28 August 2009

GOP's Outrageous Lies Try To Scare Seniors

The RNC is circulating a spurious poll designed to scare seniors with questions like, "Are you concerned that the Democrat's Health Plan will deny coverage to Republicans?" Damn, one longs for the horsewhip, tar, feathers and rail of yore.

Here from Obama's Organizing for America, "President Obama's plan for health insurance reform is good for seniors, because reform......

will STRENGTHEN Medicare. Reform will improve Medicare's quality of care by cutting down on paperwork, focusing on wellness and prevention, and rewarding doctors for the care they provide instead of how many procedures they do. This all adds up to more choices and better care.

... will NOT cut our Medicare benefits. President Obama has clearly said, "nobody is talking about cutting Medicare benefits." And AARP agrees that reform will simply eliminate billions in giveaways via the Medicare Advantage program that boost insurance company profits -- but don't help folks like us.

...will SAVE us money. Reform will close the doughnut hole in Medicare Part D that's costing people so much money for prescription drugs, and eliminate co-pays for preventative care like cancer screenings and immunizations.

... will SAVE Medicare in the long run. If we do nothing, costs will keep rising and the Medicare trust fund will be at risk of going bust within a decade. Reform will save Medicare from bankruptcy and ensure we get the care we need for years to come.

... will HELP our loved ones. Reform will extend coverage for young people, stop insurance companies from charging women more or cutting care when you need it most. And most importantly, reform will make it illegal to deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

In so many ways, reform will help every American struggling with our health insurance system -- especially seniors. But insurance companies that want to protect their profits and partisan attack groups that want to weaken President Obama at any cost are spreading rumors to scare folks like us into opposing the reform we need. It's outrageous.

27 August 2009

Health Reform Inaction Would Cost Seniors Dearly!

815 16th Street, NW, 4th Floor ¨
Washington, D.C. 20006 ¨ (202)637-5399 ¨

For Immediate Release: Contact: David Blank (202)637-5275
August 27,2009 dblank@retiredamericans.org

A new Report Shows Seniors to Benefit from Health Care Reform
Retiree Leader Calls for End to “Scare Tactics”

The following statement was issued today by Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, in response to a new report, America’s Seniors and Health Insurance Reform: Protecting Coverage and Strengthening Medicare, issued today by the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Today’s report, available at http://healthreform.gov/reports/seniors/index.html shines a bright light on why retirees have a lot to gain from health reform. Moreover, it shows the wholly unacceptable medical and financial consequences of inaction. “According to the study, if no action is taken, Medicare premiums and out-of-pocket costs will soon eat up more than one-third of a retiree’s Social Security benefits.

A typical older couple would need to save $300,000 for medical bills not covered by Medicare.

“I hope that deeply disturbing findings such as these will move the health care debate away from divisive, insurance industry-backed scare tactics and toward swift passage of a health care bill that will help older Americans. “Health reform is an opportunity to close the Medicare Part D ‘doughnut hole,’ lower prescription drug costs, help early retirees afford health care coverage, and assist middle-class families with the costs of long-term care.

A strong public plan option will hold insurance companies accountable and keep their premiums and business practices in check. “Medicare is a great American success story - it has reduced senior poverty by two-thirds.

Today’s report shows how health reform can both expand Medicare’s benefits for seniors, and also strengthen Medicare’s finances by eliminating wasteful taxpayer subsidies to the big insurance companies. “I urge Congress to act swiftly to pass a health care reform bill that helps Americans of all ages. The dire consequences of inaction give us no other choice.”

# # #The Alliance for Retired Americans is a national organization that advocates for the rights and well being of over 3.5 million retirees andtheir families.

26 August 2009

Ted Kennedy - At The End: Courage & Fortitude

Death is inevitable despite our best efforts at denial and delay. The piper must be paid if one expects to dance. That is the way of life...death comes.

Today we mourn the death of Ted Kennedy and that is appropriate. I sometimes think that we mourn so that we might be mourned ourselves when that time comes. Others, I suspect, would like it to bigger than that, with more meaning and implication. But me? I think not. We live and we die, both require courage and fortitude to do each well.

We'll read and hear him referred to as a "Lion". But, as one who is addicted to the Discovery and National Geographic channels, I can tell you that despite their awesome size and appearance lions, especially males, are unsavory, dandified lay-abouts. For me, Ted Kennedy was a tiger.

Tigers, you should know, are more formidable than lions and much more canny and wise than lions. They are certainly more ferocious than lions.

Some time ago, I watched a special about a tiger who ruled his area in a forest in India. He was a brave beast who kept in line the other tigers of his region. Tigers are more solitary than lions, yet this huge fellow managed to sire many offspring. And, he never lost a fight. He was an incredibly beautiful specimen of "tigerness".

In the wild, a male tiger's life expectancy is a mere 15 years. When this tiger was about fifteen and a few months he fought and lost his last battle. He was injured and his beautiful coat was torn and he was blinded in one eye. Certainly tiger's survive with worse injuries and come back to fight other battles. Yet, this one chose to do that which tigers in the wild so often do if left with a choice at the end--he went to his lair in the cliffs and curled up in the darkness and died. If he could not be that which he had been he chose not to continue.

That, to me, was meeting death with courage and fortitude. I hope that I can meet my own demise in such a way.

That is why I think of Ted Kennedy as a tiger rather than a lion. For at the end, wounded and losing to a dreadfully debilitating disease, he went home and waited for death with courage and fortitude. Just days ago, he summoned the strength to issue one last roar in a letter to Massachusetts's Republican governor, Mitt Romney, telling him that he should appoint a democrat, not a republican, to replace him as interim senator. And then he died.

Like that tiger in India, Kennedy is gone from this earth, but we still inhale and exhale the same air that he breathed and like the offspring of that tiger, there are those of us who will step forward into the vacancy and carry on the fight. Each, in his own way, remain even if as memories of greatness.

But, as to Kennedy, like that tiger of India, there will never be another like him.

25 August 2009

Glenn Beck, Advertisers Bail Under Pressure - Second Thoughts

Next to outliving that little butt-head who used to beat me up everyday on the way home during the fifth grade, I can't think of anything that gives me more glee and delight than watching as Glenn Beck takes it in the neck as advertisers leave him quicker than Pabst beer-drinking, pick-up truck-driving, white socks wearing, nose-picking, butt-scratching, crotch-adjusting, good old boys cutting out of a Dixie Chicks' concert.

So far as we now know, the Clorox Company, Wal-Mart, Sprint, CVS and UPS stores have cancelled their advertising schedules on his show. Beck, who often appears in tearful, emotional melt-downs similar to that of a sixteen year-old girl who finds out that her dad will be the chaperon at the dance, recently characterized President Obama as a racist "with a deep-seated hatred of white people", averages 2.4-million viewers each day.

Yes, it was inflammatory. Yes, it was hateful, stupid and outrageous. Yes, it was just one in a whole series of provocative remarks by a man who grows increasingly unstable before our eyes. Yes, it contributes to a climate of violence and mistrust, which very well contributes to people showing up strapped at presidential appearances; and yes, it probably does contribute to the crazed actions of mentally unbalanced people who assassinate abortion providers and kill, at church, liberals.

Yes, yes, yes, and yes to all that. I know. I even, recently, signed a petition to Wal-Mart asking that it withdraw its advertising from the Glenn Beck Show. I now, wish that I had not.

Here's why. On one hand we leftists, progressives and liberals are outraged by the right's tactics of shouting down at town hall meetings those they disagree with. We wring our hands and pule about these heavy-handed (read Storm Troopers, Brown-Shirts, Nazis) assaults on that most basic demonstration of democracy in action. We do that. Admit it.

Is not dissent and civil disobedience part of our arsenal? Have we not, in our youth, called police officers pigs, did we not call LBJ a baby-killer, do I not, every damned chance I get, characterize George W. Bush as a dry-drunk sociopath? And, do we, and do I, not do these things expecting full protection under our right to Freedom of Speech? Huh? We do, don't we?

So what I think, at the moment anyway, is that there should be no glee taken in any attempt of those who disagree to stifle the voice of dissent--regardless. If we legitimize the squelching of dissent from the others, then haven't we also legitimized the squelching of our own dissent.

Understand this. Swords mostly have two edges. Or more succinctly, in the words of the great British Philosopher and Peer of the Realm, Sir Mick Jagger, "What goes around, comes around!"

24 August 2009

No Health Care Reform Yet - Blame the Democrats

Consider this.

With a Democrat in the White House, and with a large majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives, and a simple filibuster proof majority in the Senate (and the ability to derail any Republican plans to filibuster with a 51 member vote on budgetary issues) why in the name of anything you choose are we futzing around with health care reform?

Could it be that liberals and progressives have no real voice in today's Democratic party? Or could it be that we have a gaggle of Eisenhower Republicans masquerading as Democrats? Or is it that the drug company Tsars and insurance company oligarchs have our politicians firmly gripped by their financial short hairs? Or is it that the Democratic grassroots is so out of touch with its liberal, progressive and populist origins that it has become a clueless, tentative, whimpering, apologetic shell of its former self?

I would suggest that it is each and all of the above.

I have said it before and I have said it often; Republicans will continue to rule (hey, don't rank on me with the Democrats having the WH, Congress, and Senate--it is obvious the Republicans are still calling the shots, or we'd have had health care reform before school started) until progressives, liberals and populists organize and mobilize to take back the Democratic party from the Blue Dogs, Milquetoasts, and ineffectual nabobs now in charge.

You want health care reform? Do something about it. Get together as a group and get into the streets and shut it down! That's how we got civil rights. That's how we got voter's rights. That's how we ended the Vietnam War. We went to the streets, took our lumps and shut it down!

I would suggest to you that health care reform with a public option, and ending Medicare overpayment to Medicare Advantage plans, ending the insanely complicated Part D prescription program which criminalizes Medicares bidding for low-cost bulk drug purchases, and allowing Medicare buy-in to Americans 55-64 who need to re-insure or to get insurance is as important as all those other things we liberals, progressives and populists fought for so hard not so long ago.

21 August 2009

We Only Need 51 Senate Votes To Get It Done!

No person can tell you with precise certainty what will happen next in the struggle to reform and restructure health care in this nation. No one!

But, I can tell you these things. All the arguing, threats and misunderstandings coming out of workshops, town hall meetings and fact-finding gatherings is in so many ways utterly irrelevant. This is because there is no health care bill, as such, before us yet. That bill comes later, after the Senate and Congress reconcile the various pieces of a reform package that are currently being cobbled together. The right is attacking straw men of their own design, and we on the left are busy espousing our own wishes. No wonder moderates and centrists are confused and wary.

There's something else I can tell you. The White House and Senate Democratic leaders are very close to abandoning any pretext of bipartisanship in the crafting of a final package for the president's signature. Which is fine by me. If the GOP continues to insist that negotiation is just another word for capitulation...screw them...and let them run 2010 on a message of, "I tried to rain-wreck your health care."

Here's how it will very likely play out in the Senate this fall. First, understand that HR3200 offers most of what we want including a public option and Medicare overhaul, including ending over payments to Advantage plans, closing the donut hole, and allowing Medicare to bid for bulk discounts on drugs. HR3200 has 1017 pages and most of them are positive to meaningful health care reform. So, the Senate will likely craft a very similar bill for the conference committee , which will tailor a final piece of legislation for the president's signature.

But, Hey Fox! you yell, don't forget that Kennedy is on his deathbed, Republicans are stalling the legislation waiting for the event so that Romney can appoint someone to make them capable of waging a filibuster. Yeah, yeah I know. And it really bites. But, that is where the 51 votes come in.

Read this carefully. Most legislation in the Senate requires 60-votes to overcome a filibuster, but certain budget-related measures can pass with 51-votes through a parliamentary procedure known as reconciliation. Democrats could split the bill and put the more fractious changes (Public Option, for example) under that procedure and leave for a separate vote other changes such as new regulations and rules for insurers which would include ending the practise of denial of coverage for pre-existing medical conditions.

Got it? Only 51-votes could get the job done.

20 August 2009

There's A Reason Democrats Keep Losing.

I am going to be brutally frank for a change. No, I mean it. Because up until now, I've been what passes for circumspect and tactful for me. Yes, I know, several of you are looking at the ceiling over that line...Shane Fox, circumspect and tactful used in the same sentence. What a hoot.

Well, never mind all that. Because it is not about me.

It is about these people calling themselves Democrats. These people who are the closest thing I have to political allies. These namby - pamby, by your leave and excuse me, wet-ends calling themselves Democrats who wonder why it is they never win elections or turn out a crowd. Here in my part of Texas 1500 tea-baggers turned up at the town square in the dead heat of summer awhile back. This past weekend, something like 60 (mostly white) people (I was among them) showed up for a summit of East Texas Democrats in a spacious, comfortable air-conditioned church auditorium. Now, I will grant you that it is easier to be against something than for something, and there are one hell of a lot more dumb asses than smart people, but that does not count for the disparity.

Here's what does. We've watched for a week as the president has spun like a weather vane and his advisers have made jackasses of themselves contradicting one another on health insurance overhaul as in the field party loyalists and Obama apparatchiks whistle through the graveyard assuring us that everything is just fine. Well, it ain't just fine. It ain't even close to fine.

Were it not for progressive bloggers and activists (again, I among them), the unions and liberals pressuring the White House on Monday through Tuesday the "Public Option" would be just as dead as "single-payer". There is a an important lesson there. Probably several. But, the one which has the most resonance for me is that were it not for the left-wing of the democratic party and progressive independents, the appeasers, apologists, incrementalists, and gradualists would have rolled over and meaningful reform would have died Sunday night. We did not save the public option by making nice and apologising for our exuberance, passion and zeal!

Let me take you back to the Democratic Summit. There were people there, talking to Democrats, claiming to be running for high state office as Democrats, whose campaign literature made absolutely no mention of being a democrat, progressive, or liberal. One of them handed me his campaign card and I handed it back, telling him I would be voting for a progressive democrat and that I didn't see that anywhere on his card or his literature.

Republicans and conservatives unashamedly run as just that, extolling their reactionary ideology as an asset to office-holding. Democrats should do the same, instead of pretending to be moderate centrists. Yeah, I know. Their advisers and conventional wisdom tell them to posture themselves in such a way. Well, let me ask you this...if that posture is so flipping wise why in the name of hell haven't any of them won in, oh, like two decades or so?

Why haven't the democrats been able to invigorate African-Americans and Latinos in the way Obama did? I'm sure I'll get an argument here, but, I think it is very clear...lack of outreach and lack of appeal. Very clearly, once again, a slate of mostly moderate, mostly middle-aged white guys is not going to appeal to anyone other than other mostly moderate, mostly middle-aged white-guys.

Democrats dream of taking back the state of Texas. Until they embrace their liberal and progressive roots and stop running stealth campaigns and start declaring themselves as an alternative to the radical right-wing instead of being moderate versions of Republicans, they will fail, and come 2010, Texas will still have two Republican senators and a Republican governor.

19 August 2009

Short, Sweet, To the Point!

Here it is with the bark off!

Health care reform could die in the U.S. Senate as a group of Republicans and Blue-Dog Democrats dither, stymie, and stall hoping that their delaying tactics will frustrate us in our efforts to bring about meaningful health care reform.

Don't let that happen. Use this very simple link provided by True Majority to send an e-mail to your Senator that you want health care reform and that you want it now, and that you would like them to lead, follow, or get out of the way.

It's very simple, virtually boiler plate. Just type in your e-mail, fill in the blanks and you've made your voices hears. Please don't wait, do it right now!
The Public Option is alive and well and Democrats have said they're prepared to go it alone without the Republicans if they continue stalling. Let them know that they're not alone. If your Senators are Republican, let them you're supporting the other side.
There is a momentum shift, be a part of it and send that e-mail right now. You deserve health care reform.

18 August 2009

There Is A Simple Solution

Yes, there is a simple solution. Maybe not for the entire broken health care system but at least for a significant portion of it. And, yes...it is simple.

Never mind the squabbling about a Public Option versus Co-Ops. Forget about all that garbage about how a government administered plan would drive the insurance companies out of business and force their CEOs to drive taxis for a living. Just forget about it and move on.

Here's what I propose. Open up Medicare for those who do not have insurance now. OK, maybe not everyone, but let's just say, for the sake of argument, that we open it up to those 55 to 64 who will soon be in it anyway.

Medicare is a very effective program providing health care benefits to older and disabled Americans. Certainly, it has some issues. No system is absolutely perfect. But consider this.

Right now Medicare is disproportionately skewed toward health care's heaviest users, old people and disabled persons. If it were opened to younger demographics the risk would be spread among those who would use the system less. Simply put, more premiums and fewer services per capita used. An actuary's fantasy.

Yes, there would some increase in costs, but we're incurring those costs now--we just don't see them. But, even with that there are some real opportunities for savings in the plan. For example, end the overpayment to Medicare Advantage plans which receive about 14% more per beneficiary than does standard Medicare. And, allow Medicare to bid for lower drug prices as does the Veteran's Administration.

Sounds simple and easy doesn't it. Well it is, and it's time we started asking our legislators about it while they're home on recess.

17 August 2009

Small Minds Can't Grasp Great Notions

Sir James George Frazier, in The Golden Bough, wrote, "Small minds cannot grasp great ideas..." We are seeing proof of this on a daily basis as the opposition to a public health care plan grows increasingly shrill, disoriented and detached from reality.

In the nineteenth century, long before Frazier wrote his seminal study of how the ancients' practices of magic evolved into religion, ethics and cultural morals, the Kaiser's Germany created the first national health care plan. To this day, one does not hear the naysayers citing that country's health plan as a negative---to them there is only Canada and England. Small minds.

In 1945, in this country, when I was a mere 6-years old, President Harry Truman went before Congress to say that the time had arrived in America for "Universal Health Care". At two months shy of 70, I am still waiting. Small minds won out.

In the 90s, President Clinton failed to accomplish the mission. Nearly another two decades have elapsed and we are still waiting and now find ourselves fighting a rear-guard battle for a watered down facsimile of health care reform. Again small minds won out and are in control.

This last week we were subjected to the discouraging news that President Obama had traded away drug reimportation and Medicare negotiation for lower prices in return for some sort of promise from PhrMA to reduce costs by a few billion dollars. Their profits are in the multi-trillions and they're going to reduce costs by a few billion? Small minds.

This weekend we heard from the administration that the "Public Option" is not essential to health care reform. Small minds are killing it as was killed the notion of a single-payer system even before negotiations got underway.

Where does that leave us, other than discouraged. I would say disillusioned, but, I gave up on illusions the night Bobby Kennedy was whacked by the mob.

My masters in Washington tell me that we need to rally around HR 3200 which has much of what we want; part D negotiation, closing the donut hole, public option, and stronger employer mandates and aim our advocacy at making the Senate bill in floor votes look as much like the House bill as we can.

So, despite the sense that I'm surrounded, running low on ammo and provisions, abandoned by the rear echelon command, and can see the enemies campfires on the hills all around us, I will once again--tomorrow, not today--pick up my rifle, sight in and fight to the bitter end. It is the Marine way, it is the American way, it is my way, and by God! someone has to stand firm against the small minds. Please join me, you can't live for ever!

14 August 2009

America The Lost!

Why America has seen it's best days and is in decline:On its web page today, CNN is running this poll. Look closely at the numbers and percentages through 1:00 pm CDT.

Do you believe "death panels" are part of the proposed health care reforms?

Yes 23% 35923
No 64% 99914
Don't know 13% 19798

Total Votes: 155,635

36% percent of the respondents either believe or are just too damned stupid to disbelieve that "death panels" are part of health care reform. That is slightly more than the percentage of people who still supported that dry-drunk sociopath, George W. Bush at the end of his run.

Lack of education does not account for it. Ideology does not explain it. Certainly several generations of in-breeding could account for some of it, but not all of it. Why?

Death panels? e.e cummings had it right. Little Effie does have gingerbread for brains along with the 36% of truly stupid people who are undeserving of the protections afforded them by the rule of law and the benefits offered by living in America. Utterly and totally and abysmally undeserving.

In 1980 when I was doing talk radio in Houston, I had a conversation with one of Ted Kennedy's top advisers and he said, "Shane, me boyo, it is all over for this country. From now on we'll be fighting a rearguard action." I'll admit that at the time I was operating pretty much in a drug and alcohol induced haze and didn't fully grasp what he meant.

Well, I've cleaned up, made my amends, do my daily inventory and the rest of it and want you to know that I sure as shooting get it now.

36% of my fellow citizens either believe or are too stupid to disbelieve that death panels are part of health care reform. 36% for chrissake!

13 August 2009

Obama Is Losing the Seniors

You know what? As what is often euphemistically referred to as an "older person", I am getting very damned sick and tired of either being taken for granted, or worse still, being overlooked.

You know what else? I would be tickled beyond my command of English to explain if I could just once during this health care struggle write something glowing and wonderful. But, I can't.

Okay, here's what has me more than just a little irked today. The Obama administration, according to Politico, has a senior problem. No crap? I told them that awhile back. But did they listen? Nooooo! No one listens to us doddering old fools, right?

Take a look at the people creating the ruckus out there. The vast majority are older people; social security and Medicare beneficiaries scared out of their wits that the "guvmint" is going to take away their Medicare benefits, demand that they be euthanized and other outrageous concerns about atrocities to come if Obama socializes Medicare.

Okay, okay, I know, believe me I know. I confront this lack of sophistication on a daily basis. But, and please believe me on this, the administration is not making it easier for me down here at the community activist level with their tepid responses to such claims coupled with the revelations that Obama has cut back room deals with the drug tsars that will prevent Medicare from bidding for lower prices in its Part D prescription program.

Tepid? you ask. Yeah, I reply. About as tepid and lukewarm as that proverbial bucket of spit that John Nance Garner once referenced. Here's what I mean: Obama, when asked about the euthanasia issue during a town hall meeting answered, "I'm not in favor of that". No kidding? Not in favor of it himself, which implies that someone somewhere is, and that it remains a possibility that it could come about over his objections. See, got it? That is what I mean by tepid...on the streets, we'd say lame-ass!

What would have been wrong with, "It is an outrageous lie perpetrated by the drug tsars and insurance oligarchs to frighten you and to try to scare you into working against your own best interests by throwing sand in the gears of health care reform. It is a lie, and it will not happen! And the people lying to you deserve to be summarily hanged, with or without trial!"

Alright, that last part probably wouldn't be all that judicious, but, I'm sure you take my point. Anything other than "I am not in favor of that..."

Obama is a hard sell in these parts. Health care reform is a very damned hard sell in these parts. The administration is at risk of losing it all by losing the seniors.

No one gets elected in this country and policy does not get made without the support of seniors. This administration needs to snap to that fact and be damned quick about it.

12 August 2009

Blue Dog Cuellar Get's It Right On The Public Option

Today's Rio Grande Guardian reports that Blue Dog, Congressman Henry Cuellar (D - Laredo) is running against the pack and has come out in support of a "Public Option".

One wants to run out into the street and pound on hoods of passing cars and stop traffic shouting, "At last, a voice of reason emerges!"

The "Public Option" is opposed by the insurance oligarchs and from them to Texas 28 the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and the always reactionary Rio Grande Valley Partnership as well as virtually all congressional Blue Dogs (most of whom are on the take from the insurance industry).

Cuellars's comments came at a press conference at McAllen City Hall last week. He said, "I support a public option plan. It does not mandate anything. It just gives you an option. There is still a role for the insurance industry. The public option is not going to take over.

He held the press conference to discuss economic stimulus funds coming to Hildago County and McAllen, but the health care reform debate quickly became the focus of the question and answer period.

Cuellar said, "When people say, oh, we don't want the government programs I ask many of you are are on Medicare, how many of you are veterans. When the hands go up, I say, I don't know if y'all know this but those are both government-run programs.

The congressman said that in his district alone there are about 267,000 people without health insurance which greatly influences his position on the issue. He said the the House reform bill (America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009) would provide health care coverage for about 95 percent of the population which would translate to 244,000 people in his district alone.

His district covers one third of McAllen, all of Laredo and counties between the border and northeast San Antonio. he is the only Blue Dog Democrat in the Texas delegation and his stance of putting the good of his constituents ahead of ideological posturing is unique and highly commendable. It is what should be expected of all politicians.

11 August 2009

Deathers, Birthers, Teabaggers - Explained

Life is so damned cool! I mean it! Just when you think you've got a handle on stuff and pretty much understand how things work, how people think and so forth, and believe you've about seen and heard it all, along comes a collection of whack job, fractionally sentient, conspiracy nutzos who bring a whole new perspective to things.

It used to be that a compassionate society was structured to provide institutional care for mentally damaged persons who were so unhinged as to be disruptive of the common good but were not truly homicidal. Then along came Reaganomics and we closed down our state hospitals and instead of providing Thorazine or lobotomies to the unhinged screamers, we gave them talk shows, sent them to congress, and loaded them on buses to be hauled around the country to interfere with the democratic process. It is as though we've all become transported across space and time to become characters in a Stephan King novel.

But, in today's vernacular; it's all good. They've given two new words defining their absurd, extremist, conspiracy laden worldviews. Yep, we now have three new nouns, birther, deather and teabagger defining what we once knew as...okay, let us be kind here, the mentally disturbed.

In case you're just getting back from your holiday at the bottom of a deep cave somewhere in the Gobi out of cell phone or wifi range, a birther is a loonie who thinks president Obama is not a natural born US citizen despite his birth certificate, testimonies from officials and other evidence. A deather is an equally disturbed person, and usually, but not always, also a birther, who has taken the notion that the health care reform proposals coming out of Congress would create death panels or force seniors and sick people into euthanasia.

As to teabaggers. I haven't quite gotten them figured out other than that they like to congregate in public holding up signs that "Obama Is A MORAN". For me that about sums them up.

For example, Sarah Palin is a deather, Glenn Beck is a deather, Rush Limbaugh is a deather and a birther. And they all support teabaggers.

Now, ain't that just a pisser?

10 August 2009

Does PhrMA Have Us All By The Throat: Including Obama?

The moment always comes when one realizes the truth of certain things. You know, the damned check is never in the mail, people always lie in order to get their way during sex, and...uhhh, what was that other one? Oh yeah, do not trust your best interests to someone else, particularly a politician.

So, let us not forget that Barack Obama, above all else, is no more than a politician. Leave us not get too sentimental about young, progressive African-American president and all that other stuff. It's old news. The question right now is what is he doing for older Americans and working families. We voted for him, we worked hard for him, we contributed out hard-earned money to his campaign and since his election we have suffered the scandalous and scurrilous lies about him and stood up for him in the face of vicious attack from right-wing ideologues.

Now, this weekend, we learned that he has cut a back-room deal with PhrMA ( the drug industry lobby) to block any attempt by congress to include the bidding of lower drug prices by Medicare as part of health care reform. Briefly, this overhaul would allow Medicare in its Part D prescription drug coverage to bid for lower prices and buy in bulk and earn rebates as the Veteran's Administration already does. This would close the annual donut hole face by seniors in which they lose their benefits until a certain plateau is reached--they do, however continue paying premiums during this interval of non-coverage. It would save Medicare billions, and cost the drug company billions, and insure that seniors could afford their life-preserving drugs.

I feel much like that apocryphal teary-eyed lad during the Black Sox scandal who looked up at his hero "Shoeless" Joe Jackson and said, "Tell em it's not so Joe!" Well, it is so, and I shoulda seen it coming...because after all the check is never in the mail, people lie to get sex, and politicians will be politicians regardless the harm they cause.

My suggestion is that we bombard the White House with our phone calls and letters of outrage.

Hillary lost me over her support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Obama will lose me if he does not gut up and stand for me against the drug tsars and insurance oligarchs.

07 August 2009

Fight Against the Thugs, Bullies and Goons

It does not matter if it's in the early morning hours on a dark road to a Harlan County, Kentucky coalmine or outside a bright sun drenched polling place in Florida, the paid goons and thugs from the reactionary right-wing are ever ready to stomp on the rights of the working class of America. Now their target is that most basic of all the institutions of America Democracy, the Town Hall Meeting.

"The shout 'em down, shut 'em down thuggery being staged right now at town hall meetings about health care is again a source of conservative pride as corporate lobbying groups brag about their ability to turn out the mobs, to shut down the democratic process." Rachel Maddow.

The situation is dire, the threat is real and the thugs and goons are out to do the bidding of the Insurance Oligarchs and Drug Tsars who want to prevent meaningful health care reform. And, it is not about politics or ideology, although right-wing ideologues are the tools, it is about their continuing to exploit working class Americans for the maximisation of their excessive profits.

Such Republican notables as Jack Abramoff, Dick Armey, Pete Sessions and John Boehner are either directly fomenting or supporting the outrageous and menacing behavior of the right-wings mobs shouting down and attempting to rattle and intimidate our representatives attempting to get input from their constituents. Some congress persons have received death threats or have been hung in effigy. So much for "family values" and "civil discourse" so often lamented over by the wing-nuts.

What to do? you ask. Simple, I say. Fight back. Here's how.

E-mail your congressional representative and then follow up with a phone call. Tell them you support health care reform, and even if they don't you want them to go on the record against the mobs attempting to disrupt the democratic process of town hall meetings.

Seek out, town hall meeting in your area and be prepared to shout back, block and stand up to the bullies and thugs. Show up, bring as many people as you can, outnumber them, and when they start to disrupt, start and lead a rhythmic chant, "Let him/her Speak!"

Your representatives and Senators are coming home for summer recess, make it a point to visit their local office, and make sure you gather a number of people to join you. Those offices are not private, they are yours and mind and must be kept open to the democratic process.

Do not expect someone else to do this for you...you must do it yourself. No excuses, or once again the thugs, bullies and goons will win.

06 August 2009

The Health Care Lies & Myths From the Right!

Part Two;

OK, hold your breath and count to ten. On July 28 Congresswoman Virginia Fox (R-NC) said the Democrats health care proposal would "put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government".

Which statement presents us with lie number four...

4. They want you to consider euthanasia!

In this cruel and appalling distortion of the truth, opponents of health care reform have shameful alleged that health insurance reform will lead us to government sponsored euthanasia. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is an OPTIONAL and helpful provision in the reform legislation that will provide coverage for advanced care planning. This counseling will make it easier for people to consult with their doctors about end-of-life decisions we all have to make, and what services and supports are available, including palliatives and hospice. This advanced planning concept has been in federal law since the Patient Self-Determination Act in 1990 and has been supported by both Republicans and Democrats alike for decades. The difference is that such counseling would now be covered, not an out-of-pocket expense.

5. They want you to lose your prescription drug coverage!

Again, this is about the Medicare Advantage plans using Republican sock-puppets to scare older people into thinking that if over payments are cut, then they would have to do without prescription drug coverage. Here's the truth. Health insurance reform saves seniors hundreds of dollars on their prescription drugs because it cuts the cost of brand-name drugs by half once you've reached the Part D coverage gap; and phases in completely filling in the "donut hole".

6. They will increase our long-term care costs!

No, no, no! For the first time ever, health care reform will create a new, national system (CLASS Act) of delivering affordable long term care to all Americans in the environment they choose--even in their own home.

Coming Tomorrow....How to fight back against the bullies, screamers and thugs, without winding up in jail.

05 August 2009

Health Care Myths & Lies From the Right Wing


Let us examine the lies and myths being perpetrated on America by the right-wing as part of its fear-mongering campaign of disinformation:

1. Government run health care will destroy America!

Let me say this up front. If eight years of that dry-drunk sociopath, George W. Bush, with his coterie of mendicants, river trolls, sneak-thieves, cut-purses, panderers and deep-forest hobgoblins did not destroy us, a humane effort to provide quality health care to everyone surely will not.

The truth is that health insurance reform will limit tax increases to the richest Americans, ensure continued choice and access to doctors by making certain they are reimbursed fairly for quality care, cut over payments to private insurance companies in Medicare and protect the right for Americans with health insurance to stay in their own plan.

2. Seniors will be the ones footing the bill for health care reform!

To the contrary, health insurance reform will eliminate wasteful over payments to private Medicare Advantage plans, extend the solvency of Medicare, and include improvements to Medicare benefits and health care for seniors. Medicare will remain strong and stable and seniors will continue to have the choice of doctors and hospitals and increased access to coordinated, high quality care. Health reform is actually the key to protecting Medicare for today's and coming generations of seniors.

3. The government wants seniors to drop dead!

Here, come up for air a moment and ask yourself this question; if no one can be elected to office without the senior vote, why would they initiate a health plan to the disadvantage of seniors? It doesn't calculate does it?

The truth? Private health insurance companies that profit from Medicare Advantage plan over payments are lobbying congress to stop health care reform because they know that reform will cut into their bottom line. That is a good thing for seniors. The truth is that MA plans are overpaid at least 15% more than they should be, so these cuts will only hurt their profits, not seniors' benefits. In fact, it is the insurance companies telling seniors to "Drop Dead!", because if they can't make a profit off the government, then they won't want to give seniors health care.

COMING TOMORROW: Euthanasia, Drug Coverage and Long-Term Care lies.

02 August 2009

Pet Peeves That Deserve Euthanasia

If I had not always been a prickly, edgy, short-tempered sort of guy, I'd say that I'm becoming cranky and curmudgeonly in my old age. But, the things that gnaw at my butt now, always chomped away faster than Ms. Pacman. It's just that I'm a whole lot less patient about them than I used to be and one helluva whole lot more likely to speak up when someone "steps on my corns".

Here's an example. Our local grocery chain, Brookshire's, has deluded its self into the obnoxious practice of yelling greetings at me the moment I enter the store and inquiring as to my health. They think this is friendly customer service. I think it is a pain in the ass. Look, I go into a store I want anonymity. I do not want attention focused on me, and, I'll reserve discussions of my health for medical experts, family and friends--thank you!

I want to slip in and quietly do my business and get out. That is it. That is all.

I do not want to hear, "How're yew doin!" shouted at me as the automatic door swings open. Leave me the hell alone, damn it. You're only doing this because someone behind a desk somewhere decided that customer service needed to be improved. That person probably shops at Whole Foods and does not know how incessantly annoying being yelled at in the grocery store can be. Anyway, none of you know from customer service, believe me. Or you wouldn't be yelling at people the way you do.

It is particularly off putting once you've been loudly greeted and had your health checked by store employees five times before you even make it out of produce. Damn, would y'awl just give it a freakin' rest, will you?

And. Shall I continue? OK, sure, no problem.

I'd dearly like to paint ball idiot drivers that for some reason think that the turn signal engages the car's turning apparatus. You know what I'm getting at here. These are the clods who cut in front of you, and, as they're starting or better yet, completing, the turn, engage their turn signal. Folks, read the Rules of the Road put out by your state. The turn signal is to be engaged well prior to turning or changing lanes to let others drivers know your intent. Do not do it to tell us what you're doing, we can see that quite plainly as we lock our brakes to keep from hitting your dumb ass!

The next one? OK, I'll be brief. Where in the hell do these people come from that think it is OK to dump dirty diapers in the parking lot? There can't be that many fourth generation inbred people out there, can there? Let me catch you, and I'm rubbing your nose in it, swatting you with a rolled up newspaper, and leaving you outside all night.

And my all time favorite.

You're in the express lane for a reason, you've got stuff to do, things to see and people to hustle and lie to, and you get behind some gimlet eyed little old lady with the Sexy Senior T-Shirt that digs into her purse to count out the precise change to the clerk. You've been there, right?

She already has your butt-kicking foot twitching because she had eight items over the Express Lane Limit and the lily-livered clerk doesn't have the gumption to send her away. Or else is a recent high-school graduate who can't count past ten.

Grandma opens her purse and digs around through the used Kleenex, Luden's cough-drop box, vivid red (Kiss Me You Fool) lipstick, expired cell phone, six months of Bible Thoughts of the Day tracts, buttons, pins, ball of rubbber-bands, grandchild's Binky, photos from the Bridge Club X-mas party, and assorted other necessities of old age, for a five compartment snap closure coin purse, all the while, without coming up for air, blathering about the cute things her grandchildren do.

Then, as the coin purse comes out, she squints at the register and asks, "How much was that honey?". Then, she methodically counts out onto the counter the precise change, usually in dimes, nickles and pennies, pausing every moment or so to recount and check once again the amount owed.

I'm telling you. I will not have to spend anytime at all in hell. St. Peter knows of my suffering and will give me the wave through.