Monday Musings

An increasingly common sight. This image is from the BLM protests in June. Note the POW/MIA flag below the American flag.

W.J. Astore

Remember when Trump said he wanted a military parade on the streets of Washington, D.C.? Looks like his dream’s come true, as the streets of Washington are filled with troops in preparation for Biden’s inauguration.

Biden’s message is supposed to stress “unity.” But unity for what? For single-payer universal health care? For an end to wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere? For much higher wages for workers? For a Green New Deal? “Unity” for “normalcy” is empty rhetoric of the worst kind. We need unity for policies that help the most vulnerable among us.

Republicans play to and favor their base. Democrats demobilize and betray their base.

Those rioters who stormed the Capitol — are they all lost causes? What would have happened if Obama had actually been a Progressive in 2008? What would have happened if Sanders had run against Trump in 2016? What I mean is this: Trump is offering a vision (even though it’s a lie) to his followers that mobilizes them. They want to “take back America,” but for the wrong reasons. What if Obama or Sanders (or someone like them) had offered a Progressive vision to “take back America”? But of course any meaningful economic reforms are blocked by the owners and donors of both parties, hence protest and its energy can be seized and directed in dark channels by charlatans like Trump.

Remember the old days when rulers — at risk of being killed or captured — led their troops into combat? And, if they refused to lead, were dismissed as cowards? We’re not living in those days.

Trump is the kind of schoolyard bully who instigates a fight but then stands on the sidelines, cheering and sneering until the teacher comes, after which he smirks and says, “It wasn’t me.”

I know 74 million Americans voted for Trump. But not all of them voted for all of the Trump circus. Many Republicans and Democrats are tribal voters — they’ll vote for their candidate no matter who he is and what he’s done. And I don’t blame all Trump voters for sticking with him when I consider the alternative choice of Joe Biden, a career pol who failed so miserably when he ran for president back in 1988 that he became a laughingstock in his own party.

I can only hope that Biden has learned something since 1988, when he stole speeches from Neil Kinnock and Bobby Kennedy and bragged he graduated near the top of his class on a full scholarship while winning a political science award. Fact is, he graduated near the bottom of his class on a half scholarship and won no such award. He also boasted about his IQ. He further falsely claimed to have participated in civil rights demonstrations and activism in the 1960s. (Bernie Sanders, by contrast, was arrested for his civil rights activism in the 1960s.)

More recently, Biden falsely claimed he’d been arrested while trying to see Nelson Mandela. In short, “alternative facts” won’t die when Trump leaves office.

All this is to say that Joe Biden is a typical politician, only more so. As Jimmy Dore says, politicians are not your friends; they are supposed to be public servants. It’s up to us to hold them to account, not to cheer for them. And if the Democratic party refuses to serve the people — as it likely will — a third party may be the only alternative.

63 thoughts on “Monday Musings

      1. Yes — it’s all about regaining their version and vision of “USA.” And it’s not an inclusive version and vision. Neither is it compassionate. And it sure as hell isn’t patriotic.

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  1. A military parade indeed. Thanks for the chuckle!
    I forgot about his desire for a personal display of the misappropriation of public funds. Although I do believe such a grandiose gathering of our weapons of mass destruction, just may be a good opportunity to amass a sizable counter perspective; and seed the minds of the militants with the perspective of peace and love for all humanity. I sure would love to see a contrasting color along the entire parade route. Maybe that’s why they talked him down. They didn’t want to face such music.
    I’m sure the Trumps will resurface, commandeer another “cause ship”; sell passage on their new voyage of misadventure, to many willin“yachties”, and, and set sail on their good ship Bilk’em.

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  2. I wonder what signal it sends to Russia, Biden appointed Victoria Nuland to his government, and what it portends to the Future?
    Watching from CanaDa, it makes perfectly natural human sense to me why Putin would prefer Trump over Clinton and Biden. They are the Devils he knows.

    It was the Obama/Biden/Clinton/ Nuland regime that orchestrated the 2014 Coup d’Etat in Ukraine, changing the Russian friendly government the majority Russian speaking Ukrainians in Crimea and East Ukraine VOTED FOR, for a Neo-Nazi anti-Russian government.

    It was that US aggression that precipitated the rebellion in the East, and moved Russia to annex Crimea that was part of Russia from 1773 to 1954, when it was turned over to Ukraine Administration as an Autonomous Region when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union.

    The US has made regime change of governments it can’t control as American as Apple Pie.

    The 2014 US orchestrated Coup in Ukraine was the FINAL STRAW for Putin, waking him up to realize it was futile trying to appease the US and the West for better Relations, when Russia would not be assimilated into Western World. Then the US led Arms Race would have no further Justification. Now even more will be required as Americans will have to face Joint Russia-China retaliation against US aggression pushing to that point of no return.

    That RUDE awakening for Putin was what motivated him to enter the 2011 Syrian World War a year later, in 2015, and along with his Allies Assad and General Soleimani, STOPPED the 2001 US WAR PLAN in it’s tracks, to change the Assad government.

    The US NEVER Learns from it’s delusions and mistakes. Trump, the Law and Order Man, is using US Troops like Common Thieves and a Criminal Gang, already being in Syria in violation of International Law, and uses them to STEAL Syria’s and Americans don’t care. They can’t see, if Trump can STEAL outright in a Foreign Land Americans don’t give attention to, it’s not beyond him to STEAL the US Election after the majority of American Voters fired him.

    According to the whistle-blower US General Wesley Clark, who revealed it in 2007, BEFORE the demise of Libya and Syria in 2011, the 2001 US WAR PLAN called for changing the regimes of Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon and at THE END, Iran. Lebanon is now another failed State in the 2001 US WAR Plan. There can be NO DOUBT Trump is still following that 2001 US WAR PLAN, leading to THE END with IRAN.

    The Soviets could not foresee the demise of the Communist Economic System, like Americans can’t see the demise of the Capitalist Economic System and the FAUX Pax Americana.

    While American Capitalist POWER Brokers and War Profiteers refuse to see the Truth and Good in it, the Chinese have developed a hybrid State Capitalism-Communism system, that raised some 800,000,000 of it’s Citizens out of Poverty and homelessness just in the last 30 years, since they learned how to play the American Capitalist Game better than the American Capitalists who brought it to China.

    The FACTS on the ground are such that in the HQ of American Capitalism, the American Carnage of increasing numbers of poor and homeless on American Streets, while the rich get richer, can be seen NOW, even BEFORE the new Administration takes over.

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  3. Since the Super Bowl is nearly upon us – just in time to help heal and reunite the Nation as only it can – I will use a contemporary football term for my “hot take” on the next four years: the “Trumpian Interlude” having shown everyone the folly & danger of having a seriously loose cannon on deck (a favorite term of The Nix who, some will remember, was a serious football fan) – and allowing him to surround himself with little sycophantic loose cannons (where did they all come from?), will use J. Biden as a “bridge” President to cover the next four years while order is re-established ONCE AND “FOR ALL.” And there’s your “unity”: four years of sweeping the deck clear of the likes of Cruz and Hawley and the QAnon rabble and certainly AOC and her bunch and holystoning away their residue (mixing metaphors, I know) until everything is “ship-shape & Bristol-fashion” once more (Gilbert & Sullivan anyone?).

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    1. ….thus making “unity” a state in which no one complains about or advocates for anything. The solidly vanilla, quiescent “centrists” hold sway, while the sheeple continue to be fleeced as they enjoy pizza and reality TV. Huxley’s tale brought to life.

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      1. Elements of Huxley, Bradbury, and Orwell. Huxley is soma, whether in the form of fast food or various drugs. Bradbury with all those screens everywhere, as “reality” tv actually becomes reality for people. And Orwell, of course, in constant surveillance and state propaganda tied to the notion that permanent war is all in the cause of everlasting peace.

        “Brave New World,” “Fahrenheit 451,” and “1984” were all prescient in their way.

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  4. Bill A., you force me to come to Biden’s defense. His call for unity will be full of language about an America that never existed (did virulent racism only spring up on Trump’s watch? Have we ever had a colorblind meritocracy? etc.) but…BUT…B-U-T it will be a vastly more desirable America than Trump’s vision. And this call for unity will certainly fall on scores of millions of pairs of deaf ears. That can’t be pinned on the incoming administration, unless we play the “What if?” game, as in “What if previous Democratic administrations had really fought for a progressive future?” But playing that game is futile, we have to deal with the present reality. Though we know there is very little ideological diversity in Biden’s Cabinet picks–they’re all 100% for Capitalism, and not exactly anti-war, but who can be surprised at that?–their “ethnic/racial/sexual” diversity is an intentional rebuke of Trump’s White Nationalism. One of my first articles on my own website was called “The Trouble With Normal is…,” borrowing from Canadian singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn. His song states that that trouble is that it (“normal”) always GETS WORSE. But I simply can’t grasp how anyone who has lived thru the Trump Presidency can pretend that we don’t have a screaming NEED to “return to normalcy,” after suffering the presence of the most abominably abnormal POTUS in the nation’s history. Wanting as it is in social justice, yes, I will take the normalcy of the Obama years, the Bill Clinton years, etc. over what we’ve just been thru. I welcome the end of a time when the President of the United (??) States sent comforting words to neo-effing-Nazis from official podiums.

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    1. I hear you, Greg. But if we return to the status quo ante Trump, it’s quite possible we’ll have a new Trump in 2024, much more effective in a nastier way. That’s my biggest concern.

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      1. If that scenario comes about, this nation, it pains me to have to say, will deserve to go down the Crapper of History for keeps. Because it will have brought this upon itself. Since neither Joe Biden nor any other politician/elected official can possibly lead the nation into a Renaissance in four years–especially facing such fierce opposition right in the Congress–the wisest thing that could be undertaken would be a vigorous crackdown on armed extremists–yes, I know this could be used to repress leftists, also–to ameliorate the threat they pose to the continued existence of our deeply flawed System. I detest that System but lack the magic wand required to make it disappear. But now we have to return to Square One, where GOP lawmakers will try to stymie passage and enforcement of stricter laws on firearms possession and carrying. Yeah, we have a damned MESS on our hands in this country.

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      2. A well-founded concern, I think. I don’t believe it’s likely that Biden will go far enough to remedy the major ills facing the country. If that turns out to be the case (and I’m desperately hoping it won’t be), we’ll be looking at Orange Redux, only smarter and more organized. Biden has two years to wow the country; it’s in all our interests that he makes the best possible use of them.

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        1. To actually address climate, infrastructure, “education,” and the little matter of Covid and whatever horror comes next (new strains are said to still be mutating), will require ENORMOUS DEFICIT SPENDING. The GOP will kick and scream every micron of the way. [Note I left economic disparities off the list, that’s something basically insoluble under present System!] Ain’t it hilarious? GOP has for decades been tagging the Dems as “Tax and spend liberals.” Put GOP in charge, and what do they do? They LOWER tax rates for the rich, and OUTSPEND the Dems on war preparations, etc. Thereby leaving National Debt more insanely bloated than ever! David Copperfield, eat your heart out! The Republicans are the greatest illusionists of all time!

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        2. Sadly, Biden’s never been a “wow” guy. That’s why Obama picked him to be VP. That’s why the DNC and the establishment threw their weight behind him in 2020. He’s been a loyal servant to banks, to corporations, to “law and order,” for his entire life.

          Can he become something new and vibrant? Old truisms about leopards not changing their spots and the difficulty of teaching old dogs new tricks come to mind.

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          1. I like what I’ve heard about Joe’s plans for first 100 days in office. (We’re not surprised, of course, that the agenda doesn’t include declaring World Peace.) By all means, to the extent that legality empowers him to undo some of Trump’s intentional damage to the environment, etc., by stroke of his pen, I say “Go, Joe, go!!”

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  5. If the Democrats — in “controlling the Senate” — do not ditch the filibuster so that they can ram through their agenda by a simple 51-50 vote margin, they will demonstrate once again that they have no interest in exercising real power for the betterment of the working class. Already we can hear them whimpering that they need Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans — not to mention their own blue-dog turncoat Joe Manchin — to get anything done. I suspect that in only days now the ghost of humorist Will Rodgers will again haunt the US Marketing Territory with his timeless truism: “I don’t belong to an organized political party. I’m a Democrat.”

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  6. Meanwhile, as Trump faces the end of his term and Biden pledges to bring us together, we can be very sure of unity in Congress on the “defense” budget. How do you like the new look of this upcoming destroyer? Only $2.5 billion each, another weapon system for a war that can’t happen.

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    1. I wonder if Pentagon still wants us to believe they can wage “2.5” wars simultaneously? They ain’t doin’ so well thus far, eh? But of course I oppose their overseas adventures not because they’re bungled, but because they are grossly unjustified.

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          1. Like Orange Man in his quest to return USA to “the good old days” when “colored people knew, and stayed in, their place,” Bonaparte’s reach proved to far exceed his grasp. Hell, little guy’s arms couldn’t have been that long in the first place! Trump believed he was about the size of The Colossus of Rhodes! Not quite, Donald, not quite.

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  7. I’d sure hate to be Trump @ this Pt. in time tho.– facing liquidation, Incarceration, and the ultimate for him personal humiliation, reminds me of that Warden in Stephen Kings “The Shawshank Redemption” and his Framed inscription over his Desk that is not a Bible quote, but reads as follows: “His Judgement Cometh, And That Right Quick”

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    1. Can you really picture DJT “accepting” personal humiliation? He’ll be screaming until he draws his last breath that he was victim of the most heinous “witch hunt” in history of mankind!! And millions of our fellow Americans–or are they, at this point?–will believe him.

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  8. Please Give Biden a Break Col.; As a lifelong Progressive Democrat, a Vietnam Vet, a retired Physician, a supporter of Physicians for National Healthcare and before that Physicians for Social Responsibility, I believe President-Elect Biden is, oddly enough, the perfect one-term President to
    start the two-or-three generation turn to a modern-day US Federal “Renaissance” government
    structure that would closely resemble the “hybrid” Scandinavian model: A carefully regulated capitalist economy with a social-democratic public welfare system–see Denmark for example.
    Disclosure: My wife and I have relatives there and have visited/ maintained close relationships for two generations—my father-in-law was a teenager in Nazi-occupied Denmark in WWII, came to US in 1950s, became a successful Dairy Farmer in Oregon…Danes have the most stable, happiest,
    healthiest population in the world year after year…

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      1. I need to slip in some Mark Twain here in relation to the Orange Man now in his final hours in office. I always find stuff worth quoting from Sam Clemens and am now finally reading third and final volume of his autobiography. I am substituting a certain name into this statement, then will reveal the original: “It is long since the head of any nation has been so blindly and unreasonably worshiped as is President [Trump] by this nation today. If he should die now, he would be mourned as no ruler has been mourned save Nero.” (Of course, this adulation emanates from “only” half the citizenry in Trump’s case.) The original POTUS in question is Theodore Roosevelt, and Twain was criticizing him for publicly attacking, in interviews published in various periodicals, a nature author with whose views he differed. TR, the great “conservationist,” stood accused of shooting three male elk in rapid succession, not because he needed their meat, but for “kicks.” Their bodies would be left to rot. [Shades of Trump’s sons, those Fearless Great White Hunters who love to pose with the corpses of their victims.] As I have mentioned here in past, Twain was VP of the US Anti-Imperialist League and very publicly critical of what Roosevelt had engineered in the Philippines in wake of the War of 1898. The crushing of Filipino independence and massacres of civilians. In the musings I quote here he was also critical of TR’s use of Executive Orders, of which about a thousand (!) were reportedly issued. Twain considered this a gross abuse of the Executive’s powers. A POSITIVE ENDING (!): Sources close to Biden indicate one of his very first acts as POTUS will be to cancel the Keystone Pipeline Project by executive action. This would be more progressiveness on Day One than I’d hoped for in an entire term in office!! I hope the report on this proves to have been accurate.

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    1. Your hopes for US future are “slightly” utopian, I fear, but I don’t wanna make this comment a total “downer”! I understand that the Danes actually did more to hide Jews from Nazis in WW II than the Dutch. I guess they’ve come to understand that if you treat workers halfway decently they’ll do better quality jobs. Here in US, the Boss just fires your butt if you’re not willing to bust same, ‘cuz there’s a large pool of replacements available (Marx’s “reserve army of the unemployed”), and labor unions have been pulverized in recent decades. Wait, did I end on another “downer”? Damn it, this is what happens when you’re a REALIST!

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      1. Thanks for your thoughtful reply; as a bleeding-heart liberal retired Psychiatrist with 40 years of
        clinical, teaching, and administrative practice in Seattle I’m pretty used to having my views of caring for the less-fortunate/chronically mentally ill/abused and neglected in childhood population dismissed…but I like and enjoy getting to know most people I meet; grew up in a large close Midwest family, trained in my specialty at the Mayo Clinic–Psychiatry 1970-2020 has been the most interesting, challenging, often rewarding experience as a medical specialty–but still in
        its adolescence…
        Here’s a neat story about my Danish-American Father-in-law, Neils Peter Jensen–
        Teenager in Nazi-occupied Denmark, member of the King’s Guard in Copenhagen for 2 years just after the war, told this which he witnessed: the King made it a point to ride his horse, with minimal entourage, daily on the streets of Copenhagen during the war. The day after the Nazis
        proclaimed that all Jews in Denmark must wear a 6-point yellow-star armband, the King and his Guard rode about the city with yellow 6-point star armbands–“we are all Jewish now”.

        I know a great deal about Cluster B personality disorders (look it up in Wikipedia.org), have tried for years to get people interested in learning about this dreadful, untreatable condition–very few people know anything about psychopathology, and I fault my own American Psychiatric Ass’n.
        (I’m a Life Member) in part for not educating the general population…of course, that can be said about many medical and humanitarian and physical science vocations…

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        1. If Denmark STILL has a titular monarchy (and I confess my ignorance, and right now I’m too lazy to check online!), I trust they are sufficiently sensible to not throw the kind of money at it for maintenance as is done in the UK!

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          1. Denmark is still a titular monarchy-Queen Margrethe is a highly respected and honored 80 y/o–
            As my wife, the daughter of Danish-American Neils Peter Jensen, says–It’s not necessarily that Denmark’s system of governance is superior, it’s that the majority of the citizens agree with and support the social contract that is honestly and transparently followed by the Parliament (13 Political parties) and political leaders…We’ve been there and seen it in person…

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Thirteen political parties! Imagine that in USA! Sure, many would be outrageously rightwing, but it would hint at diversity, huh?

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Everyone: check out Denise’s new post at her site: https://i-know-right.blog/2021/01/19/the-flip-side

    To which I made this comment: This right vs. left dynamic, or Republicans vs. Democrats, etc., serves as an all-consuming distraction from class differences, from the rich vs. the poor, with the rich seen as “deserving” and the poor seen as undeserving. Workers in America have largely been demobilized; unions are dying; jobs are increasingly scarce; government help, when it comes, is grudging and inadequate.

    The Trump crazies are angry for the wrong reasons, but they act. The left isn’t angry enough, and when it does act, it gets stomped on by a militarized police and an oppositional media.

    Where this ends, I don’t know. We could sure use some yellow-vesters in America. A national strike. A third party. Major government reforms.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I despair of the left’s ever developing a spine; their perennial refusal to stand toe-to-toe with the conservatives hurts the country. On balance, however, they probably won’t do as much damage as the crazies. And yes, it’s all a diversion.

      Agree heartily with your last paragraph!

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      1. Denise: I saw this today at the Nation in a Q&A with Pankaj Mishra:

        “The desire for normalcy, essentially a state of affairs in which gross inequities reign behind a veil of sophistication and civility, is what brought us Trump in the first place. The pursuit of normalcy now might bring us Trump 2.0 or a clone more competent and toxic than the original.”

        We need “spine” and “sand” to prevent this from happening.

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        1. Well, notwithstanding the report that Biden will kill Keystone Pipeline on first day in office, we who comment here are of the firm belief that a Biden presidency will NOT usher in a “New Age” of enlightened rule by the 1% (really, it’s the “1% of the 1%” in whose benefit this society is run). So we are fully prepared, if I may dare to speak for some others, for great disappointments. If we should happen to define “normalcy” as the Capitol Building NOT being under armed siege by neo-Nazis–and I insist on “calling a spade a spade” in this matter–yes, we NEED to return to that. I know Biden is intent on focusing on dealing with the pandemic, which his predecessor infamously played down initially. This is RATIONAL governance, versus a deranged individual using the bully pulpit to spout sheer nonsense daily. Unfortunately, it looks like vaccine supplies are running down, which certainly shouldn’t be blamed on the incoming administration. “One day at a time” is how we are going to have to proceed from here.

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    2. That Denise! “Out-posting” me by miles! Again, Bill, you touch on issues I need to comment on on my own website. The painting of mainstream Dems as “the left” by GOPers is absurd on the face of it, of course. And the problem with “the left” in this country isn’t a failure of initiative or intestinal fortitude but a simple paucity of forces, of numbers. Partly due to brilliant success of the marketing of Capitalism.

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      1. Paucity of forces, yes, but also an excess of trust and an over-eagerness to get along. Bernie bent over backwards to make nice to Joe, and was summarily kicked to the curb. AOC publicly backed away from the initiative to NOT seat Pelosi unless there was M4A legislation on the table, and doubled down by criticizing those who advanced that initiative. If she thinks that will get her anywhere, she’s most likely mistaken. So….the left needs converts, AND they need more steel in their spines.

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        1. Again, clarity of definitions is important. When it comes to US Congress, there are very, very few members one could properly term “leftists”! When I speak (you know, write) of leftists, I do not fold the US Congress into the picture at all. Centrists may appear “left,” but only because the right has sprinted (as opposed to merely “drifted” or “moved”) SO FAR in the other direction!

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    1. Nauseating. Where are all those guys who kept saying that Biden had to be the nominee, and that if people would just vote for him, they (the guys, such as Norm Solomon) would hold his feet to the fire?

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    2. But here’s the thing, WJ and Denise, if I may: I spent 40 YEARS as a practicing physician in WA State, in a major multispecialty medical (nonprofit) institution (28 years), Private Practice with a
      senior Forensic Psychiatry colleague (7 years) and 5 years with the Seattle VA as an outpatient
      Staff Psychiatrist–through ALL of which I was a Medicare/Medicaid/Private for-profit, Private non-profit/HMO physician.
      I worked with, struggled with, negotiated with all these insurance entities for
      years both in my own practice and on behalf of the departments I was administrating. Medical insurance corporations, whether for-profit, not-for-profit, or state/federal entities, are just like
      all other corporations–their mission is to serve their own interests and stakeholders.
      Now I am retired, on Medicare myself since age 65 (I’m 77) and have felt pretty well
      served by Medicare ABCD though I used to chafe ay the slow, piddling reimbursement
      for my clinical work as a senior Psychiatrist (about $32/hr) –maybe it’s better now.

      So my point? I wrote emails, contributed to, entreated Sen. Warren and Mayor Buttigieg
      to reconsider their positions on their Medicare for All/national healthcare plans–and got nowhere.
      This may seem simplistic or naïve , but if Biden/Harris would only institute ONE addition to the ACA, a PUBLIC OPTION with straight Medicare benefits for adults and children, with suitable income/graduated limits for enrollment, it would demonstrate to all within 3-5 years that
      the private insurance companies cannot compete–Medicare overhead is about 3.5%/year,
      private insurance 23%/year. You may already be aware of why this is so, or I could give you over to medical economists, but there is no need to have a huge political battle about this–it would declare itself!
      Steve Melson MD

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        1. As I understand it, Denise, lowering the Medicare age to 60 could happen, but only because health insurance companies favor the move. I think because people 60-65 are too costly to them compared to younger folks. Hillary actually wanted to lower the age to 55, or so she said. So Biden’s offer of 60 is retrograde from 2016. Surprise!

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