Friday, April 15, 2005

Local Matters...Eventually

Well since it's Friday, it seems a local issue is in order. Unfortunately, I find it difficult to write about local issues; I don't know where I stand on SafeClear. Today's post came to me eventually.

Being strongly in favor of tougher gun laws, I receive regular e-mails from a variety of organizations regarding current topics on the subject. One that came this week is from the BradyCampaign, trying to get the word out about a House Bill that would bar judges from considering gun cases. Also, on the news today I was inundated by reports from the NRA convention meeting in Houston this week. Boo the NRA and Houston for hosting them, but I felt like I could give the matter a pass, until one name united these two events for me. Go on, I'll give you three guesses, but I bet you get it in one. Did you say Tom DeLay? Of course you did, cuz you've been paying attention!

Yes, Tom DeLay, House Majority Leader, is the keynote speaker tonight at the NRA convention. He is very strongly in favor of our right to keep and bear arms, as he is in protecting all of our civil liberties, so long as they don't involve gay rights, women's rights, spousal rights, or anything else that doesn't pay well or garner any CCR votes. And what do ya reckon he's gonna talk about tonight? Why that would be H. R. 800, that he pushed to have rubber-stamped by the House Judiciary Committee by today so he brag about it in his speech tonight. HR800 grants gun sellers immunity from prosecution in local, state and Federal courts, putting them out of the reach of the judges he so disdains. Of course it puts them out of the reach of citizens who serve on juries, so we all have less say in punishing those guilty of illegal activities. But like the oil industry, the gun industry never acts outside the law, right?

So I know you are asking yourself, is this really a local issue. Besides for mentioning Houston, booing Houston, there's been nothing, nada. See, I told you I had a problem with local matters. It probably stems from childhood; I'm a Dallasite. I don't no nuthin' bout Houston, nuthin' good anyway. But we did have a nice trip to Galveston last Saturday to see the Spanish Navy's sailing ship, the Juan Sebastian de ElCano, which moored along the pier near the Alyssa and brought 30 or so cute Spanish sailors to the Strand. The ElCano is used to train cadets in the Spanish Navy in the traditional sailing techniques of yore. It was a beautiful sight to see six or so obviously gay seamen ( I say they were gay because it seems to me if you can sail across the Atlantic, you don't need to hold hands to cross the Strand) being treated courteously by the bikers and rednecks. Gives me hope for the future.

See, I told you I'd get around to thing eventually, there's just been a little delay.


The Plot Thickens

Just a quickie, but today's Houston Chronicle (taken from a NY Times report) makes a case for the administration backing up (and backing off) DeLay, rather than it being the other way around. Makes you wonder what is really going on. In a pissing match between two big heads, does this conflicting conciliation make it a draw?


Thursday, April 14, 2005

My Bad

Well, I guess I was early in declaring an end to the Republican block. Call it wishful thinking, but once again I miss judged DeLay's conviction to his faith. I thought he would go to the masses for backing and force a division in the GOP; such are dreams made of. Instead, Karl Rove proved once again how much power he welds in Washington. Look at how the tides have turned in just a few days. At least the Pope died with his boots on.


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Think Healthcare

Having just spent an agonizing three hours tonight being tortured by consumer research people about my radio listening habits (listen to a five second blip, fill in the bubble, 600 times), I really don't have the strength or wit (and some would question evidence of my ever having the latter) to marathon post (although this opening sentence betrays a plenitude of verbosity).

Suffice to say, read Paul Krugman today and for his next several articles. Once again he has hit the nail on the head of what the administration would rather not think about, do anything about and for god's sake, don't let the American people in on. Like the American people don't know that healthcare in America is really screwed up. Social Security we may not understand, but healthcare we all have to deal with.

Just today I received a letter from a doctor's office demanding payment on something for which I have already paid. After a painful 30 minute conversation with a collection officer well acquainted with her inner biatch, I hung up and rang my insurance company, certain I was in the right, HA! Seems the doctors used to bill once for treatment in their offices. But then it became mandatory for all doctors to have hundreds of very expensive machines in their offices and the poor doctors had to find a way to pay for them. At first the insurance companies ate the increased costs of doctor visits, but eventually they found a way to pass the cost on to the consumer (that would be me). The doctor now bills separately for the visit and for any tests done in office, which means the patient (me again) has to pay two copays, one for the doc, one for the machine, thereby doubling the cost of the visit for yours truly. I explained to my insurance provider that as an HMO subscriber, I expect complete coverage, while giving up a degree of choice. She explained to me that I would adjust to higher healthcare costs like I have to higher gas prices. So I hung up, went outside and stuck my head in the sand. Read Krugman, we'll talk again later.


Sunday, April 10, 2005

Turn Out the Lights

Is it midnight in the garden party of Republican politics? Have the forces of evil, that combined to form the worst nightmare for the American people since Watergate, finally turned on each other? It may be too early to say for certain that the GOP is in dire straits, but there is definitely trouble in paradise.

My first whiff of GOP vulnerability came the day Terri Schaivo died. Tom DeLay made his infamous "the judiciary will pay" speech, which went over about as well as a mazel tov at a prayer meeting, but instead of standing by their man, the notoriously circle-the-wagons Bush administration distanced themselves from the majority leader's comments. Over the next few days DeLay continued to be his pompous, overblown self, and the White House continued to isolate him. I actually started feeling a bit sorry for old Tom and wondered if he wasn't throwing himself on his sword for the greater good. I am so naive sometimes.

Bush never does anything without being told what to think. Cheney's a political animal and would never speak publicly without good cause. And who keeps his finger to the wind, measuring the strength and timing of each coming storm, then disseminates the information like a political weather alert...beep,beep,beep...there is a storm rising from the religious right...indications reveal a foul wind, isolated temper tantrums and rains of self-righteousness...all those in the storm's way should duck-n-cover until they have blown themselves out...beep,beep,beep...this has been Karl Rove reporting.

Over the next week dozens of Republicans opined from one side of the issue or the other (in a few cases, both). The judicial branch is bad, they are good, they need to be reigned in or impeached, they need to be left impartial. John Cornyn, a newbie Senator from Texas and former prosecutor wondered aloud, and for the Congressional Record, if judges weren't bringing troubles on themselves, then turned around and said his comments, despite being made in an open forum and for the public record, had been taken out of context. Senate Majority leader Bill Frist has done more-about face dancing in the last week than soldiers in boot camp. And who stands in the middle of all this whirlwind of controversy- Tom DeLay, who spoke via videotape to a Christian conference while he himself was in Rome for the Pope's funeral, and sounded not the least bit chastised, fearful or reticent to make his case to the faithful.

This has all lead me to wonder if there is not a powerplay being conducted within the Beltway, between two of the powerful forces in the Republican Party, Rove representing the neocons, DeLay representing the religious right. It has already been suggested that the traditional conservatives are less than happy with these other two groups. If we are witnessing the beginnings of open warfare in the GOP, can it be weakened enough in the next 18 months, to be plucked from power in Nov. '06? Howard Dean, you better be paying attention!