No country for Obama-care

Mobi-Babble

It’s been another quiet week up here by the lake and the only event of consequence has been the incessant rain that continues to dominate the weather patterns in and around Pattaya. A couple of days ago I think I counted 18 hours of non-stop rain.

Fortunately we have no flooding up here in the east of the city, but Pattaya itself suffers from continual flash floods as the storm water drains through to the sea.

If it’s anything like last year, the rain will continue through to the end of October and possibly the first week or two weeks of November before it goes elsewhere until next April or May.

As many of you will have noticed, I have been pretty occupied on the book front this week and have been busy getting ‘A Lust of Life’ up and running on the Amazon-Kindle website, and doing a bit of promotional work.

This weekend saw a three day FREE period to download  my book and hopefully that will enable many of my readers who had not previously got round to downloading it to do so for nothing. Also, hopefully I may receive a few positive reviews of the book in the ‘customer review’ section on the Amazon website, which might help me earn a few pennies.

Madju-Raj – The Messenger of Death

I was going to start working on another potential business venture this week, but I confess that I became distracted by reviewing some of my old literary work – in particular, my first novel, which I completed back in 2003, just before I moved permanently back to Thailand.

I wrote this novel after  successfully finding a publisher for my collection of short stories. (‘Tales from Thailand’). After finishing the novel, I distributed the manuscript to a number of publishers and agents. One agent showed an interest in working with me on this project, but after several rounds of correspondence, I gave up as I felt the agent was asking far too much in the way of re-writing and in particular, she suggested that the whole plot lacked credibility. I decided to shelve the whole project as it seemed to me that the book simply wasn’t up to scratch.

Can you believe that it is the very same agent who reviewed ‘A Lust of Life’ and also stated that she did not feel that it too, was worthy of hard copy publication.

Anyway, for the first time in around ten years, I picked up my old work and started to re-read it, to see if, like ‘A Lust For Life’ It may be worthy going the self-publishing route on Amazon.

I shall be writing more about this later, but suffice to say that I was pretty flabbergasted with what I found. At 100,000+ words, it is a much shorter novel than ‘Lust’ and although it is also a story that has its roots in Thailand, about 50% of the action takes place in rural England.

I know I say it as shouldn’t – but I found the story absolutely captivating and I haven’t been able to put it down.  This may sound strange as I wrote it in the first place, but although I can recall the overall plot structure, my brain has been subjected to some 8 years of alcohol abuse since I last looked at the manuscript. Most of the intricate plot details have faded into memory, and as I read, I continue to be surprised and enthralled by the twists and turns in the story.

It really is quite unlike ‘Lust’.

Madju-Raj is a detective story, a romance, an adventure, a thriller and an exploration into the dark side of Thai culture and its politically corrupt system. It is set in 2002/3 when the political and economic situation in Thailand was somewhat different to that which prevails today.

Honestly, although I am still only half way through it, so far I have been blown away with what I have found. My slow progress through the book is due to me re-formatting it as I go, (in preparation for Kindle publishing) and also reviewing the text and making corrections as and where necessary.

Arguably, Madju Raj is more commercial than ‘A Lust for Life’ as it contains more elements of what may be considered popular fiction and is mainly ‘dialogue-driven’ whereas ‘Lust’ is more description –driven.

I will write more about this in due course.

‘There and back’ – a trip to ye olde country’… Part 7

Ducks, Geese and Birmingham

On 3rd August, my eldest daughter and her husband drove down from Warwickshire, and collected Noo and I from my brother’s place in Tonbridge, Kent and took us back to their lovely house in a Nuneaton suburb.

We were to stay with them for the next week or so before moving on to stay with my youngest daughter for the final few days of our UK holiday.

My daughter lives in a large, semi-rural up-market estate on the outskirts of Nuneaton and there is a very pleasant lake within a short walk of her house.  Noo was delighted to find the area swarming with ducks, geese and more ducks….all doing their ducky and geese-y things…

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… and then we came across one of the horrors of her life; a dirty, great, big fat English slug. I decided to call it Mobi…

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Nuneaton is only a short drive from Birmingham, The UK’s second city. Through the years I have driven though Birmingham on a number of occasions, I have never really taken the opportunity to walk around the City Centre.

This was rectified on 4th August, when Noo and I were treated to a day doing just that.

So here is just a selection of the towering buildings, statues, cathedrals, churches, concert halls, theatres and memorials that make up Birmingham’s vibrant city centre.

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Iron Man ... with Iron woman?
Iron Man … with Iron woman?

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Deserving of special mention is the spectacular design of the exterior of Selfridge department store….

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…and the brand spanking new Birmingham library – ostensibly the largest in the entire European Union. It apparently contains a million books and cost a cool 190 million pounds to build and fit-out. Personally, I’m not convinced that in this digital age, it was money particularly well spent. Surely it would have been a lot cheaper to put the whole lot on a bloody great  Kindle? But what do I know?

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Does Anyone recall a little fracas between a certain errant Aussie cricketer (David Warner), and a certain Pom cricketer (Joe Root), that led to Aussie Warnie being banished the wilds of Zimbabwe?

Well, here Birmingham’s latest claim to fame – the Walkabout pub, where it all took place.

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And thence to a pleasant stroll alongside Birmingham’s famous network of canals.

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These pesky Thais get everywhere….

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As ever, Noo tracked down plenty of flowers in bloom

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Then back to the city centre, via a modernistic mall, where we popped into Selfridge’s completely ‘over the top’ confectionery floor.

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Anyone for ice cream?

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No country for Obama-care

I have hesitated to write about the recent fiasco that has been unravelling in The USA and which almost brought the world’s economies to their knees.

A great deal has already been said about this vexatious subject and I assume most of my readers have already made up their minds on the rights and the wrongs of it.

As a young man, I was always in awe and admiration of the American system of government as it seemed to encourage bi-partisan politics and lead to compromise decisions that never, ever happened in British politics.

Here in the UK, the political party system means that elected members of each political party must always vote according to the party line. There is no room for vacillation, and even an abstention on an important issue could lead to the recalcitrant member being suspended and even expelled from the party.

This used to sicken me. In reality,  these people, who were supposed to represent our interests, had no say. They were simply puppets of their party leaders, and they were always obliged to religiously follow the party line, regardless of how they personally felt on a particular issue.

Contrast that with our friends across the pond, where the three ‘tiers of government’, (The House , the Senate and the President), means that bi-partisan stances are often the only way forward and that politicians can and do frequently ‘cross the floor’ to vote against his party on issues that they feel strongly about, and receive little or no censure for such bi-partisan actions.

This is the way politics ought to be, I used to think. Elected politicians allowed to vote according to their consciences and join with their political adversaries to ‘do the right thing’ and to ensure that important legislation was passed, or rejected, as the case may be.

Although I realise that my view of American politics at the time was somewhat naïve ‘, I still believe that back then, these kind of altruistic political manoeuvres were possible, and that even though the American political system has always been riddled with corruption and controlled by powerful lobby interests, good things did occasionally happen.

Certainly back then, nobody from either party would have dreamt of holding their beloved nation to hostage.

I really don’t understand what has happened. Sure, there are plenty of theories as to how and why so many Americans on the left and right of the political spectrum seem to have become polarised at both extremes. Believe me, I have read, listened and studied this subject at great length, but I have yet to hear or read an explanation that fully explains exactly what has happened to our American cousins’ political beliefs.

But more than the increasing political divide is the  growing belief that policies and political dogma are of paramount importance. Increasingly, political machinations must take precedence over the welfare of the people and even the nation itself.

So many actions and decisions are taken by politicians and government officials which clearly have base political motives, and which only serve to make the ‘average Joe’s’ lot in life, that much harder.  

These days, so many politicians – from left and right – believe that the end seems to justify the means. Now where have I heard that before?

Long-time ‘Mobi-readers’ will be aware that I am no fan of Obama.

long before Obama was first elected I saw him as a nouveau political hack, full of hot air and little, if any substance. I just took one look at his so-called friends and supporters in those early days, and the corrupt Chicago political machine that spawned him, and I knew he was utterly superficial and without deep conviction and merit.

His obvious talent at delivering political rhetoric from an auto-cue only served to reinforce my opinion. He wasn’t a politician, he was an actor.

(As opposed to Reagan who was an inept, ‘B’ actor but a brilliant, deeply committed politician)

And so it has proved. There are certain issues that I agree with Obama on, like gun control, and in general terms,I even agree with the need to provide universal health care.

Yes folks, I do believe in universal healthcare. Despite all the scare stories you may hear from the right wing Republicans and the likes of O’Reilly and Hannity, for the main part, our system here in the UK  works pretty well.

Numerous polls have always shown that despite moans and complaints on its perceived shortcomings, there isn’t a single member of the British public who would have our national health service any other way. Deep down, we Brits are still proud of our health service, regardless of what you may hear to the contrary.

But America is a country with 312 million people and there is something like 46 million people without proper health insurance. Just think of it; 46 million people, the population of a country the size of Spain.

In the UK, universal healthcare started some 70 years ago when life and medical matters were somewhat less complex than they are today. In particular there weren’t all these ridiculously expensive, miracle cures for so many illnesses and diseases.

So we eased our way into it, over a period of 70 years, and we are still battling to make it work well for everyone. But it never will be perfect; it will always be a work in progress… even after 70 years…

So how on earth can a country the size of America change from an individually, privately funded insurance healthcare system into a universal healthcare system over night without it costing everyone an absolute fortune and without getting bogged down by its own bureaucracy and cranking, inefficient, infrastructure?

It can’t, and back in 2010, (or whenever the Obama debate was going on in Congress), I believe that a number of well-meaning, moderate Republicans understood this. They weren’t against free healthcare for the poor, but they realised that Obama-care – the so-called ‘Affordable Care Act’ – would never, ever work, as written.

It was too big a jump – trying to change too much, too quickly. Healthcare for all needed to be introduced in slow, steady stages while at the same time shoring up the net which the many of the most deprived in society were in danger of falling though.

But this isn’t an article about the rights and wrongs of Obama-care. I simply wrote the above paragraphs so that you can see that I completely understand how strongly the Republicans, and in particular the ‘Tea Party’ supporters feel about it.

But just because a law is bad law and is ultimately doomed to failure, that is no reason or justification to hold the democratic processes of government to hostage. Recently, the Republicans effectively said that they would shut down the entire American government and its financial machine unless parts of the Obama-care law were not changed to their satisfaction.

I mean you couldn’t make it up – it would be rejected by literary agents, such as mine, as ‘lacking credibility’.

Obama-care has been legally passed into law, and until parts or all of it are changed or repealed by a democratically elected majority, then it will remain the law of the land.

Obama was absolutely correct in everything hat he said about this affair, and there is no doubt that the people who acted out this cliff-hanging intrigue are either stupid, or have absolutely no regard for the welfare of the people they are supposed to represent; not forgetting the welfare and reputation of their country and indeed, the welfare of the entire world.

They weren’t just trying to hi-jack Obama-care, they were holding to ransom the entire system of American democratic government, as was laid down by their founding fathers.

The whole world looked on in astonishment as a small bunch of rabidly right wing animals decided it was their opportunity to try and put a gun to the head of their detested leader, and predictably  the proverbial gun has back fired, hopefully metaphorically wounding the re-election chances of those who held it.

Ironically, their foolhardy action has made it less likely that come the mid-terms in 2014, or failing that, at the next presidential election, they will be able to turn the political climate around so that they can legally get to work on changing Obama-care.

Maybe, by that time Obama-care  will have imploded of its own volition, but don’t bet on it.