Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ill Health

The old adage is that "you get what you pay for".

Unfortunately, as far as the American health care system goes, that just isn't the case.

We pay more and get worse results than any other "civilized" country on earth.

(For the sake of this post, I'm going to give us the benefit of the doubt as far as being civilized goes. It would be hard to prove in a court of law is all I'm saying.)

A quick look at the latest "spending on health care per person" and average lifespan charts shows the U.S., the best country there is and ever could be, spending the most (by far!) and living the shortest.

Sure, you'd expect the Scandinavian countries to be ahead of us. But Spain? And Italy?

They both spend less than half as much as we do per capita and yet, on average, citizens of both countries live longer than we do.

And let's not even mention our obesity levels--especially childhood ones. Suffice it to say that the Land of the Supersize Me and Big Gulp has no competitors when it comes to those categories. We're #1, we're #1, we're #1, USA, USA, USA!!!!

How can that be? There must be some mistake! Everything is better here--we all know that. The free market, for profit system, was designed by God himself and given to us, his chosen people. And anyone who tampers with that is the anti-Christ!

If you can't afford to pay for better health care it's your fault. Don't come crying to me.

Besides, those other countries practice some form of socialized medicine and we all know how wicked and corrupt and cruel that is. You've heard the stories, "People dying in the streets for want of a tongue depressor."

So, no thank you, none of that single payer Marxism for the good old red, white and blue!

No, we're much better off letting the insurance companies or the size of your bank account decide who lives and who dies.

Remember what Jim Morrison said, "no one here gets out alive."

The United States' health care system is designed to constantly remind us of just how fragile life is and to spare a good portion of us from the the sorrows of old age.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Goon Squad

This was going to be a post that examined the timely question: Why do Republicans lie so much?

Is it genetic? Or is it the loving, "family values" based nurturing they all receive?

Is it an inherent part of their profound religious beliefs? Or is it just the easiest way to a big payday from Fox News?

Or could it be that they've gotten away with it for so long, since Reagan at least, that they simply don't recognize the truth anymore? Hmmm.

Clearly these are all questions that deserve long and intense study. But today is my birthday and frankly I just don't have the time for that sort of thing. So instead I'll analyze the 2012 Republican Tea Party presidential candidates.

It occurs to me that what we are really witnessing is a race to see who can be the biggest asshole.

I mean, Christ, look at them! Cain and Bachmann and Willard Mitt and Ricky, and the human cipher, Rick Santorum. And let's not forget Ron Paul--although everyone else has. A day does not pass without at least one of them saying something that is either a bold faced lie, completely inane, clinically insane, or some combination thereof.

I know what you're thinking. "Gosh Mr. Franklin, how can we choose just one?!"

Fortunately there is one candidate whose "assholiness" transcends all the rest. A candidate whose major accomplishment while an elected member of government was shutting down the government, a candidate who made millions of dollars as a lobbyist--and yet insists that he never lobbied anyone, a candidate who calls President Obama an "elitist" while maintaining his own $500,000 credit line at Tiffany's, a candidate with a dime store brain who fancies himself an "intellectual", a candidate who recently floated the idea of doing away with child labor laws, and a candidate who is a known adulterer and yet preaches family values. All this in one person? You betcha!

The list of his credentials is long, but time is short...

Maybe someday scientists will discover a lower form of life than Newt Gingrich, but for the time being we just don't have the technology. As our Spanish friends might say, "Quien es mas de un asshole? Newt es mas de un asshole!"

Monday, November 21, 2011


I just never tire of watching cops assault defenseless people. It must be the red-blooded American male in me.

And what is it about police work that attracts the kind of person who, when he sees someone who is completely defenseless and offers no threat to anyone, his first inclination is to hit them with the old baton or drench them with pepper spray?

I mean, is that on the "Hey Sociopath, Wanna Be A Cop" test? And if you answer, "uh, just ignore them" do you fail and end up a minimum wage security guard at K-Mart?

What's next? Do they unleash the dogs? How soon before someone gets shot? Are we back in Alabama circa 1960? Where is Bull Connor now that we really need him?

Do not fear--he may be gone but his spirit lives on in Limbaugh, Beck, O'Reilly and every Republican Tea Party candidate.

And in the dark hearts of a bunch of cops, too.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hell Freezes Over

This headline actually appeared in The Arizona Republic a couple of days ago:

"Federal funds help city"

I tell you, I almost choked on my cruller. Here in the heart of our delusional "self-made man, we don't need no damn gubmint, free-market libertarian utopia", some poor, misguided soul had the nerve to tell the truth!

Sure, he or she has probably been fired by now. Or at the very least been severely reprimanded and lectured about the dangers of creeping socialism by the Republic's overseers. But in any war there are casualties. And if one reader of that mostly worthless rag had their eyes opened a little, even by accident, I say it's worth it.

Of course, it is early. Plenty of time for the paper to publish a retraction. Or for those flatulent gasbags at the Goldwater Institute to deluge the op-ed page with more of their garbage. I'm sure that the counterattacks will be relentless. To quote Poppy Bush, "this will not stand!"

But for one brief shining moment, etc etc...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

True or False: Football Is The Most Important Thing In The World

I'm not sure what my favorite part of the whole disgustingly sordid Penn State scandal is. I mean, my God, there's so much to choose from!

You've got the old "I did what I was legally required to do" shuffle from a bunch of supposedly mature men in positions of authority.

And the apparent lack of police involvement at any stage until now.

Then there's the fact that this Sandusky guy continued to run his foundation for at risk kids after his alleged offenses were first reported. I guess no one thought these acts were serious enough to remove him from any position that involved contact with children.

Or that he was still allowed to come and go on the campus.

Or that the judge who set his bail was a buddy of his.

Or that he and his wife took in foster children.

Or that the title of his autobiography is Touched: The Jerry Sandusky Story.

Or the discovery that, whatever his merits as a football coach, Joe Paterno is somewhat lacking as a human being.

Or maybe it's all the folks who obviously care more about the football program than they do about the victims of these terrible acts.

So sure, it is shocking and sickening, but it is also a highly entertaining and enlightening look at the way our love of sports has blinded many of us and corrupted even those institutions that should be above such things.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Perry Diaries (part 2)

Dear Diary,
Newt Gingrich? Really?

Dear Diary,
That Cain guy makes a lot of sense. Especially about Libya and them other foreign places.

Dear Diary,
Putting all that politics stuff aside for a second, that Willard Mitt guy is one handsome sumbitch. I mean it's not like I'm gay or anything, but if I were...

Dear Diary,
I mean, come on now, Newt Gingrich!?

Dear Diary,
You know, I'm not sure I even wanta be President anymore. It seems like a lot of work and knowing a bunch a stuff, and hell I really kind of like bein' governor. You get to meet a lot of nice folks in suits and ties who give you lotsa money. And even better, you get to hand out justice, swift and sweet. Just like Jehovah or that Wyatt Earp guy. Whatever happened to Hugh O'Brian?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It's past time for a change

I graduated from a small, liberal arts college at the advanced age of 48. At this Division III school, I played on the golf team -- I'm one of the oldest NCAA athletes you will ever hear of. Our football team played in the Knox Bowl -- a "stadium" that consisted of two sets of bleachers my high school would have laughed at, with a field located roughly 30 feet below the rest of campus. Seriously, that's why it was called the "Knox Bowl". Think of a serving dish, and you'll see our football "stadium".

After college I worked as a sportwriter. It is this combination that has given me such contempt for the American sports scene as it now exists -- especially college sports. I believe that college sports should exist for the spiritual, physical and moral enrichment of the student-athlete, not the financial enrichment of coaches, school presidents, administrators, or bowl committee members.

When the Fiesta Bowl scandal erupted a few months ago, I was disgusted. I wasn't surprised -- I've known for far too long exactly how money influences college athletics at the Division I level. The Penn State scandal is so much worse, I am having trouble even fathoming the depths of moral depravity involved.

It seems to me that it is time for colleges and universities to begin accepting the fact that they have an obligation to their students, alumni and supporters. This obligation is not to put the best team on the field -- it is to provide the best education possible for the money to the students in order to help prepare them for life. A good first step would be to destroy the Penn State football program. Eliminate it completely with the proviso that if the University ever wants to have a football program again, no coach shall be paid more than $35,000 per year to start, and with annual raises granted tied to the inflation rate. The coach must than actually teach a couple of classes, and I'm not talking about "The History of Football." Additionally, there should be absolutely no football scholarships ever granted again. This should be the first step towards eliminating Division I athletics completely.

We have turned our universities into minor leagues for the major sports. The athletes don't get paid, a large number leave school with no education to speak of, yet the coaches, boosters and administrators get rich off the labors of the students. It is estimated that the Penn State football program is worth approximately $150 million dollars, yet most of this money does not go into providing superior academics. When was the last time you heard Penn State being mentioned as on an academic level with Harvard, Yale, Princeton or Columbia? Hell, I'll put Knox College and its students and professors up against Penn State any day and we will win any academic contest they want to have.

We make gods of our athletes and coaches, and then we act surprised when these gods do not live up to our ideals. Does not anyone remember the lessons of the Greek gods about hubris?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Proof Is In The Puddin'

Sure the competition was tough. After all, you've got Haley Barbour and John Kasich and that moron in Maine, whose name, thankfully, escapes me.

Still, all this time I was absolutely certain, that of all the governors, Jan Brewer had to be the biggest imbecile.

Mais non! With his sterling debatin' skills, Rick Perry has proven once and for all, and without fear of contradiction, that they really do grow 'em bigger in Texas.

Ye hah, y'all!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Still Worthless

Tomorrow, November 8th, Phoenix voters will wander off to the polls to cast their votes for mayor. They will choose between Wes Gullett and Greg Stanton. That choice should be a simple one:

Greg Stanton.

As I've mentioned before, Wes Gullett is a lobbyist. Everybody needs to find something that fulfills them in life, and apparently Wes finds fulfillment in subverting democracy. Because that is what lobbyists attempt to do. They spend their days engaged in what might be called bribery. Of course, in a nation where corporations are people and money is speech, anything goes. So, why not?

Because he is a strong advocate for what is erroneously called "the free market", Gullett is, naturally, beloved by the Chamber of Commerce types. In case you haven't been paying attention, the Chamber of Commerce is generally made up of smarmy, glad-handing poltroons, whose one consistent goal is to keep wages down. Because that's "good for business." Unions, collective bargaining, a liveable minimum wage, or anything else that might conceivably help working people in our benighted state and city, are "bad for business."

Gullett and his friends and supporters are part of the concerted effort to keep the desert hillbillies distracted and confused and, I must admit, they are very good at that. The powers that be have a long list of convenient scapegoats to cover up the consistent failings of their economic and social policies, and local voters are eager and indeed happy to accept any and all disinformation. Look around you, stupidity is always in full bloom in the Valley of the Sun.

In summation, if you want a city governed by people who don't think government has any function beyond enriching their cronies, then by all means Wes Gullett is your boy.

Make no mistake, Greg Stanton isn't a LaGuardia or Daley. Phoenix is not and will never be that kind of city. Stanton may not even reach the level of Terry Goddard, who remains the gold standard of Phoenix mayors in my lifetime.

However, despite his limitations, Greg Stanton would make a much better mayor than Wes Gullett in every measurable way.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lie Hard, or: It's A Shame

The title of Mission Man's last post included the words "should be ashamed, but isn't."

This brings up an interesting question: "Whatever happened to the concept of shame?"

It is obvious, looking at the ongoing spectacle of American democracy, that the idea of "shame", of "being ashamed" about anything, has fallen out of favor.

Take the Republican Tea Party for example. Its candidates and their paid lackeys lie and dissemble about everything. The economy, Obamacare, jobs, obstructionism, Libya, Iraq, Social Security, Medicare, abortion, taxes, racism, gender issues--pick any subject and the lies fall down around us like a steady Spring rain. They hit the ground and little patches of fresh new lies quickly sprout.

When their lies are pointed out, they either continue to just lie harder or simply change the subject. And they have no shame about it. None at all. It seems that shame has gone out of fashion.

For instance, in a country where shame still played a role in life, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Condi Rice and Donald Rumsfeld would be ashamed to show their faces in public. Instead they all have lucrative book deals and speaking tours. They are not war criminals, they are celebrities and they have fans!

When I was a boy, many, many, long years ago, I was taught to tell the truth. I assume most, if not all, of you were told the same thing. Of course, as I aged, I quickly realized that sometimes it is necessary to tell a little lie if only to ease yourself through some tense social situations. "Yes, you were great in that play" and "No, I love the green bean casserole" come to mind.

Apparently, our Tea Party friends decided to expand these few necessary exceptions to every single aspect of life. When exposed, they have one time tested, automatic retort, (all together now) "the liberals/Democrats do it too!!!"

When it is pointed out that this is not always true and anyway, even if it were, it doesn't lessen their perfidy, they, you guessed it, lie again.

Maybe they're doing us a favor. Perhaps after years of having passive consumerism shoved down our throats as a substitute for active, participatory citizenship, "we the people" couldn't handle the truth. But at this rate we'll never know.

Shame, shame, shame.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Jan Brewer should be ashamed -- but of course she isn't

Arizona's accidental governor outdid herself yesterday. It seems that Ms. "I'm a high school graduate and proud of it" Brewer is threatening to call the state legislature into special session in order to attempt to impeach the bipartisan independent redistricting commission that has just completed its duties and presented its findings. The commission is composed of two Republicans, two Democrats and one independent.

In a state with 1.13 million registered Republicans, 1.01 million registered independents and 1.0 million registered Democrats, it seems that the commission has been just a little bit too nice to the Democrats. Arizona currently has five Republican representatives and three Democrats in the U.S. Congress, as well as two GOP senators. Under the new plan, four GOP and two Democratic districts will remain safe, while three will be competitive. In addition, in the State Senate only 17 of the current 22 GOP seats can be relied upon to remain in Republican hands. Quelle horreur!

Brewer is claiming that she's only threatening impeachment in the interest of fairness, yet claims that competitiveness was given too much emphasis in the commission's deliberations and findings. Seriously. You can't make this shit up. According to our beloved governor, this amounts to "neglect of duty and gross misconduct,” the requirements for impeachment here.

She is actually arguing in a two-page letter outlining her reasoning for impeachment that the commission “has not satisfied its constitutional duty requiring it to conduct this vital electoral activity in an honest, independent and impartial fashion that upholds public confidence in the integrity of the redistricting process.” In other words, everyone in Arizona knows that the only fair thing to do is to give the Republicans control of every seat in the state legislature, as well as the U.S. Congress. In the eyes of Republicans, fairness means Republicans win while collusion and criminality combined are required for Democratic wins.

If this blatant power grab succeeds, then every other state which has adopted independent redistricting commissions in efforts to end gerrymandering better look out -- I guarantee that every state with a GOP governor and state legislature will try this if it works here.

State Senate President Russell Pearce's (Criminal-Mesa) recall election is next Tuesday. If Brewer continues this farce, perhaps we can follow the lead of Wisconsin and go for our own gubernatorial recall as well.

UPDATE: Well, she fucking did it. Today she called the legislature into special session and fired the independent chairperson of the redistricting commission, Colleen Mathis. Republicans control 22 of the 30 seats in the Senate, while needing only 20 to uphold the removal and neutralize the commission's work. In a statement released late this afternoon, Brewer said "The Arizona Constitution provides that the Governor has direct oversight of the Independent Redistricting Commission, as well as the ability to remove any member due to 'substantial neglect of duty' or 'gross misconduct in office.'" In Arizona, anything even vaguely helpful to Democrats is seen as substantial neglect or gross misconduct.

I'm not sure I've ever seen anything, Wisconsin and Ohio included, that shows more contempt for the electorate than our accidental governor's blatant power grab. We've gotta get rid of this idiotic, uneducated, hyperpartisan bitch.