Sunday, November 22, 2009


How do you say hello to an Emperor? Do you slap him on the back and say, "Hi, Dog, how ya doin?" Do you grab his hand, if you can find it in those sleeves, and give it a hearty shake? Well, big news this week, President Obama bowed to the Emperor of Japan. In Japan, bowing is akin to shaking hands. Waiters bow at you as you select a table. Concert ushers bow before they lead you to your seat. Yet, our Republican critics made a big deal over Obama's bow, as though to say that, by bowing to the Emperor, the President is lowering himself to the status of subhuman in the presence of a deity!

They really have to dig hard to criticize the President these days, unless one counts those lying advertisements that scare the Seniors by claiming that Medicare will be cut, if the Health Reform Bill passes. They are absolutely right, Medicare will be cut, but benefits will not. Medicare will be cut by stopping some of the waste, the waste that has been allowed to drift on for years, using our tax money for items like the payment of thousands of dollars for a single wheel chair.

I bought a wheelchair for my husband a few years ago. It cost me $200. Allowing for inflation, let's say that same wheelchair might cost $800 to a $1,000 in today's world, but Medicare has been paying close to $5,000 per wheelchair. This is how Medicare will be...should be...cut, so disregard those Ads that are intended to scare the pants off helpless, nonpolitical elderly folks who are simply trying to stay alive and make ends meet. There will be no cuts to the benefits given in Medicare.

Another way Medicare can be cut is by paying doctors enough to cover their labor and costs, but punishing them for turning in overpayments. I once went to a doctor that charged Medicare for two visits when, in truth, I had only visited him one time. Another doctor charged Medicare $400 for a back treatment I never had. In fact, the doctor had informed me that he did not treat back injuries like the one I had and sent me on to a specialist.

These overcharges were mild. There are some people who are bilking Medicare out of millions of dollars. Inventing patients, inventing procedures, sending in the bills and collecting the money. Strict oversight will halt these practices and send these criminals to jail. They are practicing Greed, that loveliest of virtues, on the backs of the American taxpayers.

Greed seems to have afflicted our country in a way that has made it a virtue instead of a sin. If a fellow cheats his way into prosperity, he is applauded as a "foxy old gent." When people making over $250,000 yearly complain of paying their fair share of taxes, it is greed that is driving their complaints. When a CEO of a failing bank gets a hefty bonus, it is greed that keeps him from returning it to the company he helped to bring to ruin.

Greed not only strikes the rich, but often afflicts the poor. Because a few people cheat on Welfare, Rush Limbaugh labels them all as cheaters. The difference is, the poorer cheaters who lie to get more benefits are treated with scorn and contempt. The rich cheater is lauded by invitations to the prestigious functions that only the wealthy are able to enjoy...the finest clubs, the best restaurants, the fabulous dinners...and all of the perks that people give to the crafty fox who cheated his way to the top.

Howard Dean used to have a description of the Republican Party that just about covered it all. It was "God, Guns and Greed," and they sure lived up to these descriptions. According to them, God is a deity whose picture should be displayed in every government office, in every school, in every church. At the same time, they believe that people should have the right to carry guns it a governmental function, be it a school, be it a church. They conveniently forgot about two things....the fact that the Separation of Church and State has been the backbone of our multi-ethnic country....and the fact that it takes only one lone nut to blast away several innocent people before he can be halted. This fact becomes more clear when you hear of the carnage at Fort Hood. Driven by religion, this nutty professor shot down several of his fellow soldiers, including one who was pregnant.

The truth is, religion in its extreme form can be a dangerous road to travel. Jim Jones was no friendly neighborhood preacher. Leaders of the Mormon cult where young girls, barely through puberty, are married to older men is not exactly ignoring pedephilia. Paying off the victims of pediphiles and moving them to other areas where there are children around does not exactly display benevolent concern for humanity. Jesus Camps, extolling the virtues of killing Muslims, are not exactly Reading, Writing and Arithmetic classes. Perhaps religion is better in smaller doses and, at the first sign of extremism, relatives and friends should use Intervention. Radical religion mixed with greed can bring about some very strange bedfellows. Mix it with politics and you have a truckload of fertilizer ready to explode.

There have been countries that have banned religion entirely. Russia, under Stalin, is an example of this extreme measure. Obviously, this does not work, because people must be free to be faithful to their beliefs. It is only when those beliefs turn dangerous that religion becomes alarming. It is only when one religion declares itself superior and aches to fight other religions to rid the world of their curse that religion becomes totally lethal. In this country, it makes a mockery of our Constitution. Freedom of religion is definitely a part of the Constitutional phrases, but its writers were including all religions, not just one. In truth, few of our Founding Fathers were very religious. One of them was a Pastor. The rest were a mixture of Christian and psuedo-Christian beliefs. Some of them were Deists. All were brave and intelligent men.

Think of it. If we had to rewrite the Constitution today, who would be capable of writing it? Should we turn the task over to Sarah Palin, who would brag that she could bring down a moose? The one person capable of writing such a tome would be President Barack Obama, because the Constitution is as liberal a document as has ever been written. Other learned people, some Republican, some Democrat, some Independent, would squabble for months about the nuances and cost. They would complain about calling all men equal, when it is obvious financial equality isn't equal at all. They would toss out the Bill of Rights and call it the Bill of Rights and Lefts. It would be a literal mess, because in today's world, we simply can't agree on anything, even whether it is correct protocol to bow to an Emperor.

To a Japanese, an Emperor is a link to God, sort of like Goerge W. Bush, who decided that God had approved the War in Iraq, even though God was probably hanging his head in shame. When Bush allowed religious groups to travel to the war zone and tell the military they were "soldiers of God," this was an outright lie. Not one of us knows how God would feel about all of this, so putting words in his mouth is shameful. On one side, they are saying "Allah is great!" On the other, they are saying "God is good." Since both have beliefs that seem to be nearly the same, wouldn't one think we could get along together? But, ah, we have forgotten about Greed....those fallow oilfields, aching to be spurting Black Gold into the air! It is obvious someone, somewhere, decided that God wouldn't mind a little oil in his tank the same as the rest of us. On the other side of the coin, there are the Have Nots who resent the intrusion of the Haves and swear to annihilate their infidel ways. It is easy to resent a rich Uncle, so let's blow up something he loves and reveres and kill as many as his countrymen as possible.

Perhaps we should stop saying "God is Good" and change it to "God is Greed!" Then we could charge into other countries, demand they become Democratic like us, where all men are equal except for poor people, who should be grateful for the privilege of pouring more profits into the pockets of their super-equal masters. Perhaps, as an Aristocracy, rather than a Democracy, we could conclude that...for some people anyway...Greed is God!