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Posts Tagged ‘senate

What Do You Want: Insurance or Health Care? (they’re not the same, you know)

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Quick question:

Do you want insurance or health care for yourself and your family? Before you answer that question, make sure you understand the difference because, make no mistake: the differences are huge.  

[pssst.... Are you already in favor of true universal health care? If so, forego reading tmy long-winded post below and, instead, spend the next few minutes doing something practical, like making your voice heard. This is an urgent matter. We have now until the end of February to:

  1. Urge your representatives to please co-sponsor H.R. 676 and actively work with Congressman John Conyers, as he reintroduces the bill in the 111th Congress.  (Here's ane easy link to contact your Representative). The bill currently has 93 co-sponsors in the House, out of the 150 needed by the end of February. 
  2. There is still no companion bill to H.R. 676 in the Senate. Urge Sen. Edward Kennedy to sponsor a companion bill to HR 676 in the Senate. (Contact Sen. Kennedy via snail mail ).  The Senate is currently proposing a healthcare reform plan that will mandate health insurance coverage for every person in the United States. Forcing people to purchase insurance would be a real boon to the for-profit insurance industry, enriching CEOs and corporations, but it does nothing to address the needs of the millions of Americans in need of health care.   
  3. Let President Obama know how many of us are in favor of true universal health care (H.R. 676) as opposed to the watered-down versions currently being offered.  (Here's an easy link to contact Obama).
  4. Lastly, if you're not in favor of true universal health care, do yourself and the rest of us a favor by making sure you know the facts --- beyond the insurance industry's talking points -- before permanently making up your mind.  A good place to start is at the source: Congressman John Conyers, the sponsorer of this bill. Here are some FAQs, from Conyers' website.)]

QUICK ANSWER:

Health care.

 

LONGER ANSWER:

It’s a common myth in this country that insurance = health care. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. And this truth has only grown more perverse during the 8-year orgy we’ve just suffered, as our politicians have fallen, one by one, into bed with the giants of commerce (e.g. the banking, pharmaceutical, energy, media and insurance industries, etc.). This fellowship has compelled our lawmakers to turn a blind eye to the well-being of the average American citizen, as they paid deference, instead, to those lobbyists promising the biggest contributions to their campaign coffers. We need look no further than Wall Street to see both the evidence and the repercussions of our lawmaker’s selective blindness.  

This dynamic explains, in part, why the following news gem got lost in this week’s media shuffle (falling somewhere between the lack of coverage on Israel’s war crimes and Bush’s farewell speech):

According to a study released this past Wednesday by the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association, the universal health care plan (H.R. 676) that’s been collecting dust in a House of Representatives subcommittee for the past 2 years holds the potential to create over 2.6 million new and permanent “shovel ready” jobs (that’s just slightly over the total number of jobs lost in 2008).

What’s more, according to this same study, H.R. 676 would provide a major stimulus for the U.S. economy — not only by creating the said-2.6 million jobs equivalent to $100 billion in wages  — but by infusing $317 billion in new business and public revenues into the economy and infusing public budgets with  $44 billion in new tax revenues. 

Sound too good to be true? The insurance industry hopes you’ll think so

See, the reasons this news about this study slipped under this week’s rader are the same reasons it has slipped under the radar since the bill was introduced in January 2007. Specifically, H.R. 676 (the only true, universal health care plan that has been proposed on Capitol Hill) designs to cut out the middle man — the for-profit insurance industry, one of the most powerful lobbies on Capitol Hill.

Make no mistake. By virtue of being a for-profit business, the insurance industry seeks to maximize profits, while minimizing expenses. And  their biggest expense, by far, is shelling out health care benefits to its members. To this end, the insurance industry fights tooth and nail against providing the very services they’re empowered to pay out: health care for its members. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the math, nor to understand that, under such a system, the for-profit insurance industry is inherently antagonistic to providing actual health care. Is it any wonder, then, that the insurance industry has also fought tooth and nail to convince us all that universal health care is the demon? And is it any wonder that so many Americans have become convinced of the horrors that would befall us all, should we be subjected to (sweet Lord, no!) guaranteed health care? 

The supporters of H.R. 676 have worked equally hard to educate the public on the benefits of a universal, single-payer health care plan. But, lacking the lobbying clout of the insurance industry, these folks can’t command the sort of power the insurance industry enjoys both on Capitol Hill and in our media. For the record, here are a few of the talking points we might have heard from the other side, regarding the benefits of universal, single-payer health care under H.R. 676: 

  • Every resident of the US will be covered from birth to death.
  • No more pre-existing conditions to be excluded from coverage.
  • No more expensive deductibles or co-pays.
  • All prescription medications will be covered.
  • All dental and eye care will be included.
  • Mental health and substance abuse care will be fully covered.(1)
  • Long term and nursing home services will be included.
  • You will always choose your own doctors and hospitals.
  • Costs of coverage will be assessed on a sliding scale basis.
  • Tremendously simplified system of medical administration
  • Total portability – your coverage not tied to any job or location.
  • Existing Medicare benefits for those over 65 will remain the same or be vastly improved in many cases.
  • No corporate bureaucrat will ever come between you and your Doctor to deny your care

 

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A CALL TO ACTION (see contacts info in steps 1 through 3 at the top of this post)

Congressman John Conyers will reintroduce HR 676, his single-payer healthcare bill in the 111th Congress. Please ask your representative to cosponsor the bill and actively work with Rep. Conyers to gain additional cosponsors. In order to ensure HR 676 is part of the healthcare discussion in Congress, we need 150 cosponsors by the end of February.

Former Sen. Tom Daschle, President-Elect Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, called for “a government-run insurance program modeled after Medicare” in testimony before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions as part of the solution to our healthcare crisis. His plan also includes health insurance corporations. Only HR 676 would implement a sustainable, fair, and efficient solution to the healthcare crisis as well as providing economic stimulus.

While single-payer healthcare proponents have made good headway in the House, there is still no companion bill in the Senate. Urge Sen. Edward Kennedy to sponsor a companion bill to HR 676 in the Senate. And, while you’re at it, be sure Obama also knows where you stand. Lastly, bookmark this page at the Healthcare NOW! site to keep updated on activist work on H.R. 676 and consider joining forces with The Citizens Alliance for National Health Insurance HR 676 to get the word out to the media on this important bill.

 

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WHO ENDORSES H.R. 676? YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED

Along with millions of U.S. citizens from all age brackets and economic persuasions, there are (currently) 94 Representatives in the U.S. House who endorse H.R. 676, along with 480 union organizations in 49 states, including 117 Central Labor Councils, 20 international unions, plus AFL-CIO Federations in 35 states, the US Conference of Mayors, the Houses of Representatives in Kentucky, New Hampshire and New York, and hundreds more cities, counties, faith groups and medical and health care organizations that express the great hope and dire need of our people. 

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Dennis Kucinich: patriot or nut?

It depends on what (or who) you read. If you read only the talking points (propaganda) of the industry giants, you’d have little choice but to conclude he’s not only a nut, but an awfully, terribly short man, which is somewhat of a fatal flaw in our society. But if you look past his much-slandered physical stature and look into Kuchich’s body of work, reviewing the actual issues that Dennis Kucinich has consistently fought for on behalf of the American people (with many of these in defiance of the industry giants, his campaign coffers be damned), you’d be hard-pressed to not see that he’s one of Capitol Hill’s staunchest allies to the American people. A giant in his own right and, yes, an American patriot. Had there been more lawmakers like Dennis Kucinich on Capitol Hill over the past 8 years, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re now in. In the above video, the ever-foresighted Kucinich explains universal health care.  

Capitol Hill Applauds Israel’s War Crimes: Money Buys the Darndest Things

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“Cowardice asks the question – is it safe? Expediency asks the question – is it politic? Vanity asks the question – is it popular? But conscience asks the question – is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.” ~Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In case you missed it, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (so often the running joke between politicians and talking heads) once again stood firmly on the side of right this past week, as he spoke twice on Capitol Hill, arguing for the rule of law from our lawmakers on Capitol Hill. It seems that, in the midst of so much condemnation of Israel’s war crimes by the international community, the Senate and the House felt inspired to draft an official Resolution to pledge their  “unwavering commitment” of support for Israel’s war on Gaza.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s statements were directed — not only toward the contradictory message this resolution sent toward our supposed goal of peace — but to the actual U.S. laws that govern how Israel is allowed to use the billions of American dollars worth of  F-16s, tanks, Apache helicopters, phosphorus shells, depleted uranium, cluster bombs, and so on that Israel is using in violation of the Geneva Convention to commit said war crimes against the mothers, fathers and chilren of Gaza.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Friday, January 9, 2009

Silly Dennis. Will he never learn? We’re not a nation of laws. The tinkering of the past 4 administrations has left us a nation of endorsements,  with the greatest deference given to those with the deepest pockets to fill our politicians’ campaign coffers.

In real-speak, this means that our politicians (now having much in common with trained seals) clap on command — indifferent to right or wrong — their job reduced to authoring (or subcontracting this work to lobbyists) and authorizing bills, resolutions and laws that will best serve their most generous benefactors — oil & energy moguls, media magnates, pharmaceutical & insurance industry titans, financial & banking tycoons, Zionist-AIPAC barons (the latter being of special importance to this week’s resolution, as the Israel Lobby provides upwards of 60% of the campaign contributions to our Democratic lawmakers).   

A little man like Dennis Kucinich doesn’t stand a chance among big men.

Even armed with the law of the land, or with big documents, such as the U.S. Constitition or the Bill or Rights, Dennis Kucinich nearly always comes up short — his voice carrying about as much stature as a blue-bottle fly, buzzing about a putrid feed trough. He is nonetheless to be commended for his ethics, his patriotism and, most certainly, his bravery.

According to Ronnie Lipschutz, professor of politics at UC Santa Cruz, withholding support for pro-Israel, AIPAC measures is not common, and often carries grave political consequences for members of Congress. “They are thinking what are the costs of voting against it, not what are the benefits,” said Lipschutz.

Perhaps this is what inspires statements, such as the one that Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, proclaimed before the vote: “Our resolution reflects the will of the state of Israel and the will of the American people.”

The will of the American people? Au contraire, Mr. Reid. Your resolution reflects the will of your biggest campaign supporters: the giants. In this case, AIPAC.

Because, make no mistake — your resolution passed, despite the will of the American people. Your resolution passed despite the protests of the American people in every major American city. Your resolution passed, despite thousands upon thousands of phone calls, faxes, letters and emails sent by the American people to their Senators in Washington. And, as if it mattered, your resolution passed, despite the United Nations resolution calling for an immediate truce (a resolution passed, no thanks to the U.S., on the same day you passed your resolution of praise for Israel); and your resolution passed despite that Israel has fired on and killed several United Nations workers in Gaza. Your resolution passed despite Israel’s refusal to allow Red Cross workers to reach the wounded women and children of Gaza. Your resolution passed despite that Israel has been repeatedly accused of war crimes and violations of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention. These accusations have come from the United Nations (from the onset of this war, up to today) and from humanitarian workers and the Red Cross in a statement released 2 days ago:

The Red Cross “believes that in this instance the Israeli military failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded. It considers the delay in allowing rescue services access unacceptable.”

Harry Reid, your resolution does not reflect the will of the American people!

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A wounded Palestinian boy is helped as he arrives at a hospital on January 4 in  Gaza City.

 

Your resolution — and the relative complicity of so many Americans — reflects the success of Israeli-U.S. propaganda campaign.  (Because, you see, the American people don’t know the truth this war. But you do. What’s your excuse?) It also reflects the success of the fearmongering campaigns that you and your esteemed colleagues, most notably George W. Bush & Dick Cheney, have ‘unwaveringly’ perpetuated over the past 8 years — a heaping dollop of which you, yourself, served-up in your rhetorical WWJD-esque question, posed in the final minutes before the passage of this illicit resolution:

“I ask any of my colleagues to imagine that happening here in the United States. Rockets and mortars coming from Toronto in Canada, into Buffalo New York. How would we as a country react?”

And then, as if responding on cue, the trained seals echoed something to the effect of “Hear! Hear!” and “The Israelis are responding exactly the same way we would!” before voting unanimously to approve the resolution.

Of course, there was no mention of war crimes during all this praise, nor in the language of the Senate resolution. Instead, the resolution went onto the House the next day and passed with flying colors, as 390 approved the resolution, 22 voted present, and a pathetically small, but courageous total of 5 voted against it:

Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
Ron Paul (R-TX)
Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Gwen Moore (D-WI)
Nick Rahall (D-WV)

To this, I have a few rhetorical questions of my own to ask: 

What would the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. do? What would Mahatma Gandhi do?  What would Abraham Lincoln do? Or, to put it more succinctly, what would George W. Bush do?

Americans well-learned the answer to that last question. But what many Americans have yet to learn, is that (the will of the American people be damned) the answer to the question is the same today — and has been for years now — no matter who we turn to in Washington: Bush, Bush, Cheney, Reid, Pelosi, Clinton, Clinton, and so on….

 

And this is especially true in matters of U.S.-Israeli policy because — when you get right down to it —  the same giants who have so generously lined the pockets of Bush-Cheney & Co. over the past 8 years are the same giants who line your pockets, Harry Reid, and who also line the pockets  (or scare the bejeebers out of) all but 5 of our representatives on Capitol Hill — not to mention the past 4 presidents of the United States and, apparently, our current President-Elect.

Sarah’s Job Description for Vice-President, Part II (Checkpoint Chickie Rides Again)

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In my August 30th post, where I first described, for the sole benefit of Sarah Palin, the job description for the Vice-President of the United States, I told her, “While there is no precedent in modern U.S. history for a person of your credentials serving as Vice President, it is theoretically possible for a third-grader to perform the actual duties of Vice-President. Your lack of education and/or experience with constitutional law shouldn’t be much of an impediment to serving, so long as the President doesn’t die or resign.” 

I was wrong. Either she never bothered to read the job description, or she simply didn’t comprehend it. Either way, it turns out that Sarah Palin’s lack of education and/or experience does present a serious impediment to the job for which she is applying. And  you’d have to be a simpleton, a die-hard racist, or the most tenacious of Republicans to have not realized this by now.

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For those who missed it, here is Sarah Palin’s answer to second-grader, Brandon Garcia, who asked “What does the Vice-President do?”

[T]hey’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom.

EARTH TO CHECKPOINT CHICKIE:

Here again — for your edification, Sarah Palin — are the job duties for the Vice-President as specified in the U.S. Constitution. I’ve taken the liberty of translating the legal gobbledygook into terms so simple that even a third grader could understand them.  This way, if you’re ever again confronted with another of those third-grade “gotcha” questions, you can answer without fear of sounding inordinately ignorant and thereby causing the rest of us to keel in horror and/or fits of maniacal laughter. 

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THE GOBBLEDYGOOK: In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President. (25th Amendment, clarifying Article II, Section 1)

TRANSLATION: If John McCain died, resigned or was impeached, you’d become President.

THE GOBBLEDYGOOK: The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided. (Article I, Section 3)

TRANSLATION: While your official title is “President of the Senate,” you would actually have no power whatsoever in the Senate except to cast a tie-breaking vote, in the event of a deadlock.

THE GOBBLEDYGOOK: The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President…. (Article II, Section 1)

TRANSLATION: On January 7, 2013, in front of the Senate and House of Representatives, you would open the sealed, certified tallies of electoral ballots (cast the previous November for president/vice president) so that the total votes could be officially counted. 

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EARTH TO McCAIN-PALIN CAMP, SUPPORTERS & SURROGATES:

The $150 million dollars that Barack Obama’s campaign received during the month of September is not evidence of some secret al Qaeda terrorist plot to elect Obama, but is what you might call a preponderance of tangible evidence that there are millions of U.S. citizens out here who are scared shitless over the uniquely dangerous combination of, uh, qualifications shared by both John McCain and Sarah Palin. These donations can also be interpreted as an outright rejection of the lying, the cheating and the hatemongering vitriol of your campaign.   

Here I could almost wish that there were… I don’t know…. a Congressional bill of some sort that would bar presidential or vice-presidential candidates and other leaders from, say,  “adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.”

 

But wait. Such a bill* already exists, having been passed one year ago this week, designed to interface with all the other laws passed over the past 8 years to address “homegrown terrorists.” Of course, these laws don’t apply to leaders who might abuse and exploit their powers to terrorize the citizens of this country. No, they apply only to the citizens would protest (or even think about protesting) against such laws and such leaders.  Lucky for us, these particular laws are being overseen by Attorney General Michael Mukasey**, the same Bush-Cheney henchman who the Obama campaign recently wrote, requesting an investigation into the voter fraud campaign being conducted by the Bush Administration and the Republican Party to steal the votes from Democrats who would vote for Barack Obama.
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In this light, the only hope for this country is that Obama will be elected by such a overwhelming landslide that, for the first time in 8 years, all the cheating, lying and dirty tricks in the world won’t be enough for the Bush-Cheney gang to again subvert that very democratic process that has sustained this country for over two centuries — ever since our forefathers authored our now-ravaged Constitution and Bill of Rights, those very documents that are apparently of so little importance to Vice-Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, that she has yet to even bother reading them. 
  
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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers
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** For more info on Mukasey, simply google “Bush Cheney Mukasey” and you”ll find a wide and well-marked trail of sourced detailing the cover-ups, legal sleights-of-hand, cronyism and other abuses of power committed by the Bush-Cheney-Mukasey gang.
 

Sarah Palin’s Running Mate: “He will make Cheney look like Gandhi”

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Lost during this 11-day white trash paparazzi glitz since Sarah Palin’s arrival on the world stage, has been leading man, John McCain. Where is he? (Yeah, we’ve seen the sheepish-grinning sidesick — that guy who resembles John McCain, standing next to Sarah during her scripted appeareances). Lest we forget, he’s still alive and kicking, and running for president. For a man about whom we know so much, we really know very little about him, aside from the larger-than-life myth he’s created for himself as a former POW with a reputation for being a maverick senator. For what it’s worth (did I mention he’s a POW?) I’ve never in my life seen a war vet — abled, disabled, PTSD, POW, or not — who exploited his service record the way that John McCain has. Without exception, every war veteran I’ve ever known has spoken with humble veneration on their experiences with war (or, alternately, an outrage and determination to protest against future wars).  I cannot imagine any one of these individuals milking the horror of war for personal favor, to elicit — what…. votes? while simultaneously voting, time and time again, against legislation that benefits veterans and active-duty solidiers.

Regarding McCain’s maverickhood…. Fact is, he’s not such a maverick — not according to his voting record (unless you count the 4 years immediately after the bitter 2000 election against Bush, when McCain began voting against anything-Bush, out of vindictiveness, and also considered changing parties, out of anger for Bush’s treatment of him during the 2000 election; but his voting record easily corrected itself by 2004, when he stepped back in line with his pre-2000 voting record which, with very few exceptions, ran true to the Republican party line) and he’s not such a maverick for his choice of a running mate, either  (else, why didn’t he buck the good-old-boy Republicans, who insisted on Palin, and instead select his own maverick choice for a running mate — Joe Lieberman?) 

I could argue his voting record, cite articles, numbers and statistics. I could (and may, yet) roll out his deplorable voting record on veterans’ benefits, services & medical care, plus his vote against safety equipment for Iraq soldiers. I could make a solid case that he’s a hot-headed warmonger. I could dig up his Sept. 13, 2001 quote, when he was already chomping at the bit for a  pre-emptive war against Iraq.  I could go on and on. Readers could then write back and dispute me. I could dispute them back. We could keep this up for another 8 weeks. Perhaps it’s best to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. In that spirit, here’s a scattering of videos that serves to flesh out this man named John McCain, about whom we know so much, yet so little:

 

 

BELOW: Pat Buchanan, on President McCain “He will make Cheney look like Gandhi”

BELOW: The Straight-talk Express: Here, McCain keeps his finger smack-dab on the pulse of foreign and domestic policy, economics and the American middle class:

BELOW: McCain on the economy: McCain is at a loss for words when, during this 2008 presidential debate, Ron Paul queries McCain economic positions on the President’s Working Council on Financial Markets. The silence is deafening for a few beats, following McCains recitation — by name — of every economist he could think of, their names strung together with blather. as McCain’s answer made it patently clear he hadn’t the slightest idea what Ron Paul was talking about. 

BELOW: Vietnam Veterans for Peace and others demonstrate against fellow vet, John McCain, in St. Paul during the 2008 RNC Convention earlier this month.

 

We’ll add more stuff if we feel like it, tho probably not. We’re not terribly inclined to spend much time on McCain, because we’d either be preaching to the choir or stoking fiery arguments with McCain supporters, which we’re also not inclined to do.

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