30 August 2008
After conferring with my circle of advisers, and One-Eye Louise down at Homer's Blue Dell Family Buffet and Taproom, and some of the guys over at Sam the Lion's Pool Hall, I've decided to run for president. Yes, of the whole damned U.S. of A!
Even though I ain't never been the mayor of an Alaskan Village, sold nothing, let alone an airplane, on eBay, or slept with a commercial fisherman, I still think I've got what it takes. And, if this counts, even though I haven't been in no beauty contest, I have been the celebrity judge of at least six. That alone should be sufficient, but here's the rest.
I've had a ton of experience in foreign affairs, having gotten shagged in places like Hong Kong, Yokohama, Rangoon, Manila, Tijuana, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Taipei, London, Dublin, Brussels, Cologne, Copenhagen, Bonn, and under an olive tree in Lebanon, and on a camel blanket, in a desert wadi during a sand storm, just a tad west of Damascus. And did some furious petting with a Latvian lady on a train from Luxembourg to Amsterdam. That thing at the Wailing Wall was not me!
I've had a lot of experience in domestic affairs too, but we ain't discussing them since some of the ladies have husbands now. Some of whom have very short little fuses (ahem), lots of insecurities and NRA memberships.
I'm good at national security issues too. If they can't pay the tribute, we'll invade them. Then we'll occupy them until they beg us to leave.
Oh, yeah, and I ain't perfect and have got all sorts of humble, humanizing man-of-the-people beginnings. For example, I have a lot of remorse about the time I stole a yo-yo at Kresge's and a kindly African-American janitor took me under his wing, and made me own up to what I'd done--when I got out of reform school, where I saved a crippled, blind, paraplegic inmate from drowning, he taught me how to sing the blues, tap dance, and polish the brass doorknobs till you could see yourself in them. His family and mine still, after all these years, gather together on Juneteenth, to Bar-B-Que and sing slave spirituals.
I have masterful bipartisan skills too. I grabs the opposition by their parts then they come along real nice like. Sort of like a formula: By-Parts-Then.
I got me some accomplishments too. I got two certificates from Fred Pryor Seminars, my first communion photo, and a framed perfect attendance certificate from that online correspondence course I took, and I ain't been in jail or bounced a check since I got off the cocaine--my parole officer can certify that if you don't believe me.
My neighbors speak well of me, and will until I release their daughters from my locked basement.
And I always stay married to the same woman, this time it's already lasted more than eight months.
Right now, I'm riding a wave of popular acclaim, as can be seen in this news report from Channel 3..obviously, I've got the "tramp-stamp" babe vote. You'll see what I mean when you click this news report about my campaign.
29 August 2008
You know what I mean. It’s like one of those dreams you have if you eat about ten strawberry blintzes and wash them down with Southern Comfort. Not a nightmare, but not making one damned bit of sense either.
Yep, you guessed it. Sarah Palin, McCain’s choice for the “one-heartbeat-away” from the leadership of the free world position. Sara Palin, you’ve heard of her, right? Right? Aw, c’mon, you have heard of her, haven’t you?
No? Here’s why. She’s a towering monument to mediocrity and nothingness.
She’s a former beauty queen and mayor of 5400 total population, Dogsquat, Alaska, and now Governor of Alaska, total population 670,000. Listen here, folks. There are twenty cities, including Charlotte, even when the cars ain’t racing each other, in this nation of ours with more population than the entire state of Alaska.
But, to be fair, she has a claim to fame, other than once having been Miss Congeniality. She ran against other Republicans on ethics issues. Talk about picking low hanging fruit. Republicans, ethics, Alaska, Ted Stevens, Bridge to Nowhere: No-brainer there. Oh yeah. She did once sell an airplane on eBay. Big whoop.
You just have to ask yourself, what in the name of living hell are they thinking. Like this gal will appeal to disillusioned Clinton voters. Oh sure she will. They will really go for her anti-abortion, anti-equal rights, anti-equal pay stances and rhetoric. Those are just the things that bind together those disgruntled Hillary supporters.
But, let’s take ourselves back to this ethics thing. It seems that Madam Governor has her own problems brewing. She helped her sister out during a very messy divorce and custody war by asking the state commissioner of public safety to fire her sister’s state trooper ex-husband. He refused, so she fired him! It was so ugly, that the Republican legislature has retained an independent legal expert to investigate an “abuse of power” in the case.
Pinch me, now damn it. I gotta be dreaming. And, it can’t be what I ate, you can’t find a decent blintz in Texas—jalapeño poppers yeah, but no blintzes. And, I lay off the liquor a good twenty-five years ago.
Is this the best they can come up with to burnish McCain’s conservative credentials? I guess it is. It seems representative of their characteristics. But, tell me, what are they thinking? No wait, I don’t want to know that, but, do this, try to imagine what the Vice Presidential debates are going to be like: Biden, “I have more than thirty years of foreign policy and domestic experience. Palin, “Well before we ran him out of the family, I, and my brother-in-law, once shooed a Polar Bear out of Skagway.”
28 August 2008
For weeks the online forums and right–wing screech-monkeys of TV and Radio talk-shows have had slobber drooling down their chins as they gleefully postulated how Hillary and Bill would yank the rug out from under Obama. How Hillary would send subtle signals to the faithful that they should wait until 2012, and that Bill would deliver some sort of "by-the-numbers" tepid speech and then leave the hall.
Right! What I saw, was several honest-to-goodness, bigger-than-life, defining moments of history. The moment that Hillary called for nomination by acclamation, I knew I was witnessing a moment for posterity. There are words for that moment. French words, actually, which really do not translate into English with the full import of their meaning: “Beau Geste, a "beautiful gesture". But, oh so much more, it was a gesture of courage, of hope, of spirit, and of transcendent political beauty, unity and loyalty for the future good of all. A Beau Geste.
And Bill’s speech. Dang, the boy’s a hound, but probably the best president in my lifetime. The man has an unmatched ability to make you feel that he is with you and on your side.
And, here’re two of the best lines from the convention, so far. Both are unparalleled zingers!
Remember Ann Richards when she accused Daddy Bush of being born on third base and believing he’d hit a triple? Well, Ohio Governor, Ted Strickland gave us the corollary to the joke. He said, "When Bill Clinton left office leaving 22-million new jobs and a budget surplus, Dubya came into office on third base, and immediately stole second! And John McCain cheered him every step of the way."
And Speaking of McCain, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, said that, "The nation can’t meet its energy needs merely by drilling for oil even if we drilled in every one of McCain’s Backyards."
Yep, thems my kind of folks, each and every one of them.
27 August 2008
26 August 2008
I was booking it on a Texas two-lane blacktop to deliver a speech at yet another campaign Bar-b-que last Sunday morning when the local fuzz clocked me for 63 in a 45. And, he had me dead to rights, I was booking it through that little one-light town. I was for sure clocked.
He came up to the side of the car and said, "I stopped you because you were going 63 in a 45. He took my license, and my Insurance card, and just as he reached for his ticket book I, I said, "Hold on, if I tell you a police joke that you've never heard, will you let me off with a warning."
Bubba looked at me kind of hard, and I thought man he's gonna strap my butt for being a smartass. Then he said, "I don't think so, but let's hear it."
And here's the joke I told, it's been around awhile in several variations, and I've always thought that if the time were right, I'd try to use it talk my way out of a ticket--yes, I'm a lead foot:
There was this guy speeding in a "write-me-a-ticket- red" sports car, and when the radar car lit him up, he floored it. He was already going85 on a city street when the lights first hit him.
He screamed down the road going faster and faster, busting red lights, until he was blasting along at 105, with the police car in hot pursuit with lights flashing and siren screeching.
Finally he gave up and pulled over and the officer raced up to the car, ready to make a felony stop, yelling, "What in the hell is your problem mister, why didn't you stop ten miles back, when I first turned on my lights".
"Well, officer, two weeks ago, my wife ran off with a state trooper, and I thought you were him, trying to catch me to give her back."
It worked! He laughed and said OK, but don't speed in my town again, and handed back my license and insurance card.
Yessir!, sez I, and drove off---oh so safely and carefully, holding my smirk until I was in the next county.
Now here is what makes it especially sweet. My wife was there! Talked my butt out of a ticket and my wife was forced to witness it....dang, life can be so good sometimes. She thinks I'm a mouthy so-and-so. Showed her!
I will be especially unbearable the rest of the week. And she'll have to hear it over-and-over-and-over... for the rest our lives, about the day I talked my way out of ticket in a small Texas town!
24 August 2008
So, after seeing this, me and the missus got in our 1976 hoop mobile and went on a McCain homes tour. And, pulling up in the circular drive of the first estate, it went like this…
"Sure, we’ll sign in, but, sorry ma'am, we're not buying. We’re just trying to get an idea of what we'd like to have when our ship comes in.
Oh, I'd say sometime between now and never! Our ship sank in the Bermuda Triangle. You see, we've fallen into the Medicare coverage gap, and used the prescription money to buy some gas to get out of the apartment today so we could see first hand how the top 2% live.
We’d like to take a peek at the closet where he keeps those $500 shoes. Oh, I see. Makes sense, always wants to wear them on the campaign trail to remind him of his roots.
Oh yeah, it's really nice, but I don't think I could afford to cool it in these Arizona summers, what with energy deregulation and bills doubling and tripling--right now we only use the AC on days that the temperatures is above 115--rest of the time we just strip down and hose each other off out on the balcony. Anyway, it’s a dry heat you know.
Huh? Yeah sure, we got sore heads that complain, but I tell them that when they turn down their rap music we'll put on some clothes.
You’d like me to move my car? Oh, ok, I forgot about that little oil leak, I'm sure you can replace that adobe brick stuff.
Oh not adobe? Imported from where? Dang, don't that beat all.
Got little crosses scratched in each one...how about that. I heard that story about how his guard did that cross in the dirt thing. But, the thing of that is this: The first time I heard that story was a summer bible school down in Southern Illinois in 1948. But the way I heard it was that there was this guard about to lead a Christian Martyr out for date with a lion and he scratched an outline of a fish in the dirt with his spear. That’s how come you got these folks driving around with an icthius on the back of their cars down to this very day.
Sure, I got one too, ‘cept mine’s got these little feet on it.
Well, you don’t need to get all huffy. We’re getting ready to leave, anyway.
But, before we go, I do have a question. Have either of “I’m an only child” Cindy’s sisters been on the tour?
Right, right, we’re leaving right now.
Look, we'll need you to give us a push to get started. Battery's bad, but we're going to take the missus's money for her water pills this month and buy a rebuilt battery, and then get some white bread and bologna for Sunday dinner. C'mon over, you'd be welcome; we usually spring for something special like grape Kool-Aid on Sunday.
Nice place though, I'll think I'll tell our rap-playing neighbors to swing by and take a look. The missus and me could use an uninterrupted cool down. Dang old dry heat will catch up with you, if you don’t hydrate!"
22 August 2008
We knew, and we warned then, that the drug and insurance company written plan, enacted by a republican congress, and signed by Bush, and blessed as “the best we can get” by AARP, was no more than a drug and insurance company boondoggle on seniors, and an unmitigated disaster waiting to happen.
September is an especially critical time for seniors because that is the month when millions of them slide into the “donut hole” or Part D coverage gap. Here’s how that works--or doesn't work, depending on your viewpoint. At last year’s rate, Medicare beneficiaries are on the hook for full payment of prescription drugs after they incur costs of $2,400 with a Part D, private insurer. That’s right, the insured senior continues to pay premiums, but has no coverage, until he or she has spent $3,850 out-of-pocket, then the coverage resumes.
The obvious disaster waiting to happen has happened. Older Americans, after falling into the gap, are giving up their medicines, and risking their fragile health and their lives.
Yesterday, the Kaiser Foundation released the results of a joint research project with the University of Chicago and Georgetown University, confirming that seniors entering the “donut hole” give up critical, life-supporting medications because of cost. Kaiser Report Online
About 3.4-million older Americans fell into that gap last year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s report. Once there, they stay there. The average senior reaching the gap received less than one month of “catastrophic coverage” (when coverage kicks in again after the $3,850 out-of-pocket). What this very clearly means, is that more than a half-million older Americans did without critical medications last year due to higher costs after falling into the “donut hole”. Simply put: Fifteen percent of those falling into the gap stopped their treatment regimen due to high costs!
Alzheimer patients (8%) were the least likely to give up their medicines. But, a frightening 16% gave up their high blood pressure medicines, and 10% of diabetes patients stopped buying their medicines. Others with painful chronic, but not life-threatening, illnesses had much higher rates as 18% of patients with osteoporosis, and 20% of patients suffering from ulcers or acid reflux stopped buying their pain and condition palliative medicines.
The report does not project the number of deaths, impairments, and worsening of conditions from the discontinuance of those critical medications by seniors. But, it is not difficult to suppose that some occurred as a result. That tragedy belongs to congress, Bush, the drug and insurance companies, and AARP who rolled-over on “Part D”.
Nor does it tell the story of the Bush administration's insistance on prohibiting, by criminalizing, Medicare's ability to bid for lower drug costs.
Looking ahead, according to a report by the Associated Press, the averageMedicare Part D beneficiary will face a 12% monthly premium increase in 2009. Federal government projections show the cost of standard drug coverage rising $3 to $28 each month. The estimate was based on bids from the private insurance companies administering the plans, and the increase is due largely to higher drug costs and a larger number of prescriptions per person, according to Medicare officials.
The solution is quiet simple, very doable, and should become the first order of business for the next congress. Allow Medicare, already proven to be a cost-efficient administrator of health care, to take bids for drugs and buy in bulk as does the Veteran’s Administration. The savings from this would enable the closing of the “coverage gap” and save lives. Failure to do so will be a death sentence for many Older Americans as drug-price and coverage premium increases quicken their slide into a gap which is rapidely becoming a yawning grave!
20 August 2008
Rick Noriega: How to repair broken health care system
12:00 AM CDT on Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Rick Noriega, a Democrat who has represented his Houston district in the Texas House since 1999, is running for the U.S. Senate. He may be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many issues deserve the attention of our elected officials, but few directly affect the lives of Texans like health care. We must all unite around the goal of accessible, affordable health care for every Texas family. Families in this state are facing a health care crisis because Washington isn't looking out for them. Sen. John Cornyn recently said he thinks Texas is a national model for an effective health care system. However, our state has the nation's highest rate of individuals without health insurance. We can and must do better.
My health plan will protect Texas children, lower costs to employers and individuals, and reform the inefficient, failing status quo.
In Texas, over 20 percent of children are not covered by health insurance. But while Texas has the highest number of uninsured children in the country, Mr. Cornyn voted six times against expanding health insurance coverage for Texas kids.
My health care plan reflects my long-time advocacy of expanding coverage to children. As a state representative, I helped increase coverage to more than 500,000 children, sponsored legislation that eliminated bureaucratic 90-day waiting lists, and led efforts to allow families to deduct child care costs while the state determined their eligibility status.
Our current approach is unacceptable – every child should be able to go to the doctor whenever needed. That's why my plan calls for an expansion of the children's health insurance program to provide coverage for all Texas children. My plan also will improve health security and options for all Texans. According to analysis of census data by Families USA, 45 percent of state residents are uninsured for at least part of the year.
That's why I've proposed creating an "insurance connector" to link Texans with insurance plans that are suitable for their needs. The federal government would negotiate with private insurers to provide options for all Americans. Texans who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program, but still can't afford health insurance, would receive a discount based on a sliding income scale. This innovation will use the strengths of the competitive marketplace to cut costs and improve access.
My proposal also focuses on affordability. We cannot continue to allow health insurance companies to inflate premiums and reap unprecedented profits. Between 2000 and 2006, family health premiums increased by nearly 80 percent. I will push for wider adoption of electronic medical records to cut down on inefficiency and an increased emphasis on preventive health efforts. My plan also helps small businesses deal with the costs of health care, through targeted tax credits to incentivize coverage.
Finally, we need to build transparency and accountability into our currently broken and needlessly complex system by giving Texans more information about physician ratings and how their premiums and health benefit expenses are calculated.
My opponent thinks tort reform is the answer to our health care woes. Indeed, his campaign specifically claimed that Proposition 12 has succeeded in providing health care services in under-served areas and improving access in others. But that claim simply isn't supported by the facts. Doctors moving to Texas because of lower insurance rates have overwhelmingly chosen urban areas, not rural or under-served areas, a fact that undermines one of the strongest arguments for Proposition 12 – expansion of access. According to Texas Watch, under-served areas remain under-served.
Texans deserve a health care system that works for them – not for Big Insurance and the Washington lobbyists. Texans deserve real health care security for their families, lowered costs for employers, and more transparency and accountability than our current system provides.
Rick Noriega, a Democrat who has represented his Houston district in the Texas House since 1999, is running for the U.S. Senate. He may be contacted through; email@example.com
19 August 2008
Gay marriage is not going to end civilization as we know it! At least that’s my take on things.
I say this because in recent weeks, I have had several acquaintances, progressives who are working hard to undo the devastation of eight years of Bush and his deep-forest hobgoblins, river trolls, mendicants, and felons, tell me as an aside, “I’m as liberal as they come, but I’m not for this gay marriage stuff”. Thankfully, I didn’t get a wink and a nudge as this was said.
But, what I did get, was that “look” and a moment of awkward silence, as though I was supposed to signal a, “Yeah, me too”. I didn’t, because I don’t agree that one can hold a progressive ideology, and then set such parameters. It’s like saying, yes I support voter’s rights, but..., or I oppose torture, except..., or I support civil rights, except. At least, that’s how I feel about it.
In the first place, and putting aside all the legal issues about long-term, same-sex couples who are deprived of hospital visits with one another by angry, vindictive relatives, or adoption issues, or the passing along of property—all really incredibly important issues, yes—but let’s just focus on the basics, shall we?
Why should two people who want to marry not be allowed to do so simply because they both get to use the same public restroom? Huh, tell me. You can’t, without appealing to some interpretation of the bible—and, that is a very sticky wicket. Since no one knows for certain what has been stuck in and what has been left out of that particular best-seller as it’s been passed through about four or five different languages, and translated and rewritten by various groups and individuals intent on putting their own spin on things.
Nope, it is going to take a lot more than that to pry the notion that gay-marriage is just fine, from my cold dead fingers.
I wish I’d been asked by that Warren fellow at the Saddleback Q & A what my definition of marriage is. I’d have told him it is two people hooking up for some stupid and poorly thought out reason involving love, convenience, or preservation of the family name, or to make sure you’ve always got someone to eat popcorn with on Saturday night while watching a flick.
Hell, I don’t know why people get married. It never turns out quite the way you thought about it at the time. For me it’s been danged good, interesting, but a good thing. For others, it doesn’t always go well. That’s life. But, if homosexuals (I would sort of like to reclaim the word gay), lesbians, transgendered, or some subtle variation of all that want to get married, more power to them. I mean after all, it’s not as though denying them marriage will make them stop doing the things that some people object to. Now, will it?
Seriously, it doesn’t threaten my marriage anymore than old Maybelle Quicktoliedown’s five sequential, and seemingly heterosexual, marriages to, and divorces from, several variations of the same Johnny Worthlessasspit threatens my marriage. My marriage will survive, and so will yours.
And honestly, no government, federal, state, or local has any business dictating to any church who they must marry. Your church doesn’t wish to wed same sex folks, then don’t. There are plenty that will.
The flip side of that coin is that no church should be dictating to any government to whom it may or may not issue a marriage license.
You don’t approve? Fine! Don’t go to the reception and drink the free booze, and for sure don’t check the registry at Niemans or send a toaster. And leave me alone about it, I don’t care that you don’t approve. We’ll just focus on getting done the things on which we do agree.
And somehow, it seems appropriate to close with another cliché. Politics sure does make for strange bed fellows.
18 August 2008
I have given many "stump speeches", but this was a first! I actually mounted a stump for my speech. We had moved into the shade of trees and the coolness of the grass from the heat and sunlight blistering us on the cement stage of the amphitheater. What fun. And, as it turned out, I got to deliver the "warm-up" speech.
But, already the local right wing noise machine has begun their spin, lies, and snarky, belittling personal attack. Here, for your enjoyment, is the exchange underway in the forum of the online version of the Tyler Morning Telegraph.
First: We have a man calling himself, Bill Bala, who sat aside his coloring books and TV-Guide celebrity crossword, in order to spew this:
"Well he's a gung-ho democrat trying to ride Obomb's coat tails judging by his speech, but that's about it. Gave the standard bad mouth to his opponent, but otherwise, just not much there."
And then there is a fellow, self-identified as, Marvin Crain who, broke out his crayons, chewed the inside of his gum and scrawled:
“Ricky on the stump! Hey, Bill P., were you there? If so, did you get one of those Chris Matthews feelings running up your leg or do you reserve those for Obama? Sounds like quite a mesmerizing speech; big bad oil, big bad HMOs (Ted Kennedy's brain child--no pun intended), solar panels and windmills. I bet all fifty people were mesmerized by this speech. I'm glad I was not there or I might have gotten so excited that I piddled in my panties.”
To which I replied:
"Spin" takes many forms, and Mr Bala's letter could have been written without his attending the rally.
I was there, and I had the distinct honor to speak of the issues concerning older Texans and the the working families of our state. And, the tremendous honor of then "stepping down off the stump" to make way for a fellow veteran, and a great and loyal American and Texan.
I heard candidate Noriega speak of his service in Afghanistan, of the strength of his marriage to Melissa, who stepped up and filled his seat while he was with the Marines in Afghanistan, and watched and listened as he comforted a grief-stricken and highly over-wrought women over the deaths of our G.I.s in Iraq, and the failure to provide adequate care for the wounded and maimed survivors when they return home from combat.
He spoke, in depth, of a fair and humane immigration policy which would apprehend and punish drug and human traffickers. A policy which would identify and punish businesses which illegally employ undocumented workers. I heard the common sense of his opposition to taking private property away from Texas ranchers and landowners in order to build 12-foot walls, while those on the other side are building 13-foot ladders.
I heard him speak of the lies that we're being offered, rather than realistic policies.
I also heard him speak of his energy plan, which both Senators Obama and McCain have appropriated as their own, and which, offers a fast track away from reliance on Middle Eastern oil. He spoke of American innovation, technology and new entrepreneurs, right here at home, who are developing alternatives sources of energy. He spoke of shutting off the flow of cash from America to the Middle East, much of which winds up in the hands of terrorist groups dedicated to our destruction.
And sure, he spoke of Senator Cornyn, who has voted wrong on every bill coming before him that would affect older Texans and working families. Cornyn, after all, voted against health care for children, and against the most recent Medicare improvement act which affected rural families, military families, and older Texans and working families.
Cornyn only changed his vote after the Texas Medical Association and angry seniors "dope-slapped" him into reality.
For the first time in years, Texans have a clear choice in two senatorial candidates who stand for different things. One stands for positive change for the betterment of the people of Texas, while the other speaks of the importance of using his Senatorial seat to advance his own stature within the Republican party.I trust the people of Texas, the fine people who in the past sent men and women, such as; Sam Rayburn, Ralph Yarborough, Barbara Jordan, and Ann Richards off to represent them, to see the difference, and to vote on the issues, rather than closed-mind spin.
Board of Directors - Alliance for Retired Americans
Vice President - Texas Alliance for Retired Americans
Texas Delegate - 2005 White House Conference on Aging
Here's a link to the exchange, feel free to join in....
15 August 2008
OMIG! Quick! Gather up the silverware and great-grandma’s gold jewelry, your wedding bands, and anything else you treasure and get them buried out behind the barn. Hide your daughters and wife in the basement, board up the windows, and if you have a half-way decent bass boat you might want to think about putting it in storage. And, I’d for sure, put any decent dog that you care about into boarding for a while.
And “git ‘er done” before Monday
Well, here’s how come. Unindicted felon, notorious scofflaw, subpoena evading, serial self-abuser, and Bush lickspittle, Karl Rove, is heading to Texas to try to con some money out of folks to assist the campaign of the dry-drunk sociopath’s prime Senatorial enabler, John "Crony" Cornyn.
You know Cornyn, the one who has voted wrong on every single measure coming up in the U.S. Senate which affected seniors and working families. That John Cornyn. The one who voted against the recent Medicare bill until the Texas Medical Association and outraged seniors dope-slapped him into reality, and a later affirmative vote. One wonders, which scared him the most, the lost endorsement of one of the State’s most important lobbies or the sight of angry little old dames in tennis shoes heading his way. Hell, the big money boys over at the doctor lobby? You just take them up to the Petroleum Club and ply them with some Wild Turkey and pro-football cheerleaders, and you’re good to go. But, you just do not want a whole lot of angry seniors on your case.
According to Rick Noriega’s Communication Director, Martine Apodaca, this is an indicator that Crony Cornyn's campaign is getting worried, when they go to the extraordinary measure of calling in the very unpopular Bush’s top political hit man for help.
Of course Bush and Rove have big reasons to help out their crony, Cornyn. The Noriega campaign quotes the Texas Observer in citing:
Crony Cornyn voted with Bush 96% of the time during his first four years in the Senate, and 90% thereafter.
Crony Cornyn backed Bush on every vote relating to the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Crony Cornyn used his seat on the Senate Armed Forces Committee to attempt to block and investigation into the torture and abuses at Abu Ghraib.
Crony Cornyn was one of only nine senators, all Republicans, who stood with Bush, and voted against John McCain’s amendment to ban cruel and inhumane treatment of terrorism suspects.
The issue is clear. Crony Cornyn has supported and enabled our dry-drunk, sociopathic president more than any other person. And now, on the run from subpoenas, hit man Rove is coming to a fundraiser in El Paso on Monday.
Norriega is calling on supporters to send Rove a message before he sneaks into town. He asking you to click on this link to send a donation, before Rove gets here.
14 August 2008
President Franklin Roosevelt signed your birth certificate 73 years ago.
- For providing lifelong protection for retirees, the disabled, surviving spouses, and orphans.
- You offer peace of mind to both retirees and today's workers in a rapidly changing world.
- You've stayed inflation proof and are the sole income of 22% of all seniors.
- Without you, 40% of seniors would fall below the poverty line.
- Just as in the past, Social Security will require some bipartisan fixes in the coming years; however, there is no rush, and privatization is not the answer.
Why don't you do the same, they'll appreciate it! Tell 'em the Alliance sent you.
13 August 2008
Well, one major difference is that liberals still retain some sense of proportion and tenaciously cling to some semblance of sanity as the other side goes moon-howling, yammering in tongues, Halloween & Nightmare On Elm Street crazy! Freddy, Jason and Michael would cringe and cower at the sight of them approaching.
Hide! Don't open the door for God's sake. It's the people from Focus On The Family! Quick, to the panic room!
Oh yeah. If I've offended anyone, it's merely my boyish humor coming out!
12 August 2008
How could this be? You ask.
After a lifetime of doing things the right way and saving $350,000, Cordelia Robertson, at age 89 entered into an assisted living facility near Seattle, Washington operated by Assisted Living Concepts. Her son says the company promised him that if her money ran out (the industry phrase is “spend out”), she could use Medicaid.
The company does not dispute that this was their policy at the time, but now says the policy has been changed. Last May, the month that Cordelia turned 99, and after her life savings were depleted, Assisted Living Concepts sued her to get her to leave. Cordelia is not alone.
Assisted living offers a comfortable alternative to nursing homes with private apartments and a staff providing cooking and cleaning for older people who are able to maintain that level of self-sufficiency. They need assistance, but not constant attendance. The industry is booming, but, it is also purging resident’s who deplete their savings and move into Medicaid. Even after a "front-end" agreement to accept Medicaid once the resident's savings and ability to pay the full rate is gone.
Assisted Living Concepts operates assisted care facilities in 20 states, including Texas, with about 1800 current Medicaid residents. According to company CEO, Laurie Belo, the company filed for bankruptcy twice in the 1990s. Belo told interviewers from ElderLawAnswers that the company is moving toward serving only private-pay residents in order to avoid future bankruptcy.
The fact emerges, however, that even with Medicaid recipients in its facilities, Assisted Living Concepts earned 24% more in the fourth quarter of 2007 than for the same period in 2006. The Assisted Living Concepts purge of elderly Medicaid recipients was begun in April 2007.
No one suggests that such facilities operate as charities, but it is obvious that they can operate at a respectable profit margin while maintaining a certain percentage of Medicaid residents. In fact, when applying for its license to operate in New Jersey, according to the NPR story, Assisted Livings Concepts promised to provide for up to 30 percent of its residents in that state being on Medicaid.
It did not meet that commitment and state agencies are investigating.
One would have to read a lot of Dickens in order to find as loathesome a villain. Indeed, I doubt that one could. It is a ghastly cynical business to deplete a person’s life savings, and then disrupt their few remaining days by evicting them from the home they’ve known for ten years; leaving them frightened and confused, and begging of their families for an explanation of, “what did I do wrong?”.
Obviously, the wrongness does not lie with Cordelia and other elderly men and women who are being thrown out of their assisted living apartments. The wrongness lies with an industry which reneges on its promises and put profits before honesty and humanity. And, ultimately, the wrongness lies with public policies and governmental agencies which fail to provide realistic standards and oversight to regulate and rein in this growing industry.
I find it just another indicator of how poorly prepared we are for the full social and economic impact of the “baby boom bubble”.
11 August 2008
Let’s jump first to page 45.
“We will protect and strengthen Medicare by cutting costs, protecting seniors from fraud, and fixing Medicare’s prescription drug program. We’ll repeal the prohibition on negotiating prescription drug prices, ban drug companies from paying generic producers to refrain from entering drug markets and eliminate drug company interference with genetic competition—and dedicate all of the savings from those measures towards closing the donut hole. (What’s the donut hole, ask any senior with Medicare D, they’ll be delighted to raise your awareness) We will end special preferences for insurance companies and private plans like Medicare Advantage to force them to compete on a level playing field.”
"We will take steps to ensure that our seniors have meaningful long-term care options that are consistent with their individual needs, including the option of home care. We believe that we must give caregivers a fair wage and train more nurses and health care workers so as to improve the availability and quality of long-term care. We must reform the financing of long-term care to ease the burden on seniors and their families. We will safeguard social security, we will develop new retirement plans and pension protections that will give Americans a secure, portable way to pay for retirement. We will ensure a safe and dignified retirement.”
Now, I will grant you, it is a bit vague and a bit boiler plate. But, it does stand out from the usual Republican platform issues of flag-burning, the sanctity of insurance and big-oil companies, and the anathema of gay-marriage.
On page 8, you will find a heartening message that begins with, “We will make it a priority to secure for hardworking families the part of the American Dream that includes a secure and healthy retirement.” And it continues to offer to provide portable workplace pensions which can’t be dumped by bottom fixated CEOS intent on assuring their own bonuses.
It also promises to reform bankruptcy laws so that worker’s pensions are a “priority for funding” and so that, “workers are not left with IOUs after years of service.” Perhaps we can call that the Enron clause!
One controversial plank in the platform calls for the elimination of “all income taxes for seniors making less than $50,000 per year. Lower and middle income seniors already have to worry about high health care and energy costs; they should not have to worry about tax burdens as well.” It will be interesting to see how that plays out.
You can view and/or download the entire platform document here:
The Draft 2008 Democratic National Platform
Remember, the devil is in the details and the candidate is free to offer his own plan. What seniors should make from this is that they have an opportunity to read the platform and decide what they would like to see come about and get busy letting their representatives know that they are informed, and savvy, and will only vote for those who represent their best interests.
09 August 2008
Leadership Profile Test
Why, George Washington, of course!
08 August 2008
07 August 2008
And the poor get....well, you know. Except no one is whispering, “I love you”, in their ear while it's happening.
According to this morning's polls, the only demographics where McCain holds a lead is among Republicans, evangelicals, and those over 45.
Over 45 and supporting McCain? What in the name of hell do these people think they’re doing? Listen up, here! Or as Raymond's dad Frank used to say, "Holy Crap!, what are they? Nuts?"
McCain calls Social Security a disgrace and wants to hand it off to the Wall-Street croupiers. He would privatize Medicare and put it under the control of HMOs and insurance oligarchs. His energy plan was written in the boardrooms of big-oil. And his tax policy is to continue the process of robbing the poor, dismantling the New-Deal, and the destruction of the middle class, with a continuation of Bush’s failed policies. And over 45s support this?
Over 45, and supporting McCain. They must be nuts. Don’t just take my word for it. According to calculations of the Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution:
Senator Barack Obama's tax plan would provide a rise in after-tax income of 5.4% for the bottom 20% of Americans in 2012. The top 1/10th of 1% of Americans would see a drop of 12.4%
Senator John McCain's tax plan would provide a 0.9% rise in after-tax income for the bottom 20% of Americans in 2012. The top 1/10 of 1% would see a rise of 11.6%.
Ain’t we got fun, the rich get richer, and the poor...well, you know!
The song, “Ain’t We Got Fun”, came out in 1921, slightly before the Great Depression. I mention this because that's where the phrase, "the rich get rich and the poor get....children" started. And, because there are some eerie and quite scary similarities between what is happening right now and how things were in 1928.
The share of the nation's income for the top 1% of earners, (22.9%) reached its modern peak in 2006. The only year higher? 1928.
The top 10% in 2006 took a bigger share (49.7%) than at any point since 1917. The year 1928 was the runner-up. If the wealthiest 10% have glommed onto 49.7% of the nation’s income, it means that the other 90% of us are sharing only 50.3% of the nation’s income. Makes you sort of wonder what portion of that 50.3% gets to retirees, working families, and older Americans, doesn’t it?
Compare it to a fried chicken dinner on Sunday. Mom & dad share the breast and thighs, and the eight kids share the legs, beak, back, and "parson's nose". It don't seem right somehow, especially when the kids had the chore of watering and feeding the danged old chicken.
It really has become time for the “baby-boomers”, and their parents, to catch a clue as to the economic realities. And, it is time for them to recognize that a vote for Obama is a vote for their own best interests and for the future of their children and grandchildren.
Or as it was put by Plutarch: “An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics”
Ain't We Got Fun!
06 August 2008
The following statement will be issued today by Edward Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, at the Democratic National Committee National Platform Hearing in Cleveland, Ohio. The National Platform Committee outlines the positions of the Democratic Party, and will set the Democratic agenda and priorities for 2008.
The full, written statement to be presented to the National Platform Committee is appended.
“My name is Edward F. Coyle, and I am the Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, a 3.5 million-member grassroots advocacy organization uniting retired workers and community-based groups to fight for social and economic justice. I am also the current Chair of the Leadership Council on Aging Organizations, a coalition of 56 national not-for-profit organizations. “I will provide a longer written testimony for the record, and tomorrow you will hear from Alliance member Bruce Bostick of Ohio, who will tell you first-hand what it is like to be a retiree in today’s economy.
“This hearing coincides with the anniversaries of two landmark moments in American history, the enactment of Medicare and Social Security.
“Forty-three years ago this week, President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law, paving the way for quality, affordable health care for millions of retirees.
“On August 14, we will celebrate the 73rd anniversary of Social Security, a lasting legacy of Franklin Roosevelt and one of America’s greatest social and anti-poverty programs.
“Today, older Americans are at a crossroads. While we look back with pride at these two historic achievements, retirees all across the country are struggling with the skyrocketing costs of health care, prescription drugs, gas, groceries, and home heating costs. Older Americans on fixed incomes are bearing the heaviest brunt of our nation’s failed economy.
“Many seniors worry that they are the last generation that will ever be able to retire after a lifetime of work. A nationwide poll of seniors taken for the Alliance last year found that only 12 percent believed their children would enjoy a life as good as theirs. Clearly, it is time for a change.
“In the growing economic uncertainty of retirement, we urge the Platform Committee to call for greater federal oversight of private pension plans and strongly affirm a commitment to Social Security.
“This includes rejecting the misguided calls by President Bush and Senator McCain to privatize Social Security.
“Throwing Social Security funds on the roulette wheel of the stock market is a gamble America cannot afford to take.
“Retirees were greatly offended to hear Senator John McCain recently comment that Social Security is “a disgrace.”
“Forty two million Americans receive Social Security benefits – these are our nation’s elderly, our widows and widowers, and our young children who have seen a parent die. This is not a disgrace.
“The Alliance for Retired Americans is deeply concerned about the future of Medicare, as this program has become increasingly privatized.
“The next Administration should eliminate the taxpayer overpayments to insurance companies who now operate private Medicare Advantage plans. We call for the repeal of a major “demonstration” project that will expand Medicare privatization in 2010. “Americans pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world - with seniors bearing the greatest burden by far. The 2003 Medicare prescription drug law, which the Alliance strongly opposed, has not offered comprehensive coverage to millions of seniors who pay more and get less while drug and insurance companies make record profits.
“It is time to the so-called “doughnut hole” in the 2003 law, in which millions of seniors must pay full price for their medications while continuing to pay their monthly premiums.
“We urge the Platform Committee to endorse legislation which would lower drug prices by mandating Medicare negotiate volume discounts from drug manufacturers.
“As America ages, the need for affordable and accessible long-term care has become a crisis.
“Instead of our current fractured system, we call for a social insurance approach that provides a number of services, home and community based whenever possible, based upon medical need not financial resources.
“The record high prices of gasoline and home heating costs have been devastating for senior citizens. They struggle to afford a trip to the doctor’s office, a supermarket, or to see their children and grandchildren.
“Critical programs such as Meals on Wheels have been cut back because of high fuel costs. We urge the Platform Committee to include strong measures against price gouging, as well as fully fund the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), providing home heating aid for low-income Americans.
“By charting a bold future that builds a more secure future for America that supports Social Security and Medicare, the Platform Committee can stand up a nation of retirees, and the generations that will soon follow them.
The Alliance for Retired Americans is a national organization that advocates for the rights and well being of over 3.5 million retirees and their families. There is a link to the Alliance in the Important Links on this page.
05 August 2008
The Energy Information Administration (US Dept. of Energy) ranks Texas as 14th in the nation in average cents per residential kilowatt hours in a report updated in January ’08. Our neighbor, Louisiana is ranked at 20th, New Mexico 28th, Oklahoma 29th, and Arkansas 33rd. The national average is 8.9-cents per kilowatt hour. The Texas average is $10.34.
No wonder that TXU Energy and Reliant Energy, which are listed at number ten and twelve, in the number of consumers served, among the top 100 electric companies in the nation, enjoyed revenues which put TXU at 4th in total revenue, and Reliant at 5th, among all the nation’s power companies.
These figures were compiled earlier and reviewed in January, nearly seven months ago. Since then, fuel and food prices have soared and retirement accounts and home equities have tanked right along with the stock market. And, we’ve faced several straight months of creeping recession and net job loss. Older people, retirees, and working families are severely pinched and are having to forgo basic necessities just in order to survive.
But, some are not surviving. Dallas County alone has already reported five suspected deaths from the current heat-wave. Many medical experts believe that such deaths are under reported by as much as 54%, especially among older people, as reported by the Biomedical Market Newsletter.
Over the weekend, Dallas and Fort Worth media reported that first responders are collapsing from the heat.
State Representative, Sylvester Turner (D-Houston), cited such deaths, when calling on the Texas Public Utility Commission, last week, to hold an emergency session in order to adopt Summer Heat Disconnection Rules including stricter standards for disconnections due to defaulted payments. “With these extreme temperatures, our elderly and low-income citizens are suffering”, he said. Turner said that because of high electric bills, people are turning off their air conditioners, posing a terrible health risk.
TPUC spokesman, Terry Hadley, told me that the commission was aware of the letter, but, it was not brought up in their meeting, and that nothing had been scheduled. He said that the “staff will monitor the situation” and could convene within 24-hours should consumer health and safety become an issue.
“But at best, this is a short term remedy that should only be used when health or safety are involved”, Hadley said. “It is not really an economic remedy for higher rates, as at some point those bills will have to be paid”, he said.
Turner’s follow-up news-release, on Thursday of last week, claimed that, “PUC originally said it would provide stricter standards for disconnects during summer months but it has failed to do so”. “As a result”, he said, “electric companies are doing what is minimally required, and people’s health is being jeopardized.”
Underlying all this is the issue of deregulation.
Recently, the Wall Street Journal, under the headline, “Texas Electricity Deregulation Leads to Highest Prices in the Nation”, reported that the plan promising Texans more choices and lower rates has had the opposite results. The article said, in part, that while costs are rising everywhere, that it is worse in Texas. On a steamy day in May, wholesale prices flew to more than $4.00 per kilowatt hour—about forty times the national average.
A study by Ken Rose, a senior fellow at the Institute of Public Utilities at Michigan State University, revealed that while average prices, from 2002 to 2006, have increased 21% in regulated states, the prices in deregulated states climbed 36%.
We’ve already seen the disparity between Texas and other states in the rates paid and revenues generated from deregulation. Average electricity prices here have surged a shocking 58% since 2002.
There is some variation between the deregulated “investor owned” power companies and the regulated municipal and rural co-op companies, but even they “are succumbing to greed”, says Carol Biedrzycki, Executive Director of the Texas Ratepayers Organization to Save Energy, (Texas Rose).
She told me that the summer disconnect rules is only a “band aid to treat cancer”. She says the real long-term solution is to reregulate the power companies. “Currently they set their rates by market based standards rather than cost based. Once they’re forced to revert to cost-based pricing, rates will come down”, she said.
Other states, such as Virginia, have already reregulated power companies while others, such as Illinois, have provided rate-relief packages to consumers, or, have imposed rate caps. Texas meanwhile, urges its citizens to conserve, weather strip, and stay hydrated!
Texas also set up the System Benefit Fund when most of the state's power providers were deregulated. The fund is supported by a 65-cent per 1,000 kilowatt-hour fee. You may, or you may not see it on your electric bill, since some companies note it, and some don’t. But, never mind that, you are paying it, about 65-cents a month.
The fund was designed to provide “discounts” of 10 to 20 percent to qualifying low-income consumers. Even if actually approved and applied, a 10-percent discount hardly suffices for poverty level households already coping with run away food and fuel costs. Also, in recent years the fund has been diverted into the general fund in order to provide a “balanced budget” and claims of “surpluses”.
But, again, all such relief programs merely serve to blur the real issue. Texans, since deregulation, are paying vastly higher electric bills. Even the most conservative analysts acknowledge that reregulation as remedy is on the debate horizon.
Last April, Loren B. Thompson, PhD, writing an Issue Brief for the Neo-Conservative Lexington Institute, said, “Deregulation of electricity generation has become a political hot potato as rising rates convince many users they are being gouged. In some states, such as Texas and Massachusetts, rates have risen over 50% since deregulation occurred at the beginning of the decade. A lot of the increase results from higher fuel costs, but rates aren’t rising as fast in states that still regulate.”
Meanwhile, some legislators, activists, and advocacy groups fight for some form of relief for seniors and working families, while electric bills and temperatures battle to see which climbs the fastest. And, the best that is offered is some assistance and moratoriums on shut-offs, and advice to weather strip, turn up the thermostat, and stay hydrated.
All of which, once again translates to the same old Republican mantra; “You’re on your own!”
04 August 2008
None of the James Bond movies had been released; West Side Story won the Oscar for Best Picture
John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th president and we've endured eight presidents since then
The Pillsbury Dough Boy was introduced
The Dow Jones Industrials reached a high of 734
David Ben-Gurion resigned as Israeli premier
The Grammy for best Rock & Roll recording: Chubby Checker, "Let's Twist Again"; Best R&B recording: Ray Charles, "Hit the Road Jack"
Median price of a new home: $17,200
Harper Lee won a Pulitzer for To Kill A Mockingbird
East Germany started replacing its barbed wire barricades with a permanent wall dividing Berlin
South Africa withdrew from the British Commonwealth
The Boston Marathon was won by a Finn. A Finn!
The Emmy for outstanding news program went to the Huntley-Brinkley Report
Sun Myung Moon could only scrounge up 36 couples to mass-marry
Roger Maris hit 61 home runs, breaking Babe Ruth's single-season record
The Beatles performed at Liverpool's Cavern Club for the first time; Elvis's "Blue Hawaii" started its 20-week run at the top of the charts; The Beach Boys performed for the first time
Car 54 Where Are You, Hazel, and The Dick Van Dyke Show premiered
The price of a gallon of gas was 31 cents; A gallon of milk---49 cents
The summer of love was still in the distant future
Pot was something on mom's stove, and grass was mowed, and a Chevy Van was what the florist used to deliver a Prom Bouquet
Civil Rights marches, sit-ins, fire-hosings, murders and burial under Mississippi cow-tank levees had not yet happened
The moon was something to be crooned at and not walked upon.
And, I was a twenty-something Marine banging around somewhere in Southeast Asia
Where were you in '61, and ask yourself if the intervening 47 years is sufficient age and experience for a president in today's realities. I think so, but would be interested in hearing any argument to the contrary.
An Explanation: The promised article about seniors and utilities is near completion. The frank truth is that, once I started investigation, I found a whole lot more there than I had imagined. It will be posted shortly!
02 August 2008
Desperate McCain Campaign goes negative with a tinge of subliminal racism!
McCain’s attack ads are coming way early in the campaign and signal desperation in the McCain camp. They satisfy the base, they don't change the opposition, and they might make a slight difference with uninformed and uneducated undecideds. But, not without blow back and problems.
One big problem is that most undecideds do not decide until very late, almost election day, so this negative this early runs several risks: Jading or overloading the target segment--causing them to become indifferent or blasé to negative ads, and serving to mobilize the opposition (every time one of these runs, Obama’s people gin up very effective, and productive, internet appeals for money to fight back), and it also allows Obama time to craft a response and rebut the negativity early in the campaign—all that will be remembered is that McCain went negative and nasty.
Already, Mainstream Media is reporting on how negative, and off-target, the ads are, and not on the message the ads are trying to deliver. This works to dilute ad’s intent. They are another McCain Campaign blunder. He had something working with his false pleas that Obama was getting all the coverage--MSM and Cable noticeably began featuring more McCain in leads with favorable stories...then, he pulls this nonsense and places himself under a negative spotlight.
In some strange way it is like McCain is campaigning in the 50s or 60s. The ad putting Obama between two "blond" celebrities has virtually no shock value anymore. We are rapidly becoming a multi-racial society. "Race-mixing" is no longer a “crime”!
After all, we've seen T.O. and Terri Hatcher separated by only a towel and we survived the trauma, and the sun rose in the East the next morning. Many of us now have bi-racial or multi-racial couples, and/or families, as neighbors or co-workers--or as members of our own family. The only people with whom such ads are effective are the deeply entrenched racists among us, and no way in hell they're voting for Obama anyway.
It just doesn't have any traction or legitimacy, and acts to underscore and remind us of how deeply out of touch, unknowing, and truly incipiently racist are the Republicans.
And, consider this, it really does not play with 21-34 year-olds, and they're the ones that will determine the outcome of this campaign. We'll have enough of the seniors, and middle-aged white guys, women, and most of the 21-34 year olds to win!
Hillary will keynote the convention, and that is when you'll see the swing or bounce from the hesitant women and blue-collar white-guys. Yesterday, I was one 2,500 activists and union leaders that sat in on conference call with Senator Obama and AFL/CIO President, John Sweeney, during which Sweeney called for all workers to join in “the fight of our lives”. Both men said how crucial it was for each of us to deliver the message to our brothers and sisters of how important this election is to saving Social Security, improving Medicare, gaining health care for all Americans and restoring the middle class.
All the negativity, hate mongering and race baiting that McCain's Rove/Bush imitators can conjure up will not suffice to undo the exciting and positive message of change coming from the Obama campaign.