Monday, August 27, 2007

Sayonara Al

Few things could make me cheerier than this:

Embattled Attorney General Resigns

Published: August 27, 2007

WACO, Tex., Aug. 27 — Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, whose tenure has been marred by controversy and accusations of perjury before Congress, has resigned. A senior administration official said he would announce the decision later this morning in Washington.

Mr. Gonzales, who had rebuffed calls for his resignation, submitted his to President Bush by telephone on Friday, the official said. His decision was not announced immediately announced, the official added, until after the president invited him and his wife to lunch at his ranch near here.

Mr. Bush has not yet chosen a replacement but will not leave the position open long, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the resignation had not yet been made public.

Mr. Bush had repeatedly stood by Mr. Gonzales, an old friend and colleague from Texas, even as Mr. Gonzales faced increasing scrutiny for his leadership of the Justice Department, over issues including his role in the dismissals of nine United States attorneys late last year and whether he testified truthfully about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.

Earlier this month, at a news conference, Mr. Bush dismissed accusations that Mr. Gonzales had had stonewalled or misled a congressional inquiry. "We’re watching a political exercise," Mr. Bush said. "I mean, this is a man who has testified, he’s sent thousands of papers up there. There’s no proof of wrong."

Mr. Gonzales’s resignation is the latest in a series of high-level departures that has reshaped the end of Mr. Bush’s second term. Karl Rove, another of Mr. Bush’s close circle of aides from Texas, stepped down two weeks ago.

The official who disclosed the resignation today said that the decision was Mr. Gonzales’s and that the president accepted it grudgingly. At the same time, the official acknowledged that the turmoil over Mr. Gonzales had made his continuing as attorney general difficult.

"The unfair treatment that he’s been on the receiving end of has been a distraction for the department," the official said.

Hurrah! And by the way, Mr. President, there's plenty of wrong that's been done. When you say "political exercise," I assume you're talking about Mr. Gonzales following your orders to politicize the Department of Justice to skew towards neo-conservative Republicans. Your administration is rotten to the core, it's falling apart, and you know what? I don't believe in your God who tells you how to run your presidency, but I sure hope he's got a special place for you when you die, so you can experience some of the misery you've inflicted on the citizens of the United States (not to mention what you've done to the Iraqis).

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Who Needs Health Care When We Have Emergency Rooms?

In light of Mr. Bush's remarks regarding health care access and local emergency rooms (obviously, he's never sat in one with a non-life threatening case and tried to get help in under an hour), I could only roll my eyes in response to this headline:

Rules May Limit Health Program Aiding Children

The Bush administration, continuing its fight to stop states from expanding the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, has adopted new standards that would make it much more difficult for New York, California and others to extend coverage to children in middle-income families.

Administration officials outlined the new standards in a letter sent to state health officials on Friday evening, in the middle of a monthlong Congressional recess. In interviews, they said the changes were intended to return the Children’s Health Insurance Program to its original focus on low-income children and to make sure the program did not become a substitute for private health coverage.

(emphasis mine)

I'm angry about this, because obviously, the states are trying to provide health care for children. And why would we want to extend any help to the middle class, or rather, the people who are desperately trying to cling to middle class standing? The Bush Administration is almost devoted to wiping out the middle class and recreating the Old Europe standard of the Three Estates (The Aristocracy, the Clergy, and the Peasants).

When I continued reading and looked at the standards for what qualified as "low-income" and therefore eligible for CHIP coverage, and what qualified as "middle-income" and not eligible, I was almost appalled. Actually, strike that, I was definitely appalled.

The poverty level for a family of four is set by the federal government at $20,650 in annual income. Many states have received federal permission to cover children with family incomes exceeding twice the poverty level — $41,300 for a family of four. In New York, which covers children up to 250 percent of the poverty level, the Legislature has passed a bill that would raise the limit to 400 percent— $82,600 for a family of four — but the change is subject to federal approval.

My salary is in the "twice the poverty level" range, and I have to say, I probably couldn't survive on that salary alone, let alone try to cover a family of four on that. Has the federal government priced housing in New England metro areas lately? When you're done paying for the roof over your head, and the utilities to keep warm (including, say, oil, hrmph!) how on earth do you bundle health care in with food, gas (!!), clothes, etc. Health insurance eats a significant portion of your "leftover" income. It's simply untenable.

I also like the bit about ensuring that CHIP doesn't replace private health care coverage. That's they whole point: privatization. Allow insurance companies to keep premiums high and deny coverage through privatization. Because the point of health insurance is to make corporations rich, not provide chemotherapy to cancer patients or anti-depressants to depression patients or anything.

It's a good thing that I work somewhere with good health insurance coverage. Because this administration makes me sick.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Buy American

As any casual reader of mine should know, I'm a big fan of the New York Times. But today's editorial on Chinese goods sparked a disagreement between us.

Chinese goods have been found in the past year to be full of dangers, from tainted or counterfeit medical supplies and drugs to lead paint on toys and baby bibs. The answer to this problem is to bring back manufacturing the United States. Here, there are better regulations on safety standards, but more importantly, it would keep more jobs in the United States and help us become much more self-sufficient and reduce our trade debt. Today's editorial argues:

It is definitely not in America’s interest — economic, political or strategic — to erect a barricade against Chinese imports, which could spark a mutually destructive trade war. American businesses and the Bush administration must send a clear message to Beijing that it has to clean up its act or its export-led boom will falter.

What China needs is an effective and transparent regulatory system to enforce product safety standards. The United States and other countries can help with technical advice and warnings about what would happen if Beijing refuses to take it. But the dangers are too immediate to wait.

Right now it is the clear responsibility of companies that import Chinese products to guarantee their safety, and American regulators have to ensure they do it adequately. Neither is doing the job right now.

I don't agree at all. There's no way the Bush Administration could or would enforce safety standards on Chinese companies. The country is corrupt, and completely polluted, both in terms of its people and the environment) from its lack of regulations. The air in Beijing is thick with smog, and due to lack of regulations in blood banks, AIDS is spreading, particularly in rural areas.

Why are we doing so much business with China? To save money? How much is Mattel losing in its second recall of millions of toys in a month? What's the cost of the lives that are lost over here because of tainted medical supplies? How much does our government pay out to cover the unemployed whose jobs have vanished overseas?

The right action here is to bring our jobs, products, and safety regulations back into our own country. We should clean up our own mess.