Saturday, March 28, 2015

Correction to post about Ted Cruz and Obamacare

Correction:   I was misinformed by Ted Cruz's own words when I wrote the previous article saying that anyone in Congress, including Ted Cruz, had to use Obamacare unless they are on Medicare or a spouse's plan.  That is not true.   The truth is simply that, in order to qualify for a federal subsidy, members of congress have to go through the federal Obamacare exchange.

In fact, since Ted's wife will no longer get insurance through her job at Goldman Sachs, she could use the COBRA provision to continue the same policy and pay for it privately.   Or the Cruz family could get a new policy by buying it privately, without going through the exchange.

The Cruz claim that he is now forced to take Obamacare for his family is false.

Personally, I'd suggest that Mrs. Cruz hold on to her job at Goldman Sachs.   Don't look for Sen. Cruz's campaign to survive much beyond New Hampshire.   How many people are going to vote for a melting wax figure?


GOP congressional leader gets earful from constituents who like Obamacare

Thanks to Daily Kos for this story:

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) is part of the Republican House leadership team.   On her Facebook page, she posted a chart showing the "nightmare" of Obamacare," defined by lost coverage, lost doctors, increased premiums, and a broken website."  She then asked people to post their stories.

I read the first 50 of those currently on the page, and at least 45 of them were positive about their experience with Obamacare.    To Rep. Rodgers' credit, she has left them posted -- at least so far.   Here are some of them:

My story is that I once knew 7 people who couldn't get health insurance. Now they all have it, thanks to the ACA and President Obama, and their plans are as good as the one my employer provides--and they pay less for them. Now, that's not the kind of story you want to hear. You want to hear made-up horror stories. I don't know anyone with one of those stories.

I work for cancer care northwest. We actually have more patients with insurance and fewer having to choose treatment over bankruptcy. Cathy, I'm a die hard conservative and I'm asking you to stop just slamming Obamacare. Fix it, change it or come up with a better idea! Thanks

With Obamacare, I saved 300 bucks a month premium.. I have more coverage.. I like ObamaCare and can't wait til we go to the next step... Medicare for ALL.  And now my daughter, diagnosed with MS at age 22, can have insurance. What do you plan to do with her?

My daughter is fighting for her life with stage 3 breast cancer! We are about to enter a second go round of diagnostic procedures and possibly more treatment after two full years of treatment! So yah! The ACA is more than helping! I resent that our rep thinks the only problems involve her personal story!

My whole family now has coverage. The ACA is the cause for this, I work in health care, I have seen the increase in covered patients first hand. The next step is universal coverage, this will truly lower costs and provide the best care. Cathy, you barely work, spend most of your time catering to special interests so you can be re-elected.. All while receiving a large wage and the best health insurance and care. Stop telling us how it doesn't work while enjoying your tax payer funded care and life.

Instead of trying to repeal it why don't you improve it? Our local rural clinics are packed daily with people who have needed healthcare for years!! it is a godsend. It is pitiful this nation does not have healthcare for all and that doesn't mean the EMERGENCY room!!
So, as a member of the GOP leadership team, will Rep. Rodgers let this change her mind?    Or is she too entrenched in the Republican dogma that there can be nothing good about anything President Obama does?


Friday, March 27, 2015

Ted Cruz -- the irony of his health care insurance.

In 2013 Sen. Ted Cruz led the fight to defund Obamacare by trying to run out the clock in the time allotted for discussion.  This is what led him to talk through the night, reading from Dr. Seuss book about "green eggs and ham."

Now the irony comes back to bite him -- but he's pretty good at wiggling out of most anything.   Here's the situation:

Cruz's wife has worked at Goldman Sachs investment bank, but now she's going to take a leave of absence to be with him on the presidential campaign trail.   That means the Cruz family will lose their health insurance policy provided by her employer.

The law requires that members of Congress, who do not have health insurance provided through another means (like a sponse's employer or Medicare) must enroll through the federal exchange.   It was the conservatives who insisted on that, hoping it would discourage votes for the passage of Obamacare.

So now the Cruz family will become utilizers of Obamacare -- the program that Ted Cruz has been a leader in trying to defund, to overturn . . . anything except letting it work for the American people.

And -- further irony -- if he should succeed in doing any of that, his own family will suffer.   Except, not really.    People like his wife make a lot of money working for Goldman Sachs;  so they can probably afford to pay out of pocket for their medical care.    Not to worry, folks.


PS:  I regret that I don't remember where I read it, but I think it fits Ted Cruz to a T.   "He looks like a wax figure that is starting to melt."    Honestly, he does.   More so, as each year goes by.   If they can talk about Hillary's hair and clothes, I think we can say this.

Ted Cruz

Thursday, March 26, 2015

No, George Zimmerman, Obama didn't turn people against you; YOU did it yourself, when you stalked and killed an unarmed, innocent boy

George Zimmerman's advisers have apparently decided -- after yet another domestic abuse complaint to the police by a girlfriend and after more evidence of road rage -- that it is time to rebuild his image as the neighborhood volunteer guard, put through an ordeal by our justice system and, most unfairly of all, by "President Barack Hussein Obama."   

Yes, that was Zimmerman's answer when an off-camera voice asked who he felt had been the most unfair to him.

In a 13 minute, staged video posted on his lawyer's website, Zimmerman says he "felt prosecuted by the federal government," because of the president's comments that, "If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon" and "35 years ago, that could have been me."

Rather than acknowledging the reality of the heightened suspicion young black men face in our society,  which was the president's message, Zimmerman called the president's remarks "incendiary" and "racially charged . . . pitting American against American."

Let's keep this in perspective:   Trayvon Martin is dead because of actions taken by George Zimmerman, armed with a gun and stalking Martin through the neighborhood where he was staying with his father.   Yes, in the last moment of the fight with Martin, Zimmerman may have feared for his life -- at the moment he shot Martin. 

But he says he did nothing wrong and has no regrets or guilt.  At the same time that he blames the president for his expression of empathy for the family of Trayvon Martin -- and all black families with sons -- Zimmerman himself shows no empathy for them and their loss.

But it was Zimmerman who set this up, who was following Martin in  threatening way;  not the reverse.  And, yes, he was acquitted on grounds of self-defense -- because the jury was instructed essentially to ignore everything except for the moment just before Zimmerman shot Martin.   Was there proof that Zimmerman had no reason to fear for his life -- at that moment?   Of course not.   that's almost impossible to prove.

In effect, the trial demanded that a dead boy proves his own innocence based on self-defense.  There was no opportunity for him to give that testimony, because he was dead.

Zimmerman should be held accountable, at least, for creating a situation that led to the death of an unarmed young man.  Did Zimmerman identify himself?    Explain his purpose?   Give Martin a chance to explain why he had a right to be there?   Apparently not.   Real police officers would have done that.

What about Trayvon Martin's fear for his life?   Wasn't he fighting in self-defense?    

This death could have been avoided if Zimmerman had simply stopped when he called 911 and turned it over to the police, as he was instructed to do by the 911 dispatcher.  Instead, he continued stalking Martin, who made the poor choice to stop and fight rather than being shot from behind -- as he had every reason to fear from this.   Did this non-uniformed man with a gun identify himself as a neighborhood watchman?   There was no evidence of that.

It was a wrongful death.  And for that, George Zimmerman should be judged and take responsibility.   He has not done that.

What Zimmerman said in the video could be his own feelings in his own words.   But this whole staged video has all the earmarks of a hate-Obama production.   If not, why use Obama's middle name, "Hussein," which is a dog-whistle to the haters who say he is Muslim, doesn't love America, isn't one of us, and has no legitimate claim to the presidency.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Obama's chief of staff tells J Street conference that the Israeli occupation of Palestine must end.

There can be no doubt that White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, was speaking directly for his boss, President Obama, in his address to a conference sponsored by J Street, the liberal, pro-Israel, pro-peace organization.

He spoke plainly and directly, saying that “an occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end, and the Palestinian people must have the right to live in and govern themselves in their own sovereign state.”

Citing the pre-election comments that Netantyahu made to win votes, and then tried to undo after the election, McDonough, said:

“We cannot simply pretend that those comments were never made, or that they don’t raise questions about the prime minister’s commitment to achieving peace through direct negotiations. . . . 

Palestinian children deserve the same right to be free in their own land as Israeli children in their land. A two-state solution will finally bring Israelis the security and normalcy to which they are entitled, and Palestinians the sovereignty and dignity they deserve. . . .  

The borders of Israel and an independent Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps. Each state needs secure and recognized borders, and there must be robust provisions that safeguard Israel’s security. . . . "
Saying that the U. S. shares Israel's concern about security and is committed to working out a plan to ensure it and to keeping Israel strong militarily, he then added:
Nothing would do more to improve Israel’s security or its relations with its neighbors than to bring about a sovereign and contiguous Palestinian state alongside a secure, democratic, Jewish Israel.”
McDonough was preaching to the choir in this J Street, pro-peace gathering --  and he had them on their feet cheering.   So it was a bold speech to a friendly audience.   

But it will reverberate throughout the Middle East and signal a new phase in the relationship between the United States and Israel.    Obama has deftly set it up, telling Netanyahu that we don't buy his double-speak.   Our priority is still a peaceful two-state solution.  The next move is up to Netanyahu.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

BREAKING NEWS: Israel spied on negotiations with Iran, then used the intel to lobby U. S. Congress

Late Monday night, the Wall Street Journal broke the story that Israel has been spying on the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.

According to the report, both the U.S. and Israel often spy on each other.  What has U. S. officials more upset than the spying itself was Israel's attempt to use the secret information to manipulate Congress into defeating its own government's diplomatic efforts.

According to the article written by Adam Entous, more than a dozen U. S. officials and Israeli diplomats were interviewed for this report.    The Wall Street Journal cannot be accused of being a liberal paper with an anti-Israel bias.

We're sure to hear more about this.   Stay tuned.


So this also happened yesterday.

Lest anyone miss that he is running far to the right and smack-dab in the middle of the religious rightwingers, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) went to Liberty University yesterday to announce that he is running for president.

The assembly was packed with students -- some of whom were wearing Rand Paul t-shirts.   Turns out that this evangelical Christian college, founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell, requires attendance at an assembly three days a week.   Students are fined if they do not attend.

That's a nice touch, don't you think?    Cruz announces his candidacy to lead the world's foremost democracy before an audience that was commanded to appear.   Sounds like North Korea.   Except that they didn't shoot those few who dissented by wearing those Rand Paul campaign shirts.

Way to go, Ted.    May you continue to blunder all the way through the GOP debate season.    I just ask one thing:   please don't shut down our government again.   A lot of people suffer when you do that.


Happy 5th Birthday, Obamacare

Five years ago, on March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans tried to disparage by calling it Obamacare.   The name stuck.   Those who hate it, say it with a derisive sneer;   those who approve and who benefit from it, say it with appreciation and pride.

As Jonathan Cohn notes (Huffington Post)
"Five years later, by any reasonable and objective criteria, 'Obamacare' has achieved a great deal. The percentage of adults without health insurance has dropped to 12.9 percent . . . [or] about 16.4 million people who might not otherwise have it. . . .

 “Meanwhile, the budget deficit is coming down, and . . .  the Affordable Care Act has contributed significantly to that reduction. . . . "
In one of the greatest political denials in recent history, Republicans still refer to it as a "disaster" or a "train wreck;'    and they have voted more than 50 times to repeal it.

Not a single Republican voted for the bill, and none seems willing to come to the celebration either.    Sooner or later, the sheer number of people whose lives have benefitted from the ACA are going to realize that the Republicans are blatantly lying about that "train wreck."

So . . . let them come up with something truly better (if they can).    So far, every sketchy idea they have put forther would only make things much worse.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Don't blame me for my congressman's GOP budget proposal. I voted against Tom Price

I want all my fellow Americans to know that the budget just submitted by House Budget Committee Chair Tom Price (R-GA) is not my fault.   I have voted for his opponent, whoever it is, every chance I get -- ever since redistricting shifted me from John Lewis' district over into the heavily Republican 6th Congressional.

Tom Price is not one of the crazies.   He's actually a respectable orthopedic surgeon who never makes headlines with crazy talk.   He has a very subdued profile for a politician.   He and his wife, an anesthesiologist, seem like typical educated, country club type Republicans.   No, it's not him personally;  it's his conservative policies.

But his budget priorities are horrendous, and I am embarrassed to have him represent my district in congress.

He has just released the GOP budget proposal, which calls for a $5.5 trillion savings over the next decade, while increasing defense spending and cutting taxes for the rich and for multinational corporations.   A typical GOP budget -- a la Paul Ryan, a la Ayn Rand -- it makes deep, deep cuts in domestic spending to offset their priorities, while also cutting the deficit.

It calls for repealing Obamacare and replacing it with some as-yet-unwritten plan, plus converting Medicare into fixed-sum block grants to states.   The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this would perhaps double the number of uninsureds over what we have now.  In addition, the Price budget deregulates everything they don't like and cuts funds for programs that benefit poor families, children, college students, and seniors.

The party that wraps itself in Christian piety puts its policy priorities in exactly the opposite order from the teachings of Jesus?   They have become the party of military might, big business, rich donors, and unforgiving moral scourges.   

Don't they ever ask themselves, "WWJD?"    If they do, then they do exactly the opposite of what Jesus would do.   Just look at the record.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Israel, "the only democracy in the Middle East" . . . but what kind of democracy ?

American supporters of Israel like to point out that it is the only democracy in the Middle East.   Further, they proudly point to the fact that 1.6 Arabs are citizens of Israel and have the right to vote.

But how sincere is that commitment to democracy when the Prime Minister publicly expresses great alarm on election day because these Arab citizens are actually "going to the polls in droves to vote?"    As long as their votes were divided among four different parties, none of which had any political power, and leaving the people apathetic about voting, it was fine to brag about giving them the right to vote.   

But in this election, having united into one party and representing 20% of the electorate, the Arabs became a serious threat to Netanyahu's winning.    Hence, his alarmist call for far right religious voters and nationalists to abandon their small parties and vote for Likud.    Which they did, giving him the win -- especially after he promised that there would never be a Palestinian state while he is Prime Minister.

And what kind of a democracy would hold another 4 million Palestinians in a virtual apartheid state in Gaza and the West Bank?  Not being Israeli citizens, they have no right to vote in Israel's elections.  But -- in the words of Tony Karon, in Al Jazeera America:
“For decades, their fate has been determined much more in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv than it has in Ramallah or Gaza. Their freedom, livelihoods, health, education, lives and deaths are determined in a place in which they have no status or rights. .
"Wrote Levy, 'Israel in 2015 considers itself a democracy while ruling over the lives of 4 million people who lack the right to vote.   That’s a condition reminiscent of the colonial era or apartheid South Africa, where millions were ruled by a state that denied them the democratic rights of citizenship.'"
So, yes, Israel is a democracy in the sense that the people elect their own government, which is then responsible to the people.   But who are "the people?"   Does it include the 20% of the population of Israel who are Arabs but also citizens of Israel and entitled to vote?

And where is the boundary between Israel and the non-existent Palestinian state?   Are the Jewish settlers who live in the West Bank Israeli citizens, with all those rights, and do they vote?   What of the Arab Palestinians who also live there . . . and claim the land as their own  based on the 1967 boundaries?