30 December 2009

New Year's Warning!

Happy New Year, y'awl! Please drive safely, don't drink and drive, select a designated sober driver and tell that person to be especially careful as there will be thousands-and-thousands of "amateur " drunks out on the road....

Be back Monday, January 4th 2010.

29 December 2009

Fighting The Texas Jobs Crises

In my e-mail today from "Jobs with Justice".
Dear Shane Fox,

Fight the Jobs Crisis!

In separate meetings, North Texas Jobs with Justice and our
Workers Rights Board Task Force on the Jobs Crisis have been
working out preliminary plans to fight the jobs crisis and
advocate for the unemployed and underemployed. Meanwhile,
National Jobs with Justice has joined with the AFL-CIO, NAACP
and other organizations on national plans for economic justice.

Here are our local plans so far:

Continue demanding an extension of unemployment benefits and the
COBRA subsidy for health insurance for layoff victims and their

Both the House and Senate passed jobs bills along with their
versions of funding for the military. Included is the extensions
we have been advocating. They also plan to use some of the
leftovers from the bankers' bailout to ameliorate the jobs
crisis. The two bills must be combined and voted into law

Advocate, Investigate, and Seek Allies
*The Workers Rights Board is scheduling hearings on the jobs
crisis for February 12 from 1-4 pm. Media will be invited.
*On the day that unemployment statistics are revealed, Feb 6, we
will hold a press conference.
*We must reach out to other leaders and organizations for the
broadest possible group.
*Continue using our own petitions until a national petition is
*The subcommittee will meet on Jan. 29, 2-4 pm

Help by advocating for services
*Encourage donations to the North Texas Food Bank
*Adopt the five-point program presented by the AFL-CIO. The Jobs
with Justice program is almost identical
*Continue cooperating with the entire progressive community in
demanding real health care reform. It will help ease the jobs
*Legal Aid of Northwest Texas provides legal assistance
*Texas Law Help has basic, easy to read, legal information
concerning workers' rights, including undocumented workers
*AFL-CIO unemployment lifeline helps re-orient unemployed
*Dallas Work Force Solutions is the state agency that controls
vital benefits
*Telephone "211" for help

Organize the unemployed and underemployed
*Encourage unemployed and underemployed people to join North
Texas Jobs with Justice
*Also encourage them to join Working America (AFL-CIO) and to
tell the Texas AFL-CIO Communications Director. A $5 fee is
requested, but is optional. The Texas AFL-CIO provides complete
information of interest to Texas working people

From our small start, can we really make a difference?
Absolutely! Watch the video from our determined Workers Rights
Board Task Force:

Join or donate to North Texas Jobs with Justice:

28 December 2009

Support the House Bill!

I, along with many of my liberal and progressive friends, because of our strongly stated support for the House of Representatives' version of health care reform over the Senate's, are finding ourselves vilified and marginalized as "dissenting radicals" by...no, not the conservatives..., but by way, way too many of our colleagues and brothers and sisters in the democratic party .

Well, there are strong and legitimate reasons why we support one over the other and why we regard those who are pandering to the administration's support for the Senate version as sell-outs or criminally naive.

First, it would leave 6% of the uninsured, still uninsured! And, it would penalize, through taxation of health care benefits, working families who negotiated their so called "Cadillac" health plans in lieu of higher salaries, longer vacations and other benefits. There needs to be no second, or third. The first suffices as reason enough to say, "Hell no!"

The disheartening thing of it is that now we are witnessing the country-club, chamber-of-commerce, golf-playing, and wine-and-cheese partying democrats joining with their Republican brethren in an all-out attack on the middle-class and working America.

And, while the rank-and-file Democrats cluster like stewing hens while grandpa sharpens the axe, clucking; "it's progress, we'll get what we can and make it better later, and (my favorite), at least some of us get help", their senators have cut deals which range from relieving mine owners of the burden of providing health care to workers suffering from work-related disease and shifting that cost to Medicare to language which would relax the standards on information to be gathered on new gun-buyers.

Deals?, you ask. Yeah, I reply, the business-as-usual and same sort of scummy deals that we so despised during the "K-Street" revelations of the Bush II era. Only, this time, it is the Democrats at the trough, and I promise you, the names will surprise and disappoint you.

23 December 2009

For My Faithful Readers - Christmas Card

Merry Christmas

Click above to view!

We're taking a holiday break and will be back in business Monday, December 29.

18 December 2009

It's Melting, It's Melting!

Health Reform Will Not Include Medicare Buy-in for Those 55-64

A week ago, a compromise Senate deal on health reform had nixed
a public insurance option and replaced it with provisions
letting those 55 or older buy into Medicare and allowing
nationwide nonprofit private plans overseen by the federal
Office of Personnel Management.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), who opposes the public option,
seemed to be in agreement. By last Sunday, however, Lieberman
had changed his mind. According to The Boston Globe, the
Medicare buy-in became as objectionable to him as the public
option. His explanation for the flip-flop is that expanding
Medicare would add to the federal deficit, but he came to
this conclusion before the Congressional Budget Office had
its analysis.

Senate Democratic leaders have now laid out an ambitious
timetable for passing the health care bill on Christmas Eve.
To be successful, the plan assumes Majority Leader Harry Reid
(D-NV) will have three key elements before the weekend: the
bill's cost estimate from the Congressional Budget
Office; the legislation completely written and available to the
public; and assurance from all 60 members of his caucus that
they will vote for the package.

"There will be good things for seniors in the Senate bill.
However, the House bill is far superior, and we will work
tirelessly to include specific pieces from the House,
like the public option, and to exclude the Senate's excise
tax on higher-cost insurance plans, when the bill gets
to conference committee," said Barbara J. Easterling,
President of the Alliance for Retired Americans".

She continued, "The Senate bill includes some relief for plans
with early retirees as well as delivery system reforms that may
lead to lower costs in the long run. And Senate leaders have made
a commitment to close the Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole,
which is so important to seniors. However, the Alliance continues
to insist that employers pay their fair share, and that genuine
health care reform must bring down health costs, hold insurance
companies accountable, and assure that Americans can get the
health care they need."

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate voted against an amendment to loosen
prescription drug importation rules as part of the health care
bill. The measure had been sponsored by a bipartisan group of
lawmakers led by Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME).
However, it fell short of the 60 votes needed for approval - the
final tally was 51 in favor, 48 opposed. Click HERE
for the complete results of the vote.

Dorgan criticized an alternative amendment, sponsored by
senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, both
New Jersey Democrats, and Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE), as
inadequate, because it would only allow the importation of drugs
if the federal government's health secretary certified they were
safe and lowered costs. This amendment also fell short of the 60
votes needed for approval; the vote was 56 in favor, 43 opposed.

Those results are available at click HERE

Since last Friday, Alliance for Retired Americans community
activists and volunteers had sent more than 3500 letters to all
Senators urging them to vote in favor of the Dorgan-Snowe

17 December 2009

Senate Bill Inadequate - Support the House Bill!

The following is the official statement by AFL-CIO President Trumka
about the
Senate bill.

December 17, 2009

The labor movement has been fighting for health care for nearly 100 years
we are not about to stop fighting now, when it really matters.

But for this health care bill to be worthy of the support of working men
women, substantial changes must be made. The AFL-CIO intends to
fight on
behalf of all working families to make those changes and win
health care reform
that is deserving of the name.

The absolute refusal of Republicans in the Senate to support health care
and the hijacking of the bill by defenders of the insurance
industry have
brought us a Senate bill that is inadequate: It is too
kind to the insurance

Genuine health care reform must bring down health costs, hold insurance
companies accountable, assure that Americans can get the health care
they need
and be financed fairly.

That's why we are championing a public health insurance option: It is
the way to break the stranglehold of the insurance industry over
consumers that has led
to double digit premium increases virtually
every year.

Employers must pay their fair share.

And the benefits of hard-working Americans cannot be taxed to pay for
health care reform.
That's no way to rein in insurance companies and
it's the wrong way to pay for health
care reform.

Those are the changes for which we will be fighting in the coming days.

The Senate bill does some good things: It will provide health insurance
to 30
million more Americans and provide subsidies to low-income
individuals and
families. Benefits will have to meet minimum standards
and insurance companies
will no longer be able to deny coverage based
on pre-existing conditions or
impose lifetime or unreasonable annual

The bill also includes some relief for plans with early retirees as
well as delivery
system reforms that may lead to lower costs over the
long haul. And Senate leaders
have made a commitment to close the
Medicare prescription drugs doughnut hole which is so
costly to seniors.

But because it bends toward the insurance industry, the Senate bill will
check costs in the short term, and its financing asks working people
and the
country to pay the price, even as benefits are cut.

The House bill is the model for genuine health care reform.

Working people
cannot accept anything less than real reform.

16 December 2009

"Die Ins" & Free Clinics in Insurance & Drug Company Parking Lots

Acceptance & Surrender works fine in 12-Step Programs...But not in politics!

As we sit in stunned disbelief (damn it sometimes cliches serve just because they are so freekin' apt!) while the Senate Democrats cower on their backs and whimper with little squirts of piss as "Benedict" Joe Lieberman commands them to fetch him a castrated health reform bill, which, in the long run will favor the very companies we set out to regulate, some Democrats are counseling that we should moderate our tone and accept what we can get.

I so disagree and see very clearly why progressives keep getting the nasty end of the stick. The faint-hearted among us are willing to accept the droppings from the table like cringing house dogs. Incrementalism and gradualism is anything but progress. It is rather like taking a step sideways when your opposition is racing full-tilt to the finish line.

Essential moral imperative, not to mention basic human decency, demands that we as a nation provide health, protection, wellness and succor for our poor, our disadvantaged, our children, our older people and all others needing help. And to say to these people, "Be patient, we're making progress" in the face of resistance from right-wing reactionaries, insurance Tsars and drug oligarchs is disingenuous and self-delusional at best and outright cruel at worst!

In court one might enter a "plea" and win. In life and politics, one gets what one demands. And, to effectively exercise one's demands one must have a base of strength and power...this ongoing health care fiasco demonstrates very clearly just how weak we are.

For way too long progressives and liberals and various forms of populists have acted as supplicants and in return we have been sneered at, vilified and/or over looked and neglected.

Frankly the time for patience and moderation is long past, those have availed us nothing. Unless we progressives get busy, active and involved at the precinct level of the Democratic Party and work to build a progressive strategy of getting "progressives" in party, and local, county, state and national elective offices we will continue to be sold out by country-club, Chamber-of-Commerce Democrats who are way too comfortable in the presence of bankers and corporate executives.

Someone, whom I respect and like, recently called me a zealot. Well, by name of the goddess, I liked that...because were it not for zealots, just quick a historical eye-blink ago, we would all be sipping tea and eating cucumber sandwiches at three in the afternoon.

Fine! Here we are at the watershed moment for our generation and the tail end of the depression and WWII generation failing our children and grandchildren through moderation and capitulation.

Kill the Bill! It is meaningless unless some White Knight emerges to save it. Kill it and prepare for "die-ins" on the home lawns of the opposing Senators, set up free clinics in the parking lots of the drug and insurance companies, and for the sake of whatever you find holy, find, recruit and get elected to party and political office progressives and liberals who will work for the people rather than against them.

15 December 2009

OMG The Right-Wing Nutters Said What?

Okay, folks....change of pace today. Let us have some fun with the lunatic fringe and earn ourselves a sticker. Take this simple multiple choice test on what the wing-nuts are saying and doing now. Click HERE.

And, that's not all. No--no Ginzu knives and there's nothing up my sleeve...but each participant earns a 10-cent donation from Credo to People For the American Way!

Let me know how you score in the comments section of this post--please-thank you!

14 December 2009

Senator Joe Lieberman is Toxic for Older Americans

Senate May Vote to Offer Medicare to Those 55 - 64

President Obama hailed a tentative health care agreement
announced in the Senate last week,
saying that he would support
it, and majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) sent the proposal to

the Congressional Budget Office for cost analysis the next day.

However, Joe Lieberman announced that he would oppose the
"Medicare Buy In". If you have not
already, now is the time to
let Lieberman know that he is being watched by Older Americans.

Click HERE to sign the "Stop Joe" petition.

Click HERE to "Adopt Connecticut" and join with, and support
that state's activists
who are standing up to Joe!

According to The New York Times, the deal would allow some people
ages 55 to 64 to buy
coverage through Medicare beginning in 2011.

At first, they would pay full cost.
Eventually, the legislation would
allow them to obtain subsidies to help defray the cost.
advocates view the Medicare expansion as a major step for people
nearing retirement who
face some of the biggest obstacles to obtaining
insurance and pay some of the highest prices.

The agreement also calls for creating a menu of national insurance plans,
modeled after those
offered to federal workers, including members of
Congress. The new, nonprofit insurance plans
would be overseen by the
Office of Personnel Management, which now runs the Federal Employees

Health Benefits Program. The deal maintains the public option as a
fallback plan, to be
"triggered" if private insurers do not step up to
offer the new national plans.

Activists rallied outside the Senate last Thursday (December 10),
pressing senators to drop
a tax on higher-end insurance plans. At issue
is a proposed 40% excise tax on health care
plans costing more than
$8,500 annually for individuals and $23,000 for families.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who spoke at the event, has introduced an
amendment with
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to strip out the insurance
plan tax. "The House approach, which would
raise income taxes on
individuals making more than $500,000 a year and couples making more

than $1 million, would not have the detrimental effect on coverage for
retirees and older
workers that the Senate's excise tax would," said
Barbara J. Easterling, President of the
Alliance for Retired Americans.

On the Senate floor on Thursday, Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and
McCain (R-AZ) pushed an amendment to allow U.S. pharmacies and drug
wholesalers to import
Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs from
Canada, Europe and a few other countries.

See my blog immediately below this.

A vote is likely to occur on Early this week---Maybe today! Be ready
to call your Senators and
ask them to support Drug Re-importation.

11 December 2009

Drug Re-importation - It's a Good Thing, Let's Support It!

The U.S. Senate may vote as soon as Monday, December 14 to allow
the safe re-importation of drugs from other industrialized

Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) have
introduced an amendment to the Senate health care legislation
to allow safe drug re-importation.

Americans pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world,
five times more to fill their prescriptions than consumers in
other countries such as Canada. Retirees and older Americans are
particularly hard hit by high drug costs because they have more
acute and chronic illnesses. In addition to consumer savings,the
Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Dorgan-Snowe
Amendment would also save the government about $19 billion
over 10 years.

This is a win for retirees and all taxpayers.

For several years, the Alliance for Retired Americans sponsored
bus trips to Canada for seniors who are forced to make the trips
to purchase prescriptions that costs hundreds of dollars less than
in the United States. However, bus-trips are not a solution. The
Dorgan-Snowe amendment, with rigid safeguards to ensure
quality control, is a necessary measure to reduce ever-increasing
prescription drug costs.

Click SPEAK OUT! to send an email to your U. S. senators
today and urge them to vote for the Dorgan-Snowe
drug reimportation amendment.***

10 December 2009

It's Back! Social Security Privatization to Seep Into Health Care Debate!

So you thought the current recession, banking, automotive-industry, housing, credit-industry, and Wall Street investment firm debacle along with the slow, lingering, death throes of newspapers, were enough to forever dry up the notion of Social Security Privatization. Right? And if not forever, at least for one generation. I know I did, and boy was I ever wrong!

The Whack-A-Mole "Friedmaniacs" are already popping their beady-eyed, nose-twitching little faces up and into the health care reform debate with an insidious ploy to rein in budget deficits through a committee to study entitlements, whose formation would be attached to a final health care reform bill. Just a rhetorical aside here, Why are there never committees to study tax dollars pissed away on wars, the defense industry, congressional perquisites and earmarks?

New Hampshire Republican, Judd Gregg, (a long-time proponent of Social Security privatization) said in October, ...the Democrat's efforts to extend coverage to millions of uninsured Americans "creates a brand-new entitlement without at the same time controlling the cost and expenditures of existing entitlements", such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. We should have been listening, because that sentiment has found its way into the health care reform debate and threatens to find "bipartisan support". Dubious bipartisanship at best, but enough to earn the label.

Here is the form that it is taking.

Gregg is joined by infamous, anti-public option, Blue Dog Democrat, Kent Conrad of North Dakota in proposing an attachment, to health care reform legislation, which would create a committee to study entitlements, which actually translates to searching for ways to cut entitlements, including Social Security. Both are on record as supporting some form of Social Security Privatization. If these two are not enough to send a chill from your butt to the base of your skull consider some of the others joining in this infamous venture: Even Bayh, Diane Feinstein, Joe Lieberman and Mark Warner.

Now that I've given you a chill, let me suggest a scenario which should give you a permanent hand tremor and nervous twitch of the mouth: President Obama, in all likelihood, cut a deal with Conrad to allow him "to tinker with" Social Security in return for Conrad's ceasing opposing some form of public option. That's the word around Washington...we'll see how long it takes to become an open issue!

09 December 2009

Stop The Lies & Scare Tactics

The Alliance for Retired Americans Launches Ad Directed at Insurance and Drug Company Lies Attempting to Scare Older Americans.

Big insurance companies are spending millions of dollars to frighten Older Americans about health care reform.

Their scare-tactics are intended to kill urgently needed changes to a health insurance system that rewards corporations that deny care and increase premiums.

Please this television ad that exposes the lies and underhanded tactics of the health insurance industry.

This ad is going on air today aimed at Senators who are wavering in their support of health care reform.

Please click through to help get the word to as many people as you can. By clicking through, you will be taken to a page that will assist you in spreading the word. Feel free to copy and e-mail the link to your friends or post on your Face Book page! Click here, now!

08 December 2009

Rachel Maddow Exposes 60 Plus as Drug Lobby

Yesterday, we saw Ed Coyle, Executive Director of The Alliance For Retired Americans take on the lies of right-wing lobbyist Bill Miller of "60 Plus". Today, watch as MSNBC's Rachel Maddow exposes that organization (60 Plus) as yet another right-wing front for the Drug Company oligarchs out to prevent health care reform.

The moment is upon us, now is the time to make that call to your senator and tell them to support "Medicare For All" and join the Alliance for Retired Americans in fighting the lies from the Insurance Tsars and Drug Oligarchs!

07 December 2009

Setting The Record Straight For Older Americans

Ed Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans sets the record straight on the phony insurance company claims of Medicare cuts and "death panels".

03 December 2009

Afghanistan - Why The Surprise?

Some progressives and Democrats have their knickers all knotted up over President Obama's decision to deploy more troops to Afghanistan.

I find their shock and awe over that decision to be decidedly disingenuous.

Here's why.

Afghanistan (Taliban & Al Queda) was the issue from the beginning and its boundaries with Pakistan were always the haven for terrorists and their training grounds from which the 9/11 and other attacks on civilization were launched. The neo-cons of the Bush administration diverted our attention, energy and resources to Iraq and neglected to seal the deal in Afghanistan.

So, it should have been obvious, that at some point, we would have to go back and finish what we started or else be prepared to see that area regrow its ability to inflict misery on our people. It is a very ugly and dangerous world and the notion of holocaust and unraveling of civilization is the fundamental goal of some groups hell-bent on acquiring the means to do that in one nuclear, biological or chemical stroke. That danger is real and its nexus is in that region along the Afghan/Pakistan border.

Having said this, I find the stated approach to be very troubling and sounding way, way too much like "nation-building" for my comfort.

In the first place, Afghanistan is not a true nation in the sense one thinks of nations. It is a collection of tribes, war lords, and religious zealots largely peopled by illiterate peasants in sparsely scattered villages armed to the teeth with AKs and other cold-war weaponry supplied by the US when the Soviet Union was exercising its futile attempt to colonize the area. Its economic base is opium poppy production and its political/social/economic infrastructure is based on corruption and brute power.

This is not a "nation" waiting to become stabilized and democratized. It is a festering sore of a country--not even a failed state, as it is not actually a state.

So the notion that we're going to go in and stabilize the border, eliminate the Taliban, eradicate Al Queda and train Afghan security forces a la Iraq is supremely naive in its ambition and fore-shadows yet another quagmire followed by escalation followed by despair, disillusionment, outrage and failure.

Yet, we can't ignore the reality that is Afghan and parts of Pakistan. There is a lot of potential misery centered there and we can't afford to be passive and play the waiting and counter-punch game. But let us not pretend we're bound on some sort of mission to stabilize and bring democracy to Afghanistan.

Let's be honest and say we're going to go there in force and kill terrorists and terrorist enablers and sympathizers, and destroy their bases, training camps and dry up their resources so they do not have the capacity or opportunity to harm us ever again.

If we do not do those things, we will find that 9/11 was merely a dress rehearsal for the real thing.

02 December 2009

Joe Lieberman Won't Like This!

Now You Can Fight Back For Health Care Reform -- Adopt A State

Thanks to MoveOn.Org and the Service Employees International Union we have a tool with which to fight back against the likes of Lieberman, Lincoln,

The AP has reported that opponents of reform, led by the U.S. Chamber, have poured $24 million into an advertising onslaught in the last month alone. The fact is, we will be outspent by corporate special interests. But we can do something corporate American can't - we can talk to fellow voters, and have personal conversations about health care.

We elected Barack Obama, in part, by calling tens of thousands of voters in key "swing states." This year is no different. Voters in Arkansas, Nebraska, Connecticut and Louisiana need to hear from us about what's happening on health insurance reform. I hope you'll "adopt-a-state" and start recruiting for your team today.

Connecticut...Joe Lieberman

Arkansas...Blanche Lincoln

Louisiana...Mary Landrieu

Nebraska...Ben Nelson

The insurance oligarchs, drug Tzars, and Chamber of Commerce are hoping that their money and delaying tactics will sap our energy, resolve and efficiency and muffle our voices. Let's join together in this historic battle and let them know they are wrong! That we want health care reform that is equitable for ALL Americans, and we want it now!