Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fear and Loathing in Cloquet, MN

"The Angels are coming, the Angels are coming! Hurry, hurry and lock up your daughters and bolt your doors!"

It must be sweeps week in commercial media because for the last week in Minnesota all you have heard from the commercial, conservative (I know,I know,... redundant as Hell!) media (i.e the local Fox television station and their philosophical sister-station (with the exception of Reusse), KSTP AM 1500, is that the Hells Angels are having their national rally in Cloquet, MN and the world, as we know it, is coming to an end.

Just like the cowardly GWB administration, the adolescents who host the noon talk show on AM 1500, (they are so bad I can't even tell you their names, they're like a dummied down version of that (former) drunken imbecile,Glenn Beck, if that's even possible, the heir to Rush Limbaugh's throne (i.e the hypocrite's barbiturate commode), would have you throw away the constitution and prejudge thousands of people they have never met based upon stereotypes, fear and more than likely, their shame over their little wieners.

Well after about a five-minute colloquy between some local, know-it-all jack-off, wherein the two boy-hosts of the show fall over each other agreeing with the caller that we should ignore the constitution and use admittedly unconstitutional tactics to try and keep out of this state over an estimated 1,500 motorcycle riding citizens of the United States because they are "afraid", well I had HAD ENOUGH!

I picked up my cell phone, dialed 411 and before I knew it I was screaming my opinion to some poor producer, who, when I finally took a breath, tried to slow me down: "Whoa, whoa buddy why are you yelling at me? You're not even on the air", he said. At least not yet...

I start telling the producer how I am an attorney and have represented plenty of club members over the course of my practice and how these idiot radio Jock's are being so quick to trash our constitution, at which point the producer interrupts me with the famous Ben Franklin quote ("...those that would trade liberty for security deserve neither...") and says : "Hey, I agree with you..." and the next thing I hear is "Jim in Minneapolis?"

I remember thinking to myself, stay calm stay calm...but of course my emotion's get the best of me and the tirade begins (I paraphrase):

"I just had to call in after that last conversation with a caller. I am an attorney and have represented plenty of club members over the last 20 years and, let me tell you, 98% of them were real gentlemen. You people (conservative media and political types) are so quick to proclaim your love for our Constitution and its strict construction, yet seem way too quick to give up the constitutional rights of others. This is terrible how you gladhanders in the media are jumping on the bandwagon, whipping up public hysteria over this issue. Why don't you wait until someone has done something (illegal) before judging them. When clubs like the Angels go on these events they are on their best behavior. You know with the economy the way it is, we probably should not be driving business off."

When I pause for a breath the teeny boppers spray back at me some bullshit about criminal syndicates or something to that effect to which I respond that I had little trouble, in my experience, with the bikers compared with the (criminal syndicate like) behavior of the strike and task forces. Before ending with "I am not even going to go there!" before hanging up. The little boys clap and celebrate with glee as though they actually had won the exchange.

The next caller, a man out for my own heart, opens with: "Finally you got someone on who knows what they are talking about...". The sixtyish sounding man continues with an authoritative, gravelly biker-voice how he lives or owns property out by Sturgis and deals with the Clubs like the Angels every year. He relates how bikers, club members included are people and deserved to be judged on their own actions, not grouped together by stereotypes and discriminated against because of fear. Far more eloquently than I did (or could), this man, no, this Patriot, went on to give a tour de force argument that absolutely eviscerated whatever flotsam and hyperbole that made up the little talk-show weenies ad homonym attack. To show you how stupid the hosts of this excuse for a radio show are, they did not even know or did not have the courage to admit, that they were wrong. That in fact, if it were their rights being violated, they would be crying, pissing and caterwauling all over the airwaves. Now who really are the Patriots in this situation?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

26.7 Million Reasons Why We Need Health Care Reform

Dear Senator Franken:

I like the ring to that. Congratulations, by the way. The reason I am writing is to point out a Minnesota connection to what is wrong with the health care industry, as pointed out by Bill Moyers on his program Friday night. Towards the end of his program he did an editorial on the health care industry which included a vignette on a working class person struggling to keep up with the ever increasing cost of health insurance which she desperately needs due to a serious health condition and then Mr. Moyers named three health insurance company executives and their multi-million dollar annual salaries.

I almost fell out of my chair when Bill Moyers saved the highest earning health insurance executive for last, something like 26.7 million Dollars in annual salary for John Hammergren of McKesson and flashed up his picture. Could it be? John, my R.A. (resident advisor) in Territorial Hall at the University of Minnesota my sophomore year as an undergrad in 1980-81. While John was certainly capable of telling you to turn down your stereo, not to have beer in the dorm and saying, quite often, "what's that funny smell emanating from your room?", he certainly was no wunderkind and nobody, not even Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods, is worthy of 26.7 million Dollars a year (well, maybe Joe Mauer, but I digress.....).

Just thought this interesting bit of Minnesota trivia might be helpful when countering the naysayers and health care reform opponents rhetoric in the upcoming weeks.

cc: Bill Moyers

Transcript from Bill Moyer's Journal on PBS:

July 17, 2009

BILL MOYERS: This week, Regina Benjamin was nominated by President Obama to be our next surgeon general, charged with keeping the American public informed about our health. She's a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Medical Association and recipient of a MacArthur Foundation 'Genius Grant.'

But more important, she's a country doctor, a family physician along the Gulf Coast of Alabama, serving the poor and uninsured. After Hurricane Katrina destroyed her clinic a second time, she mortgaged her own home to rebuild it. The day it was to reopen, a fire burned the clinic to the ground. Moving to a trailer, Dr. Benjamin and her staff never missed a day of work. Dr. Benjamin will no doubt bring that same ethic to the fight for health care reform.

Many of the folks in Regina Benjamin's bayou town are so poor that sometimes she's paid with a pint of oysters or a couple of fish. She buys medicine for her patients out of her own pocket, and she makes house calls.

Now meet H. Edward Hanway, the Chairman and CEO of Cigna, the country's fourth largest insurance company. At the beginning of the year, Cigna blamed hard economic times when it announced the layoff of 1,100 employees. But it reported first quarter profits of $208 million on revenues of $4 billion. Mr. Hanway has announced his retirement at the end of the year, and the living will be easy, financially at least. He made $11.4 million dollars in 2008, according to the Associated Press, and some years more than that.

That's a lot of oysters, although he lags behind Ron Williams, the CEO of Aetna Insurance, who made more than $17 million dollars last year, or John Hammergren, the head of McKesson, the biggest health care company in the world. His compensation was nearly $30 million.

Here's the difference. To Dr. Regina Benjamin, health care is a service, helping people in need with grace and compassion. To Ed Hanway and his highly paid friends, it's big business, a commodity to be sold to those who can afford it. And woe to anyone who gets between them and the profits they reap from sick people.

That behavior includes spending nearly a million and a half a day--a day!--to make sure health care reform comes out their way. Over the years they've lavished millions on the politicians who are writing and voting on the bills coming out of committee. Now it's payback time. See for yourself here on our website, where you'll find a link to campaign contributions and the politicians who right now are deciding who wins and who loses the heath care debate.

That's it for the week. I'm Bill Moyers and I'll see you next time.