Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thoughts Spurred by Today's Health Care Debate Voting

Following today's health care moves to decide if the Senate will even have a health care "debate" after the Thanksgiving break left me with some thoughts about the day:

* The Republicans insist on mentioning the Health Care Reform Bill is 2000 pages, as if that is a bad thing. Remember, they also thought giving short answers wasn't enough detail. I wonder, what is the magic number of pages that is just right for a health care reform bill? 42?

If someone passed something that would cost hundreds of billions over 10 years, wouldn't you want a lot of guiding detail in the bill? After all, the Afghanistan and Iraq authorizations were pretty short in contrast and look where that got us.

* Republicans keep mentioning the Health Care Reform Bill is $848 billion dollars, but they always leave off "over 10 years." In other words, the defense budget is approximately 7 1/2 times more in spending each and every year than the health care bill, and is on a current projection of over 6.4 trillion over 10 years. At a time where President Bush gave us our first two trillion AND three trillion dollar budgets, 85 million dollars really isn't much.

* The GOP keeps talking about fiscal responsibility, but their credibility on it is somewhere around that of Bill Clinton talking on female interns, or Senator Craig talking about sex in airports, or Dick Cheney talking about nuclear weapons in Iraq, or Rep. William Jefferson explaining money on ice, etc. The Presidents with the largest 8 year growth rates in the last 29 years since Jimmy Carter are all Republican. Forbes does a good job of explaining why they lack credibility on fiscal responsibility.

* To put Senator Reid's health care reform bill in perspective, President Bush's tax cut in 2001 cost about 2.5 trillion dollars over 10 years, compared to $848 billion over 10 years to make sure people have adequate health care. President Bush's economic policies only fostered TWO recessions in America in eight years, and more than doubled the deficit after the annual budget had a surplus to start paying down the debt, but Republicans insisted that it was more important to cut taxes on the richest in America than it was to pay down the federal debt that was about five trillion dollars at the time.

* You wonder where the GOP gets the name "the party of NO!" until you think through their positions. They told us minimum wage would hurt American workers, yet it never has, but they keep parroting it. They told us women shouldn't have an equal rights amendment passed for equal pay, women shouldn't have the right to vote, that gays shouldn't serve in the military or get married, that we shouldn't have public schools, that we shouldn't have public social security or medicare, that we shouldn't have vaccinations, that we shouldn't have unemployment, that we shouldn't punish corporations for hurting people, that we would destroy our economy if we protected the environment, and so on. Their answer continues to be cut taxes, invade nations, and find your own damn solutions to your problems. Why should anyone vote for them again?

I am sure I had more, but these were the thoughts I remembered throughout the day. Add your thoughts about it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Death Panels, Abortion Compromises, GOP helps Credit Card Profits, 9/11 Trials, Mammograms, Endangered Fish, and the Economy

Quick Hits for November 19, 2009

* I find it strangely entertaining to watch Republicans complain about two thousand page health care bills full of too many details after they got done whining about Democrats being too vague with not enough specifics.

* Guess who is seeking Wall Street banking fundraising dollars as the GOP blocked a bill to freeze credit card interest rates ahead of the implementation of credit card reform. After the bill passed, credit card companies have been hiking interest rates faster than a sprinter on steroids to get the rate hikes in before the reform was implemented. Democrats proposed a temporary rate freeze to prevent further rate hikes attempting to circumvent the reform and protect consumers, but the GOP blocked it in the Senate, potentially costing average Americans millions and millions of dollars.

* Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's abortion compromise is the talk of the new health care bill. Reid's compromise prohibits federal funding for abortions, but allows private insurance to pay for it, while also insisting that at least one plan in the insurance exchange will pay for abortions and one will not, to guarantee choices for each. It sounds like a reasonable compromise, but be sure that Republicans will demand elimination of any compromises as they continue to be the "Party of No."

* Republicans have been attacking Attorney General Eric Holder for his decision to prosecute 9/11 terrorists in New York City. While it has a very significant international benefit, and strong national security benefits, the right still insists on making specious arguments. The very implication the terrorists would be found not guilty is hardly realistic. Does anyone really think any jury in New York City, the site of 9/11, would find them not guilty is silly at best. To proclaim serious security concerns given the history of trying terrorists in criminal courts over the last few decades further indicates it is a silly argument to proclaim it is dangerous.

However, the symbolic value to trusting in Justice as a value, not simply a term for revenge, could mean thousands of terrorists not recruited for their cause because America starts to live up to its values instead of being the nation that throws away its values at the first sign of a threat. Republicans often talk about values, but when was the last time they actually lived up to those values?

* While the mammogram findings of an independent government task force were controversial, and rightly so, it appears that we are starting to find clarification as the task force was appointed by President Bush, and also has no legal standing, so the current administration says it will never make it into public policy. So ladies, continue your self-examinations (they probably saved my grandmother's life), and follow AMA guidelines on your mammograms. The Obama Administration supports you.

* Get ready for Republican attacks on the Senate Health Care bill which has been CBO evaluated to reduce the deficit and provide a strong public option, even giving states an opt out clause so that Republicans can take the strong public stand by opting out of the program all together and face their constituents. It reduces the deficit, it let's them opt out of the program to minimize government in their lives, and it doesn't pay for abortion with a single federal dollar. Just wait, there will be more Nazi and Socialist and Communist proclamations, but they are running out of actual policy reasons to vote against it. The truth is they will vote against it and try to block it because if it becomes policy and they opt out, they know they will be kicked out of office for doing so.

* I find it interesting that Republicans are bashing President Obama for the economy but they forget that the last time the economy was this bad, it took President Reagan 2 1/2 years to get it turned around. Today, the GOP is saying that he hasn't done it after a year, yet he has only been in office for about 10 months. It continues to make them look more unreasonable and silly.

* Next time you hear "death panels," remember, the private insurance company "death panel" is called an actuary, and they make assessments totally based on corporate profits. They are the ones who decide that not paying for some tests are too expensive, sometimes because having to treat your illness would be more expensive than the lawsuit if you survive. Those are the "death panels" that Sarah Palin doesn't want to talk about because they are worse than the public option alternative. Remember, it isn't a public option versus utopia; it is a public option versus what we have now where 46 million are uninsured, and many suffer due to actuarial decision making.

* With shortages in many fish from Salmon to Tuna, it may be time to start charging a small tax on fish of say, one cent per fish sold off a boat, that goes to an international fisheries group that might restock fish in the oceans the same way American Hatcheries stock our lakes with sport fish for Americans. It is a small price to pay for making sure that we keep our oceans stocked with food for people.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Vets Need Health Care, Teabagger on Drugs, RNC pays for Abortions, Church Taxes, Christian Conservative Image, and Jefferson Corruption

Quick Hits for November 14, 2009

* We have heard the "support the troops" mantra from the GOP in time of war, yet we haven't ever heard them talk about "supporting the troops" at home. It was seen in the Bush Administration's poor job in taking care of medical bills for wounded Vets, and the poor hospital conditions. Yet, we forget that while it took six years to have over 4,000 soldiers die in Iraq, every two years, over 4,000 veterans die from a lack of health care at home in America. To take it a step further, about one in every four homeless people are veterans. There is a reason for it, but regardless of reason, we must take better care of our veterans.

* Tea Party Candidate Ezell Harris was arrested on drug charges in Florida. At first I have to admit it made me think that it showed the Teabaggers might be Libertarians trying to gain credibility in the GOP after Ron Paul's strength in the last election. Then I realized he was arrested for prescription drugs, then I realized he was just a Rush Limbaugh follower. Ron Paul followers have more integrity than to abuse prescription drugs.

* Christian Conservatives often feel that there is a movement towards atheism and that they are often maligned. Maybe they should try to understand why. When they go around preaching intolerance towards people who live in ways they don't approve of, then they get caught in airport bathrooms, or with congressional pages, or with prostitutes, and the latest, Tony Alamo (evangelist) was just sentenced to 175 years in jail for taking minors across state lines for sex on several counts. Then they isolate themselves with their own "Christian Wiki" and "Christian Twitter" while building the "Conservative Bible Project" to reinterpret the Bible to exclude other views based on politics.

When you preach your views as the only right views and attempt to politically insist everyone else accept your views through law, but you get caught over and over not being able to live up to your views, of course no one will take you seriously or view you as credible. Attempting to redefine the world to exclude any deviations in political views doesn't make you more credible, it makes you less credible.

* Speaking of religion and churches, given that the Catholic church has decided to intervene in politics more and more; and the churches of the right are attempting to redefine the Bible as "conservative," it may be time to start re-evaluating the tax status that churches get. It isn't to say that they necessarily violate the letter of the law, but maybe that the law should be changed because they are choosing to enter the political arena. After all, there is no tax exempt status for churches in the constitution, and political groups don't get this tax break, so why should churches?

And before the right wing readers say it, the problem isn't that people that are religious are expressing their points of view, but rather that churches that are expressly supposed to be religious are doing it. If a pastor or minister or preacher, whether left or right, decides to use a church event for political purposes, they are now a political organization. If the people of the church wish to be political, they should be... outside the church. A minister can work for a political group, but it shouldn't be as a representative of the church. At least not if they want the tax exempt status. Do I really need to go into why religion in politics is dangerous?

* Former Louisiana Democratic Congressman William Jefferson was given 13 years in jail for corruption, taking bribes to attempt to gain favorable influence for companies. Whether it is Duke Cunningham or William Jefferson, conviction for bribery should be a longer sentence for a member of our government because it betrays the trust of so many people. Life might not be a bad start, but 20 years might be a good mandatory minimum.

* RNC Chairman Michael Steele decided to drop the RNC's health care provision that allows employees to have abortions paid for under their health care plan out of fears of being viewed as hypocritical in the health care debate. News for Mr. Steele, too late, BUSTED! The RNC has funded its employees' abortions under its health care plan for 18 years. It wasn't like it was just a one year oversight, this was a long standing health care policy.

So rather than simply admit that women should be treated fairly, especially considering it is a LEGAL procedure, they took it away from their female employees. It turns out that their employees may still get Viagra covered though. There is no word about whether or not Steele is removing provisions that fund birth control pills as they have tried to do in their amendment.

My wife deserves her OBGYN pelvic exams just as much as Mr. Steele deserves his prostate exams. My wife deserves her birth control pills just as much as Bob Dole deserved his Viagra if not more. Send a letter, an email, and make a call to every Senator and Congressperson that you want to, and don't just do it once, do it DAILY. Our women deserve better than this. You wouldn't let them take away your gun rights, why should we let them take away our wives' rights to equal medical care?

Friday, November 13, 2009

With Liberty and Justice for All

Attorney General Eric Holder is prosecuting five suspected terrorists linked to 9/11, and that has put some Republican critics up in arms. Texas Senator John Cornyn said, "These terrorists planned and executed the mass murder of thousands of innocent Americans. Treating them like common criminals is unconscionable."

President Reagan understood a basic principle: War is about ideology. It isn't about guns, it isn't about bombs, though those certainly help; but it is all about ideology. It is especially so when we aren't talking about a "hot war" such as World War II, where actions and movements daily could determine the outcome of the war. Today's war is more about values, which is what Reagan saw with the Cold War. Reagan insisted that our greatest strength was to fulfill our destiny as the last great hope for civilization by being the beacon of freedom and justice to the world.

Reagan got it. President Obama gets it. President Bush didn't get it, and neither do these critics of the Obama Administration.

IF we truly believe in our values, then we must live up to them. If we don't live up to them, then we must not believe in them, and therefore, the world should not follow them. It is pretty simple actually. The world wants a higher standard from the world leader than "do as I say, not as I do."

To simply detain terrorists indefinitely without charges, with trial, without a chance to defend themselves, is to say that we don't truly believe in justice, we only believe in convenience and then we talk about justice because it makes us feel better.

This "war" is nothing more for terrorists than an attempt to undermine America in the world by exposing our hypocrisy, exposing our values as mythical rather than actual, exposing them as the great lie of America. Did you really think a band of stragglers was going to "take down" America literally? What did you think, they were going to bomb every Wal-mart and Target in the nation? Did you envision shooting on the streets, door to door with militia men in Wyoming? Did you really expect 10 cities to be nuked?

While threats must be taken seriously to protect Americans, we must also realize that they are never going to take down America by force. They are working to bankrupt us by having us spend trillions to respond to their few million. They are working to expose our hypocrisy as we overreact and toss our values out the window because we are afraid of a few guys with box cutters. And that is how it will be sold to the world, America abandons liberty and justice because of a few guys with box cutters, there is no true liberty and justice, they are only marketing words meant to sell you not to actually believe in.

No, John Cornyn and Lamar Smith don't get it. Presidents Obama and Reagan did. This war is about ideology not executions or detentions. This war is about whether or not America truly believes in liberty and justice, or whether they are simply talking points that our politicians use to manipulate people.

America may or may not be the last great hope for a free civilization, but if America wants to remain a world leader, it must not simply talk about values, it must start to be the beacon of liberty and justice to the world by acting on its values, not acting contrary to its values.

I pray the outcome puts these terrorists away for life if they are guilty, but I believe in justice, and I want them to have it. It isn't about whether or not another nation would give it to them. We aren't another nation. We are America. We must live up to a higher standard than the world, not just a step above the worst nations in the world.

Our creator endowed us with certain unalienable rights such as liberty and justice. I don't think he gave those only to America, but to all of humanity. The rest of humanity may not have figured out those rights yet, but our creator gave us the responsibility of being his messenger for those rights. We have a greater responsibility than to simply throw away those rights when we don't find them convenient. We must fulfill our mission, regardless of outcome.

With Liberty and Justice for ALL.

Vets Need Health Care Reform, Christian Twitter, Fox and Blackwater, Steele vs Sarah and Rush, more Abortion and Health Care, and Take Action on Joe

Quick Hits for November 13, 2009

* Republicans have long told us how valuable our veterans are, and as we passed Veterans' Day, it is important to ponder how we take care of our vets. We have already heard of the problems with hospitals under the Bush Administration, but a new study indicates that 1.5 million veterans don't have health insurance, and 2,200 veterans die every single year due to a lack of health insurance. Don't our veterans deserve better? We know that you are 40% more likely to die if you are uninsured than if you are insured. Don't our vets deserve better?

* As Christian Conservatives have long since played the victim in their story, they portray themselves as the oppressed, the chosen ones to be persecuted, and thus, the heroes in their own Biblical narrative. They have isolated themselves with their own Christian Wiki, and started work on their Conservative Bible Project to create a Bible that "liberals" cannot share, and they have introduced their own Twitter called ChristianChirp. While they call themselves the oppressed victims, they have created the isolation for themselves, which continues to leave them out of touch with the rest of reality.

* Fox Entertainment continues to focus on ACORN and its problems with prostitution, but ironically, it has ignored Blackwater Security and its bribe scandal of Iraqi officials. Fox continues to show its partisan strips, to no one's surprise. Do conservatives even try to deny Fox's bias anymore or do they just shout at the top of their lungs that everyone else is out to get them?

* GOP Chairman Michael Steele says Rush and Sarah's opinions don't really matter much in an interview. I wonder how long it will take him to start sucking up to Rush yet again in his back and forth trying to deny Rush's influence, while trying to keep Rush supporting him to keep his job. There is no denying their influence in GOP politics and it is wishful thinking on Steele's part to assume their opinions don't matter, because they do to many conservatives, probably more than Steele's. Maybe he would be better off to coordinate them to be on the same page, but from the outside looking in, it is fun to watch the kids fight.

* I have really been thinking more and more about the anti-abortion amendment in relation to health care. This article in the Christian Science Monitor put recent events into context a little in terms of its history, and why it is so important for women not to have the amendment.

I have to say that any part of the amendment that limits normal medical insurance options in a public option such as birth control or pelvic exams or coverage of care for STDs is absurd and must be taken out of the bill. Those exams are far more vital to women's health than some guy's viagra prescription (covered in the bill) is to his health. It is obscene to support giving a man viagra but not covering a woman's birth control pills.

However, if the bill does not limit abortions but simply does not pay for them within the public option, then there should be no problem with it. Many insurance comnpany policies do not pay for abortions but rather they are often done at clinics that support the procedures. However, should it actually try to limit abortions, it should not be put in the bill because of the Supreme Court challenges that could kick out the entire bill.

It is one thing to limit a woman's right to choose about abortion, that would be both wrong and unconstitutional; but it is quite another to have the federal government pay for it. Just because there is a Second Amendment does not mean the government should buy people's guns either. The right to choose should not be infringed upon, but that doesn't mean it should be fully funded either.

Take Action:
* Joe Must Go. It says it all. Joe talks like a Republican, except at election time. Joe votes like a Republican. It is time for the Senate to treat Joe like a Republican.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Impact of Disinformation, GOP promotes bad government, Women and HCR, Credit card gouging, and Take Action

Quick Hits for November 12, 2009

* The Impact of Disinformation: Today, a Republican told me that it was Democrat Nancy Pelosi's fault that President Bush did not put tighter regulations on the health care industry. He insisted that President Bush wanted more and tighter regulations on the industry. My initial thought was "how did Nancy Pelosi do that when President Bush had GOP control of the house for his first six years?" My second thought was, "when did the GOP become the party of more regulations and the DNC become the party of deregulation?" Why does disinformation work? Because people don't take time to think about it, if they did, it would make little to no sense much of the time.

* Someone told me how bad government is and cited the large deficits among other things. I stopped and thought about it drawing this conclusion: The GOP constantly tells us that government doesn't work, then when they get in power, they seem to break it, and thus, prove their point that government doesn't work. If the GOP made government work well, wouldn't that undermine their argument that government doesn't work?

* Aren't the GOP the very same people who wanted to privatize and eliminate Social Security and Medicare in the last 30 years? Why would anyone think that they want health care reform that looks anything like a Democrat version? Maybe Democrats should stop trying to get bipartisanship and start trying to get things done.

* While the Stupak Amendment passed the House, and I still hold the position that if funding abortion is the only roadblock to a good public option health care plan then pass the plan, I have to wonder why sexism is so alive in today's Congress. The legislation appears to have no coverage for basic OBGYN care for things like pelvic exams, birth control, STDs, and domestic violence screening. Abortions generally aren't covered under many health care plans, but these basic services are and MUST be included in a public option. Strangely enough, congressional legislation will pay for Viagra, but not these basic services? My wife deserves to be treated equally, and she deserves to have basic services covered. So does my mom, my sisters, and any future daughters I might have. Tell Harry Reid to change that language and support women's rights.

* Credit card companies are gouging consumers with rate increases just prior to the effective date of legislation that would no longer allow such practices to lock in those higher rates legally before such hikes would become illegal. In other words, it is time to kill your card balances, call your credit card companies, and don't spend on them until they are willing to lower your rate back to a reasonable level. I have heard of people having their rates raised from 8% to over 20% effective in January, just one month before the legislation goes into effect. If your credit rating was good enough for 8% on your cards, there is not a reason to raise it to 20% or more while someone has made all of their payments on time for more than double the minimum amounts. Tighten the belts until they restructure these rates, they are beyond unreasonable and don't appear to be based on credit ratings as much as a desire to make more money for extending credit to those who didn't deserve it.

Take Action:

* Work to put a strong Public Option on the ballot in 50 states if Congress won't pass it:

* Respond to Senator Reid's call for input, support a strong public option:

Or "Text A" to 42779 to support affordable health care for people with pre-existing conditions.

"Text B" to 42779 to support prohibiting insurance companies from dropping people when they get sick.

"Text C" to 42779 to support creating a strong public option to create competition to lower prices.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bill Clinton and the Senate, Abortion and Health Care, Sarah Palin brings back "death squads," and Preparing for Retirement Economics

Quick Hits for November 10, 2009

* President Obama has been very careful in using the Bill Clinton card both in the campaign and as President. He used Clinton well in N. Korea, and now he is pulling Bill out to talk to Senate Democrats about health care. If anyone knows the impact of failing to pass health care when they have promised it to the public, it is Bill Clinton who saw Democrats lose the majority in 1994 as a result of Democratic infighting and disorganization that failed to make many major policy strides in two years as the majority party. Senate Democrats need to take that lesson to heart and pass something that they will be willing to face the Democratic and Independent public with. They should stop worrying about bipartisanship as much as doing something that will make Independents say "this really helped my family." If they can do that, they will see gains in 2010.

* It appears that abortion may yet again be a key issue on health care as several Senators in the Democratic Party have come out saying abortion restrictions must be in the bill, and others saying they must be eased in the bill. I can understand both sides of the issue because the health care bill deals with Viagra for men, but doesn't take care of an issue that is both constitutional and very important in terms of women's rights because of some moral objections from groups on the right that tend to be hypocritical about morality while insisting that it be imposed on others. Having said that, many abortions are done through clinics rather than health care anyway, which means that wouldn't change. While I don't like the imposition of someone's morality to infringe upon someone else's medical rights, it is more important to get through a good public option. Don't let the abortion debate derail something so important as health care reform.

* Sarah Palin returned to her focus on "death panels." I just don't know how anyone takes Sarah Palin seriously. If she wants to see a true "death panel," she should talk to actuaries for health insurance companies that put the caps on benefits, and choose which procedures are and are not covered. Maybe Sarah can WOW those who simply don't know much, but she sounds silly beyond imagination for anyone intending to be taken seriously as a Presidential candidate because she simply has little to no grasp of policy or how the world actually works.

* As the Baby Boomers prepare to retire, they are facing questions of what to spend their money on, and how to best spend their retirement accounts. Do you take a small account in an annuity or do you take the lump sum? Do you put extra money in your 401k or do you cut down your debt? My parents are facing that problem with a small retirement account that can be put into an annuity or taken out as cash, so the question is what should they do?

As always, eliminating debt should come first. Why? First, because interest rates on debt are often higher than rate of return on investment accounts. That means you lose money by having that debt, especially if it is credit cards because their interest rates have shifted even higher for many people up to 30%. Kill the credit cards, keep them for emergencies, not for daily expenses. Second, as you hit retirement, you hit a fixed income. That means every bill you can eliminate frees up money so you don't need as much money as inflation hits over time.

It is that very logic that puts forth the idea of putting money into home improvements such as converter boxes, solar panels, wind turbines, waterless water heaters, and so on, as much as one can. Why? Same logic, energy prices will continue to rise, so the more you can cut your energy uses, the less your monthly bills will be, and the easier you will be able to withstand summer and winter energy spikes. In the case of my parents, their annuity would be about $250 a month, but putting that into paying off their credit cards AND putting in alternative energies would cut substantially more than that off of their monthly budget, and that number would grow as energy prices rise.

One little trick though, make sure you pay for those home improvements in the same year you take the money out of your retirement account. Why? Take the tax credits and deductions for home improvement and green energy to minimize the taxes you will have to pay for taking out such a large lump sum.

Either way, whether it is pre-retirement or during retirement, finding ways to minimize costs while preparing for a fixed income is a good move. And if you really want to continue to work for yourself to save money in your retirement years, see if you can beat 50% off of your groceries and toiletries with coupons, sales, and price matching shopping games. That is another great way to cut your monthly costs that too few utilize.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Shadegg and the Baby, Jobs Report, Veterans Need Help, GOP "Choice", and Health Care Updates

Quick Hits for November 7, 2009

* Arizona Republican Congressman John Shadegg told us what a 7 month infant belonging to his Chief of Staff thought about the health care bill being voted on tonight in the House. Apparently Shadegg has become a mind reader since the 7 month old obviously cannot communicate for herself in the sentences that Shadegg used. Or maybe it was just another way of showing that Republican politics is more theatre than substance.

* The jobs report out has the unemployment rate hitting 10.2%, the highest since 1983. While conservatives jump on that bandwagon, they might need reminding that the previous time it was over 10% was two years into the Reagan Administration, not 9 months. And I am sure they will blame it on Jimmy Carter's Administration for the troubles, they might also be reminded that this recession began under President Bush and has slowed, and even started to turn under President Obama. But as Republicans reminded you after the last President Bush recession, jobs are a lagging indicator that take time to turn after the economy turns. It illustrates just how either ignorant Republicans are or how deliberately hypocritical they can be. Take your pick.

* The Christian Science Monitor asks if military psychologists are overwhelmed in their discussion of the Fort Hood tragedy. They point to trying to play catch up for years of not having enough psychologists to deal with the trauma of battle. Our soldiers deserve our gratitude for serving, but more importantly, they deserve both better mental and physical care than this nation has given them for far too long. I am saddened that the last administration was so quick to raise military budgets and send our soldiers into two war zones, but was unwilling to give them the care they deserved for that sacrifice. Sadly, we did the same after Vietnam and it may explain why soldiers are one of a few groups who are disproportionately impacted by unemployment and homelessness. They deserve better from us.

* Why is it that Republicans always talk about choice, but don't want Americans to have the CHOICE of a public option in health care; don't want wrongly convicted to have the CHOICE of DNA testing in red states to prove their innocence before killing them; don't want women to have a CHOICE with their own bodies; and don't want gays to have a CHOICE to marry who they want to marry? It would seem that the notion of "choice" is simply a buzzword that they want to throw around. Remember, it is a public OPTION and no one must choose it. I expect that if it passes, not one conservative will sign up for it to save the government money, right?

* Now that the House has passed its health care bill, the real fun begins over the Senate. Republicans have at least acknowledged that health care reform is needed, though their answers so far have been about protecting corporations from liability for their choices that limit our choices in health care. Their spin will be about protecting the doctors from frivolous lawsuits, but don't let it fool you. It is really about lowering costs for insurance companies who don't want to pay out for catastrophic care so they refuse to pay for the tests that might bring back incredible costs in terms of treatment for things like brain cancer or other terminal illnesses that are incredibly expensive to try to save the person.

It is time to create change that forces insurance companies to compete not simply in terms of price, but in terms of actual high quality services instead of denial of services and daring you to sue them for those services knowing that no lawyer can afford to take the case if the jury award is limited so that it won't even cover their costs. After all, for you or I to take on the massive legal teams of Aetna or other private providers would be a hugely expensive feat. By lowering the payout of lawsuits, they make sure no lawyer could afford to take our cases against those massive legal teams.

If you want the Senate to pass meaningful health care reform, we must email, call, and mail letters to them daily. Whether they read it or not, someone counts all the support and opposed communications they get. Don't let a handful of Republicans out work you. Make every Senate contact you can DAILY.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NY-23, VA and NJ Governor insights, Autism, 5 ways to save a Trillion on Health Care, and Republican Excuses

Quick Hits for November 4, 2009

* And what we have somewhat foreshadowed has come to fruition as a Democrat wins NY-23 for the first time since 1854, with Bill Owens winning. The tone of the night has been set with it being a Republican victory in many races nationally but why did they lose this one race? The answer may well be that the Republicans that won were largely moderates, not far right conservatives. As the GOP candidates for 2010 have been moving farther right, they might want to look at the night and moderate their views.

It may be more telling that those who politically planned Scozzafava's run and gave her the nomination may have saw the trend better than the base who fanned the far right flames. I have little doubt that if not for Hoffman, the story of NY-23 district would not be here. But it is and thus, we congratulate Bill Owens.

* Early signs off of twitter, some blogs, and forums are of a Republican Party that is arching its back insisting it wasn't the far right that lost, but rather one that makes excuses blaming everything from voting machines, to ACORN, and anything else they can think of instead of looking at the national trend. GOP political strategists aren't that foolish, but will the base listen, and can Rush or Beck talk about it given that they fan the far right flames to make a living?

The GOP is constantly telling us how America is a conservative nation, but at the same time, they ignore the polls on GOP branding put their support under 30% compared to the 35-40% Democrat support lately. A recent Gallup poll indicated 40$ of America claims they are conservative, 40% independent, and 20% liberal. So the question has to be "why are there about twice as many conservatives as Republicans?" The answer relies on pragmatics, not dogmatism.

To illustrate, my guess would be that about 25% of America are ideological Democrats and about 25% of America are ideological Republicans, meaning they will vote Democrat or Republican every time for ideological reasons.

About 15% of Americans are probably pragmatic Democrats and about 15% are pragmatic Republicans, meaning they will probably vote Democrat or Republican most times because they believe their party has the right solutions. Keep in mind, when they don't believe their party has the right solutions, they may just stay home more than likely.

That leaves about 20% as independents that will vote largely on situation and perception of solutions, meaning if the economy is bad and they don't have a job, they will probably vote for the out of power party if they believe they have answers to their problems; if we are in a war, they will vote based on who they think will do the best in that war given their level of concern for it. They may trend a given way, but they will also go the other way under the right conditions, they aren't party loyal.

With that in mind, given the GOP branding problems, going toward the ideological right is a bad move, instead the GOP should be moving toward the pragmatic right or moderates. I can't tell you how many Republicans I have heard tell me that they were upset about NCLB because they believe in public education for their kids; or who want a health care answer but not a single payer system; or who truly believe in climate change and the need to address it, but with more market answers. The farther right the GOP goes, the more those far right candidates will lose. Tonight's lesson, moderates can win in this environment; far right won't win in this environment.

* Even when I was a Libertarian who didn't support very many state programs, there are some that I just believe should be there. They include helping those in our society who need the extra help. It can be the disabled, whether physically or mentally, or those that have learning disabilities. The fact that autism is not given more support by the government given how hard it is on parents, how much work it takes to raise an autistic child, and how much more prevalent autism is becoming, but also how much autistic adults who are given that attention may be able to contribute to society with their often incredible intelligence in some areas, it is vital that we do more for these families including health care for their needs. I was sent this video from someone in Virginia on autism, take a look and help out if you can.

* It turns out that the great costs on health care may be the result of our own actions more than anything else. And while conservatives will tell you that you should never have to change your lifestyle, they might want to return to the Reagan message of liberty AND RESPONSIBILITY. I am not advocating any laws to change anything but rather that we look at our own responsibilities and act ourselves to fix things. After all, some problems are cultural, not political and this may be one. Take a look, 5 ways to save a trillion on health care:
a) Too much salt in our diets, go for low sodium and avoid salty snacks
b) Too much sugar in our diets, not enough physical activity causing obesity.
c) SMOKING! As a reformed smoker, I always hated it when people said this...
but it is true, 400,000 die each year and costs for them are enormous.
d) Alcohol. Hey, some beer or wine is okay, but drinking much more...
e) Pollution. Do we really need to be told that putting poison in our food,
water, and the air we breath is bad? A little common sense?

* Understanding New Jersey and Virginia may not be as complicated as political landscape shifts or major political tide changes. Notice the trend lately, as both states Governor races tend to trend the OPPOSITE of the party in the White House. Take a look for yourself.

* While Democrats need to get to work on 2010 and stop resting on 2008, and while the President and Congress better get some serious legislation passed that isn't garbage, it turns out that attitudes may just be changing in their favor. While 63% of Americans still say things are going badly, 37% said things are going fairly well or very well, which is the largest number in 2 years and shows a sign of an upswing of 7 points since August, with 63% saying they expect things to be better a year from now. In other words, people are starting to feel the results or expect to see the results of the stimulus package, and think we have hit bottom on the economy, which means President Obama and Democrats will be able to run on "we turned around the economy" next year as long as the numbers look improved by election time next year.

Ideological conservatives might win when the economy is good like in 2000, but when the economy is bad, or there are things to be done, pragmatists win the day, not ideologues.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

H1N1 Update, Net Neutrality and the FCC, Joe Lieberman needs consequences, and Scozzafava endorses Democrat Owens in NY 23

Quick Hits for November 1, 2009

* It isn't news that Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava pulled out of the 23rd District race in New York, but it is news to see that she has endorsed Democratic candidate Bill Owens in the race instead of the far right conservative Douglas Hoffman citing a need for bipartisan solutions instead of partisanship. For his part, Hoffman has called Scozzafava a "traitor" for endorsing Owens, the Democratic nominee and for undermining the Republican Party. Maybe Hoffman should have looked in the mirror for running as an independent undermining the Republican nominee before lobbying "loyalty" grenades at any other Republican. This is just one more sign of the internal fight that may help Democrats nationally.

* Senator Joe Lieberman has decided to filibuster with the Republicans for any health care reform and recently said the current millions without health care is preferable to having a public option on Sunday morning talk shows, as well as announcing he would campaign for Republicans in 2010. It is time to tell Joe that his actions have consequences and remove his chairmanship. No Republican would ever have a chairmanship with actions like these. None. It is time for Harry Reid to play hardball with Joe and give him a choice: act with Democrats if you are going to caucus with us, or act against Democrats and lose your chairmanship. Democrats have won the majority and shouldn't be strategically stupid by putting chairs in place that won't support their agenda. Sign the petition to tell Harry Reid to give Joe the ultimatum.

* Some members of Congress have told the FCC Chairman to oppose Net Neutrality, the thing that maintains open access across the internet for us all. Corporations would love to maintain control over small areas that keep us as segments of the internet to gain advertising revenues to access "their" people, and to charge us extra for access to the "full internet." Don't let them block our internet and interfere with our ability to access information that may be vital to maintaining our liberty. Send the FCC Chairman a letter telling him to stand up for Net Neutrality today!

* H1N1 is a growing concern for people around the nation. I have started to see people being told to stay home from work or school if they have a fever of as low as 100 degrees or they show any signs of the flu. I am watching people starting to wear masks, use more hand sanitizer, wash hands continuously, and more. The DailyKos has a status report that is fairly well written and worth looking at. While H1N1 has largely targeted children, it may start to indicate just how fast a virus can move through our society and may give us a good time to start looking at more use of technology to make us safer from pandemics in the future. It might be time to work on bringing telemedicine into our homes, heck, I have heard of doctors even giving masks in the waiting room. It may also help push us towards telecommuting, whereby many jobs that don't require us to be at work to do them may be done at home via computer connection to the business network. H1N1 is a growing concern, and is proving to be brutal in its targeting of our children. How long before it starts to target the rest of us?