Saturday, November 03, 2007

My Favorite Menace

Op-Ed Columnist
The New York Times
November 3, 2007

The Law of the Sea Treaty has become a hot-button item in the Republican presidential race.

Say what?

“One of the defining issues of our time,” declared Mike Huckabee, who is leading an anti-treaty charge.

People, what do you think of when you hear “defining issues of our time?” Middle East? Global warming? Did it ever occur to you there are Americans who would say: “Law of the Sea Treaty?” Americans who are running for president of the United States? Americans who are rapidly moving up in the Iowa polls? This is close to “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” territory.

The treaty has been theoretically under consideration in Washington for a quarter of a century. Some might regard it nostalgically, like a 202-page lava lamp. It was approved by the United Nations in 1982, after endless negotiation during which attending Law of the Sea debates was named one of the Ten Most Boring Things To Do in New York. Its intent was to clarify rules for navigation and mining in international waters and set up a system for settling disputes. When it got to Washington, Britney Spears was still a toddler and Rudy Giuliani had a full head of hair. Ronald Reagan rejected it because he was worried about deep sea mining rights — manganese module mining to be exact.

Happily, that’s no longer an issue because:

a) The United Nations fixed the part Reagan had a problem with.

b) Manganese modules not quite as hot an item as they were when disco ruled.

Bill Clinton wanted the treaty, but gave up trying to find 67 votes in the Senate. Nothing much has happened since, except 155 other countries have ratified it, including several that didn’t exist when it was first passed. The United States, of course, is not the only nation holding back because of well-considered reservations. I hear Libya made some excellent points. And our side also includes all the parts of the Axis of Evil we have yet to invade.

Huckabee gave a speech to the values voters convention recently in which bashing the Law of the Sea got a roaring response from the social conservatives. This seemed to unnerve the other Republican candidates, most of whom are burdened by a personal history that does not involve quite as big a dose of family values as they might wish. Perhaps they are hoping that having a crazy position on the treaty makes up for one divorce. (Mitt Romney would want it to wipe out one waffle.)

I would love to give you all the arguments about the virtues of the Law of the Sea Treaty, but it seems like a cruel thing to do to readers on a Saturday. One problem with the debate is that the earnestness of the proponents is equaled only by their lack of pizazz. (The opponents call the treaty “LOST,” causing many innocent journalists to open their e-mails in hopes of getting new information on what really killed Mr. Eko in Season Three. The advocates call it “The Law of the Sea Convention.”) While the pros will tell you all about the importance of having a rational system for arbitrating disputes over the Alaskan continental shelf, the cons spin up conspiracy theories about how the International Seabed Authority will force us to give up our cars and cancel the war on terror.

Just take my word. The Navy wants the treaty. Greenpeace wants the treaty. The oil and gas industry wants the treaty. George W. Bush wants the treaty. (Look at it this way: he’s definitely due to be right on something.)

The number of people who really care about stopping the treaty is not large. But even if there were only 200, what if 120 of them go to the Iowa caucus? John McCain, who used to support the treaty, recently waved the white flag on a conservative Web site. “I think that we need a Law of the Sea,” he blogged. “I think it’s important, but I have not frankly looked too carefully at the latest situation as it is, but it would be nice if we had some of the provisions in it. But I do worry a lot about American sovereignty aspects of it, so I would probably vote against it in its present form.”

The other candidates have issued statements that seem to reflect an inability to come up with any rational arguments. Rudy Giuliani said he “cannot support the creation of yet another unaccountable international bureaucracy that might infringe on American sovereignty and curtail America’s freedoms,” and Fred Thompson roused himself long enough to announce that “the efforts of treaty proponents would be better spent reforming an ineffective, unaccountable and corrupt United Nations.” Mitt Romney’s spokesman just said Mitt has “concerns.”

Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee called the treaty “the dumbest thing we’ve ever done.”

Pause now to make a list of things we’ve done that you think might be dumber.

Worsening the Odds

Op-Ed Columnist
The New York Times
November 3, 2007

Lonnie Lynam, a self-employed carpenter in Pipe Creek, Tex., specialized in spiral staircases. Friends thought of him as a maestro in a toolbelt, a whiz with a hammer and nails.

“His customers were always so pleased,” his mother told me. “There was this one family, kind of higher class, and he built them one of those glass holders that you would see in a bar or a lounge, with the glasses hanging upside down in different sizes. It was awesome.”

Lonnie had a following, a reputation. He was said to have a magic touch.

What he didn’t have was health insurance.

So when the headaches came, he tried to ignore them. “We’ve had migraines in our family,” said his mother, Betty Lynam, who is 67 and lives in Creston, Iowa. “So he thought that was what it was.”

Lonnie’s brother, Kelly, said: “He wasn’t the type to complain. And since he didn’t have insurance ...”

Kelly, 45, worked on different jobs with his brother. He was the one who rushed Lonnie to an emergency room one day last fall when the headaches became so severe that Lonnie couldn’t stand up.

It would be great if there were something unusual about this story: A person without health insurance gets sick. The person holds off on going to the doctor because there’s no way to pay the bill. The person is denied the full range of treatment because of the absence of insurance. The person dies.

Lonnie Lynam’s headaches had been caused by cancerous tumors in his brain. During surgery, doctors discovered that the cancer had spread from other parts of his body.

Cancer is no longer the all-but-automatic death sentence that it once was. Extraordinary progress has been made in fighting the myriad forms of the disease.

But, as the American Cancer Society has recently been stressing, the health coverage crisis in the U.S. is a major drag on this fight.

“A woman without health insurance who gets a breast cancer diagnosis is at least 40 percent more likely to die,” said John Seffrin, the cancer society’s chief executive.

According to the cancer society: “Uninsured patients and those on Medicaid are much more likely than those with private health insurance to be diagnosed with cancer in its later stages, when it is more often fatal.”

The uninsured (and underinsured) are also much less likely to get the most effective treatment after the diagnosis is made.

There are 47 million Americans without health insurance and another 17 million with coverage that will not pay for the treatments necessary to fight cancer and other very serious diseases.

The bottom line, said Mr. Seffrin, is that “the number of people who are suffering needlessly from cancer because they don’t have access to quality health care is very large and increasing as I speak.”

Part two of the Lynam family’s nightmare began when Lonnie returned home from the hospital. Lonnie had very little money, so Kelly stepped in and began paying most of his brother’s nonmedical bills.

Betty Lynam flew to Texas as often as she could to be with her son. She said he needed chemotherapy and radiation treatment, but since he couldn’t afford it, he couldn’t always get it.

“He was trying to pay a little bit at a time for the doctors and for the different treatments,” she said. “But he didn’t have a savings account or any collateral, except for his tools.

“I’d ask how he was feeling, and he’d tell me, ‘Well, I didn’t get the treatment today.’ And I’d say, ‘Why?’ And he’d say, ‘Well, I got in there and they found out I didn’t have any insurance and the woman told me I’d have to come back another time because she’d have to check with the doctor or somebody.’

“He suffered a great deal. Yes, he did.”

After awhile, as his condition deteriorated, Lonnie Lynam, carpenter extraordinaire, became all but consumed by the fear of death. Toward the end, he would sleep with a light and the television on, his mother said, “because he wanted to see something or hear something as soon as he woke up to know that he was still alive.”

She said: “Some nights he’d be so frightened he’d come crawl into bed with me and just say, ‘Hold me, mom.’ I just slept right with him in the hospital and just held him, you know?’”

Lonnie died on March 26 at age 45. The cause of death was cancer, aided and abetted by an absurd, unnecessary and utterly unconscionable absence of health insurance.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Scatchpad: Thurs. 1 Nov. 2007

From the Utter Hypocrisy of the Right (who are invariably wrong) files:Give George W. Bush and Blackwater free rides.


Burn the Stalinist Witch!

Keep attacking Hillary and see how well that plays with the women.


Corporate Media prostitutes and intellectual lummoxes like Chris Matthews and most of the other folks (e.g. Mrs. Greenspan) over at MSNBC who--I suppose in the interest of upping ratings--did their worst to promote a fight between Hillary and Obama, are now declaring Hillary anathema because she supports Eliot Spitzer’s “unperfected” plan for identifying undocumented foreign workers, and allegedly flip-flopped on the response during the Dem debate the other night. (Is this going to be another Al Gore-invented-the-Internet Corporate Media-driven moment?) Did any of the Dems have an alternative? Not that I heard. Do any Republican candidates have an alternative--I mean, besides an electrified fence on the Mexican border with machine gun emplacements every 1000 yards.

You ought to see how many times FDR flip-flopped, hedged and played cagey. He and Abraham Lincoln (who often appeared weak and indecisive, probably couldn’t get elected today. At least not without having a few talking-heads thrown down the well… [Thx Borat] )


Gay Anti-Gay Republicans…are also known as The Brotherhood of the Disappearing Pants.

At every turn they vote against anti-discrimination-against-Gays legislation, but meanwhile this is who they are privately. [Thx Stephanie.]

Aren‘t conservatives and libertarians supposed to be indifferent to private personal behavior unless it violates another person’s rights The bible-babblers and goose-stepping ultra-authoritarian nimrods are another story…


FOX News alleged-comedian Dennis Miller derides Dennis Kucinich for seeing a UFO --”from the inside. In fact I think he was in the driver’s seat…!” Te-da-dum!

BTW -- Reagan also saw a UFO. [ Just punch up “Reagan” and “UFO”.]

(But we’re highly selective in “This Great Land” about who we ridicule …Repooplicker protocol and all that…)

Meanwhile…Kucinich might be the Magic Elf who can save us… [Thx Stephanie.]



Majestic 12 is the purported code name of a secret committee of scientists, military leaders, and government officials, supposedly formed in 1947 by an executive order of U.S. President Harry S. Truman. The purpose was to investigate UFO activity in the aftermath of the Roswell incident, the purported crash of an alien spaceship near Roswell, New Mexico, in July 1947. This alleged committee is an important part of the UFO conspiracy theory of an ongoing government cover up of UFO information.


Sean Hannity called Halloween a “liberal holiday”. Joking? Or insane?

Alan Colmes said he went out trick-or-treating on Halloween as a Republican taking candy away from kids.

Xmas is another liberal holiday…because you’re supposed to give to the Poor. [Thx Stephanie.]


Blackwater Mamluks, Inc. must accept responsibility for their murderous perfidy, abject greed and complete and total folly. What the hell kind of self-important killer-insects are they, anyway? A bunch of frigging goose-stepping black-shirts...Just what America needs, more fascists pumped on steroids with guns...


Tim Russert and Chris Matthews are Rightwing tools. But what do you expect from NBC whose Big War Industry Mother Company is GE? What are they going to do, have Elizabeth Kucinich and Noam Chomsky as moderators? (And whatever happened to Phil Donahue? Too liberal. Too Green. Too responsible. Too sane. And sanity doesn‘t sell. If America were sane they‘d have dumped Crapitalism a long time ago. But it‘s essentially a country of superstition-ridden frightened little sniveling serfs and corn-fed brain-dead parishioners. )

Always remember, anyone working for Big Media has in some way shape or form been co-opted and compromised.


Giuliani’s recent statements in a political advertisement on treatment for his prostate cancer were lies or hypocritical. He sneers at “socialized medicine” yet having been Mayor of NYC he received “socialized” tax-payer funded healthcare himself.

Rudy erroneously claimed only 44% of those diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK were cured. He got that from Manhattan Institute--a rightwing thinktank with a vested interest in promoting laissez-faire solutions to everything--especially where the exploited workingclass and the suffering poor are concerned.

However, 74.4% is the accurate percentage for prostate cancer cures in the UK, according to guess who? The UK itself!

Furthermore, the treatment Rudy received was invented not by an American but by a Danish physician and medical researcher. You remember Denmark, don’t you? With its nasty socialized healthcare system? [Thx to Lionel.]

Why don’t fatheads like Tim Russert, Chris Matthews and the FOX News Zombies jump on Rudy Giuliani as hard as they jump on Hillary Clinton for not giving them the simplistic-for-simpletons responses they want to their loaded one-dimensional questions?

The GOP has no answers for the problems of the Modern World. And Corporate Broadcast and Cable Media--with very few exceptions--delivers less and less genuine News (i.e. information the People need to help keep themselves Free).


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Greenpagan’s Quotidian Quotations:

Motto: My loyalty is reserved for the country with the most generous social safety net.


Better they shouldn’t even know we’re here. -- old Jewish saying


“If you have the story, tell it. If you don’t have the story, write it.” -- Paul Sann, late Executive Editor of the old New York Post then owned and published by Dorothy Schiff (c. 1960s-70s).


If you’ve got the muck, I’ve got the rake…


“As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death.” --Leonardo Da Vinci


"Study the past if you would define the future." -- Confucius (551 BC - 479 BC)


“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” -- Winston Churchill


When and under what circumstances is it morally acceptable to respond to The Oppressor with violence?


"A good body with a dull brain is as cheap as life itself." -- Batiatus (from the movie Spartacus)


The sky isn’t falling. But the bottom’s dropping out…


"This age thinks better of a gilded fool than of a threadbare saint in wisdom's school!" -- Thomas Dekker


"Nothing is more real than nothing." -- Samuel Beckett, Malone Dies (New York: Grove, 1956; p. 16).


“The dignity of truth is lost with much protesting.” -- Ben Jonson, Catilene’s Conspiracy III, ii.


Bastian - But it's only a story. It's not real. It's only a story. […]
The Empress - Bastian! Why don't you do what you dreamed Bastian?
Bastian - But I can't! I have to keep my feet on the ground.

-- The Neverending Story


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