classes, banks and investments were Federally regulated so that things weren’t stolen from individual Americans and trade unions protected so many people… defended their lives and investments, made sure they got into colleges, etc. Then, with the progress of years, administrations and changing controls in Congresses during times of Republican domination, regulations were removed one by one until banks and insurance companies could set up investments that crewed the public in favor of gross profit margins for a very few individuals, unions were squeezed out… beginning with the air traffic controllers, 401k plans were substituted for strong and subsidized retirement plans, and slowly but surely the middle classes sank lower and lower in the overall economy.

Until we got to where we are now… the money that had been built up in Social Security was grabbed and payed out… and substituted with outrageous credit statements… by people like George W. Bush, the cost of health plans like Blue Cross… once a public service non-profit changed into a profit making Insurance company… rising faster than the amount of money people were earning until insurance costs took up 1/3 of extremely high medical bills, and our National Debt grew to unbelievable numbers leaving the current administration in a situation where, in order to eventually reduce it, it needed to be increased now in order to keep functioning until laws and regulations could be changed.

But those Insurance companies and others, represented by growing numbers of lobbyists… many former Congressfolk who had long ago realized what side of the bread was buttered… who could spend 1 and 1/3 million bucks a day to make ordinary people get scared to death of “socialism” and “federal control of their lives” and any other lie they could put out… these creatures of Reagan’s previous revolution were ready to work as hard as possible to make sure the 1% OR SO OF UPPER-CLASS FOLKS kept their income and rest of us gladly gave them the opportunity.

After all, if we kept things the same, someday we would all be rich and benefit from this kind of life. We would all be in the .02% of citizens who didn’t lose money on State Lotteries. We would maintain our belief in American Success.

So now, at a Town Hall meeting like the one I went to yesterday in Hagerstown, where Cardin was screamed at about a bill that hadn’t even been written yet, and people believed that their grandparents were going to be put up in front of “death panels” who would notify them that the end had come, I could see the Triumph of the Right and could only hope that the Left would wise up to their majority and screw the idea of bipartisanship ( a joke which the Republicans have made their strongest moves with ), that they would start the march back to the normalcy of Government given us by FDR and Harry Truman and, yes, even Eisenhower … who no longer seems like a Republican a all, and JFK and LBJ.

There is a slim chance that we can get there and health Care is the test. It has been the test since Truman tried to get it. It has been the test since Johnson kept the Right from killing Medicare. And it is the test today.

The question is: Will we pass?

Quote of the Day

“To me the silver lining here is that maybe Obama and Democratic leaders will wake up and realize they have no partners in the GOP on healthcare reform. (Well, that may be too precipitous — Olympia Snowe? Susan Collins? Please?) Unbelievably, roughly 24 hours before Grassley — call him Judas — sold out Obama for 30 pieces of silver from his insurance industry backers, the president named Grassley as one of the reasons he continues to negotiate with Republicans, at yesterday’s town hall.”

Joan Walsh in Salon this morning on Senator Grassley’s town hall meeting in Iowa yesterday.

I hope Obama reads her article this morning and wakes up to the Repiglican strategy.