So Long, Sarah?

So Sarah Palin officially quit as Governor of Alaska Sunday.

One wonders if the people of that state feel cheated. She hadn’t even served two years when John McCain made her his running mate. One also wonders, all this time down the road, how he feels about that one. Anyway, the choice was Palin’s to make, and no one thinks she’s simply going to write a book while making moose casserole for the family. In case you hadn’t noticed, Sarah Palin has ambition.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with that ambition. In fact, in these times it’s difficult to get ahead without it. The question for Palin is, how to leave all those ethics questions, along with those about her fitness for high office, behind her.

And, the question of whether or not she’s a quitter? My good friend starlil363 sent me an e-mail the other day that chronicled Palin’s seeming inability to stay focused on one gig.

She quit five different colleges before graduating from the sixth, she quit her job in television, she and husband Todd quit their snow machine dealership, she quit her job as Mayor of Wasilla to run for Lt. Governor, she quit as chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and now she cuts and runs from being governor.

Nice. Yet from the moment McCain picked her, Palin has found she likes the limelight. She enjoys jousting with David Letterman, enjoys dogging out the father of her grandchild, enjoys instant celebrity as much as any reality TV show star. She thinks it’s her ticket to the White House, and there are those on the right (and left) who will feed her delusion. On a certain level, Sarah Pain being taken seriously is the best thing that could happen to the Democratic Party. That’s why much of the criticism you heard when she announced her resignation came from the GOP.

So what really is next for Sarah Palin? Fox News must be keeping some kind of contributor’s chair warm for her. She can go around the lower 48 [states] without anyone saying she’s neglecting her duties as governor. She really could star in a reality TV show, but that’s not likely.

Maybe, and I don’t think it’s likely either, she’ll use this down time to pursue some of that intellectual heft so many thought she was lacking on the campaign trail. Every now and then it’s nice to know what you’re talking about.

But then, if she works for Fox, that won’t be necessary. So what is Sarah Palin’s future? You tell me.

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Corruption- You From Jersey?

Suffice to say the Garden State, my home by way of full disclosure, has had its problems with corruption before.

Three ex-mayors of Newark, the state’s largest city, have been convicted of crimes.

Yet the arrest of 44 people, including the mayors of three municipalities and five rabbis takes the notion of corruption to a whole new level.

corruption arrests

It’s a twisted tale, this one, and involves allegations of kidney selling, fake Prada bags, and a box of Apple Jacks cereal stuffed with $97,000 dollars. And it should surprise no one living in New Jersey that it all began with a real estate developer.

Developers in Jersey, you see, have almost become synonymous with double dealing. In order to get profitable projects built, the logic goes, they’ve got to grease the wheels. That sometimes means making nice with elected officials who hold the fate of an office tower or condo block in their hands. In this case, the developer is one Solomon Dwek, who himself was charged with scamming a bank out of millions back in 2006.

Solomon dwek

The feds turned him into an informant, and what a snitch he turned out to be! All of what follows are allegations, and those charged are innocent until proven guilty.

Most of the rabbis involved are accused of laundering Dwek’s money through charities they controlled. Some of them also allegedly laundered their own profits from the sale of fake Gucci and Prada bags in a similar fashion. The politicians allegedly took bribes to make sure Dwek has those necessary permits and approvals to get projects finished.

Yet the most outrageous allegations are against Levy-Izhak Rosenbaum.

*Jul 23 - 00:05*

He’s allegedly been running a kidney peddling operation that makes the $10,000, to $25,000 bucks the pols were scamming pale in comparison. According to prosecutors, Rosenbaum would buy kidneys from people in Israel for $10,000, then resell them here for $160,000. The story goes that Solomon Dwek introduced the kidney merchant to an undercover agent posing as his secretary. She told Rosenbaum her uncle needed a transplant, to which he allegedly assured her he’d been in the business for a long time.

Even more startling is word that many of the key players involved in the corruption dealt with Dwek knowing that he’d been a government target for his bank scam. The probe that netted the 44 suspects began a decade ago out of two cases, and Thursday arrests involved 200 FBI and IRS agents. In one case, the Mayor of Hoboken, NJ, Peter Cammarano had just been sworn in at the beginning of the month.

One wonders what the politicians are thinking now that they know the money they got was pitifully small when compared to the $3 million dollars allegedly laundered by the rabbis. No matter. The one person who must really be sweating after all this is New Jersey Gov. John Corzine. Facing a nationally watched election some say he could lose, the last thing this “corruption fighting” governor needed as to see a bunch of predominately Democratic elected officials led away in handcuffs.

Yet this is the public perception of New Jersey anyway, isn’t it? Should it be? You tell me.

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Can Obama Win on Health Care?

barack-obama-healthcareThe president’s supporters have gotten nervous over poll slippage for his health care plan. That’s why he went on the offensive Wednesday, emphasizing the need to reform the current system. President Obama is fighting this battle on several fronts. Congressional Republicans want to see his plan go down, pure and simple. Jim DeMint isn’t the only one hoping this is Obama’s “Waterloo”. Despite their minority status, they’re pressing their opposition in part by playing the “Fear of the Unknown” card.

What we have is bad, their argument goes, but what Obama is proposing is worse. Plus, they have a couple of non partisan analyses that say his plan won’t save the money he says it will. Next on the list are so-called “Blue Dog Democrats”, who seem to willing to break ranks over issues of cost, and whether new taxes will have to be levied to pay for the plan.

Some of these folks represent constituents who are scared of government involvement in their health care decisions. President Obama tried to mollify them Wednesday, saying his plan won’t make Uncle Sam America’s doctor. To make matters worse, an awful lot of Americans don’t know the difference between the Obama health care plan, and the versions currently being taken up by the House and Senate. Even some of his congressional allies are saying he needs to trim his sails and accept a compromise solution.

I would argue differently. While Americans may be confused about the current competing plans, they do know what single payer means. And that’s the problem. Barack Obama missed a singular opportunity by not advocating for universal, single payer health coverage for all Americans. Telling the American people “If you’re sick, you’ll be treated, no matter what” would present a clear choice that most people can understand and support. Keep things as they are, and risk having to declare bankruptcy even with insurance, or move to a universal, single payer plan that while not perfect, is measurably better than what exists now.

Opponents would trot out their “socialized medicine” arguments. So what? President Obama could then point to the dramatically lower administrative costs associated with Medicaid and Medicare as opposed to the current system. They holler about Britain, and the supposed shortcomings of their system. I could tell them of one personal experience about that.

On a visit to London some time ago, my daughter was injured by a painting that fell on her head in our hotel room. My wife and I were panicked. What to do? Fortunately, we were staying down the street from a hospital. We took her there, and waited anxiously while she was examined and treated. It took about three hours. Never once were we asked for an insurance card, or for that matter, whether we were British citizens (my wife is). She received a number of stitches, but in the end they told us she’d be fine.

I asked how much this treatment would cost, preparing for the worst. To my utter amazement, the answer was “Nothing. The treatment is free”. It was my first, and to date only experience with universal health care.

What about you? Should the nation be arguing about health care reform, or should we take the giant leap to universal health care?

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