30 July 2009

Activist Judges? An Accusation Rooted in Racism!

During the recent Sotomayor hearings we were treated to a lot of posturing from the axis of inanity; Senators Cornyn (TX), Sessions (AL), Coburn (OK), & Graham (SC) regarding the evils, ills, and dangers to the continued existence of the whole of Western Civilization from so-called "activist judges".

It is important for us to take note that each of these fools is what can only be characterized as white-southern-middle-aged-white-male. Now, some of that fits me too, but, I assure you, my mama didn't raise the sort of fool that these good old boys' mamas did.

Here's what they mean, and what exposes their racist roots, when they bitch and warp like snot-nosed five-year-olds about activist judges:

Smith v. Allwright (1944) The Supreme Court extends the Fifteenth Amendment voting rights protections to African Americans barred from Texas' all-white primary elections.

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) Unanimously, the Supreme Court overturns fifty years of precedent and rules that the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment that had been used to protect segregation in public schools in fact prohibits segregated schools.

Heart of Atlanta v. United States (1964) Here the Supremes ruled that an Atlanta motel is involved in interstate commerce and therefore subject to the Commerce Clause in Article 1 of the Constitution. This allowed African Americans to sleep in in an all-white establishment from which they had been barred since reconstruction.

Katzenbach v. McClung (1964) Ollie's Barbecue in Birmingham, Alabama would not serve or seat African Americans in the dining room instead shoving their orders out through the kitchen door. Again the Commerce Clause, because Ollie's had an annual income of $70,000, was successfully invoked and Ollie's had to begin seating and serving African Americans in the main dining room.

OK, now I understand, I think. An activist judge is one that strikes down a Jim Crow law regardless how long it's been in effect or depth and breadth of the precedents surrounding it.

Wouldn't it be nice if just once the corporate main stream media would call these SOBs on their racist crap instead of leaving it to bloggers like me? Just once, please.

29 July 2009

There Are Loonies Among Us - I Blame Reagonomics

OK, spare me the e-mails, I know this is not politically correct, well-informed or one bit sensitive, but there are people among us who belong in the loony bin. Some even have positions of high visibility and some amount of import. CNN's Lou Dobbs comes to mind.

This crack-brained, mentally deficient jackass, who once rode the crest of the xenophobic wave of vilification of undocumented workers from Mexico, is now pandering to the slobbering morons who have taken up the notion that President Obama can't really be the president since he is not truly an American. Yep, people actually believe and espouse that line of racist crap.

Those people, before Reaganomics closed down the state mad-houses and insane asylums, would have been gibbering their nonsense wearing straight jackets in rubber cushioned rooms while waiting their electroshock, lobotomies and Thorazine injections. I told you this was not going to be politically correct, but then, let's understand this, truth and history very often are not.

At least they would be causing no harm.

This idiotic and utterly insane notion regarding Obama's birth has been rebutted repeatedly and now even Dobbs' colleagues at CNN are distancing themselves from him faster than from the flatulent guy in the movie theater.

CNN president, Jon Klein, has refuted the absurd notion that Obama is not truly a US citizen by birth. But, and it's a big, big BUT, Klein has not done anything to quell Dobbs' incitement of those loonies who should be in some sort of protective mental facility.

Now, MoveOn.org has created an online petition to "The Most Trusted Name in News" to quickly resolve the Lou Dobbs problem in a credible manner.

It reads, in part, "Dobbs' relentless promotion of outlandish conspiracy theories that President Barack Obama's birth certificate seriously damages CNN's credibility..."

Simply click on the MoveOn link highlighted above and join with me in signing the petition. Otherwise, I'm sending someone after your butt with a butterfly net!

28 July 2009

Now Is The Time

Let us not pretend anymore that the process is fair, that good and stout-hearted people will prevail, or that our representatives in Washington will, on their own, act in our best interests. They will not. They will always act in their own self-interest and unless we collectively make it in their best interest to support health care reform they will not!

In Washington, it is always easier to stop something than to bring about change. That is a fact. That is our history, both recent and past.

Consider health care reform. When we last took a run at doing something about the deplorable and tragic health care situation in the United States in the early 1990s there were around 35-million decent Americans without health care coverage. We chose to do nothing and now, a decade and-a-half later we are approaching 50-million uninsured Americans, many of them vulnerable children and older people. The very people who often are in the most need of health care, particularly preventive care.

Yet our representatives in Washington are about to vacate while there will be no vacation from need of those worthy Americans who have no health care coverage. Sure clinics, charities, and some public institutions offer some help, but, the need and demand is so immense, so dire, and so immediate and unrelenting that many people must go without attention and assistance. In some cases these people become sicker and in some cases they die. Such is truth and such is fact. But, our representatives vacate without finishing the job?

They claim things are moving too fast. Too fast? In 1945 President Harry Truman went before congress and called for universal health care for all Americans. Too fast? The Kaiser's Germany enacted a universal health care plan for its citizens in the nineteenth century. Too fast? I don't think so, the time is right now! And quite well overdue at that!

Special interests (Insurance Oligarchs and Drug Tsars) are spending $1.4-million a day to lobby congress. That number will increase as their TV ads, timed to hit the air while our representatives are participating in their annual slumming forays in their home districts, begin playing during our favorite TV shows. In some markets will be worse than election time.

The right-wing reactionaries are trying to divide us with scare tactics of loss of choice, socialized medicine and health care reform paying for federally funded abortion. Oh yeah, they're going all in on this one. No deceit is left out. No lie is left untold.

If you've never picked up the phone, if you've never written a letter, if you've never visited a district office to take your desires and concerns to your representative and senators, now is the time. Otherwise, this opportunity will pass and things will remain unchanged...well not exactly really; at some point, that 50-million uninsured will become 60-million or more.

27 July 2009

Happy Birthday Medicare!

In Texas there are 580,000 people who are afflicted with chronic and acute health conditions including; diabetes, heart disease, end state renal failure and obstructive pulmonary disease. At least one in four of these people are likely to be without health insurance.

Were it not for Medicare that percentage would be even higher. At last count (2008) there are 2,778,553 Medicare recipients in the state. Of those, 81% are 65 years and older and within that group 37% are 74 years and older.

July 30th is the 44th anniversary of Medicare. Despite its critics, Medicare is an extremely effective program having reduced senior poverty by two-thirds. Now, as we are engaged in a health care reform debate in Washington we are also presented with opportunities for the state’s older people and many of the state’s 25% uninsured.

We should be calling on our representatives and senators to do several things:

Help All Older Texans. Find an affordable way to allow Texans age 55 – 64 to buy into Medicare. People in this age group need medical care more often, especially for preventative care. Nationally, over 5-million in this age group have no health care insurance.

Close the donut hole. This coverage gap in Medicare Part D means that about one in four seniors will spend several months paying full price for their prescriptions while still paying their premiums. This forces older Texans to make risky, sometimes life threatening choices about whether they will take the medicines prescribed by their doctors.

Make Long-Term Care Affordable. We need to demand that whatever health care bill is presented to the President includes the CLASS Act by Senator Ted Kennedy and Representative Frank Pallone. It would create an insurance program to help middle class families with the cost of long-term care. Few working families and older Texans are prepared for what will happen when a loved one will need long-term care.

Assist Employers Who Provide Health Care Coverage. Eliminating or reducing tax benefits given companies who provide health insurance would cause many to stop offering affordable health care to their employees. These benefits should not be taxed.

Hold the Insurance Oligarchs Accountable. One of the most contentious issues in the current debate is that of the “public plan” option. This would create an affordable, government-backed insurance plan as an alternative to buying private insurance. These big insurance oligarchs make a lot of money off our getting sick. A public plan will keep their premiums and business practices in check. If they are doing the best they can, why should they fear a little healthy competition?

Not only do older Texans have a stake in the health care debate, but we also worry about our children and grandchildren in these difficult times. Working together, we can create a health care reform plan that helps Texans of all ages.

24 July 2009

What Sort of Liar is Perry...You Decide

Back in the day, when Texas men were men, and Texas women were damned glad of it, someone told me that in Texas there are only two kinds of liars. Liars and damned liars.

Now, mind you, we've always had double talkers; polticians, lawyers, insurance salesmen, and football team owners from Arkansas, but what I'm talking about here is the sort of low-down S.O.B. that will climb a tree to tell a lie rather than stand flatfooted on God's good earth and speak the truth.

And, I guess with the Yankee influx of the seventies and eighties we've been gentled down some, which accounts for so many woman going around with tight jaws, there's emerged a third sort of liar: The Hypocrite.

I got this e-mail yesterday from Boyd Ritchie, the chairman of the Texas Democratic party and from it you'll see that our dunce cap wearing governor is the third sort. A big-time hypocrite.

Dear fellow Democrat,

In sharp contrast to Governor Rick Perry's soapbox crusade about big spending in Washington, a bipartisan review of the recently approved state budget proves that his anti-stimulus rants are the height of hypocrisy.

A recent analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures, as reported by the Austin American-Statesman's Jason Embry, shows that "Texas reported that it relied most heavily on stimulus dollars, using those dollars to provide 96.7 percent of the gap-closing solution" [Austin American-Statesman First Reading blog, 7/23/09].

The fact that Perry and his fellow Republicans relied on federal stimulus funds more than any other state to balance Texas' budget shows that blaming Washington is nothing more than campaign rhetoric designed to distract Texans from his dismal, failed record as Governor.

Furthermore, in a fundraising letter, Perry postulates there are "two models of governing: the Washington model that talks the talk about limited government while delivering record earmarks and increasing bureaucratic control, and the Texas model of balanced budgets and fiscal restraint" [Politico, 7/23/09].

When it comes to double-talk, Rick Perry's so-called "Texas model" is long on political posturing and short on restraint and balance.

It's no surprise that Perry is feverishly courting the extreme partisans who vote in the Republican primary, given the competition he faces from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is heating up her own appeals to the same extremists after spending years as a do-nothing Republican Senator who opposes everything and offers no solutions to improve health care and the economy.

In light of this report that brings the Governor's hypocrisy into broad daylight, it's clear that Texans deserve better than a choice between the tired old rhetoric of Republican politicians like Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison. We can only Move Texas Forward by electing Democrats. With your support and your help, we can make that a reality in 2010.

Your fellow Democrat,
Boyd L. Richie
Texas Democratic Party

23 July 2009

Health Care Show Down Is Near..Be Ready!

An appeal from TrueMajority.Org....

Last night President Obama went on national television to tell Congress to stay on task and pass healthcare reform.

But if they don't vote on a bill before they leave for August vacation it could take months to get real reform passed - at a terrible cost to Americans in need.

Even if Congress only delays for a month:

43,250 people will lose their health insurance coverage;

53,507 people will file for bankruptcy because they can't pay their medical bills;

1,265 people will die because they lack coverage.

Some lawmakers have vowed to stop at nothing to try and slow or derail healthcare reform.

And while a vote is expected next week, they only need to stall for a few more days to win.

Which is why we need to be ready to act on a moment's notice. Sign up for the rapid response network to get up-to-the-moment news and contact your elected officials when it matters most.

Both the House and Senate are considering major reforms. And nobody knows which bill will come to the floor first, or what crazy tricks opponents of universal healthcare will pull.

All the opponents of real reform have to do is stall and change will fail. But if we act fast, there's still a chance to get a good bill passed, and pave the way for big reforms that guarantee quality, affordable healthcare for everyone.

Sign up now for the Rapid Response network to make sure you are ready to make the call that counts the second there's news on the healthcare debate.

22 July 2009

Health Care Reform - The House Bill

America's Affordable Health Choices Act - Here is what the House legislation will mean for America's middle class families...

GUARANTEED COVERAGE - The days of being denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition - or being forced to pay higher premiums because of it - would be over thanks to the House bill. Insurance companies will also be prohibited from other discriminatory practices like charging higher rates because of gender, health status, or other factors.

GREATER CHOICE - If you like your doctor, your local hospital, or your current insurance plan, you can keep it under the House bill. It also sets up a health insurance exchange to act as a marketplace where individuals and small employers will be able to comparison-shop among private and public insurers.

LOWER COSTS FOR EVERYONE - The House bill would lower health care costs for all Americans. It ends co-pays and deductibles for preventative care and puts an end to rate increases for pre-existing conditions. It will give you access to the lower group rates from a national pool if you buy your own plan. It also includes a public option to compete with private insurers and caps annual out-of-pocket spending to prevent bankruptcy from medical expenses.

HIGHER QUALITY - The House bill makes sure that you and your doctor make health care decisions, not insurance companies. It provides new incentives, scholarships, and training to encourage the very best and brightest to become doctors and nurses.

PREVENTION AND WELLNESS - The House bill also expands community health centers, strengthens wellness and prevention services, provides oral, hearing, and vision care for children, and ensures that mental health care is covered.

Despite this great step forward, the real fight for health care reform is still just getting started. President Obama needs your help to fight the lies, attacks, and scare tactics being used right now by the Republicans and their special interest friends. Take the time to let your representatives and Senators know that you support Health Care Reform now and not at some time in the distant future.

21 July 2009

Oh Well! Whatever!

Remember that catch phrase? If you have raised a teen or pre-teen anytime in the past decade you've been treated to a dismissive and sarcastic, "Oh Well! Whatever" when you decided against the little wretch's wishes. "Oh well, whatever!", with a whinny drawn out rise in inflection on the last syllable of whatever.

Well damn it, I feel like calling our senators and using it on them.

The Matthew Shepard Act has passed the Senate, but our two Senators voted against it. Oh well, whatever! See, it helps. One doesn't have to give it any deep thought, one's blood pressure stays in check, and that little vein in one's forehead does not start pulsating like a recently run over snake.

Sarcastic and dismissive. Yep, that's exactly how one should regard the Frick and Frack combo we have representing us on Mount Olympus. And, of course, we should not be surprised by their asinine posturing for the right-wing riff-raff of the state. This is a pair, that according to the Alliance for Retired Americans, has consistently voted against the wishes or best interests of older Texans and working families.

Crony Cornyn has a 9% lifetime voting record on key issues facing older Texans and working families. Wannabe governor Hutchison enjoys a 12% lifetime rating on those same issues.

At the very least, this should dispel any misguided notion that some might have that Hutchison is a moderate and somehow tolerable for Democrats as compared to our dunce cap wearing current governor, Rick Perry. Just the flip side of the same coin.

Oh well, what eveeeer!

20 July 2009

Blue-Dogs are Weakening the Mandate

Blue-dog Democrats, The Gang of Six, turncoats, whatever; I have a name for them but the social compact and my own innate sense of decorum prevents me from using it here, are the Democrats who are doing their utmost to stymie health care reform.

Here we are, at the payoff point of a very hard fought victory at the polls where Americans overwhelmingly voted for and mandated change and in poll-after-poll voice their desire for health care reform even to the extent that they would accept a tax increase to pay for it, and we have so-called Democrats trying to scuttle the process.

Fine. Let them have their way. There is always 2010. We have waited this long for health care reform and we can wait another year or two. Let's make 2010 about health care reform. Let's put single-payer right back on the table where it belongs after gutless blue-dogs and other finger-in-the-air Democrats took it off. Imagine in 2010 getting elected anywhere other than Lauderdale County Mississippi on a platform of "I helped kill health care reform".

Personally, I am impatient with mediocrity, and am damned sick and tired of weak-kneed gradualism and incremental "progress". The Republicans did not achieve what they achieved through incrementalism. They staked out positions on the extreme right, fought for them with savage zeal, and only pulled back slightly when they had no other choice--and that is part of how they moved the country to the right.

Now some Democrats seem to believe that being slightly right of center is being on the left. It is not--it is being on the right along with the likes of Kay Bailey-Hutchison and other Republicans. When your starting point is on the right of center, you're going to be pulled further to the right.

It is way past time for progressive Democrats to gut-up and purge the old-guard and blue-dogs. It is time for a new progressive order in the Democratic Party, here in Texas particularly, that support things such as health care reform, regulation of the electric and gas companies, support of basic human rights, and supporting the safety nets which should protect older people and working families.

This will not be accomplished through apologia, reason, charm and collegial discussion. It can only be accomplished by progressives mobilizing and energizing to take over at the precinct levels. We do that, and if necessary make 2010 about health care, then we will have taken back our country and state. Right now...it's still their's and this health care reform fight is proof of how far we have yet to go.

17 July 2009

Four-million Baby Boomers are Without Health Care Coverage

We often hear of the 47-million Americans without health care insurance and the corollary that many of them are children. What often does not get mentioned is that nearly 10% of those uninsured Americans are baby-boomers. That's right, 4-million Americans 55-64 years of age currently do not have health insurance coverage.

This is a demographic facing more chronic care needs than younger people while, at the same time, is having great difficulty in finding affordable health care coverage. Some are early retirees; and some are outplaced, and some are under-employed; and some are unemployed, but, all are in a real bind unless health care reform brings them affordable relief.

A federally subsidized Medicare buy-in program is the perfect solution and should be part of the final health care reform package to be signed by President Obama.

Unfortunately current proposals being worked on provide for a buy-in program which would have beneficiaries paying the full-cost of Medicare plus a 5% "administrative fee". This would place the "buy-in" program beyond the means of too many baby-boomers who already have no coverage due to the costs. Remember, the majority of the uninsured 55-64 year old already are in reduced circumstances with a median family income of only $20,800 according to a 2007 Kaiser Family Foundation study.

The solution is to make the "buy-in" premiums affordable through a subsidy program. Two quick and easy ways to offset much of the cost of such a subsidy would be to completely eliminate Medicare over-payment to the so-called Advantage plans, and to allow Medicare to bid its Part D drug benefit to the lowest bidder as does the V.A..

16 July 2009

Fight The Rabid Right - Support Matthew Shepard Act

The rabid right, taking direction from James Dobson (Focus on the Family) has launched a vicious phone campaign targeting senators to oppose the Matthew Shepard Act. Dobson's sick sycophants are calling this much needed piece of legislation the "Pedophile Protection Act", and "utter evil"

The Senate is expected to vote on the act this week and it needs your support this very moment. Simply call the Senate Switchboard at 202-224-3121 before 5:00 pm ET and ask to speak to Senator Cornyn and Bailey-Hutchison and tell whom ever you speak to that you support the bill and have nothing to fear from it.

The official name of the bill is the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act and would expand the 1969 United States Federal hate-crime law so that it would also include biased motivated crimes based on a person's actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

The act would allow Federal authorities the ability to investigate hate crimes that local law enforcement agencies very often choose not to pursue, allot additional money to help states investigate and prosecute hate crimes, and most importantly, for the first time ever, mandate that the FBI track hate-crimes against transgender and transsexual people, adding to the statistics that are already gathered for hate-crimes against gay and lesbian people.

Under the 1969 Federal hate-crime law, which has already been extended, the classes of actual or perceived race, color, religion and national origin are protected. The current bill is called the Matthew Shepard Act from the name of the young gay man who was lashed to a Wyoming fencepost and beaten to death with the butt of gun because he was a homosexual.

Matthew's family and President Obama have called on Senators to support this bill. Please join with me in adding our voices by making that phone call right now!

15 July 2009

Want Health Care Reform - Speak Up!

The Washington Post reported on Monday that in the first quarterof this year, health care firms spent more than $126 million to pay for over 350 former lawmakers, congressional staffers and executive branch officials to lobby Congress.

To implement its record-breaking influence campaign, the health care industry is spending more than $1.4 million a day on lobbying, according to disclosure records.

Industry giant PhRMA, the PharmaceuticalResearch and Manufacturers of America, was the biggest spender in the first quarter, coming in at a total of nearly $7-million.

The employment of insider lobbyists also demonstrates the use of the "revolving door" between public and private sectors. "The numbers reinforce the need for grass roots activists, such as those at the Alliance for Retired Americans, to make their voices heard. We need to counter the voices of the corporate lobbyists," said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of theAlliance.

14 July 2009

Time to Close the Doughnut Hole!

Alliance for Retired Americans
Member Speaks at House Press Event

Speaking today at the U.S. Capitol, Maryland retiree
Phil Feaster today praised House Democrats for their
plan to improve the lives of millions of retirees by
closing the so-called donut hole in Medicare Part D
prescription drug coverage.

Feaster, a member of the Alliance for Retired Americans,
spoke at a press conference to unveil a sweeping health
care reform bill introduced today by the Democratic
leaders in the U.S. House. Among its key provisions is
closing the donut hole, which forces many retirees to pay
both their monthly Medicare premiums and full price for
their prescriptions.

The donut hole costs Feaster $700 per month. Along with
3.4 million other retirees, I am in what is known as the
Medicare donut hole. More than one out of four seniors
falls into the donut hole, so this is no fluke thing that
is unique to just me. Let me tell you, the donut hole
is no treat for seniors, he said.

My generation likes to tell it like it is: the donut hole
is a rip-off.

You pay money, but get nothing in return. Can you
imagine going to a restaurant where all they give you is
an empty plate - but yet they still force you to pay for
a full meal? Of course not.

Below is Mr. Feasters full statement:

My name is Phil Feaster, and I am a retired truck driver
from Fort Washington, Maryland and a member of the
Alliance for Retired Americans.

Like many seniors, I struggle to stay healthy. I must
take eight daily prescriptions. I have high blood
pressure, diabetes and a sinus condition.

Along with 3.4 million other retirees, I am in what is
known as the Medicare donut hole. More than one out of
four seniors falls into the donut hole, so this is no
fluke thing that is unique to just me. Let me tell you,
the donut hole is no treat for seniors.

My generation likes to tell it like it is: the donut
hole is a rip-off. You pay money, but get nothing in
return. Can you imagine going to a restaurant where all
they give you is an empty plate - but yet they still
force you to pay for a full meal?

Of course not.

For the first six months of the year, I pay $85 in
monthly premiums, and in exchange I receive my Part D
benefits for my eight daily medicines. But then I hit
the donut hole. For the remaining six months of the
year, I must pay both my $85 monthly premiums and full
price for my medicines. These drugs cost me $700 per
month when I am forced into the donut hole. And again,
this is $700 per month on top of the $85 monthly
premiums I must pay. For half of the year, I am
forced to pay these premiums while receiving absolutely
nothing in return.

Why do I keep paying these premiums? Under the Medicare
Part D rules, if I stop paying my premiums, I am out of
the program for next year. The donut hole sure seems
like a sweetheart deal for the big drug and insurance

When I look around at my friends and neighbors in
Prince Georges County, Maryland, I see so many of them
struggling. Health care keeps costing more, while
Medicare and private insurance keep covering less.

My mother was one of those people. She kept having to
cut all the wrong corners with her health. She had a
stroke and was paralyzed for the last four years of
her life because she had to stretch her medicines far
too thin just to make ends meet. This is America,
the greatest country ever. Why do we still allow
this to happen?

I am hopeful that this will finally be the year we
fix our health care mess. We have been talking about
this for decades. None of us are getting any younger.
We need help, and we need help now.

I am grateful that this legislation will start closing
the Part D donut hole and finally finish it off. This
bill will millions of people like me as soon as it
becomes law. Lets make this the year we finally
reform health care.

Thank you.

13 July 2009

Sotomayor: Still a Brilliant Selection

Wisdom deserves repeating.

Recall back when President Obama nominated Sonia Montemayor to fill a soon to be vacated seat on the Supreme Court I wrote that it was a "brilliant selection".

I suggested that his nomination of a Hispanic female with sterling credentials and background would box-in the Republicans and leave them huffing and puffing without any substance for attack.

Well, today the huffing and puffing begins but, believe me, it is all a matter of form. They have to go through the motions. And unless she freaks out and her head spins and she vomits green slime she will be confirmed before the week is out. And, probably a dozen Republicans will vote for her confirmation.

She is canny enough to avoid the traps of becoming overly defensive about her ethnicity. Oh yeah, the Republicans will attempt to bait her with the firefighter reverse discrimination decision or "wise Hispanic woman" comment that sat the "good ole boys" of the Senate hearts to palpitating in high dudgeon. And, the truth is this: those are the only things they have. Otherwise, she is a shining example of the success of affirmative action.

Oh yes, there will be a collision of sorts. Empowered female versus powerful males, southern chauvinism versus Ivy League education and the cultural divide of big city ethnicity versus small town and rural all-whiteness. Of course, those things will all be couched in buzz words and no one will actually, well hopefully no one, speak out loud their hidden biases against women and non-whites. But, it will be there. The thing of it is, Sotomayor has had a lifetime of dealing with it and excelling in the face of it. She will walk away from the collision unscathed.

You can take it to the bank. Sotomayor is in, and Obama made a brilliant selection. Not just because it causes pain to the Republicans (event though that alone is enough for glee) but because she is an incredibly qualified person.

10 July 2009

Texas Democrats Just Don't Get It!

I am concerned that I am about to launch into a rant. A right proper old hissy fit aimed at both Democrats and Republicans. The Texas Democrats because they do not get it, and the Republicans in general because they not only do get it, they pound us into the ground with it.

Let me start with the Republicans. I have given up on viewing them with any fairness. That is mainly because the word is not part of their lexicon. Their view of what is fair is that they are entitled to run things and when that is not happening things have become unfair. I have also given up on collegiality and courtesy where they are concerned. Again, mainly because to them these are traits of weakness and surrender. So, for the most part, I manage a facade of civility when warranted and when it is not, I pretty much get in their damned faces so that they know there is at least one soul out here who will stand up to them.

Let me explain something. Once the cabal of neo-conservative strategists, neo-liberal economists and their corporate masters along with right-wing religionist riff-raff captured the GOP they executed their plan with near perfection. They set out to capture the very basic and fundamental levels of governance, power and influence in this country. In short, they scored a grassroots victory by running for and getting elected to school boards, water districts, county and municipal offices and various state level positions. They did this by appealing to emotion, religion, and vague and vacuous references to “Family Values” and fiscal conservatism and fear trigger words such as "gun rights" and "right to life".

In the instances that those tactics failed, they were unhesitating in resorting to bullying, gerry-mandering, intimidation and out lawyering and out spending moderates and progressives. They pretended at populism while taking their orders from the moguls, oligarchs, and Tsars of huge stateless corporations.

Got it? They seized power at the grassroots level. They then expanded their power nationally and internationally and clobbered anyone who got in their way.

Now let me talk about the Texas Democrats. I have never in my life come up against such a collection of weak-kneed, conciliatory, ineffectual, apologetic, polite, and clueless lot in the entirety of my life. For the most part, and there really are some quite notable exceptions, they just do not get it. Yes there are brave exceptions toiling every day in the face of institutionalized inertia and mediocrity. They have my deep respect for the thankless work they do in the face of what must be deflating disinterest from those who should care the most. Unfortunately, these laudable folks are in the minority, which in its own way becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

More people turn out for these stupid tea-parties than the Democrats can put together for rallies for their candidates. It is as though they fear giving offense or showing their face in public, as though someone at work or church will find out they are Democrats. Again, in short, they do not get it.

Now, here is the solution. Progressives and liberals must get involved at the precinct level and build a power-base and help recruit and get elected or appointed progressives and liberals to party offices and turn out the old guard of “Blue-Dog” Democrats who lack the gumption or personal fortitude to wear steel-toed boots to an ass-kicking contest.

Then they must educate, organized and mobilize the electorate to get their candidates in any office that they can. Once they do this and turn out significant numbers and percentages of votes they will began to attract some national money, operatives and resources into the state. And, once that happens, we take Texas back to its roots.

It really is that simple. But, as with most simple things it will not be easy. It starts with each of us in our precincts. Get involved damn it! Do it this damned instant!

09 July 2009


According to Wikipedia, "The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, is the short title of a federal law of the United States passed on September 21, 1996 as Public Law No. 104-199, 110 Stat. 2419. Its provisions are codified at 1 U.S.C. § 7 and 28 U.S.C. § 1738C. The law has two effects:
The bill was passed by Congress by a vote of 85-14 in the Senate[1] and a vote of 342-67 in the House of Representatives,[2] and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on September 21, 1996."

According to me and others who are unencumbered by homophobia, arrant arrogance, hatred, narrow-mindedness, bigotry, prejudice, fear, profound ignorance, entrenched stupidty and just plain and simple outright damned meanness DOMA is a blatant and hostile assault on the civil and human rights of a significant portion of the population in this country.

C'mon give it some fair thought and you'll come to see that chances are you have a relative, neighbor, friend, co-worker, church or club member who is affected adversely by this piece of right-wing, heavy-handed insanity.

I've said it here before, but it bears repeating from time to time. My almost 46-and-a-half year marriage requires no defense and is not at all threatened when two other people wish to join in a similar legal union. And folks, it is just dumb to think that it would be.

Yesterday, Wednesday, June 8, the state of Massachusetts became the first to challenge DOMA on legal grounds as unconstitutionally preventing same-sex partners from enjoying a wide range of protections, ranging from employment and retirement benefits, insurance and social security payments.

Of course the right-wing rabble and riff-raff of the fundamental christian (lower case on purpose) political movement have already begun their bleatings and assert that the "nation is very resolute in support of the DOMA".

Well not really, since six other states--California, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut have, since DOMA passed, implemented same-sex marriage laws through either court action or legislation. And just yesterday new legislation from other states recognizing same-sex marriages from other states took effect in Washington, D.C.

Tough noogies wing-nuts. You'd think you States Rights clowns and Cone-Heads would support a state bucking the federal government. I guess that only matters when it's about Saturday Night Specials and assault weapons.

I'd simply ask that before you condemn and attempt to regulate the sexuality of others that you exert some influence in the area of your "Family Value" politicians who engage in buggery of Congressional page-boys, glory-hole sex-seeking in airport restrooms, and serial and sequential infidelity and procurement of prostitutes and hookers. Otherwise, just shut the hell up and leave people alone to their own relationships!

08 July 2009

Palin: She'll Be Back

One should, but one can't, resist giving the Alaskan Loon even more space. The absolutely absurd and truly amazing thing is that despite her cut and run resignation accompanied by an incoherent and rambling "farewell" speech there are those who still seriously consider her as a potential contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

As liberals, we can only hope they are correct. From their lips to God's ear.

But back to the pride of Wasilla. As all the various pundits from the right and left offer up their various scenarios and "true reasons" for her early exit from the governorship of Alaska we ought to take into consideration that most of us, even the most pious, errr religious, errr posturing as religious among us have as a primary motivation the acquisition of money. And locked away up in the deep freeze of Alaska, the babe from Wasilla, knows one thing for certain. There just is not a lot of money in bounty for wolf hides, fishing or governance of a state with a lower population than most Texas counties.

Call me an Economic Determinist, go ahead--others have, but my thoughts are along these lines. She's rung up some sizable legal bills, gotten a taste of the national limelight, and if she has any aspirations for the future each of which carry a significant price tag which can't be met from the relative obscurity of Alaska.

I think it is that simple. She wants to generate some wealth, cash in as it were. In effect, she knows that the Lord is going to speak to her at some point and ask her to fulfill her "higher calling" and that to do that she will need some serious jingwah.

Had I the opportunity, I would caution her that those folks in the Bible to whom God has spake (spaken?) never do fare that well in the end. I mean look at Moses and Jonah. They and God had some really deep and serious conversations and they each caught some real crappy deals in the end. Better to borrow from a Mafia loan shark, I'd think.

So, the ridiculous right-wing rabble will continue to adore her and shell out the bucks to buy her book and eat rubber chicken, mushy peas and rice swimming in a glutenous lemon basil sauce just to hear her speak about the brutal media and turn-coat liberals.

Hell bells, FOX will probably give her a base as a commentator with a big salary from which to operate her campaign.

Believe me, her "higher calling" will in no way involve the hungry, the poor, the widowed, or the orphaned. She'll be back, making big bucks and preparing to lead Republicans to the perdition they so richly deserve.

07 July 2009

Helath Care Reform Scorecard

Three groups in Congress are currently working to bring meaningful health care reform for all Americans: Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP), Senate Finance Committee and all of the three committees in the House with jurisdiction over health care: Ways & Means, Energy & Commerce and the Education and Labor Committee (House Tri-Committee).

Each bill is in different stages of completion. The Senate HELP Committee has a goal of finishing its bill by July 10; Senate Finance Committee by July 13; and House Tri-Committee by July 13.

Here for comparison are the primary provisions of each:

The HELP, Senate Finance and House Tri-Committee Bills all provide for Individual Mandate, Medicare Expansion, and Prohibits Pre-Existing Exclusions.

Only the Senate Finance Bill would provide for Taxing of Health Care Benefits, and currently only the Help bill would provide for Long Term Care.

The HELP and Senate Finance Bill provide for Medicare Expansion but the house bill does not.

The HELP Bill and the House Tri-Committee Bills provide for a Public Option, Employer Mandate and Low-Income Subsidies.

Further details on the Senate HELP Bill:
· “Pay” or “Play” Requirement: Employers who do not “play” (offer qualifying coverage with 60% or more contribution) will be required to “pay” an annual fee of $750 per worker per year and $375 for part-time workers. Companies with fewer than 25 employees would be exempt.

Further details on the Senate Finance Bill:
· Employer Mandate: Considering a proposal to replace the employer mandate with a so-called “free rider” provision. This provision would require employers to pay half the average national cost of Medicaid for every employee who receives Medicaid. An employer would have to pay the full cost of any tax credit an employee uses to purchase health insurance.
· Pre-Medicare: People ages 55 through 64 who do not have employer-sponsored insurance or Medicaid coverage could voluntarily enroll in Medicare beginning January 1, 2011.
· Doughnut Hole: The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America has pledged to provide seniors with a 50% discount on any brand-name drugs that they need during the coverage gap. Few details of this agreement, however, are available at this time.
· Public Plan Option: Sen. Schumer (D-NY) in a July 1 statement said he was drafting language for a public plan option to be offered as an amendment for consideration by Finance when it marks up legislation after recess.
· Age-Rating: Considering setting premiums based on age at a 5-to-1 ratio. This means that the same basic package that would cost a 30-year-old $100 a month would cost $500 a month for an uninsured Americans aged 50-64.
· Taxing Health Benefits: Considering capping the tax exclusion of health care benefits at various levels (from $15,700 to $18,840 for family coverage) to help pay for reform. Under this plan, workers would be taxed on the value of their coverage above the cap.

Further details on the House Tri-Committee Bill:
· “Pay or Play” requirement: Employer must “play” by offering coverage that meets standards and contribute for full-time employees at least 72.5% of lowest cost plan for an individual and 65% of lowest cost plan for family. If the employer does not “play,” must pay by contributing 8% of wages paid to employee to Exchange.
· Doughnut Hole: Contains a provision that will fill the doughnut hole over time. Specifically, beginning in 2011, the Secretary of HHS shall progressively increase the coverage limit and decrease the annual out-of-pocket threshold.

06 July 2009

Help Win The Health Care Battle - Call In Day





Health care reform this summer is a national priority. It must include a public plan option that provides affordable health care for all Americans. Seniors know we need to strengthen Medicare, overhaul Medicare Part D, and create affordable long-term services and supports. On July 7th and 8th, we ask you to join us in reminding Congress that seniors MUST be a part of the national health care reform debate.

· Support an affordable public plan option with premiums NOT based on age.

· Oppose the taxation of health care benefits. This could lead to the loss of coverage, especially since one-third of retirees receive health benefits through their former employers.

· Support inclusion of the CLASS Act (S. 697 and H.R. 1721) for long term care in health care reform.

For more information, please call: 1-888-373-6497, option #1, or email ARAorganizing@retiredamericans.org. Or, for more information about health care reform and the Alliance for Retired Americans, please visit our website at: www.retiredamericans.org


Alliance for Retired Americans 815 16th Street NW, 4th Floor, Washington DC 20006 www.retiredamericans.org

03 July 2009

psst! All Jacko - All the Time


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All Jacko - All The Time

Don't get me wrong, I think Michael Jackson was one hell of a performer who wielded tremendous influence over the oxymoronic phenomena known as pop culture; but, I, as sure as God made little green apples, do not think of him as a cultural icon.

He was still a relatively young man who had squandered his talent, his wealth, his influence, his prestige and obviously his health; and, who on a number of occasions, bought or "lawyered up" his way out of jams which can at the very best and most tactfully be described as "inappropriate behavior" with young boys.

The current media frenzy brings to mind a ghastly editorial cartoon from the seventies, shortly after Elvis died. It showed an Elvis appearing cadaver suspended on the stage by puppet strings from the cat-walk above while one stage hand remarks to another, "See, nobody gets out of a contract with the colonel".

I have watched for about week, it seems longer somehow, as newspapers and legitimate newscasts have led hour-in and hour-out with some new detail or aspect of Jackson's death and life. Instead of focusing on the real news of the hour we are subjected to yet another view of Jackson moon-walking, crotch-clutching, "thrilling", dangling his baby in mid-air from a balcony several stories up, or as a small boy with the Jackson 5.

No Michael, there is no getting out of your contract with a mindless and brain dead public pandered to by what we laughingly call the media. For crying out loud, even the once venerable PBS news cornerstone 'News Hour with Jim Lehrer" has become part of it---and, I think even I, in this blog am now part of it.

Did you know that Jackson held the patent on a prop shoe design that allowed the wearer to appear to defy gravity by leaning toward the floor at ridiculous angles without losing balance?

No? Well neither did I until Katie Courick of the CBS Evening News so informed me one recent evening. You know what? I don't care and would much rather she had informed us of which Senators opposing the Public Option health plan or Medicare reform had gotten major contributions from insurance or drug companies.

Now, I understand that the sweet, gentle, tormented soul known as Michael Jackson will not be interred until next Tuesday while his family milks the attention and limelight trying to figure out yet another way to extract a dime from his corpse and estate.

No, nobody breaks their contract with the public. Not Elvis, not Jacko, not anyone, and it's a damned shame and it is our fault that we permit it.

02 July 2009

Health Care Reform Resistance Crumbling

Yesterday, the 250,000 member American Medical association reversed its self when its new president said that the group is open to a government-funded health insurance option for people without coverage.

Dr. J. James Rohack, who is head of the AMA which represents the interests of the nation's doctors said that the AMA "...supports an American Model that includes both a private system and public option".

In May the AMA went on record before a senate committee as not supporting any government-sponsored health care plan. Now, Rohack is calling 2009 "the year we need to have affordable health insurance coverage for all Americans".

He suggested that expanding the Federal Employee Health Benefit program now available to members of congress and other federal employees would be a good "Public Option" starting point and would avoid having to start a new program from scratch.

And last evening the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee's thirteen Democrats outlined their support for a government-run insurance option and an annual fee on employers who do not offer coverage to their workers. Both are part of President Obama's suggested package which includes a Public Option partially fiananced by Pay or Play contributions from employers.

The HELP committe plan would carry a 10-year price tag of slightly over $600-billion, and would insure that an estimated 97% of Americans would have access to affordable health care. Earlier the Congressional Budget Office had projected a price tag of $1-trillion and would have left millions uninsured.

Reading the tea leaves: The fact that all thirteen Democrats on this very important committee are going to vote for the package coupled with the AMA's reversal of its objections to a Public Option Plan augers good news for the eventual passage of health care reform with a Public Option partially financed through a Play or Pay system for employers.

In short, if employers are unwilling or unable to provide "private" insurance for their employees they will be required to pay into a common pool which would provide a government-funded option for those uninsured workers and their families. It is these two meaures which bring down the overall price tag.

Late Breaking News...Senator Kay Hagan, NC-Dem, who earlier opposed a Public Option has now said she will help support the HELP-committee's plan.

01 July 2009

Support the Employee Free Choice Act

The Employee Free Choice Act would put the choice of whether to form a union back in the hands of the workers through a majority sign-in as an alternative to the present company dominated system.

Today companies (take Wal-Mart as an example) routinely intimidate, harass, coerce and fire people who try to form unions and current labor law as written by Republicans is powerless to stop them. The penalties, if even found guilty, are so light that companies merely consider them as another cost of doing business.

Even at companies where the workers have persevered in forming a union the companies stymie, stall and delay bargaining or reaching a first contract with virtual impunity.

The Employee Free Choice Act guarantees that companies can't drag their feet on a first contract. The Act provides for mediation or binding arbitration in such instances.

Several large, national companies such as AT&T and Kaiser Permanente have used majority sign-up successfully for years. The Act also levels the playing field by putting real penalties on companies that violate the law during organizing and contract campaigns.

It is important to remember that union workers earn 28% (about $200 a week or $10,000 a year) more than non-organized workers; union members are 52% more likely to have employer provided insurance; 77% of union members have defined-benefit pension plans through their jobs, compared with only 20% of workers who do not have a union.

Working families and older workers nearing retirement age are stretched and challenged as never before. Wages are dropping, jobs are becoming more scarce, health care costs are rising and pensions are disappearing. For the first time in generations, people are very worried that their children will be worse off than they are.

Communities with strong unions have higher standards of living for everybody. Support the Employee Free Choice Act, and help rebuild America's middle class.