Monday, May 31, 2010

100th Anniversary of Disagreement

'Twas a 100th anniversary of a religious site and one of the remarkable geographic
sites of the world yesterday.

And, you might say, it also marked the 100th anniversary of one of the sharpest points of disagreement between the Indians and those of us who have taken over what was once their land.

Indians knew of the natural arch across the Colorado River for as long as
they had been around, and by the 1800s, trappers, prospectors, cowboys and
adventurers had all happened upon its grandeur. But, this only made it legend, with the story floating around of how there was out there -- somewhere out there -- a
humongous rock arch across a river.

Today, it is known as Rainbow Bridge, the largest natural "bridge" in the
world, albeit it isn't a bridge meant for crossing, as in cars driving across it.

It is a spectacle, though, rising 290 feet high, and spanning 275 feet across the Colorado River. "By its wonderous size, to say nothing of its majesty and mystery, Rainbow Bridge has inspired humans throughout time," says the Rainbow Bridge National Monument website.

Byron Cummings and William B. Douglass each set out in hopes of this legendary site, combining into one party that discovered it
Aug. 14, 1909. Within a year, it was named a national monument, that
distinction coming May 30, 1910 -- one hundred years ago yesterday.

Through much of the last half century, what to do with Rainbow Bridge drew sharp discord between Native Americans and federal officials. Yesterday's anniversary, in a way, also marked the 100th anniversary of that discord, as creation of the national monument was a beginning point in both protecting Rainbow Bridge and in having the federal government, not the Indians, supervising the site.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Coffee Comes to Utah

First Tea and now Coffee. Both are now in Utah, as the Coffee Party Movement has arrived, months ago in fact.

These Coffee Partiers claim civility as their calling card, taking a pledge in keep their tongues civil as they pursue reforming things. Now, there's a difficult task: keeping one's members courteous. Already, there's a story of how they hissed when Sarah Palin's name was mentioned at one of their meetings.

What was it Thumper's mom or dad taught him? "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all"?

Mindy Parrish heads up the Utah Coffee Party Movement. As of two weeks ago, when I spoke to her at the Democratic Party Convention, as many as 40 people had attended individual meetings and altogether 130 had attended meetings since the first one March 13.

Democrats are attracting to the movement quicker than Republicans, but it is open to both. Parrish says she in the past has been an independent and "maybe just politically homeless."

Living up to their name, they often meet in coffee houses, but meetings can also be held in homes, should someone want to start a coffeeless Coffee Party club. Parrish is at

Friday, May 14, 2010

Let's Live this Rule for Lowering Costs

There is another reason -- besides that we have the right to know how much we will be paying -- for requiring medical providers to always quote us a price (see the post below). As a rule, when someone does a job without first quoting a price, they charge more. It's simply one of the rules of economics.

Yes, I do wonder if in the case of medical care, having them quote prices in advance will have any impact at all. But, just the same, when things are going wrong (as in, our medical care is going wrong), the first thing to do is see that you are doing all the simple things right.

Perhaps it won't lower prices at all. But, since this is an economic principle, let's live it. Let's try it. Let's not just be coming up with complicated solutions when we aren't even practicing the simple ones.

Post Prices at the Hospital

There are so many provisions in the new health care law, it's bound to have some that are good and others that aren't.

Here's a good one. I just ran into it today as I was reading an overview of the bill passed by the Senate in December. (I assume this remained in the legislation that eventually won approval.) Hospitals are to post their prices for standard health-care procedures.

I'm not sure how this shakes out. Will it be just like looking up on the wall behind the counter at the fast food outlet to see a hamburger is $3.89? "Knee replacement: $52,900"?

Probably not.

But, I do like the idea. I do like it that hospitals are going to have to tell us the price BEFORE they perform the surgery. A year ago, while a member of the Democratic Party Health Care Caucus, I suggested we should be quoted a price before we receive any medical care. And, we should be told not only what the total bill will be, but what our share will be after our insurance is used.

When we walk into a store, all the items have prices. When we remodel a home, we get a quote. When we buy a car, of course we get the price instead of driving off the lot and learning a week later how much we owe.

Just why is it health care needs to be different? No, I don't understand. I see no good reason we shouldn't always be given an least an estimate, if not a hard figure.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Blagojevich is the Evidence

Hmm, then. How about the 17th Amendment? Was it an improvement on the original Constitution?

As originally written, U.S. Senators were elected by state legislatures. But, with so few voters to bribe, bribery sure enough was a problem. Can you imagine such a thing, people buying off their state legislators to gain entrance to the highest governmental law-making body in all the land?

It happened.

So, for that and other reasons, the 17th Amendment was drafted, taking the election of the senators away from the legislators and giving it to the people.

We have only to look back about one year to see evidence of how having too few people to bribe can indeed win a person entry to the Senate. Wasn't there one Rob Blagojevich, governor of Illinois, who actually looked to be bribed -- sought after it -- in appointing a replacement senator when Sen. Barack Obama left for the White House?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dayan's Forgiveness on Jerusalem Day

Jerusalem Day, it was today, observing the day the two halves of Jerusalem were brought together, Israel having conquered the Arab half.

And, as I read about Jerusalem Day, I was stunned at the forgiving spirit found in the words read by Moshe Dayan back in 1967, at the conclusion of the Six-Day War, as Israel assumed control of all the city. It seems a conqueror would say, "You are defeated. Now leave. Leave, or we will pick up your bags for you and set them in your own Arab country."

Not so, though. Instead, we find these words uttered by Israel Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, often quoted to this day during Yom Yerushalayim, speaking of the conquered foe as "neighbors" and "fellow citizens":

"This morning, the Israel Defense Forces liberated Jerusalem. We have united Jerusalem, the divided capital of Israel. We have returned the holiest of our holy places, never to part from it again. To our Arab neighbors we extend, also at this hour -- and with added emphasis at this hour -- our hand in peace. And to our Christian and Muslim fellow citizens, we solemnly promise full religious freedom and rights. We did not come to Jerusalem for the sake of other peoples' holy places, and not to interfere with the adherents of other faiths, but in order to safeguard its entirety, and to live there together with others, in unity."

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Would that Bob Bennett had Survived

Would that Bob Bennett had survived convention. It does not seem right that those elected by the people should be kicked out by political activists. And that is really all we are when we are party delegates: political activists. How can we strip voters of the decision? If they elect a person, shouldn't they be the ones saying yea or nay on whether that person stays in office?

Those who say booting Bennett in convention was fair argue that a representative form of government differs from a pure democracy, and the caucus-convention system is but a form of representative government.

But the Constitution calls for election "by the people."

As originally written, the Constitution provided that the state legislators elect the U.S. senators. But, in 1913, the 17th Amendment changed that to require the senators to be elected by the people. The Constitution does provide that the electors shall have the same qualifications as the electors of the most populous legislative body in each state. So,it can be argued the caucus-convention system is constitutional.

But still, do we want this? Do we want party workers ripping this right away from the people?