I was quite disappointed the other day to see Senator Ron Wyden's name listed alongside the blue dog Democrats opposing the current health care plan being hammered out in the House and Senate. Why? Because I grew up in Oregon and I have personal experience with some of Oregon's progressive health care policies, some of which Wyden supported in spite of his personal feelings precisely because he realizes he is a representative of his constituents and as a public servant is duty bound to listen to their will. More on that later. Ron Wyden has always been one of the better progressive politicians representing Oregon. Wyden started his political career as a member of the House in 1980 and took his Senate seat in 1996. After reading his plan entitled "The Healthy Americans Act" I have an idea that it would be better for America to drop the present doomed plan being argued over in D. C. like a hot potato and embrace Wyden's plan like a long lost and deeply loved brother.
Here's why -- structurally the present plan has been set up for failure by the forces of anti-progression, let's just call them 'regressionists' or better yet 'obstructionists', with the addition of 160 untenable and unworkable amendments attached to the bill by Republicans looking to either delay or torpedo the whole shebang long enough so they can go back home to their respective districts and attempt to whip up their constituency over the August recess into a populist froth against ANY bill being passed. Then, they reason, they can come back to D. C. in September when congress reconvenes and continue to tell even more lies and half-truths to an enabling main stream media in order to sway public opinion and help apply pressure to kill the bill off entirely. No matter the will of the people, as long as the obstructionists can pay lip service to actually listening to their constituents, they can pretend to be caring, feeling, responsive representatives of the people as they continue to push their own agenda forward, completely ignoring the 72% of Americans IN FAVOR of a public plan health care option or universal health care. Instead, these naysayers wish to portray themselves in the role of an earnest Van Helsing, eager to slay the dreaded Dracul Obama and his evil 'socialist' public option plan or ANY form of affordable universal health care by pounding their obstructionist stake into the heart of the present bill, killing it once and for all. Well you may be shocked but I say good. Let them. It was dead before they even started thanks in part to their idiotic amendments. Good riddance. Now please support the Wyden plan, thank you. It's logical, workable and has been extensively vetted by the CBO. Oh and please pull your head out of your ass, obstructionist assholes.
We, as their constituents need to insist that all of our elected public servants quit dicking around, some of whom offer no plan of their own other than to continue to obstruct. It is time to get on with it already! People's lives literally hang in the balance as these idiots continue to stand there, as empty headed as they are empty handed. To fail to act NOW is to offer more death and suffering to all uninsured Americans and yet even more outrageous cost and denials of service for 'pre-existing conditions' to those who are actually insured. I am one of those uninsured Americans and yes, because of complications after my dual cancer surgeries, I too am in desperate need of medical treatment that I cannot afford. I need a real plan, a public option plan, right NOW. If these obstructionist idiots, so long held in the back pockets of the health care lobbyists who have donated massive amounts of "campaign money" (see also: "bribes") to them (yes, even to Wyden, but at least the man has a reasonable plan) think they hold the moral high ground on this issue then I and many others suggest they resign from the free and excellent health care plan offered to all legislators in D.C. and walk a mile in my and millions of other American's uninsured shoes. Feel MY pain, motherfuckers. Feel the pain of millions of Americans. Even the very threat of voting these idiots out of office is an empty one at that as they get to keep their benefits FOR LIFE, thus making the rest of us health care 'serfs' to their politically favored 'landed gentry'!
Every single day I fight against the re-infection and bleeding of scar tissues, conditions caused by debris ("disintegrating" subcutaneous stitches that never disintegrated) that remain floating around in my system, exacerbated by poor post-operative medical treatment that was ultimately denied insurance coverage or any payments whatsoever because of my pre-existing condition, namely, cancer. It has just become a reality of my existence, so I have learned to deal with it for many years, but I can tell by the signals my body is now sending me, my time is running out. I've got a horse in this race. My own body. I'd like that horse to cross the finish line of good health and wellness with me, it's jockey, still in the saddle. (Cue the patriotic music...) Their continued opposition to a public option or universal health care plan is in absolute contradiction of ALL of our rights as Americans to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness..." itself and I don't care whatever they say, whatever their excuse --that's just un-fucking-American. Don't even get me started about the ex-legislators now working FOR the health care lobby. You want "traitors to America and Americans"? That's what I call them. Hired mercernaries with absolutely NO moral compass whatsoever other than a duty to fill their bank accounts with vast sums of blood money.
For the most part, very few of my friends or co-workers know about my problems because I am usually never one to discuss such things. I never asked the old band I was in years ago to have a fund raising concert to help me out when things were at their worst. I never gave specifics as to the type of cancers (bone and testicular, by the way, both thankfully in remission) or complained about the complications afterwords because I truly, up until now, didn't want to burden anyone with such personal details. Instead I manned up, gritted my teeth, grinned and bore it and pushed on, moment to moment. Every moment a joy to experience because every moment is yet another breath, another moment spent on this planet as a human being, suffering or not. It's what I do. I persevere in the face of insurmountable difficulties. As I'm sure is the case for thousand upon thousands of Americans each and every day as they bear the brunt of their health problems without help or support. We don't want to be a burden, really. But we seriously can't afford effective medical treatment any longer, let alone piss-poor treatment and now we're ALL as mad as hell and we ARE NOT going to take this bullshit any longer.
Republicans and "Blue Dog" Democrats have already confessed their obstructionism to a public option or universal health care plan. Jim DeMint wants to "cause pain" to his fellow senators on the present bill and in fact perhaps all public options and/or universal health care plans, characterizing his "reasoning" in this manner: "If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him." Senator, is it not time for politicians to quit gambling with the lives of their constituents who lack health insurance and begin to show actual human compassion through direct action rather than more of the same petty partisan squabbles as you, in your role as an obstructionist, are doing right now? Senator DeMint and friends, you are NOT "breaking Obama" or causing "pain" to your fellow legislators. You are literally KILLING me and thousands of other people like me. Period. All in order to be able to high-five your ideological buddies scoring political points with them that you're going to "take down" President Obama, a man trying to do the right thing for America and all Americans, not just the uninsured. I believe it is well past time for action and after reading the details of Ron Wyden's plan I have an idea that his plan is the way. Let the idiots like DeMint, Nelson and Kristol (who even though is not a politician remains influential in right wing political circles -- and lord let's hope he remains consistently wrong about this issue as he has with every other opinion he's offered his winger pals in the last decade) argue about the present bill that they've purposefully worked to poison. Use it as bait while President Obama 'headfakes' and passes the ball like a health care point guard, switching at the last moment to Ron Wyden's more reasonable and realistic bill. For the sake of me and thousands like me it is our elected representatives utmost duty to "preserve, protect and defend" the constitution (and, by extension the bill of rights) of the United States of America as they swore when they became PUBLIC SERVANTS. It remains their sacred duty to DELIVER on the promise of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...", not just pay it lip service.
I suggest we all read Ron Wyden's bill carefully and insist that ALL of our elected representatives read it and fully understand it as well as soon as possible. I know I will. I'm sending Begich, Murkowski and Young a link to this very blog posting tonight. I'm sorry for the crude language (at times, though I'm sure Young will get a giggle, Don being Don and all) but this issue IS of the utmost importance to everyone. Sometimes it just takes a nice hard whack against the skull of a zombie to get their attention. Allow ME to be that bat. Wyden's plan is compact, succinct, workable and burdened with NONE of the ass-hattery of the 'obstructionist' blue dog Democrats nor their conniving Republican cohorts, both of whom, according to the reports of donations made to them by health care lobbies and big pharma, are totally beholden to their lobbiest masters. Their obstructionist course is crafted only to score partisan political points when in reality their plan, or lack thereof, is set up to continue to cause America and uninsured Americans even more future pain and suffering, fiscally and otherwise. It is our duty as citizens to give them ALL this jarring wake up call today. Swear if you have to, but dammit give them the facts and INSIST that they act now. Right now. This very second. Before it is too late, not just for me because of my own selfish reasons, but for all Americans who suffer and continue to suffer because of inaction and obstruction.
Oh and about that personal experience with Oregon's progressive health care policies? Less than five years ago, my mother after being diagnosed with breast cancer went through surgery and two courses of chemotherapy. After a long battle wherein she fought like a crazed banshee for her life, she was told by her doctor that the cancer had metastasized spreading to her liver and lymphatic system. She called me, told me the bad news and I hopped on a plane to Oregon the very next day. I had not seen her in a couple of years owing to being poor after my cancer treatment. By the time I arrived at her bedside later, gasping at seeing the frail whisp of a woman formerly hale, hearty and robust -- a woman who thoroughly cherished life itself, as we all do, I did my best to suppress my tears and held her hand. She knew her death was rapidly approaching and I knew she did her best to grit her teeth, grin and bear it and press forward towards the inevitable. As she spoke to me quietly, softly squeezing my hand with whatever strength she had left, she shocked me by telling me what I needed to hear as the oldest son of my family. She said that she had decided to be cremated (in a million years I would have never thought she'd do that) and that she had decided that if the pain got to be unbearable she was going to be administered a potent enough dose of morphine to ease her out gently. Both things floored me absolutely because I always though they weren't permitted by her religion. By this time I was weeping as quietly as possible which only made her want to comfort me more -- an absurd proposition considering the sorry state she was in... but that's what mothers do. I quietly asked her one question: "Do you feel as though you've lived a full life, leaving nothing undone so as to have no regrets?" She focused on me intently, opening her eyes ever so slightly and smiled saying, "Of course, dear. I've loved every minute of it, both tne good and the bad times, even through this final pain and suffering. Everything is in order, nothing left undone, no regrets." I kneeled at the edge of her bed absolutely still and silent for several minutes, just holding her hand. Being with her. Lost in my own thoughts as she continued to rub and squeeze my hand gently. Soon she said she was very tired, naturally, so I told her I'd be nearby if she needed anything. She replied, "only a little rest..." so I excused myself and returned to my Grandmother's house next door, leaving my sisters to watch over her. For the next three days Mom would rest awhile, then talk briefly with her sisters, my sisters, Grandma and other friends one by one much the same I'm sure as she had talked with me, intermittently resting, visiting with those she loved and those who loved her, then resting again. On the final day, early in the morning, my oldest sister came over to get me, warning me her condition had worsened. It had. Her breathing was labored, she no longer could talk or even acknowledge anyone's presence in the room. This was it. She had gritted her teeth long enough, fought the good fight, making peace with all her friends and family and most especially with her cancer and her impending journey towards what ever unknowable situation would greet her after life. When a registered nurse friend of ours showed up with the morphine, she seemed to sense it, breathing even harder and ultimately lapsing into what can only be truly described as a "death rattle" in her breathing pattern. It was, to say the least, quite disconserting as I had heard of the term before but never actually witnessed it in person. As it got more loud and more intense, me, my sister, and my aunt who is a hospice care giver, nodded at the nurse and he administered her the morphine as she had requested be done for her in her living will. In less than a minute her labored breathing had quieted. She looked peaceful, happy even. She gently slipped away from life within the hour, me still holding her hand, surrounded by some of the people she loved, some of the people that loved her.
And what does Ron Wyden have to do with this last and very personal revelation? Because he and other progressive politicians like him supported or in some cases sponsored Oregon's "Death with Dignity" law, EVEN THOUGH IT WENT AGAINST HIS OWN PERSONAL FEELINGS ABOUT LIFE AND DEATH. Because he listened to the will of the people of Oregon who voted to pass this law and for allowing my mother to die with as little pain and suffering as possible in this, her final moment, I will be forever thankful to all of them.
Update 07/21/09 8PM
A reader by the name of Patrick (aka Budo7 in the comments section) pointed out some discrepancies or at least a failure of memory on my part for which I am more than happy to correct and provide the citation links. This issue is THAT important.
Allow me to correct some numbers: 79% of Democrats "Strongly Favor" or "Favor" health care reform. Only 23% of Republicans do. It averages out overall to 56% of all Americans. So my number WAS off and I freely admit it and apologize. I underestimated the Dems and overestimated the Repubs, but that not withstanding THE MAJORITY OF AMERICANS favor health care reform. Just like the majority of Americans favored Obama in the last election, Patrick. Including even me, a person who identifies as a progressive Republican.
I did not provide the citation because I assumed most thinking individuals actually read the news at WaPo and other sites, but perhaps I'm more of a political junkie than Patrick, taking my sources from a WIDE variety of sites rather than just purely partisan political sites with an agenda to push. Silly me. I admit I was going from memory which wasn't too far off, but I promise that if Patrick were to ACTUALLY read the news with an open mind rather than one clouded with partisan ideology perhaps he too could see reality for what it is.
It was an ABC News/Gallup poll from which my faulty memory derived the numbers, though I believe Nate Silver at 538.com had much the same results. As did the WaPo/ABC poll which actually pegs the approval rating at 62% overall as shown here.
Regardless of the numbers, (remember please "lies, damn lies and statistics...") -- I have an Idea that most Americans are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We are sick of being gamed by the unaccountable executives of large private insurance corporations who deny, deny and further deny us, claiming "pre-existing conditions" in order to enhance the profitability and bottom line of their corporations. They are nameless and faceless bureaucrats in their own right who have NO ACCOUNTABILITY WHATSOEVER to those individuals who dutifully pay their premiums month after month. A public option plan would change that.
I've got to say in all honesty that the momentum, (whether you either believe it, like it or not Patrick) is for change. NOW. No amount of neocon talking points/lies continually repeated on Fox News is going to change that simple fact and any obstruction he and others of his ilk present with contrary numbers is just more obstruction upon the path that leads to the goal... health care reform. Patrick's position is pure insult added to the injury of ALL thinking Americans nationwide. I predict this stubborn wrongheadedness is ultimately going to come back and bite neocons in the ass come 2010 and 2012. It is nothing less than the further implosion of what is left of the hollow shell of a once proud and thoughtful Republican party who could get things done while holding to the real tenents of fiscal conservatism and smaller, more effective government.
I agree it is a very complex and challenging task to reform health care. But the numbers Patrick cited in his comment have no bearing on the plan as presented from Ron Wyden. It is readily apparent to me from his response that he didn't even bother to read the Wyden plan otherwise he wouldn't even be citing numbers about taxes. The neocon wet dream talking point about tort refom is absolutely laughable. Sure, malpractice insurance costs are out of control but what you and all of us are witnessing is a gaming of the system from BOTH sides of the insurance lobby. They rip off Doctors, they rip off patients, they screw America to enhance their own profit margins. Prove me wrong, Patrick, prove me wrong.
Had Patrick read the Wyden plan he might have realized that it pays for itself and even is predicted by the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) to approach nearly a HALF TRILLION dollars in health care savings overall. Lower costs for Medicare and Medicaid because of competition and lower costs for Americans who choose to stay and are happy with their present insurance plans. If he actually READ my blog post he may have discovered that I OPPOSE it because of the 160 obstructive Republican "amendments" (though admittedly something is better than nothing at all). Those amendments were placed there specifically to torpedo the bill and need to be reconciled out in order to make it workable. As to Patrick's claim about unfair taxes to pay for the present proposed bill those taxes would be placed upon the TOP 1% of the American taxpayer income bracket. SO is Patrick actually telling us that a meager 47% of the top 1% of the most richest Americans oppose reform? That is HARDLY a majority of Americans.
My post was mostly about the uninsured like me, but again I doubt he had the attention span to have READ my post entirely (and I apologize for demanding so much of all of my readers attentions spans but I have an idea you can handle it). So -- I'm sorry Patrick but you fail. If you want to have a REAL debate about health care reform I absolutely INSIST you first learn to think for yourself.
Again, since he seemed to have missed the multiple posts on my blog where I admit to being a PROGRESSIVE REPUBLICAN (now including this one), he thinks my motives partisan and frankly that couldn't be further from the truth. In this instance it's about human life and human dignity, it's about holding our elected representatives accountable and FORCING THEM, if necessary, to deliver on the promise of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness..." not just pay it lip service while accepting millions and millions of dollars in "campaign money" from the health care insurance lobby or what I call blood money extracted from the suffering and death of our fellow Americans. It's all about saying "GAME OVER" to health care insurance and big pharma corporations as well as their conniving lobbyists who profit from suffering and death. Pack up and go home, boys -- there's a new sheriff in town.
The only way for reformers to plow through the lies, damn lies and statistics of neocon partisans who wish to further obstruct health care reform is to step on the gas even harder, injecting FACTS into the debate so as to cause them to look like clowns parroting their corporate masters. My pedal isn't even half way to the metal Patrick, so if you want to debate this further (even though I suspect he has NO PERSONAL EXPERIENCE to bring to the discussion table) then I am left with only option he may understand and that is to quote someone who I assume is one of his personal heroes, G. W. Bush: "Bring It!"
Though next time please try and bring intellect and reasoning to this battle of wits. Unless you LIKE takin' a beating every time, Patrick. I've been brick flaming chumps like you, overwhelming them with FACTS since before you were born.
Though I must extend my sincere thanks to Patrick because he has allowed me to refocus on the important part which is getting a health care plan passed NOW. It's not about my personal woes, it's about making sure the uninsured have an option, one we do not have now. Personal experience is important but one must keep in mind that there are millions of Americans with experiences similar to mine. It is both our and our legislator's duty to make a positive change for the better now.