Thursday, August 27, 2009

Things I Learned from Teddy

No matter how badly you screw up or how great the pressure on you is, you can still accomplish a whole lot.

It doesn't have to be personal. You can accomplish more by making friends with your opponents than by excoriating them.

Roll your sleeves up and make friends.

It's possible to be an idealist and a methodical, amiable pragmatist at the same time. In fact, this is the only way to be an idealist.

Never lose sight of the people you are trying to help.

Even our most profound losses are survivable.

No matter what happens, don't give up and don't lose heart.

The marginalized are your core constituency.

Visualize a just society and never let go of that vision.

Treat everyone you meet with the same respect.

Use your voice for those who have no voice.

Never compromise your principles.

There is a role for everybody; everyone has something to contribute.

Have fun while you're making history.

You don't necessarily have to be the smartest or the most talented. Sometimes it's enough to be the one who works the hardest.

Every American should have decent quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Dream Lives On (video)

It's hard to work when your heart is full of grief.

I'm so shattered that Teddy didn't live to see his dream of an American Health Care bill realized. I'm shattered that we lost this fierce advocate. But I'm grateful for the tremendous example he has been.

Ted Kennedy was a pragmatic idealist. How rare is that?

I will let my grief spur me on to fight all the harder to see Teddy Kennedy's dream realized. Regardless of what happens, the dream will never die.

Ted Kennedy on Health Care Reform (video)

Ted Kennnedy's astoundingly passionate and eloquent plea for health care reform:

The Kennedy Plan: The Dream Shall Never Die

Senator Edward Kennedy
February 22, 1932 – August 25, 2009
For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
--Senator Ted Kennedy
1980 Democratic National Convention
Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time....

For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.
--President Barack Obama, on the passing of Ted Kennedy
Quality care shouldn't depend on your financial resources, or the type of job you have, or the medical condition you face. Every American should be able to get the same treatment that U.S. senators are entitled to.

This is the cause of my life. It is a key reason that I defied my illness last summer to speak at the Democratic convention in Denver—to support Barack Obama, but also to make sure, as I said, "that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American…will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not just a privilege." For four decades I have carried this cause—from the floor of the United States Senate to every part of this country. It has never been merely a question of policy; it goes to the heart of my belief in a just society. Now the issue has more meaning for me—and more urgency—than ever before. But it's always been deeply personal, because the importance of health care has been a recurrent lesson throughout most of my 77 years....

We have to cut the costs of health care. For families who've seen health-insurance premiums more than double—from an average of less than $6,000 a year to nearly $13,000 since 1999—one of the most controversial features of reform is one of the most vital. It's been called the "public plan." Despite what its detractors allege, it's not "socialism." It could take a number of different forms. Our bill favors a "community health-insurance option." In short, this means that the federal government would negotiate rates—in keeping with local economic conditions—for a plan that would be offered alongside private insurance options. This will foster competition in pricing and services. It will be a safety net, giving Americans a place to go when they can't find or afford private insurance, and it's critical to holding costs down for everyone....

I believe the bill will pass, and we will end the disgrace of America as the only major industrialized nation in the world that doesn't guarantee health care for all of its people.
--Senator Edward Kennedy, Newsweek, July 18, 2009

For so many years, Ted Kennedy has been a politician we could count on not only to do the right thing but to inspire right action. He was a passionate advocate for justice and equity. He was a great leader, and he will remain an inspiration to many.

Senator Kennedy called health care reform the cause of his life, and he considered the public option to be one of "several elements that are essential to any health-reform plan worthy of the name."

I agree with Senator Robert Byrd: Let's honor Teddy Kennedy's great legacy and name the health care reform bill, replete with the public option, after him. Let's call it the Kennedy Plan. And better still, let's get this thing through Congress and enacted into law.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Predatory Government

Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is quoted today in the Wall Street Journal:
"Government is not a competitor, it's a predator," he said of the public option that has been embraced by key congressional Democrats."
And what do you call the health insurance companies that routinely deny people needed care and refuse to cover those with preexisting conditions?

And you're calling the government a predator?

This comes from Obama's great bipartisan hope, no less, one of the Senate's Gang of Six who are holding health care reform hostage while thumbing their noses at the 77 percent of the American people who are in favor of the American option.

Oh crap, maybe Grassley's right, at least in part.

The predator is the U.S. government in the death grip of the health insurance industry.

Cartoon Guide to Health Care Reform

An excellent cartoon summary of why we need government-run, universal, socialized (*gasp*) health insurance, written and animated by Andy Lubershane.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Great word of the day: bamboozle.

So who's bamboozling you? The health insurance industry wants to put health care "reform" dollars in its own pocket, not yours.

These are the same people who deny coverage on the basis of preexisting conditions and deny care on the basis of their bottom line.

The bamboozlers don't care about you, and they don't care about America. They spend millions of dollars a day lobbying Washington to maintain the status quo, or even better, "reform" health care so they can increase their profits. Their one and only passion is their own bottom line.

Do you really want the bamboozlers in charge of your health care?

Foil the bamboozlers and insist on the American option.

Contact your representative--especially if she or he is a member of the Progressive Caucus--and urge her or him to take the pledge to vote against any health care bill that doesn't have a public plan.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Progressives in Revolt

Paul Krugman today outlines President Obama's "trust problem."
On the issue of health care itself, the inspiring figure progressives thought they had elected comes across, far too often, as a dry technocrat who talks of “bending the curve” but has only recently begun to make the moral case for reform. Mr. Obama’s explanations of his plan have gotten clearer, but he still seems unable to settle on a simple, pithy formula; his speeches and op-eds still read as if they were written by a committee....

So progressives are now in revolt. Mr. Obama took their trust for granted, and in the process lost it. And now he needs to win it back.
Progressives in revolt. Count me in. This progressive is drawing her line in the sand, since Obama seems to lack the will to do so. I insist on real, substantive reform, a plan that will ensure that Americans are no longer denied care on the basis of some profit-monger's bottom line. And yes, Obama definitely has a trust problem.

Glenn Greenwald made an excellent case on Wednesday that Obama & Co., not being big, hapless dummies, are going about this reform process in a way so as to get exactly the bill they want, that is, exactly the bill the health insurance industry wants, while ensuring that that industry's support stays solidly with the Democrats. There's no other reasonable explanation for the administration's casual, milquetoast, give-away-the-farm approach to health care reform.

Today, Greenwald outlines the administration's strategy further:
This is the mindset of Rahm Emanuel: The only calculation that matters is maximizing political power. The only "change" that's meaningful is converting more Republican seats into Democratic ones. A legislative "win" is determined by whether Democrats can claim victory, not by whether anything constructive was achieved. The smart approach is to serve and thus curry favor with the most powerful corporate factions, not change the rules to make them less powerful....

All that matters is that we beat the Republicans and we should do anything to achieve that, including serving corporate donors to ensure they fund Us and not Them. [emphasis in original]

But that isn't what Obama pledged he would do when he campaigned. He repeatedly vowed he would do the opposite -- that he would reject that thinking and battle aggressively against domination by what he called "the interests of powerful lobbyists or the wealthiest few" who have "run Washington far too long" -- and he convinced millions of people that he was serious, people who, as a result, became fervent devotees to his cause. Those are the people who New York Times columnist Frank Rich recently said have been "punked by Obama" because it is precisely those same interests who continue to be the prime beneficiaries and masters of Washington behavior during the Obama presidency.
I am indeed feeling punked, as Rich so succinctly put it. And I'm furious. I'm not altogether surprised, but I am dismayed at how readily and transparently Obama has gotten in bed with the corporate behemoths who treat this country like their own personal all-you-can-eat buffet. This is most assuredly not the change I voted for.

I will fight this status-quo-loving pandering-to-money politics as hard as I can, regardless of whether it's coming from the Reps or the Dems. I am sick to death of a system that's stacked against ordinary Americans, enriching the already fabulously wealthy and leaving the average working stiff in the muck. The enormous gulf between the haves and the have-nots continues to widen ominously.

Our current wealthcare system is a travesty and a horror that affects every single ordinary person in this country. Eighteen thousand U.S. citizens die every year because they don't get adequate health care. As Johann Hari of the Independent says, "That's equivalent to six 9/11s, every year, year on year." And then there are those, either uninsured or underinsured, who are bankrupted and ruined because they happened to get sick. Many of these are the people who are then forced to foreclose on their mortgages.

The insurance companies are having your American dream for lunch. They not only deny people coverage on the basis of "preexisting conditions"; they deny care to those who are "covered" based on the insurance company's assessment of what is "necessary." It's you and your doctor who should be deciding what's "necessary," not some insurance company bean-counter hack.

We are in the midst of a full-blown health care emergency in this country, a disaster the equivalent of six 9/11s every year, and Obama and Rahm want to give away the farm to the monsters responsible for this debacle. Don't let them. Keep pushing and pushing. Channel your rage. And don't back down.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Stand Up for the American Plan

I love George Lakoff. He understands how I think. Really. I love it when someone understands how I think. Don't you? It's one of the best feelings in the world, to be understood.

Not only that, George Lakoff understands how people who don't think like I do think. And that's something really special. Because, really, how people who don't think like I do think has been a great mystery to me. George Lakoff is a cognitive scientist. He studies thinking and communication.

In the HuffingtonPost today George weighs in on health care reform. He has a keen-sighted take on what has been happening (and not happening) and some excellent suggestions on where we go from here. I know it's long, but it's worth reading. If you just don't have time, bookmark it and make sure you read it later. And for now, read the following two paragraphs. There's much, much more, but these two paragraphs are sparkly gems of dynamic communication:
Insurance company plans have failed to care for our people. They profit from denying care. Americans care about one another. An American plan is both the moral and practical alternative to provide care for our people.

The insurance companies are doing their worst, spreading lies in an attempt to maintain their profits and keep Americans from getting the care they so desperately need. You, our citizens, must be the heroes. Stand up, and speak up, for an American plan.

Read it a few times. Take it in. Ah, clarity.

George suggests the term "American Plan" instead of "public option," which is boring and uninspiring. I'm for it. I'm for the American Plan. It is the answer to our health care emergency.

Thank you, George, for your insight and clarity. I hope progressives get the message. I hope Americans get the message. I hope we get our American Plan.

Dear Senator Kohl

Dear Senator Kohl,

Thank you very much for your response to my letter regarding health care reform. I'm especially concerned, though, about one thing you said.

"However, a public plan should not undermine current health providers or rely on government subsidies to function, and it should garner bipartisan support."

Since we're not talking about a single-payer health care system, I don't see how a public plan could possibly "undermine the current health providers." If the public plan is an addition to the private plans, the private plans are free to carry on as they have been.

I'm very frustrated with politicians who are more concerned about the well-being of corporations than people. Please, do not give a single thought to the well-being of the "current health providers." The system has worked to their great advantage and at the expense of ordinary people for far too long.

As for bipartisan support, please, do not insist that our health care reform be something the Republicans can get behind. They had their chance and they blew it. The American people did not elect President Obama and so many Democrats in Congress so that you could make nice with the party we voted against.

The Republicans have no intention of supporting any kind of health care reform whatsoever. Please do not make this desperately needed reform contingent on their cooperation when the Democrats have a 60-seat majority in the Senate and a 70-seat majority in the House. If real health care reform with a public option fails, it will be the fault of no one but the Democrats.

Most sincerely,

Mary Ray Worley

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dear Mr. President

I mailed off my message to President Obama, via, a few minutes ago. It's a slight variation on what I posted earlier today. Just for the record, I'm pasting it in below. But I'm not feeling all that hopeful, having just read Glenn Greenwald's blog for today.
The Obama White House isn't sitting impotently by while Democratic Senators shove a bad bill down its throat. This is the bill because this is the bill which Democratic leaders are happy to have. It's the bill they believe in. As important, by giving the insurance and pharmaceutical industries most everything they want, it ensures that the GOP doesn't become the repository for the largesse of those industries (and, converesly, that the Democratic Party retains that status).

This is how things always work. The industry interests which own and control our government always get their way. When is the last time they didn't? The "public option" was something that was designed to excite and placate progressives (who gave up from the start on a single-payer approach) -- and the vast, vast majority of progressives (all but the most loyal Obama supporters) who are invested in this issue have been emphatic about how central a public option is to their support for health care reform. But it seems clear that the White House and key Democrats were always planning on negotiating it away in exchange for industry support. Isn't that how it always works in Washington? No matter how many Democrats are elected, no matter which party controls the levers of government, the same set of narrow monied interests and right-wing values dictate outcomes, even if it means running roughshod over the interests of ordinary citizens (securing lower costs and expanding coverage) and/or what large majorities want.
Makes me sick to my stomach. Tom and I voted for Hillary in the Democratic primary precisely because we liked her take on health care reform much better than Obama's.

But wait. Glenn says there's still a ray of hope!
That's why this debate has now taken on such importance -- regardless of whether you think a public option is important or even if you think it's a good idea. Thanks in large part to the months-long efforts of Jane Hamsher and her FDL team -- who spent enormous amounts of time and resources getting large numbers of progressive House members to emphatically commit on video to opposing any health care bill that lacks a robust public option -- there's actually a chance this time that the outcome could be different. If those progressive House members actually adhere to their pledge, they can and will block any health care bill that lacks a public option. They can actually thwart industry demands and the dictate of Beltway leaders; can empower a new faction in Washington (themselves) beholden to different interests (ordinary citizens); and can vest some actual significance in the outcome of the 2006 and 2008 election.

Along with several other blogs, Jane and FDL are sponsoring a fundraiser to reward, and embolden, those progressive members who have made that pledge, and it raised an extraordinary sum of close to $150,000 in just a couple of days. Those interested can donate here. Rachel Maddow's lead segment last night was a discussion with Jane regarding the political significance of the health care debate and the possibility that progressives could actually prevail on something of significance for once.

The Washington Post today quotes an "anonymous White House official" excoriating what he condescendingly calls "the left of the left" for petulantly demanding a "public option." That article notes that the Obama White House is surprised by the intensity of progressives' insistence that the bill include a "public option," and who can blame them for being surprised? Ordinarily, progressives are told that they cannot have what they want because Blue Dogs and Republicans (on behalf of the industries that own them) must get what they want, and progressives meekly accept that because it's "better than nothing" (don't let the Perfect be the Enemy of the Good, they are lectured). More than anything else, it's vital that this dynamic change. Such a change -- a shift in Beltway power dynamics -- would be far more consequential even than the specific health care policy issues at stake in this debate.

OK, so it's not time to throw in the towel yet. But I'm feeling a bit discouraged, truth be told. I'm tired, and I have loads of work to do, but I'm too distracted by all this to do it. And I sure wish I had some money to send here. If you have some to spare, please do so.
Dear Mr. President,

I read earlier today that the White House is still insisting on a bipartisan health care reform bill.

But the Republicans in Congress have made it very clear that they will not back down on health care reform. These people don't want any reform at all. They are invested in maintaining the status quo. They are committed to the welfare of corporations. And they have had their chance to do things their way, and we are much the worse for it.

Much of the outcome of the health care debate depends on what you do and say in the next few weeks, Mr. President. We're looking for your impassioned leadership, for your clarity, for your steely determination, for your inspiring and illuminating rhetoric. We're looking for your commitment, not to bipartisanship, but to us.

The scoundrels you're making nice with, Mr. President, have drawn a line in the sand. It's time for you to do the same. Don't give them so much power. Don't choose a higher ground that's just going to throw us all off a cliff. And please, do all that you can to get those Blue Dogs in the Senate in line.

I'm begging you. We did not elect you to make nice with the party we voted against. Did you campaign on promises of bipartisanship? Or change we could believe in? We need to go where those people will not follow.

Draw your line in the sand, Mr. President. Insist on real reform with a public option. Don't back down. We're counting on you. We can do this. Yes. We. Can.

Most sincerely,

Mary Ray Worley
Oh, and one more thing: I won't back down.

Where Is Our Line in the Sand, Mr. President?

According to, the White House is apparently still insisting that it wants a bipartisan health care reform bill. Good luck with that, Mr. President.

The Republicans in Congress have made it very clear that they will not back down on health care reform. They couldn't be clearer if they hacked into the bank accounts of every American and dipped their greedy hands in. These people don't want any reform at all. They are invested in maintaining the status quo. They are committed to the welfare of corporations.

Much of the outcome of health care debate depends on what you do in the next few weeks, Mr. President. We're looking for your impassioned leadership, for your steely determination, for your inspiring and illuminating rhetoric. We're looking for your commitment, not to bipartisanship but to us.

The scoundrels you're making nice with, Mr. President, have drawn a line in the sand. It's time for you to do the same. Don't give them so much power. Don't choose a higher ground that's just going to throw us all off a cliff.

Please, I'm begging you, we did not elect you to make nice with the party we voted against. Did you campaign on promises of bipartisanship? Or change we could believe in? We need to go where those people will not follow.

Draw your line in the sand, Mr. President. Insist on real reform with a public option. Don't back down. We're counting on you. We can do this. Yes. We. Can.

Hitting the Nail on the Head

"It is a tribute to the first amendment that this kind of vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated."

"Why is the Health Care Industry spending $1.4 million per day on 1,000 lobbyists to stop health care reform?"

Finally, make sure you don't miss Donald Sutherland's excellent take:
It must finally be clear to us all that the stumbling block to successful health/disease care reform has been definitively reduced to two words. They're not "public option" or "single payer," they're "Max Baucus."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Blue Dogs of Summer

Thanks to the Democratic Underground, who thanks the OpenSecrets and OnTheIssues web sites, here is a list of the Blue Dog Democrats who are on record as being opposed to the public option in the current health care reform legislation. You know what to do.

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT)
Web contact:
Phone: (202) 224-6361
Contributions summary:
Issue Ratings:

Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN)
Web contact: /
Phone: (202) 224-5623
Contributions summary:
Issue Ratings:

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Web contact: /
Phone: (202) 224-3441
Contributions summary:
Issue Ratings:

Senator Tom Carper (D-DE)
Web contact: /
Phone: (202) 224-2441
Contributions summary:
Issue Ratings:

Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND)
Web contact:
Phone: (202) 224-2043
Contributions summary:
Issue Ratings:

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Web contact:
Phone: (202) 224-3841
Contributions summary:
Issue Ratings:

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Web contact:
Phone: (202) 224-5824
Contributions summary:
Issue Ratings:

Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT)
Web contact: /
Phone: (202) 224-4041
Contributions summary:
Issue Ratings:

Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
Web contact:
Phone: (202) 224-4814
Contributions summary:
Issue Ratings:

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Web contact:
Phone: (202) 224-6551
Contributions summary:
Issue Ratings:

Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE)
Web contact:
Phone: (202) 224-5274
Contributions summary:
Issue Ratings:

Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR)
Web contact: /
Phone: (202) 224-2353
Contributions summary:
Issue Ratings:

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Web contact: /
Phone: (202) 224-5244
Contributions summary:
Issue Ratings:

The Public Option Is Dead -- Long Live the Public Option!

If you like your health care plan, you keep your health care plan. Nobody's going to force you to leave your health care plan. If you like your doctor, you keep seeing your doctor. I don't want government bureaucrats meddling in your health care. But the point is I don't want insurance company bureaucrats meddling in your health care either.
--Barack Obama
I am not interested in passing health care reform in name only. Without a public option, I don’t see how we will bring real change to a system that has made good health care a privilege for those who can afford it.
--Senator Russ Feingold
The headlines proclaim that the public option is dead, and the White House seems to be making noises about its willingness to back down on the need for a public option. At this point, if you believe that the public option is essential for health care reform, your stomach may do a loopdee-loo and then bottom out somewhere near the area of your feet. But it's not time to despair. Really. Trust me on this. The public option is not dead.

The contortions the public option is going through amount to what Howard Dean calls "nothing more than politics." In other words, there's some political strategy at work here. Yesterday on Morning Joe, Dean explained:
The president knows very well that you aren't really going to have health care reform without a public option. But he also knows he has to get this out of the Senate. And he's got a very important member of the finance committee, Kent Conrad [D-North Dakota], who doesn't want to vote for this bill if it's got a public option in it. And he knows he's not going to get any Republican votes of any kind. So at the end of the day, this bill is going to be written by Democrats, it's gotta get out of the Senate, you only need a few Democrats to take out the public option.
The conversation continues the explanation, which, if I understand it correctly, essentially amounts to this:

The Senate needs 60 votes to pass the initial version of its health care reform bill. That version will need to have the blue dogs on board, so it may not include the public option.

Meanwhile, the House will pass its version of health care reform, only its version will retain the public option.

Then in October, the bill will go through the reconciliation process. For that version to pass in the Senate, it will need only 50 votes. The blue dogs can cool their heels out in the hall and it is still likely to pass.

If you haven't done it already, contact your senators and representative and tell them that you vehemently support health care reform that includes the public option.

The public option is not dead. Long live the public option!

Monday, August 10, 2009

We Need a New Bottom Line

Andrew Weil is right: Even if health care reform with a public option sails right through Congress without a hiccup, it won't begin to approach an accurate or useful diagnosis when it comes to the United States and health care. According to Weil,
What's missing, tragically, is a diagnosis of the real, far more fundamental problem, which is that what's even worse than its stratospheric cost is the fact that American health care doesn't fulfill its prime directive -- it does not help people become or stay healthy. It's not a health care system at all; it's a disease management system, and making the current system cheaper and more accessible will just spread the dysfunction more broadly.
I would go further. The problem with the current system is that it is driven not by the need to provide care and promote health but by the need to make a profit. That's not to say that the people who participate in the system hold this value, but the system itself is designed to promote profit for its stakeholders. That some people may be helped in the process is incidental to the drive for an attractive bottom line.

Fundamentally, at the very heart of what troubles us as a nation is that we have placed the drive for profits way ahead of the well-being of ordinary people. The people decrying health care reform are defending not the needs of people but the needs of corporations. Our agriculture and food systems value profits to the exclusion of the well-being of people and the planet.

The corporations that continue devouring each other and the people and communities who get in their way are absurdly wealthy. They are like a gaping black hole that must be fed regardless of the consequences to the nation and the planet.

Look at the term "bottom line": its original meaning was "the essential or salient point," but now it has come to mean "financial considerations." When are we going to learn to make the well-being of people, families, and communities our national bottom line?

Weil ends his blog as follows:
Washington needs to take a step back and re-examine the entire task with an eye toward achieving the most effective solution, not the cheapest and most expeditious.
Actually, way before Washington steps back, we the people must step back and take a long, hard look at ourselves and what we value. Are we willing, at long last, to put people before profits?

All the loony right-wing scare tactics about "death panels" don't compare with the nightmare that is the current system. Do you really want a corporate bottom-line driving whether your child is able to get a life-saving surgery? Why would a profit-driven entity be more trustworthy than the United States government, which at the very least has the potential for accountability and reform.

Are we ready to turn the corner, to turn off the spigot that dumps all of our hopes and dreams into the endlessly greedy profit-driven black hole? Are we ready to make the well-being of our families, our neighbors, our communities, our nation, the world, and the planet our new bottom line, regardless of how our efforts affect corporate profit margins?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Tear Down This Wall

Paul Krugman today: "The driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that’s behind the 'birther' movement.... Voters who can be swayed by appeals to cultural and racial fear are a declining share of the electorate."

The belligerence of the minority that constitutes the birthers and the town hall mobs is an indication of their desperation. They cannot accept that the country is disassembling--however slowly and tentatively--the wall of quiet, under-the-radar racism and white privilege. Many of them may not even be aware of the underlying racism that is driving their fear. That is the nature of fear. It does not want to be brought out into the light.

These fearful people are not only alarmed to have a black man in the oval office, but they are terrified that he will actually succeed. In their minds, it is much worse to have a successful black president than a weak, ineffectual one, because the death knell of white privilege rings louder and louder with each step of progress Obama's administration makes.

Not surprisingly, the flames of desperation and fear are being happily fanned, yet again, by those who stand to benefit from the death of health care reform, a very, very small minority indeed. Those flames are being fanned with no regard for the likelihood of violent consequences. They know exactly what they're doing, and consequences--and the country--be damned.

The fanners don't care, so long as the corporations in which they hold a stake continue to make over-the-top profits for substandard health care. They don't care that those profits come at a crippling expense not only to millions of individuals and families but to the entire nation. They don't care that they are further entrenching those who hide behind the wall of white privilege and inciting them not only to do all they can to undermine health care reform but also to unleash the violence of their fear.

It's time for the supporters of health care reform--not to mention the supporters of civil liberties, free speech, and human dignity--to raise our voices, not in anger and hatred, but in determination and resolve. We need health care reform. It's long past overdue. And we need to move on from the era of white privilege to an era of multi: multicultural multiracial multiorientation multigenerational progress.

We need not only to contact our representatives and let them know how fervently we support health care reform, but to organize and mobilize and use all the resources available to us to counter the cynical manipulators selfishly inciting racial violence in our midst.

Remember the famous line "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall"? In the United States we have been living with worse than the Berlin Wall for as long as we have been a nation. The wall of white privilege causes all of us to suffer, on both sides of the wall. It's time. It's long past time. Tear it down.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Grateful Reflections at 53

I am happy.

I have a wonderful husband who is my best friend, whom I trust implicitly, and whose humor, wisdom, and good judgment I treasure. He is the kindest and most supportive person I have ever met. The fact that he's awesomely handsome doesn't hurt either.

I get to sing my heart out. And play the guitar. This is something I've been doing more lately. I'm delving into the work of some of the great treasures of folk music: Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Malvina Reynolds. I keep fantasizing about regularly having sing-alongs with my friends and community. I think maybe soon the fantasy will become a reality. With the economy and the country in the shape they are in, we need to sing. A lot. Singing together bolsters us and builds community as nothing else can.

I am so grateful for my awesome friends:
  • My family. You're crazy and whacked out sometimes, and fierce and loyal and loving too. I am one of you all the way.
  • My church family, which is the Hispanic ministry at Grace Episcopal Church in downtown Madison. Through these good people I have learned to see myself and my culture in a new light. I understand that I am rich -- materially as well as spiritually and socially. Through these friends I have learned that I am indeed privileged and that I can use my privilege for good, to build bridges to surmount the obstacles and fears that divide us. Through these friends I have learned much about my own experience of marginalization as a woman of size.
  • My gordita friends: large, glorious, gorgeous, raucous, unapologetic fat women who regularly hold a mirror up to my face and make me glad to be me. All of my life I have struggled with my relationship with food and with my body. These awesome women keep me grounded in the knowledge that my body is a beautiful treasure and nothing to be ashamed of or to struggle against. The struggle, rather, is against a myopic, weight-obsessed, profit-driven culture; and with these good women I am proud to engage in and even enjoy the struggle.
  • My online friends: I never dreamed that I would make real friends just by dinking around on Facebook, but I have made friends all over the world whose dreams and visions and experiences thrill and inspire me and whose presence in my life I treasure. I am in awe of their wisdom and humor, their outrage and their insight, and I'm grateful that we've found this powerful way to connect, not only with each other but with the larger world, to effect change and plant the seeds of progress.
So my most excellent husband, Tom, is still fighting, the union right alongside him, to get his job back. But oddly enough this has turned out to be a wonderful opportunity to spend more time together and to close ranks in the face of what for us is unprecedented hostility. We are, of course, being much more careful and frugal with our money, but with no reduction in the quality of our life. We are learning that we are strong, we are up to the challenge, and we are not bitter. We are more determined than ever.

I love my work. I get to muck about in the minutiae of language, one of my favorite playgrounds. My work is flexible and stimulating and varied, and I get to do it in the comfort of my home, on whatever schedule or nonschedule I choose, in the sunniest spot in the house.

I am making great progress in surmounting some physical challenges that have been very daunting to me over the last few years. I think my hormones are finally leveling out after several years of peri-menopausal upheaval. I have altered my schedule so that I get up earlier and get more daylight, and that has been the key to overcoming seasonal affective disorder. I have quit eating dairy products, which is reducing the inflammation in my joints and is making moving more comfortable for me (not to mention lessening my psoriasis and eliminating my acid reflux). I'm feeling better all the time. I hope soon to be able to hike in the woods again. This takes patience, because the progress is not quick, but the steady improvement over the last few months is giving me the kind of hope that bubbles up from my stomach and catches in my throat sometimes.

I am happy. I love my husband, my friends, my family, my community, my life. I love my computer, because it connects me with the wide world in a way that even an introvert like me can be comfortable with. I love my comfortable home and my always-eager feline companion, Smudgie. I love my kitchen, where more and more magical things are happening all the time.

I love my life. I am a very, very blessed woman. I am happy.