Friday, April 13, 2012


If Republican Congressman Allen West (FL-22) did not exist, a novelist would be hard pressed to invent such a preposterous human being, much less one who actually ascended to Congress. In what may be the most ludicrous and unconstructive utterance by this Congressman and former military leader, whose career is filled with ludicrous and unconstructive utterances and actions,
West told a Florida Town Hall meeting "I believe there are about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party".

West, the third of four generations of his family to serve in the military, was drummed out of Army in 2003 while serving in Iraq for assault on an Iraqi police officer suspected of being a terrorist. Frustrated that the lengthy interrogation was getting nowhere, West took charge and fired a pistol shot near the detainee's face, causing him to blurt out information which proved to be uncorroborated and worthless. At his disciplinary hearing West admitted his wrongdoing, was fined, and even offered that "It's possible I was wrong about the detainee."

West, however, was unapologetic about his interrogation tactics and became an instant hero of the "torture first" crowd. He parlayed that infamy to become an ubiquitous public speaker, leaving a trail of vile videos spouting his fervent belief that all of Islam has spent the last fourteen centuries seeking to conquer the world; He postulated that it will happen unless we take them on everywhere; hence his relish for our self destructive wars in the Middle East. He is fond of saying that if you find yourself in a fair fight it means your tactics "suck". West didn't hold back on the campaign trail either. He told a 2010 Congressional election rally that "we need to make the Democratic incumbent (Ron Klein) scared to come out of his house".

Victory by a wide margin hasn't softened our intrepid Congressional newcomer one bit. His first act as Congressman Elect was to hire Joyce Kaufman, a conservative Florida talk show host, to be his Chief of Staff. Kauffman, amazingly, even topped West's reckless rhetoric. She once told her radio audience regarding illegal immigrants, "If you commit a crime while here, we should hang you and send your body back to where you came from and your family should pay for it". She regaled a tea party rally during the election with the 'ol ballots or bullets theory: if we don't get what we want using ballots, we may have to resort to bullets.

The reaction to those incendiary words caused Kaufman to quit her position within days of its announcement. West should have had the decency to follow her resignation. Sadly, he didn't and has spent the last fifteen months of his freshman term spinning out an endless succession of insulting and unsupportable verbal attacks. Last July, he sent a scathing email to his Florida colleague, Congresswoman Debbie Schultz calling her "vile, unprofessional and despicable", "a coward" "characterless" , "not a Lady" and demanding that she "shut the heck up." Schultz's transgression in West's unbalanced mind was her mild criticism, without naming West, of his support for legislation which would increase Medicare costs to the thousands of Medicare recipients in his district.

But nothing previously prepared us for West's charge that a pack of pesky Commies resides in the Democratic House Caucus. When pressed on his loonyness, West doubled down by identifying these Reds as the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a group of 76 Democratic House progressives. Where the other five Commies come from to reach West's figure of 81 is a mystery known only to the Congressman.

Having my interest in politics originally peaked, in part, from the Commie witch hunt shenanigans of Sen. Joe McCarthy back in the 1950's, I remember well the phrase his ilk often used: "Better dead than Red". Nearly sixty years on, this unreconstructed 1950's progressive can proudly say: "Better Red than West".

Sunday, April 08, 2012


It is reassuring to know the Tribune Editorial Board has discovered the secret of fixing Medicare and ultimately, our entire, but broken, health care system in one word...competition. Unfortunately, your editorial "Fear and Medicare, Round 2" merely serves the forces of crony capitalism who seek to privatize every last vestige of responsible government, under the false God of competition.

The executives of health insurance companies have not made hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation over time by providing good health care to the public. They figured out that the road to riches is paved with tens of millions of the most vulnerable being shut out from adequate health insurance. They created preexisting conditions to exclude them outright. They created high deductibles on top of high premiums to make actual coverage a bad bargain. They created maximum coverage limits to cap their exposure to catastrophic illness. They created treatment exclusions that defied logic and sanity and compassion. They set up a bureaucratic and paperwork nightmare to keep the low income insured from sleeping at night. The competition between these health care monoliths was not designed to provide good health care. It was designed to provide the largest bank account. And it has served these captains of the service industry brilliantly.

Yet, the Trib Editorial Board goes to bat for the Congressman Paul Ryan's plan to begin the dismantling one of the few bright spots in our health care system, Medicare, by essentially turning it over to these wonderful folks who have given America the worst health care delivery system in the industrialized world.

Your editorial contained hundreds of words. It could have be reduced to just three - Medicare for all.