barbara's blog

Gaining ground and counting down

March 17, 2010 by barbara

barbara writes

Dennis Kucinich is the first Democrat to announce his shift from “no” to “yes” on the pending healthcare bill vote. Read full story in today’s New York Times. Excerpt follows:

Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio, said today that he plans to support the health care bill when it comes up for a vote this week. He becomes the first Democrat to publicly disclose his intention to switch from a no to a yes vote on the legislation.

“I’ve decided to cast a vote in favor of the legislation,” Mr. Kucinich said at a morning news conference in the Capitol. “If my vote is to be counted, let it count now for passage of the bill, hopefully in the direction of comprehensive health care reform.”

I believe it is imperative that we pass this into law. As everyone is saying, it's not perfect, but it's the best we can hope for right now. And it's not bad.

The Washington Post provides a great graphic to show where all reps currently stand. Those of us bearing the curse of Kline and Bachmann could help by leaning on the undecideds. Just sayin’.

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When is a myth really a lie?

March 13, 2010 by barbara

barbara writes

I find myself schlogging through the slough of despond again, wringing my hands whilst crying out into the bleak beyond, “Who can we trust? Oh, fine then. Whom?” It’s a darn good question. And the list is short.

One of my trusted sources is Paul Krugman (NY Times, Nobel Prize, et al). Infallible? Probably not. I’m not smart enough to know for sure. But I trust him. I believe most of what he says. And last week, Krugman weighed in on health reform myths.

Please read his op-ed piece in its entirety. What follows is a line on which to hang the whole of it.

(snip) …let me address three big myths about the proposed (health care) reform, myths that are believed by many people who consider themselves well-informed, but who have actually fallen for deceptive spin.

The first of these myths, which has been all over the airwaves lately, is the claim that President Obama is proposing a government takeover of one-sixth of the economy, the share of G.D.P. currently spent on health.

Well, if having the government regulate and subsidize health insurance is a “takeover,” that takeover happened long ago. Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs already pay for almost half of American health care, while private insurance pays for barely more than a third (the rest is mostly out-of-pocket expenses). Read on.

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Uffdah! You might be a Minnesotan...

February 28, 2010 by barbara

barbara writes

A friend who is rarely as cynical as I am was musing the other day about things that tend to ID Minnesotans. For example:

If you have “no new taxes” except those paid by the state’s poorest residents, you might be a Minnesotan (YMBAM).

If your state university is becoming as expensive as private colleges, but prevails in building an extravagant new stadium on campus, YMBAM.

If you live in a state where the poorest residents cannot afford and/or are being denied healthcare while people come to your state from around the world for superior healthcare, YMBAM. Oh, there's more, you betcha.

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Thank you, Keith Olbermann

February 26, 2010 by barbara

by Prairie with postscript by barbara

As a "child" of an 85-year-old in the hospital this week, bearing witness to families around us in the ICU unit who are dealing with the trauma of trying to figure out arrangements for their loved ones and what will be allowed by insurance and what won't as they cope with the challenges of medical conditions....

As one who saw too much of the trauma of families dealing with the harshness of the healthcare coverage system amid their traumas of medical circumstance and care during the long years of my husband's illnesses which finally claimed him last July, I have just two words for Keith Olbermann's special comment:

Please continue reading.

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Democracy is slip-sliding away

February 25, 2010 by barbara

Alan Anderson writes

In 2000, Al Gore won the presidency by more than 500,000 votes. Due to a technicality in Florida, conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices overturned the will of the people and failed to allow a recount to proceed, even though that was the directive of the Florida supreme court. Democracy was damaged.

Now, the Governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, is making a further mockery of our democratic system. He chose last year to exercise “unallotment,” and in so doing, he alone dictated the entire budget for the people of Minnesota. He disregarded the will of the legislature—the representatives of the people—and refused to negotiate. He didn’t have to. Pawlenty chose to misuse his power, completely disregarding the will of the majority….the same majority that voted for members of the House and Senate to represent them.

But wait. It gets worse. Read on.

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Tiger Woods speaks

February 19, 2010 by barbara

barbara writes

For as long as this has been playing out in public, I've resisted writing about Tiger Woods et al. So I’m not absolutely sure why I decided to watch him deliver his public statement this morning about his epic infidelity. And as I clicked CNN’s online link, I felt pretty much like a voyeur. Why the hell was I doing this? And why did it bring me to real, true, heart-tears? Rhetorical.

By the time you read here, you’ll have seen clips and transcripts of Tiger’s remarks, likely countless times. You'll read about the evident discomfort of those assembled in the room where he delivered his first public remarks. And you’ll have seen those remarks sliced, diced, dissected, inspected, corrected, critiqued and otherwise examined. I have chosen to disregard the aftermath and focus on what I saw, what I felt as I watched. I am entirely too susceptible to aftermath, I’ve learned. Read on.

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Really a Rogue?

February 02, 2010 by barbara

Alan Anderson writes:

Sarah Palin warned us she is going “rogue.” Her book describes her roadmap: In order to progress, “we must return to our founding principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, and strong national defense.” To that end, SarahPAC is devoted to supporting “fresh ideas and candidates who share our vision for reform and innovation.”

This week, we learned that her PAC has raised $1.3 million dollars. According FEC filings highlighted by the National Journal’s Hotline, Palin’s PAC spent more money on her Going Rogue book than on conservative candidates. She spent almost $48,000 buying books from Harper Collins to give to donors (hoping they will give to her), and $43,000 on conservative candidates seeking federal office. So much for supporting candidates.

This certainly places her in the rogue category, but I’m not sure that’s exactly where she wants to be. I find it interesting that she insists on being rogue, since I’m not sure she really knows what that means. Suffice it to say I wouldn’t want to be labeled rogue if I wanted to be President of the United States.

The dictionary reveals several meanings for rogue. Few of them are flattering. For example: a rogue is an unprincipled person; a scoundrel. Rogue also refers to being mischievous and a rogue’s gallery is a “collection of pictures of criminals maintained in police files used for making identification.”

For a Republican, rogue is especially unbecoming, because it references a “lone, violently aggressive wild elephant, separated from the rest of the herd.” Read on.

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A first-year comparison

January 26, 2010 by barbara

Guest post by Alan Anderson

(cross-posted at the mnpACT web site.)

Obama’s first year is complete. He gives his State of the Union address tomorrow night. And so it’s time to consider how well he has done, especially given that he inherited world-wide mistrust of the United States, the worst economy since the Great Depression and two wars that are killing us in both financial and human costs.

What happened in President Bush’s first year? Not much. He lowered taxes on the rich by an astronomical amount (which has helped to increase our deficit). He failed to prevent the 9/11 attack, even though he had many warnings about Osama Bin Laden’s plans. He took a month’s vacation on the heels of warnings about potential air strikes. The stock market plummeted 3,000 points and we fell into a few years of recession. Bush’s policies set in the first two years are largely responsible for the economic crash of this nation in 2008, with much of the $5.9 trillion dollars he added to the national debt initiated in the first year of his presidency. All in all, a pretty awful first year for the American people.

For President Obama, things seem better.

Having inherited a terrible economic situation, he enacted policies that prevented the U.S. economy from collapsing. The stock market rose 3,300 points, restoring retirement money lost by millions of people. He stabilized the banking industry. He followed through on Bush’s bailout by adding more economic stimulus money to help salvage many businesses, banks, and assist most states in reducing their deficits. The stimulus helped many keep their jobs and created new opportunity for others. He signed a long awaited Credit Card Holders Bill of Rights, helping millions to avoid usurious credit card rates.

He provided a stimulus to the auto industry through the Cash for Clunkers program. Nearly a million cars were sold and the auto industry bounced back from the edge of disaster. He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, helping to ensure that women are paid a fair wage. He also lifted President Bush’s ban on federal funding for stem cell research, providing hope for millions with diseases that potentially will benefit from the research.

President Obama has restored a balance between security and liberty in his handling of terrorists and alleged terrorists. He ended the abusive treatment of detainees by reversing the Bush/Cheney policy on torture. He sent a clear message to other nations that the United States is committed to its values and its self-defense, and he's gone a long way toward backing up both with his actions. He has helped to keep us safe with beefed-up security and acted to reduce troops in Iraq and begin the withdrawal process. Read on.

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I will not back across this line

January 25, 2010 by barbara

barbara writes

(Cranky alert: barbara is somewhat riled.)

Tomorrow (Tuesday), for the first time in a very long time, I’m heading out to do an activist gig.

MoveOn leaned on its members to show up at Al Franken’s office to underscore the fact that the time for Dems’ backpedaling needs to come to a halt. (10:00 a.m., 60 East Plato Blvd., Suite 220, St. Paul.)

Particular focus this time around is on health care reform. Signals from the White House (and what’s up with the signals thingie anyway? One if by land, two if by Drone?) and elsewhere apparently suggest they’re prepared to back off even farther from the once-lofty heights this legislation was supposed to represent.

Here's a question. Did we or did we not learn something – anything? – in Massachusetts last week? Did we not finally and for all time come face to face with the absolute futility of attempting civil discourse and collegial legislating with Republicans? I mean, really, did we? This transcends just askin’. Read on.

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