Sunday, August 30, 2009
I'm not making this up.
And Charles Dickens did not write the post heading. (Although Kreep is as Dickensian as is Heep.)
Apparently a fellow named Kreep, Gary Kreep, head of the United States Justice Foundation, has come to the defense of Glenn Beck as the number of advertisers pulling out of Beck's time slot has increased to almost 50.
This Kreep is apparently spreading untruths about the head of The Color of Change, Van Jones, who initiated the boycott of Beck's advertisers.
But those misstatements and misrepresentations are easily refuted. Here are some of them:
Kreep instructed Glenn Beck fans to tell advertisers that Van Jones “went to prison for inciting the 1992 Rodney King riots in L.A." Tell them CoC’s founder went to prison for inciting the 1992 L.A. Riots, and accused President Bush of giving troops orders to shoot black people after Hurricane Katrina.
In reality, Van Jones was a legal observer in San Francisco, not Los Angeles, during a non-violent rally that took place after, not before the riots. Jones and hundreds of others were seized in a mass arrest. He was released within a few hours, all charges were dropped, and “the City of San Francisco ultimately compensated him financially for his unjust arrest.”
Jones also has never “accused President Bush of giving troops orders to shoot black people after Hurricane Katrina,” as the DefendGlenn site claims. Kreep’s inflammatory lie has no factual basis whatsoever.
Van Jones Bio: Born in rural Tennessee, Jones graduated in 1990 from the University of Tennessee and, in 1993, from Yale Law School. At the age of 27, Jones convinced the California State Bar Association to allow him to begin a program that would provide lawyer referral services for police abuse victims. Jones, a civil-rights lawyer, is founder and executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, a nonprofit agency for justice, opportunities, and peace in urban America. Located in Oakland, California, the Center focuses on campaigning to reform California’s abusive and costly youth prison system, creating opportunities in the "green" economy for poor communities and communities of color, supporting victims and survivors of police abuse and their families, and uplifting young people and addressing Bay Area violence with a mix of activism and street culture.
Jones has lead many campaigns including Books Not Bars, an advocacy program for parents/grandparents of incarcerated youth in the United States. It has been credited with a 30% drop in the total number of youth incarcerated in California. Additionally Jones sits on numerous governing boards, and following Hurricane Katrina co-founded the largest online activist community addressing Black issues (ColorOfChange.org).
Saturday, August 29, 2009
THE LAKE ISLE OF INNISFREE
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
--William Butler Yeats
Friday, August 28, 2009
A Surprising Friendship
By Cal Thomas
Most of my adult life has been intertwined with the Kennedy family. As a freshman at American University in 1960, I stayed up late watching the election returns, as John F. Kennedy barely eked out a victory over Richard Nixon. As with most Americans my age, the decades that followed always involved one or more members of the Kennedy family, whether it was legislation, indiscretions, speeches or just curiosity.
This larger-than-life family has been unique in American politics. But so were the friendships Ted established across the political lines that so easily divide us. He used those personal relationships to accomplish things that mattered to him. Many on the Right hated and demonized him, but I don't ever recall his responding in kind.
These days, people on "one side" of the political spectrum are not supposed to cooperate, much less have a personal relationship with anyone on the "other side." Siding with "the enemy" can get you branded a compromiser, a sellout, or worse a fool. While it is true that on too many occasions, conservatives have had their ideological pockets picked by liberals whose favor they curried, that is no excuse for hating people because of their political beliefs.
Kennedy once said in a speech: "I am an American and a Catholic; I love my country and treasure my faith. But I do not assume that my conception of patriotism or policy is invariably correct, or that my convictions about religion should command any greater respect than any other faith in this pluralistic society."
What student or advocate of the First Amendment would disagree with that?
Flaws? Of course he had them in abundance, as we all do, but his, unfortunately, played out on a national and international stage. How would you like to have lived with the daily pressure of knowing that somewhere out there someone may have wanted to kill you as they had your brothers?
I recall a dinner at Ted's home when he lived in McLean, Va. His sister, the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, was my dinner partner. He was gracious and funny. He took my wife and me on a tour of a hallway with memorabilia that would delight any political junkie. Five years ago, he showed up at a 20th anniversary party for my syndicated column. When he entered, every head turned in his direction, every jaw dropped. No one could believe that this liberal icon would so honor a conservative friend.
Over the years, I came to see Sen. Kennedy not as a symbol, but as a fellow human being who did not get up each morning seeking ways to harm the country. I know of things he did for the poor and homeless on his own time and in his own way without a press release or a desire for public approval. I know of other hurts and concerns he shared with the very few he could trust about which I would never speak.
Because he came from wealth, he felt a responsibility to give back. We can argue whether government or individuals do that best, but we can't say that Ted Kennedy was inconsistent. He would compromise to advance his beliefs, not dilute them. Ted once provided a blurb for a book I wrote. He said, "Cal Thomas usually says the far-right thing instead of the right thing, but I like reading him anyway."
With the passing of the last of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.'s sons goes the image of youth and "vigah," as Jack used to say in his Boston accent. I shall miss Ted Kennedy, not only because he was a worthy ideological rival, but also because with his passing, a part of my youth has gone with him.
Camelot, of course, was a myth, but what young person of that era cannot still hear the line uttered by Richard Burton from that lauded musical? It came at the end of the show as King Arthur surveys his broken kingdom and tells a young man of Camelot what might have been:
"Don't let it be forgot.
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot."
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
"....to speak for those who have no voice; to remember those who are forgotten; to respond to the frustration and fulfill the aspiration of all Americans seeking a better life in a better land....for all those whose cares have been our concern, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die."
"The greatest US Senator of our time."--President Barack Obama
The Lion of the Senate is gone.
Undoubtably he was the most preeminent and most effective senator in my lifetime.
I remember meeting him a long time ago. I shook his hand as he greeted people emerging from the Winter St. MBTA station during one of his campaigns for re-election. We made small talk, and I remember saying he had my vote. And he has had it ever since.
I have admired his powerful voice for Liberals and Liberal causes through all his tragedies and triumphs.
A great man is gone.
Ruht wohl, dear Senator Ted...
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Click on image to enlarge.
The creeps who sent this around think they're harming President Obama when, in fact, these disgusting emails reinforce what Americans already know: The GOP has a problem with racist pigs.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Something rather remarkable happened on last Tuesday's Morning Joe. Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York pointed out that the health insurance industry has no clothes, and Joe Scarborough, after first trying to spin it some gossamer threads, broke down and said, By God, you're right, this emperor is a naked money-making machine!
Well, he didn't use those exact words, but Joe did seem to finally get that America has granted insurance companies the right to create bottlenecks in the financing of healthcare in order to extract profits out of the suffering of ordinary people--without providing any actual healthcare whatsoever.
"Why are we paying profits for insurance companies?" Weiner asked Scarborough. "Why are we paying overhead for insurance companies? Why," he asked, bringing it all home, "are we paying for their TV commercials?"
What is an insurance company? They don't do a single check-up. They don't do a single exam, they don't perform an operation. Medicare has a 4 percent overhead rate. The real question is why do we have a private plan?
Sunday, August 23, 2009
SCHIEFFER: Senator Grassley, you have talked as Senator Conrad has about a bipartisan approach. But you really caught some Democrats off guard, a couple weeks ago, when you said this the other day. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
"There is some fear because in the House bill, there is counseling for end-of-life. And from that standpoint, you have every right to fear. You shouldn't have counseling at the end of life. You ought to have counseling 20 years before you're going to die. You ought to plan these things out. And I don't have any problem with things like living wills. But they ought to be done within the family. We should not have a government program that determines if you're going to pull the plug on grandma."(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIEFFER: Now, Democrats say there is nothing in this legislation that would pull the plug on grandma, or even require people to discuss it. Why did you say that, Senator Grassley?
GRASSLEY: I said that because -- two reasons. Number one, I was responding to a question at my town meetings. I let my constituents set the agenda. A person that asked me that question was reading from language that they got off of the Internet. It scared my constituents. And the specific language I used was language that the president had used at Portsmouth, and I thought that it was -- if he used the language, then if I responded exactly the same way, that I had an opposite concern about not using end-of-life counseling for saving money, then I was answering --
This is what President Obama said at the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, town hall:
"The rumor that's been circulating a lot lately is this idea that somehow the House of Representatives voted for 'death panels' that will basically pull the plug on grandma because we've decided that it's too expensive to let her live anymore," Obama said.
"I am not in favor of that."
"Where we do disagree, let's disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that's actually been proposed,"
It was former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin who fired up health-care opponents with a comment that the plan would create "death panels" ruling on whether people like her Down syndrome son, Trig, should live or die. And this was a deliberate and misleading lie on her part to poison the debate and create a fake controversy so that the MSM would take her sound bite, "death panels," and run with it, diverting attention away from serious, informed debate on the real problems involved with getting health care reform.
From Factcheck.org, where it describes a chain email that distorts the truth:
Chain e-mail: On Page 425 of Obama’s health care bill, the Federal Government will require EVERYONE who is on Social Security to undergo a counseling session every 5 years with the objective being that they will explain to them just how to end their own life earlier. Yes…They are going to push SUICIDE to cut medicare spending!!!
"Page 425 does deal with counseling sessions for seniors, but it is far from recommending a 'Logan’s Run' approach to Medicare spending. In fact, it requires Medicare to cover counseling sessions for seniors who want to consider their end-of-life choices – including whether they want to refuse or, conversely, require certain types of care. The claim that the bill would "push suicide" is a falsehood.
Driftglass puts it another way:
" Anne Kornblut of the WaPo announced the surrender of the beleaguer remnants of American Media when she said [of Sarah Palin]:
Here she is actually driving the debate whether its honest or not, whether what she is saying is true or not…Formal surrender ceremonies will take place on the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan at a date and time of the victor’s choosing, because in our New Media World, the Queen of the Pig People is officially permitted to drive our national debate, whether she is lying or not.Chairman
Doctor Governor Howard Dean lays it out clear and simple here:
Former Governor Sarah Palin made some preposterous claims over the weekend which attracted mainstream media attention. She made up the term "death panel" and claimed that part of the health care reform bill now working it's way through Congress required that families with children with disabilities, or elderly people who are infirm, could be judged by one of these death panels, which could control their fate and decide if they would die.
GOP leadership repeated this outrageous claim across the airwaves on the Sunday morning talk shows. The mainstream media gave this claim credibility simply by repeating it.My wife and I have practiced medicine for over forty years combined. There is no truth now, nor has there ever been any truth to the idea that the government encourages euthanasia or infanticide.Our country is in trouble.
Claims like these are routinely refuted by people who know better, but they are recirculated because they are sensational, and the MSM purports to take a balanced position without a thoughtful assessment of the facts. Fox News actually has people on in support of these outrageously false claims.
In fact, these kinds of claims are lies.
There is no nice way to say it."
Senator Grassley dissembled for the purpose of scaring the American people and American seniors in particular. Grassley, at his town hall meeting, did not repeat what President Obama said. Mr. Obama emphatically said he was not in favor of such an absurd proposal. Grassley left that out of his confused and incoherent explanation.
It is imbecilic folly for anyone to think that there would be a proposal for killing American seniors in a health care reform bill. Except, from what I've read in some of the comments on this blog and on some conservative blogs, people are willing to repeat whatever idiotic claims and distortions they read in emails or on an ex-governor's facebook.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
"There ain't any healthcare debate going on, Bubba. What is going on are mob negotiations about insurance, and which mob gets the biggest chunk of the dough, be it our taxpayer dough or the geet that isn't in ole Jim's impoverished purse. The hoo-ha is about the insurance racket, not the delivery of healthcare to human beings. It's simply another form of extorting the people regarding a fundamental need -- health.
Unfortunately, the people have been mesmerized by our theater state's purposefully distracting and dramatic media productions for so long they've been mutated toward helplessness. Consequently, they are incapable of asking themselves a simple question: If insurance corporation profits are one third of the cost of healthcare, and all insurance corporations do is deliver our money to healthcare providers for us (or actually, do everything in their power to keep the money for themselves), why do we need insurance companies at all? Answer: Because Wall Street gets a big piece of the action. And nobody messes with the Wall Street Mob (as the bailout extortion money proved). Better (and worse) presidents have tried. Some made a genuine effort to push it through Congress. Others expressed the desire publicly, but after getting privately muscled by the healthcare industry, decided to back off from the idea. For instance:
- Franklin Roosevelt wanted universal healthcare.
- Harry Truman wanted universal healthcare.
- Dwight Eisenhower wanted universal healthcare.
- Richard Nixon wanted universal healthcare.
- Lyndon Johnson wanted universal healthcare.
- Bill Clinton wanted -- well we can't definitely say because he made sure that if the issue blew up on him, which it did, Hillary would be left holding the turd."
"Every nation in the world is now party to at least one treaty that addresses health as a human right, including the conditions necessary for the delivery of health services. Healthcare is a right under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Hell, even Saddam Hussein provided healthcare.
That Americans cannot grasp this fundamental aspect of human rights (but then we cannot even get child nutrition, or limiting the number of times you can taser an old lady in an airport, out of the starting gate) and join the civilized world and assure its people of such things is testimony. Testimony that we live in a vacuum exclusive of the accepted standard of mercy and decency common to civilized democratic nations elsewhere. Testimony that even we the citizenry would rather maintain and spread lies than accept truths such as most people in countries with universal healthcare would not ever give it up in favor of the U.S. system."
"...we live under an induced mass hallucination where spectacle replaces fact, information and common sense. In place of actionable information, we are served up screaming red faces -- angry mobs manufactured for TV protesting "government interference in the people's healthcare choices." One must wonder what inchoate anger is really being tapped by the organizers of these strange "citizen protests." As usual, the straw boogeyman of socialism is once more invoked. "Oh my god! I'll have to give up my $1,100 a month insurance bill, which only pays 80% of my insurance costs AFTER I pay the initial $5,000 of those costs! If that ain't Joe Stalin all over again, I don't know what is!" We get the false media drama of 'death panels.'"
Thursday, August 20, 2009
This is straight from the horse's mouth--the official who ran Homeland Security, Tom Ridge.
We suspected the Bush Administration was using terror alerts to keep Americans fearful and to boost Dubya's poll numbers through phony scare tactics in the run-up to the 2004 elections.The truth is out.
THE SWASH ZONE HAS A POST ON THIS AS WELL. LINK HERE.
The Bush Administration cynically used Homeland Security--the largest government agency ever instituted under any US president--for political reasons, when it should have been protecting the American people. Ridge, writing in his soon-to-be-released book, "The Test of Our Times/America Under Siege ... and How We Can Be Safe Again," stated that his office was "pressured to connect connect homeland security to the international war on terror," according to a release from his publisher.
This revelation would lead us all to wonder if the warnings were all manipulated and underhandedly worked to influence the 2004 elections.
As I stated, we on the Left always suspected this. Now we know we were right:
Ridge: Rumsfeld and Ashcroft wanted to raise terror threat level because it helped Bush’s approval rating.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pours through Tom Ridge’s new book and offers the relevant passages where the former Homeland Security chief discusses the Bush administration’s desire to increase the terror threat level for political reasons. Ridge reveals that Attorney General John Ashcroft and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld argued in favor of raising the threat level by noting the correlation it had with Bush’s approval rating:
Osama bin Laden had released a videotape with one more ominous sounding but unspecific threat against the United States. Neither Mr. Ridge nor any of the department’s security experts thought the message warranted any change in the nation’s alert status.
“…at this point there was nothing to indicate a specific threat and no reason to cause undue public alarm,” he writes.
But that view met resistance in a tense conference call with members of the intelligence community and several other Cabinet officers including Attorney General John Ashcroft and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
“A vigorous, some might say dramatic, discussion ensured. Ashcroft strongly urged an increase in the threat level and was supported by Rumsfeld.”
Noting the correlation found between increases in the threat level and the president’s approval rating, Mr. Ridge writes, “I wondered, ‘Is this about security or politics?’”
E.J. Dionne on the intimidation tactics of the right:
This is not about the politics of populism. It's about the politics of the jackboot. It's not about an opposition that has every right to free expression. It's about an angry minority engaging in intimidation backed by the threat of violence.
There is a philosophical issue here that gets buried under the fear that so many politicians and media-types have of seeming to be out of touch with the so-called American heartland.
The simple fact is that an armed citizenry is not the basis for our freedoms. Our freedoms rest on a moral consensus, enshrined in law, that in a democratic republic we work out our differences through reasoned, and sometimes raucous, argument. Free elections and open debate are not rooted in violence or the threat of violence. They are precisely the alternative to violence, and guns have no place in them.
Harold Meyerson, pointing out the daily dose of garbage from Chuck Grassley, wonders:
Why, then, does Max Baucus, the committee's Democratic chairman, persist in the charade of bipartisan negotiations with Grassley? Does he -- does anybody -- really believe that a Republican Party so deeply invested in defeating President Obama's campaign for health-care reform is open to a scaled-down version that Obama can still claim as a victory? On Tuesday, the Republican Senate whip, Jon Kyl of Arizona, called Democrat Kent Conrad's proposal for cooperatives in lieu of a public option "a Trojan horse" for a government takeover of health care. Hard to find the green shoots of compromise in that response.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
While television cameras have focused on vocal opponents to health care reform, in many cases they have been outnumbered by supporters of the legislation in general and a public option in particular.
In Phoenix, Arizona, "Pro-Obama demonstrators appeared to outnumber the anti-Obama ones, with Phoenix police estimating the crowd at 1,200 to 2,000 at locations around the convention center."
In Boulder, Colorado, "a few hundred residents of one of the nation's more liberal congressional districts turned out Monday night to tell their congressman, Democratic Rep. Jared Polis, to keep that public option, however controversial politically, in the final bill."
"It's the most essential part of the bill," said Leigh Kirkland, in direct response to Sunday's statement from U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the public option "wasn't the most essential" part of the reform package.In Fork Union, Virginia, Rep. Tom Perriello faced a more divided crowd, "with roughly half the crowd apparently in favor of reform and the other half opposed.
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) "held a spirited but civil town-hall meeting Monday night inside a union hall where his supporters outnumbered critics."
And when Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) held a forum on health care reform he drew an overflow crowd, with a majority on the Democratic lawmaker's side. "A large majority of those present at the first discussion applauded Lujan when he stressed several times that he was in favor of a public option and when Lujan and other panelists criticized insurance companies.
Many Americans WANT health care reform. Unfortunately, only the dissenters have gotten face time on cable news. There is a considerable group of Americans who want reform. And they deserve to be heard as well as the screamers and gun totting nut jobs.
Monday, August 17, 2009
What sets this apart is that there are people involved in the discussions who have strong opposing opinions on the subject of health care reform but, unlike other people who get involved in these arguments, the people commenting at The Swash Zone do not stoop to juvenile ad hominem attacks.
I point this out because for the second time in two months I've been attacked and reviled for my having the audacity to have a liberal blog with a liberal point of view, and certain elements in the conservative blogsphere won't have it.
They have slandered me and misrepresented my opinions to the point of behaving like an uncontrolled mob of seething malcontents with nothing to add to our discourse but lies, wild accusations, and contemptible villainy.
As I said in one of the comments defending myself and my right to my opinion, I will no longer participate in a forum of worthless character assassination nor will I allow my words to be "twisted by knaves and made a trap for fools."
"What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents." - Robert F. Kennedy
I strongly urge anyone reading this to go to The Swash Zone and learn how responsible people contribute to a blog's comment section, and how people of intelligence deal with people they do not agree with.
It can be done. The liberal blog, The Swash Zone, shows us how to do it.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Shaw Kenawe asks.
• Sarah Palin: Seniors and the disabled "will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care." Pants on Fire!THE TRUTH: 'Death panels' are not part of Obama's health plan. It's not clear where Palin, the former Republican governor of Alaska, came up with this idea. A "comparative effectiveness" board in the health care bill evaluates treatments, not patients. And the board's conclusions aren't binding. And the bill allows Medicare to pay for counseling sessions on end-of-life care, but it's not required (and it doesn't require euthenasia!)
How much clearer can that be? Why did Palin lie about this part of the bill? And now, since we've discovered she lied, why would anyone believe anything else she says?
THE TRUTH: In the first go-round, health bills didn't mention abortion. A recent amendment, though, seeks to broker a neutral compromise. People can choose a health plan with coverage for abortions, though not subsidized by tax dollars. Another option will allow people to choose a plan with no abortion. Boehner, the House Republican leader, is wrong that subsidies for abortion are required.Why is Boehner lying about this? And why do the screamers and the hysterical know-nothings spread this false idea?
Betsy McCaughey: The health care reform bill "would make it mandatory — absolutely require — that every five years people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner." Pants on Fire!
THE TRUTH: There are no mandatory sessions. Instead, for the first time, Medicare will cover doctor appointments for patients to discuss living wills and other end-of-life issues. These appointments are completely optional, and the AARP supports the measure. McCaughey, a conservative commentator on health, misses the mark.Another liar from the Right whose mission is to influence the weak-minded to believe in outrageous nonsense so that she can serve the interests of the insurance industry.
THE TRUTH: Nobody gets completely free health care in the bill, and certainly not illegal immigrants. The basis for this rumor is a generic nondiscrimination clause that says that insurers may not discriminate with regard to "personal characteristics extraneous to the provision of high quality health care or related services." But the e-mail leaps to an incorrect conclusion.
THE TRUTH: The Health Choices Commissioner oversees a health insurance exchange where people shop for individual policies. People will choose from several different offerings, so this statement is just wrong.Are we beginning to see a pattern here of deceit, rumors, lies, and egregious lies? Hmmmm?
THE TRUTH: Obama was trying to make the point that employer-provided health insurance will stay in place under his plan. But the truth is, employers will be free to change policies, just like they can now. So you can only keep your health plan if your employer decided to keep it.
Mr. President, more discussion is needed on this, and more precision when you do so.
• Russ Carnahan: "The Congressional Budget Office most recently came out and analyzed the current (health care) plan and said that it was not only deficit-neutral, but also that over 10 years it would create a $6 billion surplus." False
THE TRUTH: The CBO has not scored the plan as deficit neutral. In fact, they found that it would add $239 billion to the deficit over 10 years. Democrats hope new pay-go legislation will help the CBO score, but the CBO hasn't confirmed that. Carnahan is a Democratic congressman from Missouri.
Get your facts straight, Russ. You're not doing us any favors by saying stuff that isn't true. Between the outright pants-on-fire lies coming from the right and the false statements like this, we'll never get this done.
• Karl Rove: Under a public health care option, 120 million Americans will "lose what they now get from private companies and be forced onto the government-run rolls as businesses decide it is more cost-effective for them to drop coverage." False
THE TRUTH: Rove, a Republican strategist, cites a study that actually says that many people would select the cheapest health insurance plan if given a choice. People would not be forced onto a government-run plan.
Nice going Rove. More "false" statements by the righties.
THE TRUTH: Blunt, a Republican congressman from Missouri, said this back in May, but it's still Mostly True. Democrats have different ideas on how to pay for health care, and it's one of the great unanswered questions in the debate so far.
Could it be that subject has gone undebated because the SCREAMERS would rather direct attention to Mr. Obama and their belief that he's HITLER/MUSSOLINI/STALIN? That'll work.
OUR nation is now engaged in a great debate about the future of health care in America. And over the past few weeks, much of the media attention has been focused on the loudest voices. What we haven’t heard are the voices of the millions upon millions of Americans who quietly struggle every day with a system that often works better for the health-insurance companies than it does for them.
These are people like Lori Hitchcock, whom I met in New Hampshire last week. Lori is currently self-employed and trying to start a business, but because she has hepatitis C, she cannot find an insurance company that will cover her. Another woman testified that an insurance company would not cover illnesses related to her internal organs because of an accident she had when she was 5 years old. A man lost his health coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because the insurance company discovered that he had gallstones, which he hadn’t known about when he applied for his policy. Because his treatment was delayed, he died.
I hear more and more stories like these every single day, and it is why we are acting so urgently to pass health-insurance reform this year. I don’t have to explain to the nearly 46 million Americans who don’t have health insurance how important this is. But it’s just as important for Americans who do have health insurance.
There are four main ways the reform we’re proposing will provide more stability and security to every American.
First, if you don’t have health insurance, you will have a choice of high-quality, affordable coverage for yourself and your family — coverage that will stay with you whether you move, change your job or lose your job.
Second, reform will finally bring skyrocketing health care costs under control, which will mean real savings for families, businesses and our government. We’ll cut hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and inefficiency in federal health programs like Medicare and Medicaid and in unwarranted subsidies to insurance companies that do nothing to improve care and everything to improve their profits.
Third, by making Medicare more efficient, we’ll be able to ensure that more tax dollars go directly to caring for seniors instead of enriching insurance companies. This will not only help provide today’s seniors with the benefits they’ve been promised; it will also ensure the long-term health of Medicare for tomorrow’s seniors. And our reforms will also reduce the amount our seniors pay for their prescription drugs.
Lastly, reform will provide every American with some basic consumer protections that will finally hold insurance companies accountable. A 2007 national survey actually shows that insurance companies discriminated against more than 12 million Americans in the previous three years because they had a pre-existing illness or condition. The companies either refused to cover the person, refused to cover a specific illness or condition or charged a higher premium.
We will put an end to these practices. Our reform will prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage because of your medical history. Nor will they be allowed to drop your coverage if you get sick. They will not be able to water down your coverage when you need it most. They will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or in a lifetime. And we will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses. No one in America should go broke because they get sick.Most important, we will require insurance companies to cover routine checkups, preventive care and screening tests like mammograms and colonoscopies. There’s no reason that we shouldn’t be catching diseases like breast cancer and prostate cancer on the front end. It makes sense, it saves lives and it can also save money.
Read the rest here.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
State of Alaska > Governor > Proclamations >
Proclamations Archive Healthcare Decisions Day
WHEREAS, Healthcare Decisions Day is designed to raise public awareness of the need to plan ahead for healthcare decisions, related to end of life care and medical decision-making whenever patients are unable to speak for themselves and to encourage the specific use of advance directives to communicate these important healthcare decisions. WHEREAS, in Alaska, Alaska Statute 13.52 provides the specifics of the advance directives law and offers a model form for patient use.
WHEREAS, it is estimated that only about 20 percent of people in Alaska have executed an advance directive. Moreover, it is estimated that less than 50 percent of severely or terminally ill patients have an advance directive.
WHEREAS, it is likely that a significant reason for these low percentages is that there is both a lack of knowledge and considerable confusion in the public about Advance Directives.
WHEREAS, one of the principal goals of Healthcare Decisions Day is to encourage hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, continuing care retirement communities, and hospices to participate in a statewide effort to provide clear and consistent information to the public about advance directives, as well as to encourage medical professionals and lawyers to volunteer their time and efforts to improve public knowledge and increase the number of Alaska’s citizens with advance directives.
WHEREAS, the Foundation for End of Life Care in Juneau, Alaska, and other organizations throughout the United States have endorsed this event and are committed to educating the public about the importance of discussing healthcare choices and executing advance directives.
WHEREAS, as a result of April 16, 2008, being recognized as Healthcare Decisions Day in Alaska, more citizens will have conversations about their healthcare decisions; more citizens will execute advance directives to make their wishes known; and fewer families and healthcare providers will have to struggle with making difficult healthcare decisions in the absence of guidance from the patient.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Sarah Palin, Governor of the state of Alaska, do hereby proclaim April 16, 2008, as:
Healthcare Decisions Day in Alaska, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.
From Paul Krugman's column in the NYTimes:
"...the charge that’s gaining the most traction is the claim that health care reform will create “death panels” (in Sarah Palin’s words) that will shuffle the elderly and others off to an early grave. It’s a complete fabrication, of course. The provision requiring that Medicare pay for voluntary end-of-life counseling was introduced by Senator Johnny Isakson, Republican — yes, Republican — of Georgia, who says that it’s “nuts” to claim that it has anything to do with euthanasia.
And not long ago, some of the most enthusiastic peddlers of the euthanasia smear, including Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, and Mrs. Palin herself, were all for “advance directives” for medical care in the event that you are incapacitated or comatose. That’s exactly what was being proposed — and has now, in the face of all the hysteria, been dropped from the bill."
Yes, a provision in the health care bill that a Republican wrote, and that the dishonest ex-part-time governor of Alaska actually endorsed has been dropped from the health care bill.
We live in hysterial, illogical times, led by yawping, cynical, empty-headed people like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Sarah Palin, whose followers eagerly and unquestioningly believe them.
Good luck with that, America
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
felt forced to jump into the fray and condemn McCaughey’s misinformation campaign as “rife with gross — and even cruel — distortions.” The elder lobbying group has long pushed to have Medicare pay doctors for time spent talking to patients about “difficult end-of-life care decisions.”
Suppose you’re a baby boomer who’s counting on Medicare to provide health coverage for perhaps 20 years or more starting in your not-too-distant future. Is it in your interests to kill reform that would control some of the program’s enormous waste and would guarantee health care security for younger workers? It is not.
Even under the best of circumstances, younger Americans are going to grow testy as they are compelled to support surging numbers of retirees. Now imagine these workers having to struggle for their own coverage while paying ever-higher taxes to give older people whatever care they want regardless of cost or efficacy. From the boomer’s point of view, better that Medicare be fixed today.
Republicans should also stand warned. This carnival to discredit adult end-of-life care consultations brings them back into dangerous Terri Schiavo territory. Recall how the Republican leadership accused Schiavo’s husband of trying to murder Terri by taking her off life support after she had spent 15 years in a vegetative state, hooked up to tubes. The public was appalled, and Republican fortunes started their slide.
Some attacks on health care reform are so ludicrous that you don’t think they need answering. A recent example invokes an evil plot to save money by knocking off the elderly. Though nuts, the charges have gotten so much attention that someone has to actually say, “No, they’re not killing Grandma.”
The fake claim is being peddled by “conservatives” who condemn both spiraling Medicare costs and any effort to contain them. Their goal is to stop proposed health care reform by spooking beneficiaries and those approaching retirement .
I’ll tell you what ought to really scare the elderly and the soon-to-be: the prospect that health care reform could fail. More on that later.
Headlining the looney-tunes campaign is Betsy McCaughey, the Sarah Palin of health care. A Senate bill would “pressure the elderly to end their lives prematurely,” she wrote. Her contention, amazingly, has become a Republican talking point.
And there it is, my friends, a subversion of democracy. The anti-health care people have no counter plans, have nothing to debate, but they do have an unlimited supply of lies and nutty conspiracy stories concocted to derail President Obama. [See "Birthers" and now "Deathers"] and health care reform.
THE FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL:
An anti-abortion group’s TV ad shows a white-haired man fretting that under a federal health plan, "They won’t pay for my surgery, but we’re forced to pay for abortions."
“Will this be our future?” the ad asks, merging the fears of seniors worried about their health care with those of anti-abortion advocates. “Our greatest generation, denied care. Our future generation, denied life."
In fact, none of the health care overhaul measures that have made it through the committee level in Congress say that abortion will be covered, and one of them explicitly says that no public funds will be used to finance the procedure. Furthermore, none of the bills call explicitly for cuts in Medicare coverage, much less rationing, under a public plan.
The bills leave the specifics of what medical services would be covered up to advisory panels that are supposed to make recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services, and ultimately up to the secretary of that department. Whether she or he would choose to cover abortions under any new federal plan is something we can’t predict. Our crystal ball functions no better on the topic of whether the elderly, or anyone else for that matter, will get the care they need under such a plan or under Medicare.
It can’t be an accident that the spot’s kitchen-table setting makes us expect Harry and Louise to turn up at any moment. The 30-second ad from the Family Research Council is running initially in Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Alaska, Louisiana and Nebraska.
Whether the House and Senate health care overhaul bills would result in the government providing for abortions to be performed is a hot topic with conservatives.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
There are many disturbing details in the current bill that Washington is trying to rush through Congress, but we must stick to a discussion of the issues and not get sidetracked by tactics that can be accused of leading to intimidation or harassment. Such tactics diminish our nation's civil discourse which we need now more than ever because the fine print in this outrageous health care proposal must be understood clearly and not get lost in conscientious voters' passion to want to make elected officials hear what we are saying. Let's not give the proponents of nationalized health care any reason to criticize us.
The title of this post comes from one of PolitiFact.com's recent posting on a lie being repeated by John Boehner and Liberty Counsel:
"...a claim by Rep. John Boehner that the plan would require Americans to 'subsidize abortion with their hard-earned tax dollars.' While there are several versions of the health care plan floating around Congress, and it seems that full abortion coverage would be permitted in the government-sponsored program, we didn't see anything in them that would put taxpayers on the hook for subsidizing abortions. In fact, we found an amendment in a key version of the House plan that specifically seeks to ensure that federal funds are not used to subsidize abortion coverage. And so we ruled that claim False.
We also checked an abortion claim by the Liberty Counsel, a group that describes its mission as an 'education and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family' and is affiliated with Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Virigina." In a memo on its Web site, the group says that page 992 of the health care bill will 'establish school-based 'health' clinics. Your children will be indoctrinated and your grandchildren may be aborted!' There's nothing in the bill to that effect, so we gave them a Pants on Fire."
The health care reform plan would set limits similar to the "socialized" system in Britain, where people are allowed to die if their treatment would cost more than $22,000.
Club for Growth, Tuesday, August 4th, 2009.
President Barack Obama suggested on national TV that the Democratic health care bill "will have government decide" that a healthy, 100-year-old woman in need of a pacemaker "should take a pain pill" instead.
Dan Lungren, Tuesday, July 28th, 2009.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
Limbaugh called Speaker Pelosi "deranged" for saying that attendees at town hall meeting were showing up with Nazi swastikas.
Pelosi did not call the people attending the meeting Nazis, but that swastikas were present at these gatherings.
Limbaugh attacked her and the Democratic Party.
LIMBAUGH: "The Speaker of the House accusing people showing up at these town hall meetings of wearing Swastikas — that is not insignificant folks. This woman is deranged. They are unraveling. But that is not insignificant. You have the Democrat Speaker of the House saying that people — citizens — who are concerned about health care are now wearing Swastikas. She’s basically saying that we are Nazis. She is saying that the people who oppose this are Nazis. [...]
This party, the Democrat Party, and where it’s taken this country — the radical left leadership of this party — bears much more resemblance to Nazi policies than anything we on the right believe in at all."
Please see above the photos taken at recent town hall meetings.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE TOWN HALL MEETING, HEATHER BLISH, DISGUISED AS "JUST A MOM..."
Rep. Steve Kagen (D-WI) faced a “heated” discussion about health care at a town hall meeting yesterday, with people in the crowd who were heckling, interrupting, and filibustering him.
One vocal attendee was a woman named Heather Blish, who identified herself as “just a mom from a few blocks away” and “not affiliated with any political party.” When interviewed by the local NBC affiliate, Blish insisted she was not a member of the Republican Party. “I left the party,” she said. Blish’s statements, however, are distortions. From NBC’s report:
Her LinkedIn page shows something different. She was the vice chair of the Republican Party of Kewaunee County until last year. She worked on the John Gard campaign, who ran unsuccessfully against Kagen last year. And it says she’s a part of the Republican Party for Kagen’s district, as well as the Republican Party of Wisconsin, and the Republican National Committee.
"I know the president feels strongly that we can discuss these issues without personally maligning... that we are doing so in a way that respects the dignity of each individual," he said. "I think anytime you make references to what happened in Germany in the 30's and 40's, I think you are talking about an event that has no equivalent. And I think anytime anyone ventures to compare anything to that, they are on thin ice, and it is best not employed."
"But I think what the most important thing is, is that we can have a discussion in our democracy about where we want to go," he added. "The president strongly believes we can do so without yelling at each other, pushing at each other or degrading each other. We have seen some stuff, I mentioned it a week ago, we have all seen imagery that just shocks and surprises us and I think the best thing to do is just take that temperature down a bit."
STEVEN PEARLSTEIN OF THE WaPo WEIGHS IN ON THE LIES BEING USED TO SCARE AMERICANS ON HEALTH CARE REFORM
The nation’s unemployment rate dropped to 9.4 percent on Friday, an unexpected burst of good news for President Barack Obama after a very rough month for his agenda. Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0809/25909.html#ixzz0NVAv4kbA
The entire article is linked to Pearlstein's name.
The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well, they've given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They've become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.
There are lots of valid criticisms that can be made against the health reform plans moving through Congress -- I've made a few myself. But there is no credible way to look at what has been proposed by the president or any congressional committee and conclude that these will result in a government takeover of the health-care system. That is a flat-out lie whose only purpose is to scare the public and stop political conversation.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
"As a Democrat who founded the Institute on the Holocaust and the Law, I have a lesson for Rush Limbaugh.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
What we are learning from the Health Care Town Halls is just how weird and downright toxic the radical right has become in the United States. Their strategy seems to be simply to spread misinformation and to shout down rational debate. These are the birthers and tea-baggers and they have little interest in the real problems facing our health care system--50 million uninsured, uncontrolled costs, and inadequate quality. The faux issues they are raising--a government takeover of our health care system, denial of health care to the sick by the government, the end of private health insurance--demonstrate that they have simply not read the proposed legislation.
Indeed, the basics of the legislation--managed competition, expansion of Medicaid, and public subisidies for the purchase of private insurance--are precisely the solutions that free market advocacy groups have been pushing for years.The Town Hall intimidation campaign seems to be led by a group called Patients First, which in turn is a front for a group called Americans for Prosperity.
Americans for Prosperity, according to Sourcewatch, has in the past opposed tobacco control legislation on behalf of the tobacco industry (making their involvement in health care somewhat ironic). AFPs largest funder has been the Claude Lambe Foundation, which in turn is funded by Koch Industries, the "nations largest privately held energy company," and which has longsupported right wing causes together with other Koch foundations right wing causes.Much of the opposition to the health reform legislation moving through Congress is based on real concerns about how much it will cost the government and whether it will be effective.
One would hope that town halls could provide a forum for rationally expressing concerns and also for responding to them. It is telling that, although some recent polls show that opposition to "President Obama's health care plan" slightly outweighs support, once the elements of that plan are described, support for the plan rises dramatically.
The public clearly needs more information. But this exchange of information cannot take place if the meetings are mobbed by goons trying to shout down rational dialogue. Fortunately, there is every indication that this strategy is backfiring as ordinary Americans see just how ugly right wing extremism has become.