Tag Archives: Conservative

Americans and Health Care Reform

If you want proof that American right wingers are essentially behaving like lunatics in the face of Obama’s promised health care reform, look no further:

Apparently health care isn’t a ‘natural born right’.

I’ve had a regular commentator on my blog and Twitter suggest that the right wing is objecting to the cost of health care reform, and where it’ll actually hit, rather than where Obama says it’ll hit. What’s clear to me however is that the real battle is on the principle of public provision of medicine. The wing nuts like Glenn Beck say it’s a bad thing, and their minions (like the mad lady above) don’t consider for a moment that 45 million people who can’t afford access to health care is something the United States should be ashamed of.

Meanwhile Obama’s getting it in the neck for verging on not being a transformational enough leader, but the wounds of 1994 run deep. Are the Democrats running scared of themselves or the right wing? If the right wing they really do need to remember that Obama ran with this as part of his platform, which was endorsed by a significant majority of the US. Consensus is one thing, leadership is another. As Jon Stewart pointed out, the Bush administration convinced the country to wage a war it neither wanted nor needed; why is going ahead with his plan so difficult for Obama now?

Sullivan has two interesting articles about the policies behind the battle here, for the minority involved in debating the how rather than the whether. He also adds:

If you have guaranteed emergency room care for the uninsured at public expense, you have already effectively socialized medicine. It makes no sense not to bring these people into the insurance system, and to offer less expensive, long-term preventive healthcare. To insist that ideology stand in the way of this piece of compassionate common sense is irresponsible.

I’ve come to accept that the fiscal and economic costs of the current system, however wonderful it has been for a few decades, simply cannot be sustained much longer. I say that not because I have become a socialist, but because the US is on the brink of the kind of bankruptcy it will be very hard to recover from if we do not tackle its source now. Taking measures to avoid fiscal collapse even greater than today’s is a conservative impulse. Letting one sector of the economy destroy the rest of it – and public finances too – is sheer recklessness.

What do you want, GOP? A permanent populist culture-war? Or actual solutions to pressing problems? Let us know when you’ve matured enough to answer that question.

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Abusing Ken – Are We Back in the 80’s?

I’d say I didn’t understand the upcoming London Mayoral election, but the reality is one which Polly Toynbee regularly directs us to: the British newspaper media is overwhelmingly right wing, and in this case the Associated Newspapers group which have always hated Ken Livingstone with a passion, scent the possibility of revenge. Of what you may ask? Remember his fight with Evening Standard (Associated Newspapers) reporter Oliver Finegold? Well a newspaper group with a noted history of anti-semitism chose to call Livingstone anti-semitic (a blatantly preposterous charge). He successfully fought them off, and now we’re at election time…who’s leading the pro-Boris, anti-Ken drive? Surprise surprise.

It’s really sick. I’m not saying for a moment that he hasn’t made serious mistakes (supporting Sir Ian Blair in the aftermath of Jean Charles de Menezes’ murder to name but one example – I’m sure Peter Tatchell could come up with many more), but this isn’t politics. Even his desperate opponent Boris Johnson is joining in the frenzy. Having links with a Trotskyite faction? Is the ‘Red Ken’ jibe really supposed to resonate with anyone anymore (hint: the polls suggest it really doesn’t)? Let’s also not forget that Boris’ sudden animosity against Ken is more than a little staged

Livingstone’s a maverick, was before he was elected in 2000, and has supported factions and causes which have been politically incorrect before becoming the political norm for over a generation. As Mayor he’s actually made progress in redistribution of income in a city with levels of poverty unmatched anywhere in the pre-enlargement EU. Whilst the tube hasn’t improved, much of that can be laid at the feet of Gordon Brown, whose PFI contract hasn’t exactly been an incentive to improve our underground transport! Is he a petty bureaucrat? Yes, and I don’t like it. Is he a benign dictator? Yes, by his own admission the powers he assumed in 2000 were needed in order to force through progressive changes like the congestion charge – changes which worked to the betterment of all Londoners. This is a reason to be as uncontrollably brutal against him now? I said a few weeks ago we’d get a Jacques Chirac v Jean-Marie Le Pen-type election here and it’s sadly shaping up quite nicely.

I have reservations about him on principle, after basically admitting it was ok for the Metropolitan Police to murder Jean Charles de Menezes. But I don’t agree with this character assassination which is going on right now. Is he probably a bastard in private? Sure. When did that become a bar to high office? We need to see through the ridiculous distortions of what’s really going on, and see his achievements (check out the press conference Martin Bright tries to cut through by the way, if you can make it work, and make your own mind up). If you don’t think they amount to much then vote for someone else, but otherwise grow up!

The Other Contest

Before you know it it’ll be May and London will be voting for its Mayor. Who though to vote for? Ken? Boris? Brian Paddick? Someone else? For the first time since the position was created in 2000 I really don’t know what the right answer is. In 2000 it really had to be Ken. Blair hated him before the election (thinking him unelectable) then feted him when he realised Livingstone had answers he’d already forgotten about electability. It had a lot to do with what Hillary Clinton’s trumpeting as readiness to lead – the ability to hit the ground running. In 2004 it was also Ken – he’d actually done a good job. Sure he still promised that the transport network would be improved, but he’d actually made a difference in terms of redistribution – something again which Blair feted him for but curiously didn’t learn from either.

This time we have Ken Livingstone, who again has done a great deal for the city, but now resolutely supports Sir Ian Blair – the Commissioner of the murderous, racist and homophobic Metropolitan Police. In essentially dismissing the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes, Livingstone has made himself part of the problem and not the solution. I don’t know how I can vote for him again with good conscience, good Labour or no good Labour. (Alexander) Boris (de Pfeffel) Johnson for me is unelectable because he’s a Tory, but check out the rest of his background. He’s a) bananas, b) got a history of not being remotely interested in London and c) is a bit of a racist. Brian Paddick is the candidate for the Lib Dems, which should be the party I have the greatest affinity with. He used to be a deputy assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan Police (which should be an immediate disqualifier for me) but he was very highly regarded outside the force, and is now totally against Sir Ian Blair.

There will be an agenda to form a grand coalition to stop Boris Johnson, and this might turn into a repeat of the Chirac/Le Pen fight in France, where it was a choice between corrupt or downright dangerous (not that I believe Ken to be corrupt). So there will be a push to vote Ken at all costs, but I don’t know. I’ll be considering Paddick, despite my hatred for his former employer.