I see the headlines — how Romney is supposedly gaining in the polls, and I want to tell people to watch this video and listen to the voice of your President, and understand that he is the only one who will keep us on a course that will sustain what we have left of the middle class.
I have mixed feelings about Whole Foods. A co-founder and former CEO, John Mackey, put corporate weight behind opposition to health care reform and unions. On the other hand, there are worse places to work, and they do what they do very well. And my schedule strands me in a wireless desert in Cranston with Whole Foods the nearest oasis.
So I’m hunched at a table eating out of a biodegradable box when I realize I’m being cruised by a guy in an electric wheelchair. Our heads are at about the same level. He’s younger than me, well dressed, his speech is slurred and his eyes a little unfocused.
“Can I ask you something?” he says.
I really want to concentrate on my food, but okay.
He goes into a rambling joke about the president, and the vice president, that I figure out is intended to be a shot at Barack Obama’s right to hold the office.
Some people might have been impressed with the man’s condition, which I guess is MS. But I’m a nurse. So I cut the guy zero slack.
“I find that offensive,” I told him.
“Well, he wants to raise our taxes and give away all our money,” he said.
I looked him right in the eye and told him I knew that the only way he could get through the day is with the help of a lot of good people. He conceded that was true. “Don’t they deserve a living wage?” I asked.
He asked how much they should get. “What’s fair,” I said. He nodded, as if he was seeing the faces of the home health aides who must be a part of his daily life.
“I know how hard you have to work to get through the day,” I said.
“Me, and my wife,” he said.
He took it all in good humor, he was smiling as he left.
There’s a good expression for the human condition –’temporarily abled’. I don’t know what misfortune robbed that man of his power, maybe some immune system misfire, or car accident. I do know that it could just as easily be me. We don’t know what the next moment might bring.
We can recognize our interdependence, and build a safety net that anyone of us might need some day. Or we can blame the poor and cry about taxes and pretend that the home health aid lacks ‘individual responsibility’ when her labor is so poorly paid that she has to use food stamps to feed her family.
A level playing field doesn’t just happen, anymore than a baseball field maintains itself. Building on solid ground, taxing fairly and investing in education, infrastructure, health care and other aspects of the public good is the American way. If we settle for a gated community as our model, subversion will come in through the servant’s entrance. No one gets through life without the help of other people.
Short interview with Sen. Whitehouse in which he extolls the virtues of Netroots Nation, appreciates the value of the Occupy Movement, and talks about his efforts to keep funding for wellness and health. He also talks about his phone conversation with President Obama following the Buffet Rule vote in the Senate, and how the fight is not over to change our tax policies to support the middle class.
By 2014, if all goes well, we should have something that resembles national health care. This may mean that millions of people who have suffered in the pool of 17.7% of Americans in the United States without health insurance, may suddenly be seeking care for everything from anxiety to obesity and beyond.
In Rhode Island, this would be a welcome relief from the recent trends in health care in terms of numbers of people with insurance. The recent trends, according to the Rhode Island Health Commissioner’s office, are that between 2005 and 2010, the number of insured people in Rhode Island dropped by 65,000. In 2005, there were about 620,000 people insured by the three big insurers, BCBSRI, United, and Tufts, and in 2010 this number had dropped to about 555,000. During that same time, there was a modest increase in the number of people receiving either Rite Care and Rite Share. If you look at the study cited below issued in January of 2011 from the Rhode Island Senate Fiscal Office, you will see that in 2009 and 2010, there was a significant amount of stimulus money that was used to cover the costs of the growing Rite Care and Rite Share programs — $35.2 million in 2009, $56.8 million in 2010, and $56.5 million in 2011.
Now, let’s give it some thought. Let’s just say Obamacare goes through. Could it be possible that part of the growing economy can be the growing health care provisions that are made for those nearly 50 million people who are newly insured? Could neighborhoods in South Providence, downtown Woonsocket, and Eden Park Cranston all begin to flourish with new health care providers serving the throngs of people flocking in for health care? Statistically, the uninsured are more likely to be obese, smokers, and drinkers, so there are plenty of preventative care issues that could be addressed with could treatment plans.
So instead of giving $75 million to Curt Schilling and betting on the idea that we need another MMOG video game on the internet where people will waste time being sedentary and eating junk food while they try to climb inane hierarchies, perhaps we should think about ways that government can promote health care businesses that will likely be in great demand in the very near future.
Watching this documentary makes me very sad for all the people who have been sucked into the right-wing astroturf propaganda machines that are driving the tea party movement.
The White House is hedging the question of whether President Obama has kicked the habit.
Ordinarily, I’d be zealous about a man with two sweet little girls, and about a leader I admire and still believe in– I’d be nagging for him to quit.
But the present situation reminds me of a story I heard about American soldiers on the battlefield in Vietnam. They’d hold up their pack of cigs, look at each other sternly and say, “Warning– cigarette smoking can be hazardous to your health”.
So, Mr. President, if you don’t feel like you need a smoke, then good for you. I hope that when you are no longer serving in this office that you will quit tobacco for good. But given the situation we’re in now– I don’t think it’s the right time to be jonesing for a cigarette. I think you’re better off smoking without guilt. Do it for your country.
Like a pack of junkyard dogs with bones, some folks across this polarized land stubbornly hold onto their ignorance and misperceptions. Extend a hand with more reasonable fare, and they bare their teeth and growl. Occasionally, they bite. Logic, facts, and a calm demeanor have no sway with them. It’s a real problem—exacerbated by the disgruntled souls that egg the dogs on. Our democracy is in peril.
From today’s New York Times:
Americans need only stand in line at the grocery checkout counter to glimpse the conspiracy theories percolating about President Obama. “Birthplace Cover-Up,” screams the current issue of the racy tabloid Globe. “Obama’s Secret Life Exposed!”
The article claims, without proof, that Mr. Obama uses a phony Social Security number as “part of an elaborate scheme to conceal that he is not a natural-born U.S. citizen.” Despite evidence to the contrary from Obama aides — they posted his birth certificate, from Hawaii, on the Internet during his presidential campaign — polls show that as many as one quarter of Americans still believe Mr. Obama was born outside the United States.
Now comes fresh evidence of misperceptions about the president taking root in the public mind: a new poll by the Pew Research Center finds a substantial rise in the percentage of Americans who believe, incorrectly, that Mr. Obama is Muslim. The president is Christian, but 18 percent now believe he is Muslim, up from 12 percent when he ran for the presidency and 11 percent after he was inaugurated.
The findings suggest that, nearly two years into Mr. Obama’s presidency, the White House is struggling with the perception of “otherness” that Candidate Obama sought so hard to overcome — in part because of an aggressive misinformation campaign by critics and in part, some Democratic allies say, because Mr. Obama is doing a poor job of communicating who he is and what he believes.
The president’s recent comments on the controversy over whether to build an Islamic community center and mosque near ground zero in Lower Manhattan have most likely intensified suspicions about him. Yet the Pew survey, completed before Mr. Obama spoke out in favor of the right of Muslims to build the center, shows that misperceptions were building even before then.
“This is an expression of the people who are opposed to Obama having an increasingly negative view of him,” said Andrew Kohut, the Pew center’s director.
But Mr. Kohut also said the numbers reflected that Mr. Obama had “not made religion a part of his public persona” as much as he did during his presidential campaign — so much so that even his own supporters are confused.
Among Democrats, for example, just 46 percent said Mr. Obama was Christian, down from 55 percent in March 2009, two months after he took office. As to the issue of his birthplace, a CNN poll released this month when the president turned 49 found that 27 percent of Americans doubted he was born in the United States. A New York Times/ CBS News poll in April put the figure at 20 percent.
The White House has at times seemed to throw up its hands at the so-called birther conspiracy. “We don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what to do about people that don’t think the president was born here,” Robert Gibbs, Mr. Obama’s press secretary, said in April.
But Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, said aides did work hard to push back against misinformation in a news media environment in which “the tweets of discredited rabble-rousers have as much credence to many as the pronouncements of the paper of record.” [full story]