Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Dirty Little Secrets

Americans claim they want politicians that are truthful, but the politicians are fully aware that, many Americans can’t handle the truth.

At the recent, Democratic presidential debate Mike Gravel said: “Our soldiers died in Vietnam in vain. You can now, go to Hanoi and get a Baskin-Robbins ice cream cone. Let me tell you. There’s only one thing worse than a soldier dying in vain. It is more soldiers dying in vain.”

Gravel insists that America’s troops died in vain in Vietnam, because Vietnam would have turned out the same, whether U.S. troops had been there or not, and the outspoken former Senator from Alaska insists, so will Iraq.

Mike Gravel does not buy that if we walk away from Iraq now we risk a failed state in the heart of the Middle East, a haven for international terrorists, an invitation to regional war in this economically vital area, and a humanitarian disaster that can involve million of people. He says that if the U.S. gets out of Iraq quickly, its neighbors, like Iran, Syria and Jordan, will do what is best for them, which is to stabilize Iraq.

Another, dirty little secret that most Americans can't handle was recently revealed by Cindy Sheehan on national television, when she mentioned the name of another straight talking America. Unfortunately, most of the audience had no idea, who she was talking about.

Sheehan told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews: “As Major General Smedley Butler said, “War is a racket”, it always has been, and it always will be. Cindy Sheehan believes that’s one of the reasons Dwight Eisenhower warned us when he left office, of the military-industrial complex.

During my three years in the Marine Corps, Major General Smedley Butler’s name was never mentioned. In 55 years of watching TV, that was the first time, I’ve ever hear his name mentioned.

Legendary Marine Corps officer Major General Smedley Butler was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor twice for separate acts of outstanding heroism. In a 1933 speech, he stated: “War is just a racket. A racket is best described, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. ...I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”

Monday, July 30, 2007

Impeachment

Many are calling for Bush’s impeachment on grounds of the lies and deception that led to an illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq. Other reasons sited for impeachment are breaking the FISA laws by spying on Americans without warrants and the inadequate and tragic response to Katrina. 

We continue to wage an illegal war in Iraq. There were no weapons of mass destruction.  There was no connection between Saddam and 9/11, and all evidence shows, that we’re strengthening al Qaeda and intensifying the hatred against us for destroying a country that wasn’t a threat.

Democrats have 50 votes in the Senate, but you need 60 votes to have cloture and get anything done. There aren’t enough Democrats in the Senate to force a change in policy in Iraq, much less impeach Bush.

A few Republican Senators appear to be on the way to changing the course in Iraq, but it’s highly unlikely a sufficient number of Republicans will abandon their president. Several Senate Republicans may attempt to save their jobs and cast a vote with Democrats, but it will be a public relations show for the voters.

Nothing will be successful in cutting our losses in Iraq, until a Democrat becomes the commander-in-chief. Let’s assume Democrats could get 100 percent of the Congress to agree to set a time line for withdrawal. There is no doubt in my mind that as the commander-in-chief, Bush wouldn’t allow anyone to tell him how to fight “his” war. The next step would be the Supreme Court, but “his” Supreme Court would insist it’s a political question.
 
It’s regrettable that the vision of bringing our troops home from Iraq is not a realistic goal until the 2008 election. At that time “we the people” must vote to replace the Commander-in-Chief. Those that suggest impeachment must recognize that Republicans own the White House until Jan. 2009, and replacing Bush and Cheney will not change that fact.

An attempt to impeach would serve to fire up the Republican base in Nov. 2008, which could result in Democrats again loosing the White House and fewer Republican Senators being sent into retirement.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Christianized Medicine

The most recent polls show that the majority of Americans not only want a universal health care program, but they want it funded and run by the government.

The phrase “socialized medicine” still scares some people away. They’re afraid of the word, because we’ve been raised in a culture, which considers “socialized” a terrible thing.

Taxpayers pay for police and fire protection, which are programs that benefit everyone in the society. Health care is provided to every senior citizen, members of Congress and the military. Are those programs socialized medicine? Let’s call universal health care “Christianized” medicine because that’s what Jesus would want us to do.  He said that we can’t get into heaven unless we take care of the sick. We need health care, which takes care of every American when they’re sick.

Christianized medicine would be much more economical. We lose hundreds of billions of dollars every year because of all the administrative costs, red tape, and profit that the insurance companies have to make. These are the reasons our present system costs so much. It would be a lot cheaper to cover everyone and cut out the middleman. Does it make any sense for a doctor to call an insurance company representative to ask permission to treat a patient that’s sitting in the doctor’s office? 

By any objective standard, Medicare is a better health insurance program than most of the private health insurance plans. Opinion surveys of Americans who have Medicare, show they’re happier with their coverage than Americans with private insurance.

Michael Moore’s documentary “Sicko” tears down every myth we’ve been told about government run healthcare. It’s an important film, which is less concerned with telling you who to vote for than simply enabling you to see through a fog of deception.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Iraq Embassy

Iraqis wake up in the morning wondering if there are tortured bodies in the streets or whether today it might be their turn to meet the death squads. Many of them wait in line for hours to get gasoline while the ground beneath their feet holds the second largest oil reserves in the world. Many don’t have electricity or running water.

Recently, the House voted 399 to 24 to extend the ban on the U.S. building permanent bases in Iraq past the end of September 2007. The media seldom talks about our nearly completed $592 million embassy compound in Baghdad or the 14 other permanent bases in Iraq. It indicates that the Bush regime never intended to leave Iraq, until the oil runs out. Big Oil has no desire to let the spoils of war slip away.

This is largest American embassy in the world. The compound is about the same size as Vatican City and will have many of the amenities of a small American town, six apartment buildings, a palm-fringed swimming pool, a gym, fast food restaurants, barbershop, beauty salon, commissary. It will also be completely self-sufficient with its own power plant, wells and waste water treatment system.

It’s typical of the Bush regime to provide opulence in the middle of war-torn poverty, while telling the Iraqis that their making the country better. To most Iraqis, the embassy amounts to a little more than half a billion dollar eyesore. An Iraqi guard said: “It's all for them. All of Iraq’s resources, water, electricity, security, it’s as if it is their country and we are guests staying here.”

Despite the almost $600 million price tag, our planners now say this embassy compound that’s built to hold more than 1,000 people isn’t big enough.

Iraqi citizens who work for our embassy in Baghdad want visas to come to the United States, because they live in constant fear. They can’t tell anyone they work for our government and are depending on our ambassador to get them out quickly.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Single Payer System

We must urge Congress to support full funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to provide coverage to millions of uninsured children and bring America closer to quality, affordable health care for all.

Americans deserve universal health care, but the health insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry, will continue to spend billions of dollars on public relations every year to sidetrack the movement. 

After WW II, the industrialized world embarked on a health care experiment. America decided to keep the status quo and provide health care under the capitalist theory that free market forces would produce the highest level of care at the lowest cost. The rest of the industrialized world, most of which had been bombed into disarray during WW II chose a form of government-sponsored health care.

The European countries provide higher quality care for all of their people at roughly half the cost of our government. Privatization, initiated under the Reagan regime, is working to dismantle social programs and place them in private hands for the extraction of profit.

Fourteen years ago, Hillary Clinton tried to do something about the suffering caused by our very broken system. Since then 252,000 Americans have died prematurely as a result of not having insurance. Furthermore, the number one cause of bankruptcies and ensuing homelessness in the United States are medical bills.

Nobody in Canada, Britain, France or any of the other 24 top industrialized countries, ever goes bankrupt because of medical bills.  Nobody ever loses their home.  No one is ever denied because of a preexisting condition. 

Congressman Dennis Kucinich is the only candidate for president advocating a non-profit single payer system. Voters must demand that their candidates for president come up with specific proposals that at their core non- profit, single payer, government-run system.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Child Health

Reportedly, Bush intends to veto a bipartisan plan to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which the Senate Finance Committee drafted over the last six months.

This puts Bush at odds with the Democratic majority in Congress, but also a substantial number of congressional Republican and many governors of both parties, who want to expand the popular program to cover some of the nation’s nine million uninsured children.

The little secret is that Children’s Health Insurance Program is set to expire Sept. 30. The Finance Committee is expected to approve the Senate plan next week, sending it to the full Senate for action later this month. Democratic Senator Baucus, who is chairman of the Finance Committee insists that he will move ahead despite the veto threat.

Senator Baucus said: “The Senate will not be deterred from helping more kids in need. The president should stop playing politics and start working with Congress to help kids, through renewal of this program.”

The proposal would increase current levels of spending by $35 billion over the next five years, bringing the total to $60 billion. The Congressional Budget Office says the plan would reduce the number of uninsured children by 4.1 million.

Bush’s latest budget proposal is for an increase of $5 billion over the next five years, which would bring the total to $30 billion. The Senate plan does not include any of Bush’s proposals to change the tax treatment of health insurance, in an effort to make it more affordable for millions of Americans.

Senator Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Finance Committee, said he would like to consider such tax proposals, but it’s not realistic given the lack of bipartisan support for the president’s plan to think that can be accomplished before the current children’s health care program runs out in September.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fantasies and Fiction

Opponents of universal health care distort the truth about the health care in France, Britain, and Canada, while describing the American health care system in glowing terms. They claim that the uninsured can get all the care they need in emergency rooms and that Americans who have insurance never face long waits for medical care.

Reportedly, Bush will veto a bipartisan plan that would extend health insurance for an estimated 4.1 million currently uninsured children. The bipartisan plan provides for preventive medical care. Bush expects children that don’t have health insurance to go to hospital emergency rooms for preventive care. We give lip service to the importance and value of prevention, but we’re not practicing what we preach.

In Canada, Britain and France three percent of hospital discharges experienced delays in treatment, but they’re all elective surgeries, such as hip and knee replacement.

Canadians wait longer than insured Americans for elective surgery. However, the average Canadian’s access to health care is as good as that of the average insured American. The only way our health care system is able to achieve shorter waiting times for elective surgery than Canada is to leaves 47 million people out of our health care system.

The French manage to provide arguably the best health care in the world, without significant waiting lists of any kind. Furthermore, all medical delays are not equal. In Canada and Britain, delays are caused by doctors trying to devote limited medical resources to the most urgent cases, while in America, they’re often caused by insurance companies trying to save money.

The bottom line is that the opponents of universal health care have run out of honest arguments. They are left with fictional horror stories about health care in other countries, and fantasies about the health care system in America.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Be Very Careful!

Dana Christensen and her husband bought a health insurance policy which they were told was a good, comprehensive policy by the agent. Unfortunately when they had to use it, they found the promised coverage wasn’t there. They purchased a chemotherapy rider and were told it covered up to $100,000 of chemotherapy. However, they weren’t told the rider covered a thousand dollars a day and his chemotherapy sometimes ran up to $18,000 a day. Consequently, they were left paying $17,000.

Furthermore, no one at the hospital could explain, why when they arrived at the hospital for a prescheduled surgery, they had to pay $8,000 up front to be admitted. The staff on duty said they were the first people that it had happened to. When, Dana’s husband passed away, she was left with half a million dollars in medical bills.

Mrs. Christensen sued the insurance company. MEGA Life Health Insurance and the National Association for the Self-Employed. Without admitting guilt, they paid her $1.7 million. However, she refused to sign a confidentiality agreement. Before her husband died, he said that it may be too late for him, but this shouldn’t happen to people and she agree.

Mrs. Christensen believes that both the agent and the company were at fault. Her attorney obtained a declaration from a former MEGA Life insurance representative, who declared under penalty of perjury that he was trained to misrepresent the policy.

The Christensen’s former insurance company MEGA Life and Health, a subsidiary of HealthMarkets stated to CNN’s Larry King: “In January of 2005, HealthMarkets’ subsidiary, the MEGA Life and Health Insurance Company made a fair and reasonable settlement offer to Mrs. Christensen to avoid protracted litigation after the difficult struggle she endured with her husband’s illness and death. At the time of the settlement, Mrs. Christensen was under no obligation to accept our settlement offer.”

Mrs. Christensen took the settlement but wanted to be able to talk about it and wanted to let people know what these companies do. She wants people to be aware that they have to be very careful about what they’re promised and what they’re given.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Finding Reasons

Jessica Bath wasn’t insured, so she got health insurance through private insurance agent. A year later, her infant son was born with a hole in his heart and a constricted pulmonary valve. Surgery was scheduled five months after he was born. A month before the scheduled surgery, she and her husband got a letter in the mail from Blue Shield saying that both she and her son had been dropped from the plan.

Blue Shield had been informed of the scheduled surgery, but didn’t give a reason for the cancellation in the letter. The reason was that Jessica had not disclosed all the information on the application. In fact, they didn’t even contact Jessica or the insurance agent about what occurred. They didn’t even call the agent or inquire about anything on their application. They just rescinded it. Eventually, Blue Shield said that she had disclosed using an anti-anxiety medication. Apparently, they thought the anti-anxiety medications increase the likelihood of birth defects.

Jessica Bath and her husband are suing Blue Shield. They maintain that Blue Shield wrongfully rescinded the policy belonging to the Bath family. They believe that Blue Shield breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

Regarding the Bath family, Blue Shield issued a statement to CNN’s Larry King saying: “We rescind a minute percentage of policies, less than one-tenth of 1 percent. If we didn’t even rescind those, and we allowed applications to stand, it would only result in higher premiums and less availability of coverage for everyone. Blue Shield of California is a not-for-profit health plan. It’s been a leader in fighting for universal health care.”

Insurance companies are in the business of finding reasons not to spend money. Rescinding less than one-tenth of one percent of policies may seem like no big deal, until it’s your infant child.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Translation Mistake?

“A lie, repeated often enough, will end up as truth.” Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda (1933-1945), invented the Big Lie theory.

There is a major controversy concerning the translation of a speech by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the “World Without Zionism” conference held for students in 2005. Nazila Fathi of The New York Times’ Tehran bureau reported the Iranian President said Israel would be “wiped off the map.”

Many news sources have presented one of Ahmadinejad’s phrases in Persian as a statement that “Israel must be wiped off the map”, an English idiom which means to “obliterate totally” and “destroy completely”, such as by powerful bombs or other catasrophes.

However, Juan Cole a University of Michigan Professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History, translates the Persian phrase as: “this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.”

According to Cole, Ahmadinejad did not say he was going to “wipe Israel off the map”, because no such idiom exists in Persian. He said that “he hoped the Jewish-Zionist state occupying Jerusalem, would collapse.”

The Middle East Media Research Institute translates the phrase similarly: “This regime that is occupying Jerusalem must be eliminated from the pages of history.”

In 2006, Jonathan Steele a columist and foreign correspondent for “The Guardian” cites several Persian speakers and translators who state that the phrase in question is more accurately translated as an “occupying regime” being “eliminated” or “wiped off ” or “wiped away” from “the page of time” or “the pages of history”, rather than “Israel” being “wiped off the map”.

A synopsis of Mr Ahmadinejad’s speech on the Iranian Presidential website states: He further expressed his firm belief that the new wave of confrontations generated in Palestine and the growing turmoil in the Islamic world would in no time wipe Israel away.

The same idiom in his speech on December 13, 2006 was translated as “wipe out” by Reuters: Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out.”

Ahmadinejad claimed in the speech that the issue with Palestine would be over “the day that all refugees return to their homes [and] a democratic government elected by the people comes to power”.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Imagine

The author of the following wishes to be known as “one of the priests of atheism.” He asks us to imagine a new global, ecumenical convocation, which ends by issuing the following statement:

“We are appalled by the violence and intolerance our beliefs and faith-institutions have engendered, enabled, and otherwise promoted throughout the history of monotheism. We not only regret this, we seek, now, and admittedly belatedly, to atone. We recognize that the harm rises plainly from our claims to certain knowledge of the deity we purport to speak for—and we now candidly admit the implicit and explicit conceit of these claims. We have long claimed humility – but falsely – for surely mere humans cannot humbly claim to know the mind of the universe’s creator. We therefore renounce our claims to certainty.

“Instead of conviction we offer hope: hope that our belief in an immortal soul is neither vain nor mere vanity masquerading as religiosity. Hope that the God we have long believed listens to our self-obsessed entreaties might actually exist in the cosmos beyond our minds’ capacity for imagination and outside of our hearts’ yearnings for the comforts of parental love and approval.

“But we no longer promise this to the young we hope to influence. We will instead become, for the first time in monotheism’s troubled and troubling existence, authentically humble. We confess our abject ignorance.

“We confess our dismay that so many more prayers prove futile than those that seem to have been positively answered as articulated. We admit that double-blind prayer experiments yield not a whit of difference in the lives of those prayed for. We will no longer pretend that our child recovered from a sickness because a Deity favored us and our prayer while apparently ignoring the even more devoutly offered prayers of parents and children living in dire poverty and in barbaric, hostile circumstances. We admit that such beliefs are unconscionable conceits. And we apologize.

“We hope for something more, though: we hope to inspire greater love within the hearts of our co-religionists: not for themselves but for all others – even those others who do not share our beliefs and our hopes. We will no longer demand that human love be personified in our venerated mythological figures, but will hereafter allow and encourage love to be venerated as a good in and of itself. We will remodel our temples, churches, and mosques to reflect this – and will then invite non-believing others to share their stories of the profoundly transforming power of unpersonified love. Because, in our new and earnest humility, we confess that those outside our faith traditions might have profoundly valuable lessons of love to share with us.

“And we will edit and revise our sacred texts to reflect this historical reformation from insufferable arrogance and the cocksure certainty of faith to genuine humility and plainly confessed hope.”

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Dream Act

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois sought to introduce a piece of legislation, in the Defense Authorization Bill. The so called Dream Act would give amnesty to illegal aliens if they came to America as children under the age of 16 and graduated from high school in this country. If they are able to enroll in college or enlist in the military, they could eventually become U.S. citizens. Unfortunately, the bill failed to get enough cloture votes and was pulled from the floor.

Their parents brought these children to America illegally. However, it would be beneficial to our society to allow these children an opportunity to change their immigration status by educational achievement or military service.

CNN’s Lou Dobbs opposed the Dream Act and considers it another form of amnesty that’s open to rampant fraud. He fears illegal aliens could easily claim they were in the United States before the age of 16. However, graduation from high school must be verified, at the time of enrollment in college and enlistment in the military.

With his typical irate blather, Dobbs said: “The very idea, these people are beyond contempt in what they’re trying to do here, trying to avoid the public scrutiny, the transparency of our democratic system and trying to pull this nonsense is disgusting. The American people. I mean I just can’t believe they would do to their constituents and to their oaths of office.”

As an afterthought Dobbs added: “By the way, I do want to say one thing. The Dream Act is an idiotic piece of legislation. But I do agree with one thing. Those young people who are in this country and who want to serve in the United States military and therefore earn their citizenship, then god bless them. And I think that is an absolutely appropriate response and responsibility. But the idea of equating college to military service.

Mr. Dobbs doesn’t approve of children of undocumented aliens having an opportunity to demonstrate superior scholarship and work ethic, but has no problem with these young people becoming gangsters of capitalism and getting their ass blown off in Iraq.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Filibuster

Since the American people put Democrats back in charge of Congress, the Republican minority has resorted to obstructionism and political games to block any responsible progress toward ending the war in Iraq. Now they have refused to even allow a vote on bringing the troops home.

For the first six years of Bush’s presidency, the Republican majority in Congress failed this country. They had their chance to make their case to continue the war in Iraq, and the American people didn’t buy it.

The Levin-Reed amendment sets a date to begin bring the troops home. Instead of standing up in front of the American people and showing them their determination to stay in Iraq, they’ve made good on a threat to block the vote. Only four Republican Senators voted with Democrats to allow the bill to come up for a vote.

Republicans loyal to Bush blocked the bill even though a similar version passed in the House by a 223-201 margin last week. Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that we need to give the troop escalation time because it is beginning to “show signs of military success.” This is the same song and dance we’ve heard for nearly five years.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said: “Republicans are using a filibuster to block us from even voting on an amendment that could bring the war to a responsible end. They are protecting the President rather than protecting our troops.

“They are denying us an up or down vote on the most important issue our country faces. I would like to inform the Republican leadership and all my colleagues that we have no intention of backing down.”

If Senate Republicans are against ending the war, then they should show it by voting against the legislation with a straight-up-and-down vote on a bill that the majority of Americans support. That’s how a democratic government works. Democrats must continue to force them to explain themselves in front of the American people.

A few Republicans have started to say the right things, but we don’t know whether they actually have the backbone to stand with the American people and vote to bring our troops home. A threat of a filibuster gives them all the cover they need to avoid a commitment.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Must We Agree?

Many have become upset with those of us, that frequently criticize our country. The slogan “America love it or leave it” was frequently shouted at anyone, who was critical of Vietnam War. Today, criticism of our dysfunctional health care system will earn the label of being a person that hates America.

It appears that criticizing one’s country, which has attained such a high standard of living is somehow unpatriotic. There has never been a relationship between a nation’s quality of life and its moral standards. Those that equate criticism of one’s country with that of being unpatriotic do not understand the premises upon which democracy is based or that their identity is so terribly intertwined with that of their nation that they have seemingly lost the capacity to reason in an objective manner. By making our nation the issue, blame is shifted away from what is being perpetuated by the current leadership.

The typical American tends to be terribly ethnocentric. Many American act as if having been born in the United States bestows upon them the right of a privileged person. Even worse than ethnocentrism is the narrow-mindedness, which leads to an unreasoning sense of arrogance generally referred to as the arrogance of ignorance.

Most Americans look upon Christianity as the only road that leads to salvation, which suggests that every other faith leads to the fires of Hell. For many capitalism is a system of doing business which has received the blessing of God.

The goal of our present health care industry is to maximize profits. Employees, who deny people health care get a bonus, because denial of a claim saves the company money. I can not agree with such a system.

Let’s call universal health care “Christianized” medicine, because that‘s what Jesus would want us to do.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Socialized Medicine

At the beginning of his documentary “Sicko”, Michael Moore asks: “Who are we?”

We are the wealthiest of 25 industrialized countries, and the only one that doesn’t have universal health care. We are the nation that for more than 60 years, has allowed the medical-industrial complex and its political allies to used scare tactics to prevent America from following its conscience and making access to health care a right for all its citizens.

Health care should be recognized as a human right not a privilege. Unlike other industrialized countries our citizens don’t enjoy universal health care. Those citizens don’t enjoy the freedom to live their life with the certainty that forces beyond their control won’t take away their dignity and everything they own.

Rudy Giuliani, the Republican front-runner for president warned at the debate in Manchester, New Hampshire: “Free market principles are the only things that reduce cost and improve quality. Socialized medicine will ruin medicine in the United States.”

Approximately, fifty percent of all healthcare dollars spent in the United States flows through government-funded healthcare systems such as Medicare, Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Veterans Affairs healthcare systems.

America already has two large socialized medicine systems, which are called Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare’s overhead is only 1 percent, because it’s an extremely efficient healthcare delivery system. Most private health insurance plans range between 10 percent to 30 percent in overhead expenses, which include profits, and administrative costs.

Most doctors would rather have a Medicare patient than somebody with a lousy HMO, because they know Medicare will send them a check and they won’t have to fight an hour on the phone to get a $15 office visit paid for. Regrettably, Medicare is presently being undermined by privatization.

We don’t face unpleasant tradeoffs, because doing the right thing will be cost-efficient. Universal health care would save thousands of American lives each year, while saving money.

Michael Moore has painted a picture of a corrupt and fatally flawed health care system. The only things standing in the way of universal health care are the fear-mongering and influence-buying of special interest groups. If we can’t overcome those corrupting forces, there’s not much hope for America’s future.

Monday, July 16, 2007

God Blessed Agnostics

Recently, Janice Ulangca the chairperson of the Peace with Justice Committee of the Broom County Council of Churches had an article published in the Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin entitled: “Faith and the Candidates.”

Blogger Glenn Gunman responded to the article as follows: “You know, I have nothing against religion, per se. Everyone is entitled to believe whatever they want. But I am not impressed with and never will be impressed with political activism by 'people of faith' based on faith based 'values'.

“You can run all the forums you want, ask all the questions you want, but political candidates will tell you whatever you want to hear. That is cynical, I know. But it is the truth. Spin doctoring has become a fine art in America. If you are looking for integrity and values, they will tell you all about their integrity and values.

“We got Bush for two terms on the basis of the support of 'conservatives', now called 'neocons', and the 'religious right' as the news media called them. Bush was supposed to be religious and believing in Christian ideals.

“What did we receive from President Bush? War. Lying. Torture. Kidnapping. British use of Executive power. More lying. More Spin. More War. More dead Iraqis. More dead Afghanis. More dead American soldiers. No diplomacy..... Not exactly Christian ideals.

“If I were to speak of his legacy, I would rank him as one of the most arrogant and unfeeling of Presidents to ever be elected to office. I would speak of him as a despot who has no ear for the voice of the American people. I would speak of him as churlish in his attitudes toward everyone on the planet. We know he is the Decider. No-one else need apply or even offer advice, except Cheney, his mentor.

“This man spoke fine words, had a fine background, was a true Christian, and was believed by a 'faith based constituency' that worked hard to get him elected. You got Bush, on Faith and Christian values, you might say, before the election. Do you really want to try that again? They lie, you know.

“If you want to elect a good President, find a pragmatist who gets things done and genuinely likes all people. Those are the values that count. He doesn't have to debate well. He doesn't have to make speeches well. He doesn't have to belong to the right church. He does have to explain himself well and solve problems well.

“Such a person will be a one term President. No one will like him when his term is up because he did things fairly. And there will be fewer 'photo opts' and useless speeches and 'grinning bobble heads' spouting the party line. He will be working with the Congress and the people. He will be working for the people and not his legacy. Find that candidate, not the one that 'shares your values'.”

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Coalition of the Billing

Figures released by the State and Defense department show that the number of private contractors in Iraq has exceeded the number of troops. More than 180,000 civilians are working in Iraq under U.S. contracts, which exceeds our surge level of 160,000 troops in Iraq.

Brookings Institution scholar Peter Singer wrote: “They illustrate better than anything that we went in without enough troops. This is not the coalition of the willing. It's the coalition of the billing.”

Those 180,000 civilians include at least 21,000 Americans, 43,000 foreign contractors and 118,000 Iraqis, who are employed in Iraq by our tax dollars. According to government officials private security contractors, who are hired to protect government officials and buildings were not fully counted in the survey.

Military experts have expressed concern over the numbers of armed contractors. William Nash, a retired Army general and reconstruction expert points out: “We don’t have control of all the coalition guns in Iraq. That’s dangerous for our country...The Pentagon is hiring guns. You can rationalize it all you want, but that’s obscene.”

The most controversial contractors are the mercenaries working for private security companies, such as Blackwater. They guard sensitive sites and provide protection to U.S. and Iraqi government officials and businessmen.

The companies with the largest number of employees are foreign firms in the Middle East that subcontract to KBR, the Houston-based oil services company, according to the Central Command database. KBR, once a subsidiary of Halliburton Co., provides logistics support to troops, the single largest contract in Iraq.

Critics worry that troops and their missions could be jeopardized if contractors, functioning outside the military's command and control, refuse to make deliveries of vital supplies under fire. In 2004, our forces were put on food rations when drivers balked at taking supplies into a combat zone.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Dysfunctional System

Controversial filmmaker Michael Moore has produced another thought provoking documentary. It’s about our broken health care system and is entitled: “Sicko”. He begins by having victims of our dysfunctional system relate their experiences.

Laura Burnham was in a 45-mile-an-hour head-on collision that knocked her out cold. Paramedics got her out of a car and into the ambulance for a trip to the hospital. Laura reports: “I get a bill from my insurance company telling me that the ambulance ride was not going to be paid for because it wasn't pre-approved. I don't know exactly when I was supposed to pre-approve it, you know, like after I gain consciousness in the car, before I got in the ambulance, or I should have grabbed my cell phone off of the street and called while I was in the ambulance.”

Rick was ripping a piece of wood and it hit a knot. He sawed off the tops of his two fingers. His first thought was: “I don't have insurance. How much is this going to cost?” The hospital gave him a choice-reattach the middle finger for $60,000 or do the ring finger for $12,000. Rick chose the ring finger for the bargain price of $12,000.

Many family doctors are demoralized, because insurance companies have become a middleman in between them and the patient. The insurance company are often deciding whether or not the doctor can perform a procedure on a patient. It's a problem that we’re going to have for some time, but we must find a forward thinking leader, who can help America find a way to deal with health care issues in a manner other than the ways that we’ve been dealing with them.

Political candidate says health care is high on their list and some are suggesting universal health care for all. However, John Edwards seems to be the only candidate that has offered specifics, which is a step in the right direction.

Hillary Clinton has failed to offer a specific plan and has joined her Republican colleagues in accepting political contributions from the pharmaceutical industry and insurance companies.

Republican Ron Paul is strongly opposed to the war in Iraq, but as far as finding a solution to our dysfunctional health care system, you’re on your own, because the best government is minimal government.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Windpower

Andy Kruse and David Calley co-founded Southwest Windpower 21 years ago. They are determined to bring their Skystream 3.7 to semi-suburban and rural neighborhoods that can accommodate windmills.

Many small wind turbines have been purchased by backwoods mavericks disconnected from the power grid who want to supplement the electricity they draw from solar panels or diesel generators. Most require at least an acre of land so gusts aren’t blocked by nearby homes.

The $12,000, Skystream is largely for people with as little as a half-acre of land who are hooked to the grid but want to shave their electric bills by making their own power or selling it to the utility.

The sleek 170-pound turbine is as short as 34 feet and works with average wind speeds as low as 10 miles an hour. Blades spin quietly so as not to annoy neighbors. The turbine is suitable for 13 million homes and possibly up to 20 million if houses on less than a half-acre receive coastal wind.

Since November, Southwest Windpower has sold about 700 Skystream turbines and is poised to grab a big chunk of a $1 billion worldwide market for on-grid residential turbines.

After the Reagan administration phased out a tax credit for small wind turbines, most of the nation’s 25 small-turbine makers closed. Today, companies faces opposition from some town zoning boards and the lack of a federal tax credit that would make small turbines more economical for customers.

The average savings for turbine-equipped homes nationwide is about 40% and the typical payback period for a Skystream is 15 years. The company has sought a $4,000 federal tax credit for small wind systems in the energy bill which would reduce the average payback to nine years. However, Senate Republicans last month narrowly blocked an effort by refusing to let the measure come up for a vote as part of a renewable energy package.

Southwest Windpower plans to continue seeking support in Congress for the tax credit, but even without the tax credit, the company expects that small turbine economics can be improved by cutting installation costs.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

“Mommy Factor”

Senator Jim Webb sits on the Armed Services Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee. He introduced a bill that required active duty troops to have at least as much time at home as their most recent tour. Webb was Secretary of the Navy under President Reagan and has been awarded the Silver Star for heroism.

Webb’s bill called for a one year in Iraq to a minimum of one year state side ratio for people on active duty. Those in the Guard and Reserves, that had been gone for a year would get three years back home. 

General Petraeus said the war is going to take a very long time. Every time our troops get different commanders or new ideas from the White House the same troops are used over and over again. Webb considers this irresponsible.

Our troops have been occupying Iraq for more than four years and Senator Webb insists Congress must start to shape operational policies as it relate to the troops. Webb said: “This puts a great responsibility on those of us in leadership positions to make sure they’re used right.” Our troops will continue to be “used” as gangsters for capitalism, because yesterday, nearly all Republican Senators voted against closure for Webb’s bill. Thereby, they again demonstrated they support Bush’s policies even if it breaks our military.

Our military has a hard time recruiting people for this war effort in the enlisted ranks. They’re now resorting to felons, obese youth and the usual rejectees. Nevertheless, for the second consecutive month our military recruiters have failed to reach their goal.

We’re seeing retention numbers of officers go down.  The West Point class of 2000 and ‘01, which are the two most recent classes that finished their minimum obligation, have been bailing out of the military at a ratio that’s five times as high as before Iraq. Furthermore, since the invasion of Iraq the rate of Army desertions has increased 80 percent. 
 
The Pentagon is complaining about the “mommy factor”, whereby mothers are encouraging their sons and daughters not to enlist. If the voters fail to discharge Senate Republicans in sufficient numbers on election day of 2008, the “mommy factor” may be the only way to end the occupation of Iraq.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wealth Gap

The widening wealth gap in Mexico is fueling a massive exodus of Mexicans to this country. We’re aware of poverty in Mexico, but "Forbes Magazine" insists that it has more billionaires than Switzerland. Policy analysts say with Mexico’s natural resources, its leaders can do a lot more to create opportunities within Mexico, thus ending the incentive for its citizens to come to the United States illegally.

According to Reuters, Carlos Slim a Mexican businessman has a bigger fortune than Microsoft’s Bill Gates, making him the richest man in the world. He is said to be worth more than $60 billion.

There are two Mexicos, one of abject poverty and the other Mexico is thriving. Figures from a United Nations report that twenty percent of the population in Mexico live below the poverty line and nearly 10 percent live on less than a dollar a day. Billionaire Carlos Slim represents an elite class, which provide a glaring example of the lopsided distribution of wealth in Mexico.

Carol Graham of the Brookings Institution has stated: “In Latin-American where inequality has been so deep and persistent, inequality signals to most people, at least according to my research persistent advantage to the rich and persistent disadvantage for the poor. It's not a signal of equal opportunity.”

The North American Free Trade Agreement led to farmers leaving for factories in the north. Those job opportunities soon evaporated, when the jobs moved to lower wage countries like China.

Roy Beck a spokesman for NumbersUSA calls it exporting poverty. Beck claims: “What we saw in the Senate last month was that workers in the working neighborhoods in the United States rising up and saying, no more. We are not going to pay the cost of Mexico’s mismanagement of their economy. You’re not going to be able to offload forever.

Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon has recently instituted new anti-poverty programs. However, policy experts say until Mexico takes charge of its own future with structural changes, reforming its education system and ending corruption, Mexico will continue to be divide by the enormous gap between the oppressed poor and wealthy elite.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Illusionists

It’s alleged that prominent Republican Senator Richard Lugar has broken ranks with the Bush regime over Iraq. He has called for an orderly withdrawal of our troops in the coming months. However, the 73 year-old senator added that he would not support any cut in war funding as long as troops are on the ground fighting insurgents.

As the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Lugar said Bush should embrace moderates from both sides in Congress to chart a new path forward. Lugar recommends forming: “a diplomatic forum to bring together all the neighboring countries, and we meet continuously and we talk about our interests in Iraq but also our interests with each other.... Then withdrawal of a majority of American troops in a calm, orderly way over the next few months so that we refurbish our ability to meet problems elsewhere in the world.... I think we are too much stretched and I would add to that our recruiting problems have become severe.”

On the floor of the Senate, Lugar argued that Bush’s “surge” has not translated into meaningful progress by Iraqi authorities. Unfortunately, Bush has the authority to keep up troop deployments at current high levels, although the constraints of national election campaigning next year are likely to bring pause even to Bush, if he were to have that idea. Lugar hopes that Bush doesn’t have any such idea, and that he’s thinking about the diplomacy of the other nations and about reaching out to everybody else in the neighborhood.

Democrats are preparing a new offensive over Iraq funding in Congress’s latest authorization bill. However, Bush is pleading for patience ahead of a report by his designated commanders in September on the impact of his surge of thousands more troops.

Lugar states: "I hope something will come of this -- now, not punting the ball down to September." Following talks with Bush’s national security advisor Stephen Hadley, Lugar hoped for a positive response from the White House to his proposal of troop withdrawals married to a shift in diplomacy.

According to an angry blogger, which I posted on July 8 th. entitled: “Interesting Perspectives”-- Senate Republicans “declared their support for Bush and the Pentagon last month, when they acted against what 70% of the people want.” Senate Republicans like Lugar “needs to do some cover-their-rear PR work to create the illusion they want change. All you are seeing in the Senate is lying politicians trying to fool you in to not believing that you just saw them vote more money for the war.”

Monday, July 09, 2007

Americans Dying Prematurely

Cancer mortality rates in the U.S. are lower than Canada and France, but we need to look at overall longevity. Michael Moore’s documentary “Sicko” points out that on average, Canadians live three years longer than we do, and the French live considerably longer.

The reasons the French and Canadians live longer is directly related to the fact that we have 47 million people without health insurance. Those without health insurance feel sick, but decide they’ll get through it. Americans, who don’t have health insurance tend not see a doctor until it’s too late and they die prematurely.

According to the latest polls 78 percent of Canadians are happy with their system. They have delays with the Canadian system, but the average wait is four weeks for elective surgery. According to “Business Week”, we have long waits for certain things, also. For example American women may have to wait, as long as, six weeks for a mammogram. The difference, between waiting in U.S. and waiting in Canada, is that the Canadians have a triage system, which determines, who needs care the most and entitles them to go to the front of the line. That’s not the case in this country. If you’re lucky enough to have a good health care plan, you’re going to get quicker service.

You’ll find people criticizing the Canadian system, but not the French system, because the World Health Organization says the French have the best health care system in the world. The French have taken the profit motive out of health care.

The middle class in France pay more taxes than we do in America. However, many things are covered. Their kids go to college for free. They have no medical bills. Their day care is cheap or free. If we add up what Americans have to pay for those services, plus the taxes we pay, we end up paying more than the French.

The United States has slipped to 37th in health care around the world, just slightly ahead of Slovenia and Cuba. Perhaps the reason America doesn’t have the finest health care system in the world is, because there are four health care lobbyists for every member of Congress.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Interesting Perspectives

I’ve recently read two interesting comments on the website of Caroline Arnold, who served 12 years on the staff of U.S. Senator John Glenn and is now active in community and environmental affairs in Kent, Ohio.

COMark insisted: “Impeachment is a necessary start, but it will never happen. Impeachment of the president and vice president would expose too much about how the US really works. It would expose complicity in their crimes at all levels of power in this country: Democrats, Republicans, Congress, corporate America, Halliburton, Blackwater, the defense contractors, and America’s most beloved and trusted institution the military.”

Another angry person wrote: “Don’t get fooled by yet more bullshit from the Democrats. Nothing will happen there. Most likely, they’ll do some more symbolic votes, maybe something they know Bush will veto, then the veto won’t get overridden.

“Or the fine print of what comes out of the Senate will be so loophole ridden as to be useless. For instance, Pelosi is running around talking about language that will withdrawal all troops except those fighting terrorist, training the Iraqis, or protecting those forces and the green zone.

“But guess what? That’s exactly what Bush says they are doing today. So Pelosi’s crap language changes nothing.

“Do not trust, nor put your hope in the Democrats. They have no intention of changing anything. If they did, the money bills were the place to act, and there the Senate has firmly declared its support for Bush and the Pentagon. Now that they’ve acted directly against what 70% of the people want, they will need to do some cover-their-rear PR work to create the illusion they want change. All you are seeing in the Senate now is lying politicians trying to fool you in to not believing that you just saw them vote more money for the war.

“The only goal of the Democrats is to deflect the anti-war energy back into their worthless, lying campaigns. They have no real intention of changing anything. If they wanted to change anything, they would have already.”

Perhaps, we should send comments like these to our representatives in Congress and ask: “Do these comments have any validity?”

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Hear the Truth

The goal of our present health care industry is to maximize profits. Employees, who deny people health care get a bonus, because denial of a claim saves the company money.

A different kind of bonus is given to British doctors. While conducting an interview in England, Michael Moore asked a doctor, how much he makes. The doctor answered around $200,000 a year, but, “I get bonuses for the number of patients I get to stop smoking; to lower their cholesterol; or their blood pressure. I’ll make more money if more of my patients become healthier that year.”

We should try to affect change in the health care system by writing our federal and state representatives, but unfortunately our letters will not mean as much as large campaign contributions. It’s very important to get the money out of politics, because both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates have taken large sums of money from the pharmaceutical and health insurance companies.

It’s a difficult thing to fight, because the executives running the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies want to keep things the way the are. The good news is that, because we still have one person, one vote in this country there’s more of us than there are of them.

We have got to use our power as citizens in a democracy to elect only candidates, who support universal free health care for all Americans. Demand that the candidates you intend to vote for not take money from the drug or the health insurance lobbyist. We have to hold their feet to the fire on this because politicians won’t do it on their own.

America is a great place, and it’s full of great people. Americans have a conscience and know the difference between right and wrong. We must make sure that Americans start to hear the truth about how many of their fellow Americans go uninsured and how many of those with insurance don’t get the help that they should be getting. We must insist that the profit motive be taken out of health care.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Earth

The following are excerpts from an article entitled: “Moving Beyond Kyoto” by Al Gore
    
“Earth is in danger. What is at risk of being destroyed is not the planet itself, but the conditions that have made it hospitable for human beings.

”Without realizing the consequences of our actions, we have begun to put so much carbon dioxide into the thin shell of air surrounding our world that we have literally changed the heat balance between Earth and the Sun. If we don't stop doing this pretty quickly, the average temperature will increase to levels humans have never known and put an end to the favorable climate balance on which our civilization depends.

“In the last 150 years, in an accelerating frenzy, we have been removing increasing quantities of carbon from the ground - mainly in the form of coal and oil - and burning it in ways that dump 70 million tons of CO2 every 24 hours into the Earth's atmosphere.

“The concentrations of CO2 - having never risen above 300 parts per million for at least a million years - have been driven from 280 parts per million at the beginning of the coal boom to 383 parts per million this year.

“Just in the last few months, new studies have shown that the north polar ice cap - which helps the planet cool itself - is melting nearly three times faster than the most pessimistic computer models predicted. Unless we take action, summer ice could be completely gone in as little as 35 years. Similarly, at the other end of the planet, near the South Pole, scientists have found new evidence of snow melting in West Antarctica across an area as large as California.

“Consider this tale of two planets. Earth and Venus are almost exactly the same size, and have almost exactly the same amount of carbon. The difference is that most of the carbon on Earth is in the ground - having been deposited there by various forms of life over the last 600 million years - and most of the carbon on Venus is in the atmosphere.

“As a result, while the average temperature on Earth is a pleasant 59 degrees, the average temperature on Venus is 867 degrees. True, Venus is closer to the Sun than we are, but the fault is not in our star; Venus is three times hotter on average than Mercury, which is right next to the Sun. It’s the carbon dioxide."

“If the success or failure of this planet, and of human beings, depended on how I am and what I do, how would I be? What would I do?” - Buchminister Fuller

“Individual action will also have to shape and drive government action. Here Americans have a special responsibility. Throughout most of our short history, the United States and the American people have provided moral leadership for the world. Establishing the Bill of Rights, framing democracy in the Constitution, defeating fascism in World War II, toppling Communism and landing on the moon all were the result of American leadership.
 
“To this end, we should demand that the United States join an international treaty within the next two years that cuts global warming pollution by 90 percent in developed countries and by more than half worldwide in time for the next generation to inherit a healthy Earth.

“Our next president must immediately focus on quickly concluding a new and even tougher climate change pact. We should aim to complete this global treaty by the end of 2009 and not wait until 2012 as currently planned.

“A new treaty will still have differentiated commitments, of course; countries will be asked to meet different requirements based upon their historical share or contribution to the problem and their relative ability to carry the burden of change. This precedent is well established in international law, and there is no other way to do it.

“Our children have a right to hold us to a higher standard when their future - indeed, the future of all human civilization is hanging in the balance. They deserve better than a government that censors the best scientific evidence and harasses honest scientists who try to warn us about looming catastrophe. They deserve better than politicians who sit on their hands and do nothing to confront the greatest challenge that humankind has ever faced even as the danger bears down on us.

“We should focus instead on the opportunities that are part of this challenge. Certainly, there will be new jobs and new profits as corporations move aggressively to capture the enormous economic opportunities offered by a clean energy future.

“But there's something even more precious to be gained if we do the right thing. The climate crisis offers us the chance to experience what few generations in history have had the privilege of experiencing: a generational mission; a compelling moral purpose; a shared cause; and the thrill of being forced by circumstances to put aside the pettiness and conflict of politics and to embrace a genuine moral and spiritual challenge.”
 

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Unitary Executive

An editorial appeared in the NY Times recently recommending: “Members of Congress have a variety of methods available to make the administration obey the law. They should call the agency heads up to Capitol Hill to explain their intransigence. And they should use the power of the purse, the authority the founders wisely vested in the people’s branch, as a check on a runaway executive branch.”

Bush has issued signing statements taking exception to hundreds of bills as he signs them into law. In many cases, he has refused to enact those laws. The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan arm of Congress found that many laws have not been implemented as required. The G.A.O. did not investigate some of Bush’s most infamous signing statements, like the challenge to a ban on torture.

In one case, Congress directed the Pentagon in its 2007 budget request to account separately for the cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was an appropriate request, but Bush issued a signing statement critical of the rule and the Pentagon withheld the information.

The Bush regimes disregard for these laws is part of its preposterous theory of the “unitary executive.” Bush claims that he has the sole authority to supervise and direct executive officers, and that Congress and the courts cannot interfere. This theory, which has no support in American history or the Constitution, is a formula for dictatorship.

Other presidents have issued signing statements, but none has issued as many, or done so with the same contemptuous attitude toward a co-equal branch of government. The G.A.O. report makes clear that Bush’s signing statements were actually written instructions to executive agencies to flout acts of Congress. The report shows that Bush keeps seeking more power and pushing Congress aside.

When Bush’s term ends, there will be a great deal of damage to repair, much of it to the Constitutional system. Congress should begin now to restore the principle that a president and the executive branch of government are not above the law. Congress must use its powers to insist that its laws are obeyed by using the power of the purse.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Special Note: The only great grandmother that lived long enough for me to remember was Julia Livingston Sweetzer.  She was a direct decedent of Robert Livingston.  During the Second Continental Congress, Robert Livingston was one of five committee members; the others being Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Roger Sherman, who helped draft the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A Broken System

The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say 43.6 million were uninsured in 2006. For the past five years, the overall count has fluctuated between 41 million and 44 million people. According to the Institute of Medicine, 18,000 people die each year mainly because they are less likely to receive screening and preventive care for chronic diseases.

Americans continue to spend $2 trillion a year on health care, which is more than 15 percent of our GDP on health care. France spends about 11 percent, and Canadians 10 percent.

Spending more money does not equal better care, since both the French and Canadian systems rank in the top 10 of the world’s best healthcare systems, according to the World Health Organization. The United States comes in at number 37. The rankings are based on general health of the population, access, patient satisfaction and how the care’s paid for.

Americans are paying more, but not getting as much care for their money. According to Deloitte healthcare analyst Paul Keckley the money is going to pay for overhead, which include profits and administrative costs. Most private health insurance plans range between 10 percent to 30 percent in overhead expenses.

Mark Meaney, a healthcare ethicist for the National Institute for Patient Rights reports Medicare’s overhead is only 1 percent, because Medicare is an extremely efficient healthcare delivery system.

Approximately, fifty percent of all healthcare dollars spent in the United States flows through government-funded healthcare systems such as Medicare, Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Veterans Affairs healthcare systems.

With the exception of Germany, Americans have shorter wait times, when it comes to nonemergency elective surgery such as hip replacements, cataract removal or knee repair.

However, that’s not a surprise given the number of U.S. specialists. In our medical schools, students training to become primary-care physicians have dwindled to 10 percent. The overwhelming majority choose far more profitable specialties in the medical field. In other countries, more than one out of three aspiring doctors chooses primary care in part because there’s less of an income gap with specialists. In those nations, becoming a specialist means making 30 percent more than a primary-care physician, but in America, the gap is around 300 percent.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Universal Health Care

Many years ago people didn’t have to worry if they got sick, because they could afford to go to the doctor. Doctors made house calls and it’s unlikely anyone can recall people going bankrupt because of medical bills. Today, the number one cause of bankruptcy and ensuing homelessness in the United States are medical bills.

Back in the 1950’s Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine. He was asked: “Aren't you going to patent that, you know, you could make a lot of money?” Dr. Salk’s reply was: “No, I'm not going to patent it. That would be immoral. This belongs to the people.” Medical researcher Willem J. Kolff invented the kidney dialysis machine, but wouldn’t patent it. He said: “I'm giving this to society.”

Harry Truman proposed national health insurance in 1948, but we remain one of the few countries in the world that doesn't have it. Of the top 25 industrialized countries, we’re the only one that doesn’t have universal health care. Health Care should be recognized as a human right not a privilege, and there is no reason a person shouldn’t get health care in America.

Americans are for the most part generous people, especially when a tragedy occurs. In fact, we have a tragedy taking place every year in America. Eighteen thousand people a year die in this country for no other reason than the fact that they don’t have a health insurance card. That's six times the number of victims on 9/11, every single year in America.

We have a broken health care system. Most other industrialized countries have the attitude that if too many of their people fall between the cracks, their society as a whole suffers. They’ve made a commitment to making sure that there’s a safety net.

The quality of America’s health care is very good and there’s no doubt that we have some of the best doctors in the world. Unfortunately, that health care doesn’t apply to the forty-seven million people without health insurance. Furthermore, many people that have health insurance think they’re fully covered, but find out differently, when the insurance company tells them their not covering that particular illness or procedure.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Public Confession

Your doctor thinks that you need an operation, but can’t order the operation or send you to a specialist. Your doctor must call someone sitting in a cubicle a thousand miles away, to get permission. The doctors who work at the insurance companies, get bonuses for denying the most number of claims.

There are people in the health care industry who have a conscience, and Dr. Linda Peeno, a former medical reviewer at Humana is one of them. She was let go because she wasn’t denying enough claims.

On May 30, 1996, Linda Peeno testified before Congress. She stated: “I am here primarily today to make a public confession. In the spring of 1987, as a physician, I denied a man a necessary operation that would have saved his life and thus caused his death. No person and no group has held me accountable for this because, in fact, what I did was I saved a company a half a million dollars.”

This lucrative system began back in the early '70s with Richard Nixon. Secret Nixon tapes, which are played in Michael Moore’s documentary “Sicko”, confirm that John Ehrlichman, Nixon's assistant for domestic affairs, spoke to him about the idea of HMOs. Nixon didn’t want to hear anything about medical stuff, but Ehrlichman insists it’s private enterprise. Insurance companies had come up with an idea of providing less care, which allowed them to make more money. Nixon liked the idea and that is how modern day HMOs began.

Nine million of the 43.6 million Americans that are uninsured are children. You would think that in America no child should have to worry about not being able to see a doctor simply because their parents can’t afford it. We should at least be able to find common ground on this issue.