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Am I an American Person?

I listened to a Congressman from Alabama give the Republican’s weekly statement (after the President’s weekly statement) on NBC this morning and was told that despite what Pelosi and Reid want, despite the threat of using reconciliation to push the Health Care bill through, the American People don’t want the Health Care bill as it has been debated and argued over the past year. He said the American People want Congress and The President to “start over on a new page.”

Here in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, about as American a location as you can find, I sit watching this knowing that I WANT a Health Care bill to be passed NOW. I know that if the government starts on a NEW PAGE it will be in the face of a rate-raising, highly profitable private insurance system and a 10-to-1 ratio of lobbyists who are NOT starting on a new page, who will work day and night to weaken any progress.

Do I want to allow this to happen? Do I not want to see the potential for Health Care plans that will be made available for 30 million more people, that will allow insurance companies to cancel existing plans or not let folks with pre-existing conditions (like little ol’ diabetic me) sign up if they change jobs? Am I not an American Person?

I asked my wife, who also wants to see Health Care passed NOW if she was an American Person. Oddly enough, she said she was. Last night we sat in a lounge with friends from the Philadelphia area (they are pretty American, too, and all 4 were People) and they had the same feelings about Health Care politics that we had.

Yet the Republicans keep pointing out that the American People want things to start again on a NEW Page.

Well, as an official American Person, in contact with lots of other American People, may I say that WE DON’T WANT TO START ON A NEW PAGE. We want the Health Care plan to go through NOW. We have too many other things to get to and we don’t want to throw away all the work that has been done so far. And we don’t want the Insurance Industry and the Lobbyists to be given still another advantage in the debate.

No Republicans have asked me for my opinion, yet, as an American Person, they are willing to form their opinion as reported words from my mouth. Maybe they should get on board with the rest of us and put America ahead of Party Politics.

An open letter to a number of politicians, including the President:

To the Majority leaders of the Senate, the House of Representatives, their Minority counterparts, the President of the United States, and various others (such as Senators McCain, Lieberman, and all the others who are making a mess out of our legislative system and the future of our economy and our government):

What the hell is wrong with you guys? Don’t you know we are watching all of you as you behave like High School adolescents and make our lawmaking processes a joke? Don’t you know you were elected by ordinary people like me and, while we don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to make sure your campaign hotel accommodations are first rate, we believed that in voting for you… all of you…that you would not only represent us, but LISTEN to our concerns and work together to solve our collective problems?

I don’t think you do. Any of you… and, frankly, I am losing faith in your campaign promises, your intelligence and intellect, and your ability to do the best you can for the majority of Americans.

Are you aware that at least 99.9% of the people who voted for all of you are NOT Insurance CEOs, or Bankers, or Stockbrokers, or, for that matter, Party Attack Dogs? We are working people… some of us long past the point of collecting unemployment as we try to find a job in the economy you have previously legislated into existence. Yet every day you remove your lips from some lobbyist’s backside and remove one more item from the list of reasons we originally gave you our votes. And, if you are an intentional staller like Mitch McConnell, a direct employee of the Insurance companies like Holy Joe Lieberman, or a Religion-created Anti- Abortionist like Ben Nelson, you are more concerned with making most Americans a species of serfs with no voice in the matter.

Well, I have a suggestion for all of you: Listen to what THE PEOPLE are saying and  try to factor that into your decisions. And I warn you, the people are NOT saying: “don’t do anything.” They are NOT saying “make sure my money makes the Insurance companies richer.” They are NOT saying “ignore where the Banks are spending the give-away millions you gave them.”

And Nelson… for you and the anti-choice contingent in general. If you’re going to take away a woman’s right to maintain her own body, then you have to do something similar to men… my suggestion is a law requiring IMMEDIATE CASTRATION for any man who gets a woman pregnant against her will or who stands in the way of a woman’s power of choice. And make this law publicly enforced! If you do, you’ll see how fast any Abortion amendments drift away into the night.

And Mr. President, it is time for you to get off your butt and take charge of the things we elected you for. We didn’t elect you to stay out of the way of Congress. We DID elect you to keep the promises you made… or at least to TRY!

I’m getting tired of ALL OF YOU. And I’m not the only one. Your problem is that you’ll wait until there’s an election to find out for yourself.

Did you see this in the NY Times this morning?

clipped from

In House, Many Spoke With One Voice: Lobbyists’

In the official record of the historic House debate on overhauling health care, the speeches of many lawmakers echo with similarities. Often, that was no accident.
Statements by more than a dozen lawmakers were ghostwritten, in whole or in part, by Washington lobbyists working for Genentech, one of the world’s largest biotechnology companies.
E-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that the lobbyists drafted one statement for Democrats and another for Republicans.
Genentech, a subsidiary of the Swiss drug giant Roche, estimates that 42 House members picked up some of its talking points — 22 Republicans and 20 Democrats, an unusual bipartisan coup for lobbyists.
In an interview, Representative Bill Pascrell Jr., Democrat of New Jersey, said: “I regret that the language was the same. I did not know it was.” He said he got his statement from his staff and “did not know where they got the information from.”
“Members of Congress submit statements for publication in the Congressional Record all the time, often with a decorous request to “revise and extend my remarks.” It is unusual for so many revisions and extensions to match up word for word. It is even more unusual to find clear evidence that the statements originated with lobbyists.”


Go to the Times and read the whole article.

blog it

Now lets get a handle on who is running things. Is it the people we voted for? Did we vote for them because we heard their voices and thought they agreed with us? Or did we vote for them and they turned around and let the lobbyists have their voice in the Congress and to hell with us.

It bothers me that there are Democrats AND Republicans here. Now it’s time to do something to eliminate the power of the Lobby. If that means finding a way to cut into their capitalist businesses, then that is what we have to do. And we have to get our elected representatives to show us that they REPRESENT US… the people who voted for them.

Blogs will point out what is going on. Organizations will pass on the message. And when it comes time for next year’s election there are around 500 people running for office that better decide who they are going to serve in the Congress.

The pace will pick up on the Health Care debate as we get closer to Thanksgiving…

To start with, PhARMA, the big pharmaceuticals lobby, is spending 12 million bucks right now on ads promoting the Baucus bill, and they’ve set aside a total of 150 million bucks for the rest of the campaign. This is part of the 80 billion that the industry has pledged over ten years to reduce pharmaceutical costs ( although how this 12 million reduces costs, I don’t know… surely they will find a way to bill this expense to the consumer.)

They have set up an “action committee” called The Americans for Stable Quality Care Coalition, an impressive mask, I think. The NY Times seems to think there will be some friction here with the House of reps, the Baucus bunch in the Senate, and Obama:

President Obama has cited the deal with the group as signifying a new era of cooperation. But some critics say the advertising fund could be wielded against alternative approaches to health care legislation. Some House Democrats, including Henry A. Waxman of California, are seeking drug industry givebacks not covered in the deal with Mr. Baucus and the White House.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs expressed some annoyance yesterday that lobbyists were clued in to the health care plan proposed by Sen. Max Baucus’ Finance Committee before the White House and other lawmakers.

According to The Hill, Gibbs said he was told that:

“K Street had a copy of the Baucus plan, meaning, not surprisingly, the special interests have gotten a copy of the plan that I understand was given to committee members today.”

To see what a small world it is here, it should be noted that many of Baucus’ former staffers now work as health care industry lobbyists and two former lobbyists work on his committee staff. I don’t get the sense that any of them are related in any way to the average consumer or middle-class voter.

Jenna Staul over at HuffPo quoted Paul Blumenthal of the Sunlight Foundation as saying:

So, let me get this straight. A former lobbyist for a health insurance company writes a health reform plan, which is then leaked to lobbyists, some of whom were likely former Baucus staffers, and public disclosure is delayed by a couple of days — the plan was released to the media and lobbyists over the past few days but only posted to the Finance Committee web site today. To paraphrase the late, great Bill Hicks, it just doesn’t sound good when you walk it out.

It looks to me like President Obama isn’t paying attention to the Finance Commttee’s Gang of Six activities… and remember, these were the guys (and gal) who shut out single-payer and put a wall up in front of Government Options.

Watch the Advertising… The Health Care fight is getting heavier on both sides.

As I wait for Obama to give his speech to the joint houses of Congress tonight,  I am seeing ads all over the place pushing every possible view on reforming health care. I’ve seen late-night ads by independent (although obviously right-wingnut) organizations pushing every lie that has been raised on Health Care Reform, from Death Panels to to a statement that the majority of Americans are happy with what they’ve got. I’ve seen the AARP come out pushing reform in Health Care and not to shy away from changes that have to be made.

Here is a page from today’s NY Times (as a matter of clarification and integrity, I was one of the petition signers mentioned):


When I turned the TV on this morning I saw this ad by Michael Steele and the Republican National Committee:

Mark Silva in the Chicago Tribune blog, The Swamp, says about this ad:

In political circles, there is a term for the tactic that the Republican National Committee is deploying with a new run of national cable ads and TV ads airing in Florida:


With its ad touting a “Seniors’ Bill of Rights,” the RNC is capitalizing on fears that Medicare will be undermined in the health-care initiatives that Democratic leaders in Congress are debating, and that the government will force “end-of-life” decisions. … The suggestion for a seniors’ bill of rights, something that everyone can agree on, overlooks the fact that what everyone is having trouble agreeing on is a national plan that offers health insurance for people who lack it. Senior citizens are insured.

And no where, of course, does Steele mention Insurance Companies and the obscene profits they make denying claims.

So we wait tonight for Barack Obama to take control of the situation. The talking heads on television are debating “public option” and “triggered” public option (which I like to think of as the Roy Rogers’ Horse Plan) or whether the Democrats will sign on if there is no public option at all.

Meanwhile, the Insurance company lobbyists are getting their jollies on by keeping both sides at each others’ throats.

Under The LobsterScope

Some insight into the Blue Dog Democrats: Health care industry contributes heavily to Blue Dogs

This is from a McClatchy article on the $62,650 more That Blue Dogs get from the health sector than other Democrats. I’ve put part of it here… but read the whole thing.
clipped from
WASHINGTON — As the Obama administration and Democrats wrangled over the timing, shape and cost of health care overhaul efforts during the first half of the year, more than half the $1.1 million in campaign contributions the Democratic Party’s Blue Dog Coalition received came from the pharmaceutical, health care and health insurance industries, according to watchdog organizations.
BLUE-DOGSThe amount outstrips contributions to other congressional political action committees during the same period, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit watchdog organization. The Blue Dogs, a group of fiscally conservative lawmakers, successfully delayed the vote on health care overhaul proposals until the fall.
“The business community realizes that (the Blue Dogs) are the linchpin and will become much more so as time goes on,” former Mississippi congressman turned lobbyist Mike Parker told the organization’s researchers.
blog it

Quote of the Day

“How come whenever I hear something described as the ‘centrist’ position on a policy, it is always, always the exact position that the big DC corporate lobbyists are pushing?”

– Dave Johnson in Seeing The Forest

Senate Finance Committee Kisses PhRMA’s Ass – cuts Public Option from Health Care Bill

Let’s congratulate Max Baucus and Charles Grassley who have knuckled under to Big Pharmaceuticals and kept any Public Option out of the Senate Finance Committee’s bill. They can join the applause brought to the measure by the rich and make the United States remain outrageously stupid when compared with EVERY OTHER INDUSTRIALIZED NATION.

It’s really incredible that they can ignore the President, the majority of Americans and those who see the absolute logic in making health care a reformed institution as opposed to a guaranteed moneymaker for the employers of lobbyists.

Quote of the Day

” That’s how it works. And it works that way because we let it. The game goes on and the insiders keep dealing themselves winning hands. Nothing will change – nothing – until the moneylenders are tossed out of the temple, the ATM’s are wrested from the marble halls, and we tear down the sign they’ve placed on government – the one that reads, ‘For Sale.'”

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

If you didn’t get this from the SEIU, you’re getting it from me…

From the Service Employees International Union:

$1.4 million dollars per day.

That’s how much the health care industry is spending to lobby against President Obama’s health care reform plan, according to the Washington Post. They know they don’t have the support of the American people, so they’ve resorted to buying their way into the debate with record amounts of spending on lobbying and political activities.

And now that Congress is moving on a specific legislation, our opponents are redoubling their efforts. We need to be there to meet them head-on.

Will you make sure the true voice of the majority is heard? Call Congress and tell them to support a plan that makes health care affordable for everyone: 1-866-210-3678

As health care activists, our calls are especially important right now. Industry lobbyists may have deep pockets, but they can’t talk about health care the same way we can. They don’t understand what it’s like to live this crisis every day – and to have our family members, our friends, and our neighbors struggling to provide decent care for themselves and their loved ones, too.

We get it and we need to make sure Congress gets it, too. Call your member of Congress right now: 1-866-210-3678

Today, SEIU and other groups are coordinating thousands of calls across the country in support of a plan for affordable health care. I hope you’ll take 5 minutes to be a part of it by calling 1-866-210-3678 and telling your member of Congress to fix health care now.

Dr. L. Toni Lewis, MD
SEIU Healthcare

PS – After your call, you can let us know how it went by filling out our brief report back form: We’ll use the information from your reports to help plan the next stages of our campaign.

Cartoon of the Week

Pat Oliphant in the Washington Post:

This sums it up pretty well. With 70 – 85% of Americans wanting a Public Option (and most of these wanting a Single Payer system), the Congress has kow-towed to the Lobbyists of the Insurance Companies and Pharmaceutical Companies… and they have done it visibly!

Where does that leave us as voters?