Saturday, September 30, 2006


Right after my last post I went to a series of fundraisers here in the Bay Area for progressive political candidates. Where I should have been enthused and enlivened by the candidates, I came away severely depressed about the dark realities of our times.

The first event I attended was for Jerry McNerney, an environmentalist, businessman and once-dark horse candidate running on the Democratic ticket against deeply entrenched, well-connected and vile Richard Pombo. In 1994 Pombo was a freshman Republican Congressman representing California's 11 district, a member of the so-called Republican Revolution. A signer of the GOP's "Contract on America," he has spent the last 12 years attempting to multiple gut-stab America's environmental and endangered species protections while diverting funds to enhance the value of his family's property in the Central Valley. The Pombos are said to be the largest landholders in California's 11th district.

Clearly another 'favorite son,' Richard Pombo is a textbook example of the American peoples' love affair with royalty. Like any scullery maid madly in love with the young heir-apparent to the manor, the voters of the Central Valley have returned Little Prince Pombo to Congress regularly while he has done little to nothing to benefit them. That’s not to say Pombo hasn’t been busy, he has worked his butt off ensuring that America's landed gentry, people like himself, are treated like royalty, rewarding the rich with tax breaks, tax exemptions, tax credits, the taxpayer's land and the common citizen’s hard earned and highly-taxed dollars while exempting the lords of the manor from any legal oversight.

I probably don’t need to say that Pombo is good friend of disgraced Republican House Whip Tom Delay, who was force to resign from Congress after being charged with felonious crimes, nor do I need to introduce Pombo as a good friend to Jack Abramoff, the former Republican lobbyist currently headed to prison after pleading guilty to bribery and corruption charges. Needless to say, Little Richard Pombo is also a darling of the White House where another little prince petulantly rules our once noble land, using our Constitution and Bill of Rights as little more than nose tissue.

A few days after I attended Jerry McNerney’s afternoon fundraiser I attended a fundraising dinner party in Mill Valley for California Secretary of State candidate Debra Bowen. Ms. Bowen promises to ensure that our votes will be counted accurately and fairly. She’s running against Republican Bruce McPherson, who was appointed to the elected position of Secretary of State by a newly elected Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The careful reader will recall that Republican Katherine Harris was Secretary of State (and a member of the Bush election team) in Florida when our current president wsa selected.

Schwarzenegger won a special election after former Governor Grey Davis was recalled by the voters in mid-term. Mr Davis hadn’t been charged with or convicted of any crime but the voters decided he wasn’t royal material.
Mr Schwarzenegger was formerly Mr. Universe and had become a Hollywood actor of sorts, famous for his bulges and his gropes.

Already Mr. McPherson has certified several different electronic voting machines as suitable for use in California, most recently as September 22, 2006, despite that all the electronic voting machines are widely noted to be failure prone and susceptible to fraud.

At the dinner party for Bowen, very much a Mill Valley affair, there were several health care professionals, working at very high levels in the system, as well as numerous other successful professional and business people of all ages. The unofficial topic of the evening was the catastrophic state of America’s health care system.

While these folks, for the most part, all had decent health care plans, nearly every one of them knew of a peer who had recently suffered a medical set back that was devastating, not to their physical well-being but to their financial viability.

One example was given of a man charged approximately $25,000 for a short visit to the Emergency Room at Marin Hospital. He was only there for a few hours!

In another case a woman forced to spend the night in the hospital after a medical emergency received a bill for more than $50,000. Marin Hospital told her they would work with her on a payment plan, they offered her three months to pay up rather than insisting upon cash on the barrelhead!

In both cases the people in question had medical insurance, but their medical bills far exceeded their policy limits, even for non-life threatening incidents.

A successful and very well-connected lawyer present told the other members of the dinner party that such bills were not uncommon, nor was it uncommon for those sums to be disputed.
“The hospitals will negotiate those bills,” he said.
But no one at the table had even considered that as a possibility.

Now, like bartering in Mexico for trinkets, the average American is expected to argue with hospital administrators for the cost of their medical coverage, after the fact! No wonder I was depressed.


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