Columnist, comic strip both broken records

With the subtlety of a hammer, comic strip Mallard Fillmore and columnist Thomas Sowell remind me of a left-wing radio station a friend once recommended.

I listened and discovered they never interviewed anyone they ever disagreed with. One view, one message, all the time.

Just so with right-wing Sowell and Mallard Fillmore. You always know exactly where they stand: no surprises, no uncertainties, no questions, no complexities. Their world is such a simple place and their minds appear to be carved in stone.

You hardly need to read them. You know what they will say -- name a person, name a subject, name a concept -- it doesn't really matter, you're safe.

Stay safe with your one-trick ponies and never dare to question anything you now believe.

Michael Steinberg

Berkeley

Outraged by GOP's use of the filibuster

I found your Dec. 4 editorial concerning filibusters particularly interesting.

I left the Republican Party after many decades because I believe GOP congressional members have put the party above our country.

Their use of the filibuster is a prime example, filibustering a record-breaking 360 times since 2007, 112 times this year alone. Under current rules, they don't even have to state their name or the reason for filibustering -- a rumor of such action is enough.

I was hopeful when Sen. Harry Reid said he considered revising the rules and returning to the age-old practice of requiring senators to filibuster on the Senate floor, as James Stewart did in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." I'm appalled Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she still needs convincing.

If any legislator feels a bill is detrimental to our country, then explain to the American people why you think so on the Senate floor in front of the TV cameras. Forget party affiliation. If it's worth filibustering, stand and be heard.

We Americans have good memories and exercise our voting rights. I'm registered as "decline to state."

Floyd Bradshaw

Pittsburg

A dream of how things should work in D.C.

I had a dream: President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell are addressing the nation.

McConnell says, "You know, Mr. President, we're all responsible for our deficit problems, Republicans as well as Democrats. Two unfunded wars and a prescription drug bill are part of the equation. It's not who's right, it's what's right."

Boehner says, "Yes, the interest of the American people should come before party politics from now on. Some kind of tax-rate increase on high earners might work. Could we get the threshold up to $500,000 instead of $250,000, and keep more taxpayers at lower rates?"

Obama says, "That might work. What about the health care bill, do you still insist on gutting it?" The answer, "Actually, it's got some good points. We might be able to change some, build on the rest."

Then the alarm clock sounds. Dream over.

Fully awake, I wonder how they're doing on the fiscal cliff today.

Nowhere but America. Just two weeks from year-end and no clue on individual and corporate tax rates for 2013.

We pay Congress for this?

Ronald M. Woods

Walnut Creek

Obamacare won't help Medicare patients

A reader recently wrote that the GOP is undermining Obamacare so millions of Medicare patients will not get preventive and immediate care.

He had better do some research on how Medicare patients really fare under Obamacare. The bill calls for $716 billion being diverted from future Medicare spending to pay for other parts of Obamacare. To compensate, they will lower the already low (many are losing money on) payments to providers such as doctors, hospitals, hospice care, home care and advantage plans for seniors.

In July, the actuary for Medicare warned Congress that seniors will have difficulty finding doctors and hospitals who will accept Medicare patients because payments will not cover costs. Hospitals will even be penalized for including care consumed up to 30 days after patients are discharged, including outpatient physical therapy after knee surgery.

Some thoughtful changes in Medicare would look good by comparison.

Jacqueline Cloidt

Orinda