Archives for category: Health Care

Last night, the real President Obama showed up. In doing so, he handily won the second of the three presidential debates and likely stopped the momentum Mitt Romney had achieved from the first one.

Always ahead on substance—even in the first debate—Obama clearly outperformed Romney on style as well. To continue our boxing metaphor from the last post, all the major blows of the night were delivered by the president. These included a solid shot to the chin in the debate’s closing moments, hitting hard at Romney’s disdain for 47% of Americans.

That last shot, in fact, typified Romney’s miscues throughout the night. In his closing remarks, Romney had said he was for “100% of all Americans”. Up until that point, no one had discussed what percentage of the country he cared about. It was a perfect opening, and Obama took it: Bam!

There were several other Romney slipups as well. His phrase “binders full of women” became an instant Internet meme because it nicely encapsulates his patronizing, out-of-touch attitude on women’s issues and rights. His repeated insistence that Obama had not called the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi a “terrorist attack” until two weeks after the fact had to be forcefully refuted by the moderator, Candy Crowley. “Say it louder, Candy,” the president smilingly urged. Finally, when Romney suggested that Obama look at his own pension, the president replied “I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours….”

Last night was all Obama, all the time. If he repeats this performance next Monday in the final debate, he can put Romney down for the count.

"It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down."
—Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO), explaining why pregnancy does not result from rape, and abortion bans should therefore have no exceptions.

With the quote above, Congressman Akin created a firestorm of criticism from within his own party, as well as from Democrats. There were many calls for him to resign from the Senate race in Missouri—calls which, late this afternoon, he decided to reject. He is staying in the race. And why not? He still has a narrow lead in the polls there. And he still shares co-authorship of the "Sanctity of Human Life Act," with VP nominee Paul Ryan. The act is a so-called personhood measure that defines life as beginning at fertilization and authorizes the federal and state governments to protect life from that point forward, with no exceptions.

Mitt Romney has said (after Akin’s impolitic remarks) that a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in cases of rape. But Ryan’s (and Akin’s) authorship of the Sanctity of Human Life Act says otherwise. And so does a plank in the official Republican Party platform, which was just approved today. The party’s anti-abortion plank makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

The whole Akin episode represents one more reason (as if we needed it) to turn back the Republicans this fall.

It’s also one more reason why the Congressional election here in NY-19 is so vitally important. Please sign up to support and/or volunteer for the Julian Schreibman campaign today.

New York State’s new 19th Congressional District (see map below, borrowed from Julian Schreibman’s campaign site) is far more logical, and also more compact, than its predecessor, the 20th. There is no skinny finger extending up into the Adirondacks for no apparent reason (except to garner more Republican votes). Instead, the new district wraps around Albany to the north and encompasses the Catskills and the mid to upper Hudson Valley. It also extends west to the PA border and east to Connecticut and Massachusetts.

NY's 19th Congressional District
New York’s 19th Congressional District

NY-19, because it contains Kingston and all of Ulster County, should be friendlier to Democrats than the old 20th District that elected Chris Gibson. And because the district is less gerrymandered and more of a piece than the 20th, it has the potential to be more unified in general, and thus represents more promising ground for region-wide efforts—economic development and broadband initiatives, for example.

We’ll be looking at the Congressional candidates and the pros and cons of NY-19 in the weeks and months leading up to the election. Spoiler alert: for counties like Greene, that used to reside in the 20th, a Schreibman-Democratic victory would represent an empowering step forward.

It could be argued, with a high degree of credibility, that the most serious roadblock to happiness and fulfillment, not to mention health and general well-being for the average American in 2012 is the Republican Party. Or, to be more specific, the practices and principles which are embraced and endorsed by the current incarnation of the Republican Party.

Let’s look down the list. The economy? Still in the tank, thanks to the profligate spending of the Bush administration and the crimes and predations of Wall Street and the banking industry. The environment? Drill, baby, drill—and frack you in the process. Health care? Let’s repeal it. Civil rights? Depends on whose. Women’s rights? Sure, we have lots of special laws just for women.

It is heartening, then, to watch Mitt Romney and the Republicans squirm as the candidate comes under attack for his work at Bain Capital, and for his refusal to release more than two years of tax returns.

Bain of Our Existence
Photo: Evan Vucci/AP, on csmonitor.com

It’s no wonder Romney is defensive about his time at Bain, and about when he ended it. After all, the firm is notorious for outsourcing and layoffs, and for investing in such sterling endeavors as Stericycle, a company that specialized in disposing of aborted fetuses collected from family planning clinics, among other things. And that was an investment that took place in 1999, by the way.

As for the missing tax returns … as so many others have said, the calculation must have been made that it would be more damning to release the returns than to withhold them. Hence Romney’s continued refusal to show anything earlier than his 2010 return. We already know about the offshore accounts Romney has, and we already know he makes tons of money (most of it from his Bain days). What is he hiding? And as a presidential candidate, is he really entitled to hide it?

Let’s keep the pressure on.

Once again, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to move the country backward by repealing “Obamacare”, even after the Supreme Court upheld it. Our representative Chris Gibson was among the reactionaries voting to undo health care reform, despite the fact that the people he ostensibly represents have some of the poorest health care outcomes in the state. Gibson has been cheered on by a band of hill country Greene County zealots who seem oblivious to their own best interests.

The Blue team obviously has a lot of work to do. Locally, it’s important to counter the hysterical rants these dimwits regularly submit to the local press. Try to be polite when doing so … it’s not always easy.

Nationally, we need to elect Julian Schreibman this November and send Gibson packing. That will better serve our county’s residents in many important ways, including health care. Even those residents too blinded by Tea Party slogans to recognize genuine progress when it occurs.

Here’s another excellent and timely post from our Columbia County correspondent, Lee Jamison. She’s writing about the lack of genuine broadband options in our region, and what can be done about it. This is an issue that BlueInGreene will return to repeatedly as November approaches, since NY-19’s Democratic candidate for Congress Julian Schreibman is open to real solutions, rather than simply paying lip service to the crying need we have.

Lee’s post:

More faux-Broadband, this time from Fairpoint!

How many Stuyvesant residents got a huge postcard mailer in their box today touting:

Lightning fast 7Mbps Broadband Internet
Now with a price-lock guarantee for 18 months $29.95/month

Wait a second! I’m already a Fairpoint customer—so how come I don’t have 7Mbps?

I double checked my internet speed at http://www.SpeedMatters.org.
—4.7 Mbps for download
—.09 Mbps for upload

My speeds are worse than the averages for NYS, worse than averages for the entire USA (5.2Mbps). Japan (15.9 Mbps) and South Korea (20.4Mbps) leave everybody in the dust! Gasp! And here I thought the USA was #1 in all things techie?

So why don’t I have 7Mbps? My physics teacher friend, Christian, had the answer, “Read the fine print!”

Sure enough, there was fine print on that card:

“…taxes and additional charges may apply. Not all services available in all areas. Available speeds may vary depending on customer location. Speed and uninterrupted service are not guaranteed…”

Fairpoint reported losses of $46.7 million in the 1st quarter of 2012. Sound bad? It was better than 2011 4th quarter, when they lost $84 million.

Nevertheless, Stuyvesant does have fiber optic cable running along the CSX(Amtrak) Right-of-Way and Rt9—with no public access. Who uses it? Who paid for it to be put in? How do we get access? Wouldn’t it be good for business?

Ontario County, NY built their own “middle-mile” fiber optic cable system for an investment of around $5 million for a 200 mile ring.
Axcess Ontario Officially Complete | Community Broadband Networks

Anybody think the Board of Supervisors might ask some questions?

Rural Electrification went through Congress in 1936 during the Great Depression. Surely our Congress could manage real Rural Broadband for the economic development of Hudson Valley. Even our current Tea Party Congressman says he’s for Rural Broadband. But we need more than just lip service to make it happen, and we probably need healthier, better managed companies than Fairpoint.

—Lee

Few people expected today’s surprise 5-4 Supreme Court decision upholding President Obama’s health care overhaul law. Fewer still expected that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. would cast the deciding vote in upholding the law. It is a solid victory for the Blue team, and a boost for the president in this election year.

There are, however, complications. The major one is that the court rejected Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce as the basis for the health care law’s individual mandate to purchase insurance. This time, Roberts sided with the court’s conservatives in the 5-4 decision.

But the individual mandate was upheld, on the basis of the government’s ability to impose taxation. By viewing the mandate as a tax, Chief Justice Roberts was able to support it.

The commerce clause rejection was not good news. It had been used for a wide range of prior federal actions, including some civil rights laws, and the court’s decision will doubtless result in many new challenges to those actions.

For those who view U.S. history as a halting process of two steps forward, one step back, this is an historic day. Assuming the far right and the Tea Party can be held back at the polls this November, it means the U.S. will join all other wealthy Western nations in offering its citizens something reasonably close to universal health care. Could it be better? Sure. But this is a major, major accomplishment.

You’ve got to give Joel Tyner credit for gall. His campaign has managed to crank out a misleading, pre-primary robocall blast to Democrats throughout NY-19, in which Tyner says:

“Hi, this is Joel Tyner, a populist, progressive Democratic candidate for Congress in the 19th District, currently in my 5th term in the Dutchess County Legislature. I believe in core Democratic values. Unfortunately, my opponent says the jury is still out on fracking; I know it should be banned. I also stand with Maurice Hinchey, unlike my opponent, for Medicare for all and bringing back FDR’s Glass-Steagall Act to break up the big banks. Vote for me June 26th to be a strong voice for you and not an echo.”

This is blatant overreach (much like Tyner’s entire campaign). In the first place, he is misquoting Julian Schreibman on the fracking issue, by taking a radio interview comment out of context. He has been doing this for quite some time now. Julian Schreibman is against fracking. He knows it threatens our water supplies, and he doesn’t believe it offers economic benefits for New Yorkers. At an event in Catskill this past Sunday, Julian spelled it out: “fracking is bad for New York.”

Tyner is also overreaching by calling for universal Medicare when the health care reform we already have, along with Medicare itself, is under serious attack. And that points out a major distinction between these two candidates.

On the majority of issues, both Tyner and Schreibman are in close agreement. But Tyner is standing on his progressive soapbox as a longtime local legislator, while Schreibman has the organization, the resources, the experience and the political expertise to actually win against Chris Gibson this November.

Julian Schreibman held another “meet & greet” this past Sunday, at the Brik Gallery on Main Street in Catskill. It was an apt setting—Main Street had rebounded and was doing fairly well prior to the financial crisis; now it is a collection of largely empty storefronts where businesses, restaurants and galleries used to be (including Brik). This made Main Street an ideal setting for the recent, innovative “Wall Street to Main Street” exhibition put on by the Greene County Council on the Arts in collaboration with the artistic wing of Occupy Wall Street. Many of the window displays from that recently concluded exhibition remain, as the photo below demonstrates.

The Writing's on the Wall (or Window)
The Writing’s on the Wall (or Window)
Photo: John P. O’Grady

Mr. Schreibman spoke movingly, as though inspired by the reduced state of the street outside. He railed against America’s growing economic inequality, and vowed to do everything he could to address it. He also:

  • Spoke in favor of the DREAM Act
  • Firmly renounced fracking as bad for New York
  • Emphatically renounced policies of torture and rendition in America’s endless wars (this, in reply to an inquiry about his CIA background, which had nothing to do with field activities)
  • Explained how grateful he was for the help he received in getting a good (Yale) education, and described his belief that every American should be entitled to a chance at the same opportunities he had
  • Denounced our current Republican Congressman for voting against the interests of the 19th District
  • Announced strong support for new policies to stimulate economic growth in our region, including support for family farms and a strategic rural broadband initiative

It was another strong performance by a candidate whose appeal only continues to grow.

BlueInGreene couldn’t let this day pass without saluting our friends and colleagues in the various Occupy groups, who have done so much to bring America’s growing inequality to mass attention. If there is any hope for our two-party political system, it has been born on the streets.

As an example of the great influence Occupy has wielded, here is an angry, profane and engaging article by best-selling American novelist Stephen King on the subject of unequal taxation. Spoiler alert: a quote from the essay’s last paragraph is coming up.

Last year during the Occupy movement, the conservatives who oppose tax equality saw the first real ripples of discontent. Their response was either Marie Antoinette (“Let them eat cake”) or Ebenezer Scrooge (“Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”). Short-sighted, gentlemen. Very short-sighted. If this situation isn’t fairly addressed, last year’s protests will just be the beginning. Scrooge changed his tune after the ghosts visited him. Marie Antoinette, on the other hand, lost her head.

Think about it.

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